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John Wayne and the movie crew killed by nuclear radiation

John Wayne squares off against Jim Hansen, Medium,  Albert Bates, 11 Jan 2020     “……..The famous cowboy actor John Wayne may have been felled by the same foe, as was Marie Curie. From 1951 to 1962 the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) detonated more than 100 bombs in the southwestern US desert, sending huge pinkish plumes of radioactive dust across the stony valleys and canyons of southern Utah and northern Arizona. It gave each “shot” names like Annie, Eddie, Humboldt and Badger. Eleven of those tests were part of a series called Upshot-Knothole in Utah in 1953. In 1954, the Upshot-Knothole site was chosen as the location for a John Wayne film called The Conqueror.

The AEC sent a scientist with a Geiger counter to show Wayne that the location was safe enough for him to bring his wife and children to visit the set. The Geiger counter is said to have crackled so loudly Wayne thought it was broken. Waving it over clumps of cactus, rock and sand produced the same loud result. The Duke, by all accounts, shrugged it off. By 1980, 91 out of 220 cast and crew on The Conquerer had contracted cancer and 46 of them, including Wayne and co- stars Dick Powell, Pedro Armendáriz, Agnes Moorehead, and Susan Hayward had died. Those numbers did not include the families of the cast and crew. John Wayne’s wife and two sons all got cancer. While the two sons survived, the daughter of one of Wayne’s sons also died of cancer. Hayward’s son Tim Barker had a benign tumor removed from his mouth. Many of the Native American Paiute extras went on to die of cancer also……..https://medium.com/@albertbates/john-wayne-squares-off-against-jim-hansen-42a258b2260d

January 21, 2020 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. cities near nuclear weapons stations realise they are targets

Cities in the crosshairs are pushing back against nuclear weapons

“We forget that all power is local. And by forgetting to act locally, we are giving away all the power.” Salon.com JON LETMAN, JANUARY 19, 2020 This article originally appeared on Truthout.   Two years after a mistakenly sent text alert warning of an inbound ballistic missile threat caused widespread panic and confusion across Hawaii, cities remain potential targets and nuclear jitters continue to grow around the world.

Panicked responses to the erroneous text alert — which read “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL” and was accidentally issued on January 13, 2018, to Hawaii residents via the Emergency Alert System and Commercial Mobile Alert System — revealed how believably close nuclear fears hover to our everyday life

And now two years later, at the beginning of 2020, those fears have grown even stronger following a year in which talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula faltered, fears of a nuclear clash between India and Pakistan spiked, and Russia announced it had deployed its first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles.

Meanwhile, the U.S. abandoned the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty and continued to undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal) after it unilaterally withdrew in 2018. Now, many fear the U.S. will likely withdraw from the Open Skies and New START treaties.

As the U.S. modernizes its nuclear arsenal at a cost that could exceed $1.5 trillion and the other eight nuclear armed states upgrade their own nuclear weapons, ordinary citizens and the leaders of cities, towns, and municipalities around the world are resisting nuclear weapons through efforts like the Back from the Brink campaign and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ #ICANSave Cities appeal.

Across the U.S., cities like SeattleAlbuquerqueColorado Springs and others are located near key military installations, which some see as a good reason to oppose nuclear policies. Today, more than 40 U.S. cities including, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Honolulu have adopted a Back from the Brink resolution, which puts forward five policy goals aimed at reducing the threat of nuclear war: no first use of nuclear weapons, end sole authority to launch a nuclear attack, take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, cancel modernization/replacement of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and ultimately seek the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Back from the Brink aims to prompt cities, counties, and local governments to pressure Congress and the Trump administration to adopt the above five points.

Dozens of smaller cities from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Arcata, California, have adopted the resolution, as have local and state governments across the U.S. More than a dozen more cities (Little Rock, Chicago, Madison) and states (New York, Vermont, Washington) have proposed resolutions.

In a joint article, three council members representing Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Montgomery County, Maryland, wrote, “As leaders of the Greater Washington area, home to the seat of our federal government and headquarters of its military — we are particularly at risk. We are living in the crosshairs of America’s enemies, both hostile governments and terrorists.” That risk, and the financial costs associated with nuclear weapons, led all three communities to adopt Back from the Brink resolutions…………

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) launched its #ICANSAVE cities appeal in 2018, calling on cities large and small around the world to formally support the 2017 U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The ban treaty, currently ratified by 34 nations, will enter into legal force once 50 nations have done so.

ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn says that while, for many people, nuclear weapons can feel abstract and theoretical, it’s important to remain focused on their fundamental purpose.

“What these weapons really are made for is to wipe out whole cities. These are not precision guidance that will take out a specific military facility,” Fihn told Truthout. “We are so obsessed by staring at these world leaders, we forget that all power is local. And by forgetting to act locally, we are giving away all the power.”……….. https://www.salon.com/2020/01/19/cities-in-the-crosshairs-are-pushing-back-against-nuclear-weapons_partner/

January 20, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Need to improve Hanford radiation exposure records

January 20, 2020 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

The B-52 Stratofortress will no longer carry the B61-7 and B83-1 nuclear gravity bombs

January 20, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new law in USA pushes regulators to approve new nuclear reactor plans

Regulators Urged to Spur Advanced Nuclear Power Under New Law, Dean Scott, Reporter, Jan. 16, 2020, 
  • NRC taking steps toward regulatory path for advanced reactors
  • Barrasso says nuclear industry shrinking

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects its first application for a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors in a few weeks, as it works to implement a 2019 law meant to spur such technologies, agency officials told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday.

The 2019 law, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (P. Law 115-439), introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and signed by President Donald Trump in 2019, was cosponsored by the top Democrat on the Senate environment panel, Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), and seven other Democrats…….(subscribers only)  https://news.bloombergenvironment.com/environment-and-energy/regulators-urged-to-spur-advanced-nuclear-power-under-new-law

January 20, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

California fights NASA over toxic Santa Susana nuclear site

California, NASA Clash Over Cleanup at Nuclear, Rocket Site,   https://news.bloombergenvironment.com/environment-and-energy/california-nasa-clash-over-cleanup-at-nuclear-rocket-site

  • California says the space agency is not adhering to past agreements
  • NASA needs to redraft a cleanup plan, toxics agency says

California’s toxics agency is opposing a revised NASA cleanup plan to remove contamination at a former rocket and energy research site where a partial meltdown happened decades ago, calling the federal agency’s proposal irregular, infeasible, and legally deficient.

It’s the latest fight in a long tussle over the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a 2,850-acre site in Simi Valley near Los Angeles, where an estimated 17,000 rockets engine tests occurred. The lab, which operated from 1948 to 2006, was also home to 10 nuclear reactors where the Energy Department and what is now the Boeing Co. did energy research.

The site experienced a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959, but evidence wasn’t revealed until 20 years later. Cleanup work has been ongoing since the 1960s.

Cesium-137

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration agreed to a consent order in 2010 with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control requiring soil remediation of the site, which was contaminated with 16 radiologicals like cesium-137, and 116 chemicals.

A final environmental review was completed in 2014, but the space agency issued a separate draft cleanup plan in October based on new data showing more contamination.

The draft plan provides options for how much soil would be excavated. One option, the one that reflects the agreement in original administrative order on consent with the state, calls for excavating 870,000 cubic yards, an increase from the 500,000 cubic yards estimated in the 2014 plan to meet the standard agreed upon with the state. The other options call for removing lesser amounts, down to 176,500 cubic yards. The plan also considers a no-action alternative.

NASA said in the draft supplemental environmental impact statement that it hasn’t chosen a preferred option yet.

In a letter sent to NASA Jan. 8, the Department of Toxic Substances Control asked the space agency to revise its cleanup plans to reflect the original administrative order on consent, known as an AOC.

State Agency Rejects Other Options

“NASA must also be aware that DTSC is not open to considering NASA cleanup alternatives which are non-compliant with the AOC,” the letter said. “DTSC also will not renegotiate the binding AOC soil cleanup commitments to accommodate challenges NASA claims will be posed by the [Santa Susana Field Laboratory] cleanup implementation.”

The letter criticized some of NASA’s options as irregular because they called for decreased cleanup when contamination had ncreased. It called excavating less contaminated soil than called for in the 2010 agreement infeasible.

“NASA has failed to provide a rational explanation or data to support the [DSEIS] irregularities and unexplained reversal,” DTSC wrote, calling the plan “legally deficient.”

In its draft cleanup plan, NASA said it would be hard to find adequate backfill to support vegetation in areas that were excavated.

A NASA spokeswoman said Jan. 14 that the agency was reviewing comments made about the draft plan and valued input from all stakeholders.

“NASA is eager to work with DTSC and the community to implement a cleanup that is based in science, technically achievable, and is protective of the surrounding community and the natural environment,” Jennifer Stanfield wrote in an email.

NASA didn’t immediately respond to a question about other cleanup sites where revisions to agreements were being sought. DTSC couldn’t immediately say if the space agency had sought changes at other state cleanup sites.

Groups Back Cleanup Agreement

Community, environmental, and justice groups say the 2010 plan reached with the state is adequate and that NASA has no authority to decide how much contamination it must remove.

New estimates pointing to more contamination than previously thought also mean NASA should redouble cleanup efforts, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Committee to Bridge the Gap said in a comment letter to NASA about its draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS).

“The decision by the Trump Administration NASA to issue this DSEIS sets the stage for abandoning huge amounts of chemically hazardous material and would consign this important land in Southern California, set in the midst of millions of California residents, to never be cleaned up,” the groups wrote.

The new plan wasn’t a surprise. A NASA inspector general report issued in March said the cleanup would take too long and would be too costly and stringent. The Department of Energy is also seeking to reduce its cleanup obligations.

For its part, the toxics agency plans to issue a final environmental impact report this summer that “fully complies with and implements” the 2010 agreement, DTSC spokesman Russ Edmondson said in an email.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily C. Dooley at edooley@bloombergenvironment.com, To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Sylvia Carignan at scarignan@bloombergenvironment.com; Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergenvironment.com

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January 18, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Power creates hubris; and the United States of America is one of nine nations inflicted with nuclear hubris

Nuclear Hubris

If an attack of any sort kills “hundreds of thousands or even millions” of people—their deaths are instantly belittled if they aren’t Americans. Common Dreams, by Robert C. Koehler, 17 Jan 2020

One thing that becomes clear to me when I wander into the world, and the minds, of geopolitical professionals—government people—is how limited and linear their thinking seems to be.

When I do so, an internal distress signal starts beeping and won’t stop, especially when the issue under discussion is war and mass destruction, i.e., suicide by nukes, which has a freshly intense relevance these days as Team Trump plays war with Iran.

What doesn’t matter, apparently, is any awareness that we live in one world, connected at the core: that the problems confronting this planet transcend the fragmentary “interests” of single, sovereign entities, even if the primary interest is survival itself.

The question for me goes well beyond democracy—the right of the public to have a say in what “we” do as a nation—and penetrates the decision-making process itself and the prevailing definition of what matters . . . and what doesn’t. What doesn’t matter, apparently, is any awareness that we live in one world, connected at the core: that the problems confronting this planet transcend the fragmentary “interests” of single, sovereign entities, even if the primary interest is survival itself.

I fear that this country’s geopolitical thinking and decision-making are incapable of stepping beyond the concept of violent (including thermonuclear) self-defense, or even, indeed, acknowledging that consequences emerge from such actions that go well beyond the strategic considerations that summon them.

Recently, for instance, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, keeper of the annually updated Doomsday Clock, which serves as an international warning signal on the state of global danger from nuclear war and climate change, published an essay by James N. Miller, former undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the Obama administration, defending the fact that the U.S. government maintains a policy that allows “first use” of nuclear weapons under certain circumstances. ……..

Miller’s essay, titled “No to No First Use—for Now,” set off, as I say, an internal distress signal that wouldn’t shut up, beginning with the fact that the essay addressed simply this country’s self-granted permission to use nuclear weapons first, before the other guy did, under “extreme circumstances,” if it so chose. What was missing from this essay was any suggestion that nuclear disarmament—no use ever—deserved consideration. This was not up for discussion. ……..

let me make an introduction. James Miller, meet Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

“At dozens of locations around the world—in missile silos buried in our earth, on submarines navigating through our oceans, and aboard planes flying high in our sky—lie 15,000 objects of humankind’s destruction,” Fihn said during her acceptance speech. “Perhaps it is the enormity of this fact, perhaps it is the unimaginable scale of the consequences, that leads many to simply accept this grim reality. To go about our daily lives with no thought to the instruments of insanity all around us. . . .

“As fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, Martin Luther King Jr, called them from this very stage in 1964, these weapons are ‘both genocidal and suicidal.’ They are the madman’s gun held permanently to our temple. These weapons were supposed to keep us free, but they deny us our freedoms.

“It’s an affront to democracy to be ruled by these weapons. But they are just weapons. They are just tools. And just as they were created by geopolitical context, they can just as easily be destroyed by placing them in a humanitarian context.”

And I return to that question I posed earlier: Why?

Why is this level of thinking not present at the highest levels of our government? Power is an enormous paradox. We’re the greatest military superpower on the planet, and this fact is consuming our ability to think and act in a rational and humane manner. Power creates hubris; and the United States of America is one of nine nations inflicted with nuclear hubris. We can tell other nations (e.g., Iran) what to do, but we’re not about to do it ourselves.

Feel safe yet?  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/01/16/nuclear-hubris

January 18, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Over 32,000 potassium iodide pills ordered in 2 days after Pickering nuclear power plant alert error  

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Canada, incidents | Leave a comment

The fallout from a false nuclear alarm 

The fallout from a false nuclear alarm  The Conversation, Jack L. Rozdilsky
Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, CanadaJanuary 14, 2020
   On Sunday at 7:23 a.m., residents of the Greater Toronto Area were abruptly awakened by an alert issued by Ontario’s Emergency Alert Ready System stating: “An incident was reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation.”At 8:06 a.m., the Ontario Power Generation released a statement that the alert was issued in error and that there was no danger to the public or the environment. At 9:11 a.m., another message from the Provincial Alert Ready System stated that the initial nuclear alert was “in error.”………..

Other false nuclear alerts This false alarm is not the first time that a nuclear-related alert has been issued during in error during an exercise. In January 2018, an alert was issued in Hawaii warning of an impending ballistic missile attack. Thirty-eight minutes later, the alert was rescinded as a false alarm.

In the Hawaii case, similar to what happened in Ontario on January 12, a public alert was accidentally issued during a routine internal test of the Emergency Alert System. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency released a statement that the false alert was due to human error.

Jeopardizing trust

Within hours of the false nuclear alarm, the office of Ontario’s Solicitor General released a statement of apology and said a full investigation has been launched into the error made during the routine training exercise. Those initial actions are only the first steps in attempting to repair the damage.

If we take the incident in Hawaii as a guide, the fallout was far-reaching. In the immediate term, all upcoming emergency drills and exercises were suspended. Changes were put in place, such as a two-person verification rule along with a new cancellation command system for public alerts. As the false alarm became a scandal, state-level emergency management officials resigned. Human error and poor software design were identified as root causes, and investigations suggested revamping the system, specifically in terms of oversight of the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System in the United States.

The bottom line is that a false alarm for an incident at a nuclear power station erodes public safety efforts. Fortunately, the risks realized from the Ontario emergency alert were not related to actual radioactive fallout. The fallout from the false alarm is that the public’s trust in emergency alert systems was jeopardized. https://theconversation.com/the-fallout-from-a-false-nuclear-alarm-129766

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics, safety | 1 Comment

U.S. Senate must reaffirm that the power to make war rests with Congress, NOT the President

January 13, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Republican law-maker opposes Canada storing high-level nuclear waste near Lake Huron  

Rep. Howell fights Canadian plan to store high-level nuclear waste near Lake Huron  http://gophouse.org/rep-howell-fights-canadian-plan-to-store-high-level-nuclear-waste-near-lake-huron/, 12 Jan 2020

Resolution calls on Canada to nix proposal to bury nuclear waste near the Great Lakes

State Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, has introduced a resolution to prevent the Canadian government from proceeding with the proposed construction of an underground nuclear waste repository on the shores of Lake Huron. Howell serves as chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. The Resolution is cosponsored by State Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron.

Howell’s House Concurrent Resolution 12 calls on Congress to prevent Canada’s most dangerous nuclear waste from being buried near the shores of Lake Huron. The nuclear waste dump is being proposed by the Ontario Power Generation Company for a site directly across the lake from Michigan’s Thumb.

“It is not in the best interest of the people of the United States or Canada to allow this outrageous proposal to proceed,” Howell said. “This would be high-level nuclear waste from every nuclear plant in Canada. The waste would be placed at Kincardine, Ontario less than a mile from the Lake Huron shore and only 1,300 feet below the lake level – making for a potential catastrophe waiting to happen. We cannot jeopardize the safety of our citizens – especially when the Great Lakes provide drinking water for more than 40 million people.

“This is a high-risk venture that could have long-term devastating effects on millions of lives,” Howell said. “To construct an underground waste repository in limestone, the very first of its kind, would be totally irresponsible. Limestone has never been tested to demonstrate that it will work in practice. The potential damage to the Great Lakes from any leak of radioactivity far outweighs any benefits that could be derived from disposing of radioactive waste at this site.

“The ecology of the Great Lakes is valuable beyond measure to the health and economic well-being of our entire region,” Howell said. “I strongly urge Congress to take every legal action possible to prevent this from happening. Just look at Germany – it is spending billions of dollars right now to dig up low-to-intermediate radioactive waste stored in a salt mine due to a leakage and other environmental concerns. This proposal involves much more serious high-level nuclear waste – the worst of the worst. We don’t need to create these types of problems on the Great Lakes.”

If adopted, House Concurrent Resolution 12 would be sent to the President of the United States, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Canadian officials

January 13, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s latest unwise move -setting up a massive nuclear crisis with Iran

Trump is setting up a massive nuclear crisis with Iran, The Week,

David Fari   Republican analysts and officials spent most the week taking a macabre and unearned victory lap, celebrating President Trump’s rub-out of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the tepid Iranian response. 10 Jan 2020 Lee Smith, in the New York Postcalled it “a strategic victory for President Trump,” that could result in “a political masterstroke.” The Daily Wire‘s Ben Shapiro, with his trademark magnanimity, declared on Twitter that “deterrence worked, you f—ing numbskulls.”
Dead Soleimani Fever even spread to the theoretically sane, with Time columnist Ian Bremmer calling it “a win for Trump” and claiming that negotiations are now more likely. It’s all a bit premature. While Iran chose not to further escalate this week, the situation remains combustible. The most significant danger is still an Iranian decision to pursue immediate nuclear breakout, something the president’s blundering and blustering has made much more likely.

First, the fog of war created by the president’s decision to assassinate Soleimani led to tragedy, as Iran seems to have accidentally shot down a planeload of innocent civilians. While most of the blame goes to whichever incompetent Iranian operator pulled the trigger, the reality is that all 176 of those people, including 63 Canadians, would be alive today if the U.S. had not carried out its hit on Soleimani. For another, we should remember that a month passed between the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the outbreak of WWI.

More importantly, just because both the Trump administration and senior Iranian leadership seem to share an aversion to full-scale war and pulled back from the brink this time doesn’t mean that the Soleimani killing was costless for the U.S.

The day after the Iranian response, the seldom-seen Teleprompter Trump showed up to deliver a short, sober speech. “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” President Trump said on Wednesday. He said this before saying “good morning” to the assembled crowd. The specter of an Iranian nuke is still, ostensibly, the overriding goal of American policy vis-à-vis Iran. Yet everything that Trump has done since the day he took office has made an Iranian nuclear breakout more likely.

Trump’s speech was, of course, full of the kind of obvious lies that truly seem to have driven his policymaking. For example: “The very defective JCPoA expires shortly anyway,” the president claimed. Yet most provisions of the Iran Deal, including prohibitions on enrichment activities, were scheduled to run through 2030. Feel free to critique these sunset provisions all you want, but that’s not “shortly.”
The need to lie shamelessly about what was actually in the Iran Deal stems from the total and dangerous incoherence of the Trump administration’s policies. Binning the Iran Deal and re-imposing crushing economic sanctions on Iran might at some point conceivably restrict the regime’s ability to exert power beyond its borders in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Yet so far it has had the opposite effect of causing Iran to lash out unpredictably and redouble its efforts to use proxies as implements of power projection. The goal of this mischief was not to draw the U.S. into war, but rather to convince the administration that the costs of incinerating the Iran Deal were greater than the benefits and that Tehran has no intention of reining in or cutting off its regional proxies.
At the same time — and I can’t believe that this actually needs to be said — shredding a nuclear agreement that Tehran was complying with makes it more likely that Iran will develop and test a nuclear weapon. For the Iranians, the U.S. walking away from this agreement proves that we can never be trusted, and that negotiating their nuclear rights away is both fruitless and counterproductive. The regime has already restarted enrichment activities it had verifiably halted under the deal, and after the Soleimani killing, announced they would not observe any of the restrictions in the JCPoA.
This is what actually makes war a terrifyingly real possibility. The Trump administration has drawn a bright red line around an Iranian nuclear breakout. It threw away one of only two things standing between the regime and a nuclear weapon. One was the Iran Deal. The other, of course, is war, a massive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that may or may not work anyway. And unlike the assassination of Soleimani, an aerial assault on the Iranian homeland will not be met with only a volley of artfully aimed missiles.
The Soleimani gambit is thus doubly ominous. It further eroded any chance of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. And it has now given trigger-happy Iran hawks inside the Trump administration false confidence about how far it can push things with Iran………..

https://theweek.com/articles/888687/trump-setting-massive-nuclear-crisis-iran 

January 13, 2020 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Canadians got a false alert about a nuclear power plant incident

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors’ costs and toxicity

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19

“……….4 Small Modular – Nuclear – Reactors’ costs & toxicity

That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful than we are. This is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be.

Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors.” None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.

The chances that any one design will corner enough of the market to become financially viable in the long run is unlikely. So the second Nuclear Renaissance may carry the seeds of its own destruction right from the outset. Unfortunately, governments are not well equipped to do a serious independent investigation of the validity of the intoxicating claims made by the promoters, who of course conveniently overlook the persistent problem of long-lived nuclear waste and of decommissioning the radioactive structures. These wastes pose a huge ecological and human health problem for countless generations to come.

Finally, in the list of projects being investigated, one finds a scaled-down “breeder reactor” fuelled with plutonium and cooled by liquid sodium metal, a material that reacts violently or explodes on contact with air or water. The breeder reactor is an old project abandoned by Jimmy Carter and discredited by the failure of the ill-fated French SuperPhénix because of its extremely dangerous nature. In the event of a nuclear accident, the Tennessee Clinch River Breeder Reactor was judged capable of poisoning twelve American states and the SuperPhénix half of France.

One suspects that our three premiers are only willing to revisit these bygone reactor designs in order to obtain funding from the federal government while avoiding responsibility for their inaction on more sensible strategies for combatting climate changes – cheaper, faster and safer alternatives, based on investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.

By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix. https://nbmediacoop.org/2019/12/21/small-modular-nuclear-reactors-a-case-of-wishful-thinking-at-best/

Gordon Edwards, PhD ccnr@web.ca
Michel Duguay, PhD michel.duguay@gel.ulaval.ca
Pierre Jasmin, jasmin.pierre@uqam.ca

This article is also published in French, link here.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – a wasteful distraction from real efforts to combat climate change

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19“…….3 Climate changes’ valid preoccupation (1)

Many people concerned about climate change want to know more about the moral and ethical choices regarding low-carbon technologies: “Don’t we have a responsibility to use nuclear?”  The short reply is: nuclear is too slow and too expensive. The ranking of options should be based on what is cheapest and fastest — beginning with energy efficiency, then on to off-the-shelf renewables like wind and solar energy.

In Germany, Dr. David Jacobs, founder of International Energy Transition Consulting, is proudly mentioning the green energy sector’s contribution in achieving the lowest unemployment rate since reunification of his country in the early 1990s. Post-Fukushima Angela Merkel’s decision to close down all of its nuclear reactors by 2022 has pushed the country to purchase photovoltaic solar panels and 30,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in only 8 years: an impressive achievement – more than twice the total installed nuclear capacity of Canada. It would be impossible to build 30,000 megawatts of nuclear in only 8 years. By building wind generators, Germany obtained some carbon relief in the very first year of construction, then got more benefit in the second year, even more benefit in the third, and so on, building up to a cumulative capacity of 30,000 MWe after 8 years.

With nuclear, even if you could manage to build 30,000 megawatts in 8 years, you would get absolutely no benefit during that entire 8-year construction period. In fact you would be making the problem worse by mining uranium, fabricating fuel, pouring concrete and building the reactor core and components, all adding to greenhouse gas emissions – earning no benefit until (and IF) everything is finally ready to function. In the meantime (10 to 20 years), you will have starved the efficiency and renewable alternatives of the funds and political will needed to implement technologies that can really make an immediate and substantial difference.

In Saskatchewan, professor Jim Harding, who was director of Prairie Justice Research at University of Regina where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project, has offered his own reflection; here is the conclusion of his December 2, 2019 comment:

“In short, small reactors are another distraction from Saskatchewan having the highest levels of GHGs on the planet – nearly 70 metric tonnes per capita. While the rest of Canada has been lowering emissions, those here, along with Alberta with its high-carbon tar sands, have continued to rise. Saskatchewan and Alberta’s emissions are now almost equal to all the rest of Canada. Shame on us!”

In the USA, engineers and even CEOs of some of the leading nuclear companies are admitting that the age of nuclear energy is virtually over in North America. This negative judgment is not coming from people who are opposed to nuclear power, quite the opposite — from people lamenting the decline. See, for example, one major report from the Engineering faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment