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On Cape Cod, a nuclear nightmare arrives

On Cape Cod, a nuclear nightmare arrives,   https://news.yahoo.com/column-cape-cod-nuclear-nightmare-095201547.html, Brent Harold Columnist, Mon, January 17, 2022, 

We’re living in E.F. Schumacher’s nightmare future.

Fifty years ago, before there was much nuclear power to worry about, before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima, he was already worrying about it in his 1973 book “Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered.” The book was ranked by The Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most influential books published since World War II.

It’s striking that the main argument against using nuclear energy was there from the very start.

“The biggest cause of worry for the future is the storage of the long-lived radioactive wastes,” he wrote. “In effect, we are consciously and deliberately accumulating a toxic substance on the off-chance that it may be possible to get rid of it at a later date.”

No amount of convenience or efficiency — or profits — he argued “could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make ‘safe’ and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself.”

We are in that “later date” and as we know, there still is no solution to the problem of how to get rid of the radioactive waste that is a systematic byproduct of generating nuclear energy .

We are in that future Schumacher warned against.

A few years ago, when Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant was still limping along, a documentary titled “Containment” played in Wellfleet, showing in convincing detail the nuclear future Schumacher warned against, especially the ongoing problem of containment of lethal radioactive wastes.

There is no mopping up as with oil spills. You don’t flush this, clean it up and move on. There is no getting rid of the mess we’ve made. All we can do is try to contain it, on and on farther into the future than the 10,000 years often cited as the age of “civilization” — perhaps longer than our species has been around.

There’s an interesting segment in the film about attempts to come up with a sign to warn our distant descendants of the lethal mess we have bequeathed them.

Containment is the job and the company that owned Pilgrim, when it closed the plant, handed the job of cleanup and containment off to a company named Holtec, which thought it could make a go of it while making a profit for its shareholders.

Containment is the job. But only in its first year or two, Holtec recently announced, almost off-handedly, that it was considering dumping a million gallons of radioactive waste in our Cape Cod Bay. ”What?” asked many. “Can they get away with that?”

Apparently they are within their legal rights. Certainly, the company has emphasized it has no obligation to be guided by those whose lives will be most affected by it.

In reaction to the outcry Holtec has said it will put off the dumping for a spell. To make us feel better it noted that Entergy had for years, when Pilgrim was still operating, been dumping radioactive water in the bay.

Fifty years ago Schumacher wrote: “It was thought at one time that these wastes could safely be dumped into the deepest parts of the oceans…but this has since been disproved…wherever there is life, radioactive substances are absorbed into the biological cycle.”

Containment is the job. Dumping a million gallons of radioactive waste into Cape Cod Bay seems like the opposite of containment.

Once again, as with Entergy, we find ourselves in the situation of having our present and future safety in the hands of a bottom line-oriented company.

Call it a nuclear energy problem. Call it a corporation/capitalism problem. It is both.

There is a decades-long history of opposition to Pilgrim. Diane Turco and others founded Cape Downwinders in the early 1990s, a group that worked toward the shuttering of Pilgrim..

This newspaper kept Cape citizens informed with its strong coverage of the deterioration of Pilgrim and wrote editorials advocating its closure.

The closure of the plant in 2019 was considered by activists a victory and there has been a natural tendency (for people whose name isn’t Diane Turco) to become complacent about the still-dangerous site. Certainly it does seem less glamorous being the first generation of citizens, of who knows how many, to practice ongoing wariness about containment and the company in charge of it. But that’s the reality of our situation.

A place to start getting involved or re-involved is a gathering for a speak-out on Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. at Plymouth Town Hall Great Room, to be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.

Brent Harold, a Cape Cod Times columnist and former English professor, lives in Wellfleet. Email him at kinnacum@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: pilgrim nuclear plant and holtec’s plan to dump contaminated water.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons must be relegated to the past – Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The letter also marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ statement prior to the entry into force of the treaty on Jan. 22, 2021; the Pope said nuclear weapons “strike large numbers of people in a short space of time and provoke long-lasting damage to the environment.” On Tuesday, the archbishop said, “It is the duty of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, to support that treaty while working toward universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament.”

As of this week, the treaty has 59 member nation signatories. The purpose of the treaty is to outlaw the manufacture, testing, possession, stockpiling and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It is the legal form chosen by 122 nations who, in 2015, sought a route toward disarmament that would be more effective than the United States’ languishing 1970 promise to disarm “at an early date.”

Nuclear weapons must be relegated to the past,  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/nuclear-weapons-must-be-relegated-to-the-past/article_d247c8d8-7559-11ec-ab06-bfa71f3f3b1e.html, By Basia Miller, Jan 16, 2022  .

On Jan. 11, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, John C. Wester, shared his pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament” (“Archbishop decries labs’ weapons production,” Jan. 12).

His letter, a timely, courageous and powerful call for a culture of peace, comes at a time when the United States appears to be entering a new arms race, one in which contamination of the waters and lands of the Rio Grande watershed with radioactive, toxic and hazardous pollutants is often accepted passively, without questioning the deadly — and growing — enterprise behind it.

In his summary, the archbishop makes a link between the costs of military spending and the reciprocal effect on civilian life. He says, “Moreover, we are robbing from the poor and needy with current plans to spend at least

$1.7 trillion to ‘modernize’ our nuclear weapons and keep them forever.”

The archbishop presented his letter six days before the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and 10 days before the first anniversary of the entry into force of the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on Jan. 22.

The letter also marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ statement prior to the entry into force of the treaty on Jan. 22, 2021; the Pope said nuclear weapons “strike large numbers of people in a short space of time and provoke long-lasting damage to the environment.” On Tuesday, the archbishop said, “It is the duty of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, to support that treaty while working toward universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament.”

As of this week, the treaty has 59 member nation signatories. The purpose of the treaty is to outlaw the manufacture, testing, possession, stockpiling and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It is the legal form chosen by 122 nations who, in 2015, sought a route toward disarmament that would be more effective than the United States’ languishing 1970 promise to disarm “at an early date.”

The long-range expectation is the dynamic among the treaty’s signatory nations (including the NATO countries) will gradually curb the United States’ appetite for building more weapons. The purpose was once “deterrence,” but even that rationalization has been undermined.

In this way, a new legal norm will have been created by which nuclear weapons follow the pattern of the worldwide ban on landmines and chemical and biological weapons.

An occasion to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate the first anniversary of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is planned by local activists and veterans groups at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22. The public is invited.   Basia Miller is a board member of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. She has lived in Santa Fe for over 30 years.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

EU plans may boost Asian nuclear ambitions but progress likely to stutter, say analysts

EU plans may boost Asian nuclear ambitions but progress likely to stutter, say analysts,   Geographical and technical hurdles coupled with a gas glut in Asia mean nuclear power is unlikely to gain a toehold in the region, despite its inclusion in Europe’s “gold standard” green investment rulebook. Eco Business  Liang LeiJan. 17, 2022  Southeast Asia could see more funding in nuclear power, following the European Union’s (EU) proposal to include the energy source in their green finance guide, according to analysts.

More Asian countries may also consider including nuclear energy in sustainable investment frameworks, analysts told Eco-Business, but doubt that these developments will significantly help to hit net-zero

2050 targets, citing cost, technological hurdles and competition with other fuels.

The EU released a draft of its green finance taxonomy on 31 December, which defines what projects can be classed as green to pique the interest of investors…….. (subscribers onlyhttps://www.eco-business.com/news/eu-plans-may-boost-asian-nuclear-ambitions-but-progress-likely-to-stutter-say-analysts/

January 18, 2022 Posted by | ASIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear talks deadlock risks dangerous vacuum

Iran nuclear talks deadlock risks dangerous vacuum, Analysis: As clock runs down on Vienna talks, key obstacles remain to be cleared by Tehran and the west. Guardian,  Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor, Mon 17 Jan 2022 The countdown to the end of the six-month-long talks in Vienna on the future of the Iran nuclear deal has begun. No deadline has been formally set, but if there is no progress in less than two weeks the process will come to an end leaving a dangerous vacuum.

The White House has already been rolling the pitch preparing its political lines for a breakdown by saying the US withdrawal from the agreement by Donald Trump in 2018 has proved to be a disaster. If there is no agreement, the Biden team intend Trump will take the blame…………

Those close to the talks say they think there can be an agreement, but that from a western perspective it will possibly be so limited in scope it is will be seen as temporary. If so, as Enrique Mora, the chief EU negotiator has said, it will not be for lack of trying……….

Full-scale talks will resume on Monday, with both the UK and Germany represented by new chief negotiators, Stephanie Al-Qaq and Tjorven Bellmann respectively. Detail on progress is being kept to a minimum………………….

A second issue surrounds the guarantees Iran is seeking that the US will not repeat Trump’s withdrawal from the deal in May 2018. The US cannot offer a legally binding treaty since the Senate would never agree to one. Price said: “There is no such thing as a guarantee in diplomacy and international affairs. We can speak for this administration, but this administration has been very clear that we are prepared to return to full compliance with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and to stay in full compliance with the JCPOA as long as Iran does the same.”

A UN security council resolution might be a bare minimum of comfort for Iran, but is hardly binding on the parties. Tehran wants binding commitments that if the US quits the deal, the EU will do more to defy secondary US sanctions by injecting real cash into the abortive trading mechanism Instex set up by the EU to bypass US sanctions.

A third issue is verification. What are the metrics by which Iran can verify that sanctions have been lifted in reality and not just on paper, and consequently that it must stop enriching uranium at levels of purity not allowed under the agreement? There has been loose talk that the US believes the lifting of sanctions could be verified in 48 hours, but Iran wants a longer process with benchmarks.

The final issue is how to handle both the technical knowledge, including advanced centrifuges and large amounts of enriched uranium that Iran has acquired during the period it has ended its commitments to the JCPOA.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/17/iran-nuclear-talks-deadlock-risks-dangerous-vacuum

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Anglesey does not need nuclear energy – Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) 

Anglesey does not need nuclear energy, says Welsh NFLA chair   https://www.northwaleschronicle.co.uk/news/19853825.anglesey-not-need-nuclear-energy-says-welsh-nfla-chair/

By Matthew Chandler  @chandler98_ 17 Jan 22, Report  THE chair of the Welsh Forum of Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has countered the recent suggestion by Isle of Anglesey County Council’s leader that nuclear energy is needed ‘now more than ever’.

Councillor Llinos Medi, made this claim to Guto Harri on S4C’s current affairs series, Y Byd yn ei Le.

Responding, the chair of the NFLA Welsh Forum, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy, said: “The council leader seems unaware of the reality that is nuclear power and unaware of her own party’s (Plaid Cymru’s) position on the subject.

“Nuclear energy projects are notorious for being delivered years late, being delivered massively over budget, and on occasions – as we have seen at Wylfa in the recent past – being delivered not at all.

“If the council leader really does want to keep the lights on for her electors then it is pointless looking to nuclear energy to deliver the goods.

“The small modular reactors that Councillor Medi talks of are reliant upon designs that are not yet proven and will not be operational until the mid-2030s at the earliest, and we need to tackle energy insecurity and climate change now.

“They would also be delivered at a massive cost to the Welsh taxpayer as everyone will face a ‘nuclear tax’ on their electricity bills to fund it, thanks to the Conservative Government’s Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill.”

The NFLA is clear on its own position: Wales should move away from nuclear and make a commitment to powering the nation using 100 per cent renewables.

Councillor Galsworthy added: “The Scottish Government has set itself a target of meeting 100 per cent of their nation’s energy needs through renewables alone, and they are now up to 96 per cent, and the Welsh Government should look to do the same.

“Our nation is blessed with natural resources that can, and should, be utilised to meet our current and future energy needs.

“I would urge Councillor Medi not to become another Atomic Kitten. Wales does not ‘need’ nuclear and we do not have to ‘have’ it.

Solar, tidal, wind and hydro-electric power projects can all be delivered now using proven technology far more quickly and at much less cost than nuclear, and without the dangers associated with nuclear power or the need to store safely the resultant radioactive waste.

“Anglesey as the ‘energy island’ could be at the forefront of that renewables’ revolution bringing the many jobs, far more than nuclear, for that island community that would result.

“If Councillor Medi wishes to have a ‘conversation’ about bringing that vision to the island, the Welsh NFLA will be happy to have it.”

January 18, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Contradictory demands on EDF

“Neither its organization nor its finances allow EDF to meet all then challenges it faces”. Ensuring the country’s energy security, promoting French know-how internationally, producing ever greener products and serving as a financier of last resort: EDF is subject to contradictory political injunctions, underlines in his column Jean-Michel Bezat, journalist Le Monde.

Let’s face it, we would not like to be in the place of the CEO of EDF. At the controls of the energy giant since 2014, Jean-Bernard Lévy is not the type to let his arm be twisted without afight. But after tough negotiations, the state shareholder (83.9%) ended up imposing its views on it: within the framework of the mechanism for regulated access to historical nuclear electricity (Arenh), imposed byBrussels in 2011 in the name of the competition, he will have to sell to his competitors – at a sale price, it’s in season – 20% more power than usual.

 Le Monde 17th Jan 2022

https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2022/01/17/l-etat-fait-tour-a-tour-de-la-fee-electricite-le-sauveteur-de-la-filiere-nucleaire-et-une-vache-a-lait_6109743_3232.html

January 18, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Missouri Bill to honour nuclear veterans


Bob Bromley Bill seeks to honor veterans of the Nuclear Age,  
https://www.fourstateshomepage.com/news/local-news/bob-bromley-bill-seeks-to-honor-veterans-of-the-nuclear-age/ by: Gretchen Bolander Jan 17, 2022   JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — It’s been decades since the US entered the Nuclear Age, but a southwest Missouri lawmaker says it’s never too late to recognize the sacrifice made through the Atomic Program.

State Representative Bob Bromley of Carl Junction is part of an effort that’s underway to recognize the military veterans associated with the US Atomic Program.

“I think every time we get the opportunity to thank them we should. Because once they’re gone, they’re gone,” said Jim Beeler, military supporter.

Jim Beeler says it’s important to thank any vet for their service, and today, especially those who were a part of the US Atomic Program.

“It’s nice to see someone recognize that.”

State Rep. Bob Bromley is sponsoring House Bill 1652 which would designate a section of Highway 171 as “Atomic Veterans Memorial Highway.” Bromley says it’s important to recognize the role these veterans played in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, and the potential toll to their health after being exposed to radiation.

“There were 23 different types of cancers that develop with a lot of these veterans. And they were not eligible with their medical records and everything to get compensation,” said MO Rep. Bob Bromley, R.

Often tied to the top secret nature of the work. It took decades to change that.

“Some of them did not get compensated for their cancers and different things that was caused by this exposure to radiation ’til the mid 90s. And so it’s just very important to understand the sacrifice and the contribution that all these veterans made.”

The bill has already gone before the Veterans Committee and is expected to see an initial vote this week. Missouri is just one of a list of states considering this measure to recognize Atomic Veterans.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | health, Legal, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Redesigning nuclear arms control for new realities

Redesigning nuclear arms control for new realities, European Leadership Network, 18 Jan 22.

“When we first launched the report in early December, Russian forces were massing on the borders of Ukraine. As I write this, just weeks later, a full-blown crisis has developed between nuclear Russia and nuclear NATO. This report has only gained in relevance since its release, as we need nuclear arms control more than ever. 

Senior Russians have compared this to the Cuban Missile Crisis and have spoken, as has the NATO Secretary General, of the possibility of large-scale conflict in Europe. These are real dangers, but there are also real opportunities to re-start nuclear arms control. This crisis lends momentum to the long haul rebuilding of US, British, French and NATO muscle memory for nuclear risk reduction. Under the skilful steering of Nevine Scheper and Oliver Thraenert of the Centre for Security Studies in Zurich, I and my fellow authors have offered a long-term, clear-eyed look at what it is going to take for the transatlantic community to do nuclear arms control effectively. This summary couldn’t be more timely.”

Adam Thomson, Director of the ELN

Nuclear arms control has lost its place in the current security landscape. A revival of arms control, which is urgently needed, will not be possible by going back to old approaches. Instead, arms control needs to adapt to new circumstances. Western experts have devoted a great deal of attention to possi­ble further steps on the reductions path­way, such as a follow-on agreement to the New START Treaty or a new agreement on non-strategic nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. In the meantime, far too little attention has been given to the new deterrence landscape or the political strategy that must be put in place to arrive at a point where new arms control approaches fit that landscape. …………………………………………. https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/commentary/redesigning-nuclear-arms-control-for-new-realities/

January 18, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power plants – ”no significant harm?”-risks of catastrophic accidents, wastes dangers to future generations, water consumption.

Not green and not sustainable,  The science-based case for excluding nuclear power from the EU taxonomy, Beyond Nuclear, 15 Jan 2022,  ”………………………Does the present generation of nuclear fission power plants ‘do no significant harm’? 

To answer this question, two specific issues for nuclear power stand out: the risk of a catastrophic accident and the management of high-level nuclear waste (HLW). Nuclear fission energy is characterized by low probability, high consequence risks to humans and the environment. Even the JRC recognizes that the risk of a severe nuclear accident cannot be excluded, even in the best commercially available nuclear power plants. 

The disaster in Fukushima (2011) was triggered by a process that these nuclear reactors were not “designed” to withstand. These circumstances shed light on the limitations of the technical risk assessments, which have not fully taken into account beyond design risks in particular of core melt accidents. 

The events in Fukushima have made it apparent that such assessments are based on specific assumptions, for example on seismic safety or the maximum height of a tsunami, and that reality can disprove these assumptions. Deciding whether such risks belong to the category of ‘tolerable risks’ for a given society depends on the various risk regulation measures put in place. Especially relevant for nuclear fission power is the fact that the liability of the operator in the case of a severe accident is limited and the remaining costs are (largely) taken on by the state (privatization of profits, socialization of risks).

The Taxonomy architecture is not designed to cater for such risks that carry an intergenerational impact lasting for thousands of years, making it an unsuitable instrument to decide on the sustainable nature of nuclear power. 

The characteristics and nature of HLW generated by the nuclear fission process present long-term intergenerational risks and thereby challenge the principle of ‘do no significant harm’ to the extent that nuclear fission energy may not be considered eligible for the EU Taxonomy. 

This was made abundantly clear to the Commission in the TEG’s recommendations, which were not published in their entirety. Independent, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence compiled by TEG provided confirmation of the risk of significant harm arising from nuclear waste. 

The back end of the fuel cycle is currently dominated by the containment of spent fuel rods and waste from nuclear power facilities. Safe and secure long-term storage of nuclear waste remains unresolved and has to be demonstrated in its operational complexity. Whilst the nuclear industry and international nuclear waste experts provide assurances of multiple engineered safeguards designed to reduce the risks from nuclear waste through geological disposal, the question remains whether, despite the solid scientific basis and thorough geological knowledge gathered, in the absence of experience with this technology, one can really guarantee that HLW will remain isolated from humans and the environment for thousands, let alone millions of years. 

The fact that a ‘solution’ has to be found for the existing quantities of waste (as well spent fuel as conditioned high level waste forms), and that geological disposal is the least bad solution for this, does not imply that nuclear power can suddenly be classified as a ‘green’ energy source. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the risks presented by nuclear fission energy to the ‘do no significant harm’ principle and technical screening criteria of the EU Taxonomy means that it can not be considered EU Taxonomy eligible or aligned as long as the technology and fuel cycle management has not proven to be sustainable as a whole.  

Other concerns with regard to DNSH criteria 

Nuclear fission power plants require about three cubic metres of cooling water per megawatt hour (MWh) produced. A nuclear plant’s cooling water consumption is higher than that of fossil-fuel plants. Throughout the world, new nuclear plants and existing plants increasingly face cooling water scarcity induced by heat waves, a situation that is likely to be aggravated by climate change. More efficient cooling technologies could be considered, but this adds to the already high costs of nuclear power plants. 

For reasons of having access to enough cooling water, nuclear plants are mostly sited in coastal or estuarine locations, but this makes them vulnerable to flooding and extreme events that climate change may occasion. The siting of nuclear power plants along coastal zones presents adaptation risks associated with sea-level rise, water temperature rise, coastal erosion as well as natural catastrophes such as the Fukushima disaster demonstrates. 

The Fukushima disaster reveals how powerless human operators are when nuclear systems escape full, continuous control. Instead of helping to address the impacts of the Tsunami as renewable energy sources would have, the devastated nuclear power plant strongly aggravated the emergency relief in the province and left huge new problems of liquid waste and radioactive waste resulting from infrastructure and land cleaning activities, never encountered before in densely populated industrial areas. 

Furthermore, when major nuclear plant accidents occur significant land areas become unsuitable for human habitation (e.g. Chernobyl, Fukushima). 

Advocates of nuclear power draw attention to the survival of natural flora and fauna in zones contaminated by radioactive materials and precluding human access. However, this is presumably not the type of ecological protection and resilience that the EU Taxonomy aims to achieve. Surface or underground mining and the processing of uranium ore can substantially damage surrounding ecosystems and waterways. The huge volumes of associated mining waste in developing countries are normally not considered in life cycle waste inventories of nuclear energy producing countries. 

More critically, the adverse effects on local environmental conditions of routine discharging of nuclear isotopes to the air and water at reprocessing plants have not been considered thoroughly enough. A number of adverse impacts (of radiation) on soil/sediment, benthic flora and fauna and marine mammals has been demonstrated ………………………………  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3774941784

January 17, 2022 Posted by | climate change, environment, EUROPE | 4 Comments

The media downplays Ukraine’s ties to Nazism, as they promote weapons sales, and war against Russia

Absent information

The fact that that Ukraine’s government and armed forces include a Nazi-sympathizing current surely would have an impact on US public opinion—if the public knew about it. However, this information has been entirely absent in recent editions of the New York Times and Washington Post.

Shortly after the Maidan uprising of 2013 to 2014 brought in a new government, Ukraine began whitewashing Nazi collaborators on a statewide level. In 2015, Kyiv passed legislation declaring two WWII-era paramilitaries—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—heroes and freedom fighters, and threatening legal action against anyone denying their status. The OUN was allied with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust; the UPA murdered thousands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles on their own accord.

Hawkish Pundits Downplay Threat of War, Ukraine’s Nazi Ties, Fair, GREGORY SHUPAK 16 Jan 22,  With the United States and Russia in a standoff over NATO expansion and Russian troop deployments along the Ukrainian border, US corporate media outlets are demanding that Washington escalate the risk of a broader war while misleading their audiences about important aspects of the conflict.

Many in the commentariat called on the US to take steps that would increase the likelihood of war. In the New York Times (12/10/21), retired US Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman wrote that “the United States must support Ukraine by providing more extensive military assistance.” He argued that “the United States should consider an out-of-cycle, division-level military deployment to Eastern Europe to reassure allies and bolster the defenses of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” even while calling for a strategy that “avoids crossing into military adventurism.” He went on to say that “the United States has to be more assertive in the region.”

Yet the US has been plenty “assertive in the region,” where, incidentally, America is not located. In 2014, the US supported anti-government protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of democratically elected, Russia-aligned Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych (Foreign Policy3/4/14). Russia sent its armed forces into the Crimea, annexed the territory, and backed armed groups in eastern Ukraine.

Since then, the US has given Ukraine $2.5 billion in military aid, including Javelin anti-tank missiles (Politico6/18/21).  The US government has applied sanctions to Russia that, according to an International Monetary Fund estimate, cost Russia about 0.2 percentage points of GDP every year between 2014 and 2018 (Reuters4/16/21).

Furthermore, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—a US-led military alliance hostile to Russia—has grown by 14 countries since the end of the Cold War. NATO expanded right up to Russia’s border in 2004, in violation of the promises made by the elder George Bush and Bill Clinton to Russian leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin (Jacobin7/16/18).

In the Washington Post (12/24/21), Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen jointly contended in Orwellian fashion that the Biden administration should take “military measures that would strengthen a diplomatic approach and give it greater credibility.” They wrote that “the United States must speed up the pace of assistance and provide antiaircraft, antitank and anti-ship systems, along with electronic warfare capabilities.” The authors claimed that these actions “will help ensure a free and stable Europe,” though it’s easy to imagine how such steps could instead lead to a war-ravaged Europe, or at least a tension-plagued one.

Indeed, US “military measures” have tended to increase, rather than decrease, the temperature. Last summer, the US and Ukraine led multinational naval maneuvers held in the Black Sea, an annual undertaking called Sea Breeze. The US-financed exercises were the largest in decades, involving 32 ships, 40 aircraft and helicopters, and 5,000 soldiers from 24 countries (Deutsche Welle6/29/21). These steps didn’t create a “stable Europe”: Russia conducted a series of parallel drills in the Black Sea and southwestern Russia (AP7/10/21), and would go on to amass troops along the Ukrainian border.

Afghan precedent……

Whitewashing Nazis

US media should present Americans with a complete picture of Ukraine/Russia so that Americans can assess how much and what kind of support, if any, they want their government to continue providing to Ukraine’s. Such a comprehensive view would undoubtedly include an account of the Ukrainian state’s political orientation. Lev Golinkin in The Nation (5/6/21) outlined one of the Ukrainian government’s noteworthy tendencies:

Shortly after the Maidan uprising of 2013 to 2014 brought in a new government, Ukraine began whitewashing Nazi collaborators on a statewide level. In 2015, Kyiv passed legislation declaring two WWII-era paramilitaries—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—heroes and freedom fighters, and threatening legal action against anyone denying their status. The OUN was allied with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust; the UPA
murdered thousands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles on their own accord.

Every January 1, Kyiv hosts a torchlight march in which thousands honor Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, who headed an OUN faction; in 2017, chants of “Jews Out!” rang out during the march. Such processions (often redolent with antisemitism) are a staple in Ukraine….

Ukraine’s total number of monuments to Third Reich collaborators who served in auxiliary police battalions and other units responsible for the Holocaust number in the several hundred. The whitewashing also extends to official book bans and citywide veneration of collaborators.

The typical reaction to this in the West is that Ukraine can’t be celebrating Nazi collaborators because it elected [Volodymyr] Zelensky, a Jewish president. Zelensky, however, has alternated between appeasing and ignoring the whitewashing: In 2018, he stated, “To some Ukrainians, [Nazi collaborator] Bandera is a hero, and that’s cool!”

Furthermore, according to a George Washington University study, members of the far-right group Centuria are in the Ukrainian military, and Centuria’s social media accounts show these soldiers giving Nazi salutes, encouraging white nationalism and praising members of Nazi SS units (Ottawa Citizen, 10/19/21). Centuria leaders have ties to the Azov movement, which “has attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outlets, art exhibitions, foreign students, the LGBTQ2S+ community and Roma people”: the Azov movement’s militia has been incorporated in the Ukrainian National Guard (CTV News, 10/20/21). Azov, the UN has documented, has carried out torture and rape.

Absent information

The fact that that Ukraine’s government and armed forces include a Nazi-sympathizing current surely would have an impact on US public opinion—if the public knew about it. However, this information has been entirely absent in recent editions of the New York Times and Washington Post.

From December 6, 2021, to January 6,  2022, the Times published 228 articles that refer to Ukraine, nine of which contain some variation on the word “Nazi.” Zero percent of these note Ukrainian government apologia for Nazis or the presence of pro-Nazi elements in Ukraine’s armed forces. …………

the Post ran 201 pieces that mention the word “Ukraine.” Of these, six mention the word “Nazi,” none of them to point out that the Ukrainian state has venerated Holocaust participants, or that there are Nazis in the Ukrainian military.  Max Boot (1/5/22) and Robyn Dixon (12/11/21), in fact, dismissed this fact as mere Russian propaganda. In Boot’s earlier Ukraine piece (12/15/21), he acknowledged that the UPA collaborated with the Nazis and killed thousands of Polish people, but his article nevertheless suggested that the UPA offer a useful model for how Ukrainians could resist a Russian invasion, asserting that “all is not lost” in case of a Russian invasion, because “Ukrainian patriots could fight as guerrillas against Russian occupiers”:………………….

Evidently neither the UPA’s precedent of fascist massacres, nor the presence of similarly oriented groups in contemporary Ukraine’s armed forces and society, give Boot pause.  He’d rather the US continue flooding the country with weapons; the consequences aren’t a concern of Boot’s.

Readers seeking riotous calls to violence in Eastern Europe should turn to the Times and the Post, but those who are interested in a thoroughgoing portrait will be disappointed. https://fair.org/home/hawkish-pundits-downplay-threat-of-war-ukraines-nazi-ties/

January 17, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The science-based case for excluding nuclear power from the EU taxonomy

Not green and not sustainable,  The science-based case for excluding nuclear power from the EU taxonomy, Beyond Nuclear, 15 Jan 2022,

A statement by Dawn Slevin, Dr. Erik Laes, Paolo Masoni, Jochen Krimphoff, Fabrizio Varriale, Andrea Di Turi, Dr. Ulrich Ofterdinger, Dr. Dolores Byrne, Dr. Petra Kuenkel, Ursula Hartenberger, Kosha Joubert, Dr. Paul Dorfman, Anders Wijkman, Prof. Petra, Seibert, Rebecca Harms, Joseph Kobor, Michel Lee, Dr. Stuart Parkinson, and Dr. Ian Fairlie

One of the most influential policy initiatives of the European Commission in the past years has been the “EU Taxonomy”, essentially a shopping list of investments that may be considered environmentally sustainable across six environmental objectives

To be deemed EU Taxonomy aligned, the activity must demonstrate a substantial contribution to one environmental objective, such as climate change mitigation, whilst causing no significant harm to the remaining five environmental objectives (climate change adaptation, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, transition to a circular economy, pollution prevention and control, and protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems).  

All eligible activities are required to comply with technical screening criteria (TSC) for ‘substantial contribution’ and ‘do no significant harm’ and to demonstrate that social safeguards are in place. The EU Taxonomy provides a common language for sustainability reporting, a foundation for green bond reporting and much more. It is intended to be used by international financial markets participants whose products are sold within the EU in order to evaluate the sustainability of their underlying investments.  

The use of the EU Taxonomy is furthermore compulsory for the EU and member states when introducing requirements and standards regarding environmental sustainability of financial products, such as an EU ecolabel for investment products or an EU Green Bond Standard. It will also apply to 37% of activities earmarked as ‘climate-friendly’ financed by the EU COVID-19 recovery funding. Its science-based approach is designed to give confidence to a wide range of international stakeholders that environmental claims are not greenwashing. 

The question whether nuclear fission energy complies with the ‘do no significant harm’ (DNSH) criteria of the EU Taxonomy was the focus of the Technical Expert Group (TEG) DNSH assessment on nuclear fission technologies which recommended to the Commission that nuclear should not be included in the EU Taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities.

Taking into account the significant financial implications of adopting the TEG recommendations, it became the starting point of intense behind-door lobbying. France led a coalition of 10 EU Member States arguing that nuclear fission as well as gas-fired power plants should be included in the Taxonomy. Together with Finland (Olkiluoto-3), France is at present the only EU country constructing a new nuclear power plant (Flamanville-3). 

The Finnish and French construction sites were meant to be the industrial demonstration of an evolutionary nuclear technology (the “European Pressurised water Reactor” or EPR). Olkiluoto-3 was meant to start generating power in 2009, followed by Flamanville-3 in 2012. Instead, the projects turned out to have multiple engineering difficulties and financial constraints that resulted in significant delays culminating in missed deadlines for various production start dates and tripling unit cost. 

Nevertheless, in October 2021 president Macron announced that France will continue to invest heavily in the construction of EPR ‘light’ versions, next to research into small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Following consultation with Member States, the Commission charged its former nuclear Joint Research Centre (JRC) to draft another technical report in 2020 – the “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‘do no significant harm’ criteria of Regulation (EU) 2020/852”. This report was reviewed by two sets of experts, the Group of Experts on radiation protection and waste management under Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty (having no specific competences in sustainability impact assessment other than impacts incurred by radiation) and the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks on environmental impacts (Sheer). 

While the Sheer group pointed out some omissions, the Article 31 Group of Experts, unsurprisingly supported the conclusions of the JRC. Nevertheless, a minority report opposed the lack of integration of economic and environmental aspects, as put forward by the Rio principles for Sustainable Development. 

The JRC, supported by the Art. 31 experts, concluded amongst others that:  “…deep geological repositories are considered, at the state of today’s knowledge, appropriate and safe means of isolating spent fuel and other high-level waste (HLW) from the biosphere for very long timescales and the necessary technologies are now available;” “..the standards of environmental control needed to protect the members of the public are likely to be sufficient to ensure that other species are not put at risk;” “… the requirements in the [EU Taxonomy] TSC regarding protection of humans and the environment from harmful effects of ionising radiation are automatically satisfied in the EU if a licence can be issued.” 

Notwithstanding the findings of the JRC and the Article 31 Group of Experts, members of the TEG DNSH maintain our position that nuclear fission energy should not be included in the EU Taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities. We the TEG DNSH members observe that the above JRC/Article 31 Group of experts’ statements and conclusions drawn thereof cannot be fully based on scientific evidence as deep geological disposal of high-level nuclear waste entails the need for adequate quality assurance and control of waste form compatibility, as well as for monitoring of health impacts and preservation of knowledge and memory for possibly thousands of years. It also requires operational demonstration of disposal within Europe. 

The fact that according to the current technical state of knowledge there is no alternative to deep geological disposal as a ‘solution’ for the nuclear waste problem does not take away from its ethically problematic character. Moreover the independent scientific evidence which the TEG presented to the European Commission, shows evidence of adverse impacts to the natural environment arising from the many processes involved in the nuclear power lifecycle (from uranium mining to waste disposal) that are operational today.  

Therefore, we maintain our recommendation to the European Commission that nuclear fission energy has no place on the EU Taxonomy of sustainable activities, whether or not it is licensed. It is furthermore our view that the proponents of nuclear energy have guided the interpretation of scientific knowledge and the framing of sustainability assessment in order to use the EU Taxonomy to place a ‘scientific’ stamp on what is primarily a political position on nuclear fission energy aiming to satisfy the few EU member states that wish to promote the associated technologies.  

Does the present generation of nuclear fission power plants ‘do no significant harm’? ……… 

The Taxonomy architecture is not designed to cater for such risks that carry an intergenerational impact lasting for thousands of years, making it an unsuitable instrument to decide on the sustainable nature of nuclear power. ………..

Other concerns with regard to DNSH criteria ……………………………..

Should nuclear fission power be included in the taxonomy as a transition activity? ……………………………………..

Further issues of justice beyond the DNSH criteria …………………….

The Way Forward .

Controlling nuclear technologies, investments, and practices requires a high level of technical expertise, which emphasizes the need for expert structures which are independent of the nuclear industry and can therefore better safeguard the common good at international, European and national levels. 

The nuclear industry is currently self-regulating with oversight provided by the IAEA (with a mandate to promote the peaceful applications of nuclear technology), EURATOM framing and international committees such as UNSCEAR depending too much on international diplomacy (which recently cast doubt on the health effects of exposure to low levels of radiation). 

We highlight the need for an independent international agency requiring revision of the EURATOM treaty as well in order to be able to review nuclear power issues with a focus on society’s need of sustainable development above nuclear sectoral interests, in terms of safeguarding public and environmental health, economic and energy security and general issues of justice. 

The proposed inclusion of nuclear fission energy in the EU Taxonomy will channel much needed capital away from proven sustainable energy sources, create more long-term operational and waste management risks and adverse environmental and social impacts that will undermine the principles and technical screening criteria of the EU Taxonomy and crucially, undermine Europe’s credibility and standing amongst its own citizens and international peers. 

Instead of giving the nuclear industry a new financial injection for solutions of the past such as the large scale EPR, the EU should focus on pressing issues such as looking for common solutions to the existing HLW problem in EU Member States (and internationally) and taking up a strong regulatory position on nuclear safety and peaceful developments in nuclear technology. 

It is the responsibility of Euratom to demonstrate a real European collaboration in solving the technical as well as the environmental and economic challenges related to HLW management (emergency management, harmonised safety and QA/QC criteria for waste forms, insurances). 

The signatories of this letter understand the need of the nuclear industry to receive ongoing regulatory support to ensure that their current operations, management of waste, and decommissioning are authorized and carried out in a safe manner. We therefore encourage the JRC and EU Institutions to extend and harmonise their support and strategic direction of the nuclear industry in the new energy transition paradigm, but we state categorically that the proposed inclusion of nuclear fission energy on the EU Taxonomy  of environmentally sustainable activities is contrary to the TEGs recommendation to the European Commission. 

The above is the content of a Statement of Concern sent by the EU Taxonomy subgroup DNSH TEG members and expert supporters to the Commission on December 21, 2021. The statement can also be downloaded in PDF format. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3774941784

January 17, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

President Macron’s plan for electricity price cut could cost EDF €8 billion

President Macron’s plan to avoid a politically explosive electricity price rise in France could cost EDF €8 billion, the French state-controlled energy group warned yesterday. The alert prompted a sharp sell-off in shares of EDF, which tumbled by 14.6 per cent, or €1.51, to close at €8.84 last night, as investors reacted with dismay to an order from the French government that the company must increase the amount of
cut-price electricity it sells to rivals to hold down prices for consumers.

EDF further spooked the markets by saying that it was extending the shutdowns of five nuclear reactors because of safety concerns, leading to a fresh cut to its electricity production forecasts. The group, which is leading the project to build Britain’s only new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, said that it was unable to calculate the exact financial consequences of the last salvo of bad news and withdrew its profit guidance for the year. It said that it would “consider appropriate measures to strengthen its balance sheet structure and any measure to protect its interests”.

 Times 15th Jan 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/macron-energy-price-cut-will-wipe-8bn-off-revenue-at-edf-energy-vhnzrxt05

January 17, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

A hopeless pursuit? National efforts to promote small modular nuclear reactors and revive nuclear power. 

This article examines national efforts
in three countries, Canada, the UK, and the United States, which are
pursuing SMRs vigorously and where the government has funded their
development generously.

We compare the different strategies and foci of
these national strategies, analyzing the various forms of support offered
by the separate agencies of the government, and the private companies that
are trying to develop SMRs.

We also offer an overview of the different
types of reactor technologies being pursued in these different countries.

Following these, we outline the main challenge confronting SMR
technologies: their ability to generate electricity in an economically
competitive manner, highlighting the problems resulting from economies of
scale being lost. By examining the experience so far, we find that even
designs based on well-tested technology cannot be deployed till after 2030
and the more radical designs might never be.

 Wires Energy & Environment 12th Jan 2022

https://wires.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/wene.429

January 17, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 2 Comments

Labour tries to curb cost overruns from Sizewell C development

Bill Bordass, Research and Policy Adviser for the Usable Buildings Trust said: ‘Surely the only sensible way to curb Sizewell C is to scrap it entirely? It is just good money after bad.’

Labour bids to curb cost overruns from Sizewell C development, https://100percentrenewableuk.org/labour-bids-to-curb-cost-overruns-from-sizewell-c-development, David Toke, 16 Jan 22, The Labour frontbench has put down an amendment to the Nuclear Financing Bill which would stop the automatic reimbursement of EDF for excess construction costs of the planned Sizewell C nuclear power plant. The amendment, put forward by Shadow Green New Deal and Energy Minister  Alan Whitehead, has been defeated by the Conservative majority in the Commons, but will soon come up for a vote in the House of Lords.

The Nuclear Financing Bill sets up a so-called Regulated Asset Base (RAB) means of funding nuclear power. This means the constructors would be be paid for the construction costs before the plant was generating anything. It would save the constructors money whilst making the project a lot more expensive for the energy consumer in the (most likely) event that the project experienced considerable cost overruns.

Although the SNP has also put down useful amendments to make the Government publish details of the costs of the project, Labour’s proposed amendment is potentially significant in that it could, if taken literally, dissuade EDF from moving ahead with any deal to build Sizewell C. As Whitehead told the Commons, analysis of historical experience of building nuclear power plant it is a near certainty that there will be cost overruns on the project.

In fact Whitehead implied he was not trying to stop the project, but merely argued that cost overruns should not automatically be added to consumer bills. If there were cost overruns then the Government could find the extra money to pay for the project from some other source.

Amongst other things, the SNP amendments asked that the Government should have to make public whether Sizewell C was being given a guarantee that its generation would be paid a minimum price for each MWh produced. Labour also sought to block nuclear power plant being owned by foreign companies, although it was argued this would not affect Sizewell C.

Labour joined forces with the Conservatives to vote through the Bill on the Third Reading, with the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party whipping against the Bill.

It ought to seem strange that at the very time there is concern about increased energy bills and strident calls to cut back on green levies from some Tory MPs, the very same MPs are unquestioningly voting through a piece of legislation that will add substantial sums onto consumer bills. EDF has said that Sizewell C will cost £20 billion. Considering that interest charges and also cost overruns will have to be added to this sum the total cost may very plausibly amount to £30 billion or more – and that represents more than £1000 for each household in the UK.

The amount of energy generated by Sizewell C will only be of the order of the next tranche of renewable energy projects (to be issued in the coming moths) that will cost the consumer effectively nothing. By contrast Sizewell C will likely not even be seriously begun until Hinkley C is completed (2027?) which means a 2035 or later start. The UK could have deployed a lot more renewable energy by then of course at much lower cost. The current nuclear crisis in France demonstrates how unreliable nuclear power can be.

Bill Bordass, Research and Policy Adviser for the Usable Buildings Trust said: ‘Surely the only sensible way to curb Sizewell C is to scrap it entirely? It is just good money after bad.’

The Commons debate details can be seen here. The House of Lords is due to vote on the Bill in the coming days.

January 17, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

10 out of 56 French nuclear reactors are currently shut down

“They are very anxious”: EDF in the face of nuclear reactor
breakdowns. Ten reactors out of 56 are shut down, i.e. 20% of French
nuclear production capacity. “In winter, the availability of the nuclear
fleet has never been so low”, observes RTE, the manager of the high voltage
network.

The black series continues for EDF. Thursday, January 13, the
group announced that a fourth nuclear reactor, Penly 1, in Seine-Maritime,
was affected by a corrosion problem on its safety injection system – a
device of capital importance in the event of a accident. His shutdown has
been extended until the end of May. Reporterre takes stock of the
situation.

 Reporterre 15th Jan 2022

https://reporterre.net/Ils-sont-tres-angoisses-EDF-face-aux-pannes-de-reacteurs-nucleaires
https://nuclearinformation.wordpress.com/

January 17, 2022 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment