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Doomed Moorside nuclear project might have provided 2% of UK energy needs, NOT 7%

 Times 12th Nov 2018 , David Lowry 12 Nov 18 Alistair Osborne is correct in his acute analysis of the financial failure of new nuclear in the UK (“No surprise Toshiba went cold on idea”,Times, Nov 9), except for one important matter: he conflates energy with electricity.

The planned output capacity for the doomed Moorside nuclear plant would not have provided “7 per cent of our energy needs”, but of the UK’s power generating capacity, which is the equivalent of about only 2 per cent of current national energy demand. Conflating the two inflates the importance of nuclear to UK energy balance, thus distorting its political salience.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/brexit-and-the-value-of-a-second-referendum-dk8fgmw6w

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November 13, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Doctors dispute media claim that fire at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Rocketdyne) poses no radiation danger

RESPONSE TO LA MAGAZINE ARTICLE: https://www.psr-la.org/woolsey-fire-burns-nuclear-meltdown-site-that-state-toxics-agency-failed-to-clean-up/

On November 10, Los Angeles Magazine ran an article claiming there was no risk related to SSFL contamination from the Woolsey fire that we now know actually began on the SSFL property itself. Below is our response.

Los Angeles Magazine must print a correction – this article is filled with errors and misinformation:

  1. There is no need to put quotes around “significantly contaminated” – SSFL is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, subject of a promised but long-delayed state and federal cleanup; it is heavily contaminated with well documented nuclear and chemical contamination, from, among other things, a partial nuclear meltdown.
  2. The claim in the first hours of the fire by DTSC, an agency that has no public confidence to the point that the state legislature commissioned an Independent Review Panel to investigate its failings (which include the Exide fiasco in Vernon,) that it didn’t “believe” there was a risk is cover for its failure to live up to its cleanup commitments (it had promised the site would be cleaned up by 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun). It is pure conjecture. DTSC does not have have any scientific data to back up the claim. It based the spurious assertion on its claim that the fire in its first hours was not in areas where contamination could be released, but the state fire department now shows almost all of the contaminated site as within the fire boundary.
  3. DTSC did not release it’s statement in response to the Forbes article, it released it the night before, when virtually nothing was known about the extent of the fire at SSFL
  4. SSFL is NEVER referred to as Area IV – that is simply one area in the site, the area where most of the nuclear activity occurred
  5. Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust, and ash.

The bottom line is it irresponsible to claim that SSFL contamination was not spread further by the fire. Los Angeles Magazine may wish to read its own cover story from 1998: HOT ZONE – Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory was on the front lines of the Cold War. Now some who lived near “The Hill” say they share two distinctions: chronic illness and the unswerving belief that the lab caused it.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Beyond Nuclear questions Union of Concerned Scientists’ support for bailouts for “top ranked” nuclear plants

Appalling safety culture should eliminate nuclear power from subsidies   https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/11/11/appalling-safety-culture-should-eliminate-nuclear-power-from-subsidies/ November 11, 2018 Union of Concerned Scientists ignores its earlier report by now endorsing “top ranked” nuclear plants for bailouts, By Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear

A controversial new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that closing aging US nuclear plants — and not subsidizing the cost of building new ones — will increase carbon emissions. The assumption is that nuclear plants that close will be replaced by coal or natural gas-fired plants.

An increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the US is of course unacceptable given the accelerating climate change crisis we now face. However, the evidence so far, that closed nuclear plants will largely be replaced by natural gas and coal, is not borne out by the actual evidence.

California, which has only one nuclear power plant still operating at Diablo Canyon, will replace it, and the already shuttered San Onofre reactors, entirely with renewable energy. When Nebraska closed its flooded Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant, it was wind energy, not fossil fuels, that stepped in to fill the new generation void.

The UCS report advocates for nuclear power to be included in a National Low-Carbon Electricity Standard (LCES) or any national carbon pricing. But its caveat is that any operating plant considered for this benefit must retain a position in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) highest safety rating category. This relies on a critical supposition, shown to be to unfounded, that the NRC exercises sufficient due diligence in actually assessing safety at US nuclear plants.

Following a major revision of its reactor safety oversight process in 2000, the NRC listed one nuclear plant— Davis-Besse in Ohio — as being maintained as one of the safest reactors in the country. In fact, while holding its newly top-rated position as a “Column 1” facility, Davis-Besse was in perilous condition. An undetected leak of corrosive reactor coolant had been allowed to eat through a 6 ¾ inch-thick carbon steel wall of the reactor pressure vessel head.

In February 2002, during a scheduled refueling outage, the extensive damage from corrosion was accidentally discovered to have eaten right down to the vessel’s corrosion-resistant stainless steel inner liner. The 3/16th-inch inner steel liner had stretched under the reactor’s operational pressure and was bulging into the throughwall cavity — ready to burst into a loss-of-coolant nuclear accident that by one scientific account could have occurred within two months.

All during the time of operation, FirstEnergy Nuclear, the operator of Davis-Besse, and the onsite NRC inspectors, ignored the thick accumulation of iron oxide particulate settling on catwalks inside the reactor building, and the daily replacement of containment air filters, without investigating where the cloud of rust was originating.

The NRC has since revised its oversight process once again. But neither the federal agency nor the nuclear industry have demonstrated an improvement in “safety culture” and continue to fall short in questioning and reporting the development of reactor hazards.

February 2017 report, also published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, contradicts the presumption of reliability on the NRC Reactor Oversight Process. It states, “The percentage of the NRC workforce that feared retaliation for raising concerns is comparable to, and sometimes higher than, the percentage of nuclear plant workers who feared retaliation” for questioning the safety of operating nuclear power stations.

In fact, the former UCS senior reactor safety engineer, David Lochbaum, also an author on the latest report, is quoted in the 2017 analysis, “the data suggest that the NRC’s management is just as dismissive of indications that it has a poor safety culture. When it comes to chilled work environments, the NRC may have the largest refrigerator in town.”

The November 2018 UCS report also makes the assertion that offering low-carbon incentives to both renewables and new and existing nuclear plants will raise all boats. However, this is not supported by the reality on the ground. For example, the decision by New York to prop up its aging and uneconomical upstate nuclear plants is costing the state nearly $500 million per year – 200 times as much as it is spending on developing renewables. Preventing the early closure of nuclear plants serves as a hindrance to renewable energy development, exacerbating, rather than ameliorating carbon emissions and the climate crisis.

Paul Gunter is the Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear.

AA

November 12, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Small Modular Reactors not commercially viable, but nuclear companies want the government handouts

there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.
NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. 

Are Thousands of New Nuclear Generators in Canada’s Future? https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/11/07/Nuclear-Generators-Canada-Future/Ottawa is pushing a new smaller, modular nuclear plant that could only pay off if mass produced. By M.V. RamanaToday | TheTyee.ca, 7 Nov 18  M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC, and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, Penguin Books, New Delhi (2012)

Canada’s government is about to embrace a new generation of small nuclear reactors that do not make economic sense.

Amidst real fears that climate change will wreak devastating effects if we don’t shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that Canada should get deeper into nuclear energy might seem freshly attractive to former skeptics.

For a number of reasons, however, skepticism is still very much warranted.

On Nov. 7, Natural Resources Canada will officially launch something called the Small Modular Reactor Roadmap. The roadmap was previewed in February of this year and is the next step in the process set off by the June 2017 “call for a discussion around Small Modular Reactors in Canada” issued by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is interested in figuring out the role the organization “can play in bringing this technology to market.”

Environmental groups and some politicians have spoken out against this process. A petition signed by nearly two dozen civil society groups has opposed the “development and deployment of SMRs when renewable, safer and less financially, socially and environmentally costly alternatives exist.”

SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison with currently common nuclear power reactors. The last set of reactors commissioned in Canada is the four at Darlington. These started operating between 1990 and 1993 and can generate 878 megawatts of electricity (although, on average, they only generate around 75 to 85 per cent of that). In comparison, SMRs are defined as reactors that generate 300 MW or less — as low as 5 MW even. For further comparison, the Site C dam being built in northeastern B.C. is expected to provide 1,100 MW and BC Hydro’s full production capacity is about 11,000 MW.

Various nuclear institutions, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Canadian Nuclear Association and the CANDU Owners Group are strongly supportive of SMRs. Last October, Mark Lesinski, president and CEO of CNL announced: “Small modular reactors, or SMRs, represent a key area of interest to CNL. As part of our long-term strategy, announced earlier this year, CNL established the ambitious goal of siting a new SMR on a CNL site by 2026.”

Likewise, the CANDU Owners Group announced that it was going to use “their existing nuclear expertise to lead the next wave of nuclear generation — small modular reactors, that offer the potential for new uses of nuclear energy while at the same time offering the benefits of existing nuclear in combating climate change while providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

A fix for climate change, says Ottawa

Such claims about the benefits of SMRs seems to have influenced the government too. Although NRCan claims to be just “engaging partners and stakeholders, as well as Indigenous representatives, to understand priorities and challenges related to the development and deployment of SMRs in Canada,” its personnel seem to have already decided that SMRs should be developed in Canada.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the potential of SMRs to help us deliver on a number of priorities, including innovation and climate change,” declared Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd. Diane Cameron, director of the Nuclear Energy Division at Natural Resources Canada, is confident: “I think we will see the deployment of SMRs in Canada for sure.” Such talk is premature, and unwise.

Canada is a late entrant to this game of talking up SMRs. For the most part it has only been talk, with nothing much to show for all that talk. Except, of course, for millions of dollars in government funding that has flown to private corporations. This has been especially on display in the United States, where the primary agency that has been pumping money into SMRs is the Department of Energy.

In 2001, based on an overview of around 10 SMR designs, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade, provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed.” Nothing of that sort happened by the end of that decade, i.e., 2010. But in 2012 the U.S. government offered money: up to $452 million to cover “the engineering, design, certification and licensing costs for up to two U.S. SMR designs.” The two SMR designs that were selected by the DOE for funding were called mPower and NuScale.

The first pick was mPower and, a few months later, the DOE projected that a major electricity generation utility called the Tennessee Valley Authority “plans to deploy two 180 megawatt small modular reactor units for commercial operation in Roane County, Tennessee, by 2021, with as many as six mPower units at that site.”

The company developing mPower was described by the New York Times as being in the lead in the race to develop SMRs, in part because it had “the Energy Department and the T.V.A. in its camp.”

But by 2017, the project was essentially dead.

Few if any buyers

Why this collapse? 

In a nutshell, because there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Co., which worked on two SMR designs and tried to get funding from the DOE. When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and shifted its focus to decommissioning reactors that are being shut down at an increasing rate, which is seen as a growing business opportunity. Explaining this decision in 2014, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, said: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment — it’s that there’s no customers…. The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market.”

Many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Examples are the cases of JordanGhana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one because there are significant problems with deploying these.

A key problem is poor economics. Nuclear power is already known to be very expensive. But SMRs start with a disadvantage: they are too small. One of the few ways that nuclear power plant operators could reduce the cost of nuclear electricity was to utilize what are called economies of scale, i.e., taking advantage of the fact that many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. This is lost in SMRs. Most of the early small reactors built in the U.S. shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically.

Reactors by the thousands?

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale  in two ways: by savings through mass manufacture in factories, and by moving from a steep learning curve early on to gaining rich knowledge about how to achieve efficiencies as more and more reactors are designed and built. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low. Indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with construction experience.

In the case of Canada, the potential markets that are most often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs are small and remote communities and mines that are not connected to the electric grid. That is not a viable business proposition. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to drive the manufacture of the thousands of SMRs needed to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power.

There are thus good reasons to expect that small modular reactors, like large nuclear power plants, are just not commercially viable. They will also impose the other well-known problems associated with nuclear energy — the risk of severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the linkage with nuclear weapons — on society. Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, unfortunately, NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. [Tyee]

November 8, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Frazer Nash nuclear helps nuclear lobby to infiltrate academia

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Education, UK | Leave a comment

The global nuclear industry sneaks into international governments’ “clean” energy movement

USA – Canada – Japan – the ministerial nuclear suckers came out of the woodwork –  Dan Brouillette, Kim Rudd, Masaki Ogushi, Rick Perry … and also Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, and  Denis Janin, immediate past President of the International Youth Nuclear Congress, and who else – in this secretive nuclear white anting of the global movement?

November 6, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

“Clean Energy Ministerial”: despite Canada’s Liberal claims, nuclear power will not save the environment

 

Despite Liberal claims, nuclear power will not save the environment http://rabble.ca/columnists/2018/10/despite-liberal-claims-nuclear-power-will-not-save-environment, Ole Hendrickson October 23, 2018 Want a shiny new nuclear reactor in your community? Justin Trudeau has a deal for you.

In the lead-up to the 2015 election, he said the economy and environment “go together like paddles and canoes. Unless you have both, you won’t get to where you are going.” Such vacuous statements helped him win a majority government.

Did Liberal voters think “real change” would mean maintaining fossil fuel subsidies, buying the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and promoting new nuclear reactors?

When the Liberals renamed the cabinet committee on “Environment, Climate Change and Energy” to “Environment and Clean Growth” on August 28, 2018, Trudeau’s office said this “reflects the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through growing the economy.” But putting “clean” in front of “growth” is a con job — like putting “sustainable” in front of “development.”

Behind closed doors in the “clean growth” cabinet committee, the minister of natural resources will discuss next year’s “Clean Energy Ministerial” — a gathering of energy ministers from the world’s richest nations, hosted by Canada. 

One of Canada’s objectives for this meeting, together with the U.S., is to advance plans for the “next generation” of nuclear reactors. In preparation, a federal nuclear reactor “road map” will be released next month at a Canadian Nuclear Society conference in Ottawa subsidized by the Trudeau government.

For the one-percenters, “clean growth” includes nuclear power. The military industrial complex needs nuclear power and nuclear weapons just as much as it needs fossil fuels.

Government officials and lobbyists who call nuclear power “clean energy” cannot provide a shred of evidence that a new generation of reactors will help Canada and other nations achieve the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The real point of this exercise is to perpetuate the military industrial complex.

The nuclear industry is desperately casting about for ways to attract young scientists and engineers. It promotes fantasies of reactor technologies that will provide carbon-free electricity, eliminate existing nuclear waste stockpiles, desalinate ocean water, power remote Indigenous communities, and enable travel to Mars.

But these technologies have been around for decades. They are enormously expensive. They require huge government subsidies, waste taxpayer dollars and generate budget deficits characteristic of the U.S. military industrial complex.

Climate justice incompatible with economic growth

Addressing climate change through economic growth is an ecocidal fantasy. To claim that humans can appropriate more and more of the planet’s resources, and still protect the environment and halt climate change is ludicrous.

This is business as usual — continuation of the “great acceleration” created by post-Second World War governments who transformed the war machine into the “peacetime” military industrial complex.

Politicians and corporate executives — the one-percenters — have no intention of putting the brakes on this machine.  They need to fuel the nuclear sub fleets in the U.S. and U.K., and the armoured vehicles that Canada makes and sells to Saudi Arabia. They will try to extract every last gram of uranium and drop of oil. Nuclear and fossil fuels are both the means and end of war.

Ultimately, the military industrial complex is waging war against the planet, against ourselves and against all living creatures. The Earth is in great peril.

Revolution is brewing. Activists, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike are rejecting these corporate-driven technological fantasies. Energy is changing. The capitalist system will not survive. But what will replace it?

Ole Hendrickson is a retired forest ecologist and a founding member of the Ottawa River Institute, a non-profit charitable organization based in the Ottawa Valley.

Photo: European Parliament/Flickr

November 5, 2018 Posted by | Canada, climate change, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Trump administration heads for the dodgy science of the radiation sceptics

Is a Little Radiation Good For You? Trump Admin Steps Into Shaky Science, Discover Magazine, By Nathaniel Scharping | October 5, 2018 

For decades, studies have shown that even low doses of radiation are harmful to humans.

This week, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration may be reconsidering that. The Environmental Protection Agency seemed to be looking at raising the levels of radiation considered dangerous to humans based on a controversial theory rejected by mainstream scientists. The theory suggests that a little radiation might actually be good for our bodies. In April, an EPA press release announced the proposal and included supporting comments from a vocal proponent of the hypothesis, known as hormesis. It prompted critical opinion pieces and sparked worry among radiation safety advocates.

EPA’s decision to move away from the radiation dose model widely accepted by the scientific mainstream. But by Friday, the EPA backed away from Calabrese’s stance in comments to Discover.

The debate cuts to the heart of the debate over the effects of low doses of radiation and reveals how difficult it is to craft clear guidelines in an area where scientific evidence is not clear cut.

Radiation Debate

When radiation damages our DNA, the body steps in to make repairs. Hormesis suggests that hitting the body with a little more radiation should kick our defensive mechanisms into overdrive. According to proponents of the theory, this results in the production of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce our risk for cancer and heart disease, among other things. That’s why hormesis backers want the EPA to raise the level of acceptable radiation, pointing out that it would also save millions in safety costs.

It sounds convincing, and proponents have dozens of studies to point to that they say back up their claims. But, there’s never been a large-scale human study of hormesis. And while studies of low-dose radiation are very hard to do, so far, most suggest that radiation is indeed bad for us, at any dose.

“Large, epidemiological studies provide substantial scientific evidence that even low doses of radiation exposure increase cancer risk,” says Diana Miglioretti, a professor in biostatistics at the University of California, Davis in an email. “Risks associated with low-doses of radiation are small; however, if large populations are exposed, the evidence suggests it will lead to measurable numbers of radiation-induced cancers.”

Long-term studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing survivors show higher cancer risks. Marshall Islanders exposed to radiation from atomic bomb tests suffered a higher risk of thyroid disease. And patients who get CT scans, which deliver a dose of radiation equal to thousands of X-rays, saw cancer risks go up afterward. Researchers also found that radiation from childhood CT scans can triple the risk of leukemia and, at higher doses, triple the risk of brain cancers as well. Another found that low-dose radiation increased the risk of breast cancer among some some women.

And large-scale reviews of the evidence for hormesis find that it is decidedly lacking. Two studies, one in 2006 by the National Research Council, and another in 2018 by the National Council and Radiation Protection and Measurements looking at 29 studies of radiation exposure find no evidence for hormesis, and reiterate that the evidence points toward radiation being bad for us even at low doses.

Scientific Uncertainty

It’s difficult to study low doses of radiation, though, and that’s where much of the controversy comes from. At doses below a few hundred millisieverts (mSv), a radiation unit that accounts for its effects on the body, it becomes extraordinarily hard to separate out the effects of radiation from other things like lifestyle or genetics. Research on the effects of these small radiation doses often use data sets involving thousands of people to compensate for the minimal effect sizes, but even then it’s often not enough to be certain what’s happening.

“Data collected at low doses (defined by the scientific community [as] exposures less than 100 mSv) suffers from a ‘signal to noise’ problem which limits our ability to conclusively state effects one way or another,” says Kathryn Higley, head of the school of nuclear science and engineering at Oregon State University in an email.

A single CT scan delivers anywhere from 1 to 15 mSv, but some patients need many scans during the course of their treatment, increasing the total dose. Workers cleaning up after the Fukushima meltdown received radiation doses above 100 mSv in some cases. And current U.S. standards limit radiation workers to no more than 50 mSv of exposure per year.

Many studies indicate that there are dangers at that level, but it’s often an assumption. Those studies base their suppositions on what’s called the linear no-threshold model, which extrapolates more reliable data from studies of higher doses of radiation to lower doses. Though it may be an educated guess, for decades large-scale studies have indicated this is true.

……….. The EPA in recent days appeared to back away from the suggestion that it supported hormesis. The agency released a statement in response to the APstory affirming that it intends to continue using the linear no-threshold model when constructing radiation guidelines, something that contradicts Calabrese’s comments in the April press release.

“The proposed regulation doesn’t talk about radiation or any particular chemicals. EPA’s policy is to continue to use the linear-no-threshold model for population-level radiation protection purposes which would not – under the proposed regulation that has not been finalized – trigger any change in that policy,” said an EPA spokesman in response to a request for comment.

Radiologist Rebecca Smith-Bindman says the vast bulk of the evidence suggests even small amounts of radiation are harmful. We shouldn’t base our policies on an unproven theory, she adds.

“There is extensive evidence that ionizing radiation will cause cancer,” says Smith-Bindman, a professor of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco in an email exchange. “These data come from a range of different sources, including epidemiological data (such as studies of patients who have received diagnostic and therapeutic radiation and from environmental exposures and accidents), from animal studies and from basic science studies. While it is more difficult to precisely quantify the exposures — which will vary by many factors, such as age at exposure, and source of radiation, etc. — there is no uncertainty among the scientific community that radiation will cause cancer.”

She says that pointing to issues with the linear no-threshold model misses the point. Though it may not be totally accurate at very low doses, she says it’s unfair to use that uncertainty to cast doubt on data about radiation where there’s solid evidence.

…….. Miglioretti says “Based on the large body of evidence to date, I believe that revising the regulations to increase allowable radiation exposure limits will lead to an increase in the number of radiation-induced cancers in this country.”

That’s in line with what multiple experts Discover contacted believe — that radiation can harm even at low doses and raising limits would endanger the public, though the increase in risk would likely be small.

It’s not clear at the moment whether the EPA proposal to raise limits will pass, though it does follow in the footsteps of other Trump administration proposals to weaken safety standards. At the moment, it’s unclear what the effects on the public if the EPA raises radiation limits.

“Perhaps it might make nuclear power plants less expensive to build. It might lower the cost of cleanup of radioactively polluted sites,” says David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University in an email. “But [it] begs the question of whether cleanup to a less rigorous standard is desirable.” http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2018/10/05/epa-trump-administation-radiation-guidelines/#.W99ZFtIzbGg

 

November 5, 2018 Posted by | radiation, Reference, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

2020 Olympics as PR for the global nuclear industry? Fukushima to start the events

Abe and IOC chief to visit Fukushima Olympics venue
Disaster-stricken prefecture will host first event of the 2020 games https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Abe-and-IOC-chief-to-visit-Fukushima-Olympics-venue

November 05, 2018 TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach plan to visit the venue in Fukushima for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics later this month, a government source said Sunday.With a “reconstruction Olympics” being one of the fundamental themes of the Summer Games, the government hopes the visit planned for Nov. 24 will increase momentum toward the recovery of the country’s northeastern region, devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Bach will visit Japan to attend a two-day general assembly meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees starting Nov. 28, followed by an IOC Executive Board session, both to be held in Tokyo.

The Olympic torch relay will start in Fukushima Prefecture on March 26, 2020, with the flame scheduled to be lit in the ancient Greek city of Olympia on March 12 the same year, a day after the ninth anniversary of the 2011 disaster.

The city of Fukushima will host six softball games including a match played by the Japan team on July 22 as the first event of the Olympic Games.

November 5, 2018 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

University of California being used by the nuclear weapons industry

October 25, 2018 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

Australian commercial TV station now selling its soul to the nuclear industry?

The 60 Minutes Fukushima nuclear infomercial, Independent Australia Noel Wauchope 23 October 2018  A FEW YEARS AGO, Australian Channel 9’s 60 Minutes did an excellent investigation of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

This Fukushima investigation was compered by Liz Hayes. I recall that, at the time, the program was a much more thorough, serious and well-resourced presentation than anything put forward by even the ABC or SBS.

However, I was pretty appalled at the latest 60 Minutes coverage of the Fukushima issue, which screened on Sunday (21 October) titled, Is nuclear power the solution to our energy crisis?  

The main message of this program is a call to scrap Australia’s legislation against establishing the nuclear industry. The argument given is that we need nuclear power because it is supposedly cheap and dependable. We also need it because it is supposedly essential to combat climate change.

This time, the reporter is not Liz Hayes. It’s Tom Steinfort, who is described as a “seasoned Channel 9 star”. Does a seasoned Channel 9 star just accept without question the claims made in this episode?

Among claims made:

If Mr Steinfort really is a star reporter, I would expect him to have done his homework before swallowing these claims hook line and sinker. ………

So, what do we make of this latest offering about Fukushima, from 60 Minutes? It must have taken a lot of money and a lot of negotiation to get a 60 Minutes camera team inside the Fukushima nuclear station. I assume that the negotiations were largely arranged by Ben Heard, who has influential nuclear contacts overseas — particularly in Russia and South Africa, where he has been a prominent nuclear spokesperson. In Russia, Heard launched Rosatom National Geographic — a nuclear soft sell environmental program.

I think that we can be sure of one thing. As Japan plans for the 2020 Olympics – some sections of which are to take place in Fukushima Prefecture – the Japanese Government is not likely to permit a team with any anti-nuclear perspective access to the crippled nuclear power plant.

The 60 Minutes media team would have had to have the Japanese authorities on side. I would bet, some companies keen to set up the nuclear industry in Australia would also be on side and keen to assist.

There have been rumblings, too, of yet another resurgence for nuclear energy in Australia, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison declaring that he is ‘open to the idea of nuclear power’ and that ‘the source of Australia’s energy doesn’t bother him and he isn’t interested in an ideological debate’.

Is it too much to hope that Channel 9 might do something to correct this nuclear infomercial and give us a different, more comprehensive view, rather than one blessed by Japanese authorities and the nuclear power lobby? https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/the-60-minutes-fukushima-nuclear-infomercial,12023

October 25, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Here’s an example of the uncritical journalistic hype over the nuclear lobby’s new filmic advertisement

(Low on facts – high on uncritical enthusiasm)

A new documentary puts fresh, young faces on the old debate over nuclear power, Grist , “…….. David Schumacher’s new documentary, The New Fire,…. profiles young people working to invent better versions of nuclear power plants. There’s the couple with a simple reactor design who started the company, Oklo. And there’s the Bill Gates-backed TerraPower. …..the movie serves up hope and enthusiasm……..

I discovered these young people starting companies to build nuclear reactors. It was so audacious. They were so heroic and charming and just completely iconoclastic. They shattered the standard image of nuclear engineers……
I’ve had people come up to me and say this has totally changed my mind. At the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, this couple approached me and said, “We started a chapter of the Sierra Club downwind of Three-Mile Island.” These are folks who would have been young adults at the time [1978, when the Three Mile Island plant had a partial meltdown]. “So we’ve been very anti-nuclear, but this film really changed our minds.” ……

October 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Normalising nuclear – beware of this public opinion campaign – theme for October 2018

We need to explain and to start [nuclear] education at all levels, from kindergarten, school and university, to parliament and ministers. ”  said Mikhail Chudakov , deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA  “our efforts can shift the paradigm from gaining public acceptance of nuclear power to generating well-informed public demand for nuclear power. We must reinforce the benefits of nuclear power……..it will require enhanced international cooperation.”

A global campaign aims at normalising nuclear – getting people’s global acceptance that exposure to increased ionising radiation is OK, that nuclear is essential to save the climate

It beggars belief that the world can ignore Fukushima, Chernobyl, and other nuclear disasters and the growing toll of radiation-caused cancers and birth defects.  And can ignore the link with nuclear weapons and the radioactive wastes piling up. And can ignore the astronomic nuclear costs, and the economic success of renewable energy and energy.

But that is exactly what the nuclear lobby intends.  Starting with our little children at kindergarten, and moving up through the age groups, the nuclear industry will be handing out huge sums of money to the charlatans of propaganda, to spread their lying message.

We know the lies –   the major one for the public is the pretense that nuclear power combats climate change (when in reality, the entire nuclear fuel chain emits huge amounts of carbon.)

We need to think clearly – to not be impressed by the prestigious journals, the lofty scientific academics, the bought politicians, who have found it more comfortable to go along with nuclear lobby spin, than to really think about nuclear issues.

When you find the pro nuclear message in your schools, local councils, universities, libraries, hospitals – with cheerful, colourful, attractive stories –   ask yourself “Who paid for this?  Who gave my university the money for all this?

And don’t be too quick to rubbish us – the unpaid anti-nuclear bloggers and activists.  We are going to need all clear thinking people who are not dependent on corporate funding –  to also co-operate in a global campaign  – to get the truth out about the toxic nuclear industry

 

October 20, 2018 Posted by | Christina's themes, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Nuclear weapons join the other cruel killing methods now pitched as games – entertainment

The Nukes of ‘Fallout 76’ Are Where Power Fantasies Hit a Breaking Point, Waypoint, 16 Oct 18  Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman’s weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.The nuclear blast has cast a long shadow over the 20th century. When the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, annihilating somewhere in the range 200,000 human beings in the blast and the aftermath, the new era was inaugurated. That era was defined by the fact that a single bomb dropped from a plane or delivered via an intercontinental ballistic missile could destroy an entire city, poison the land, and assure that target of the nuclear attack was harmed on a fundamental level. They were a way of projecting that a nuclear power like the United States or the Soviet Union would be able to wound an enemy so profoundly that the enemy could never recover. They were the ultimate existential threat.

I say “were” because I am talking historically, but they remain a viable political option. This is perhaps why the recently-deleted tweet from Gamespot was so strange and troubling. It said this: “This is what a nuke looks like going off in Fallout 76, and it’s pretty @#%$^@ epic!”…….

I am not surprised that nuclear devastation is being pitched as a gameplay feature in a video game. I don’t see it as being substantially different from all of the other horrors that we have made fun through the interactive power of video games. Our main mode of engaging with beings in video games remains killing them with blades, guns, and the protagonist’s own hands. I am not morally outraged by this. Instead, the frivolity of it, its “epic” implementation, just makes me feel so tired.

When the detonation of a nuclear weapon is made into a game mechanic and declared “pretty @#%$^@ epic,” I see this simply as a symptom of how insulated games are from the world at large. While films have all the same ways of depicting violence that games have, I have a hard time thinking of a non-satirical film that revels in the absolute annihilation of nuclear war. Dr. Strangelove points out how inept the leaders of the Cold War were, but it obviously does not see the detonation of a nuclear weapon as a fun or optimal output.

Our biggest video games have made executions, stabbings, headshots, and eviscerations completely ordinary. A year without any of those things would be a shocking anomaly, a true blow to the entertainment economy, and it would mean that most of our most profitable game franchises did not release an entry. And now nuclear weapons have been absorbed into this system that sees everything as a potential mechanic and a way of entertaining and maintaining players. In Fallout 76, detonating a nuclear device is just a way to generate more gameplay. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, it is robbed of any significance beyond its mechanical function. ……..

All of our blockbuster games tend toward making the player feel powerful. They want to be fun, to embrace the player, to allow them to feel like they have agency in relation to the world around them. As far as I can tell, there is nothing than will not be sacrificed or compromised in the drive to accomplish that goal. Our biggest games, like the Fallout games, are simply after their players feeling strong. Anything that keeps players from feeling strong must be minimized……..

No matter who you are, no matter how powerful you think you are, the reality is that nuclear war will either destroy you or make your life unlivable in its current shape. This reality is fundamentally at odds with how the design of blockbuster video games work. That means that taking nuclear weapons seriously in a blockbuster game is impossible……..

The problem with video games and nuclear weapons doesn’t have anything to do with nuclear weapons themselves. They are simply a human evil, the ultimate symbol of what kind of nightmare we are willing to bring to bear on one another in our quest for dominance and violence. The problem in the relationship between video games and nuclear weapons is video games.

Unlike our friends over at Motherboard, there is not a part of me that finds joy in the adoption of nuclear weapons as yet another thing that is horribly violent and played for laughs in a game. It is impossible for me to think about nuclear weapons without thinking about the shadows blasted into stone at Hiroshima. I think about the rotting flesh of The Day After. I think about the unfathomable human cost of nuclear weapons, which includes the cancers grown under the aegis of environmental drift of radioactive particles………https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7x3qjz/fallout-76-nukes-bad-nuclear-weapons?utm_source=wptwitterus

October 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, Education | Leave a comment

Residents near West Lake Landfill might not be impressed at EPA’s spin – “radiation is good for you”

Editorial: Attention West Lake residents: EPA says radiation is good for you. https://www.stltoday.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-attention-west-lake-residents-epa-says-radiation-is-good/article_8b288c51-b064-5646-8123-73f943459d57.html  By the Editorial Board 15 Oct 18 

Residents around the West Lake Landfill will be thrilled to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency is weighing a plan to rewrite science regarding the amount of tolerable human exposure to low-level radiation. The EPA has begun touting the idea that a little radiation could actually be good for you.

Despite prevailing medical and scientific research showing a direct link between various forms of cancer and low-level radiation, the EPA wants to rewrite exposure guidelines in an apparent nod to industries that either produce radioactive waste or encounter it in their operations, such as gas fracking and oil drilling.

Easing the danger threshold helps corporations reduce their costs and boost profits. But it decidedly does not mean radiation, even at low levels, isn’t hazardous to human health.

The EPA rethink is happening not because scientists suddenly are surging forth with new findings about supposedly beneficial effects of radiation. Rather, the agency is relying on the findings of a single outlier, Edward Calabrese, a University of Massachusetts toxicologist.

Reducing EPA standards on exposure “would have a positive effect on human health as well as save billions and billions and billions of dollars,” Calabrese stated in 2016. He told a Senate oversight panel on Oct. 3 that cancer-risk assessments on radiation are “based on flawed science” and “ideological biases.”

Calabrese appears to suggest that high cancer rates among humans exposed to radiation from atomic-bomb research and explosions in the 1940s and ’50s caused an overreaction regarding the threat from lower-level exposures. Scientists concede that low-level radiation might not be as harmful as once feared, but that’s a far cry from being harmless or beneficial.

The new proposed EPA guidelines coincide with Trump administration efforts to de-emphasize science if it relies on health data that cannot be revealed without violating individuals’ right to privacy. In April, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared, “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end.” If source data remained secret, the administration would discount it in determining environmental and climate policy — a Catch-22 situation since medical data involving individuals’ health records must be kept secret under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

This new interpretation would be great news for companies like Republic Services, whose West Lake Landfill contains tons of radioactive waste that the company wants to keep capped and buried in an unlined pit instead of spending millions of dollars to dig it up and transferring it to a proper radioactive-waste facility. Oil- and gas-drilling companies could realize major savings if pipes and other equipment contaminated by underground radioactivity were designated as safe and allowed to be reused.

Sure, it would mean some St. Louis-area residents or oilfield workers are exposed to potentially dangerous radioactivity. But think of the savings for Trump’s big-business donors!

October 16, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment