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Cost of the Fukushima nuclear disaster estimated at up to 81 trillion yen

An aerial view shows workers wearing protective suits and masks working atop contaminated water storage tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 20, 2013. Japan’s nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it is concerned that more storage tanks at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will spring leaks, following the discovery that highly contaminated water is leaking from one of the hastily built containers. Picture taken August 20, 2013. Mandatory Credit. REUTERS/Kyodo (JAPAN – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT POLITICS ENERGY)
ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. YES

Think tank puts cost to address nuke disaster up to 81 trillion yen  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903100044.html By ATSUSHI KOMORI/ Staff Writer, March 10, 2019  In a startling disparity, a private think tank puts the cost of addressing the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster between 35 trillion yen and 81 trillion yen ($315 billion and $728 billion), compared with the government estimate of 22 trillion yen.

The calculation, by the Tokyo-based Japan Center for Economic Research, showed that the total could soar to at least 60 percent more and up to 3.7 times more than the 2016 estimate by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

In releasing the latest estimates on March 7, the center said it is time for serious debate over the role nuclear energy should play in the nation’s mid- and long-term energy policy.

Of the highest price tag of 81 trillion yen, 51 trillion yen would go toward decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and treating and disposing of radioactive water. The ministry put the cost for these tasks at 8 trillion yen.

The center calculated the compensation to victims at 10 trillion yen, while the comparable estimate by the ministry was 8 trillion yen.

Although the center’s estimate for the decontamination operation was 20 trillion yen, the ministry’s projection was 6 trillion yen.

The biggest disparity in the estimates between the think tank and the ministry is that the former put the treatment and disposal of contaminated water at 40 trillion yen and included the cost for disposing of polluted soil produced during cleanup operations in the overall costs.

If contaminated water is released in the sea after it is diluted with water, the overall costs could be 41 trillion yen, including 11 trillion yen estimated for decommissioning and disposal for tainted water.

The least expensive way of coping with the accident–35 trillion yen–would be to encase the plant in a concrete sarcophagus, rather than undertaking the formidable challenge of retrieving melted nuclear fuel from the reactors, and releasing contaminated water into the sea. In this case, it would cost 4.3 trillion yen to close down the plant and dispose of the radioactive water.

But this scenario drew fire from residents in the affected municipalities as they view covering nuclear fuel debris with a massive structure would be tantamount to asking them to give up hope of eventually returning to their hometowns.

The center’s latest projections followed its estimates two years ago, in which the number varied from 50 trillion yen to 70 trillion yen.

It updated its projections based on the findings about treatment and disposal of radioactive water and progress in cleanup operations over the past years.

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March 23, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Trump tried to close federal loan program, but now wants it to fund Vogtle nuclear station!

To Save a Nuclear Plant, Trump Taps the Solyndra Loan Program He Tried to Cut, Bloomberg, By Ari Natter,  March 23, 2019,

  • $3.7 billion loan guarantee a key lifeline for nuclear project
  •  Aid to Southern Co. raises concerns with taxpayer watchdogs

President Donald Trump is dipping into a federal loan program that his administration has repeatedly sought to kill as a way to rescue a struggling nuclear power project in Georgia that critics say poses a credit risk to U.S. taxpayers.

The Trump administration announced Friday it’s finalizing a $3.7 billion loan guarantee for two nuclear reactors being built by Southern Co. Called Plant Vogtle, it’s the only nuclear facility under construction in the U.S. and one seen as vital for an industry that’s lagged due to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

This is the real new green deal,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Friday during a visit to the site near Waynesboro, Georgia, alongside Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Southern Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning. “If you want clean energy that helps your environment, there is no source that is cleaner than nuclear energy. This is it.”

The source of the aid is an Energy Department loan program that’s been in the cross-hairs of the Trump team since before his inauguration, when his transition team saw it as corporate welfare. Trump has asked Congress to ax the program for three years running, including in the budget submitted this month, arguing that financing provided by the fund should come from the private sector instead.

….. The aid to Southern and its partners building the plant comes on top of a record $8.3 billion in loan guarantees inked by the Obama administration for the project, bringing the total amount of exposure to taxpayers to $12 billion.

That’s raised concerns among watchdog groups and critics of the project, which is supposed to be completed in late 2022, who are questioning the wisdom of more government loans.

It would be a gross understatement to say this decision is fiscally reckless,” said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan group based in Washington. “Putting the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury behind a project after it’s been plagued by skyrocketing costs and multi-year delays is an unjustifiable handout to the well-heeled Southern Company and its partners. Throwing good money after bad is never good policy.”

Behind Schedule

The project, which is more than five years behind schedule and has doubled in cost to $28 billion, was dealt a major setback after contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. went bankrupt in 2017. Southern assumed responsibility for managing construction of the project after that…….. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-22/trump-taps-solyndra-loan-program-he-wants-cut-for-nuclear-plant

March 23, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

American nuclear lobby keen to market new nuclear reactors to overseas, to anyone!

The US is losing the nuclear energy export race to China and Russia. Here’s the Trump team’s plan to turn the tide

CNBC, MAR 21 2019 
 Tom DiChristopher@TDICHRISTOPHER 

  • Russian and Chinese companies are aggressively pursuing nuclear energy export deals and building more reactors overseas than U.S. firms.
  • The Trump administration aims to disrupt that progress by expanding early stage cooperation with countries interested in adopting nuclear energy.
  •  new initiative aims to make the U.S. the global leader in advanced nuclear reactors poised to hit the market in the coming years.The Trump administration is preparing a new push to help American companies compete in the race to build the next generation of nuclear power plants around the world — a competition the U.S. is currently losing.

    In doing so, the administration also aims to push back on the growing dominance of Russia and China in the space, preventing them from expanding their international influence by forging long-lasting nuclear ties with foreign powers.

    The State Department plans to expand cooperation with countries pursuing atomic energy long before those nations ever purchase a nuclear reactor. By facilitating early stage talks, the U.S. intends to put American companies first in line to build tomorrow’s fleet of nuclear power plants overseas

    We still lead the world in nuclear technology innovation. Our big challenge is taking that incredible IP and those incredible technological innovative breakthroughs and bringing them to market.

    To be sure, the Energy and Commerce departments actively facilitate U.S. nuclear cooperation with their foreign counterparts. But the State Department now intends to push the issue in talks at the highest levels of government, making it clear that Washington believes cooperation in the nuclear realm is central to its strategic relationships…….

    Rise of Russia and China

    The U.S. dominated nuclear energy exports decades ago, but faces stiff competition today, including from allies like France and South Korea. But it’s the growing dominance of adversaries in Beijing and Moscow that worries the Trump administration and nonproliferation experts……..

    Russia is also changing the rules of the game by offering generous financing that makes nuclear energy affordable to more nations. Moscow is targeting non-nuclear states in the Middle East and Africa with a model to build, own and operate the plants.

    The State Department intends to actively dissuade its partners from working with China and Russia, according to Christopher Ford, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation.

    Ford previewed that message last month at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC: “Russia and China also use reactor sales by their heavily state-supported nuclear industries as a geopolitical tool to deepen political relationships with partner countries, to foster energy dependence by foreign partners, and sometimes even to use predatory financing to lure foreign political leaderships into ‘debt traps’ that give Beijing or Moscow leverage that it can exploit later for geopolitical advantage.”

    New plan takes shape

    During the address, Ford outlined State’s plan to help American companies compete with Chinese and Russian firms.

    The department will more closely coordinate nuclear cooperation efforts across agencies and ramp up informal, non-binding talks with nations that might pursue nuclear energy technology. The goal is to expand the number of countries engaged in ongoing communication with U.S. government agencies, nuclear energy companies and researchers.

    The State Department will do this by signing nuclear cooperation memorandums of understanding with the countries……..

    State’s focus is on teeing up sales of a new generation of nuclear technology expected to come online in the next five to 10 years, the official said.Those include small modular reactors that can be bolted together to form larger units, Terrapower’s traveling wave reactor backed by Bill Gates and microreactors meant to provide enough power for a few thousand homes.

    Altogether, there are about two dozen serious designs for advanced nuclear reactors trying to break into the market, said McGinnis. Under McGinnis and Secretary Rick Perry, one of the Energy Department’s top priorities is facilitating the development of these new technologies…….

    On Tuesday, NuScale Energy signed a memorandum to explore deploying its small modular reactors in Romania, after signing similar agreements with Canada and Jordan.

    The U.S. will still have to reach so-called 123 Agreements with foreign countries before American firms can sell nuclear reactors overseas. These agreements place limits on the use of nuclear technology and must be approved by Congress.

    These agreements have recently drawn scrutiny from Democratic and Republican lawmakers as Westinghouse bids for nuclear power contracts in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have long insisted on their right to enrich uranium, something the U.S. usually opposes. The bidding also comes as tension between Riyadh and Capitol Hill has escalated after Saudi agents killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October. ……..  https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/21/trump-aims-to-beat-china-and-russia-in-nuclear-energy-export-race.html

March 23, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 1 Comment

U.S. accuses Iran of plotting to restart nuclear weapons program

  https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/22/sanctions-iran-weapons-program-1232221, By KATIE GALIOTO, 03/22/2019
U.S. officials on Friday accused Iran of plotting to restart work on its nuclear weapons program, despite Tehran agreeing in a 2015 accord to not pursue such weapons.The charges were made as the Treasury and State Departments announced a new round of sanctions against 14 individuals and 17 entities linked to the Iranian Ministry of Defense unit responsible for nuclear weapons development, senior administration officials said Friday.

Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also referred to by the acronym SPND, maintains technical experts and critical ties to Iran’s previous nuclear efforts — notably to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of Iran’s pre-2004 nuclear weapons program, officials said.

They added that Tehran-based SPND may not currently be working to develop nuclear weapons, but that the connections to Iran’s previous nuclear programs increase the threat of the country developing weapons of mass destruction. Iran has long claimed to have no interest in developing nuclear weapons, but the United Nations in 2015 uncovered a secret program that lasted until at least 2009.

The sanctions are the latest step the U.S. has taken to ramp up economic pressure on Iran after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact, in which the country’s Islamist regime agreed to abandon any nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic sanctions relief. The other parties in the agreement — including several European countries, China and Russia — have all remained in the deal, and international organizations say Tehran

has complied with the agreement.

Trump has bashed the the international pact for not doing enough to stop Iranian efforts to build nuclear bombs. Since leaving the accord, his administration has leaned on other countries to cut off their interactions with Iran.

“Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Friday.

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

A battle in U.S. Congress over the extremely costly nuclear weapons modernisation

March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The sorry history of small nuclear power reactors

Many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. For instance, a 400 MW reactor requires less than twice the quantity of concrete and steel to construct as a 200 MW reactor, and it can be operated with fewer than twice as many people.

In the face of this prevailing wisdom, proponents of small reactors pinned their hopes on yet another popular commercial principle: “economies of mass production.”

In 1968, the same year Elk River shut down, the last of the AEC’s small reactors was connected to the grid: the 50 MW La Crosse boiling water reactor.19 That plant operated for 18 years; by the end, its electricity cost three times as much as that from the coal plant next door, according to a 2012 news account about the disposal of the plant’s spent fuel. Dealing with the irradiated uranium-thorium fuel proved difficult too. Eventually, the spent fuel was shipped to a reprocessing plant in southern Italy.

Since then, not a single small reactor has been commissioned in the United States.

Without exception, small reactors cost too much for the little electricity they produced, the result of both their low output and their poor performance.

The forgotten history of small nuclear reactors  Nuclear Monitor Issue: #872-873 4775 07/03/2019  M.V. Ramana ‒ Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia

Article  April 2015 ‒ A tantalizing proposition has taken hold again in the nuclear industry: that small nuclear reactors have economic and other advantages over the standard-size ones being built today. The idea is that by reducing the substantial financial risk of a full-scale nuclear project, small reactors are the best option for kick-starting a much-discussed revival of nuclear power……

the technology remains in stasis or decline throughout the Americas and Europe. …..

A fundamental reason for this decline is indeed economic. Compared with other types of electricity generation, nuclear power is expensive. Continue reading

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Power firms agree on route to close Spain’s oldest nuclear plant

https://www.reuters.com/article/spain-energy-nuclearpower/power-firms-agree-on-route-to-close-spains-oldest-nuclear-plant-idUSL8N2193XV

MADRID, March 22 (Reuters) – Spain’s main electricity providers have reached an agreement to renew the life of the country’s oldest nuclear plant until its planned closure, the company that operates the site said on Friday.

The Almaraz plant in Western Spain is the first nuclear reactor slated for closure in a calendar which foresees all seven in the country going offline between 2027 and 2035.

Phasing out nuclear power, which provides around a fifth of Spain’s electricity, is part of a package of energy market proposals that was one of the last gambits of the Socialist government before parliament was dissolved ahead of a general election next month.

A disagreement between Almaraz’s owners, Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy, over how much to invest to keep the plant running rumbled on close to a March 31 licence renewal deadline, putting the plant at risk of an earlier closure.

The firms will now apply to keep the site’s two reactors running until 2027 and 2028 respectively, on condition they will spend no more than 600 million euros on them, three sources with knowledge of the talks said.

Endesa had resisted adding any spending limits to a protocol signed last week setting out the closure dates, but a spokesman for the company said it was pleased with the deal.

We are very satisfied with the agreement because it fulfils the protocol signed last week which allows the plants to keep operating,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the agreement also applied to two other nuclear power stations in which it holds majority stakes, whose licences likewise need renewing.

Iberdrola and Naturgy declined to comment.

March 23, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Spain | Leave a comment

UN raps Israel’s use of ‘unlawful force’ against Gazans 

  Press TV, 23 Mar 19, The United Nations (UN)’s Human Rights Council has denounced Israel’s use of “unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against unarmed Palestinian protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gazans started protesting along a fence that separates the Gaza Strip from the Israeli-occupied territories on March 30, 2018 demanding the right to return for those Palestinians driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression and calling for a halt to Israel’s inhumane blockade of the enclave.

Israeli forces deployed to the area have used force from across the fence against the protesters, killing over 260 Palestinians and injuring thousands since the protests started.

On Friday, the Humans Rights Council adopted a resolution on accountability tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The resolution was adopted with 23 votes in favor, eight against, and 15 abstentions. The delegation of one member state was absent.

The text also called for cooperation by the Israeli regime with a preliminary examination that was launched by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015 into Israeli human rights violations.

The resolution was based on a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report that found that Israeli forces had committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that “may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity” in killing 189 Palestinians and injuring thousands between March 30 and December 31, 2018……..https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/22/591676/UN-Human-Rights-Council-Israel-lethal-excessive-force-Gaza

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Gaza, Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bradwell B nuclear project – a risk to UK’s national security?

Is Bradwell B a risk to nationalsecurity?    Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group  (BANNG)21 March 2019

Andy Blowers considers whether the ‘golden relationship’ with China might be a Trojan Horse in the BANNG Column for Regional Life March 2019.  The state visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in October 2015 proclaimed the beginning of a ‘golden era’ in Sino-British relations. The deal was sealed with the promise that China would be offered the opportunity to construct a new nuclear power station at Bradwell with a state-owned company, CGN, using its own technology. In return the Chinese would provide the lion’s share (two-thirds) of investment in the project, with its partner the French state backed-company EDF finding the rest.

The jubilation of the Cameron Government turned to scepticism when his successor’s Joint Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, declared, ‘The Government is selling our national security to China’. Fears that a critical part of sensitive infrastructure could be open to control by a potentially hostile power have continued to cloud the project. The fact that China, like the UK, is a military as well as civil nuclear power makes the issue of security and control especially worrying.

Bradwell B – a Trojan Horse?
Concerns about security threats are not without foundation. There is the broad charge that China plays by its own rules and the United States has long claimed that China has stolen American atomic secrets…….
Fears of Chinese infiltration in national security have led the United States to ban foreign ownership or control of nuclear power plants (see Box). No such injunction has been proclaimed in the UK; rather, at this very moment, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation is deeply engaged in the process which may lead to approval for the Chinese Hualong One reactor design, thereby paving the way for overseas expansion of Chinese nuclear technology and the inevitable proliferation of security concerns. Bradwell B could be the Trojan Horse that leads into the heart of our national security  …..

nothing is said at all about what will be a deteriorating nuclear complex with stores of highly radioactive nuclear wastes strewn on a disappearing coast for the indefinite future. And will the Chinese still be around when the risks increase?

The Chinese are intent on accelerating the Bradwell B programme to begin construction before the end of the next decade. That is a tall order but they have the resources and apparent determination. But, the risks to national and local security and safety from a nuclear power station constructed and controlled by a foreign power cannot easily be allayed. Despite all the soothing words and promises of energy security, Bradwell B, if it materialises, may be a dangerous and unpredictable cuckoo in the nest.  https://www.banng.info/news/is-bradwell-b-a-risk-to-national-security/

March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Dangers of nuclear weapons convoys travelling through Northampton

Northampton Chronicle 21st March 2019 , Campaigners have raised concerns about nuclear warheads travelling through
Northampton after a convoy passed an accident-prone stretch of motorway.
Nuclear warheads are regularly driven from Burghfield Atomic Weapons
Establishment (AWE) near Reading to Coulport, Scotland, for loading onto
the Trident missile submarines.

https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/fears-raised-as-nuclear-warhead-convoy-passes-through-northampton-1-8859088

March 23, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Veterans Demand Congress End the Forever Wars 

Truthout, Mike Ludwig, March 22, 2019 As politicians and pundits opined on the 16-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq this week, organizer and veteran Perry O’Brien observed that people who were born after the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the global war on terror are now old enough to join the military and deploy to Afghanistan, where fragile peace talks between with the Taliban continue. Blood is still spilling in Kandahar, the province in Afghanistan where O’Brien served as a medic during the early years of the Afghan war.

“In 2003, the idea of being in Afghanistan even five more years would have sounded unlikely; 15 years would have been madness,” O’Brien said in an interview with Truthout.

Nowdays, O’Brien is a political organizer with Common Defense, a nationwide group of progressive veterans that grew out of protests against President Trump’s racist remarks on the 2016 campaign trail. Conservative political forces have long held a monopoly on the public image of military service and patriotism, O’Brien said, but the nationwide community of progressive veterans is actually “enormous.”

“We didn’t want to be props for Trump’s campaign for hate,” O’Brien said. “We were outraged by his remarks about Muslims and immigrants, and the whole platform and were, you know, angry with … how he wraps himself in the flag and the symbols of service even though he has never served anything other than himself.”

Common Defense organizes and trains veterans to advocate on issues ranging from racial and economic justice to opposing the Trump administration’s ban transgender troops, but after nearly two decades of seemingly endless war, O’Brien and other vets want to make it glaringly clear to policymakers that supporting U.S. military intervention has nothing to do with supporting the troops.

“There is a mistaken view that the military community wants you to show your support for the troops by being pro-intervention,” O’Brien said. “Nothing could be further from the truth in terms of what the military community really wants.”

Congress Debates U.S. Militarism Under TrumpCommon Defense is one of several veterans’ groups on both the left and the right that are putting mounting pressure on Congress to bring a clear end to the “forever wars.” Now that the war on terror has come to 80 countries, directly caused nearly half-a-million deaths and cost taxpayers more than $5.9 trillion since 2011, momentum among lawmakers to reassert their constitutional war-making authority is gaining steam after years of inaction and failed bipartisan attempts to rein in the White House and Pentagon.

Both the House and Senate have approved resolutions to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s bloody civil war, a clear rebuke of both the Saudi royal government and its cozy relationship with President Trump. Lawmakers in both chambers, particularly Democrats, have warned against U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, where hawks in the Trump administration are actively supporting a right-wing opposition leader as the country suffers an ongoing political and humanitarian crisis. …… https://truthout.org/articles/veterans-demand-congress-end-the-forever-wars/

March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump administration plans to cut spending on Hanford nuclear waste clean-up

Trump administration calls for sharp drop in Hanford nuclear reservation spending ,    https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article228065049.html#storylink=cpy Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY, 18 Mar 19,

-The Trump administration is proposing cutting Hanford nuclear reservation spending for fiscal 2020 by $416 million.

The nuclear reservation’s annual budget would drop from about $2.5 billion this fiscal year to $2.1 billion next year under the budget request submitted to Congress by the administration.

The biggest hit would be to the Richland Operations Office.
Its budget would drop by almost 25 percent. Current spending of about $954 million would drop by about $236 million to $718 million under the administration’s proposal.

The budget for the Office of River Protection would drop by almost 12 percent, or about $181 million. Spending would be reduced from almost $1.6 billion to about $1.4 billion.

Money proposed for the Office of River Protection included $715 million for the vitrification plant and $677 million for the tank farms.

A further breakdown of how the money is proposed to be spent on individual projects had not been released on Monday.

The Office of River Protection is responsible for 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks and the $17 billion vitrification plant being built to treat much of the tank waste for disposal.

The Richland Operations Office is responsible for general operations of the site, including roads and utilities, and all other environmental cleanup, including polluted groundwater, unneeded buildings, old dump sites and contaminated soil.

CONGRESS SETS HANFORD BUDGET

The 580-square-mile site is contaminated from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

The administration proposes a spending amount for Hanford annually to Congress, which then sets the spending amount for the next fiscal year.

“Unfortunately, presidents on both sides of the aisle have proposed funding cuts that would slow down Hanford cleanup,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. “And just as I have worked before with my colleagues through the appropriations process to restore funding, I will do so again.”

The federal government created the waste at Hanford and has a moral and legal obligation to finish cleaning up the site, he said.

In 2018 Washington’s congressional delegation was able to increase the administration’s spending proposal for the current fiscal year by about $342 million more than proposed by the Trump administration.

The proposed spending cut comes as a new estimate of remaining cleanup at Hanford at least triples the estimated cost released three years ago.

The Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report released at the end of January puts the remaining cleanup costs for Hanford at $323 billion under a best case scenario. At worst it could be $677 billion.

The estimate before the current one put the remaining costs as of 2016 at $108 billion.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

All life on Earth threatened – the rapid loss of biodiversity

The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change

A three-year UN-backed study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has grim implications for the future of humanity.  By John Vidal, HuffPost US 16 Mar 19, Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken. That’s the warning hundreds of scientists are preparing to give, and it’s stark.

The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May.

The study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), expected to run to over 8,000 pages, is being compiled by more than 500 experts in 50 countries. It is the greatest attempt yet to assess the state of life on Earth and will show how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself, and how nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on earth.

Nature underpins all economies with the “free” services it provides in the form of clean water, air and the pollination of all major human food crops by bees and insects. In the Americas, this is said to total more than $24 trillion a year. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion.

The final report will be handed to world leaders not just to help politicians, businesses and the public become more aware of the trends shaping life on Earth, but also to show them how to better protect nature……….

An obsession with economic growth as well as spiraling human populations is also driving this destruction, particularly in the Americas where GDP is expected to nearly double by 2050 and the population is expected to increase 20 percent to 1.2 billion over the same period. …….

Insects, vital to the diets of other animals, as well as the pollinators of our food, are facing a bleak future as populations appear to be collapsing. Land use changes and increased pesticide use are destroying habitats and vastly reducing numbers. In Europe, up to 37 percent of bees and 31 percent of butterflies are in decline, with major losses also recorded in southern Africa, according to the pollinators section of the report…..

This destruction is also driving mass human migration and increased conflict. Decreasing land productivity makes societies more vulnerable to social instability, says the report, which estimates that in around 30 years’ time land degradation, together with the closely related problems of climate change, will have forced 50 to 700 million people to migrate………

The study will also recognize that much of the remaining wealth of nature depends on indigenous people, who mostly live in the world’s remote areas and are on the frontline of the damage caused by destructive logging and industrial farming. According to IPBES, indigenous communities often know best how to conserve nature and are better placed than scientists to provide detailed information on environmental change……..

Saving nature will require a major rethink of how we live and how we think about nature, but that it is possible to turn this dire situation around if governments want it to happen.

“There are no magic bullets or one-size-fits-all answers. The best options are found in better governance, putting biodiversity concerns into the heart of farming and energy policies, the application of scientific knowledge and technology, and increased awareness and behavioral changes,” Watson said. “The evidence shows that we do know how to protect and at least partially restore our vital natural assets. We know what we have to do.”

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March 21, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

USA committed to dominating the world – heading for space weapons

COUNTDOWN TO FULL SPECTRUM DOMINANCE  This is what it’s really all about MARCH 20, 2019
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance” by T.J. COLES, CounterPunch 

The US is formally committed to dominating the world by the year 2020. With President Trump’s new Space Directive-4, the production of laser-armed fighter jets as possible precursors to space weapons, and the possibility of nuclear warheads being put into orbit, the clock is ticking…

Back in 1997, the now-re-established US Space Command announced its commitment to “full spectrum dominance.” The Vision for 2020 explains that “full spectrum dominance” means military control over land, sea, air, and space (the so-called fourth dimension of warfare) “to protect US interests and investment.” “Protect” means guarantee operational freedom. “US interest and investment” means corporate profits.

The glossy brochure explains that, in the past, the Army evolved to protect US settlers who stole land from Native Americans in the genocidal birth of the nation. Like the Vision for 2020, a report by the National Defense University acknowledges that by the 19th century, the Navy had evolved to protect the US’s newly-formulated “grand strategy.” In addition to supposedly protecting citizens and the constitution, “The overriding principle was, and remains, the protection of American territory … and our economic well-being.” By the 20th century, the Air Force had been established, in the words of the Air Force Study Strategy Guide, to protect “vital interests,” including: “commerce; secure energy supplies; [and] freedom of action.” In the 21stcentury, these pillars of power are bolstered by the Cyber Command and the coming Space Force.

The use of the Army, Navy, and Air Force—the three dimensions of power—means that the US is already close to achieving “full spectrum dominance.” Brown University’s Cost of War project documents current US military involvement in 80 countries—or 40% of the world’s nations. This includes 65 so-called counterterrorism training operations and 40 military bases (though others think the number of bases is much higher). By this measure, “full spectrum dominance” is nearly half way complete. But the map leaves out US and NATO bases, training programs, and operations in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Ukraine.

As the US expands its space operations—the fourth dimension of warfare—the race towards “full spectrum dominance” quickens. Space has long been militarized in the sense that the US uses satellites to guide missiles and aircraft. But the new doctrine seeks to weaponize space by, for instance, blurring the boundaries between high-altitude military aircraft and space itself. Today’s space power will be harnessed by the US to ensure dominance over the satellite infrastructure that allows for the modern world of internet, e-commerce, GPS, telecommunications, surveillance, and war-fighting.

Since the 1950s, the United Nations has introduced various treaties to prohibit the militarization and weaponization of space—the most famous being the Outer Space Treaty (1967). These treaties aim to preserve space as a commons for all humanity. The creation of the US Space Force is a blatant violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of those treaties. In more recent decades, successive US governments have unilaterally rejected treaties to reinforce and expand the existing space-for-peace agreements. In 2002, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), allowing it to expand its long-range missile systems. In 2008, China and Russia submitted to the UN Conference on Disarmament the proposed Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects. This would have preserved the space-as-a-commons principle and answered US claims that “enemies” would use space as a battleground against US satellites.

But peace is not the goal. The goal is “full spectrum dominance,” so the US rejected the offer. China and Russia introduced the proposed the treaty again in 2014—and again the US rejected it. Earlier this year, the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Last month, President Trump sent an unclassified memo on the new Space Directive-4 to the Vice President, Joint Chiefs of Staff, NASA, and the Secretaries of Defense and State.

The document makes for chilling and vital reading. It recommends legislating for the training of US forces “to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces.” Crucially, this doctrine includes “peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict.” As well as integrating space forces with the intelligence community, the memo recommends establishing a Chief of Staff of the Space Force, who will to join the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The memo also says that US space operations will abide by “international law.” But given that the US has rejected anti-space weapons treaties, it is barely constrained by international law.

In late-2017, Space.com reported on a $26.3m Department of Defense contract with Lockheed Martin to build lasers for fighter jets under the Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments program. The report says that the lasers will be ready by 2021. The article links to Doug Graham, the Vice President of Missile Systems and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. In the original link Graham reveals that the Air Force laser “is an example of how Lockheed Martin is using a variety of innovative technologies to transform laser devices into integrated weapon systems.”

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) states in a projection out to the year 2050: “Economies are becoming increasingly dependent upon space-based systems … By 2050, space-based weapon systems may also be deployed, which could include nuclear weapons.” But this is extremely reckless. Discussing technologies, including the artificial intelligence on which weapons systems are increasingly based, another MoD projection warns of “the potential for disastrous outcomes, planned and unplanned … Various doomsday scenarios arising in relation to these and other areas of development present the possibility of catastrophic impacts, ultimately including the end of the world, or at least of humanity.”

“Full spectrum dominance” is not only a danger to the world, it is a danger to US citizens who would also suffer the consequences, if and when something goes wrong with their leaders’ complicated space weapons.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/20/countdown-to-full-spectrum

March 21, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear transport trucks in the thick of gang gunfire in Brazil

Brazilian drug gang opens fire on convoy of trucks carrying nuclear fuel, Guardian Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro 20 Mar 2019 Latest incident raises concerns about Brazil’s nuclear security in a state struggling with violent crime A convoy of trucks carrying nuclear fuel came under armed attack on a highway in Rio de Janeiro state on Tuesday as it drove past a community controlled by a drug gang. Gang members armed with rifles opened fire on the convoy, Rio’s O Globo newspaper said.

Armed police escorting the convoy exchanged fire with armed gang members as the trucks carrying uranium continued to a nearby nuclear plant. The attack is the latest of several violent incidents in the area where Brazil has two nuclear reactors and has raised concerns about its nuclear security in a state struggling with high levels of violent crime.

The attack happened as the convoy passed the Frade community around noon near the tourist town of Angra dos Reis in the Green Coast (Costa Verde), around 200km from Rio de Janeiro. It reached the Angra 2 nuclear plant less than half an hour later, Brazil’s nuclear agency said……

Typically, such convoys have around five or six trucks and are escorted by regular police and motorbike outriders from Brazil’s Federal Highway police, the Eletronuclear spokesman Marco Antonio Alves told the Guardian. It was carrying uranium fuel to supply the Angra 2 nuclear power plant, which began operating in 2001. ……. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/20/brazilian-drug-gang-opens-fire-on-convoy-of-trucks-carrying-nuclear-fuel?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3RPlZ7l2eqbDbUKOavFnccBnocR5AjCpeedTMeCQT7686-HKxuii8rfwE

Comment by  Raymond John Cockram I‘m figuring the probability that it was refined into fuel rods is closer to the truth given it was on its way to the reactor site, what you need to remember is that the Brazilian President is a self confessed fascist so media manipulation MUST be expected.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Brazil, incidents | Leave a comment