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Parties must close gap with reality in talks on nuclear power

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TEPCO wants to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture.
July 15, 2019
Any discussion on nuclear power policy should be based on reality.
In their Upper House election campaign platforms, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, say they will allow more restarts of nuclear reactors in line with the government’s Basic Energy Plan.
The plan defines nuclear energy as a mainstay source of power, which it assumes will account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s total power supply in fiscal 2030.
Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, decisions have been made to decommission some of the nation’s nuclear reactors; plans are being floated to decommission others. The total number of the reactors concerned is 21.
Achieving the goal of the Basic Energy Plan would require about 30 operating reactors, meaning the activation of almost all remaining nuclear reactors in Japan.
One is tempted to ask if such a plan can be described as realistic.
The power industry has placed topmost priority on restarting nuclear reactors, but only nine reactors have so far been brought back online.
Many reactors are not likely to be reactivated any time soon because of local opposition, the presence of an active fault nearby or for other reasons.
Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., which is seeking to restart reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, made an argument for itself during a general shareholders’ meeting in June.
“We need to have nuclear reactors up and running, after all,” they said, adding that doing so would allow TEPCO to increase its profits and thereby “fulfill its responsibility for Fukushima.”
TEPCO, however, has apologized for keeping local governments in the dark for three years about insufficient seismic resistance of the Main Anti-Earthquake Building at the Niigata plant, which would serve as a center for response measures in the event of a disaster.
Following a big earthquake in June this year, TEPCO mistakenly sent wrong information to local governments saying that “abnormalities” had occurred at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
Given these circumstances, TEPCO could hardly expect to gain deeper understanding of the host communities.
The construction of anti-terror facilities is falling behind schedule at nuclear plants elsewhere in Japan where reactors have been brought back online.
Beginning next spring, reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. are expected to be taken offline again in succession.
The argument that nuclear power is cheap is also losing ground. Expenses for safety measures have swollen following the Fukushima disaster, and more than 4 trillion yen ($37 billion) in total has been spent so far to prepare nuclear reactors for their restarts.
The joint public-private efforts to export nuclear power technology to developing markets overseas, given the thin opportunities in Japan, have reached a deadlock in many nations.
The ruling parties should explain specifically how they plan to deal with all of these realities if they insist that Japan should remain reliant on nuclear power.
A final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste is unlikely to be built soon, either. The nuclear fuel recycling program, intended to extract plutonium from spent fuel for reuse, has also practically failed.
Despite all that, there are still plans to activate a reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, to extract plutonium. This shows Japan’s nuclear power policy is laden with many layers of contradictions.
Opposition parties that oppose reactor restarts and are calling for zero nuclear power, such as the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party, should also face up to the question of feasibility.
Even if a transition to renewable energy sources, such as solar power, is to be pursued, there is still a need to curb the burden on the public to guarantee a certain level of income for renewable energy operators.
Measures should be established to ensure a stable supply of power even when renewables account for the majority of it. Allowances should also be made for the economies of local communities that have long depended on nuclear power.
People living in power consumption areas, to say nothing of residents of communities hosting nuclear plants, should give serious thought to the future of nuclear power in this country.
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July 16, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima – a nuclear catastrophe that continues

Expert says 2020 Tokyo Olympics unsafe due to Fukushima | 60 Minutes

Fukushima: an ongoing disaster, Red Flag , Jack Crawford, 15 July 2019 In March – on the eighth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster – Time magazine published an article with the headline: “Want to Stop Climate Change? Then It’s Time to Fall Back in Love with Nuclear Energy”. In it, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Hans Blix, evokes the imminent threat of climate catastrophe to argue, “There are paths out of this mess. But on March 11, 2011 [the day of the Fukushima disaster], the world’s course was diverted away from one of the most important. I am talking about nuclear energy”. He continues by criticising public fears of nuclear as irrational: “Plane crashes have not stopped us from flying, because most people know it is an effective means of travelling”. Blix speaks for the global nuclear industry, which is increasingly attempting to present itself as the solution to climate change.

But plane crashes do not kill untold numbers and spread deadly poisons over huge areas of the planet. Fukushima was and still is a horrific and ongoing human and environmental catastrophe, exposing the horrendous risks to which the powerful are willing to subject people and the planet. It should be remembered every time a pro-nuclear bureaucrat or politician exploits genuine concern about climate change to promote this deadly industry. It should never be forgotten.

………..Today, towns such as Futaba, Tomioka and Okuma are nuclear ghost towns. In them you will find a forest of metal gates, decaying buildings, shattered glass and cars wrapped in vines. The only human faces are mannequins in store windows, still dressed in the fashion of 2011. Sprawled across the highway between towns are hundreds of black bags filled with toxic dirt. They are one of the many problems of the clean-up effort. There are about 30 million one-tonne bags of radioactive topsoil, tree branches, grass and other waste. There is no safe, long-term storage place for this material.

The clean-up is undermined by cost cutting. Workers are forced to meet strict deadlines, even if it compromises safety. “There were times when we were told to leave the contaminated topsoil and just remove the leaves so we could get everything done on schedule”, explained Minoru Ikeda, a former worker. “Sometimes we would look at each other as if to say: ‘What on earth are we doing here?’”

The task is mammoth. The government and TEPCO now say that decommissioning the failed nuclear plant will take 40 years, at a cost of ¥22 trillion (or US$200 billion). But there is significant uncertainty about how to remove the hundreds of tonnes of molten fuel from the reactors. “For the removal of the debris, we don’t have accurate information or any viable methodology for that”, admitted the plant’s manager, Akira Ono, in 2015. “We need to develop many, many technologies.”

Beyond the plant itself, the total clean-up is likely to cost between ¥50 trillion and ¥70 trillion (US$460-640 billion), according to the estimates of a right wing think tank, the Japan Center for Economic Research. Thousands of workers continue to make daily trips between the contaminated zones and company accommodation. Dodgy subcontractors recruit largely from Japan’s destitute, including the homeless, migrant workers and asylum seekers. A recent Greenpeace investigation, “On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children”, found evidence of hyper-exploitation and dangerous radiation exposure. In one case, a 55-year-old homeless man was paid the equivalent of US$10 for a month’s work. “TEPCO is God”, lamented Tanaka, another homeless Fukushima worker. “The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves.”

Scandalously, organised crime has penetrated the clean-up operations. Those with debts to the Yakuza (Japanese organised crime) have found themselves shoved into hazmat suits and set to work. The subcontracting system has allowed TEPCO to turn a blind eye to such human rights abuses.

Despite triumphant optimism from some champions of nuclear, researchers continue to uncover unexpected and unpredictable consequences of the Fukushima disaster. These include the discovery of tiny, glassy beads containing extremely high concentrations of caesium-137 (a radioactive isotope) among polluted dust and dirt particles. These bacterium-sized particles are easily inhaled and persistently insoluble. How they react with our bodies and the environment is not yet clear, but scientists increasingly believe them to be a health risk. The beads have been found as far from the disaster site as Tokyo.

The dangers faced by those returning to Fukushima prefecture have been a central controversy of recent years. Compelled by economic necessity, most have returned. But as of February 2019, 52,000 remain displaced, either unwilling to return or with homes in still-prohibited zones. In a recent press tour, the government repeatedly blamed “harmful rumours” for creating fear of returning as well as the Japanese public’s unwillingness to consume Fukushima’s fish and agricultural products.

“To me”, explained activist Riken Komatsu, “talking about ‘harmful rumours’ sounds like they are making someone else the bad guy or villain, as if they are blaming people for saying negative things because they don’t understand science and radiation. But those who have lost our trust do not have the right”.

Mistrust is justified. Prime minister Shinzo Abe, keen to move on from the crisis, intends to end evacuations by the time Japan hosts the 2020 Olympics. The international and (prior to the meltdowns) Japanese standard of acceptable exposure to radiation, one millisievert per year, has been scrapped. Across Fukushima prefecture, measurements five times that level are now deemed safe. 

Some places measure as high as 20 millisieverts per year. These radiation levels are especially dangerous for children, who are far more sensitive than adults to even low levels of exposure. It will take decades before the cost of the authorities’ carelessness can be measured in increased cancer rates. The loss of happy, healthy human life of course can never be quantified………

those who “benefit” from the powerful nuclear industry are the same people who crave military dominance. The politicians and officials currently fighting to rebuild Japanese nuclear capability are thinking far more about the military tensions surrounding them than tackling climate change. We don’t need to a build a world full of deadly nuclear power plants to combat climate change. We need clean, renewable energy and a system that prioritises people and the planet over money and military might. https://redflag.org.au/node/6838

July 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing, incidents | Leave a comment

The first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children.

After a nearly half a century of denial, the US Department of Energy concluded in 2006, “the Trinity test also posed the most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project.

Ionizing radiation is especially damaging to dividing cells, so the developing infant, both before and after birth, is susceptible to radiation damage, as Alice Stewart, an epidemiologist who first demonstrated the link between X-rays of pregnant women and disease in their children,[12] first warned in 1956.[13]This damage may be seen years later with the development of leukemia and other cancers in children exposed in utero to ionizing radiation, as Stewart and others confirmed in subsequent studies.[14] By 1958, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation  recognized that, in the short term, radiation damage can be reflected in fetal and infant deaths.[15]

Fallout protection was not a priority for the Trinity explosion. 

The current body of historical evidence of harm, negligence, and deception—especially the evidence of increased infant death following the first nuclear explosion—should be more than enough for long overdue justice for the people in New Mexico who were downwind of Trinity.

Is cancer the legacy left by world’s first atomic bomb test?  

Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”  https://thebulletin.org/2019/07/trinity-the-most-significant-hazard-of-the-entire-manhattan-project/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter072219&utm_content=Nuclear_Trinity_071519

By Kathleen M. TuckerRobert Alvarez, July 15, 2019 For the past several years, the controversy over radioactive fallout from the world’s first atomic bomb explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945—code-named Trinity—has intensified. Evidence collected by the New Mexico health department but ignored for some 70 years shows an unusually high rate of infant mortality in New Mexico counties downwind from the explosion and raises a serious question whether or not the first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children. Even though the first scientifically credible warnings about the hazards of radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion had been made by 1940, historical records indicate a fallout team was not established until less than a month before the Trinity test, a hasty effort motivated primarily by concern over legal liability.

In October 1947, a local health care provider raised an alarm about infant deaths downwind of the Trinity test, bringing it to the attention of radiation safety experts working for the US nuclear weapons program. Their response misrepresented New Mexico’s then-unpublished data on health effects. Continue reading

July 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, children, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim and Kourtney Kardashian join the fight to clean up Santa Susanna nuclear site

This secret gave her daughter cancer
Kim & Kourtney Kardashian Take On Cleaning Up The Site Of A Nuclear Accident  https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/07/237799/kim-kourtney-kardashian-visit-nuclear-accident-california SARAH MIDKIFF  

Kim and Kourtney Kardashian are flexing their social platforms for good, and they only had to go 10 miles away from their Southern California homes to do it. This weekend, they supported and advocated for the cleanup of one of America’s largest partial nuclear meltdown sites responsible for more than a thousand cancer cases.
Kim and Kourtney, along with their kids, came to the event and joined the community in painting rocks to be used for a memorial commemorating those harmed by radiation and chemicals. The Kardashians became aware of the site following the Woolsey Fire, which allegedly began at the Santa Susana Field Lab. Since then, Kim has advocated for the cleanup of the site on social media.

The Santa Susana Field Lab Meltdown Anniversary Event was set in motion to create awareness that, despite more than 50 cases of rare pediatric cancer being reported among families living in the area since the nuclear reactor and rocket-engine test facility experienced a partial meltdown in 1959, cleanup has begun but has not yet been finished. The partial meltdown contaminated the lab, leaving behind dangerous, radioactive substances and remnants from testing the limits of nuclear power that are proven to be toxic.
In 2010, the U.S. government and NASA signed administrative orders of consent promising a complete cleanup. Boeing, the only non-governmental organization responsible for the partial meltdown, submitted a cleanup plan that would leave the majority of the contamination on the site. It is up to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to determine whether Boeing will be held responsible for a complete cleanup or if they will be allowed to leave the site contaminated.
When the lab was first created in 1947 for rocket, energy, and weapons testing, the surrounding area was largely rural. A small portion of it, known as Area IV, was secretly being used to test experimental nuclear reactors.
In 1959, an experiment was conducted that is estimated to have released 260 times more radiation than the Three Mile Island accident. A 2007 study found that people living within two miles of the Santa Susana Field Lab are 60% more likely to develop certain types of cancer. It’s believed that the partial meltdown that occurred as a result of this experiment is responsible for 1,800 cancer cases.
Today, more than half a million people live within 10 miles of the site. Over the years, different proposals have been made for what should be done with the land. In 2007, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that would have made restoration standards high enough for the space to be used safely for agricultural or residential property. It was struck down in federal court. The most recent proposal by the DTSC suggests a partial cleanup of the site.
“Today I went to an event for the 60th anniversary of the Santa Susana Field Lab Melt Down. It still hasn’t been cleaned up after 60 years! 60 kids all have rare cancers linked to this toxic site! It’s time to clean this up! This site is 10 miles from my home!” tweeted Kim.
“As we look back at the meltdown anniversary, we also have to look forward and get more people involved in fighting for the cleanup. We have seen some positive steps from our elected officials recently, but more — many more — people have to speak out if we are ever going to get the 100% cleaned up that we were promised,” said activist and event organizer Melissa Bumstead.
Kim has lent her voice and influence to a number of social justice issues recently, including gun safetyclemency for people of color incarcerated for lesser crimes, and criminal justice reform. She has met with President Donald Trump, funded legal teams, and asked her followers to not let injustice go overlooked. Now, she’s adding toxic nuclear site cleanup to her growing list of causes.

July 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

Alarmingly high radiation in soil, ocean sediments and fruits from Marshall Islands

Radiation Levels at the Marshall Islands Remain Disturbingly High https://gizmodo.com/radiation-levels-at-the-marshall-islands-remain-disturb-1836382678?IR=T, George Dvorsky15 July 19

An analysis of soil samples, ocean sediment, and fruits from the Marshall Islands—the site of nearly 70 nuclear weapons tests during the 1940s and 1950s—has revealed alarmingly high levels of radiation, with some regions at levels exceeding areas affected by the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

From 1946 to 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, a series of atolls located north of the equator between Hawaii and Australia. Twenty-three of these tests were conducted at Bikini Atoll and 44 near Enewetak Atoll, but fallout spread throughout the entire Marshall Islands, exposing the indigenous people there to dangerous levels of radiation.

Much of the Marshall Islands remains uninhabitable as a consequence of these nuclear tests, and it’s not immediately clear when Marshallese residents will be able to return to their ancestral homes. Three new studies published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests their long-awaited return won’t happen anytime soon. A research team led by Emlyn Hughes and Malvin Ruderman from the Center for Nuclear Studies at Columbia University has detected unsafe levels of radiation in the soil, ocean sediment, and fruits in these contaminated areas.

Three years ago, the same team discovered alarming levels of gamma radiationin the Marshall Islands, and at levels that exceeded scientists’ expectations. The three new PNAS studies add to this prior work, which is being done to determine which, if any, of the Marshall Islands are safe for resettlement, and the specific risks that would be faced by returning indigenous peoples.

For the first study, the researchers measured background gamma radiation in soil samples taken from four atolls in 2017 and 2018: Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utirik. Gamma radiation on Bikini and Naen islands were well beyond the maximum exposure limit as stipulated in agreements between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. On Bikini, the levels were as high as 648 millirems per year, and on Naen they were as high as 460 millirems per year. Safe exposure to radiation is 100 millirems per year, according to the U.S.-Republic of the Marshall Islands agreement.

These levels are “significantly higher” than “areas affected by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents,” wrote the study authors. The “radiation levels on Bikini Island, which served as the primary island for habitation on the atoll, before and in the aftermath of the testing, are too high for relocation to Bikini,” according to the new research. Some of the outer islands “may not [be] suitable for habitation on their own, but… islanders may visit in search of food, especially in times of harvest.”

For the second paper, the researchers explored the Castle Bravo crater—the site of the most powerful nuclear test ever conducted by the United States, which happened on March 1, 1954. This 15-megaton explosion vaporized the land beneath it, forming a crater 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) wide and 75 meters (246 feet) deep on Bikini Atoll. The ensuing fallout was comprised of pulverized coral, water, and radioactive particles. Traces of the radioactive debris were detected as far as Japan, India, Australia, Europe, and even the United States.

The Castle Bravo explosion also produced radioactive material that settled into the ocean sediment. From the research vessel Indies Surveyor, the researchers collected nearly 130 core samples from the Castle Bravo crater from 2017 to 2018. Analysis showed that, six decades later, the radiation levels are still “orders of magnitude” above normal levels within the top inch of sediment across the entire crater. The researchers conclude thusly:

In summary, there is still residual contamination of radionuclides throughout the Bravo bomb crater, from center to rim. We find that the radionuclide distribution is fairly uniform across the crater with some tapering off toward the crater rim….Although the lagoon is gradually filling in over time, contamination levels from residual long-lived radioactive isotopes, such as plutonium and americium, will likely last for centuries. The nuclear weapon tests caused a dramatic change in sediment composition. Additional studies to determine what the impact on life is in the lagoon craters, especially at the deeper depths, would be valuable.

The third paper is an analysis of fruits found in the Marshall Islands, namely coconuts and pandanus fruits. Cesium-137 features a half-life of around 30 years, and it’s easily absorbed by plants, presenting a potential health hazard. Sadly, 11 islands were found to have coconuts and pandanus fruits with radioactivity exceeding limits established by several countries and international organizations, including International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Once again, some of the levels exceeded values found near Fukushima and Chernobyl.

“Based upon our results, we conclude that to ensure safe relocation to Bikini and Rongelap Atolls, further environmental remediation… appears to be necessary to avoid potentially harmful exposure to radiation,” wrote the authors in the study.

All-in-all, some very discouraging results, as much of the Marshall Islands remain unsafe for resettlement. It’s not immediately clear when these islands will be free of radiation, or if people will ever return to Bikini Atoll. Sadly, climate change is making a bad situation worse, as rising sea levels could render many of the safe Marshall Islands uninhabitable.

July 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Space is “new domain of military operations” – nuclear weapons enthusiast Gen Mark Milley , Trump’s choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff

 

Does this guy think that USA can start, and win a nuclear war?   I have moved this item up to the front page, because of its importance – should this belligerent man get in control of USA’s nuclear weapons policy.

 

Milley throws support behind nuclear modernization, Space Force, Defense News, Aaron Mehta 14 July 19, WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has thrown his full support behind nuclear modernization plans, the creation of a Space Force and developing new capabilities to offset China.

July 16, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran still committed to the nuclear accord, but will decrease its commitment if other signatories cannot help

Iran Threatens to Revert to Pre-2015 Nuclear Development Levels, By VOA News, July 15, 2019 Iran threatened Monday to revert its nuclear development program to pre-2015 levels before it agreed to restraints under an international accord if the European countries and the United States that were signatories to the deal fail to help its economy.

“If the Europeans and the Americans don’t want to carry out their duties… we will decrease our commitments and… reverse the conditions to four years ago,” the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted atomic agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying.

“These actions are not out of obstinacy,” Kamalvandi said. “It is to give diplomacy a chance so that the other side [can] come to their senses and carry out their duties.”

The international pact called for sanctions relief for Tehran as it agreed to curbs on its nuclear program. But U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018 and reimposed tough punitive measures against the Islamic republic that have hobbled its economy and cut its international oil exports. Tehran has contended that Europe has not done enough to help it overcome the effects of the U.S. sanctions.

In the last month, Iran has exceeded the size of the uranium stockpile and the uranium enrichment level permitted under the pact. The deal also was signed by Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China and Russia, all of which have remained in the pact even as they have criticized Iran for deviating from its provisions.

Iran’s foreign ministry said it would stay committed to the accord at the same level as the other signatories stay committed to it.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the deal “isn’t dead yet,” and that while the opportunity to find a resolution to the current crisis surrounding the agreement is closing, it is still possible to keep it alive.

He spoke ahead of talks with other European Union foreign ministers in Brussels where they planned to discuss the Iran situation.

Iran has long said its nuclear program was solely for peaceful purposes, and it won badly needed relief from sanctions in return for limiting its nuclear activity far below what would be needed to make a weapon.

Hunt said Monday that Iran was more than a year away from having the capability to build a nuclear device.

Hunt’s comments came a day after the publication of cables from former British ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch, who was critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying he did it as a snub to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.

In a May 2018 cable, Darroch wrote that the Trump administration, in abrogating the Iran deal last year, “is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Obama’s deal.”

The Mail on Sunday published Darroch’s message back to London, days after he resigned and a week after the newspaper published other leaked cables. In the earlier memos, the diplomat described the U.S. leader as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent” and his administration as “uniquely dysfunctional.”

Darroch resigned from his post Wednesday, saying his three-year posting in Washington had become untenable with the disclosure of his cables.

The leaked cables were meant to be seen only by senior British ministers and civil servants. British officials launched an investigation of the leaks but did not deny the accuracy of Darroch’s comments, expressing the opinion that the person likely responsible for the leak was someone inside the British government, not a foreign power…….. https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/iran-threatens-revert-pre-2015-nuclear-development-levels

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Bill Gates now glum about the prospects for his nuclear power company TerraPower

Bill Gates faces “daunting” nuclear energy future, Amy Harder  AXIOX 15 July 19 ,The optimism usually radiating from billionaire Bill Gates when it comes to climate change is starting to fade on one of his biggest technology bets: nuclear power.

Driving the news: The Microsoft co-founder has focused much of his time lately on climate change and energy innovation. In an exclusive interview with Axios, Gates said that setbacks he is facing with TerraPower, a nuclear technology firm he co-founded in 2006, has got him questioning the future of that entire energy source.

……It’s declining in most places around the world, including the U.S., due to aging reactors, cheaper energy alternatives and public unease about radioactive risk ……

  • The industry’s future is riding on largely unproven technologies like that of TerraPower because they’re smaller and deemed safer than today’s huge reactors.

“Without this next generation of nuclear, nuclear will go to zero,” Gates said during an interview in Washington last month. Germany is shutting 22 nuclear plants, France — a leader in clean-burning nuclear power — has plans to shut down some of its reactors and a similar trend is underway in the U.S. due to economic conditions, said Gates, before adding with a sigh: “So yes, it is daunting.”

Flashback: Gates announced in December that TerraPower was scrapping plans to build a demonstration reactor in China, largely due to the Trump administration deciding that fall to crack down on technological agreements between the two nations.

“There are times like when TerraPower gets told not to work in China, you’re thinking, ‘Boy, is this thing going to come together or not?’ ” Gates said in what are his first public comments on the matter since it happened. “That was a real blow.”

Where it stands: Gates is now trying to build TerraPower’s demonstration reactor in the U.S., calling on the Energy Department and Congress to more aggressively support advanced nuclear power through more funding and new legislation. Such a plant could cost anywhere between $3-$6 billion, say experts and Gates’ energy advisers.

  • Bellevue, WA-based TerraPower is opening a new 65,000-square foot facility in the same region later this year to expand its research and testing, which is currently done in a lab 1/6th that size.
  • Gates, whose net worth is roughly $100 billion, hasn’t disclosed how much money he has put toward the company, but experts think it’s at least $500 million.

“If at the end of the day we don’t find a country that wants to build an advanced nuclear power plant, then TerraPower will fail. I’m going to keep funding it for a period of years. And working with the U.S. is our strategy right now.”

— Bill Gates   ………‘TerraPower’s traveling wave may prove to be an example of a very ambitious attempt to solve a very challenging problem that has turned out to be too expensive and too difficult,” said Chris Gadomski, head of nuclear research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.   ………

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Millions of people displaced by floods – India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Floods across subcontinent displace millions in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, Millions of people have been displaced across India, Nepal and Bangladesh after monsoon rains triggered flash floods and landslides over the past week. ABC News, 15 July 19 

Key points:

  • Monsoon rains have triggered widespread flooding and landslides across three countries
  • Over two million people have been displaced as a result of the floods
  • Nepal has recorded the most fatalities, with 55 people confirmed dead

India’s north-eastern state of Assam has been hit hard by the floods brought by the monsoon, with at least 1.5 million people displaced and 10 dead.

In the Chittagong division of Bangladesh, there have been 10 deaths and about 500,000 displaced as 200 villages have been flooded.

The disaster’s death toll has been highest in Nepal, which recorded 55 fatalities on Sunday, with 30 missing and 33 injured, the Government said.

Ten thousand people have been displaced from their homes as incessant monsoon rains pounded many areas in the country since Thursday, submerging large swathes of land, inundating homes and destroying bridges and roads across the country.

Nepalese cabinet spokesman Gokul Banskota said, “the disaster has caused a big loss to the economy”……..https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-15/floods-on-indian-subcontinent-displace-over-a-million/11308502

July 15, 2019 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Maine Bill for grants to local governments to offset costs of STRANDED nuclear wastes

Bill would help Maine town offset cost of storing nuclear waste https://wgme.com/news/local/bill-would-help-maine-town-offset-cost-of-storing-nuclear-waste by The Associated Press Monday, July 15th   WISCASSET, Maine (AP) — A proposal before the U.S. Senate would seek to help communities around the country that face the expensive problem of storing spent nuclear fuel.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are calling the proposal “the STRANDED Act.”

That stands for “Sensible, Timely, Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development.”

The proposal calls for economic impact grants to local governments to offset the impacts of stranded waste. Communities would be eligible for $15 per kilogram of spent nuclear fuel stored.

Collins says the town of Wiscasset has endorsed the proposal. Wiscasset is the location of decommissioned Maine Yankee nuclear plant.

Collins says a permanent solution for the waste is also needed.

The co-sponsors of the bill include Maine’s other senator, independent Sen. Angus King.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Private Notes Show How Big Oil Spread Climate Science Denial

The ‘Historical Jigsaw of Climate Deception’: Private Notes Show How Big Oil Spread Climate Science Denial DeSmogBlog, By Mat Hope • Thursday, July 11, 2019 We’ve all heard the dodgy arguments: ‘the science is uncertain’, ‘climate change is natural, not down to humans’, ‘science has been hijacked by politics’… Now a new cache of documents sheds light on the origins of the disinformation.

In another verse of a now familiar refrain, a fossil fuel industry group in the 1990s publicly promoted arguments to undermine confidence in climate science while internally acknowledging their products were driving up temperatures.

A cache of meeting minutes, briefings, and emails uncovered by the Climate Investigations Center shows how industry group the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) used its financial clout and political connections to cast doubt on mainstream climate science until its disbandment in 2002. The GCC would for decades cast doubt on the veracity of climate science and strategically spread the message that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a politicised body, to discourage regulatory reform that would hit coalition members’ profits.

The documents show that the group, which counted fossil fuel giants Exxon, Shell, and Peabody among its members, knowingly pushed misinformation on climate change even as the GCC internally acknowledged humans’ impact on the climate “cannot be denied”. Some of those same companies have been the recent targets of lawsuits seeking damages for climate change impacts.

These documents are another stain on the fossil fuel industry’s track-record as a disingenuous rogue agent in climate science and politics,” Geoffrey Supran, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University researching climate science denial, told DeSmog. “They further illustrate the sophisticated combination of inside- and outside-lobbying used by the fossil fuel industry to protect their status quo business operations.”

Peddling Denial

Within the GCC, the Science and Technology Assessment Committee (STAC) took responsibility for assessing contemporary climate science and formulating strategic arguments to undermine it. The STAC was chaired by Mobil Oil’s Lenny Bernstein. Mobil, Exxon, and Texaco (now part of Chevron) all contributed five staffers to the committee.

An internal 1994 document outlining “issues and options” for the GCC to consider regarding “potential global climate change” shows the group’s outright climate science denial.

The document concludes that “the claim that serious impacts from climate change have occurred or will occur in the future has not been proven” and “consequently, there is no basis for the design of effective policy action that would eliminate the potential for climate change.”

In the same document, the GCC cites the work of infamous academics known for spreading climate science denial including Richard LinzenPatrick Michaels, and Robert Balling. The document asserts that these academics’ arguments disputing mainstream climate science  “have received far less attention than they deserve”. ……….

Politicisation

The GCC’s disinformation strategy extended beyond casting aspersions on the science to the process of gathering evidence for the major IPCC reports, the documents show.

Porter Womeldorff, an Illinois Power Company employee and co-chair of the STAC, suggested the group focus on the politicisation of the IPCC process.

And that’s exactly what the GCC did. In an internal document from 1996, the GCC boasted that its criticism of the IPCC’s processes had been picked up more widely by the mainstream media:

Publications which have joined in questioning the IPCC approach to conforming technical reports to summaries include the NYTimes, Wall St. Journal, Energy Daily, and Nature.”

This followed a 1995 report that noted with glee a Nature editorial taking aim at the IPCC for a press-release that the erstwhile journal considered to be needlessly attention seeking.

Harvard’s Supran, who recently testified to the European Parliament about Exxon’s history of climate science denial, told DeSmog that the documents “help fill in pieces of the historical jigsaw of climate deception by the fossil fuel industry”.

History teaches us that when it comes to the fossil fuel industry’s rhetoric on climate change and energy, we take them at face value at our peril.” https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/07/11/historical-deception-global-climate-coalition-science-denial?utm_source=desmog%20%20weekly%20newsletter

July 15, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Iran says reducing nuclear deal commitments to save it from ‘total collapse

Iran says reducing nuclear deal commitments to save it from ‘total collapse’, Press TV,  Jul 5, 2019 Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran’s decision to scale down its commitments under the JCPOA is indeed aimed at protecting the multilateral deal, not killing it.

Back on May 8, Iran notified its remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal that it would suspend the implementation of some of its commitments in reaction to the US’ unilateral withdrawal and Europe’s failure to live up to its commitments.

Speaking in an exclusive email interview with The New York Times published on Thursday night, Zarif said Iran made the decision as it “can indeed prevent the deal from total collapse.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “was and remains the best POSSIBLE agreement on the nuclear issue,” Zarif said, adding that its total collapse “will be detrimental to the interests of all, including the US.”

He said Iran “will remain committed to the deal as long as the remaining participants (EU, France, Germany, UK, Russia and China) observe the deal.”

“Survival or collapse of the JCPOA depends on the ability and willingness of all parties to invest in this undertaking. In a nutshell, a multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally,” Zarif said.

He also said that Iran’s decision to reduce its commitments was taken in line with its legal rights under paragraphs 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal, saying, “Paragraph 36 of JCPOA is a clear example that we negotiated this deal with the full understanding that we could not trust the commitment of the West.

As part of the first phase of scaling down its commitments, Iran exceeded the 300-kilogram limit set by the JCPOA on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles……….

The JCPOA obliges the European partners to prove their commitment to the nuclear deal in action, Zarif said, adding that the Islamic Republic would commit to the agreement in exactly the same way as those countries would.https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/05/600190/Iran-Zarif-JCPOA-nuclear-deal-commitments

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New research – climate change is exacerbating wildfires

Climate change is worsening wildfires, new study highlights
Research shows that warming temperatures are likely fueling more deadly and devastating fires.
Think Progress

July 15, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

U.S., Russia to discuss nuclear arms limits in Geneva on Wednesday –officials

U.S., Russia to discuss nuclear arms limits in Geneva on Wednesday –officials https://news.yahoo.com/u-russia-discuss-nuclear-arms-185425751.html

WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) – Representatives from the United States and Russia are set to meet in Geneva on Wednesday to explore the idea of a new accord limiting nuclear arms that could eventually include China, U.S. senior administration officials said on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he would like to see a new type of arms control deal with Russia and China to cover all types of nuclear weapons, a topic that he has discussed individually with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China is not currently a party to nuclear arms pacts between the United States and Russia.

The U.S. delegation will be led by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and will include Tim Morrison, a top aide at the White House National Security Council, as well as representatives from the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Agency, said the U.S. officials, who spoke to reporters on condition on anonymity.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, will lead the Russian delegation, the U.S. officials said.

“We actually feel that – touch wood – we’ve actually got to a point where we can try to start this again,” one of the officials said, listing off a long series of incidents that have soured relations between the United States and Russia during the past year.

“I say touch wood because we’re always just one incident away from unfortunately things getting derailed,” the official said. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton Editing by Marguerita Choy)

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Prioritise growth, or prioritise life. We can’t do both

Climate change: Why aren’t we changing our lives to combat it? The National, Scotland, By Mairi McFadyen, –  WHETHER we want to admit it or not, climate breakdown is already upon us: there are record-breaking heat waves, flash floods, wildfires. Climate change does not cause all of these things to happen, it amplifies them. This is not happening in some far-off place, it is the weather where you are.

If we read the science and we acknowledge climate breakdown to be true, what is our response? What does it really mean to face up to our climate reality?…….

The reality is that “normal life” – a privilege we in the West have enjoyed for the past 70 years or so – cannot continue……..

CLIMATE ACTION

IN the course of my adult lifetime, we could have stopped this. More than half of the carbon emitted through burning fossil fuels has happened in the past………

OVER the past year I have been working with a collective of activists called Enough!, a Scottish response to our global social, economic and ecological crises. We see that our current economic system and climate crisis are fundamentally linked. We see that inequality, oppression, injustice, power and ecological breakdown are all connected by the same story: that the economy must keep growing – no what matter what the cost.

The deep logic of capitalism is to grow more capital, achieved through the processes of exploitation, accumulation and extraction:

“We’re already taking far more than can be replaced and we can see the consequences all around us: climate change, deforestation, soil depletion, perpetual war, mass extinction of species. It has got so bad that we are threatening the very basis of all of life itself … We have a choice to make: prioritise growth, or prioritise life. We can’t do both.”

(TheRules.org)

Any climate action must therefore challenge and prefigure alternatives to economic growth. If we don’t, our economy will be our endgame.

Mainstream approaches to climate solutions, however, have been based on maintaining current economic systems.

Policymakers have responded by advocating “sustainable growth” or “green growth” – the idea that we can somehow keep growing our economy while simultaneously reducing our impact by “decoupling” GDP from the use of natural resources.

A new report published this month by Make EuropeSustainable for All (MESA) concludes that there is no empirical basis for this approach. It is impossible.

If we are serious about the climate, our only option now is to degrow. We need to explore new economic models that undercut the drivers of growth and find new ways of measuring progress and wellbeing. We need to discuss caps on resource use, tradable energy quotas and targeted downscaling of specific industries.

The kind of transformation that is called for is much more radical than a large-scale decarbonisation and conversion to renewable energy, as many imagine. It’s about radically relocalising, drastically reducing the amount of transportation of goods and people around the world, changing our approach to agriculture and much, much more………..
https://www.thenational.scot/news/17769134.climate-change-aren-39-t-changing-lives-combat/

July 15, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment