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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Opposition to South Carolina becoming a nuclear waste dumping ground

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said

Plan surfaces for new nuclear disposal ground in SC  Casks of spent nuclear fuel are stored above ground at many atomic energy plants because there is no national disposal site for the material U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  BY SAMMY FRETWELL AND JEFF WILKINSON\  sfretwell@thestate.com,jwilkinson@thestate.com, COLUMBIA, SC 

A plan has surfaced to establish another nuclear waste disposal ground in South Carolina, a state with a history of taking atomic refuse from across the country.

An organization called the Spent Fuel Reprocessing Group wants federal approval to open a disposal area near Barnwell and the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex. Spent fuel, a type of highly radioactive waste, would be moved from the state’s four nuclear power plant sites and stored indefinitely at the new facility, records show.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in July received notice of the plan. The proposal is a long way from becoming reality, but if eventually approved by the federal government, it would create a place for nuclear waste disposal that is likely to draw opposition.

Several environmental groups said this week they are preparing to fight any effort to create what they called an atomic waste dumping ground. Politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, also expressed reservations Monday. The subject of nuclear waste disposal is a touchy one in South Carolina because many people say the state has shouldered more than its share of the nuclear waste burden.

South Carolina already stores highly radioactive material from around the country and world at the Savannah River Site. It also has a low-level waste dump in Barnwell County that was used for decades to bury nuclear garbage from power plants across the country. That site has leaked radioactive tritium into groundwater.

Now, the government is being asked to allow an interim disposal site for high-level nuclear waste from power plants in South Carolina. The site would be near the Barnwell low-level waste dump, environmentalists said Monday. The site would be considered an interim disposal ground that would hold the nuclear waste while the government figures out what to do with it in the long run…….

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said. If a permanent disposal site were eventually developed nationally, the material would have to be transported again from the interim South Carolina site, according to Savannah River Site Watch, the S.C. League of Women Voters and the state Sierra Club.

“Packaging of the spent fuel for transport, unloading it at the consolidated storage site and eventually repackaging it to transport to a federal facility would unnecessarily pose a high economic cost and a logistical nightmare, both of which can be avoided if the spent fuel is left where it is now stored until such time as a geologic facility is available,’’ according to the groups…….

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Climate change will expose top-secret US nuclear project in Greenland

Greenland’s receding icecap to expose top-secret US nuclear project Camp Century – part of Project Iceworm – is underground cold war network that had been thought buried forever, until climate change made that highly unlikely, Guardian, , 28 Sept,  A top-secret US military project from the cold war and the toxic waste it conceals, thought to have been buried forever beneath the Greenland icecap, are likely to be uncovered by rising temperatures within decades, scientists have said.

greenland-johan-petersen-fjord

The US army engineering corps excavated Camp Century in 1959 around 200km (124 miles) from the coast of Greenland, which was then a county of Denmark.

Powered, remarkably, by the world’s first mobile nuclear generator and known as “the city under the ice”, the camp’s three-kilometre network of tunnels, eight metres beneath the ice, housed laboratories, a shop, a hospital, a cinema, a chapel and accommodation for as many as 200 soldiers………

Project Iceworm, presented to the US chiefs of staff in 1960, aimed to use Camp Century’s frozen tunnels to test the feasibility of a huge launch site under the ice, close enough to fire nuclear missiles directly at the Soviet Union.

At the height of the cold war, as the US and the USSR were engaged in a terrifying standoff over the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the US army was considering the construction of a vast subterranean extension of Camp Century.

A system of about 4,000 kilometres of icy underground tunnels and chambers extending over an area around three times the size of Denmark were to have housed 600 ballistic missiles in clusters six kilometres apart, trained on Moscow and its satellites.

Eventually the engineers realised Iceworm would not work. The constantly moving ice was too unstable and would have deformed and perhaps even collapsed the tunnels.

From 1964 Camp Century was used only intermittently, and three years later it was abandoned altogether, the departing soldiers taking the reaction chamber of the nuclear generator with them.

They left the rest of the camp’s infrastructure – and its biological, chemical and radioactive waste – where it was, on the assumption it would be “preserved for eternity” by the perpetually accumulating snow and ice……..

Greenland’s temperatures broke new records this spring and summer, hitting 24C (75F) in the capital, Nuuk, in June – a figure that shocked meteorologists so much they had to recheck their measurements.

Between 2003 and 2010, the ice that covers much of the island melted twice as fast as during the whole of the 20th century. This year it began melting a month earlier than usual.

The researchers studied US army documents and drawings to work out how deep the camp and its waste – estimated to include 200,000 litres of diesel fuel, similar quantities of waste water and unknown amounts of radioactive coolant and toxic organic pollutants such as PCBs – were buried………

The Pentagon has said it “acknowledges the reality of climate change and the risk it poses” for Greenland, adding that the US government has pledged to “work with the Danish government and the Greenland authorities to settle questions of mutual security”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/27/receding-icecap-top-secret-us-nuclear-project-greenland-camp-century-project-iceworm

September 28, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

UK may be forced to leave Euratom treaty on nuclear energy, due to Brexit

flag-UKBrexit ‘could trigger’ UK departure from nuclear energy treaty https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/27/brexit-could-trigger-uk-departure-from-nuclear-energy-treaty

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also force it to exit the Euratom treaty on nuclear energy, ENDS has learned, Guardian, José Rojo for ENDS, part of the Guardian Environment Network. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also force it to exit the Euratom Treaty on nuclear energy, ENDS has learned.

The Euratom Treaty, which applies to all EU member states, seeks to promote nuclear safety standards, investment and research within the bloc. Although it is governed by EU institutions, it has retained a separate legal identity since its adoption in 1957.

Brian Curtis, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), told ENDS that his Committee had recently consulted the European Commission on whether Brexit would automatically lead to a UK exit of Euratom.

Curtis said the Commission had responded affirmatively, arguing that the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) applies to the Euratom Treaty under article 106 of the latter agreement. This would mean, it said, that the reference to ‘Union’ inTEU’s article 50 – which needs to be invoked by member states wishing to quit the bloc – would apply not only to the EU itself but to Euratom membership as well.

According to EESC, a Euratom withdrawal by the UK – which recently approved the controversial £18bn Hinkley C project – could have major strategic implications for the EU nuclear sector. “But anticipating specific outcomes at this stage is problematic,” the Committee added.

The Commission itself would not comment on the exchange, which took place as the EESC examined the EU’s latest nuclear plan.

The draft Nuclear Indicative Programme (PINC), which was unveiled in April, is the first to be published by the Commission since the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

The EESC is required by the Euratom Treaty to give its opinion on such plans before they are finalised. It released its opinion on the latest PINC last week, after adopting it at a plenary vote.

The document praises the Commission for its analysis of investment needs during the entire nuclear fuel cycle and its emphasis on funding for nuclear decommissioning.

However, the Committee adds that the 2016 PINC is half the length of thepreceding plan from 2007 and fails to address key issues faced by EU nuclear energy.

These, it says, include the competitiveness of nuclear amid changes to construction and capital costs, its investment needs in the context of the EU’s Energy Union goals and the speed at which new technologies may be rolled out.

EESC’s opinion was published two weeks ahead of a meeting of the European Nuclear Energy Forum, which will be attended by EU member states and European institutions in Bratislava on 3-4 October.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s lies about his climate change beliefs

Trump Campaign Equivocates on Climate as Debate Fallout Continues
Common Dreams, September 27, 2016  Campaign chief claims Trump believes global warming exists, but not caused by humans, as VP pick Mike Pence breaks with stance altogether  by Nadia Prupis, staff writer 
Among Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s many debate gaffes Monday night, one of the most blatant was his claim that he never said climate change was a hoax.
 Trump’s manager challenged on climate change position

At the Hofstra University debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton challenged Trump’s stance on the environment stating, “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.” Trump quickly interrupted her with “I did not, I do not say that.”

Not only was this a lie—one social media users quickly fact-checked—but Trump has also said that, if elected, he would implement a decidedly anti-climate platform that includes weakening the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); abolishing President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, without which the U.S. has little chance of meeting its Paris climate pledge; promoting increased fossil fuel exploration; and employing oil and gas executives, including high-profile climate skeptic Myron Ebell, to lead his cabinet.

The outcry from Trump’s many denials prompted his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, to tell CNN‘s Alisyn Camerota that the GOP nominee does, in fact, believe in climate change—he just doesn’t believe it’s caused by humans.

“He believes that global warming is naturally occurring,” Conway said. “There are shifts naturally occurring.”

That, too, is scientifically false. In fact, 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made.

In fact, Trump’s climate stance appears to be too unrealistic for even his running mate to get behind. Vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who is well known for his staunchly right-wing policies, said Tuesday there is “no question” that human activity affects the environment.

In a separate appearance on CNN, Pence said, “Let’s follow the science…There’s no question that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate.”

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

US presidential debate: Donald Trump’s $1 trillion error about nuclear weapons

Donald Trump made a $1 trillion error about nuclear weapons during the first presidential debate, Business Insider, PAUL SZOLDRA SEP 28, 2016,  Donald Trump made a $1 trillion error when talking about the US military’s nuclear arsenal during Monday’s presidential debate.

After Lester Holt asked whether he would be against using a “nuclear first strike” — the idea of using nukes preemptively — the Republican presidential nominee first answered by criticising the US military’s existing nuclear weapons programs.

“Russia has been expanding their — they have a much newer capability than we do. We have not been updating from the new standpoint. I looked the other night. I was seeing B-52s, they’re old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them. We are not — we are not keeping up with other countries.”

 He went on to say that he would not do a nuclear first strike, but then said he wouldn’t “take anything off the table.”

But the idea that the US is not keeping up with Russia, or any other country in regards to nuclear weapons, is wrong.

One trillion dollars wrong.

That’s because in November 2015, a fighter jet dropped an unarmed “nuclear gravity bomb” at a Nevada test range called the B61-12, a new weapon costing around $8.1 billion.

The pricey new bomb is actually less than 1% of a $1 trillion push to keep the US nuclear arsenal up-to-date. Officials also say the program will actually help reduce the number of nukes in the world.

In reality, both the US and Russia have been reducing and updating their nuclear stockpiles since 2010. And the mighty B-52 Stratofortress that Trump derided has been continually upgraded since it was first introduced in 1955 — so much so that the Air Force is confident it will keep on running until 2040.…….http://www.businessinsider.com.au/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-2016-9?r=US&IR=T

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? (and this is ‘good for business’)

Dangerous Crossroads: Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? http://www.globalresearch.ca/dangerous-crossroads-both-russia-and-america-prepare-for-nuclear-war/5548074  By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, September 27, 2016 Barely acknowledged by the Western media. both Russia and America are “rearming” their nuclear weapons systems. While the US is committed to a multibillion dollar modernization project, Russia is largely involved in a “cost-effective” restructuring process which consists in decommissioning parts of its land-based ICBM arsenal (Topol) and replacing it with the more advanced Yars RS-24 system, developed in 2007. 

While a new arms race has “unofficially” been launched, the US modernization process pertains to the all three legs of the triad system, -i.e land based  airborne and submarine launched atomic missiles. It is also coupled with the development of the B61-12 tactical bomb to be deployed in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.

Rest assured, the B61-12 is a “mini-nuke” with an explosive capacity of up to four Hiroshima bombs. It is   categorized as a “defensive” (peace-making) weapon for use in the conventional war theater. According to scientists on contract to the Pentagon, the B61-11 and 12 (bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads) are “harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”. 

The nuclear triad modernization project is at the expense of US tax payers. It requires the redirection of federal revenues from the financing of “civilian” expenditure categories (including health, education, infrastructure etc) to the “war economy”.  It’s all for a good cause: “peace and security”. 

missile-moneyWar is “Good for Business”

The multibillion dollar project is a financial bonanza for America’s major defense contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which are also firm supporters of Hillary Clinton’s stance regarding a possible first strike nuclear attack against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Reported by Defense News, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on September 26 called for the “need to modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad.” The project would require a major boost in defense expenditure.

Underscoring today’s “volatile security environment”, the multibillion dollar project is required, according to Carter, in view of threats largely emanating from Russia, China as well as North Korea:

Carter’s comments came during a visit to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, … Under the fiscal year 2017 budget request, Carter said, the department pledged $19 billion to the nuclear enterprise, part of $108 billion planned over the next five years. The department has also spent around $10 billion over the last two years, the secretary said in prepared comments. The “nuclear triad” references the three arms of the US strategic posture — land-based ICBMs, airborne weapons carried by bombers, and submarine-launched atomic missiles. All of those programs are entering an age where they need to be modernized.

Pentagon estimates have pegged the cost of modernizing the triad and all its accompanying requirements at the range of $350 to $450 billion over the next 10 years, with a large chunk of costs hitting in the mid-2020s, just as competing major modernization projects for both the Air Force and Navy come due.

Critics of both America’s nuclear strategy and Pentagon spending have attempted to find ways to change the modernization plan, perhaps by cancelling one leg of the triad entirely.But Carter made it clear in his speech that he feels such plans would put America at risk at a time when Russia, China and North Korea, among others, are looking to modernize their arsenals. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter casually dismissed the dangers of a no-win global war, which could evolve towards a “nuclear holocaust”, Ironically  ”… He also hit at critics of the nuclear program — which include former Secretary of Defense William Perry, [who ironically is] widely seen as a mentor for Carter — who argue that investing further into nuclear weapons will increase the risk of atomic catastrophe in the future. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter expressed his concern regarding Russia’s alleged “nuclear saber-rattling”.

Russia’s  ICBM System

Were Carter’s timely statements in response to Russia redeployment and restructuring of its ICBM system on its Western frontier,  which were announced on September 20?

Last week, the Russian news agency Tass confirmed that “The westernmost strategic missile force division in the Tver region will soon begin to be rearmed with the missile system Yars.”

It will be a sixth strategic missile division where the newest mobile ground-based missile complexes will replace the intercontinental ballistic missile Topol,” the press-service of the Strategic Missile Force quotes its commander Sergey Karakayev as saying.

According to the official, this year regiments in the Irktusk and Yoshkar-Ola divisions began to be rearmed. The re-armament of the Novosibirsk and Tagil divisions is nearing completion. Earlier, the Teikovo division was fully rearmed.

The final decision to rearm the strategic missile division in the Tver Region will be made after a command staff exercise there. The press-service said the exercises will be devoted to maneuvering along combat patrol routes.

In the near future the ICBM RS-24 Yars, alongside the previously commissioned monoblock warhead ballistic missile RS-12M2 Topol-M, will constitute the backbone of Russia’s strategic missile force.

The Yars ICBM RS-24 was developed in 2007 in response to the US Missile Shield. It is nothing new in Russia’s military arsenal. It is a high performance system equipped with thermonuclear capabilities.

What this report suggests is the restructuring of Russia’s strategic missile force and the replacement of the Topol system (which Moscow considers obsolete) with the Yars ICBM RS-24.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Confusion in South Africa- doubts about request for proposals for the procurement of nuclear power

WILL JOEMAT-PETTERSSON ISSUE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR PROCUREMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER?  The request for proposals would mark the official start of South Africa’s nuclear build programme. Eyewitness News,  Gaye Davis , 27 Sept 16  CAPE TOWN Doubt has been cast on whether the request for proposals for the procurement of nuclear power will be issued on Friday as promised by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

joemat-pettersson-tina

The request for proposals would mark the official start of South Africa’s nuclear build programme, which President Jacob Zuma has made a top priority but which has been shrouded in secrecy and is the subject of much controversy.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says she doesn’t believe Joemat-Pettersson will be able to go ahead because the government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has yet to be updated.

The IRP forecasts the country’s energy demand, spells out generation plans and determines the required mix of energy sources.

Pandor was answering questions at a briefing by economics cluster ministers this afternoon.

Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament on 7 September the nuclear programme would kick off this Friday with the formal issuing of a request for proposals. But Pandor told journalists this afternoon she wasn’t certain the call for proposals could proceed this week.

Pandor says the next economics cluster meeting of Cabinet is set to discuss the versions of both the IRP, which projects energy demand and ways of meeting it, as well as the integrated energy plan – a kind of roadmap for energy provision………http://ewn.co.za/2016/09/27/Will-Joemat-Pettersson-issue-request-for-proposals-for-procurement-of-nuclear-power

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Widespread public mistrust f South African government’s nuclear power plans

corruptionFears mount over true motivations for SA’s planned nuclear deal, Mail and Guardian, Hartmut Winkler 27 Sep 2016  Nuclear energy in South Africa is a very contentious issue. The decision on whether to proceed with the construction of a fleet of nuclear power plants is destined to become the financially most far-reaching and consequential defining moment of the Jacob Zuma presidency.

There is widespread public mistrust of the nuclear expansion process. Its roots lie in the extraordinary announcement in 2014 that the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom had secured therights to build the new South African nuclear plants. The South African government played down the announcement, claiming that it was inaccurate.

But this precipitated a series of media investigations. These uncovered evidence that individuals close to the president and groups linked to the ruling ANC have significant financial interests in the matter.

Civil society organisations are taking government to court in an attempt to have the deal declared illegal. Their attempts to have details of the Russian agreement released are being resisted. This is likely to strengthen their case, and sway public opinion further.

It appears that those with a stake in the nuclear build are hoping to fast-track the process in the face of growing public opposition. This is evident from revelations that, bizarrely, contracts are being awarded, even though a formal process has not been set in motion by government.

 The most recent revelation was that a member of a business family with close links to President Jacob Zuma has been awarded a massive R171 million tender for a nuclear build programme management system.

The meaning of this is unclear. It has largely confirmed the fears that the nuclear build is being driven for the benefit of the politically connected rather than the national good.

Burning questions
The debate surrounding the nuclear project centres on three highly contested questions:

  • Is the country’s future energy generating potential and demand such that an expensive nuclear power station build is effectively unavoidable?
  • Can South Africa afford the associated costs and debt, especially in view of massive funding demands in other sectors such as education?
  • If approved, would the nuclear build lead to massive overspends, corruption and beneficiation ofpolitically connected individuals?…….

it is difficult to understand why the renewable fraction is not being increased further, and why the national power utility Eskom, under the leadership of Brian Molefe, a nuclear disciple, now opposes new renewable energy developments.

The promotion of nuclear energy at the expense of renewables bucks global trends………

The ANC’s internal nuclear war
The often obscure processes and overhasty developments require an insight into the present machinations within the governing party.

Tensions within the ruling party have escalated to the point where calls for the president’s resignation are now made openly. And even party leaders acknowledge that factions in their ranks are thriving on corruption.

The organisational fracture is equally evident in attitudes towards the nuclear build. Tensions over the issue have been cited as the major reason for Zuma’s dismissal of the financially prudent former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.

The official position…….

the legitimacy of the procurement process has already been undermined.

Looking ahead, actual construction would need to be preceded by the closure of funding agreements, the settling of legal disputes and further public engagement. This takes time.

In the unlikely event that the nuclear build actually does come to fruition, it will not commence any time soon.

Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original articlehttp://mg.co.za/article/2016-09-27-questions-mount-over-south-africas-planned-nuclear-power-deal

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

No fact checking for moderator in USA’s presidential debates!

USA election 2016Presidential Debates Commission Makes Outrageous Statement: Fact Checking Is Off The Table, Bipartisan Report By Sarah MacManus –September 25, 2016, In a mind-boggling statement on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates told host Brian Stelter that fact checking isn’t the duty of the moderator. In fact, she said candidates should fact check each other.
With the issue of honesty being such an influential factor in the 2016 election, it’s difficult to believe that the chief is taking this stand. Both candidates have been accused of and found to have issues with twisting the truth, and Donald Trump is a particularly egregious example.

Brown’s reasoning is even more confusing:

‘I think personally if you start getting into fact checking, I’m not sure. What is a big fact? What is a little fact? And if you and I have different sources of information does your source about the unemployment rate agree with my source? I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica.’

But recently, both candidates have been called to the carpet for serial falsehoods. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was analyzed by POLITICO and found to lie every three minutes and 15 seconds over “nearly five hours of remarks.” By tallying up the approximate amount of time that Trump spoke and was interviewed, four hours and 43 minutes, they found he issued 87 separate falsehoods.

POLITICO also fact checked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and found that her falsehoods usually only involved herself and her own behavior, including her handling of her pneumonia scare on September 11. POLITICO clocked Clinton in at 96 minutes of speaking, with eight falsehoods.

According to Brown, the commission “asks independent, smart journalists to be the moderators and we let them decide how they’re going to do this.”……..http://bipartisanreport.com/2016/09/25/presidential-debates-commission-makes-outrageous-statement-fact-checking-is-off-the-table/

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Modernising America’s nuclear weapons: next President will face $1 trillion price tag

missile-moneyThe $1 trillion price tag of modernizing America’s nuclear weapons falls to the next president, Business Insider Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters   “………..-budget constraints almost certainly will force the next president to decide whether and how quickly to proceed with the Obama administration’s plans to maintain and modernize the US nuclear arsenal.

Crunch time

The crunch comes in the next decade as American ballistic missile submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles – the three legs of the nuclear triad – reach the end of their useful lives.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the total cost of nuclear forces through 2024 at $348 billion, but that does not include some of the costliest upgrades, scheduled for the latter half of the next decade. Independent estimates have put the cost of maintaining and modernizing the arsenal at about $1 trillion over 30 years.

“There’s a bipartisan commitment to doing that upgrade, so we have to assume those funds will come through,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Reuters on Sept. 20. “But it will be a significant budget increase, especially in the next decade.”

The Energy Department shares responsibility with the Pentagon for the nuclear arsenal, and some of its research and production facilities are 73 years old.

The next administration could abandon or delay some aspects of modernization to cut costs. Or it could raise taxes, increase the budget deficit, or cut domestic programs, all unpopular steps with American voters.

The most vulnerable elements of the modernization plans are a long-range standoff weapon, or LRSO – a nuclear-capable cruise missile launched from an aircraft – and new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Ten US senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called on President Barack Obama in July to cancel the LRSO, saying it “would provide an unnecessary capability that could increase the risk of nuclear war.”

Some Pentagon officials and defense experts have said the cruise missile would be a hedge against improved air defenses that are difficult for even a stealthy bomber to penetrate……..http://www.businessinsider.com/r-cost-of-modernizing-us-nuclear-weapons-to-fall-to-next-president-2016-9?IR=T

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

The tragic illusion of nuclear deterrence – the Vatican

Vatican Radio , 26 Sept 16 The Vatican told the United Nations on Monday “nuclear arms offer a false sense of security, and that the uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence is a tragic illusion.”

“Nuclear weapons cannot create for us a stable and secure world,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

He was speaking at an event marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

“Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation,” the Vatican diplomat said. The full statement of Archbishop Auza can be found below……….http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/09/27/holy_see_peace_of_nuclear_deterrence_a_tragic_illusion/1260960

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton’s track record – a promoter of endless war

USA election 2016A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war https://wikileaks.org/hillary-war/
9 Feb 16 by Julian Assange Hillary didn’t just vote for Iraq. She made her own Iraq. Libya is Hillary’s Iraq and if she becomes president she will make more.

I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgement and will push the United States into endless, stupid wars which spread terrorism. Her personality combined with her poor policy decisions have directly contributed to the rise of ISIS.

Pentagon generals objected to destroying the Libyan state. They felt Hillary did not have a safe post-war plan. Hillary Clinton went over their heads. Libya has been destroyed. It became a haven for ISIS. The Libyan national armory was looted and hundreds of tons of weapons were transferred to jihadists in Syria. Hillary’s war has increased terrorism, killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians and has set back women’s rights in the Middle East by hundreds of years. Having learned nothing from the Libyan disaster Hillary then set about trying do the same in Syria.

Hillary publicly took credit for the destruction of the Libyan state. On hearing that the country’s president had been killed by her handiwork, she became wild-eyed and gloated “We came, we saw, he died!”. In the momentary thrill of the kill, she had aped, of all people, Julius Ceaser.

Hillary’s problem is not just that she’s war hawk. She’s a war hawk with bad judgement who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people. She shouldn’t be let near a gun shop, let alone an army. And she certainly should not become president of the United States.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

UK energy policy- economic and moral bankruptcy with nuclear and fracking

flag-UKNuclear and fracking: the economic and moral bankruptcy of UK energy policy, Ecologist, Peter Strachan & Alex Russell, 27th September 2016   With its choice of Hinkley Point C – a £100 billion nuclear boondoggle – its enthusiastic support for expensive and environmentally harmful fracking, and its relentless attack on renewable energy, the UK government’s energy policy is both morally and economically bankrupt, write Peter Strachan & Alex Russell. It must urgently reconsider this folly and embrace the renewable energy transition

As Prime Minister Theresa May and EDF prepare to sign the Hinkley Point C contract, and Scotland sees the first shipment of fracking gas from the United States, it is perhaps timely to reflect on recent developments in UK energy policy.

Both new nuclear build and UK onshore shale gas and oil extraction fail key environmental, safety and economic tests.

The UK has recently committed to a nuclear renaissance, with Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at Westminster, describingthe “dawning of a new age of nuclear”.

But by commissioning French and Chinese companies to build the first UK nuclear power station in a generation, the Hinkley Point C deal has come in for almost universal condemnation.

Theresa May clearly buckled under economic pressure from China and has backed nuclear power as the panacea to combat the electricity crunch that we face. Her questionable decision means the UK is committed to a long-term very expensive project that comes with national security and many other concerns.

Empty promises

In 2007 the Chief Executive of EDF’s UK arm effectively cooked his own goose by claiming that Brits would be cooking their Christmas turkeys using nuclear power generated from Hinkley Point C by 2017. Now EDF are claiming that they won’t go over budget, when the new power plant is delivered some time in 2025.

If ongoing experience in France and Finland is anything to go by, and with apparently few financial penalties in place for late delivery, there are serious doubts that the project can be completed in the revised timescale and on budget.

Turning to the financials, the costs of the project are just enormous. Some have claimed that Hinkley Point C will end up being the most expensive physical object ever built. The project is a £100 billion boondoggle. The construction costs alone are in the region of £18-£25 billion. Then there are the subsidies that will amount to a conservative £1 billion plus per year, for at least 35 years.

The deal penned is inflation linked at more than twice the cost of current wholesale electricity prices. The plant will then operate for a further 30 years. It has a potential life span of around 65 years and it will continue to be a drain on public finances even after the initial lucrative contract has expired.

Then try to add into the calculus the unstated decommissioning and radioactive waste management costs, and it soon becomes apparent these super-burdensome costs and risks are incalculable.

If Sellafield in Cumbria, England, is used as a baseline, such costs are just eye watering. Indeed, bucket loads of money amounting to tens of billions of pounds have already been spent, trying to make safe the UK’s nuclear legacy. Based on the available evidence one can only conclude that cheap and clean nuclear power is a myth.

Fuel poverty for future generations

In terms of what Hinkley Point C will mean for household budgets, it is estimated that it will push up individual electricity bills by around £50 per annum. But this is just the start of such price rises as Hinkley Point C is the first of a number of new nuclear projects.

It is only around 3 GW of a 16 GW plus plan. Electricity bills will spiral out of control, as they did a few years ago when there were regular inflation busting price increases. The new nuclear age described by Greg Clark will surely set us on a path to fuel poverty for decades.

Even if households and business can afford such future hideous electricity bills, it might be 2030 before we see the plant operational – more than a decade later than was initially planned. Its promise to generate up to 7% of the UK’s electricity demand will be delivered around a decade too late to meet the 2020 electricity crunch that the UK faces…….

Glittering prizes or fracking folly?……..

Can we have more renewables please?

Most people don’t realise that renewables now supply around 25% of UK electricity and in Scotland it is over 50 per cent. Their market share has grown rapidly in recent years, trebling between 2010 and 2015.

Renewables now supply more electricity to the national grid than nuclear power and coal. They are very popular with the general public, cost-effective, and can be deployed very quickly, compared to the nuclear and shale options just outlined. They are also cleaner energy sources, and given all of these positives should surely be deployed to address the looming electricity crunch that threatens the UK.

But for the past two years the renewables industry has been under attack by the Conservative government. Changes to financial support mechanisms and the planning regime are now bringing onshore wind to a standstill. Solar support is being killed off. And while there is much rhetoric around offshore wind, it is actually progressing at a snail’s pace.

The direct effect of Conservative government policy changes has led to many thousands of green jobs being lost.

Another emerging and detrimental effect has been to undermine local community initiatives. In addition to supplying much needed electricity and investment in local assets such as community halls, churches and youth projects, community owned renewable projects encourage energy conservation, and have wider and important public education benefits.

If ever we needed some sign of reprieve for UK renewables, it is now.

A call to action

Westminster must get back on course and harness the heat of the sun, and the (gale) force of our wind, and the power of our waves and tides. It should fully embrace the energy transition from fossil fuels and nuclear power, to a renewable energy future.

Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, gets it and is making huge strides with their ‘Energiewende‘ strategy. The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood also gets it, and to pinch a phrase from former First Minster Alex Salmond, we have the potential to become theSaudi Arabia of Renewables.

The future of humanity depends on an all-encompassing global acceptance of the replacement of fossil fuels and nuclear power by renewables. If there is still a perception that British moral values lead where the world follows then its status is at best precarious.

Theresa May and Greg Clark must step up to the plate and nail the renewables flag to the top of UK energy policy. Nuclear power and fossil fuels have no economic or moral right to a long-term place in UK energy policy.

 


 

Peter Strachan is Professor of Energy Policy, Robert Gordon University. He tweets@ProfStrachan.

Professor Alex Russell is Chair of the Oil Industry Finance Association.

Authors’ note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and not those of the Robert Gordon University or Affiliates.

This article was orginally published on EnergyPost.eu.  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988167/nuclear_and_fracking_the_economic_and_moral_bankruptcy_of_uk_energy_policy.html

September 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

New US Bill Would Ban President From Launching ‘First Use’ Nuclear Strike

text politicsUS Congress Bill Bans President From Launching ‘First Use’ Nuclear Strike, https://sputniknews.com/us/20160927/1045761657/bill-ban-us-nuclear-strike.htmlNewly-introduced legislation would ban the US commander-in-chief from authorizing a nuclear attack without approval from the legislative branch, Congressman Ted Lieu and Senator Ed Markey said in a press release on Tuesday.  WASHINGTON — The release claimed that the issue of “nuclear first use” is even more critical in light of the fact that a majority of Americans do not trust Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump with the US nuclear arsenal.

“This legislation would prohibit the [US] President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress,” the release stated. On Monday, US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the campaign’s first debate argued that Trump’s position on nuclear weapons runs contrary to longstanding US policy given he has repeatedly said he did not care if other countries possessed them.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Community protest has stopped development of deep borehole waste disposal method in USA

Protests spur rethink on deep borehole test for nuclear waste http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/protests-spur-rethink-deep-borehole-test-nuclear-waste  By Paul VoosenSep. 27, 2016 DENVER—Along the way to testing an old-but-new concept in nuclear waste storage—burying spent fuel in a hole drilled kilometers below the surface—the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractors relearned a lesson that seems frequently forgotten: Get the locals on board first.

Failure to gain the trust and approval of residents in rural North and South Dakota doomed the start of a $35 million project that would have drilled a borehole 5 kilometers beneath the prairie into crystalline basement rock. Early this year, the agency tapped Battelle Memorial Institute, a large research nonprofit based in Columbus, to lead the effort. The hole would not have been used for radioactive material, but was rather intended to garner insight to the geology and technical challenges of such drilling.

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That message would not be heard by residents of Pierce County in North Dakota or Spink County in South Dakota said Mark Kelley, the Battelle project manager who had the “dubious honor” of leading the effort for only half a year, at a presentation yesterday at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “They were not to be convinced,” he said. “They were quite opposed to it.”

This summer, DOE and Battelle agreed to scrap the 5-year effort, which had moved to South Dakota after failing in North Dakota. In August, the agency solicited new bids for the project, due next month, that explicitly require public engagement from the outset, including staff that will remain on site day to day to hear local concerns. Bidders are also expected to find a way of showing how the project could benefit locals through science education or additional research. The agency will likely select multiple contractors for the project’s first phase, keeping its options open on new potential sites.

Battelle had thought its South Dakota site, to be drilled on private land into Precambrian basement rock, might succeed where North Dakota failed. They promised to engage locals earlier, and not repeat the same mistakes, such as when local officials first learned of the project from local newspaper articles. But similar fears that the project would open the county up to a future as a disposal site, or that drilling could go awry and pollute aquifers, led the Spink County’s board of commissioners in June to reject the zoning approval the project needed. It didn’t help, Kelley added, that some of the North Dakota protesters traveled south to keep their opposition going.

Though the concept of borehole disposal, which would see radioactive waste entombed far deeper than traditional repositories, has existed for decades, the idea has been revived in recent years, spurred by troubles in finding a long-term home for the country’s spent fuel. Such boreholes could not house most of the country’s waste, like fuel rods from nuclear power plants, but could have potential for smaller, long-lived radioactive materials. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has frequently touted borehole disposal as one alternative to Yucca Mountain, the stalled repository in Nevada.

Many of the scientists working on the borehole project continue to believe in it—if they can only find a community willing to take it on.

“We want to test the things that would be difficult to do,” said Kristopher Kuhlman, a hydrogeophysicist at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the meeting. “If we want to put waste where we’ll never see it again,” he added, it should go at the bottom of a deep borehole.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment