nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

1986 “glossy safe” image of nuclear industry – still being spun today

Dr Pangloss

the long-term effects of low-level radiation exposure have consistently been downplayed, distorted or concealed by scientists, the nuclear industry and the government.

It seems that while the US and the USSR had a hard time cooperating on nuclear arms at that time, they had a tacit agreement to cover up each other’s nuclear power mistakes.

these facts, like all those about nuclear power and nuclear weapons testing, were kept secret and released only through the efforts of private citizens and a few courageous researchers and journalists.

At least 250,000 American troops were directly exposed to atomic radiation during the 17 years of bomb testing here and in the Pacific, but they have been totally ignored by the government and the Army.

There is little doubt that hundreds died and that countless others developed illnesses that led to death from various cancers, blood disorders and chronic body ailments. Today the government still rejects all claims for such illnesses.

The press also played a role in soothing public fears.

the US has led the world in setting examples of deliberate deceit, suppression of information and harassment of nuclear critics

Professionals, in order to perform their work, resist truth strongly if it calls the morality of their work into question. They sincerely believe they are helping humankind. In addition, scientific research involves so many uncertainties that scientists can, with an easy conscience, rationalize away dangers that are hypothetical or not immediately observable. They also have an intellectual investment if not a financial one in continuing their work as well as families to support, and nuclear science in particular has been endowed not only with government money and support but great status and prestige.

In order to perform professional work, one must not only believe one is doing good but must also rationalize the dangers. Indeed, with regard to ionizing radiation, this is quite easy inasmuch as the risks of radiation exposure at any level are statistical and not immediately manifested.


text-from-the-archivesPro Nuclear Propaganda: How Science, Government and the Press Conspire to Misinform the Public
 http://www.lornasalzman.com/collectedwritings/pro-nuclear.html by Lorna Salzman Hunter College, Energy Studies program, 1986  After the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in the Soviet Union, there was much finger-wagging in the US about the suppression of information there, and the purported differences in reactor design and safety requirements between Russia and the US, which made a similar accident here unlikely if not impossible Continue reading

December 2, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Murky dealings in South Africa’s nuclear procurement

corruptionflag-S.AfricaNuclear vision: New Eskom CEO Koko puts controversial nuclear power plans back on table The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when the government appeared to back down on plans to build nuclear power plants any time soon. But Eskom’s new acting CEO Matshela Koko has moved quickly to get the build back on the agenda. He would like to start the process to identify project participants before the end of the year, with nuclear power plants up-and-running within the next decade, Fin24 has revealed.

The nuclear power plan has proved controversial for a number of reasons: firstly, the amount of money involved in developing the programme is so huge it could damage the economy; secondly, the plans first came to light after it emerged that President Jacob Zuma had been in secret talks with Russia to do the work. While Russia and its agency Rosatom have denied that there have been any irregularities in their dealings with South Africa about the build programme, it’s hard not to be cynical about what has gone on behind-the-scenes. The state capture report released by former public protector Thuli Madonsela pointed to the widespread abuse of state funds and the involvement of foreign parties in the control of state entities. Power utility Eskom featured prominently in the report.

So far, there has been no concerted action to fully investigate the allegations. Koko replaces Brian Molefe, who resigned after disgracing himself with bizarre statements about a shebeen in Saxonwold in order to deny he was visiting the controversial Gupta family who live in the leafy suburb. But Koko is no saint; he has also had links to an irregular Eskom deal highlighted in the state capture report. The fact that the nuclear build programme is back on the table, and that there is a sense of urgency to get it moving, points to the worrying possibility that state capture doesn’t only extend across the public sector – it runs deep within institutions. – Jackie Cameron

Biz News, By Matthew Le Cordeur, 1 Dec 16 

Cape Town – Despite a draft energy plan that sees nuclear energy being delayed by over a decade, government and its state-owned entities (SOE) are gearing up to release the request for proposal (RFP) for the 9.6 GW nuclear build programme.

Acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko last month pledged to release the RFPs by the end of the year, and this could happen as soon as next week…….https://www.biznews.com/sa-investing/2016/12/01/nuclear-power-eskom-ceo-koko/

December 2, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

France’s aging nuclear reactors and EDF’s debt crisis

EDF faces a seemingly impossible financial equation. It has colossal debt of €37 billion; it must deal with the complex €2.5 billion takeover of Areva; and find the money to extend the life of its 58 reactors at costs estimated between €60 and €100 billion up to 2030. (8)

Meanwhile EDF has been accused by Greenpeace France of grossly underestimating the cost of nuclear electricity.

Greenpeace claimed that if EDF disclosed the true cost of running its fleet of reactors in France while financing two new ones in the UK, it would be declared bankrupt.

“In summary, the French nuclear fleet is at the end of its course, dilapidated and dotted with deficient parts. At the same time, the finances of EDF are in such a deplorable state that the company could soon join Areva in bankruptcy, and is in any case unable to properly maintain its reactors.”

AREVA EDF crumblingNuClear News No 90 , 26 Nov 16  Problems discovered at Areva’s metal forge at Le Creusot have been growing over the past six months and are now even threatening to derail EDF’s takeover of Areva’s reactor business.

Last spring when Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron visited to tell the workers at Le Creusot that he had every confidence in the nuclear sector, despite the difficulties, 400 files which were being examined for suspected “anomalies” had to be hastily moved out of the meeting room. Now, six months later a crane has been moving prefabricated office buildings into position so that 6,000 records concerning nuclear components – 2.4 million pages – forged at Le Creusot over the last 60 years can be re-examined. Areva has had to accept that the original 400 suspicious files are just the tip of an iceberg and not the only ones containing “irregularities”. 50 people are now trawling through the paperwork and as many more are being recruited for a job that will take at least another eighteen months.

EDF’s CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy says if Le Creusot’s “problems prove insurmountable, the acquisition will not happen”. (1)

With potentially more than half of France’s 58 reactors affected by the “carbon segregation” problem the French nuclear watchdog, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) has ordered preventative measures to be taken immediately to ensure public safety. ASN confirmed that, as of late October, 20 reactors were offline and more could be shut down over coming weeks.

Questionable Materials and Documentation

At the heart of France’s nuclear crisis are two problems. One concerns the carbon content of the steel used in critical reactor components, steam heat exchangers, and other components manufactured or supplied by AREVA SA, the French state-owned nuclear engineering firm and global producer of nuclear reactors. The second problem concerns forged, falsified, or incomplete quality control reports about the critical components themselves. Excessive levels of carbon in the steel parts could make them more brittle and subject to sudden fracture or tearing under sustained high pressure, which is obviously unacceptable.

Steam generators from 18 reactors have carbon levels that are above the acceptable level. Some of these were forged at Le Creusot, but others were forged in Japan by JCFC, a subcontractor of Areva. Twelve reactors equipped with JCFC steel are still at a standstill and will be in December while inspections are carried out.

The massive outages are draining power from all over Europe. In the event of severe cold weather this winter, there could be blackouts. Worse, new questions continue to swirl about both the safety and integrity of EDF’s nuclear fleet, as well as the quality of some French- and Japanese-made components that EDF is using in various high-profile nuclear projects around the world.

In October EDF was forced to reduce its 2016 generation targets from 395–400 TWh to 380– 390 TWh, while estimates for nuclear output in 2017 have also been lowered to between 390 TWh and 400 TWh. For perspective, annual nuclear production averaged 417 TWh in the period 2005–2015.

Flamanville

The problem was originally discovered at the Flamanville EPR project in 2014. Since then an internal probe at Le Creusot where many of the components in question were manufactured, has uncovered new anomalies. AREVA is now reported to be reviewing all 9,000 manufacturing records at the forge dating back as far as 1943, including files from more than 6,000 nuclear components.

This autumn there have been almost weekly revelations resulting in plant shutdowns, extended outages, reduced generation, and lots more questions. According to ASN there are now a significant number of reactors offline, with more to be inspected in the next few weeks. “We are now finding carbon segregation problems from components coming from both Le Creusot and [the Kitakyushu-based Japan Casting & Forging Corp.] JCFC plant. As for now, there [are] 20 EDF reactors offline,” the official said, noting that the number will fluctuate as inspections take place.

The analyses performed by EDF thus far have found that since 2015 certain channel heads of the steam generators manufactured by Le Creusot and JCFC “contain a significant carbon concentration zone which could lead to lower than expected mechanical properties,” according to ASN. The Japan Times reports that the JCFC is now also under scrutiny by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Shaun Burnie for Greenpeace said “As a result of substandard manufacturing in Japan, citizens in France have been unknowingly exposed to the risk of catastrophic failure of critical reactor components which could result in a reactor core meltdown. Japanese-supplied steel is now at the centre of France’s unprecedented nuclear crisis the scale of which has never been seen in any country. All 12 reactors supplied by JCFC are either in forced shutdown or about to be. It lacks all credibility that the Japanese nuclear industry would claim that there are no implications for the safety of their own nuclear reactors. The steel production records released in France did not reveal the scale of excess carbon, which was only found after physical testing. There are currently no plans for such tests in Japan. That is wholly unacceptable. There are many urgent questions that need to be answered by the industry and the NRA, and with full public disclosure and transparency.” (2)

Energy traders and analysts warn that the French market needs to prepare for longer maintenance periods in coming years given the age of the nuclear fleet and the continuing design flaw revelations. With the average French reactor now more than 30 years old, equipment will need to be replaced more frequently, and increasingly stringent safety requirements will mean that components could be delayed, especially as ASN imposes additional checks. The safety inspections and other reviews “will lead in particular to extensions of certain planned outages,” EDF said in a press release.

 Erring on the Side of Safety?

Despite the outages and findings from the carbon quality investigations, EDF continues to downplay the risk. “The safety margins are very large and the carbon content does not undermine integrity or security, even in the case of an accident,” an EDF spokesperson told Le Monde newspaper. But questions about quality control practices at Le Creusot continue to grow. Indeed, the greater the scrutiny, the more problems are being discovered. The number of components affected by irregularities and already installed in operating reactors increased from 33 known issues in April to 83 by the end of September. Startlingly, irregularities affecting just the Flamanville EPR project increased from two to 20 during the same period.

While EDF and AREVA are dealing with costly damage control, ASN and other agencies are erring on the side of caution. Indeed, the ASN representative said, “We take no risks. That is the rule. If we don’t know the dangers of the carbon segregation, then we must take the reactors offline until we know what the situation is and [can confirm that] it’s not dangerous.”

ASN revealed that AREVA has now identified at least 87 irregularities concerning EDF reactors in operation, including vessels, steam generators, and main primary system piping, plus the 20 issues for parts intended for Flamanville 3, and one more affecting a steam generator planned for installation in Gravelines 5. Inspectors have also found four irregularities affecting transport packaging for radioactive substances. ASN said that whatever the outcome of these investigations, the irregularities “reveal unacceptable practices.”

External Parties Push for Answers

After the discovery of anomalies in the composition of steel in certain zones of the vessel closure head and the vessel bottom head of the EPR reactor being built at Flamanville in 2014, an internal audit was carried out and released in April 2015, suggesting the existence of many more anomalies. These were initially downplayed by ASN and AREVA. But in September 2015 an independent evaluation conducted by Large and Associates for Greenpeace France really set the cat amongst the pigeons. “The nature of the flaw in the steel, an excess of carbon, reduces steel toughness and renders the components vulnerable to fast fracture,” said the report’s author, John Large. The Greenpeace report, “Amplified the questions ASN already had,” said an ASN representative.

12 reactors have been identified by ASN to have carbon problems in replacement steam generators forged by JCFC. In these reactors initial surface tests were followed by more invasive studies. The first reactors to enter scheduled refuelling outages for a more thorough examination were Tricastin 1 and 3. The early nondestructive inspection results for the JCFC bottom channel heads at these reactors revealed an alarming 0.39% level of carbon present, almost 100% greater than the maximum permissible level. That finding, with its associated reduction in material toughness, rendered the component vulnerable to fast fracture, reported Greenpeace in a late October update. ASN decided to order the shutdown of all but one of these reactors and these shutdowns will remain in force until EDF can demonstrate each reactor is safe to re-enter service.

Uncertainty Remains

At a French parliamentary hearing into the situation on October 25, ASN said it would need another year or two to examine the thousands of documents at the Le Creusot foundry and more anomalies and irregularities will probably be discovered. (3

As of late October 2016 ASN has confirmed the following:

  • Six reactors have been granted approval to restart and are operating normally: Blayais 1, Chinon 1 and 2, Dampierre 2 and 4, and Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux B2.
  • Seven reactos are in planned outages and have been, or are being, inspected. They are: Bugey 4, Civaux 2, Dampierre 3, Gravelines 2, Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux B1, and Tricastin 1 and 3. (4) The Times reports that the re-start of Civaux 2 and Dampierre 3 has been delayed until 31st December.

(5) · Five reactors have been ordered by ASN to be taken offline to conduct checks before 18th January 2017. They are: Civaux 1, Fessenheim 1, Gravelines 4, and Tricastin 2 and 4. (6)

  • Three reactors are currently scheduled to remain unavailable throughout the winter months. They are: Bugey 5, Gravelines 5, and Paluel 2.
  • One reactor has been ordered by ASN to shut down following the detection of an irregularity in the lower shell of the steam generator. That unit is Fessenheim 2.
  • Incidentally, Paluel 2 has been offline since May 2015. Its maintenance period is continuing, following an incident on March 31, 2016, in which a 465-ton steam generator tipped over during removal. (7)

EDF’s Debts

EDF faces a seemingly impossible financial equation. It has colossal debt of €37 billion; it must deal with the complex €2.5 billion takeover of Areva; and find the money to extend the life of its 58 reactors at costs estimated between €60 and €100 billion up to 2030. (8)

Meanwhile EDF has been accused by Greenpeace France of grossly underestimating the cost of nuclear electricity.

Greenpeace claimed that if EDF disclosed the true cost of running its fleet of reactors in France while financing two new ones in the UK, it would be declared bankrupt. Greenpeace commissioned an audit by AlphaValue, the equity research company. The French government has agreed to inject €3 billion into the group this year and has renounced dividend payments until next year. Shares in EDF, 85% of which are owned by the French state, have lost almost a third of their value in the past year and the company is no longer listed on the Paris blue-chip index.

The AlphaValue report described EDF as an “uncompetitive firm – incapable of reacting rapidly and efficiently to the variations in electricity needs and the changes created by the liberalisation of European markets”. It said that EDF’s rivals had written down the value of their nuclear plants because of the move to renewable energy and the fall in electricity prices and that EDF had failed to follow suit. Juan Camilo Rodriguez, author of the report, said the company might have to close 17 of its 58 French reactors to meet the government’s requirement that nuclear power should provide 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity in 2025, down from 75 per cent now.

“The provisions to safeguard the burden of financing the decommissioning of the French reactors are far from sufficient. [If 17 are closed], the group should increase its provisions by more than €20 billion.” Mr Rodriguez said the cost of handling nuclear waste added at least €33.5 billion to that figure. “Whatever scenario is retained, an adjustment of the nuclear provisions . . . would lead to the bankruptcy of EDF from an accountancy point of view,” he added. The report said that EDF would need to find a further €165 billion during the next decade to finance projects such as Hinkley Point and the renovation of reactors in France. EDF says it will spend €51 billion renovating its reactors and £12 billion on Hinkley Point. A spokesman for EDF accused AlphaValue of making erroneous calculations that failed to take account of long-term electricity price movements and differences between France and other European markets. (9) Greenpeace filed a complaint against EDF and its CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy, for “stock trading offences” at the end of November and EDF responded by suing the group for making “false allegations”.

Greenpeace has asked the public prosecutor “to open a preliminary investigation or to appoint an investigating judge”, saying that “shareholders, investors but also French citizens are being misled by EDF and its CEO”. (10)

According to Stéphane L’homme, Directeur de l’Observatoire du nucléaire: “In summary, the French nuclear fleet is at the end of its course, dilapidated and dotted with deficient parts. At the same time, the finances of EDF are in such a deplorable state that the company could soon join Areva in bankruptcy, and is in any case unable to properly maintain its reactors.”   http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf

November 26, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, Reference, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nuclear contractors settle with USA Justice Dept over allegations of improper billing.

legal costsUnited States Settles Lawsuit Against Energy Department Contractors for Knowingly Mischarging Costs on Contract at Nuclear Waste Treatment Plant https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/united-states-settles-lawsuit-against-energy-department-contractors-knowingly-mischarging, 24 Nov 16, 

The Justice Department announced today that Bechtel National Inc., Bechtel Corp., URS Corp. (predecessor in interest to AECOM Global II LLC) and URS Energy and Construction Inc. (now known as AECOM Energy and Construction Inc.) have agreed to pay $125 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that they made false statements and claims to the Department of Energy (DOE) by charging DOE for deficient nuclear quality materials, services, and testing that was provided at the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) at DOE’s Hanford Site near Richland, Washington.  The settlement also resolves allegations that Bechtel National Inc. and Bechtel Corp. improperly used federal contract funds to pay for a comprehensive, multi-year lobbying campaign of Congress and other federal officials for continued funding at the WTP.  Bechtel Corp. and Bechtel National Inc. are Nevada corporations.  URS Corp. is headquartered in California, and URS Energy & Construction Inc. is headquartered in Colorado.

“The money allocated by Congress for the Waste Treatment Plant is intended to fund the Department of Energy’s important mission to clean up the contaminated Hanford nuclear site, and this mission is undermined if funds are wasted on goods or services that are not nuclear compliant or to further lobbying activities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement demonstrates that the Justice Department will work to ensure that public funds are used for the important purposes for which they are intended.”

“The environmental clean-up and restoration of the land that comprises the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is one of the single most important projects in this region,” said U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby of the Eastern District of Washington. “It is imperative that funds allocated for this project be used appropriately and judiciously – the public expects nothing less.  This office and our DOJ and DOE counterparts take allegations of contractor abuse seriously and place a priority on investigating and pursuing enforcement when those allegations could impact the safety and security of our citizens.”

“The DOE Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring the integrity of Departmental contracts and financial expenditures,” said Acting Inspector General Rickey R. Hass. “We will continue to steadfastly investigate allegations of fraudulent diversion of tax dollars throughout DOE programs and appreciate the support of DOJ attorneys in these matters.”

Between 2002 and the present, DOE has paid billions of dollars to the defendants to design and build the WTP, which will be used to treat dangerous radioactive wastes that are currently stored at DOE’s Hanford Site.  The contract required materials, testing and services to meet certain nuclear quality standards.  The United States alleged that the defendants violated the False Claims Act by charging the government the cost of complying with these standards when they failed to do so.  In particular, the United States alleged that the defendants improperly billed the government for materials and services from vendors that did not meet quality control requirements, for piping and waste vessels that did not meet quality standards and for testing from vendors who did not have compliant quality programs.  The United States also alleged that Bechtel National Inc. and Bechtel Corp. improperly claimed and received government funding for lobbying activities in violation of the Byrd Amendment, and applicable contractual and regulatory requirements, all of which prohibit the use of federal funds for lobbying activities.

The allegations resolved by this settlement were initially brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Gary Brunson, Donna Busche, and Walter Tamosaitis, who worked on the WTP project.  The False Claims Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the United States when they believe that a party has submitted false claims for government funds, and to receive a share of any recovery.  The Act also permits the government to intervene in such a lawsuit, as it did in part in this case.  The whistleblowers’ reward has not yet been determined.

This matter was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, the DOE Office of the Inspector General and the FBI.

The claims asserted against defendants are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.  The case is United States ex rel. Brunson, Busche, and Tamosaitis v. Bechtel National, Inc., Bechtel Corp., URS Corp., and URS Energy & Construction, Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-05013-EFS (E.D. Wash.).

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Legal, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Killings of climate activists

The deadly business of grassroots climate activism New Internationalist, 20 Nov 16  A recent report found that 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists, raising concerns for those who continue to fight on the frontline, writes Liam Turner.  It’s 2015, and Honduran campaigner Berta Cáceres has just won the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmentalism in South and Central America. The crowd claps as she walks up to the podium in her silver-sequined dress, a slight smile on her face. Then the room goes quiet, and Berta adopts a much more serious tone.

She speaks of her people, the Lenca, and their constant battle to protect their land. She speaks of how the world must break free from the grasp of ‘rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy’ that will ultimately lead to its self-destruction. She speaks of how her people’s sacrifice is not just for them, but for the world and everyone in it. She ends by dedicating the award to the martyrs who have given their lives in the struggle to defend our natural resources.

Less than a year later, armed men would break into her house in the middle of the night and murder her in cold blood, making her the latest to die for her cause. She was 44.

 The Truth Behind the Paris Climate Deal

Climate activism has always been risky. Not only are there hazards that come from protesting at large, industrial sites, there is also the danger that comes from conflict with people whose interests lie with extractivist transnational companies. Ultimately, those who make a stand put themselves in harm’s way one way or another.

In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that climate activism is now more dangerous than ever. In June, a report by Global Witness revealed that 2015 was the deadliest year for environmental activists. It had recorded a total of 186 killings across 16 different countries, an increase of 59 per cent from the previous year. Global Witness also believes this number should actually be much higher, as a lack of reliable data meant that they weren’t able to record all fatal incidents.

An increasing threat

In a postscript to the Global Witness report – entitled ‘On Dangerous Ground’ – campaign leader Billy Kyte said: ‘As demand for products like minerals, timber and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are seizing land in defiance of the people who live on it. Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers.’

The report revealed that activists in Brazil were the worst hit, with a total of 50 recorded deaths. The Philippines was the next highest, with 36 deaths……… https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2016/11/15/the-deadly-business-of-grassroots-climate-activism/

November 21, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran arrests 12 members of nuclear negotiating team for espionage

handcuffedflag-IranReport: 12 members of nuclear negotiating team arrested by Iran for espionage, Jerusalem Post, 18 Nov 16 At least a dozen senior officials who were part of the negotiating team that conducted talks with the west regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program were arrested by Iranian authorities on espionage charges, Channel 2 citing an Iranian member of parliament reported Friday.

Iranian MP Husein Al Haj  said earlier this week that some of those arrested had dual citizenship but he did not disclose their identities or nationalities.

Government controlled media in Iran did not comment or acknowledge the arrests but Arab media outlets have been covering the story quite extensively.

Iranian authorities earlier in the year had carried out a similar arrest against another member of the negotiating unit, claiming the suspect was a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team.”

The suspect was later released on bail but was still under investigation at the time, former Iranian minister of intelligence Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a news conference on August 28…..http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Iranians-officials-arrested-for-spying-473021

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Iran, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

India does not regard the “Termination” clause as binding – nuclear deal with Japan

hypocrisy-scaleflag-indiaTermination clause in nuclear deal with Japan not binding
on India, insists govt, First Post, 13 Nov 16 
New Delhi: The just-signed historic civil nuclear deal with Japan has a “termination” clause which the government here insists is not binding on India but merely records the “views” of the Japanese side considering its “special sensitivities”.

The government insisted that India has made “no additional commitments” over the similar agreements signed with the US and other countries.

In the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Friday, there is a note on ‘Views and Understanding’ wherein the Japanese side has cited India’s September 2008 declaration of unilateral moratorium on atomic tests and said if this commitment is violated, the deal will terminate.

Indian government holds that this is merely recording of the views of the two sides.

“The termination clause is there in other NCAs (nuclear cooperation agreements) we have signed, including with the US (Article 14). However the circumstances triggering a possible termination are never sharply defined. Consideration also has to be given to mitigating factors,” a source here said.

“That note is simply a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues. It is not the NCA which is what is binding,” the source said.

The sources added that given Japan’s special sensitivities as the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack, “it was felt that their views should be recorded in a separate Note. The Note is a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues.

“The termination clause is there in other NCAs (nuclear cooperation agreements) we have signed, including with the US (Article 14). However the circumstances triggering a possible termination are never sharply defined. Consideration also has to be given to mitigating factors,” a source here said.

“That note is simply a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues. It is not the NCA which is what is binding,” the source said.

The sources added that given Japan’s special sensitivities as the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack, “it was felt that their views should be recorded in a separate Note. The Note is a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues………

Japan has made a major exception by signing the atomic cooperation agreement with India, despite it being non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)…….. http://www.firstpost.com/india/termination-clause-in-nuclear-deal-with-japan-not-binding-on-india-insists-govt-3103404.html

November 14, 2016 Posted by | India, politics, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Vested interests and corruption in South Africa’s nuclear procurement

corruptionNuclear deals could be ‘captured’ http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2016/11/07/Nuclear-deals-could-be-captured  JAN-JAN JOUBERT | 07 November, 2016 
Environmentalists have warned that proposed nuclear building programmes could be “captured” if Eskom continues to be the procurement agency for the project, which is expected to cost more than R1-trillion.    Environmental action group Greenpeace said former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture released last week confirmed that vested interests and corruption in the energy sector were central to the energy choices made in South Africa.

“It is no coincidence that Brian Molefe is a key figure in the State of Capture report, and that he and the Eskom board have been running an anti-renewable energy campaign, focused instead on pushing for expensive and unnecessary nuclear energy,” said Greenpeace spokesman Helen Dena.

“This undermines the prioritisation of renewable energy, which would enhance South Africa’s energy future, strengthen the economy and deliver affordable, safe, clean electricity,” said Dena.

DA MP Gordon Mackay said: : “In light of the government’s own policy documents, preference for nuclear is irrational in law.”

November 6, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Eskom just can’t do nuclear

flag-S.AfricaCan Eskom can be trusted with such a huge, risky and expensive exercise?
Between the Chains: Eskom just can’t do nuclear http://www.financialmail.co.za/opinion/Betweenthechains/2016/11/03/between-the-chains-eskom-just-can-t-do-nuclear

BY SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA, NOVEMBER 03 2016, By the time you read this, Statistics SA will have published yet another electricity production report that exposes the propaganda coming out of Eskom for the lie it really is. The last electricity production report, released in the first week in October, shows Eskom has been generating ever-shrinking amounts of power for the past decade. For the eight months to August, it produced a total 152,432 gigawatt hours (gWh) of electricity. For the whole of last year Eskom generated 230,122gWh of power, a far cry from the 241,170gWh it churned out in 2007, the year the screws really came off. The next-best generation performance came only in 2010, with 240,528gWh of electricity produced. It has been on a downward production spiral since then.
This year’s production figures also include the more than 2,000MW that is produced by private, renewable-power operators.

Yet for the past year the utility has been feeding the nation the lie that it has improved its generation performance, pointing at the absence of load shedding as proof. Only when confronted with the evidence do Eskom’s executives reluctantly admit that the much lower demand “has contributed” to the lack of load shedding.

Stats SA collects its information from the utility itself. So who is Eskom fooling with its public-relations spin?

Now that they have been repeating the “superb performance” narrative, Eskom’s managers are beginning to believe it and are becoming more ambitious and brazen. Generation chief Matshela Koko has been generating a storm of hot air about why Eskom must handle the procurement of the next fleet of nuclear power stations. And now that energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has effectively handed the responsibility to Eskom, the utility says it will use its balance sheet to fund the nuclear power stations, which it would operate when the first one comes into operation by 2026……..

While I believe that SA does need to build more nuclear power stations in order to restore energy security, I do not think Eskom can be trusted with such a huge, risky and expensive exercise at this stage. And I believe we only need to build a maximum 3,000MW of new nuclear capacity during the next 20 years, not the 9,600MW government has been pushing for.

As a start, it is fanciful and misleading at best to say a nuclear power station can be commissioned by 2026. Certainly not by Eskom. The worst possibility is that Eskom executives are deliberately misleading SA into believing they can efficiently manage such a process.

Over budget and years late

Since August 2007, Eskom has been bumbling and unnecessarily costing SA billions trying to build the Medupi and Kusile power stations. Both are way over budget and at least five years late.

It is not only lack of skills causing these delays and cost overruns. Corruption inside Eskom and at government level has played the biggest role. And corruption has since got worse, not better.

The biggest lie in Eskom’s bid to control the nuclear procurement is that it has a balance sheet capable of handling such a commitment. Koko conveniently forgets that in 2009 Eskom abandoned its nuclear build programme, and handed the responsibility to government.

The reason was stated clearly: Eskom alone could not afford the commitment, said then chief generation officer Brian Dames in 2009. The utility has since leant on government for financial guarantees and bailouts to support its current capital investment programme. The taxpayer is exposed to more than R170bn in Eskom guarantees alone. Eskom did not have the money then. It does not have it now.

November 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Eskom boss Brian Molefe is not coping well with South Africa’s corruption scandal

corruption-1Eskom boss Brian Molefe bursts into tears over #StateCaptureReport. Has he been hung out to dry? Biz News, 2 Nov 16  Eskom boss Brian Molefe is not coping well with the stream of allegations that point to his role as a central figure in the capture of state entities by the Gupta family. He broke down in tears at a conference on Eskom’s latest financial reports when talk turned to the #StateCaptureReport compiled by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, which was released to the public this week. Molefe has been referred to as a friend of the Gupta family and is a key link in allegations that Eskom may have fraudulently given money to a Gupta-linked company to enable it to buy a coal mine. Molefe has also vigorously promoted the benefits of a nuclear build programme, which many believe will bankrupt the country while its beneficiaries reap the benefits of tapping into state contracts. Molefe’s prominent appearance in the #StateCaptureReport has evidently caught him by surprise. With an illustrious career in powerful roles, including as chief executive officer of the state’s Public Investment Corporation, and influential friends, perhaps he thought he was beyond reach? At the very least, it seems that Molefe’s friends forgot to let him know that he featured in the document, while alerting others – including co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen and mines’ minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who made noises about going to court to stop the release of the #StateCaptureReport. It’s starting to look a bit like a case of  ‘every man for himself’ as the web of deceit around the Gupta and Zuma families unravels. – Jackie Cameron

By Gareth van Zyl  Johannesburg – Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has lashed out at former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s use of cellphone records to suggest he had numerous meetings with the controversial Gupta family.

The public protector’s report on state capture was released on Wednesday, highlighting links between the Guptas and government officials…….https://www.biznews.com/sa-investing/2016/11/03/eskom-brian-molefe-tears-state-capture/

November 4, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | 1 Comment

A new tool for law enforcement agencies to identify criminal nuclear activity

Nuclear CSI: Noninvasive procedure could identify criminal nuclear activity, http://phys.org/news/2016-11-nuclear-csi-noninvasive-procedure-criminal.html   November 1, 2016 by Molly Peterson Determining if an individual has handled nuclear materials, such as uranium or plutonium, is a challenge national defense agencies currently face. The standard protocol to detect uranium exposure is through a urine sample; however, urine is able to only identify those who have been exposed recently. Now, scientists at the University of Missouri have developed procedures that will better identify individuals exposed to uranium within one year. Scientists and homeland security experts believe this noninvasive procedure could identify individuals who may be smuggling nuclear materials for criminal purposes.
“We are working to develop a tool that  agencies in nuclear proliferation or smuggling investigations can use to identify individuals who have handled special nuclear material,” said John Brockman, associate professor of research in the MU Research Reactor Center. “The goal of our research was to determine if hair, fingernail clippings and  could be used to better detect uranium exposure.”

Brockman collected hair, fingernail and toenail clippings from workers in nuclear research facilities from around the country. Testing procedures developed by Brockman and his team were able to identify exposure to both natural and manmade sources of uranium.

According to the World Nuclear Association, naturally occurring uranium is a mixture of three isotopes, including uranium-238 (U-238), U-235 and traces of U-234. U-238 accounts for over 99 percent of the isotopes found in nature; U-235 is the isotope necessary to create nuclear weapons or power a nuclear reactor. U-235 is considered a fissile isotope, meaning the atom has the ability to split, yielding a large amount of energy. Uranium that has been used as fuel in a  also contains the manmade isotope, U-236.

“Our technique was not only able to determine uranium exposure, but also the specific isotopes the individual has handled within the last year,” Brockman said. “We were able to identify exposure to enriched uranium, which is used to make both nuclear fuel and weapons, and U-236 which is suggestive of nuclear fuel reprocessing.”

With this discovery, law enforcement official could use specialized equipment and identify individuals who have been exposed to special nuclear material within 48 hours. Brockman is looking to expand his analysis with the national human radiobiological tissue repository (NHRTR) to further provide insight on how hair and nail samples could be used to monitor exposure to special nuclear material.

The MU Research Reactor has been a crucial component to research at the university for more than 40 years. Operating 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, scientists from across the campus use the 10-megawatt facility to not only provide crucial radioisotopes for clinical settings globally, but also to carbon date artifacts, improve medical diagnostic tools and prevent illness.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Russia’s top secret nuclear sacrifice zone revealed

REVEALED: Putin’s top secret deadly nuclear city where spies observe ‘poisoned’ locals http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/727223/Putin-s-top-secret-deadly-nuclear-city-where-spies-observe-poisoned-locals

A CITY of almost 82,000 people are living on a nuclear time bomb in one of the most toxic places on earth. By SIOBHAN MCFADYEN, Oct 31, 2016 And the residents of the Russian walled city of Ozyorsk in Chelyabinsk Oblast code named City 40 are living in fear of their lives with their every move being watched by Kremlin spies.

Brave locals are living in an experiment zone, on a toxic lake where almost of all of Vladimir Putin’s nuclear arsenal is stockpiled.

And for the first time they have opened up about their experiences residing in the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme. The city is officially closed to the outside world and for those who live there every day is a battle.

Around 15,000 people are employed by the Mayak plant, a plutonium handling facility which rose to prominence during the Cold War. The plant itself covers an area of approximately 50 miles and reprocesses spent fuel from the country’s nuclear submarines.

A new documentary called City 40 now available on Netflix shows for the first time the challenges being faced by the people who live there – many of whom are suffering from cancer. The narrator says: “Growing up as a kid I was aware of a strange place a closed place, a top secret place

“This is where almost all the reserve of Russia’s nuclear materials is stockpiled. “To get in there you would need a full-scale army operation. “Unauthorised access there cannot even be imagined.” The city itself is constantly under surveillance with very little information leaking out to the mainstream.

A narrator adds: “It’s cozy and a beautiful town but a closed one.  “There are spies all over sneaking around gathering information. “My mother used to warn me ‘darling, never say where you are from. “‘Or a Black Maria will take us away and you’ll never see your parents again’.

“Once there was a spill of powder, the radioactive kind of powder. “An underground container of liquid radioactive waste exploded.”

According to reports around 10,000 people have disappeared off the census list in just eight years.

The last census was taken in 2010, it is unknown whether the people have died however many residents are extremely sick.  A city dweller adds: “The local people will tell you that this lake is nicknamed the ‘lake of death’ because it has been so heavily contaminated with plutonium.

“Mostly people were dying of carcinogenic diseases. “Once can say this city was built on dead and ruined human bodies.”If someone refused to work they’d be taken to a prison camp and executed because they were introduced to state secrets.

“They created their own ideology. “We’re the saviours of the world, creators of the nuclear shield.” While the undercover film team have managed to gain access to the locals it is unknown whether they will go unpunished for revealing themselves to camera.

Tensions between the USA and Russia have peaked over recent weeks and it is believed the facility will no doubt be in full production mode. A narrator adds that most of the locals wouldn’t dream of leaving – not because they want to but because they can’t.

They added: “We are used to it and this is how we want to live. “It may be for the better, it may be for the worse, but for now just leave us alone please.”My mother told me ‘let state secrets stay secrets.”

November 2, 2016 Posted by | environment, health, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Secret documents reveal that British tax-payers will cop the costs of Hinkley’s nuclear wastes and any serious accident

The UK government accepts that, in setting a cap, the residual risk, of the very worst-case scenarios where actual cost might exceed the cap, is being borne by the government.”

Separate documents confirm that the cap also applies should the cost of decommissioning the reactor at the end of its life balloon.

Hinkley costsSecret government papers show taxpayers will pick up costs of Hinkley nuclear waste storagehttps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/oct/30/hinkley-point-nuclear-waste-storage-costs  Documents show steps Whitehall took to reassure French energy firm EDF and Chinese investors,Guardian, , 30 Oct 16, Taxpayers will pick up the bill should the cost of storing radioactive waste produced by Britain’s newest nuclear power station soar, according to confidential documents which the government has battled to keep secret for more than a year.

The papers confirm the steps the government took to reassure French energy firm EDF and Chinese investors behind the £24bn Hinkley Point C plant that the amount they would have to pay for the storage would be capped.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – in its previous incarnation as the Department for Energy and Climate Change – resisted repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of the documents which were submitted to the European commission.

“The government has attempted to keep the costs to the taxpayer of Hinkley under wraps from the start,” said Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace chief scientist. “It’s hardly surprising as it doesn’t look good for the government’s claim that they are trying to keep costs down for hardworking families.”

But, earlier this month, on the very last day before government officials had to submit their defence against an appeal for disclosure of the information, the department released a “Nuclear Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology Notification Paper”. Marked “commercial in confidence”, it states that “unlimited exposure to risks relating to the costs of disposing of their waste in a GDF [geological disposal facility], could not be accepted by the operator as they would prevent the operator from securing the finance necessary to undertake the project”.

Instead the document explains that there will be a “cap on the liability of the operator of the nuclear power station which would apply in a worst-case scenario”. It adds: “The UK government accepts that, in setting a cap, the residual risk, of the very worst-case scenarios where actual cost might exceed the cap, is being borne by the government.”

Separate documents confirm that the cap also applies should the cost of decommissioning the reactor at the end of its life balloon. The level of the cap is unclear. But Dr David Lowry, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who made the FoI request, said it was clear that the risk of footing the bill for a significant cost overrun had been transferred from Hinkley’s operator to the taxpayer.

“This shows that the government cares more about the economic future of a foreign power generator than British taxpayers,” Lowry said.

In return for the cap, the document reveals that Hinkley’s operator will pay the government a risk fee which “is expected to be relatively low, reflecting the high level of confidence that the cap will not be breached”.

But Lowry pointed out that the nuclear industry had form when it came to sizable cost over-runs. He warned that an accident that could force the closure of the reactor, either because of problems with it or at another plant, as happened in Japan, would leave the taxpayer having to pay billions of pounds for the clear-up years after it ceased generating revenues.

A government spokesman said: “All operators of new nuclear power stations in the UK are legally obliged to meet the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management and disposal costs. They will also pay the UK government to dispose of the waste produced at the end of a plant’s life.”

October 31, 2016 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

Top secret operation into North Korea to destroy Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons stash

exclamation-SmSpecial forces sneak into North Korea to DESTROY Kim’s nukes http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/557903/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-kim-jong-un-missiles-south-korea-special-ops-unites-states  By Rachel O’Donoghue  30th October 2016 A TOP secret operation has been completed that saw agents sneak into the secretive state of North Korea to destroy Kim Jong-un’s weapons stash.  United States and South Korean forces apparently staged the operation – dubbed Teak Knife – recently.

On Thursday (October 27) a US military spokesperson confirmed the exercise had been carried out in a rare public announcement.

They said: “Troops of South Korean Air Force’s combat control team, an infiltration commando unit, and the US Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Group staged a joint exercise at Gunsan Air Base recently.”

Part of the operation saw military transport aircraft practising flying low – something that has been done since the 1990s to test infiltrating North Korea.

These aircraft are apparently used to transport special forces who are on a mission to destroy Kim Jong-un’s missiles and nuclear weapons.

According to a South Korean news network, the 353rd Special Operations Group, which is based at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, completes missions to send commandos into the closed country.

The military spokesperson added: “The latest Teak Knife exercise focused on infiltrating an inland area in the North to destroy key facilities.

“It’s different from a decapitation strike operation targeting the North Korean leadership.”

There have been calls in the US to launch pre-emptive strikes in North Korea following numerous incidents of despot leader Kim Jong-un testing his countries nuclear power.

Just this week officials confirmed he tested nuclear-capable missile which has the potential to reach the US military base in Guam.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power co-operation between USA and China cools, with arrest of energy consultant

US nuclear secrets trial cools co-operation with China Arrest of an energy consultant spurs concern over racial profiling, Ft.com   by:  in Beijing and  in Washington

Allen Ho was still reeling from his arrest during a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, when armed Federal Bureau of Investigation agents began interrogating the nuclear energy consultant about his work in China, without any lawyer present.

That business involved hiring retired US nuclear engineers and consultants to advise China General Nuclear Power Corp, the state-owned company that plans to invest in an £18bn reactor in the UK.

Mr Ho, born in Taiwan and a US citizen since 1983, was charged with violating a statute designed to prevent American scientists from helping other countries develop an atomic bomb. The case comes during an era of unprecedented nuclear co-operation between the west and China, but also a time of growing trade friction and accusations of cyber crime and espionage.

 After his arrest in April, Mr Ho’s imprisonment for six monthsin a maximum security cell in Tennessee has chilled Chinese technical co-operation with the international nuclear industry and raised accusations of racial profiling in the US.

Along with Mr Ho, CGN was also indicted on charges of producing “special nuclear material” outside the US without the required approval from the US Department of Energy.

The company said in an emailed statement that it “has long been adhering to the principle of lawfulness and compliance in all our business operation and international exchanges and will carry on following such a principle”.

Wary of being indicted if they step foot on US soil, CGN executives have since skipped meetings run by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Asme), which sets international standards for everything from school heating boilers to nuclear reactors

This is an issue because engineering decisions made in China affect the world’s reactor fleet. China is the furthest ahead in constructing the European Pressurized Reactor destined for Hinkley Point in the UK as well as the AP1000, an American-designed reactor under construction in China and the US. And under bilateral accords CGN and other Chinese groups will supply components for US and UK reactors.

“China is the only country that can provide the information at present” for the AP1000, said Zhang Qiang, Asme’s chief representative in China. Other forms of international co-operation continue.

 Mr Ho does not deny helping CGN improve operations at its nuclear plants but his defence insists that is a far cry from making material for nuclear weapons. Frank Wu, chairman of the Committee of 100, an advocacy group, said the indictment had inflamed fears of “racial profiling” in the Chinese-American scientific community.

The engineers Mr Ho employed told the FBI that they shared only publicly available information with Chinese nuclear companies, according to court documents. Some helped inexperienced Chinese engineers decipher technical manuals at Daya Bay, the French-designed reactor that supplies electricity to Hong Kong.

Others advised on developing a nuclear fuel process so that CGN could avoid paying hefty royalties to the French. They have not been publicly charged.

The case against Mr Ho will rest on testimony from a Taiwanese-American consultant he employed who secretly pleaded guilty 18 months ago to selling subscription-only research reports on nuclear power to China………

Two prosecutions of US citizens of Chinese birth have already unravelled. The Department of Justice in March dropped all charges against Sherry Chen, a hydrologist accused of illegally sharing information about US dams with Chinese contacts. Months earlier, prosecutors abandoned an espionage case against Xi Xiaoxing, acting head of Temple University’s physics department.

“There’s nothing about this case that’s normal,” said Peter Zeidenberg of Arent Fox, Mr Ho’s lawyer who also represented Mr Xi. “There’s an undercurrent running through all these cases and it’s because of these individuals’ association with China.”

Additional reporting by Luna Lin    https://www.ft.com/content/87a1b1b4-661d-11e6-8310-ecf0bddad227

October 27, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment