The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Heartland Institute’s misinformation campaign into schools

 21 April 2017 by John Cook

Last month, the Heartland Institute sent a climate denial booklet to 25,000 teachers around the US. In Episode 8 of the Evidence Squared podcast, we look at the why and how of this book. What is the chief motivation for the book’s misinformation and what are the techniques they employ to cast doubt on climate science?

April 24, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science

The most common tricks politicians use to muddle inconvenient science  “I think my primary message would be learn to appreciate evidence.” VOX,  by  Apr 20, 2017 On Saturday, thousands of people will march on Washington in support of science. And they’ll do so for very good reasons: Science, under the Trump administration, is under assault. As Vox’s Brian Resnick noted recently, the Trump administration has proposed cutting around $7 billion from science programs, including stifling research funding for the EPA and the National Institutes of Health.

In this interview, I talk to Dave Levitan, author of the new book Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science. A how-to guide for spotting nonsense, Levitan’s book highlights the rhetorical tricks and logical errors politicians use when they distort science for political purposes. Here, we discuss the ideological roots of science denialism and why it’s so important for citizens to demand evidence in support of policy claims.

Dave Levitan  The whole idea for the book came about when I started seeing patterns. Cherry-picking data is probably the most familiar. The tendency to draw on a single data point in support of some broader argument, like Sen. James Inhofe did with the famous snowball on the Senate floor. Or taking a very specific subset of data, like Ted Cruz did when he claimed there hasn’t been any global warming for 17 years. That might be the most commonly seen one where you really just pick and choose exactly which study and data point, which subset or source to use, and then conveniently draw on that when it aligns with your political narrative.

 Another really common one is where they claim that because there is still some degree of uncertainty around whatever the subject happens to be, then that means we shouldn’t do anything about it. Climate change is a great one for that, but it dates back much farther. Conservatives used the same tactics for delaying action on acid rain in the ’80s, for example. President Reagan would say, “Well, we still have to study this and figure out what’s going on. There’s not enough data to do anything.”
First of all, they were wrong. There was plenty of data. We knew exactly how to deal with acid rain and ended up fixing it pretty well. So that one comes up a lot, the idea that because there’s any degree of uncertainty that we shouldn’t do anything, which is of course ridiculous because every scientific measure ever taken has a degree of uncertainty and always will……..

I think my primary message would be learn to appreciate evidence. I really wish that your average reader of news would keep in mind that evidence is important and just because someone said something doesn’t make it true. That’s true for people on the right or left, for scientists themselves, and for everyone. People have to back up their claims with evidence.

If individual citizens have this in mind at all times, I think they’d do a better job of spotting bullshit and lies. Make sure that people show their work, that their policy pronouncements are backed up with reliable data.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | climate change, resources - print, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nukes evil? America’s nukes peaceful?

America’s Peace Making Nukes vs. North Korea’s WMD: Simultaneous Nuclear Weapons Tests by U.S. and North Korea By  Global Research, April 15, 2017 “………North Korea versus the United States

US public opinion is routinely led to believe that US nukes are harmless (safe for civilians). The devastating consequences (amply documented) of the use of nuclear weapons is carefully obfuscated.  In contrast to the nukes developed by North Korea, the US Department of Defense considers both the B61-11 and the new B61-12  as”harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground“, according to “scientific opinion” on contract to the Pentagon.

While the DPRK’s nukes are considered as bona fide Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and a Threat to Global Security, America’s tactical mini-nukes are categorized as “peace-making bombs”. They’re harmless to civilians according to the military manuals; let’s go head and use them as part of a  pre- emptive “humanitarian” war under an R2P mandate  (“Responsibility to Protect”).

Lest we forget, the DPRK has been threatened by the US with nuclear war for more than half a century. Barely a few years after the end of the Korean War (1950-53), the US initiated its deployment of nuclear warheads in South Korea. This deployment in Uijongbu and Anyang-Ni had been envisaged as early as 1956.

Trump-Style Political Insanity

All the safeguards of the Cold War era, which categorized the nuclear bomb as “a weapon of last resort”, have been scrapped. “Offensive” military actions using nuclear warheads are now described as acts of “self-defense”.

In the post Cold war era, US nuclear doctrine was redefined. There is no sanity under the Trump administration as to what is euphemistically called US foreign policy. Trump hasn’t the foggiest idea as to the consequences of nuclear war. Nor does he have an understanding of the workings of US foreign policy.

At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable… (Image of Hiroshima in the wake of the bombing)

Stay informed, spread the word far and wide. To reverse the tide of war, the broader public must be informed. Post on Facebook/Twitter.

Confront the war criminals in high office.

April 17, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear history, and the false promises of Generation IV reactors

Generation IV reactors to the rescue?

Given these problems, some look to new ‘Generation IV’ designs. They are basically new versions of the old designs looked at in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the USA and elsewhere – and abandoned as unviable, or after accidents.

They include fast neutron plutonium breeders, High Temperature Reactors (HTRs) and Molten Salt Reactors (MSR) possibly using thorium as a fuel and possibly also in scaled down Small Modular Reactor (SMR) format.

The message from the past is not promising……

False promise: nuclear power: past, present and (no) future David Elliott 12th April 2017 

Nuclear power was originally sold on a lie, writes Dave Elliott. While we were being told it would make electricity ‘too cheap to meter’, insiders knew it cost at least 50% more than conventional generation. Since then nuclear costs have only risen, while renewable energy prices are on a steep decline. And now the nuclear behemoths are crumbling … not a moment too soon.

In a December 1953 speech to the United Nations, President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the ‘Atoms for Peace’programme, saying:

“The miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death but consecrated to his life.”

He claimed that “peaceful power from atomic energy is not a dream of the future. That capability, already proved, is here – now – today.” And the USA would help to ensure it could be used worldwide.

However, his advisors soon told him that it wasn’t viable. A classified internal State Department Intelligence Report, circulated in January 1954, ‘Economic Implications of Nuclear Power in Foreign Countries‘, warned that the introduction of nuclear power would

” … not usher in a new era of plenty and rapid economic development as is commonly believed. Nuclear power plants may cost twice as much to operate and as much as 50 percent more to build and equip than conventional thermal plants.” [Quoted by Mara Drogan in ‘The Nuclear Imperative: Atoms for Peace and the Development of U.S. Policy on Exporting Nuclear Power, 1953-1955 Diplomatic History 40 Issue 5 948-974.]

Nonetheless, the nuclear juggernaut rolled on, with, US Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss, in a 1954 address to science writers, claiming: “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”

The USA, followed by the UK, France, Russia and Japan, poured vast resources into nuclear power – new plants and new research projects.

Murphy’s law of nuclear power?

But things didn’t always go to plan. For example, there took place a series of accidents at US experimental reactor test sites, including an explosion at the SL1 project in Idaho in 1961, which killed three operators – one of whom was impaled to the roof by a fuel rod.

Then in 1966, the Fermi fast reactor, near Detroit, suffered a fuel melt down, and in 1979, the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) at Three Mile island narrowly avoided a major hydrogen explosion by venting radioactive gas to the air. That signalled the end of nuclear growth in the the USA. The multi-billion dollar plant had to be written off. Opposition mounted. New plants, orders collapsed.

Then came the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine in 1986, with the cloud spreading across most of Europe. There was a global meltdown in orders for new plants.

However, it wasn’t just the accidents that were the problem. The poor economics of nuclear gradually became more apparent- as cheaper alternatives began to emerge. It turned out to be too expensive – e.g. it could not compete with cheap gas plants in the UK. As Lord (Walter) Marshall, one- time head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, when chair of the CEGB in 1987, commented:

“The British Public have never had the cheap electricity that we have always promised from nuclear power. It has been, and continues to be, a case of ‘jam tomorrow, but never today’.”

But for our politicians, the nuclear dream never died

But that didn’t stop Marget Thatcher from pushing ahead with a new nuclear plant (a PWR) at Sizewell, work on it starting in 1987. Or Tony Blair later trying to relaunch a new programme “with a vengence”. That has still yet to happen. But it’s pending, with the £24 billion Hinkley Point C European Pressurised-water Reactor (EPR), if it goes ahead, being the first new UK plant in 30 years.

Fukushima, in 2011, had intervened, slowing the nuclear programme worldwide, and creating liabilities of hundreds of billions of dollars. But the UK has pressed ahead with plans for maybe 18GW of new plant – delivering around 30% of UK electricity in the 2030s.

This expansion is based on so-called ‘Generation III’ reactors, basically upgrades of the Generation II PWRs and similar designs that have been the mainstay of nuclear so far. The new versions are unlikely to be any more competitive against cheap gas and increasingly cheap renewables.

The nuclear industry still has hopes for the French EPR, the Toshiba / Westinghouse AP1000 and the Hitachi ABWR – an upgrade of the Fukushima boiling water reactor design.

But the EPRs being built in France and Finland, Flamanville and Olkiluoto, are both around eight years late and three times over budget. Flamanville’s gigantic stainless steel reactor vessel and dome is also suffering from serious metallurgical flaws which may yet prevent its completion.

The two AP1000s being built in the USA have also been delayed, creating losses of over $10 billion that have pushed Westinghouse into bankruptcy, and its Japanese parent company, Toshiba, into what may prove to be a terminal financial meltdown. The two ABWRs under construction in the US are also seriously behind schedule.

Generation IV reactors to the rescue?

Given these problems, some look to new ‘Generation IV’ designs. They are basically new versions of the old designs looked at in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the USA and elsewhere – and abandoned as unviable, or after accidents.

They include fast neutron plutonium breeders, High Temperature Reactors (HTRs) and Molten Salt Reactors (MSR) possibly using thorium as a fuel and possibly also in scaled down Small Modular Reactor (SMR) format.

The message from the past is not promising. Most countries (US, UK, France) gave up on fast breeders in the 1980s and 1990s. Japan has now too. The UK tested an HTR in the 1960s with its Dragon project at Winfrith. Germany and the USA had a go too. The US also tested some MSR technology in the 1960s, and also the use of thorium as fuel. SMRs were also tested.

None of these ideas went forward owing to massively escalating costs and successive technical dificulties. But the industry claims that new variants on these old designs will be upgraded, cheaper and safer.

However, in a review of Generation IV options, the French nuclear agency IRSN said that, at the present stage of development, it did not see any evidence that “the systems under review are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors, except perhaps for the High Temperature Reactor” – and even that would require “significantly limiting unit power”.

Allison MacFarlane, former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, talking about the HTR, said “I do not see past experience pointing at a positive direction.”

She also noted that Fast Breeder Reactors “turn out to be very expensive technologies to build. Many countries have tried over and over. What is truly impressive is that … many governments continue to fund a demonstrably failed technology.”

As nuclear power grows more costly, renewables prices plunge

Cost reduction is clearly vital if any of these ideas is to prosper. That’s one of the arguments used for small modular reactors (SMRs): they would be faster to build and so possibly easier to finance. It might also be possible to use the waste heat from them to supply heat to urban areas – if residents would accept them in or near cities.

But is that likely? SMRs are very unlikely ever to be cheap. The reason why civil nuclear power stations ever got so big as the EPR (1.6GW), ABWR (1.6GW) and AP1000 (1.25GW) is to reap ‘economies of scale’ which would be lost by going small.

And of course there is nothing remotely ‘new’ about SMRs, indeed they are a distinctly mature technology: hundreds of them have been deployed in military submarines and ships, for decades. The reason why they were never used for civil power generation is simple – they cost too much! So what exactly is about to change?

In any case all these Generation IV ideas are a decade or two, or maybe more, away from anything approaching commercial reality. It’s like the situation renewables faced in the 1980s. Renewables did break through and are now viable – wind and PV solar especially. Will Generation IV nuclear be able to do the same? Or do we need to wait until Generation V – fusion? If that ever works. Or do we actually need any of these nuclear ideas?

Renewables have outperformed nuclear across the board – undercutting its cost and delivering over twice its total annual output globally: renewables now supply 24% of global electricity, and are growing rapidly, as against the fairly static 11.5% from nuclear.

Renewables are on the way to 50% of power production in many countries by 2030, and maybe close to 100% by 2050. The resource is huge, and, unlike uranium or thorium, it won’t ever run out, or leave long-term hazardous wastes. That looks like our best future.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, spinbuster | Leave a comment

It was always a mistake, trying to turn nuclear bomb project into (costly) nuclear power

Nuclear Power’s Original Mistake: Trying to Domesticate the Bomb, Bloomberg View, APRIL 8, 2017

April 12, 2017 Posted by | history, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

A new load of twaddle from James Conca and “Generation Atomic”- marching “for science” on 22 April!!

Amazing that they can pretend that this thing is “non profit”. Backed by nuclear lobbyists like Rod Adams, and with board members like Lenka Kollar  (Director of Business Strategy at NuScale Power where she is working to bring NuScale’s small modular reactor to market through business plan development)

Generation Atomic asks the public for donations, and if you donate, they’ll supply a shirt for you to publicise the nuclear industry, on the March For Science on 22 April.


Advocating For Nuclear Energy — There’s An App For That, Forbes, James Conca, 6 Apr 17 There’s a new App that helps you advocate for nuclear energy. Named Atomic Action, it’s from a non-profit grassroots start-up, called Generation Atomic, that specializes in door-to-door canvassing operations and gamifying nuclear advocacy……

The developer, uCampaign, is a pioneer in gamifying advocacy, successfully creating and deploying similar tools for issues and political campaigns in the 2016 elections. Gen A’s team is taking Atomic Action public tomorrow, April 5th. Those interested will be able to download the app beginning tomorrow in Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store, free of charge…….

When a Gen A volunteer knocks on a door, they present potential supporters with an entirely digital experience on a handheld or mobile device. On the screen are facts about three main benefits of nuclear energy:

 – Jobs & Economy

– Affordable Energy

– Environment

Volunteers allow potential supporters to self-select issues through Gen A’s tailored digital platform. Following the conversation, canvassers send the new supporters a text message invitation to download the Atomic Action app.

Supporters even earn points by sharing content, contacting legislators, attending meetings, and recruiting new supporters. The engine for this campaign was rooted at the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania State University. Gen A has established two officially-recognized student chapters at each university. Thus far, of the thousands of people Gen A has had a conversation with, 53% sign up to support nuclear…….

The nuclear industry is vilified in the press, scorned by green activists, and ignored by politicians…..But it cannot seem to pierce the unfair image that has been painted by irrational – and baseless – fear……..Above all, the industry must wrest control of the green message.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Despite renewable energy growth, and lowered demand, Eskom still touting new nuclear power for South Africa

Eskom on nuclear charm offensive, za.31 March 2017, Siseko Njobeni Johannesburg – Eskom, the designated procurer for South Africa’s new nuclear build programme, has gone on a charm offensive and recently commissioned a study that has shown the multibillion-rand benefits of its Koeberg nuclear power station.

Eskom yesterday released the results of a KPMG study that looked at Koeberg’s socio-economic impact in the Western Cape and South Africa in the period between 2012 and 2025.

Although Koeberg, which is Africa’s only nuclear plant, has been producing power into the national electricity grid since the mid-1980s, nuclear still battles with social acceptability in certain quarters in South Africa and internationally.

The government’s plans to go ahead with the nuclear build programme has consistently run into opposition on environmental and affordability grounds.

“Economic impact assessment of Koeberg does not provide answers to all the questions. But it adds context to the journey we are on and helps us to alter their philosophical views on nuclear power. It is meant to inform. For me what is important is not proving whether nuclear is preferable to coal or renewables to gas,” said Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown at the release of the report in Cape Town yesterday……..

Ironically, Eskom has recently been in the spotlight for its decision to decommission five of its power stations from 2020 because of, among others, lethargic economic growth and the addition of renewable energy from independent power producers (IPPs).

April 1, 2017 Posted by | South Africa, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby super-optimism – Michael Shellenberger sees Westinghouse bankruptcy as a plus for the industry!

Britain has a chance to rethink its nuclear energy policy, 30 Mar 17  The Westinghouse bankruptcy offers an opportunity to consolidate the industry Michael Shellenberger The bankruptcy of Toshiba-owned nuclear energy group Westinghouse on Wednesday throws up in the air ambitious British plans to use nuclear power to replace coal and, eventually, natural gas.

Britain’s plan was to build 12 reactors to replace its current nuclear estate — and to raise the share of electricity it receives from atomic fission from roughly 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2030. But now, all bets are off. Westinghouse’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection means that its efforts to build new reactors in the UK look increasingly precarious. That might be a good thing. …..
nuclear power is not like other market products. The manufacture of food or clothes, for example, does not require guaranteeing anywhere between £5bn and £10bn for the cost of building a farm or factory……
It should scrap future nuclear deals and empower an independent commission to choose a single, experienced contractor and power utility to build the 10 or more reactors required — to a single, standard design…….

The writer is president of Environmental Progress rights.

March 31, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Another pretend-environmental nuclear front group joins the throng- “Environmental Progress”

“Environmental Progress (EP) is a research and policy organization fighting for clean power and energy justice to achieve nature and prosperity for all”


“Nations must work together to develop a long-term plan for new nuclear plant construction to achieve economies of scale”

” Governments should invest directly or provide low-cost loans….financing is the key to opening up the global market….That will require that national governments work together to increase public demand and social acceptance of nuclear”

“What’s needed is an independent, serious and sustained effort by health and medical professionals to help Japanese and other publics to overcome fears based on grossly unscientific information…..

The truth is that human beings around the world have been victimized by fake news about nuclear power since the late 1960s. When most people learn the basic facts about nuclear they become far more supportive of it”.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

New nuclear front group “Environmental Progress” still takes a dim view of the nuclear industry’s future

The Future of Nuclear by Michael Shellenberger“……My colleagues and I wanted to get an accurate account of nuclear status based on a nation-by-nation, plant-by-plant assessment, and so over the last three months we researched and have now rated for the likelihood of opening and closing:

·      Every operating nuclear plant in the world;
·      Every nuclear plant being built;
·      Every nuclear plant being proposed.

We conclude that if nothing changes, more nuclear plants are likely to close than open between now and 2030.

If our forecast is correct, it would be a continuation of nuclear’s absolute decline since 2006, and an acceleration of its relative decline (as a share of total global electricity) since 1996……

The truth about nuclear is quite simple. Only nuclear power can lift all humans out of poverty …….  renewables are no substitute for either nuclear or fossil fuels……

Nor is the economics of nuclear much of an obstacle when it comes to building new nuclear plants…..

 if we are to make a comeback, we have to confront reality. Almost all of nuclear’s problems — including the ones that have been self-inflicted — come from anti-nuclear advocates who lie to journalists, policymakers and the public, and manipulate their fears….

March 25, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

A Campaign to Tackle “Misinformation” about Radioactive Contamination

Masahiro Imamura, Minister for Reconstruction, wants to launch a large-scale campaign, to correct the incorrect information about radioactive contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture; as an effort to tackle the issue of “misinformation about radioactive contamination” crippling Fukushima foods. That means more propaganda to come, more lies to hide the real risks of radiation to the people’s health. As if propaganda, to brainwash the people with a large-scale campaign would be the solution to make radiation disappear.


Reconstruction chief Masahiro Imamura

Reconstruction chief praises efforts in Tohoku, flags information campaign on radiation risks

Minister for reconstruction Masahiro Imamura has praised efforts to rebuild the devastated Tohoku region but says a large-scale information campaign is needed to share accurate information about radiation six years after the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Imamura outlined the plan in a recent interview in response to what he said was incorrect information about radioactive contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture.

It also comes as a growing number of children who evacuated from the prefecture fall victim to bullying.

Massive amounts of radioactive substances were emitted from the plant soon after it was knocked out by massive tsunami from the 9.0-magnitude March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, which hit hardest in Fukushima and the nearby prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate.

Asked about the degree of progress in reconstructing areas hit by the disaster, Imamura said, “Acquisition of land and other procedures needed for the restoration of damaged infrastructure initially took time, but the pace of construction work was very rapid once it was launched.”

From now, we should focus on the rebuilding of Fukushima,” he said, noting that medium- to long-term measures should be promoted, including decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant and decontaminating areas polluted with radioactive fallout.

We want to encourage evacuees to return to their hometowns in Fukushima by presenting future visions for the communities through improving the living environment and accelerating the revival of local industries,” Imamura added.

On how to tackle the incidences of bullying targeting evacuated Fukushima children, Imamura said, “We’ll strengthen information-sharing about radiation. All government agencies should jointly work to compile and launch a campaign for that purpose, while obtaining cooperation from private companies.

This is an issue for not only children, but adults,” he said. “We’ll prepare documents and other materials that are easy to understand in order to eliminate prejudice against evacuated people.”

Imamura said the campaign would also be an effort to tackle the issue of “misinformation about radioactive contamination crippling Fukushima foods.”

I’ll seek cooperation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well,” he said.

Imamura said he believed the Reconstruction Agency’s efforts to date to rebuild areas affected by the March 2011 disaster have been praised to a certain degree. Still, he pointed to the importance of re-examining whether information on what affected areas need has been properly conveyed to the Reconstruction Agency and other government bodies.

Imamura said Japan’s aging population and low birthrate were also contributing to shrinking communities across the nation — something he described as a structural problem.

It’s important to build a system that generates profits through stepped-up use of information technology and the modernization of factory equipment, even if human resources are limited,” he said.

We need to check again whether communities will be able to smoothly help one another in times of disaster, although lessons from the March 2011 disaster were effectively utilized in a series of powerful earthquakes that mainly hit Kumamoto Prefecture in April last year, and the October 2016 strong quake in Tottori Prefecture,” Imamura added.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, spinbuster | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defector’s ‘Astounding’ Theories About A Potential North Korean Nuclear Apocalypse Discredited RYAN PICKRELL A high-ranking North Korean defector believes the North intends to test a nuclear bomb over a dozen times larger than anything it has previously tested, but that theory is a bit off.

“The nuclear test which the North is trying to conduct at the Punggye-ri test site will break the country into two pieces,” Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected last year due to his disillusionment with the young dictator Kim Jong-un’s “reign of terror,” told Voice of America Tuesday.

He asserted that the blast would lead to a nuclear apocalypse. “If a massive explosion pollutes the area, and subsequently Pyongyang loses its control over the border areas, a massive defection will take place there,” he added, suggesting that North Korea’s next nuclear test could destabilize the country and topple the regime. While the idea of Kim Jong-un destroying his own regime with his relentless pursuit of bigger and better nuclear weapons may be fun to think about, it is currently unlikely.

Thae’s “astounding” assessment of the situation was based on South Korean media reports that misinterpreted research by Frank Pabian and David Coblentz presented by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“Thae’s background is in diplomacy, but it is clear that he is not an expert on nuclear testing,” 38 North, a research site run by the U.S.-Korea Institute, explained.

The initial research said that commercial satellite imagery showed extensive tunneling at the Pungye-ri Nuclear Test Site. The larger facilities could support the testing of a nuclear weapon with a yield up to 282 kilotons; however, there is no evidence suggesting that North Korea would attempt a test of a weapon that size.

North Korea’s carried out its fifth nuclear test last September, and the yield was around 20-30 kilotons.

“We believe that if the North Koreans follow the testing patterns of other countries, the next tests — whenever they happen — will be progressively larger, but still in the tens of kilotons,” 38 North noted, adding, “The North Koreans have a tendency to over bury their tests, so it is highly unlikely that there will be a breach of any kind.”

“Sorry Mr. Thae, but perhaps an introductory course at MIT is in order,” the site concluded.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Bogus claims made for Transatomics’ molten salt nuclear reactor

Molten Salt Reactor Claims Melt Down Under Scrutiny 03/08/2017 | Kennedy Maize It was an astonishing event when two MIT nuclear engineering graduate students at the end of 2015 announced they had come up with a revolutionary design for a molten salt nuclear reactor that could solve many of the technological problems of conventional light-water reactors. Cofounders of the firm Transatomic – Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie – hyped their technology as able to run on conventional spent fuel, and “generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor.”

Their claims surfaced in MIT’s highly regarded magazine, Technology Review, under the headline, “What if we could build a nuclear reactor that costs half as much, consumes nuclear waste, and will never melt down?”

Dewan and Massie raised millions of dollars in venture capital, including a chunk of Peter Theil’s Founders Fund. Transatomic said it would have a demonstration reactor in operation by 2020. The entrepreneurs touted their technology, which had its roots in work of the legendary Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, as passively safe and more efficient than conventional nuclear generating technology.

Then it came under scrutiny from the MIT nuclear graybeards. The grad students got it wrong. Very wrong.

Transatomic’s response: Never mind.

The hyped claims for the technology prompted MIT physics professor Kord Smith to raise his eyebrows. As Technology Review reported, somewhat shamefacedly, Smith thought the claims for the technology were bogus, based on the physics, notified the MIT hierarchy, and launched an inquiry. The magazine quoted him, “I said this is obviously incorrect based on basic physics.” He asked the company to run a test, which ended up confirming that “their claims were completely untrue.”

Transatomic recalculated its hyperbolic claims, and posted the results. It concluded that “75 times” was fantastic, and the real figure was “twice,” still a worthwhile increase in fuel efficiency, but hardly earth shattering. The new analysis also concluded that the technology could not use spent fuel to power its reactor technology, undercutting a major claimed advantage for the technology.

Founder Leslie Dewan told Technology Review that she now hopes to develop a demonstration reactor by 2021. But any advanced technology of this sort that meets Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules would be decades away.

Was this hyperbolic advancement of the venerable molten salt technology intentional? MIT’s Smith, who blew the whistle on the claims, says it was innocent. The founders didn’t subject their initial calculations and claims to any kind of peer review. Smith told Technology Review, “They didn’t do any of this intentionally. It was just a lack of experience and perhaps overconfidence in their own ability. And then not listening carefully enough when people were questioning the conclusions they were coming to.”

In other words, this was another case of technology hubris, an all-to-common malady in energy, where hyperbolic claims are frequent and technology journalists all too credulous.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Transgender-friendly toilets planned for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Tokyo’s city government is planning on installing gender-neutral bathrooms in at least seven of the 11 Olympic venues it is constructing for the 2020 Games, Guardian, , 7 Mar 17, Tokyo’s metropolitan government is seeking to install gender-neutral public restrooms in the venues it is constructing for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics…….

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobbyists in disarray on what to do about the nuclear industry’s crisis

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist, Jim Green / Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017

“……..Nuclear lobbyists debate possible solutions to the nuclear power crisis

Michael Shellenberger from the Breakthrough Institute argues that a lack of standardisation and scaling partly explains the “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West”. The constant switching of designs deprives the people who build, operate and regulate nuclear plants of the experience they need to become more efficient.

Shellenberger further argues that there is too much focus on machines, too little on human factors:

“Areva, Toshiba-Westinghouse and others claimed their new designs would be safer and thus, at least eventually, cheaper, but there were always strong reasons to doubt such claims. First, what is proven to make nuclear plants safer is experience, not new designs. …

“In fact, new designs risk depriving managers and workers the experience they need to operate plants more safely, just as it deprives construction companies the experience they need to build plants more rapidly.”

Shellenberger has a three-point rescue plan:

1. ‘Consolidate or Die’: “If nuclear is going to survive in the West, it needs a single, large firm – the equivalent of a Boeing or Airbus – to compete against the Koreans, Chinese and Russians.”

2. ‘Standardize or Die’: He draws attention to the “astonishing” heterogeneity of planned reactors in the UK and says the UK “should scrap all existing plans and start from a blank piece of paper”, that all new plants should be of the same design and “the criteria for choosing the design should emphasize experience in construction and operation, since that is the key factor for lowering costs.”

3. ‘Scale or Die’: Nations “must work together to develop a long-term plan for new nuclear plant construction to achieve economies of scale”, and governments “should invest directly or provide low-cost loans.”

Wrong lessons

Josh Freed and Todd Allen from pro-nuclear lobby group Third Way, and Ted Nordhaus and Jessica Lovering from the Breakthrough Institute, argue that Shellenberger draws the wrong lessons from Toshiba’s recent losses and from nuclear power’s “longer-term struggles” in developed economies.

They argue that “too little innovation, not too much, is the reason that the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies”. They state that:

  • The Westinghouse AP1000 represents a fairly straightforward evolution in light-water reactor design, not a radical departure as Shellenberger claims.
  • Standardisation is important but it is not a panacea. Standardisation and building multiple reactors on the same site has limited cost escalation, not brought costs down.
  • Most of the causes of rising cost and construction delays associated with new nuclear builds in the US are attributable to the 30-year hiatus in nuclear construction, not the novelty of the AP1000 design.
  • Reasonable regulatory reform will not dramatically reduce the cost of new light-water reactors, as Shellenberger suggests.

They write this obituary for large light-water reactors: “If there is one central lesson to be learned from the delays and cost overruns that have plagued recent builds in the US and Europe, it is that the era of building large fleets of light-water reactors is over in much of the developed world.

“From a climate and clean energy perspective, it is essential that we keep existing reactors online as long as possible. But slow demand growth in developed world markets makes ten billion dollar, sixty-year investments in future electricity demand a poor bet for utilities, investors, and ratepayers.”

A radical break

The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors conclude that “a radical break from the present light-water regime … will be necessary to revive the nuclear industry”. Exactly what that means, the authors said, would be the subject of a follow-up article.

So readers were left hanging – will nuclear power be saved by failed fast-reactor technology, or failed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors including failed pebble-bed reactors, or by thorium pipe-dreams or fusion pipe-dreams or molten salt reactor pipe-dreams or small modular reactor pipe-dreams? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to write off cold fusion?

The answers came in a follow-up article on February 28. The four authors want a thousand flowers to bloom, a bottom-up R&D-led nuclear recovery as opposed to top-down, state-led innovation.

They don’t just want a new reactor type (or types), they have much greater ambitions for innovation in “nuclear technology, business models, and the underlying structure of the sector” and they note that “a radical break from the light water regime that would enable this sort of innovation is not a small undertaking and will require a major reorganization of the nuclear sector.”

To the extent that the four authors want to tear down the existing nuclear industry and replace it with a new one, they share some common ground with nuclear critics who want to tear down the existing nuclear industry and not replace it with a new one.

Shellenberger also shares some common ground with nuclear critics: he thinks the UK should scrap all existing plans for new reactors and start from a blank piece of paper. But nuclear critics think the UK should scrap all existing plans for new reactors and not start from a blank piece of paper……….

March 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment