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Another nuclear film advertisement – “The New Fire”

Film review:  ‘The New Fire’ and the old Gen IV rhetoric  Author: Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor NM866.4751, October 2018   The New Fire is a pro-nuclear propaganda film directed and produced by musician and film-maker David Schumacher.It’s similar in some respects to the 2013 film Pandora’s Promise.1,2 The New Fire premiere was held in October  2017 and it can be streamed online from 18 October 2018.

Promotional material claims that the film lacked “a supportive grant” (and celebrity endorsements and the backing of a major NGO) but the end-credits list numerous financial contributors: Berk Foundation, Isdell Foundation, Steven & Michele Kirsch Foundation, Rachel Pritzker, Roland Pritzker, Ray Rothrock, and Eric Uhrhane.

The film includes interviews with around 30 people (an overwhelming majority of them male) interspersed with footage of interviewees walking into buildings, and interviewees smiling. The musical underlay is a tedious drone ‒ a disappointment given Schumacher’s musical background.

A highlight is hearing Eric Meyer ‒ an opera singer turned pro-nuclear activist ‒ bursting into song at various locations around the COP21 climate conference in Paris in December

2015, while he and his colleagues handed out free copies of the pro-nuclear book Climate Gamble  Interviewees are mostly aging but the film’s main  message is that young entrepreneurs may save the  planet and its inhabitants with their Generation IV reactor projects. The film’s website states: “David Schumacher’s film focuses on how the generation facing the most severe impact of climate change is fighting back with ingenuity and hope. The New Fire tells a provocative and startlingly positive story about a planet in crisis and the young heroes who are trying to save it.”3

Schumacher writes (in the press kit): “These brilliant young people – some of the most gifted engineers of their generation, who in all likelihood could have cashed in for a fortune by doing something else – believe deeply that nuclear power could play a key role in saving the planet. And they are acting on that conviction. They did the research. They raised the money. They used cutting edge computer technology to perfect their designs. They are the new face of nuclear power, and to me, the newest and most unlikely climate heroes.”

These climate heroes are contrasted with anti-nuclear environmentalists. One interviewee says that “people of our generation are the first ones that have the opportunity to look at nuclear power without all the emotional baggage that previous generations have felt.” Another argues that anti-nuclear environmentalists are “very good, decent, smart people” but the “organizational DNA … that they have inherited is strongly anti-nuclear.” Another argues that environmental organizations “have been using nuclear power as a whipping boy for decades to raise funds”. Another interviewee attributes opposition to nuclear power to an “irrational fear of the unknown” (which surely poses a problem for the exotic Generation IV concepts promoted in the film) and another says that “once people sort of understand what’s going on withnuclear, they are much more open to it”.

The film trots out the usual anti-renewables tropes and falsehoods: 100% renewables is “just a fantasy”, renewables can contribute up to 20% of power supply and the remainder must be baseload: fossil fuels or nuclear power.

In rural Senegal, solar power has brought many benefits but places like Senegalese capital Dakar, with a population of one million, need electricity whether the sun is shining or not. A Senegalese man interviewed in the film states: “Many places in Africa definitely need a low cost, reliable, carbon neutral power plant that provides electricity 24/7. Nuclear offers one of the best options we have to do that kind of baseload.” The film doesn’t explain how a 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant would fit into Senegal’s electricity grid, which has a total installed capacity of 633MW.4 The ‘microreactors’ featured in The New Fire might help … if they existed.

Accidents such as those at Fukushima and Chernobyl get in the news because they are “so unusual” according to interviewee Ken Caldeira. And they get in the news, he might have added, because of the estimated death tolls (in the thousands for Fukushima5, ranging to tens of thousands for Chernobyl6), the costs (around US$700 billion for Chernobyl7, and US$192 billion (and counting) for Fukushima8), the evacuation of 160,000 people after the Fukushima disaster and the permanent relocation of over 350,000 people after the Chernobyl disaster.9

“Most people understand that it’s impossible for a nuclear power plant to literally explode in the sense of an atomic explosion”, an interviewee states. And most people understand that chemical and steam explosions at Chernobyl and Fukushima spread radionuclides over vast distances. The interviewee wants to change the name of nuclear power plants to avoid any conflation between nuclear power and weapons. Evidently he didn’t get the memo that the potential to use nuclear power plants (and related facilities) to produce weapons is fast becoming one of the industry’s key marketing points.

Conspicuously absent from the film’s list of interviewees is pro-nuclear lobbyist Michael Shellenberger. We’ve taken Shellenberger to task for his litany of falsehoods on nuclear and energy issues10 and his bizarre conversion into an advocate of worldwide nuclear weapons proliferation.11 But a recent article by Shellenberger on Generation IV nuclear technology is informative and insightful ‒ and directly at odds with the propaganda in The New Fire.12

So, let’s compare the Generation IV commentary in The New Fire with that in Shellenberger’s recent article.

Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor concept The film spends most of its time promoting Generation IV reactor projects including Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor (MSR) concept. [Ed note. recently failed and abandoned] .

Scott Nolan from venture capital firm Founders Fund says that Transatomic satisfies his four concerns about nuclear power: safety, waste, cost, proliferation. And he’s right ‒ Transatomic’s MSRs are faultless on all four counts, because they don’t exist. It’s doubtful whether they would satisfy any of the four criteria if they did actually exist.

Shellenberger quotes Admiral Hyman Rickover, who played a leading role in the development of nuclear-powered and armed submarines and aircraft carriers in the US: “Any plant you haven’t built yet is always more efficient than the one you have built. This is obvious. They are all efficient when you haven’t done anything on them, in the talking stage. Then they are all efficient, they are all cheap. They are all easy to build, and none have any problems.”

Shellenberger goes on to say:12 “The radical innovation fantasy rests upon design essentialism and reactor reductionism. We conflate the 2-D design with a 3-D design which we conflate with actual building plans which we conflate with a test reactor which we conflate with a full-sized power plant.

 “These unconscious conflations blind us to the many, inevitable, and sometimes catastrophic “unknowns” that only become apparent through the building and operating of a real world plant. They can be small, like the need for a midget welder, or massive, like the manufacturing failures of the AP1000.

“Some of the biggest unknowns have to do with radically altering the existing nuclear workforce, supply chain, and regulations. Such wholesale transformations of the actually existing nuclear industry are, literally and figuratively, outside the frame of alternative designs.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face,” a wise man once said. The debacles with the AP1000 and EPR are just the latest episodes of nuclear reactor designers getting punched in the face by reality.”

 Shellenberger comments on MSR technology:12

New designs often solve one problem while creating new ones. For example, a test reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory used chemical salts with uranium fuel dissolved within, instead of water surrounding solid uranium fuel. “The distinctive advantage of such a reactor was that it avoided the expensive process of fabricating fuel elements, moderator, control rods, and other high precision core components,” noted Hewlett and Holl.

 “In the eyes of many nuclear scientists and engineers these advantages made the homogeneous reactor potentially the most promising of all types under study, but once again the experiment did not reveal how the tricky problems of handling a highly radioactive and corrosive fluid were to be resolved.”

In The New Fire, Mark Massie from Transatomic promotes a “simpler approach that gives you safety through physics, and there’s no way to break physics”. True, you can’t break physics, but highly radioactive and corrosive fluids in MSRs could break and rust pipes and other machinery.

Leslie Dewan from Transatomic trots out the silliest advantage attributed to MSRs: that they are meltdown-proof. Of course they are meltdown-proof ‒ and not just in the sense that they don’t exist. The fuel is liquid. You can’t melt liquids. SMR liquid fuel is susceptible to dispersion in the event of steam explosions or chemical explosions or fire, perhaps more so than solid fuels.

Michael Short from MIT says in the film that over the next 2‒3 years they should have preliminary answers as to whether the materials in Transatomic MSRs are going to survive the problems of corrosion and radiation resistance. In other words, they are working on the problems ‒ but there’s no guarantee of progress let alone success.

Dewan claims that Transatomic took an earlier MSR design from Oak Ridge and “we were able to make it 20 times as power dense, much more compact, orders of magnitude cheaper, and so we are commercializing our design for a new type of reactor that can consume existing stockpiles of nuclear waste.”

Likewise, Jessica Lovering from the Breakthrough Institute says: “Waste is a concern for a lot of people. For a lot of people it’s their first concern about nuclear power. But what’s really amazing about it is that most of what we call nuclear waste could actually be used again for fuel. And if you use it again for fuel, you don’t have to store it for tens of thousands of years. With these advanced reactors you can close the fuel cycle, you can start using up spent fuel, recycling it, turning it into new fuel over and over again.”

But in fact, prototype MSRs and fast neutron reactors produce troublesome waste streams (even more so than conventional light-water reactors) and they don’t obviate the need for deep geological repositories. A recent article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‒ co-authored by a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‒ states that “molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues.”13 It also raises proliferation concerns about ‘integral fast reactor’ and MSR technology:

“Pyroprocessing and fluoride volatility-reductive extraction systems optimized for spent fuel treatment can – through minor changes to the chemical conditions – also extract plutonium (or uranium 233 bred from thorium).”

Near the end of the film, it states: “Transatomic encountered challenges with its original design, and is now moving forward with an updated reactor that uses uranium fuel.” Transatomic’s claim that its ‘Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor’ could “generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor” was severely downgraded to “more than twice” after calculation errors were discovered. And the company now says that a reactor based on the current design would not use waste as fuel and thus would “not reduce existing\ stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel”

So much for all the waste-to-fuel rhetoric scattered throughout The New Fire.

Michael Short from MIT claims MSRs will cost a “couple of billion dollars” and Dewan claims they will be “orders of magnitude cheaper” than the Oak Ridge experimental MSR. In their imaginations, perhaps. Shellenberger notes that “in the popular media and among policymakers, there has remained a widespread faith that what will make nuclear power cheaper is not greater experience but rather greater novelty. How else to explain the excitement for reactor designs invented by teenagers in their garages and famous software developers [Bill Gates / TerraPower] with zero experience whatsoever building or operating a nuclear plant?”12

Shellenberger continues:12

Rather than address the public’s fears, nuclear industry leaders, scientists, and engineers have for decades repeatedly retreated to their comfort zone: reactor design innovation. Designers say the problem isn’t that innovation has been too radical, but that it hasn’t been radical enough. If only the coolant were different, the reactors smaller, and the building methods less conventional, they insist, nuclear plants would be easier and cheaper to build.

“Unfortunately, the historical record is clear: the more radical the design, the higher the cost. This is true not only with the dominant water-cooled designs but also with the more exotic designs ‒ and particularly sodium-cooled ones.”

Oklo’s sodium-cooled fast neutron microreactor The New Fire promotes Oklo’s sodium-cooled fast neutron microreactor concept, and TerraPower’s sodium cooled fast neutron ‘traveling wave’ reactor (TerraPower is also exploring a molten chloride fast reactor concept).

Oklo co-founder Jacob DeWitte says: “There’s this huge, awesome opportunity in off-grid markets, where they need power and they are relying on diesel generators … We were talking to some of these communities and we realized they use diesel because it’s the most energy dense fuel they know of. And I was like, man, nuclear power’s two million times as energy dense … And they were like, ‘Wait, are you serious, can you build a reactor that would be at that size?’ And I said, ‘Sure’.”

Which is all well and good apart from the claim that Oklo could build such a reactor: the company has a myriad of economic, technological and regulatory hurdles to overcome. The film claims that Oklo “has begun submission of its reactor’s license application to the [US] Nuclear Regulatory Commission” but according to the NRC, Oklo is a “pre-applicant” that has gone no further than to notify the NRC of its intention to “engage in regulatory interactions”.16

There’s lots of rhetoric in the film about small reactors that “you can roll … off the assembly line like Boeings”, factory-fabricated reactors that “can look a lot like Ikea furniture”, economies of scale once there is a mass market for small reactors, and mass-produced reactors leading to “a big transition to clean energy globally”. But first you would need to invest billions to set up the infrastructure to mass produce reactors ‒ and no-one has any intention of making that investment. And there’s no mass market for small reactors ‒ there is scarcely any market at all.17

TerraPower   TerraPower is one step ahead of Transatomic and Oklo ‒ it has some serious funding. But it’s still a long way off ‒ Nick Touran from TerraPower says in the film that tests will “take years” and the company is investing in a project with “really long horizons … [it] may take a very long time”.

TerraPower’s sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor remains a paper reactor. Shellenberger writes:12

“In 2008, The New Yorker profiled Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft executive, on his plans to re-invent nuclear power with Bill Gates. Nuclear scientist Edward “Teller had this idea way back when that you could make a very safe, passive nuclear reactor,” Myhrvold explained. “No moving parts. Proliferation-resistant. Dead simple.”

“Gates and Myhrvold started a company, Terrapower, that will break ground next year in China on a test reactor. “TerraPower’s engineers,” wrote a reporter recently, will “find out if their design really works.”

“And yet the history of nuclear power suggests we should have more modest expectations. While a nuclear reactor “experiment often produced valuable clues,” Hewlett and Holl wrote, “it almost never revealed a clear pathway to success.” …

“For example, in 1951, a reactor in Idaho used sodium rather than water to cool the uranium ‒ like Terrapower’s design proposes to do. “The facility verified scientific principles,” Hewlett and Holl noted, but “did not address the host of extraordinary difficult engineering problems.” …

“Why do so many entrepreneurs, journalists, and policy analysts get the basic economics of nuclear power so terribly wrong? In part, everybody’s confusing nuclear reactor designs with real world nuclear plants. Consider how frequently advocates of novel nuclear designs use the future or even present tense to describe qualities and behaviors of reactors when they should be using future conditional tense.

“Terrapower’s reactor, an IEEE Spectrum reporter noted “will be able to use depleted uranium … the heat will be absorbed by a looping stream of liquid sodium … Terrapower’s reactor stays cool”.

 “Given that such “reactors” do not actually exist as real world machines, and only exist as computer-aided designs, it is misleading to claim that Terrapower’s reactor “will” be able to do anything. The appropriate verbs for\ that sentence are “might,” “may,” and “could.” …

“Myhrvold expressed great confidence that he had proven that Terrapower’s nuclear plant could run on nuclear waste at a low cost. How could he be so sure? He had modeled it. “Lowell and I had a month-long, no-holdsbarred nuclear-physics battle. He didn’t believe waste would work. It turns out it does.” Myhrvold grinned. “He concedes it now.”

 “Rickover was unsparing in his judgement of this kind of thinking. “I believe this confusion stems from a failure to distinguish between the academic and the practical,” he wrote. “The academic-reactor designer is a dilettante. He has not had to assume any real responsibility in connection with his projects. He is free to luxuriate in elegant ideas, the practical shortcomings of which can be relegated to the category of ‘mere technical details.””

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October 1, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster, technology | 5 Comments

THE NEW CON – film “THE NEW FIRE” -nuclear advertising for 2017

film-the-new-fire

The “New Nuclear” lobby is kicking off its New Nuclear propaganda for 2017 with its favourite tactic – FILM.

 

They started this method with great success in 2013 with a very glossy and quite seductive advertisement calld “Pandora’s Promise”  That has now been rehashed many times, e.g on Youtube. It pretends to be a documentary about c limate change, but is really a hymn to new nuclear “Generation IV” technology, especially Small Nuclear Reac

tors, and to endless consumption of electricity.

 

Then came the even more sophisticated and glossier television series, “Twisting the Dragon’s Tail”,  a subtle nuclear advertisement promotion that featured Australia quite strongly. Cleverly introducing the negative aspects of the nuclear industry, it finishes with that same message for boundless energy consumption via New Nuclear.

 

These  so-called “independent documentaries” are  quite lavishly and expensively produced. Who pays for them?  That is a well-kept secret. Do  presenters like Derek Muller (Dragon’s Tail) understand how they are being used?

 

“The New Fire” is currently under production, using, as those other ads did, very capable media professionals. We have no idea who is behind this project, but, with billionaires now in the Small Nuclear Reactor business, we can suspect those in the nuclear front group “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” 

 

The theme of those first two nuclear propaganda films was about the “need for ever-rocketing electricity consumption, cool-peopleand how new small nuclear reactors will meet that need.”

 

Thee theme of this 2017 nuclear advertisement will be that “only via new nuclear power can the world be saved from climate change”  It will focus on the new smart young people who reject the boring old people’s anxiety about nuclear power.

 

 

THE NEW FIRE  describes itself as ” an independent documentary that will introduce audiences to young nuclear engineers who are developing next-generation reactors which they hope will provide clean and safe solutions to the world’s future energy needs. Could these audacious innovators be the agents of change the world has been waiting for? With unprecedented access to key people, places and events, award-winning filmmaker David Schumacher has traveled the globe to capture a powerful, eye-opening story that needs to be told now—before it’s too late.” 

December 31, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

How France plays with nuclear fire – new book reveals the scandals

November 15, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

California fires – the “New Abnormal” if climate change goes on, unchecked

31 Dead In Devastating California Wildfires: Here’s What To Know | TIME

California Fires Could Be The ‘New Abnormal’ If Climate Change Continues A leading climate scientist says a worrying pattern helped light the match for the devastating California fires. 10 daily, 13 Nov 18 

The fires have devastated the state, killing 31 people so far.

It’s not looking likely the blaze will calm any time soon.

One of the reasons for the scale of destruction being visited on the state is a collection of environmental triggers brought about by climate change, according to Doctor Daniel Swain of UCLA…….He said due to rising temperatures and dryness similar fires could affect the state for many years to come.

“This is not the new normal, this is the new abnormal, and this new abnormal will continue, certainly in the next 10 to 15 to 20 years,” he said…..https://tendaily.com.au/news/world/a181112wih/california-fires-could-be-the-new-abnormal-if-climate-change-continues-apace-20181112

November 13, 2018 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment

New contractor hired to run Los Alamos National Laboratory includes same manager that was effectively fired 

By Rebecca Moss, The Santa Fe New Mexican , 10 June 18, 

Despite a lengthy record of safety violations, the University of California will continue its 75-year legacy of running Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration announced Friday.

A management partnership that includes the university, research and development nonprofit Battelle Memorial Institute and Texas A&M University, the alma mater of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, will be paid $2.5 billion annually to run Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb. They’re calling their partnership Triad National Security LLC.

The contract could be worth upward of $25 billion over the next decade, with hundreds of millions of dollars more in performance-based bonus fees. Six other corporations will join the team in support roles……..

This is the second time the University of California has effectively maintained control over the laboratory despite concerns about serious mismanagement. In 2003, and again in 2015, the National Nuclear Security Administration said it would seek a new management contractor for the New Mexico lab following significant security breachescostly accidents and injured employees.

The current management team, which also includes defense contractor Bechtel, amassed more than $110 million in fines and withheld bonuses because of health and safety issues. An electrical accident in 2015 left a worker hospitalized for over a month, and waste packaging errors led to a drum burst in 2014 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, exposing workers to radiation. The accident caused the storage facility to shut down for nearly three years…….

This is a pivotal time for the lab. Los Alamos is expected to take on new nuclear work, building up to 30 plutonium pits per year. Producing the softball-sized plutonium metal cores, which trigger a reaction inside a nuclear weapon, is dangerous work, and Los Alamos has struggled to safely build even a single stockpile-ready pit in recent years.

Critics of the lab questioned how the university emerged as a winner once again and how any serious overhaul of the lab’s problems can occur if part of the existing leadership remains in place. Even the federal government called for a “culture change” at Los Alamos when it solicited bidders for the new lab contract last year.

June 11, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Worse wildfires – the new climate normal

WILDFIRES MARK THE NEW REALITY OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2017
As fire conditions intensify around the globe, scientists are helping countries prepare for a fiery new normal. 
Pacific Standard, BOB BERWYN, DEC 20, 2017

Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to creep up, as when sea levels rise an inch every few years, or when temperatures break records by a tenth of a degree. But when your backyard is on fire, you feel global warming breathing down your neck.

In the last three years, as global temperatures spiked to new records, it sometimes felt like the whole world was ablaze, as a series of “worst-ever” fires damaged and destroyed ecosystems and human communities on nearly every continent, under new climate conditions that will be the norm by 2050.

Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, fire conditions will become even more persistent in areas already at risk, and will spread to new regions as warming drives vegetation patterns and land-use changes. Without rethinking our relationship with nature, landscapes, and wildfire, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, with the same catastrophic results.

The past few years have shown how bad things can get, fire experts say. In the super-heated El Niño years of 2015 and 2016, there were late-summer tundra fires in Greenland, peat fires in Indonesia, and hardwood forests in the southeast United States that burned on an unprecedented scale.

By early 2017, El Niño had faded, but parts of the Southern Hemisphere were scorched by record heat and fires, including Australia, where fire experts made statements similar to the bulletins coming out of Southern California right now: “This is the worst day we have seen in the history of New South Wales when it comes to fire danger ratings and fire conditions,” Shane Fitzsimmons, the state’s rural fire chief, told the BBC in February, with almost 100 bushfires burning………..

Scientists have been warning for 20 years that climate change would increase the risk of damaging fires, and that many of these fires can’t be stopped. Communities in less developed countries are most at risk right now. They need more resources to manage landscapes to prevent fires, and they need better weather and climate forecasting services—and the ability to put people and tools on the ground.

At times, the growing risk already seems to be outpacing society’s capacity to adapt. In 2016, the GFMC sent a team of experts to South America to warn of fire risks and help communities prepare. Six months later, before any measures were taken, deadly fires burned across parts of Chile and Argentina following a record heat wave.

Alexander Held, a resilience expert at the European Forest Institute, says that hubris is the biggest problem in the face of a growing fire threat. “It’s all coming down to failed land management and that our societies have forgotten how to live with fire,” Held tells Pacific Standard via email.

Held advocates shifting resources from fire suppression to fire prevention, including managed fires, which are scientifically proven to be the best way to minimize catastrophic effects on communities and natural resources.

“Look at Western Australia. They had a large-scale prescribed burning program, and for decades there was nothing like a disaster fire. Only when they reduced the area that was supposed to be burned by prescription did disaster fires start to happen,” he says. “The biggest challenge is how to influence policymakers and political decision making,” Held says. https://psmag.com/environment/2017-the-year-in-wildfires

December 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Tesla Under Fire as Renewables Rise: China, Consumer Reports, and the Ailing ICE Industry

robertscribbler

With major renewable energy and automotive media now obsessed with the success or failure of Tesla’s zero emissions Model 3, it’s helpful to understand the larger context in which a monumental conflict between an old, mostly dirty industry and new clean energy players is occurring. To this particular point, we should take the opportunity to step back for a moment from the day-to-day minutiae of business activities and related media campaigns to ask this single essential question:

In the present day’s ever-worsening and warming climate, what does a wise, forward-looking national energy policy look like?

Such a question may seem out of context until one considers the fact that the object of so much media and industry drama — Tesla — operates in what can best be described as a conflicted policy environment. In the U.S., Tesla enjoys a dwindling subsidy in the form of tax breaks going to purchasers…

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October 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Fire Danger Threatens to Worsen Most Disastrous Wildfire Season in California History

According to Thursday’s summary from Calfire, a total of 6,900 homes, businesses, and other structures were destroyed across northern and southern California. The fires have burned over 245,000 acres of land, bringing the total area burned in California this year to 1.1 million acres, the most since 2008. Nationally, 8.8 million acres have burned in 2017, says the National Interagency Fire Center, putting this year in fifth place for largest annual area burned since 1960. With over two months to go in the year, 2017 is likely to move up several places on that list.

via New Fire Danger Threatens to Worsen Most Disastrous Wildfire Season in California History by Dr. Jeff Masters | Category 6 | Weather Underground — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wilder and more frequent wildfires – the new normal

Welcome to the New World of Wildfires, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41887-welcome-to-the-new-world-of-wildfires, September 09, 2017, By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report When one envisions the US Pacific Northwest, one thinks of green ferns, moss-covered trees in Olympic National Park, or the Hoh Rainforest, where annual rainfall is measured in the hundreds of inches. Moisture, greenery, evergreens, abundant rivers. It’s a large part of the reason why I live here.

But thanks to abrupt anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), this region is shifting at a rapid pace. On the Olympic Peninsula where I live, this has been the summer of wildfire smoke.

As I write this, Puget Sound, Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, are all engulfed by thick wildfire smoke and ash from fires burning in Eastern Washington and Montana. A local Seattle weatherman remarked that he had “never seen a situation like this.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for his entire state on Saturday September 2.

Smoke from various wildfires has been a near-constant in this part of the country for the past month. Roughly a week ago, we were enshrouded by smoke from multiple wildfires across Oregon, and before that, we spent nearly two weeks breathing in thick smoke from the over 1,000 wildfires that scorched British Columbia up the coast from us.

Stepping outside, the world appears a surreal yellow. The sun varies from not being visible, to emerging as a yellowish orange bulb even during the middle of the day. When it sets, it has often appeared blood red through the thick smoke.

NASA satellite photos show the smoke plume even reaching the East Coast.

Given past and recent scientific reports, this is apparently the world we, and much of the rest of the United States, had better prepare to live in from now on.

Extreme Heat, Extreme Drought

The smoke plume from all of these fires, at the time of this writing, extends from up into British Columbia all the way down into central Oregon.

wildfire outside Portland has forced hundreds of residents to evacuate while it burned out of control in the Columbia River Gorge. That is just one of 81 wildfires burning across the US at the time of this writing, with 20 of those fires in Oregon alone.

Climate researchers have been warning us for a long time that increasing temperatures and more intense droughts will logically cause dramatic escalations in the number, heat and ferocity of wildfires.

study published earlier this year showed that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have increased the likelihood of extreme heat events across more than 80 percent of the planet.

Last fall, researchers published the results of a study that showed ACD accounted for approximately half of the increase in wildfire fuel aridity (forest dryness) in the Western US since just 1979, causing the area of the US West affected by forest fires to double in size since 1984.

According to Inside Climate News: “Nine of the 10 worst fire seasons in the past 50 years have all happened since 2000, and 2015 was the worst fire season in U.S. history, surpassing 10 million acres for the first time on record. So far this year, wildfires in the US have burned 7.8 million acres, but the fire season is far from over. The average fire season is 78 days longer than it was in the 1970s and now lasts nearly seven months — beginning and extending beyond the typical heat of summer. By April of this year, wildfires had scorched more than 2 million acres in the US — nearly the average consumed in an entire fire season during the 1980s.

Extreme Heat

When it comes to hot weather — and relatedly, fire — this has been a summer for the record books in the West. During the first week of September, San Francisco saw a stunning record high temperature of 106°F, amid a heatwave that saw 36.5 million Californians (98 percent of the state population) living under a heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles saw its largest wildfire on record scorch 7,000 acres before rains from a remnant tropical storm helped firefighters get the upper hand.

Yale Environment 360 warned of this likelihood last December. The magazine, published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, reported that as the Arctic continues to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe, winds in the upper atmosphere would be pulled into the polar zone and cause the jet stream to become wavier during extreme weather patterns. This is a more technical explanation for the fact that, as another study warned in March, these new weather patterns will generate record heatwaves and wildfires — precisely what we are seeing now across the West.

And given that there are no serious, large-scale ACD mitigation efforts happening, least of all within the United States, we can count on these trends to amplify and worsen with time.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

New Documentary Film on St. Louis Nuclear Waste Site and Landfill Fire

Fall Film Festival includes Documentary on St. Louis Nuclear Waste Site and Landfill Fire, Huntington NewsBY TONY RUTHERFORD , HNN ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR “……….The Fall International Film Festival includes a not yet shown HBO documentary, “Atomic Homefront,” which details the anguish of confronting state and federal agencies over nuclear waste dumping in St. Louis. The film is by Sarah Spurlock,  wife of Morgan Spurlock.

HBO documentary, “Atomic Homefront” at St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase

Left unsaid, both the NY Times , Wall Street  Journal, and HNN have revealed that Huntington , too, had a uranium and nickel carbonyl plant that processed and recycled fuels for three gaseous diffusion plants. When the process was found to not be cost effective, the structure — owned by the Atomic Energy Commission — was dismantled and the most contaminated portions buried in Piketon,Ohio. Workers from the Huntington Pilot Plant have received compensation from the Dept. of Labor for working in a facility covered under the Atomic Energy Commission definition that includes the St. Louis site, Oak Ridge, Paducah, and Piketon, Ohio.

According to IMDB, “Atomic Homefront” reveals :

“… St. Louis, Missouri’s atomic past as a uranium processing center for the Atomic bomb and the governmental and corporate negligence that lead to the illegal dumping of Manhattan Project radioactive waste throughout North County neighborhoods. Our film is a case study of how citizens are confronting state and federal agencies for the truth about the extent of the contamination and are fighting to keep their families safe. ”

Film International published the following review of Oscar winning director’s Rebecca Cammisa reviewed at the AFI film festival:

f you’re not screaming mad by the end of Atomic Homefront, you obviously believe the systemworks. As a study in government failure and corporate greed, this HBO-supported documentary from director Rebecca Cammisa shows that your trust is grievously and tragically misplaced if you expect the Environmental Protection Agency to serve a desperate public. Likewise, if you believe a large waste service company would provide honest guidance and responsibility in serving its customers, think again.

This passionate film, having its world premiere as one of the 11 Spotlight Screenings at AFI DOCS in Washington DC, is a heart breaker. Cammisa, an Oscar nominee for her 2009 documentary feature Which Way Home (dealing with child migrants) and her 2012 short God Is the Bigger Elvis (a lovely look at Dolores Hart, a Hollywood actress turned nun), spent several years following the problems of two St. Louis neighborhoods that have seen their residents ravaged by cancer and death. http://www.huntingtonnews.net/150485

http://filmint.nu/?p=21313

or more about the waste in St. Louis see:

http://www.waste360.com/nuisances/bridgeton-landfill-fire-explained-updated

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Donald Trump gives right-wing investment banker Breitbart News firebrand a top security role!

exclamation-Flag-USABannon Is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals JAN. 29, 2017 WASHINGTON — The whirlwind first week of Donald J. Trump’s presidency had all the bravura hallmarks of a Stephen K. Bannon production.

February 1, 2017 Posted by | politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment

New York Governor Cuomo under fire for subsidising nuclear power

taxpayer bailoutCritics blast Cuomo’s $7.6B subsidy for nuclear plants, WBFO.org, By KAREN DEWITT, 8 Dec 16,  A long-term energy plan by the Cuomo administration that includes a nearly $8 billion subsidy to two upstate nuclear power plants is being challenged from both ends of the political spectrum, and a lawsuit has been filed to try to stop the deal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Public Service Commission plans to convert 50 percent of the state’s power sources to renewable energy over the next decade and a half. A controversial part of that program includes a $7.6 billion state-financed subsidy to a company that now runs two New York nuclear power plants ­– Nine Mile Point in Oswego and Ginna near Rochester – and is taking over a third plant, FitzPatrick, also in Oswego.

That has angered environmental groups, who filed a lawsuit, saying the PSC “acted improperly when it mandated a massive subsidy to prop up New York’s aging, failing nuclear power plants as part of the State’s Clean Energy Standard.”

Other progressive-leaning groups, including the New York Public Interest Research Group, also object to the deal.

“In some ways, it’s a straight-up ratepayer issue,” said Blair Horner, NYPIRG’s legislative director.

He said the deal will result in $2.3 billion in increased payments for residential utility customers, and even more for businesses. That’s in a state that already has among the highest utility rates in the nation.

“Roughly 800,000 New Yorkers are already having a hard time paying their existing electric bills,” Horner said. “This isn’t going to make it any better.”

Not only left-leaning groups oppose the deal. Fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP have objected, filing complaints with the PSC. Oil and gas companies would have to essentially help subsidize the deal through the price of zero emission tax credits bought and sold in New York…..http://news.wbfo.org/post/critics-blast-cuomos-76b-subsidy-nuclear-plants

December 9, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Explosion-Fire at Nuclear Power Station Near New York City on Election Day Due to Equipment Failure

Mining Awareness +

Indian Point Nuclear Power Station power lines zoom

The US NRC report says that this “explosion in the protected area” which was “due to equipment failure” occurred at 0840 AM on Tuesday November 8th: “The explosion was to the 138 kV power cross connect cable between the Unit 2 and 3 Station Auxiliary Transformers.” If you look at the above image, all of the power lines appear very cramped at this nuclear power station, apparently increasing the dangers.

Overlay the size of the Chernobyl exclusion zone with rough location of Indian Point Nuclear Power Station and Trump Tower
Chernobyl Overlay Indian Point Nuclear Power Station - Greenpeace OpenStreet Map Trump Tower 5th Ave NY
Greenpeace OpenStreet Map. Wind direction may vary. This is to give an indication of the size. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/nuclear/nomorechernobyls/exclusion-zone-comparison-map/

A 1982 study by Sandia National Laboratories found that a core meltdown and radiological release at one of the two operating Indian Point reactors could cause 50,000 near-term deaths from acute radiation syndrome” (Edward Lyman…

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November 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dutch climate plan includes shutdown of new coal-fired plants

fossil-fuel-industryAmbitious Dutch climate plan includes shutdown of new coal-fired plants, CBC radio AS It Happaens  29 Sep 16  The Netherlands has voted to adopt some of Europe’s most drastic measures to cut carbon emissions.

In a close vote last week, the Dutch parliament pledged a 55 per cent cut in cut C02 by 2030. That would include a shutdown of the country’s five remaining coal power plants, including three that opened just last year.

“Even if it feels a bit weird to close down literally brand new coal-fired power plants, all alternative measures are far more expensive.”– Stientje van Veldhoven, Dutch politician

Stientje van Veldhoven, a Dutch politician with the Democrats 66 party, spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off. Van Veldhoven was in Paris last year during negotiations for an international deal on goals to mitigate climate change. She voted to support the plan……..http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-wednesday-edition-1.3782437/ambitious-dutch-climate-plan-includes-shutdown-of-new-coal-fired-plants-1.3782537

September 29, 2016 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Brazil’s increase in fires in Amazon region – alarming news

The alarming number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon, Mongabay, 8 September 2016 / Commentary by Natália Girão Rodrigues de Mello

For three months, from September to December 2015, Manaus was engulfed in smoke, resembling Beijing. That was an unusual scene, and an undeniable sign that predatory exploration in the Brazilian Amazon has not yet been properly tackled.

  • The sharp decrease in the annual rates of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon is celebrated worldwide. The trend started in 2005 after a peak in deforestation the year before.
  • However, the figures are not so bright when it comes to forest fires, and few people are talking about that.
  • The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon is alarming, and that was especially true in 2015, when a sharp increase in forest fires occurred………
  • Natural factors alone fail to explain this recent increase, as similar climatic conditions in the past were not associated with the same amount of forest fires.

    Forest fires and precipitation are strongly correlated in the Brazilian Amazon; in dry years, more forest fires occur. 2015 was a dry year, but not as dry as 2010 or 2005 were – years when the region faced anomalous droughts. Nevertheless, in 2015, forest fires increased 115.6 percent and 105.5 percent compared to 2005 and 2010, respectively. Hence it is safe to say that the peak observed last year was strongly associated with unregulated anthropogenic activities in the forest.

    In the region, using fire in order to clear large areas is a common practice. The expansion of roads, settlements, croplands and cattle ranches has been leading fires to reach ever-wider areas of the forest.

    The consequences associated with this issue are vast. They are felt locally, regionally and globally. Forest fires contribute to climate change due to the emission of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. As the forest burns, health-damaging gases – carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide – are also emitted, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aerosols. VOCs interact with nitrous oxides to form ozone, a phytotoxic gas. Aerosols cause the suppression of cloud formation and the decrease of precipitation efficiency. Moreover, a positive feedback between fire-induced death of trees and increased solar penetration in the forest occurs, resulting in the intensification of successive fires…….https://news.mongabay.com/2016/09/the-alarming-number-of-fires-in-the-brazilian-amazon/?utm_content=buffer4318b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

September 12, 2016 Posted by | Brazil, climate change | Leave a comment