the long-term effects of low-level radiation exposure have consistently been downplayed, distorted or concealed by scientists, the nuclear industry and the government.
It seems that while the US and the USSR had a hard time cooperating on nuclear arms at that time, they had a tacit agreement to cover up each other’s nuclear power mistakes.
these facts, like all those about nuclear power and nuclear weapons testing, were kept secret and released only through the efforts of private citizens and a few courageous researchers and journalists.
At least 250,000 American troops were directly exposed to atomic radiation during the 17 years of bomb testing here and in the Pacific, but they have been totally ignored by the government and the Army.
There is little doubt that hundreds died and that countless others developed illnesses that led to death from various cancers, blood disorders and chronic body ailments. Today the government still rejects all claims for such illnesses.
The press also played a role in soothing public fears.
the US has led the world in setting examples of deliberate deceit, suppression of information and harassment of nuclear critics
Professionals, in order to perform their work, resist truth strongly if it calls the morality of their work into question. They sincerely believe they are helping humankind. In addition, scientific research involves so many uncertainties that scientists can, with an easy conscience, rationalize away dangers that are hypothetical or not immediately observable. They also have an intellectual investment if not a financial one in continuing their work as well as families to support, and nuclear science in particular has been endowed not only with government money and support but great status and prestige.
In order to perform professional work, one must not only believe one is doing good but must also rationalize the dangers. Indeed, with regard to ionizing radiation, this is quite easy inasmuch as the risks of radiation exposure at any level are statistical and not immediately manifested.
Pro Nuclear Propaganda: How Science, Government and the Press Conspire to Misinform the Public http://www.lornasalzman.com/collectedwritings/pro-nuclear.html by Lorna Salzman Hunter College, Energy Studies program, 1986 After the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in the Soviet Union, there was much finger-wagging in the US about the suppression of information there, and the purported differences in reactor design and safety requirements between Russia and the US, which made a similar accident here unlikely if not impossible Continue reading
GarryRogers Nature Conservation
Local resident Ralph Cogdill checks the debris of his house which was ruined by a wildfire in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on Nov. 30, 2016. Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images
GR: The “Establishment” supports fossil-fuel companies and denies climate change. The incoming U. S. administration is populated by deniers. The harm caused to wild plants, animals, natural systems, and human society is devastating.
“With my new hope that deniers of climate change will take ownership of the consequences, I am sad to report that this week, terrible wildfires have swept through Tennessee, a southeastern state in the USA. This state is beset by a tremendous drought, as seen by a recent US Drought Monitor map. There currently are severe, extreme, and exceptional drought conditions covering a wide swath of southern states. The causes of drought are combinations of lowered precipitation and higher temperatures.
U.S. Drought Monitor for 22 November 2016. Illustration:…
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¶ “Mayors could override Trump on the Paris climate accord – here’s how” • In a recent op-ed, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote, “If the Trump administration does withdraw from the Paris accord, I will recommend that the 128 US mayors who are part of the Global Covenant of Mayors seek to join in its place.” [Business Insider]
Sunny day flooding now hits Miami regularly, thanks to rising
sea levels. (Photo by B137, CC BY SA, Wikimedia Commons)
¶ Blueprint documents for the wind and hydro sector from China’s National Energy Administration showed that the country is set to spend at least ¥1.2 trillion ($174 billion) between 2016 and 2020, according to Reuters. Construction of new wind farms is expected to provide approximately 300,000 new jobs by 2020. [CleanTechnica]
¶ All new single-decker buses for use within the center of…
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Media attention continues to focus on Donald Trump. He seems happy in the spotlight, even if the revelations are about his conflicts of interest, and the unsuitability of officials that he’s appointing. Trump himself hardly matters, really, as the Republicans will be in charge in the White House, Congress and Senate, and are dominated by anti-science, climate deniers, and hawkish militarists.
Meanwhile the impacts of climate change continue, and their repercussions for society, and world security are becoming realised. Uncontrollable climate change could be triggered by Arctic ice melt. Military experts warn on refugee crises and need to combat climate change. With Temperatures Hitting 1.2 C Hotter than Pre-Industrial, Drought Now Spans the Globe. Biggest-Ever Coral Die-Off Reported on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Pope Francis urges national leaders not to wreck the climate change pact.
People power, not Trump, has killed the Trans Pacific Partnership.
SOUTH AMERICA. A NUCLEAR WEAPON-FREE WORLD – the work of Latin American nations towards achieving this. Climate change in action: Bolivia’s fast-melting glaciers.
JAPAN. Fukushima Daiichi to cost TEPCO $170 billion. Radioactive Waste from Fukushima Plant Water Piling Up with No Final Destination. Fukushima Evacuees Still Unable to Go Home Over 5 Years after Earthquake, Nuclear Accident. Fukushima aftershock renews public concern about restarting Kansai’s aging nuclear reactors.
USA. Time that lawmakers limited the power of American President to start using nuclear weapons. Clearwater takes legal action against New York over subsidy to nuclear power stations. Hanford’s nuclear site ‘the most toxic place in America’. Climate change in action – California’s six-year drought has killed 102 Million Trees.
SOUTH EAST ASIA. Very dubious market for nuclear power in South East Asia.
UK. The AP1000 Nuclear Reactor Design is not fit for purpose: several safety flaws. Nuclear reactor graphite cores cracking: Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B.
FRANCE. Electricite de France (EDF) – what a nuclear mess!
RUSSIA. Russia kept secret about an explosion at a nuclear power plant.
UKRAINE. Chernobyl nuclear reactor now encased in steel tomb.
NORTH KOREA. New sanctions on North Korea in reaction to its latest nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
SOUTH AFRICA. Murky dealings in South Africa’s nuclear procurement. South Africa’s new Integrated Resource Plan holds no joy for the nuclear lobby.
GERMANY. Legal ruling to come, on Germany’s nuclear exit.
SWITZERLAND. Swiss reject hasty exit from nuclear power, but not by a huge vote.
CANADA. No need for a nuclear reactor to produce medical isotopes: Canada shows the way.
SWEDEN. Sweden ditching taxes on solar energy, to promote fast investment in renewables.
The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will be small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.
A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors.
The activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much.
NuClear News No 90 4. Nuclear Waste Updates The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – BEIS – (formerly called ‘DECC’) was planning to hold two public consultations, on the draft National Policy Statement for a Geological Disposal Facility and on Working With Communities based on the work of the Community Representation Working Group, this autumn, but the uncertainty caused by recent turbulence in the wider political environment means that these now look likely to be delayed until early 2017.
Energy Minister Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe hailed a “nuclear renaissance” when she addressed the Office for Nuclear Regulation Industry Conference in Cumbria. She said that as well as Hinkley Point C and proposals for new reactors at Moorside the Government is “going further, with proposals to develop 18GW of nuclear power across six sites in the UK.”
She said the Government would be launching a new siting process for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in 2017. The Whitehaven News reported that the site for the GDF would almost certainly be in West Cumbria, but this was not in the Minister’s published speech. (1)
Just to finally knock on the head the idea that most of the nuclear waste is in Cumbria already so we might as well build the GDF there, nuClear News has done some number crunching:
Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) has developed a detailed inventory of radioactive waste for disposal in its proposed GDF which it calls the ‘Derived Inventory’. This inventory is subject to uncertainty due to a range of factors such as uncertainty about the life of the AGR reactors and what happens to the UK’s plutonium inventory, and, of course proposals for new reactors.
The Derived Inventory is therefore updated periodically to take into account new information. RWM published a new 2013 Derived Inventory in July 2015. This can be compared with the previous 2010 Derived Inventory to obtain further information about the impact of a new reactor programme. The table below is from an RWM report which does just that. (2)
The 2010 inventory showed a derived inventory (2010 DI) which did not include any spent fuel or other waste from new reactors and an upper inventory (2010 UI) – which did include spent fuel and wastes from a 10GW new reactor programme. On the other hand the 2013 Derived Inventory has only one set of figures which includes spent fuel and waste from a 16GW new reactor programme. As mentioned above this could increase in future to take account of the fact that the Government now anticipates the size of the new reactor programme will be 18GW, to allow for the latest additional to the proposed fleet – Bradwell B. Beyond that there are ambitions to build between 7 and 21GW of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) capacity by 2035.
The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will be small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.
A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors. The total activity measured in Terabecquerels (TBq) of the 2010 Derived Inventory, (not including any wastes from new reactors) was 4,770,000 TBq.
The total activity given in the 2013 Derived Inventory, which includes waste and spent fuel from a 16GW new reactor programme, was 27,300,000 TBq. Not all of this huge increase in activity is down to new reactors. For instance there is a big jump in the activity of legacy spent fuel and 3,700,000 TBq from spent mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MoX) fuel – a category which does not appear at all in the 2010 inventory. However, 19,793,000 TBq is activity from new reactor wastes and spent fuel. So the activity of radioactive waste from a new reactor programme would be roughly four times the activity in the total 2010 inventory.
Of course this figure is for a 16GW new reactor programme. For an 18GW programme the total activity of spent fuel and intermediate level waste would be about 22,267,125 TBq or almost five times the activity of existing waste.
[Table on original]
These numbers are significant because of the amount of repository space taken up by existing waste mostly located in Cumbria compared with waste stored on reactor sites outwith Cumbria. The NDA has estimated the total repository footprint for a baseline inventory (the total waste expected to be created by the existing programme) of between 5.6 km2 and 10.3km2 depending on the rock-type. However, the footprint from a maximum inventory which includes a 16GW new reactor programme would be between 12.3km2 and 25km2. (3) [Table on original]
So the activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf
Carter entered office and promptly pushed through Congress the 1978 Non-Proliferation Act
Carter’s U.S. nuclear doctrine was enormously unpopular among America’s nuclear science elite
To the chagrin of the powerful nuclear weapons and nuclear power lobbies, Carter abandoned the idea of a new nuclear renaissance.
Jimmy Carter’s re-election defeat brought the nuclear establishment another opportunity.
United States Circumvented Laws To Help Japan Accumulate Tons of Plutonium, DC Bureau By Joseph Trento, April 9th, 2012 “….Stopping the Spread of Fissile Material After Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, he instituted an aggressive policy to control the spread of fissile materials. As a former nuclear reactor engineer on a Navy submarine, Carter knew better than any other world leader the immense power locked up in plutonium and highly enriched uranium. He was determined to keep it out of the hands of even our closest non-nuclear allies – including Japan.
Carter had good reason for this policy. Despite Japan’s ratification of the NPT in 1976, a study conducted for the CIA the following year named Japan as one of the three countries most able to go nuclear before 1980. Only the Japanese people’s historic opposition to nuclear weapons argued against Japanese deployment. Every other factor argued for a Japanese nuclear capability.
By now the CIA – and its more secretive sister agency, the NSA — had learned the position of Japan’s inner circle.
Carter knew the incredibly volatile effect plutonium would have on world stability. Plutonium is the single most difficult to obtain ingredient of nuclear bombs. Even relatively backward countries – and some terrorist groups – now possess the technology to turn plutonium or highly enriched uranium into a nuclear weapon. But refining plutonium or enriching uranium is an extremely difficult, costly task. Carter knew that by limiting the spread of plutonium and uranium, he
could control the spread of nuclear weapons. He made preventing the spread of plutonium the cornerstone of his nuclear non-proliferation policy.
The Japanese were shocked when Carter entered office and promptly pushed through Congress the 1978 Non Proliferation Act, which subjected every uranium and plutonium shipment to congressional approval and blocked a host of sensitive nuclear technologies from Japan. Carter was determined not to transfer nuclear technology or materials that Japan could use to make nuclear weapons. The decision was hugely unpopular in America’s nuclear establishment as well.
America’s nuclear scientists had expected much from Carter since he was one of them: someone who knew and understood nuclear energy.
Carter’s efforts ended America’s plans to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Carter stopped reprocessing because he feared the consequences of Korean or Taiwan stockpiling plutonium. He believed it would lead to an Asian arms race involving Japan and China as well as Korea or Taiwan.
Carter’s U.S. nuclear doctrine was enormously unpopular among America’s nuclear science elite, who viewed a plutonium-based fuel cycle as the future of nuclear energy. They saw the atom as the solution to the problems that had stalled America’s great economic boom – acid rain from coal, shortages and embargos of oil. With an almost inexhaustible supply of cheap, clean nuclear energy, America would reclaim its position as the world’s unquestioned economic
leader. But for many it went beyond even that. If America could complete the fuel-cycle – complete the nuclear circle, all of humanity could be lifted up by the nuclear bootstrap. At research centers around the country and in the Department of Energy’s Forrestal Building on Washington’s Independence Avenue, enthusiasm for the breeder program reached almost a religious crescendo.
If the breeder reactor was going to revolutionize the world’s nuclear economy, went the thinking in America’s nuclear establishment, the United States would have to share it with her allies in Europe and Japan. The very cornerstone of science is the free exchange of information, and the American scientists shared openly with their European and Japanese colleagues. The cooperation ran both ways. The breeder reactor was proving to be a monumental technical challenge,
and DOE was eager to learn from the mistakes of Germany, Britain and France, all of which had been working on the problem nearly as long as the United States. Carter’s policies hindered America’s efforts to develop and share a plutonium-based nuclear energy cycle.
To the chagrin of the powerful nuclear weapons and nuclear power lobbies, Carter abandoned the idea of a new nuclear renaissance. Carter’s administration ushered in an era of reduced nuclear trade and an interruption to the free flow of ideas among scientists. For men like Richard T. Kennedy and Ben Rusche at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Harry Bengelsdorf at the U.S. Department of Energy, the restraints were completely unacceptable. Jimmy Carter’s re-election defeat brought the nuclear establishment another opportunity.
Former nuclear site in Washington state is ‘causing workers to develop terminal illnesses’ – and it won’t be cleaned up for another 50 more years (photos)
- The Hanford Site in Washington state was used to produce plutonium from 1943 through the end of the Cold War
- Washington River Protection Solutions is now cleaning up the site
- Workers at the site say they are being exposed to radioactive fumes
- A watchdog group says that three workers have died as a result of exposure to nuclear waste on the job
- Just this year, 61 workers have allegedly been exposed to toxic materials
- But the government contractor says that everyone who has been checked out for possible exposure has been cleared to return to work
A former nuclear site in Washington state is poisoning workers and threatening the health of those who live around it, according to a new investigation.
Some experts have called the former Hanford nuclear plant ‘the most toxic place in America’ and ‘an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen’.
The site, located in a rural area along the Columbia River, was commissioned by the Manhattan Project to produce plutonium for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
It remained an active nuclear site until the end of the Cold War, when it was decommissioned and the Department of Energy subcontracted Washington River Protection Solutions to start the clean-up.
But current and former workers at the site have told NBC that the underground containers holding the site’s nuclear waste are leaking, and that they have been exposed to the toxic fumes because the company has not given them the right safety equipment.
Their health issues include dementia, nerve damage, memory loss and respiratory problems.
Watchdog group Hanford Challenge says that at least three workers’ deaths have been linked to exposure at the site, but officials with Washington River Protection Solutions have refused to admit they are putting their workers in danger. Those workers are Gary Sall, Deb Fish and Dan Golden.
But several studies show that’s not the case and just this year, 61 workers have allegedly been exposed to toxic materials.
For their story, NBC spoke to DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Whitney, who said that all workers who have been evaluated for possible exposure have been cleared to return to work. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3986750/Former-nuclear-site-Washington-state-causing-workers-develop-terminal-illnesses-won-t-cleaned-50-years.html#ixzz4RctEncj2
No one can stop President Trump from using nuclear weapons Chicago Tribune, Alex WellersteinSpecial to The Washington Post, 1 Dec 16,
Sometime in the next few weeks, Donald Trump
will be briefed on the procedures for how to activate the U.S. nuclear arsenal, if he hasn’t already learned about them.
All year, the prospect of giving the real estate and reality TV mogul the power to launch attacks that would kill millions of people was one of the main reasons his opponents argued against electing him. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” Hillary Clinton said in her speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination. Republicans who didn’t support Trump — and even some who did, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — also said they didn’t think Trump could be trusted with the launch codes.
Now they’re his. When Trump takes office in January, he will have sole authority over more than 7,000 warheads. There is no failsafe. The whole point of U.S. nuclear weapons control is to make sure that the president — and only the president — can use them whenever he decides to do so. The only sure way to keep President Trump from launching a nuclear attack, under the system we’ve had in place since the early Cold War, would have been to elect someone else.
When the legal framework for nuclear weapons was developed, the fear was about not irrational presidents but trigger-happy generals. The Atomic Energy Act of 1946, passed with President Harry Truman’s signature after nine months of acrimonious congressional hearings, firmly put the power of the atomic bomb in the hands of the president and the civilian components of the executive branch. It was a momentous and controversial law, crafted in the months following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with an eye toward future standoffs with the Soviet Union…….
Eventually, the brass adopted the idea that, when it came to nuclear matters, they were at the president’s beck and call. It was not generals’ responsibility to make the order; it was their responsibility to carry it out.
That the president would be the only person competent to use nuclear weapons was never challenged. Even asking the question would throw the entire system into disarray, as Maj. Harold Hering learned in 1973. Hering was a 21-year Air Force veteran who was decorated for his flying in Vietnam before being sent for training as a nuclear missile squadron commander. He had been taught that officers had an obligation to disobey illegal orders. So when he was told how to launch a nuclear attack, he asked what seemed like a simple question: How could he be sure that an order to launch his missiles was lawful? How could he be sure, for example, that the president wasn’t insane? Instead of an answer, he got the boot: an aborted promotion and an administrative discharge for “failure to demonstrate acceptable qualities of leadership” and for indicating “a defective mental attitude towards his duties.”
The Air Force’s problem, in short, is that once a serviceman starts down the rabbit hole of doubt, he becomes an unreliable second-guesser — and suddenly he is one of the few people who can decide whether nuclear weapons are used.
The procedure for ordering a nuclear attack involves more than one person: The president cannot literally press a button on his desk and start World War III. There is no “nuclear button” at all. Instead, the U.S. nuclear command-and-control system is bureaucratically and technically complex, stretching out to encompass land-based missile silos, submarine-based ballistic and cruise missiles, and weapons capable of being dropped from bombers. The chain of command requires that the president order the secretary of defense to carry out a launch; the secretary serves as the conduit for implementation by the military. There are succession policies in place so that the procedure can be continued in the event of the death or incapacitation of either the president or the secretary of defense — or their designated successors.
Most details of how a nuclear war would be started are classified, because an enemy who knew enough about the system could come up with ways to complicate or defeat it. What is known is that an aide is always following the president, carrying at least one large satchel (often two) known as the “nuclear football,” reportedly containing information about nuclear attack possibilities and how the president could verify his identity, authenticate orders and communicate with the military about implementing them……..
It might be worth resurrecting this debate , if we take seriously the idea that presidents — any of them, much less Trump — should not have the legal authority to conduct arbitrary and unilateral nuclear war. Perhaps now, decades after the end of the Cold War, we are past the moment when we need to entrust that power in a single person. One can imagine a law that would allow the president to use nuclear weapons in the face of imminent danger, the sort of situation in which a matter of minutes or even seconds could make a difference, but would enact formal requirements for outside consensus when more options were on the table. It would not require a full renunciation of the possibility of a first-strike nuclear attack (something the United States has never been willing to make) but might add some reassurances that such decisions would not be made unilaterally.
Congress ceded a considerable amount of power to the presidency in 1946. Seventy years later, maybe it is time lawmakers took some of it back. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-trump-use-nuclear-weapons-20161201-story.html
I could fill this newspaper with the names of Trump staffers who have emerged from such groups:
Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it, Guardian, George Monbiot, 1 Dec 16 Many of his staffers are from an opaque corporate misinformation network. We must understand this if we are to have any hope of fighting back against them. Yes, Donald Trump’s politics are incoherent. But those who surround him know just what they want, and his lack of clarity enhances their power. To understand what is coming, we need to understand who they are. I know all too well, because I have spent the past 15 years fighting them.
Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.
I first encountered the machine when writing about climate change. The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.
Among those I clashed with was Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The CEI calls itself a thinktank, but looks to me like a corporate lobbying group. It is not transparent about its funding, but we now know it has received $2m from ExxonMobil, more than $4m from a group called the Donors Trust (which represents various corporations and billionaires), $800,000 from groups set up by the tycoons Charles and David Koch, and substantial sums from coal, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
For years, Ebell and the CEI have attacked efforts to limit climate change, through lobbying, lawsuits and campaigns. An advertisement released by the institute had the punchline “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”
It has sought to eliminate funding for environmental education, lobbied against the Endangered Species Act, harried climate scientists and campaigned in favour of mountaintop removal by coal companies. In 2004, Ebell sent a memo to one of George W Bush’s staffers calling for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to be sacked. Where is Ebell now? Oh – leading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Charles and David Koch – who for years have funded extreme pro-corporate politics – might not have been enthusiasts for Trump’s candidacy, but their people were all over his campaign. Until June, Trump’s campaign manager was Corey Lewandowski, who like other members of Trump’s team came from a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
This purports to be a grassroots campaign, but it was founded and funded by the Koch brothers. It set up the first Tea Party Facebook page and organised the first Tea Party events. With a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, AFP has campaigned ferociously on issues that coincide with the Koch brothers’ commercial interests in oil, gas, minerals, timber and chemicals.
In Michigan, it helped force through the “right to work bill”, in pursuit of what AFP’s local director called “taking the unions out at the knees”. It has campaigned nationwide against action on climate change. It has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into unseating the politicians who won’t do its bidding and replacing them with those who will.
I could fill this newspaper with the names of Trump staffers who have emerged from such groups: people such as Doug Domenech, from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, funded among others by the Koch brothers, Exxon and the Donors Trust; Barry Bennett, whose Alliance for America’s Future (now called One Nation) refused to disclose its donors when challenged; and Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and others. This is to say nothing of Trump’s own crashing conflicts of interest. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of the lobbyists and corporate stooges working in Washington. But it looks as if the only swamps he’ll drain will be real ones, as his team launches its war on the natural world……… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/donald-trump-george-monbiot-misinformation#comment-88633094
Climate change will stir ‘unimaginable’ refugee crisis, says military Unchecked global warming is greatest threat to 21st-century security where mass migration could be ‘new normal’, say senior military, Guardian, Damian Carrington, 1 Dec 16, Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale”, according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”.
The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.
“Climate change is the greatest security threat of the 21st century,” said Maj Gen Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh. He said one metre of sea level rise will flood 20% of his nation. “We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people.”
Previously, Bangladesh’s finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, called on Britain and other wealthy countries to accept millions of displaced people.
Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, a member of the US Department of State’s foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project, said: “Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. We’re already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal.
“Climate change impacts are also acting as an accelerant of instability in parts of the world on Europe’s doorstep, including the Middle East and Africa,” Cheney said. “There are direct links to climate change in the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in sub-Saharan Africa.”……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/01/climate-change-trigger-unimaginable-refugee-crisis-senior-military
France’s nuclear-energy champion is in turmoil http://www.economist.com/news/business/21711087-electricit-de-france-has-had-shut-down-18-its-58-nuclear-reactors-frances-nuclear-energy Electricité de France has had to shut down 18 of its 58 nuclear reactors THESE are difficult times for Electricité de France (EDF), the country’s quasi-monopolistic electricity provider, serving 88% of homes. Outages at no fewer than 18 of the 58 EDF-owned nuclear reactors that provide three-quarters of France’s electricity have meant a slump in production: the company says annual nuclear output could fall to 378 terawatt hours (TWH), from 417 TWH last year. Eight reactors are currently lying idle and several may not restart for weeks or months. Power stations are burning coal at a rate not seen since the 1980s. As electricity imports and prices soar, officials are having to deny that a cold snap could bring blackouts.
The cause of the crisis—possibly faulty reactor parts throughout EDF’s fleet—suggests it may not be easily contained. France’s nuclear regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), this summer ordered urgent tests of reactor parts, mostly bases of cylindrical steam generators. Inspectors are worried about high carbon levels found in steel forged by Creusot Forge, which is owned by Areva, another French firm, and by Japan Casting & Forging Corporation, a Japanese supplier. In some pieces carbon deposits are over 50% above permitted levels, risking fracture in case of a sudden change in the temperature of the steel.
The extent of faulty forge work is as yet unknown, as is whether Areva employees falsified data. ASN is clearly surprised that Areva failed to spot the problem. It is now auditing thousands of files stretching back over decades. More faults are likely to emerge, the regulator reckons.
The cost for EDF is rising. As well as lost earnings from shuttered plants, switching one generator (a reactor can have three) can take six months and cost €150m ($159m). And its decision in November finally to stump up €2.5bn for Areva Nuclear Power (most of Areva, including Creusot Forge) now seems rather like paying to swallow a highly radioactive dinner.The two firms have one important joint project: a new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), built by Areva and mostly run by EDF. Here too, forging faults are a problem: they were first found last year on the installed reactor vessel at Flamanville 3, a new EPR near Cherbourg. Another serious source of concern is safety-valve design.
The regulator will rule on Flamanville’s future in mid-2017. More tests or design changes may mean putting off its opening far beyond 2018.That would also deliver another blow to France’s reputation in nuclear power. The only other EPR in Europe, that at Olkiluoto, Finland, is years overdue and three times over budget.
Delays might also hinder EDF in its plan to build two EPRs at Hinkley Point, in Britain, for £24.5bn ($30.7bn). British loan guarantees need certain conditions to be met, and these reportedly include seeing Flamanville operate by 2020. Steve Thomas, an energy expert in London, concurs with the opinion of many in the nuclear-power industry when he calls the EPR a dud. EDF is pushing on regardless, but the financial strain is mounting. In March, EDF’s then chief financial officer, Thomas Piquemal, quit, calling Hinkley Point unaffordable.
The sense of crisis looks likely to grow. Yves Marignac, a nuclear-energy expert in Paris, calls EDF “already financially crippled”. Only state backing prevents EDF’s credit rating falling steeply, analysts say. And it is not only the ASN that has EDF in its sights. On November 22nd French competition officials raided its offices, seeking evidence that its dominant position is squeezing rivals and sending prices higher than they should be (even though lower electricity prices in recent years have sapped its revenues). Its share price has halved in two years.
The future looks bleak. Some four-fifths of French nuclear plants were built in a decade from the late 1970s. The plants have a 40-year lifespan, meaning that several a year face retirement over the next decade. Energy planners have assumed there will be extensions to 50 years or more. But the ASN may hesitate after the forging problems, or impose higher costs. Cyrille Cormier, a nuclear engineer who is now at Greenpeace, a campaign group that opposes nuclear power, says a total refit could cost EDF an extra €60bn-200bn.
Closing plants permanently would be extremely costly, too. France has never closed a large one. EDF may be under-provisioning the costs of decommissioning plants. It has set aside €36bn, less than the €45bn that Germany has allowed, even though France’s neighbour has a smaller nuclear fleet. Then there is nuclear waste. The five pools storing spent fuel at La Hague, Areva’s central reprocessing plant, are nearly full, says Mr Marignac. When sorrows come, they come in battalions.
Clearwater sues NY over nuclear bailout, Ploughkeepsie Journal Jon Campbell , Albany Bureau LBANY – A multi-billion-dollar, ratepayer-backed bailout for three upstate nuclear power plants is facing another challenge in the courts.
Coal sanctions newest move to block North Korean nuclear efforts SBS World News Radio: The United Nations Security Council has imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest round of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.By Gareth Boreham, 1 Dec 16
Nuclear vision: New Eskom CEO Koko puts controversial nuclear power plans back on table The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when the government appeared to back down on plans to build nuclear power plants any time soon. But Eskom’s new acting CEO Matshela Koko has moved quickly to get the build back on the agenda. He would like to start the process to identify project participants before the end of the year, with nuclear power plants up-and-running within the next decade, Fin24 has revealed.
The nuclear power plan has proved controversial for a number of reasons: firstly, the amount of money involved in developing the programme is so huge it could damage the economy; secondly, the plans first came to light after it emerged that President Jacob Zuma had been in secret talks with Russia to do the work. While Russia and its agency Rosatom have denied that there have been any irregularities in their dealings with South Africa about the build programme, it’s hard not to be cynical about what has gone on behind-the-scenes. The state capture report released by former public protector Thuli Madonsela pointed to the widespread abuse of state funds and the involvement of foreign parties in the control of state entities. Power utility Eskom featured prominently in the report.
So far, there has been no concerted action to fully investigate the allegations. Koko replaces Brian Molefe, who resigned after disgracing himself with bizarre statements about a shebeen in Saxonwold in order to deny he was visiting the controversial Gupta family who live in the leafy suburb. But Koko is no saint; he has also had links to an irregular Eskom deal highlighted in the state capture report. The fact that the nuclear build programme is back on the table, and that there is a sense of urgency to get it moving, points to the worrying possibility that state capture doesn’t only extend across the public sector – it runs deep within institutions. – Jackie Cameron
Biz News, By Matthew Le Cordeur, 1 Dec 16
Cape Town – Despite a draft energy plan that sees nuclear energy being delayed by over a decade, government and its state-owned entities (SOE) are gearing up to release the request for proposal (RFP) for the 9.6 GW nuclear build programme.
Acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko last month pledged to release the RFPs by the end of the year, and this could happen as soon as next week…….https://www.biznews.com/sa-investing/2016/12/01/nuclear-power-eskom-ceo-koko/