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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Truth, Dissent & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg — Rise Up Times

In a keynote address by Daniel Ellsberg and seven roundtable discussions, presenters explored the major issues that have engaged Ellsberg’s life: the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, antiwar resistance, the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, whistleblowing, and the wars of the 21st century.

Truth, Dissent & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg — Rise Up Times

May 7, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors- a very problematic ”solution” to climate change

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S. National Geographic, 5 May 21, ”……………. In the U.S., a company called NuScale has recently received design certification approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its SMR, the first and only company to do so. Its reactor is a miniaturized version of a traditional reactor, in which pressurized water cools the core where nuclear fission is taking place. But in the NuScale design, the whole reactor is itself immersed in a pool of water designed to protect it from accidental meltdown.

NuScale hopes to build 12 of these reactors to produce 720 megawatts at the Idaho National Laboratory as a pilot project. It’s been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, which has approved up to $1.4 billion to help demonstrate the technology. NuScale plans to sell the plant to an energy consortium called Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

Last year, eight of the 36 utilities in the consortium backed out of the project, citing the cost. The company recently announced the project would be delayed to 2030, and the cost would rise from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion.

Nuclear opponents point to this latest disappointment as yet another example of why nuclear isn’t up to the task.

“If your first SMR isn’t built until the late 2020s, and then you have to turn it on, not to mention set up a whole new global supply chain, are you going to reach zero emissions by 2035?” asks IEER’s Makhijani. “You can’t make a significant contribution in time.” He adds that the industry’s long history of overruns and delays are especially problematic when considering climate commitments. “There’s no room for significant mistakes.”

……. The future of nuclear power will depend in part on how well it can balance a grid that increasingly relies on renewables…..   Unlike gas turbines, which can be turned on and off in seconds to “follow the load,” reactors take an hour or more to cut their production in half.

It’s not that reactors can’t follow the load; they’re just slower. “They can and do, because they have to,” Buongiorno says. “It’s just never an attractive economic proposition.”

Last fall, the DOE awarded $80 million each to two companies working on advanced reactor designs intended in part to address this problem. 

The first, TerraPower, a startup founded by Bill Gates, is working on a sodium-cooled reactor………   The second grant went to a company called X-energy for a gas-cooled reactor that operates at very high temperatures.

……  The high-level radioactive waste they produce, however, would need to be transported to a centralized location for management.

.. none of these new designs are moving quickly enough to meet Biden’s targets. DOE officials called their decision to support these two pilot projects, which aim to be fully operational by 2028, “their boldest move yet.”

Meanwhile, there’s a more direct way to balance the variability of renewables: store electricity in batteries. The market for utility-scale battery storage is exploding; it increased by 214 percent in 2020, and the EIA predicts that battery capacity will surge from its current 1,600 megawatts to 10,700 by 2023.

Makhijani thinks nuclear power isn’t going to be needed to balance the grid. A study he conducted in 2016 for the state of Maryland found that increased battery storage, combined with incentives to consumers to reduce their electricity use at peak times, would almost allow utilities to balance the variability of renewables.

They’d just need to store a little energy as hydrogen, which can be produced by running renewable electricity through water and then converted back to electricity in a fuel cell. That process is currently very expensive, Makhijani says, but “as long as it’s not giant amounts, it’s affordable.”……

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Breakthrough Institute comes apart – Michael Shellenger started new nuclear front propaganda group – Environmental Progress

The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute (Part 3)

The DisInformation Chronicle, 5 May 21,

This is Part Three of “The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute,” a three-part series examining the Breakthrough Institute and ecomodernism. In Part Two, we discussed their annual meetings to which they invite climate skeptics and Monsanto propagandists, the odd credentials for many of their affiliates, and their promotion of nuclear energy and GMO agriculture as techno-fixes to electrify and feed the world. To start at Part One, click here.

Months after the Breakthrough Institute released their 2015 ecomodernist manifesto, the declaration’s ideological binding started coming unglued. Breakthrough’s Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger met ridicule trying to sell the manifesto at a public event in England, and the duo later parted ways, as Shellenberger founded a new organization called Environmental Progress to publicize nuclear energy. The split has been somewhat acrimonious as both try to break from a past that neither seems capable of escaping.

The event in England focused on restoring science to environmentalism, and it was there that they planned to sell ecomodernism to British reporters. Conservative MP Owen Paterson, a climate denier who almost halved the UK’s climate preparedness budget when he was environmental secretary, hosted the media event. 

When announcing the press conference, Paterson called on the public to abandon the “relentless pessimism of the environmental movement” and warned in a Telegraph op-ed that “the Green Blob still infests the official bureaucracy with its influence.” Other conference panelists included Mark Lynas, a co-author of the the ecomodernist manifesto, and Matt Ridley, a British science writer noted for climate denial screeds

But after critics argued that the event provided a platform for climate denialists, DesmogBlog reported that Shellenberger dismissed those who warned the group not to participate in a press conference with Paterson.

Fuck you all, we’re going to go to the press conference,” Shellenberger said. “Owen will say his thing, we’re going to say our thing, if people can’t deal with it, fuck ‘em. I’m done with the tribalism on this.” 

Shellenberger’s cavalier attitude did not seem to impress the crowd, however, and many complained that Breakthrough had made the wrong decision by choosing to associate with climate denialists and anti-environmentalists

In a recent interview, Nordhaus explained this strategy as sort of a means to an end. “I’ve given talks to groups of climate skeptics, climate deniers—you know, real climate deniers,” he said. “You can have a variety of viewpoints on this question without having to put a tin foil hat on. And the thing is, you get to the end of those talks and if you go, ‘OK, so who supports nuclear energy?’ Everybody in the room supports nuclear energy.”

Neither Nordhaus nor Shellenberger responded to detailed questions sent by e-mail.

By late 2015, Shellenberger had left the Breakthrough Institute and started Environmental Progress. A photo at the organization’s website shows Shellenberger clad in a yellow t-shirt giving a Ted Talk. The summer after founding his group, Shellenberger partnered with employees of the nuclear energy industry to lead the March for Environmental Hope, which was billed as the “first-ever pro-nuclear march.” 

As part of their march, the group held protests outside the Bay area offices of Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and attendees included a half dozen Exelon employees, who flew in from jobs working at nuclear reactors scattered across the country. 

Months later, Shellenberger led a pro-nuclear march in Chicago that was said to be inspired by the Civil Rights March on Washington, the Stonewall Riots, and Gandhi’s Salt March. Counter protestors denounced Environmental Progress as “astroturf.” 

When not writing for the Environmental Progress website, Shellenberger sometimes has his views echoed on Spiked, a British website funded in part by the Koch Brothers that traffics in climate denial. He also runs a blog at Forbes where he ridicules climate policy while advocating for nuclear energy. In one example at Forbes, he cited studies by Ed Calabrese, a professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as proof that fears of nuclear radiation are overblown. Shellenberger’s story picked up on a theme first introduced by the Breakthrough Institute where they interviewed Calabrese about his research.

As reported by The Los Angeles Times and HuffPost Investigations, Calabrese has long excited the tobacco, chemical, and nuclear industries with research called “hormesis” that argues tiny amounts of pollution and radiation are actually good for people. Public health experts have dismissed Calabrese’s hormesis studies as a type of religion, although Trump officials showed interest.

Shellenberger is a propagandist,” said Paul Dorfman, Founder and Chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group and Honorary Senior Research Associate at the University College London. Dorfman said that while some experts can make a case for nuclear energy that he disagrees with, Shellenberger is not one of them. 

“He’s not a scientist. He just comes up with stuff,” said Dorfman. Dismissing the hormesis theory as “quasi science” and “tosh,” Dorfman said there is no safe dose of radiation. “This is a fact. And all the regulatory bodies know this.” ………

To promote his recent book “Apocalypse Never,” Shellenberger added another piece to the canon of environmental apologist lit, with a post on his Forbes blog titled “On behalf of environmentalists, I apologize for the climate scare.” Forbes removed the blog shortly after, which Shellenberger decried as censorship. Nonetheless, Shellenberger references his blogging at Forbes to claim that he is a “leading environmental journalist.” 

But once again, reality diverges from the Shellenberger storyline.

Forbes has long been a breeding ground for industry messaging and corporate propaganda. Back in 1997, Forbes ran a takedown of EPA Administrator Carol Browner, warning the public that she was ignoring science to gain control over American lives. “Watch out for this woman,” read the scary headline splashed across the cover of Forbes magazine, “The EPA’s Carol Browner is exploiting health and the environment to build a power base.” 

The story’s co-author was Bonner R. Cohen, who also operated EPA Watch, a newsletter that Philip Morris described as an “asset” that they established to attack the EPA on second hand smoke. After EPA Watch disappeared, Cohen then joined various climate denial groups, including the Heartland Institute. ………

“We flood the American public with a tsunami of crap every day in the media,” said Gary Schwitzer, an adjunct professor at U of Minnesota School of Public Health, and Publisher of Health News Review. He said Forbes is particularly terrible because it hosts fringe contributors with undeclared industry ties, and who write dreck. This is harmful, Schwitzer said, because it distracts the public from real news: “That’s what really pisses me off.”

“In some ways, it’s just like a fabulous performance art piece that he’s doing right now,” Nordhaus told Drilled News of Shellenberger’s campaign to promote his latest book. “It’s like Andy Kaufman doing environmentalism in a way that environmentalists could sort of see how dogmatic it gets. How sort of shrill it gets, and how angry it gets. How kind of dark and conspiratorial it gets.”

Despite attempts to create space between themselves and Shellenberger, Breakthrough has also helped to prop him up. When both Shellenberger and Bjorn Lomborg published books last year, climate scientists rushed to condemn them. Writing in The Guardian, climate expert Bob Ward dismissed both books as “classic examples of political propaganda.” ………

Breakthrough’s troubling ties to climate denial continue to this day as a member of their board is Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute. Four years back, 19 Senators took to the Senate floor in a week-long event to denounce the Manhattan Institute and other fossil fuel-funded groups that deny climate science and stymie legislation. According to Exxon Secrets, the Manhattan Institute has received $1.39 million from Exxon since 1992, with $75,000 donated in 2018, the last year for which records are available.

…….. Breakthrough has other links to the fossil fuel industry, through the chair of their advisory board, the heiress Rachel Pritzker. Besides funding the Breakthrough Institute, the Pritzker Innovation Fund supports the Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University. Other Natural Gas Initiative funders include Anadarko Petroleum, Gulf Energy, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute. 

………. “If there’s one thing these guys are good at, it is getting the media to move a story for them,” said Kert Davies of the Climate Investigations Center. Complimenting Breakthrough’s skills in public relations, Davies said that their counterintuitive “man bites dog” message gives Breakthrough an advantage over environmental organizations, which keep selling the same tired story.

“They are good at PR,” he said. “It’s where they came from. They’re good PR guys pretending to be policy experts.”https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough-c97

May 6, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, UK, USA | Leave a comment

The manipulative propaganda tactics of Michael Shellenger,Mark Lynas and Rachel Pritzker of the Breakthrough Institute

The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute (Part 2)

Ten years after jumping on the scene, contrarianism, public stumbles, and “debate-me-bro” tactics remained core to the group’s brand, The DisInformation Chronicle, Mar 23 2021,

This is Part Two of “The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute” a three-part series examining the Breakthrough Institute and ecomodernism. In Part One, we scrutinized Breakthrough’s early years, their attacks on traditional environmental groups, and their awkward defense of the oil and gas industry. To find Part One, click here.

From its 2003 beginning, the Breakthrough Institute weathered constant criticism for contrarian hot-takes on complex environmental topics. But 2014 saw two major stumbles: Breakthrough Institute Fellow Roger Pielke Jr. got bounced from Nate Silver’s 538 after writing an error-riddle column on climate change; another fiasco followed when Breakthrough invited Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity to one of its much-ballyhooed meetings. 

Having one of your senior fellows bounced from 538 after an eminent MIT scientist pointed out errors would embarrass any normal organization. But not Breakthrough…….

Attempting to debate facts that don’t land in their favor is boilerplate Breakthrough. More common is goading well-known experts to debate dense policy matters, because joining the stage with authorities perfumes Breakthrough with a whiff of their opponents’ expertise.

The “debate-me-bro” maneuver remains critical to polishing Breakthrough’s brand. 

“In the end, they know they don’t have to win all those debates,” said Sam Bliss, a graduate student in environmental economics at the University of Vermont, who published a study in the Journal of Political Ecology examining Breakthrough. “Just getting in the debates with actual experts, and getting attention for their ideas, puts those ideas into people’s heads.”

Breakthrough Institute co-founder Michael Shellenberger also relies on debate-me-bro when called out for misstatements. As catastrophic fires torched the West Coast last fall, reporters began quoting scientists who linked these fires with climate change. Nonetheless, Shellenberger hopped on Fox News to shout this science down.

When someone then tweeted that he was wrong, Shellenberger, of course, challenged that person to a debate…………….

Breakthrough hosted a talk by Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). Leaked documents and court records find that ACSH’s funders have included Chevron, Coca-Cola, Bayer Cropscience, McDonald’s, Monsanto, and the tobacco conglomerate Altria……….

In 2015, Nordhaus and Shellenberger released “An Ecomodernist Manifesto”, a sparkly, tectonic-shifting declaration. In reality, the document rehashed arguments that, as humans sculpt the planet, the Earth has entered a new era.

Many of the 18 signatories were Breakthrough affiliates, with a smattering of professors and others who orbit Breakthrough as a means to pump up their personal brands as innovative thinkers. Two signatories bear greater scrutiny: Mark Lynas and Rachel Pritzker…………..

He [Lynas] issued this very dramatic, but essentially, fabricated reinvention of his own biography to springboard into a new phase of his career,” Wilsdon said of Lynas. “He isn’t an expert in any of this.”

“He’s done a very impressive marketing campaign internationally,” agreed Mayer, who signed the letter calling Lynas’s claims false. “He’s not at all important in our country. But it fits into a nice story that gets lapped up by certain constituents.”

In recent years, Lynas has turned to writing for the Cornell Alliance for Science, a GMO and pesticide advocacy group at Cornell University. After the WHO’s IARC listed the pesticide glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, Monsanto and its allies began attacking the agency. The head of IARC told Politico that the agrichemical industry’s campaign reminded him of tobacco industry attacks when IARC categorized second-hand smoke as cancerous.

Lynas later published a piece at the Cornell Alliance for Science that dismissed IARC as “a little-known and rather flaky offshoot of the World Health Organization” and defended Monsanto as the victim of a “witch hunt.”

Lynas did not respond to detailed questions sent to him by e-mail.

Rachel Pritzker joined Breakthrough as the chair of its board in 2011. After co-authoring “An Ecomodernist Manifesto,” she achieved peak Breakthrough glory with two Ted Talks. In one talk, she flacked ecomodernism and recounted her transformation from little girl raised by hippies on a goat farm “where we grew our own vegetables and heated with wood” to Breakthrough-style tech modernist. After reaching this inflection point on the Ted Talk stage, Pritzker then toggled through talking points similar to what one would expect from a nuclear energy lobbyist, while also slapping down wind and solar energy.

“That’s the essential message of ecomodernism,” she said. “It’s a cause for optimism.”

Ms. Pritzker seems to have little scientific training, which makes her an odd choice to jump on stage and teach an audience about nuclear energy. According to news reports and her bio at the Pritzker Innovation Fund, Ms. Pritzker majored in Latin American studies. During the 2008 election, NPR reported that she was a “liberal nutritionist” who helped dump $1.1 million into an Ohio political action committee that opposed Senator John McCain, then running for President. …….

Besides chairing the board of the Breakthrough Institute, Ms. Pritzker has also supported several groups that collaborate with Breakthrough to promote nuclear energy and GMO agriculture, including Third Way and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). 

This ends Part Two of “The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute,” a three part series examining the Breakthrough Institute and ecomodernism. To continue with Part Three, click here.  https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough-c1d


May 6, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Breakthrough Institute climate sceptics – Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger – ‘bright, shiny objects to some journalists’.

The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute, How ecomodernism’s attempt to revolutionize environmentalism became a tragic slide into techno-hype lobbying and endless bickering with “Big Green” The DisInformation Chronicle 5 May 21,

In 2004, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the founders of a scrappy Bay Area think tank called the Breakthrough Institute, shot to prominence when they published “The Death of Environmentalism,” an essay that argued the environmental movement had failed……….

Because they ….. defined themselves against climate science deniers, they found a sympathetic audience among mainstream intellectuals……….

But it turns out they weren’t so different from run-of-the-mill climate skeptics after all……
Breakthrough’s antics and loose relationship with facts have caused most environmental groups and climate change experts to give them the cold shoulder.

“They had this idea of molding environmentalism to attract conservatives and what actually happened was they turned into conservatives themselves—writing for Forbes, Quillete, National Review, and the Wall Street Journal,” said Sam Bliss a graduate student in environmental economics at the University of Vermont. Along with research professor Giorgos Kallis, Bliss published a study in the Journal of Political Ecology that documents the Breakthrough Institute’s promotion of a strange idea called ecomodernism. Bliss describes it as a tragic tale, where Nordhaus and Shellenberger turn into exactly who they didn’t want to be: conservative lobbyists for techno-fixes who engage in endless battles with environmentalists. 

But while Breakthrough may have become a pariah in much of the environmental movement, ignoring them is not the smartest strategy. Most of their early critics have vanished after becoming exasperated at the group’s constant failure to correct errors, granting Nordhaus and Shellenberger an open license to peddle “ecomodernism” as a gadget to address the world’s environmental challenges. 

Indeed, while it’s been 12 years since Shellenberger and Lomborg shared a stage to promote their “alternative voices,” the veracity and quality of their scientific advice has not improved. Both Shellenberger and Lomborg released new books in 2020—and as in the past, experts immediately savaged them. In a review at Yale 360, Pacific Institute emeritus president Peter Gleick wrote, “Bad science and bad arguments abound in ‘Apocalypse Never’ by Michael Shellenberger.” Taking a pickaxe to Lomborg’s book “False Alarm,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote in the New York Times, “This book proves the aphorism that a little knowledge is dangerous. It’s nominally about air pollution. It’s really about mind pollution.”

But despite criticism of the Breakthrough Institute’s ideas and turmoil within it — Shellenberger left the group in 2015 — Breakthrough shows an uncanny knack to survive and spread bad ideas, even managing to attract the occasional reasonable scientist such as Steven Pinker, an attention-starved Harvard professor, who is sometimes touted as one of his generation’s leading minds.

Neither Nordhaus nor Shellenberger responded to detailed questions sent by e-mail.

……………….. A recently retired Hill staffer, who did not want his name in the media, said he worked for decades on appropriations for the House but never heard of the Breakthrough Institute. He wondered how Shellenberger—or anyone—could claim personal credit for passing billions of dollars in renewable energy policy with just one or two meetings, when the Hill is swarming with hundreds of professional lobbyists working around the clock.

“He’s constantly reinventing his story to build the appearance of power and access,” said Kert Davies, who spent 13 years at Greenpeace examining energy policy, before founding the Climate Investigations Center in 2013. Davies said he first met Shellenberger in the early 2000s, when Shellenberger was vying to get a communications contract with Greenpeace.  “He takes credit for things [that happened] years after he was boosted from the Apollo Alliance. He can say whatever he wants, and it’s all vapor because the organization is now gone.”

“They aren’t players up here on the Hill,” said a senior Democratic Committee staffer, who has spent decades working on climate policy and is not authorized to speak to the media. “They spend most of their time shooting spitballs at mainstream environmental organizations and that makes them a bright, shiny object to some journalists.” 

………. Shellenberger’s denial that Exxon suppressed or spun what it knew about climate change is now referenced by mainstream climate denialists,

……….. since launching the Breakthrough Institute in 2003, Nordhaus and Shellenberger have generated gigawatts of media buzz — along with a pile of disapproval taller than a West Virginia coal mountain. Scientists and environmentalists have noted the duo’s penchant for portraying the fossil fuel industry as a tiny corporate Goliath picked on by David, the environmental giant. But Breakthrough’s counterintuitive narratives, headlined with sparkly buzzwords and backfilled with selective facts, make sense when you remember that Nordhaus and Shellenberger forged their expertise in public relations.

In the tech-crazed, libertarian San Francisco of the early 2000s, Breakthrough’s ideology perhaps made sense to those who saw the environmental movement as stuck in the past, unwilling to embrace necessary technology, and too resistant to corporate solutions. This has caused a few moments of public embarrassment for Breakthrough such as promoting fracking as a “clean energy” alternative.

Last year, medical experts writing in the New England Journal of Medicine dismissed fracking as a clean energy false promise that data show is less a bridge to future, than a tether to the past. Today, Breakthrough promotes fracking and eagerly embraces nuclear and solar energy, while cheerleading for GMO agriculture, as preferred technologies to electrify and feed the world. 

……….. over the years, Breakthrough also began defending oil companies and cozying up to climate contrarians. Denying that they traffic in climate denial, while constantly ending up in the same room with contrarians and climate denialists, is a constant dilemma for the Breakthrough crowd, as are spine twisting arguments to soften human impacts on the planet and to hype technology solutions.  It’s a subtle, more modern version of denial and catnip to some journalists. When celebrated data cruncher Nate Silver relaunched his 538 website in 2014, one of his first hires was Breakthrough Fellow Roger Pielke Jr. 

A professor of science policy at the University of Colorado, Pielke Jr. has a long track record of wildcat contrarian writing on climate change and receiving invites to promote his views at congressional hearings from Republicans who deny climate science. 

……… It’s a subtle, more modern version of denial and catnip to some journalists. When celebrated data cruncher Nate Silver relaunched his 538 website in 2014, one of his first hires was Breakthrough Fellow Roger Pielke Jr. 


A professor of science policy at the University of Colorado, Pielke Jr. has a long track record of wildcat contrarian writing on climate change and receiving invites to promote his views at congressional hearings from Republicans who deny climate science. …… https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough

May 6, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

The dramatic economic failure of America’s nuclear industry

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S. National Geographic, 45 May 21, ”……..debates rage over whether nuclear should be a big part of the climate solution [[the nuclear industry’s confidence trick] in the U.S. The majority of American nuclear plants today are approaching the end of their design life, and only one has been built in the last 20 years. Nuclear proponents are now banking on next-generation designs …….

Yet an expansion of nuclear power faces some serious hurdles, and the perennial concerns about safety and long-lived radioactive waste may not be the biggest: Critics also say nuclear reactors are simply too expensive and take too long to build to be of much help with the climate crisis.

Bombs into plowshares

A test reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory, where Finan now works, produced the first electrical power from nuclear energy in 1951. Its success was soon trumpeted in President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous “atoms for peace” speech to the United Nations in 1953. Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear physicist who runs the non-profit Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, points out that the speech was given shortly after a thermonuclear test blast in the Soviet Union, when atomic fears were at a peak.

The United States, still the world’s largest producer by far of nuclear electricity, currently has 94 reactors in 28 states. But after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, when a reactor partially melted down near Middletown, Pennsylvania, enthusiasm for nuclear energy dimmed.

The average age of American power plants, which are licensed to run for 40 years, is 39; in the last decade, at least five have been retired early, largely because maintenance costs and cheaper sources of power made them too expensive to operate.

The most recent closure came just last week, on April 30, when the second of two reactors was shut down at the Indian Point power plant, on the Hudson River north of New York City. …

Late and over budget

While environmental opposition may have been the primary force hindering nuclear development in the 1980s and 90s, now the biggest challenge may be costs. Few nuclear plants have been built in the U.S. recently because they are very expensive to build here, which makes the price of their energy high.

Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, led a group of scientists who recently completed a two-year study examining the future of nuclear energy in the U.S. and western Europe. They found that “without cost reductions, nuclear energy will not play a significant role” in decarbonizing the power sector.

“In the West, the nuclear industry has substantially lost its ability to build large plants,” Buongiorno says, pointing to Southern Company’s effort to add two new reactors to Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. They have been under construction since 2013, are now billions of dollars over budget—the cost has more than doubled—and years behind schedule. In France, ranked second after the U.S. in nuclear generation, a new reactor in Flamanville is a decade late and more than three times over budget………

May 6, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Biden administration to subsidise nuclear reactors on the pretext of stopping climate change?

An activist group slammed the of tax credits for aging plants saying it would slow deployment of renewable energy like wind and solar power. “A nuclear bailout is wrong for taxpayers, wrong for ratepayers, and wrong for the climate,” said Lukas Ross, program manager at Friends of the Earth.

U.S. eyes nuclear reactor tax credit to meet climate goals -sources, Reuters, Timothy GardnerJarrett Renshaw , 4 May 21,  The White House has signaled privately to lawmakers and stakeholders in recent weeks that it supports taxpayer subsidies to keep nuclear facilities from closing and making it harder to meet U.S. climate goals, three sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

New subsidies, in the form of “production tax credits,” would likely be swept into President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar legislative effort to invest in infrastructure and jobs, the sources said…….

The United States leads the world with more than 90 nuclear reactors, the country’s top source of emissions-free power generation. Yet aging plants have been closing due to rising security costs and competition from plentiful natural gas, wind and solar power, which are becoming less pricey…….

New York state’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, owned by Entergy Corp (ETR.N), closed its last reactor on April 30. In Illinois, Exelon Corp (EXC.O) has said it might close four reactors at two plants by November, if the state does not implement subsidies.

Nuclear plants provide thousands of union jobs that pay some of the highest salaries in the energy business. Biden’s allies in building trades unions have lobbied for the production tax credits.

The credits also have the support of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from the energy-rich state of West Virginia, two of the sources said.He holds outsized power in the evenly divided Senate because he can block his party’s agenda.

Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Preliminary plans for a federal nuclear power production tax credit in deregulated markets bar companies from double-dipping in states that offer similar assistance, according to one of the sources. Companies also would have to prove financial hardship, the source said.

While Biden pledged in his campaign to boost spending for research on new generation of advanced nuclear plants, his White House, like the preceding Trump and Obama administrations, has struggled to devise a blueprint to save the existing reactors.

The Biden administration has also supported a Clean Energy Standard (CES) in the infrastructure plan, a mechanism that could support existing nuclear plants.

The production tax credit could be implemented on a faster timetable and could help save even the Illinois plants, some experts say. Exelon, however, believes that the only way they can be saved is by Illinois taking action.

We’re racing to cut emissions, create jobs, and shore up local economies — allowing nuclear plants to close sets us back on all three fronts,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick, director of the climate and energy program at Third Way, a moderate think tank. [moderate – my foot – Third Way is nothing but a pro nuclear front group]

An activist group slammed the of tax credits for aging plants saying it would slow deployment of renewable energy like wind and solar power. “A nuclear bailout is wrong for taxpayers, wrong for ratepayers, and wrong for the climate,” said Lukas Ross, program manager at Friends of the Earth. https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/white-house-eyes-subsidies-nuclear-plants-help-meet-climate-targets-sources-2021-05-05/

May 6, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

NRC extends lifespans of nuclear reactors (it’s cheaper than closing them down)

NRC approves 80-year lifespans for Surry nuclear units 1 and 2 Power Engineering By Clarion Energy Content Directors -5.4.2021  The Surry Units 1 and 2 nuclear power reactors will operate into the 2050s unless Dominion Energy pulls the plug for other reasons.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Tuesday it was approving the utility’s application on a 20-year renewal of its operating licenses for the Surry nuclear plant in Virginia. The renewed licenses authorize reactor lifetime operation from 60 to 80 years….

May 6, 2021 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

The Squad and Their Allies Should Unite to Block Biden’s Massive Military Budget,

The Squad and Their Allies Should Unite to Block Biden’s Massive Military Budget,

This is the moment to put a stop to runaway spending on war and the nuclear arsenal. Common Dreams, byMedea BenjaminMarcy Winograd   5 May 21, A month before the vote on the federal budget, progressives in Congress declared, “We’ve studied President Biden’s proposed $753 billion military budget, an increase of $13 billion from Trump’s already inflated budget, and we can’t, in good conscience, support this.”

Now that would be a show stopper, particularly if they added, “So we have decided to stand united, arm in arm, as a block of NO votes on any federal budget resolution that fails to reduce military spending by 10-30 percent. We stand united against a federal budget resolution that includes upwards of $30 billion for new nuclear weapons slated to ultimately cost nearly $2 trillion. We stand united in demanding the $50 billion earmarked to maintain all 800 overseas bases, including the new one under construction in Henoko, Okinawa, be reduced by a third because it’s time we scaled back on plans for global domination.”

“Ditto,” they say, “for the billions the President wants for the arms-escalating US Space Force, one of Trump’s worst ideas, right up there with hydroxychloroquine to cure COVID-19, and, no, we don’t want to escalate our troop deployments for a military confrontation with China in the South China Sea. It’s time to ‘right-size’ the military budget and demilitarize our foreign policy.” 

Progressives uniting as a block to resist out-of-control military spending would be a no-nonsense exercise of raw power reminiscent of how the right-wing Freedom Caucus challenged the traditional Republicans in the House in 2015. Without progressives on board, President Biden may not be able to secure enough votes to pass a federal budget that would then green light the reconciliation process needed for his broad domestic agenda.

For years, progressives in Congress have complained about the bloated military budget. In 2020, 93 members in the House and 23 in the Senate voted to cut the Pentagon budget by 10% and invest those funds instead in critical human needs. A House Spending Reduction Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan, emerged with 22 members on board.

Meet the members of the House Defense Spending Reduction Caucus:

Barbara Lee (CA-13); Mark Pocan (WI-2); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12); Ilhan Omar (MN-5); Raùl Grijalva (AZ-3); Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11); Jan Schakowsky(IL-9); Pramila Jayapal (WA-7); Jared Huffman (CA-2); Alan Lowenthal (CA-47); James P. McGovern (MA-2); Peter Welch (VT-at large); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14); Frank Pallone, Jr (NJ-6).;  Rashida Tlaib (MI-13); Ro Khanna (CA-17); Lori Trahan (MA-3); Steve Cohen (TN-9); Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Anna Eshoo (CA-18).

We also have the Progressive Caucus, the largest Caucus in Congress with almost 100 members in the House and Senate. Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal is all for cutting military spending. “We’re in the midst of a crisis that has left millions of families unable to afford food, rent, and bills. But at the same time, we’re dumping billions of dollars into a bloated Pentagon budget,” she said. “Don’t increase defense spending. Cut it—and invest that money into our communities.”

Now is the time for these congresspeople to turn their talk into action.

Consider the context. President Biden urgently wants to move forward on his American Families Plan rolled out in his recent State of the Union address. The plan would tax the rich to invest $1.8 trillion over the next ten years in universal preschool, two years of tuition-free community college, expanded healthcare coverage and paid family medical leave.

President Biden, in the spirit of FDR, also wants to put America back to work in a $2-trillion infrastructure program that will begin to fix our decades-old broken bridges, crumbling sewer systems and rusting water pipes. This could be his legacy, a light Green New Deal to transition workers out of the dying fossil fuel industry.

But Biden won’t get his infrastructure program and American Families Plan with higher taxes on the rich, almost 40% on income for corporations and those earning $400,000 or more a year, without Congress first passing a budget resolution that includes a top line for military and non-military spending. Both the budget resolution and reconciliation bill that would follow are filibuster proof and only require a simple majority in the House and Senate to pass.

Easy.

Maybe not……… https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/05/03/squad-and-their-allies-should-unite-block-bidens-massive-military-budget?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=twitter

May 6, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Canada’s push for small nuclear reactors effectively stops real action on climate change.


Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Mostly Bad Policy, 
“………So Who Is Advocating For SMRs & Why? Clean Technica, ByMichael Barnard, 3 May 21,

At present we see SMR earmarked funds in both Canadian and US federal budgets, $150 million in Canada and 10 times as much in the US, mostly for research and development with the exception of over a billion to NuScale to, in theory, build something. In Canada, four provinces — Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan — have joined forces in an SMR consortium. Bill Gates’ Terrapower has received another $80 million, as has X-Energy from the US DOE.

The failure conditions of small modular reactors are obvious. The lack of a significant market is obvious. The lack of ability to create a clear winner is obvious. The security costs are obvious. The lack of vertical scaling to thermal efficiency is obvious. The security risks and associated costs are obvious. The liability insurance cap implications are obvious. So why is all of this money and energy being thrown at SMRs? There are two major reasons, and only one of them is at all tenable.

Let’s start with the worst one. The Canadian provinces which are focused on SMRs are claiming that they are doing this as a major part of their climate change solutions. They are all conservative governments. Only one of those provinces has a nuclear fleet, although New Brunswick has one old, expensive, and due-to-retire reactor, as well as a track record of throwing money away on bad energy ideas, like Joi Scientific’s hydrogen perpetual motion machines. One of the provinces, Ontario, has been actively hostile to renewable energy, with the current administration cutting up 758 renewables contracts and legislating a lack of recourse as a very early act after election.

So why are they doing this? Because it allows them to defer governmental climate action while giving the appearance of climate action. They can pander to their least intelligent and wise supporters by asserting that renewables aren’t fit for purpose, while also not doing anything about the real problem because SMRs don’t exist in a modern, deployable, operable form yet.

The other major reason gets back to renewables as well. 15 years ago it was an arguable position to hold that renewables were too expensive, would cause grid reliability issues and that nuclear in large amounts was necessary. That’s been disproven by both 15 years of failures of nuclear deployments, but more importantly plummeting costs and proven grid reliability with renewable generation. Now almost every serious analyst agrees that renewables can economically deliver 80% of required grid energy, but there is still debate from credible analysts about the remaining 20%.

Mark Z. Jacobson and his Stanford team are at the center of this debate. Since the late 2000s, they’ve been publishing regular studies of increasing scope and sophistication on the thesis of 100% renewables by 2050. The 2015 publication saw a lot of pushback. At the time, my assessment of the fundamental disagreement was that the people who published a criticism of it thought the last 20% would be too expensive, and that both nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration would be necessary and scaled components.

Personally, I’ve done various aspects of the math, looked at grid reliability and transformation data from around the world, and looked at ancillary services requirements, and I think Jacobson and team are right. Further, that since we all agree that renewables are fit for purpose for 80% of the problem we should deploy them as rapidly as possible.

However, it’s very reasonable to make a side bet or two to ensure coverage of that last 20%. I don’t mind research dollars spent on SMRs, which is all most of the SMR expenditures amount to, outside of the Nu Scale bailout (which is added to the Ohio $1.3 billion bailout, which is added to the annual $1.7 billion overt federal subsidy, which is added to the annual hidden $4 billion security subsidy which is added to the $70 billion unfunded cleanup subsidy, which is added to the uncosted and unfunded taxpayer liability). Spending a few tens of millions of dollars in rich countries to ensure that we have that last 20% bridged is reasonable.

But the people asserting that SMRs are the primary or only answer to energy generation either don’t know what they are talking about, are actively dissembling or are intentionally delaying climate action.  https://cleantechnica.com/2021/05/03/small-modular-nuclear-reactors-are-mostly-bad-policy/

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Steady growth of USA’s nuclear radioactive trash ( they prefer to call it ”spent fuel inventory”)

U.S. spent nuclear fuel inventory steadily increased from 2013 through 2017 https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=47796 Principal contributor: Katherine Antonio, 3 May 21, The volume of spent nuclear fuel produced by nuclear power plants in the United States has steadily increased during the past few decades. The volume of spent nuclear fuel at the end of 2017 was 13.5% metric tons more than at the end of June 2013, according to newly released data from EIA’s Nuclear Fuel Data Survey. The survey data contain information on the quantity and characteristics of spent nuclear fuel at the time when a reactor discharges it.

The Nuclear Fuel Data Survey shows that between 1968 and 2017, more than 276,000 bundles of spent fuel rods (fuel rod assemblies), which contained a little less than 80,000 metric tons of uranium, were stored in the United States. The inventory of spent fuel assemblies has grown by about 13.2% from mid-2013 to the end of 2017.

The nuclear fuel used in nuclear reactors requires concentrated uranium (known as enriched uranium), which is further processed to create nuclear fuel. The enriched uranium is encased in fuel rods that go in a reactor’s fuel assembly to generate electric power. Each fuel assembly is typically used for a cycle of 18 to 24 months.


The discharged spent nuclear fuel rods are stored in one of two ways. The first approach stores spent fuel rods in pools of water that cool them and provide additional shielding from radiation. The pools of water resemble swimming pools. The second approach stores pre-cooled spent fuel rods in a container filled with inert gas. Each container is surrounded by steel, concrete, or other material to provide a stronger shield from radiation. In the United States, nearly all spent nuclear fuel is currently stored onsite at commercial nuclear power plants. A very small amount of spent nuclear fuel, less than 1%, is stored at offsite facilities.

We collect data on spent nuclear fuel from 119 commercial reactors in 33 U.S. states. The oldest reactor, now permanently shut down, is the Dresden 1, which started operating in Illinois in 1959. The newest reactor started operating in Tennessee in 2016. More than 17,500 metric tons of the cumulative spent nuclear fuel by uranium mass in the United States is stored in two states, Illinois and Pennsylvania. New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina have the next highest volumes of spent nuclear fuel in storage at more than 4,000 metric tons of uranium in each state.

We administer the Nuclear Fuel Data Survey for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Standard Contract Management. You can learn more about nuclear energy in the United States on our website.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s expensive and dangerous space delusion

The Musk delusion  daryan energy blog 2 May 21, I’ve critiqued a number of Musk’s projects before, but I think we need to be a bit more direct. Quite simply is Musk entirely the full shilling? Is he the real life Tony Stark the fan boys seem to think, or a modern day Howard Hughes? Because if its the latter his bizarre behaviour will only get worse and worse until things come to a head. Which could have rather serious consequences………….

his proposed use of Starship, as a point to point transport mechanism amounts to saying that the rich should be allowed to burn vast amounts of fuel, just so they can save a few hours in transit. Well, if Starship was a vaguely sane suggestion that is. In truth, it would take almost as long to get its passengers point to point as a conventional airliner (once you factor in the time taken to get passengers out to the launch pad, suit them up, put on their astronaut diapers (yes, how do you think astronauts meet the calls of nature in a space suit), strap everyone in, fuel the rocket, etc.). And that’s assuming you’d be given permission to fly, given the many likely health and safety, environmental and noise related concerns.

In fact let’s talk about starship. It is a terrible design. I’m not going to waste time going over the many issues, in part because I’ve done so already, but also there are others who have done a far better job. But in summary, even if it worked, its a one trick pony….and that trick is the potential for down cargo (which its far from proving it can do) not going to Mars.

Even so, Musk has managed to blow up a dozen or so test prototypes with not a lot to show for it. He’s now in a dispute with the FAA and environmental groups over the mess he’s making, adding to the thousand or so active legal cases he’s currently fighting, largely because of his inability to keep his big mouth shut and not say dumb things online.

Which raises the question, what is the point of starship? …….

 NASA just awarded SpaceX the contract to build the Lunar lander? Ya and if one was cynical it would be that the Biden administration, whose never really committed to space flight, knows they don’t have the funds or the political capital to blow hundreds of billions repeating Apollo. But they equally don’t want to be identified as the assassins who killed off manned lunar/Mars missions. They need a fall guy…which is where Musk comes in!

SpaceX happens to have facilities in key states that will matter in 2024 (most notably Texas, which might be a swing state by then). So, given that Congress sees NASA as a jobs programme, they sling a few billion his way. If he succeeds, well then great. If he crashes and burns, well aw shucks we tried our best, I mean we even got Elon Musk to design the hardware, how can we be to blame.

And this is what worries me about Musk and his fans. Sooner or later his luck is going to run out. Environments such as space, or public transport do not suffer fools. Likely we’ll end up with some tragic accident, or a massive overspend on a government project and he gets to spend the rest of his life going form congressional committee to committee and court house to court house…….  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/543414/posts/3318253784

May 3, 2021 Posted by | election USA 2020, space travel | Leave a comment

Texas legislators must reject proposal to lower human health and safety measures at nuclear waste dump

Texas legislators must reject proposal to lower human health and safety measures at nuclear waste dump ,   Record Star, 2 May 21, Texas legislators should reject proposed legislation that aims to remove environmental safeguards currently in place governing the disposal of nuclear waste in the state.

A bill that strips away the human health and safety precautions around the disposal of nuclear waste which have been in place since the state authorized nuclear waste dump sites nearly 20 years ago is headed to a vote in the Texas House of Representatives later this month or next. HB 2692, authored by Odessa Rep. Brooks Landgraf, would remove the provision mandating that all nuclear waste be containerized in steel- reinforced structures prior to being placed in a below-surface waste dump.


“Every environmental organization in the state of Texas has come out against this drastic rollback on protecting the citizens of this state, yet it sailed right out of committee and is headed to the full House and Senate” said Eric Holguin, executive director of Texas Environment First. “Texas is one of only a handful of states that even allows nuclear waste dumps to operate. There is absolutely no rational explanation for why the state should lower its regulatory standards in 2021.”

The Texas facility disposes of Class A, B, and C low level radioactive waste in Andrews, County, which is also home to the Ogallala Aquifer – a vital source of drinking water for much of the state. From the outset of operations, the state has mandated containerized disposal. ,,……  While the proposal purports to seek a ban on high level nuclear waste disposal in Texas, no federal license for high level waste storage or disposal has been issued in Texas.

“All of us are prepared to fight any federal efforts to bring high level nuclear waste to Texas,” Holguin said. “But right now, low level nuclear waste is being disposed of every day at the Andrews facility. De-regulating nuclear waste dumps is a colossally bad idea. The Texas Legislature must reject it.”  https://www.recordstar.com/story/news/2021/04/29/texas-legislators-must-reject-proposal-lower-human-health-and-safety-measures-nuclear-waste-dump/7398882002/

May 3, 2021 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Sen. Angus King: Cybersecurity a major concern in U.S. nuclear command-and-control system

Sen. Angus King: Cybersecurity a major concern in U.S. nuclear command-and-control system  https://spacenews.com/sen-angus-king-cybersecurity-a-major-concern-in-u-s-nuclear-command-and-control-system/, by Sandra Erwin — May 2, 2021  King: Without an adequate N3C system ‘none of the rest of it works’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. nuclear command, control and communications system that serves as the link between U.S. nuclear forces and presidential authority could be vulnerable to cyber attacks and needs upgrades, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told reporters May 1.

King, an independent who caucuses with the Senate’s Democratic majority, is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces, which oversees the Pentagon’s space, nuclear and strategic deterrence programs.

King and a bipartisan group of senators on Saturday were briefed on U.S. nuclear modernization efforts at Offutt Air Force, Nebraska, where U.S. Strategic Command is headquartered. The senators on Friday also toured U.S. nuclear operations at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

During a call with reporters after the Saturday briefing, King said the nuclear command, control and communications system known as NC3 was a “major point of discussion” and a “significant part of the briefing” senators received at Offutt.

NC3 is a Cold War-era system of interconnected sensors, communications and early warning satellites, aircraft and ground control centers. The Trump administration in 2018 assigned U.S. Strategic Command the responsibility for upgrading the NC3 architecture so it’s compatible with modern technology. 

King said nuclear command and control has become “much more complicated” and cybersecurity is a high priority. “All I can tell you is that it’s very much at the forefront” of the Strategic Command’s plan to upgrade the system, he said.


Ongoing discussions
 about the cost of modernizing the U.S. nuclear triad “tend to focus on missiles and airplanes and submarines, but command and control is essential,” King said. “It really ought to be referred to as the quad, not the triad.”

The U.S. nuclear triad consists of three “legs” — ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, aerial bombers and submarines that can deliver nuclear weapons anywhere in the world.

Without an adequate N3C system, “none of the rest of it works,” said King. 

The increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks against DoD and other government systems is a cause for concern in the modernization of the NC3, he added. “The next conflict will almost certainly start with a major cyber attack to disable communications networks, and communications between the command authority and the forces, whether it’s an aircraft carrier or a bomber or a missile site.”

“It’s a challenge of assurance of communication, to be sure that you’re not cut off,” King said. “The president has to able to communicate with the forces to be able to issue commands, to consult with advisors.” 

Other senators who participated in the briefing included John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

May 3, 2021 Posted by | safety, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Mobile nuclear reactors? Scathing report slams ‘disturbing’ military program

Mobile nuclear reactors? Scathing report slams ‘disturbing’ military program, Times, 1 May 21, Todd South The author of an academic report on Pentagon plans to build mobile nuclear reactors to power future combat bases called the effort “extremely disturbing” and “based on a lie.”

The report released Thursday slams the Pentagon and Army G-4, logistics — specifically the Army office’s 2018 report that lays out the potential uses and needs for such mobile nuclear reactors in future operations.

Alan J. Kuperman wrote the 21-page report titled, “Proposed U.S. Army Mobile Nuclear Reactors: Costs and Risks Outweigh Benefits,” in his role as coordinator of the University of Texas at Austin’s Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project.

“They don’t reduce casualties, they increase costs and they increase threats to the lives of U.S. service members,” Kuperman said.

The program, known as “Project Pele,” is prototyping the mobile advanced microreactor concept under the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office……..

The DoD spokesman pointed out that the project is part of a collaboration involving the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private industry. Project Pele is not being designed for a specific military service branch but does include experts across defense for a variety of requirements.

Army officials for G-4 deferred comment on the program to DoD……..

Congress approved funding for prototype reactors and the Army awarded $40 million in contracts to three nuclear reactor companies in March 2020 for Project Pele, according to the NPPP report.

Kuperman struck at the Army’s rationale, calling the project unnecessary and dangerous. He counters some of the main justifications that have been provided by DoD and Army reports:


  • High cost
     – Kuperman said the Army’s claims that nuclear power can provide cheaper electricity for powering future forward bases is “based on unrealistic assumptions.” Those include that such a reactor would have low construction costs and operate for 18 hours a day over 40 years. The more likely scenario is a mobile reactor would run for half that time over about 10 years, meaning nuclear electricity could cost 16 times more than estimates and still seven times more than diesel-generated power.
  • Vulnerability to missile attacks – The report points to the 2020 missile attack on forces at al-Asad air base in Iraq. Even with warnings hours ahead of time, more than 100 U.S. personnel suffered traumatic brain injury from the 11 strikes that hit the facility. And the missiles were 10 times more accurate than the Army has predicted in its report on the vulnerability of reactors to precision strikes. The service admits that a direct hit on a reactor would destroy the device. Kuperman notes that even the Army’s plans to protect the reactors, by burying them underground, could inadvertently cause meltdowns by impeding air cooling and causing overheating. A similar strike on an similar such future base with a reactor could cause far more devastating consequences.

  • Captured reactors 
    – Should a U.S. base housing a mobile reactor be overrun or abandoned, the radioactive waste from the reactor could be used in “dirty bomb” terror attacks.
  • No mission for reactors – One of the chief purposes of pursing such reactor programs was to reduce casualties from diesel transport to remote bases. But Defense Department data shows a dramatic drop in casualties of five per 1 million gallons of fuel delivered in 2005 to nearly zero by 2013.
  • High-energy weapons don’t need reactors – Kuperman states that the justification that future high-energy or laser weapons that the Army hopes to have protecting bases don’t require a reactor to power. “A high energy weapon would have to be fired millions of times to justify a reactor,” Kuperman said. “In reality such a weapon would be fired perhaps hundreds of times in its lifetime.”
  • Transport problems – The Army wants to air deliver these reactors to combat posts. Kuperman questions the “regulatory nightmare” that would create. The program calls for initial tests flying the reactors domestically to run then returning them, and their radioactive waste, to another domestic location. Foreign transport would require approval of countries airspace traversed and the approval of a host nation where the reactor would be placed, he said. Other Army recommendations include truck or rail transport domestically and either ship or over-the-ocean flights to friendly ports to then move the reactors again via truck or rail.

  • Army Times
     reported on the proposed program in 2019, which had drawn backlash from the Union of Concerned Scientists and its then-director of the Nuclear Safety Project, Edwin Lyman, who called the proposal, “naïve.”The original proposal, approved by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office asked for industry solutions in January 2019 on providing a less than 40-ton small, mobile nuclear reactor design that could operate for three years or more and provide 1 to 10 megawatts of power.Planners want the reactor to fit inside a C-17 cargo plane for air transport to theater. More recent moves have reduced the power output to 5 megawatts……..

Lyman notes a major failure with one of the original eight designs in 1961 when a core meltdown and explosion of the ML-1 reactor in Idaho killed three operators.

The three deployed to Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska proved “unreliable and expensive to operate,” Lyman wrote in his response to the Army’s 2018 report on the mobile reactor program.Lyman told Army Times on Thursday that a number of those old reactors required decades of decommissioning and one used at Fort Belvoir, Va., near Washington D.C. is finally scheduled for decommissioning in late 2021……….. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2021/04/30/mobile-nuclear-reactors-scathing-report-slams-disturbing-military-program/

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment