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Ukraine aims to produce enough uranium for nuclear energy needs


Ukraine aims to produce enough uranium for nuclear energy needs

Reuters   KYIV, 29 Dec 21, – Ukraine, facing a lack of fuel for thermal power plants and surging gas prices, aims to increase its uranium production to cover fully the needs of its nuclear power units after 2026, the government said on Wednesday.

Under a national programme the government adopted on Wednesday, Ukraine will invest 9.1 billion hryvnia ($335 million) over the next five years to increase uranium mining and processing facilities in the centre of the country.

It said the production at four Ukrainian uranium deposits would total 995 tonnes in 2022 and should rise to 1,265 tonnes in 2026.

It gave no uranium output figure for 2021 but said current production meets around 40% of Ukraine’s needs for nuclear fuel.The rest comes from imports from Russia and the United State…….. https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/ukraine-aims-produce-enough-uranium-nuclear-energy-needs-2021-12-29/

December 30, 2021 Posted by | Ukraine, Uranium | Leave a comment

Thorium and nuclear weapons.

The Hype About Thorium Reactors, by Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, December 26 2021.

There has recently been an upsurge of uninformed babble about thorium as if it were a new discovery with astounding potentiality. Some describe it as a nearly miraculous material that can provide unlimited amounts of problem-free energy. Such hype is grossly exaggerated.

Thorium and Nuclear Weapons

One of the most irresponsible statements is that thorium has no connection with nuclear weapons. On the contrary, the initial motivation for using thorium in nuclear reactors was precisely for the purposes of nuclear weaponry.

It was known from the earliest days of nuclear fission that naturally-occurring thorium can be converted into a powerful nuclear explosive – not found in nature – called uranium-233, in much the same way that naturally-occurring uranium can be converted into plutonium.

Working at a secret laboratory in Montreal during World War II, nuclear scientists from France and Britain collaborated with Canadians and others to study the best way to obtain human-made nuclear explosives for bombs. That objective can be met by converting natural uranium into human-made plutonium-239, or by converting natural thorium into human-made uranium-233. These conversions can only be made inside a nuclear reactor. 

The Montreal team designed the famous and very powerful NRX research reactor for that military purpose as well as other non-military objectives. The war-time decision to allow the building of the NRX reactor was made in Washington DC by a six-person committee (3 Americans, 2 Brits and 1 Canadian) in the spring of 1944.

The NRX reactor began operation in 1947 at Chalk River, Ontario, on the Ottawa River, 200 kilometres northwest of the nation’s capital. The American military insisted that thorium rods as well as uranium rods be inserted into the reactor core. Two chemical “reprocessing” plants were built and operated at Chalk River, one to extract plutonium-239 from irradiated uranium rods, and a second to extract uranium-233 from irradiated thorium rods. This dangerous operation required dissolving intensely radioactive rods in boiling nitric acid and chemically separating out the small quantity of nuclear explosive material contained in those rods. Both plants were shut down in the 1950s after three men were killed in an explosion.

The USA detonated a nuclear weapon made from a mix of uranium-233 and plutonium-239 in 1955. In that same year the Soviet Union detonated its first H-bomb (a thermonuclear weapon, using nuclear fusion as well as nuclear fission) with a fissile core of natural uranium-235 and human-made uranium-233.

In 1998, India tested a nuclear weapon using uranium-233 as part of its series of nuclear test explosions in that year. A few years earlier, In 1994, the US government declassified a 1966 memo that states that uranium-233 has been demonstrated to be highly satisfactory as a weapons material. 

Uranium Reactors are really U-235 reactors

Uranium is the only naturally-occurring material that can be used to make an atomic bomb or to fuel a nuclear reactor. In either case, the energy release is due to the fissioning of uranium-235 atoms in a self-sustaining “chain reaction”. But uranium-235 is rather scarce. When uranium is found in nature, usually as a metallic ore in a rocky formation, it is about 99.3 percent uranium-238 and only 0.7 percent uranium-235. That’s just seven atoms out of a thousand!

Uranium-238, the heavier and more abundant isotope of uranium, cannot be used to make an A-Bomb or to fuel a reactor. It is only the lighter isotope, uranium-235, that can sustain a nuclear chain reaction. If the chain reaction is uncontrolled, you have a nuclear explosion; if it is controlled, as it is in a nuclear reactor, you have a steady supply of energy. 

But you cannot make a nuclear explosion with uranium unless the concentration of uranium-238 is greatly reduced and the concentration of uranium-235 is drastically increased. This procedure is called “uranium enrichment”, and the enrichment must be to a high degree – preferably more than 90 percent U-235, or at the very least 20 percent U-235 – to get a nuclear explosion. For this reason, the ordinary uranium fuel used in commercial power reactors is not weapons-usable; the concentration of U-235 is typically less than five percent.

However, as these uranium-235 atoms are split inside a nuclear reactor, the broken fragments form new smaller atoms called “fission products”. There are hundreds of varieties of fission products, and they are collectively millions of times more radioactive than the uranium fuel itself. They are the main constituents of “high-level radioactive waste” (or “irradiated nuclear fuel”) that must be kept out of the environment of living things for millions of years.

In addition, stray neutrons from the fissioning U-235 atoms convert many of the uranium-238 atoms into atoms if plutonium-239. Reactor-produced plutonium is always weapons-usable, regardless of the mixture of different isotopes; no enrichment is needed! But that plutonium can only be extracted from the used nuclear fuel by “reprocessing” the used fuel. That requires separating the plutonium from the fiercely radioactive fission products that will otherwise give a lethal dose of radiation to workers in a short time.

Thorium Reactors are really U-233 reactors

Unlike uranium, thorium cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction under any circumstances. Thorium can therefore not be used to make an atomic bomb or to fuel a nuclear reactor. However, if thorium is inserted into an operating nuclear reactor (fuelled by uranium or plutonium), some of the thorium atoms are converted to uranium-233 atoms by absorbing stray neutrons. That newly created material, uranium-233, is even better than uranium-235 at sustaining a chain reaction.  That’s why uranium-233 can be used as a powerful nuclear explosive or as an exemplary reactor fuel.

But thorium cannot be used directly as a nuclear fuel.  It has to be converted into uranium-233 and then the human-made isotope uranium-233 becomes the reactor fuel. And to perform that conversion, some other nuclear fuel must be used – either enriched uranium or plutonium

Of course, when uranium-233 atoms are split, hundreds of fission products are created from the broken fragments, and they are collectively far more radioactive than the uranium-233 itself – or the thorium from which it was created.  So once again, we see that high-level radioactive waste is being produced even in a thorium reactor (as in a normal present-day uranium reactor). 

In summary, a so-called “thorium reactor” is in reality a uranium-233 reactor. 

Some other nuclear fuel (enriched uranium-235 or plutonium) must be used to convert thorium atoms into uranium-233 atoms. Some form of reprocessing must then be used to extract uranium-233 from the irradiated thorium. The fissioning of uranium-233, like the fissioning of uranium-235 or plutonium, creates hundreds of new fission products that make up the bulk of the high-level radioactive waste from any nuclear reactor. And, as previously remarked, uranium-233 is also a powerful nuclear explosive, posing serious weapons proliferation risks. Moreover, uranium-233 – unlike the uranium fuel that is currently used in commercial power reactors around the world – is immediately usable as a nuclear explosive. The moment uranium-233 is created it is very close to 100 percent enriched – perfect for use in any nuclear weapon of suitable design.

Uranium-232 — A Fly in the Ointment

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December 27, 2021 Posted by | Reference, thorium, Uranium, weapons and war | 1 Comment

White Mesa uranium mill – its owners want to accept radioactive trash from Estonia – 1000s of miles away !

Over the past 40 years, the construction of the mill demolished
archaeological and burial sites important to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and
depleted the tribe’s traditional hunting grounds, destroying places where
people once gathered plants for basketry and medicine.

Radioactive waste
has been spilled along the main highway from trucks hauling material from
Wyoming to White Mesa for processing. The children can no longer play
outside because of the stench and the fear of what might be causing it. The
mill sits in the heart of San Juan County, a few miles east of the original
boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, with Canyonlands National Park
to the north and Monument Valley to the southeast.

It opened in 1980 to
process uranium ore from the Colorado Plateau into yellowcake, a
concentrated powder used in energy production and nuclear weapons. Most
uranium mines closed in the last half-century. But White Mesa not only
remains open, it has become a destination for radioactive material from
around the world. Now, its owners want to accept waste from the Northern
European country of Estonia, nearly 5,000 miles away.

 High Country News 1st Nov 2021

https://www.hcn.org/issues/53.11/indigenous-affairs-nuclear-energy-the-nations-last-uranium-mill-plans-to-import-estonias-radioactive-waste

November 4, 2021 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarine deal needlessly raises tensions — Highly Enriched Fuel a particular danger

World needs to work together, not provoke further conflict

Nuclear submarine deal needlessly raises tensions — Beyond Nuclear International 10 Oct 21, s

Proposed US/UK nuclear-powered submarines for Australia jeopardise health while escalating an arms race no one can win
Joint statement by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and its affiliates in Australia, UK and USA: Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia); Medact (UK); Physicians for Social Responsibility (USA)
Physicians in the countries involved in the proposal announced on 16 September for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines with UK and US assistance are concerned this plan will jeopardise global health and security. Under this proposal, Australia would become the seventh country to use nuclear propulsion for its military vessels, and the first state to do so which does not possess nuclear weapons, or nuclear power reactors. These submarines are to be armed with sophisticated long-range missiles including US Tomahawk cruise missiles. These submarines would increase tensions and militarisation across Asia and the Pacific region, fuel an arms race and risk deepening a new cold war involving China.

The wrong decision at the wrong time

Humanity is in the midst of a major pandemic, and facing twin existential threats of dire urgency — global heating and the growing danger of nuclear war. People everywhere desperately require our leaders to work together to address these major challenges, which can only be solved cooperatively.

Beginning on November 1, the UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Glasgow, when leaders have a choice to condemn humanity to cascading climate catastrophe, or step up and take the decisive and ambitious actions needed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep warming within 1.5 degrees. COVID vaccines are still out of reach for most of the world’s poor people. If ever there was a time to build goodwill and focus on cooperation to complex global problems rather than escalate military confrontation, that time is now.

Our leaders should be focussing their energies not on escalating a new cold war arms race with China, but on building peaceful cooperation to address urgent shared threats with the government of the world’s most populous and largest greenhouse gas emitting nation.

Instead, this plan will raise tensions, make cooperation more difficult, drive proliferation of ever more destructive weapons, divert vast resources needed to improve health and well-being and stabilise our climate, and increase the risks of a slide to armed conflict between the world’s most heavily armed states, risking nuclear escalation in which there can be no winners.

Spreading nuclear bomb fuel

Commendable international efforts over decades to reduce production, use and stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) worldwide have been supported by Australia, UK and US, including through the Nuclear Security Summits led by President Obama. In its role as G7 president, the UK has committed to ‘reinvigorate the aim of minimising production and use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)’.

UK and US nuclear-powered submarines use HEU as fuel, which is directly usable in nuclear weapons, including those of the simplest design easiest for terrorists to build. Indeed their current naval reactor fuel is enriched to 93% and was originally produced for use in nuclear warheads. They have resisted and delayed efforts to convert their naval reactors to much less proliferation-prone low-enriched uranium fuel, as France and China have done, and any conversion to LEU is not likely before the late 2030s at the earliest.

So it seems very likely that any Australian nuclear submarines built with US or UK naval reactors over the next 20 years will also use HEU. Precisely because of the proliferation dangers of naval reactor fuel, the US has previously gone to considerable lengths to thwart the spread of naval reactors, such as in the 1980s blocking Canada from buying nuclear attack submarines from France and the UK.

A loophole exists in the international safeguards required under the nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty (NPT): states without nuclear weapons can remove fissile materials (which can be used to build nuclear weapons) from safeguards for a temporary period for use in military applications short of nuclear weapons. No nation has yet done this in relation to naval nuclear reactors.

The quantities of HEU involved are large. As Sebastien Philippe from Princeton University has estimated, a fleet of between 6 and 12 nuclear submarines as proposed, operated for about 30 years, will require between 3 and 6 tons of HEU. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stipulates that 25 kg of HEU would enable a nuclear weapon, even though US nuclear weapons are known to contain an average of only 12 kg of HEU.

So HEU fuel for the proposed Australian submarines would involve 120 to 240 times the amount of HEU as the IAEA stipulates is sufficient to build a nuclear weapon, and it could be out of international safeguards for decades. Philippe has aptly characterised this as “a terrible decision for the non-proliferation regime”. It discredits all three nations’ claims to support a treaty curbing fissile materials, and would make such a treaty harder to verify.

The Australian government proclaims its support for strong nuclear safeguards, while falsely claiming that the safeguards obligations in the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) are weaker than those under the NPT 3 (they are, in fact, stronger). Its plan to drive large amounts of HEU in reactors roaming the oceans for decades through a loophole in its safeguards does not indicate good faith on safeguards and non-proliferation.

This proposal needs careful independent scrutiny and strong new safeguards provisions to ensure Australia fulfills its obligations under both the NPT and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. The latter goes further than the NPT in prohibiting the stationing of any nuclear explosive device in the territory of a state party.

The UK announcement in March of a planned 40% increase in its nuclear arsenal is in breach of its NPT obligations, as the UN Secretary-General has stated. The UK and US are modernising their nuclear arsenals, both in breach of their now 51-year-old legally binding NPT commitment to disarm.

Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines could well encourage other states, such as South Korea, Japan and Iran to pursue a similar path. Proliferation of submarines or other vessels with lifespans of several decades that are fuelled by weapons-grade HEU will encourage uranium enrichment, wider use and storage of HEU, and will set back and make more difficult control and elimination of fissile materials…….. https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/10/10/nuclear-submarine-deal-needlessly-raises-tensions/

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s new nuclear submarines will have dangerous Highly Enriched Uranium, not the Low Enriched Uranium of the French ones.

The United States and UK operate naval reactors in their submarines that are fueled with 93.5 percent enriched uranium (civilian power plants are typically fueled with three to five percent uranium-235) in quantities sufficient to last for the lifetime of their ships (33 years for attack submarines).Having resisted domestic efforts to minimize the use of HEU and convert their naval reactors to LEU fuel, the United States and UK have no alternative fuel to offer. France, on the other hand, now runs naval reactors fueled with LEU. The new Suffren-class submarine, from which the French conventional submarine offered to Australia was derived, even runs on fuel enriched below 6 percent.

Until now, it was the US commitment to nonproliferation that relentlessly crushed or greatly limited these aspirations toward nuclear-powered submarine technology. With the new AUKUS decision, we can now expect the proliferation of very sensitive military nuclear technology in the coming years, with literally tons of new nuclear materials under loose or no international safeguards.

It is difficult to understand the internal policy process that led the Democratic Biden administration to the AUKUS submarine announcement.  It seems that just like in the old Cold War, arms racing and the search for short-term strategic advantage is now bipartisan.

The new Australia, UK, and US nuclear submarine announcement: a terrible decision for the nonproliferation regime https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/the-new-australia-uk-and-us-nuclear-submarine-announcement-a-terrible-decision-for-the-nonproliferation-regime/

By Sébastien Philippe | September 17, 2021 On September 15, US President Joe Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched a new major strategic partnership to meet the “imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.” Named AUKUS, the partnership was announced together with a bombshell decision: The United States and UK will transfer naval nuclear-propulsion technology to Australia. Such a decision is a fundamental policy reversal for the United States, which has in the past spared no effort to thwart the transfer of naval reactor technology by other countries, except for its World War II partner, the United Kingdom.  Even France—whose “contract of the century” to sell 12 conventional submarines to Australia was shot down by PM Morrison during the AUKUS announcement—had been repeatedly refused US naval reactor technology during the Cold War. If not reversed one way or another, the AUKUS decision could have major implications for the nonproliferation regime.


In the 1980s, the United States prevented France and the UK from selling nuclear attack submarines to Canada. The main argument centered on the danger of nuclear proliferation associated with the naval nuclear fuel cycle. Indeed, the nonproliferation treaty has a well-known loophole: non-nuclear weapon states can remove fissile materials from international control for use in non-weapon military applications, specifically to fuel nuclear submarine reactors. These reactors require a significant amount of uranium to operate. Moreover, to make them as compact as possible, most countries operate their naval reactors with nuclear-weapon-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel.

With tons of weapons-grade uranium out of international safeguards, what could go wrong?

The United States, UK, and Australia are giving themselves 18 months to hammer out the details of the arrangement. This will include figuring out what type of submarine, reactors, and uranium fuel will be required. Similarly, questions about where to base the submarines, what new infrastructure will be needed, how maintenance will be conducted, how nuclear fuel will be handled, and how crews will be trained—among many others—will need to be answered.

Australia has no civilian nuclear power infrastructure beyond a 20 megawatt-thermal research reactor and faces a rough nuclear learning curve. It will need to strengthen its nuclear safety authority so it has the capability to conduct, review, and validate safety assessments for naval reactors that are complex and difficult to commission. 

How long this new nuclear endeavor will take and how much it will cost are anyone’s guesses. But the cancelled $90 billion (Australian) “contract of the century” with France for conventionally powered attack submarines will most likely feel like a cheap bargain in retrospect. Beyond these technical details, the AUKUS partnership will also have to bend over backwards to fulfill prior international nonproliferation commitments and prevent the new precedent created by the Australian deal from proliferating out of control around the world.

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September 19, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety, Uranium | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors, uranium mining, nuclear fuel chain, reprocessing, dismantling reactors – extract from Expert Response to pro nuclear JRC Report


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………… If SMRs are used, this not least raises questions about proliferation, i.e. the possible spread of nuclear weapons as well as the necessary nuclear technologies or fissionable materials for their production.    ………..

By way of summary, it is important to state that many questions are still unresolved with regard to any widespread use of SMRs – and this would be necessary to make a significant contribution to climate protection – and they are not addressed in the JRC Report. These issues are not just technical matters that have not yet been clarified, but primarily questions of safety, proliferation and liability, which require international coordination and regulations. 

  • neither coal mining nor uranium mining can be viewed as sustainable …….. Uranium mining principally creates radioactive waste and requires significantly more expensive waste management than coal mining.
  • The volume of waste arising from decommissioning a power plant would therefore be significantly higher than specified in the JRC Report in Part B 2.1, depending on the time required to dismantle it

    Measures to reduce the environmental impact The JRC Report is contradictory when it comes to the environmental impact of uranium mining: it certainly mentions the environmental risks of uranium mining (particularly in JRC Report, Part A 3.3.1.2, p. 67ff), but finally states that they can be contained by suitable measures (particularly JRC Report, Part A 3.3.1.5, p. 77ff). However, suitable measures are not discussed in the depth required ……..

    Expert response to the report by the Joint Research Centre entitled “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‛Do No Significant Harm’ criteria in Regulation (EU) 2020/852, the ‛Taxonomy Regulation’”  2021

    ”…………………3.2 Analysing the contribution made by small modular reactors (SMRs) to climate change mitigation in the JRC Report   
      The statement about many countries’ growing interest in SMRs is mentioned in the JRC Report (Part A 3.2.1, p. 38) without any further classification. In particular, there is no information about the current state of development and the lack of marketability of SMRs.

    Reactors with an electric power output of up to 300 MWe are normally classified as SMRs. Most of the extremely varied SMR concepts found around the world have not yet got past the conceptual level. Many unresolved questions still need to be clarified before SMRs can be technically constructed in a country within the EU and put into operation. They range from issues about safety, transportation and dismantling to matters related to interim storage and final disposal and even new problems for the responsible licensing and supervisory authorities 


    The many theories frequently postulated for SMRs – their contribution to combating the risks of climate change and their lower costs and shorter construction periods must be attributed to particular economic interests, especially those of manufacturers, and therefore viewed in a very critical light

    Today`s new new nuclear power plants have electrical output in the range of 1000-1600 MWe. SMR concepts, in contrast, envisage planned electrical outputs of 1.5 – 300 MWe. In order to provide the same electrical power capacity, the number of units would need to be increased by a factor of 3-1000. Instead of having about 400 reactors with large capacity today, it would be necessary to construct many thousands or even tens of thousands of SMRs (BASE, 2021; BMK, 2020). A current production cost calculation, which consider scale, mass and learning effects from the nuclear industry, concludes that more than 1,000 SMRs would need to be produced before SMR production was cost-effective. It cannot therefore be expected that the structural cost disadvantages of reactors with low capacity can be compensated for by learning or mass effects in the foreseeable future (BASE, 2021). 


    There is no classification in the JRC Report (Part A 3.2.1, p. 38) regarding the frequently asserted statement that SMRs are safer than traditional nuclear power plants with a large capacity, as they have a lower radioactive inventory and make greater use of passive safety systems. In the light of this, various SMR concepts suggest the need for reduced safety requirements, e.g. regarding the degree of redundancy or diversity. Some SMR concepts even consider refraining from normal provisions for accident management both internal and external – for example, smaller planning zones for emergency protection and even the complete disappearance of any off-site emergency zones. 

     The theory that an SMR automatically has an increased safety level is not proven. The safety of a specific reactor unit depends on the safety related properties of the individual reactor and its functional effectiveness and must be carefully analysed – taking into account the possible range of events or incidents. This kind of analysis will raise additional questions, particularly about the external events if SMRs are located in remote regions if SMRs are used to supply industrial plants or if they are sea-based SMRs (BASE, 2021). 

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    September 13, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor, EUROPE, Reference, reprocessing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, Uranium | Leave a comment

    Uranium prices and the true financial and climate costs of the Megatons to megawatts program

    the Russian price the Americans paid for fuel from bombs bears no relationship to the actual costs of producing it, not only in money, but in greenhouse CO2 pumped into the atmosphere.

    Megatons to Megawatts’: Prices and true costs of nuclear energy, SEP 1, 2021 KELVIN S. RODOLFO, Rappler.com

    Clearly, the uranium market is not a free one in any sense of the word, and never will be’The following is the 13th in a series of excerpts from Kelvin Rodolfo’s ongoing book project “Tilting at the Monster of Morong: Forays Against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and Global Nuclear Energy.”
    Promoters of nuclear power say it’s “cheap.” If you want to invest in it, however, look at how fickle uranium prices have been. Over time, they have varied by more than eight times!

    Clearly, the uranium market is not a free one in any sense of the word, and never will be’The following is the 13th in a series of excerpts from Kelvin Rodolfo’s ongoing book project “Tilting at the Monster of Morong: Forays Against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and Global Nuclear Energy.”
    Promoters of nuclear power say it’s “cheap.” If you want to invest in it, however, look at how fickle uranium prices have been. Over time, they have varied by more than eight times!

    Besides satisfying Russia’s urgent needed for cash, selling this cheap Megatons to Megawatts fuel was a means to two ends. The first is much-extolled: to shrink the huge global stockpiles of nuclear weaponry. But has the project really made us safer?


    All the world’s nuclear weapons have declined from as many as 70,300 in 1986 to about 13,890 in early-2019. The reduction happened mostly during the 1990s. But today’s weapons are much more lethal; the nuclear countries, instead of planning to disarm, are retaining large arsenals, making new weapons, and increasing their use in geopolitics.

    The second, central role of Megatons to Megawatts was to keep nuclear power financially affordable, so the power industry would continue to use it. Now that the Russian leadership is better-off financially, it is less eager to trade bombs for electricity, and the jittery global realpolitik may well also direct more uranium away from fuel and back to weapons once again.

    Finally, and most importantly: what did the reactor uranium made from old Soviet warheads really cost in treasure, and in greenhouse CO2? We know the market price of this new fuel, but what were the true costs of its manufacture, from its mining, milling, enrichment to weapons grade, then its dilution back down into reactor fuel?

    During the mad rush to gain nuclear equality with the US, the Russians spared no expense. Their oldest weapons contained uranium that had been enriched with technologies that used about 40 to 60 times more electricity for every kilo of highly-enriched uranium than modern centrifuges do. And more energy, money, and CO2 emissions were used to dilute that warhead uranium back.

    Finally, and most importantly: what did the reactor uranium made from old Soviet warheads really cost in treasure, and in greenhouse CO2? We know the market price of this new fuel, but what were the true costs of its manufacture, from its mining, milling, enrichment to weapons grade, then its dilution back down into reactor fuel?

    During the mad rush to gain nuclear equality with the US, the Russians spared no expense. Their oldest weapons contained uranium that had been enriched with technologies that used about 40 to 60 times more electricity for every kilo of highly-enriched uranium than modern centrifuges do. And more energy, money, and CO2 emissions were used to dilute that warhead uranium back down to reactor grade, for which work the Russians eventually received $8 billion.In short, the Russian price the Americans paid for fuel from bombs bears no relationship to the actual costs of producing it, not only in money, but in greenhouse CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. A later Foray will evaluate the true costs in greenhouse CO2 for making nuclear fuel. On top of  whatever values we arrive at, we must recognize that significant but forever unknowable amounts were generated by Megatons to Megawatts.

    Our next Foray is about the intricate entanglement between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. – Rappler.com  https://www.rappler.com/voices/thought-leaders/opinion-megatons-megawatts-prices-true-costs-nuclear-energy

    September 2, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

    Students from North Arizona researched and wrote about the effects of uranium mining, especially on indigenous people.

    Navajo youth essay winner looks at uranium trail in Arizona

    Picking up the fight — Beyond Nuclear International Diné student wins uranium essay contest, Beyond Nuclear, By Sandra J. Wright, 18 july 21,
    Charisma Black, along with other students from northern Arizona, took on a challenge issued by the 4th World Foundation to research uranium mining effects on Black Mesa.

    Each writer was also asked to propose actions to limit exposure to radiation.

    Black was named the winner of the contest in April. On May 13, she accepted the $500 scholarship award along with a large hand-woven basket filled with traditional clothing and jewelry.

    Tommy Rock, an alumnus of Northern Arizona University’s School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, presented the award to Black.

    Black’s extended family is from the Pinon, Arizona, area of the Navajo Reservation. But her immediate family moved to Phoenix when she was young.

    She returned to northern Arizona about two years ago, and is a graduating student of Flagstaff High School. Only 18 years old, Black has spent a lot of time thinking about uranium.

    “My greatest concern was for family members,” Black said. “Uranium has shortened my time with some of them. We have to take care of them. I hope things can change for everyone, not just us Navajo and Hopi people.”

    Her awareness of the uranium issue began when she was 10 years old……………

    Black’s essay spoke to the environmental reality of living on Black Mesa.

    “Uranium is a big issue because it contaminates the water source from underground aquifer of both Navajo and Hopi,” Black wrote. “Water that is accessed is being not only depleted at a dramatic rate, water is also undrinkable in areas that only have wells and windmills for drinking.

    “This impacts their health, their livestock, their fields, etc.,” she said. “It is becoming unsafe, uninhabitable and unsustainable to live on the land in Black Mesa. New disease and sickness have come to Black Mesa.”

    Black concluded that people “have to participate and learn better ways to keep our land, air and water clean for our peoples, animals and other species. We need to continue the advocacy and organizing to bring attention to the issue of uranium contamination on Black Mesa for sustainability, healthy communities and future generations.”………….

    Somana Tootsie, the director of the 4th World Foundation, was on hand during the dinner held in Black’s honor.

    Tootsie said that the contest was designed to get tribal youth in the region talking about the larger picture of environmental awareness and responsibility.


    “This was an opportunity for young people to hold a conversation with their family members about the effects of uranium on their tribes and neighbors,” Tootsie said.

    “We received amazing responses and great ideas on what to do to get more attention on the need for the removal or remediation of radioactive materials left exposed throughout northern Arizona,” she said. “We wanted to get them interested in science.”………….

    Exposure not just Navajo

    Exposure is not limited to the Navajo, Hopi and other tribes of the region. Radiation from the nuclear testing begun during World War II has created “downwinder” victims across the country to the east.

    He finds hope that more people are working the devastating effects of the uranium industry.

    “We have many grass-roots organizations addressing uranium,” Rock said. “The University of New Mexico has undertaking a study on uranium exposure. Amended by these studies, we have better access to health care from exposure.

    The Navajo Nation Environmental Agency has been stepping up,” he said. “We have the Dine’ Uranium Remediation Advisory Committee, which I sit on.”

    The uranium industry has definitely affected drinking water across northern Arizona, and people need to be informed of that fact, Rock said.

    “We all must face the reality that we need access to potable water,” Rock said. “Not just for us, but for future generations. We need to be informed.

    “We live off the land, and uranium has a great impact on our environment,” he said. “We have to educate tribes, chapter houses, communities, and tell them what we are learning, what we are doing.”………….. https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/07/18/picking-up-the-fight/

    July 19, 2021 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

    Spain’s nuclear regulator blocks permit for a uranium concentrate plant

     Spain’s nuclear regulator blocks permit for Salamanca. The board of
    Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (CSN), Spain’s Nuclear Safety Council, has
    issued an unfavourable report that will block Berkeley Energia’s plans
    for a uranium concentrate plant at its Salamanca project in Retortillo,
    western Spain.

     Mining Magazine 13th July 2021

     https://www.miningmagazine.com/geomechanics-ground-control/news/1413748/spain%E2%80%99s-nuclear-regulator-blocks-permit-for-salamanca

    July 15, 2021 Posted by | safety, Uranium | Leave a comment

    Increasing carbon emissions from uranium mining

     Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen 27th June 2021, The energy source of nuclear power is a mineral from the earth’s crust: uranium. An intricate system of industrial processes is required to convert the potential energy in this mineral into useful energy, and to manage the inevitable radioactive material wastes. During operation each nuclear power plant generates each year an amount of human-made radioactivty equivalent to about 1200 exploded Hiroshima atomic bombs. Without the process chain nuclear power would be impossible, and without nuclear power these processes would not exist.

    The CO2 emission of these processes together form the specific CO2 emission inextricably coupled to nuclear power. The thermodynamic quality of the available uranium resources declines with time, because the highest quality resources are always mined first, for these offer the highest return on investments for the mining companies…


    Declining thermodynamic quality of the resources results in an exponential rise of the specific energy and the coupled CO2 emission required to extract 1 kg of uranium from rock. At a given point the required extraction energy will equal the amount of useful energy that can be produced from 1 kg of uranium. Within the lifetime of new nuclear build uranium resources cannot be considered energy resources anymore, if the world uranium consumption remains at the present level. Meanwhile the coupled specific CO2 emission will grow as large as fossil-fuelled power.

     https://www.stormsmith.nl/reports.html

    June 28, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Uranium | Leave a comment

    ‘Strong Evidence’ Links Uranium Mining to Lung Cancer

    The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation   Inside Climate News,  By Cheyanne M. DanielsAmanda Rooker, June 27, 2021  ”………………….‘Strong Evidence’ Links Uranium Mining to Lung Cancer

    Uranium mining began in the Southwest in 1944, when the United States no longer wanted to depend on foreign sourcing of the uranium that was needed for nuclear research and weapons development as part of the Manhattan Project, the secret World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb. The federal government was the sole purchaser of uranium ore until 1971, but private companies operated the mines.

    Navajo miners were not fully informed about the dangers of uranium mining specifically, despite the fact that scientists had concluded by the late 1930s that uranium mining caused lung cancer, even if debate existed about exactly why, according to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The miners were not informed about the potential risks of their work.

    The investigation focused on white miners, although mortality rates were reported for non-white miners. One study looked at 3,238 white miners, while a second involved 757 non-whites, mainly Navajos. The studies were performed without the consent of the workers. 

    In both white and non-white cohorts, “strong evidence” was found for an increased incidence of lung cancer. In the study of 757 non-white miners, 10 deaths were expected, but 34 were documented, meaning researchers found more than three times the number of lung cancer deaths than they expected. 

    Tommy Reed, 64, a member of the Navajo Radiation Victims Committee who began working in a uranium mine when he was in high school, said his father was one of the Navajo miners studied. 

    “They studied my father and a lot of the men …  and ladies that were in the mines there,” Reed said. “My dad, like many other men that were (miners), spent nine months on a ventilator. How much more of our story can cut deep, where one can comprehend the struggle that we have?”

    For Reed, extending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act isn’t to place blame but to ensure that other miners, uranium workers and downwinders are compensated for illnesses related to radiation exposure. But if he had to place blame, Reed said, he would point to the federal agencies that allowed the mining to take place and the related illnesses to go undiagnosed and untreated. 

    “They knew, and they had numbers on them. They studied, it’s on the books, there were human experimentations,” said Reed.

    “We’re just five-finger people,” he said, using a Navajo word for human beings. “But these five-finger people are the ones that they relied on, the people that are most expendable.” 

    In response to this legacy of environmental destruction, death and racism, the Navajo Nation Council passed the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005 to mandate that “no further damage to the culture, society and economy of the Navajo Nation occurs because of uranium processing until all adverse economic, environmental and human health effects from past uranium mining” have been eliminated or substantially reduced……………… https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27062021/nuclear-weapons-navajo-nation-uranium-mining-environmental-destruction-health/

    June 28, 2021 Posted by | health, Uranium | Leave a comment

    Uranium at lowest price since 2007

    Uranium Week: Struggling With Low Prices

    FN Arena    Weekly Reports By Mark Woodruff May 25 2021, As the uranium spot price rose 2% for the week and 9% for the month, an EIA report revealed the lowest price paid since 2007 by owners and operators of US commercial nuclear plants

    The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released both its 2020 US Uranium Marketing Annual Report and its 2020 Domestic Uranium Production Report last week. 

    Despite covid roiling energy markets during 2020, the reports pointed to nuclear energy being a fundamental source of base load electricity generation (20%) with capacity factors steady at 94%, explains Canaccord Genuity. The broker believes coverage of future demand will continue to provide an impetus for a more active term market over 2021.

    The EIA is responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating energy information to inform policy making and efficient markets. It also adds to the public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

    The released reports in 2020 quantify developments in the US uranium industry, including decreased inventories, explains industry consultant TradeTech. They also showed an elevated aggregated contractual coverage rate among owners and operators of US civilian nuclear power reactors. Additionally, lower weighted average uranium prices and historically low uranium production were reported.

    The Uranium Marketing Annual Report showed owners and operators of US commercial nuclear plants in 2020 purchased nearly 49mlbs uranium from US and foreign suppliers. These were transacted at a weighted-average price of US$33.27/lb, which represents a 1% increase in volume and a -7% decline in price compared to 2019 data. The weighted average price is the lowest price paid by owners and operators of US civilian power reactors since 2007.

    Of the US deliveries, 76% were through longer-term contracts, averaging US$34.74/lb. As Canaccord notes, it’s always darkest before the dawn, with pricing failing to represent the marginal cost of production let alone the incentivisation price for restarts or new developments.

    During 2020, 11.7mlbs or 24% of sales were on a spot basis, up from 10.5mlbs in 2019 and the highest since 2014. This illustrates that long-term contracts signed post-Fukushima (2011-2015) are starting to expire, explains Canaccord.

    The report showed Australian and Canadian-origin uranium combined accounted for 42% of reported volumes by country of origin. Uranium purchased by owners and operators of US civilian power reactors from Russia again was the lowest weighted average price paid at US$25.73/lb, while purchases from Australia occupied the highest cost position at US$39.86/lb.;;;;;;;;;;;;;; https://www.fnarena.com/index.php/2021/05/25/uranium-week-struggling-with-low-prices/

    May 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

    High level of radioactivity near France’s uranium processing factory

    France Info 29th April 2021, Residents of the largest uranium processing site in France, in Narbonne
    (Aude), are worried: samples taken near the plant and analyzed in the laboratory show a high level of uranium. The site manager, however, says there is no danger to residents.

    The most important uranium processing site in France is located three kilometers from Narbonne (Aude). Concerned local residents regularly check the level of radioactivity in the vicinity of the plant.

    At the barrier that limits access to the site, the meter is racing and exceeds four times the natural level of radioactivity. The Orano Malvési plant is the entry point for nuclear power in France. Uranium arrives from all over the world in the form of yellow powder and must be purified and transformed into nuclear fuel. In 60 years, already more than 300,000 m3 of radioactive waste have been produced and are contained in basins, in the form of sludge.

    https://www.francetvinfo.fr/sante/environnement-et-sante/narbonne-les-riverains-de-lusine-duranium-orano-malvesi-inquiets-des-taux-de-radioactivite_4604407.html

    May 1, 2021 Posted by | environment, France, Uranium | 1 Comment

    Australian-Chinese company Greenland Minerals to be thwarted in its bid for uranium and rare earth mining in Greenland.

    Telegraph 17th April 2021, Overlooking the small fishing town of Narsaq, next to painted houses and slow-moving icebergs, lies one the last great untapped deposits of rare earth materials. About a quarter of the world’s rare earth minerals are thought to be found here, deep in the southern fjords of Greenland, providing key ingredients needed to build everything from wind turbines or electric vehicles. These deposits are crucial to Britain’s dream of developing the technologies required to become a green economy while reducing our rare-earth reliance on China.

    But one man could be about to scupper the UK’s plans. Múte Bourup Egede, the 34-year-old leader of the Left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party, won a snap election in Greenland lastweek. At the heart of his election campaign was a pledge to halt the Kvanefjeld project by Greenland Minerals, an Australian company with Chinese ownership.

    But for Greenlanders, strategic relevance was eclipsed by concerns surrounding the mine’s uranium contents. The territory’s anxieties around radioactive materials can be traced back to the 1968 Thule plane crash, when a US plane carrying nuclear bombs crashed into the sea ice in Greenland’s north. Even though the nuclear material did not
    detonate, as part of clean up efforts the US Air Force collected 1.6m gallons of contaminated snow.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/04/17/battle-rare-earth-minerals-turns-radioactive/

    April 19, 2021 Posted by | ARCTIC, AUSTRALIA, politics, Uranium | Leave a comment

    Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima 

    Mirarr senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula ‒ on whose land in the Northern Territory Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine operated ‒ said she was “deeply saddened” that uranium from Ranger was exported to Japanese nuclear companies including TEPCO.
    overseas suppliers who turned a blind eye to unacceptable nuclear risks in Japan have largely escaped scrutiny or blame. Australia’s uranium industry is a case in point.
    The mining companies have failed to take any responsibility for the catastrophic impacts on Japanese society that resulted from the use of their uranium in a poorly managed, poorly regulated industry.
    Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima  https://theecologist.org/2021/mar/09/australian-uranium-fuelled-fukushima, Dr Jim Green, David Noonan 9th March 2021
    The Fukushima disaster was fuelled by Australian uranium but lessons were not learned and the industry continues to fuel global nuclear insecurity with irresponsible uranium export policies.
    Fukushima was an avoidable disaster, fuelled by Australian uranium and the hubris and profiteering of Japan’s nuclear industry in collusion with compromised regulators and captured bureaucracies.

    The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission ‒ established by the Japanese Parliament ‒ concluded in its 2012 report that the accident was “a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented” if not for “a multitude of errors and wilful negligence that left the Fukushima plant unprepared for the events of March 11”.

    The accident was the result of “collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO”, the commission found.

    Mining

    But overseas suppliers who turned a blind eye to unacceptable nuclear risks in Japan have largely escaped scrutiny or blame. Australia’s uranium industry is a case in point.

    Yuki Tanaka from the Hiroshima Peace Institute noted: “Japan is not the sole nation responsible for the current nuclear disaster. From the manufacture of the reactors by GE to provision of uranium by Canada, Australia and others, many nations are implicated.”

    There is no dispute that Australian uranium was used in the Fukushima reactors. The mining companies won’t acknowledge that fact — instead they hide behind claims of “commercial confidentiality” and “security”.

    But the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office acknowledged in October 2011 that: “We can confirm that Australian obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors — maybe five out of six, or it could have been all of them”.

    BHP and Rio Tinto, two of the world’s largest mining companies, supplied Australian uranium to TEPCO and that uranium was used to fuel Fukushima. Continue reading

    March 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Uranium | Leave a comment