The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Final presidential debate reveals sobering facts on how fast nuclear war could happen

apocalypseClues to the end of the world shared during final 2016 presidential debate, Mondoweiss,  on October 20, 2016 “……Four minutes is what it takes between the president’s decision to fire nuclear missiles, Clinton claimed during the debate, and their launch………..Here is the most illuminating exchange on nuclear weapons, according to a transcript published by the Washington Post. Clinton gave a clinical description of how fast nuclear weapons can be fired away at a president’s command. That information was perhaps a subtle way of warning Russian president Vladimir Putin that we remain the fastest guns in the West.

CLINTON: “I — I find it ironic that he’s raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He’s advocated more countries getting them, Japan, Korea, even Saudi Arabia. He said, well, if we have them, why don’t we use them, which I think is terrifying.

But here’s the deal. The bottom line on nuclear weapons is that when the president gives the order, it must be followed. There’s about four minutes between the order being given and the people responsible for launching nuclear weapons to do so. And that’s why 10 people who have had that awesome responsibility have come out and, in an unprecedented way, said they would not trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes or to have his finger on the nuclear button……..

What Trump doesn’t seem to understand that defending Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan and South Korea means defending major trading partners and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, a sand seared ocean of oil. But if the American nuclear umbrella suddenly closed, all of those countries could have nuclear weapons ready within weeks or months. The details are unimportant. What’s nauseatingly disturbing is that we are discussing the possibility of nuclear war at all. After all, this is 2016, right? If the arc of history bends towards justice, a nuclear holocaust is the thing that would blow that arc to smithereens. The real end of history

Clinton, for her part, recommitted herself to a no-fly zone in Syria, a provocation to Russian air forces the U.S. blames for bombing civilians and Western-friendly rebels. She also said that the occupation of Iraq would “not be in our interest,” while not mentioning that the Iraqis also have their objections to American military occupation. Classic Clinton.

This is all happening while thousands of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia stand waiting to incinerate you and your family, if necessary………

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Russia, USA, USA elections 2016, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fact checking Donald Trump – got his facts wrong on USA-Russia nuclear START Treaty

TrumpAP FACT CHECK: Trump gets facts wrong on START Treaty

AP FACT CHECK: Donald Trump is wrong to say that only Russia can still create warheads under the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons A claim from the final presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:

DONALD TRUMP: Referring to a 2010 U.S.-Russia treaty limiting both countries to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, Trump said, “They create warheads. We can’t.”

The FACTS: Incorrect. The New START treaty, which Trump called “Start Up,” does not prevent either the U.S. or Russia from building nuclear warheads. It restricts each country to a total of 1,550 warheads deployed on bombers, submarines and in underground silos and requires that this limit be reached by February 2018.

Trump also said that after the treaty was signed, “They expanded and we didn’t.”

It’s true that the Russians have increased the number of their deployed warheads to 1,796, and the U.S. warhead total has dropped to 1,367. But it also is true that their total was far below that of the U.S. when the treaty went into effect in 2010. New data published by the State Department this month showed that although Russia has added to its warhead total, its inventory of missile launchers, such as underground silos, has shrunk.

 Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, who closely tracks U.S. and Russian strategic forces, says the rise in Russian deployed warheads is temporary and is to be followed by the retirement of older nuclear weapons so that Moscow gets under the treaty limits. “Russian compliance with the treaty by 2018 is not in doubt,” he wrote recently.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | USA, USA elections 2016, weapons and war | Leave a comment

East Africa’s water resources drying up as a result of climate chnage

drought1Climate change killing East Africa’s water resources, UN warns, Daily Nation OCTOBER 20 2016 BY KEVIN J. KELLEY

One of East Africa’s (EA) most important sources of water is drying up due to the impact of climate change on Mt Kilimanjaro, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) warned on Wednesday.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Five more nuclear reactors need shutdown and safety inspection – says France’s nuclear regulator

safety-symbol-Smflag-franceFrance’s nuclear watchdog wants to shut down 5 reactors over failure risk 20 Oct, 2016 10: The French nuclear watchdog has called for the shutdown and inspection of five more nuclear reactors for safety checks. The reactors have a high level of carbon which could lead to various failures.

The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has asked nuclear power utility EDF to carry out additional inspections at Fessenheim 1,Tricastin 2 and 4, Gravelines 4 and Civaux 1 reactors, according to a press release. All these reactors are located across the whole France, close to towns and communes.

“The performance of these inspections will require shutdown of the reactors concerned,” ASN added. The watchdog wants to check “certain channel heads of the steam generators on five of its reactors, in which the steel is affected by a high carbon concentration.”

According to ASN’s analysis, “certain channel heads of the steam generators … contain a significant carbon concentration zone which could lead to lower than expected mechanical properties.”

The watchdog said that it doesn’t want to wait “for the scheduled refueling outage of these reactors” and thus demands safety checks “within three months.”

According to the Local, this abnormality could lead to failures in mechanical properties and even to leaks or explosions.

The five reactors under scrutiny are among 18 at which ASN found abnormalities in June. Of the 18 reactors ASN says that six could be restarted after inspection. Seven others (Bugey 4, Civaux 2, Dampierre 3, Gravelines 2, Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux B1 and Tricastin 1 and 3) are being inspected and awaiting reboot.

CEO of ASN Olivier Gupta downplayed the concerns in comments to Le Monde newspaper, saying “the safety margins are very large and the carbon content does not undermine integrity or security, even in the case of an accident.”

France has 58 nuclear reactors with total capacity of 63.2 GWe. The country gets two thirds of its electricity from nuclear generation. READ MORE: Risk of nuclear theft, sabotage, cyberattacks by terrorists may be increasing – report

In April, President Francois Hollande promised to formally initiate the shutdown of the France’s oldest nuclear reactors on the grounds of environmental and safety concerns surrounding the Fessenheim power plant near the German and Swiss borders.

READ MORE: Hollande vows to shut down France’s oldest nuclear power plant Fessenheim houses two 920 megawatt reactors and has been running since 1978, making it France’s oldest operating plant. Due to its age, the German government and activists alike have long been calling for it to be permanently closed.

READ MORE: France shuts down Flamanville nuclear reactor over transformer failure

The German government has repeatedly called on France to terminate the Fessenheim plant as soon as possible, after an April 2014 accident when one of the reactors had to be shut down as water was found leaking from several places.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Costing more than $6 billion and 40 years later – America’s Watts Bar nuclear reactor turned on

Nation’s First Nuclear Reactor in 20 Years Starts Operation, Bloomberg,  By Rebecca Kern Oct. 19 — The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor near Spring City, Tenn., officially began commercial operation Oct. 19, making it the first new commercial nuclear reactor to go online in the U.S. in the last 20 years.

The reactor has been more than 40 years in the making and cost approximately $6 billion to complete, not adjusting for inflation.

Watts Bar Unit 2 is one of five reactors in the U.S. expected to open in the next five years. However, cost overruns and delays are leading critics to question whether new nuclear plants will be built in the future.

Construction on Watts Bar Units 1 and 2 began in 1973. Work stopped on Unit 2 in 1985 due to deficiencies at the plant. Unit 1 began operation in 1996. In 2007, the TVA began efforts again to complete Unit 2, submitting an updated license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009 and received its operating license in October 2015. Unit 2 is the first new reactor in the U.S. since its sister plant started operations.

The Unit 2 startup comes at a time when nuclear operators have shut down—or announced plans to shut down—10 reactors in five states due to difficulty competing against low natural gas prices, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the nuclear industry. The group predicts that an additional 15 to 20 nuclear reactors are at risk of premature closure in the coming years.

Marvin Fertel’s, NEI’s president and CEO, praised TVA’s completion of the plant……..

Mark Cooper, a senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School, said it is no longer financially viable to build new reactors in the U.S. Watts Bar Unit 2 “is not a monument to the future nuclear power, it’s a mausoleum for the future of nuclear power,” he told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 19.

Watchdogs Say Building Nuclear Too Costly

The TVA estimates that it spent $1.3 billion originally on the project. Work resumed after the board of directors approved $4 billion to $4.5 billion to complete the reactor in 2012, and then later approved an additional $200 million in 2016, bringing total estimated costs to $6 billion.

Critics say that the $6 billion price tag to complete Watts Bar Unit 2 is a reminder of the expense of building nuclear reactors today.

Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Research Service, a information center for environmentalists concerned about nuclear power and radioactive waste, said he would estimate Watts Bar Unit 2 cost between $7 billion and $8 billion when adjusted for inflation.

“As an economic enterprise, they are doomed,” Cooper said of nuclear reactors in the U.S………

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl

October 21, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Energy utilities sue New York Public Service Commission’s (PSC) over subsidies to nuclear industry

legal actionFlag-USAEnergy industry coalition sues NY PSC over nuclear subsidies  Reuters 19 Oct 16 An energy industry coalition including competitive non-nuclear electricity producers sued on Wednesday to oppose a plan to subsidize nuclear power plants in New York State.

The lawsuit in federal court said the New York Public Service Commission’s (PSC) plan to raise electric rates across the state by requiring consumers to pay for zero emission credits (ZECs), infringes illegally into federal regulators’ territory.

The coalition said in a statement that the litigation was “solely to save several New York nuclear plants that, allegedly, can no longer compete successfully in the federally-regulated wholesale electric power market.”…..Coalition members opposed to the nuclear subsidies include units of Dynegy Inc and NRG Energy Inc.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Costs falling fast, as wind energy booms in Europe

Europe’s offshore wind industry booming as costs fall  The European Union’s push away from fossil fuels toward renewables, along with falling costs, has seen offshore wind thrive with turbines being installed from the Irish to the Baltic Seas, reports Environment 360, Guardian, Christian Schwägerl, 2q1 Oct 16  “……In Europe, offshore wind farms like the one at Burbo Bank are undergoing a boom. While still significantly outnumbered by windfarms on land, the importance of windfarms at sea has grown dramatically in the past several years. Until 2011, between 5 and 10% of newly installed wind energy capacity in Europe was offshore. Last year, almost every third new wind turbine went up offshore. That growth has helped boost the share of wind energy in the European Union’s electricity supply from 2% in the year 2000 to 12% today, according toWindEurope, a business advocacy group.

New investments for offshore projects totaled $15.5bn in the first half of 2016 alone, according to WindEurope, and newly installed offshore wind energy capacity will double to 3.7 gigawatts this year compared to 2015. More than 3,300 grid-connected turbines now exist in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Irish Sea, and 114 new wind turbines were linked to the grid in European waters in the first half of this year alone. This is in stark contrast to the US and Asia, where offshore wind use is only just getting started.

The offshore wind boom is part of a wider move from fossil fuels to renewable energy across the European Union. The overall share of renewable electricity sources in the EU – hydropower, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal – has gone up from about 15% in 2004 to roughly 33% in 2014, according to data from Eurostat and Entso-E, the association of grid operators. Along with solar photovoltaic power, wind energy is driving this expansion. Newly installed wind energy capacity amounted to 13 gigawatts in 2015, twice as much as newly installed fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined. WindEurope claims that all European wind turbines taken together can now generate enough electricity for87m households.

This is not only a result of government subsidies and incentives, but also of dramatically reduced production costs for wind energy. The price for a megawatt hour is now between €50 and €96 for onshore wind and €73 to €140 for offshore wind, compared to around €65 to €70 for gas and coal. Electricity generated from onshore windfarms is now the cheapest among newly installed power sources in the UK and many other countries. If environmental costs are considered, the picture looks even more favorable for wind power.

Germany now meets one-third of its electricity demand with renewable energy, Denmark 42%, and Scotland as much as 58%. On some sunny or very windy days, renewables can now fully supply the electricity demand in these countries.

The picture isn’t entirely rosy, though. The European wind industry says that grid and storage infrastructure hasn’t expanded fast enough to soak up surplus wind energy, and that the fossil fuel and nuclear industries are trying to sabotage what is called Energiewende, Germany’s transition from coal andnuclear power to renewable energy. The wind energy boom, with its recurrent surges of surplus energy, has led to a dramatic decline in electricity prices in spot market trading at the European Electricity Exchange, with the price per kilowatt hour falling by as much as 50% in the last five years. With preferential treatment from EU governments, wind energy is now outcompeting coal-fired power plants, posing major challenges for utilities heavily invested in fossil fuels.

Out in the Irish Sea, however, Dong Energy’s Sykes shows no mercy for the fossil fuel industry. “Wind power on land is becoming the cheapest form of newly installed electricity capacity,” he says. “And even out here at sea, we can’t say anymore that there are technical hurdles.”………

To long-term players in the field such as Henrik Stiesdal, a Danish wind power pioneer and former chief technology officer of Siemens Wind power, the situation is ironic: “While there were warnings in the past that wind energy would never be able to meet demands, politicians are now confronted with its abundance,” he said. Stiesdal sees storage technologies and better grid integration as opportunities, rather than problems – wind energy’s “golden bullets”.

“Once these problems are solved, wind will be able to cover the greatest part of the world’s electricity needs,” he says. The WindEurope business group says it could easily double the amount of wind electricity for EU consumption to almost 30% by the year 2030. The group argues that the recent ratification of the Paris agreement on climate change means the EU will have to pursue a more ambitious energy transition.

A visit to Dong Energy’s Burbo Bank project demonstrates the rapid progress the industry has made from its modest beginnings in the 1990s. It will take engineers and workers just a few months to assemble a facility that will provide electricity for a quarter-million households.

Like Stiesdal, Dong’s Sykes sees a bright future for offshore wind. He expects no impact from the UK’s Brexit and notes that the Burbo Bank extension is co-owned by an unlikely player in power production: the parent company of Lego, the toymaker. “Offshore is a reliable and increasingly cheap source of energy, with no lasting harm to the environment,” Sykes says. “It will soon be simply unbeatable.”

October 20, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Presidential politics and the risk of nuclear war

Pick Your Poison? Presidential Politics and Planetary Prospects

If one wants to work with the dichotomy of “greater” and “lesser” evil, Trump is quite probably the “greater evil” on climate change, whose existence he denies. If president, he says, he would “deregulate [American] energy.” He would help the nation’s fossil fuel firms and their customers extract, sell, and burn as much coal. gas, and oil as they could (and the executive branch can do quite a bit in that regard). Noam Chomsky is right that this could signal “almost a death knell for the species.” We are speeding to ecosystem collapse with AGW in the lead of numerous interrelated “ecological rifts.” A stepped-up carbon orgy under a Trump administration could well seal the tipping-point deal.

But Hillary Clinton is the greater evil when it comes to World War III. She is showing signs that she would view a landslide victory against Trump as what the left analyst Glen Ford calls “a mandate for war with [nuclear] Russia.” The nuclear “dice on humanity’s future” (Ford) are already being shaken by the Obama administration. Consistent with Obama’s long-time commitment (shared the Clintons, Madeline Albright, and the rest of the Council on Foreign Relations crowd) to the Zbigniew Brzezinski project of humiliating Russia, Washington has helped install a vicious right wing and pro-Western government in Ukraine, a key state on Russia’s western border (one that past European invaders have marched through on a path to Moscow). Last May, Washington announced the installation of a so-called European missile defense system in Romania – a deployment that Russia naturally interpreted as an attack on its nuclear deterrence capacity. The White House disingenuously claimed that the system was meant to protect Europe from Iran, something that Moscow immediately and reasonably denounced as a lie. Russia suggested that it might retaliate by placing nuclear missiles in Crimea and Kaliningrad, its exclave on the Baltic Sea, between Poland and Lithuania.

The key hotspot in the U.S. and Western-led “new Cold War” now is of course Russia- and Iran-backed Syria, where U.S. and other Western airplanes “mistakenly” killed 62 Syrian troops one month ago. The attack effectively blew up a Syrian “ceasefire” Washington had arranged with the Syrian government’s key ally Russia just a week before. Now, Pepe Escobar reports, “the Pentagon – supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff – …is peddling ‘potential strikes’ on Syria’s air force to ‘punish the regime’ for what the Pentagon actually did; blow up the ceasefire.” Washington disingenuously claims to have deep humanitarian concerns for the 250,000 or so civilians who are trapped on the eastern side of the city of Aleppo, a rebel/al Qaeda-controlled territory under siege by the Syrian army and Shia paramilitary forces from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. This follows a provocative Washington Post story leaking reports that the Obama administration is thinking about undertaking a direct U.S. covert war on the ground against the Syrian state.

All of this has quite naturally elicited a stern response from Moscow. The Russian Ministry of Defense telling Washington to “weigh the consequences” of its schemes. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov informed the world that it was ready and willing to use its state-of-the-art air defense systems to shoot down U.S. war planes attacking Syrian troops or Russian military installations. If and when that happens, Konashenkov added, things will be moving too fast for the Russians to use the “hotline” to give Washington the “exact flight program” of its air defense missiles in Syria.

This is all bad enough, but Hillary seems to want to up the ante. Listen to her language in her second “presidential” “debate” with Trump. “The situation in Syria is catastrophic,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime by Assad in partnership with Iranians on the ground, the Russians in the air…when I was Secretary of State, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and a safe zone.” Continue reading

October 19, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s bellicose personality – really a promoter of war and terrorism

TrumpDonald J. Trump the Hawk, Counter Punch  Donald Trump is no peacenik. Leave aside Trump’s proclamation that he “love[s] war” and unpredictability, and that he is more “militaristic” than anyone. Forget that he wants to enlarge the military and that he refuses to forswear first use of nuclear weapons. Ignore his bellicosity toward Iran and China or his promise to support Israel unconditionally. Pay no attention to Trump’s 2002 endorsement of the invasion of Iraq and his imploring Obama to invade Libya and overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.

All we have to do to see the real Trump is examine his allegedly dovish statements.

Trump takes heat every time he expresses a wish to get along with Russia. This in itself would be good: the United States and Russia could destroy the world with their nuclear weapons. But the ruling elite disagrees. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact alliance, U.S. rulers have provoked Russia by incorporating its former allies and republics into NATO and enabling a coup against an elected Russia-friendly president of Ukraine, jeopardizing Russia’s naval base in Crimea.

But would Trump really pursue peaceful relations with Russia? It’s not so clear. When asked about his views on Russia at the recent joint appearance with Hillary Clinton, he noted that Russia is “fighting ISIS,” which he implied puts the United States on the same side. “I believe we have to get ISIS,” he said. “We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved.”

Note the words before we can get too much more involved. Trump’s statement indicates that working with Russia is merely a matter of priorities. First  ISIS, then … what? More intervention, presumably against Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad.

After all, Assad is an ally of Iran, which Trump demonizes daily. We have no reason to think that if he presided over the defeat of ISIS, Trump would continue to cooperate on Syria with Russia, which like Iran would still have influence in the Middle East. Thin-skinned nationalist Trump is unlikely to suffer what he regards as impertinences from these nations, which resent having an American president define their places in the world…….

Trump wants to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS. He wants to torture suspected terrorists. He wants to kill the relatives of those suspects. That would only inspire more terrorism. Trump has obviously learned nothing from the wars he once supported and now falsely claims to have opposed……..

October 19, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

A little good sense – Japanese and North Korean students make friends

thumbs-upflag-japanflag-N-KoreaJapanese and North Korean students forge bonds in rare meeting but remain apart over nuclear weapons, Japan Times, BY . 18 Oct 16 KYODO A group of Japanese college students made a rare visit to Pyongyang in late August — just before North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 — for talks on war and peace with local students.

But three days of social exchanges and intense discussions left the groups at odds on issues such as how best to achieve world peace and whether nuclear disarmament is feasible……..

The student-to-student program was initiated in 2012 by a group of Japanese nongovernmental organizations. Among them was Tokyo-based Relief Campaign Committee for Children, Japan, which conducts cultural exchanges.

Participants in the annual program have gradually become able to take up political issues over the years, organizers said, despite the isolated communist regime’s strict controls on speech.

Jinguji was one of eight Japanese students who took part in this year’s program. The 11 North Koreans were all in their early 20s and majoring in Japanese language at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies……..

On the morning when the Japanese students were to return home, tears could be seen in the eyes of some of the North Korean students.

“I know that our current bilateral relations aren’t good, but I want to see you all again,” one North Korean student said upon departure at the airport.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | health | Leave a comment

Financial disaster of America’s failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX)

MOXhighly-recommendedNuke Fuel Facility Costs Ten Times Estimate, is 41 Years Behind Schedule   By: Lydia Dennett | October 13, 2016   Imagine you have a contractor working on your house. They quoted you a price and told you the project would be done in no time. Sure, you realize costs will probably go up some and the schedule will slip due to an unexpected problem or two. But months turn into years, years turn into a decade, and now, 14 years later, you find that they’ve already spent five times their original estimate and they aren’t even halfway done!

That’s the situation the Department of Energy is facing with the contractor building a nuclear fuel facility in South Carolina. The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, known as MOX, is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that is behind schedule, is over budget, and will never be able to complete its mission. Now the Army Corps of Engineers has released an independent cost estimate for the project that reveals things are even worse than we thought.

MOX was originally conceived as part of an agreement between the United States and Russia in which each country pledged to dispose of weapons grade plutonium. But that was back in 2000. As cost overruns and the technical failure has become clear, the Department of Energy asked Congress to cancel the program this year. The South Carolina delegation, defending jobs in their districts, pushed back and claimed doing so would violate the agreement. Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would be withdrawing from the agreement.

Without Russia being party to the agreement, the last remaining pretense for this boondoggle is shattered.

Congress will soon be reviewing the budget for fiscal year 2018 and should ensure that funding for this project is ended once and for all.

The new independent cost estimate shows that finishing the construction of the MOX facility has gone from $1.6 billion to a staggering $17 billion—more than 10 times the original projection. And while the facility was supposed to be fully constructed in 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers stated that MOX won’t be finished and ready for operations until 2048—putting it 41 years behind schedule.

But even if Congress decides to accept spending $17 billion in taxpayer dollars and waiting 41 extra years for the facility, the project will never work.

MOX technology dates back to the 1960s and has caused experts to raise concerns about the technical viability of the U.S. facility should it ever be completed and become operational. In 2014, Energy Department experts concluded that U.S. implementation of MOX technology still remains a “significant risk.” Moreover, even if the facility were to work perfectly and produce the mixed oxide fuel as intended, there aren’t any commercial nuclear reactor companies interested in purchasing it. In 2008, the project lost its only potential customer and hasn’t been able to find a single replacement.

What is even more unbelievable is that $17 billion isn’t even the bottom line for this monstrosity. Other independent estimates have found that over the facility’s lifetime, which includes the costs of operating the plant for 20 years on top of construction costs, MOX will cost taxpayers $110 billion.

The fact that these cost estimates come from independent sources is important. For the last several years the contractor in charge of the MOX project, CB&I AREVA MOX Services, has been spreading misleading facts and figures about the project’s true costs.

These contractor statements have been proven wrong time and time again by the Department of Energy, independent sources, and reality. The new Army Corps analysis exposes just how the contractors’ optimistic estimates border on delusional. For example, the contractors stated earlier this year that finishing the job will cost $3 billion; the Army Corps found the contractors’ estimate should have come closer to $10 billion. The contractors’ calculation, they found, had serious problems which led to the inaccuracies. “The MOX Services estimate-at-completion is not credible because it was developed using unrealistic production and productivity rates, artificially low escalation, inappropriate allocation of management reserves and contingency that is not time phased across the project duration, and lack of escalation applied to these reserves,” the Army Corps’ report stated. Based on their calculations the MOX project is only 28 percent complete, not 48 percent as the contractor has asserted.

What CB&I AREVA MOX Services also seem to conveniently forget in its calculations is that the project is running on at least a 25 percent rework rate, meaning approximately a quarter of the work already done will have to be re-done—the project takes one step back for every four steps forward. This includes everything from walls that were installed incorrectly to piping that was ordered but didn’t meet specifications.

These kinds of mistakes led to CB&I AREVA MOX Services receiving only half of its possible contract award fee in 2015.  “Overall performance is below the level needed for successful project completion, as culminated in cost overruns and schedule delays,” thegovernment documents stated. They cited the contractor’s poor management of the project and failure to adequately perform random drug testing. Still, CB&I AREVA MOX Services received $4.33 million of the possible $8.86 million in bonuses for that year.

It may seem remarkable that CB&I AREVA MOX Services has managed to retain the contract after so many missteps, but it could be the result of a very successful lobbying effort. The two companies that make up CB&I AREVA MOX Services, Chicago Bridge & Iron Works (CB&I) and AREVA, spent a total of $2.4 million lobbying the government in 2015 on various issues including the MOX project. In the first two quarters of 2016 alone the groups have spent $1.4 million. That amount doubles when including other organizations, like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, that listed MOX as a lobbying objective.

The contractor has effectively lined up several Senators and Representatives who have made sure that taxpayer dollars continue to flow to the MOX project, and thus to CB&I AREVA MOX Services. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tim Scott (R-SC), and Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Rick Allen (R-GA) have done their best to support MOX. During the budget process this year, Wilson wrote a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development urging them to continue funding the MOX program. Clyburn and Allen also signed the letter. It comes as no surprise that Representatives Wilson and Clyburn as well as Senator Scott are among the AREVA Group’s top recipients for campaign donations. Also on the list are Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee which determines annual funding for MOX. At this point the MOX project is nothing more than pork barrel politics.

“We are confident [the MOX project] is not feasible in this environment. We are going down a road spending money on something that will never happen. Unfortunately, that seems to us to be a very large waste of taxpayer money,’’ DOE Associate Deputy Secretary John MacWilliams told The State reporter Sammy Fretwell on a tour of the construction site.

MOX is unaffordable, 41 years behind schedule, and will never work. And now that Russia has withdrawn from the agreement, the United States would be the only ones trying to uphold it. Congress’s decision to continue funding this disaster was based on grossly inaccurate information about both the cost and performance of this project. But they have time to revisit this decision with unbiased facts and analysis before the next budget decisions need to be made. There are cheaper and faster ways to dispose of the plutonium, methods that the Energy Department is already exploring. There is no reason Congress should continue forcing taxpayers to fund such an obvious boondoggle.

By: Lydia Dennett, Investigator

Lydia Dennett is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Lydia works on safety and security of nuclear weapons and power facilities, foreign lobbying and influence, and works with Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblowers.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium: USA ignored its own guidelines in weapons use in Iraq. Syria too?

A new resolution on DU weapons will be voted on by governments at the UN General Assembly this month.  
depleted-uraniumUS broke its own rules firing depleted uranium in Iraq

An analysis of recently declassified military data shows that the United States military ignored its own guidelines for the use of depleted uranium ammunition in the 2003 Iraq War, firing the controversial weapons at unarmoured targets, buildings in populated areas and troops. It has also tripled the number of sites known to be contaminated in Iraq to more than 1,000; even as fears grow that the US has used depleted uranium in Syria.
5 October 2016 – ICBUW

The targeting data, which details the use of 30mm DU ammunition by USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft – or “Warthogs”, was released under FOIA and accounts for 54,000kg of the 118,000kg of DU ammunition that the US and UK have acknowledged firing in the conflict. Analysis by PAX and ICBUW of the 1,116 strikes, which took place during the first month of the 2003 invasion, and published in a new report Targets of Opportunity shows that DU use was widespread across Iraq.

For the first time, the data also reveal that the majority of targets attacked with the radioactive and chemically toxic weapons were not armoured. This runs counter to claims by the US that the A10’s ammunition is specifically for destroying tanks and other armoured vehicles. A significant number of the 182,000 30mm PGU-14/B rounds fired by the aircraft – each of which contains 298g of DU – were also fired in or near populated areas, increasing the likelihood that civilians would be exposed.

The need to destroy armour is central to the US’s ongoing military justification for the use of the weapons, which place civilians at risk of exposure and leave a complex and costly legacy for years after the end of conflicts. The US’s own legal guidelines, which were placed on the use of the armour-piercing incendiary weapons in 1975, restricts their use to armoured vehicles, a restriction that appears to have been ignored in the 2003 conflict.

Little transparency, even less assistance

While the UK released information to the UN on where it fired 1,900kg of DU, the US is still withholding data on where it fired 62,000kg of the weapons. This is hampering clearance work. PAX has reported that Iraq continues to struggle with the identification and remediation of DU contaminated sites, and the country has called for assistance in doing so from the international community.

“With the current burden of fighting the Islamic State, the Iraqi government’s capacity is already stretched. But people are worried about DU contamination, especially in southern Iraq,” says one of the report’s authors, PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “The US did too little, too late, and now Iraq’s people are facing layer upon layer of toxic health risks as a result of the conflicts.”

“At present countries that use DU weapons, or are affected by them, are under no formal obligations to clear contamination after conflicts in order to minimise the risks it poses to civilians,” said co-author Doug Weir from ICBUW. “This is in stark contrast to land mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. Governments must take steps to meaningfully address the legacy from DU and other toxic remnants of war that can harm civilians and their environment for years after the end of conflicts.” 

New information suggests that A-10s have used DU in Syria n early 2015, the US stated – contrary to previous claims – that its A-10 aircraft had not and would not use DU in Iraq or Syria in operations against Islamic State. However information obtained by ICBUW suggests that US A-10s have used DU on at least two occasions in Syria.

ICBUW and PAX are calling for urgent clarification from the US authorities on both the incidents and its DU policy for the conflict, and for them to swiftly release the targeting data to ensure that the relevant authorities can conduct clearance and risk awareness efforts and to isolate and recover contaminated material.

A new resolution on DU weapons will be voted on by governments at the UN General Assembly this month.         :

October 19, 2016 Posted by | depleted uranium, Iraq, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Climate Change and Renewable Energy policies – Hillary Clinton

clinton-hillaryclimate-changeThe Hillary Clinton Environmental Scorecard  The former Secretary of State could inherit a number of ambitious eco-commitments established by President Obama. Here’s where she stands on each one. Outside  By: Juliet Eilperin Oct 17, 2016 “…….

Climate Change and Renewable Energy

In contrast to Obama, who barely mentioned the issue when he was running for reelection in 2012, Clinton has made tackling climate change a major theme in her campaign. She’s mentioned it during both the primary and general election debates, mocking Trump during the first debate by saying, “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.” Trump replied, “I did not. I did not. I do not say that.” (He actually did tweet that, and he has also questioned whether global warming is even underway.)

Clinton has vowed to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and 80 percent by mid-century. She’s also pledged to cut U.S. oil consumption by a third, ensure that half a billion solar panels will be installed by 2020, and carry out a ten-fold increase in renewable energy production on public lands. On top of that, she aims to provide $60 billion to state and city officials through a “clean energy challenge fund” so they can reduce their carbon output and enhance their resilience to climate impacts, along with another $30 billion to struggling coal communities.

Such ideas make Clinton attractive to environmentalists. “It’s probably fair to say that, by the time his term is over, President Obama will be regarded as the most environmental president we’ve ever seen, and yet we’re confident Secretary Clinton will build on this record, and even do more,” says League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, whose group is pouring $10 million into the presidential race this cycle.

Clinton’s 2020 overall emissions target is more aggressive than what Obama has pledged under the Paris climate agreement. Her solar plan, for example, suggests that the U.S. will have 140 gigawatts of installed solar by the end of 2020, compared to the 100 gigawatts that’s now projected. But the question of whether she can deliver on her promises remains—especially since she has yet to embrace the idea of imposing a sweeping carbon tax, and it’s unlikely that Congress would hand over tens of billions of dollars to her administration if she’s elected. While Clinton has vowed to defend federal regulations limiting the carbon output of existing power plants, which are currently being challenged in court, she will have to do much more than that in order to meet her professed goals. …….

October 19, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Nuclear brinkmanship going on now. fear that it could tip over into World War 111

bombed cityStop the Next President From Waging the Next War  Hillary Clinton now says her “number one priority” in Syria is the removal of Bashar al-Assad, putting us on the path of war with Syria and Russia next year. Whether or not you are voting for her, you should commit yourself to stopping her from this insanity, which President Obama wisely averted in 2013. Syria and Russia are indeed committing war crimes in Aleppo, but if you’re tempted to buy in to a “no-fly zone” or “humanitarian intervention” against Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces, consider these ten facts and observations:

1/  We never hear about the atrocities committed by the Sunni rebel forces backed by the U.S., including the Al Qaeda-aligned Islamists that are now tacitly included in the rebel ranks. A sudden regime change in Syria will result in these forces being in charge, and fighting each other for power. Some victorious rebels would commit ethnic/sectarian cleansing against Alawites, Christians, and Kurds, causing many of these and other minorities to fear the rebels as much as the Sunni majority fears Assad. Yes, the war can and will get even worse with more outside intervention.

2/  Any “no-fly zone” over Syria will certainly be followed by the shooting down of both Russian and U.S. jets, in an unpredictable escalation that could easily spread elsewhere in the region or world. Bombing Syrian/Russian forces would result in more civilian deaths, not fewer civilian deaths. In a leaked 2013 transcript, Hillary admitted, “To have a no-fly zone, you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk– you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.”

3/ The U.S. is actively aiding Saudi bombing of Houthi rebels in Yemen, with devastation and civilian deaths that differs little from the Syrian/Russian bombing of Aleppo. The U.S. just directly launched missiles against the Houthis, embroiling us in a very dangerous part of the regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. State Department spokesperson John Kirby became tongue-tied when reporters asked him to define the difference between the Russian in Syria and the Saudis in Yemen.

4/ The U.S. has around 800 foreign military bases around the world. Russia has exactly two bases outside former Soviet territory–both of them in Syria. Putin is trying to emulate what the U.S. did in Iraq and Afghanistan, by establishing Russia as a regional and global power. Russia is doing exactly what the U.S. did in Panama–brazenly intervene in the affairs of a country that hosts its bases. The U.S. has zero legitimacy to criticize an upstart in global imperialism, or to demonize Russia for committing the same atrocities that U.S. forces did in Fallujah and elsewhere.

5/  Russia will not back down if we start shooting down its aircraft. Putin was the “Butcher of Grozny” in Chechnya (as the West turned a blind eye), and has intervened against nationalist governments in Georgia and Ukraine. He will pivot to somewhere else in the world–arming Iran, establishing a naval base in Egypt, or threatening Latvia. One way to lessen his popular appeal is to stop feeding into his nationalist propaganda that NATO is encircling Russia and tacitly backing fascists and ultranationalists on its borders. He only thrives politically when the West’s military pressure increases, and he can portray himself as standing up to NATO. Both Russia and Iran also thrive when U.S. and Israeli saber-rattling drives up global oil prices.

6/ The practice of “humanitarian intervention” upholds double standards that only highlight atrocities by the other side and not by U.S. allies. Bill Clinton’s bombings in Bosnia and Kosovo stopped ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces, but actively enabled ethnic cleansing by Croatian and Albanian militias. Obama’s bombing of Libya to supposedly “save” Benghazi ended up turning Libya into a free-fire zone. It wasn’t stepping in as a neutral party, but taking sides in a civil war and prolonging it. A real “humanitarian intervention” would order all sides to freeze in place, not attack one human rights abuser in favor of another.

7/  The U.S. seems to want to rubberstamp the partition of Syria into ethnic/sectarian enclaves as part of a “settlement,” just as it did in Yugoslavia and to a large extent in Iraq. Partition does not bring lasting peace, as the examples of Palestine and India demonstrate. Regional autonomy is helpful to build peace, but communities and even families are too mixed together historically to allow for a “clean” territorial separation without massive violence and genocidal ethnic/sectarian cleansing. But it helps neoliberal capital to have large multiethnic states divided into more easily controllable mini-states.

8/ There have been many paths not followed in bringing peace to Syria since the genuine democratic revolution against Assad began in 2011. There has never been a choice between “doing something” and “doing nothing.” The U.S. and Israel could stop supporting Sunni Islamist rebels in return for Russia and Iran holding back the worst of Assad’s Alawite-led military atrocities, and vice versa. They could both support the Kurds’ valiant defense against ISIS, instead of selling them out (once more) to the Turkish military. They could engage with Syrian civil society that began the revolution, instead of only arming the militaries and militias. They could negotiate for a regional deescalation and coalition government that guarantees minority rights, and allows Syrians to focus on the real threats of ISIS and the economic ruin of war.

9/ The regime change in Iraq will look like small potatoes, if the new Administration tricks the American people into allowing a so-called “humanitarian intervention” in Syria. We could very quickly get involved in a full-blown regional war–with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Israel, Gulf states, and Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni Sunnis on one side, and Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraqi Shi’as, Hezbollah, and Houthis on the other side. The region is a powder keg, with entangled alliances much like Europe on the eve of World War I. It wouldn’t take much for that nightmare to escalate into a nuclear confrontation. Russia is clearly mobilizing for a possible conflict, and signaling its warnings through state media and civil defense exercises, but we haven’t been told by our leaders how risky the situation has become.

10/ A lot more is at stake in Syria in 2017 than in Iraq in 2003.

The Iraq War never had the potential of escalating into a full-blown war with Russia and Iran, or triggering a nuclear confrontation. And since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump uncritically accept Benjamin Netanyahu’s view of Iran as the main enemy in the Middle East, Israel and the Gulf States will be unleashed next year to restart military brinkmanship with Iran, which could also bring us to the gates of hell.

It is possible to stand against Assad and Putin, and still oppose wars waged by Clinton or Trump that will inflame the Middle East. Whoever wins on November 8th, the names of the losing candidates will quickly fade. Our “number one priority” the next day should be to stop the new president from taking us down the path of a new major war.

Zoltan Grossman is a professor of Geography and Native Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, who has been a warm body in peace, justice, and environmental movements for the past 35 years. His website is and email

October 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japanese nuclear research facility hacked

how-to-hack-wordpressNation-State Hackers Hit Japanese Nuclear Facility, Info Security Magazine, 19 Oct 16,   A Japanese nuclear research facility has been hacked, resulting in the theft of 59,000 files.

The University of Toyama’s Hydrogen Isotope Research Center is one of the world leaders in tritium research. Tritium, also known as Hydrogen-3, is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is an important fuel for controlled nuclear fusion, and a key component of hydrogen bombs.

It is also one of the contaminants in the water building up at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The infiltrators stole the lab’s tritium research, according to Japanese media, along with the personal details of 1,493 researchers. Attackers stole data in three batches: December 2015, March 2016 and June 2016.

The malware that was used in the breach was delivered via a spear-phishing attack in November of 2015, when a hacker posed as a Tokyo university student working on a research assignment. Investigators said that the malware samples they analyzed were also pre-programmed to search the victim’s computer for the term IAEA, which is the acronym for the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The breach at the University of Toyama’s Hydrogen Isotope Research Center is a textbook example of the sort of cyber-threats facing academia,” said Vishal Gupta, CEO of Seclore, via email. “Researchers are extremely lucrative targets for nation-states, as it’s cheaper to invest in the theft of existing data then to conduct the research outright……..

October 19, 2016 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment