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Ukraine War Exposes Risks to Deploying Small Nuclear Reactors

  • Small modular reactors are seen as the future of atomic energy
  • Russian seizure of atomic plant exposes safety vulnerabilities

By Jonathan Tirone, October 6, 2022, The Russian army’s seizure of the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe isn’t just exposing Ukrainians to the risk of an atomic accident but may also undermine plans to install new miniature reactors in far-flung places. ……… (subscribers only) more


October 5, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Ukraine | Leave a comment

NextEra Energy finds that small nuclear reactors (SMRs) really are the biggest boondoggle of all

 There were a couple of interesting developments in June in regards to electric power. One was that NextEra Energy issued its Investor Conference Report 2022 to its stockholders. Another was a paper from Stanford University, “Low-cost solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity for 145 countries,” (LCS study) by Mark Z. Jacobson, et al. Looking into them is rather interesting.

The first of these makes very clear that in the opinions of the people running NextEra Energy, combustion
generating sources and nuclear power are getting too expensive. Furthermore, their opinion is that the most expensive of these, at least in the late 2020s, will be small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

We should make clear, just in case anyone doesn’t know, that NextEra is hardly anti-nuclear. While it is already the biggest investor in renewable energy in the US, it does own seven nuclear reactors, including the one at Seabrook. Electricity from new, near-firm solar and wind plants is a good deal less expensive than electricity from existing nuclear plants.

Let’s state this clearly: We are paying extra for electricity from nuclear plants, even after they have been paid down, and even though the sun can shine and the wind can blow almost all the time, because of really cheap battery storage. Put another way, it would be cheaper to close the nuclear plants and replace them with new renewable facilities.

 Clean Technica 4th Oct 2022

October 5, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Will Sizewell C nuclear really go ahead? EDF’s €60bn debt, and €52bn costs for French nuclear build.

 When EDF board members joined a video call in late August to discuss a landmark UK nuclear project, they were instead treated to a stand-off between the utility’s outgoing boss and the French state. Rather than signing off the Sizewell C plant in Suffolk as Jean-Bernard Lévy had pushed for, the biggest French power producer’s controlling shareholder demanded more time to finish new audit reports and the meeting descended into acrimony, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“Some people didn’t understand what they were doing there and why there wasn’t going to be a decision on anything,” one of the people said. “It was messy.” The episode, one of several clashes at the company to have spilled into the open in recent months, will provide little comfort to Lévy’s successor, Luc Rémont, who is due to take over as chief executive and chair just as Paris executes a plan to buy out the 16 per cent of EDF it does not already own.

While the nationalisation clarifies the ownership structure, the company could still be subject to demands from the French state that have not always been in its immediate interest, including that it shield consumers from soaring energy prices. Big strategic questions on everything from Sizewell to renewable energy investments, meanwhile, still loom large.

Rémont, currently a senior executive at industrial conglomerate Schneider Electric, will need to solve
the group’s short-term problems while also preparing EDF to take on some of France’s biggest nuclear construction projects in two decades — a period when it has struggled to complete any on time or on budget.

The company’s electricity output is on course to reach all-time lows this year, after corrosion problems at the company’s nuclear plants added to maintenance stoppages and led to the outage at one point of more than half the French fleet of 56 reactors. That has strained supplies across Europe just as the region pivots away from Russian gas, while also turning France into a net power importer for the first time.

French officials have so far insisted that the Sizewell C plant in Britain will go ahead, adding that the state had commissioned extra audits simply to calculate the financial consequences of removing a Chinese state-backed company from the project.

But the government may eventually want to revisit some of its choices, bankers and union representatives close to EDF said, particularly as the group grapples with costly investments. By the end of this year, EDF’s
net debt is already forecast to swell to about €60bn, while its French construction programme alone could cost another €52bn.

 FT 5th Oct 2022

October 5, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

Why We Need To Teach Nuclear War

Thoughtful teachers must be willing to educate their students slowly and honestly about the history of our nuclear past. BRIAN GIBBS, September 27, 2022,

We do not teach nuclear war, but we need to.

Make no mistake, the invasion of Ukraine is a nuclear-fueled conflict and students are ill-prepared to understand it. We need to be clear about this. Any military intervention by a nuclear power is a nuclear conflict. Russia threatened a nuclear retaliation if the United States became directly involved in the invasion of Ukraine; Sweden and Norway have asked for and been granted entrance into NATO placing increased pressure on Russia; and the New York Times reported that Russia is advancing on a nuclear reactor in Ukraine. It is a nuclear conflict.

The horror of nuclear war, an analysis of a country’s nuclear strategies and policies, not the immediate and active resistance to the creation, positioning and use of nuclear weapons is taught. Content standards, guidelines and textbooks discuss nuclear weapons little if at all. They typically describe the dropping of the two atomic bombs framing them as the only reasonable conclusion to World War II. Students have little background and understanding of nuclear weapons, their proliferation, or how they are used as threat and bargaining chip in every conflict and war since their introduction to the field of combat. During recent interviews several students indicated they were shocked when North Korea’s leader Kim Jung Un indicated that he was going to hit Guam with a missile strike. They had an assumption that nuclear strike capabilities were something from a time long ago. 

Students were also disturbed when President Trump threatened North Korea with total annihilation from a U.S. missile strike. The students shared that they had a vague sense that other countries had nuclear weapons but indicated that they only time nuclear weaponry, tactics, or strategy were shared was as part of a short lesson focused on the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Several students indicated that they were confused as they had thought there was only one atomic bomb dropped not two. 

Though it may not seem like it, the teaching of war is a controversial topic in American classrooms. This is shocking as it is overwhelmingly the main topic in social studies standards, curriculum, and testing. War is often taught as something which occurred, is over, as something bad but necessary and is too often taught as parables of heroics by reluctant Americans. Little time is typically spent on the messy beginnings and endings of wars, examining the morality of them, or discussing the choices and decisions made by leaders and soldiers, and even more rarely, the actions of the always present anti-war movements. As the students suggested, nuclear war is taught even less. Often in a one-day lesson on the actions of the Enola Gay and Boxcar, the planes that dropped the two bombs or as background, almost a white noise to briefly learning about the Cold War.

There are several reasons for this. Teachers report feeling lack of support in the teaching of complex things. Teachers indicate that they feel enormous community pressure to not teach a more thorough, honest, and critical examination of war. Some teachers say that to critique a war in the past is to critique a war in the present and the soldiers involved. If they do this, they fear accusations of indoctrination and anti-American sentiment. This is mostly from more conservative ideological and political spaces, but teachers also report feeling a different form of pressure from schools situated in more left-leaning spaces. These parents do not want their children exposed to the horror of war even in high school. They seem to fear this examination of historical reality could damage or traumatize their children. This pressure to fail to offer robust examinations became ever more exacerbated during the polarization and America First approach of the Trump administration. Things which had not been seen as controversial have become controversial. As Diana Hess has pointed out (2009) things are not controversial on their own, but rather they become controversial because of time and community context and community interpretation of the issues.

Some if not much of our history is disturbing. This is particularly true of war. Much of the anti-Critical Race Theory legislation passing through state legislatures makes the argument that no student should be made to feel bad while learning history or studying literature. This is impossible without shading or obfuscating the truth or just outright lying to children. An authentic examination of our past will lead to students feeling things, likely bad over the enormity of what has been done. In the hands of thoughtful, capable teachers’ students can experience history honestly, have time to thoughtfully discuss, examine documents, and investigate, thinking about what happened and what could have happened. Also understanding that there has been and always will be resistance to the use of and expansion of nuclear weapons. 

Fear of traumatizing students is a concern surfaced by teachers who choose to not teach honestly. This is a legitimate concern. With the rise of our awareness and understanding of trauma and generational trauma and how it affects our youth teachers are right to be concerned. Too often, this concern leads to avoidance which in turn leads to not teaching necessary topics. If we want our children to grow into strong participants in our democracy and thoughtful stewards of our world students need to be made aware of the world-ending disaster that could be just around the corner. As the Los Angeles Times reported American weaponry has been given to Ukraine under the rules that it be used to repel Russian forces in Ukraine, but not to attack Russian forces on Russian soil. The reason for this is clear. Use of American equipment in attacks on Russia would be seen by Russa as aggressive acts directly supported by the United States. Which could in turn lead to direct military involvement in the war by the United States. Though nuclear missiles might not be used if this conflict were to occur it would absolutely be a nuclear war. 

Any conflict or military action by a nuclear power has the potential to quickly escalate and spiral into a nuclear conflict. Our children do not understand this fully and they will not understand it if we continue to avoid the topic. The only way to prevent this is for thoughtful teachers to educate their students slowly and honestly about the history of our nuclear past, including our use of the atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The alienation between the United States and the Soviet Union in the post-War World II era must be studied. So must the history of atomic weapons and the development of more advanced systems that continues to this day.

Students need to understand the aging and deteriorating state of the missiles and safety measures the United States and Russia have and the consequence of an accidental launch. Likewise, students need to understand the litany of nuclear treaties, non-proliferation pacts, and the deep history of citizen resistance groups that have and continue to resist the possession, testing of, and continued development of nuclear weapons. This knowledge, this understanding, when taught well, over time, through discussion and inquiry, in the hands of a thoughtful teacher can help empower rather than overwhelm students. Knowledge and understanding help dispel feelings of fear, more importantly it can help students at a young age begin to develop ways out and solutions for a more peaceful world. 

The mission of most schools includes the creation of active and engaged humans prepared to help guide and change the world. This is as it should be. Part of this is honest and authentic examinations of our past and possible futures. This will allow students to develop into thoughtful adults who can make educated decisions about warfare, foreign policy, and nuclear war. It is absolutely necessary.

October 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Education, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kerr McGee: Is the thorium danger over?

“These things have a half life of 14 million years,”

To Kerr McGee, “You need to pay up. We need reparations for all the people who are suffering from chronic illnesses that you caused,”

When will West Chicago finally be clear of thorium radiation? By Savannah Epperson, Reporter, October 5, 2022

As the recent piles of dirt indicate, Kerr-McGee clean-up is set to start this fall. The final stage of thorium removal along Ann St. and W. Blair St. in West Chicago involves remediating the groundwater using 36 million dollars in funds allocated for the clean-up. 

On Aug. 24, the City of West Chicago published a press release concerning the site, indicating it was preparing for a “future park” at the location. That press release has since been removed. A member of the West Chicago City administration reached out, however. The city is planning on creating a park in the former Kerr-McGee lot in a few years.

“To get ready for this, the city will hire a park planning consultant. The planning will take a few months and include a significant amount of public input,” said Tom Dabareiner, Community Development Director for the city of West Chicago. 

The most recent clean-up of the soil ended in 2015. 

However the sheet piling that was initially installed to protect workers excavating contaminated soil now traps residual contaminants preventing the ground water from naturally diluting over time,” wrote Liuan Huska for Borderless Magazine in July. 

The damage of the company’s poor disposal practices continues to affect West Chicago and its residents, and may do so for generations to come. 

Lindsay Light was a company that created gaslight mantles, which were small fabric bags infused with Thorium or other metal nitrates that fitted over a gas source. The company manufactured these mantles for 30 years, and then Kerr-McGee purchased the company. They manufactured for another decade before it was discovered that the company had been dumping radioactive waste into the groundwater and soil surrounding the plant and three other primary areas

That is when it was brought to the attention of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through a group called TAG, Thorium Action Group that formed in West Chicago and began petitioning for a cleanup of the radiation. The Hispanic community was not informed of the radiation, and after the Campbell Soup company sold their rental housing, they were forced to find homes. Realtors took the opportunity to sell the thorium-contaminated homes. They gave new residents deals on the homes, but never told the people who were to live there that there was thorium radiation in their homes, sandboxes, and the lakes that their children played in. Clean-up began in 1984. There was a video created about the issue that shows the original cleanup. 

 “The residents started to notice men dressed in anti-contamination suits cleaning up and testing various residential areas,” according to a thesis titled, Thorium Shipped out and Dust of Deceit Left behind in West Chicago, written by Lindsey Stern in the spring of 2016. 

The company was purchased by Anadarko Petroleum in 2006, which was later purchased by Occidental Petroleum in 2019. But have these companies turned over a new leaf? 

Occidental Petroleum’s mission statement is: “To develop energy resources safely, profitably, and responsibly.” 

“These things have a half life of 14 million years,” said Professor of Engineering and Technology at Northern Illinois University, and former West Chicago resident, Dr. Theodore Hogan in reference to radiation. 

In other words, thorium exists in the human immune system for 28 million years.  

The people who live in these communities have suffered adverse effects their entire lives. They have no way to remove the radiation they were exposed to, and they often have no means of healing themselves and their communities. Human beings are forced to live with debilitating conditions and deformities for their entire lives because these companies chose to dump their toxic chemicals into their groundwater or soil. 

Hogan was a child when he was exposed to thorium in West Chicago, and has since spent his life learning about this radiation and the effects of it on the human body. 

“I’m still angry now,” said Hogan when asked about his own experience with radiation. 

The effects of the radiation that West Chicago has experienced can never truly be measured. That is clear with Hogan’s own reaction to questions about Thorium clean up. Even with the clean up going on, people will never be the same as before. 

Hogan also noted that the only way that anyone can truly help these communities move forward is to recognize that contamination happened, and to talk about it. He suggested it was important to give people a place to air their anger, grief, and confusion after their lives are turned upside down. 

To Kerr McGee, “You need to pay up. We need reparations for all the people who are suffering from chronic illnesses that you caused,” said Julieta Alcantar-Garcia, Founder of PODER, an organization that is built to stop environmental racism in the West Chicago community.  

October 5, 2022 Posted by | Reference, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Nothing’s more important than avoiding nuclear war

Pearls and Irritations, Caitlin Johnstone , 5 Oct 22,

Avoiding nuclear war is the single most important agenda in the world. The single most important agenda in history. It is more important than your political faction. It is more important than how Vladimir Putin makes your feelings feel. It is more important than anything else.

Whenever I say this I always get some liberal saying “Some things are worth dying for” or some shit. Actually, no. Nothing, literally nothing, is worth the obliteration of all life on earth. It’s not worth gambling all terrestrial life to please your dopey egocentric fixations.

People who think nuclear brinkmanship is worth the risk either haven’t thought hard enough about what nuclear war is and what it would mean, or they just hate life and have some sick desire to see the end of everything. Either way they should be dismissed with extreme aggression.

If there’s one thing everyone should be able to come together on, it’s that every measure should be taken to avoid the end of everything. It is only because our civilisation is awash with war propaganda that this isn’t glaringly obvious to everybody.

That necessarily means de-escalation and detente. It means compromise. It means change. It means acknowledging what your side did wrong to bring us this close to the edge and taking drastic measures to change that and make sure it never happens again. It’s not egoically pleasing, but it’s necessary. More so than anything has ever been. Risking the annihilation of all terrestrial life is not worth the egoic gratification we get from our narratives about “winning” and “losing” and “good guys” and “bad guys”. This is infinitely more important than that.

Our civilisation is so backwards and insane that people will act like you’re the worst person in the world for saying we should try to avoid nuclear armageddon. I and many others have been screaming for years that US policy toward Russia is bringing us closer and closer to nuclear war; now we’re on the brink and the people we were screaming at are acting like we’re the assholes.

Two administrations ago the US had a president who mocked the idea that Russia was a primary rival and said Ukraine was a core interest to Russia but not the US, and liberals thought he was awesome. After four years of intelligence agency-driven narratives marrying Russia to Trump, liberals are now braying for World War III.

Before 2016 Democrats saw those who spent energy freaking out about Russia as weird, archaic cold warriors. Now they see anyone who doesn’t want war with Russia as a secret agent of the Kremlin. All because they were trained that Russia = Trump and therefore fighting Russia = fighting Trump.

Everyone’s anti-war until the war propaganda starts.

Real monsters don’t look the way we’re trained to expect. Those who’ll rape and hurt us are usually people we know and trust. The most murderous tyrants don’t look like Hollywood villains; they make jokes and praise freedom and democracy and shake your hand on the campaign trail.

Those who are causing the most death, oppression and misery in our world don’t resemble the Hitler-like monsters we’ve been trained to anticipate. They look friendly. They say things you agree with. Depending on their party, they might even ask you your pronouns. Meanwhile, Marvel supervillains have more depth and complexity than the one-dimensional characters the imperial spin machine concocts to represent its official enemies……………………………………………….. more

October 5, 2022 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Macron’s nuclear dream means attacking environmental law, and is no help to the climate

 Attacking environmental law to accelerate the construction of new nuclear reactors: Macron’s assumed project.

On September 22, on the occasion of the inauguration of the St Nazaire maritime wind farm, and once again anticipating the public debate supposed to be held on the EPR projects in Penly, Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his project of a “deployment of a forced-march nuclear strategy” (sic!). On this occasion, he announced an acceleration of the procedures supposed to make it possible to start the first reactors even earlier than planned.

Barely a week later, the dedicated bill reached the National Council for Ecological Transition, summoned to make a decision within an extremely short time. This forced passage and the assumed deconstruction of environmental law presented in this text are quite simply shameful.

But trampling on the law and democracy will not make the problems of a sector undermined by a lack of skills, and of a technology that is too slow and too cumbersome to respond to the climate emergency, disappear with a magic wand.

 Sortir du Nucleaire 28th Sept 2022

October 5, 2022 Posted by | environment, France | Leave a comment

Nuclear War and Moral Sanity

In a spiritual and moral sense, the world’s nuclear powers are the most underdeveloped nations—committed to maintaining power over, rather than power with, the rest of the planet. ROBERT C. KOEHLER, September 29, 2022,

What does surrender look like in the world of geopolitics? To my mind, this gets pretty close:

“President Biden’s national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States had warned Russia that there would be ‘catastrophic consequences’ for the country if Moscow used nuclear weapons in its increasing desperation to hold on to territory in Ukraine.”

This is surrender in multiple directions, or so it seemed to me as I read these words the other day in the New York Times — surrender to the worst (the stupidest) of who we are, on the part not only of the growling superpowers on both sides of the conflict, who are apparently playing games with Armageddon, but also surrender on the part of the mainstream media, which has failed, yet again, to cover war in the context of a larger sanity.

Oops, darn that mushroom cloud!

Maintaining peace through militarism — us vs. them in which good guy wins and bad guy loses — has gotten blown up in the age of nukes. But for some reason any grasp of this remains politically marginal. In a world that has sliced itself into international borders, power remains a matter of dominance, or so the world’s leaders (and the media that covers them) continue, apparently, to believe.

Much of Planet Earth is moving beyond this glaringly lethal ignorance, but the most “powerful” nations on the planet remain spiritually underdeveloped. It’s the only way they can hold onto their power.

As a journalist, my impulse is to cry out to the media to do its job: to cover geopolitics, to cover war — Russian, American and all the rest — in a context larger than that declared by the national leaders who are caught up in it. The best the Times could do, at least in this particular story, was to cast Putin as an international “pariah” because, in threatening to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if necessary, he “broke the nuclear taboo for the first time in 77 years.”

In other words, it’s OK to possess nukes. You’re just not supposed to talk about them.

The larger context of this particular story would, it seems to me, include a perspective that transcends the thinking of both American and Russian leadership. Such a perspective would include the fact that most of the world’s nations, as well as the United Nations, have declared nuclear weapons . . . ahem . . . illegal.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans their use, development and actual possession, was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2017 by a vote of 122-1 (the nine nations that possess nukes, along with most of the members of NATO, boycotted the vote). It has now been ratified by 68 countries, and signed by a total of 91.

“On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we reject the claim that nuclear disarmament is some impossible utopian dream.”

So said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres a few days ago, making a point that is globally crucial and by no means irrelevant to the looming disaster in Ukraine. For God’s sake, we have become a trans-national planet and the job of everyone — this includes world leaders, media, you, me — is to envision a trans-militarized world and continue evolving toward it.

“Eliminating these devices of death is not only possible, it is necessary,” Guterres said. “. . . we need a new vision for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.”

I repeat: We need a new vision! A “new vision for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.” A new vision of the meaning of geopolitics, the shortcomings of nationalism and national borders. A new vision of the nature of power. What if — at the highest levels of media and government — we saw “power” as a force that valued life?

Here are some words of Martin Luther King: “In a real sense all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.”

Let us consider the possibility that this isn’t just blather — that it’s actually true. Then what it means, at the deepest core of human existence, is that playing war — endlessly preparing to destroy part of ourselves — is suicidal behavior. National military budgets might as well be called suicide budgets. We have to start learning how to live without defining ourselves by our enemies. What if, at the very least, the media reported on war in this context, rather than in the context of good vs. evil, NATO vs. Putin?

As David Swanson pointed out at World Beyond War, both Russia and the United States “stand as rogue regimes outside the Landmines Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Arms Trade Treaty, and many others.” Neither country is party to the International Criminal Court or supports its rulings. And the U.S. and its allies violated any commitment to Russia, such as the eastward expansion of NATO, when the Cold War ended, making the present moment of nuclear uncertainty inevitable.

As I noted, the wealthiest and most militarily powerful nations on the planet are, in a spiritual — in a moral — sense, the world’s most underdeveloped nations, committed to maintaining power over, rather than power with, the rest of the planet. At the very least, the media shouldn’t give national leaders trapped in this commitment the final say in how to move forward.

And no matter what the danger, such leaders will not, of their own volition, give up their nations’ nuclear weapons. They cannot hear António Guterres, who, speaking in a larger sanity, points out: “Eliminating nuclear weapons would be the greatest gift we could bestow on future generations.”

October 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Myanmar Junta’s Nuclear Ambition Timeline

By THE IRRAWADDY 6 October 2022

The junta’s recent confirmation that it will build a small-scale nuclear power plant in the next few years caps Myanmar’s long pursuit of nuclear technology dating back to early 2000.

The Southeast Asian country’s two-decade-long journey to nuclear capability was made possible by Russia after a series of engagements that accelerated under the current junta and its military predecessor.

Though the current regime insists nuclear energy would be used for peaceful purposes in Myanmar, which has been hit by chronic electricity shortages, many believe this is the first step in a plan to utilize nuclear energy for military purposes including production of nuclear weapons.

The timeline on Myanmar’s long road to nuclear technology:

January 2002

The Myanmar military regime confirms plans to build a nuclear research reactor “for peaceful purposes.”…………………………………………………………………………………………

September 20, 2022

Junta spokesman Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun briefs press, confirming the regime’s plan to implement a small nuclear power plant project in the next few years.

He does not specify the project’s location but says the Atomic Energy Department of the junta’s Ministry of Science and Technology will establish a “nuclear information technology center” in Yangon, which will gauge and influence public opinion on nuclear energy.

October 5, 2022 Posted by | ASIA, politics | Leave a comment

State ministry reports leak at German nuclear plant, experts investigating

  State ministry reports leak at German nuclear plant, experts investigating | Reuters

BERLIN, Oct 5 (Reuters) – A leak occurred during flushing measures on a discharge line at the nuclear power plant in Brunsbuettel, northern Germany, on Sept. 28, the energy ministry of Schleswig-Holstein said on Wednesday.

The defective line is part of the concentrate treatment system and is located in the restricted area of the reactor building of the nuclear power plant, a statement said, adding that a small radioactive contamination was detected.

The reactor safety authority has tasked experts with conducting further supervisory reviews in the matter.

The Brunsbuettel nuclear power plant has already been permanently shut down since 2007. The decommissioning permit was issued at the end of 2018 and dismantling of the plant has begun.

Writing by Rachel More, Editing by Miranda Murray

October 5, 2022 Posted by | Germany, incidents | Leave a comment

The risk of nuclear disaster grows every day

From Three Mile Island to Chernobyl, the story of atomic energy is littered with catastrophes By Oliver-James Campbell , October 6, 2022

Atoms and Ashes: From Bikini Atoll to Fukushima  by Serhii Plokhy (RRP: £25).

In his new book, Ukrainian-born Harvard professor Serhii Plokhy tackles a topic that has greatly influenced his life: nuclear disaster. Atoms and Ashes, a must-have for anyone interested in the history of nuclear energy, details six major nuclear mishaps that have shaped how we view nuclear energy: Bikini Atoll in Oceania, Kyshtym in Russia, Chernobyl in Ukraine, Three Mile Island (TMI) in the US, Windscale in the UK and Fukushima in Japan. Despite the vast political and socio-economic differences between the countries responsible for these projects, Plokhy shows up the common thread of mismanagement. 

The author sketches vivid pictures of the events that led up to—and resulted from—each incident, exploring the lives of those the disaster affected most, whether it’s an unfortunate power plant employee or an entire displaced community. But most striking is how much pressure the scientists, engineers and project managers faced—brought about by the Cold War arms race or other geopolitical fallouts—that resulted in subsequent disaster.

In his acknowledgements, Plokhy explains that Atoms and Ashes was written as a response to questions surrounding his earlier work, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy. His intention was to show how project mismanagement and risk oversight were not specific to Chernobyl. 

Nuclear disasters have, understandably, led to a rise in anti-nuclear sentiment. The world has since changed its tune. As Plokhy says, “Ukraine derives about half its electricity from nuclear reactors”—one of which, Zaporizhzhia, is the largest in Europe. It also happens to be caught between forces in Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The UN has called for the demilitarisation of the reactor, as the risk of a catastrophic nuclear incident appears to grow larger every day.

October 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, incidents, media | Leave a comment

Particle radioactivity linked to pollution-associated heart attack and stroke death

Particle radioactivity linked to pollution-associated heart attack and stroke death

Particle radioactivity, a characteristic of air pollution that reflects the colorless, odorless gas radon found in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution, increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, especially from heart attack or stroke, according to findings of a new study. 

October 5, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear test veterans: Stik sculpture unveiled at Kent army museum By Tanya Gupta, 5 Oct 22, BBC News

A model of a soldier ordered to turn his back and cover his face against a nuclear blast has gone on display at the Royal Engineers Museum in Kent.

London street artist Stik spent a year listening to veterans who witnessed nuclear tests in the 1950s to come up with the “terrified, lone figure”.

He said he wanted to show the vulnerability of the soldiers, but also their resilience and strength.

The model will be cast into bronze to create the final sculpture.

In a rare interview, the reclusive artist said he wanted to show human vulnerability, adding: “They were boys when they were sent out to witness an atomic bomb. Some were 16, 17, 18.”

Witnesses have described sitting with their back to the blast but feeling the heat and the force, and being able to see the light through their hands

The sculpture was unveiled at the Gillingham museum during the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association’s (BNTVA) annual conference, which is staged in Ashford on the 70th anniversary of Britain’s first weapons test off Western Australia.

For decades, the veterans have fought campaigns for medals, recognition, compensation and an apology from the government, after they witnessed tests with their backs turned to the blast, hands over their eyes, and with no protective clothing.

Many are concerned there is a link between their radiation exposure and ill-health, including cancers.

The Cabinet Office has said it is providing nearly half a million pounds to support veterans. It also said it would hold an oral history project and a commemorative event.

The Ministry of Defence has previously said there was “no valid evidence” linking the nuclear tests to ill-health.

October 5, 2022 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear fusion – public money wasted on this unproven technology

 UK ministers have been criticised for “pouring billions of pounds of
public money into unproven technology” by pressed ahead with nuclear
fusion investment. The warning comes after North Ayrshire lost out on
becoming the site of the UK’s first fusion energy plant having been

 Herald 4th Oct 2022

October 5, 2022 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment