The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

USA nuclear weapons agency trying to repair their macho image? Appointment of Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty as security chief


She may be very smart, and even have a bit of integrity. I hope so. But are we here seeing the macho nuclear weapons lobby copying the “new nukes” gimmick of appointing a good-looking young woman to front their dangerous operation?


First woman in history takes helm of US nuclear weapons arsenal, Washington Examiner by John Siciliano | Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday swore in the first woman in history as head of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty was sworn in as administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which under President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal would comprise nearly half of the Energy Department’s funding.


“The selection of Gordon-Hagerty, who [came] to USEC without any experience operating a company, surprised some enrichment industry analysts,” USEC Watch commented December 22, 2003. “But some sources suggested that the new COO [would] concentrate on improving USEC’s relationships with DOE and with the national security community.


February 24, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America to impose “largest-ever” package of sanctions on North Korea

US imposes largest package of sanctions against North Korea, SMH, 24 Feb 18    US President Donald Trump says the United States will impose the “largest-ever” package of sanctions on North Korea, intensifying pressure on the reclusive country to give up its nuclear and missile programmes.

In addressing the Trump administration’s biggest national security challenge, the US Treasury sanctioned one person, 27 companies and 28 ships, according to a statement posted on the US Treasury Department’s website.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the measures, which are designed to disrupt North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels and to further isolate Pyongyang.

The ships are located, registered or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros.

Washington “also issued an advisory alerting the public to the significant sanctions risks to those continuing to enable shipments of goods to and from North Korea.” ……….

February 24, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Seriously flawed legislation as California struggles with the toxic legacy of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station

A pact with the devil,, BY AMY HEWES , 22 Feb 18 

Diablo Canyon Power Plant is due to shut down in 2025, maybe earlier, but the radioactive waste it has generated will threaten our lives for another 200,000 years.

Society owns this Pandora’s box—but we haven’t owned up to the responsibility.

“For 30 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has kept its head in the sands,” U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) said.

To his credit, Carbajal understands the urgency of the nuclear waste problem and has co-signed a bipartisan bill, HR 3035, that he hopes will provide a temporary solution.

Unfortunately, that legislation is seriously flawed. Without amendments or follow-up legislation, the bill threatens huge population centers in the event of likely unavoidable transportation accidents. It also establishes unsafe consolidated waste dumps without mandating a permanent, geological repository.

Having lived in the shadow of Diablo Canyon since 1985, most of us on the Central Coast have become inured to the dangers that lurk there. But even after decades of decay, it takes just a few minutes of exposure for spent fuel rods to deliver a killing dose of radioactivity. According to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), “Certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) in ‘spent’ fuel will remain hazardous to humans and other living beings for hundreds of thousands of years. Other radioisotopes will remain hazardous for millions of years. Thus, these wastes must be shielded for centuries and isolated from the living environment for hundreds of millenia.”

“Today, there are 100 reactors operating at 59 sites in the U.S., and 35 permanently shut-down reactors at 25 additional sites,” noted Tim Judson, NIRS executive director.

How many tons of highly dangerous waste has accumulated at these sites? “The last reliable estimate was 74,000 tons in 2015—more than the 70,000-ton mandated capacity limit for Yucca Mountain [the stalled U.S. geologic repository located in Nevada],” said Judson.

On average, the industry generates about 2,000 tons of additional irradiated fuel each year, bringing the total tonnage to 80,000 tons.

Just over the hill from San Luis Obispo, approximately 2,200 metric tons of toxic waste is stored onsite at Diablo Canyon. By the time the plant closes, we’ll face a 2,690-metric-ton, 200,000-year-long local problem.

No wonder Carbajal has embraced HR 3035, which would authorize mass transportation of waste to parking lot dumps, supposedly “interim” consolidated storage sites—now proposed in Texas and New Mexico. Under the bill, our mountain of waste would become someone else’s problem.

Or would it? Why does NIRS, the Union of Concerned Scientists, San Onofre Saftey, Beyond Nuclear, and SLO-based Mothers for Peace, among others, oppose the bill?

First, consider transportation of the world’s deadliest waste. Shipments would travel through 45 states, exposing millions of people to murderous radiation in an accident.

And accidents do happen. Amtrak’s latest derailment in December sent train cars plummeting onto the interstate in DuPont, Washington. Meanwhile, in 1999, the American Petroleum Institute reported that heavy truck accidents occur approximately six times per million miles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2015 alone there were 57,313 fatal and injury crashes involving large trucks on our highways. Of those accidents, at least 154 resulted in the release of hazardous material.

Imagine if that hazardous material was radioactive.

OK, but aren’t the shipment casks built to withstand accidents?

Nope. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows U.S. nuclear plants to store or transport spent fuel waste in thin walled welded stainless steel canisters designed to withstand a crash at 30 miles per hour. Do you want to bet lives that they would hold up in a calamity at 80 miles per hour?

Before HR 3053 is approved—and before any more thin-walled canisters are stored at earthquake-prone Diablo Canyon—there needs to be legislation mandating upgraded, thick-walled casks such as those used in Europe and Japan. We should also demand continuous, long-term monitoring and inspection of all transportation containers and/or dry storage casks, whether they’re stacked at Diablo Canyon or at consolidated the “interim” sites envisioned in HR 3053.

And let’s be honest: The Nuclear Waste Policy Act currently disallows “interim” nuclear waste storage at consolidated sites unless a permanent U.S. geologic repository is built. HR 3053, however, does away with that mandate. Without that leverage—and in light of the enormous political and scientific challenges to establishing a permanent repository—in all likelihood, “interim” will de facto become “permanent.”

What to do? Carbajal and his congressional colleagues should listen to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which has testified that “spent fuel can be managed safely at reactor sites for decades, but only if … the security of dry cask storage is enhanced.” UCS told a House committeee last year that interim facilities should not be allowed unless a permanent repository is established. And, finally, the science-based group has called for Congress to fully support the technical work needed to build a safe and secure permanent repository.

Carbajal agrees that HR 3053 is only a temporary fix and that Mothers for Peace and other opponents have legitimate concerns. But we cannot let what he terms a “Sophie’s choice” bill to become a pact with the devil.

Carbajal and Congress must address the problems before this legislation goes forward. Because, as Mothers for Peace spokesperson Linda Seeley said, “Diablo Canyon is our baby—a horrible, poisonous monster—but we have to take care of it. It’s morally wrong to do otherwise.” Δ

Amy Hewes is actively involved in grassroots political action. Send comments through the editor at


February 24, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Court actions over Missouri’s nuclear radioactive contamination in St Louis – near West Lake Landfill and Coldwater Creek.

Lawsuits: Widespread radioactive contamination in north county, The lawsuits seek relocation and financial awards for thousands of people.  Grant Bissell, ebruary 22, 2018  ST. LOUIS COUNTY – A pair of lawsuits announced Wednesday claim radioactive contamination could be widespread in north St. Louis County.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina power company Santee Cooper will pay $19 million a year to preserve site of failed S.C. nuclear project

Santee Cooper will pay $19 million a year to preserve site of failed S.C. nuclear project, Post and Courier, By Thad Moore, Santee Cooper will preserve the site of South Carolina’s abandoned nuclear project at least temporarily, taking control of the unfinished power plant months after its partner decided to walk away for good.

That’s according to a letter sent Wednesday from Santee Cooper’s board chairman to Gov. Henry McMaster, who had called for the partially built reactors to be maintained.The letter indicates that it will cost Santee Cooper $16 million a year to maintain the reactors and the enormous stockpile of equipment purchased for the project. It’ll cost another $3 million to buy insurance and lease warehouses to store parts………..

Santee Cooper has been under pressure from state lawmakers to keep up the site ever since the project’s majority owner, South Carolina Electric & Gas, decided it was abandoning the site permanently. SCE&G says it can claim a tax write-off worth billionsby letting the reactors rust away.

Lawmakers balked at that plan because SCE&G and Santee Cooper spent $9 billion on the nuclear project before pulling the plug in July. Cost overruns piled up into the billions, schedule delays were stretching on for years, and the economics of nuclear power had become unappealing compared with cheap natural gas. Legislators wondered if the energy landscape might not turn around later………

February 24, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Hanford workers – 10 now Contaminated With Radioactive Waste

Now 10 Workers Contaminated With Radioactive Waste At Hanford, OPB, by Anna King Follow Northwest News Network Feb. 22, 2018 

As many as 11 workers may have ingested or inhaled radioactive contamination at the Plutonium Finishing Plant demolition site at Hanford in southeast Washington state. Ten workers are confirmed to have tested positive and one needs more testing to confirm the results.

That’s up from the previous count of six.

The amounts of that contamination are small when compared with an average person’s yearly background exposure. The majority have between 1 and 10 millirems. The average person gets 350 millirems per year from natural and man-made substances.

But Washington state Department of Health experts take any contamination very seriously. Nearly 300 workers have requested lab tests. And more than 50 people’s initial tests are still outstanding……

February 24, 2018 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

America plans doomsday satellites for upcoming nuclear wars

US Air Force aims to develop doomsday satellites for upcoming nuclear wars  By Nirmal Narayanan  February 23, 2018 

The US Air Force is reportedly planning to develop an advanced satellite that will continue to provide communications for the top brass US Government officials in times of nuclear or space wars. To ensure effective communication, the US Air Force relies on what they call Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites that sit in geostationary orbit.

US Air Force preparing for the worst day in human history

  • The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite is specially designed to keep the military and US administration in a proper working order during times of emergencies. It should be also noted that these satellites cannot be hacked or jammed.

“We need systems that work on the worst day in the history of the world,” said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Popular Mechanics reports.

There are four AEHF satellites already in the geostationary orbit. The US Government is now planning to launch two more, one in 2019 and another in 2020. The proposed US Air Force 2019 budget has allocated $29.8 million for this upcoming project. Air Force staffers have reportedly said that more money has been set aside in 2019 for the development of software used for running the satellites.

The US Air Force considers these AHEF satellites as a part of its new focus on advancing the country’s nuclear abilities.

“We must concurrently modernize the entire nuclear triad and the command and control systems that enable its effectiveness,” said Heather Wilson, the Air Force secretary.

The US Government is also planning to pour in a whopping sum for the development of jam-resistant GPS satellites.

How AEHF satellites work?

If a nuclear war breaks out, the atmosphere will be completely filled with charged particles that emit energy across the electromagnetic spectrum. In these times, ordinary signals will find it difficult to cut through this clutter, and as a result, all the communication means will be cut off.

During these moments, the only way of communication will be using AEHF satellites. Unlike traditional communication satellites, AEHF satellites send multiple beams to the ground, and it will increase the chances of getting through the clutters. Just like a car moving between lanes to avoid stagnant traffic, signals from AEHF satellites will reach the ground.

February 24, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hanford cars, supposedly clean, but testing positive for radiation

Hanford cars deemed clean, test positive for radiation, A Hanford employee was told their family car filter was clean, but an independent scientist determined it tested positive for radiation.  Susannah Frame, February 21, 2018

A veteran worker of the Hanford nuclear site has learned that a car filter removed and tested by a scientist in Boston came up contaminated with the radioactive isotope of americium 241. The worker’s car had been deemed “clean” in surveys conducted in December and February by the Hanford government contractor, CH2M Hill.

“I’m just stunned. I’m angry, but that goes without saying. Now I wonder, ‘How far has it gone? Did I take it home? How long has this been going on?’” said the worker who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.

The worker’s filter was one of two that tested positive for the dangerous element, said the principal investigator, Dr. Marco Kaltofen of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Program near Boston. Kaltofen is also a Hanford expert.

Five filters total were collected by the Seattle-based watchdog groupHanford Challenge, and sent to Kaltofen. The two that came up with radioactive isotopes had previously been declared free of contamination, said Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge.

“Americium is a rare radioactive element, and does not belong in anybody’s engine compartment,” said Carpenter. “The fact that vehicles were checked and released to these workers, only to find that they were still contaminated, raises disturbing questions about the credibility of Hanford’s program.”

“The kind of materials we’re talking about at Hanford are suspected to cause cancer or known to cause cancer. A person’s personal car shouldn’t contain radio-isotopes for weapons manufacturing. That’s pretty simple,” said Kaltofen.

Americium is a radioactive material used in the production of plutonium for nuclear bombs at Hanford from World War II through the Cold War. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), americium-241 emits alpha particles “poses a significant risk if enough is swallowed or inhaled. Once in the body…it generally stays in the body for decades and continues to expose the surrounding tissues to radiation. This may eventually increase a person’s chance of developing cancer.”

“I’ve driven to Oregon and others have taken their cars out of state. We have no idea how far we’ve spread (radioactive matter),” said the worker with americium on the car filter.

The US Dept. of Energy, which owns Hanford, and its contractor CH2M Hill, have been plagued with a spread of radioactive particles from a demolition project that was supposed to be completed by September 2017. Instead, the project to take down the historic and lethally contaminated Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) is on hold as Hanford officials try to find ways to continue the work in a safe manner………..

Since June, the Dept. of Energy reports that 41 PFP workers have tested positive for internal contamination. Forty-three more test results are yet to be returned. In the December loss of control of radiation, 27 government-owned vehicles were found to have contamination on them in addition to the seven private cars.

The PFP is where the Hanford workforce produced plutonium “buttons” throughout the Cold War for use in building nuclear warheads. Since 1989 the Hanford site has been a cleanup operation only that costs taxpayers approximately $2 billion a year.

February 22, 2018 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

How about paying teachers extra, if they will carry guns? suggests Donald Trump

Trump floats pay bonus for teachers who carry guns in class, NBC News 22 Feb 18 WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump expanded on his idea to train and arm some teachers with guns Thursday, suggesting that firearm-adept school staff be given “a little bit of a bonus” for carrying weapons, and promising federal funds for their training.

At a White House discussion of school safety solutions with state and local officials, Trump said “highly adept people…who understand weaponry” could carry guns in schools, estimating that between 10 and 40 percent of teachers could be qualified for such a task. Those who are would undergo “rigorous training,” he said, later adding that he’d consider offering federal money for that effort. Officials “can’t just give a teacher a gun,” he said.

Asked if he had concerns about teachers with guns making quick judgments in the chaos of a school shooting, the president said he did not, because they would be “experts.”…….

February 22, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA Dept of Energy’s plan to run nuclear reactors for 80 years

Nuclear Reactors Could Run as Long as 80 Years Under Trump Plan, By Ari Natter

  • Utilities have sought longer life spans for some reactors
The U.S. Energy Department is throwing its support behind a request by utilities to extend the life of some nuclear power reactors — keeping them in operation for as long as 80 years. .. registered readers only)

February 22, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Class legal action for victims of West Lake Landfill radiation

Class action lawsuits filed for victims of West Lake Landfill radiation, By Jessica Karins For The St. Louis American, 22 Feb 18, 

        Radioactive material came to St. Louis in the 1940s with World War II, when a uranium processing plant was constructed downtown. Years later, in the 1970s, radioactive waste from that site was transported to the West Lake Landfill in the St. Louis County suburb of Bridgeton. That material is still impacting St. Louis today, but residents in the surrounding area may be getting a ray of hope in the form of a legal case.

Recently, the HBO documentary “Atomic Homefront” brought national attention to the long struggle of North St. Louis residents to gain accountability for the effects of radioactive waste dumped at West Lake Landfill and Coldwater Creek. Now, several law firms are joining together to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those impacted.

“This is an unacceptable violation of personal rights, property rights, and at its core, the civil rights of all people adversely impacted by this highly contaminated radioactive source,” civil rights attorney Anthony Gray said.

Gray, of Johnson Gray LLC, and class action attorney Ryan Keane of Keane Law LLC hosted a press conference in St. Ann on Feb. 20 to introduce the suit. Their firms, along with several other national firms, are filing two lawsuits against companies they consider to hold responsibility for polluting residential areas.

One of the suits was filed on behalf of residents living around the West Lake Landfill; the other was filed on behalf of those living in the floodplain of Coldwater Creek. Homes and other properties around both sites have tested positive for high levels of radiation.

The Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt agreed on Feb. 1 to remove the majority of the radioactive material from the West Lake Landfill over a period of five years, but the lawyers in this case said that is not enough.

“Too little has been done over the last several years, and over the last several decades,” Keane said.

“Atomic Homefront,” which focuses on the efforts of citizen activist group Just Moms STL, documents high incidences of rare cancers in the areas around West Lake Landfill and Coldwater Creek and highlights families who want to move away from the area but, due to the plummeting property values of their homes, cannot afford to.

According to Keane, tests done in preparation for the lawsuits showed high levels of radiation within several homes and businesses. He also said an expert will testify that radioactive materials were built into construction sites in Bridgeton, laid underneath the foundations of homes.

Keane said the effects of the radioactivity could become even more widespread if an underground fire that has been burning at the landfill since at least 2010 reaches the radioactive waste. The chemical reactions caused by this, he said, could lead to contaminated rain which would fall on every part of St. Louis.

After the Russian Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, radioactive rains spread the impact across the continent and reached as far away as Wales.

“People should be very upset about this,” Keane said. “They should be fired up about this.”

Defendants in the cases include Republic Services, Cutter Corp and other corporations that have handled waste disposal. The attorneys will seek damages for affected residents that could include compensation, home buyouts and relocation, as well as a cleanup of the sites.

Keane said homeowners in the area will receive a flyer explaining the cases and containing a 1-800 number they can call to learn more.

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Concern in USA Congress over Saudi Arabia’s real aims in going for nuclear energy

Congress skeptical of Saudi nuclear energy demands, AL-Monitor 

After years of informal negotiations, the United States is facing mounting pressure to reach a civilian nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia or risk getting shut out of the Gulf kingdom’s lucrative energy market.

But Riyadh’s refusal to give up on certain capabilities that could be used in a nuclear weapons program has caused concern among lawmakers that the Donald Trump administration may be too keen to strike a deal.

Under Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954, Congress must review any agreement to supply a foreign state with US nuclear technology. While the Trump administration has yet to publicly rule out any concessions, Saudi insistence on retaining the right to enrich uranium and to reprocess plutonium faces significant roadblocks on Capitol Hill.

“I think we have made clear — not that it was necessary — that a 123 agreement that in any way contemplated an enrichment program is going to face a lot of opposition in Congress,” a congressional source familiar with the debate told Al-Monitor. “So I just don’t think that the executive branch is going to go there.”……….

Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Saudi Arabia and discussed Riyadh’s solicitation for bids to build its first two nuclear reactors late last year. Soon after, Bloomberg reported that the administration was actively considering a 123 agreement that would grant the Saudis wide latitude to pursue uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing.

Nonproliferation champions in Congress have been pushing back since. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Saudi ambassador last month that he would force a floor vote and debate on any proposed 123 agreement with Riyadh.

“It seems crazy to loosen important nonproliferation standards just to try to secure an uncertain commercial deal,” Markey told the Journal………

“Members of the Saudi royal family have suggested that they may have an interest in nuclear weapons at some point in the future,” Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told Al-Monitor. “There is considerable concern in Congress about any nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia that does not somehow make it harder for the Saudis to acquire enrichment and reprocessing technology in the future.”

February 22, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Trump Might Bend Nuclear Security Rules To Help Saudi Arabia get nuclear power

Why Trump Might Bend Nuclear Security Rules To Help Saudi Arabia Build Reactors In The Desert, NDTV, 20 Feb 18,  The issue is a test of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy and his self-professed bargaining prowess.

February 22, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

USA preparing for cyber attacks on North Korea

US preparing ‘bloody nose’ cyber attacks on North Korea, Telegraph, UK,  Danielle Demetriou The United States is drawing up plans for cyber attacks on North Korea in an effort to bring the regime of Kim Jong-Un to heel, according to intelligence sources, as Pyongyang says it is ready for “both dialogue and war” as the Winter Olympics draws to a close.

Washington’s potential plans for a series of “bloody nose” attacks on targets in North Korea, as revealed by The Telegraph, could focus on digital rather than conventional warfare, sources have suggested.

A cyber assault could cripple Pyongyang’s online communications and ability to control its military, causing huge disruption but avoiding the loss of life. It may also assuage concerns that a conventional attack against missile sites or nuclear facilities by the US could trigger a massive counter-strike by Kim Jong-Un.

Quoting senior US intelligence sources, Foreign Policy magazine said there has been a “nearly unprecedented scramble inside the agencies responsible for spying and cyber warfare” aimed at the Korean Peninsula.

In the last six months, the US has been covertly laying the groundwork for cyber attacks that would be routed through South Korea and Japan, where the US has extensive military facilities. The preparations include 

installing fibre cables into the region and setting up remote bases and listening posts from where hackers will attempt to gain access to North Korea’s version of the Internet, which is walled off from the rest of the world.

Another official told the magazine that a large part of the US spying and cyber warfare capability is being refocused on North Korea, including analysis of signals intelligence, overhead imagery and geospatial intelligence
………. North Korea has reportedly set up a 6,000-strong hacking unit and is strongly suspected of being behind a number of cyberattacks on South Korean banks, media companies and infrastructure, including nuclear power plants, in recent years
As well as gathering intelligence on military, scientific and political developments in the North, US cyber warfare experts are likely to be tasked with accessing the regime’s command-and-control structure in order to interfere with Pyongyang’s ability to communicate with its military and launch counterattacks.

The news of the cyber attack plans comes as North Korea reminded the international community that it was ready for both dialogue and war, as the Winter Olympics draws to a close……..

February 21, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA and South Korea will announce plans to renew military drills

US and South Korea to announce plans for military manoeuvres with more than 320,000 troops, Express UK. 20 Feb 18

SOUTH KOREA and the United States will announce plans before April for a postponed joint military drill, South Korea’s defence minister said today. Seoul and Washington had agreed to postpone the regular joint military exercise until after the Winter Olympics being hosted in South Korea, which end on March 18.

After the decision to delay the joint exercise, North Korea  agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years and send athletes to the Winter Games, easing a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Asked when the two countries will hold the postponed drill, Song Young-moo told parliament he and his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, would make an announcement between March 18 and the start of April.

“The exercise was postponed according to the spirit of the Olympics,” Song said.

“We have agreed to uphold the basis until after the Paralympics…and not to confirm nor deny anything regarding what we would do after that until we announce it”………..

February 21, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment