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Climate change report: Jeff Bezos & the new wild west show

Bezos does not care that each and every one of his joy-ride space launches punches a larger hole in the Earth’s ozone layer exacerbating our climate crisis. This is all about him, his money, his fame, and his super-sized ego.

Climate change report: Jeff Bezos & the new wild west show https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/climate-change-report-jeff-bezos-the-new-wild-west-show/ July 23, 2021  BY BRUCE GAGNON

Jeff Bezos (the richest man in the world) successfully took his new wild west rodeo show to the edge of space and once returning to Mother Earth had the audacity to lecture us earthlings on a few things. Yahoo News reported Bezos saying:

“We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space. And keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is.”

In this same interview, Bezos discussed his plans to expand Blue Origin’s space tourism business over the coming decades, a venture that has the potential to pump massive amounts of carbon and other chemicals into the atmosphere. Unlike ground-based emitters like cars or coal-powered plants, rocket emissions are expelled directly into the upper atmosphere, where they linger for years.

Dr. Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, writes:….the fuel combination used by [Bezos is] a higher carbon fuel. Research by the University of Colorado indicates that this can damage the stratospheric ozone layer – not only leading to higher levels of damaging ultra-violet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, but also causing a global heating effect likely to be considerably greater than that from the carbon emissions alone. And the aim of these journeys? A few minutes of ‘zero-gravity’ experience and a nice view. It is hard to see this as anything more than environmental vandalism for the super-rich. As the CEO of Amazon, for years Bezos fought against company efforts to unionize, even amid credible reports of inhumane, exploitative conditions for Amazon delivery drivers and warehouse workers. He said, “I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

The truth is that virtually all space technology ‘research and development’ since the dawn of the space age was done by NASA and the military industrial complex. That means the taxpayers paid for it. And now when it is possible to make gobs of money from space tourism, colonization and mining, the capitalist dominated US government is eager to privatize space operations. They don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. America, after all, is the ‘exceptional’ nation.

It was during the Obama administration that a new law called Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, sometimes referred to as the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015, was signed by the president.

The UK Independent reported in 2015:Much of the ownership of space is regulated by the “Outer Space Treaty”, a document that was signed by the US and Russia among other countries in the 1960s. As well as saying that the moon and other celestial objects are part of the “common heritage of mankind”, it says that exploration must be peaceful and bans countries from putting weapons on the moon and other celestial bodies. The US government has now thrown out that understanding so that it can get rid of “unnecessary regulations” and make it easier for private American companies to explore space resources commercially. While people won’t actually be able to claim the rock or “celestial body” itself, they will be able to keep everything that they mine out of it.

Planetary Resources, an American company that intends to make money by mining asteroids, said that the new law was the “single greatest recognition of property rights in history”, and that it “establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space”. So Bezos was wearing the cowboy hat as a message to the world that a new ‘gold rush’ has begun in space and that it will be controlled by rich fat-cat psychopaths like him. They intend to circumvent United Nations space law like the Outer Space and Moon Treaties that state the ‘heavens are the province of all humankind’

Bezos does not care that each and every one of his joy-ride space launches punches a larger hole in the Earth’s ozone layer exacerbating our climate crisis. This is all about him, his money, his fame, and his super-sized ego. If we hope to survive on planet Earth, and give life to the future generations, then the global public must demand that space stooges like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and the rest of their ilk, are restrained and prevented from playing god.~ Bruce Gagnon Coordinates the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. Check out our short space issues videos on our web site.

July 24, 2021 Posted by | climate change, technology | Leave a comment

”Advanced Nuclear Reactors” -desperation to save USA’s nuclear industry – but it’s not likely to work.

the industry has turned to two other gambits to secure a bigger market share: small, modular light-water reactors, which, because they lack the advantage of economies of scale, would produce even more expensive electricity than conventional reactors; and non-light-water “advanced” reactors, which are largely based on unproven concepts from more than 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, proponents of these non-light-water reactor designs are hyping them as a climate solution and downplaying their safety risks

Advanced’ Nuclear Reactors? Don’t Hold Your Breath. With little hard evidence, their developers maintain they’llb be cheaper, safer and more secure than existing power plants,  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lsquo-advanced-rsquo-nuclear-reactors-don-rsquo-t-hold-your-breath/Scientific American By Elliott Negin on July 23, 2021

The U.S. nuclear power industry is at an impasse. Since 2003, 11 of the 104 light-water reactors in operation at the time have closed, mainly as a result of aging infrastructure and the inability to compete with natural gas, wind and solar, which are now the cheapest sources of electricity in the United States and most other countries worldwide.  

In the early 2000s, the industry promoted a “renaissance” to try to stem its incipient decline, and in 2005, Congress provided nearly $20 billion in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. The result? Only two new Westinghouse AP1000 light-water reactors, still under construction in Georgia, which will cost at least $14 billion apiece—double their estimated price tags—and take more than twice as long as estimated to be completed. Another two partially built AP1000 reactors in South Carolina were abandoned in 2017 after a $9-billion investment.

Given the struggle to build these standard-sized, 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors, the industry has turned to two other gambits to secure a bigger market share: small, modular light-water reactors, which, because they lack the advantage of economies of scale, would produce even more expensive electricity than conventional reactors; and non-light-water “advanced” reactors, which are largely based on unproven concepts from more than 50 years ago.

Unlike light-water reactors, these non-light-water designs rely on materials other than water for cooling. Some developers contend that these reactors, still in the concept stage, will solve the problems that have plagued light-water reactors and be ready for prime time by the end of this decade.

The siren song of a cheap, safe and secure nuclear reactor on the horizon has attracted the attention of Biden administration officials and some key members of Congress, who are looking for any and all ways to curb carbon emissions. But will so-called advanced reactors provide a powerful tool to combat climate change?

A Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis of non-light-water reactor concepts in development suggests that outcome may be as likely as Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss’ famous 1954 prediction that electricity generated by nuclear energy would ultimately become “too cheap to meter.” Written by UCS physicist Edwin Lyman, the 140-page report found that these designs are no better—and in some respects significantly worse— than the light-water reactors in operation today.

 Lyman took a close look at the claims developers have been making about the three main non-light-water designs: sodium-cooled fast reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and molten salt–fueled reactors. With little hard evidence, many developers maintain they will be cheaper, safer and more secure than currently operating reactors; will burn uranium fuel more efficiently, produce less radioactive waste, and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation; and could be commercialized relatively soon. Those claims, however, do not hold up to scrutiny.

 One of the sodium-cooled fast reactors, TerraPower’s 345-megawatt Natrium, received considerable media attention earlier this year when company founder Bill Gates touted it during interviews about his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. In mid-February, Gates told CBS’s 60 Minutes that the Natrium reactor will be safer and cheaper than a conventional light-water reactor and produce less nuclear waste.

According to the UCS report, however, sodium-cooled fast reactors such as Natrium would likely be less uranium-efficient and would not reduce the amount of waste that requires long-term isolation. They also could experience safety problems that are not an issue for light-water reactors. Sodium coolant, for example, can burn when exposed to air or water, and the Natrium’s design could experience uncontrollable power increases that result in rapid core melting.

In June, TerraPower announced that it would build the first Natrium reactor in Wyoming as part of a 50-50 cost-share program with the Department of Energy. The DOE program originally required TerraPower to have the reactor, still in its early design stage, up and running by 2027. The agency recently changed the target date for commercialization to 2028.

From concept to a commercial unit in seven years?

The new Westinghouse AP1000 light-water reactor provides a cautionary tale. It took more than 30 years of research, development and construction before the first one was built in China and began generating power in 2018. According to the UCS report, if federal regulators require the necessary safety demonstrations, it could take at least 20 years—and billions of dollars in additional costs—to commercialize non-light-water reactors, their associated fuel cycle facilities, and other related infrastructure

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may have to adapt some regulations when licensing reactor technologies that differ significantly in design from the current fleet. Lyman says that should not mean weakening public health and safety standards, finding no justification for the claim that “advanced” reactors will be so much safer and more secure that the NRC can exempt them from fundamental safeguards. On the contrary, because there are so many open questions about these reactors, he says they may need to meet even more stringent requirements.

Finally, it recommends that the DOE and Congress consider spending more research and development dollars on improving the safety and security of light-water reactors, rather than on commercializing immature, overhyped non-light-water reactor designs.

“Unfortunately, proponents of these non-light-water reactor designs are hyping them as a climate solution and downplaying their safety risks,” says Lyman. “Given that it should take at least two decades to commercialize any new nuclear reactor technology if done properly, the non-light-water concepts we reviewed do not offer a near-term solution and could only offer a long-term one if their safety and security risks are adequately addressed.” Any federal appropriations for research, development and deployment of these reactor designs, he says, “should be guided by a realistic assessment of the likely societal benefits that would result from investing billions of taxpayer dollars, not based on wishful thinking. 

July 24, 2021 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Perils to austronauts’ health – high radiation and low gravity

High Radiation, Low Gravitation: The Perils of a Trip to Mars, Sunscreen and calcium supplements aren’t enough to protect Mars-bound space travelers from radiation and a lack of gravity in outer space.   July 23, 2021 – 17:00Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer   (Inside Science) — Back in May, SpaceX launched its Starship SN15 prototype to about the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner before landing it safely. The company claims future versions of the rocket will be able to take 100 passengers at a time to the moon, and even Mars.  

But while it’s one thing to send a rocket to Mars, it’s another to send people there alive. And it’s yet another thing to make sure the people can be as healthy as they were when they left Earth. 

Besides packing enough fuel and air and water and food for the seven-month-long journey to Mars (and more for a return trip if you want a return ticket), there are other luxuries we enjoy here on Earth that the spaceship will have to provide if we want to stay healthy during the long flight. 

Nasty sunburns and zero gravity

Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from harmful space radiation, but passengers bound for Mars will lose that protection. So, their spaceship would need to provide some kind of radiation shielding.

Depending on where radiation comes from, it may be made of different particles and have different energies, which would require different means of shielding and pose different levels of danger to our radiation-prone DNA. For example, radiations from energetic particles ejected from the sun behave very differently than cosmic rays from outside our galaxy. 

So, how many times more radiation would a Mars-bound astronaut experience compared to what they would experience on Earth? 

Enough to be of concern, according to Athanasios Petridis, a physicist from Drake University in Des Moines. According to calculations by his team, high-end estimates for radiation exposure during a round trip to Mars are in the range of several Sieverts (Sv). For reference, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set 0.05 Sv/year as the dose limit for workers who are exposed to radiation at their jobs.

Solar weather also plays a role in the amount of radiation you would get in space. For instance, the 11-year solar cycle affects the amount of radiation the sun emits. However, due to the complicated interplay between sun-generated radiation and cosmic rays from outer space, it may not be worth it to time the launch around these cycles. 

“There are enough competing factors in radiation exposure that trying to plan around the solar cycle is like trying to time the stock market, which usually results in losing,” said Kerry Lee, a radiation analyst from NASA in Houston, Texas.

The lack of gravity can also wreak havoc on the human body given enough time. Astronauts aboard space stations have been shown to lose 1 to 1.5 % of the mineral density in their weight-bearing bones every month. They also tend to lose muscle mass, even when exercising as much as they do on Earth. ………..  https://www.insidescience.org/news/high-radiation-low-gravitation-perils-trip-mars

July 24, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, space travel | Leave a comment

Trump insurgents came within seconds of capturing ‘nuclear football’ on Jan. 6

Trump insurgents came within seconds of capturing ‘nuclear football’ on Jan. 6, Mark Sumner  Daily Kos Staff,  Wednesday July 21, 2021  During Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, video footage of events on Jan. 6 revealed just how close Mike Pence came to falling into the hands of the people who were chanting for his execution. Fourteen minutes after the mob of Trump supporters first breached the Capitol, Secret Service agents led Pence from the Senate chamber and down a flight of stairs. He entered that stairwell just seconds ahead of the arrival of insurgents, some of whom were carrying rope or zip ties. Had those insurgents not been delayed through the actions of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, they could easily have been there to capture Pence and take him to the gallows waiting on the lawn outside.

But in addition to Pence, they might have captured something else that would have been especially problematic. For most of us, our electronic devices—phones, tablets, and laptops

—are regularly trusted with our most confidential information. That’s one of the things that helps to make these devices our constant companions and among the most vital objects that we own. However, there is still information that’s considered too valuable, too sensitive, to be trusted to any electronic device, and one prime example was in the hands of a military aide who was with Mike Pence as he fled from the Senate. 

That aide was carrying a small satchel, and inside that satchel was a book listing the locations of classified military sites, a description of how to activate and use the Emergency Broadcast System, a “black book” of pre-planned military actions, and a small card that contains the codes necessary to authorize a nuclear strike. That aide was with Pence at the top of the stairs in the video that was shown during the Senate trial.

The Jan. 6 insurgents didn’t just almost get Mike Pence. They almost got the backup copy of the president’s Emergency Satchel. Better know as the “nuclear football.”

As Reuters reports, concern over how close the satchel came to being captured by the Trump horde is calling for a review of just how the vital information is carried and secured……………………. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/7/21/2041066/-Trump-insurgents-came-within-seconds-of-capturing-nuclear-football-on-Jan-6

July 24, 2021 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Problems at China’s Taishan nuclear power plant are serious enough to warrant shutdown, French co-owner warns.

The second EPR reactor at China’s Taishan nuclear power plant is about to enter into commercial operation.

Problems at China nuclear power plant are serious enough to warrant shutdown, French co-owner warns, By Barbara Wojazer, Zachary Cohen, Michael Callahan and Jessie Yeung, CNN, July 23, 2021   CNN)The French power company that co-owns a nuclear plant in China would shut it down if it could, due to damage to the fuel rods, a spokesperson said — but the decision is ultimately up to the plant’s Chinese operator.

The spokesperson for Electricite de France (EDF) said on Thursday that while it was “not an emergency situation” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, located in China’s southern Guangdong province, it was a “serious situation that is evolving.”If the reactor was in France, the company would have shut it down already due to “the procedures and practices in terms of operating nuclear power plants in France,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not directly call on China to halt operations at the plant, noting it was a decision for its Chinese partner and majority shareholder in the plant, the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

CNN first reported in June that the French company Framatome — an EDF subsidiary which supports operations at Taishan — had warned of an “imminent radiological threat” at the plant, prompting the United States government to investigate the possibility of a leak.

The company had also accused the Chinese safety authority of raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in order to avoid having to shut it down, according to a letter from Framatome to the US Department of Energy, obtained by CNN…………..On Thursday, the EDF spokesperson reiterated it was detecting an increase in noble gas in a reactor, and that the company had publicly clarified its position to the Chinese plant’s owner and operator, Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co., Ltd (TNPJVC).

EDF holds a 30% stake in TNPJVC — a joint venture with state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group.”We’ve shared with them all the elements of EDF’s analysis and all the reasons why, in France, we would stop the reactor,” the spokesperson said, “so that they can take the decision that will be necessary as responsible operators.”According to the spokesperson, EDF would have shut down the reactor in order to “avoid further degrading of the fuel rods, and carry out an investigation, and avoid further damage to the industrial facility.”…..   https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/22/china/edf-taishan-nuclear-plant-china-intl-hnk/index.html

July 24, 2021 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Jeff Bezos and the corporate colonisation of the stars

Jeff Bezos goes to space but not everyone is celebrating, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, By Chris Zappone, July 23, 2021This week, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and mastermind behind the retail giant Amazon, fulfilled a lifelong ambition and launched into space.

The New Shepard rocket, designed and built by his company, Blue Origin, blasted off from remote west Texas, taking Bezos, his younger brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and female pioneer of the first space age Mary “Wally” Funk into a 10-minute sub-orbital journey. Bezos’ reusable rocket body returned autonomously to land upright on a launch pad……

Upon landing this week, Bezos — estimated to be worth $US205 billion ($280 billion) — said he had had the “best day ever”.

How does everyone else feel?

While Bezos believes in “going to space to benefit Earth”, his launch was met with as much derision as celebration. No one contested the technological accomplishment. Yet the optics of a billionaire whose fortune has been linked with harsh working conditions and monopolistic business practices fulfilling his personal dream during a raging pandemic triggered a rash of reactions. Bezos didn’t help his own cause by proclaiming: “I want to thank every Amazon employee and customer because you guys paid for this.”

Only last year, a US House Judiciary Committee probe into anti-trust behaviour declared: “Amazon’s pattern of exploiting sellers, enabled by its market dominance, raises serious competition concerns.” US Senator Elizabeth Warren was more pointed. After Blue Origin’s launch, she wrote: “Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing.”   Warren was not alone in voicing such sentiments.

Who is Jeff Bezos?

……….Optimised for profit, growth and speed, Amazon was increasingly called out for anti-competitive practices, demanding the lowest prices from suppliers and punishing those who sold their products cheaper elsewhere. As the technology got more complex, and the company grew more dominant, Amazon could better shape the competitive environment. Bezos even bought one of the most influential publications in the US, The Washington Post, in 2013. Meanwhile, the work pressure became so high in the anti-union company-operated warehouses that employees had to relieve themselves in bottles. Bezos stepped down as CEO this month but remains Amazon’s executive chairman and its largest shareholder.

Why does this week’s launch matter?

Billionaires are locked in a battle to build new space businesses. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight occurred nine days before Bezos’ launch. Meanwhile, the SpaceX business of fellow billionaire Elon Musk is upping the pace with its reusable Falcon 9 rockets, with 60 launches so far.

After the launch this week, he added: “This sounds fantastical, what I’m about to tell you, but it will happen. We can move all heavy industry and all polluting industry off of Earth and operate it in space.” The prospect of solving the problem of pollution by hoisting dirty industry into space sounds like science fiction.

What happens next?

The space business is set to grow, possibly more than tripling to $US1.4 trillion in the next 20 years on Morgan Stanley numbers. Expect the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX to take a big bite of that apple. Yet even as space tourism and commercial launch services look set to flourish, public angst grows about inequality. Given the trajectory toward domination by companies like Amazon (and Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google), Silicon Valley writing its own rules for space has generated some public concern.

Amazon and the tech giants have succeeded in part by growing quickly enough to shape the terms of the industry and overwhelming regulators. If governments can’t effectively regulate the billionaires’ companies or keep abreast of technology on Earth, what hope does the public have for a space that benefits them?

Houston-based Poppy Northcutt, who helped put humans on the moon as a rocket scientist with NASA during the Apollo program, says the billionaire-led space race would bring new worries. “Anyone who knows any of the history of the commercial [ventures] that led the early European exploration of the Indies, Africa, the Americas, Asia would have concerns,” she told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald……..

The question for Bezos, as for the public, will be whether we’re on the road to space colonies in orbit or a corporate colonisation of the stars.  https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/jeff-bezos-goes-to-space-why-not-everyone-is-celebrating-20210722-p58bzn.html

July 24, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

Despite the rain, France’s nuclear reactors are still threatened by global heating.

Rhône production still threatened despite the rains. A heatwave and drought could still cause shutdowns of nuclear reactors along the Rhone by the fall, despite unprecedented rainfall in Western Europe in recent weeks which has replenished the flow of the river, said analysts Wednesday.

 Montel 21st July 2021

https://www.montelnews.com/fr/news/1240314/-la-production-du-rhne-toujours-menace-malgr-les-pluies



July 24, 2021 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

Bill Gates’fast nuclear reactor ”Natrium” – not so safe and a nuclear weapons proliferation risk

At the March Senate hearing, TerrPower’s CEO described a future for the Natrium project that had almost unlimited export opportunities for Natrium and much larger plants. As Levesque explained, the current Natrium offering is a 345-megawatt (electric) machine—not so small in itself—because that size was what today’s market would accept. As TerraPower gained experience, though, he anticipated “growing Natrium output back up to gigawatt scale,” the size of current large light water reactors. The obvious conclusion is that, despite the current ballyhoo about the economic advantages of small units, TerraPower doesn’t think the smaller units would be as economic as larger ones. The “small” label is apparently just for the easily impressed.

Bill Gates’ Fast Nuclear Reactor: Will It Bomb?,  https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/bill-gates%E2%80%99-fast-nuclear-reactor-will-it-bomb-189967 The principal reason for preferring fast reactors, historically the only reason, is to gain the ability to breed plutonium. Thus, the reactor would make and reuse massive quantities of material that could also be used as nuclear explosives in warheads.

by Victor Gilinsky Henry Sokolski 23 July 21, “Fast” means Natrium relies on energetic neutrons as opposed to “slow” neutrons that drive all our current power reactors. That’s also what gives it the “advanced” label. DOE and nuclear enthusiasts have advertised that small, factory-built, modular reactors will be cheaper and safer, and will be so attractive to foreign buyers that they will revive America’s nuclear industry, currently dead in the water; that they will enable the United States to compete in an international market now dominated by China and Russia; and they will provide a solid nuclear industrial base for meeting U.S. military nuclear requirements.

With all these supposed advantages it is not surprising that DOE is pouring money into SMRs. And based on little more than slogans, it is also getting enthusiastic bipartisan Congressional support. To understand what is really going on, one has to look beyond most of DOE’s small reactor projects, mere distractions with little future, to TerraPower’s Natrium. This is not, by the way, the company’s original “traveling wave” concept. That one apparently did not work.

The Natrium project, more than any other, offers the possibility to fulfill the nuclear community’s eighty-year-old nuclear dream to develop a nuclear power plant that can run on all mined uranium, not just on the relatively rare uranium-235 fissile isotope, as current reactors do, thereby vastly increasing fuel resources. It does this by first turning the inert uranium into plutonium and then using the plutonium as fuel. It can even “breed” excess plutonium to fuel new fast reactors. Those outside the nuclear community have no idea of the grip this captivating idea has on nuclear engineers’ minds. It has, however, serious practical drawbacks. What concerns us here is that plutonium is a nuclear explosive—a few kilograms are enough for a bomb, and it is an awful idea to have untold tons of it coursing through commercial channels.

Fast breeder reactors are not exactly a new idea. The DOE’s predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, pushed fast breeder reactors in the 1970s as the energy solution in what was thought to be a uranium-poor world. It turned out we live in a uranium-rich world, so the expensive project, whose safety problems had not been fully resolved, made no economic sense. Congress canceled the Clinch River Fast Breeder Reactor demonstration project in 1983. Enthusiasts tried but failed to revive fast reactors during the second Bush administration. That effort flopped. Now they are trying again with Natrium, a scaled-up version of a General Electric design for a small sodium-cooled, plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactor (natrium is German for sodium).

TerraPower, of course, is Bill Gates’s company. One might ask, naively, why he of all people needs government support if the Natrium project is as good as he apparently thinks it is, but let us pass over that to focus on what the project technically entails and the difficulties those technical details pose.

Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s CEO, told a March 25 Senate Energy Committee hearing that the Natrium would be fueled with uranium enriched to 20 percent U-235 rather than explosive plutonium. But will that remain the preferred fuel if the Natrium reactor takes off and is offered for export? Currently, only a handful of nations can make 20 percent enriched uranium. It’s hard to believe that foreign customers will want to be tied to a U.S. supply of this fuel.

If they want another source for 20 percent fuel, will the United States go along with foreign enrichers offering it? We currently oppose Iran producing it on grounds that such material is too close to bomb-grade uranium. In a 1976 statement on nuclear policy, President Gerald Ford said the United States would not act in its civilian program in a way contrary to what we ask of others. Has this level of consistency and respect for others gone by the boards?

The thing to remember is that the principal reason for preferring fast reactors, historically the only reason, is to gain the ability to breed plutonium. That is surely what foreign customers will want. The original GE design on which Natrium is based included an onsite reprocessing plant. So configured, the reactor would make and reuse massive quantities of material that could also be used as nuclear explosives in warheads.

The potential weapons link is obvious in India, which has refused to allow international inspections of its fast reactor. And the recent disclosure that China is building two fast reactors more or less under wraps immediately provoked international concerns about Chinese possible weapons plutonium production. The plutonium produced in the fast reactor uranium “blanket” surrounding the reactor core is well over 90 percent plutonium 239, which is ideal for nuclear weapons.

At the March Senate hearing, TerrPower’s CEO described a future for the Natrium project that had almost unlimited export opportunities for Natrium and much larger plants. As Levesque explained, the current Natrium offering is a 345-megawatt (electric) machine—not so small in itself—because that size was what today’s market would accept. As TerraPower gained experience, though, he anticipated “growing Natrium output back up to gigawatt scale,” the size of current large light water reactors. The obvious conclusion is that, despite the current ballyhoo about the economic advantages of small units, TerraPower doesn’t think the smaller units would be as economic as larger ones. The “small” label is apparently just for the easily impressed.

Nor are the touted safety advantages of fast reactors what they seem. The low pressure of sodium-cooled reactors is an advantage. But sodium burns violently when exposed to air or water. And a fast reactor needs a large, concentrated amount of fissile material which becomes more reactive if it loses its coolant. In short, the comparison with the safety of light water reactors is at best a draw.

The March Senate hearing discussion about competing with Russia and China made clear the nuclear industry’s business plan centers on exporting fast reactor technology around the world, however implausible this may be given the cost and safety issues we’ve noted. The question for the U.S. government is, should it be encouraging nuclear technologies that threaten to flood the world with untold tons of plutonium?

Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter made it U.S. policy to discourage commercializing of plutonium-fueled reactors. Ford’s words bear repeating: In 1976, he announced that the United States wouldn’t support reliance on plutonium fuel and associated reprocessing of spent fuel until “the world community can effectively overcome the associated risks of proliferation.” Fast reactors like TerraPower’s Natrium don’t meet this test.

Victor Gilinsky serves as program advisor to The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, is a physicist, and was a commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations.

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Safety blunders fuel Japan’s mistrust of nuclear power

Safety blunders fuel Japan’s mistrust of nuclear power. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is the biggest nuclear power station in the world. Tucked away on a remote shoreline of the Sea of Japan, the plant can generate nearly eight gigawatts of electricity from its seven reactor halls – about 5 percent of total demand in Japan.

In the last ten years, however, this symbol of the atomic period has not produced enough power to turn on a light bulb. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa shares the same owner, Tokyo Electric, and the same basic design as the three reactors that melted in Fukushima after a tsunami knocked out their cooling systems in 2011.

The public is still opposed to the restart of nuclear power – and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is part of the reason why. Tepco’s failure to regain public confidence was recently plagued by the scandal surrounding its operational existence. In 2002, the company confesses after ‘systematic and inappropriate management’ of
inspections at the plant, after failing to report cracks in reactor components to its regulator. In 2007, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was hit by an earthquake of more than 6.6 more powerful than it allowed in the design of the plant, but Tepco did not learn lessons that could have prevented the Fukushima disaster.

 FT 23rd July 2021

https://www.ft.com/content/57bdef2e-2d1b-4d06-8163-830f17764219

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Japan’s Olympics kick off amid a cascade of disasters — limitless life

By Ishaan Tharoor with Claire Parker  Email Japan’s Olympics kick off amid a cascade of disasters The Olympic Rings in Tokyo ahead of the official opening of the 2020 Olympic Games. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters) The Olympic Games are about to begin, but who is actually excited? Not the Japanese public, which according to recent polling overwhelmingly opposed hosting the Olympics as […]

Japan’s Olympics kick off amid a cascade of disasters — limitless life

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Propaganda Fest for “Delivery” of a Deep Nuclear Dump — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

Whether Under Land or Sea a Deep Nuclear Dump Would Be The Wrong Thing to Do – Stop and Contain. Radioactive Waste Management are advised by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management which has as one of their key members the coal mine boss Mark Kirkbride. The BBC and other mainstream UK news outlet are […]

Propaganda Fest for “Delivery” of a Deep Nuclear Dump — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July 23 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “As The World Burns, California Will Pick Up The Pace On Climate – Maybe” • Reading directives by California’s governor about goals for 2030 and 2035 and 2045, we should think about a report from RMI, whose authors wrote, “The most important year to phase out fossil fuel infrastructure and invest in clean […]

July 23 Energy News — geoharvey

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wigton – Friday “Drop In” for Deep Nuclear Dump — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

Wigton: Lakeland Authors Say No Nuclear Dump – Image copyright :Radiation Free Lakeland (editors info) From 10am -6pm Today at Thursby (near Carlisle) the first day of the “Drop In” sessions by the so called Allerdale Working Group Working towards “Delivery” of a Deep Nuclear Dump is taking place. Tomorrow the nuclear dump persuaders will be […]

Wigton – Friday “Drop In” for Deep Nuclear Dump — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Democrat lawmakers call on President Biden to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review.

SENATORS MARKEY, MERKLEY AND REPS. BEYER, GARAMENDI LEAD COLLEAGUES IN URGING PRESIDENT BIDEN TO REDUCE MILITARY ROLE OF U.S NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN UPCOMING NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW    https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senators-markey-merkley-and-reps-beyer-garamendi-lead-colleagues-in-urging-president-biden-to-reduce-military-role-of-us-nuclear-weapons-in-upcoming-nuclear-posture-review  Washington (July 22, 2021)–

Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.) and Representatives Don Beyer (VA-08) and John Garamendi (CA-03), co-chairs of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group, led 18 of their colleagues in calling on President Joseph R. Biden to actively guide the formation of the Department of Defense-led Nuclear Posture Review. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) will be part of an integrated National Defense Strategy that the Department of Defense says will be completed by early next year. The lawmakers urged the Administration to consider a series of bold actions that would fulfill the President’s pledge to reduce the role of “nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”

“Mr. President, as a United States Senator and then as Vice President, you were a party to every major nuclear weapons debate of the past five-decades. From bolstering the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, to building European support for the Intermediate-Nuclear Forces Treaty, to securing votes for ratification of the New START Treaty, you have consistently been on the right side of history. Your Administration’s NPR is a watershed moment where you can reject a 21st century arms race and make bold decisions to lead us towards a future where nuclear weapons no longer threaten all humanity,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to President Biden.

Specifically, the lawmakers called for President Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review to:  

  • Adjust U.S. declaratory policy to assign a reduced role for U.S. nuclear weapons, consistent with the President’s past stated view that: “Given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s threats — it’s hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary. Or make sense.”
  • Direct the Department of Defense to include in its proposed target list a breakdown of the damage expectancy, civilian casualties, and climatic and humanitarian consequences stemming from nuclear weapons use.
  • Examine the number and types of new weapons needed to deter nuclear attack, taking into account recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to consider deferring or cancelling certain nuclear weapons modernization programs.  
  • Complete independent review of the proposed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent – that looks into the technical feasibility and comparative cost savings of life-extending the current Minuteman III ICBM.
  • Eliminate two of President Trump’s new types of nuclear weapons: the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM) under development and the low-yield W-76(2) warhead already deployed on U.S. ballistic missile submarines.
  • Commit to pursuing robust diplomacy with Russia and China on arms control through U.S.-Russia bilateral strategic stability talks, which build upon an extended New START Treaty, and starting a new bilateral U.S.-China strategic stability dialogue that builds towards the eventual conclusion of arms control measures that reduce the risk of miscalculation.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

July 24, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

First Energy company to pay fine for bribing Ohio officials to bail out nuclear power stations

FirstEnergy agrees to pay $230M fine for bribing Ohio officials to bail out two nuclear plants, Utility Dive, Iulia Gheorghiu   July 23, 2021  

Dive Brief:

  • FirstEnergy Corporation announced on Thursday a settlement agreement to pay a $230 million penalty for bribing Ohio officials to  ensure the passage of a ratepayer-funded bailout for older generation assets, including two nuclear plants.
  • The utility cooperated with federal investigators to disclose paying millions through dark money groups to state officials, including former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Public Utilities Commision of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo. The company acknowledged using 501(c)(4) organizations, which are registered lobbying entities, to conceal the nature, source and control of payments in the pursuit of the nuclear legislation……………

The details in the 49-page settlement agreement, in which FirstEnergy had to admit that company executives paid money to public officials in return for official action, has led to stakeholders raising questions about utility dark-money and political spending………….

The OEC Action Fund is also asking for a full repeal of HB 6 and has called for an investigation into every PUCO and Ohio Power Siting Board ruling made under Randazzo’s tenure.

“Each case he presided over is possibly tainted by corrupt ties to FirstEnergy,” Taylor-Miesle said…………………….  https://www.utilitydive.com/news/firstenergy-agrees-to-pay-230m-fine-for-bribing-ohio-officials-to-bail-out/603836/

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment