“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.
Molten Salt Reactor Claims Melt Down Under Scrutiny http://www.powermag.com/blog/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.
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”. Theconstant 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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Ross Koningstein, engineering director emeritus of Google Inc.’s advanced energy research and development (R&D) group, stressed the need to communicate the fact that renewables alone will not solve climate change and that nuclear must be part of the solution, especially to people who have already made up their minds to the contrary.
“We’re in the middle of an evolution in thinking, away from anti-nuclear orthodoxy,” Spencer Reeder, senior program officer for climate and energy at Seattle-based Vulcan Inc.’s, philanthropy unit, said. “Our objective is to work through the inherent tension between these narratives. Facts will get you part of the way to influence the narrative — you need storytelling.”
Jay Faison, founder and chief executive officer of ClearPath Foundation, also stressed the need to return to large-scale, industrial innovation with investments in infrastructure projects.
“The nuclear ecosystem is in crisis,” Faison said. “To fix the crisis you need innovation. To get innovation, you need better policy, and to get to better policy, you need a clear, compelling story.”
Faison warned that countries like China and Russia are overtaking the United States in nuclear technology innovation.
A group of U.S. senators also expressed their support for advanced nuclear energy and the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, which the House advanced last month. The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to develop testing centers to commercialize advanced reactor technology.
“The U.S. has long been a global leader in innovation, and the best of the world’s scientists have come to this country to discover, develop, innovate and deploy some of the most compelling technologies of the last century,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said. “Whether we’ll continue to lead is up to this Congress and the new administration.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), said he would continue supporting legislation “that increases domestic energy production to provide affordable, reliable energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The United States must remain a leader in the global energy sector and nuclear energy is certainly a critical component of our future.”
It’s interesting the way that, for dubious nuclear enterprises, they like to put a young woman at the top. Is this to make the nuclear image look young and trendy? Or is it so they she can cop the flak when it all goes wrong?
Below – Leslie Dewan – CEO of Transatomic Power
Nuclear Energy Startup Transatomic Backtracks on Key Promises The company, backed by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, revised inflated assertions about its advanced reactor design after growing concerns prompted an MIT review. MIT Technology Review by James Temple February 24, 2017 Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations, MIT Technology Review has learned.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, founded in 2011 by a pair of MIT students in the Nuclear Science & Engineering department, asserted that its molten salt reactor design could run on spent nuclear fuel from conventional reactors and generate energy far more efficiently than them. In a white paper published in March 2014, the company proclaimed its reactor “can generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor.”
Those lofty claims helped it raise millions in venture capital, secure a series of glowing media profiles (including in this publication), and draw a rock-star lineup of technical advisors. But in a paper on its site dated November 2016, the company downgraded “75 times” to “more than twice.” In addition, it now specifies that the design “does not reduce existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel,” or use them as its fuel source. The promise of recycling nuclear waste, which poses tricky storage and proliferation challenges, was a key initial promise of the company that captured considerableattention.
“In early 2016, we realized there was a problem with our initial analysis and started working to correct the error,” cofounder Leslie Dewan said in an e-mail response to an inquiry from MIT Technology Review.
The dramatic revisions followed an analysis in late 2015 by Kord Smith, a nuclear science and engineering professor at MIT and an expert in the physics of nuclear reactors.
At that point, there were growing doubts in the field about the company’s claims and at least some worries that any inflated claims could tarnish the reputation of MIT’s nuclear department, which has been closely associated with the company. Transatomic also has a three-year research agreement with the department, according to earlier press releases.
In reviewing the company’s white paper, Smith noticed immediate red flags. He relayed his concerns to his department head and the company, and subsequently conducted an informal review with two other professors.
“I said this is obviously incorrect based on basic physics,” Smith says. He asked the company to run a test, which ended up confirming that “their claims were completely untrue,” Smith says.
He notes that promising to increase the reactor’s fuel efficiency by 75 times is the rough equivalent of saying that, in a single step, you’d developed a car that could get 2,500 miles per gallon.
Ultimately, the company redid its analysis, and produced and posted a new white paper………
The company has raised at least $4.5 million from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Acadia Woods Partners, and Daniel Aegerter of Armada Investment AG. Venture capital veteran Ray Rothrock serves as chairman of the company.
Bill to label nuclear energy as renewable stalls A bill aimed at classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source in New Mexico stalled Thursday afternoon in committee on a tie vote.
House Bill 406, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, would have amended the state’s Renewable Energy Act, which requires energy companies provide a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources…. New Mexico Political Report 24 Feb 17
Nuclear Is Renewable Energy?http://krwg.org/post/nuclear-renewable-energy By CVNM •Santa Fe, N.M. 24 Feb 17 – Today, the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee debated Nuclear Energy as Renewable Energy (HB 406, Brown). The bill was tabled on a tied vote. CVNM Legislative Director Ben Shelton and CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Program Director Talia Boyd released the following statements:
“Nuclear energy is part of the problem, not the solution. Proposing to classify nuclear as renewable energy – as Governor Martinez did her in energy plan – disrespects the sacrifice Indigenous communities in western New Mexico have already made and continue to make with their health from the impacts of uranium mining,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Legislative Director. “In addition, adding nuclear energy to the Renewable Energy Portfolio standard neutralizes its job creating potential because of nuclear assets already held by New Mexico’s two largest electric utilities – something our leaders should not consider a possibility.”
“My community in Gallup and Church Rock have witnessed our health, culture, families, and land be desecrated and sacrificed for uranium – an industry that many in our communities do not want, as demonstrated by a ban on uranium mining passed by the Navajo Nation in 2005,” says Talia Boyd, CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Organizer and member of the Diné Nation.
“Communities that have been living with the impacts of poor energy policy need to be at the table shaping our energy future by putting hardworking New Mexicans first with clean, renewable energy jobs, like wind and solar.”
It is extraordinary that some French wine producers are accompanying the Australian and French nuclear promoters spruiking the benefits of nuclear waste dumping to the community in the Barndioota region of South Australia. Not only are many vital questions unanswered as ENuFF SA (Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future SA) has shown, but this propaganda campaign completely ignores both the opposition to nuclear waste dumping, in France and the radioactive danger to France’s Champagne vineyards
“The Champagne producers are facing two nuclear timebombs – one already leaking at Soulaine, and one planned at Bure. The wine producers in the Rhone region stood up to the nuclear state in France and won. The Champagne region needs to act fast before it’s too late,” said Fred Marillier of Greenpeace France. “The French Government must stop this madness. The new facility must not accept any more waste, and an immediate investigation launched into how to stop further contamination of ground water.”
Radioactive waste leaking into Champagne Water Supply, Levels set to rise warns Greenpeace, Greenpeace 30 May, 2006 Greenpeace today revealed that France’s iconic sparkling wine, Champagne, is threatened by radioactive contamination leaking from a nuclear waste dumpsite in the region. Low levels of radioactivity have already been found in underground water less than 10 km from the famous Champagne vineyards.
Problems at the dumpsite, including water migration leading to fissures in the storage cells have been reported to French nuclear safety agency in recent weeks (1). Greenpeace has written to the Comita des Producteur de Champagne to warn them that their production risks contamination, as experienced by dairy farmers in la Hague, Normandy.
The waste dump, Centre Stockage l’Aube (CSA) in Soulaine eastern France, contains mostly waste from Electricite de France (EdF) and AREVA, but also includes foreign nuclear waste disposed of illegally under French law (2). Every week nuclear waste is trucked across France to the Champagne site. Once full, the dumpsite will be one of the world’s largest with over 1 million cubic meters of waste, including plutonium and other radionuclides.
ANDRA, the national nuclear waste agency operating the site, stated that it would not release any radioactivity into the environment when given permission for the dumpsite in the late 1980’s. Greenpeace research released last week showed levels of radioactivity leaking from another dumpsite run by ANDRA in Normandy were up to 90 times above European safety limits in underground water used by farmers, and that the contamination was spreading into the countryside (3). The Champagne site will receive a total of 4 thousand terabequerels of tritium; more than three times the amount of tritium waste as the dumpsite in Normandy.
“We have been told for decades that nuclear dumpsites will not leak and that the best standards are being applied. In reality the dumpsite in Normandy is a disaster, and radioactivity is already leaking from the dumpsite in Champagne,” said Shaun Burnie nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace International. “The authorities know they have a problem in Champagne already, with mistakes in the design. This is only the beginning of the problem, the bigger picture is that France has a nuclear waste crisis out of control that is threatening not only the environment and public health but also the economy of the Champagne region.”
In addition to the problems with the waste stores at the site, Greenpeace has learnt recently that French nuclear safety agency DGSNR has written to AREVA seeking clarification of the type of waste being disposed of at the Champagne site (4).
In addition to the low and intermediate waste site, a new high-level waste dumpsite is being planned in Bure also in the Champagne region, in which the most radioactive material in France would be deposited. Plans to build a high level waste facility in the Rhone Valley were scrapped a few years ago after strong opposition by the wine producers due to the threat to their vines and wine production.
“The Champagne producers are facing two nuclear timebombs – one already leaking at Soulaine, and one planned at Bure. The wine producers in the Rhone region stood up to the nuclear state in France and won. The Champagne region needs to act fast before it’s too late,” said Fred Marillier of Greenpeace France. “The French Government must stop this madness. The new facility must not accept any more waste, and an immediate investigation launched into how to stop further contamination of ground water.”……http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/radioactive-waste-leaking-into/
Weinberg Next Nuclear welcomes new Patron January 26th, 2017 Weinberg Next Nuclear, by Suzanna Hinson Weinberg Next Nuclear, the charity !!! promoting the next generation of nuclear energy, is delighted to announce its newest Patron – Professor Wade Allison, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Emeritus Fellow of Keble College. Professor Allison is a leading authority on medical physics, especially the effects of radiation on life……..
In Radiation and Reason (2009) he brought the scientific evidence of the effect of radiation to a wider audience. After the Fukushima accident this was translated into Japanese and Chinese. Nuclear is for Life (2015) is a broad study that contrasts the cultural rejection of nuclear energy with the evidence, at all but the highest levels, for the harmless, and even beneficial, interaction of radiation with life.
Upon his appointment, Professor Allison said:
‘’Fukushima showed that radiation is no threat to life ………
Stephen Tindale, Director of Weinberg Next Nuclear, said:
“Public opposition to nuclear energy on the basis of exaggerated and unscientific fear of radioactivity is a significant barrier to nuclear progress. The world needs more nuclear energy, and addressing the fear factor is a major part of nuclear advocacy. So I am delighted to welcome Wade as a Patron. Wade has immense scientific knowledge and is also extremely well versed in the need for new public communication on nuclear.” http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2017/01/26/weinberg-next-nuclear-welcomes-new-patron/
Sadly, some in the U.S. Congress would rather bury their heads in radioactive quicksand, sinking our money into nuclear energy research at national laboratories that have sought but failed to find illusory atomic answers for decades.
The House and Senate are re-introducing near identical versions of the “Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017,” which promises to throw our money down the nuclear rabbit hole rather than direct major funding to renewable energy solutions that are already addressing climate change quickly and effectively but should be supported and accelerated before it’s too late.
The Act states as its purpose “To enable civilian research and development of advanced nuclear energy technologies by private and public institutions, to expand theoretical and practical knowledge of nuclear physics, chemistry, and materials science, and for other purposes.” It passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate.
In reality, it is another futile tilt at the so-called “advanced reactor” windmill, when real windmills would actually do the job far faster, more safely and cheaply and without all the attendant risks of tinkering with radioactive materials and perpetuating a deadly waste problem into eternity.
The bill states it would authorize research, modeling and simulation of “advanced nuclear reactor concepts” that are “inherently safe.” This chimera has been chased for decades and inherent safety won’t be found in the designs the national laboratories are pushing, such as the sodium-cooled reactor, proven to be literally explosive.
So-called new generation “fast reactors” are another old idea from an old research establishment, the Argonne National Laboratory, which would be delighted to be on the receiving end of this latest transfusion. Argonne’s first attempt at a fast neutron reactor was canceled by the U.S. Congress in 1994.
A new documentary, The New Fire, (a singularly odd choice of title given the subject), celebrates the excitement of eager young scientists determined to invent the better nuclear mousetrap. But back in 1996 the National Academy of Sciencesalready acknowledged that the development of a reactor that could recycle its own waste would have very high costs and marginal benefits and would take hundreds of years — time we definitely do not have.
The thrill of theoretical experimentation in the laboratory may be exciting for young engineers. But they shouldn’t get our money. Nor should we hand these aspiring atomic alchemists the mandate to cure climate change. That race is already being won by renewable energy research and implementation. It is in this field where the real “innovation” lies and where Congress should be directing their mandate and funding dollars.
Under Trump, INL pivots its nuclear message Post Register January 24, 2017 By LUKE RAMSETH email@example.comIdaho National Laboratory officials are considering how to shift their message under a Trump administration that has sent mixed signals on energy research and the existence of climate change.
The Gazette-Times’ Jan. 13 article about NuScale’s reactor certification, needs some clarification. NuScale’s “small modular reactor” is not: an answer to climate change, small, a “clean energy” source, nor inherently safe.
The nuclear industry has been selling us a story that nuclear power is a solution to climate change because it does not generate carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas. While this is true of the nuclear chain reaction itself, the front and back ends of nuclear power generate a large volume of CO2 and leave a trail of endlessly dangerous radioactivity along the way.
At the front end of nuclear power, carbon energy is used for uranium mining, processing, conversion, and enrichment, as well as for transportation, formulation of rods and construction of nuclear reactors (power plants). At the back end, there is the task of decommissioning and isolating highly radioactive nuclear waste for millennia — a task which science has so far not been able to address.
NuScale’s power plants are not small. Their plants contain 50 megawatt modules, but to be competitive with solar energy, wind energy or natural gas, they need all 12 modules (600 megawatts). Nuclear energy is not “clean energy.” This is understood with the ongoing Fukushima or Chernobyl tragedies. NuScale’s is not a fail-safe system, regardless of the nonhuman intervention with its passive design. Neither Mother Nature nor human nature can be anticipated completely. NuScale is not the answer to our energy problems, it will just add to them. Wind, solar and efficiency are better investments.
don’t for one second think that nuclear power is green or sustainable in any way. You will hear that, because nukes don’t create CO2 when they’re generating power, they’re a solution to climate change.
What you don’t hear from the proponents of nuclear power/weapons is that the mining and refining of nuclear fuel is extremely energy- and carbon-intensive.
What you don’t hear is that the billions of government subsidy dollars that are going to shore up and bail out unprofitable nuclear power companies could be better spent on developing and bringing to scale truly sustainable forms of energy.
What you don’t hear is that there is no way to safely clean up radioactive waste. “Green” and “nuclear” simply cannot be credibly used together.
My Turn/Darling: No such thing as ‘green’ nuclear power http://www.recorder.com/my-turn-nuclear-facilities-7049505By ANN DARLING , December 26, 2016 Here in the Pioneer Valley we live within a circle of five operating, decommissioning, or decommissioned nuclear power facilities and a nuclear submarine base. Radioactive materials are extremely dangerous and extremely long lived. For our safety and the safety of future generations, we need to be informed about nuclear power and the waste created from its mining and its use.
Of course, there are nuclear facilities all over the world and nuclear contamination has a way of traveling very long distances in the air, through oceans and rivers, and in our bodies. So it’s not something anyone can totally escape from, no matter where we live. We have fouled our nest with nightmarishly toxic and pernicious stuff and we don’t know what to do with it.
It’s extremely painful, frightening and depressing to face this head on. But we have to. We are now the stewards of all this radioactive waste, whether we like it or not. And more waste is being made all the time.
What can you do? First, accept the responsibility of being a nuclear steward. Then, become knowledgeable. Two good resources are the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, www.nirs.org, or Fairewinds Energy Education, www.fairewinds.org.
Second, question everything you hear about nuclear power. Start with these two basic assumptions and see if they help you make sense of it:
Corporations have a “perverse motivation” (i.e. profit) to reduce costs and neglect safety, so they tend to obfuscate and lie when challenged.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is about one quarter regulator (at best) and three quarters nuclear industry cheerleader. It is one of many “captive regulators” in an economy driven by short-term gain and not by long-term investment in the future.
Third, do everything you can to pressure government, utilities, and corporations to stop creating more radioactive waste. A good starting place would be calling Gov. Baker and telling him Pilgrim Nuclear in Plymouth should be shut down.
Fourth, don’t for one second think that nuclear power is green or sustainable in any way. You will hear that, because nukes don’t create CO2 when they’re generating power, they’re a solution to climate change. What you don’t hear from the proponents of nuclear power/weapons is that the mining and refining of nuclear fuel is extremely energy- and carbon-intensive. What you don’t hear is that the billions of government subsidy dollars that are going to shore up and bail out unprofitable nuclear power companies could be better spent on developing and bringing to scale truly sustainable forms of energy. What you don’t hear is that there is no way to safely clean up radioactive waste. “Green” and “nuclear” simply cannot be credibly used together.
Fifth, don’t even imagine that Yucca Mountain is an appropriate place to store radioactive waste. Even if we had technology good enough to contain radioactive waste for generations — which we don’t — Yucca is not the right place from a geological standpoint.
Sixth, if you live near a shutdown reactor (which you do) and just want the radioactive waste gone, yesterday, think about where it will go. Think about the places it would be transported through, at great risk of accident or terror attack. Think about the places where it would be stored, and where it could leak or worse. Right now, radioactive materials from the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee are being shipped to a storage facility near the Texas-New Mexico border that sits on top on a huge aquifer supplying at least seven southwestern states. What will happen if the radioactivity gets into the deep water?
Seventh, recognize that the communities and geographies that are being forced or asked to take on radioactive waste are sacrifice zones inhabited by people with dark skin and/or no money or political clout. That storage facility on the Texas-New Mexico border is in an area that is poor, rural, and largely Mexican-American. Uranium is mined on indigenous people’s land throughout the world and the waste simply left there, making them sick. Yucca Mountain itself, and the contaminated Nevada nuclear testing sites nearby, are actually on Shoshone tribal lands. This is racism at a profound level.
Finally, get involved in anything that will slow down or stop the creation of nuclear waste. Promote sustainable energy and energy conservation efforts. Climate Action Now is a good local resource: www.climateactionnowma.org. Advocate to shut down Pilgrim Nuclear in Plymouth: www.capedownwinders.org or www.pilgrimcoalition.org. Get involved in regional and national discussions about what is the least bad resolution to the problem of nuclear waste. The Citizens’ Awareness Network is a local organization with a solid history and national reach: www.nukebusters.org.
You don’t have to be an expert on nuclear power to make a difference. You just have to show up and be ready to learn and work hard for your children and their children and their children.
Ann Darling currently lives in Easthampton and has worked in Greenfield for over 15 years. She is a 35-year resident of the Brattleboro, Vt., area and a member of the Safe and Green Campaign to responsibly shut down and decommission Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. She recently attended a national summit on radioactive waste in Chicago.
Myth: the new generation of nuclear reactors are designed to recycle nuclear waste
BUST: These reactors don’t exist
These reactors often spoken of by advocates of nuclear energy are hypothetical. There are none of these “Generation IV” reactors commercially operating anywhere in the world:
Even the demonstration plants are still decades away
Various designs are still under investigation on paper and have been for many years.
The first demonstration plants are projected to be in operation by 2030-2040, so they are yet to be tested and still many years away.
Problems with earlier models
The specific type of Generation IV reactor that would recycle waste – the Integral Fast Reactor – only exists on paper, but earlier models of fast reactors have been expensive, underperforming, and have had a history of fires and other accidents, with many countries abandoning the technology.
These reactors would still produce some waste
The Integral Fast Reactor is called “integral” because it would process used reactor fuel on-site, separating plutonium (a weapons explosive) and other long-lived radioactive isotopes from the used fuel, to be fed back into the reactor. It essentially converts long-lived waste into shorter lived waste. This waste would still remain dangerous for a minimum of 200 years (provided it is not contaminated with high level waste products), so we are still left with a waste problem that spans generations.
The theory is that these reactors would eat through global stockpiles of plutonium
When thinking about recycling waste it’s important not to confuse recycling existing stockpiles of waste with these reactors perpetually running off of their own waste, which they could also be operated to do. If they ran off their own waste, they would not consume existing waste beyond the initial fuel load.
Myth: nuclear is the only alternative to coal for baseload power
Rex Tillerson On North Korea And THAAD: Military Action Is An ‘option’
This link shows the problems the UK is having concerning the Euratom Treaty obligations post Brexit causing further problems with the UK international agreements for things like the purchase of Fuel rods, University student academic access and nuclear waste disposal;
And finally, also to do with Euratom and the agreement within it to do with health effects that is being challenged by an number of people within the European community area, with the support of Prof Chris Busby. An update on the situation concerning European applications (watch till the end to see the Swedish Euratom representative begin to panic)
Journalism faces an ‘existential crisis’ in Trump era – theme for March 2017
I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home.
Ladies and gentlemen, I added the bits from candidate Trump as a reminder of the peril we face. I actually hoped that once President-elect, all that that would change, and I still do. But I was chilled when the first tweet after the election was about “professional protesters incited by the media.”
He walked back the part about the protesters but not the part about the media.
We’re not there. But postcard from the world: This is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdoğan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al.
As all the international journalists we honor in this room tonight and every year know only too well: First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating — until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison — and then who knows?
Just to say, Erdoğan has just told my Israeli colleague Ilana Dayan that he cannot understand why anyone’s protesting in America, it must mean they don’t accept — or understand — democracy! And he thinks America like all great countries needs a strongman to get things done!
‘An appeal to protect journalism’
A great America requires a great and free and safe press. So this above all is an appeal to protect journalism itself.
Recommit to robust fact-based reporting without fear nor favor — on the issues. Don’t stand for being labeled crooked or lying or failing. Do stand up together — for divided we will all fall.
The historian Simon Schama, in the house tonight, told me early on that this was not just another election, and we cannot treat it as one.
And he says if ever there’s a time to celebrate, honor, protect and mobilize for press freedom and basic good journalism, it’s now.
At the start of this campaign, a network news president said this phenomenon may not be good for America but damn good for us.
During an interview on my program this summer, the filmmaker and historian Ken Burns asked me what would Edward R. Murrow do?
First, like many people watching where I was overseas, I admit I was shocked by the exceptionally high bar put before one candidate and the exceptionally low bar put before the other candidate.
It appeared much of the media got itself into knots trying to differentiate between balance, objectivity, neutrality, and crucially, truth.
We cannot continue the old paradigm — let’s say like over global warming — where 99.9% of the empirical scientific evidence is given equal play with the tiny minority of deniers.
I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth.
And we have to be prepared to fight especially hard for the truth in a world where the Oxford English Dictionary just announced its word of 2016: “post-truth.”
We have to accept that we’ve had our lunch handed to us by the very same social media that we’ve so slavishly been devoted to.
The winning candidate did a savvy end run around us and used it to go straight to the people. Combined with the most incredible development ever — the tsunami of fake news sites — aka lies — that somehow people could not, would not, recognize, fact check, or disregard.
Wael Ghonim, one of the fathers of the Arab spring, dubbed the social media revolution, now says:
“The same medium that so effectively transmits a howling message of change also appears to undermine the ability to make it. Social media amplifies the human tendency to bind with one’s own kind. It tends to reduce complex social challenges to mobilizing slogans that reverberate in echo chambers of the like-minded rather than engage in persuasion, dialogue, and the reach for consensus. Hate speech and untruths appear alongside good intentions and truths.”
I feel that we face an existential crisis, a threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession.
Now, more than ever, we need to commit to real reporting across a real nation, a real world in which journalism and democracy are in mortal peril, including by foreign powers like Russia paying to churn out and place false news, and hacking into democratic systems here and allegedly in upcoming crucial German and French elections too.
A quick anecdote from out there: In the 1997 Iranian elections, the reform candidate won and the establishment ayatollahs were caught totally off guard. One of them asked me later how I was so sure and when did I know that Khatami was going to win. I told him, as soon as I got on the ground and started talking to people! Just saying.
Fighting against a ‘post-values world’
We must also fight against a post-values world.
And let me hit back at this elitist backlash we’re all bending over backwards to accommodate.
Since when were American values elitist values? They are not left or right values. They are not rich or poor values, not the forgotten-man values.
Like many foreigners I have learned they are universal. They are the values of every American from the humblest to the most exalted. They form the very fundamental foundation of the United States and are the basis of America’s global leadership. They are brand America. They are America’s greatest export and gift to the world.
So yes, like so many around the world, I was shocked — very few ever imagined that so many Americans conducting their sacred duty in the sanctity of the voting booth, with their secret ballot, would be angry enough to ignore the wholesale vulgarity of language, the sexual predatory behavior, the deep misogyny, the bigoted and insulting views.
Gov. Mario Cuomo said you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Perhaps the opposite will be true this time around.
If not, I will fight as a journalist — as we all must — to defend and protect the unique value system that makes these United States — and with which it seeks to influence the world.
‘We must fight against normalization of the unacceptable’
The conservative radio host who may be the next white house press secretary says mainstream media is hostile to traditional values.
I would say it’s just the opposite. And have you read about the “heil, victory” meeting in Washington, DC this past weekend? Why aren’t there more stories about the dangerous rise of the far right here and in Europe? Since when did anti-Semitism stop being a litmus test in this country?
We must fight against normalization of the unacceptable.
A week before the heated Brexit referendum in the UK, the gorgeous, young, optimistic, idealistic, compassionate MP Jo Cox, a remainer, was shot and stabbed to death by a maniac yelling “Britain first.” She was particularly sensitive to the plight of Syrian war refugees.
At his trial, the court was told the accused had researched information on the SS and the KKK.
Just a few weeks ago, her husband, Brendan, now raising their two tiny toddlers, expanded for me on an op-ed he’d written:
“Political leaders and people generally must embrace the responsibility to speak out against bigotry. Unless the center holds against the insidious creep of extremism, history shows how quickly hatred is normalized. What begins with biting your tongue for political expediency, or out of social awkwardness, soon becomes complicity with something far worse. Before you know it, it’s already too late.”
So now the solutions!!
The media’s role in the world
Somehow, the war of attrition in this country has to end. You’ve all seen the results of this election. It’s very close. The nation is very divided, and angry. Are we in the media going to keep whipping up that war — or are we going to take a deep breath and maybe have a reset?!
It matters to us out there abroad too. For better or for worse, this is the world’s only superpower. Culturally too. The political example, the media example set here, are quickly emulated and rolled out across the world.
We, the media, can either contribute to a more functional system or to deepening the political dysfunction. Which world do we want to leave our children?
In the same way, politics has been driven into poisonous partisan and paralyzing corners, where political differences are criminalized, where the zero sum game means in order for me to win, you have to be destroyed. What happened to compromise and common ground?
That same dynamic has infected powerful segments of the American media.
Like it has in Egypt and Turkey and Russia, where journalists have been pushed into political partisan corners as we see here tonight — delegitimized, accused of being enemies of the state.
Stop journalism from becoming ‘weaponized’
Journalism itself has become weaponized. We have to stop it. We all have a huge amount of work to do, investigating wrongdoing, holding power accountable, enabling decent government, defending basic rights, actually covering the world — Russia, Syria, North Korean nukes.
Can’t we have differences without killing each other off? As a profession, let’s fight for what is right. Let’s fight for our values Bad things do happen when good people do nothing.
In the words of the great civil rights leader, congressman John Lewis: “Young people and people not so young have a moral obligation and a mission and a mandate to get in good trouble.”
So let’s go out and make some. And especially — let’s fight to remain relevant and useful.