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Nuclear news – week to 20 March

A bit of good news Sir David Attenborough urges people to unite to save ‘nature in crisis’

Premiere of this so timely movie –

The Road to War – new film premiering in Australia is just so very timely – as Australia is currently foremost in nuclear news.

World premiere–   Melbourne at 6.30pm on 22 March at the Nova in Carlton.  Then in Hobart on 23 March (not 24th as stated in trailer) at the State Cinema .    Q & A panel with Bradbury and special guest, Bob Brown. Capri Theatre in Adelaide 29 March. Other cities and regional centres yet to be announced.        

Christina notesAustralia’s splendid nuclear submarine goat rodeo – funny, but it’s really serious.    Isn’t it wonderful how the men in opposing political parties can unite in hate and belligerence? Nuclear wastes 30 years away. So -no problem for present decision-makers – happily superannuated when the shit hits the fa

CLIMATE. Wiped out: Scientist’s ‘gigantic tsunami’ warning signals ‘grave threat’ to Sizewell C.. UN Secretary-General’s video message to the 58th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

CULTUREPermission to speak?– Who gets to talk about nuclear power should not be controlled by the nuclear lobby

ECONOMICS. Despite UK government’s enthusiasm, nuclear power is just not a good investment. UK government is urged to “come clean” over the real cost of Sizewell C nuclear power station . EDF confirms nuclear power target for 2023, despite corrosion problems, and plummeting output in 2022. 

A $18 million a job? The AUKUS subs plan will cost Australia way more than that. Australian nuclear submarine program to cost up to $368b as AUKUS details unveiled in the US.Australia’s Productivity Commission casts doubt on the federal government’s decision to build nuclear-powered submarines.

ETHICS and RELIGIONGrief – Japan marks 12 years since Fukushima nuclear disaster as concerns grow over treated radioactive water release.

ENERGY. Taiwan phasing out nuclear power.

ENVIRONMENTCampaigners claim permit change at Hinkley Point would kill billions of fish. UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt wants nuclear power classified as ‘environmentally sustainable’ . But is it?

HEALTHLife on a nuclear submarine takes its toll.

INDIGENOUS ISSUES. Why is Australia’s Labor government determined to silence the Barngarla people, at the same time as Labor promotes the indigenous Voice to Parliament ?. 

MEDIA. “Atomic Bamboozle” Probes False Hopes for the Future of Nuclear Power.

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGYBritain does not have the capacity to support Australia’s plan to build its own nuclear submarine fleet – Rear Admiral. Transparent oceans – Technologies for detection of nuclear submarines will still be all too successful by 2050. Georgia’s big new nuclear reactors could be the ‘last built in the US‘ . World’s largest nuclear fusion reactor promises clean energy, but the challenges are huge.

OPPOSITION to NUCLEAR. Japanese students’ nuclear abolition petition tops 2.5 million signatures. New Mexico says no to storing spent nuclear fuel as Biden touts nuclear energy: ‘The trouble is this is a forever decision’.



PUBLIC OPINION. Something Is Missing From Americans’ Greatest Fears. It’s the Bomb..

SAFETY. Incident. 400,000 gallons of radioactive water leaked from a nuclear plant in Minnesota.

SECRETS and LIES. Libyan general says uranium reported missing by UN nuclear watchdog IAEA has been recoveredTons of uranium missing from Libyan site, UN nuclear watchdog tells member states. Alarm over 10 drums of uranium missing in Libya.

SPINBUSTERSIX WAR MONGERING THINK TANKS AND THE MILITARY CONTRACTORS THAT FUND THEM. Lesson from Fukushima: Collusion in the nuclear domain“Great British Nuclear” launch – an eccentric fraud by the UK government.

WASTES. The (Vancouver) Columbian Editorial Board: Congress must recognize urgency at HanfordDumping Fukushima contaminated water is a “cheap and dirty” approach that must be stopped.  Australia hasn’t figured out low-level nuclear waste storage yet – let alone high-level waste from submarines.

From the archivesNo country in the world has worked out what to do with its old dead, radioactive, nuclear submarines. UK’s costly struggle to deal with dead nuclear submarines. The daunting, long and untested effort to deal with UK’s dead nuclear submarines. What to do with dead nuclear submarines? A cautionary tale for Australia.

WAR and CONFLICT. Some countries plan to decentralize control of nuclear weapons in a crisis. Here’s why that’s dangerous. Seymour Hersh warns of potential US plan B in UkraineU.S. Army launches new headquarters in Poland . North Korea’s Kim led drills ‘simulating nuclear counterattack.’ 


March 20, 2023 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

 The (Vancouver) Columbian Editorial Board: Congress must recognize urgency at Hanford.

Hanford represents “the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet.”

as Washington residents learned long ago, it is difficult to draw federal attention to a remote site in our state.

The (Vancouver) Columbian Editorial Board, Mar 17, 2023

For too long, the federal government has kept cleanup at the Hanford nuclear reservation toward the bottom of its to-do list. “It’s a nice idea,” a long string of presidential administrations have seemed to say. “We’ll get to it eventually.”

With such nonchalance being the prevailing attitude for decades, the fact that President Joe Biden’s proposed 2024 federal budget includes record funding for Hanford is encouraging. But it is far from cause for celebration.

Congress must join the administration in recognizing the importance of the site and approving the president’s request for some $3 billion for Hanford. The issue is not only a matter of cleaning up hazardous, radioactive waste in Washington; it is about the federal government fulfilling its moral and court-ordered duty.

“There’s more work to do, but this is a big step in the right direction to getting this cleanup done efficiently, effectively and safely,” Gov. Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter this week.

Beggars, as they say, can’t be choosers, which puts Washington leaders in a difficult spot. While the proposal for increased funding is a step in the right direction, it does not mitigate years of inattention by the federal government. Nor does it fully fund cleanup at what is considered the nation’s most contaminated radioactive site.

Hanford, once the hub of plutonium production for the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons, now is home to underground tanks holding 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. Many of those tanks are known to be leaking, and with the site’s proximity to the Columbia River — 200 miles upstream from Vancouver — federal officials should have brought urgency to the project long ago.

“The citizens living along banks of the Columbia River deserve to know the full story of what is happening with the Hanford tanks,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., once wrote to Department of Energy officials, who oversee Hanford cleanup.

That was in 2014. Citizens still are waiting for significant progress.

According to the Tri-City Herald, Biden’s proposed budget would increase spending on a vitrification plant at Hanford from its current $875 million to $1 billion; that plant is being prepared to treat radioactive waste for disposal. The budget also would add an extra $34 million for work at the tank farms.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, whose district includes the Hanford site, long has worked to draw attention to the cleanup. So have Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. As Congress considers the details of Biden’s budget proposal, Washington lawmakers — including Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania — should impress upon their colleagues the importance of Hanford.

Every state and every congressional district has its own needs, but a site largely unknown to the rest of the country warrants special attention. As journalist Joshua Frank wrote last year in the book “Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America,” Hanford represents “the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet.”

With Murray serving as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee — and with Newhouse sitting on the House Appropriations Committee — there is hope that Hanford funding will remain unscathed when Congress takes a scalpel to Biden’s proposed budget. But as Washington residents learned long ago, it is difficult to draw federal attention to a remote site in our state.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Permission to speak? — Beyond Nuclear International

No science degree required to call out nuclear dangers

Permission to speak? — Beyond Nuclear International

Who gets to talk about nuclear power should not be controlled by the nuclear lobby

By Linda Pentz Gunter

If you are not a fan of English soccer (football), you might not have been following the brouhaha over comments made recently by Gary Lineker, one of the UK’s most well known — and arguably well respected — former England football stars.

You might also be wondering why I am writing about it here. Hold that thought.

Lineker was responding to the Conservative UK government’s new “We must stop the boats” policy, designed to turn away so-called “illegal” asylum seekers fleeing for their lives and attempting to land on UK shores, something the government described as “a crisis” of numbers that the British people want solved.

Lineker, who has housed refugees in his home, wrote on his personal Twitter site: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used in Germany in the 30s.”

The BBC duly suspended him from Match of the Day, one of the most popular shows on British television and which he has hosted since 1999. Athletes, they seemed to be saying, should stick to sport. Supporters of the government’s “let them sink” policy seemed to agree, loading up the vitriolic attacks on Lineker for stepping over the touch line. The same critics also used “othering” language toward asylum-seekers, calling them “these people” and “rapists and murders”, thus giving full credence to Lineker’s fears that the government rhetoric did indeed smack of the rise of Nazism. Which brings me to my point.

In our movement, we are routinely confronted by those who argue that if we don’t have a nuclear engineering degree, we have no scientific knowledge on which to base our opposition to nuclear power.

The media seems to share this view and considers “experts” worth quoting as limited to those with corporate ties, neckties, and government lanyards. How often do we read articles about nuclear power (or any environmental issue for that matter), in which government and industry spokespeople are quoted at length, while a hapless representative from civil society is granted a soundbite snippet in one of the concluding paragraphs, only seen by those willing to read to the end?

I have a degree in English and Italian literature. But on social media platforms I’ve been characterized mockingly as “only an English teacher,” the assumption being that I therefore cannot possibly know anything about nuclear power. (I was never an English teacher — but since when has the pro-nuclear crowd been attentive to facts?)

One New York radio shock jock tried to trip me up during a dawn interview in March 2011, as the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded, by demanding an explanation of the difference between becquerels, curies and rads. Being absolutely certain that no one in his listening audience of up-before-coffee, right wing conspiracy theorists had the slightest interest in the matter, I told him so. He then tried the “hysterical woman” tack, to which I responded that since he was the one who was shouting it seemed to me that he was the hysterical one.

It’s ridiculous to suggest — and a deliberate suppression of freedom of speech — that your degree, however long ago you might have acquired it, henceforth limits your thinking to that subject alone and that after the age of about 21 the human brain loses the capacity to learn anything new. The day you threw your mortar board joyfully into the air, or signed with a premier league team, that was the moment when all new thinking stopped. Whether it’s English literature or English football, that is the only topic on which you are qualified to comment. For the rest of your life.

By the same logic, then, only those who make nuclear bombs should be allowed to discuss them publicly. What kind of a world would that be?

I am reminded of the famous Marcel Pagnol quote: “My advice is to look out for engineers. They begin with sewing machines and end up with nuclear bombs.”

Gary Lineker, like many high profile people, discusses all sorts of topics of interest on his personal twitter account. So does former tennis player, Martina Navratilova, and Star Trek actor, George Takei, who endured the Japanese internment camps right here in the freedom-loving USA. During Trump’s tenure as US President, Takei’s twitter feed was chock full of searingly biting — and often wickedly funny —bullseyes. No one banned him from stage and screen.

During his playing days, tennis great Arthur Ashe, an African-American, led a boycott of his sport against apartheid South Africa. That move fed into the wider sanctions and global outcry that eventually ended that cruel regime. But Ashe was “only” a tennis player. He, too, faced endless reprimands that “politics and sport shouldn’t mix.”

Many celebrities, like many of us, are intelligent, thinking and caring human beings. Unlike us, they have a platform and a huge audience. If they sound the warning about Nazi-style rhetoric and policies — or  even, if we are very lucky, the unacceptable horrors of nuclear power and nuclear weapons — thank goodness for that.

We can’t let the voices who speak up for humanity — and humanitarianism — be silenced, even though that is what the BBC thought it was doing by suspending Lineker. Instead, in a brilliant backfire — or to use a soccer term, own goal — the BBC ended up silencing itself with a mass walkout by football match commentators and studio hosts. After which, they quickly reinstated Lineker. And in a clue as to what kind of gag order they might have struck, Lineker promptly tweeted that “however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen empathy towards their plight from so many of you.”

This skillfully put to rest the other criticism thrown at Lineker and those of us who joined the outcry at his suspension: that now all the attention was on him and not on the plight of asylum seekers. I disagree. His tweets and the attempts to silence him may have constituted a battle over free speech but it also rocketed the inhumanity of the UK government’s immigration policy into the spotlight in a way no amount of earnest editorials or picket lines in Whitehall might have done.

So with or without that PhD in quantum physics, we will keep speaking out against the extreme dangers of nuclear power. Because as human beings who can read, think and analyze for ourselves, who can separate fact from fiction, and who know the difference between empirical evidence and pro-nuclear propaganda, we have a duty and a responsibility to do so. Otherwise the next nuclear tragedy will be on us.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK’s costly struggle to deal with dead nuclear submarines

The MoD has also been slated for the cost of maintaining the subs, £30 million a year.

Rosyth to be ‘de-nuclearised’ with removal of old submarines By Ally McRoberts 27th November, 22

ALL of the laid-up nuclear submarines will be gone as part of a UK Government pledge to “de-nuclearise Rosyth” by 2035.

Councillors were given an update on the programme to remove radioactive waste and turn the seven boats that have been parked at the dockyard for decades into “tin cans and razor blades”.

The Ministry of Defence have faced heavy criticism for the delays in dealing with the nuclear legacy, with 27 Royal Navy subs to be scrapped in total.

Christine Bruce, from the Rosyth Submarine Dismantling Project, said most of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLW) should be gone by the end of 2024.

She added: “The subs will take a bit longer but we’ve got a forward programme which definitely does remove them all by about 2035.

“It absolutely is our aim to do what we said all those years ago, to de-nuclearise Rosyth.”

One of the decommissioned subs, Dreadnought, has been in the Rosyth basin since 1980 and she admitted that it had been out of service for so long that a lot of the low-level radiation had “disappeared naturally”.

The MoD has also been slated for the cost of maintaining the subs, £30 million a year.

At the South and West Fife area committee yesterday (Wednesday), Ms Bruce acknowledged: “It’s taken a long time to get to where we are.

We started in 1998, I was part of it from the beginning, it’s taken quite a long time to come up with the policy and for good reasons.

“There were no easy answers. If it had been easy we would have done it a long time before now.

“The aim is to get rid of 27 submarines, of which seven are at Rosyth and the rest are, or will be, at Devonport.”

A facility to deal with the boats at Rosyth had to be brought up to date, to make sure it was safe to remove the radioactive material, with funding from the MoD.

Work started on Swiftsure in 2015-16 and around 52 tonnes of LLW was removed, with most of the metals recycled.

With lessons learned from the first sub, they progressed and removed 77 tonnes from Resolution and then 120 tonnes from Revenge.

The next step was a world first, the removal of the reactor from Revenge, the most radioactive part left in the sub, as well as the steam generators.

Next will be removing the rest of the LLW from Swiftsure so all that’s left is the reactor, which should be taken out around 2025.

The sub was to be recycled elsewhere but it’s cheaper, safer and more secure “to do the first one at Rosyth” and then sell it off to scrap merchants.

Gordon McAughey, head of internal assurance at Babcock Rosyth, added: “Hopefully, by 2026, the skyline change at Rosyth will occur where the first boat will be gone, it will be tin cans and razor blades.

“It’s a very challenging programme to build a facility to do all this work and to get all the permissions from regulators, but what I will say is we never compromise on safety for the sake of progress. We can’t compromise on safety.”

LLW is to be taken to a facility in Dorset, which should be completed next year, by 2024.

The reactors are to be taken to Capenhurst in Cheshire and it hasn’t yet been decided if they’ll be transported by road or sea.

Ms Bruce said safety and security would be paramount.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

New Mexico says no to storing spent nuclear fuel as Biden touts nuclear energy: ‘The trouble is this is a forever decision’

Yahoo Finance, Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press, Sun, March 19, 2023

New Mexico’s governor on Friday signed legislation aimed at keeping spent nuclear fuel produced by commercial U.S. nuclear power plants from being shipped to the state, just hours after the measure cleared its final legislative hurdle

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wasted no time adding her signature after the New Mexico House voted 35-28 in favor of the bill following a lengthy debate. Five Democrats joined Republicans in opposition, arguing that the measure would challenge longstanding federal authority over nuclear safety matters and lead to new court challenges.

The bill from Democratic state Sen. Jeff Steinborn, of Las Cruces, will impact a proposed multibillion-dollar facility in southeastern New Mexico that would have the capacity to temporarily store up to 8,680 metric tons of used uranium fuel. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent fuel over six decades.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may announce a decision soon on whether to grant a license for the project spearheaded by Holtec International, which has spent an estimated $80 million over the past eight years on the approval process.

Lujan Grisham and members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have voiced strong opposition to building the facility along the state’s border with Texas. Both states sued the federal government over the issue, and top elected officials in Texas were unsuccessful in their efforts to stop a similar facility in neighboring Andrews County from being licensed.

If a license is granted for the complex in New Mexico, it would still need permits from the state Environment Department. That’s where critics say the state could lean on the legislation and halt the project.

Rep. Gail Chasey, an Albuquerque Democrat, argued that there has been no incentive for states with nuclear power plants to find permanent solutions for dealing with spent fuel. As long as New Mexico is seen as an option, those states won’t be concerned with the long-term effects, she said.

“The trouble is this is a forever decision. We don’t get to decide, oh, let’s not do this anymore and take it away,” Chasey said. “So think about the fact that if it were such a profitable and good thing, then the states that produced it would have it near their facilities.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear reactors across the country produce more than 2,000 metric tons of radioactive waste a year, with most of it remaining on-site because there’s nowhere else to put it.

Since the federal government has failed to build a permanent repository, it reimburses utilities to house the fuel. That cost is expected to stretch into the tens of billions of dollars over the next decade, according to a review by independent government auditors.

The fuel is sitting at temporary storage sites in nearly three dozen states, either enclosed in steel-lined concrete pools of water or in steel and concrete containers known as casks……………

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What to do with dead nuclear submarines?

12 dead nuclear submarines in UK, and don’t they have pretty names?

Legacy. It is unacceptable to leave waste for future generations to deal with……

End game

To some extent, the Ministry of Defence is stuck in a vicious circle whereby the cost of storing submarines eats into the budget for their disposal. ………but the glacial pace of work …. is more concerning. There are always more pressing priorities for defence expenditure and the dismantling project has been continually delayed. In the meantime the nuclear and health and safety regulatory requirements that must be met are getting stricter, adding further costs. There is almost complete reliance on Babcock for UK submarine support activity and there is a very finite number of SQEP with nuclear expertise available to recruit in the UK.

Project to dismantle ex-Royal Navy nuclear submarines inches forward, Navy Lookout, 7 Feb 22.

There are currently 21 former Royal Navy nuclear submarines awaiting disposal, 7 in Rosyth and 14 in Devonport. Here we look at the process and the modest progress in efforts to dismantle them.

Kicking the can down the road ……….  Unfortunately, successive governments failed to make arrangements for the timely disposal of these boats. In a less environmentally conscious era, filling the boats with concrete and sinking them in the deep ocean was the original plan but the disposal of nuclear waste at sea was banned by the London Dumping Convention in 1983. Planning for the dismantling of these submarines should have been started at that time, but only in the last 10 years has there been a serious effort to grip the issue.

Over time the nuclear regulatory frameworks have become ever-more demanding than when the submarines were conceived. Stricter rules have added more complexity and cost to the dismantling process, ironically adding delays and increasing the amount of nuclear waste awaiting appropriate disposal. HMS Dreadnought decommissioned in 1980, has now been tied up in Rosyth far longer than she was in active service. In the civil nuclear industry, operators are required by law to put aside funds and make plans during the life of the plant to pay for decommissioning. It would be prudent if a similar principle was applied by the MoD to all new nuclear submarine construction.

Besides the attraction of deferring costs in the short-term, a major cause of delays has been the selection of a land storage site for radioactive waste. Low-Level Waste (LLW) is stored at Sellafield in concrete-lined vaults and in 2017 URENCO Nuclear Stewardship Ltd at Capenhurst in Cheshire was selected as the interim site for storing the more dangerous Intermediate Level Waste (ILW). The Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPV) removed from the submarines are classed as ILW and will temporarily be stored in purpose-built buildings above ground. They will eventually be moved to a permanent underground Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)

Afloat storage

While awaiting dismantling, decommissioned submarines are stored afloat in a non-tidal basin in the dockyard.  The 7 submarines in Rosyth have all had their nuclear fuel rods removed but of the 14 in Devonport, 10 are still fuelled. This is because in 2003 the facilities for de-fuelling were deemed no longer safe enough to meet modern regulation standards and the process was halted. Submarines that have not had fuel removed have the reactor primary circuit chemically treated to guarantee it remains inert and additional radiation monitoring equipment is fitted.

Apart from regular monitoring, once every 15 years each boat has to be dry-docked for a Survey and Docking Period (SADP) which involves hull inspection and preservation work.

Reasons to accelerate disposal

Cost. The expense of afloat storage and maintenance of decommissioned boats is rising – currently costing approximately £30M per year. Every further delay adds to this and will have to be funded from a defence budget that is much smaller in real terms than when the boats were ordered and built during the Cold War. The total disposal cost will be at least £3bn over 25 years and continue into the 2040s. (This is for the 27 boats listed above – Astute-class dismantling is not yet being considered.) All this effort and expense is a drain on precious MoD resources for zero operational gain with each delay adding to the cost.

Legacy. It is unacceptable to leave waste for future generations to deal with and it is simply common sense to dispose of old equipment at around the same time their replacements come online. Responsible care of the hulks afloat means they pose minimal risk to the environment or local population, but a tiny risk does remain. This makes some people living nearby uneasy and provides another grievance for those ideologically opposed to nuclear submarines and Trident. The minimal environmental hazard they pose is sometimes exaggerated by media, politicians and campaigners to suit their own agenda. The old boats are also a rather uncomfortable reminder of the time when the RN had an SSN force approximately double the strength it is today.

Space. When HMS Trenchant is moved to 3 Basin at Devonport for storage, the basin will be at its licensed capacity. Currently, the MoD only has permission from the nuclear regulator to store 14 boats. Approval to hold 16 will be needed in order to accommodate HMS Talent and Triumph when they decommission. Storing more boats in Rosyth is not an option because of limited space in the basin which is also used for civilian vessels as well as by the aircraft carriers to access the dry dock. Once the purpose-built disposal facility at Devonport is up and running in the early 2030s, it will be more efficient (and likely deemed politically less sensitive than anything in Scotland).

Progress at Rosyth

The Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) finally started at Rosyth in December 2016, around 15 years behind schedule. A team of around 150 people are working on the site pioneering the two-stage process to remove radioactive waste. Swiftsure was the ‘pilot’ submarine for the project and stage 1 – the removal of LLW. This work was completed and the boat was sealed up and returned to afloat storage in the basin during August 2018. So far, 129 tonnes of mainly metallic LLW have been removed from Swiftsure and Resolution. Many of the older boats have asbestos lagging around pipes, which also has to be removed with exceptional care and disposed of in sealed containers. Stage 1 work on Resolution was completed on time in March 2020 and on budget.

Stage 1 work on Revenge started in March 2020 but was suspended on the 24th due to COVID lockdown and (almost) normal working was not resumed until June 2020……………..

Disposal at Devonport

Progress at Devonport is considerably behind that of Rosyth. The unplanned refuelling of HMS Vanguard added a six-month delay as Babcock engineers were diverted from the SDP to work on the more urgent SSBN refit. ………………..

End game

To some extent, the MoD is stuck in a vicious circle whereby the cost of storing submarines eats into the budget for their disposal. The modest progress at Rosyth in the last 5 years is encouraging but the glacial pace of work in Devonport is more concerning. There are always more pressing priorities for defence expenditure and the dismantling project has been continually delayed. In the meantime the nuclear and health and safety regulatory requirements that must be met are getting stricter, adding further costs. There is almost complete reliance on Babcock for UK submarine support activity and there is a very finite number of SQEP with nuclear expertise available to recruit in the UK.

Like so many problems in defence, the failure to dispose of the boats cannot be blamed on one person, government or company, rather a series of decisions made by many individuals that seemed justifiable at the time. There must be some sympathy for those working to deal with this legacy today, although the thrust of 2019 HoC Public Accounts Committee report on submarine disposal efforts can be summarised as saying “this is simply not good enough”.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

No country in the world has worked out what to do with its old dead, radioactive, nuclear submarines.

In light of Boris’s new enthusiasm for lots of Rolls-Royce’s so-called “mini-nukes” to generate electricity, it should be better known that the Ministry of Defence has not scrapped any of its 21 similarly Rolls-Royce-powered old nuclear submarines, berthed for up to 40 years.

It has made a start dismantling the hull of one, but there are still no plans for dealing with the reactors beyond burying them. Indeed, no country in the world has properly made safe a worn out mini-nuke-powered ship or submarine.

 Guardian 10th April 2022

March 20, 2023 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear option: Illinois grapples with the future of nuclear power

WSIU Public Broadcasting | By Andrew Adams | Capitol News Illinois,  March 17, 2023

Lawmakers consider loosening restrictions as environmentalists seek an end to state’s atomic age

A measure allowing the construction of new commercial nuclear power plants has bipartisan, bicameral support in the state legislature as the body considers its next steps in meeting carbon-free energy goals while maintaining grid reliability.

Its advocates say the measure would open the door for the use of smaller nuclear reactors to serve as a carbon-free power source when the wind doesn’t blow on turbines and the sun doesn’t shine on solar plants.

While proponents are hopeful, the technology behind nuclear power’s potential resurgence hasn’t yet been deployed for power generation anywhere in the United States. A few examples of small next generation reactors exist across the world, but in the U.S. only one of these smaller nuclear reactor designs has been approved by regulators…………….

The nuclear industry is all for this push. Representatives of Constellation Energy, the state’s nuclear power company, have said they support any legislation to make it easier to build nuclear reactors……….

But some environmentalists and anti-nuclear advocates say allowing new nuclear technologies represents a fundamental risk to the future of the carbon-free movement and the state’s environment………………………………………..

Two of the state’s major environmental advocacy groups, the Illinois Environmental Council and the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, oppose lifting the moratorium on nuclear power plant construction.

“We believe that nuclear is not clean energy,” said Jack Darin, the director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Its full life cycle has very serious impacts.”

After nuclear fuel is used, it continues to emit potentially hazardous radiation for tens of thousands of years. Eventually, this spent fuel should be moved to a long-term disposal facility, although no such facility has ever been designated or built in the U.S. This means waste is often kept on-site at nuclear facilities in pools or in steel cannisters designed to block radiation.

Grundy County has the nation’s only de facto permanent disposal site, and it has been at capacity since 1989. With nowhere to dispose of spent fuel, waste management continues to be an open question for the nuclear industry and the NRC.

Darin also pushed back on some of the concerns about electrification, pointing out that advancements in energy efficiency could reduce the overall load on the electric grid.

“The ideal path for our nuclear fleet is a steady reduction of our reliance on it,” Darin said.

……………………….A new regulatory landscape?

To facilitate this potential nuclear renaissance, lawmakers are considering two effectively identical proposals to end a moratorium on nuclear plant construction that has been in effect since 1987. The temporary ban was put in place pending the federal government’s designation of a long-term disposal site for nuclear waste.

One bill, House Bill 1079, was introduced by Rep. Mark Walker, D-Arlington Heights, and passed out of committee on Feb. 28 on a 18-3 vote. The second, Senate Bill 76, was introduced by Rezin and passed out of committee on March 9 by a 15-1 vote.

Nuclear construction was mostly abandoned after the 1980s

The average age of the nation’s nuclear fleet is just over 41 years old. Though the NRC is increasingly licensing plants to a lifespan of 60 or 80 years, this has raised questions about how long nuclear plants should be allowed to operate.

…………………. No commercial SMRs are online in the U.S., meaning their long-term economic benefits (or unforeseen costs) are yet to be seen……………………

Edwin Lyman is a physicist and director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists. While he and the UCS took no position on lifting the state moratorium, he likened lifting the policy to “opening Pandora’s box.”

“We have extensively reviewed the safety claims for a range of new nuclear technologies that have been proposed and found that in general they offer few safety benefits compared to current technologies, and in some cases may pose even greater risks from accidents, terrorist attacks or extreme weather events made more probable by climate change,” Lyman said in written testimony to the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

In a follow-up interview, Lyman said construction moratoriums are one of the few ways states can regulate nuclear safety.

David Kraft is the head of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, an anti-nuclear advocacy group. He said that ending the moratorium could result in the state becoming the dumping ground for spent nuclear fuel.

“This puts a safety and security burden on the state that it didn’t sign up for,” Kraft said.

Kraft said he is particularly worried about ending the moratorium because of lawmakers’ interest in new nuclear models, like microreactors and small modular reactors. He cited the fact that some designs for smaller reactors don’t have safety features required for traditional reactors, like containment buildings………………………………………………………………………..

Under their current licenses, Illinois’ six nuclear power stations will be offline by 2047

Constellation has said they will extend the licenses of their plants to 80 years if they continue receiving state and federal support, although its predecessor company has announced (and reversed) plans to close four plants in the past 6 years.

………………….. Constellation announced in October that it’s applying to extend the life of its Dresden and Clinton plants for 20 more years. If the application is approved, Clinton could operate until 2047 and Dresden could operate until 2051.

………………. Nuclear critics have taken issue with the relationship the state has with its nuclear energy provider.

“For decades, the only way you could get renewables built in Illinois was if Exelon got something in exchange. Now it’s gonna be Constellation,” Kraft said. “They’ll come back in a few years for more bailouts. They’ll be complaining even if the small modulars come online because the market is lowering the prices. They’ll come up with excuses.”

March 20, 2023 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Huge 1.5 million litres of radioactive water with tritium leaks from nuclear power plant

 Xcel Energy said they are cleaning up the leak of 400,000 gallons (1.5
million litres) of tritium-contaminated water from its Monticello nuclear
power plant in Minnesota.

 Mirror 18th March 2023

March 20, 2023 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea’s Kim led drills ‘simulating nuclear counterattack’: KCNA

Latest show of force from Pyongyang comes as it bristles at military drills by South Korea and the US.

Aljazeera, 20 Mar 23

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised two days of drills “simulating a nuclear counterattack” — including the firing of a ballistic missile carrying a mock nuclear warhead — according to state news agency KCNA, as South Korea and the United States continued their own military exercises.

Kim expressed “satisfaction” over the weekend launches, which were held to “let relevant units get familiar with the procedures and processes for implementing their tactical nuclear attack missions”, KCNA reported on Monday………………………….

The drills were the fourth show of force from Pyongyang in a week and came as South Korea and the US stage their own military manoeuvres — known as Freedom Shield — which North Korea sees as a rehearsal for an invasion and a hostile act.

On Sunday, the two allied countries staged air and sea drills involving US B-1B strategic bombers, and their navies and marine corps are set to start the large-scale Ssangyong amphibious landing exercises on Monday. The drills, the biggest in five years, will continue for two weeks until April 3.

Last month, the US and South Korea held tabletop exercises simulating North Korea’s nuclear attack amid South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s push for more confidence in US extended deterrence — its military capability, especially nuclear forces, to deter attacks on its allies.

This is turning the Korean peninsula into “a flashpoint with higher potential for a nuclear war”, Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies told the AFP news agency.

“As the intensity of the South Korea-US exercises increases, the possibility of unforeseen situations increases, and as a result, mutual physical clashes may occur,” he said.

South Korea and Japan have also moved to boost security cooperation amid the North Korean weapon tests, putting aside decades of historical grievances.

North Korea is banned from testing ballistic missiles under successive UN sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

Last week, Pyongyang fired its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-17, its second such test this year.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Monday over the ICBM launch at the request of the US and Japan, according to the South Korean Yonhap news agency.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

World’s largest nuclear fusion reactor promises clean energy, but the challenges are huge

ABC Science ,By Carl Smith for Strange Frontiers on the Science Show, 19 Mar 23,

“……………………………… The major goal of ITER, which is a multi-billion dollar collaboration between dozens of nations, is to show nuclear fusion can generate power at an industrial scale.

The world’s largest fusion reactor

Everything at the vast ITER site — including the layers of security and a satellite city for staff — has been constructed around a huge, concrete, blocky building.

It houses an assembly hall, where 10 million components, manufactured in places as far-flung as South Korea, China and the Americas, are put together.

And right beside the hall is where the magic will (hopefully) happen: a chamber containing a hollow doughnut-shaped device, around 30 metres across and almost the same again tall, called a tokamak.

The tokamak will superheat heavy forms of hydrogen, breaking them into their component parts to create plasma — essentially a super-hot gas.

“Inside our ‘doughnut’ we will have temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius — much hotter even than the centre of the Sun,” Dr Wauters says…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

There are several other fusion reactor experiments already up and running around the world using this and other techniques.

But so far, experiments using this technique have generated only a small amount of power compared to the energy that goes into kickstarting the fusion reaction.

ITER’s goal is a 10-fold return on the energy that goes in.

……………………………………………………………… some of the fuel used to generate the fusion reaction is radioactive, and Dr Wauters says there could be situations where some subatomic particles in the fusion plasma may irradiate parts of the tokamak itself.

“The amounts that we are talking about are grams — nothing compared to tonnes of material in a similar case in a fission plant,” he says.

So what’s the hold up?

It’s often wryly noted that fusion is always 10 to 20 years away.

ITER originally set the date for “first plasma” in late 2025, but recently announced that delays and the pandemic have pushed this back to a yet-to-be-determined date.

The tokamak will begin by fusing very small amounts of fuel in very small bursts, but will not send electricity into the grid.

The facility is just a test site to show that industrial-scale fusion power generation is possible.

If it proves successful, Dr Wauters says every member state involved in the project is able to use the blueprint, the “intellectual property, the knowledge, the know-how” to create their own reactors.

However, there are still hurdles the ITER team must jump first.

Perhaps the most crucial is finding a sustainable way to fuel the reaction.

The fusion reaction they’re planning to create at ITER is dependent on having two unusual forms of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium, which, along with a proton and electron, also contain one and two neutrons respectively.

Deuterium is easy: It’s abundant in seawater, Dr Wauters says.

It’s tritium, the second part, which is a bit more complicated.”

It’s rarely created naturally, and ITER estimates the total current global supply of stored tritium to be roughly 20 kilograms.

But the team at ITER hopes to use the fusion reactor itself to create more tritium as a kind of by-product of the reaction.

This is known as “tritium-breeding”, and involves bombarding lithium on the inner wall of the tokamak with neutrons in the plasma to create more tritium.

The idea is to have at least one tritium produced for one tritium consumed in the plasma to have a closed fuel cycle,” Dr Wauters says.

“It should be possible, but there is a difference between doing these things on paper and actually doing it.”

There’s a bit riding on this.

If they can’t find out how to replace the tritium they use, then it’s likely game over for the dream of fusion power anytime soon.

“There is indeed a risk,” Dr Wauters says……………………..

….. thousands of scientists will be hoping this massive experiment pays off.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taiwan phasing out nuclear power

 Taiwan is buying more LNG for delivery over the next year as it closed a
nuclear reactor and is set to phase out nuclear power generation by 2025.
Taiwan’s CPC Corp bought via a tender this week at least 10 cargoes of
LNG to be delivered between May this year and March next year, traders
familiar with the deals told Bloomberg on Friday. The LNG purchases are
also part of Taiwan’s strategy to procure more gas to offset the decline
in nuclear power generation, according to the traders.

This week, Unit 2 of
Taiwan’s Kuosheng nuclear power plant was taken offline and will be
decommissioned following the expiry of its 40-year operating license. There
are now two remaining nuclear reactors operating in Taiwan at the Maanshan
nuclear power plant. Those reactors are expected to be shut down in 2024
and 2025.

 Oil Price 17th March 2023

March 20, 2023 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

The worst of plans — Beyond Nuclear International

Condemnation continues over impending Fukushima radioactive water dump

The worst of plans — Beyond Nuclear International

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 19 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “The President Miscalculates On Climate Change” • Running for president, Joe Biden promised, “No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” No matter how he tries to sell his approval of the Willow project, an $8 billion plan to extract 600 million barrels of oil from federal land in Alaska, he […]

March 19 Energy News — geoharvey

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TODAY. Nuclear wastes 30 years away. So -no problem for present decision-makers – happily superannuated when the shit hits the fan.

The lovely thing about being a Minister in the Parliament, indeed being an MP , especially in the Labor Party, is that you don’t have to take responsibility for the consequences of any decision that you, and the Party have made.

In 2021, the Australian Labor Party – Anthony Albanese, Penny Wong, Richard Marles etc , had the opportunity to oppose the Morrison government’s crackpot plan for buying nuclear submarines (which will be obsolete before they ever come into operation). But no – the Labor opposition had to show themselves to be just as tough against China as the corrupt and crackpot Liberal government.

Good little Party loyalists, – Labor has to stick to a decision, however silly.

So now in government, they complacently plunge Australia into a super-expensive, super-dangerous, nuclear submarine provocation against China. Australia is now locked into joining USA whenever it decides to goad China into action to fully incorporate Taiwan. (Both USA and Australia recognise Taiwan as politically part of China, but that apparently doesn’t matter.)

The nuclear industry is now gloating – having long held the aim of turning Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump, At least there will now be this foot in the door for them.

Who’s going to oppose a nuclear waste dump in Australia? The media will welcome it, and scream “Jobs Jobs Jobs”. ( If it were a napalm factory for burning Vietnamese children, they’d still rejoice – “Jobs Jobs Jobs“)

The big opposition to nuclear waste dumping in Australia has always come from the Aborigines.

If the nuclear lobby can’t buy the indigenous people, then they just ignore them, as second rate citizens. Hell they weren’t even citizens at all, when their homes were bombed by the UK nuclear tests.

But any way that you look at it, the great comfort for the government decision-makers, is that they can comfortably retire, without any worries about things like a toxic waste dump, that they could have prevented,- NOT THEIR PROBLEM !

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment