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What the heck is going on with Ukraine?

Emma Elsworthy,  Crikey Worm 20 Jan 22 Worm editor
”’………………..So what the heck is going on? Well, Ukraine is stuck between a rock and a hard place, with the European Union on one side and Russia on the other — Russian is widely spoken there, and they have strong ties as a former soviet republic. But Russia has long demanded Ukraine resist the West and stay more Russian, as BBC explains, saying in no uncertain terms that Ukraine must not join NATO. Cast your mind back to 2014, as Vox explained, and you may recall Russia taking Crimea after Ukraine booted their pro-Moscow president. Ever since, things have been really tense, but Russia recently upped the ante by putting 100,000 troops on their border. So what do Russia want? Mostly for NATO to stop moving into the East and for it to return to its pre-1997 borders, which means it’d have to bail from stations in Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  https://edm.privatemedia.com.au/webmail/272522/1224982414/a7e05398a18da97e419b70c061dc77e2eba2537433139c09a89d2cb6dc8e8b3d

January 20, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukraine crisis is a terrifying impasse

No (Nuclear) War Over Ukraine, Please,   Viewpoint by Jonathan Power, 19 Jan 21,

LUND, Sweden (IDN) — War over Ukraine? It mustn’t be. Some of us believed that at the end of the Cold War in 1991 American and Soviet nuclear rockets would be left to rust and rot in their silos. Indeed, we actually saw Ukraine, where the Soviets made most of their rockets and based many, (who says that Ukraine doesn’t have an umbilical relationship with Russia?), deciding to give up its nuclear armoury—for which the world should give more praise than it does.

Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did quite a lot for nuclear disarmament. At a summit in Iceland, Reagan and Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, panicked most of their advisors and western commentators when they nearly agreed to total nuclear disarmament. …………………..

the US has not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which would help stymie the further spread of nuclear arms to other countries. For new nuclear powers, if you can’t test you don’t know if you have a workable bomb.

The next stage in the disarmament process should be getting rid of short-range tactical nuclear-tipped missiles based in Europe. Moscow is insisting that the first step must be the US removing all its tactical weapons from Europe, which is fair given their proximity to Moscow. It would be as if Russia had rocket bases in Mexico. As for cutting the number of intercontinental rockets, the last big cut was made in the time of Obama and President Dimitri Medvedev. Biden did renew the agreement, but no disarmament talks are presently planned.

All this adds up to very little nuclear disarmament. The US Senate is an immovable brake on Biden, as it was earlier on President Barack Obama. For his part, Donald Trump wanted to upgrade the US armoury of nuclear missiles…………

how is it, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, that either side can justify nuclear weapons? Is Russia an enemy or is it not? Successive American presidents have said it no longer is. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barak Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have all said it is not. The Russians say the same thing about the US and Europe. Putin still calls them “our friends”. But surely non-enemies don’t have nuclear weapons pointed at each other…….

So what is it all about? Why are we allowing events around the issue of the independence of Ukraine to slip out of our control to where the warriors call the shots? Loose talk in Moscow about bringing a nuclear-armed Russian submarine up close to the US coast does not help. Neither does the present deployment of similar US submarines in the Black Sea…………………………

Biden is checkmated by the intransigent forces around him. Maybe it is the same with Putin. Therefore, the world is checkmated. What a terrifying impasse this Ukraine crisis is.https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/opinion/5019-no-nuclear-war-over-ukraine-please

January 20, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

 Stranded in Vladivostok: KIMO International and NFLA express concern at mysterious plight of Russian nuclear-powered freighter

Richard Outram, KIMO International, 19th January 2022,

KIMO International and the UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities, two organisations campaigning for pollution-free oceans have expressed their concerns at the possible danger posed to the marine environment by a Russian nuclear-powered freighter stranded in the Russian Far East.

The Sevmorput (or Northern Sea Route) is the sole survivor of Russia’s original fleet of four nuclear powered cargo ships which traversed the Arctic trade routes.  Sevmorput has now been operational for over thirty years, and though refitted within the last decade, is showing her age with recent voyages plagued by mechanical breakdowns.  Her latest transit of the Northern Sea Route which links North Western Russia to Eastern Siberia ended badly.

The Sevmorput was ordered in 1978 and was completed more than a decade later. With a maximum seasonal displacement of 62,000 tons and 260 metres in length, the ship is powered by a single 135 MWt reactor at a maximum speed of 21 knots. With an ice-breaking capacity, the ship can pass through 1 metre thick ice at a speed of 2 knots.

Operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company for her first twenty years of service, the Sevmorput was transferred to ATOMFLOT, the mercantile marine subsidiary of ROSATOM, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, in 2008.

In early November 2021 the Sevmorput set sail from western Russia to Vladivostok, via the Arctic with a cargo of reactor parts, intended for transshipment to another vessel for onward transport to the Rooppur nuclear project in Bangladesh. The Rooppur plant is being built under contract by ROSATOM. During the passage, sea ice conditions worsened, but the Sevmorput, with nuclear propulsion and its ice-breaking capability, was able to battle through to Vladivostok.

Other shipping was less fortunate with a significant number of vessels becoming frozen fast in the Arctic, necessitating rescue by ROSATOM’s fleet of nuclear-powered ice breakers.  Amongst them were ships carrying supplies to the copper and gold mines and processing plants at Pevek in the remote Chukotka region of Eastern Siberia and undefined spare parts and equipment for the Russian floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Alexander Lomonosov which supplies Pevek with its heat and power; these cargoes remained undelivered.

In a response to the set-back, ROSATOM assigned the Sevmorput to hasten back to Murmansk, collect the supplies for Pevek and deliver them by early January.  The ship was unable to carry out the assignment and it fell instead to ROSATOM’s newest icebreaker Arktica, escorting three cargo ships, to carry out this task.

For unexplained reasons, the Sevmorput has remained moored and immobile for almost two months, first at Nakohodka around 85 kms away from Vladivostok and then from early January anchored in an offshore ‘dry cargo holding area’ about 10kms away from the port.  Here she is being attended to by another mysterious Russian vessel, identified only as ‘SPK-44150’, which has moored alongside the freighter.

ROSATOM has not explained why the Sevmorput was unable to sail to Pevek and has made no statement as to why the Sevmorput has been immobile for so long or about her current condition.

Commenting, Councillor Jerry Ahlström, President of KIMO International, said:

“Any leaks of radioactive material at sea will enter the marine environment where containment and remediation are near impossible. The lack of transparent emergency planning in the event of a marine accident involving nuclear materials and the question of liability and compensation in the event of a nuclear accident at sea raises huge concerns for KIMO’s coastal authority members.

“The consistent lack of decision-making input, of consultation and of information and transparency on shipping routes means they are left facing a real and present risk of harm that disempowers the very communities who health and livelihoods depend upon the sea.”

Commenting, Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee, said:

“The NFLA is concerned that the immobility and isolation of this nuclear-powered vessel away from prying eyes for so long might indicate that there has been some kind of nuclear accident on board or that the vessel has suffered some equipment failure that seriously compromises nuclear safety on the ship. 

“Our fear is of course that such a scenario might lead to an escape of radioactive materials into the atmosphere or into our oceans, where currents might carry it to distant shores compromising the health of the Pacific environment or its inhabitants.  It would be helpful if ROSATOM made a statement about the condition of this vessel and the mysterious activities of the SPK-44150’. For more information please contact: Richard Outram, Secretary, NFLA email Richard.outram@manchester.gov.uk   / mobile 07583 097793

The websites for both organisations can be found at:

KIMO International

Nuclear Free Local Authorities

January 20, 2022 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Austria preparing for a legal battle to prevent EU from calling nuclear power ‘sustainable’

Austria gears up to fight EU ‘green’ nuclear energy plan,  France 24Vienna (AFP) 19 Jan 22, – As the EU moves to label energy from nuclear power and natural gas as “green” investments, Austria is gearing up to fight this, including with a legal complaint.The European Commission is consulting with member states and European lawmakers until Friday on its plans.A final text could be published by end of the month and would become EU law effective from 2023 if a majority of member states or the EU Parliament fail to oppose it.

“Neither of these two forms of energy is sustainable and therefore has no place in the taxonomy regulation,” Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler told AFP in an interview this week in her eighth-floor office overlooking the Danube canal that flows through central Vienna.
The European Commission is consulting with member states and European lawmakers until Friday on its plans.A final text could be published by end of the month and would become EU law effective from 2023 if a majority of member states or the EU Parliament fail to oppose it.

“Neither of these two forms of energy is sustainable and therefore has no place in the taxonomy regulation,” Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler told AFP in an interview this week in her eighth-floor office overlooking the Danube canal that flows through central Vienna.

Strong arguments’

The 44-year-old said Austria had “very, very strong arguments” why energy from nuclear power and natural gas should not be labelled as green and as such she had “great confidence” a complaint at the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) could succeed.
“The question of waste disposal (from nuclear energy) has not been solved for decades… It’s as if we give our children a backpack and say ‘you will solve it one day,'” she said……………https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220119-austria-gears-up-to-fight-eu-green-nuclear-energy-plan

January 20, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Why nuclear power can never be green

Why nuclear power can never be green,  https://www.arabnews.com/node/200506 RANVIR S. NAYAR, January 15, 2022,   Jan. 14 was a frightening Friday for EDF, the French state-owned utility company that is also the world’s largest nuclear power operator.

The week had begun on a bad note for EDF when it announced another delay in commissioning its EPR, the third-generation pressurized water reactor it has been trying to build at Flamanville (pictured) in France and a couple of other sites in other countries. EDF said the plant would now be ready only in 2023, and the cost had further increased to €12.7 billion.

Barely had the stock markets digested this bit of bad news — albeit not entirely unexpected, since EPR has been EDF’s bete noire since it was conceived over a decade ago — than the French government said EDF ought to cut its electricity price down to the same level as rivals in the French market. This sent EDF stock plunging on Friday by 20 percent.

Meanwhile another battle, of far greater consequence to Europe and the world, was raging just across the border in Brussels. That began when the European Commission tried to slip in a major modification to how power sources are labeled, by according the “green investment” tag to nuclear power.

If officials in Brussels had hoped that the media and others would be too busy welcoming 2022 to notice, within hours they were proved wrong as the new government in Germany and numerous environmental groups rejected the new designation and asked for it to be withdrawn.

The “green” designation had been in the offing for a while, as the EU and the rest of the world struggles to meet the ambitious targets for reduced carbon emissions required by the Paris Agreement.

Not surprisingly, a key driver is France, which is not only the biggest user of nuclear power, but has also just begun its six-month rotating presidency of the EU. However, French and EC officials ought to have realized that such a controversial move could not just be slipped in, especially with a new government in Germany that includes as a major partner, for the first time, the Green Party — who have actively campaigned for a total phase-out of nuclear power.

If a “green investment” tag is indeed given to nuclear energy, driving hundreds of billions of dollars of fresh capital into hundreds of new nuclear power projects, then world leaders must pause and consider whether they putting ticking timebombs under all of us.

On the same day as European officials moved the draft to give the green investment tag to nuclear power, Germany shut down three of its last six nuclear reactors, as part of its promise to phase out nuclear power totally by end of 2022.

Little wonder, then, that the German government called the European move greenwashing, and said it diluted the good label of sustainability. Germany was joined by Austria, which said it would sue if the EC went ahead, and that neither gas nor nuclear power could be called green as they were both harmful for the environment.

Indeed, calling nuclear power “green” or “sustainable,” attempting to equate a nuclear reactor with a solar panel or a wind turbine, is plain and simple fraud. Certainly, nuclear power does not lead to carbon emissions once production begins, but to give it the same treatment as a trully renewable source such as solar or wind is not just twisting the truth, it is a bare-faced lie.

Sustainability cannot be measured simply by carbon emissions, it must also take into account the overall impact on the environment, and the possibility of accidents and damage. From Chernobyl to Fukushima, and many more incidents that pass unreported or don’t make global headlines, the world has already seen the dangers of nuclear power.

Nuclear power accounts for less than 10 percent of the world’s total electricity generation. One reason for this low share is that these projects are extremely capital intensive, with the construction cost for each MW of nuclear power exceeding €7.7 million in the case of Flamanville. Moreover, nuclear power projects have a long history of lengthy delays and cost over runs. Flamanville’s initial budget was €3.3 billion and the plant was to be operational in 2013. Now it is over a decade late and the cost has grown over 400 percent, with no certainty that it will not have further cost or time over runs. In contrast, solar power in many parts of the world has become even cheaper than coal, the cheapest source so far.

The nuclear industry lobby says that the cost of running a nuclear power plant is minimal and that over a life-cycle nuclear power is competitive. However, this is false again, as decommissioning a nuclear power plant can be more expensive than building it in the first place. There is also doubt over how safely the nuclear waste has been stored, and whether it would leak into ground water or contaminate the soil over the course of tens of thousands of years that will be radioactive.

If a “green investment” tag is indeed given to nuclear energy, driving hundreds of billions of dollars of fresh capital into hundreds of new nuclear power projects, then world leaders must pause and consider whether they putting ticking timebombs under all of us.

The world must ponder whether it is worth tackling the poison in the air that is carbon by spreading poison all around us, in air, in soil and in water — because that is what will happen if we go full-tilt for nuclear energy.

  • Ranvir S. Nayar is managing editor of Media India Group, a global platform based in Europe and India, which encompasses publishing, communication, and consultation services.

January 20, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Anti-radiation pills given out to residents, nurseries, schools, care homes and clinics near UK’s nuclear submarine ports.

 EARLY 100,000 anti-radiation pills have been handed out to residents of three English ports in case nuclear submarines go into meltdown, Declassified UK has found. The medication, issued between 2016 and 2021 in Plymouth, Portland and Barrow-in-Furness, went to nurseries, schools, care homes and clinics near naval docks.

The figures were revealed in a freedom of information request by the investigative website. Nuclear-powered submarines are built for the Royal Navy by arms company BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, and the vessels moor at sites such as Devonport dockyard in Plymouth and Dorset’s Portland harbour.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) general secretary Kate Hudson said: “The production, servicing and berthing of nuclear powered submarines in or near population centres presents an unacceptable health risk. “Safeguarding our communities cannot be achieved through limited distribution of pills.”

 Morning Star 18th Jan 2022

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/nearly-100000-anti-radiation-pills-handed-out-residents-near-nuclear-submarines-case

January 20, 2022 Posted by | health, UK | Leave a comment

ITER nuclear fusion – a spectacular waste of time, money, and political clout

 Is a $22bn giant magnet the ‘holy grail’ of clean energy? Dozens of
nations have staked huge sums – and decades of work – on a nuclear
fusion project they hope can play a key role in ending the climate crisis.
But is the ITER programme more than a pipe dream?

If ITER works, it will be the first fusion device in history to produce a net energy gain, producing
10 times more power than it needs to function, all without the dangerous
waste of its cousin nuclear fission, which powers contemporary nuclear
plants.

To its critics, ITER is a spectacular waste of time, money, and
political clout, at a moment when the planetary clock has nearly run down.
For Jan Haverkamp, an energy expert at Greenpeace, nuclear has a record of
overpromising, underdelivering, and costing astronomical sums of money –
precisely the wrong combination when the world needs a rapid, reliable
transition to green energy.

According to modelling from Greenpeace and
others, the world could reach a fully renewable energy system without
nuclear by 2050. Even before the pandemic, the project was running at least
10 years behind schedule and billions over budget. A 2013 review of ITER
management called its structure “ill-defined and poorly implemented”,
leading to a large-scale reorganisation.

In 2015, ITER’s director-general, Bernard Bigot, wrote that previous generations of ITER
leadership had “proved incapable of solving issues and responding to the
project’s needs, so accumulating technical difficulties have led to
stalemates, misunderstandings and tension between staff around the
world”.

 Independent 18th Jan 2022

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/magnet-iter-nuclear-fusion-energy-b1995437.html

January 20, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, technology | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce aims to market its Small Nuclear Reactors to Saudi Arabia (a good step towards nuclear weapons?)

Rolls-Royce heads to Middle East as Saudi Arabia plots £74bn nuclear investment, 

ROLLS-ROYCE is looking to the Middle East to export its new [so-called] green technology while Saudi Arabia is reportedly eyeing up a £74billion nuclear investment.

Express UK By JACOB PAUL, Wed, Jan 19, 2022………….. Rolls-Royce looks set to bring its SMR technology to the World Future Energy Summit. This is a global conference showcasing green energy technology. Mr Samson said the company is hoping to start talks with government representatives and large industrial in the Middle East……

And this comes as Saudi Arabia is reportedly exploring options of investing $100 billion (£73.55billion) in several nuclear plants with a combined capacity of 22 gigawatts………

It comes as Rolls-Royce looks set to bring its SMR technology to the World Future Energy Summit.

This is a global conference showcasing green energy technology.

Mr Samson said the company is hoping to start talks with government representatives and large industrial in the Middle East.

And this comes as Saudi Arabia is reportedly exploring options of investing $100 billion (£73.55billion) in several nuclear plants with a combined capacity of 22 gigawatts……..

Mtr Samson – “We have opened up a whole spectrum of customers.”

And Rolls-Royce has already been looking for opportunities to sell its technology to potential UK customers.

But the first SMR units are not expected to come online before the early 2030s. Mr Samson said the company needs to first go through the regulatory processes in Britain. It also needs time to build factories, certify its designs and move on to the production process…………   https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1552184/rolls-royce-middle-east-Saudi-arabia-smr-nuclear-world-future-energy-summit

January 20, 2022 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, UK | Leave a comment

Drones sighted over Sweden’s nuclear power stations

Days of sightings of drones over key Swedish sites including nuclear plants have prompted the country’s security service to take the lead in an investigation. Three nuclear sites have been targeted and sightings have been reported over airports and the royal palace. Authorities have not speculated on who is behind the mysterious drones. Police and the coastguard are searching the sea and islands around Stockholm, local media reports say.

The latest sightings on Monday evening involved a drone above the Forsmark nuclear plant, but security agency Sapo said it was also investigating earlier drone flights near the Ringhals and Oskarshamn power
plants. Police appealed to the public to come forward with information. Sapo said the drones were suspected of “grave unauthorised dealing with secret information”.

 BBC 18th Jan 2022

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-60035446

January 20, 2022 Posted by | incidents, Sweden | Leave a comment

Anglesey does not need nuclear energy – Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) 

Anglesey does not need nuclear energy, says Welsh NFLA chair   https://www.northwaleschronicle.co.uk/news/19853825.anglesey-not-need-nuclear-energy-says-welsh-nfla-chair/

By Matthew Chandler  @chandler98_ 17 Jan 22, Report  THE chair of the Welsh Forum of Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has countered the recent suggestion by Isle of Anglesey County Council’s leader that nuclear energy is needed ‘now more than ever’.

Councillor Llinos Medi, made this claim to Guto Harri on S4C’s current affairs series, Y Byd yn ei Le.

Responding, the chair of the NFLA Welsh Forum, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy, said: “The council leader seems unaware of the reality that is nuclear power and unaware of her own party’s (Plaid Cymru’s) position on the subject.

“Nuclear energy projects are notorious for being delivered years late, being delivered massively over budget, and on occasions – as we have seen at Wylfa in the recent past – being delivered not at all.

“If the council leader really does want to keep the lights on for her electors then it is pointless looking to nuclear energy to deliver the goods.

“The small modular reactors that Councillor Medi talks of are reliant upon designs that are not yet proven and will not be operational until the mid-2030s at the earliest, and we need to tackle energy insecurity and climate change now.

“They would also be delivered at a massive cost to the Welsh taxpayer as everyone will face a ‘nuclear tax’ on their electricity bills to fund it, thanks to the Conservative Government’s Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill.”

The NFLA is clear on its own position: Wales should move away from nuclear and make a commitment to powering the nation using 100 per cent renewables.

Councillor Galsworthy added: “The Scottish Government has set itself a target of meeting 100 per cent of their nation’s energy needs through renewables alone, and they are now up to 96 per cent, and the Welsh Government should look to do the same.

“Our nation is blessed with natural resources that can, and should, be utilised to meet our current and future energy needs.

“I would urge Councillor Medi not to become another Atomic Kitten. Wales does not ‘need’ nuclear and we do not have to ‘have’ it.

Solar, tidal, wind and hydro-electric power projects can all be delivered now using proven technology far more quickly and at much less cost than nuclear, and without the dangers associated with nuclear power or the need to store safely the resultant radioactive waste.

“Anglesey as the ‘energy island’ could be at the forefront of that renewables’ revolution bringing the many jobs, far more than nuclear, for that island community that would result.

“If Councillor Medi wishes to have a ‘conversation’ about bringing that vision to the island, the Welsh NFLA will be happy to have it.”

January 18, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Contradictory demands on EDF

“Neither its organization nor its finances allow EDF to meet all then challenges it faces”. Ensuring the country’s energy security, promoting French know-how internationally, producing ever greener products and serving as a financier of last resort: EDF is subject to contradictory political injunctions, underlines in his column Jean-Michel Bezat, journalist Le Monde.

Let’s face it, we would not like to be in the place of the CEO of EDF. At the controls of the energy giant since 2014, Jean-Bernard Lévy is not the type to let his arm be twisted without afight. But after tough negotiations, the state shareholder (83.9%) ended up imposing its views on it: within the framework of the mechanism for regulated access to historical nuclear electricity (Arenh), imposed byBrussels in 2011 in the name of the competition, he will have to sell to his competitors – at a sale price, it’s in season – 20% more power than usual.

 Le Monde 17th Jan 2022

https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2022/01/17/l-etat-fait-tour-a-tour-de-la-fee-electricite-le-sauveteur-de-la-filiere-nucleaire-et-une-vache-a-lait_6109743_3232.html

January 18, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Redesigning nuclear arms control for new realities

Redesigning nuclear arms control for new realities, European Leadership Network, 18 Jan 22.

“When we first launched the report in early December, Russian forces were massing on the borders of Ukraine. As I write this, just weeks later, a full-blown crisis has developed between nuclear Russia and nuclear NATO. This report has only gained in relevance since its release, as we need nuclear arms control more than ever. 

Senior Russians have compared this to the Cuban Missile Crisis and have spoken, as has the NATO Secretary General, of the possibility of large-scale conflict in Europe. These are real dangers, but there are also real opportunities to re-start nuclear arms control. This crisis lends momentum to the long haul rebuilding of US, British, French and NATO muscle memory for nuclear risk reduction. Under the skilful steering of Nevine Scheper and Oliver Thraenert of the Centre for Security Studies in Zurich, I and my fellow authors have offered a long-term, clear-eyed look at what it is going to take for the transatlantic community to do nuclear arms control effectively. This summary couldn’t be more timely.”

Adam Thomson, Director of the ELN

Nuclear arms control has lost its place in the current security landscape. A revival of arms control, which is urgently needed, will not be possible by going back to old approaches. Instead, arms control needs to adapt to new circumstances. Western experts have devoted a great deal of attention to possi­ble further steps on the reductions path­way, such as a follow-on agreement to the New START Treaty or a new agreement on non-strategic nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. In the meantime, far too little attention has been given to the new deterrence landscape or the political strategy that must be put in place to arrive at a point where new arms control approaches fit that landscape. …………………………………………. https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/commentary/redesigning-nuclear-arms-control-for-new-realities/

January 18, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power plants – ”no significant harm?”-risks of catastrophic accidents, wastes dangers to future generations, water consumption.

Not green and not sustainable,  The science-based case for excluding nuclear power from the EU taxonomy, Beyond Nuclear, 15 Jan 2022,  ”………………………Does the present generation of nuclear fission power plants ‘do no significant harm’? 

To answer this question, two specific issues for nuclear power stand out: the risk of a catastrophic accident and the management of high-level nuclear waste (HLW). Nuclear fission energy is characterized by low probability, high consequence risks to humans and the environment. Even the JRC recognizes that the risk of a severe nuclear accident cannot be excluded, even in the best commercially available nuclear power plants. 

The disaster in Fukushima (2011) was triggered by a process that these nuclear reactors were not “designed” to withstand. These circumstances shed light on the limitations of the technical risk assessments, which have not fully taken into account beyond design risks in particular of core melt accidents. 

The events in Fukushima have made it apparent that such assessments are based on specific assumptions, for example on seismic safety or the maximum height of a tsunami, and that reality can disprove these assumptions. Deciding whether such risks belong to the category of ‘tolerable risks’ for a given society depends on the various risk regulation measures put in place. Especially relevant for nuclear fission power is the fact that the liability of the operator in the case of a severe accident is limited and the remaining costs are (largely) taken on by the state (privatization of profits, socialization of risks).

The Taxonomy architecture is not designed to cater for such risks that carry an intergenerational impact lasting for thousands of years, making it an unsuitable instrument to decide on the sustainable nature of nuclear power. 

The characteristics and nature of HLW generated by the nuclear fission process present long-term intergenerational risks and thereby challenge the principle of ‘do no significant harm’ to the extent that nuclear fission energy may not be considered eligible for the EU Taxonomy. 

This was made abundantly clear to the Commission in the TEG’s recommendations, which were not published in their entirety. Independent, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence compiled by TEG provided confirmation of the risk of significant harm arising from nuclear waste. 

The back end of the fuel cycle is currently dominated by the containment of spent fuel rods and waste from nuclear power facilities. Safe and secure long-term storage of nuclear waste remains unresolved and has to be demonstrated in its operational complexity. Whilst the nuclear industry and international nuclear waste experts provide assurances of multiple engineered safeguards designed to reduce the risks from nuclear waste through geological disposal, the question remains whether, despite the solid scientific basis and thorough geological knowledge gathered, in the absence of experience with this technology, one can really guarantee that HLW will remain isolated from humans and the environment for thousands, let alone millions of years. 

The fact that a ‘solution’ has to be found for the existing quantities of waste (as well spent fuel as conditioned high level waste forms), and that geological disposal is the least bad solution for this, does not imply that nuclear power can suddenly be classified as a ‘green’ energy source. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the risks presented by nuclear fission energy to the ‘do no significant harm’ principle and technical screening criteria of the EU Taxonomy means that it can not be considered EU Taxonomy eligible or aligned as long as the technology and fuel cycle management has not proven to be sustainable as a whole.  

Other concerns with regard to DNSH criteria 

Nuclear fission power plants require about three cubic metres of cooling water per megawatt hour (MWh) produced. A nuclear plant’s cooling water consumption is higher than that of fossil-fuel plants. Throughout the world, new nuclear plants and existing plants increasingly face cooling water scarcity induced by heat waves, a situation that is likely to be aggravated by climate change. More efficient cooling technologies could be considered, but this adds to the already high costs of nuclear power plants. 

For reasons of having access to enough cooling water, nuclear plants are mostly sited in coastal or estuarine locations, but this makes them vulnerable to flooding and extreme events that climate change may occasion. The siting of nuclear power plants along coastal zones presents adaptation risks associated with sea-level rise, water temperature rise, coastal erosion as well as natural catastrophes such as the Fukushima disaster demonstrates. 

The Fukushima disaster reveals how powerless human operators are when nuclear systems escape full, continuous control. Instead of helping to address the impacts of the Tsunami as renewable energy sources would have, the devastated nuclear power plant strongly aggravated the emergency relief in the province and left huge new problems of liquid waste and radioactive waste resulting from infrastructure and land cleaning activities, never encountered before in densely populated industrial areas. 

Furthermore, when major nuclear plant accidents occur significant land areas become unsuitable for human habitation (e.g. Chernobyl, Fukushima). 

Advocates of nuclear power draw attention to the survival of natural flora and fauna in zones contaminated by radioactive materials and precluding human access. However, this is presumably not the type of ecological protection and resilience that the EU Taxonomy aims to achieve. Surface or underground mining and the processing of uranium ore can substantially damage surrounding ecosystems and waterways. The huge volumes of associated mining waste in developing countries are normally not considered in life cycle waste inventories of nuclear energy producing countries. 

More critically, the adverse effects on local environmental conditions of routine discharging of nuclear isotopes to the air and water at reprocessing plants have not been considered thoroughly enough. A number of adverse impacts (of radiation) on soil/sediment, benthic flora and fauna and marine mammals has been demonstrated ………………………………  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3774941784

January 17, 2022 Posted by | climate change, environment, EUROPE | 4 Comments

The media downplays Ukraine’s ties to Nazism, as they promote weapons sales, and war against Russia

Absent information

The fact that that Ukraine’s government and armed forces include a Nazi-sympathizing current surely would have an impact on US public opinion—if the public knew about it. However, this information has been entirely absent in recent editions of the New York Times and Washington Post.

Shortly after the Maidan uprising of 2013 to 2014 brought in a new government, Ukraine began whitewashing Nazi collaborators on a statewide level. In 2015, Kyiv passed legislation declaring two WWII-era paramilitaries—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—heroes and freedom fighters, and threatening legal action against anyone denying their status. The OUN was allied with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust; the UPA murdered thousands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles on their own accord.

Hawkish Pundits Downplay Threat of War, Ukraine’s Nazi Ties, Fair, GREGORY SHUPAK 16 Jan 22,  With the United States and Russia in a standoff over NATO expansion and Russian troop deployments along the Ukrainian border, US corporate media outlets are demanding that Washington escalate the risk of a broader war while misleading their audiences about important aspects of the conflict.

Many in the commentariat called on the US to take steps that would increase the likelihood of war. In the New York Times (12/10/21), retired US Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman wrote that “the United States must support Ukraine by providing more extensive military assistance.” He argued that “the United States should consider an out-of-cycle, division-level military deployment to Eastern Europe to reassure allies and bolster the defenses of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” even while calling for a strategy that “avoids crossing into military adventurism.” He went on to say that “the United States has to be more assertive in the region.”

Yet the US has been plenty “assertive in the region,” where, incidentally, America is not located. In 2014, the US supported anti-government protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of democratically elected, Russia-aligned Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych (Foreign Policy3/4/14). Russia sent its armed forces into the Crimea, annexed the territory, and backed armed groups in eastern Ukraine.

Since then, the US has given Ukraine $2.5 billion in military aid, including Javelin anti-tank missiles (Politico6/18/21).  The US government has applied sanctions to Russia that, according to an International Monetary Fund estimate, cost Russia about 0.2 percentage points of GDP every year between 2014 and 2018 (Reuters4/16/21).

Furthermore, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—a US-led military alliance hostile to Russia—has grown by 14 countries since the end of the Cold War. NATO expanded right up to Russia’s border in 2004, in violation of the promises made by the elder George Bush and Bill Clinton to Russian leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin (Jacobin7/16/18).

In the Washington Post (12/24/21), Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen jointly contended in Orwellian fashion that the Biden administration should take “military measures that would strengthen a diplomatic approach and give it greater credibility.” They wrote that “the United States must speed up the pace of assistance and provide antiaircraft, antitank and anti-ship systems, along with electronic warfare capabilities.” The authors claimed that these actions “will help ensure a free and stable Europe,” though it’s easy to imagine how such steps could instead lead to a war-ravaged Europe, or at least a tension-plagued one.

Indeed, US “military measures” have tended to increase, rather than decrease, the temperature. Last summer, the US and Ukraine led multinational naval maneuvers held in the Black Sea, an annual undertaking called Sea Breeze. The US-financed exercises were the largest in decades, involving 32 ships, 40 aircraft and helicopters, and 5,000 soldiers from 24 countries (Deutsche Welle6/29/21). These steps didn’t create a “stable Europe”: Russia conducted a series of parallel drills in the Black Sea and southwestern Russia (AP7/10/21), and would go on to amass troops along the Ukrainian border.

Afghan precedent……

Whitewashing Nazis

US media should present Americans with a complete picture of Ukraine/Russia so that Americans can assess how much and what kind of support, if any, they want their government to continue providing to Ukraine’s. Such a comprehensive view would undoubtedly include an account of the Ukrainian state’s political orientation. Lev Golinkin in The Nation (5/6/21) outlined one of the Ukrainian government’s noteworthy tendencies:

Shortly after the Maidan uprising of 2013 to 2014 brought in a new government, Ukraine began whitewashing Nazi collaborators on a statewide level. In 2015, Kyiv passed legislation declaring two WWII-era paramilitaries—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—heroes and freedom fighters, and threatening legal action against anyone denying their status. The OUN was allied with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust; the UPA
murdered thousands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles on their own accord.

Every January 1, Kyiv hosts a torchlight march in which thousands honor Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, who headed an OUN faction; in 2017, chants of “Jews Out!” rang out during the march. Such processions (often redolent with antisemitism) are a staple in Ukraine….

Ukraine’s total number of monuments to Third Reich collaborators who served in auxiliary police battalions and other units responsible for the Holocaust number in the several hundred. The whitewashing also extends to official book bans and citywide veneration of collaborators.

The typical reaction to this in the West is that Ukraine can’t be celebrating Nazi collaborators because it elected [Volodymyr] Zelensky, a Jewish president. Zelensky, however, has alternated between appeasing and ignoring the whitewashing: In 2018, he stated, “To some Ukrainians, [Nazi collaborator] Bandera is a hero, and that’s cool!”

Furthermore, according to a George Washington University study, members of the far-right group Centuria are in the Ukrainian military, and Centuria’s social media accounts show these soldiers giving Nazi salutes, encouraging white nationalism and praising members of Nazi SS units (Ottawa Citizen, 10/19/21). Centuria leaders have ties to the Azov movement, which “has attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outlets, art exhibitions, foreign students, the LGBTQ2S+ community and Roma people”: the Azov movement’s militia has been incorporated in the Ukrainian National Guard (CTV News, 10/20/21). Azov, the UN has documented, has carried out torture and rape.

Absent information

The fact that that Ukraine’s government and armed forces include a Nazi-sympathizing current surely would have an impact on US public opinion—if the public knew about it. However, this information has been entirely absent in recent editions of the New York Times and Washington Post.

From December 6, 2021, to January 6,  2022, the Times published 228 articles that refer to Ukraine, nine of which contain some variation on the word “Nazi.” Zero percent of these note Ukrainian government apologia for Nazis or the presence of pro-Nazi elements in Ukraine’s armed forces. …………

the Post ran 201 pieces that mention the word “Ukraine.” Of these, six mention the word “Nazi,” none of them to point out that the Ukrainian state has venerated Holocaust participants, or that there are Nazis in the Ukrainian military.  Max Boot (1/5/22) and Robyn Dixon (12/11/21), in fact, dismissed this fact as mere Russian propaganda. In Boot’s earlier Ukraine piece (12/15/21), he acknowledged that the UPA collaborated with the Nazis and killed thousands of Polish people, but his article nevertheless suggested that the UPA offer a useful model for how Ukrainians could resist a Russian invasion, asserting that “all is not lost” in case of a Russian invasion, because “Ukrainian patriots could fight as guerrillas against Russian occupiers”:………………….

Evidently neither the UPA’s precedent of fascist massacres, nor the presence of similarly oriented groups in contemporary Ukraine’s armed forces and society, give Boot pause.  He’d rather the US continue flooding the country with weapons; the consequences aren’t a concern of Boot’s.

Readers seeking riotous calls to violence in Eastern Europe should turn to the Times and the Post, but those who are interested in a thoroughgoing portrait will be disappointed. https://fair.org/home/hawkish-pundits-downplay-threat-of-war-ukraines-nazi-ties/

January 17, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The science-based case for excluding nuclear power from the EU taxonomy

Not green and not sustainable,  The science-based case for excluding nuclear power from the EU taxonomy, Beyond Nuclear, 15 Jan 2022,

A statement by Dawn Slevin, Dr. Erik Laes, Paolo Masoni, Jochen Krimphoff, Fabrizio Varriale, Andrea Di Turi, Dr. Ulrich Ofterdinger, Dr. Dolores Byrne, Dr. Petra Kuenkel, Ursula Hartenberger, Kosha Joubert, Dr. Paul Dorfman, Anders Wijkman, Prof. Petra, Seibert, Rebecca Harms, Joseph Kobor, Michel Lee, Dr. Stuart Parkinson, and Dr. Ian Fairlie

One of the most influential policy initiatives of the European Commission in the past years has been the “EU Taxonomy”, essentially a shopping list of investments that may be considered environmentally sustainable across six environmental objectives

To be deemed EU Taxonomy aligned, the activity must demonstrate a substantial contribution to one environmental objective, such as climate change mitigation, whilst causing no significant harm to the remaining five environmental objectives (climate change adaptation, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, transition to a circular economy, pollution prevention and control, and protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems).  

All eligible activities are required to comply with technical screening criteria (TSC) for ‘substantial contribution’ and ‘do no significant harm’ and to demonstrate that social safeguards are in place. The EU Taxonomy provides a common language for sustainability reporting, a foundation for green bond reporting and much more. It is intended to be used by international financial markets participants whose products are sold within the EU in order to evaluate the sustainability of their underlying investments.  

The use of the EU Taxonomy is furthermore compulsory for the EU and member states when introducing requirements and standards regarding environmental sustainability of financial products, such as an EU ecolabel for investment products or an EU Green Bond Standard. It will also apply to 37% of activities earmarked as ‘climate-friendly’ financed by the EU COVID-19 recovery funding. Its science-based approach is designed to give confidence to a wide range of international stakeholders that environmental claims are not greenwashing. 

The question whether nuclear fission energy complies with the ‘do no significant harm’ (DNSH) criteria of the EU Taxonomy was the focus of the Technical Expert Group (TEG) DNSH assessment on nuclear fission technologies which recommended to the Commission that nuclear should not be included in the EU Taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities.

Taking into account the significant financial implications of adopting the TEG recommendations, it became the starting point of intense behind-door lobbying. France led a coalition of 10 EU Member States arguing that nuclear fission as well as gas-fired power plants should be included in the Taxonomy. Together with Finland (Olkiluoto-3), France is at present the only EU country constructing a new nuclear power plant (Flamanville-3). 

The Finnish and French construction sites were meant to be the industrial demonstration of an evolutionary nuclear technology (the “European Pressurised water Reactor” or EPR). Olkiluoto-3 was meant to start generating power in 2009, followed by Flamanville-3 in 2012. Instead, the projects turned out to have multiple engineering difficulties and financial constraints that resulted in significant delays culminating in missed deadlines for various production start dates and tripling unit cost. 

Nevertheless, in October 2021 president Macron announced that France will continue to invest heavily in the construction of EPR ‘light’ versions, next to research into small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Following consultation with Member States, the Commission charged its former nuclear Joint Research Centre (JRC) to draft another technical report in 2020 – the “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‘do no significant harm’ criteria of Regulation (EU) 2020/852”. This report was reviewed by two sets of experts, the Group of Experts on radiation protection and waste management under Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty (having no specific competences in sustainability impact assessment other than impacts incurred by radiation) and the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks on environmental impacts (Sheer). 

While the Sheer group pointed out some omissions, the Article 31 Group of Experts, unsurprisingly supported the conclusions of the JRC. Nevertheless, a minority report opposed the lack of integration of economic and environmental aspects, as put forward by the Rio principles for Sustainable Development. 

The JRC, supported by the Art. 31 experts, concluded amongst others that:  “…deep geological repositories are considered, at the state of today’s knowledge, appropriate and safe means of isolating spent fuel and other high-level waste (HLW) from the biosphere for very long timescales and the necessary technologies are now available;” “..the standards of environmental control needed to protect the members of the public are likely to be sufficient to ensure that other species are not put at risk;” “… the requirements in the [EU Taxonomy] TSC regarding protection of humans and the environment from harmful effects of ionising radiation are automatically satisfied in the EU if a licence can be issued.” 

Notwithstanding the findings of the JRC and the Article 31 Group of Experts, members of the TEG DNSH maintain our position that nuclear fission energy should not be included in the EU Taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities. We the TEG DNSH members observe that the above JRC/Article 31 Group of experts’ statements and conclusions drawn thereof cannot be fully based on scientific evidence as deep geological disposal of high-level nuclear waste entails the need for adequate quality assurance and control of waste form compatibility, as well as for monitoring of health impacts and preservation of knowledge and memory for possibly thousands of years. It also requires operational demonstration of disposal within Europe. 

The fact that according to the current technical state of knowledge there is no alternative to deep geological disposal as a ‘solution’ for the nuclear waste problem does not take away from its ethically problematic character. Moreover the independent scientific evidence which the TEG presented to the European Commission, shows evidence of adverse impacts to the natural environment arising from the many processes involved in the nuclear power lifecycle (from uranium mining to waste disposal) that are operational today.  

Therefore, we maintain our recommendation to the European Commission that nuclear fission energy has no place on the EU Taxonomy of sustainable activities, whether or not it is licensed. It is furthermore our view that the proponents of nuclear energy have guided the interpretation of scientific knowledge and the framing of sustainability assessment in order to use the EU Taxonomy to place a ‘scientific’ stamp on what is primarily a political position on nuclear fission energy aiming to satisfy the few EU member states that wish to promote the associated technologies.  

Does the present generation of nuclear fission power plants ‘do no significant harm’? ……… 

The Taxonomy architecture is not designed to cater for such risks that carry an intergenerational impact lasting for thousands of years, making it an unsuitable instrument to decide on the sustainable nature of nuclear power. ………..

Other concerns with regard to DNSH criteria ……………………………..

Should nuclear fission power be included in the taxonomy as a transition activity? ……………………………………..

Further issues of justice beyond the DNSH criteria …………………….

The Way Forward .

Controlling nuclear technologies, investments, and practices requires a high level of technical expertise, which emphasizes the need for expert structures which are independent of the nuclear industry and can therefore better safeguard the common good at international, European and national levels. 

The nuclear industry is currently self-regulating with oversight provided by the IAEA (with a mandate to promote the peaceful applications of nuclear technology), EURATOM framing and international committees such as UNSCEAR depending too much on international diplomacy (which recently cast doubt on the health effects of exposure to low levels of radiation). 

We highlight the need for an independent international agency requiring revision of the EURATOM treaty as well in order to be able to review nuclear power issues with a focus on society’s need of sustainable development above nuclear sectoral interests, in terms of safeguarding public and environmental health, economic and energy security and general issues of justice. 

The proposed inclusion of nuclear fission energy in the EU Taxonomy will channel much needed capital away from proven sustainable energy sources, create more long-term operational and waste management risks and adverse environmental and social impacts that will undermine the principles and technical screening criteria of the EU Taxonomy and crucially, undermine Europe’s credibility and standing amongst its own citizens and international peers. 

Instead of giving the nuclear industry a new financial injection for solutions of the past such as the large scale EPR, the EU should focus on pressing issues such as looking for common solutions to the existing HLW problem in EU Member States (and internationally) and taking up a strong regulatory position on nuclear safety and peaceful developments in nuclear technology. 

It is the responsibility of Euratom to demonstrate a real European collaboration in solving the technical as well as the environmental and economic challenges related to HLW management (emergency management, harmonised safety and QA/QC criteria for waste forms, insurances). 

The signatories of this letter understand the need of the nuclear industry to receive ongoing regulatory support to ensure that their current operations, management of waste, and decommissioning are authorized and carried out in a safe manner. We therefore encourage the JRC and EU Institutions to extend and harmonise their support and strategic direction of the nuclear industry in the new energy transition paradigm, but we state categorically that the proposed inclusion of nuclear fission energy on the EU Taxonomy  of environmentally sustainable activities is contrary to the TEGs recommendation to the European Commission. 

The above is the content of a Statement of Concern sent by the EU Taxonomy subgroup DNSH TEG members and expert supporters to the Commission on December 21, 2021. The statement can also be downloaded in PDF format. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3774941784

January 17, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment