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Guess what – Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear project has new problems, new costs, is delayed again

Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear project hit with new delays, challenges, AJC,  22 Oct 21,

It’s the fourth such announcement the company has made just in the last six months about the troubled construction project, described as the largest in state history.

The delay of another three months is primarily tied to “the need for additional time to address continued construction challenges and to allow for the comprehensive testing necessary to ensure quality and safety standards are fully met,” Georgia Power said in a press release Thursday.

Now, the state’s largest electric utility said the first of the reactors won’t be in full operation until the third quarter of next year. That’s three months later than it had announced in late July. And the company now says the second new reactor also will be delayed another three months, to the second quarter of 2023…..

The latest announcement comes as elected members of the Georgia Public Service Commission are considering how much of the first wave of the Vogtle project’s construction costs should be added to the bills of Georgia Power customers. A territorial monopoly, Georgia Power needs sign off from the state regulators before increasing charges.

The PSC is expected to vote on the matter early next month.

For years, Georgia Power’s customers have been paying Vogtle financing costs and a portion of the company’s profits on the massive nuclear power project. Cumulatively, those payments alone will have topped $850 for the typical residential customer by the time the first of the new reactors is slated to begin producing electricity.

A proposed agreement struck earlier this month by the company and the PSC’s public interest advocacy staff would add $2.1 billion of Vogtle construction expenses into the company’s rate base once the first reactor is completed………

Additional Vogtle construction costs could be added to customers’ bills once the second of the new units is completed.

Georgia Power customers aren’t the only ratepayers likely to face higher charges because of Vogtle. Most electric cooperatives and city utilities in Georgia are financially tied to the project.

The first new reactor was originally slated to be in operation in the spring of 2016, followed by a second one a year later…..https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-news/georgia-powers-vogtle-nuclear-project-hit-with-new-delays-challenges/DVQZTUH2VVDMXPJTFA3BZWSAFY/

October 23, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Members of US congressional oversight committee press the Biden administration on the Marshall Islands’ legacy of nuclear waste contamination

It’s a thorny point for the Marshallese, who are worried about the lingering effects of the nuclear waste left in their nation, decades of persistent health concerns, and a fear that United States officials have not been forthright or transparent about the risks the nuclear waste poses to their health and environmental well-being.

According to a U.S. government presentation delivered in 2019, Runit Dome is vulnerable to leakage caused by storm surge and sea level rise, and its groundwater, which is leaking into the lagoon and ocean, is severely contaminated with radioactive isotopes. Testing of sea creatures in the surrounding lagoon, including giant clams, shows high levels of radioactivity.

Rep. Katie Porter presses Biden team on Marshall Islands nuclear waste, gets few answers,  https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-10-22/marshall-islands-nuclear-waste-congressional-hearing-compact, SUSANNE RUST  OCT. 22, 2021

For months, U.S. refusal to accept responsibility for a leaking dome of radioactive waste in the Marshall Islands has complicated negotiations with the Marshallese government on an international compact viewed as crucial for blunting Chinese influence in the central Pacific.

On Thursday, members of a congressional oversight committee scolded representatives of the Biden administration for not making more progress on negotiations and taking the Marshallese position more seriously. During the hearing, administration officials offered conflicting statements on U.S. obligations to the Marshall Islands, making it unclear where the White House stands on America’s history in the region. In addition, the U.S. State Department declined to participate.

“The point of the hearing today was to examine why the United States is not willing to discuss the nuclear legacy with the Marshallese,” said Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who along with a bipartisan panel of lawmakers stressed the critical role the Republic of the Marshall Islands plays in U.S. national security and safety.

Porter, who heads the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said negotiations will be difficult “unless we act on the moral and national security imperative that we have to address the nuclear legacy.”

The hearing was timed for the 35th anniversary of the signing of the agreement between the two nations, which is set to expire in 2023. It also comes as China develops friendly relations with nations of the central and South Pacific, part of a broader strategy to stem U.S. influence off its shores and worldwide.

The Marshall Islands’ Kwajalein Atoll is home to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site — where the U.S. tests its long- and mid-range missile defense system. Its location halfway across the Pacific allows the U.S. military to monitor hostile foreign forces, and it is also an important hub for the American space program.

Realizing its leverage, the Marshallese government is increasingly pressing U.S. officials to take ownership for cleaning up Runit Dome. The leaking nuclear repository holds 3.1 million cubic feet of radioactive waste, a byproduct of U.S. weapons testing during the Cold War, and a focus of a Times investigation in 2019.

For decades, the U.S. government has deflected. Instead, it insists the Marshall Islands is solely responsible for the waste site, even though Congress has required the Department of Energy, with funding from the Department of the Interior, to monitor it indefinitely.

Continue reading

October 23, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The FBI is still looking for a trove of nuclear submarine secrets in an espionage case

The FBI is still looking for a trove of nuclear sub secrets in an espionage case, NPR, October 20, 2021 ETRYAN LUCAS,

The FBI has not recovered the vast majority of secret documents related to nuclear submarines that a U.S. naval engineer is accused of trying to sell to a foreign power, an FBI agent testified Wednesday.

Special Agent Peter Olinits said the FBI also hasn’t been able to find the $100,000 in cryptocurrency that it gave the defendants — Jonathan Toebbe, who worked on nuclear propulsion for the Navy, and his wife Diana — as part of the sting operation that led to the Maryland couple’s arrest.

The Toebbes, who were arrested earlier this month, have been indicted on espionage charges — one count of conspiracy to communicate restricted material and two counts of communicating restricted data.

Prosecutors say Jonathan Toebbe tried to sell thousands of pages of documents containing secrets about the U.S. Virginia-class nuclear submarine to an unnamed foreign country………….. https://www.npr.org/2021/10/20/1047763060/the-fbi-is-still-looking-for-a-trove-of-nuclear-sub-secrets-in-an-espionage-case

October 23, 2021 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

War fears soar as NASA claims it needs nuclear rockets to rival China in space

War fears soar as NASA claims it needs nuclear rockets to rival China in space

NASA has prompted fears of a conflict after pleading with the US Government to invest in nuclear-powered spacecraft to speed ahead of rivals in the space race., Express UK, By JACOB PAUL, Oct 23, 2021  

 The agency’s officials were testifying at a House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee hearing on Wednesday – and called for new weapons to help the US reach Mars before powers such as Russia and ChinaNASA called on US lawmakers to invest more resources into researching and developing nuclear-powered rockets. They said this would which help humans reach the planet in just three to four months……….
NASA are now scrambling for the US to boost their space defences as China appears to advancing its space technology at a rapid pace……….

while the NASA are hoping to ramp up their space defence systems as they prepare to fend off China in the space race, the move would also come at high risk.

A spokesperson for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament told Express.co.uk: “The idea of using nuclear-power in space is not new and has long been suggested as a way of getting to Mars quickly.

“But the launch into space of a nuclear reactor also risks a catastrophic spread of radioactive material if, for example, the launch vehicle were to malfunction and explode – which would be quite possible if an over competitive rush to space were to occur.

“Nuclear power has also been suggested for other applications, such as powering space weapons and military bases on the Moon and Mars. So, there really needs to be international consideration of the possible applications of nuclear power in space and their desirability. Some of the risks may well outweigh any possible advantages.”  https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1510292/world-war-three-news-space-race-mars-nasa

October 23, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s ongoing nuclear missile tests prove it’s time to normalize relations

North Korea’s ongoing nuclear missile tests prove it’s time to normalize relations

Given the history of repeated dead-end disarmament talks, déjà vu begs the question whether it is time to cut bait and accept the unacceptable. NBC News
By Bennett Ramberg, Former policy analyst at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs

Pyongyang’s recent flurry of missile tests — most recently, a submarine-launched ballistic missile South Korea says North Korea launched Tuesday — and the apparent resumption of nuclear weapons materials production at the Yongbyon reactor are reminders that North Korea remains a central perennial problem befuddling U.S. foreign policy. Despite North Korea’s acknowledged shaky economy — further weakened by strong international economic sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic — leader Kim Jong Un’s commitment to maintaining the country’s bomb program remains unbowed.

The Biden administration’s ill-defined “calibrated approach” looks unlikely to move the nuclear-elimination needle. Nonetheless, Washington continues soldiering on — reaching out to China for help with its efforts to draw North Korea back into disarmament negotiations.

Given the history of these repeated dead-end disarmament talks, déjà vu begs the question whether it is time to cut bait: accept the unacceptable — nuclear North Korea is here to stay — and complement current U.S. military containment with an offer of diplomatic relations unconditioned by Pyongyang’s nuclear status.

History demonstrates that not only do such ties keep contacts on an even keel in normal times, they can play a critical role in resolving nuclear crisis.

This path would build on precedent. President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 opening of relations with China, for example, did not involve questioning Beijing’s nuclear program.

Today, blunting North Korea’s nuclear threat relies on deterrence and defense — embodied in the long-standing U.S.-South Korea alliance, bolstered by nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South, an offshore nuclear umbrella and an emerging sea-based ballistic missile defense. What’s lacking is a durable diplomatic component.

With the exception of the United States and North Korea, all nuclear weapons states have diplomatic relations………  https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/north-korea-s-ongoing-nuclear-missile-tests-prove-it-s-ncna1282118

October 23, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Diverse American groups file a lawsuit against DOE opposing production of plutonium pits

What do activist groups from California, New Mexico, and South Carolina
have in common? And why might such a diverse crew have filed a group
lawsuit in June of this year, against the Department of Energy and the
National Nuclear Security Administration?

The answer to that question says
a lot about the environmental implications of nuclear weapons, and what
tactics exist to protect communities – and the world – against the
threat nuclear weapons pose.

The first plutonium pit was produced at Los
Alamos in 1945 and detonated at the Trinity test site. The second plutonium
pit was detonated in Nagasaki shortly after that, killing over 70,000
people. Plutonium pits act as the radioactive core of nuclear weapons,
existing as the central “shell” of nuclear fission chains or what
triggers the detonation. They serve a central role in the existence of
nuclear weapons. Producing plutonium pits, however, is a technically
challenging process that in the past, frequently resulted in environmental
contamination.

 Beyond the Bomb 18th Oct 2021

October 23, 2021 Posted by | Legal, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Couple Indicted for Trying to Sell Nuclear Secrets to Foreign Country


Couple Indicted for Trying to Sell Nuclear Secrets to Foreign Country
, NewsWeek,
BY TORIA BARNHART ON 10/19/21 
  couple from Maryland charged with trying to sell information about nuclear-powered warships to a foreign country was indicted following their arrest earlier this month, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Jonathan, 42, and Diane Toebbe, 45, of Annapolis, each faces a single count of conspiracy to communicate restrictive data and two counts of communication of restricted data.

The couple was arrested in West Virginia on October 9 by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act—a federal law that assures the proper management of nuclear materials and their byproducts.

“The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The work of the FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Department of Energy was critical in thwarting the plot charged in the complaint and taking this first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”…….

Jonathan continued speaking with this person for months and agreed to sell the information for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency,……….. https://www.newsweek.com/couple-indicted-trying-sell-nuclear-secrets-foreign-country-1640644

October 23, 2021 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

The U.S. doesn’t need more nuclear weapons to counter China’s new missile silos

The U.S. doesn’t need more nuclear weapons to counter China’s new missile silos

Our current nuclear arsenal is more than enough for whatever Beijing is building.  WP, 18 Oct 21
, By Edward GeistEdward Geist is a policy researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

The discovery of what appear to be hundreds of new missile silos under construction in China has inspired arguments that imply the United States needs more nuclear weapons. Matthew Kroenig, a Defense Department adviser during the Trump administration, suggested in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that “the Pentagon should study whether it can meet its deterrence requirements with existing stockpile numbers” in case “an increase … is necessary.”……….

But there’s little reason for the United States to worry much about whatever the Chinese military is building in these silos — and plenty of alternatives to building more nuclear weapons for dealing with it. The current U.S. nuclear arsenal was designed to guarantee deterrence even in the case of surprises such as this one. The nuclear weapons the United States already has should be adequate to counter the threat posed by new Chinese missiles even under very pessimistic assumptions. And if U.S. officials eventually decide they have to target the Chinese silos, nonnuclear weapons and sensors would provide a more credible deterrent than building additional nuclear weapons would……………………………………………….

deploying more nuclear weapons might not be necessary. If a “shell game” is China’s aim, the United States could use remote sensing or other intelligence means to ascertain where the actual missiles are located. This could enable planners to avoid targeting empty silos and minimize the needed weapons.A real game-changer, however, would be a conventional weapon that could kill a silo without using a nuclear warhead. Such weapons were researched extensively during the late Cold War. They weren’t achieved with 20th-century technology, but progress in fields such as machine vision, terminal guidance and geospatial mapping may make them feasible in the not-distant future.A nonnuclear option would give a U.S. president a much easier choice for countering the silos. Such weapons would not violate the nuclear taboo or risk the hard-to-predict collateral damage of nuclear detonations……….   https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/10/18/china-silos-missiles-nuclear

October 19, 2021 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

From Nuclear Regulatory Commission to nuclear energy company – another example of the revolving door


Former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Kristine L. Svinicki to Join Southern Company Board of Directors, Yahoo Finance , October 18, 2021,

ATLANTA, PRNewswire/ — The Board of Directors of Southern Company today announced the election of Kristine L. Svinicki as an independent director, effective Oct. 17, 2021.

As the longest serving member in the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kristine brings to Southern Company a wealth of experience advising energy policy at the federal and state levels,” said Southern Company chairman, president and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “Kristine’s knowledge of and expertise in nuclear technologies will be invaluable as we pursue the full range of energy resources………..https://finance.yahoo.com/news/former-u-nuclear-regulatory-commission-124500695.html

October 19, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Radioactive contamination from the partially-burned former Santa Susanna nuclear research facility

Radioactive microparticles related to the Woolsey Fire in Simi Valley, CA  SCience Direct, MarcoKaltofenaMaggieGundersenbArnieGundersenb    Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dept. of Physics, Fairewinds Energy Education, 8 October 2021. 

Highlights

Wildfire in radiologically contaminated zones is a global concern; contaminated areas around Chernobyl, Fukushima, Los Alamos, and the Nevada Nuclear Test Site have all experienced wildfires.

Three hundred sixty samples of soil, dust and ash were collected in the immediate aftermath of the Los Angeles (CA, USA) Woolsey fire in 2018.

Radioactive contamination from the partially-burned former Santa Susanna nuclear research facility was found in the fire zone.

A limited number of widely scattered locations had evidence of radioactive microparticles originating at the research facility.

X-ray data showed that ashes from the fire could spread site contaminants to distant, but widely spaced, locations.

Abstract

In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire burned north of Los Angeles, CA, USA, potentially remobilizing radioactive contaminants at the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a shuttered nuclear research facility contaminated by chemical and radiochemical releases. Wildfire in radiologically contaminated zones is a global concern; contaminated areas around Chernobyl, Fukushima, Los Alamos, and the Nevada Nuclear Test Site have all experienced wildfires. Three weeks after the Woolsey Fire was controlled, sampling of dusts, ashes, and surface soils (n = 360) began and were analyzed by alpha- and beta-radiation counting. Samples were collected up to a 16 km radius from the perimeter of the laboratory. Controls and samples with activities 1σ greater than background were also examined by alpha and/or gamma spectroscopy or Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis. Of the 360 samples collected, 97% showed activities at or close to site-specific background levels. However, offsite samples collected in publicly-accessible areas nearest to the SSFL site perimeter had the highest alpha-emitting radionuclides radium, thorium, and uranium activities, indicating site-related radioactive material has escaped the confines of the laboratory. 

In two geographically-separated locations, one as far away as 15 km, radioactive microparticles containing percent-concentrations of thorium were detected in ashes and dusts that were likely related to deposition from the Woolsey fire. These offsite radioactive microparticles were colocated with alpha and beta activity maxima. Data did not support a finding of widespread deposition of radioactive particles. However, two radioactive deposition hotspots and significant offsite contamination were detected near the site perimeter……………………………

4. Conclusions

A significant majority of samples (97% of 360 samples) collected in the study zone registered radioactivity levels that matched existing area background levels. Nevertheless, some ashes and dusts collected from the Woolsey Fire zone in the fire’s immediate aftermath contained high activities of radioactive isotopes associated with the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). The data show that Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles, and the impacts were confined to areas closest to SSFL and at least three other scattered locations in the greater Simi Valley area. Alpha and beta counting, high-resolution alpha and gamma spectroscopy, and X-ray microanalysis using SEM/EDS confirmed the presence of radioactive microparticles in the Woolsey Fire-related ashes and dusts.

Most of the fire-impacted samples found near the SSFL site’s perimeter were on lands accessible to the public. There were, however, scattered localized areas of increased radioactivity due to the presence of radioactive microparticles in ash and recently-settled dusts collected just after the Woolsey fire. These radioactive outliers were found in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Simi Valley, CA, about 15 and 5 km distant from SSFL, respectively. The Thousand Oaks samples had alpha count rates up to 19 times background, and X-ray spectroscopy (SEM) identified alpha-emitting thorium as the source of this excess radioactivity. Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.

The nuclides identified as the sources of excess radioactivity in impacted samples were predominately isotopes of radium, uranium, and thorium. These have naturally-occurring sources, but these isotopes are also contaminants of concern at SSFL and were detected at generally increasing activities as the distance from SSFL decreased. In addition, the number of radioactive microparticles per gram of particulate matter also increased strongly with decreasing distance from SSFL. These data demonstrate that fire and/or other processes have spread SSFL contamination beyond the facility boundary………..

……https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0265931X21002277?dgcid=coauthor

October 18, 2021 Posted by | environment, radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Bizarre twists in USA’s war on Julian Assange and Wikileaks

Britain’s Guantanamo: is Julian Assange a terrorist?  https://www.michaelwest.com.au/britains-guantanamo-is-julian-assange-a-terrorist/ By Gary Lord|October 18, 2021  

As Julian Assange prepares to face a British court for possibly the last time, threatened with up to 175 years detention in a US supermax prison, journalist Gary Lord, explores the latest bizarre twists in the US effort to extradite the Wikileaks founder and the silence of global media.

Julian Assange likes to say that censorship is “always an opportunity” that should be welcomed because it indicates that “there is something worth looking at”. He also says that it is a sign of weakness because it “reveals a fear of reform”. 

So it’s interesting that recent bombshell stories about Assange himself are being censored by global media giants. As the WikiLeaks founder prepares to face a British court for possibly the last time on October 27, threatened with up to 175 years detention in a US supermax prison, perhaps this media censorship is something worth looking at?

wo major stories have emerged since a UK judge ruled against Assange’s extradition to the United States (on health grounds only) at the start of this year.

Firstly, Icelandic media revealed in June that the US prosecution’s prize witness, a convicted pedophile and fraudster who has since been jailed, had withdrawn his testimony against Assange. 

Sigurdur Thordarson, who worked for Wikileaks in 2010 but embezzled over $50,000 from the organization, admitted to fabricat­ing key accusati­ons in the US indict­ment. This important story was almost totally ignored by global media.

Secondly, some 30 anonymous US officials recently confirmed that CIA boss Mike Pompeo, US President Donald Trump, and other staff “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration actively discussed assassinating Julian Assange, and even enlisted UK government support to shoot out airplane tyres if required. 

The US government officially designated WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in order to provide legal cover for any violent action, with “sketches” including possible shootouts with Russian agents on the streets of inner London.

The USA’s FAIR media watch group investigated the extraordinary lack of media coverage this astonishing revelation received, noting that “BBC News, one of the most-read news outlets in the world, appears to have covered the story just once — in the Somali-language section of the BBC website”.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other major media outlets totally ignored it. The Guardian published just two articles about it; by comparison, they devoted 16 articles to alleged Russian government attempts to murder Alexei Navalny.

Sadly, this media censorship of Assange is not new, even if it does appear to be reaching new heights of absurdity. Another widely ignored story is the relentless and invasive spying on Assange and his visitors – including lawyers, family and journalists – while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy. 

A Spanish court is currently investigating allegations that UC Global, the company that supposedly provided “security” at the behest of the Ecuadorian government, was secretly working for the CIA as a client of former Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Donald Trump. 

Max Blumenthal first reported back in May 2020 that these spies also discussed plots to kidnap or poison Assange.

A “fix” or media apathy?

How to explain the widespread lack of mainstream media interest in such shocking news stories which could easily be given front page importance? 

Are we to assume that “the fix is in”? Is this part of a deliberate effort to suppress public support for Assange, ahead of his inevitable extradition? If so, who is behind it, and what does it say about the politicisation of the British court system, never mind global media organisations? If not, how else can we understand it?

It’s well known that Assange fell out with many of his old media partners following the 2010 Cablegate publications, but most of those journalists still argue that the Australian should not be extradited for the “crime” of journalism. 

Editorials in the Guardian, New York Times, the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers have called for the US extradition case to be dropped. But the media fraternity’s “support” for Assange has never extended to a full-blown campaign, such as we saw when (for example) Peter Greste was jailed.

In fact, there has been a remarkable lack of Western media interest in Assange’s court case – coupled with smearslies and poor reporting – for over a decade.

Italian journalist Sefania Maurizi, who has worked closely with WikiLeaks for many years, appears to be the only journalist who bothered to lodge Freedom of Information requests about the Assange case with the British and Swedish governments. 

A “non-state hostile intelligence service”

She discovered that the Crown Prosecuting Service, which was then controlled by Sir Keir Starmer (now UK Labour Party leader), advised Swedish prosecutors not to come and question Assange in London, and not to “get cold feet” and close the case. “Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition,” they wrote – then they deleted all their emails!

In Australia, lawyer Kellie Tranter has been putting Aussie journos to shame by lodging her own FOI applications and sharing the results. Maurizi also has FOI applications lodged with the Australian and US governments, but they have been stalled for years with no explanation.

Assange and WikiLeaks still enjoy huge public support around the world. So why don’t big media organisations want more online clicks from readers digging into these amazing stories?

A clue may come from the CIA’s determination to get WikiLeaks officially designated a “non-state hostile intelligence service”. This legal designation would surely make media reporting on WikiLeaks the subject of increased government attention and maybe even censorship.

All the AUKUS countries have now adopted extreme new “anti-terror” laws that include Orwellian restrictions on the media. Maybe it’s time for AUKUS journalists to ask whether WikiLeaks is also officially designated a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in Canberra and London?

Is it possible that Julian Assange – who has been held in “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay” since 11 April 2019 – has been secretly defined as some new form of “information terrorist“? And if so, would our media today even be allowed to report it? Gary Lord is the author of Julian Assange biography “Wikileaks: a True History

October 18, 2021 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

America’s paralysis on nuclear waste, as radioactive trash continues to accumulate.

San Onofre closed nuclear station – stranded waste containers


GAO urges Congress to tackle nuclear waste storage impasse

‘The ghost of Yucca still stalks the policy debate and … there hasn’t been enough sustained pressure to find solutions’
By TERI SFORZA | tsforza@scng.com | Orange County Register, October 17, 2021 Who’s to blame for the paralysis that strands millions of pounds of radioactive waste at reactor sites all over the nation, and will cost taxpayers some $40 billion — and perhaps a lot more?

Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says. And Congress must fix it.

In a dispassionate but merciless examination of the string of follies that has put the federal government nearly a quarter-century behind accepting waste from commercial reactors like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station — where 3.6 million pounds of waste must sit for years or possibly decades — the GAO chronicled the weeds that have choked the effort, then hacked through them to clear a path forward.

“Commercial spent nuclear fuel is extremely dangerous if not managed properly,” the report said. “About 86,000 metric tons of this fuel is stored on-site at 75 operating or shutdown nuclear power plants in 33 states, an amount that grows by about 2,000 metric tons each year.”

The radioisotopes produced in a reactor can remain hazardous from a few days to many thousands of years, the GAO said.

“The longer it takes the federal government to resolve the current impasse and develop a solution for the permanent disposal of commercial spent nuclear fuel, the greater the potential risk to the environment and public health, or of security incidents associated with temporary on-site storage,” the report said. “(T)he safety of long-term dry cask storage is unknown, and the risks, such as environmental and health risks, of on-site storage increase the longer the fuel is stored there.”

Attempted sabotage and theft of radioactive material are also potential security risks, the report said…………….

How to fix

Obama assembled a Blue Ribbon Commission that laid out a path forward in 2012, and it’s largely the path that the GAO urges lawmakers to embrace now. It recommends that Congress:

  • Amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to allow the DOE to implement a new, consent-based process for siting temporary storage and permanent geologic disposal facilities.
  • Restructure the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has about $43 billion in it to ensure reliable and sufficient funding.
  • Create an independent board or similar mechanism to provide political insulation for a nuclear waste disposal program, as well as continuity of leadership.
  • Direct DOE to develop a temporary waste management strategy that includes plans for the transportation, interim storage and permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
  • It’s not as if officials don’t know what to do with nuclear waste. In 1957, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that disposal in a geologic formation was the safest way to isolate nuclear waste. Myriad studies in the decades since have reached the same conclusion…………………………..  https://www.ocregister.com/2021/10/17/gao-urges-congress-to-tackle-nuclear-waste-storage-impasse/

October 18, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Terra Power’s Natrium nuclear reactor will be an economic lemon

This host of factors makes it reasonably certain that the Natrium will not be economically competitive.

In other words, even if has no technical problems, it will be an economic lemon.


Ramana, Makhijani: Look before you leap on nuclear   
https://trib.com/opinion/columns/ramana-makhijani-look-before-you-leap-on-nuclear/article_4508639b-d7e6-50df-b305-07c929de40ed.html, Oct 16, 2021  

The Cowboy State is weighing plans to host a multi-billion dollar “demonstration” nuclear power plant — TerraPower’s Natrium reactor. The long history of similar nuclear reactors, dating back to 1951, indicates that Wyoming is likely to be left with a nuclear lemon on its hands.

The Natrium reactor design, which uses molten sodium as a coolant (water is used in most existing commercial nuclear reactors), is likely to be problematic. Sodium reacts violently with water and burns if exposed to air, a serious vulnerability. A sodium fire, within a few months of the reactor starting to generate power, led to Japan’s Monju [at left] demonstration reactor being shut down.

At 1,200 megawatts, the French Superphénix was the largest sodium-cooled reactor, designed to demonstrate commercial feasibility. Plagued by operational problems, including a major sodium leak, it was shut down in 1998 after 14 years, having operated at an average capacity of under 7 percent compared to the 80 to 90 percent required for commercial operation. Other sodium-cooled reactors have also experienced leaks, which are very difficult to prevent because of chemical interactions between sodium and the stainless steel used in various reactor components. Finally, sodium, being opaque, makes reactor maintenance and repairs notoriously difficult.

Sodium-cooled reactors can experience rapid and hard-to-control power surges. Under severe conditions, a runaway chain reaction can even result in an explosion. Such a runaway reaction was the central cause of the 1986 Chernobyl reactor explosion, though that was a reactor of a different design. Following Chernobyl, Germany’s Kalkar sodium-cooled reactor, about the same size as the proposed Natrium, was abandoned without ever being commissioned, though it was complete.

All these technical and safety challenges naturally drive up the costs of sodium-cooled reactors, making them significantly more expensive than conventional nuclear reactors. More than $100 billion, in today’s dollars, has been spent worldwide in the attempt to commercialize essentially this design and associated technologies, to no avail.

The Natrium design, being even more expensive than present-day reactors, will therefore be more expensive than practically every other form of electricity generation. The Wall Street firm, Lazard, estimates that electricity from new nuclear plants is several times more than the costs at utility-scale solar and wind power plants. Further, the difference has been increasing.

To this bleak picture, Terrapower has added another economically problematic feature: molten salt storage to allow its electric output to vary. Terrapower hopes this feature will help it integrate better into an electricity grid that has more variable electricity sources, notably wind and solar.

Molten salt storage would be novel in a nuclear reactor, but it is used in concentrating solar power projects, where it can cost an additional $2,000 per kilowatt of capacity. At that rate, it could add a billion dollars to the Natrium project.

This host of factors makes it reasonably certain that the Natrium will not be economically competitive. In other words, even if has no technical problems, it will be an economic lemon.

To top it all off, the proposed Wyoming TerraPower demonstration project depends on government funds. Last year, the Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million in initial taxpayer funding; this may increase $1.6 billion over seven years, “subject to the availability of future appropriations” and Terrapower coming up with matching funds.

Despite government support, private capital has recently abandoned a more traditional project, the mPower small modular reactor, resulting in its termination in 2017. And it was Congress that refused to appropriate more money for the sodium-cooled reactor proposed for Clinch River, Tennessee when its costs skyrocketed, thereby ending the project in 1983.

A much harder look at the facts is in order, lest Wyoming add to the total of many cancelled nuclear projects and abandoned construction sites. Of course, the Natrium lemon might be made into lemonade by converting it to an amusement park if it is never switched on, like the Kalkar reactor, now refashioned into Wunderland Kalkar, an amusement park in Germany, near the border with the Netherlands. For energy, the state might look to its natural heritage – its wind power potential is greater than the combined generation of all 94 operating U.S. nuclear reactors put together, which are on average, about three times the size of Natrium.

M. V. Ramana is Professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and the Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. Dr. Ramana holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Boston University.

Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley.

October 18, 2021 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Residents near Perry Nuclear Station to get potassium iodide, in case of a nuclear accident


Potassium iodide to be distributed to people near Perry Nuclear Power Plant in case of nuclear accident.   
By Nicole Meyer19 News Oct. 16, 2021 at 5:36 AM GMT+11|Updated: 3 hours ago

PERRY, Ohio (WOIO) – Plans are in place for the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) to people living or working within the 10-mile emergency planning zone of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Lake County Health Commissioner Ron Graham announced.

“KI is not a substitute for emergency procedures, such as evacuation and in-place sheltering during a nuclear emergency,” Graham said. “It is, however, one more protective measure we can provide to help safeguard Lake County residents.”

Potassium iodide is a non-prescription medication that can protect the thyroid from radioactive iodine if taken within a certain time frame, according to a press release from Lake County.

It must be taken within three to four hours of the start of exposure, according to the press release………….. https://www.cleveland19.com/2021/10/15/lake-county-health-commissioner-announces-distribution-potassium-iodide-residents-near-nuclear-power-plant/

October 16, 2021 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Georgia Power customers to pay up even more for Vogtle nuclear project


$224M Georgia Power Rate Hike Likely for Nuclear Plant

Georgia Power Co. customers will likely pay another $224 million a year for the first of two nuclear reactors near Augusta.U.S. Oct. 14, 2021,   By JEFF AMY, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Power Co. customers are likely to pay another $224 million a year for the first of two nuclear reactors near Augusta.

…… The rate increase would start after Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle begins generating electricity. The reactor is now supposed to go into service in June. Customers could be asked to pay substantially more once the fourth reactor begins generating power, now scheduled for sometime in 2023.

A $157 million rate hike, costing a typical residential customer $2.87 a month, is also set to begin on Jan. 1. That’s part of a three-year $1.77 billion plan approved by commissioners in 2019. Customers also are likely to see a third separate rate hike, to allow Georgia Power to cover higher fuel costs.

……….. Georgia Power owns 46% of the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle. The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. currently projects it will spend $9.2 billion, with another $3.2 billion in financing costs. Those numbers could rise as construction delays continue to mount.

The Vogtle reactors are currently projected to cost more than $27.8 billion overall, not counting the $3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid back to the owners after going bankrupt. When approved in 2012, the estimated cost was $14 billion, with the first electricity being generated in 2016.

Other owners include most Georgia electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. Florida’s Jacksonville Electric Authority and some other municipal utilities and cooperatives in Florida and Alabama are also obligated to buy the nuclear power. The Georgia Public Service Commission controls rates only for Georgia Power.

In a Thursday hearing, several witnesses called for delaying or reducing the proposed rate increase.

“Rate increases are never welcome, but the timing of Vogtle 3 could not be worse,” said Jeffry Pollock, a rate consultant who testified on behalf of the Georgia Association of Manufacturers. He proposed delaying part of the increase until the beginning of 2023.

Georgia Power’s 2.6 million customers have already paid more than $3.5 billion toward the cost of Vogtle units 3 and 4 under an arrangement that’s supposed to hold down borrowing costs. But rates are still projected to rise more as the nuclear reactors are completed. Public Service Commission staff members earlier estimated that the typical customer will have paid $854 in financing costs alone by the time the Vogtle reactors are finished…………………. https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2021-10-14/224m-georgia-power-rate-hike-likely-for-nuclear-plant

October 16, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment