nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty – breached now by all the nuclear states?

Nuclear states are in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/26/nuclear-states-are-in-breach-of-the-non-proliferation-treatyJim Pragnell
Otford, Kent 
The UN conference to negotiate a global multilateral nuclear ban treaty begins its substantive session on 27 March. All the nuclear states, including the UK, are boycotting the conference, because they prefer a step-by-step approach within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The NPT, concluded in 1968, required the nuclear states to pursue negotiations to bring about nuclear disarmament at an early date. Nearly 50 years on, it can reasonably be concluded that they are in breach of this obligation.

Another approach is long overdue. Any use of nuclear weapons would be in breach of international humanitarian law. Disarmament undertaken in the context of this law rather than arms control could be concluded quickly, with the more difficult technical negotiations taking place later. This approach would build on the humanitarian disarmament treaties that have banned landmines and cluster bombs.

The government says it is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. But its decision to renew Trident and its boycott of the UN conference cast doubt on this.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Great Barrier Reef bleaching? No, according to Breitbart, that is fake news

Breitbart’s James Delingpole says reef bleaching is ‘fake news’, hits peak denial.more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2017/mar/24/breitbarts-james-delingpole-says-reef-bleaching-is-fake-news-hits-peak-denial Graham Readfearn  A claim like this takes lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at   24 March 2017 


I
t takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef“fake news”. You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president’s chief strategist.

So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”

Delingpole wrote:

Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.

Now before we go on, let’s deal with some language here.

When we talk about the reef dying, what we are talking about are the corals that form the reef’s structure – the things that when in a good state of health can be splendorous enough to support about 69,000 jobs in Queensland and add about $6bn to Australia’s economy every year.

The Great Barrier Reef has suffered mass coral bleaching three times – in 1998, 2002 and 2016 – with a fourth episode now unfolding. The cause is increasing ocean temperatures.

CORAL BLEACHING

“Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed?” asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.

“Have they been out there personally – as I have – to check. No of course not,” says Delingpole.

Yes. James Delingpole has been out there “personally” to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. It was back in late April 2012. Everything was fine, he said, based on that one visit. I can’t find any times when he has mentioned another trip since.

So here’s the rhetorical question – one that I can barely believe I’m asking, even rhetorically.

Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy [takes breath] and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?

I mean, come on? Why can those two things – Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise – not be the same?

So it seems we are now at a stage where absolutely nothing is real unless you have seen it for yourself, so you can dismiss all of the photographs and video footage of bleached and dead coral, the testimony of countless marine biologists (who, we apparently also have to point out, have been to the reef ) and the observations made by the government agency that manages the reef.

Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else…….

Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.

They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in the country’s history.

That’s some more hubris right there.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, USA | Leave a comment

Need for America and China to work together on North Korean situation

North Korea: Why America and China need to deal with Kim Jong-un together http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-26/why-america-and-china-need-to-deal-with-kim-jong-un-together/8385362   By North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney, Nearly every week, Kim Jong-un seems to announce a successful test in his nuclear and missile program, edging him ever closer to his aim of striking America with a nuclear warhead.

Taking the North Korean leader out with military action is now being discussed, but that could lead to much bigger problems and plunge the region into years of chaos and instability. Worse still, it could force a confrontation between China and the US.

On the face of it, the North Korean military looks impressive. It has about 1.2 million troops. But the reality is that the weaponry is outdated and obsolete, much of it from the Soviet era. It’s no match for any modern army, so Mr Kim could be removed effectively.

Christopher Hill, probably the most experienced US diplomat in North Korean affairs, says with Mr Kim in power, there is no chance of dialogue. “Frankly, we don’t have a real insight into his thinking — we do know he seems to be totally uninterested in negotiation,” he said.

The real danger, said Mr Hill, is that the Trump administration has little understanding about how to deal with the North Korea threat, and the US State Department is in disarray. “We have a kind of Home Alone situation at the State Department, so we don’t have a lot of people focusing on this issue at this point,” he said.

Military action could prove costly Despite this, while visiting North Asia last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ruled out negotiation and put military action on the table. It’s action that could prove costly: a humanitarian disaster, with biological and nuclear weapons at play; a contested occupation as China and America battle for control.

Dr Euan Graham from the Lowy Institute says it could prove more destructive and costly than the Iraq war.

“Kicking in the door is the easy part; once you go in and occupy ground, then if that’s contested you can very quickly find even superpowers’ resources can become thinly spread,” he said.

Mr Hill says people like to compare the situation on the Korean Peninsula with the reunification of Germany, but this would actually be much worse. Frankly speaking, the difference between North Korea and East Germany cannot be described,” he said.

“They are just worlds apart in terms of what Germany had to do and what the South Koreans would have to do.”

These immense challenges make policymakers and experts around the world question the value of removing Mr Kim and his nuclear program.

Dr Graham says the US then has a choice: “Is it better to live with this threat and manage it through deterrence and existing sanctions like it did with China and the Soviet Union for decades? Or does it become so unacceptable that it has to accept the high cost of potential economic recession in north-east Asia and military conflict that could take several thousands if not higher numbers of lives?”

China and America are at oddsThe complicating factor is that the powers at play cannot agree on what North Korea should become. They all have competing strategic needs.

China wants a new regime that will serve its interests, and it fears US troops on its border.

Professor Cheng Xiaohe from Beijing Renmin University says China will have to deal with a flood of refugees.

“Millions of North Koreans will seek safe havens in China or across the 38th parallel into the minefields to seek protection in South Korea,” he said.

“Even hundreds of thousands will take to boats to sail boat to other countries to seek refuge.”

It’s doubtful whether America wants to lead another foreign intervention. The Iraq campaign almost bankrupted the country with little to show in return, and it left hundreds of thousands dead.

South Korea too is losing its desire for reunification. It would cost several trillion dollars at least and threaten South Korea’s thriving high tech economy which is 18 times bigger than North Korea’s.

Dr Jiyoung Song from the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs says the younger generation in the South have very little in common with their brethren in the North.

Most South Koreans are definitely worried about the economic side — the unification costs, but also the unemployment and competition for jobs and universities.

The only way forward…Mr Hill, who led the push for a negotiated solution with the six-party talks that ended in 2009 after North Korea withdrew and resumed its nuclear program, says the only way forward is to engage with China and plan how to deal with the regime and the aftermath.

“We have to have an in-depth dive deep with the Chinese to really figure out how together we can deal with that and I think we need to do it and do it a lot more,” he said.

But Mr Hill says both sides have to get over their mutual distrust.

“Many Chinese see the demise of North Korea as a Chinese defeat and a US victory,” he said.”They worry that the US might take advantage of this and put US troops right up on the Chinese border.”

Dr Cheng agrees that China is afraid of being played by the US.

“All countries need to work together to settle their differences and adopt a joint line to build that country for peace and stability and carry out post-reunification works,” he said.

But while experts may agree in a call for global engagement, the Trump administration seems to be turning inwards towards more isolationist policies.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Satellite images show hectic activity at North Korea nuclear site

North Korea nuclear test site witnesses hectic activity, satellite images show http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/north-korea-nuclear-test-site-witnesses-hectic-activity-satellite-images-show-1613722

It is unclear whether the reported presence of vehicles indicates preparation for a potential missile launch. IBT, By , 26 Mar 17, Satellite imagery of a North Korean nuclear test site reportedly reveals hectic activity, sparking fears of a potential missile launch or nuclear test. Images from a commercial satellite of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea purportedly show four or five vehicles or trailers present at the entrance of the site where North Korea’s previous four nuclear tests took place.

The activity may indicate that North Korea is gearing up for its sixth nuclear test. Satellite images also indicate that some construction material, presumably sand and aggregate, remains undisturbed at the site, according to a report by US think tank 38 North.

The report stated: “That material, if it is sand and aggregate, when mixed with concrete, may be intended to ‘stem,’ that is to plug segments of the tunnel to prevent a nuclear explosion from escaping into the atmosphere.”

Satellite images also reportedly show that apart from a few mining carts and two trucks at the West Portal, there’s little to no activity at the nuclear site. According to 38 North, this lack of activity may indicate that either “Pyongyang is inthe final stages of test preparation or that the site is in a standard operating mode.”

On Friday (24 March), South Korean officials warned that Pyongyang appeared to be in the last stages of preparing for yet another nuclear test and could carry out detonations within hours of an order issued by leader Kim Jong-un.

Numerous reports surfaced last week about North Korea preparing for yet another potential missile or nuclear test, amid rising tensions with its neighbours and the West.

It remains unclear whether the reported presence of the vehicles at the Punggye-ri nuclear site is indicative of Pyongyang’s willingness to conduct yet another nuclear test.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As if in a department store sale day, foreign nuclear companies compete to sell their radioactive products to Britain

Foreign companies flock to build nuclear plants in the UK  A South Korean firm is just the latest to be lured by Britain’s atomic amibitions as safety concerns and cost stalk the industry, Guardian, , 26 Mar 17, Nuclear energy faces an uncertain future globally as concerns over safety and cost dog the industry. But in the UK, foreign investors are queueing up to back projects. The latest is South Korea. Its biggest power company is in talks to join the consortium backing a nuclear power station in Cumbria, in a sign of the continuing allure of Britain’s atomic ambitions to international companies. Kepco said last week it was interested in taking a stake in NuGen, which is 60% owned by Japan’s Toshiba and 40% by France’s Engie, confirming what had been an open secret in the industry for months.

Kepco’s president, Cho Hwan-eik, said that once the terms of a potential deal were ironed out, “we will be the first to jump into the race”…….

Potential investors have been drawn by the UK government’s enthusiasm and a nuclear standstill elsewhere, amid lingering safety fears in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and cost overruns at the Flamanville site in France which is using a new reactor design. As a result, South Korea has joined Japan, China and France in showing interest in British nuclear.

It’s pretty simple. We are the only people building new nuclear power stations and we have by far the biggest new nuclear programme outside China for the next 10 years,” said Peter Atherton, an analyst at consultancy Cornwall Energy. “The civil nuclear programme globally doesn’t have any orders.”

 One expert, Mycle Schneider, called the UK the “last hope” for the nuclear construction giants of the world. The Paris-based nuclear consultant said: “In Korea the political situation will dramatically change after the upcoming elections, [probably] not in favour of the nuclear industry. Success overseas will help survival at home. The Japanese industry clearly has no future at home and little prospects abroad [because of Fukushima].”

The UK has also dangled the prospect of economic support for foreign nuclear builders. French state-owned EDF, which is building two new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £18bn, struck a subsidy contract with the government that will see it guaranteed twice the wholesale price of electricity for 35 years. The deal means Hinkley would be an “absolute goldmine” when operational, Atherton said.

He said UK financial support was not dissimilar to the deal Kepco has in the United Arab Emirates, where it is building four new reactors paid for by the UAE’s state-owned utility. “The economics of the project, and the economic risks of the project, fall on the host government,” said Atherton.

There is also the prospect that the UK government could take a stake in one of the new nuclear sites. Leaks to Japanese media revealed officials in London and Tokyo had discussed the UK offering state finance to a project led by Japan’s Hitachi to build reactors next to the site of an old one at Wylfa in Wales………https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/25/foreign-firms-flock-to-build-nuclear-plants-in-uk

March 27, 2017 Posted by | marketing, UK | Leave a comment

Stagnation – the most optimistic term to describe the global nuclear industry

Countries with crisis-ridden nuclear programs or phase-out policies (e.g. Germany, Belgium, and Taiwan) account for about half of the world’s operable reactors and more than half of worldwide nuclear power generation

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion

By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017, Nuclear lobbyists are abandoning the tiresome rhetoric about a nuclear power ‘renaissance’. Indeed they’ve turned full-circle and are now warning about a crisis. Michael Shellenberger from the Breakthrough Institute, a US-based pro-nuclear lobby group, has recently written articles about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and the “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.A recent articlefrom the Breakthrough Institute and the like-minded Third Way lobby group discusses “the crisis that the nuclear industry is presently facing in developed countries” and states that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies”.

‘Environmental Progress’, another US pro-nuclear lobby group connected to Shellenberger, also acknowledges a nuclear power crisis. The lobby group notes that 151 gigawatts (GW) of worldwide nuclear power capacity (38% of the total) could be lost by 2030 (compared to 33 GW of retirements over the past decade).

As a worldwide generalisation, nuclear power can’t be said to be in crisis. To take the extreme example, China’s nuclear power program isn’t in crisis ‒ it is moving ahead at pace. Nuclear power is moving ahead at snail’s pace in some other countries (e.g. Russia, South Korea), while in others the industry faces problems but is not in crisis (e.g. UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Ukraine).

Nonetheless, the global picture is one of stagnation and malaise. The July 2016 World Nuclear Industry Status Report provides an overview of the troubled status of nuclear power: Continue reading

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Japan’s Historic Love-Hate Relationship with Nuclear Power

Fukushima Anniversary: Japan’s Historic Love-Hate Relationship with Nuclear Power http://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-anniversary-japans-historic-love-hate-relationship-with-nuclear-power/5581683

Global Research News Hour Episode 175 By Michael WelchPeter Kuznick, and Gordon Edwards Global Research, March 26, 2017 The island nation of Japan is ranked third in the world in terms of the number of functioning nuclear reactors on its territory.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Even in USA, carbon emissions ceasing to rise, as coal industry fades

World reaching turning point on carbon emissions as coal fades, Nikkei Asian Review  Even US is heading in greener direction despite Trump policies YASUO TAKEUCHI, Nikkei staff writer March 26, 2017 PARIS –– Humanity seems to be reaching a turning point in its emissions of greenhouse gases. Last year marked the third in a row that global emissions of carbon dioxide trended sideways, ending what had been a long, unbroken climb interrupted only by the 2008 financial crisis.

The change is thanks in large part to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy resources. Even the United States, led by a new administration whose leaders are skeptical at best about climate change, is not expected to significantly increase its carbon emissions. And policies put in place by emerging economies are beginning to take effect.

 The International Energy Agency reported that CO2 emissions resulting from fuel combustion totaled 32.1 billion tons in 2016. That was in year when the global economy grew by 3.1%, belying the adage that emissions rise in lockstep with economic growth. The global increase in the use of lower- and no-carbon energy resources and the spread of cars with better fuel performance are clearly part of the reason.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol cautions that it is too soon to say that the volume of global carbon emissions has peaked, but he will offer that the trend has changed: Even if emissions rise, it will be at a slower pace.

The two largest emitters are the U.S. and China, and both released less carbon in 2016, the U.S. in particular.

By introducing shale gas and renewables and cutting down on coal, the U.S. reduced its CO2 emissions by 3% over 2015 to a level not seen since 1992. During those same 24 years, the U.S. economy grew by 80%.

The Trump administration is skeptical about global warming and plans to rescind the restrictions on coal-burning power plants enacted by the Obama administration. But U.S. coal production is still declining, mainly because of the increasing output of inexpensive shale gas…..http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Science/World-reaching-turning-point-on-carbon-emissions-as-coal-fades

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change forcing indigenous peoples from their homelands

“You’re talking about communities that have been in place for generations, and live off the land and the waters, and they are seeing and experiencing the changes first and foremost,”

Climate Change Forces Northwest Natives From Their Ancestral Homes,Truth Out  March 24, 2017By Zoe Loftus-FarrenEarth Island Journal Fawn Sharp grew up in Taholah village, a small community on the Quinault Reservation nestled between the mouth of the Quinault River and the Pacific Ocean. She spent her childhood summers surrounded by water, splashing in Lake Quinault on the eastern edge of the reservation, and hiking along the local beaches near the village, scouring the rocks for starfish and other treasures. In the mornings, she was often up before the sun, out fishing with her grandparents on the river.

Decades after she left home for college, Sharp is back on the reservation, this time living near the lake, some 35 miles from her childhood home in Taholah. Now she goes by President Sharp, and leads both the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Since returning, Sharp has faced the kinds of tough issues that might have seemed outlandish, or even inconceivable, during her childhood. She’s seen the tribe’s salmon runs in sharp decline. She’s observed the rapid retreat of nearby glaciers. And she’s watched her childhood home, Taholah, endure dangerous flooding during increasingly harsh storm surges. Continue reading

March 27, 2017 Posted by | climate change, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

Resolutions introduced in US Congress opposing nuclear waste dumping close to Great Lakes

Stabenow, Peters, Kildee Introduce Resolution Opposing Nuclear Waste Storage Site in Great Lakes Basin https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/news/stabenow-peters-kildee-introduce-resolution-opposing-nuclear-waste-storage-site-in-great-lakes-basin, March 15, 2017 U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today introduced resolutions, in both the House and Senate, expressing opposition to construction of a nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron in Ontario. 

“Canada is facing a critical decision that will impact generations in both our countries,” said Senator Stabenow.  “A nuclear waste spill near the Great Lakes could have a devastating impact on our health and environment and threaten our Michigan way of life.  Given what is at stake, I urge our Canadian neighbors to make the right choice and shelve plans for this site once and for all.”

“The Canadian proposal to build a permanent nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron could cause significant, lasting damage to the Great Lakes and undermine the progress we have made cleaning up the water quality in the Great Lakes Basin,” said Senator Peters. “President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson should make every effort to prevent the Canadian government from moving forward with this proposal and work to find an alternative solution that does not jeopardize the health of the Great Lakes.”

“Permanently storing nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron just doesn’t make sense and poses a great risk to our Great Lakes,” said Congressman Kildee. “From Detroit to Toronto, a growing number of people – in both the U.S. and Canada – have voiced opposition to this dangerous plan. Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron.”

 

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are also original co-sponsors of the Senate resolution.  Mike Bishop (MI-08), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), David Joyce (OH-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Mark Pocan (WI-02), David Trott (MI-11), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04), Sander Levin (MI-09), Paul Mitchell (MI-10), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and John Moolenaar (MI-04) are also original co-sponsors of the House resolution.

 

Over 40 million people in Canada and the United States get their drinking water from the Great Lakes and the highly toxic waste could take tens of thousands of years to decompose to safe levels. Ontario Power Generation is currently seeking approval from the Canadian Ministry of Environment to build a deep geologic repository to permanently store 7 million cubic feet of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.  The facility would be located less than 1 mile from Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario.

 

The resolution urges the President and Secretary of State to work with their counterparts to prevent a permanent nuclear waste repository from being built within the Great Lakes Basin. It further states that the U.S. and Canada should develop a safe and responsible solution for the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

“New Generation” reactors the saviours of the nuclear industry ? – Not very likely.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017  Lobbyists debate solutions to the crisis  “……… The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors conclude that “a radical break from the present light-water regime … will be necessary to revive the nuclear industry”. Exactly what that means, the authors said, would be the subject of a follow-up article.

So readers were left hanging – will nuclear power be saved by failed fast-reactor technology, or failed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors including failed pebble-bed reactors, or by thorium pipe-dreams or fusion pipe-dreams or molten salt reactor pipe-dreams or small modular reactorpipe-dreams? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to write-off cold fusion?

The answers came in a follow-up article on February 28. The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors argue that nuclear power must become substantially cheaper and this will not be possible “so long as nuclear reactors must be constructed on site one gigawatt at a time. … At 10 MW or 100 MW, by contrast, there is ample opportunity for learning by doing and economies of multiples for several reactor classes and designs, even in the absence of rapid demand growth or geopolitical imperatives.”

Other than their promotion of small reactors and their rejection of large ones, the four authors are non-specific about their preferred reactor types. Any number of small-reactor concepts have been proposed.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been the subject of much discussion and even more hype. There’s quite a bit of R&D ‒ in the US, the UK, South Korea, China and elsewhere. But only a few SMRs are under construction: one in Argentina, a twin-reactor floating nuclear power plant in Russia, and three SMRs in China (including two high-temperature gas-cooled reactors). The broad picture for SMRs is much the same as that for fast neutron reactors: lots of hot air, some R&D, but few concrete plans and even fewer concrete pours.

There isn’t the slightest chance that SMRs will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “substantially cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is mass producing SMRs for a mass market ‒ and even then, it’s doubtful whether the power would be cheaper and highly unlikely that it would be substantially cheaper. After all, economies-of-scale have driven the long-term drift towards larger reactors.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident in a February 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on “insights and opinions of leaders across the sector” and the views of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. Respondents predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

In the absence of a mass supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities. The construction cost of Argentina’s 25 MWe CAREM reactor is estimated at US$446 million, which equates to a whopping US$17.8 billion / GW. Estimated construction costs for the Russian floating plant have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / GW.

Small or large reactors, consolidation or innovation, conventional reactors or Generation IV pipe-dreams … it’s not clear that the nuclear industry will be able to recover however it responds to its current crisis.http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18929&page=0

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s policies on nuclear weapons

How Pakistan Is Planning to Fight a Nuclear War, National Interest, Kyle Mizokami, 26 Mar 17, Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

 The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization……..

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-pakistan-planning-fight-nuclear-war-19897

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The physics of climate change

Elevator Pitches – Chapter 02 – Radiative Gases Radiative Gases

A Musical Basis for Scattering Heat https://www.skepticalscience.com/ccep02.html24 March 2017 by Rob Honeycutt – This is another excerpt from my book 28 Climate Change Elevator Pitches. I’ll be publishing one chapter here on SkS each month.The scientific basis for understanding climate goes back to the 1820’s when brilliant French mathematician Joseph Fourier first proposed the idea that our planet’s atmosphere had heat-trapping properties. Fourier was trying to calculate what should be the temperature of a planet at our distance from the sun. He derived a figure about 33°C (59°F) colder than the actual average temperature of the Earth. For his figures to be correct, he thought gases in our atmosphere must have “radiative properties” with the capacity to absorb and re-emit heat energy. When visible sunlight passes through our atmosphere it warms the surface of the Earth. The heat that is emitted upward we refer to as infrared radiation, or IR. Infrared radiation is just another wavelength of energy which is invisible to the human eye, but we can feel that energy as heat. It’s this heat energy that is scattered by radiative gases in the atmosphere.

In the 1850’s a British scientist, John Tyndall, devised an apparatus enabling him to measure the heat absorbing properties of various gases. Earth’s atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). The remaining 1 percent of gases are known as “trace gases.” Tyndall discovered that the radiative properties of nitrogen and oxygen are insignificant and transparent to infrared radiation (heat). But, he further discovered that some trace gases do efficiently block heat.

But, how does this work? Why would one gas be transparent to heat and another gas block it?

The most common radiative gases in our atmosphere are water (H2O), carbon dioxide(CO2), and to a lesser extent, methane (CH4), so let’s look at how these molecules are constructed. The first two have a single core atom with two other atoms attached to it. With H2O, there is a central oxygen atom with two hydrogen atoms attached. With CO2, there is a central carbon atom and two oxygen atoms attached. You can picture these being something like soap bubbles joined together, but imagine if you can, that these soap bubbles have an electromagnetic field incorporated into them. This electromagnetic field gently locks the molecule into a specific configuration. That magnetic field also allows the atoms to wobble around a bit as the molecule is floating about in the atmosphere. Methane is somewhat similarly constructed as CO2, but with a central carbon atom surrounded on four sides by hydrogen atoms making it a far more potent radiative gas than the others.

Infrared radiation is a wavelength of light. In a way, it’s analogous to sound waves traveling through the air. If you tap an A note tuning fork on your knee and then hold it against the soundboard of a guitar the A-string of the guitar will vibrate sympathetically. Infrared radiation also has a frequency range, so when visible sunlight (higher frequency energy) comes in and hits the surface of the planet, that energy warms the surface. The surface then emits lower frequency energy as heat (IR) back up through the atmosphere.

The capacity of these molecules to vibrate (the “wobbling”) is “tuned” like the guitar string and when infrared radiation in the right frequency interacts with these gases, the molecule vibrates sympathetically. What they’re doing is absorbing and re-emitting that IR heatenergy. The difference with the dominant molecules, like oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2), is they can’t vibrate in this same manner nor at the same frequency ranges, thus they are invisible to IR.

That is the fundamental physics of climate change: the vibrational modes of greenhouse gases acting to absorb and scatter heat energy in the atmosphere. This was a cutting-edge discovery of the mid-19th century but now an indisputable fact of science. Scientists have empirically measured, modeled, and applied these facts in numerous ways for well over a century.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | climate change, 2 WORLD, Reference | Leave a comment

Wisconsin and Louisiana cities join 23 others in USA, in going for 100% renewable energy

25 Cities Now Committed to 100% Renewables, EcoWatch, http://www.ecowatch.com/cities-commit-renewable-energy-2324917492.html , 22 Mar 17, Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana are transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy following respective city council votes on Tuesday.

Madison and Abita Springs are the first cities in Wisconsin and Louisiana to make this commitment. They join 23 other cities across the United States—from large ones like San Diego, California and Salt Lake City, Utah to smaller ones like Georgetown, Texas and Greensburg, Kansas—that have declared similar goals.

Madison is the biggest city in the Midwest to establish 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions. The Madison Common Council unanimously approved a resolution to allocate $250,000 to develop a plan by January 18, 2018 that includes target dates for reaching these goals, interim milestones, budget estimates and estimated financial impacts.

Madison Common Council Alder Zach Wood said that his city is determined to “lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment.”

After a unanimous vote, Abita Springs is aiming to derive 100 percent of the town’s electricity from renewable energy sources by December 31, 2030.

The Sierra Club noted that Tuesday’s votes from the politically polar municipalities reflect the growing bipartisan support for alternative energy development. To illustrate, during the November election, more than 70 percent of Madison voters supported Hillary Clinton versus the 75 percent of voters in St. Tammany Parish, where Abita Springs is located, who supported Donald Trump.But as Abita Springs’ Republican mayor Greg Lemons said, “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs.”

“Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense,” Lemons added. LeAnn Pinniger Magee, chair of Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability, had similar remarks.

“In a state dominated by oil interests, Abita Springs is a unique community that can be a leader on the path to renewable energy,” she said. “Our town already boasts the solar-powered Abita Brewery and we can see first-hand how clean energy benefits our businesses and our entire community. By transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, we will save money on our utility bills and protect our legendary water and clean air in the process.”

Last year’s Gallup poll indicated for the first time that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prefer an alternative energy strategy. Fifty-one percent of Republicans favor alternative energy, up from the previous high of 46 percent in 2011.

“Whether you’re Republican or a Democrat, from a liberal college city or a rural Louisiana town, clean energy is putting America back to work and benefiting communities across the country,” Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, said. “That’s why Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana, today join the ranks of 23 other cities and towns across the United States that are going all-in on clean, renewable energy.”

Van Horn noted that local leaders and governments will be increasingly tasked to curb President Trump’s pro-fossil fuel policies and gutting of environmental regulations.

“As the Trump Administration turns its back on clean air and clean water, cities and local leaders will continue to step up to lead the transition towards healthy communities and a more vibrant economy powered by renewable energy,” she said.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Trump’s budget could help get rid of the nuclear waste along the San Onofre coastline http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nuclear-waste-20170320-story.html Rob Nikolewski
 A sense of momentum is building about finding a way to deal with the massive amounts of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, including Southern California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Last week’s Trump administration “skinny budget” proposal, which calls for boosts in defense spending but cuts in domestic funding and federal agencies, found $120 million for starters to “initiate a robust interim storage program” while also looking at reviving the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

“These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security and reduce future taxpayer burden,” a note said in the section reserved for the U.S. Department of Energy. (The Energy Department’s budget came in for a 5.6% reduction.)

A president’s budget proposals are ultimately subordinate to what Congress decides. But David Victor, chairman of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel, said the appropriation for nuclear waste may be one of the only topics in the current political environment that can generate support from members of both parties.

There are 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste sitting along the coastline at the San Onofre plant, part of the 76,000 metric tons of spent fuel at sites nationwide.

“There’s a lot of Trump’s proposed budget that horrifies me, in particular around cutting funding for science and energy, but [long-term nuclear storage] is an area where I think the nation is now starting to make some progress,” Victor said.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who has introduced a bill called the Interim Consolidated Storage Act, said he thinks the chances for funding the White House nuclear waste proposal are “extremely good.”

“You have an active group of members, some of whom are Democratic members, who have a vested interest” in moving legislation forward, Issa said. “And … the fingerprints of whoever wanted to force it out would show all over.”

“As a budget line item it’s not a bad number at all,” Issa said in a telephone interview from Washington. “It’s sufficient to do the feasibility of these sites.”

Consolidated interim storage sites are designed to be built in isolated locations where multiple nuclear facilities could deposit their waste.

Two potential interim storage locations have been discussed — one in western Texas and another in eastern New Mexico.A company in Andrews, Texas, has filed an application to accept 5,000 metric tons of nuclear material. The district is represented by Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who has co-sponsored Issa’s bill.

Getting the massive nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, located about 100 miles from Las Vegas, back on track assuredly would involve a battle on Capitol Hill.

Democrats as well as Republicans from Nevada blasted the Trump proposal. “Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: We will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

The federal government spent about $15 billion to build the facility at Yucca Mountain to house nuclear waste from sites across the country. But then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) led the fight to shut the repository down, and in 2010 President Obama suspended licensing for the site.

Yucca Mountain was scheduled to open in 2017.

While taking a tour of San Onofre last month with Issa, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who is chairman of the House subcommittee that reviews nuclear sites, was asked if Yucca Mountain was coming back onto the bargaining table.

“It’s never been off the table,” Shimkus said.

Issa’s bill would be paid for by using part of the federal government’s Nuclear Waste Fund, which is worth upward of $40 billion and was funded by ratepayers in areas powered by nuclear plants.

A 2014 court order stopped the federal government from taking fees from electricity customers because, with Yucca Mountain sidelined, the government had no place to send nuclear waste.

“We’re paying a lot of money for the privilege of not having a solution that we were obligated to have,” Issa said. “It’s not free. It’s going to cost every taxpayer money until there’s a working solution.”

But even if Congress adopts a plan roughly similar to the White House proposal, there are a series of practical and regulatory hurdles to clear.

For example, sites such as San Onofre, which closed in 2013, would still need to place some of their spent fuel into canisters. Then federal law would need to be changed to install a reliable funding mechanism for interim sites, and a strategy would need to be adopted in order to move the waste from one place to another.

“There is still a long way to go,” Victor said. “We could have troubles on any of those fronts, but I think what’s encouraging is that on every single one of those fronts, we’re starting to see progress.”

Millions of people live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which hasn’t produced electricity since January 2012 after a steam generator leaked a small amount of radiation.

Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant, which is in the process of being decommissioned.

Edison officials said they were heartened by the news of $120-million proposal.

“We are pleased to see funding proposed to restart the Yucca licensing process, and continue to also support interim storage proposals that would enable [Southern California Edison] to move San Onofre’s used fuel to an off-site location,” spokeswoman Maureen Brown said

March 27, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment