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Sizewell nuclear planning application should be rejected until coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted

May 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s new nuclear plants – nearly all parts are sourced and/or funded from China and France

David Lowry’s Blog 24th May 2020, Letter from David Lowry to The Times: Your important revelation follows Johnson’s assertion to MPs on Wednesday that he is pursuing “measures
to protect our technological base.” The initiative, “Project Defend,”
is aimed at creating a new national resilience framework, which, The Times
reports, will address the current over-reliance on China for “medical and
other strategic imports.”

One such strategic import is civil nuclear
technology, on which UK is 100 per cent reliant on foreign suppliers for
the critical core reactor infrastructure, with the Hinkley C nuclear plant
under construction by French state generator, Electricite de France ( EdF)
using French technology, supported by French and Chinese capital
investment.

The next new nuclear plant in line for construction, at
Sizewell C in Suffolk, will have 20per cent of its costs paid for by
Chinese state company China General Nuclear.

The third new plant, at
Bradwell in Essex, is planned to entirely built using 100 per cent Chinese/
French designed technology, mostly imported, and backed by 62 per cent
Chinese funding. It would also be operated by a primarily Chinese technical
team. Only smaller parts for these new plants will be sourced from the UK
supply chain.

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2020/05/uk-china-nuclear-relations-need-reset.html

May 26, 2020 Posted by | marketing, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The folly of removing US caps on Russian nuclear fuel imports

The folly of removing US caps on Russian nuclear fuel imports, The Hill, 

BY IKE BRANNON, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 05/25/20  The Trump administration’s recent Nuclear Fuel Working Group report provides a sobering view of the national security threat posed by Russia’s aggressive global strategy to dominate the nuclear power and fuel industry to extend its geopolitical influence. The report warns of Russia’s efforts to increase its market share of the U.S. nuclear fuel industry and the threat that its below-market prices pose to the survival of the U.S. nuclear fuel sector. If this is left unchecked, the U.S. may find itself dependent on Russia for its nuclear fuel.
Russia’s steps to boost its nuclear fuel market share are taking place at a perilous time. The market for nuclear fuel in the United States has weakened considerably in the past decade and the country’s production facilities are in danger of being driven out of business. The global industry has been hit with a one-two punch of decreased demand and increased supply; Japan and Germany have greatly reduced their nuclear power generation, and Russia’s state-owned nuclear enterprise has expanded production and marketing without regard to profit in a bid to obtain a dominant market share here and around the world. ….. https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/498686-the-folly-of-removing-us-caps-on-russian-nuclear-fuel-imports

May 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Britain will have to decide whether it wants nuclear power stations funded — and powered — by China.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Burma, business and costs, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Bruce Power and the Ontario Government ordered come clean on the cost of nuclear power

Bruce Power ordered to reveal prices  https://www.cleanairalliance.org/bcost/  Angela Bischoff, Director, 23 May 20 The Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner has ruled that Bruce Power and the Ontario Government must come clean on the cost of power from rebuilt reactors noting that “the public has a right to know what the electricity cost will be from the multi-billion Bruce NGS [Nuclear Generating Station] project as they are paying for it and will be locked into paying for it for almost 50 years.”
In her response to an appeal by Bruce Power of an earlier decision, Adjudicator Diane Smith acknowledged that the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has the power to suppress this information, but ruled that the public right to know trumped this authority.

In ruling that the pricing information should be released, the Adjudicator reasoned that “the annual price of the Bruce NGS electricity options… would allow the public to assess and potentially advocate for alternative energy sources, such as conservation, demand response, hydro power imports from Quebec, renewable generation, and energy storage. Environmental advocates need the annual price of the nuclear option as soon as possible to advocate for alternatives that may take up to 10 years to implement.”

Further, the Adjudicator found the IESO and Bruce Power rationale for suppressing information about the price of power from rebuilt Bruce reactors to be without substance. She noted that contrary to the IESO’s assertions, “I find that the amount of information already disclosed is not adequate to address the public interest considerations.” She also found Bruce Power’s assertion that disclosing the information would somehow raise electricity prices rather baffling, noting “neither the IESO nor Bruce Power provided particulars that support their concerns about this.”

It’s important to note that pricing information for all renewable energy projects in Ontario is fully public and there is no need for citizens or environmental organizations to undertake long and costly Freedom of Information appeals to see this information. Similarly, Ontario Power Generation must publicly disclose all its costing information through the Ontario Energy Board. Only Bruce Power has had the special privilege of keeping all its pricing information firmly under wraps – until now.

Thanks to the Privacy Commissioner we are optimistic we will soon see just what kind of deal Bruce Power is really offering the people of Ontario. The nuclear industry loves to talk about how it supplies “low cost power” though the numbers tell a very different tale.

This matter should never have required a multi-year effort by an environmental NGO. If the Ontario government was serious about reducing hydro costs, it would have long since ordered this information be made public to allow a real comparison of the cost of different energy options. We cannot have an informed debate about the best options for Ontario when one powerful entity and our electricity system manager cling to secrecy.

 

May 22, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, politics | Leave a comment

President Donald Trump and his administration have no plans to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository

Nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain a no-go for Trump, Energy exec affirms, 

President Donald Trump and his administration have no plans to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository, according to Mark Menezes, the current under secretary of energy and the president’s pick to be the next No. 2 at the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Let me be very clear about this,” Menezes said Wednesday during his U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee nomination hearing. “The president has been very clear on this.”

The under secretary in his remarks applauded and supported Trump – who has vacillated on the matter in the past – “for taking action when so many others have failed to do so.”

The president’s fiscal year 2021 budget blueprint, trillions of dollars, included no money for Yucca Mountain and, instead, emphasized alternative, innovative approaches for the long-term, safe storage of nuclear waste and spent fuel. Previous Trump budget requests included $120 million and $116 million for the mothballed Nevada repository.

Yucca Mountain, relatively near Las Vegas, was identified decades ago as the nation’s potential nuclear storehouse. Congress in 2002 approved of the remote locale. But the project soured under President Barack Obama and has failed to gain significant traction since, much to the disappointment of some South Carolina lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., has described Yucca Mountain as a national solution to a national problem; U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has described it as a “world-class repository.”

Menezes’ Wednesday comments – at the behest of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat and staunch opponent of Yucca Mountain – are a dramatic pivot away from comments he made in February before a House energy subcommittee.

What we’re trying to do is to put together a process that will give us a path to permanent storage at Yucca,” Menezes said at the time, describing the president as “frustrated” that “we have not been able to get the resources or the authorization that we need to be able to license Yucca.”

Trump that same month – days prior to the House hearing, in fact – wrote on Twitter: “Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain and my Administration will RESPECT you!”

Cortez Masto on Wednesday said she wanted “to put this to bed” and give Menezes an opportunity to set things straight.

May 22, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Brazil’s nuclear reactor build delayed, completion now due in 2027, Covid-19 effect

May 22, 2020 Posted by | Brazil, health, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power policy now a low priority for Philippines govt

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

Trump wants USA to hugely increase its nuclear weaponry

Trump Says U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Must Be ‘Greatly’ Expanded, Bloomberg, By  Alex Wayne, December 23, 2016
  •  Russian president said his arsenal also should be strengthened
  •  Obama has sought to both modernize and reduce U.S. weapons

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday the U.S. should increase its nuclear arsenal, an apparent reversal of a decades-long reduction of the nation’s atomic weaponry that came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated calls for his country’s arsenal to be reinforced.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump said in a Twitter post…….(subscribers only) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-22/trump-says-u-s-nuclear-arsenal-must-be-greatly-expanded

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Over 120 local and national organizations urge U.S. Congress to help nuclear frontline communities.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Coronavirus likely to put a dint in USA’s nuclear weapons spending

ORDER FROM CHAOS, How COVID-19 might affect US nuclear weapons and planning Brookings Institute, Steven Pifer, May 18, 2020   Editor’s Note:  As it examines the administration’s proposed fiscal year 2021 defense budget, Congress should carefully consider the trade-offs and press the Pentagon to articulate how it weighed the trade-offs between nuclear and conventional forces, writes Steven Pifer. This piece original appeared in the National Interest.

The Department of Defense has begun to ratchet up spending to recapitalize the U.S. strategic nuclear triad and its supporting infrastructure, as several programs move from research and development into the procurement phase.  The projected Pentagon expenditures are at least $167 billion from 2021-2025. This amount does not include the large nuclear warhead sustainment and modernization costs funded by the Department of Energy, projected to cost $81 billion over the next five years.
Nuclear forces require modernization, but that will entail opportunity costs. In a budget environment that offers little prospect of greater defense spending, especially in the COVID19 era, more money for nuclear forces will mean less funding for conventional capabilities. That has potentially negative consequences for the security of the United States and its allies. While nuclear forces provide day-to-day deterrence, the Pentagon leadership spends most of its time thinking about how to employ conventional forces to manage security challenges around the world. The renewed focus on great power competition further elevates the importance of conventional forces. It is important to get the balance between nuclear and conventional forces right, particularly as the most likely path to use of nuclear arms would be an escalation of a conventional conflict. Having robust conventional forces to prevail in or deter a conventional conflict in the first place could avert a nuclear crisis or worse.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND BUDGETS

For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence for its security and that of its allies (whether we should be comfortable with that prospect is another question). Many U.S. nuclear weapons systems are aging, and replacing them will cost money, lots of money. The Pentagon’s five-year plan for its nuclear weapons programs proposes $29 billion in fiscal year 2021, rising to $38 billion in fiscal year 2025, as programs move from research and development to procurement. The plan envisages a total of $167 billion over five years. And that total may be understated; weapons costs increase not just as they move to the procurement phase, but as cost overruns and other issues drive the costs up compared to earlier projections……….

Some look at these figures and the overall defense budget (the Pentagon wants a total of $740 billion for fiscal year 2021) and calculate that the cost of building and operating U.S. nuclear forces will amount to “only” 6-7 percent of the defense budget. That may be true, but how relevant is that figure?

By one estimate, the cost of building and operating the F-35 fighter program for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines over the program’s lifetime will be $1 trillion. Amortized over 50 years, that amounts to $20 billion per year or “only” 2.7 percent of the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2021 budget request. The problem is that these percentages and lots of other “small” percentages add up. When one includes all of the programs, plus personnel and readiness costs as well as everything else that the Pentagon wants, the percentages will total to more than 100 percent of the figure that Congress is prepared to appropriate for defense.

OPPORTUNITY COSTS

The defense budget is unlikely to grow. Opportunity costs represent the things the Pentagon has to give up or forgo in order to fund its nuclear weapons programs. The military services gave an indication of these costs with their “unfunded priorities lists,” which this year total $18 billion. These show what the services would like to buy if they had additional funds, and that includes a lot of conventional weapons…………

These are the opportunity costs of more nuclear weapons: fewer dollars for aircraft, ships, attack submarines and ground combat equipment for conventional deterrence and defense…………..

If the United States and its allies have sufficiently robust conventional forces, they can prevail in a regional conflict at the conventional level and push any decision about first use of nuclear weapons onto the other side (Russia, or perhaps China or North Korea depending on the scenario).The other side would have to weigh carefully the likelihood that its first use of nuclear weapons would trigger a nuclear response, opening the decidedly grim prospect of further nuclear escalation and of things spinning out of control. The other side’s leader might calculate that he/she could control the escalation, but that gamble would come with no guarantee.  It would appear a poor bet given the enormous consequences if things go wrong. Happily, the test has never been run.

This is why the opportunity costs of nuclear weapons programs matter. If those programs strip too much funding from conventional forces, they weaken the ability of the United States and its allies to prevail in a conventional conflict—or to deter that conflict in the first place—and increase the possibility that the United States might have to employ nuclear weapons to avert defeat………

The United States and NATO still retain the option of first use of nuclear weapons. If the U.S. president and NATO leaders were to consider resorting to that option, they then would be the ones to have to consider the dicey bet that the other side would not respond with nuclear arms or that, if it did, nuclear escalation somehow could be controlled.

Assuring NATO allies that the United States was prepared to risk Chicago for Bonn consumed a huge amount of time and fair amount of resources during the Cold War…….

In modernizing, maintaining and operating a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, the United States should avoid underfunding conventional forces in ways that increase the prospect of conventional defeat and/or that might tempt an adversary to launch a conventional attack. If Washington gets the balance wildly out of sync, it increases the possibility that the president might face the decision of whether to use nuclear weapons first—knowing that first use would open a Pandora’s box of incalculable and potentially catastrophic consequences.

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT IN THE COVID19 ERA

This means that the Department of Defense and Congress should take a hard look at

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ministry of Defence’s poor management of contracts for nuclear infrastructure projects

MPs slam MoD’s ‘utter failure’ to improve contract management as nuclear project costs soar

Civil Service World  by Beckie Smith on 18 May 2020 

‘The department knows it can’t go on like this,’ says PAC chair   The Ministry of Defence’s poor management of contracts has left taxpayers picking up the bill after nuclear infrastructure projects have swelled beyond their planned time and budget, a public spending watchdog has found.

The Public Accounts Committee found three nuclear infrastructure projects had together gone £1.45bn over budget and were each between 1.7 and 6.3 years because of problems with their contracts’ design and management.

The committee’s inquiry examined three projects: the building of a nuclear warhead assembly and disassembly facility, known as MENSA, at AWE Burghfield; the Rolls Royce-owned and operated Core Production Capability facilities at Raynesway, where the department is upgrading facilities for nuclear reactor core production; and the BAE Systems-owned Barrow shipyard facility to allow modular build of Dreadnought-class submarines.

The MoD was unable to explain why it had made repeated mistakes designing and managing the contracts – which represent the three biggest nuclear infrastructure projects it is managing – despite being warned about the same issues in the past, PAC said in a report last week.

The MPs said that both PAC and the National Audit Office had been warning of similar contracting mistakes for more than 30 years. The MoD had also “failed to learn lessons from comparable projects in the civil nuclear sector and in the United States”, they added.

The PAC report followed a NAO finding in January that “inherent uncertainties of early designs [in the three contracts] do not incentivise site operators, or their sub-contractors, to negotiate and share risks, increasing risks for the department”.

“It is therefore disappointing to see that in their early days the department made the same mistakes, also experienced by others, as were made more than 30 years ago,” the NAO report said.

The ministry said it “immensely regretted” the waste of money but admitted costs could keep rising because the contracts had left the government to assume financial risk……. https://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/mps-slam-mods-utter-failure-improve-contract-management-nuclear-project-costs-soar

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Ministry of Defence continues its costly mistakes in nuclear weapons and submarines

Dundee Courier 16th May 2020, A Fife MP has lifted the lid on “astonishing and deeply worrying”
mistakes made by the Ministry of Defence, which have led to the costs of replacing Britain’s nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines soaring by a staggering £1.35 billion.

Glenrothes and Central Fife SNP MP Peter Grant, who sits on parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, has described the situation as “unacceptable” following the release of a new report that
suggests errors made by the MoD are being repeated more than 30 years after
they were first highlighted by Britain’s public spending watchdog.

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/1318748/staggering-1-35bn-wastage-on-nuclear-subs-contracts-unacceptable-says-fife-mp/

May 18, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

French government tries to downgrade radiation risk, avoid compensating Polynesian victims of nuclear testing

Outrage in Tahiti over French nuclear law moves,  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/416865/outrage-in-tahiti-over-french-nuclear-law-moves  There has been an outcry in French Polynesia over moves by the French National Assembly to slip a clause about compensation over nuclear weapons testing into Covid-19 legislation.

A French Polynesian member of the French Assembly Moetai Brotherson said it was a scandal that this was added into deliberations when French Polynesia’s members were away from Paris because of the pandemic.

The nuclear test veterans organisations, Moruroa e tatou and Association 193, also expressed outrage.

The French government wants to re-introduce the concept of neglible risk of the tests in compensation cases after a court ruling had done away with it.

Over a 30-year period of France’s weapons tests in the South Pacific some of the atmospheric blasts irradiated most islands.

Mr Brotherson said he had only just heard about the National Assembly move and wondered what the French Polynesian people had ever done to be so detested by the French state.

Hiro Tefaarere of Moruroa e tatou said he was outraged but not surprised about the way France was going about it.

He said all presidents, from de Gaulle to Macron, couldn’t care less about Polynesians, and although France was responsible for public health in Tahiti it failed to keep a register to see how many people died because of fallout from the weapons tests.

Auguste Uebe Carlson, who heads Association 193, said France kept refusing to recognise the impact of the tests, using instead propaganda to say they were clean or a thing of the past.

He said nothing was recognised, with health problems now being attributed to poor diet and life-style choices.

ast year, French Polynesia’s social security agency calculated that it had so far spent $US770 million on health care costs for people deemed to have radiation-induced illnesses.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | France, OCEANIA, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Profiteering from the pandemic, the Pentagon and nuclear industry exploit the situation

Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers, Hasn’t the Military-Industrial Complex Taken

enough of Our Money?  POGO,  BY MANDY SMITHBERGER | FILED UNDER ANALYSIS | MAY 04, 2020    This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.com.

At this moment of unprecedented crisis, you might think that those not overcome by the economic and mortal consequences of the coronavirus would be asking, “What can we do to help?” A few companies have indeed pivoted to making masks and ventilators for an overwhelmed medical establishment. Unfortunately, when it comes to the top officials of the Pentagon and the CEOs running a large part of the arms industry, examples abound of them asking what they can do to help themselves.

It’s important to grasp just how staggeringly well the defense industry has done in these last nearly 19 years since 9/11. Its companies (filled with ex-military and defense officials) have received trillions of dollars in government contracts, which they’ve largely used to feather their own nests. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the chief executive officers of the top five military-industrial contractors received nearly $90 million in compensation in 2017. An investigation that same year by the Providence Journal discovered that, from 2005 to the first half of 2017, the top five defense contractors spent more than $114 billion repurchasing their own company stocks and so boosting their value at the expense of new investment.

To put this in perspective in the midst of a pandemic, the co-directors of the Costs of War Project at Brown University recently pointed out that allocations for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health for 2020 amounted to less than 1% of what the U.S. government has spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since 9/11. While just about every imaginable government agency and industry has been impacted by the still-spreading coronavirus, the role of the defense industry and the military in responding to it has, in truth, been limited indeed. The highly publicized use of military hospital ships in New York City and Los Angeles, for example, not only had relatively little impact on the crises in those cities but came to serve as a symbol of just how dysfunctional the military response has truly been.

Bailing Out the Military-Industrial Complex in the COVID-19 Moment

Demands to use the Defense Production Act to direct firms to produce equipment needed to combat COVID-19 have sputtered, provoking strong resistance from industries worried first and foremost about their own profits. Even conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot, a longtime supporter of increased Pentagon spending, has recently recanted, noting how just such budget priorities have weakened the ability of the United States to keep Americans safe from the virus. “It never made any sense, as Trump’s 2021 budget had initially proposed, to increase spending on nuclear weapons by $7 billion while cutting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding by $1.2 billion,” he wrote. “Or to create an unnecessary Space Force out of the U.S. Air Force while eliminating the vitally important directorate of global health by folding it into another office within the National Security Council.”

In fact, continuing to prioritize the U.S. military will only further weaken the country’s public health system. ……..

How Not to Deal With COVID-19

Along with those military-industrial bailouts came the fleecing of American taxpayers. While many Americans were anxiously awaiting their $1,200 payments from that congressional aid and relief package, the Department of Defense was expediting contract payments to the arms industry. Shay Assad, a former senior Pentagon official, accurately called it a “taxpayer rip-off” that industries with so many resources, not to speak of the ability to borrow money at incredibly low interest rates, were being so richly and quickly rewarded in tough times. Giving defense giants such funding at this moment was like giving a housing contractor 90% of upfront costs for renovations when it was unclear whether you could even afford your next mortgage payment.

Right now, the defense industry is having similar success in persuading the Pentagon that basic accountability should be tossed out the window. ……..

Unfortunately, as COVID-19 spread on the aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt, that ship became emblematic of how ill-prepared the current Pentagon leadership proved to be in combatting the virus. Despite at least 100 cases being reported on board—955 crewmembers would, in the end, test positive for the disease and Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr. would die of it—senior Navy leaders were slow to respond. Instead, they kept those sailors at close quarters and in an untenable situation of increasing risk. When an emailed letter expressing the concerns of the ship’s commander, Captain Brett Crozier, was leaked to the press he was quickly removed from command. But while his bosses may not have appreciated his efforts for his crew, his sailors did. He left the ship to a hero’s farewell. ……… https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2020/05/beware-the-pentagons-pandemic-profiteers/

May 16, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments