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President-elect Joe Biden – in the grip of the “new nuclear” industry

Biden, once a critic, may boost nuclear power, Peter Behr, E&E News reporter , December 3, 2020 When mismanagement of a nuclear plant on the Lower Delaware River forced an emergency shutdown in 1994, harsh criticism came from a junior U.S. senator whose state lay opposite the Salem, N.J., plant 3 miles away.”For more than a decade, I have sought expanded oversight, enforcement and sanctions to make the Salem facility operate according to the law,” then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said, accusing the operator and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of turning a blind eye to serious, repeated safety issues, including dangerously degraded reactor equipment.

Fast-forward a quarter-century, and now it is President-elect Biden who has included proposals for a new generation of nuclear reactors in his clean energy platform, parting ways with “no-nuke” progressives further to his left.

It isn’t clear how hard Biden will fight in the next few years to support the possible development of a fleet of still-experimental, billion-dollar reactors that wouldn’t come online until at least the 2030s.

A second issue centers on the 95 operating U.S. reactors, some of which may close prematurely because they are losing money, plant owners warn. Getting public support to hold on to the plants’ zero-carbon electricity has been an issue for state governors, but not the White House, so far.

In the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden focused his support for nuclear power on new designs……

“Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate who’s ever actively talked about advanced nuclear power” as part of the campaign platform, said Jeff Navin, acting chief of staff at the Department of Energy in President Obama’s first term. Navin heads governmental affairs and public policy for TerraPower LLC in Bellevue, Wash., which won an $80 million DOE contract in October to further its novel reactor design.

Navin said he does not think that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ reservations about nuclear power as a senator will turn into opposition as Biden’s No. 2. Harris, for example, had opposed the 2018 Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act — co-sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), her 2019 opponent in the Democratic presidential primary — citing reactor safety and nuclear waste disposal concerns………

“Things we’ve seen out of the Biden campaign and the transition team are very promising for a continuation and even acceleration of programs and policies that will support nuclear energy,” said John Kotek, policy development vice president for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s chief lobbying organization. Kotek was assistant DOE secretary for nuclear energy in the Obama administration. ………

But Biden will hear from environmental policy advocates and nuclear power opponents protesting that the NRC has gone too far to streamline and reduce costs of safety oversight on old reactors as well as safety reviews of new reactor designs.

“The Biden administration will have to turn first to regulatory issues and repair the damage that’s been done at the NRC over the past four years” under President Trump, said Matthew McKinzie, director of the nuclear, climate and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

There are still too many critical questions about new reactor designs to justify writing them into clean energy plans, McKinzie said. “We are very far from an understanding of whether they could ever be commercialized,” he said……..

Transition choices

To head his transition team on energy, Biden chose one of the top technology experts in the Obama administration, Arun Majumdar, founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds experimental energy technologies. Majumdar now directs a Stanford University energy institute (Energywire, Nov. 19).

Others on the Biden-Harris transition team bring specific expertise on nuclear issues, including Rachel Slaybaugh, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior technical adviser at ARPA-E…….

December 5, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Reject Michele Flournoy as U.S. Defense Secretary – too close to military-industrial-complex

December 5, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran awaits incoming Biden U.S. administration – is unlikely to avenge the assassination of nuclear scientist

December 5, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Analysis: why Michèle Flournoy should not be U.S. Secretary of Defense

December 4, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power simply cannot be relied on.

CNIC (accessed) 3rd Dec 2020, Nuke Infor Tokyo, November December now available. Includes articles on:  METI and NUMO’s Fiasco Applications by two municipalities in Hokkaido to host a nuclear dump actually highlight a massive failure by the Japanese
government; CNIC Statement: We condemn the hasty decision to restart Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant Unit 2; Cultivation trials using contaminated soil with no soil cover
Demonstration Project to compare cultivation with and without soil cover in Nagadoro District, Iitate Village; Nuclear power simply cannot be relied on.
At present only one of the nine nuclear reactors in Japan that have been judged to be in compliance with the new regulatory standards are operating

December 4, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Biden’s team includes top posts linked to corporations and military contractors

Biden Aides’ Ties to Consulting and Investment Firms Pose Ethics Test
Some of the president-elect’s choices for top posts have done work for undisclosed corporate clients and aided a fund that invests in government contractors.
NYT,  By Eric Lipton and Kenneth P. Vogel,  Dec. 1, 2020

WASHINGTON — One firm helps companies navigate global risks and the political and procedural ins and outs of Washington. The other is an investment fund with a particular interest in military contractors.

But the consulting firm, WestExec Advisors, and the investment fund, Pine Island Capital Partners, call themselves strategic partners and have featured an overlapping roster of politically connected officials — including some of the most prominent names on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team and others under consideration for high-ranking posts.

Now the Biden team’s links to these entities are presenting the incoming administration with its first test of transparency and ethics.

The two firms are examples of how former officials leverage their expertise, connections and access on behalf of corporations and other interests, without in some cases disclosing details about their work, including the names of the clients or what they are paid.

And when those officials cycle back into government positions, as Democrats affiliated with WestExec and Pine Island are now, they bring with them questions about whether they might favor or give special access to the companies they had worked with in the private sector. Those questions do not go away, ethics experts say, just because the officials cut their ties to their firms and clients, as the Biden transition team says its nominees will do.

WestExec’s founders include Antony J. Blinken, Mr. Biden’s choice to be his secretary of state, and Michèle A. Flournoy, one of the leading candidates to be his defense secretary. Among others to come out of WestExec are Avril Haines, Mr. Biden’s pick to be director of national intelligence; Christina Killingsworth, who is helping the president-elect organize his White House budget office; Ely Ratner, who is helping organize the Biden transition at the Pentagon; and Jennifer Psaki, an adviser on Mr. Biden’s transition team.

WestExec did not respond when asked for a list of its clients. But according to people familiar with the arrangement, they include Shield AI, a San Diego-based company that makes surveillance drones and signed a contract worth as much as $7.2 million with the Air Force this year to deliver artificial intelligence tools to help drones operate in combat missions.

At the same time, Mr. Blinken and Ms. Flournoy have served as advisers to Pine Island Capital, which this month raised $218 million for a new fund to finance investments in military and aerospace companies, among other targets.

The team recruited by Pine Island Capital Partners — which is led by John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch at the time of its collapse in 2008 during the recession and sale to Bank of America — was chosen based on its members’ “access, network and expertise” to help the company “take advantage of the current and future opportunities present in the aerospace, defense and government services industries,” including artificial intelligence, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in September describing the new fund, Pine Island Acquisition Corporation.

Pine Island Capital has been on something of a buying spree this year, purchasing the weapons system parts manufacturer Precinmac and a company until recently known as Meggitt Training Systems and now known as InVeris, which sells computer-simulated weapons training systems to the Pentagon and law enforcement agencies.

Another person listed as a member of the Pine Island team is Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired Army general who is also under consideration for defense secretary, according to a person familiar with the selection process……..

Mr. Biden’s team has faced pressure from the left and government watchdogs to outline steps to minimize the sort of corporate influence and conflicts of interest that marked President Trump’s tenure from the start.

These groups worry not only that Mr. Biden’s aides could shape government policies in ways that could benefit companies that paid their firms, but also that the firms could become magnets for access seekers in the Biden administration………..

December 4, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear incident in Belarus: Lithuanian authorities alert citizens

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, incidents | Leave a comment

Doubts on safety of extending life of France’s nuclear reactors: public consultation until 15 December

20Minutes 3rd Dec 2020, This Thursday and until January 15, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) is opening a public consultation on the conditions for the continued operation, beyond 40 years, of the 34 900 MWe (electric megawatt) reactors in France. The subject is very sensitive. “France has not prepared any alternatives so that the non-extension of these reactors can be an option”,  deplores Greenpeace.

The challenge then is that these reactors provide the same levels of safety as the EPRs, new generation reactors. Is it
possible ? Yves Marignac, at NegaWatt, like Roger Spautz, at Greenpeace, doubt it. Above all, they question the technical and financial capacities of EDF to carry out the adjustments requested by ASN to allow these extensions.

December 4, 2020 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Massive civil nuclear fraud case : SCANA, Dominion agree to pay $25 million fine

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Court retracts NRA approval of safety measures at nuclear plan

Court retracts NRA approval of safety measures at nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun, By TAKASHI ENDO/ Staff Writer, December 4, 2020  OSAKA--A district court struck down central government approval of safety measures at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, effectively rejecting tougher safety screening guidelines used by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The Osaka District Court on Dec. 4 sided with plaintiffs who argued that the safety guidelines underestimated the maximum possible movement generated by an earthquake around the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant, operated by Kansai Electric Power Co.

However, the lawsuit filed by about 130 residents who live in Fukui and six neighboring prefectures did not seek a temporary injunction, so the two reactors can continue operating until the ruling is finalized.

The tougher safety standards were adopted after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.

The lawsuit revolved around whether the basic earthquake ground motion figure used by Kansai Electric in its safety measures was appropriate.

Electric power companies that operate nuclear plants set their own basic earthquake ground motion figures. The NRA uses its screening guidelines to determine if the calculated figures are appropriate……..

The plaintiffs argued that this calculation method only produces an “average” for the quake scale, meaning that the safety measures are not based on the maximum strength of a possible earthquake in the area. …….

The court, however, accepted the plaintiffs’ case and ordered a retraction of the approval of the Oi plant’s safety measures.

The ruling was the fourth victory for resident plaintiffs seeking a temporary injunction or retraction of government approval.

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Shortfalls in planning mean that the USA Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could become full

Weather Channel 2nd Dec 2020, The only underground nuclear waste dump in the United States is suffering from shortfalls in planning and staffing that could lead to disruptions at the facility, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. The report published last month indicated that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, could become full if the amount of waste shipped to the facility keeps expanding or if a new way of measuring waste is rejected in a pending court challenge, according to the Associated

The plant, known as the WIPP, was built in the 1980s for the disposal of defense-related nuclear waste, including clothing, tools, rags,
debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive elements, according to a fact sheet from the facility. The WIPP’s disposal rooms were carved out of ancient salt beds 2,150 feet below ground.

December 4, 2020 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

SCANA and its subsidiary, SCEand G agree to settlement on nuclear fraud charges

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry is dying: with Small Nuclear Reactors they pretend it’s not – theme for December 20

nuclear is dead, but pretending it’s not” – so writes Michael Barnard in a brilliant study of the state of the industry in the UK and USA.

Barnard doesn’t even mention Small Nuclear Reactors – he is concentrating on the clean-up costs and the rorts.

But the entire crooked and dirty industry is now hanging its desperate last hopes on Small Nuclear Reactors, which will probably turn out to be even dirtier and more crooked than the old industry’

The Small Nuclear Reactor push is a confidence trick being played on the whole world.   In the Western world, by slick propaganda regurgitated by journalists, who, for whatever reason, don’t seek the truth.

In the totalitarian world of Russia and China,  it is unlikely that any criticism of government policy would be tolerated.

Small Nuclear Reactors  do have that one use –   siphoning off public money towards nuclear weapons, training scientists for nuclear weaponry, while putting up the lying facade of peacefulness, and “climate action”




December 3, 2020 Posted by | Christina's themes | Leave a comment

UK’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department rejects the claim that nuclear power is ”zero carbon”

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department accept that nuclear is not a ‘zero carbon’ source of electricity– implications for EdF’s advertisement claims. TASC 30th November 2020

On the 15th October, Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) wrote to BEIS pointing out that the nuclear power developer behind Hinkley Point C and the notional Sizewell C plants was justifying its TV ad claim that it is the ‘biggest producer of carbon free electricity’ by referencing a BEIS website in which the claim of ’zero carbon’ was made for renewables and nuclear.

In a response to TASC received on the 25th November, Director of Nuclear at BEIS, Stephen Speed who also co-chairs the BEIS/NGO nuclear forum acknowledged the error, stated, ‘….we agree with your argument that the environmental impact table of the Fuel Mix Disclosure report could cause confusion. I have asked for the report to be amended with a line that explains that the table relates only to generator emissions in the operational phase and does not include emissions related to the fuel supply chain or maintenance

Despite the fact that TASC would still contest the assumption that even generator carbon emissions are zero, the concession
from BEIS is a good interim result. Commenting on the agreement to alter the information on the website, Pete Wilkinson, Chairman of TASC, said today, ‘This acknowledgement from BEIS is welcome and important. At a time when the future of nuclear power in the UK is in the balance, removing official support for the zero carbon claim changes the game, and  fundamentally exposes nuclear power’s climate change credentials as insignificant.

The word ‘zero’ can no longer be used when referencing nuclear power and carbon. ‘Moreover, it forces EdF to desist in making
the assertion which they had hitherto justified by pointing to a BEIS website which upheld their misplaced claim. ‘It may also, finally, force our local MP, Dr Therese Coffey, to drop the phrase as well. Incredibly for a Secretary of State, she has used the zero carbon claim in her response to the EdF planning application which the inspectorate will be examining next year and has refused to meet members of TASC on the grounds that our anti-nuclear views are ‘well known’. Such an attitude is rude, facile and possibly in breach of the Parliamentary Code.’

December 3, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Small Modular Reactors would create a Large Problem of Nuclear Wastes

Nuclear has fewer emissions than other sources of power? Think again!  Evelyn Gigantes, Ottawa, Wed., Dec. 2, 2020   – “Nuclear a source of clean energy, waste still a problem to be solved, “

There is more than one problem with nuclear (energy).

It is not true that nuclear produces no carbon emissions once it is in operation. The problem is not just the highly dangerous waste, itself, but the fact that dealing with the waste would necessarily involve enormous amounts of machine-handled waste packaging, transportation, construction and maintenance, each of which would produce significant carbon emissions.

To claim that the “only” problem with nuclear is the unsolved waste problem is to sneakily promote more nuclear development: witness the new campaign by the nuclear industry and its backers to start a new building program of so-called SMRs (small modular reactors), some fuelled by recycled high-level nuclear fuel waste and producing more radioactive waste than current CANDU reactors.

You think we have waste problems now?


December 3, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment