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TODAY. Right Wing politics – are they getting cold feet about nuclear power?

It’s getting harder to understand politics

The Right wing – traditionally stupid – now having (rather intelligent?) second thoughts about waging eternal war, and even concerned about the cost of the weapons-to Ukraine binge. The Left, the intelligentsia (?) , are gung ho for war.

Now shock horror! – twinges of criticism of nuclear power amongst the Right, while the political Left, by and large promote nuclear power.

Even in Australia the right-wing News Corpse is whingeing about nuclear costs.

What is a traditional Leftie like me, supposed to do?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the political Right are pretty stupid. (At least, here in Australia, I can vouch for that.)

But, on the subject of nuclear power, there seems to be a glimmer of light emerging. And that is confusing to the onlooker.

Up until now, one could depend on Right-wing media and politicians to be firmly united in praising nuclear power (it’s safe, clean, cheap, solves climate change, solves energy problems, has no connection with weapons etc etc). Meanwhile the political Left are a bit less stupid, (have a few reservations about nuclear power – mainly cost) and on their extreme Left, actually oppose it.

We knew where we all stood. But now – there’s a weakening among the previously sturdy Right.

Dwayne Yancey in his thoughtful article The Complicated Politics of Nuclear Power” points out that in the USA 37% of Republicans oppose nuclear power, and in Virginia, a strongly religious Republican Delegate, Marie March, opposes plans for “a sacrifice zone” of small nuclear reactors there.

In the UK, Sanjoy Sen, writing in Conservative Home, raises serious doubts about nuclear power plans, and raises the possibility that someone might “get cold feet and cancel all that”. He rather ominously warns “what can we learn from our French neighbours, the world’s biggest nuclear enthusiasts?” [nuclear power is failing in France] He does go on to parrot out the widely believed dogma that small nuclear reactors are the answer to everything. But still his article shows a definite chink in Right wing belief in the rightness of nuclear power.


December 7, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Christina's notes, politics | Leave a comment

USA and UK welded together firmly in the grip of the nuclear lobby, with their Small Nuclear Reactor folly.

UK and US ‘like-minded’ on nuclear power as key to energy security,

SMR, Rob Harris, December 7, 2022 British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his counterpart, US President Joe Biden, have announced a new venture to secure supply and reduce price volatility, with the US promising to more than double the amount of gas it exported to the UK last year.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his counterpart, US President Joe Biden, have announced a new venture to secure supply and reduce price volatility, with the US promising to more than double the amount of gas it exported to the UK last year.

The new “UK-US Energy Security and Affordability Partnership” will aim to reduce global dependence on Russian energy exports, stabilise energy markets and step up collaboration on energy efficiency, nuclear and renewables.

But the focus on nuclear sharpens the divide between Australia’s attitudes towards a civil nuclear power industry and those of its two closest allies – governments of all persuasions in Canberra have outlawed a domestic industry and resisted calls to overturn the ban for decades……………..

In a joint statement, Sunak and Biden said their new agreement would promote nuclear energy as “a safe and reliable part of the clean energy transition”.

“This includes deepening global collaboration on nuclear fuels and advanced nuclear technologies.”

They said both nations would work to deepen global collaboration between “like-minded countries” on small modular reactors (SMRs) and support a resilient and diversified nuclear fuel supply chain………………………………….

Nuclear power is now firmly back on the agenda, particularly in Britain and France, amid new fears for energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ever-greater need to reduce global carbon emissions.

The US, with 92 commercial reactors, is the world’s largest producer, accounting for more than 30 per cent of the nuclear-generated electricity worldwide.

Large reactor projects are still facing financial and construction problems, with the UK’s 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point C plant hit by delays and cost overruns. But analysts believe [for “analysts” read “nuclear salesmen”]the time may be right for SMRs – which could also prove affordable to nations unable to fund large nuclear plants…………

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week rebuffed a push by South Australian Premier, Peter Malinauskas, to restart the nuclear debate in Australia, citing waste and safety concerns as key reasons nuclear should not be considered as an energy option………

“I haven’t changed my view that it’s a huge distraction from what we need to do. It just doesn’t add up,” he said on Adelaide radio 5AA. “That’s essentially the problem. Every five years or so we have this economic analysis of whether nuclear power stacks up and every time it’s rejected.”………..

December 7, 2022 Posted by | politics international, UK, USA | Leave a comment

UK Tories getting nervous about nuclear power plans?

Conservative Home Sanjay Sen 7 Dec 22

Fears that Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement would see Sizewell C cancelled proved unfounded. The 3.3 giga-watt nuclear mega-project is now set to get under way on the Suffolk coast with a price tag of £20 billion.

Or maybe £30 billion. If the track record of its French design is anything to go by, things might not go exactly to plan.

Nick Clegg
 famously dismissed nuclear power because it takes a decade to come on-line. That was a decade ago, and we could really do with some extra power right now.

today’s Government has big ambitions: eight sign-offs by 2030 with nuclear supplying 25 per cent of our power by 2050. As long as no-one gets cold feet and cancels all that.

Net Zero enthusiasts and climate sceptics alike see a major role for nuclear. But is Sizewell C best way to deliver it? How did we get where we are now? And what can we learn from our French neighbours, the world’s biggest nuclear enthusiasts?

………… Meanwhile, our current nuclear fleet is fast depleting. Despite generous life extensions, all but one of the UK’s nine remaining reactors will be retired by 2030. That means Sizewell C will mostly be plugging the gap left behind, not creating extra capacity. To compound matters, our ability to import electricity could be impacted by the challenges facing the French nuclear industry.

Is Sizewell C our best option – or was it our only option?

Sizewell C is a tweaked version of Hinkley Point C which is (still) under construction. Whilst its third-generation EPR technology is intended to deliver improved efficiency and safety, it hasn’t exactly performed flawlessly to date. Operational plants at Olkiluoto (Finland) and Taishan 1 and 2 (China) have proven problematic so far. Those under construction, Flamanville 3 (France) and our very own Hinkley, continue to incur delays and cost over-runs.

Whilst engineers will recognise the technology, much differs below the surface. Hinkley is 80 per cent French (EDF) and 20 per cent Chinese (CGN). But with EDF financially constrained and relations now strained with Beijing, Sizewell ownership will be 20 per cent EDF, 20 per cent UK Government, with the remainder from infrastructure investors and pension funds.

Contracts for Difference
 have also been ditched. Not only blamed for Hinkley’s giant cost, they are also held responsible for scaring off other would-be nuclear investors: Hitachi Wylfa (North Wales) and Toshiba Moorside (Cumbria). Instead, Sizewell will use the Regulated Asset Base model which shares costs (and risks) with consumers from day one………………………….

December 7, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Europe accuses US of profiting from war

EU officials attack Joe Biden over sky-high gas prices, weapons sales and trade as Vladimir Putin’s war threatens to destroy Western unity.

  BY BARBARA MOENSJAKOB HANKE VELA AND JACOPO BARIGAZZI, NOVEMBER 24, 2022  “………………….. Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer. 

“The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO. 

The explosive comments — backed in public and private by officials, diplomats and ministers elsewhere — follow mounting anger in Europe over American subsidies that threaten to wreck European industry. The Kremlin is likely to welcome the poisoning of the atmosphere among Western allies. 

“We are really at a historic juncture,” the senior EU official said, arguing that the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance. “America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries.”………………………..

As they attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, EU countries are turning to gas from the U.S. instead — but the price Europeans pay is almost four times as high as the same fuel costs in America. Then there’s the likely surge in orders for American-made military kit as European armies run short after sending weapons to Ukraine. ……………………….

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the risks that the increasingly toxic atmosphere will have for the Western alliance. The bickering is exactly what Putin would wish for, EU and U.S. diplomats agreed. 

The growing dispute over Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — a huge tax, climate and health care package — has put fears over a transatlantic trade war high on the political agenda again. EU trade ministers are due to discuss their response on Friday as officials in Brussels draw up plans for an emergency war chest of subsidies to save European industries from collapse. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act is very worrying,” said Dutch Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher. “The potential impact on the European economy is very big.”

“The U.S. is following a domestic agenda, which is regrettably protectionist and discriminates against U.S. allies,” said Tonino Picula, the European Parliament’s lead person on the transatlantic relationship…………………………

Behind the scenes, there is also growing irritation about the money flowing into the American defense sector.

The U.S. has by far been the largest provider of military aid to Ukraine, supplying more than $15.2 billion in weapons and equipment since the start of the war. The EU has so far provided about €8 billion of military equipment to Ukraine, according to Borrell.

According to one senior official from a European capital, restocking of some sophisticated weapons may take “years” because of problems in the supply chain and the production of chips. This has fueled fears that the U.S. defense industry can profit even more from the war. 

The Pentagon is already developing a roadmap to speed up arms sales, as the pressure from allies to respond to greater demands for weapons and equipment grows.  ……………………… more

December 7, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

UN: Israel must take ‘immediate steps’ to give up nuclear weapons December 8, 2022 

The UN General Assembly has called on Israel to take “immediate steps” to surrender its nuclear weapons and implement UN resolutions fully on the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

The General Assembly vote was carried 149-6 yesterday. Israel, Canada, Micronesia, Palau, the US and Liberia opposed the resolution, while another 26 countries abstained, including India and many European states.

Among other provisions, the draft resolution called for immediate steps towards the full implementation of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty. The key component of the package deal adopted in the treaty calls for the creation of a Middle East “zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction” including “their delivery systems.”

The world body insisted that Israel must “accede to the Treaty without further delay, and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce their possession and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.”

Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons is an open secret. Although it’s widely believed to have a stockpile of nuclear weapons, the apartheid state neither acknowledges nor denies the existence of a nuclear arsenal. Israel is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and has not accepted IAEA safeguards on some of its principal nuclear activities.

Western countries have generally tolerated Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity despite the threat it poses to the region. The UN resolution presumes that Israel has such weapons and calls on it to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

December 7, 2022 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Macron: Russia Needs Security Guarantees ‘Essential’ To Ending The War BY TYLER DURDEN 6 Dec 22

As we detailed earlier, a clear division is arising between Europe and the United States over Washington’s more hawkish and hardline stance on resisting all negotiations with Russia, but instead which is centered on encouraging Kiev to pursuing ‘victory’ on the battlefield. 

“The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior European official bluntly complained to Politico last month.

Underscoring that Europe is more ready to pursue avenues of negotiated settlement in Ukraine, over the weekend French President Emmanuel Macron urged for the West to take seriously Russia’s security concerns regarding NATO expansion near its border. He called for greater willingness to give Moscow the “guarantees” necessary for negotiations to be successful. He called them ‘essential’ if the West wants to get serious about talks and peaceful settlement. 

“We need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table,” President Macron said in an interview that aired Saturday.

That’s when he underlined something which a mere months ago would elicit rage and accusations of ‘pro-Kremlin’ stooge among Western mainstream punditry. “One of the essential points we must address — as President Putin has always said — is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia,” Macron said. 

The timing of the remarks was interesting given the interview was recorded while he was on the US on a state visit to the White House, and it aired as he departed. 

According to The New York Times, “The interview with TF1, a French television network, appeared sympathetic to the concerns of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and was immediately picked up prominently by TASS, the Russian state news agency. It prompted an angry reaction in Ukraine.”

While there was no immediate reaction from the Biden administration, the Ukrainian presidency’s office said such negotiations and security guarantees would only be possible “after tribunal, conviction of war authors and war criminals” and the “imposition of large-scale reparations.”

Separately, David Arakhamia, the chief of the Ukrainian negotiating group involved in short-lived ceasefire talks in the opening months of the war, also echoed that Russian forces must first “leave the territory of our country; pay reparations; punish all war criminals; voluntarily give up nuclear weapons.”

The Times further points out that Russian state media was quick to amplify Macron’s interview statements

Responding to a tweet from TASS featuring Mr. Macron’s remarks, Nicolas Tenzer, a prominent French political scientist and essayist, commented: “Devastating.”

During the summer months and prior, European leaders seemed to tilt toward Washington’s more hardline approach to the conflict, but with the energy crisis becoming more acute and now headed into the winter months it appears a new consensus is emerging.
As another example, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke with President Vladimir Putin on Friday, with the Kremlin side later saying that Scholz admitted the West’s policy on Ukraine is “destructive” and that Berlin may pursue a rethinking of its policy

December 7, 2022 Posted by | France, politics international | Leave a comment

Lawmakers reject bid to audit US aid for Ukraine

House Republicans vowed to try again later after their resolution was narrowly defeated.

The US has been supplying Ukraine with assorted heavy weaponry, including armored vehicles, artillery, rockets and drones, since – and even before – Russia launched its military operation against the neighboring state in late February. The total amount of funds appropriated for Kiev in military and economic aid by the US has already exceeded $100 billion in less than a year. 7 Dec 22,

A resolution calling for an audit of US military and economic aid to Ukraine has been narrowly defeated in the House of Representatives. The measure, spearheaded by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and backed by multiple fellow legislators, was rejected by 26 votes to 22 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

The proposed audit had been strongly opposed by House Democrats, who argued that such oversight activities would have sent a wrong signal to Ukraine, which has been strongly supported by Washington in its ongoing conflict with Russia. 

“This is not the time for us to be divided. We’ve held together with NATO, and the EU, and our allies. Let’s not fall into this trap,” the top Democrat on the committee, Representative Gregory W. Meeks (NY), said during the debate.

Republicans rejected such arguments, however, insisting that the measure was about transparency and accountability for Americans, rather than about sending any messages to Kiev. Greene also claimed that House Democrats were “blinded by hate” for her and were making Ukrainian oversight a purely political issue.

Despite the failure of the resolution to get through the committee, the outcome of the vote was hailed as a major win by its sponsors, as it has demonstrated unity among Republicans. Greene vowed to continue her efforts to push through the audit motion, promising to try again when the Republicans gain a slim majority in the House.

“It’s official the Democrats have voted NO to transparency for the American people for an Audit for Ukraine. But we take over in January! This audit will happen!” Greene wrote on Twitter.

While the Republicans have managed to demonstrate unity on the issue of stricter oversight in relation to continued support for Kiev, few have actually spoken against it altogether. Greene is one of few conservative Republicans who have been vocally opposed to sending billions to Ukraine.

The US has been supplying Ukraine with assorted heavy weaponry, including armored vehicles, artillery, rockets and drones, since – and even before – Russia launched its military operation against the neighboring state in late February. The total amount of funds appropriated for Kiev in military and economic aid by the US has already exceeded $100 billion in less than a year.

December 7, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘New’ Nuclear Reactors Will Make Us a Guinea Pig Nation

“The central issue,……“is that the NRC is accepting on faith that these new reactors are going to be safer and wants to adjust its regulations accordingly, to make them less stringent—on faith.”

Federal officials want to gut safety measures to pave the way for untested new facilities—maybe in your neighborhood. BY KARL GROSSMAN , DECEMBER 6, 2022

“Guinea Pig Nation: How the NRC’s new licensing rules could turn communities into test beds for risky, experimental nuclear plants,” is what physicist Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists, titled his presentation on November 17.

The “Night with the Experts” online session, organized by the Nuclear Energy Information Service, focused on how the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is involved in a major change of its rules and guidance to gut government regulations to pave the way for what the nuclear industry calls “advanced” nuclear power plants.

Already, Lyman said, the NRC has moved to allow the construction of nuclear power plants in thickly populated areas. This “change in policy” was approved in a vote by NRC commissioners in late July. 

For more than a half-century, the NRC and its predecessor agency, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, sought to have nuclear power plants built in “low population zones”—because of the threat of a major nuclear plant accident. But this year the NRC substantially altered this policy. 

The lone NRC vote against the change came from Commissioner Jeff Baran, who in casting his ‘no’ vote wrote, “Multiple, independent layers of protection against potential radiological exposure are necessary because we do not have perfect knowledge of new reactor technologies and their unique potential accident scenarios . . . . Unlike light-water reactors, new advanced reactor designs do not have decades of operating experience; in many cases, the new designs have never been built or operated before.” 

He cited the NRC criteria, which declare that the agency “has a longstanding policy of siting nuclear reactors away from densely populated centers and preferring areas of low population density.” Under the new policy, he noted, a “reactor could be sited within a town of 25,000 people and right next to a large city.”

That is just one of the many reductions proposed in safety standards.

“The central issue,” says Lyman in an interview following his presentation, “is that the NRC is accepting on faith that these new reactors are going to be safer and wants to adjust its regulations accordingly, to make them less stringent—on faith.”

The industry’s new line of smaller nuclear power plants—including what it calls the “small modular nuclear reactor”—are much more expensive than existing light-water nuclear power plants. The older, more common nuclear power plants are large and cooled by plain water, whereas the new “advanced” plants are more costly, in part because they are cooled by various other substances. 

Weakening safety standards will, of course, make it easier to build and cheaper to operate these pricey reactors. The proposed changes are a demonstration of one of the NRC’s nicknames—the “Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission.”

A list of the NRC’s proposed safety reductions was included in Lyman’s presentation, quoted here with my commentary:

  • Allowing nuclear power plants to have a “small containment—or no physical containment at all.” Containments are the domes over nuclear plants to try to contain radioactive releases in an accident.
  • “No offsite emergency planning requirements.” The NRC has been requiring emergency planning including the designation of a ten-mile evacuation zone around a nuclear power plant.
  • “Fewer or even zero operators.” The nuclear industry would like advanced nuclear plants to operate “autonomously.”
  • Letting the plants have “fewer” NRC “inspections and weaker enforcement.”
  • Reduced equipment reliability reporting. 
  • “Applications” for an advanced reactor “should contain minimal information.”
  • The NRC’s review standards should be lenient.
  • Letting the plants have “fewer inspections and weaker enforcement.”
  • Fewer back-up safety systems.
  • Regulatory requirements should be few in number and vague.
  • “Zero” armed security personnel to try to protect an advanced nuclear power plant from terrorists. 

The “NRC is willing to twist and contort even reasonable safety regulations in ways that cater to nuclear industry desires to a degree that would rival a toy balloon-dog at a children’s party,” Nuclear Energy Information Service director David Kraft tells The Progressive. “It is this kind of almost institutionalized acquiescence to industry wants that has led many to believe that NRC stands for Not Really Concerned.”

In his talk, Lyman referenced a 140-page report for the Union of Concerned Scientists which he authored, issued in March 2021, titled “ ‘Advanced’ Isn’t Always Better, Assessing the Safety, Security, and Environmental Impacts of Non-Light-Water Nuclear Reactors.”

The report states: “Almost all nuclear power reactors operating and under construction today are LWRs, so called because they use ordinary water to cool their hot, highly radioactive cores. Some observers believe that the LWR [light-water reactor], the industry workhorse, has inherent flaws that are inhibiting nuclear power’s growth,” he writes. “In response, the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories, universities, and numerous private vendors—from large established companies to small startups—are pursuing the development of reactors that differ fundamentally from LWRs. These non-light-water reactors (NLWRs) are cooled not by water, but by other substances, such as liquid sodium, helium gas, or even molten salts.”

Though these are called “advanced” reactors, the report continues, most of them are modeled on decades-old designs. 

“In part,” he notes, “the nuclear industry’s push to commercialize NLWRs is driven by its desire to show the public and policymakers that there is a high-tech alternative to the static, LWR-dominated status quo: a new generation of ‘advanced’ reactors. But a fundamental question remains: Is different actually better? The short answer is no. Nearly all of the NLWRs currently on the drawing board fail to provide significant enough improvements over LWRs to justify their considerable risks.”

“Make no mistake about it—while NRC is doing its part to serve nuclear industry needs, we should not lose sight of the fact that it is the aggressive pro-nuclear agenda of the Biden Administration that has unleashed a juggernaut of financial and PR support for new nuclear reactors,” Kraft says “Everything from the tens of billions of dollars allocated for new nuclear in the Infrastructure Act and the IRA [Inflation Reduction Act, which establishes a nuclear power production tax credit], to the national dog-and-pony show [the recent U.S. tour promoting nuclear power] of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, demonstrates the Administration’s intentions to run roughshod over the objections of the public. We have a hard fight ahead of us.”

The NRC is not currently accepting comments on its plan for changes to its regulations for “advanced” reactors, according to Lyman. But he encouraged the public to weigh in on NRC actions via public meetings and email. The Nuclear Energy Information service plans to post his talk on its website.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in CounterPunch and is reprinted with perm

December 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ineos Grangemouth refinery: Anti-nuclear campaigners will put up a huge fight against any attempt to build small nuclear reactors – Dr Richard Dixon

The talks between Ineos and Rolls Royce about siting a nuclear reactor at the Grangemouth refinery are a huge gift to campaigners opposed to a new generation of nuclear. By Richard Dixon, 8 Dec 22,

The idea contains the perfect combination of elements needed to ensure its own defeat. This is a plan to build an untested type of nuclear reactor on a site with significant explosion risks all around, in the middle of the most densely populated part of Scotland, with a government that is opposed to nuclear, and, best of all, for a man trade unionists and the public love to hate.

Up to now, nuclear reactors have been placed in out-of-the way places in case the worst happens – from leaks and explosions to terrorist attacks. Or even direct military attacks as in Ukraine. This reactor would be in the middle of the Central Belt, with maximum consequences guaranteed if something goes wrong.

The nuclear industry’s latest wheeze is the small modular reactor (SMR). They make it in a factory, bring it in on trucks and bolt it together on site. There are a number of problems. Firstly they aren’t small, needing an area the size of two football pitches and with the latest proposal having a capacity half as big as the full-scale reactors used by the French nuclear fleet.

They will cost an eye-watering sum: the current estimate is £2 billion but the one certainty about the nuclear industry is that the final cost is always several times what they originally told you. And they would produce proportionally more radioactive waste than the bigger versions. And, of course, there is still no permanent solution for nuclear waste, 70 years on from the start of the civil nuclear programme. Oh yes, and it will be well into the 2030s before an SMR could be built.

The UK Government is keen on the idea, having allocated more than £200 million to their development. But the Scottish Government has been implacably opposed to new nuclear, concentrating instead on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Renewable energy is much cheaper, much faster to install and much, much safer. The scenarios drawn up ahead of the imminent Energy Strategy did not contain any new nuclear power, small, large or otherwise, and the Scottish Government has already been quoted in the press as saying it would block any attempt to build a reactor at Grangemouth.

The Grangemouth site is home to a range of hazardous industries, so much so that Falkirk’s football stadium only has stands on three sides because the fourth would have been inside the Grangemouth ‘blast zone’. Aside from an active war zone, there can’t be a more dangerous place to put a pile of super-hot radioactive material.

Then there is Sir Jim Ratcliffe, twice thwarted in his ambition to become the UK’s Fracker in Chief and a hate figure among the unions for the way he treated workers at Grangemouth. The ideal site-based environmental campaign would be based on this being a dangerous proposal in the wrong place, with hostile politics and a really clear bad guy. This proposal has it all and, if it starts to become real, you can expect an almighty fight.

December 7, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Will small modular reactors seed a nuclear renaissance?

Corporate Knights does not consider new nuclear power projects to be “green” i

However, big questions remain about SMRs as the technology is largely untested. It’s unclear what the electricity from SMRs will cost and whether the technology can compete with cheap renewable sources like wind and solar backed up by storage. The prospect of micro reactors dotting remote Canadian landscapes also raises serious issues around safety and management of highly radioactive wastes.

Four Canadian provinces are banking on SMRs to help decarbonize their electricity grids, but critics argue the technology is unproven

Corporate Knights, BY SHAWN MCCARTHY, DECEMBER 8, 2022

It’s been more than a decade since Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) pulled the plug on its advanced CANDU reactor – a newly designed mega-reactor that industry said would usher in a “nuclear renaissance.”

Now Canada is seeing yet another promised resurgence for the nuclear industry. And this time, it comes in a size small. On December 1, Ontario Premier Doug Ford participated in a groundbreaking at Darlington nuclear facility, where provincially owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plans to build a small modular reactor (SMR).

If the Darlington project gets a green light on the final investment decision, the unit will be the first new reactor built in Canada in nearly 40 years, as other companies are pursuing plans to build SMRs across the country. (The nuclear sector has, however, been buoyed by massive reactor refurbishment projects at Darlington and Bruce Power’s eight-reactor site on Lake Huron.)

The industry’s latest hope, SMRs have a capacity of up to 300 megawatts and modular design features that are meant to keep construction costs under control (nuclear projects are notorious for their multibillion-dollar cost overruns). Micro reactors can be as small as five megawatts and are touted as an energy solution for remote communities and industrial sites like mines.

That’s in sharp contrast with the 1,000-megawatt behemoths that were marketed around the world in the first decade of the century by reactor manufacturers, including then federally owned AECL, Westinghouse Electric Co. and others.

The federal government and four provinces – Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta – are lining up to support the commercial deployment of SMRs as low-carbon sources of electricity.

However, big questions remain about SMRs as the technology is largely untested. It’s unclear what the electricity from SMRs will cost and whether the technology can compete with cheap renewable sources like wind and solar backed up by storage. The prospect of micro reactors dotting remote Canadian landscapes also raises serious issues around safety and management of highly radioactive wastes.

Corporate Knights does not consider new nuclear power projects to be “green” in its Sustainable Economy Taxonomy. In July, the European Union overturned a draft proposal and included nuclear in its taxonomy for the purposes of green investing, though that controversial decision is being challenged in court by Austria, backed by several environmental groups.

In its fall fiscal update, the federal government introduced an investment tax credit of up to 30% for clean energy technologies, including SMRs. Ottawa has also committed $970 million in low-interest financing through the Canada Infrastructure Bank for the Darlington SMR project.

A bad day to go nuclear

Last decade was not kind to the nuclear industry, as Japan’s Fukushima meltdown after a tsunami in 2011 was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident of 1986 and led to the shutdown of all the country’s reactors. Those safety threats loom large today as Russia has attacked Ukraine’s nuclear energy site.

As well, the economic case for large new reactors has taken a beating over the years, as projects have been plagued by delays and cost overruns………………………….

At the National Energy Roundtable’s conference at the end of November, several speakers argued for the inclusion of nuclear in Canada’s strategy to electrify the economy. Energy ministers from Ontario and New Brunswick touted the benefits of SMRs, saying the technology can provide affordable, continuous, non-emitting power.

The two provinces – in addition to Alberta and uranium-rich Saskatchewan – have agreed to work together on the commercialization of SMRs……………………………….

At Darlington, OPG expects to receive a construction licence in 2024 and will release detailed cost estimates as design and regulatory work proceeds, OPG spokesman Neal Kelly said in an email.

Former mayor of Iqaluit Madeleine Redfern said at the roundtable discussion that SMRs can help northern communities and industry end their reliance on expensive, dirty and often unreliable diesel generators. Small reactors, she said, would be more reliable than intermittent electricity production from wind or solar projects. (Redfern is also chief operating officer of CanArctic Inuit Networks and an Indigenous advisor to nuclear energy developer USNC-Power, which is partnering with OPG on a demonstration reactor project, as it seeks approvals from the federal nuclear regulator.)…………………………………

Critics argue that SMRs pose the same problems of safety and waste disposal that have bedevilled the nuclear industry for decades. The future “lies in capturing the sun and wind, not in splitting atoms,” Greenpeace campaigner Keith Stewart said in an email. “SMRs have been a decade away from deployment for the last 30 years, while wind and solar are actually being deployed.”…………………….

Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith 

aid Ontario is committed to electrification but will need the federal government to be a reliable partner to help keep costs down. “If the price of electricity soars, we’re not going to see electrification unfold,” he said.

However, whether SMRs can be a timely source of cheap and low-carbon electricity for Ontario and beyond remains to be seen.

December 7, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Putin: Nuclear risk is rising, but we are not mad

By Alys Davies, 7 Dec 22, BBC News

Vladimir Putin has said the threat of a nuclear war was rising, but insisted Russia had not “gone mad” and would not use its nuclear weapons first.

The Russian president insisted that his country would only use weapons of mass destruction in response to an attack.

Speaking at Russia’s annual human rights council meeting, he also said the war in Ukraine could be a “lengthy process”.

Western officials believe Putin initially planned for a rapid victory.

Russia’s capacity to use nuclear weapons has come under increased scrutiny since it invaded Ukraine in February.

“Such a threat is growing, it would be wrong to hide it,” Putin warned while talking about the prospect of nuclear war via video link from Moscow.

But he asserted that Russia would “under no circumstances” use the weapons first, and would not threaten anyone with its nuclear arsenal.

“We have not gone mad, we are aware of what nuclear weapons are,” he said, adding: “We aren’t about to run around the world brandishing this weapon like a razor.”

Putin also boasted that Russia had the most modern and advanced nuclear weapons in the world, and contrasted its nuclear strategy to the US – who he said had gone further than Russia by locating its nuclear weapons on other territories.

“We do not have nuclear weapons, including tactical ones, on the territory of other countries, but the Americans do – in Turkey, and in a number of other European countries,” he said………………………………………

December 7, 2022 Posted by | Kyrgyzstan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia accuses Ukraine of nuclear terrorism over Zaporizhzhia 6 Dec 22.

The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that Ukraine was continuing to shell the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, deliberately creating the threat of a possible nuclear catastrophe.

Shoigu said Russian forces were taking “all measures” to ensure the safety of the power plant, Europe’s largest, in the face of what he called “nuclear terrorism” from Kyiv, Reuters reported.

Ukraine denies shelling the facility, which has been under the control of Russian forces since the first days of the war, and has accused Russia of firing on it.

“Our units are taking all measures to ensure the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Shoigu told his military chiefs in a conference call, an abridged transcript of which was published by the defence ministry.

“In turn, the Kyiv regime seeks to create the appearance of a threat of a nuclear catastrophe by continuing to deliberately shell the site,” he added.

Shoigu said Ukraine had fired 33 large-caliber shells at the plant in the last two weeks. Most had been intercepted by Russian air defences, he said, though “some still hit objects that affect the safe operation of the nuclear power plant”.

“We classify these attacks by Ukrainian troops as nuclear terrorism,” he added.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the claims. Both Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for attacks on the facility. Kyiv has also accused Moscow of using the plant as a de facto weapons depot.

December 7, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 ‘Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction’

 ‘Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction’: As COP15 talks kick
off, calls mount for ambitious outcome. UN Secretary General warns
humanity’s current treatment of nature amounts to a suicide mission, as
first day of critical nature talks opens in Quebec capital.

 Business Green 7th Dec 2022

December 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What are the risks and treatment if nuclear power plant radioactivity is released?

Russia’s war renews nuclear disaster fears. What to know about the dangers of radiation., Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY 8 Dec 22

“…………………………………………………. A leak from Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is among the highest risk, experts told USA TODAY, because Russia has deliberately targeted the area. Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s largest nuclear power station and has been under Russian control since shortly after the invasion.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency is trying to establish a safety zone around the plant because while nuclear power plants are built to withstand many natural disasters, few are designed to survive direct military attacks, said Edwin Lyman, a nuclear expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists. An attack on the plant could potentially release intense radiation in a small area and weaker radioactive particles over a wider area.

“The fact that Russia would want to seize that plant, it’s not surprising,” said Lyman. “I think it’s sort of inevitable. And it’s something the industry never wanted to think about.”

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which is also in Ukraine, is not considered a serious potential source of radiation leakage, in part because its 1986 meltdown led to its shutdown and removal of its nuclear fuel system. However, the Health Physics Society says there could be small, localized releases of radioactive material if the area is disturbed.

Chernobyl disaster:A look at the what happened, 30 years later

What happened following the Chernobyl meltdown could be the same as for Zaporizhzhia: A relatively small number of plant operators exposed to intense radiation, and then broader contamination carried in the wind and water absorbed into the land and animals. Nuclear power plants are designed to avoid the kind of explosion created by a nuclear bomb.

According to the CDC, exposure to Acute Radiation Syndrome only happens to people exposed to intense radiation, generally in a very short period of time. That could be someone working in a nuclear power plant during a meltdown, or someone near the site of nuclear weapon’s detonation.

For these people, specialized treatments to protect their bone marrow and stomach lining — vomiting and nausea are common signs of ARS — are available but not widely distributed, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

For the public, authorities often have stockpiles of potassium iodide pills, especially in areas close to nuclear power plants. The iodide pills help prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation, which could lead to tumors, but do not treat other kinds of radiation exposure, according to the CDC.

Authorities typically maintain stockpiles of the pills but don’t give them out unless there’s a confirmed release, and even then, they are typically given to people 40 and younger because they are most at risk for developing thyroid problems later in life.

For people who are near a reactor accident but not immediately harmed, the CDC recommends they get or stay inside to avoid any potentially radioactive dust or smoke, remove and bag up any potentially contaminated clothing, and then shower to remove any particles on exposed skin and hair.

A nuclear risk ‘nightmare’? After seizing Chernobyl, Russian troops exposed themselves to radiation

What are the risks and treatment for a dirty bomb?

Federal officials say a “dirty bomb” would typically be created by taking conventional explosives and adding in radioactive materials that would be dispersed by the explosion. It wouldn’t cause as big of an explosion as a nuclear weapon — nor release the same kind of intense radioactivity — but would potentially disperse radioactive particles over a large area, potentially causing panic and evacuations.

Protection for exposure to a dirty bomb is similar to that of a reactor incident: Get or stay inside, get rid of potentially contaminated clothing, and then shower.

Potassium iodide pills would likely not be recommended for that kind of radiation exposure, the CDC says, but a treatment based on a drug called Prussian blue could be used.

Radiogardase, the brand name, was approved by the FDA in 2003 to help treat cesium or thallium exposure. Those radioactive substances are often used in medical treatments for cancer, but federal officials say they could also be used in a dirty bomb because they are more widely available. The federal government maintains a stockpile of Prussian blue and other drugs to treat radioactivity exposure.

What are the risks and treatment for a nuclear weapon?

A nuclear explosion is the worst combination of all: an intense blast of radioactivity followed by the fallout of radioactive particles that would contaminate the air, water and ground, along with animals and other food sources.

The same advice follows for people near an explosion but not harmed: get inside, get rid of contaminated clothing, and shower. The U.S. government stockpiles would also come into play. 

Lyman, the nuclear expert, said the key question is whether those treatments can be effectively distributed following a nuclear attack on the United States.

“If you had a large nuclear weapon detonated, and you had hundreds of thousands of people affected, you’d need to treat them in a day,” he said. “Having the drugs is one thing. Having a plan to actually use them is another. I wouldn’t count on those interventions. Prevention is where you have to put most of your effort.”

December 7, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment

If Finland joins NATO, it needs a new nuclear weapons policy

Bulletin, By Robin ForsbergAku KähkönenJason Moyer | December 8, 2022

As an aspiring NATO member, Finland must update its nuclear weapons policy. Nuclear weapons are an important pillar of the defensive alliance, which has the official position that for as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will inherently be a nuclear alliance.

…………… After filing its membership application in May 2022, Finland is now in the midst of its NATO accession process, with only Turkey and Hungary’s approval remaining. In its application, Finland is not seeking any exemptions to its membership and is committing to the alliance fully. This has initiated discussions about its upcoming policy on nuclear weapons.

………………. By applying for full NATO membership without any explicit restrictions, Finland allows itself the opportunity to chart its own decisions on nuclear weapons. But there is one caveat: Under Finland’s current national legislation nuclear weapons are illegal.

……….. By joining NATO, Finland will be allied with countries that have nuclear arsenals—and are prepared to use them if deemed necessary. This aligns with the creed of the alliance: Nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s deterrence. This will be the new security reality facing Finland the day it joins the nuclear alliance. Yet, it has not been sufficiently debated what becoming a NATO member will mean for Finland’s approach to nuclear weapons. In part, this is due to interest in both Finland and NATO for a speedy and uncomplicated accession. But there is also a tradition of not debating national strategic security policies in public fora due to the Finns’ high trust in their national authorities. A healthy national debate, however, is needed to improve the understanding of nuclear weapons policies among the Finnish population and their potential impact on Finland’s security.

………… Finland has a history of a strong non-nuclear proliferation policy. In 1968, it was the first country to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and has ever since shown strong support for multilateral non-proliferation and conventional disarmament treaties. But this dogmatism has somewhat wavered in recent years, even before Russia invaded Ukraine.

,……………….. Finland chose to abstain from supporting the treaty [United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW0]…… Experts theorized at the time that Finland abstained from voting not to jeopardize its prospects of joining NATO.

……….. Discussing Finland’s revised nuclear weapons policy is important not to jeopardize the ethics of Finland’s continuous and long-standing support of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. The debate should also be reflective of the people’s willingness to take part in NATO’s nuclear weapons exercises, activities, or planning.

…… As Finland becomes a party to a nuclear alliance, it must begin the process of updating its nuclear weapons policy.

December 7, 2022 Posted by | Finland, weapons and war | Leave a comment