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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Quiet preparations for war with North Korea – USA manouvres

The US appears to be quietly preparing for nuclear war with North Korea. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/us-appears-quietly-preparing-nuclear-war-north-korea-2018-1?r=US&IR=T, ALEX LOCKIE– JAN 20, 2018, 

 

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January 20, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Daniel Ellsberg – we can dismantle the “dizzyingly insane and immoral” Doomsday Machine

From the beginning of the Atomic Age, says Ellsberg, the true purpose of our nuclear arsenal, the whole terrifying array of warheads and delivery systems in all their vast numbers and varieties, has not been the “defense” of our country. It has not been, as trumpeted by politicians and generals (and as believed by citizens and schoolchildren), to “deter” an adversary from launching a nuclear attack against the U.S. It is the maintenance of a first-strike nuclear force —not so much for the purpose of launching a deliberate surprise attack on anyone else, but to be ready to respond instantly

Dismantling Doomsday: Daniel Ellsberg on the Risk of Nuclear Apocalypse https://undark.org/article/book-review-ellsberg-doomsday-machine/  The whistleblower who gave us the Pentagon Papers unveils another secret history — this one ‘dizzyingly insane and immoral.’01.19.2018  Mark Wolverton  

DANIEL ELLSBERG is perhaps the premier whistleblower of all time, the man who in 1971 dragged the Pentagon Papers out of top-secret darkness into the light. Yet even as excerpts from the papers’ 7,000 pages were being published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers, Ellsberg was sitting on an entire second set of secrets, having nothing to do with Vietnam: all his material on nuclear policy, such as the operational plans for general nuclear war that he had drafted for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his job as a RAND Corporation defense analyst.

With the Vietnam War raging, Ellsberg made what he calls a “tactical judgment” to release those papers first, holding off on the nuclear material until the fallout (so to speak) from the Vietnam revelations had settled. As he faced trial, he entrusted the nuclear papers to his brother Harry, who hid the cache in a compost heap and later moved it to the local dump to evade FBI searches. But the papers were irrevocably lost when the dump was later ravaged by a tropical storm.

Ellsberg’s new book, “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” is his revelation of what was in those lost papers, made possible not only by his prodigious memory and note-keeping but also the declassification and release of much of the material through official channels and Freedom of Information Act requests (many filed by Ellsberg himself). Speaking with the authority of an insider who was intimately involved with nuclear strategy and policymaking at the highest levels, he reveals that practically everything the American public believes about nuclear war and nuclear weapons is, quite simply, a “deliberate deception.” Continue reading

January 20, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump has made fear the dominant emotion of our times.

I wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump. He’s still a scared child, Guardian, 

“I alone can do it.” These five extraordinary words kept coming back to me as I reflected on Donald Trump’s first year as president of the US. He made this claim during his speech accepting the Republican nomination in July 2016. At the time, it struck me simply as a delusional expression of his grandiosity. Looking back, I also hear the plaintive wail of a desperate child who believes he is alone in the world with no one to care for him. “I alone can do it” is Trump’s survival response to: “I must do it all alone.”

There are two Trumps. The one he presents to the world is all bluster, bullying and certainty. The other, which I have long felt haunts his inner world, is the frightened child of a relentlessly critical and bullying father and a distant and disengaged mother who couldn’t or wouldn’t protect him.

Trump’s temperament and his habits have hardened with age. He was always cartoonish, but compared with the man for whom I wrote The Art of the Deal 30 years ago, he is significantly angrier today: more reactive, deceitful, distracted, vindictive, impulsive and, above all, self-absorbed – assuming the last is possible.

This is the narrative I’ve been advancing for the past 18 months. With the recent publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, it turns out that even those closest to Trump recognise his utter lack of fitness to be president, even if they are too cowed and cowardly to do anything about it.

 Fear is the hidden through-line in Trump’s life – fear of weakness, of inadequacy, of failure, of criticism and of insignificance. He has spent his life trying to outrun these fears by “winning” – as he puts it – and by redefining reality whenever the facts don’t serve the narrative he seeks to create. It hasn’t worked, but not for lack of effort…….

Trump has made fear the dominant emotion of our times. This, I believe, is his primary impact on the body politic after a year in office……..

Trump skilfully exploited the fears of supporters who felt powerless and disenfranchised by presenting himself as their angry champion, even though the policies he has since pursued are likely to make their lives worse.

About the only thing Trump truly has in common with his base is that he feels every bit as aggrieved as they do, despite his endless privilege…….

If fear gets sufficiently intense, or persists for long enough, we eventually move into “freeze” – meaning numbness and submission. This is my own greatest fear. As Trump violates one norm after another day after day, the risk is that we lose our sense of outrage and our motivation to speak out.

The challenge we face is to resist our own fear without sacrificing our outrage. That requires widening our perspective beyond Trump’s, and beyond Trump himself. The future is ours to shape, not his. ……….

Trump himself has become the embodiment of the limits of traditional masculinity. “We raise boys,” writes the author Terrence Real, “to live in a world in which they are either winners or losers, grandiose or shame-filled, … perpetrators or victims. Society shows little mercy for men if they fail in the performance of their role. But the price of that performance is an inward sickness.”

Trump represents an extreme version of a sickness from which most men suffer, to some extent. The most powerful stand we can take in opposition to Trump’s values and behaviour is to pursue a higher purpose every day, seek more common ground amid our differences, and find better ways to take care of others and add value wherever we can. As he looks backward, we must look forward……… https://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2018/jan/18/fear-donald-trump-us-president-art-of-the-deal

 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | politics, Trump - personality | Leave a comment

Forcible displacement of Indian villagers to make way for unnecessary, uneconomic, nuclear reactors

The Kovvada Nuclear Reactor was to be built by US nuclear reactor maker, Westinghouse. But, in March 2017, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. The company was bled to death because of cost-escalations in two of the four nuclear power plants it designed and is constructing in the United States. “Kovvada will benefit only Westinghouse, and no one else. Not the people. Not India’s energy security,” said EAS Sarma, former Union Energy Secretary.

“India is being bamboozled by the multinationals into signing these agreements with foreign companies”

“It is not just the US, even Europe is not gung-ho about nuclear. So, Westinghouse and GE have very little business,” said Dr Sarma. “They are looking for a market and India is fertile ground of them” 

If nuclear energy is not as safe or inexpensive then why invest in it? “Because nuclear energy is a possible front for weaponisation

In Kovvada, villagers displaced forcibly even as the prospects of Westinghouse’s nuclear project remain uncertain, DiaNuke.org, JANUARY 19, 2018 Raksha Kumar | The News Minute

The coast curves through northern Andhra Pradesh and forms a giant U. Deep in the womb of this horseshoe lies Ranastalam mandal of Srikakulam district. During the light winter showers in November, this region takes on a darker shade of green. Small fishing villages are sprinkled across the uneven coast.

People here consider the vast sea their sole asset. “We have been fishermen for generations,” said Juggle Mailapally, ex-sarpanch of Chinna Kovvada village. “I was taught how to stitch a fishing net when I was 9,” he added.

Since 2008, when the Indo-US Nuclear Deal was signed, there have been rumours in the air about a giant nuclear plant taking over their idyllic existence. However only in 2015 did those rumours get confirmed.The District Collector of Srikakulam came to their village to talk to them about relocation, recollected Mailapally.

First, the villagers protested. Then they went on a year long hunger strike, which got the support of several political parties. However, their resilience proved to be weak in front of the government’s grit to see the project through.

Soon there will be six 1000MW nuclear reactors lining the coast. Over 2,074 acres in seven villages –  Kovvada, Ramachandrapuram, Gudem, Kotapalem, Maruvada, Tekkali and Jeerukovvada – will house the reactors, displacing about 10,000 people.

Lands acquired

While questions about the viability of the project still persist, people of Ranastalam have had to give up their lands. The Andhra Pradesh government announced in December 2017 that the land acquisition for the project was completed successfully.

In 2014, before the current Telugu Desam Party government was voted into power for the first time in divided Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu made a campaign promise to relocate the nuclear power plant from Kovvada and neighbouring villages. “Immediately after he was sworn in, he changed his stance,” said Mailapally.

After his election, efforts on the nuclear plant only accelerated. “Only TV channels owned by the opposition party showcase the hypocrisy and treachery,” said Rajesh of National Alliance for People’s Movements, who is researching the power plant. “Otherwise, the media is fairly jubilant about the project.”

According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017, the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) in India has been listed as “under construction” for a decade or more. “The average construction time of the latest 51 units in ten countries that started up in the past decade, since 2007, was 10.1 years with a very large range from 4 to over 43 years,” the report reads.

In Maharashtra, work is yet to begin on the Jaitapur Nuclear Plant whose agreement was signed in December 2010.

According to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013, if the government does not use the land acquired for the purposes it was taken, the lands should be returned to the people. “Since nuclear energy is seeing a downward slide across the world, most proposed nuclear plants are tentative. Might never be built at all,” said Dr K Babu Rao, retired scientist, IICT.

Acquiring lands to construct a nuclear facility has certain additional rules. Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is the national authority which is responsible for approving construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power facilities in the country.

As per the AERB guidelines, 1.6 kilometres from the periphery of the project’s rim is exclusive zone – no one can inhabit that zone. Beyond that, upto 30 kilometres, the place needs to be monitored and evacuation-ready. Even though people living within those 30-odd kilometres will be exposed to high doses of radiation, compensation is given only to those whose lands are taken away.

Add to this, India has a weak Civil Nuclear Liability law, which guarantees lower compensation in case of a disaster.

Seven hundred and ninety one acres of the required 2074 acres are government lands, therefore easier to acquire for the nuclear project. However, 684 acres are lands assigned to landless poor, with a condition that they be sold only to the government. And 599 acres are private lands………

Bankruptcy

The Kovvada Nuclear Reactor was to be built by US nuclear reactor maker, Westinghouse. But, in March 2017, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. The company was bled to death because of cost-escalations in two of the four nuclear power plants it designed and is constructing in the United States. “Kovvada will benefit only Westinghouse, and no one else. Not the people. Not India’s energy security,” said EAS Sarma, former Union Energy Secretary………

“India is being bamboozled by the multinationals into signing these agreements with foreign companies,” said Dr Sarma. Since the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US, when a Pennsylvania-based nuclear plant malfunctioned, the US has been cautious in using nuclear energy. “It is not just the US, even Europe is not gung-ho about nuclear. So, Westinghouse and GE have very little business,” said Dr Sarma. “They are looking for a market and India is fertile ground of them,” he added.

Westinghouse is not alone. In May 2015, weeks after Modi’s visit to France, a French company announced it was going into loss. Areva, the French nuclear reactor manufacturer, is to design the nuclear reactor in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. The French government is desperately trying to breathe life into Areva. “Again, it is in their favour to woo India. And India is being naive,” said Dr Sarma………

A more basic question remains in the minds of most villagers. Is the nuclear power plant necessary at all? Should we invest in nuclear energy?

As on date, nuclear power constitutes only 1.83% of the total installed electricity generation capacity in India. Moreover, nuclear energy generates only 3.23% of the total electricity. With renewable sources like solar and wind energy becoming cheaper, the moot question is should the country invest in nuclear energy at all?

“Since India is planning to depend heavily on such foreign reactor suppliers, the future trajectory of nuclear development in the country is going to be uncertain and highly expensive,” said Dr Sarma.

If nuclear energy is not as safe or inexpensive then why invest in it? “Because nuclear energy is a possible front for weaponisation,” said Sukla Sen, a Mumbai-based activist.

Villagers in Kovvada have no time to think about all that. They are busy trying to think alternate modes of employment in the villages they would have to move into. http://www.dianuke.org/kovvada-villagers-displaced-forcibly-even-prospects-westinghouses-nuclear-project-remain-uncertain/

January 20, 2018 Posted by | India, indigenous issues, politics | Leave a comment

Threat from weapons of mass destruction “seems to be gathering force.” – UN Secretary General

U.N. chief: Threat from nuclear and other weapons gathers force, Asahi Shimbun, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, January 19, 2018 UNITED NATIONS–Russia’s foreign minister warned Thursday that a failure of the Iran nuclear deal, especially as a result of action by the Trump administration, would send “an alarming message” to North Korea and impact all international agreements.

Sergey Lavrov took aim at U.S. President Donald Trump at a U.N. Security Council meeting on confidence-building measures to tackle the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, saying that “we cannot for the benefit of political agendas of certain countries abandon a genuine achievement of international diplomacy.”

Last Friday, Trump kept alive the Iran agreement, which has won international praise including from U.S. allies, by extending sanctions waivers. But the president warned that the United States would pull out in a few months unless “terrible flaws” in the deal are fixed.

Lavrov and others worry that a U.S. pullout from the 2015 deal could mean that Washington cannot be trusted to keep agreements, which could harm any future efforts to get North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened Thursday’s meeting warning that the threat from weapons of mass destruction “seems to be gathering force.”

He urged expanded diplomatic efforts to tackle what he called the greatest security challenge in the world today–North Korea.

The international community must build on the “small signs of hope” from the recent contacts between the two Koreas to pursue diplomacy and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, the U.N. chief said.

“Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War,” Guterres said. “I remain deeply concerned over the growing risk of military confrontation and the unimaginable consequences that would result.”

China’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Wu Haitao, urged all countries to “reject Cold War mentality” and commit to peaceful solutions, including on the Korean Peninsula where he pointed to “some positive changes” emerging.

“All parties should make concerted efforts to extend this hard-won momentum of reduced tension, create conditions for relaunching dialogue and negotiation and return the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula to the correct track of dialogue and negotiation,” Wu said…….. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201801190018.html

January 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The absurdity of underground bunkers to save us all in nuclear war

Casually prep for nuclear war with this Minecraft tour of the Russian and American fallout bunkers

The team has really outdone itself with the Fallout-esque teaser video.

The Lavish Bunkers Where U.S and Russian Leaders (still) Plan to Fight A Nuclear War

As NTI explains:

 Nothing better illustrates the continuing absurdity of plans to fight a nuclear war than the massive complex of underground bunkers that the United States and Russia have built to survive and fight on even after both societies have collapsed. To help explain the scale of these facilities, we have reconstructed two, Site R in rural Pennsylvania (also known as Raven Rock) and the Kosvinsky underground command facility in Russia, roughly to scale using the popular immersive gaming platform Minecraft………https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/18/minecraft-nuclear-fallout-shelter-nti/

January 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sea level rise, nuclear trash – Pacific islanders tragedy – only New Zealand offers help

Guano, Nuclear Testing, Chemical Weapons   Another guano claim converted for U.S. military use is Johnston Atoll (Kamala), located about 800 miles southwest of Honolulu.

One phase of expansion on Johnston Island involved construction of a launch pad for high-altitude missile tests for Operation Dominic in the 1960s. Two of the tests were aborted, with radioactive contamination falling on the runway. Forty years later, in 2002, the Air Force “finished burying thousands of cubic meters of plutonium-contaminated waste in a 25-acre landfill on the atoll.”

The question, then, is not when will islands be submerged, but when will sea-level rise make life on low-lying islands impossible.

The answer to that question is close at hand for a number of Pacific islands.

Perhaps the biggest legal stride in New Zealand is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent announcement of plans for a special refugee visa for Pacific Islanders, starting with 100 places annually. “We are anchored in the Pacific,” Ardern told reporters. “Surrounding us are a number of nations, not least ourselves, who will be dramatically impacted by the effects of climate change. I see it as a personal and national responsibility to do our part.”

American Polynesia, Rising Seas and Relocation, By Laray Polk, Global Research, January 06, 2018 The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 22 December 2017 In the next 30 to 50 years, rising sea levels caused by global warming will subsume low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean. Inhabitants will have to relocate, but there are few choices. Among nations (with the exception of Fiji and New Zealand) there is little preparation for the inevitable migration of Pacific Islanders. Which nations should commit to the processes of equitable relocation?

 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Legal cases to begin, as shareholders sue, over $9 billion nuclear power project debacle

Shareholder lawsuits against SCANA over nuclear debacle debut in federal court.  http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article195428354.html COLUMBIA, SC

A federal judge in Columbia on Thursday designated lead lawyers and plaintiffs in two types of shareholder lawsuits against SCANA over its bungled V.C. Summer expansion.

The lawsuits charge SCANA and its top officers with misconduct and breaches of fiduciary duty in their handling of the failed $9 billion construction project.

Cayce-based SCANA, the corporate parent of the SCE&G utility, denies any wrongdoing.

The moves, involving nearly 20 lawyers, were the initial steps in moving the lawsuits forward. U.S. District Judge Margaret Seymour also dealt a mild setback to SCANA, rejecting its plea to give one group of shareholders suing the company only three weeks to amend their lawsuits.

“I would like to make sure that whatever is filed (by the plaintiffs) in this court is complete,” said Seymour, granting lawyers for the shareholders 60 days to amend their lawsuits against SCANA and some of its top executives.

The numerous lawsuits against SCANA in both state and federal courts are expected to take months, if not years, to play out.

On Thursday, Seymour:

▪ Designated the New York firms of Bernstein Litowitz and Labaton Sucharow as the lead attorneys in one class of shareholder lawsuits against Cayce-based SCANA. The Motley Rice law firm of Charleston was named local liaison counsel.

The lawsuits allege shareholders suffered huge losses when SCANA’s stock price plummeted — from almost $75 a share to the just more than $42 Thursday — after the nuclear project failed. They also allege SCANA misled shareholders about the project for years, propping up its share price.

If shareholders prevail, SCANA will have to pay monetary damages to numerous shareholders, including pension funds and individuals.

▪ Designated the Weiser law firm of Philadelphia and Bernstein Liebhard of New York as lead counsel in a second group of lawsuits, called “shareholder derivative” actions. S.C. liaison counsel include Bill Hopkins of Pawleys Island and Eric Bland of Columbia.

In the cases, the plaintiffs allege SCANA and its officers exposed the utility to liability by violating federal securities laws – including laws that require them to be open with regulators and the public – by their handling of the nuclear project.

SCANA and its officers artificially drove up the utility’s stock price by issuing false public statements and using a “strategy of deception and misdirection” about the nuclear project’s progress, cost and completion schedule, the lawsuits allege.

The goals of the shareholder derivative lawsuits include forcing top SCANA officers and board members to give back all “profits, benefits and other compensation,” including annual incentive bonuses.

Another group of lawsuits against SCANA is pending in state court. Those suits, mostly brought by ratepayers who claim they were cheated when SCANA hiked their monthly bills for years to pay for the failed project, were not affected by Thursday’s actions.

Seymour — who has 20 years’ experience as a federal judge, and widely is regarded as fair, low key and methodical — is overseeing one of South Carolina’s most complex, high-stakes legal battles in years.

Although many of the almost 20 lawyers in the Columbia courtroom Thursday came from Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia, S.C. lawyers also were present.

South Carolinians I.S. Leevy Johnson, Stephen Pugh and George Johnson are representing SCANA. The attorneys for the various plaintiffs suing SCANA included South Carolinians Bland, Hopkins and Marlon Kimpson, a Democratic state senator from Charleston.

 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Abandon Hinkley nuclear project now – and save UK consumers £ billions over the long term

Abandoning Hinkley Point C now could save consumers almost £1.5bn per year for 35 years from 2027 http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/ 19 Jan 18 Stop Hinkley Campaign submits response to the Helm ‘cost of energy’ review.

The Stop Hinkley Campaign has submitted a joint response, with the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), to the UK Government’s call for evidence on Professor Dieter Helm’s review of the UK energy market and the financial costs of energy to consumers and businesses. (1)

The joint submission argues the best way for the Government to keep electricity costs to consumers as low as possible over the coming decades, while reducing carbon emissions, and providing secure electricity supplies, is to cancel Hinkley Point C, scrap the new nuclear programme, launch a much more comprehensive energy efficiency programme and expand renewable energy ambitions.

The response also notes:

• Cancelling Hinkley Point C now might incur a cancellation cost of around £2bn, but consumers could save around £50bn over its lifetime. (2)
• Offshore wind is already approaching half the cost of nuclear power and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts costs will drop a further 71% by 2040.
• Removing the current block on onshore wind could save consumers around £1bn.
• Solar power is expected to be the cheapest source of energy (not just electricity) anywhere in the world by 2030 or 2040.
• Cost-effective investments in domestic energy efficiency between now and 2035 could save around 140 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy and save an average of £270 per household per year at current energy prices. The investments would deliver net benefits worth £7.5bn to the UK.
• Renewables could soon be producing enough electricity to power the grid from April to October. If the Government continues with the nuclear programme then Ministers will have to explain to consumers why they are having to pay for expensive nuclear electricity when cheap renewables are being turned off.
• The UK has the technology to match green power supply and demand at affordable cost without fossil fuels – by deploying the ‘smart grid’, using ‘green gas’ made from surplus power, and raising energy efficiency.
• Baseload is not helpful in balancing a variable energy supply – it simply leads to further overproduction of energy at times when renewables can meet demand on their own.

Just before the Christmas holidays the two organisations also submitted a joint response to the UK Government’s Clean Growth Strategy. (3)

Instead of funding R&D on new nuclear technology and Small Modular Reactors to the tune of around £460m, this called for more funding for low carbon heat and energy efficiency. In particular the Government should be investigating power-to-gas (P2G) technology which can produce renewable hydrogen, using surplus renewable electricity, which could then be fed into the gas grid for storage or used for producing renewable heat.

Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said:

“The cost of renewables is declining rapidly, and it is becoming increasingly clear that there are lots of ways of dealing with intermittency issues. It now looks as though Hinkley Point C won’t be online before 2027. Several financial institutions have predicted that large centralised power stations are likely to be obsolete within 10 to 20 years, because they are too big and inflexible, and are “not relevant” for future electricity. (4) So Hinkley Point C and the rest of the UK’s ill-conceived new nuclear programme will be too late, too expensive and too problematic. Wind and solar are cheaper more flexible and much quicker to build. It is time to cancel Hinkley Point C now before consumers are saddled with a needless bill for £50bn not to mention the nuclear waste which we still don’t know what to do with.”

Notes

(1) The Stop Hinkley and NFLA joint submission on the Government’s call for evidence on the Helm Review is available here.
(2) See Time to Cancel Hinkley Point C by Emeritus Professor Steve Thomas available here.
(3) The Stop Hinkley and NFLA joint submission on the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy is available here.
(4) See Stop Hinkley Press Release 28th August 2014 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Westinghouse executive whistleblower demoted after he identified South Carolina’s V.C. Summer nuclear problems

Whistleblower says he was demoted after finding problems in S.C. nuclear project, report says. https://www.postandcourier.com/news/whistleblower-says-he-was-demoted-after-finding-problems-in-s/article_e81d1a68-fc5f-11e7-afea-6349fad30de9.html, By Tony Bartelme tbartelme@postandcourier.com, Jan 19, 2018 

      Last year, months before South Carolina’s V.C. Summer project went belly up, a senior Westinghouse executive reportedly was demoted and sent to Canada after he identified problems with a key contractor, a nuclear industry trade publication says.

Nuclear Intelligence Weekly said in a recent report that Steve Hamilton, a senior vice president with Westinghouse Electric, filed federal whistleblower claims amid what the trade publication described as a high-stakes corporate “soap opera.”

The report adds to a growing body of allegations that Westinghouse ignored or hid early warning signs the nuclear projects were in trouble long before the problems were made public.

This trouble has since morphed into a chain reaction of political and economic uncertainty: Acquisition-hungry monopolies are circling around SCANA and Santee Cooper, and ratepayers are on the hook for billions of dollars for a pair of unfinished reactors.

Hamilton was a key player in Westinghouse’s nuclear team during the construction of new reactors at V.C. Summer — a senior vice president and chief quality officer in the company’s Pennsylvania headquarters, according to a company press release.

But then Toshiba — Westinghouse’s parent company — reportedly directed Hamilton to investigate Westinghouse’s purchase of Stone & Webster, its construction subsidiary working on the V.C. Summer project, the trade publication said. Both the V.C. Summer expansion in Fairfield County and a twin reactor project in Georgia had numerous delays and costly overruns.

Hamilton reportedly brought in a team of independent forensic experts to identify what went wrong with the Stone & Webster purchase and aftermath, but Hamilton’s report and its findings were buried, the publication said. Nuclear Intelligence Weekly did not specify details of Hamilton’s findings.

Hamilton is now on a special assignment to “build the company’s commercial and operational footprint in Canada,” according to another Westinghouse press release last May. Hamilton did not return phone calls and emails from The Post and Courier seeking comment.

Hamilton filed com­plaints under a federal whistleblower law to both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Labor, the trade publication said. Both agencies said they don’t comment on whistleblower complaints or the status of any investigations.

The complaint reportedly alleges that Jose Gutierrez, Westinghouse’s chief executive officer, unsuccessfully pressured Hamilton to change the audit team’s findings, the publication reported.

Hamilton also reportedly made allegations about improprieties at the company’s fuel fabrication facility in Columbia, not far from the V.C. Summer site. The plant employs about 1,000 people and makes uranium fuel assemblies for use in nuclear plants.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission temporarily shut down the plant in 2016 after more than 220 pounds of enriched uranium were found in a ventilation scrubber. In noting its concerns, the NRC wrote about “a perceived lack of a questioning attitudemay have resulted in delays” in identifying the uranium build-up problem.

 Westinghouse declined to comment.

The allegations highlight a pattern of stumbles and deception that led to the $9 billion nuclear boondoggle in South Carolina and billions of dollars in overruns at the Vogtle project in Georgia.

Last year, The Post and Courier reported that another Westinghouse official wrote an in-depth analysis in 2011 that identified risky construction strategies and shortcuts, including the use of unlicensed engineers. The analysis predicted massive overruns, a prediction that came true and eventually led to the project’s collapse.

The project’s failure has shaken the state, leading to resignations of top SCANA and Santee Cooper executives and calls for major changes in legislation that shifted construction costs onto ratepayers.

SCANA and Santee Cooper, the utilities that hoped to build two new reactors, are now considered takeover targets. Virginia’s Dominion Energy hopes to pick up SCANA, and NextEra reportedly is eyeing Santee Cooper. Westinghouse remains in bankruptcy.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

New director of Los Alamos National Laboratory acknowledges problems, pushes for accountability

Since it was built in secret in 1943 to house the Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb in 1945, Los Alamos has diversified its R&D portfolio. Its research areas now include everything from studying wildfire behavior to developing vaccines. But the lab’s central mission may well be updated in the coming months: President Donald Trump’s administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, leaked to the media earlier this month, signaled interest in developing new low-yield nuclear weapons, even as some of the lab’s most knowledgeable weapons experts are nearing retirement age. …….

We’re the only place [in the United States] that does large-scale work on plutonium. We must meet the expectations to be the safest and most secure site in the country. At the same time, the realization that those expectations are under a magnifying glass, sometimes I think we miss that.

We cannot have any accidents. We do things at times that are simply unacceptable……..

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/after-safety-breaches-new-los-alamos-director-pushes-accountability-nuclear-weapons-lab

January 20, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Radiation problems at Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant – 100 workers moved to new offices

100 Hanford workers moving to new offices after radiation confusion, Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY, acary@tricityherald.com  19 Jan 18, One hundred workers are being moved out of the trailer village of offices at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s Plutonium Finishing Plant.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Russia to Decommission Two Largest Nuclear Subs in the World – Source

 Sputnik News, 19 Jan 18 The submarines have already been withdrawn from operational status in the Russian Navy as their further use is unprofitable.

The two largest nuclear-powered submarines of Project 941 (the Akula code) Arkhangelsk and Severstal are planned to be decommissioned, a source in the shipbuilding industry told RIA Novosti.

“Their further operation is unprofitable: they have already been withdrawn from the Navy, Rosatom is to decommission them after 2020,” the source said.

Now the only Project 941U submarine remaining in the Navy is Dmitry Donskoy, used to test the Bulava ballistic missile……..https://sputniknews.com/military/201801191060883176-nuclear-submarines-utilization-russia/

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British defence spending – better directed at training professional military force

Forget Britain’s nuclear deterrent – here’s what Russia is really afraid of, The Guardian, 19 Jan 18, Russia is being weaponised to justify big-ticket buys for the UK military, yet there’s little talk of what Moscow thinks matters

British defence spending and capabilities are in the middle of a bitter review in which the potential threat from Russia is frequently invoked, whether that means cutting ocean-bottom internet cables, flying bombers into our airspace, or invading Nato territory.

Russia is – to use a word of the day – being weaponised in the name of particular service interests and justifying big-ticket new systems. Nonetheless, given that Russia is the most serious aggressor the UK might have to face, it is striking how little discussion there has been about what kind of British military capabilities genuinely concern Russian soldiers and planners.

Insofar as one can glean lessons from their military writings, and courtesy of my own conversations with Russian officers, both serving and retired, I can see three definite concerns of theirs and one glaring omission.

The suggestion that the UK merges and shrinks its special and intervention forces would no doubt be roundly cheered in the Russian general staff’s massive building on Znamenka Street, Moscow. As a recently retired officer from its planning directorate once said to me, with more enthusiasm than originality: “Britain has always had the best light infantry in the world, and the bastards get places faster than we would like.”…….

In a way, the Russians have a similar perspective on the Royal Navy. What bothers them is not our massive new aircraft carrier, which one naval officer said would make a great “missile magnet” in time of war. Rather, the concern is about smaller, lighter forces. …..

Thirdly, it is not just specific forces and units that the Russians believe gives the UK its edge, but training and morale. Russian successes in Crimea and Syria partly represent an unfamiliar new emphasis on the human side of their military. Britain’s problems of having to scrimp on training and overstretch its forces have not gone unnoticed…….

if deterring the Russians is a major concern, then it is worth paying attention to what might really deter them: a flexible, fast-moving and versatile force of true professionals. Not necessarily with the heaviest kit, the biggest ships or the priciest aircraft, but able to get where they are needed, when they are needed.  Dr Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and head of its Centre for European Security. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/19/nuclear-weapons-uk-defence-review-russia

January 20, 2018 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby’s outreach promotion to school students

UCD is educating next generation of nuclear scientists, Davis Enterprise, By Lisa Howard, 19 Jan 18,High school and college students in the greater Sacramento region have a unique opportunity to learn about nuclear science at the UC Davis McClellan Nuclear Research Center.

A new educational outreach program, the Nautilus Program, named after the U.S. Navy’s first nuclear submarine, is giving students hands-on experience with the center’s nuclear reactor, the largest university-operated reactor on the West Coast.

The program also gives students a chance to learn directly from veterans who have been part of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear program. Exposing students from diverse backgrounds to different aspects of STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) is one of the main goals of the Nautilus Program.

“I think there is a real need for this type of STEM engagement with young students in the community,” said Wesley Frey, director of the McClellan Nuclear Research Center………

The McClellan Nuclear Research Center has partnered with the Luther Burbank High School Naval Junior ROTC, as well as with Sacramento City College, the UC Berkeley Naval ROTC and other area institutions. The center also is working with local teachers through the Sacramento Area Science Project……

Students who attend the tours, and are interested in learning more about nuclear science, can apply to participate in one of center’s more intensive summer programs through a UCD outreach program.

A new series of courses also is being offered at UCD as part of the Nautilus Program. The “Designated Emphasis on Nuclear Sciences classes,” offered by the department of physics, will be available to UCD undergraduate and graduate students who are studying math, physical sciences or engineering.

The first course is radiation health physics and the second, which will be offered this spring quarter, is an introduction to nuclear engineering. A third course will be announced at a later date……https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/ucd/ucd-is-educating-next-generation-of-nuclear-scientists/

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Education | Leave a comment