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Why is Bill Gates investing in nuclear power?

Such forms of corruption are also widespread in the nuclear industry, with groups like the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), devising marketing campaigns that benefit nuclear power plant owning companies, including influencing the appointment of officials to oversight bodies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In this pursuit, the public also gets to foot the bill; in the case of TerraPower, taxpayers have put up tens of millions of dollars into this venture without ever being given an opportunity to provide or deny their informed consent for this technology.

Beyond Nuclear By M.V. Ramana and Cassandra Jeffery 14 Nov 22

………………………………………………………………………….Systemic Problems

Why is Bill Gates investing in nuclear power? This question comes up a lot, although fre­quently as a rhetorical excuse to wax eloquently about the virtues of nuclear technology. The answer is by no means straightforward.

Nuclear energy is only one lottery ticket among many for Bill Gates. He’s invested into dozens of companies, especially through Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Breakthrough’s investments range from companies that focus on energy storage — examples are Form Energy and Malta — to ones making new kinds of concrete, developing geothermal energy, and producing steel.

Gates has also secured a stake in the future of agriculture; in 2021, he was dubbed America’s largest private farmland owner.

Clearly, Gates’ strategy is to diversify his investments. If the Natrium reactor — TerraPower’s leading offering at this point — turns out to be a nuclear lemon, which is quite likely for the reasons discussed above, Gates will have a suite of investments to fall back on.

This tactic — diversifying assets and investments to increase the probability that at least one stake will pay off big time — is standard practice among venture capitalists. Other fellow billionaires investing in nuclear power have similarly diversified strategies.

Gates and fellow oligarchs have other strategies to maintain their wealth. They devote enormous financial resources and time to nurture their economic positions by political campaign financing and lobbying for favorable policies and regulations.

Such tactics are legal but amount to a form of corruption and facilitate the extraction of what economists call rents (for example, through the imposition of intellectual property protections), which are going to come in the way of climate mitigation as well.

Such forms of corruption are also widespread in the nuclear industry, with groups like the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), devising marketing campaigns that benefit nuclear power plant owning companies, including influencing the appointment of officials to oversight bodies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Among the recent pieces of legislation that NEI lobbied for was the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernisation Act. Publicly endorsed by Gates, the law makes it easier for “next-generation advanced reactors,” the kind that TerraPower is developing, to be licensed for construction by the NRC.

Such behaviors, unfortunately, are standard for the large organizations that dominate today’s economy.

People like Bill Gates are billionaires because they hit the jackpot on a lottery ticket and then lobbied rule-makers to extract as much money as possible from that lottery ticket. These gains allow them to reinvest into a diversified portfolio to increase the odds of another windfall prize.

In this pursuit, the public also gets to foot the bill; in the case of TerraPower, taxpayers have put up tens of millions of dollars into this venture without ever being given an opportunity to provide or deny their informed consent for this technology.

The public — especially those who live near one of the sites targeted for new reactor deployment, the areas where uranium will be mined and processed, and wherever the long-lived nuclear waste will go — will be subject to environmental contamination, paying far more than just a financial cost.

Given the experimental technologies involved in these new nuclear reactor designs, the risks to such communities are considerable. Many of these risks will only become greater with climate change as extreme weather events become more frequent and challenge operations at nuclear plants.

The risks and wasted investments are mounting. Further, this obsession with nuclear power and other untested technologies diverts the public’s attention from the larger systemic drivers of the climate crisis: unabated capitalism and its need for never-ending economic growth.

Pushing the nuclear agenda furthers the falsehood that growth can continue indefinitely with no limits, and the pretense that climate change can be solved using one more technology from the same toolbox that caused the problem in the first place.

“Those most responsible for creating the problem [of climate change] will see to it that they profit from the solution that they propose,” observed Indian writer Arundhati Roy in 2019. People like Gates exemplify that observation. Not only do they create the conditions for accelerating global warming but they also see to it that they are amply rewarded when they claim to know how to solve climate change.

Bill Gates might well be interested in finding a solution to climate change but he seems far more devoted to maintaining the current system for as long as it is feasible. Protecting this system requires, among other things, selling people the idea that the system is capable of solving climate change. Selling nuclear power is part of that larger sales job.

M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarma­ment, Global and Human Security and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and the author of The Power Of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy In India. Cassandra Jeffery holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs from the University of British Columbia and is the recipient of a Simons Award in Nuclear Disarmament and Global Security for research into the political economy of nuclear energy.


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

Why molten salt nuclear reactors really can’t succeed

Beyond Nuclear By M.V. Ramana and Cassandra Jeffery 14 Nov 22

………………………………………………………….Technical Problems

Let us start with the problems with the molten chloride fast reactor. As its name suggests, the reactor uses nuclear materials dissolved in molten chemical salts.

Salt is corrosive — just ask anyone who lives on the coast. So the inside of the reactor will be a chemically corrosive and highly radioactive environment.

No material can perform satisfactorily in such an environment. After reviewing the available studies, all that the U.S. Idaho National Laboratory — a nuclear power booster — could recommend was that “a systematic development program be initiated.”

TerraPower has three different nuclear reactor designs on the books: the Natrium reactor; the molten chloride fast reactor; and the traveling wave reactor.

Given his emphasis on novelty and innovation, one would expect Gates to put his money on reactor designs that are new and likely to succeed. None of these designs have that merit. All of these reactors are based on two old reactor designs vexed with major problems.

Other leading research laboratories like France’s Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire (IRSN) and the U.K.’s Nuclear Innovation and Research Office, have concluded that molten salt reactors are problematic. As IRSN put it, “numerous technological challenges remain to be overcome before the construction of an MSR can be considered.”

The historical experience with molten salt reactors has been pretty bleak, to put it mildly. The last one to be built was the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in Oakridge, Tennessee. It operated intermittently from 1965 to 1969, and operations were interrupted 225 times in those four years; of these interruptions, only 58 were planned.

But it’s not just a matter of molten salt reactors being unreliable or technologically challenged. As Edwin Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists has documented at length, the “use of liquid fuel instead of a solid fuel” in molten salt reactors “has significant safety implications for both normal operation and accidents.”

Specifically, the molten nature of the fuel makes it easier for radioactive materials to escape into the atmosphere and be dispersed.

Terrapower’s other two reactor designs are not much better. Both the Travelling Wave Reactor and the Natrium use molten sodium. Another problematic material, molten sodium is used to transport the intense heat produced by the nuclear fission reactions. Again, such reactors have been constructed since the dawn of the nuclear age and with similarly dismal results.

To start with, such reactors have had numerous accidents. The record starts on November 29, 1955 when the Experimental Breeder Reactor (EBR-1) in Idaho had a partial core meltdown.

A decade later, in October 1966, the Fermi-1 demonstration fast reactor in Michigan suffered a partial core meltdown. The shock made its way into the cultural mainstream in the form of a book called We Almost Lost Detroit and a song with the same name by Gil Scott Heron.

In Japan, the Monju reactor suffered a series of accidents and produced almost no electricity, after an expenditure of at least $8.5 billion

The use of molten sodium makes such reactors susceptible to serious fires, because the material burns if exposed to air. Almost all sodium-cooled reactors constructed around the world have experienced sodium leaks, likely because of chemical interactions between sodium and the stainless steel used in various components of the reactor.

Finally, the use of sodium also makes it difficult to maintain and carry out repairs on fast reactors, which then become susceptible to long shutdowns. Having to deal with all these volatile properties and safety concerns naturally drives up the construction costs of fast reactors, rendering them substantially more expensive than common thermal reactors.

Sodium-cooled reactors are also unre­liable, operating at dismally low rates compared to standard reactors. The load factor (the ratio of the amount of electrical energy a power plant has produced to the amount of energy it would have produced had it operated at full capacity) for the Prototype Fast Reactor in the United Kingdom was 27%; France’s Superphenix reactor managed a mere 7.9%.

The typical U.S. reactor operates with a load factor of more than 90%. Sodium- cooled reactors would have to sell their power at higher prices to compensate for the fewer units of electrical energy generated.

“Without innovation, we will not solve climate change,” chanted Gates. But no amount of innovation will change the laws of chemistry or physics. How sodium behaves when it interacts with air or water won’t be affected, even if the sodium is inside a nuclear reactor backed by one of America’s oligarchs.

Innovation will not change the fact that the radioactive wastes produced by the Natrium reactor will remain hazardous for tens of thousands of years……………………………………………….. more

November 12, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Ukraine joins in USA’s false story, “clean” energy from the mythical small nuclear reactors

Ukraine, United States announce cooperation on Clean Fuels from SMR pilot project. 13 Nov 22,

As part of the UN’s COP27 Climate Conference, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko announced cooperation on a Ukraine Clean Fuels from Small Modular Reactors (SMR) pilot project.

The relevant statement was made by the U.S. Department of State, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

“Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Ukraine Minister of Energy German Galushchenko announced a Ukraine Clean Fuels from SMRs Pilot project that will demonstrate production of clean hydrogen and ammonia using secure and safe small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) and cutting-edge electrolysis technologies in Ukraine,” the report states.

The project aims to carry out a first-of-a-kind pilot of commercial-scale production of clean fuels from SMRs using solid oxide electrolysis.

“Building on existing capacity-building cooperation launched under the U.S. Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of SMR Technology (FIRST) program, the project seeks to support Ukraine’s energy security goals, enable decarbonization of hard-to-abate energy sectors through clean hydrogen generation, and improve long-term food security through clean ammonia-produced fertilizers. Further, it aims to demonstrate Ukraine’s innovative clean energy leadership through the use of advanced technologies,” the U.S. Department of State noted.

Additionally, Special Envoy Kerry launched a new initiative, Project Phoenix, to accelerate the transition in Europe of coal-fired plants to SMRs while retaining local jobs through workforce retraining.

Project Phoenix will provide direct U.S. support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies and related activities in support of energy security goals for countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

November 12, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Is nuclear energy actually sustainable? 

If successive governments had given even half the love and attention they afford to nuclear power to scaling up home insulation, energy efficiency and smart storage technologies, it’s likely we wouldn’t be facing current challenges around energy and household bills, and we would have done a lotmore good for the climate and nature.”

  Sizewell C, if built, would not produce electricity until the 2030s. A debate in the House of Commons on 19 January, led by a group of MPs known as the “atomic kittens”, suggested nuclear energy can be a
panacea for all ills – including a solution for the climate crisis and the gas crunch.

The facts suggest otherwise. In addition to safety
concerns, rising costs are a central reason why the number of new plants
under construction remains limited. Since 2011, nuclear power construction
costs globally have doubled or even tripled.

China is, however, notable in
its nuclear ambitions. The country is planning at least 150 new reactors in
the next 15 years, more than the rest of the world has built in the past
35, though cost could ultimately change this direction of travel.

The major excitement among many nuclear enthusiasts, including plenty of UK MPs is
around so-called small modular reactors (SMRs). If you believe the hype,
they are the answer to all climate and energy ills.

Traditional, big nuclear projects look likely to provide only a sliver of the world’s
electricity in the future. They are hugely expensive to build, their
construction runs over time, and they are frequently struck by
technological issues.

Moreover, they need to be built close to the sea or a
large river for cooling reasons, highlighted Paul Dorfman from the
University of Sussex. France has already had to curtail nuclear power
output in periods of heatwaves and drought, which are only set to get worse
as climate change takes hold. Greater storm surges and eroding coastlines
also don’t make the prospect of building by the sea any easier. SMRs
solve few of these issues.

So what is the solution? Renewables, renewables
and more renewables? In short, yes. The costs of solar, wind power and
storage continue to fall, and by 2026 global renewable electricity capacity
is forecast to rise by more than 60 per cent, to a level that would equal
the current total global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear
combined, says the IEA. Some argue nuclear can be a clean back-up option
for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining.

But again, other options already exist, including demand response (for example,
plugging in your electric car when there is lots of energy and not
switching on your washing machine when the system is under strain),
large-scale storage and interconnections between different countries.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, summed up the general mood
of those less enthused by nuclear than Crosbie and her fans: “If
successive governments had given even half the love and attention they
afford to nuclear power to scaling up home insulation, energy efficiency
and smart storage technologies, it’s likely we wouldn’t be facing current
challenges around energy and household bills, and we would have done a lot
more good for the climate and nature.”

 New Statesman 12th Nov 2022

November 12, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY | Leave a comment

Bill Gates and techno-fix delusions

When elites try to change the world, it’s not usually for the better for the rest of us

Beyond Nuclear By M.V. Ramana and Cassandra Jeffery 14 Nov 22

Bill Gates, the businessman, made one of the world’s biggest fortunes by designing, selling and marketing computer technology. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when it comes to climate change, he’s pushing more technology.

When wealthy people push something, the world pays attention. Practically all major media outlets covered his recent book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, and Gates has been interviewed dozens of times. All this pushing came with the pre-emptive caveat expressed in his book that the “world is not exactly lacking in rich men with big ideas about what other people should do, or who think technology can fix any problem.”

In his account of how elites try to “change the world,” journalist Anand Giridharadas explained: “All around us, the winners in our highly inequitable status quo declare themselves partisans of change. They know the problem, and they want to be part of the solution. Actually, they want to lead the search for solutions…the attempts naturally reflect their biases.

Gates is no exception to the rule; his bias favors maintaining the current economic and political system that has made him into one of the richest people in the world. The same bias also underpinned his stance on preserving intellectual property rights over Covid-19 vaccines, even at the cost of impeding access to these vaccines in much of the world.

Just as the pandemic was accentuated by insisting on the rights to continued profits for pharmaceutical companies, climate change is exacerbated by the current economic system that is predicated on unending growth.

A focus on technical solutions without fixing the underlying driver of climate change will not help. What is worse, some of the proposed technologies are positively dangerous.

Exhibit A: untested nuclear reactors like the ones that Gates is developing and endorsing.

Puzzling Choices

In an interview with CNBC following the publication of his book, Bill Gates announced: “There’s a new generation of nuclear power that solves the economics, which has been the big, big problem.”

To understand the economic problem, consider the only two nuclear reactors being built in the United States. These are in the state of Georgia, and the cost of constructing these has ballooned from an initial estimate of $14 billion to over $30 billion.

Even worse was the case of the V. C. Summer project in South Carolina, where over $9 billion was spent, only for the project to be abandoned because cost overruns led to Westinghouse, one of the leading nuclear reactor companies in the world, filing for bankruptcy protection.

These high construction costs naturally result in high electricity costs. In 2021, Lazard, the Wall Street firm, estimated the average cost of electricity from new nuclear plants to be between $131 and $204 per megawatt hour, whereas it estimated that newly constructed utility-scale solar and wind plants produce electricity at somewhere between $26 and $50 per megawatt-hour.

Likewise, in June 2022 NextEra, a large electricity utility, estimated that wind and solar energy, with four hours of electricity storage to allow for generation even when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, ranged between $25 and $37 per megawatt-hour. Electricity from renewables is thus far cheaper than nuclear power, a difference only growing as solar and wind continue to become cheaper.

Many reactors have been shut down because they are unprofitable. In 2018, Bloomberg New Energy Finance concluded that more than a quarter of U.S. nuclear plants don’t make enough money to cover their operating costs.

That year, NextEra decided to shut down the Duane Arnold nuclear reactor in Iowa, because it was cheaper to take advantage of the lower costs of renewables, primarily wind power. The decision, NextEra estimated, will “save customers nearly $300 million in energy costs, on a net present value basis.”

It is this economic conundrum that Gates is claiming to address through new nuclear reactor designs. He is not alone. A number of other investors have backed “new” nuclear technology, and dozens of companies have received funding to design “advanced” or “small modular” reactors.

But these nuclear reactors of the future are no less problematic than traditional reactors. Besides unfavourable economics, there are at least three other well-known “unresolved problems” with nuclear power.

First, the acquisition of nuclear power technology increases the capacity of a country to make nuclear weapons, and thus increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Second, despite assurances about safety, all nuclear reactors can undergo major accidents, albeit infrequently. Chernobyl and Fukushima are the best-known examples, but not the only ones.

Third, the multiple forms of radioactive waste produced during the nuclear energy generation process pose a seemingly intractable management problem. Exposure to these wastes will be harmful to people and other living organisms for hundreds of thousands of years.

Wastes must therefore be isolated for millennia from human contact. The storage and disposal of these wastes often take place in poor, disadvantaged communities, typically far away from the gated homes of people like Gates.

It is not possible to simultaneously address all of these four challenges — cost, safety, waste, and proliferation — facing nuclear power. To a greater or lesser extent, all these problems will afflict the reactors being developed by TerraPower, the nuclear power company backed by Gates………………………………………………………………………….more

November 12, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

USA, France, continue to buy nuclear supplies from Russia – no sanctions on that industry!

Stop funding Russia’s nuclear weapons, The Hill, BY HENRY SOKOLSKI, – 11/13/22

As Washington and the commentariat wring their hands about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear sword rattling, the United States and the European Union (EU) continue to shovel hundreds of millions of dollars to Rosatom — a Russian nuclear firm that maintains Moscow’s nuclear weapons complex and just filched a $60-billion Ukrainian nuclear plant.

Why would Washington and Brussels back such a nuclear villain? Do we really want to support Russian organizations that are critical to Putin building the nuclear bombs he is now threatening us with? No one will say yes, but the nuclear industry in Europe and the United States insist we can’t afford not to.

Besides being in charge of all of Russia’s nuclear weapons production and development, Rosatom supplies nuclear fuel to nuclear plants in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary. Any European Union (EU) decision to cut off fuel to these plants would immediately harm these states economically. So, when Poland, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany recently recommended that the EU ban Russian nuclear imports to avoid funding Russia’s military efforts, the Hungarians and French howled and Brussels blinked.

What’s Paris’s brief? Russia buys two-thirds of France’s electrical steam generators. Also, French nuclear fuel fabricator Framatome just struck a major nuclear fuel development cooperation agreement with Rosatom……………………………

The EU, of course, must act by consensus. But what of the United States? There are no Russian-designed reactors in America. Nor is the United States without alternative uranium suppliers in Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan or practical, near-term uranium enrichment options. Yet, Washington pretty much followed the EU’s play book.

Russia provides roughly 15 percent of America’s raw uranium and 28 percent of its enriched uranium. Combined with Russian nuclear sales to the EU, these uranium imports from Russia fatten Rosatom’s coffers by as much as $1 billion a year — easily more than Rosatom spends to maintain Russia’s nuclear weapons complex.

You’d think that this last point would be politically fatal to further imports. Think again. Only days after Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the Nuclear Energy Institute and Duke power lobbied President Biden to keep Russian uranium imports coming. Failing to do so, they claimed, would risk increasing the cost of “zero-carbon” nuclear-supplied electricity. Worse, they insisted, it would jeopardize the future of advanced small modular reactors, most of which favor using special enriched uranium.

Soon after they made this plea, the White House concurred: Biden announced a U.S. embargo on all forms of Russian energy – oil, natural gas, and coal – but not on uranium…………………………….

November 12, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

How Bill Gates’ TerraPower rips off the American taxpayers

government support adds up to nearly as much as private investments and almost certainly more than Gates has personally invested. In other words, taxpayers have already paid tens of millions of dollars, and could pay far more in the future, for this technology

Beyond Nuclear By M.V. Ramana and Cassandra Jeffery 14 Nov 22…………………………………………………………………………. Bill Gates and TerraPower

TerraPower was founded in 2006 and Gates continues to serve as Chairman of the Board. The company has funded the development of three different nuclear reactor designs through a mix of venture capitalist investments from fellow billionaires, engineering and manufacturing corporations in the energy and defense sector, and government.

The company has research and development partnerships with several major institutions, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, both of which design and test nuclear weapons.

TerraPower is well-funded. In 2010, the company received $35 million in seed money from venture capital firms to develop the first of its nuclear power plant designs, the “traveling wave” reactor. It has also received an undisclosed amount of funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investment firm co-founded and co-chaired by Gates.

According to a 2015 TerraPower promotional video, Gates pledged to invest $2 billion into emerging energy technologies, including nuclear technologies produced by TerraPower. And a few years back, Gates promised to invest $1 billion from his personal coffers and raise another $1 billion in private capital to fund TerraPower directly.

Despite these announcements, the exact financial figure Gates has personally invested into TerraPower is not known. In 2019, he declined interview requests by the Washington Post about his investment in the company. TerraPower’s financial records are not publicly available.

But investments by Gates and his friends are not the only source of funding for TerraPower. In 2016, TerraPower received a $40 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE), followed by another $80 million in 2020, and $8.5 million in 2022.

In 2021, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations has set aside $2.5 billion for nuclear projects and some of this funding will subsidize the TerraPower nuclear project slated for development in Wyoming.

As far as we can tell from publicly available data, government support adds up to nearly as much as private investments and almost certainly more than Gates has personally invested. In other words, taxpayers have already paid tens of millions of dollars, and could pay far more in the future, for this technology.

The U.S. taxpayer isn’t the only source of public funding that Bill Gates has tried to leverage. The 1.4 billion people of China came close to ponying up their tax dollars (or renminbis). After a series of visits by Gates to the Middle Kingdom, TerraPower reached an agreement with state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation in 2017 to build an experimental nuclear reactor south of Beijing.

That project would have likely gone forward but was stopped by America’s waning diplomatic and trade relationship with China…………………………….more

November 12, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Surprise surprise. USA co-opts Ukraine to try out small nuclear reactors

US, Ukraine announce project on construction of small modular nuclear reactor,

New initiative aims to accelerate conversion of coal-fired power plants in central, eastern Europe: US State Department AA, Burc Eruygur   |13.11.2022

The US and Ukraine have announced the launch of a project on the construction of a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) in Ukraine during the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, according to the US State Department.

“Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Ukraine Minister of Energy Herman Halushchenko announced a Ukraine Clean Fuels from SMRs pilot project that will demonstrate the production of clean hydrogen and ammonia using secure and safe SMRs and cutting-edge electrolysis technologies in Ukraine,” read a statement by the US State Department on Saturday………………………

In addition to Argonne National Laboratory and Ukraine’s Energoatom, National Security and Defense Council, and State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, the statement expresses that multiple private companies will also take part in the project’s multinational consortium.

Kerry separately announced the launch of a new initiative, called Project Phoenix, “to accelerate the transition in Europe of coal-fired plants to SMRs while retaining local jobs through workforce retraining,” it also said.

“Project Phoenix will provide direct US support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies and related activities in support of energy security goals for countries in central and eastern Europe,” according to the statement.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova also confirmed the project, reiterating the information released by the US State Department.

“Ukraine is not only working to protect and quickly repair/replace what was destroyed but is already planning to build an innovative energy system,” Markarova said on Facebook.

November 12, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Ukraine | Leave a comment

 Russia maintains its grip on global nuclear energy landscape

Increasing use of atomic power would not necessarily free economies from Moscow’s
influence. Faced with a global energy crisis and a race to slash emissions,
advanced economies are starting to reconsider nuclear power after a period
of declining investment. The incentive is all the greater among European
countries, which are urgently seeking to move away from Russian fossil
fuels to starve the Kremlin of funds for its assault on Ukraine.

But an atomic shift does not necessarily free a country from energy dependence on
Russia, given the scale of the country’s presence in the nuclear sector.

There were 437 operational reactors around the world as of 2021 excluding
those suspended, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. About
10 per cent or 42 reactors outside of Russia were using Soviet-designed
VVER technology, with others using designs from countries including the US,
Canada, Germany and France.

Ukraine has by far the largest number of VVER
fleets outside Russia, with all 15 of its operating reactors using the
technology, with the Czech Republic next on six. Similarly, of the 52
reactors currently being built around the world excluding Russia, 21 use
VVER. China, India and Turkey have the largest number with 4 each, with
countries like Bangladesh, Egypt and Iran also taking in Russian

The prevalence of Russian-designed reactors currently being
built is in part a matter of timing, according to Jonathan Cobb, analyst at
the World Nuclear Association, who said “the Russian reactor programme
itself was very active” over the past decade when many of the contracts
for these projects were signed.

Russia was also the seventh-largest
producer of uranium in 2021. State-owned Rosatom accounts for about 40 per
cent of the world’s uranium enrichment capacity, making it a crucial
supplier as most nuclear power stations use enriched fuel.

 FT 13th Nov 2022

November 12, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Russia | Leave a comment

UK government to dump European Union nuclear safety laws – a deregulated race to the safety bottom?

Revealed: Fears over Brexit threat to nuclear safety laws, Herald 13th November,

UK GOVERNMENT plans threatening nuclear and radiation safety laws in a “Brexit bonfire” have provoked resistance from regulators and trade unionists, opposition from Scottish ministers, and alarm from campaigners.

The Cabinet Office has published a list of more than 2,400 European Union (EU) laws which are under review as part of the Government’s bid to scrap them. They include 10 key regulations designed to protect the public and workers from nuclear accidents and radiation leaks.
The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ORN), which oversees safety at civil and military nuclear sites, told The Ferret it was trying “to preserve the legislative framework” to meet the “highest international standards”.

The trade union Prospect, which represents scientists and engineers in the nuclear industry, accused UK ministers of “trying to weaken or dismantle a regulatory framework that has served the UK well over many decades”.

The Scottish Government attacked Westminster for “rolling back 47 years of protections in a rush to impose a deregulated race to the bottom”.
Campaigners are worried by the dangers of “watering down” nuclear safety law, and demand tougher legal protections.

A bill to remove “retained EU law” was introduced to the UK Parliament by the former business minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, in September. It contains a “sunset” clause requiring all remaining EU law to be repealed or assimilated by the end of 2023, though this can be extended to 2026.

Among the laws under threat is the 2019 Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations which compel councils and companies to draw up emergency plans to deal with nuclear accidents. According to UK Government guidance in 2015, the regulations are “key” to ensuring that the public is “properly protected”.

Three sets of regulations aimed at protecting workers and the public from the hazards of radiation are also up for review. One “lays down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation”, the Government said.

Other laws on the UK Government list cover “maximum permitted levels” of radioactivity in food after a nuclear emergency; imports of radioactively contaminated food following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986; and the safety of decommissioning nuclear plants.

The ORN, which regulates the Faslane nuclear base and six other sites in Scotland, is understood to be taking the threat to nuclear safety laws “very seriously”. The six other sites are Chapelcross in Dumfries and Galloway; Dounreay in Caithness; Hunterston A and Hunterston B, both in North Ayrshire, Rosyth in Fife; and Torness in East Lothian

An ONR spokesperson told The Ferret: “We are in discussions with the Government to preserve the legislative framework that allows us to hold the nuclear sector to account consistent with the highest international standards.”

According to the veteran nuclear critic Pete Roche, this meant that the ONR was resisting the UK Government’s plans. “Reading between the lines, it looks as though the ONR is planning to fight any proposals to make drastic changes to nuclear regulation,” he said.

“In recent meetings I have been involved in, ONR representatives have stressed the need to uphold the highest international standards. I can only hope I am not being overly optimistic and that they stick to their guns.”

Prospect argued that the existing regulatory framework worked well at protecting workers and communities. This was vital as old nuclear plants were being decommissioned and new ones built, it said.
“Perhaps the Government should focus on ensuring that existing regulators are properly resourced to do this important work rather than trying to weaken or dismantle a regulatory framework that has served the UK well over many decades,” said Prospect’s senior deputy general secretary, Sue Ferns.

“Tearing up existing regulations for the sake of purportedly ‘taking back control’ does nothing but introduce uncertainty,” she added. “Nuclear is an international industry, there is no value in seeking to craft UK specific legislative variants just for the sake of it.”

The Scottish Government has urged the Scottish Parliament to withhold consent for the “Brexit bonfire” bill. “Ministers fundamentally oppose the Retained EU Law Bill,” said a spokesperson. “This bill puts at risk the high standards people have come to expect from EU membership, rolling back 47 years of protections in a rush to impose a deregulated race to the bottom.”

The 50-strong group of Nuclear Free Local Authorities was “gravely concerned” about the “threat to water down legislation which provides the public or our environment with protection from the operational or legacy risks posed by civil nuclear power”.
The group’s chairman David Blackburn, a Green councillor from Leeds, said: “If European regulations providing protection are to be removed, we will press Government ministers to instead enact equivalent, or preferably stronger, laws into UK domestic legislation.”

The environmental campaigner and former director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Dr Richard Dixon, thought that the EU gave the public and workers “vital protections” against radiation risks.
“No backsliding at all can be allowed,” he said.
“This has never been more important with the prospect of damage to nuclear reactors or even the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
“Protection of the same strength or better needs to be put in place.”

The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not respond to requests for comment. ………….

November 12, 2022 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Concern over radioactive particles on Dounreay shoreline – poor monitoring of the nuclear clean-up

 Letter Tor Justad: I refer to recent press reports referring to new high
numbers of “harmful” radioactive particles found on the Dounreay
shoreline and Sandside beach which suggested they were related to leaks
between 1958 and 1984, with 73% of the particles described as
“significant”, and 15 particles found between February and March 2022.

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), responsible for decommissioning the
site, said it was closely monitoring the situation and Sepa (Scottish
Environment Protection Agency) stated “we are content that the monitoring
and retrieval programme in place continues to provide appropriate
protection for the public”. DSRL stated “the foreshore is not used by
the general public”

– this is not a reassurance as nuclear radiation
has no boundaries. Highlands Against Nuclear Transport (Hant) is
represented on the Dounreay Stakeholder Group (DSG) and has regularly asked
for information about the monitoring being carried out and the results –
and has been told that information will be made available when the
monitoring report is provided by an independent body.

Neither the DSG meeting on March 22 nor the Site Restoration Sub Group meeting on October
19 were informed of these findings of concern. Given that this information
has only been made available through press reports to date, Hant would want
the following to be implemented:

i) Regular up-to-date reports provided to
the DSG and by press releases to the local press on the monitoring results,
so that the DSG can provide this information to organisations represented
by members and the general public will be informed by the local press.
Assuming that the results of the monitoring can demonstrate that there is
no danger to the public this will provide reassurance to everyone living in
the area around Dounreay;

ii) That the Dounreay “clean up” reports
provided by DSRL to the Particles Retrieval Advisory Group Dounreay (Prag)
be provided to the DSG and local press – an online search resulted in the
latest information from the Prag online being from 2016 and this is totally

iii) That a presentation be made to the DSG by the outside
body carrying out the monitoring to describe its methodology and how
regularly it is carried out – to provide local reassurance. Hant looks
forward to the immediate implementation of these proposals and will be
monitoring this issue closely over the next months.

 Press & Journal 11th Nov 2022

November 12, 2022 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Sizewell C – proposed coastal area is not suitable for nuclear reactors

 Letter: Your leader on Sizewell C ignores a couple of factors that are key
to our local objections. First, the coastline on which Sizewell A and B are
built and Sizewell C is proposed is disintegrating at an increasingly
alarming rate – just two weeks’ ago a building at nearby Thorpeness had
to be demolished due to collapse of the cliffs.

Second, there is insufficient water in Suffolk to build and operate Sizewell C, which was
one of the main reasons the government’s own planning inspectorate
advised against it recently. Water is planned to be found through the
construction of desalination plants – these require huge amounts of
energy, but more importantly the waste salt and other minerals from the
extraction process will be put back into the sea, poisoning the waters
around for miles.

There are other reasons why this is a disastrous
location: it is a site of special scientific interest and an area of
outstanding natural beauty and the prototype for this type of reactor has
yet to be proved at Flamanville – still not operational, years over
schedule and way over budget. Nuclear has moved on since the design of
these reactors. The government should think again.

 Observer 13th Nov 2022

November 12, 2022 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment