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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Opposition to South Carolina becoming a nuclear waste dumping ground

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said

Plan surfaces for new nuclear disposal ground in SC  Casks of spent nuclear fuel are stored above ground at many atomic energy plants because there is no national disposal site for the material U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  BY SAMMY FRETWELL AND JEFF WILKINSON\  sfretwell@thestate.com,jwilkinson@thestate.com, COLUMBIA, SC 

A plan has surfaced to establish another nuclear waste disposal ground in South Carolina, a state with a history of taking atomic refuse from across the country.

An organization called the Spent Fuel Reprocessing Group wants federal approval to open a disposal area near Barnwell and the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex. Spent fuel, a type of highly radioactive waste, would be moved from the state’s four nuclear power plant sites and stored indefinitely at the new facility, records show.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in July received notice of the plan. The proposal is a long way from becoming reality, but if eventually approved by the federal government, it would create a place for nuclear waste disposal that is likely to draw opposition.

Several environmental groups said this week they are preparing to fight any effort to create what they called an atomic waste dumping ground. Politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, also expressed reservations Monday. The subject of nuclear waste disposal is a touchy one in South Carolina because many people say the state has shouldered more than its share of the nuclear waste burden.

South Carolina already stores highly radioactive material from around the country and world at the Savannah River Site. It also has a low-level waste dump in Barnwell County that was used for decades to bury nuclear garbage from power plants across the country. That site has leaked radioactive tritium into groundwater.

Now, the government is being asked to allow an interim disposal site for high-level nuclear waste from power plants in South Carolina. The site would be near the Barnwell low-level waste dump, environmentalists said Monday. The site would be considered an interim disposal ground that would hold the nuclear waste while the government figures out what to do with it in the long run…….

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said. If a permanent disposal site were eventually developed nationally, the material would have to be transported again from the interim South Carolina site, according to Savannah River Site Watch, the S.C. League of Women Voters and the state Sierra Club.

“Packaging of the spent fuel for transport, unloading it at the consolidated storage site and eventually repackaging it to transport to a federal facility would unnecessarily pose a high economic cost and a logistical nightmare, both of which can be avoided if the spent fuel is left where it is now stored until such time as a geologic facility is available,’’ according to the groups…….

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Climate change will expose top-secret US nuclear project in Greenland

Greenland’s receding icecap to expose top-secret US nuclear project Camp Century – part of Project Iceworm – is underground cold war network that had been thought buried forever, until climate change made that highly unlikely, Guardian, , 28 Sept,  A top-secret US military project from the cold war and the toxic waste it conceals, thought to have been buried forever beneath the Greenland icecap, are likely to be uncovered by rising temperatures within decades, scientists have said.

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The US army engineering corps excavated Camp Century in 1959 around 200km (124 miles) from the coast of Greenland, which was then a county of Denmark.

Powered, remarkably, by the world’s first mobile nuclear generator and known as “the city under the ice”, the camp’s three-kilometre network of tunnels, eight metres beneath the ice, housed laboratories, a shop, a hospital, a cinema, a chapel and accommodation for as many as 200 soldiers………

Project Iceworm, presented to the US chiefs of staff in 1960, aimed to use Camp Century’s frozen tunnels to test the feasibility of a huge launch site under the ice, close enough to fire nuclear missiles directly at the Soviet Union.

At the height of the cold war, as the US and the USSR were engaged in a terrifying standoff over the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the US army was considering the construction of a vast subterranean extension of Camp Century.

A system of about 4,000 kilometres of icy underground tunnels and chambers extending over an area around three times the size of Denmark were to have housed 600 ballistic missiles in clusters six kilometres apart, trained on Moscow and its satellites.

Eventually the engineers realised Iceworm would not work. The constantly moving ice was too unstable and would have deformed and perhaps even collapsed the tunnels.

From 1964 Camp Century was used only intermittently, and three years later it was abandoned altogether, the departing soldiers taking the reaction chamber of the nuclear generator with them.

They left the rest of the camp’s infrastructure – and its biological, chemical and radioactive waste – where it was, on the assumption it would be “preserved for eternity” by the perpetually accumulating snow and ice……..

Greenland’s temperatures broke new records this spring and summer, hitting 24C (75F) in the capital, Nuuk, in June – a figure that shocked meteorologists so much they had to recheck their measurements.

Between 2003 and 2010, the ice that covers much of the island melted twice as fast as during the whole of the 20th century. This year it began melting a month earlier than usual.

The researchers studied US army documents and drawings to work out how deep the camp and its waste – estimated to include 200,000 litres of diesel fuel, similar quantities of waste water and unknown amounts of radioactive coolant and toxic organic pollutants such as PCBs – were buried………

The Pentagon has said it “acknowledges the reality of climate change and the risk it poses” for Greenland, adding that the US government has pledged to “work with the Danish government and the Greenland authorities to settle questions of mutual security”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/27/receding-icecap-top-secret-us-nuclear-project-greenland-camp-century-project-iceworm

September 28, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

UK may be forced to leave Euratom treaty on nuclear energy, due to Brexit

flag-UKBrexit ‘could trigger’ UK departure from nuclear energy treaty https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/27/brexit-could-trigger-uk-departure-from-nuclear-energy-treaty

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also force it to exit the Euratom treaty on nuclear energy, ENDS has learned, Guardian, José Rojo for ENDS, part of the Guardian Environment Network. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also force it to exit the Euratom Treaty on nuclear energy, ENDS has learned.

The Euratom Treaty, which applies to all EU member states, seeks to promote nuclear safety standards, investment and research within the bloc. Although it is governed by EU institutions, it has retained a separate legal identity since its adoption in 1957.

Brian Curtis, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), told ENDS that his Committee had recently consulted the European Commission on whether Brexit would automatically lead to a UK exit of Euratom.

Curtis said the Commission had responded affirmatively, arguing that the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) applies to the Euratom Treaty under article 106 of the latter agreement. This would mean, it said, that the reference to ‘Union’ inTEU’s article 50 – which needs to be invoked by member states wishing to quit the bloc – would apply not only to the EU itself but to Euratom membership as well.

According to EESC, a Euratom withdrawal by the UK – which recently approved the controversial £18bn Hinkley C project – could have major strategic implications for the EU nuclear sector. “But anticipating specific outcomes at this stage is problematic,” the Committee added.

The Commission itself would not comment on the exchange, which took place as the EESC examined the EU’s latest nuclear plan.

The draft Nuclear Indicative Programme (PINC), which was unveiled in April, is the first to be published by the Commission since the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

The EESC is required by the Euratom Treaty to give its opinion on such plans before they are finalised. It released its opinion on the latest PINC last week, after adopting it at a plenary vote.

The document praises the Commission for its analysis of investment needs during the entire nuclear fuel cycle and its emphasis on funding for nuclear decommissioning.

However, the Committee adds that the 2016 PINC is half the length of thepreceding plan from 2007 and fails to address key issues faced by EU nuclear energy.

These, it says, include the competitiveness of nuclear amid changes to construction and capital costs, its investment needs in the context of the EU’s Energy Union goals and the speed at which new technologies may be rolled out.

EESC’s opinion was published two weeks ahead of a meeting of the European Nuclear Energy Forum, which will be attended by EU member states and European institutions in Bratislava on 3-4 October.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Tokyo Responsibility to Reveal Truth of Fukushima

We already know what is Tokyo definition of “truth”: five years and half of continuous deception, lies and cover-ups, tidbits of truth released only when forced to do so….

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More than five years after the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, the legacy of the accident continues, characterized by constant radiation exposure and an ever-lasting sense of fear, not only in this island country but also beyond its territory.

Numerous reports about nuclear radiation and its damage to human bodies have been filed since the Fukushima disaster. An Asahi Shimbun article in 2014 revealed that high levels of accumulated radioactive cesium had been detected in the mud of 468 reservoirs outside of the Fukushima evacuation zone.

But more discouraging news awaits. According to a recent report by The Mainichi, an Environment Ministry survey found that high concentrations of radioactive cesium have been accumulating at the bottom of 10 major dams 50 kilometers away from Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, yet officials were quoted as saying that “it is best to contain cesium at those dams.”

It is the inaction that is most depressing. As people’s physical health is exposed to possible risks, the psychological fallout from the accident is worrying as well. As nuclear radiation reports are always published, people affected by the nuclear leak are fearful.

The aftermath of the Fukushima disaster that concerns the lives of millions has failed to prompt the Japanese government to assume responsibility actively on a massive scale.

Earlier this month, former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi accused current leader Shinzo Abe of lying to the international community that the situation at the nuclear power plant is under control.

Those in a position of Japanese authority should release information about Fukushima-related contamination once and for all. The government should also set up a mechanism which can inform the country and the international community of new findings in a timely manner.

As a neighbor of Japan, China has also felt uneasy with the radiation from the disaster. Years after the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors, Chinese travelers are still asking if it is safe to go to Japan. In terms of food safety, despite a ban by Chinese authorities on food imports and agricultural products from Fukushima and 11 other Japanese regions affected by nuclear contamination since the accident, potentially radiation-tainted seafood from Fukushima smuggled to China poses health threats to the Chinese people.

Since a large number of Chinese travelers are going to Japan, related information is indispensable. Therefore, China should also come up with solutions such as assigning experts to monitor the situation in Japan and offer credible advice to the anxious public. This “nuclear war without a war” will attest to the responsibility of a government to its people.

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1008771.shtml#.V-sabiwjxlg.facebook

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo Electric Power : Financial Assistance from the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation

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On September 23, we received a funding grant of 104.1 billion yen from the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (hereinafter referred to as NDF) based on the revision of the Special Business Plan which was approved on March 31, 2016.


This financial assistance was given in response to the 56th request we made in order to cover the compensation payouts due by the end of October 2016. The amount of the payouts to be paid by that time had been estimated to exceed the sum of the compensation we had received in accordance with the ‘Act on Contract for Indemnification of Nuclear Damage Compensation’ (188.9 billion yen) and the financial assistance that the NDF has provided (6,229.9 billion yen).


With financial assistance from the NDF, we are determined to continue to pay the compensation with courtesy and compassion to all of those who have been afflicted by the nuclear damage.

http://m.4-traders.com/TOKYO-ELECTRIC-POWER-COMP-6491247/news/Tokyo-Electric-Power-Financial-Assistance-from-the-Nuclear-Damage-Compensation-and-Decommissioning-23125612/

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Power Firms to Pay Some of the Decommissioning Costs

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New power firms may have to pay some costs for nuke reactor decommissioning

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has begun discussions on a plan to have new smaller electric power companies shoulder part of the costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors, officials said.

This is due to fears that nine major power companies that operate nuclear plants and the Japan Atomic Power Co. alone cannot fully foot the costs of decommissioning their reactors in the future.

The government intends to draw a conclusion on the plan by the end of the year, but the move could spark criticism that nuclear plant operators would be given preferential treatment.

The industry ministry convened the first meeting of an advisory panel on electric power system reform on Sept. 27 to discuss challenges to the liberalization of the power market. At the meeting, the ministry proposed that the costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors be added to power grid usage fees that new power supplies pay to major utilities.

If new power companies add the costs of reactor decommissioning to electricity charges, consumers will be required to shoulder such additional costs.

The industry ministry has worked out the plan, which could be viewed as a relief measure for major utilities, because the business environment surrounding these companies has worsened following the liberalization of the power market and criticism of nuclear power in the wake of the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The costs of decommissioning a nuclear reactor are about 10 times that for a thermal power generator. The operators of nuclear plants use part of their income from electricity charges to save enough money to dismantle their reactors in the future.

However, if the liberalization of the electricity market progresses, a growing number of consumers could switch to new power suppliers and the prices of electric power could further decline because of intensifying competition, making it more difficult for major utilities to secure enough funds to decommission their nuclear reactors.

The suspension of operations at most atomic power stations is also adversely affecting major power companies.

Power companies could secure enough funds to decommission nuclear reactors if they saved money on the assumption that the rate of utilizing such plants stood at 76 percent and that the lifespan of each reactor was 40 years.

However, the suspension of operations at many nuclear plants has been prolonged and power companies are being forced to decommission some reactors earlier than planned, as a result of which they have been unable to secure enough funds.

Under these circumstances, major power companies are insisting that new power companies should shoulder part of the decommissioning costs.

“Customers of new electric power firms previously used power generated by nuclear plants operated by major utilities. We would like these customers to shoulder a fair share of the costs for reactor decommissioning,” an official of one major power company said.

Major power suppliers have asked the executive branch of the government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislators to consider their requests.

The government has shown consideration to major power companies that are being forced to shoulder the expenses of changes in Japan’s energy policy — such as market liberalization and stepped up safety regulations — following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.

A working group within an advisory committee to the industry ministry called on the government in March 2015 to consider a system that would take advantage of the pricing system for power transmission and distribution to help power companies cover decommissioning costs.

However, new power suppliers are opposed to the move. “It’d be unreasonable for new electric power companies that don’t have nuclear plants to shoulder the costs of those facilities,” said an executive of a Kansai-based new power supplier.

Ennet Corp. President and CEO Tsutomu Takeda told the panel on Sept. 27, “We can’t convince our customers unless you (the government and major power companies) explain how much it will cost to decommission a reactor.”

An executive of a new power company based in the Tokyo metropolitan area said, “It’d be difficult to gain understanding from our customers who have switched from major power companies following the outbreak of the nuclear disaster.”

In response, the industry ministry will consider setting up a market in which power is traded and encouraging major utilities to supply less expensive power generated by nuclear power and coal-fired thermal power plants to the market. The ministry is aiming to allow new power companies to procure less expensive power from the power transaction market in a bid to persuade them to shoulder part of the costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors.

Under the old power supply system in which major utilities enjoyed regional monopolies, power companies were able to secure funds to build and decommission nuclear plants solely by using electricity charges, allowing them to take advantage of low fuel costs for nuclear plants.

With the liberalization of the power market, however, nuclear power plants have lost their edge.

The government has postponed discussions on whether to go ahead with the construction of new nuclear power plants.

The system proposed lately could give preferential treatment to nuclear plants and encourage power companies to build more atomic power stations.

In-depth debate needs to be held on whether nuclear plants will be consistent with the policy of liberalizing the power market.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160928/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

Related article from September 8, 2016

Gov’t may shift nuke accident, reactor decommissioning costs onto new power suppliers

The government is moving to bill new electricity suppliers for a portion of nuclear reactor decommissioning costs and compensation payments related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it was learned on Sept. 7.

After decades under regional utility monopolies, the electricity supply market was opened to competition in April this year. The government apparently fears that the old monopolies such as Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) lose too many customers to new suppliers and they may no longer be able to cover the high costs of decommissioning old reactors or compensate the victims of nuclear accidents, hence the move to shift some of the financial burden onto new market entrants.

However, these costs were originally supposed to be covered by the nine big utilities, and the government’s moves would essentially transfer that burden onto the Japanese people, making a clash more than likely.

Under the current system, large utilities must cover nuclear reactor operating expenses — including eventual decommissioning — from electricity bill income. Also, TEPCO receives monies to cover Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation claims from the government-licensed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which is in turn funded by all the large utility companies.

The new system being considered by the government would spread the financial burden of nuclear accident compensation and reactor decommissioning to new electricity suppliers, lightening the load on the big utilities. The government estimates the total cost for reactor decommissioning plus Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation paid before the NDF was established at some 8 trillion yen. The new power suppliers would likely pass on their share of these costs to their customers, resulting in monthly power bills up to about 200 yen higher than at present for an average three-person household.

However, forcing customers of the new electricity firms to pay for the old utilities to decommission their reactors and for TEPCO’s nuclear disaster liabilities runs counter to the goals of liberalizing the electricity market, which was intended to push down prices through competition. It would also in essence be corporate welfare for the big utilities operating nuclear plants.

A sub-committee to debate the new system will be established under the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy reporting to the minister of economy, trade and industry. The committee will decide on what direction to take by the end of this year, with an eye to submitting a bill to revise the Electricity Business Act to the ordinary Diet session next year.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160908/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Debris recovery operation in sea carried out for first time since Fukushima nuclear disaster

The Japan Today article cites it as tsunami debris but it would also include debris from the reactor explosions at the plant. Pieces from these explosions have been found as far inland as Naraha. Why this work had not been done sooner was not mentioned.

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Japan performs tsunami debris cleanup off Fukushima 1st time since nuclear disaster

Local fisheries have begun a debris cleanup near the Fukushima plant for the first time since the tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster. However a plan to start trial fishing next year may face a setback as a nearly-completed ice wall is failing to halt water contamination.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck northeastern Japan at 2:46pm local time, unleashing a deadly tsunami. Less than an hour after the earthquake, the first of many tsunami waves hit Japan’s coastline. The tsunami waves reached heights of up to 39 meters (128 feet) at Miyako city and reached as far as 10 km (6 miles) ashore in Sendai, destroying everything in its wake. More than 15,000 people died.

At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the tsunami caused a cooling system failure resulting in a nuclear meltdown and the release of radioactive materials. The waves forced the failure of electrical power and backup generators, leading the plant to lose its cooling capabilities. The retreating water sucked a vast amount of rubble into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, contaminating the traditional fishing grounds of the local companies.

Five years after the disaster a cleanup effort to remove the debris has finally been launched by collectives of local fishermen, who aim to start trial fishing expeditions within the area from 5 kilometers (3 miles) to 20 km (12 miles) off the wrecked plant.

On Monday Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association send out 32 fishing boats to recover debris from the ocean floor. That fleet is focusing their efforts on the North side of the nuclear power plant.

On Tuesday, the Iwaki City Fisheries Cooperative Association also sent in their fleet to help with the cleanup efforts of the southern side of the contaminated segment.

Once the debris is pulled out and delivered to shore, the unloading of the waste is handled by the industrial waste treatment company. The rubble is then sent to a temporary storage facility where after an inspection for radioactive reading, cleared waste is disposed of in an industrial manner. It is as of yet unclear how the contaminated waste will be treated.

The cleanup work of the seabed endorsed by the Fisheries Agency is scheduled to last at least until February of next year. Fishing on a trial basis can start as early as March.

However such a prospect seem problematic as the recently-completed ice wall around the crippled station has failed to meet expectations, with contaminated groundwater still seeping into the sea.

The $320 million Land-Side Impermeable Wall was built to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings and consequent flow of the contaminated water into the ocean.

But on Tuesday the Japanese government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported that 1.5 km (1 mile) barrier frozen barrier failed to produce the intended results, Nikkei reported

While gaps still remain in some sections of the ocean-facing side of the wall, TEPCO believes that the inflows that penetrate the contaminated reactor are concentrated at seven unfrozen sections on the inland side.

A similar concern was voiced last month by the operator which claimed that 99 percent of the wall’s is mostly solid and frozen. However, a remaining one percent showed temperatures of the barrier above the freezing point, meaning that the contamination is not fully contained.

TEPCO has been repeatedly facing criticism for the handling of the Fukushima crisis. Despite the ongoing problems encountered following the meltdowns, the company has set 2020 as the goal for ending the plant’s water problem.

The problem of water contamination however is just one of many surrounding the dismantling and decommissioning of the Fukushima plant debris which is estimated to take at least 40 years.

We will continue to move forward with the decommissioning and contaminated water management in a transparent way, visible to the world, and will also share with the international community the lessons learned from this accident,” Hirotaka Ishihara, state minister of the cabinet office of Japan, told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 60th General Conference earlier this week.

We are also making ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of food produced in Japan,” he added. “Recognizing that many countries have already lifted restrictions on food imports from Japan, we encourage the international community to implement import policies based on scientific evidence.”

https://www.rt.com/news/360879-fukushima-fishery-cleanup-debris/#.V-s-7I2uaW0.facebook

Debris recovery operation in sea carried out for first time since Fukushima nuclear disaster

FUKUSHIMA — For the first time since the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the removal of debris in seawater located up to 20 km from the plant site has finally started.

The recovery operation, which began Monday, focuses on the removal of rubble in seawater within 5 to 20 km of the wrecked plant, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Five and a half years after the disaster, fishing has yet to be carried out in these waters while tsunami debris on the ocean floor near the Fukushima plant has remained untouched. 

With an aim to start trial fishing operations within this targeted cleanup area, the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association employed 32 fishing boats to recover debris such as driftwood and gill nets on Monday.

Following suit, from Tuesday, the Iwaki City Fisheries Cooperative Association started debris removal operations and will continue the cleanup efforts until February of next year.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/debris-recovery-operation-in-sea-carried-out-for-first-time-since-fukushima-nuclear-disaster

 

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? (and this is ‘good for business’)

Dangerous Crossroads: Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? http://www.globalresearch.ca/dangerous-crossroads-both-russia-and-america-prepare-for-nuclear-war/5548074  By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, September 27, 2016 Barely acknowledged by the Western media. both Russia and America are “rearming” their nuclear weapons systems. While the US is committed to a multibillion dollar modernization project, Russia is largely involved in a “cost-effective” restructuring process which consists in decommissioning parts of its land-based ICBM arsenal (Topol) and replacing it with the more advanced Yars RS-24 system, developed in 2007. 

While a new arms race has “unofficially” been launched, the US modernization process pertains to the all three legs of the triad system, -i.e land based  airborne and submarine launched atomic missiles. It is also coupled with the development of the B61-12 tactical bomb to be deployed in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.

Rest assured, the B61-12 is a “mini-nuke” with an explosive capacity of up to four Hiroshima bombs. It is   categorized as a “defensive” (peace-making) weapon for use in the conventional war theater. According to scientists on contract to the Pentagon, the B61-11 and 12 (bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads) are “harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”. 

The nuclear triad modernization project is at the expense of US tax payers. It requires the redirection of federal revenues from the financing of “civilian” expenditure categories (including health, education, infrastructure etc) to the “war economy”.  It’s all for a good cause: “peace and security”. 

missile-moneyWar is “Good for Business”

The multibillion dollar project is a financial bonanza for America’s major defense contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which are also firm supporters of Hillary Clinton’s stance regarding a possible first strike nuclear attack against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Reported by Defense News, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on September 26 called for the “need to modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad.” The project would require a major boost in defense expenditure.

Underscoring today’s “volatile security environment”, the multibillion dollar project is required, according to Carter, in view of threats largely emanating from Russia, China as well as North Korea:

Carter’s comments came during a visit to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, … Under the fiscal year 2017 budget request, Carter said, the department pledged $19 billion to the nuclear enterprise, part of $108 billion planned over the next five years. The department has also spent around $10 billion over the last two years, the secretary said in prepared comments. The “nuclear triad” references the three arms of the US strategic posture — land-based ICBMs, airborne weapons carried by bombers, and submarine-launched atomic missiles. All of those programs are entering an age where they need to be modernized.

Pentagon estimates have pegged the cost of modernizing the triad and all its accompanying requirements at the range of $350 to $450 billion over the next 10 years, with a large chunk of costs hitting in the mid-2020s, just as competing major modernization projects for both the Air Force and Navy come due.

Critics of both America’s nuclear strategy and Pentagon spending have attempted to find ways to change the modernization plan, perhaps by cancelling one leg of the triad entirely.But Carter made it clear in his speech that he feels such plans would put America at risk at a time when Russia, China and North Korea, among others, are looking to modernize their arsenals. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter casually dismissed the dangers of a no-win global war, which could evolve towards a “nuclear holocaust”, Ironically  ”… He also hit at critics of the nuclear program — which include former Secretary of Defense William Perry, [who ironically is] widely seen as a mentor for Carter — who argue that investing further into nuclear weapons will increase the risk of atomic catastrophe in the future. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter expressed his concern regarding Russia’s alleged “nuclear saber-rattling”.

Russia’s  ICBM System

Were Carter’s timely statements in response to Russia redeployment and restructuring of its ICBM system on its Western frontier,  which were announced on September 20?

Last week, the Russian news agency Tass confirmed that “The westernmost strategic missile force division in the Tver region will soon begin to be rearmed with the missile system Yars.”

It will be a sixth strategic missile division where the newest mobile ground-based missile complexes will replace the intercontinental ballistic missile Topol,” the press-service of the Strategic Missile Force quotes its commander Sergey Karakayev as saying.

According to the official, this year regiments in the Irktusk and Yoshkar-Ola divisions began to be rearmed. The re-armament of the Novosibirsk and Tagil divisions is nearing completion. Earlier, the Teikovo division was fully rearmed.

The final decision to rearm the strategic missile division in the Tver Region will be made after a command staff exercise there. The press-service said the exercises will be devoted to maneuvering along combat patrol routes.

In the near future the ICBM RS-24 Yars, alongside the previously commissioned monoblock warhead ballistic missile RS-12M2 Topol-M, will constitute the backbone of Russia’s strategic missile force.

The Yars ICBM RS-24 was developed in 2007 in response to the US Missile Shield. It is nothing new in Russia’s military arsenal. It is a high performance system equipped with thermonuclear capabilities.

What this report suggests is the restructuring of Russia’s strategic missile force and the replacement of the Topol system (which Moscow considers obsolete) with the Yars ICBM RS-24.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK energy policy- economic and moral bankruptcy with nuclear and fracking

flag-UKNuclear and fracking: the economic and moral bankruptcy of UK energy policy, Ecologist, Peter Strachan & Alex Russell, 27th September 2016   With its choice of Hinkley Point C – a £100 billion nuclear boondoggle – its enthusiastic support for expensive and environmentally harmful fracking, and its relentless attack on renewable energy, the UK government’s energy policy is both morally and economically bankrupt, write Peter Strachan & Alex Russell. It must urgently reconsider this folly and embrace the renewable energy transition

As Prime Minister Theresa May and EDF prepare to sign the Hinkley Point C contract, and Scotland sees the first shipment of fracking gas from the United States, it is perhaps timely to reflect on recent developments in UK energy policy.

Both new nuclear build and UK onshore shale gas and oil extraction fail key environmental, safety and economic tests.

The UK has recently committed to a nuclear renaissance, with Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at Westminster, describingthe “dawning of a new age of nuclear”.

But by commissioning French and Chinese companies to build the first UK nuclear power station in a generation, the Hinkley Point C deal has come in for almost universal condemnation.

Theresa May clearly buckled under economic pressure from China and has backed nuclear power as the panacea to combat the electricity crunch that we face. Her questionable decision means the UK is committed to a long-term very expensive project that comes with national security and many other concerns.

Empty promises

In 2007 the Chief Executive of EDF’s UK arm effectively cooked his own goose by claiming that Brits would be cooking their Christmas turkeys using nuclear power generated from Hinkley Point C by 2017. Now EDF are claiming that they won’t go over budget, when the new power plant is delivered some time in 2025.

If ongoing experience in France and Finland is anything to go by, and with apparently few financial penalties in place for late delivery, there are serious doubts that the project can be completed in the revised timescale and on budget.

Turning to the financials, the costs of the project are just enormous. Some have claimed that Hinkley Point C will end up being the most expensive physical object ever built. The project is a £100 billion boondoggle. The construction costs alone are in the region of £18-£25 billion. Then there are the subsidies that will amount to a conservative £1 billion plus per year, for at least 35 years.

The deal penned is inflation linked at more than twice the cost of current wholesale electricity prices. The plant will then operate for a further 30 years. It has a potential life span of around 65 years and it will continue to be a drain on public finances even after the initial lucrative contract has expired.

Then try to add into the calculus the unstated decommissioning and radioactive waste management costs, and it soon becomes apparent these super-burdensome costs and risks are incalculable.

If Sellafield in Cumbria, England, is used as a baseline, such costs are just eye watering. Indeed, bucket loads of money amounting to tens of billions of pounds have already been spent, trying to make safe the UK’s nuclear legacy. Based on the available evidence one can only conclude that cheap and clean nuclear power is a myth.

Fuel poverty for future generations

In terms of what Hinkley Point C will mean for household budgets, it is estimated that it will push up individual electricity bills by around £50 per annum. But this is just the start of such price rises as Hinkley Point C is the first of a number of new nuclear projects.

It is only around 3 GW of a 16 GW plus plan. Electricity bills will spiral out of control, as they did a few years ago when there were regular inflation busting price increases. The new nuclear age described by Greg Clark will surely set us on a path to fuel poverty for decades.

Even if households and business can afford such future hideous electricity bills, it might be 2030 before we see the plant operational – more than a decade later than was initially planned. Its promise to generate up to 7% of the UK’s electricity demand will be delivered around a decade too late to meet the 2020 electricity crunch that the UK faces…….

Glittering prizes or fracking folly?……..

Can we have more renewables please?

Most people don’t realise that renewables now supply around 25% of UK electricity and in Scotland it is over 50 per cent. Their market share has grown rapidly in recent years, trebling between 2010 and 2015.

Renewables now supply more electricity to the national grid than nuclear power and coal. They are very popular with the general public, cost-effective, and can be deployed very quickly, compared to the nuclear and shale options just outlined. They are also cleaner energy sources, and given all of these positives should surely be deployed to address the looming electricity crunch that threatens the UK.

But for the past two years the renewables industry has been under attack by the Conservative government. Changes to financial support mechanisms and the planning regime are now bringing onshore wind to a standstill. Solar support is being killed off. And while there is much rhetoric around offshore wind, it is actually progressing at a snail’s pace.

The direct effect of Conservative government policy changes has led to many thousands of green jobs being lost.

Another emerging and detrimental effect has been to undermine local community initiatives. In addition to supplying much needed electricity and investment in local assets such as community halls, churches and youth projects, community owned renewable projects encourage energy conservation, and have wider and important public education benefits.

If ever we needed some sign of reprieve for UK renewables, it is now.

A call to action

Westminster must get back on course and harness the heat of the sun, and the (gale) force of our wind, and the power of our waves and tides. It should fully embrace the energy transition from fossil fuels and nuclear power, to a renewable energy future.

Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, gets it and is making huge strides with their ‘Energiewende‘ strategy. The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood also gets it, and to pinch a phrase from former First Minster Alex Salmond, we have the potential to become theSaudi Arabia of Renewables.

The future of humanity depends on an all-encompassing global acceptance of the replacement of fossil fuels and nuclear power by renewables. If there is still a perception that British moral values lead where the world follows then its status is at best precarious.

Theresa May and Greg Clark must step up to the plate and nail the renewables flag to the top of UK energy policy. Nuclear power and fossil fuels have no economic or moral right to a long-term place in UK energy policy.

 


 

Peter Strachan is Professor of Energy Policy, Robert Gordon University. He tweets@ProfStrachan.

Professor Alex Russell is Chair of the Oil Industry Finance Association.

Authors’ note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and not those of the Robert Gordon University or Affiliates.

This article was orginally published on EnergyPost.eu.  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988167/nuclear_and_fracking_the_economic_and_moral_bankruptcy_of_uk_energy_policy.html

September 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

New US Bill Would Ban President From Launching ‘First Use’ Nuclear Strike

text politicsUS Congress Bill Bans President From Launching ‘First Use’ Nuclear Strike, https://sputniknews.com/us/20160927/1045761657/bill-ban-us-nuclear-strike.htmlNewly-introduced legislation would ban the US commander-in-chief from authorizing a nuclear attack without approval from the legislative branch, Congressman Ted Lieu and Senator Ed Markey said in a press release on Tuesday.  WASHINGTON — The release claimed that the issue of “nuclear first use” is even more critical in light of the fact that a majority of Americans do not trust Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump with the US nuclear arsenal.

“This legislation would prohibit the [US] President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress,” the release stated. On Monday, US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the campaign’s first debate argued that Trump’s position on nuclear weapons runs contrary to longstanding US policy given he has repeatedly said he did not care if other countries possessed them.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Community protest has stopped development of deep borehole waste disposal method in USA

Protests spur rethink on deep borehole test for nuclear waste http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/protests-spur-rethink-deep-borehole-test-nuclear-waste  By Paul VoosenSep. 27, 2016 DENVER—Along the way to testing an old-but-new concept in nuclear waste storage—burying spent fuel in a hole drilled kilometers below the surface—the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractors relearned a lesson that seems frequently forgotten: Get the locals on board first.

Failure to gain the trust and approval of residents in rural North and South Dakota doomed the start of a $35 million project that would have drilled a borehole 5 kilometers beneath the prairie into crystalline basement rock. Early this year, the agency tapped Battelle Memorial Institute, a large research nonprofit based in Columbus, to lead the effort. The hole would not have been used for radioactive material, but was rather intended to garner insight to the geology and technical challenges of such drilling.

borehole-16

That message would not be heard by residents of Pierce County in North Dakota or Spink County in South Dakota said Mark Kelley, the Battelle project manager who had the “dubious honor” of leading the effort for only half a year, at a presentation yesterday at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “They were not to be convinced,” he said. “They were quite opposed to it.”

This summer, DOE and Battelle agreed to scrap the 5-year effort, which had moved to South Dakota after failing in North Dakota. In August, the agency solicited new bids for the project, due next month, that explicitly require public engagement from the outset, including staff that will remain on site day to day to hear local concerns. Bidders are also expected to find a way of showing how the project could benefit locals through science education or additional research. The agency will likely select multiple contractors for the project’s first phase, keeping its options open on new potential sites.

Battelle had thought its South Dakota site, to be drilled on private land into Precambrian basement rock, might succeed where North Dakota failed. They promised to engage locals earlier, and not repeat the same mistakes, such as when local officials first learned of the project from local newspaper articles. But similar fears that the project would open the county up to a future as a disposal site, or that drilling could go awry and pollute aquifers, led the Spink County’s board of commissioners in June to reject the zoning approval the project needed. It didn’t help, Kelley added, that some of the North Dakota protesters traveled south to keep their opposition going.

Though the concept of borehole disposal, which would see radioactive waste entombed far deeper than traditional repositories, has existed for decades, the idea has been revived in recent years, spurred by troubles in finding a long-term home for the country’s spent fuel. Such boreholes could not house most of the country’s waste, like fuel rods from nuclear power plants, but could have potential for smaller, long-lived radioactive materials. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has frequently touted borehole disposal as one alternative to Yucca Mountain, the stalled repository in Nevada.

Many of the scientists working on the borehole project continue to believe in it—if they can only find a community willing to take it on.

“We want to test the things that would be difficult to do,” said Kristopher Kuhlman, a hydrogeophysicist at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the meeting. “If we want to put waste where we’ll never see it again,” he added, it should go at the bottom of a deep borehole.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear power’s history of diseconomics

“Too Cheap to Meter” Nuclear Power Revisited “, IEEE Spectrum 25 Sept ……The claim that nuclear electricity would be “too cheap to meter” is not apocryphal: That’s what Lewis L. Strauss, chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1954, told the National Association of Science Writers in New York in September of that year. And equally audacious claims were still to come. In 1971, Glenn Seaborg, a Nobelist and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission then, predicted that nuclear reactors would generate nearly all the world’s electricity by 2000. Seaborg envisioned giant coastal “nuplexes” desalinating sea water, geostationary satellites powered by compact nuclear reactors for broadcasting TV programs, nuclear-powered tankers, and nuclear explosives that would alter the flow of rivers and excavate underground cities. Meanwhile, nuclear propulsion would carry men to Mars.

The project to generate electricity from fission stalled during the 1980s, as demand for electricity in affluent economies fell and problems with nuclear power plants multiplied. And three failures were worrisome: Accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, in 1979; at Chernobyl in Ukraine, in 1986; and at Fukushima in Japan, in 2011, provided further evidence for those opposed to fission under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, there have been cost overruns in the construction of nuclear plants and a frustrating inability to come up with an acceptable way to store spent nuclear fuel….In August 2016, 61 reactors were under construction worldwide, too few to make up for the capacity that will be lost as aging reactors are shut down in coming years…..

 

September 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Pope encourages revival of negotiations over contentious nuclear situation on Koren Peninsula

diplomacy-not-bombsPope concerned over North Korea’s nuclear testing, Crux, Inés San Martín

September 27, 2016 VATICAN CORRESPONDENT   The United States has flown nuclear-capable supersonic bombers over ally South Korea in a show of force meant to cow North Korea after its fifth nuclear test and also to settle rattled nerves in the South.

 “The Holy See supports continued efforts by the international community to revive negotiations over denuclearization and to enable the IAEA to resume its critical role in nuclear verification there,” says Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, Vatican Undersecretary for Relations with States. ROME-Watching the continuing tension on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea carrying out nuclear tests, a Vatican’s representative has expressed Pope Francis’s concerns to Vienna’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said on Tuesday that he could confirm that, considering the “delicate situation on the Korean Peninsula,” the Vatican’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, had reiterated in Vienna “the concern of the Holy Father and the Holy See about the continuing tensions in the area on account of the nuclear tests carried out by North Korea.”

Last Tuesday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) had reported that North Korea had successfully conducted a ground test of a new type of high-powered rocket engine.

Camillieri was speaking as the Vatican representative in the 60th General Assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEG), taking place in Vienna Sept. 26-30.

“We view the situation in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] with grave concern,” Camillieri said in his remarks. “The Holy See supports continued efforts by the international community to revive negotiations over denuclearization and to enable the IAEA to resume its critical role in nuclear verification there.”

The Vatican representative also said the Church welcomes the IAEA’s participation in the “verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” adding that the Holy See sees this agreement positively…….. Talking about disarmament, he again quoted Francis, but this time from the pontiff’s message to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014, when the Argentine pope said that spending on these weapons squanders a country’s wealth.

“To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price,” the pope had said in the message Camillieri quoted on Tuesday. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2016/09/27/pope-concerned-north-koreas-nuclear-testing/

September 28, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, Religion and ethics, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korea and Japan tempted to develop nuclear weapons, in response to North Korea’s nuclear test?

Will North Korea’s Nuclear Test Tempt South Korea and Japan to Go Nuclear?The latest test may strengthen calls South Korea and Japan to develop their own nuclear weapons. The Diplomat, By Pang Zhongying September 27, 2016  North Korea’s latest nuclear test strengthened the sections of public opinion that approve of obtaining nuclear weapons in South Korea and Japan. The test, then, could bring about a chain reaction and accelerate the pace of Japanese and South Korean efforts to possess nuclear weapons. Under these circumstances, China will face not only a threat from the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, but also the further deterioration of Northeast Asia’s strategic environment.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge posed to China by this North Korean nuclear test is that South Korea’s domestic support for nuclear weapons may increase. Since Kim Jong-un assumed leadership of North Korea — especially this year — public support for possessing nuclear weapons and turning South Korea into a nuclear state has reached a certain scale. South Korea has been protected by the U.S nuclear umbrella, but now more and more people in South Korea want to build up a domestic nuclear deterrent to balance against North Korea.

On July 1, President Park Geun-hye suddenly decided to deploy the U.S. THAAD system in South Korea. In the following two months, domestic voices advocating for possessing and/or developing nuclear weapons have been constantly coming from South Korea. These voices will get even louder after the latest nuclear test in North Korea. It is said that the tested nuclear warhead was miniaturized, but its blast is estimated to be very large. Readings of the seismic activity in North Korea indicate that the test was very successful. Therefore, South Korea is currently enveloped by the sense of a national security crisis and many now believe that it is not enough to only have United States’ nuclear protection. So North Korea’s nuclear test may further stimulate South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons or develop nuclear weapons, which is also a big challenge for the United States………http://thediplomat.com/2016/09/will-north-koreas-nuclear-test-tempt-south-korea-and-japan-to-go-nuclear/

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan, North Korea, politics international, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran complains that international financial sanctions are not being lifted quickly enough

Iran says some sanctions under nuclear deal still in place  WP, By George Jahn | AP September 26 VIENNA — Indirectly warning the United States, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency said Monday that his country’s landmark nuclear deal with could be jeopardized by foot-dragging on sanctions relief, promised in exchange for Tehran’s commitment to curb key atomic activities. But a senior U.S. official said Washington is delivering on its commitments.

Iran complains that international financial sanctions are not being lifted quickly enough under the agreement with the U.S. and five other world powers that stipulates a removal of these and other penalties imposed over Tehran’s nuclear program. Tehran in turn agreed to limit atomic pursuits that could be used to make a bomb.

Nuclear agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi did not blame particular countries in comments to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference. But other Iranian officials have faulted the United States for perceived delays in lifting financial sanctions, and Salehi warned that the deal’s “durability” depended on the other side’s “reciprocal and full implementation.”

“Comprehensive and expeditious removal of all sanctions” outlined in the agreement “have yet to be met,” even though Iran is honoring all its obligations under the pact, he said…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-says-some-sanctions-under-nuclear-deal-still-in-place/2016/09/26/10e92782-83d7-11e6-b57d-dd49277af02f_story.html

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment