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

Well-funded pro nuclear lobby has wishlist for Joe Biden

 

Is the Biden government going to buy these lies?   Nuclear –  clean? renewable?

February 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Former SCANA nuclear executive pleads guilty to fraud

Former SC utility CEO pleads guilty to nuclear plant fraud
The utility executive who spent billions of dollars on two South Carolina nuclear plants that never generated a single watt of power pleaded guilty in two courts,
By MICHELLE LIU Associated Press/Report for America, 25 February 2021,   COLUMBIA, S.C. — The utility executive who spent billions of dollars on two South Carolina nuclear plants that never generated a single watt of power pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges Wednesday.

Former SCANA Corp. CEO Kevin Marsh will likely spend two years in prison and pay $5 million back to ratepayers, per the plea agreement prosecutors presented to U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis in Columbia.

Marsh’s formal acknowledgement of his role in the conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud comes more than three years after the project imploded publicly and federal and state agencies began investigating.

Marsh, 65, will be free on bond as he cooperates with federal authorities until he is formally sentenced. He headed to Spartanburg in the afternoon to plead guilty on a state charge tied to the investigation. Officials said he will serve any state sentence he receives concurrently with his federal sentence.

A judge will hand down the final sentence after the investigation concludes. Prosecutors haven’t given indication of when that might be.

Marsh and other executives insisted the project to build the two reactors at the V.C. Summer site north of Columbia was on track ever since it started in 2008. The company hiked rates on customers nine times between 2009 and 2017 to help fund the project.

Prosecutors said that as the project lagged, Marsh lied repeatedly to investors, regulators and the media, claiming the reactors would be making power by a 2020 deadline to get $1.4 billion in federal tax credits needed to keep the $10 billion project from overwhelming SCANA and its subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas.

An independent report commissioned by SCANA in 2015 estimated the reactors would not be finished in 22 years. Executives fought to get the estimate removed from the copy of the report shared with state-owned utility Santee Cooper, which held a 45% stake in the new reactors, prosecutors said.

Santee Cooper ended up $4 billion in debt from the project. Lawmakers are still arguing over whether to sell or reorganize the utility.

Dominion Energy of Virginia bought out SCANA in 2019 after the former Fortune 500 company was crippled by the nuclear debacle.

In December, the Securities and Exchange Commission said both SCANA and its subsidiary agreed to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the SEC in February for $137.5 million, including a $25 million civil penalty.

Former SCANA Executive Vice President Stephen Byrne pleaded guilty to federal charges similar to Marsh’s in July. He is also awaiting sentencing. AT TOPhttps://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/sc-utility-executive-plead-guilty-courts-76084865

February 25, 2021 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Move in Ohio Senate to repeal nuclear bailout law

February 25, 2021 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

NuScale’s small nuclear reactor dream – dead on arrival?

in order to make advanced reactors accessible within the next few decades—even relatively simple reactors, like NuScale’s—the government would need to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies …… the nuclear dream looks dead on arrival….

Biden’s Other Nuclear Option, Smaller nuclear reactors might be the bridge to a carbon-free economy. But are they worth it? Mother Jones, 22 Feb 21, BOYCE UPHOLT    ”………..

Four years after it opened, the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island facility in Pennsylvania spooked the nation, and Oregon, like many states, put a moratorium on new nuclear plants. ……
In 2007, an engineer at Oregon State University named José Reyes began to resurrect it by imagining a reactor that would be “very, very different.” By shrinking and simplifying the standard nuclear reactor, Reyes believes he has created a technology that can generate power more safely at a fraction of the price. Last August, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a final safety report for Reyes’ design, recommending its certification. Construction on the first reactor could begin as soon as 2025. That puts NuScale, the company Reyes co-founded, at the front of the race toward “advanced nuclear” power

Donald Trump’s Department of Energy was “all in” on advanced nuclear, as a press release put it, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development. President Joe Biden is a fan, too. As part of his plan to shift the United States to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, he has targeted further investment in small modular nuclear reactors like NuScale’s.

But are these investments worth the money—and the risks? New designs or not, nuclear plants face daunting issues of waste disposal, public opposition, and, most of all, staggering costs. We must ramp up our fight against climate change. But whether nuclear is a real part of the solution—or just a long-shot bid to keep a troubled industry alive—is a debate that will come to the fore in the short window we have to overhaul the nation’s energy portfolio.

Few issues divide us as cleanly as nuclear power. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll, 49 percent of Americans support opening new plants, while 49 percent are opposed.

The popular argument against nuclear power can be summed up in a few names: Chernobyl. Fukushima. Three Mile Island. Nuclear dread is palpable. Some formerly pro-nuclear countries, like Germany, began phasing out plants in the wake of the 2011 disaster in Japan. The dangers begin well before nuclear fuel arrives at a plant, and persist long afterward; the rods that fuel today’s plants remain radioactive for millennia after their use. How to ethically store this waste remains a Gordian knot nobody has figured out how to cut.

The argument in favor of nuclear power boils down to the urgent need to combat climate change.  [Ed,  but nuclear does not  really combat climate change.]

But if nuclear power is going to help us mitigate climate change, a lot more reactors need to come online, and soon. Eleven nuclear reactors in the United States have been retired since 2012, and eight more will be closed by 2025. (When nuclear plants are retired, utility companies tend to ramp up production at coal- or natural gas–fired plants, a step in the wrong direction for those concerned about lowering emissions.) Since 1970, the construction of the average US plant has wound up costing nearly three-and-a-half times more than the initial projections. Developers have broken ground on just four new reactor sites since Three Mile Island. Two were abandoned after $9 billion was.. sunk into construction; two others, in Georgia, are five years behind schedule. The public is focused on risks, but “nuclear power is not doing well around the world right now for one reason—economics,” says Allison Macfarlane, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Until Three Mile Island, public support was strong. Dozens of plants came online. In the 1970s, Reyes, seeing an industry full of promise, decided to pursue a degree in nuclear engineering.

……… Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a state-owned agency that sells electricity across six Western states aims to offer its members the choice of fully carbon-free power, sees NuScale as the best available option for undergirding its existing wind and solar plants. In 2015, UAMPS announced a plan to build 12 NuScale reactors at the federally run Idaho National Laboratory. NuScale projected total construction costs at $3 billion—nearly a third less than the most recently completed US reactor, which came online in 2016 at a cost of $4.7 billion (though it will supply more power). And the next plant should cost even less, since NuScale’s small reactors will be built on an assembly line, rather than on-site. But the price will drop only if more customers buy them. “Taxes are more popular than nuclear power,” jokes Doug Hunter, the CEO of UAMPS.

To change that perception, Hunter and his team have spent the last few years visiting towns and utility companies that buy power from UAMPS, explaining the potential role of nuclear power and the safety of NuScale’s design. His persistence paid off. By 2020, the majority had signed on to the NuScale project—though only as long as they had plenty of chances to back out if the project went south……….

Even with new technology, we will need to mine uranium—a process that has leached radioactive waste into waterways—and find somewhere to put the spent fuel. (The current practice, which persists at Trojan and will be employed at NuScale’s plants, is to hold waste on-site. This is intended to be a temporary measure, but every attempt to find a permanent disposal site has been stalled by geological constraints and local opposition.) Lloyd Marbet, Director of the non-profit Oregon Conservancy Foundation believes we need to transition away from coal and gas immediately. But he worries that nuclear is too expensive, and a new round of investment might pull money away from more effective, and cleaner, solutions. ……….

These days, he’s watching the industry creep back. A Republican state senator named Brian Boquist has proposed a bill three times that would permit city or county voters to exempt themselves from the 1980 law, allowing a nuclear facility to be built within their borders. (The bill has failed twice; the latest version is with the senate committee.) Boquist does not seem particularly committed to fighting climate change: He and other members of the Republican minority refused to show up to vote on a cap-and-trade bill in early 2020, causing the Senate to fall short of a quorum. (When Gov. Kate Brown threatened to retrieve legislators using state troopers, Boquist said to “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”)

In 2017, as the legislature debated Boquist’s first pro-nuclear bill, Marbet testified that NuScale was making “an end run around [voters] in their quest for corporate profit.” He also noted the company’s ties to the Fluor Corporation. The Texas-based multinational engineering firm that has been NuScale’s majority owner since 2011 has invested $9.9 million in campaign contributions over the past 30 years, with nearly two-thirds going toward Republican candidates. (Fluor is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission due to allegedly sloppy accounting practices.)

Marbet admits his view of the industry is jaundiced, but his experiences make him skeptical of NuScale and its claims. He worries, too, that if small reactors take off, operators will revert to old habits, cutting corners to make a buck. He points to a draft rule approved last year by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, over the objections of FEMA, that would reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around nuclear plants: Rather than a 10-mile-wide circle, a plant would only need an evacuation plan for the space within its fence lines. NRC commissioner Jeff Baran opposed the change, noting it is based on assumptions about small reactors, like NuScale’s, that remain on the drawing board, and might open the door to weakening safety standards for existing plants.

Old-line environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club remain staunchly opposed to nuclear power, but politicians have been more open to it.

President Barack Obama was an outspoken proponent of nuclear’s potential. For 2020, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously agreed to spend more than President Trump requested on nuclear research, and the Senate is currently considering a bipartisan bill that will streamline the permitting process and establish a national uranium reserve.

Now, as part of his $2 trillion climate plan, Biden is calling for a federal research agency that would pursue carbon-free energy sources, including small reactors. Biden’s was the first Democratic Party platform in 48 years that explicitly supported an expansion of nuclear energy. His pick to lead the Department of Energy—which devotes the majority of its budget to nuclear projects—is former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has little experience in the field. Gina McCarthy, the former EPA administrator who is Biden’s chief domestic climate coordinator, has said that nuclear could play a key role in baseload power supply but indicated that waste disposal issues ought to be resolved before the technology is widely adopted.

A major hurdle for any advanced nuclear product is the regulatory process. NuScale spent more than $500 million developing its licensing application. The path to approval has consumed 12 years already, and it’s not over yet. In the months after my visit to NuScale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission noted “several potentially risk-significant” questions that remain unanswered about the company’s reactor design, especially about its new version of a steam generator. Nonetheless, the NRC granted its initial approval of the design at the end of the summer; now NuScale awaits official, final certification by the commissioners, which is expected sometime this year. But further analysis of the generators will be required before a license is granted to actually build a plant.

A decade ago, NuScale suggested it might have a plant in operation by 2018. Now construction won’t begin until 2025 at the earliest. The plant at Idaho National Laboratory won’t be fully operational until 2030. Factoring in interest and other costs not included in NuScale’s $3 billion estimate, UAMPS expects a total 40-year lifetime cost of $6 billion for the plant. Some critics see this as the same old story: grand, early promises—a “dog and pony show,” as Marbet calls NuScale’s PR—followed by cost overruns and delays. Reyes intentionally used materials familiar to regulators, so as to speed along the process. But other advanced reactor designs, which use new kinds of fuel and coolant, may face an even slower and more expensive journey.

Recently, nine towns—more than a quarter of the subscribed members—pulled out of UAMPS’s project after changing their minds about their energy needs or worrying that it was becoming a financial sinkhole. (Meanwhile, one new town signed on.) The plant’s economics depend on running near full capacity, which will only happen if utilities outside of UAMPS also buy some of its power. The Department of Energy says it will chip in nearly $1.4 billion over the next nine years, which should help bring down the cost of the plant’s energy. But the projected price—$55 per megawatt-hour—is still above the current costs for solar and wind projects. And the federal money will require annual congressional approval. It’s possible that other new ideas might pop up, competing for limited dollars.

Biden’s climate plan hinges on a massive expenditure on research. What his administration will have to quickly decide, though, is how to divvy that pot. Allison Macfarlane, the former NRC commissioner, told me other industries deserve far more of our resources and attention than nuclear. Batteries, in particular, could steady out the uneven flow of renewables. They may even work better, since nuclear plants are difficult to power up or down in response to changing conditions. Once a pie-in-the-sky idea, battery storage now offers costs at least “in the ballpark” of nuclear, says Stan Kaplan, a former US Energy Information Administration analyst. Prices have dropped 70 percent in the past few years and are projected to drop another 45 percent before NuScale’s plant comes online. California—which also has a moratorium on nuclear builds—is rapidly expanding its storage capacity. Within 10 years, the niche that Nu­Scale is aiming for might already be filled.

……. For nuclear to persist as a hedge, it all but requires government assistance, given the enormous upfront costs of R&D. Another challenge is vetting which projects have real promise. “You have all these reactor vendors pitching their wares, and making all sorts of outrageous and false claims,” says Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists. These claims have also been the basis of lowering safety standards, which offers a large indirect subsidy for operators. There needs to be a stronger peer-review process, he says, to make sure the government is only sponsoring truly worthwhile projects.

A recent study from Princeton found that even without nuclear power, the relative cost of a decarbonized energy system in 2050 could be about the same as in 2015, which at the time was a historic low. The study found nuclear could reduce costs even further—if it becomes as cheap as its advocates hope. But Abdulla, the UC San Diego researcher, has calculated that in order to make advanced reactors accessible within the next few decades—even relatively simple reactors, like NuScale’s—the government would need to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and substantially simplify the regulatory process. Abdulla believes nuclear energy should have been “an arrow in our quiver.” But given the economics, he says, “I fear the arrow has broken.”

if money were no object—if we could snap our fingers and scatter reactors across the landscape—…… But if Abdulla’s numbers are right, the nuclear dream looks dead on arrival….  https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/02/nuclear-energy-climate-change-nuscale-green-power-uranium/

 A great article. Just one problem.  The whole article runs with the assumption that nuclear power is effectively ”low carbon”. Yet this assumption is not challenged. There are several ways in which nuclear power is actually quite high carbon.   Just for one comparison with reneewable energy:  wind and solar power are delivered directlly to the turbines and panels – with no digging up of fuel required, no regular transport by road, rail etc.  The entire nuclear fuel chain with all its steps –   mining, milling, conversion, fuel fabrication, reactor, waste ponds, waste canisters , deep repositaory …       all this is carbon emitting.   

 

February 23, 2021 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 1 Comment

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

December 2020 Canadian taxpayers are paying a consortium (Canadian National Energy Alliance) contracted by the federal government in 2015, billions of dollars to reduce Canada’s $16 billion nuclear liabilities quickly and cheaply. The consortium is proposing to construct a giant mound for one million tons of radioactive waste beside the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau. […]

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
There is considerable secrecy about what would go into the mound; the information that follows has been  derived from the proponent’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) (December 2020) which lists a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”). The EIS and supporting documents also contain inventories of non-radioactive hazardous materials that would go into the dump.

Here is what the consortium says it is planning to put into the Chalk River mound (according to the final EIS and supporting documents)

1)  Long-lived radioactive materials

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in Table 3.3.1-2: NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory are long-lived, with half-lives ranging from four centuries to more than four billion years.

To take just one example, the man-made radionuclide, Neptunium-237, has a half-life of 2 million years such that, after 2 million years have elapsed, half of the material will still be radioactive. At the time of emplacement in the mound, the neptunium-237 will be giving off 17 million ( check, 1.74 x 10 to the 7th) radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

The mound would contain 80 tonnes of Uranium and 6.6 tonnes of thorium-232.

2) Four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

John Gofman MD, PhD, a Manhattan Project scientist and former director of biomedical research at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, stated that even one-millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into the lung, will cause lung cancer within 20 years. Sir Brian Flowers, author of the UK Royal Commission Report on Nuclear Energy and the Environment, wrote that a few thousands of a gram, inhaled into the lungs, will cause death within a few years because of massive fibrosis of the lungs, and that a few millionths of a gram will cause lung cancer with almost 100% certainty.

The four isotopes of plutonium listed in the NSDF reference inventory are Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Plutonium-2441 and Plutonium-242. According to Table 3.3.1-2 (NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory) from the EIS, The two isotopes 239 and 240 combined will have an activity of 87 billion Bq when they are emplaced in the dump. This means that they will be giving off 87 billion radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

3) Fissionable materials 

Fissionable materials can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The mound would contain “special fissionable materials” listed in this table (avove) extracted from an EIS supporting document, Waste Acceptance Criteria, Version 4, (November 2020)

4) Large quantities of Cobalt-60 

The CNL inventory also includes a very large quantity of cobalt-60 (990 quintillion becquerels), a material that gives off so much strong gamma radiation that lead shielding must be used by workers who handle it in order to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers high-activity cobalt-60 sources to be “intermediate-level waste” and specifies that they must be stored underground. Addition of high-activity cobalt-60 sources means that hundreds of tons of lead shielding would be disposed of in the mound.

5) Very Large quantities of tritium

The mound would contain 890 billion becquerels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium readily combines with oxygen to form radioactive water. It moves readily through the environment and easily enters all cells of the human body where it can cause damage to cell structures including genetic material such as DNA and RNA.

Because it is part of the water molecule, removal of tritium from water is very difficult and expensive. There are no plans to remove tritium from the mound leachate. Instead the consortium plans to pipe the contaminated water directly into Perch Lake which drains into the Ottawa River.


6) Carbon-14

The mound would contain close to two billion becquerels of Carbon-14, an internal emitter that is hazardous in similar ways to tritium. Carbon is a key element in all organic molecules. When it is inhaled or ingested it can become incorporated into all manner of organic molecules and cellular components including genetic material.

7) Many other man-made radionuclides 

Radionuclides such as caesium-137, strontium-90, radium, technetium, nickel-59, americium-243 are listed in the partial inventory of materials that would go into the dump. See the partial inventory here: https://concernedcitizens.net/2020/12/17/cnls-partial-inventory-of-radionuclides-that-would-go-into-the-chalk-river-mound/

8) Non-radioactive hazardous materials

Hazardous materials destined for the dump according to the final EIS and Waste Acceptance Criteria include asbestos, PCBs, dioxins, mercury, up to 13 tonnes of arsenic and hundreds of tonnes of lead. (Reference)

 (Reference)

9) Large quantities of valuable metals that could attract scavengers

According the the final EIS, the mound would contain 33 tonnes of aluminum, 3,520 tonnes of copper, and 10,000 tonnes of iron. It is well known that scavenging of materials  occurs after closure of facilities. Scavengers who would be exposed to high radiation doses as they sought to extract these valuable materials from the dump.

10) Organic Materials

80,339 tonnes of wood and other organic material are destined for the mound. These materials would decompose and cause slumping in the mound, therefore potentially compromising the integrity of the cap.

Most of the radioactive and hazardous material would get into the air and water, some sooner, some later. Some would get into ground and surface water during creation of the mound, such as tritium which is very mobile and cannot be removed by the proposed water treatment plant. Others would get into the air, during construction and could be breathed by workers. Some materials would leach slowly into groundwater. Still others would be released when the mounds deteriorates over time and eventually disintegrates several hundreds of years into the future. For details on the expected disintegration of the mound in a process described as “normal evolution” see this po

The mound would actually get more radioactive over time

See the submission entitled “A Heap of Trouble” by Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility for a chilling description of this process. http://www.ccnr.org/Heap_of_Trouble.pdf. Here is a quote from the submission:


The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project is presented not as a temporary, interim
storage facility but as a permanent repository that will ultimately be abandoned. We are
dealing with a potentially infinite time horizon. The proponent seeks approval not just for a
few decades, but forever. Such permission has never before been granted for post-fission
radioactive wastes in Canada, nor should it be granted. Long-lived radioactive waste
should not be abandoned, especially not on the surface beside a major body of water.

The facility will remain a significant hazard for in excess of 100,000 years.

This point was raised by Dr. J.R. Walker, a retired AECL radioactive waste expert in his submission on the draft environmental impact statement. You can read his full submission here: https://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/119034E.pdf

This dump would not not meet international safety standards for radioactive waste management.


The dump would not meet provincial standards for hazardous waste disposal.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material. All discharges, no matter how small,  into our air and water can cause cancer and many other diseases as well as genetic damage and birth defects.”

~ Dr. Eric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
 

 

February 23, 2021 Posted by | Canada, radiation, wastes | Leave a comment

Ohio House and Senate wrestle with Bills about the nuclear bailout law

February 23, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

Opposition to nuclear dump plan for upstream at Chalk River

February 23, 2021 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

The ”New Yorker” sinks to sloppy sentimenta praise of pro nuclear advocates

The Once-Proud New Yorker Soils Itself in Radioactive Offal  https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/67935-rsn-the-once-proud-new-yorker-soils-itself-in-radioactive-offal, By Harvey Wasserman, 21 February 21

or decades, The New Yorker has set a high bar for journalistic excellence.

Graced by its signature brand of droll, sophisticated cartooning, the magazine’s exquisitely edited screeds have reliably delivered profound analyses of the world’s most pressing issues.

But in a breathless, amateurish pursuit of atomic energy, the editorial staff has leapt into a sad sinkhole of radioactive mediocracy.

The latest is Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow’s shallow, shoddy “Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power,” yet another tedious plea that we learn to love the Peaceful Atom.

For at least a century, countless scientific pioneers have exposed the murderous realities of nuclear radiation. Legendary researchers like Marie Curie, Alice Stewart, Rosalie Bertell, Helen Caldicott, John Gofman, Ernest Sternglass, Thomas Mancuso, Karl Z. Morgan, Samuel Epstein, Robert Alvarez, Arnie Gundersen, Amory Lovins, and others have issued vital warnings.

In Pavlovian opposition, the industry has rolled out an endless array of amateur “environmentalists” whose activist credentials are distinguished only by an endless love for atomic power.

Most infamous are Greenpeace veteran Patrick Moore and Berkeley-based Michael Shellenberger, both climate skeptics who share a theatrical passion for uninspected, uninsured nukes. With no credible scientific credentials, this unholy pair has conjured imaginative advocacies for companion corporate embarrassments like genetically modified food, clear-cut deforestation, and more.

With far more prestige, climate pioneer Dr. James Hanson and Whole Earth Catalogue founder Stewart Brand have brought significant gravitas to the nuclear debate.

But The New Yorker dotes on two workers at California’s Diablo Canyon. Neither is a scientist. Both claim to be “environmentalists.” One wears a lavender pendant made of uranium glass which “emits a near-negligible amount” of radiation, despite a huge body of scientific evidence warning this is a literally insane thing to do – especially for someone who might be around small children.

The writer lauds her heroines for calling themselves “Mothers for Nuclear” while snubbing legendary “Mothers for Peace” activists who’ve organized locally for a half-century. While touring Diablo with her new best friends, the author coos that “we smiled as if we were at Disneyland.”

Such “Nuclear Renaissance” absurdities are very old news.

Given The New Yorker’s stellar history, we might expect a meaningful, in-depth exploration of today’s core atomic realities: no more big reactors will be built in the US, and our 90+ old plants are in deep, dangerous disarray.

Forbes long ago branded atomic power “the largest managerial failure in US history.” America’s very last two reactors (at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle) sucked up $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees from Barack Obama plus $3.7 billion more from Donald Trump. Years behind schedule, Vogtle’s final price tag (if it ever opens) will exceed $30 billion.

South Carolina’s engineering and legal morass at V.C. Summer wasted more than $10 billion on two failed reactors. In Ohio, $61 million in utility bribes for a massive nuke bailout have shattered the state.

As for alternatives, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow says, “nuclear scientists, for their part, are working on smaller, more nimble nuclear reactors. There are complex economic considerations, which are inseparable from policy.”

In other words, the proposed Small Modular Reactors are already so clearly uncompetitive that only obsessive pro-nukers (like Bill Gates) think they’ll hold market value against wind and solar (which The New Yorker attacks).

Precisely as ice storms froze feedwater pipes and shut one of two reactors at the South Texas Nuclear Plant, the magazine falsely claims that atomic reactors do “not depend on particular weather conditions to operate.” Globally-warmed rivers can no longer reliably cool many French reactors. Earthquakes have dangerously damaged US-designed nukes in Ohio and Virginia. Intake pipes at Diablo and other coastal plants are vulnerable to tsunami surges. Staggering design and construction flaws (a major Diablo component was once installed backwards; boric acid ate through key parts of Ohio’s Davis-Besse) give the entire industry a Keystone Kops/Rube Goldberg aura.

Tuhus-Dubrow skims the waste issue. Dry casks at Diablo and elsewhere are generally less than an inch thick. They can’t be re-opened for inspection or maintenance, and are already cracking (more-versatile German casks are 19 inches thick).

With an average age of well over 30, US reactors face dangerous decay. After four years of Trump, and even longer as a corrupt rubber stamp, the infamously dysfunctional Nuclear Regulatory Commission has left these collapsing, uninsured jalopies virtually unregulated and uninspected.

Tuhus-Dubrow ignores the fact that (unlike Disneyland) Diablo Unit One was long ago reported to be severely embrittled. That means critical components could shatter like glass if flooded to contain a meltdown. Ensuing Chernobyl-scale steam and hydrogen explosions would spread apocalyptic radiation throughout the ecosphere.

Despite a petition signed by more than 2,000 Californians and key Hollywood A-listers, Gov. Gavin Newsom refuses to inspect Diablo’s decayed reactors.

The New Yorker says smoke coming from huge northern California fires dimmed solar panels. But those fires were caused by the gross incompetence, neglect, and mismanagement of the twice-bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric, which runs Diablo.

PG&E is a federal felon, convicted for killing scores of Californians in avoidable explosions and fires. Tuhus-Dubrow simply ignores such slipshod mismanagement, which could prove catastrophic at a nuke as old as Diablo.

Overall, the nuke power debate has long since transcended random, folksy industry devotees who like to label themselves “green.” No serious analyst argues that, after the fiscal fiascos at V.C. Summer and Plant Vogtle, any big new reactors will ever be built in the US. Small ones are cost-prohibitive pipe dreams, especially as wind, solar, battery and LED/efficiency technologies continue to advance.

The question of how long America’s 90+ jalopy nukes can run until the next one explodes remains unanswered … and utterly terrifying.

Somehow, the revered New Yorker has polluted its pages with a pro-nuke fantasy while missing this most critical atomic issue.

Let’s hope it corrects the deficiency before the next Chernobyl lays waste to our own nation.

 


Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at www.solatopia.org, along with The People’s Spiral of US History.

February 22, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons — they’re illegal 

February 22, 2021 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Lies in Texas, as Republicans blame renewable energy for cold weather traumas

February 22, 2021 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

I am appalled at the idea of ”Mothers For Nuclear”

As a mother myself, I am appalled that such a group as ”Mothers For Nuclear” even exists.  Dont

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

they know about the effects of ionising radiation on women, especially pregnant women?   Don’t they know about the breast cancers, the birth deformities in irradiated areas such as Pacific atomic bomb sites, and Belarus-Ukraine, near the Chernobyl site.  No, they don’t seem to.  (Perhaps that ‘s the beauty of a narrowly S.T.E.M. education?)

Both Heather Hoff and Kristin Zaitz work at the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant.   Hoff worked as a plant operator, and now as a procedure writer.  Zaitz works as a civil engineer.

Hoff was inspired by none other than that top nuclear schill Michael Shellenberger, and by the glossy  nuclear advertising film ”Pandora’s Promise”.

They sound very sincere, but also very ignorant of the negative issues around the nuclear industry.

Why am I not surprised?   The nuclear industry is busting its guts trying to get women onside.  Their favourite thing is getting (preferably young and attractive) women into engineering, and at the top of nuclear companies.    (This is good in two ways  – good to promote the industry’s ‘gender equality’ image, and good if they muck up, as Leslie Dewan did, in her bogus claims for Transatomic’s molten salt reactor –  let a woman take the flak!)

The thing is – lots of women have expertise in biology, genetics – and an understanding of the effects of ionising radiation.  But the nuclear industry has got us all conned that these are ”soft”sciences.  So – if you’ve got ”hard” scienvce knowledge – like engineering, then you can be an authority on nuclear issues.

These two women sound very sincere – alarmingly so.

The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power, New Yorker, By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, February 19, 2021

“……… But Hoff and Zaitz work at a nuclear plant and have been flown to give talks at industry-sponsored events; Mothers for Nuclear has received small donations from others who work in the industry. There is no denying the conflict of interest posed by their employment; even within the pro-nuclear community, their industry ties provoke uneasiness. Nordhaus, the executive director of the Breakthrough Institute, wrote in an e-mail that, although he thinks Hoff and Zaitz are “well-intentioned,” nuclear advocacy should be independent of what he called “the legacy industry.” ……..
On the air, Hoff explained who they were. “Mothers for Nuclear offers a different voice,” she said. “Nuclear power plants are run by lots of men, and women have been more scared of nuclear energy. We’re here to offer the motherly side of nuclear—nuclear for the future, for our children, for the planet.”…….

To be fervently pro-nuclear, in the manner of Hoff and Zaitz, is to see in the peaceful splitting of the atom something almost miraculous. It is to see an energy source that has been steadily providing low-carbon electricity for decades—doing vastly more good than harm, saving vastly more lives than it has taken—but which has received little credit and instead been maligned. It is to believe that the most significant problem with nuclear power, by far, is public perception. ………..—the pro-nuclear world view can edge toward dogmatism. Hoff and Zaitz certainly seem readier to tout studies that confirm their views, and reluctant to acknowledge any flaws that nuclear energy may have. ……https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-activists-who-embrace-nuclear-power

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Christina's notes, spinbuster, USA, Women | 3 Comments

Natural gas, not renewable energy, was most responsibe for Texas power failure in freezing conditions

Why is Texas suffering power blackouts during the winter freeze?

The oil- and gas-rich state is experiencing what officials call a ‘total failure’ of its electricity infrastructure  Guardian,  Lauren Aratani, Thu 18 Feb 2021…...Did renewable energy play a role in the grid’s malfunction?

While Republicans have been blaming frozen wind turbines for the state’s blackouts, officials and experts say that malfunctions in natural gas operations played the largest role in the power crisis.

Ercot said all of its sources of power, including those from renewable sources, were affected by the freezing temperatures. The state largely relies on natural gas for its power supply, though some comes from wind turbines and less from coal and nuclear sources.

Natural gas can handle the state’s high temperatures in the summer, but extreme cold weather makes it difficult for the gas to flow to power plants and heat homes. Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas Austin, told the Texas Tribune that “gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now”.

With the climate crisis likely to trigger more freak weather events like the one Texas is suffering it is noteworthy that there are places that experience frigidly cold weather that rely heavily on wind turbines and manage to have electricity in the winter. In Iowa, a state which sees freezing temperatures more often than Texas, nearly 40% of electricity is generated by wind turbines……. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/18/why-is-texas-suffering-power-blackouts-during-the-winter-freeze

February 20, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, USA | Leave a comment

In Texas freezing temperatures, the major power loss was from coal, gas, nuclear facilities, not renewables

BBC 18th Feb 2021, As freezing temperatures grip the southern United States, there have been
major power failures across Texas as increased demand for heating has overwhelmed the energy grid. Supplies of both electricity and gas have been intermittent, with the authorities saying they need to “safely manage the balance of supply and demand on the grid” to avoid another major power cut.
Republican representatives and media commentators have blamed green energy policies, in particular the increased use of wind turbines. The bitingly cold temperatures have caused major problems across the energy sector in Texas. Wind turbines froze, as well as vital equipment at gas wells and in the nuclear industry.
But because gas and other non-renewable energies contribute far more to the grid than wind power, particularly in winter, these shortages had a far greater impact on the system. So when critics pointed to a loss of nearly half of Texas’s wind-energy capacity as a result of frozen turbines, they failed to point out double that amount was being lost from gas and other non-renewable supplies such as coal and nuclear.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-56085733

February 20, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

USA to join in multilateral talks with EU and Iran, on return to nuclear deal

Guardian 19th Feb 2021, The US has agreed to take part in multilateral talks with Iran hosted by the EU, with the aim of negotiating a return by both countries to the 2015
nuclear deal that is close to falling apart in the wake of the Trump
administration.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/19/iran-nuclear-deal-us-agrees-to-join-talks-brokered-by-eu

February 20, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s ”doomsday ships”, during the cold War

There Were Doomsday Ships Ready To Ride Out Nuclear Armageddon Before There Were Doomsday Planes, The Drive,  THOMAS NEWDICK , 19 Feb 20

Among the U.S. government’s ever-evolving plans for what to do in an all-out nuclear confrontation, some of the least known involved highly modified warships that were deployed during one of the tensest periods between the Soviet Union and the United States. Had the Cold War turned hot, the U.S. president likely would have called the shots in the ensuing nuclear exchange from one of these remarkable ‘floating White Houses.’ These fascinating vessels were in every way a part of the ancestory of today’s ‘doomsday plane’ airborne command posts.
The program was officially known as the National Emergency Command Post Afloat, or NECPA, pronounced ‘neck-pa.’ It eventually yielded two specially equipped ships, the first of which, USS Northampton, began its new mission in March 1962………..

The operating principle behind NECPA called for one of these two vessels to be permanently at sea, with the ships rotating duty every two weeks. In this way, at least one of the vessels was afforded more protection against a surprise attack from the Soviet Union. In such a scenario, or other times of increased superpower tensions, the president and other national leaders would be transferred to the vessel that was on duty…….   https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/39301/there-were-doomsday-ships-ready-to-ride-out-nuclear-armageddon-before-there-were-doomsday-planes

February 20, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment