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EDF’s Belleville nuclear power plant to continue to have increased monitoring by France’s nuclear regulator

France’s ASN regulator keeps enhanced monitoring of EDF’s Belleville nuclear power plant  https://uk.reuters.com/article/france-nuclearpower-safety/frances-asn-regulator-keeps-enhanced-monitoring-of-edfs-belleville-nuclear-power-plant-idUKL5N21Z2CQ,  PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) – France’s ASN nuclear regulator said on Wednesday it was maintaining its close supervision of utility EDF’s 2,600 MW Belleville nuclear power plant, due to the need to continue to monitor safety practices despite some improvements.

The regulator placed the plant under enhanced supervision in September 2017, citing failures in safety standards.

It noted that the state of the plant’s installations and safety practices had generally improved in 2018, but there was still work to do.

“However… the progress noted remains to be consolidated and that the performance of the facilities must still improve,” the ASN said in a statement.

The ASN also said it will carry out additional inspections and checks to documentation, while keeping track of EDF’s action plan to fix the issues. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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April 18, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Youth climate change protests across Britain

Youth climate change protests across Britain – as it happened

Tens of thousands of young people in Britain and abroad are demonstrating for climate action in the latest wave of strikes,  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2019/apr/12/youth-climate-change-protests-across-britain-live   Sarah Marsh 13 Apr 19, 

  • Students across the UK took to the streets on Friday to call for the government to act to tackle the climate change crisis. Protests took place everywhere from Birmingham, to Newcastle and beyond. Jake Woodier, from the UK Youth Climate Coalition, who took part in London, said: “It’s been a really fantastic day, with thousands and thousands of students protesting across the country, and continuing to build the movement.”
  • A further 30 countries across the globe also held events today. Many shared their experiences over social media. It included activity in New Delhi in India, Istanbul in Turkey and Helsinki, Finland’s capital.
  • Politicians, broadcasters, scientists and artists showed their support for young activists. David Attenborough was asked about the young people who have been marching all over the world. The Washington Post asked: when you look at that, what do you see, as someone generations ahead of them? Attenborough said: “I mean, strikes are a way of expressing a strong feeling that you have, but they don’t solve it. You don’t solve anything by striking. But you do change opinion, and you do change politicians’ opinions. And that’s why strikes are worthwhile.”
  • The march in London brought Oxford street to a standstill. Organiser Cyrus Jarvis, 16, a year 11 student from London Academy school in Barnet, North London, said: “The police tried to frighten us with arrests but we just moved on. “We are really sorry for anyone who did have issues because of us, but unfortunately this is what we have to do to get our point across to the government.”
  • On 22 April, the Guardian is hosting an event with Greta Thunberg and Anna Taylor, from the UK Student Climate Network, with an introduction from Caroline Lucas MP, and chaired by the Guardian’s Zoe Williams.     You can find out more about this event here.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

The Flamanville EPR risks a new delay , catastrophic for EDF

Liberation 11th April 2019 The Flamanville EPR risks a new catastrophic delay for EDF. The group ofexperts of the Nuclear Safety Authority considers that the electrician must
“repair” eight large defective welds on the Flamanville reactor. The work
could last until 2022 at the risk of ruining the reputation of the EPR,
which is already years behind schedule.

https://www.liberation.fr/france/2019/04/11/l-epr-de-flamanville-risque-d-accuser-un-nouveau-retard-catastrophique-pour-edf_1720782

April 13, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

The untold story of the campaign to smear Julian Assange

This prospect prompted the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 33 EU parliamentarians to issue strongly worded statements to both the UK and Ecuadorian governments in December last year, warning against facilitating the prosecution of a journalist, editor and publisher for “publishing the truth”. The statements demanded Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country”, and reminded the UK of its “binding” legal obligations to secure freedom for Assange.

A critical task for propagandists such as those waging a psychological war on Wilkileaks, then, is to feed audiences material that supports official narratives and exclude that which does not. Since its inception, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks has been remarkably concerted and consistent in that regard.

With the new year, however, news broke that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had offered Ecuador a $10 billion bailout in return for handing Julian Assange over to the United States. This bounty came on top of earlier US pressures and inducements, reportedly including increased oil exportsmilitary co-operation and another $1.1 billion in IMF loans, with the US representative of the IMF instructing Ecuador that it must “resolve” its relationship with Julian Assange in order to receive the IMF money.

Australian Barrister Greg Barns has called it the blackmailing of a nation. News website 21st Century Wirecalled it “one of the biggest international bribery (or extortion) cases in history.”

While there is “not a single shred of evidence that any of [Wikileaks’] disclosures caused anyone harm”, writes journalist and author Nozomi Hayase, what Wikileaks did do in 2010 was expose thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths included the nonchalant gunning down of children, journalists and their rescuers, and other “indiscriminate violence… torture, lies [and]bribery”, writes Chris Hedges. According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the leaks exposed “a massive cover-up over a number of years by the American authorities”.

Julian in ‘critical danger’, new rules ‘torture’ – Assange mother *AUDIO*

The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 2: The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story, New Matilda, By Dr Lissa Johnson February 25, 2019  In her ongoing special investigation into the detention of Julian Assange, Dr Lissa Johnson turns to the art of smear, and how to corrupt a judicial system.

On Friday 14th February, the Editor in Chief of news website Consortium News, Joe Lauria, visited Sydney to host a ‘Politics in the Pub’ event: Whistleblowing, Wikileaks and the Future of Democracy. The event took place in anticipation of upcoming rallies to free Assange…….

. It is imperative that we pressure the Australian government to make sure its citizen, Julian Assange, is protected from the lawlessness of the American Empire.” Continue reading

April 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international, UK, USA | Leave a comment

We should be alarmed about the ongoing consequences of nuclear leaks and the risk of new nuclear disasters

The Chernobyl SyndromeThe New York Review of Books  Sophie PinkhamAPRIL4, 2019

Manual for Survival: A Chernobyluie to the Futur

by Kate Brown
Norton, 420 pp., $27.95

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster

by Adam Higginbotham
Simon and Schuster, 538 pp., $29.95

Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

by Serhii Plokhy
Basic Books, 404 pp., $32.00
“……….. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was informed that there had been an explosion and fire at the plant but that the reactor itself had not been seriously damaged. No one wanted to be the bearer of catastrophic news. When the occasional official raised the question of whether to warn civilians and evacuate the city of Pripyat, which had been built to house workers from the Chernobyl plant, he was admonished to wait for higher-ups to make a decision and for a committee to be formed. Panic and embarrassment were of greater concern than public safety. The KGB cut Pripyat’s intercity telephone lines and prevented residents from leaving, as part of the effort to keep news of the disaster from spreading. Some locals were savvy enough to try to leave on their own. But with no public warning, many didn’t take even the minimal precaution of staying indoors with the windows shut. One man was happily sunbathing the next morning, pleased by the speed with which he was tanning. He was soon in the hospital.

Moscow officials eventually realized that the reactor had exploded, and that there was an imminent risk of another, much larger explosion. More than thirty-six hours after the initial meltdown, Pripyat was evacuated. Columns of Kiev city buses had been sent to wait for evacuees on the outskirts of the city, absorbing radiation while plans were debated. These radioactive buses deposited their radioactive passengers in villages chosen to house the refugees, then returned to their regular routes in Kiev. Over the next two weeks, another 75,000 people were resettled from the thirty-kilometer area around Pripyat, which was to become known as the “Exclusion Zone,” and which remains almost uninhabited to this day.

The Soviet system began to marshal its vast human resources to “liquidate” the disaster. Many efforts to stop the fire in the reactor only made matters worse by triggering new reactions or creating toxic smoke, but doing nothing was not an option. Pilots, soldiers, firefighters, and scientists volunteered, exposing themselves to huge doses of radiation. (Many others fled from the scene.) They were rewarded with cash bonuses, cars, and apartments, and some were made “Hero of the Soviet Union” or “Hero of Ukraine,” but many became invalids or didn’t live to see their new homes. The radiation levels were so high that they made the electronics in robots fail, so “biorobots”—people in makeshift lead protective gear—did the work of clearing the area.

On April 28, a radioactive cloud reached Scandinavia. After attempts at denial, the Soviet government conceded that there had been an accident. Western journalists soon began reporting alarming estimates of Chernobyl casualties. To maintain the illusion that the accident was already under control, Moscow ordered Ukrainians to continue with the planned May Day parade in Kiev, about eighty miles away, thus exposing huge numbers of people—including many children—to radioactive fallout.

Thanks to word of mouth and to their well-honed skill at reading between the lines of official declarations, however, Kiev residents were already fleeing. By early May, the exodus had grown so large that it became almost impossible to buy a plane, train, or bus ticket out of the city. Tens of thousands of residents left even before the official order to evacuate children was issued, far too late, on May 15. Thousands of people were treated for radiation exposure in Soviet hospitals by the end of the summer of 1986, but the Soviet press was allowed to report only on the hospitalizations of the Chernobyl firemen and plant operators.

A few decades later, it seemed to many that the world’s worst nuclear disaster had caused surprisingly little long-term damage. The official toll is now between thirty-one and fifty-four deaths from acute radiation poisoning (among plant workers and firefighters), doubled leukemia rates among those exposed to exceptionally high radiation levels during the disaster response, and several thousand cases of thyroid cancer—highly treatable, very rarely fatal—among children. Pripyat became a spooky tourist site. In the Exclusion Zone, one could soon see wolves, elk, lynx, brown bears, and birds of prey that had almost disappeared from the area before Chernobyl; some visitors described it as a kind of radioactive Eden, proof of nature’s resiliency. But striking differences in new books about Chernobyl by Kate Brown, Adam Higginbotham, and Serhii Plokhy show that there are still many ways to tell this story, and that the lessons of Chernobyl remain unresolved.

Both Plokhy and Higginbotham devote their first sections to dramatic reconstructions of the disaster at the plant.  Sketches of loving family life or youthful ambition introduce the central figures, making us queasy with dread. The two authors’ minute-by-minute descriptions of the reactor meltdown and its aftermath are as gripping as any thriller and employ similar techniques: the moments of horrified realization, the heroic races against time. The prescient 1979 film The China Syndrome, about a barely averted disaster at a nuclear plant and its cover-up, is mentioned in both books. The movie’s title comes from a former Manhattan Project scientist’s hypothetical discussion of a reactor meltdown in North America causing fuel to burn its way through the globe to China. Though that specific scenario was clearly impossible, “China syndrome” became shorthand for anxieties about nuclear material burning through the foundations of the Chernobyl plant and entering the water table, the Dnieper River Basin, and then the Black Sea.

Plokhy, a historian of Ukraine, provides a masterful account of how the USSR’s bureaucratic dysfunction, censorship, and impossible economic targets produced the disaster and hindered the response to it.  Though the Soviets held a show trial to pin responsibility on three plant employees, Plokhy makes plain the absurdity of holding individuals accountable for what was clearly a systemic failure…….

For Plokhy, the greatest lesson of Chernobyl is the danger of authoritarianism. The secretive Soviet Union’s need to look invincible led it to conceal the many nuclear accidents that preceded Chernobyl, instead of using studies of them to improve safety.  …. Once the reactor exploded, Soviet censorship kept citizens in the dark about the disaster, preventing them from taking measures to protect themselves.

But cover-ups and bureaucratic buck-passing don’t happen only in authoritarian governments. ………

we should be alarmed about the ongoing consequences of nuclear leaks and the risk of new nuclear disasters. Higginbotham points out that the United States now operates a hundred nuclear power reactors, including the one at Three Mile Island that suffered a serious accident in 1979, just twelve days after the release of The China Syndrome. France generates 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, and China operates thirty-nine nuclear power plants and is building twenty more. Some people see nuclear power plants, which do not emit any carbon dioxide, as the most feasible way of limiting climate change, and new reactor models promise to be safer, more efficient, and less poisonous. But what if something goes wrong?

And what about nuclear waste? There are hundreds of nuclear waste sites in the US alone. In February the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the excavation of a landfill near St. Louis containing nuclear waste, dumped illegally, that dated back to the Manhattan Project. For years, an underground fire has been burning a few thousand feet from the dump. It took the federal government twenty-seven years to reach a decision about how to deal with this nuclear waste dump near a major metropolitan area, yet we fault the Soviet government for its inadequate response to a nuclear meltdown that unfolded in a matter of minutes. US failure to adequately address longstanding hazards—not to mention the slow-motion catastrophe of climate change—is yet another indication that poor disaster response is hardly unique to authoritarian regimes.

Then there is the renewed threat of nuclear war. One of Gorbachev’s biggest achievements was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated US and Soviet land-based intermediate nuclear weapon systems. This February the US withdrew from the treaty, with President Trump citing Russian noncompliance. His administration recently called for the expansion of the US “low-yield” nuclear force, which includes weapons the size of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Analysts have pointed out that a greater diversity of nuclear weapons makes it harder for a target to know whether it is facing a limited or existential threat—and therefore  raises the risk that the target will overreact…………https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/04/04/chernobyl-syndrome/?fbclid=IwAR3t_0OOHrEx58i85ELla1otEQ8_vIOTpxhDaI0Lw7iWIpfP-4mT5aVLKtU

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that Russia complies with the New START nuclear arms control treaty

April 11, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor – another delay after delays

April 11, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Finland | Leave a comment

UK Nuclear workers vote to strike over pay

Nuclear workers vote to strike over pay, David McPhee,    https://www.energyvoice.com/other-news/196648/nuclear-workers-vote-to-strike-over-pay/    Workers including security guards at an airport and nuclear site have voted to take industrial action in separate disputes over pay and other issues.

Members of the Unite union employed by Mitie at London City Airport and the

Sellafield reprocessing site in Cumbria voted heavily in favour of action.

Security guards, catering staff and other workers at Sellafied will stage a series of strikes from April 19 to 29 and from May 4 to 13 as well as banning overtime.

Unite said its members at the airport, including security guards and staff helping passengers with mobility issues, will also be taking industrial action.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “Mitie is treating its workforce with complete contempt. Workers are being subjected to low pay and third rate conditions.

“Mitie is drinking in the last chance saloon and if it wants to avoid industrial action they need to immediately enter into meaningful negotiations and properly address the workers concerns.”

April 9, 2019 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

EU seeks design bids for storage plant for Georgia’s nuclear waste

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-georgia-nuclear-waste/eu-seeks-design-bids-for-storage-plant-for-georgias-nuclear-waste-idUKKCN1RK1P7

OSLO (Reuters) – Sweden’s radiation safety authority launched a tender on Monday for the design of a nuclear storage and processing plant for Georgia’s Soviet-era radioactive waste.

The authority, SSM, is the coordinator of a European Union storage project activated after Georgia finished locating the waste. The country will receive 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.08 million) for two years for collaborating.

The tender closes on May 10, said SSM.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Austrians protest against the completion of Mochovce again

 Slovak Spectator, 8 Apr 19,But both the operator of the nuclear power plant and the Slovak regulator consider it scaremongering. The Austrians have objected to the third and fourth blocks of the Mochovce nuclear power plant, situated in Nitra Region, once again.

Global 2000, an Austrian environmental organisation, has claimed that the massive 1.5-metre-wide containment of the new reactor in Mochovce is not safe enough since it was drilled through and technologies were anchored in it, referring to an anonymous source. They pointed to the weakened stability of the building and damaged hermetic chambers that are expected to stop the potential leak of radioactive substances in case of an accident, the SITA newswire reported…….

The company called the statement of the Austrian organisation misleading and false. …… https://spectator.sme.sk/c/22094308/austrians-protest-against-the-completion-of-mochovce-again.html

April 9, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

UK’s National Grid prepares for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

Renew Economy 8th April 2019 National Grid, the operator of the UK electricity system and the equivalent
to the Australian Energy Market Operator, says it is preparing to change
its systems so it can operate the electricity grid with 100 per cent
renewable energy by 2025.
Australia is often thought as a leader in the
transition to renewables, but the progress in other countries is usually
overlooked.
In the UK, the Tory government’s official policy is to phase
out coal completely by 2025 and the grid operator says it needs to develop
a system in which it doesn’t need coal or gas back-up. The document
identifies the areas where traditional generation has delivered services
such as inertia, frequency control and voltage, which will now have to come
from wind and solar, plus various storage technologies and other “demand
side” options. This will require a re-design of the markets to better
represent the new technologies and the passing of the old ones. It has now
set a work plan that sets various deadlines in coming years, and tenders
for providers of new technologies.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/uks-national-grid-operator-gets-ready-for-100-renewables-by-2025/

April 9, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s President Poroshenko issues nuclear decree, demands new reactors be built

Poroshenko issues nuclear decree, demands new reactors be built Kyiv Post ,By Jack Laurenson. April 6 at As the 2019 presidential election continues to dominate Ukraine’s news cycle, incumbent head of state Petro Poroshenko has quietly issued a decree ordering his ministers to urgently act on nuclear energy.The April 4 decree instructs the Cabinet of Ministers to “immediately” submit a bill to parliament on the placement, design and construction of two new reactors at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant, located some 300 kilometers west of Kyiv.

Poroshenko appears committed to having the new reactors approved and built as soon as possible. The decree highlights Poroshenko’s resolve to ease financial burdens on ….. (subscribers only) https://www.kyivpost.com/business/poroshenko-issues-nuclear-decree-demands-new-reactors-be-built.html

April 8, 2019 Posted by | politics, Ukraine | 1 Comment

It’s likely that Flamanville nuclear reactor will be delayed yet again, with discussion on how to fix faulty welds

ICIS 5th April 2019 The commissioning of France’s long-overdue 1.65GW Flamanville 3 nuclear project could face further delays, according to industry stakeholders. A group of experts from French nuclear authority ASN, nuclear safety institute IRSN and utility EDF are set to meet on 9 April to discuss what to do about the welds of the plant’s EPR reactor, IRSN’s director Jean Cristophe-Niel said at a conference in Paris on Thursday.

At the meeting ASN could communicate to EDF whether it would want the welds to be entirely rebuilt or just repaired. If ASN does order the welds to be rebuilt this could significantly delay the commissioning of the plant which was previously set for winter 2019-2020.

The project has already faced delays spanning seven years. ASN will have to communicate its final decision on
Flamanville’s welds in May. The director of energy think-tank WISE-paris Yves Marignac also said at the conference that it was possible Flamanville 3 would be delayed further with no clear timeframe in sight. A number of
traders present at the conference said they were not surprised by this possibility given the project’s track record.

https://www.icis.com/explore/resources/news/2019/04/05/10345828/another-flamanville-3-nuclear-plant-delay-increasingly-likely/

April 8, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Russia keen to market nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan

Putin Offers Russian Help To Build Kazakh Nuclear Plant, April 06, 2019 Radio Free Europe, By Bruce Pannier

Rosatom does the same thing. The company boasts a $100 billion portfolio, and its website says it has 36 nuclear reactor projects in 12 countries — in places like Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Belarus, Iran, Turkey, Hungary, and China. Rosatom submits bids for every nuclear-power-plant contract worldwide. And Rosatom also has nuclear cooperation agreements with countries in South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

The cost of a nuclear power plant starts at around $8 billion, and that is in cases where there is only one reactor, such as Rosatom’s VVER-1000. During Putin’s visit to India in October, Rosatom signed a contract to construct six VVER reactors at a new site in India, in addition to the four other reactors Rosatom is already contracted to build at India’s Kudankulum site. Two VVER reactors are already in operation there.

Russian financial institutions usually loan most, or nearly all, of the money to those countries for the construction of such plants, and Russian nuclear-fuel provider TVEL frequently receives the contract for fuel supplies.

Different Sort Of Customer

Kazakhstan would be a different sort of customer for Rosatom. It has been the world’s leading uranium producer and exporter since 2009. And Kazakhstan does more than just extract uranium. State company Kazatomprom has worked for years, and is now able to take uranium through all the cycles, from raw uranium to nuclear fuel. From 2007 to 2017, Kazatomprom owned a 10-percent stake in Westinghouse.

So Kazakhstan has a large domestic source of uranium and can produce its own nuclear fuel; and Kazatomprom has nuclear technicians trained mostly by Russia but also some trained in Japan, France, and other countries.

Russia and Kazakhstan cooperate to mine uranium in Kazakhstan. Putin mentioned “six Russian-Kazakh enterprises for extracting and enriching uranium.”
Kazatomprom exported nearly 15,290 tons of uranium in 2018, and about 17 percent of that went to Russia.

Kazakhstan and Russia established the International Uranium Enrichment Center in Angarsk in 2007. As its name suggests, the center will provide low-enriched uranium (LEU) to interested parties. The center has been internationally hailed as ensuring a steady supply of uranium for nuclear reactors while not transferring the technology to enrich uranium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Kazakhstan’s government also established an LEU bank at Kazakhstan’s Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Oskemen, “a physical reserve of up to 90 metric tons of low enriched uranium suitable to make fuel for a typical light water reactor.”

The IAEA and Russia have an agreement on transporting the uranium to the LEU bank in Oskemen.
The April 4 statement from Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry said nuclear-power-plant technologies from five countries, “including Rosatom,” were being studied. But the ministry also said other projects were being reviewed, such as more gas-fired plants, hydropower projects, and coal-fired thermal plants.

Proposed Locations
Russian news agency Interfax noted in its report that Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Aleksei Boroodavkin said in February, “We are hopeful that a decision will be taken soon for the construction of an atomic power station that we hope Rosatom will construct.”………. https://www.rferl.org/a/kazakhstan-putin-offers-russian-nuclear-plant-help/29865177.html

April 8, 2019 Posted by | Kazakhstan, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Doubts on safety of Sweden’s copper canisters for radioactive wastes

MKG 4th April 2019 [Machine Translation] SKB speaks to the government on copper corrosion:
“Still no problem” The power industry’s nuclear waste company On April 4,
SKB expressed its opinion to the government with a supplement to, in the
first place, certain that the copper canister will function as intended in
the planned final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark.
Not surprisingly, the company will claim that there are no problems. This is
the same claim that the court rejected in its opinion to the government on
January 23, 2018. In a first analysis, the environmental organizations’
nuclear waste review has concluded that the compilation is very weak and
does not show that the court’s concerns are unfounded. It is now important
that the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority performs a renewed thorough and
unconditional review of both the old and the new data.

http://www.mkg.se/skb-yttrar-sig-till-regeringen-om-kopparkorrosion-fortfarande-inget-problem

April 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, Sweden, wastes | Leave a comment