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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

The bizarre coincidence of two false alarms announcing the start of nuclear war

Japanese Public Broadcaster NHK Issues False Alarm Over North Korean Missile Launch
It’s deja vu, all over again.
Just four days after residents of Hawaii lived through 38 minutes of doomsday hell, after a false public broadcast alarm announced that a ballistic missile launch was headed for the island, only to reverse and announce later it was a mistake, moments ago Japan’s National broadcaster NHK’s app issued a false J-Alert to phones over a North Korean missile launch at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday evening local time.
The message, received by phone users with the NHK app installed on their devices, read: “NHK news alert. North Korea likely to have launched missile. The government J alert: evacuate inside the building or underground. “
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It then promptly corrected the error just 5 minutes later, at around 7 p.m.
After the false alert, NHK issued an on-air apology on Tuesday evening local time, saying “the news alert sent earlier about NK missile was a mistake. No government J alert was issued.”
“Around 6:55pm earlier we reported on the NHK’s news site and NHK’s news disaster prevention application ‘Pattern of North Korean missile launch’ but this was incorrectly issued. J alert has not appeared. I must sincerely apologize,” the news outlet wrote.
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The bizarre coincidence of two false alarms announcing the start of nuclear war is certainly suspicious.
The false alert came on the same day as the US and Canada planned to host talks in Vancouver over the crisis on the Korean Peninsula after a year of missile tests and threats from the North.
As a reminder, on Saturday, an emergency alert notification sent out to residents of Hawaii warning of an incoming “ballistic missile threat” turned out to be a false alarm. The error was blamed on an employee who “pushed the wrong button.” “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” the emergency alert read.
The warning went out on television and radio as well as cell phones, according to Hawaii Gov. David Ige, sparking panic amongst some residents. A second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii 38 minutes after the initial message confirming the false alarm.
 
Japan issues false alarm over missile launch, days after Hawaii alert gaffe
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued a false alarm on Tuesday saying North Korea appeared to have launched a missile and urging people to take shelter, but it managed to correct the error within minutes.
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The mistake took place at a tense time in the region following North Korea’s largest nuclear test to date in September and its claim in November that it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach all of the U.S. mainland.
Pyongyang regularly threatens to destroy Japan and the United States.
But there were no immediate reports of panic or other disruptions following the NHK report. A similar gaffe caused panic in the U.S. state of Hawaii at the weekend.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK’s false alarm about a North Korean missile launch which was received on a smart phone is pictured in Tokyo, Japan January 16, 2018.
NHK’s 6.55 p.m. (0955 GMT) alert on its web site said: “North Korea appears to have launched a missile…The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”
The same alert was sent to mobile phone users of NHK’s online news distribution service.
In five minutes, the broadcaster put out another message on the website correcting itself and said no government warning, called “J-alert”, had been issued.
“This happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the Internet had been incorrectly operated. We are deeply sorry,” an NHK announcer said on its 9:00 p.m. news program, bowing deeply in apology.
Last Saturday, a false missile alert during a civil defense drill caused panic across Hawaii. A state emergency management agency spokesman attributed it to human error and a lack of fail-safe measures.
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January 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Amid North Korea tensions, America revs up nuclear bomber deployments to Guam

The US just majorly stepped up nuclear bomber deployments to Guam amid soaring North Korea tensions  http://www.businessinsider.com/us-deploys-nuclear-capable-bombers-guam-north-korea-tensions-b-1-b-2-b-522018-1/?r=AU&IR=T  Alex Lockie  17  Jan 18

January 17, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s new underwater drone – a ‘doomsday’ weapon

Pentagon confirms existence of Russian ‘doomsday’ weapon, A NEW weapon of immense destructive power is now in Russia’s hands — and the rest of the world should be worried, particularly the United States. News.com.au, James Law@JournoLawJ 17 Jan 18

THE Pentagon has confirmed that Russia has developed an unmanned underwater nuclear drone that has the potential to devastate US ports and harbours, according to a leaked government report.

The revelation is one of many alarming findings in a draft version of the US’s Nuclear Posture Review due for release next month.

The paper, published by the Huffington Post, argues that America has been left exposed because Russia has continued to develop nukes since the end of the Cold War, while the US has reduced their role in its security strategy.

The US Defence Department cites this risk — combined with growing military threats from China, North Korea and Iran — to argue for increased spending on nuclear weapons.

Russia has embarked on a “comprehensive modernisation” of its nuclear arsenal, the paper says.

Russia’s strategic nuclear modernisation has increased and will continue to increase its warhead delivery capacity, and provides Russia with the ability to rapidly expand its deployed warhead numbers,” the draft paper states.

In addition to modernising ‘legacy’ Soviet nuclear systems, Russia is developing and deploying new nuclear warheads and launchers.

These efforts include multiple upgrades for every leg of the Russian nuclear triad of strategic bombers, sea-based missiles, and land-based missiles.

Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle and a new intercontinental nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo.”

The mention of the “torpedo” is the first time the Pentagon has publicly confirmed the existence of the weapon, referred to elsewhere in the document as a “AUV”, or autonomous underwater vehicle.

Russia first teased that it was working on the weapon in 2015 when blueprints of the drone were filmed over the shoulder of general during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin and broadcast on state television.

Experts argued at the time that the exposure of the plans wasn’t an accident; it was a deliberate warning to Washington and the rest of the West.

The Russian blueprint claims that the weapon, known officially as Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6, has a range of 10,000km, can descend 1km below sea level and can reach a top speed faster than 56 knots. It is designed to carry a 100-megaton nuclear warhead.

According to a BBC translation of the plans, the drone is designed to “destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country’s territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time”.

While the Pentagon has admitted the risks of the Russians having this technology, there is no mention in the Nuclear Posture Review of the US developing a similar nuclear-tipped weapon.

US intelligence agencies detected that Russia tested the drone when it was launched from a Sarov-class submarine in 2016, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

Status-6 is designed to kill civilians by massive blast and fallout,” former Pentagon official Mark Schneider told the Free Beacon at the time.

The Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that to achieve ‘extensive radioactive contamination’ the weapon ‘could envisage using the so-called cobalt bomb, a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout compared to a regular atomic warhead.

A cobalt bomb is a ‘doomsday’ weapons concept conceived during the Cold War, but apparently never actually developed.”

The weapon could be used to threaten the US’s two nuclear missile submarine bases in Georgia and Washington state………

The paper ultimately argues for increased investment in the US’s nuclear triad — which consists of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), strategic bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The Defence Department’s “top priority” is to secure an additional 3 to 4 per cent of its budget to maintain its nuclear arsenal, which it says is essential to deter attacks from enemies.

Our goal is to convince adversaries they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from the use of nuclear weapons,” Mr Mattis writes.

He suggests continuing the weapons modernisation program started by the Obama administration to replace nuclear ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers, nuclear air-launched cruise missiles and ICBMs. He also expresses the aim to boost investment in nuclear weapons laboratories, fighter bombers and F-35A fighter jets.

This aim fits with reports last year that US President Donald Trump told military chiefs he wanted a nearly tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenalhttp://www.news.com.au/technology/pentagon-confirms-existence-of-russian-doomsday-weapon/news-story/16ef0f8642b1699f805f324489942345

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK nuclear lobby uses the good old “medical” pretense in its zeal for government subsidies

Dr David Lowry, 15 January 2018

Nuclear red herring thrown into Euratom Exit debate by desperate nuclear sector seeing significant subsidies disappearing

The nuclear industry lobby is desperate for the UK to remain in Euratom, as it would mean the massive subsidies they receive  for research and development via Euratom would be lost. But they don’t believe  such concerns would really bother  most  politicians, but claiming  Brexatom would result in loss of radioactive isotope supplies for medical diagnoses, which does concern the public and politicians. So they have made a huge song and dance – successfully- over this red herring claim, to keep the UK in Euratom. Below is the latest in this ongoing saga.

Nuclear research and medical isotopes,  European Scrutiny Committee, 15 January 2018

Committee’s assessment
Politically important

…….Summary and Committee’s conclusions……..While the substance of the proposal was not controversial, its political context is—of course—Brexit. The Prime Minister’s formal notification of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) also included Euratom.17 Nuclear industry stakeholders have expressed concerns that the two-year negotiating period under Article 50 is insufficient for the UK to replicate Euratom’s existing regulatory safeguards regime for nuclear facilities domestically and agree new cooperation agreements with the EU, the IAEA and third countries. In addition, the medical establishment has warned that withdrawal from Euratom could impact on the availability and cost of medical isotopes in the UK post-Brexit……

On 28 July, the new Minister for Energy (Richard Harrington) replied to our predecessors’ letter of 25 April. He noted that the Government had not conducted a formal impact assessment on leaving Euratom, but emphatically confirmed that the UK’s ability to import medical isotopes from the EU or the rest of the world “will not be affected by withdrawal from Euratom”.
He also acknowledged the nuclear industry’s broader concerns about the UK’s exit from Euratom, noting that an “unsatisfactory withdrawal risks significant impacts for the nuclear sector”.

…….With respect to the supply of medical isotopes post-Brexit, we have taken note of the Minister’s assurance that the UK’s ability to import medical isotopes from the EU or the rest of the world will not be affected by withdrawal from Euratom.
……the UK currently does not produce any molybdenum-99 (99Mo), the decay product of which (technetium-99m or Tc-99m) is ultimately used for 90% of medical interventions involving radio isotopes.29 The UK is entirely reliant on import from other countries. The material cannot be stockpiled as it has a half-life of only 66 hours……..http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com.au/2018/01/nuclear-red-herring-thrown-into-euratom.html

January 17, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Chernobyl – from nuclear wreck to solar power farm

Chernobyl nuclear power plant transformed into a massive solar plant,  http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/chernobyl-nuclear-power-plant-transformed-into-a-massive-solar-plant/news-story/2d8d365ca1a6a7bde0c75c2372e888ed  [excellent graphs and photos] 

IT was the site of the world’s worst ecological disaster, but Chernobyl has risen from the ashes of its nuclear meltdown and is undergoing a massive makeover. News Corp Australia Network JANUARY 15, 2018 AT ground zero of Ukraine’s Chernobyl tragedy, workers in orange vests are busy erecting hundreds of dark-coloured panels as the country gets ready to launch its first solar plant to revive the abandoned territory.

The new one-megawatt power plant is located just a hundred metres from the new “sarcophagus”, a giant metal dome sealing the remains of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the worst nuclear disaster in the world.

This solar power plant can cover the needs of a medium-sized village”, or about 2,000 flats, Yevgen Varyagin, the head of the Ukrainian-German company Solar Chernobyl which carried out the project, told AFP.

Eventually, the region is to produce 100 times the initial solar power, the company says.

The amount of sunshine “here is the same as in the south of Germany,” says Varyagin.

Ukraine, which has stopped buying natural gas from Russia in the last two years, is seeking to exploit the potential of the Chernobyl uninhabited exclusion zone that surrounds the damaged nuclear power plant and cannot be farmed.

CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE ‘SUITABLE FOR SCIENCE’

Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl plant exploded April 26, 1986 and the fallout contaminated up to three quarters of Europe, according to some estimates, especially hitting Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Following the disaster, Soviet authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people and this vast territory, over 2,000 square kilometres wide, has remained abandoned.

The plant continued to operate the remaining reactors, the last of which was shut down in 2000, ending industrial activity in the area.

People cannot return to live in the zone for “more than 24,000 years”, according to the Ukrainian authorities, who nevertheless argue that a prudent industrial use can be possible again.

This territory obviously cannot be used for agriculture, but it is quite suitable for innovative and scientific projects,” Ostap Semerak, Ukrainian Minister of the Environment and one of the promoters of placing solar projects in Chernobyl, told AFP in 2016.

The installation of a huge dome above the ruins of the damaged reactor just over a year ago made the realisation of the solar project possible.

Funded by the international community, it covered the old concrete structure which had become cracked and unstable, to ensure greater isolation of the highly radioactive magma in the reactor.

As a result, radiation near the plant plummeted to just one-tenth of previous levels, according to official figures

Even so, precautions are still necessary: the solar panels are fixed onto a base of concrete blocks rather than placed on the ground.

The soil remains contaminated, explains Varyagin, whose group is a joint venture between the Ukrainian firm Rodina Energy Group and Germany’s Enerparc AG.

We can not drill or dig here because of the strict safety rules,” he says.

Last year the consortium completed a 4.2-megawatt solar power plant in the irradiated zone in neighbouring Belarus, not far from Chernobyl.

Ukrainian authorities offered investors nearly 2,500 hectares (25 square kilometres) for potential construction of solar power plants in Chernobyl.

Kiev has received about 60 proposals from foreign companies — including American, Chinese, Danish and French — who are considering participating in future solar developments in the area, according to Olena Kovalchuk, spokeswoman of the State Administration for the zone of Chernobyl.

Investors are attracted by the price that Ukraine has set for solar electricity, which “exceeds on average by 50 per cent of that in Europe”, Oleksandr Kharchenko, executive director of the Energy Industry Research Center, told AFP

He adds that cheap land and the proximity of the power grids makes Chernobyl particularly attractive, though there is still no rush of western investors to the region.

Safety concerns and Ukraine’s notorious bureaucracy and corruption has put some off.

It is very important to have guarantees that working in the Chernobyl zone will be safe for those who will be doing it,” says Anton Usov, adviser to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The bank does not currently foresee any investment to Ukraine in this field.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Abe snubs head of Nobel-winning no-nukes group

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Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Akira Kawasaki, a member of the group’s international steering committee, place a wreath at the Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima on Monday.
HIROSHIMA – The leader of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has been denied a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat said Monday.
ICAN has asked the Japanese government twice since late December to arrange a meeting between Abe and Executive Director Beatrice Fihn during her visit to Japan, but the Foreign Ministry declined the requests, citing scheduling conflicts, according to Peace Boat, a major steering group member of the Geneva-based organization.
 
Expressing disappointment over failing to meet Abe on her first visit to Japan, Fihn said in Hiroshima that she wanted to talk with him about how the world can avoid devastation of the type inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Fihn said she hopes to meet with the prime minister at the next opportunity.
Atomic-bomb survivors also expressed disappointment.
“Does Prime Minister Abe understand the significance of ICAN winning the Noble Peace Prize? It is very regrettable to feel this difference of attitudes between the government and atomic-bomb survivors,” said Hiroko Kishida, a 77-year-old hibakusha in Hiroshima.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that ICAN’s requests were declined “due to a conflict of schedule. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Fihn arrived in Japan on Friday. After visiting Nagasaki through Sunday, she moved on to Hiroshima and was scheduled to hold discussions with Diet members in Tokyo on Tuesday before leaving Japan on Thursday.
Abe departed Japan on Friday for a six-nation European tour and is scheduled to return home Wednesday.
ICAN, founded in 2007, is a coalition of NGOs that involves about 470 groups from more than 100 countries.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

ICAN chief calls on Japan to join treaty banning nuclear weapons

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NAGASAKI (Kyodo) — The leader of the antinuclear group International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, on Saturday called on Japan to take part in the treaty banning nuclear weapons.
In a keynote speech at a symposium in Nagasaki, one of two atomic-bombed cities, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn criticized the Japanese government for not joining the treaty banning nuclear weapons, adopted by 122 U.N. members in July.
“The Japanese government should know better than any other nation the consequences of nuclear weapons, yet Tokyo is happy to live under the umbrella of U.S. nuclear protection, and has not joined the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “Is your government okay with repeating the evil that was done to Nagasaki and Hiroshima to other cities?”
Japan sat out the treaty negotiations, as did the world’s nuclear-armed countries and others relying on the deterrence of the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Japan remains the only country to have sustained wartime atomic bombings, over 72 years after the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later.
Fihn said as long as the Japanese government believes in the effect of deterrence from the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it means encouraging nuclear proliferation and along with other nations living under the protection of nuclear alliances, it is moving the world closer toward the eventual use of nuclear weapons.
“It is unacceptable to be a willing participant in this nuclear umbrella,” she said.
The executive director of the international group campaigning for a total ban on nuclear weapons, meanwhile, applauded atomic bomb survivors, or hibakusha, for their efforts to speak out not to repeat the tragedy.
“The nuclear ban treaty would not exist without the hibakusha,” she said.
At a panel discussion held after the speech, Nobuharu Imanishi, director of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Arms Control and Disarmament Division, said Japan is facing a “severe security environment” given North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.
“Joining the treaty would damage the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence provided by the United States,” he said.
In responding to his remarks, Fihn called on symposium visitors to put more pressure on politicians through grassroots activities to have them change the nuclear policy.
She has requested that the Japanese government set up a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her stay in Japan.
Asked at a press conference about what she would like to tell the prime minister if she can meet him, Fihn said she wants to ask Abe to show leadership in the movement for nuclear disarmament as the leader of the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.
Abe is currently on a six-nation European tour through Wednesday.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Horizon Nuclear’s Wylfa nuclear plan will increase UK’s radioactive trash by 80%

NFLA 15th Jan 2018, NFLA submission on radioactive waste elements of the reactor design for the
Wylfa B site – it could increase the UK inventory of radioactive waste by as much as 80%. The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Welsh Forum has submitted its views to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on the radioactive
waste elements of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design proposed for the Wylfa site in Anglesey.

The NFLA Welsh Forum has taken a very close eye with the proposed development of Wylfa B and has raised a number oftimes that a new nuclear reactor in Anglesey is not required. In March 2017it raised in detail concerns over the design of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor in reference to issues arising from the Fukushima disaster.

NRW is consulting on whether it will issue an environmental permit to Horizon Nuclear, wholly owned by Hitachi, for Wylfa B. This is concentrating now on issues around the radioactive waste that would be generated from such a
reactor, how it will be managed and stored and for how long it will remain on site.

NFLA Vice-Chair Councillor David Blackburn said: “This NFLA submission on Wylfa B’s radioactive waste programme has gone into much detail about the radioactive high burn-up fuel that would be produced from such a reactor, should it ever be built. Such waste would have to remain on site for as much as 160 years and Wylfa B alone could increase the current UK radioactive waste inventory by as much as 80%.

NFLA does not see such a waste burden being beneficial to the people of Anglesey or of Wales. There are far safer, less expensive alternatives that do not produce such hazardous materials as what Wylfa will generate. Wales would be far better off then to build solar, tidal, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy facilities instead, with energy efficiency and energy storage solutionsadequate to deal with intermittency issues.”
http://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/nfla-submission-radioactive-waste-elements-reactor-design-wylfa-b-increase-uk-inventory-radioactive-waste/

January 16, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) search processes indicate Cumbria’s unsuitability for nuclear waste dumping

Cumbria Trust 15th Jan 2018, Tim Knowles, who chaired the last search process, known as Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) has changed his view since 2013 and no longer supports the idea of geological disposal of nuclear waste in Cumbria. He appears to share Cumbria Trust’s view that Cumbria does not have suitable geology, and that there are much better sites elsewhere in the country.

It is interesting that we have now had 2 search processes in Cumbria and both the Lead Inspector of the first Nirex process, and now the Chair of the second MRWS process have reached the same conclusion – that the search should move to an area of simple geology in the east or south of the country. Both of them want Cumbria to not volunteer again.

In a few months the national geological screening report will be published before councils are asked to volunteer for the third search process. We know that the GDF developer, Radioactive Waste Management, has decided to take
control of this report by producing the narrative itself, and our concern is that they may manipulate the output to suit their intention to return to Cumbria for a third time.
https://cumbriatrust.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/a-change-of-view-for-tim-knowles/

January 16, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

What if there were a real attack on Hawaii?

Hawaii: Here’s what would happen if there was a real nuclear attack, ABC News 
By Anne Barker, 16 Jan 18, 
Consider the following scenario: a nuclear missile is launched from North Korea on a direct path for Honolulu.

For at least five minutes, Hawaiians are blissfully unaware of the danger.

Suddenly, the US Pacific Command detects the missile in mid-air and sends an alert to Hawaii’s State Warning Point, which instantly activates its public warning system.

Sirens begin blaring across the state and an alert is sent to mobile phones, radio and television.

Panicked residents and visitors have no more than 15 minutes to find somewhere to find cover — but there are no public fallout shelters.

Twenty minutes after launch, a nuclear bomb detonates 1,000 feet above the Hawaiian capital, and thousands are killed and many more are left with burns and radiation poison.

That exact scenario is being seriously considered

It’s the very real scenario Hawaiian authorities are preparing for, laid out in a document about the US state’s preparedness for a nuclear attack.

Although Saturday’s missile warning was a false alarm, US authorities believe there’s a very high likelihood that Hawaii — particularly Honolulu and the island of Oahu — would be the primary target of a North Korean nuclear attack.

The “Emergency Preparedness” document, published in November by Hawaii’s Emergency Management Authority, warns that Hawaiian residents and visitors would have “less than 12 to 15 minutes” to seek shelter in the event of a real nuclear missile threat.

Such an attack would “likely occur without prior warning”, it warns.

What would the toll be?

It says that a single-kiloton range nuclear weapon detonated at 1,000 feet could kill almost 18,000 people and cause 50,000 to 120,000 trauma and burn casualties.

As well as widespread building collapses and structural fires, up to 30 per cent of survivors would suffer acute radiation syndrome.

The document, while offering advice to residents on how to survive a nuclear attack, also confirms that Hawaii has no public fallout shelters or shelter supply caches.

Instead, it advises people to seek shelter in a building away from windows, or lie flat on the ground.

Hawaiians are unprepared

The actions of many panicked residents after Saturday’s false alarm were a far cry from what authorities recommend, and show just how unprepared Hawaii is for a North Korean nuclear missile attack……. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-15/hawaii-what-would-happen-if-there-was-a-real-nuke/9330162

January 16, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Coal and nuclear industries still pushing for taxpayer bailouts, despite knock-back from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC)

FERC rejected Perry’s plan, but coal and nuclear are still asking for bailouts http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/368814-ferc-rejected-perrys-plan-but-coal-and-nuclear-are-still-askingThis is set to be the year that America decides if it values clean, affordable energy or political cronyism in its electricity markets.

TheFederal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) recent rejection of Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s plan to force electricity customers across the country to pay billions of dollars to prop up uneconomic coal and nuclear plants is only the tip of the iceberg in the fossil fuel industry’s bailout efforts.

Today, there are still numerous proposals making their way through state legislatures, public utility commissions, electric market operators, and Congress that will unfairly prop up fossil fuel plants that can’t compete in America’s modern energy markets.

 These proposals are rooted in the entitled belief by fossil fuel billionaires that any competition that outperforms their lumbering, polluting power plants — especially clean energy resources like solar, wind, and energy efficiency — is somehow illegitimate.

The proposals themselves have gotten traction recently because over the past decade, clean energy resources have displaced hundreds of coal and nuclear plants as American customers have steadily cut down on their electricity usage and demanded cleaner, safer energy at a lower cost. As a consequence, these new resources have also created a vibrant clean energy economy that employs hundreds of thousands of workers.

Fossil fuel billionaires are fearful that this trend will create a permanent shift away from their dirty and dangerous energy, and are subsequently trying to force electricity customers to pay hundreds of millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars to prop up their plants.

The most egregious example of this political cronyism was Perry’s directive to FERC to create new rules that would have forced electricity customers to pay extra money for the energy produced by uneconomic coal and nuclear plants.

This expensive, foolish directive was rejected by FERC. Despite its failure, however, there are still numerous other proposals which are not as well publicized, but equally costly attempts by fossil fuel billionaires to prop up their plants.

Washington energy lobbyists, for example, have already been busy pushing coal tax credits and the extension of nuclear industry tax incentives in this year’s spending packages.

In Indiana, Sierra Club caught the state’s public utility commission approving a massive bailout of two coal-burning power plants for a local utility, NIPSCO, and is considering legal action to overturn it. The bailout came after uncontested NIPSCO data was revealed which showed that retiring the plants, instead of bailing them out, would save customers as much as $420 million.

In Ohio, FirstEnergy has tried for years, and is still trying, to get the state government to bail out its obsolete coal and nuclear plants that can’t compete with the Midwest’s legion of wind farms. Consumer and environmental advocates have defeated this bailout multiple times, but the utility keeps coming back to try again.

In the Great Plain states, reports show that throughout the region, utilities have been taking advantage of loopholes to force customers to bail out local coal plants to the tune of $300 million over a two year period in the Southwest Power Pool, home to abundant cheap wind power.

Electricity markets that are supposed to be competitive and open to all resources aren’t immune from efforts to rig the system against cleaner energy.

For example, on the same day FERC rejected Energy Department’s misguided proposal, New England’s market operator filed a proposal that would obstruct states’ rights to pursue cost-effective renewable energy projects and make it easier to prop up dirtier, costly power plants that should retire. PJM, which manages the electric system for much of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, has also threatened to override public policies for clean energy in order to raise consumer costs and bail out unnecessary power plants, despite a massive surplus of electric capacity.

This recent, ongoing wave of proposals to bailout coal and nuclear plants on behalf of billionaires is a very real threat that will stifle innovation, increase costs, and corrupt democratic processes that have served us well for decades.

The backlash against these bailouts has been overwhelming thus far, but it will only be effective if it can stop all of them in their tracks. A reliable, affordable, and clean energy future hangs on the decisions we make in 2018 and we must choose our decisions wisely.

Mary Anne Hitt is the director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

China’s Fissile Material Production and Stockpile

IPFM 12th Jan 2018, IPFM’s new research report “China’s Fissile Material Production and
Stockpile” (PDF copy) by Hui Zhang uses information from newly available
Chinese public sources to provide a more detailed and documented
reconstruction of China’s production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and
plutonium for nuclear weapons.

The report provides new evidence to constrain the operating histories for China’s Lanzhou and Heping gaseous
diffusion enrichment plants. Lanzhou stopped HEU production for weapons in 1980 and shifted to making low enriched uranium (LEU) for civilian power reactors and possibly for naval reactors. It was shut down on 31 December
2000 and in 2017 was demolished.

The Heping plant may still be operating but not producing HEU for weapons. China also has centrifuge enrichment
plants but they are believed not to produce HEU for weapons. The new report also offers new details on the operational experience of the Jiuquan and Guangyuan weapon plutonium production reactors. China also used these
reactors to produce tritium for weapons. The reactors were closed in the 1980s and have been undergoing decommissioning.
http://fissilematerials.org/blog/2018/01/chinas_fissile_material_p.html

January 16, 2018 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

University of California grilled over Los Alamos nuclear lab safety issues


UC grilled over LANL safety issues,
Lamonitor.com, By Tris DeRoma, January 15, 2018 Three university systems went before the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Friday to tell the coalition once again why they would be the best candidate to take on the job of operating and managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | 1 Comment

Russian nuclear torpedo is ‘threat to coastal cities’

 Tom Parfitt, Moscow, January 16 2018, Russia is developing an underwater “nuclear drone” that could be used to devastate coastal cities, according to a leaked Pentagon document.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hawaii false alarm dramatically highlights nuclear war risk with Trump

False Alarm Adds to Real Alarm About Trump’s Nuclear Risk , NYT, By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, JAN. 13, 2018 It was the sort of nightmare that had only ever been real for most people’s parents or grandparents — the fear of an impending nuclear attack. “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” read the emergency alert that residents of the Aloha State received on Saturday morning. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

The authorities quickly announced that the alert was a mistake. But it made tangible the growing fears that after decades of leaders trying to more safely control the world’s nuclear arsenals, President Trump has increased the possibility of those weapons being used.

At a time when many are questioning whether Mr. Trump ought to be allowed anywhere near the nuclear “button,” he is moving ahead with plans to develop new nuclear weapons and expanding the circumstances in which they’d be used. Such actions break with years of American nuclear policy. They also make it harder to persuade other nations to curb their nuclear ambitions or forgo them entirely.

Mr. Trump has boasted about the size and power of America’s nuclear arsenal, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, pushed for a massive buildup of an arsenal that already has too many — 4,000 — warheads and wondered aloud why the United States possesses such weapons if it isn’t prepared to use them.

Now, as he tries to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons capability and ensure that Iran never acquires one, Mr. Trump is poised to make public a new policy that commits America to an increasing investment in those very weapons, according to a draft document made public by HuffPost and confirmed by The Times.

…….. The proposed nuclear policy says a more aggressive nuclear posture is warranted because the world is more dangerous, with China, North Korea and Iran cited as concerns. Yet blowing up the Iran deal would free Tehran to resume its nuclear activities and make the world less safe. In other words, Mr. Trump’s approach makes no sense.

Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed in 1968, the United States and Russia promised to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. They made significant, although insufficient, progress. After reductions under a succession of past presidents, the American stockpile is 85 percent smaller than it was at the height of the Cold War. Negotiations on further reductions have stalled in recent years as Russia, threatened by America’s superior conventional arsenal, became more reliant on nuclear weapons, and there is no serious sign that Mr. Trump wants to revive the talks.

President Barack Obama made a down payment on a saner policy by narrowing to “extreme circumstances” the conditions under which nuclear weapons would be used and ruling out their use against most non-nuclear countries. Mr. Trump’s policy also talks about “extreme circumstances, ” but it dangerously broadens the definition to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” which could mean using nuclear weapons to respond to cyber, biological and chemical weapon attacks.

Until Mr. Trump, no one could imagine the United States ever using a nuclear weapon again. America’s conventional military is more than strong enough to defend against most threats. But Mr. Trump has so shaken this orthodoxy that Congress has begun debating limits on his unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons. Expanding the instances when America might use nuclear weapons could also make it easier for other nuclear-armed countries to justify using their own arsenals against adversaries.

As the residents of Hawaii can tell you, it’s a risk the world cannot afford. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/opinion/sunday/trump-nuclear-weapons-war.html?smid=li-share

January 15, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment