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‘Unsustainable, unmanageable, unacceptable and unsuitable’ – both Bradwelll and Sizewell nuclear projects

‘Unsustainable, unmanageable, unacceptable and unsuitable’. Nuclear waste expert urges Government to ditch both Bradwell B and Sizewell C projects now. 8 June 21,

An international expert on radioactive waste management and sustainable development has written to the Sizewell C Examining Authority declaring that both Bradwell B and Sizewell C should be abandoned as a whole now to avoid falling victims to catastrophic impacts of climate change later.

Andrew Blowers OBE, Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), Professor of Social Sciences at the Open University and formerly a member of various Government scientific advisory bodies on nuclear waste, insists that far from being ‘potentially suitable’ sites, as the Government declared a decade ago, Bradwell and Sizewell are ‘totally unsuitable’ for the deployment of nuclear reactors and highly radioactive spent fuel stores which will remain on site until the latter half of the next century.

Professor Blowers states: ‘There is the possibility of calamitous risks being passed on to generations in the far future. This may be acceptable to the developers and Government, in which case they should say so. It is not acceptable to those, like me, who oppose this development’.

Both Bradwell and Sizewell are fragile, low-lying coastal sites vulnerable to inundation and will be increasingly exposed to the impacts of climate change in the form of sea-level rise, storm surges and coastal processes. Both are situated in areas of considerable environmental sensitivity, which will be severely compromised by nuclear development.

In terms of their sheer scale and location, the two power stations would be inappropriate, gross intrusions into the landscape with devastating impacts on habitats, wetlands and the marine environment. These impacts may be individually tackled by adaptation, mitigation or compensation. But, Professor Blowers goes on, ‘such a piecemeal approach is not acceptable in so far as it may lead to an outcome that is wholly unacceptable. That is why I would claim that both projects must be judged as a whole’.

It is the impact of climate change that provides the most compelling reason for abandoning these proposals now. Even in the unlikely event of global warming of 20C being achieved, there will still be global sea-level rise of around a metre by 2100. If present warming trends continue, a rise of 2m. and more is conceivable. It is questionable whether the proposed hard defences will be proof against inundation, storm surges and coastal processes in deteriorating circumstances. In any case, in conditions of increasing uncertainty, it must be questioned whether such colossal infrastructures should be developed on such inappropriate sites on the vulnerable East Anglian shores……

In conclusion, Professor Blowers writes: ‘the proposal for new nuclear power stations at Bradwell and Sizewell must be rejected as a whole on the grounds of their immense scale and environmental impact on sites that will become unsustainable, unmanageable, unacceptable and unsuitable’.

June 14, 2021 Posted by | environment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A nuclear start-up company could undermine Canada’s global non-proliferation policy: experts

A nuclear start-up company could undermine Canada’s global non-proliferation policy: experts

the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that “Nuclear weapons can be fabricated using plutonium containing virtually any combination of plutonium isotopes.” All plutonium is of equal “sensitivity” for purposes of IAEA safeguards in non-nuclear weapon states.

Similarly, a 2009 report by non-proliferation experts from six U.S. national laboratories concluded that pyroprocessing is about as susceptible to misuse for nuclear weapons as the original reprocessing technology used by the military, called PUREX.

By SUSAN O’DONNELL AND GORDON EDWARDS , THE HILL TIMES, JUNE 11, 2021www.ccnr.org/undermining_non-proliferation_2021.pdf

Important national and international issues are at stake, and conscientious Canadians should sit up and take notice. Parliamentarians of all parties owe it to their constituents to demand more accountability. To date however, there has been no democratic open debate or public consultation over the path Canada is charting with nuclear energy.

The recent effort to persuade Canada to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has stimulated a lively debate in the public sphere. At the same time, out of the spotlight, the start-up company Moltex Energy received a federal grant to develop a nuclear project in New Brunswick that experts say will undermine Canada’s credibility as a non-proliferation partner.

Moltex wants to extract plutonium from the thousands of used nuclear fuel bundles currently stored as “high-level radioactive waste” at the Point Lepreau reactor site on the Bay of Fundy. The idea is to use the plutonium as fuel for a new nuclear reactor, still in the design stage. If the project is successful, the entire package could be replicated and sold to other countries if the Government of Canada approves the sale.On May 25, nine U.S. non-proliferation experts sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing concern that by “backing spent-fuel reprocessing and plutonium extraction, the Government of Canada will undermine the global nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime that Canada has done so much to strengthen.

The nine signatories to the letter include senior White House appointees and other U.S. government advisers who worked under six U.S. presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama; and who hold professorships at the Harvard Kennedy School, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, University of Texas at Austin, George Washington University, and Princeton University.

Plutonium is a human-made element created as a byproduct in every nuclear reactor. It’s a “Jekyll and Hyde” kind of material: on the one hand, it is the stuff that nuclear weapons are made from. On the other hand, it can be used as a nuclear fuel. The crucial question is, can you have one without the other?

India exploded its first nuclear weapon in 1974 using plutonium extracted from a “peaceful” Canadian nuclear reactor given as a gift many years earlier. In the months afterwards, it was discovered that South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan and Argentina—all of them customers of Canadian nuclear technology—were well on the way to replicating India’s achievement. Swift action by the U.S. and its allies prevented these countries from acquiring the necessary plutonium extraction facilities (called “reprocessing plants”). To this day, South Korea is not allowed to extract plutonium from used nuclear fuel on its own territory—a long-lasting political legacy of the 1974 Indian explosion and its aftermath—due to proliferation concerns.

Several years after the Indian explosion, the U.S. Carter administration ended federal support for civil reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in the U.S. out of concern that it would contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons by making plutonium more available. At that time, Canada’s policy on reprocessing also changed to accord with the U.S. policy—although no similar high-level announcement was made by the Canadian government.

Moltex is proposing to use a type of plutonium extraction technology called “pyroprocessing,” in which the solid used reactor fuel is converted to a liquid form, dissolved in a very hot bath of molten salt. What happens next is described by Moltex chairman and chief scientist Ian Scott in a recent article in Energy Intelligence. “We then—in a very, very simple process—extract the plutonium selectively from that molten metal. It’s literally a pot. You put the metal in, put salt in the top, mix them up, and the plutonium moves into the salt, and the salt’s our fuel. That’s it. … You tip the crucible and out pours the fuel for our reactor.”

The federal government recently supported the Moltex project with a $50.5-million grant, announced on March 18 by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc in Saint John. At the event, LeBlanc and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs described the Moltex project as “recycling” nuclear waste, although in fact barely one-half of one per cent of the used nuclear fuel is potentially available for use as new reactor fuel. That leaves a lot of radioactive waste left over.

From an international perspective, the government grant to Moltex can be seen as Canada sending a signal—giving a green light to plutonium extraction and the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel.

The U.S. experts’ primary concern is that other countries could point to Canada’s support of the Moltex program to help justify its own plutonium acquisition programs. That could undo years of efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of countries that might want to join the ranks of unofficial nuclear weapons states such as Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. The Moltex project is especially irksome since its proposed pyroprocessing technology is very similar to the one that South Korea has been trying to deploy for almost 10 years.

In their letter, the American experts point out that Japan is currently the only non-nuclear-armed state that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel, a fact that is provoking both domestic and international controversy.

In a follow-up exchange, signatory Prof. Frank von Hippel of Princeton University explained that the international controversy is threefold: (1) The United States sees both a nuclear weapons proliferation danger from Japan’s plutonium stockpile and also a nuclear terrorism threat from the possible theft of separated plutonium; (2) China and South Korea see Japan’s plutonium stocks as a basis for a rapid nuclear weaponization; and (3) South Korea’s nuclear-energy R&D community is demanding that the U.S. grant them the same right to separate plutonium as Japan enjoys.

Despite the alarm raised by the nine authors in their letter to Trudeau, they have received no reply from the government. The only response has come from the Moltex CEO Rory O’Sullivan. His reply to a Globe and Mail reporter is similar to his earlier rebuttal in The Hill Times published in his letter to the editor on April 5: the plutonium extracted in the Moltex facility would be “completely unsuitable for use in weapons.”

But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that “Nuclear weapons can be fabricated using plutonium containing virtually any combination of plutonium isotopes.” All plutonium is of equal “sensitivity” for purposes of IAEA safeguards in non-nuclear weapon states.

Similarly, a 2009 report by non-proliferation experts from six U.S. national laboratories concluded that pyroprocessing is about as susceptible to misuse for nuclear weapons as the original reprocessing technology used by the military, called PUREX.

In 2011, a U.S. State Department official responsible for U.S. nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries went further by stating that pyro-processing is just as dangerous from a proliferation point of view as any other kind of plutonium extraction technology, saying: “frankly and positively that pyro-processing is reprocessing. Period. Full stop.”

And, despite years of effort, the IAEA has not yet developed an approach to effectively safeguard pyroprocessing to prevent diversion of plutonium for illicit uses.

Given that history has shown the dangers of promoting the greater availability of plutonium, why is the federal government supporting pyroprocessing?

It is clear the nuclear lobby wants it. In the industry’s report, “Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada,” released in March, the reprocessing (which they call “recycling”) of spent nuclear fuel is presented as a key element of the industry’s future plans.

Important national and international issues are at stake, and conscientious Canadians should sit up and take notice. Parliamentarians of all parties owe it to their constituents to demand more accountability. To date however, there has been no democratic open debate or public consultation over the path Canada is charting with nuclear energy.

Countless Canadians have urged Canada to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that came into force at the end of January this year. Ironically, the government has rebuffed these efforts, claiming that it does not want to “undermine” Canada’s long-standing effort to achieve a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty. Such a treaty would, if it ever saw the light of day (which seems increasingly unlikely), stop the production of weapons usable materials such as Highly Enriched Uranium and (you guessed it) Plutonium. 

So, the Emperor not only has no clothes, but his right hand doesn’t know what his left hand is doing.

Susan O’Donnell is a researcher specializing in technology adoption and environmental issues at the University of New Brunswick and is based in Fredericton.Gordon Edwards is a mathematician, physicist, nuclear consultant, and president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, and is based in Montreal.

June 12, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear politicians angry at suggestion of canceling sea-launched cruise missile.

Lawmakers Fume Over Acting Navy Secretary’s Call to Cancel Nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile,  Military.com 11 Jun 2021Stars and Stripes | By Sarah Cammarata

I think we’re all shocked to have heard the news of the acting secretary of the Navy appearing to take action to zero out the sea-launched cruise missile. This is something that is incredibly important,” said Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee subpanel on strategic forces. 

WASHINGTON — House and Senate lawmakers voiced concern Thursday over the acting Navy secretary’s move to cancel the service’s nuclear sea-launched cruise missile in fiscal 2023 as top defense leaders said they had not been briefed on the decision. 

“I think we’re all shocked to have heard the news of the acting secretary of the Navy appearing to take action to zero out the sea-launched cruise missile. This is something that is incredibly important,” said Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee subpanel on strategic forces. 

“We know that the Nuclear Posture Review isn’t underway, and yet we have the first steps toward actions that would be unilateral disarmament,” Turner said during the committee’s hearing to review the fiscal 2022 budget proposal for nuclear forces.

Multiple media outlets reported this week that acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker directed the service in a June 4 memo to “defund [the] sea-launched cruise missile.”

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review — an examination of U.S. nuclear policy that occurs when a new administration takes office — supported pursuing this type of missile. The strategy under former President Donald Trump’s administration called for expanding the role and capability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Defense Department’s Melissa Dalton testified Thursday that the review by President Joe Biden’s administration is “on the cusp” of commencing. Biden has said he wants to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.

“The sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring — and if necessary, retaliating against — a nuclear attack,” Biden’s campaign said in an online statement before the president’s election. …….. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/06/11/lawmakers-fume-over-acting-navy-secretarys-call-cancel-nuclear-sea-launched-cruise-missile.html

June 12, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“IT’S VERY PROFITABLE to prepare for omnicide,”

NOT EVEN COVID-19 COULD SLOW DOWN NUCLEAR SPENDING  https://theintercept.com/2021/06/07/nuclear-weapons-spending-pandemic-ican/
A new report finds that nine countries collectively spent $72 billion in 2020 on nukes., Jon Schwarz
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June 7 2021, IT’S VERY PROFITABLE to prepare for omnicide,” Daniel Ellsberg, famed whistleblower and anti-nuclear weapons activist, said in a recent interview. “Northrop Grumman and Boeing and Lockheed and General Dynamics make a lot of money out of preparing for such a war. The congressmen get campaign contributions, they get votes in their district and almost every state for preparing for that.”

But don’t just take it from Ellsberg. At an investor conference in 2019, a managing director from the investment bank Cowen Inc. queried Raytheon’s CEO on this subject. “We’re about to exit the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] with Russia,” said the Cowen executive. Did this mean, he asked, whether “we will really get a defense budget that will really benefit Raytheon?” Raytheon’s CEO happily responded that he was “pretty optimistic” about where things were headed.

There are currently nine countries that possess nuclear weapons: the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. ICAN calculated that they collectively spent $72.6 billion in 2020 on nukes. (picture below – a little out of date – 2019 )

The U.S. was responsible for just over half of this doomsday payout, at $37.4 billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. nuclear spending is anticipated to soon increase sharply due to plans for technological upgrades, rising to $41.2 billion next year and totaling $634 billion during the 10 years from 2021-2030.

China came in second in 2020 at an estimated $10.1 billion. Russia was third at $8 billion. Notably, in a year when the world economy was flattened by the coronavirus pandemic, nuclear spending continued on an upward trajectory without a hiccup.

Despite these hefty numbers, they’re probably an underestimate. “There’s always more [nuclear spending] out there … even more still lurking in the shadows,” said Susi Snyder, co-author of the report and managing director of the project Don’t Bank on the Bomb. Snyder points out that “governments, especially U.S., U.K., [and] France are always demanding ‘transparency’ … yet they do not hold themselves to the standards they demand of others.”

A great deal of U.S. nuclear spending consists of profitable contracts with private corporations.

The four companies Ellsberg said were raking in cash “preparing for war” indeed received the most money in 2020:

  • Northrop Grumman — $13.7 billion
  • General Dynamics — $10.8 billion
  • Lockheed Martin — $2.1 billion
  • Boeing — $105 million

These enormous contracts create obvious incentives for these companies to lobby for more government expenditures on Armageddon, and they assiduously do so. Indeed, lobbying unquestionably is the most profitable investment these companies make. According to ICAN’s report, for every $1 they spent on lobbying, they received $239 in nuclear weapon contracts.

The specifics are notable here. Northrop reported $13.3 million in lobbying expenses in 2020. Last year it was formally awarded the enormous initial contract to develop a new intercontinental ballistic missile system called the “Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.” It will inevitably receive the contract for the entire program, estimated to be worth $85 billion over its life. In discussion on the GBSD, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition stated that he didn’t see the pandemic affecting nuclear spending.

There is also much more to lobbying than that which goes by the name. In the 2006 documentary “Why We Fight,” journalist Gwynne Dyer explained that President Dwight Eisenhower considered the military-industrial complex actually to have three components: the military, defense corporations, and Congress. But now, Dyer said, there’s a fourth: think tanks, which generally push their funders’ policies under a thin veneer of scholarship.

According to the report, companies profiting from nuclear weapons contributed $5-10 million to think tanks in 2020. Northrop alone spent at least $2 million funding nine of them, including the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, the Center for a New American Security, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

However, ICAN did not produce the report for passive consumption or as an inducement to despair. Instead, it is part of a sophisticated strategy to eventually make nuclear weapons as taboo worldwide as chemical and biological weapons are now.

ICAN was a key force behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in 2017 at the United Nations. It makes illegal any activities related to nuclear weapons and has been signed by 86 countries and ratified by 54. It entered into force this past January.

None of the nuclear powers are signatories. Yet they need not be for the treaty to create a noose around those countries and their companies that should tighten over time. For instance, Airbus produces missiles for France’s nuclear weapons arsenal. But it is headquartered in the Netherlands, so if that country ratified the TPNW, it could no longer do so.

This financial threat has now attracted the attention of the stockholders of these nuclear corporations. Snyder notes that a 2020 Northrop shareholders resolution stated that the company “has at least $68.3 billion in outstanding nuclear weapons contracts, which are now illegal under international law,” and it received 22 percent support. A similar Lockheed resolution got over 30 percent support. The KBC Group, the 15th-largest bank in Europe, has announced that it will not fund any nuclear weapon-related activity because of the TPNW.

Success here will obviously require a long-term campaign and increased activism across the world. But the trajectory is headed in the right direction. “The days of spending with impunity on WMD,” believes Snyder, “are numbered.”

June 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Illinois nuclear power stations’future hangs in the balance, awaiting decision on taxpayer subsidies.


Fate of Illinois nuclear plants in balance after PJM auction fail and stalled subsidy 
plan. Utility Dive  June 7, 2021  By Scott Voorhis  

Dive Brief:

  • Exelon Corp. reports that three of its nuclear plants in Illinois failed to clear the PJM Interconnection’s capacity auction last week.
  • Exelon, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed that its Bryon, Dresden and Quad Cities nuclear plants in Illinois all failed to sell their power at the PJM auction, losing out to other power plants and energy resources. Bryon and Dresden are currently slated to be retired this fall, with Quad Cities remaining open thanks to previously awarded subsidies from the state of Illinois.

The fate of Illinois’ nuclear power sector, meanwhile, remains in the balance, as an impasse drags on in the state legislature over an energy bill that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the sector………….. https://www.utilitydive.com/news/fate-of-illinois-nuclear-plants-in-balance-after-pjm-auction-fail-and-stall/601324/

June 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

‘Koeberg Nuclear Plant is like an old car that simply can’t be kept on the road’

Cape Talk,    7 June 2021, by Barbara Friedman    Refilwe Moloto speaks to Hilton Trollip, a research fellow in energy at UCT’s Global Risk Governance Programme.

  • Koeberg GM suspended but energy expert says the nuclear power station is past its sell-by date
  • Researcher Hilton Trollip is skeptical about refurbishing Koeberg
  • All coal-firing and nuclear plants need to end and move over to renewable sources, says Trollip

On Friday the general manager of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station was replaced by Eskom’s Chief Nuclear Officer. Velaphi Ntuli has been suspended for operational reasons.

RELATED: Eskom suspends Koeberg Power Station GM for ‘performance-related issues’

One of those being that one of Eskom’s biggest generating units with a capacity of 900MW, Koeberg Unit 1 has been on an outage since January 2021.

Just how concerned should we be as we head into winter, and at the same time, try to revive our economy?

We don’t know what’s happening inside Koeberg because we have no information on that, but what we do know is that Eskom is sitting with a power station fleet that is 30, 40, and 50 years old.

Hilton Trollip, Research Fellow – Global Risk Governance Programme UCT

Koeberg was built in 1985 and reaches the end of its design life in 2024, he notes.

It’s like a 20 or 30-year-old car. There comes a stage when it simply can’t be kept on the road, or to keep it on the road is too expensive or you are going to have regular breakdowns.

…………….Should the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station be given a longer lease on life?

There are plans to refurbish it, but I am skeptical about the wisdom of that. I am an engineer and everybody knows, things wear out, including power stations. Hilton Trollip, Research Fellow – Global Risk Governance Programme UCT
He says the government as a whole has not taken on board the fact that this energy era has to come to an end and be replaced with renawables……….. https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/418543/koeberg-nuclear-plant-is-like-an-old-car-that-simply-can-t-be-kept-on-the-road

June 8, 2021 Posted by | politics, safety, South Africa | Leave a comment

Old nuclear grinding to a halt in Britain

nuClear news, No 1333    5 June 21 In February it was reported that Centrica had suspended the sale of its nuclear business. Centrica owns a 20% interest in the UK’s 8.25 GW of operational nuclear power generation fleet. In 2018 it announced it was looking for a buyer for the stake. The Company continues to look at options, but the divestment process has now been paused mainly because of the graphite cracking issue at Hunterston and Hinkley and pipe corrosion at Dungeness. 

The company’s nuclear output for 2020 was down 10% year on year to 9.134 TWh, while the achieved price was up 4% to £51.30/MWh. Centrica’s nuclear segment made an operating loss of £17 million, down from a £17 million operating profit in 2019. A £525 million impairment charge on power assets included £481 million relating to nuclear, “largely as a result of a reduction in price forecasts and availability issues at the Hunterston B, Dungeness B and Hinkley Point B power stations.” (1)

 

Dungeness 

 EDF Energy is reported to be exploring a range of scenarios for Dungeness B, including bringing forward its decommissioning date of 2028. The Company may decide to start defuelling the reactors seven years early unless a number of “significant and ongoing technical challenges” are overcome. 

On 27 August 2018 Dungeness B shut down Reactor 22 for its planned statutory outage. On 23 September 2018 Reactor 21 was also shut down for the planned double reactor outage. Both reactors have been shut since while a multi-million-pound maintenance programme was carried out. This work was due to be completed last year but that timeline changed to August 2021 following a series of delays.

  Now EDF say the ongoing challenges and risks “make the future both difficult and uncertain”. As a result, the energy company is now exploring a range of options – including shutting the station down later this year, seven years ahead of schedule. A statement from EDF reads:

 “Dungeness B power station last generated electricity in September 2018 and is currently forecast to return to service in August 2021. The station has a number of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges that continue to make the future both difficult and uncertain. Many of these issues can be explained by the fact that Dungeness was designed in the 1960s as a prototype and suffered from very challenging construction and commissioning delays. We expect to have the technical information required to make a decision in the next few months, as it is important we bring clarity to the more than 800 people that work at the station, and who support it from other locations, as well as to government and all those with a stake in the station’s future.”   

 EDF Energy said it has spent more than £100 million on the plant during its current outage. (2) 
EDF’s latest announcement was that Reactor 21 might restart on June 6, 2022 instead of Aug. 2 this year and Reactor 22 reactor might restart on May 27, 2022 instead of July 23 this year. (3)   Dungeness B was the first AGR to be ordered in 1965. It was expected to begin operation in 1970/1, but didn’t produce commercial electricity until 1989. It is thought to have exceeded its budget by 400%. (4)

  Hunterston

In April the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) gave EDF permission for reactors 3 and 4 at the Hunterston to return to service for a limited period of operation after scrutiny of EDF’s safety case. Operation is permitted for up to a total of 16.7 terawatt days for reactor 3 and 16.52 terawatt days for reactor 4 – approximately six month’s of operation for each. This will be the final period of operation before the reactors are shut-down and the spent fuel removed. (5) 

Reactor 3 has already re-started but Reactor 4 is not expected to be back on-line until 9th June. The end date for Hunterston B will be 7 January 2022 at the latest.  

Hinkley Point B 

On 17th March Hinkley Point B’s two reactors were granted permission by ONR to restart. Reactor 4 and Reactor 3 were taken offline on 21 February and 8 June 2020, respectively, for a series of planned inspections of the graphite core. The company plans to run Hinkley’s two reactors for six months, pause for further inspections and, subject to ONR approval, generate power for a second six-month period. Last November EDF announced that Hinkley Point B would operate no later than July 2022 before moving into the defuelling phase. EDF has spent £3 million over the past year upgrading the plant while detailed assessments have been completed on the graphite in the nuclear reactors. (6)  

  Sizewell B

 EDF Energy extended the outage at Sizewell B by three months to carry out ‘additional work’. The reactor went offline for planned refuelling and maintenance work on April 16, initially scheduled to end on May 29. This has been updated to 30th August following additional work required on some components identified during the shutdown. (7) This is because some steel components are wearing out more quickly than expected, forcing EDF to carry out lengthy unscheduled repairs. (8)  


  Plant Life Extensions 

A look at the age structure of existing nuclear power plants shows the importance of analysing risks of life-time extension and long-term operation. Some of the world’s oldest plants are located in Europe. Of the 141 reactors in Europe, only one reactor came into operation in the last decade, and more than 80 percent of the reactors have been running for more than 30 years. Nuclear power plants were originally designed to operate for 30 to 40 years. Thus, the operating life-time of many plants are approaching this limit, or has already exceeded it. The ageing of nuclear power plants leads to a significantly increased risk of severe accidents and radioactive releases. 

A new study has analysed the risks of life-time extensions of ageing nuclear power plants. At present, life-time extensions in Europe do not have to be comprehensively relicensed according   

  to the state of the art in science and technology. Time limited licenses can be extended by decision of the competent authorities. However, such decisions do not meet the requirements of Nuclear Power Plant licensing procedures in regard to public participation. More often than not environmental impact assessments with public participation are not carried out. However, the situation has changed with the ruling of the European Court of Justice of 29th of July 2019 on the life-time extension of the Doel NPP (Belgium) and the new guidance under the ESPOO Convention. Accordingly, environmental impact assessments with transboundary public participation are now required for life-time extensions.

However, there are still no binding assessment standards for life-time extensions. It is still up to each regulatory authority to decide what and how to assess. In particular, the authorities are not obliged to carry out a comprehensive licensing procedure in which all safety issues are comprehensively examined according to the current state of knowledge. (9)    https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/nuClearNewsNo133.pdf

June 5, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Progressive Democrats slam Joe Biden’s about-face on nuclear weapons spending


Left slams Biden’s nuclear weapons budget 
Politico, By BRYAN BENDER 06/03/2021 

ABOUT-FACE? Biden ran on a platform opposing new nuclear weapons, but his first defense budget goes all in on the Trump-era expansion, including maintaining plans for two new weapons. And leading Democrats and arms control groups are angry at what they see as a betrayal, Lara, Connor and your Morning D correspondent report for Pros.

A number of progressive Democrats, including those who have proposed legislation to curtail several nuclear projects, sounded emboldened. “We must instead spend money on threats that Americans are actually facing like pandemics and climate change, instead of on new destabilizing weapons when we can extend the lifespan of the ones we already have for much cheaper,” progressive Rep. Ro Khanna said in a statement.

Rep. John Garamendi, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, told POLITICO he also “strongly” believes “the United States needs to alter its modernization strategy from one that’s predicated on dominance to one that is based on deterrence.”

The strongest backlash came from disarmament advocates, who said they were expecting Biden to live up to his word. “President Biden ran on a campaign to reverse the budget and outrageous policies put forward by the Trump administration,” the Council for a Livable World said in a statement. “However, this budget expands nearly every nuclear program put forward by that administration. This is not acceptable.”

As “a long-time supporter of arms control and nuclear threat reduction,” the group said, Biden “can — and should — do better.”

Biden told the group during the campaign that “our current arsenal of weapons … is sufficient to meet our deterrence and alliance requirements.” The Democratic Party platform in 2020 also bluntly stated that “the Trump Administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons is unnecessary, wasteful, and indefensible.” https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-defense/2021/06/03/left-slams-bidens-nuclear-weapons-budget-795711

June 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japanese government is weakening its support for nuclear power.

Japan has softened its commitment to nuclear power in a draft economic
growth strategy to be finalized later this month after facing opposition
from several Cabinet ministers, government sources said Thursday.

The government has dropped the key phrase that it “will continue to seek to
make the most out of nuclear power” after protests from Environment
Minister Shinjiro Koizumi and administrative reform minister Taro Kono, who
are proponents of renewable energy in order to achieve a carbon neutral
society, according to the sources.

The draft is being compiled at a time when Tokyo is seeking to take a leading role in combating global warming
under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The continued commitment to nuclear
energy was sought by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The draft
now says, “While reducing reliance (on nuclear power) as much as
possible, (the government will seek to) steadily proceed with the
restarting of reactors in the country while placing utmost priority on
safety.”

Japan Times 3rd June 2021

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/06/03/national/nuclear-power-commitment/

June 5, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy gets record increase in USA’s Dept of Energy’s budget request,

World Nuclear News , 2 June 21 – The DOE’s budget request totals USD46.2 billion and includes a “record” USD1.85 billion for the Office of Nuclear Energy, which is an increase of over 23% from the enacted budget for FY21. This includes over USD370 million – up 48% from the USD250 million enacted in FY21 – for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme, a cost-shared programme which aims to build two demonstration advanced reactors within the next six years. It also includes USD145 million for the Versatile Test Reactor Project, which aims to provide fast neutron testing capability to aid US development of advanced nuclear reactor technology. This is more than triple the USD45 million enacted for the project in FY21.   

June 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump (LAND) call to Boris Johnson for a moratorium on the push for ”Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility”

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump (LAND) have sent a letter to Boris Johnson
urging him to issue a Moratorium on the push for “Delivery of a
Geological Disposal Facility” – Cumbria is in the frame once again with
the salt water infused complex geology under the Irish Sea being touted as
a “possible” site.

 Radiation Free Lakeland 4th June 2021

https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/titanic-microbes-and-request-for-moratorium-on-delivery-of-deep-nuclear-waste-dump/

June 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

President Biden’s budget backs new nuclear weapons, contradicting his policy while campaigning

Biden goes ‘full steam ahead’ on Trump’s nuclear expansion despite campaign rhetoric

The decision to retain a low-yield warhead that was outfitted on submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 2019, and to initiate research into a new sea-launched cruise missile, has sparked an outcry. Politico,  By LARA SELIGMANBRYAN BENDER and CONNOR O’BRIEN, 06/02/2021

President Joe Biden ran on a platform opposing new nuclear weapons, but his first defense budget backs two controversial new projects put in motion by President Donald Trump and also doubles down on the wholesale upgrade of all three legs of the arsenal.

The decision to retain a low-yield warhead that was outfitted on submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 2019, and to initiate research into a new sea-launched cruise missile, has sparked an outcry from arms control advocates and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which is vowing a fight to reverse the momentum.

“The signal this budget is sending is full steam ahead: ‘We like what Trump was doing and we want to do more of it,’’ said Tom Collina, director of policy at the Ploughshares Fund, a leading disarmament group. “It is not the message Biden was sending as a candidate. What we have here is Biden essentially buying into the Trump nuclear plan, in some cases going beyond that.”

Emma Claire Foley, a researcher at Global Zero, a disarmament group, said the latest budget “essentially preserves the priorities of the Trump administration,” despite the new administration’s rhetoric about pursuing a more responsible nuclear posture.

During the 2020 campaign, Biden told the Council for a Livable World, an arms control group, that the current arsenal is “sufficient” and the United States does not need new nuclear weapons. In July 2019, Biden also called Trump’s move to introduce new capabilities a “bad idea.”

The Democratic Party platform in 2020 also bluntly stated that “the Trump Administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons is unnecessary, wasteful, and indefensible.”

The Democratic Party platform in 2020 also bluntly stated that “the Trump Administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons is unnecessary, wasteful, and indefensible.”

That includes modernizing all three legs of the nuclear triad: the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, which is the replacement for the fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles; the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines; and the new B-21 stealth bomber.

The budget also proposes $609 million for the Long Range Standoff Missile, which is designed to be outfitted on bomber planes. That’s $250 million more than what was projected by the Trump administration for fiscal 2022.

Most controversially, the Pentagon’s request maintains the W76-2 low-yield warhead that is now outfitted on submarines and sets aside $5.2 million for a new sea-launched cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Another $10 million is being requested for the warhead in the budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration, an arm of the Energy Department………….. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/02/biden-trump-nuclear-weapons-491631

June 3, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden previously called Submarine-Launched Nuclear Cruise Missile a ”bad idea”, but now it’s in the Budget.

U.S. Navy Funds New Submarine-Launched Nuclear Cruise Missile Biden Called ‘A Bad Idea’ .Forbes, David Hambling, 2 June 21, I’m a South London-based technology journalist, consultant and author   Budget documents reveal the U.S. Navy is developing a new nuclear-armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile, known as SLCM-N. President Biden described the missile as “a bad idea” when campaigning in 2019. Though an
 obvious candidate for cancelation, the SLCM-N program is going ahead.

…………………Putting nuclear cruise missile on Virginia-class would be a quick and easy way of ramping up strategic capability. Currently, the only nuclear-armed subs are the fourteen Ohio-class ballistic missile subs, so SLCM-N on Virginia-class would more than double that at a stroke.

But there are downsides.

“Putting nuclear-armed missiles back on the conventional surface or attack submarine fleets of the Navy is a real cause for concern,” says Monica Montgomery, a research analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Doing so would erode the higher-priority conventional missions of the Navy by reducing the number of conventional missiles each boat could carry and increase the possibility of conflict escalation through miscalculation by blurring the line between conventional and nuclear cruise missiles on these vessels.”

“Putting nuclear-armed missiles back on the conventional surface or attack submarine fleets of the Navy is a real cause for concern,” says Monica Montgomery, a research analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Doing so would erode the higher-priority conventional missions of the Navy by reducing the number of conventional missiles each boat could carry and increase the possibility of conflict escalation through miscalculation by blurring the line between conventional and nuclear cruise missiles on these vessels.”

“Reversing the Trump administration’s plan to pursue a nuclear SLCM should be an easy choice,” Reif says.

Reif describes the SLCM-N as “a costly hedge on a hedge” – an extra backup for an already extensive and growing nuclear arsenal – making it a pointless extravagance.

Reif also notes that the nuclear capability will come at the expense of urgently needed conventional weapons.

“Arming such vessels with nuclear cruise missiles would also reduce the number of conventional missiles each boat could carry, at a time when Pentagon leaders argue that strengthening conventional deterrence is their top priority in the Asia-Pacific,” says Reif.

Biden himself noted that fielding low-yield weapons as alternatives to more powerful ballistic missiles would make the U.S. “more inclined to use them” and increase the risk of a nuclear war.

The SLCM-N project is starting small, just $15.2 million in this year’s budget compared to the billions for other nuclear programs. But if the analysts are right, the U.S. Navy is buying trouble rather than new capability.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2021/06/02/us-navy-funds-new-submarine-launched-nuclear-cruise-missile-biden-called-a-bad-idea/?sh=405441c022b2

June 3, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

5 Republicans and 1 Democrat – the U.S. Senate nuclear caucus – Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition – bribed by nuclear weapons companies to pour $1.7trillion into new and ‘modernised’ nukes

why the missile caucus is so influential is: money

Meet the Senate nuke caucus, busting the budget and making the world less safe,   https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/05/26/meet-the-senate-nuke-caucus-busting-the-budget-and-making-the-world-less-safe/ These lawmakers represent states with a direct interest in pouring billions into modernizing and building new weapons.   Marcy Winograd and Medea Benjamin, MAY 26, 2021    

Democrats might control the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government right now, but a small Republican-dominated Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition exercises outsized influence in a frightening campaign for nuclear rearmament.

The coalition, comprising six senators from states that house, develop, or test underground land-based nuclear weapons, is pushing a wasteful and dangerous $1.7 trillion, decades-long plan to produce new nuclear weapons, some with warheads 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

While the 1980s witnessed the nuclear freeze and a mass movement to demand nuclear disarmament between the U.S. and Soviet Union, the 1990s gave birth to the missile caucus, the Congressional engine careening the U.S. into a renewed nuclear arms race.

All but one of the members of this caucus is a Republican from a deep red state — including North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota — that didn’t vote for Joe Biden. Members of the Senate ICBM Coalition are Co-Chairs John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.); John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); Steve Daines (R-Mont); Mike Lee (R-Utah); and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

The lone Democrat, Tester, a third-generation farmer and former elementary school music teacher, wields a critical gavel as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, a committee that will write the appropriations bill for military expenditures. Tester told the D.C.-based Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance this year that he was committed to keeping new nuclear weapons production “on track.”

If the ICBM Coalition and the weapons lobby have their way, the United States will brandish a new nuclear arsenal in order to, in their view, replace aging and outdated nuclear weapons ill-suited to meet the challenges of a renewed Cold War. Critics charge that the development and production of new nuclear weapons violates the spirit and letter of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), signed by the United States and Soviet Union in 1968.

In addition to violating a treaty joined by 191 nations, U.S. production of new nuclear weapons is likely to escalate the arms race, sabotage future arms control negotiations with Russia or China and encourage non-nuclear nations to enrich weapons-grade uranium.

Although it was the Trump administration that in 2020 awarded Northrop Grumman a $13.3 billion sole-source contract to build new land-based nuclear missiles called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), it is the Biden administration that is slated to include, as part of its record high $753 billion military budget, $30 billion or more for the GBSD. This would be  a down payment on the estimated $264 billion cost to replace all 400 underground Minuteman III missiles in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Colorado, from 2029 through 2075. 

The GBSD is part of a euphemistically labeled “nuclear modernization” program proposing, in addition to new ICBMs, new ballistic missile submarines outfitted with low-yield, five-kiloton tactical nuclear weapons, as opposed to larger 100-kiloton “strategic” nuclear weapons meant for a global nuclear showdown.

 The Trump administration’s 2018 nuclear posture review reasoned these “more usable” tactical nuclear weapons would keep the Russians and Chinese in check. Critics argue that these smaller, shorter-range tactical nuclear weapons blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear war, making these weapons more likely to be employed under the misguided assumption that a nuclear war can be limited.

The push for rearmament, including a new nuclear cruise missile, a modified gravity bomb with two-stage radiation implosion and long-range strike bomber, comes amid concern the Biden administration’s heated anti-China rhetoric could plunge us into a nuclear war.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg recently released classified documents that revealed U.S. military leaders penned plans in 1958 to execute a first nuclear strike against China in a dispute over Taiwan’s sovereignty. According to the documents, Pentagon officials were willing to risk a million deaths in the event the Soviet Union fired back with nuclear weapons.  In releasing the classified material and purposefully risking prosecution, Ellsberg told the New York Times, “I do not believe the participants were more stupid or thoughtless than those in between or in the current cabinet.”

With Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Republicans and Tester cheerleading for the GBSD, a missile caucus lobbyist might think the American people would prefer to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new ICBMs and nearly two-trillion dollars on the entire nuclear escalation package than investing in Medicare for All or clean water in Flint, Michigan. A 2020 University of Maryland poll revealed, however, that 61 percent of Americans–including both Democratic and Republican majorities–support phasing out the United States’s 400 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Knowing this, why would Biden and Democratic politicians carry out the mission of the small Republican-dominated missile caucus and its chums in the profitable weapons industry? Northrop Grumman, with a net worth of $50 billion, promises nuclear rearmament will create 10,000 jobs, but compare that number to the 3-million employed under FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps that planted 3-billion trees.

The answer to why the missile caucus is so influential is: money. And lots of it.

ICBM weapons contractors contributed more than $15 million from 2012-2020 to members of the Senate and House Armed Services and Appropriations committees and subcommittees, according to the Arms Control Association. Steven Semler, co-founder of the Security Policy Reform Institute, notes these contractors even buy influence among members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), last year donating $376,650 to Democrat Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee; $148,135 to Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and $63,086 to Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), all of whom belong to the CPC.

While Biden may fear appearing “soft” on defense if he retreats from relaunching our nuclear program, progressives are preparing for a fierce debate. GBSD opponents include an impressive diplomatic team: William Perry, former Secretary of Defense; Daniel Ellsberg, author, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner; and William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy.

Hartung, author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex,recommends nixing the ICBMs entirely“Because of their extreme vulnerability to attack, ICBMs are kept on high alert status, leaving the president a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them on warning of an impending attack,” he says.

There is no law of gravity that compels the current president or Congress to continue funding this drive for nuclear rearmament.

June 1, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ain’t it lovely to see USA Democrats and Republicans in full agreement – on spending $squillions in unnecessary nuclear weapons, of course.

Jill Hruby to lead the National Nuclear Security Administration


Biden nuclear nominee would continue Trump-era plutonium pit production plans, Defense News, By: Joe Gould
 WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden’s nominee to oversee nuclear warhead development, Jill Hruby, said Thursday the U.S. should continue plans to ramp up production of plutonium cores, a key component in nuclear weapons, by using two sites.

Federal officials, under President Donald Trump, set a deadline of 2030 for increased production of the plutonium cores or pits, with work split between Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina ― which is 25 percent into a refit.

At stake are jobs and billions of federal dollars to upgrade buildings or construct new factories, and it’s been an open question whether Biden would review those plans.

Hruby, who would lead the National Nuclear Security Administration, said at her Senate confirmation hearing that expanding pit production is the “biggest issue” facing the agency. While Los Alamos is on track to produce 30 pits per year by 2026, plans to produce 50 pits per year at Savannah River have slipped, pushing the 80-pit target to “somewhere between 2030 and 2035,” she said.

As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., described it, nuclear modernization efforts ― which include five warhead programs and facility recapitalizations ― are fueling NNSA’s highest workload since the 1980s. The organization is a semiautonomous agency of the Energy Department.

Senate Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Angus King, I-Maine, prompted Hruby to affirm that the 80-pit goal is part of nuclear maintenance and modernization vital for deterrence and peace.

“The number of pits that are projected to be needed are a minimum of 80 pits per year. That’s a significant capability at Los Alamos. If we were to do it all there, it would require much more infrastructure investment,” Hruby said, adding that the expansion at Savannah River “allows us to have a cost-effective program, use the talents across the NNSA complex.”

The panel’s top Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe, whose support for an NNSA budget increase in 2019 fueled one of several clashes with then-Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, recounted Thursday that he’d personally intervened with then-President Trump. In a sign Hruby’s nomination is in good shape, Inhofe said he agrees with her priorities around weapons programs, infrastructure and the workforce ― and he elicited her agreement to keep him informed of her progress.

However, one lawmaker was critical of the rising costs of nuclear weapons. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pointed to a “staggering” 29 percent increase in NNSA’s newly projected costs for sustaining and modernizing warheads over the next 25 years to $505 billion. Calling this “out of control,” Warren worried that overruns would crowd out the Energy Department’s important nonproliferation budget…….. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2021/05/27/biden-nuclear-nominee-would-continue-trump-era-plutonium-pit-production-plans/

May 31, 2021 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment