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Seismic Concerns at Los Angeles Nuclear Laboratory and Expanded Plutonium Pit Production

Seismic Concerns at LANL and Expanded Plutonium Pit Production http://nuclearactive.org/, May 19th, 2022, Ongoing  Plutonium operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 are centered in the middle of the 36-square mile national nuclear weapons facility.  LANL is the only U.S. facility with the capabilities to fabricate plutonium triggers, or the fissile pits, for nuclear weapons.  However, Technical Area 55, or TA-55, is located within the complex Pajarito Fault Zone between two young, north – south running faults called the Guaje Mountain and    Rendija Canyon faults.  Visual evidence of faulting     can be found in the canyons to the north of TA-55.  http://nuclearactive.org/gilkeson/ see Seismic Documents.

The U.S. Department of Energy owns LANL.  It has plans for expansion of all things plutonium-pit production at the Plutonium Facility and at least five new support buildings at TA-55.  CCNS anticipates that DOE will continue its efforts to conceal and ignore the reality of the growing seismic threats of the young faults.

We witnessed similar efforts in the mid-2000s when DOE began to design a new super Walmart-sized Nuclear Facility within TA-55 next door to the Plutonium Facility.  DOE was so bold as to dig into the volcanic tuff with heavy equipment to prepare a pad for future construction.  http://www.nuclearactive.org/news/030510.html  In the end, public opposition and escalating costs forced the cancellation of its plans.  http://nuclearactive.org/livestreamed-nuclear-safety-board-hearing-on-february-21st-in-albuquerque/

Fabricating plutonium pits for nuclear weapons involves many steps – some using aqueous processes that result in water contaminated with radiation and hazardous materials.  That water is treated across the street from the Plutonium Facility at the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility and for decades was discharged through an industrial outfall into Effluent Canyon.  Since November 2011, though, the treated water has been evaporated into the air at a mechanical evaporator.  

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency renewed the five-year industrial permit for LANL to discharge through Outfall 051 into Effluent Canyon.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-industrial-wastewater-permit-final-npdes-permit-no-nm0028355

We note that on May 11th, CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, and the Albuquerque Veterans for Peace, Chapter No. 63, appealed the EPA decision to permit the outfall and five others to the Environmental Appeals Board.  https://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/EAB_Web_Docket.nsf/f22b4b245fab46c6852570e6004df1bd/ba987f24df0c356085258837004f3dcd

Then on May 5th, the New Mexico Environment Department approved for the first time a ground water discharge permit for not only for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, the outfall and Mechanical Evaporator, but for two large solar evaporative tanks, and a new low-level radioactive liquid waste treatment facility.  In addition, DOE plans to build a liquid waste treatment facility for the transuranic plutonium liquid waste.  https://www.env.nm.gov/public-notices/, go to Los Alamos County, and scroll down to DP-1132 where the draft permit is posted, but not the final permit.

These facilities are all in support of DOE’s plans for expanded plutonium pit production at LANL.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, safety, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Americans Divided on Nuclear Energy

News Gallup poll. BY LYDIA SAAD, 20 May 22

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • 51% of Americans favor, 47% oppose nuclear energy, similar to 2019
  • Recent views contrast with 2004 to 2015, when majorities backed it
  • Republicans and independents in favor, but not Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are evenly split on whether nuclear energy should be a source of electricity in the U.S., with 51% in favor and 47% opposed. Three years ago, the two camps were tied at 49%, while in 2016, the majority (54%) opposed nuclear power.

Americans’ relatively limited support for nuclear energy in recent years contrasts with more solid backing from 2004 to 2015, when majorities of between 53% and 62% favored it.

……………………….. As Gallup has found previously, support for nuclear energy also differs sharply by gender, while it varies modestly by education. Older adults are slightly more positive than those younger than 55, but differences by age have been less consistent over time.

  • Sixty-three percent of men versus 39% of women are in favor of using nuclear energy for electricity.
  • Support by education ranges from 57% of college graduates to 50% of those with some college experience and 45% of those with no college.
  • A 57% majority of adults 55 and older favor nuclear energy, compared with half of 18- to 34-year-olds and 45% of those aged 35 to 54.

……………………………….   https://news.gallup.com/poll/392831/americans-divided-nuclear-energy.aspx

May 21, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, USA | Leave a comment

Five new plutonium buildings for Los Alamos National Laboratory, with the costly funding details rather obscure

Nuclear agency plans five new plutonium buildings at Los Alamos lab, Santa Fe New Mexican , By Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com, May 18, 2022  

As a further sign Los Alamos National Laboratory is inching toward its 2026 target for making 30 warhead triggers a year, nuclear security managers plan to construct five buildings in the lab’s plutonium complex over the next five years, in part to support that effort.

A new building would be funded annually, beginning in fiscal year 2023, with the aim of supporting production of the bomb cores, known as pits, and other plutonium operations, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s budget request for the coming year.

The total cost of the five buildings will be more than $240 million………………….

One critic of the lab’s pit production plans said each of the buildings was priced just under the $50 million threshold that would trigger a more rigorous congressional review.

That might allow the lab to change the office buildings into something else later for a different purpose, such as producing more pits, said Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

“No one ever talked about these costs before,” Mello said. “We don’t think this is the end of the surprises. There are more surprises to come.”

The federal budget for plutonium operations has climbed steeply in recent years, both at the lab and at Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where officials hope to make an additional 50 pits yearly by the mid-2030s.

Under the U.S. Department of Energy’s draft budget, the lab’s plutonium modernization funding would climb to $1.56 billion in 2023 from the current year’s $1 billion, more than a 50 percent increase.

At the same time, the nuclear security agency, an Energy Department branch, has proposed funneling $700 million this coming year toward converting Savannah River Site into a pit factory. That’s a sizable jump from the $475 million spent for that purpose in the last budget cycle………………….

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said federal officials want the lab’s pit plant to be able to produce up to 80 pits for short periods.

He contends the lab is likely to use this “surge capacity” given the longer time it will take for Savannah River to begin production……………..  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/nuclear-agency-plans-five-new-plutonium-buildings-at-los-alamos-lab/article_48acffdc-d5fb-11ec-985e-5b26a02df8f5.html

May 21, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The U.S. energy secretary says it is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

Energy Secretary: We Must Find a Solution for Nuclear Waste The U.S. energy secretary says it is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. By Associated Press, May 20, 2022,  JENNIFER McDERMOTT, Associated Press

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) — It is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Connecticut……………………

There’s renewed momentum to figure out a storage site, or sites, to free up the land where the waste is currently being stored and move it away from population centers, fault lines and flood plains………….

There is roughly 89,000 metric tons of used commercial fuel at nearly 80 sites in 35 U.S. states, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association. At 20 of the sites, there’s no longer an operating reactor, the institute said………………..

Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney is part of a bipartisan congressional caucus working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored. Its members believe the current system is not sustainable, particularly for sites that could be redeveloped. Many are along the coastline, in flood plains — the worst geology for spent fuel to be stranded, Courtney said.


WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) — It is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Connecticut……………………

There’s renewed momentum to figure out a storage site, or sites, to free up the land where the waste is currently being stored and move it away from population centers, fault lines and flood plains………….

There is roughly 89,000 metric tons of used commercial fuel at nearly 80 sites in 35 U.S. states, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association. At 20 of the sites, there’s no longer an operating reactor, the institute said………………..

Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney is part of a bipartisan congressional caucus working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored. Its members believe the current system is not sustainable, particularly for sites that could be redeveloped. Many are along the coastline, in flood plains — the worst geology for spent fuel to be stranded, Courtney said.

Congress has provided about $40 million to fund the consent-based siting process that would be used to identify sites to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, and the administration asked for $53 million more for fiscal 2023, Courtney said.

Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said his main concern is that planning for consolidated interim storage could undermine efforts to figure out a permanent storage repository underground.

If there’s a place to ship fuel, there won’t be the political momentum to site an underground repository, which is the only plausible, safe, long-term solution for this waste, he said Friday…………… https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2022-05-20/energy-secretary-to-visit-nuclear-plant-discuss-waste-issue

May 21, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Say No to Nuclear Power.

Our energy future should consist of modern solar, wind, battery and LED/efficiency technologies, not nuclear reactors. https://progressive.org/op-eds/say-no-to-nuclear-power-wasserman-220518/ BY HARVEY WASSERMAN , MAY 18, 2022

Desperate atomic cultists including Bill Gates are now touting small modular reactors. But they’re unproven, can’t deploy for years to come, can’t be guarded against terrorists and can’t beat renewables in safety, speed to build, climate impacts, price or job creation.  

The nuclear power industry has been pushing the fantasy of yet another “renaissance” of nuclear power, based on the absurd idea that atomic reactors — which operate at 571 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in substantial greenhouse gas emissions and, periodically, explosions — can somehow cool the planet.  

But the fact is that no more big, old-style light water reactors are likely to be built in the United States. And the current 93 licensed reactors in this country (there are 400-plus worldwide) grow increasingly dangerous every day.

As a green power advocate since 1973, I’ve visited dozens of reactor sites throughout the U.S. and Japan. The industry’s backers portray them as high-tech black boxes that are uniformly safe, efficient and reliable, ready to hum for decades without melt-downs, blow-ups or the constant emissions of heat, radiation, chemical pollution and eco-devastation that plague us all.  

In reality, the global reactor fleet is riddled with widely varied and increasingly dangerous defects. These range from inherent design flaws to original construction errors, faulty components, fake replacement parts, stress-damaged (“embrittled”) pressure vessels, cracked piping, inoperable safety systems, crumbling concrete, lethal vulnerabilities to floods, storms and earthquakes, corporate greed and unmanageable radioactive emissions and wastes — to name a few.

Heat, radiation and steam have pounded every reactor’s internal components. They are cracked, warped, morphed and transmuted into rickety fossils virtually certain to shatter in the next meltdown. 

 

Twice-bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric of California has been found guilty in the 2010 burning deaths of eight San Bruno residents caused by under-maintained gas pipes.  The company was also convicted in the deaths of more than eighty people when its faulty wires ignited whole northern California forests and towns in a series of fires.  

In 2003, the Perry and Davis-Besse power plants’ operators blacked out 50 million homes in southern Canada and the northeastern United States. The FBI has linked them to a $61-million-bribe handed to the majority leader of the Ohio House of Representatives, and possibly tens of thousands more to the former chair of the state Public Utilities Commission. 

The industry’s “regulators” have turned blind eyes to crumbling concrete at the Seabrook and Davis-Besse facilities, whose “hole-in-the-head” defects almost brought Chernobyl to the shores of Lake Erie. When Diablo Canyon’s resident site inspector warned the plant could not withstand a likely seismic shock, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut him up and moved him out.  

The industry’s four most recent reactor construction projects include two at South Carolina’s Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station— totally abandoned after over $10 billion was spent — and two at Georgia’s Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, years late and costing more than $30 billion. Plagued by corruption and incompetence, design flaws and labor problems, Plant Vogtle might never open, especially in light of the astonishing advances in renewable and efficiency technologies, which have completely buried any economic or ecological justification for atomic power, new or old.  

Desperate atomic cultists including Bill Gates are now touting small modular reactors. But they’re unproven, can’t deploy for years to come, can’t be guarded against terrorists and can’t beat renewables in safety, speed to build, climate impacts, price or job creation.  

Our energy future should consist of modern solar, wind, battery and LED/efficiency technologies, not nuclear reactors. Let’s work to guarantee that none of them explode before we get there.  

May 19, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Environmentalists oppose possibility of extending the life of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

 ABC Los Angeles Eyewitness News,   Dozens of environmental and anti-nuclear organizations expressed opposition Tuesday to any attempt to extend the life of  California’s last operating nuclear power plant, challenging suggestions that its electricity is needed to meet potential future shortages in the nation’s most populous state.

Last month, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom raised the possibility that the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant – which sits on a coastal bluff halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles – could keep running beyond a scheduled closing by 2025………….

PG&E, which in 2016 decided to shutter the plant by 2025, did not directly address Newsom’s suggestion at the time or say whether the company would consider seeking federal dollars to remain open beyond the scheduled closing.

PG&E announced the closing plan in 2016 as part of a deal with environmentalists and union workers, citing a “recognition that California’s new energy policies will significantly reduce the need for Diablo Canyon’s

………  The environmental groups argued that continuing to operate the plant beyond its scheduled closing would generate hundreds of tons of highly radioactive waste, with no permanent storage site for it. And they said state, by its own account, is lining up enough wind, solar and other renewables to replace Diablo’s electricity.

They also questioned whether any federal funds would be enough to unravel the complex deal to close Diablo Canyon, which is regulated by state and federal agencies.

Issues in play at Diablo Canyon range from a long-running debate over the ability of structures to withstand earthquakes – one fault runs 650 yards (594 meters) from the reactors – to the possibility PG&E might be ordered by state regulators to spend potentially billions of dollars to modify or replace the plant’s cooling system, which sucks up ocean water and has been blamed for killing fish and other marine life.

Newsom continues to support closure of the plant “in the long term” as the state moves to renewable energy…….    https://abc7.com/diablo-canyon-nuclear-power-plant-environmentalists-extension/11864747/#:~:text=Facing%20possible%20electricity%20shortages%2C%20California,its%20planned%20closing%20in%202025.

May 19, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. extends application deadline for nuclear power rescue program

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday it has extended a deadline by 47 days, to July 5 for nuclear power plants to apply for federal funding to keep them running.

The first stage of the program is aimed at saving two plants, one in California and one in Michigan.

……. The DOE statement came two days after two industry trade groups, Edison Electric Institute and Nuclear Energy Institute, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm requesting the extension on behalf of their members.

Under the plan, called theCivilian Nuclear Credit (CNC) program, owners of nuclear reactors that are scheduled to retire would get priority for the first portion of $6 billion in available funding. CNC funding comes from last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law.

Entergy Corp’s (ETR.N) Palisades plant in Michigan, which may be eligible for the funding, is due to shut down on May 31.

Entergy said in an email it was committed to shutting the plant after its Chief Executive Leo Denault said in an earnings call in April that there are “significant technical and commercial hurdles to changing course at this point.”

………. The Diablo Canyon facility in California, owned by PG&E Corp (PCG.N), is scheduled to fully shut in 2025. A company spokesperson said on Tuesday the utility had not yet decided whether to apply for the funds. https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-extends-application-deadline-nuclear-power-rescue-program-2022-05-18/

May 19, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Don’t hold your breath waiting for NuScam’s small nuclear reactors to be profitable

As for valuation, the company is being valued on significant growth occurring in the potentially far distant future, so prospective investors would essentially be betting on the company’s ability to sell operating units at scale and profitably…and to do so in the coming near-to-medium term rather than the 2030s or beyond.

Spring Valley Completes NuScale Merger, But Growth Timing Is Unknown,  Donovan JonesMarketplace, Author of IPO Edge.  May 18, 2022 A Quick Take On NuScale.

Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:SMRhas announced the closing of its initial business combination with NuScale Power for an estimated enterprise value of approximately $1.9 billion.

NuScale has developed proprietary nuclear small modular reactors for utilities and industrial customers.

It is likely that NuScale will require significant time to generate material revenue growth and even longer for profits

…………….  Business Combination Terms

The Spring Valley Acquisition SPAC originally raised $230 million in gross proceeds in its IPO in late 2020, selling a total of 23 million units including underwriter allotments.

The previously announced transaction included a PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) which rose to $235 million from Samsung C&T, DS Private Equity, Segra Capital Management and Spring Valley’s sponsor Pearl Energy.

The deal will provide NuScale with gross proceeds of up to $413 million to pursue its commercialization initiatives and growth plans.

Major NuScale investor Fluor Corporation will retain approximately 60% ownership of NuScale, with other legacy shareholders retaining approximately 20.4%, the Spring Valley SPAC public shareholders having 6.5%, the Spring Valley Acquisition Sponsor retaining 2.4% and PIPE investors purchasing 10.7% of the outstanding NuScale stock.

……………….  As for valuation, the company is being valued on significant growth occurring in the potentially far distant future, so prospective investors would essentially be betting on the company’s ability to sell operating units at scale and profitably…and to do so in the coming near-to-medium term rather than the 2030s or beyond.

……………..  In any event, it is likely that NuScale will require significant time to generate material revenue growth and even longer for profits, so I’m on Hold over the near term for SMR.  https://seekingalpha.com/article/4512948-spring-valley-completes-nuscale-merger-but-growth-timing-is-unknown

May 19, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Back to square one for $28B nuclear management contract.

 By Nick Wakeman,  WashingtonTechnology, Editor-in-chief    MAY 17, 2022

The National Nuclear Security Administration is taking current global events into account as it develops new solicitations. 
It’s back to the drawing board for the National Nuclear Security Administration and its $28 billion contract to manage two facilities that process nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

That huge contract attracted mega-teams including such notable market players as Booz Allen Hamilton, Leidos, Amentum and Fluor.

Fluor and Amentum are the main partners in joint venture Nuclear Production One LLC. That team also known as NPOne unseated the incumbent Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, another joint venture.

Consolidated Nuclear Security’s key members include Bechtel National, Leidos, Northrop Grumman and SOC LLC. Booz Allen is involved also as a subcontractor.

After losing the contract in late November, CNS went to the Government Accountability Office with a protest that claimed the winner had an organizational conflict-of-interest and NNSA improperly evaluated the bids.

In December, the National Nuclear Security Administration said it would review the award decision. NNSA is part of the Energy Department.

With that review done, NNSA decided this week to scrap the whole thing and split the contract into two separate acquisitions. One will be for the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas; and the second for the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Each facility will now have its own presumably multibillion-dollar contract for management and operations services.

NNSA said it was splitting the contract because each facility has increased workloads. A “challenging geopolitical environment” was another reason cited………..

NNSA has now begun the process of developing two new solicitations. The NPOne and CNS teams will presumably continue to pursue the contracts.

But they are likely now armed with much more information on each other’s bids and approaches to the work, given what they’ve learned through debriefings and the protests.

NNSA’s restart also opens the opportunity to bring on new teammates as they push to differentiate themselves.

In the meantime, the current contract with Consolidated Nuclear Security will be extended.

GovTribe data shows that contract has netted $32 billion in spending since it was awarded in 2013.  https://washingtontechnology.com/contracts/2022/05/back-square-one-28b-nuclear-management-contract/367044/

May 19, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

U.S., allies may be planning Ukraine proxy war model for Myanmar — Anti-bellum

ReutersMay 17, 2022 Myanmar resistance urges West to provide arms for fight against junta The defence chief of Myanmar’s shadow government has called for international help to arm its resistance forces fighting the ruling military, requesting support similar to that being given to Ukrainians battling invading Russian troops. The people of Ukraine and Myanmar’s anti-government] […]

U.S., allies may be planning Ukraine proxy war model for Myanmar — Anti-bellum

May 19, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

$40 Billion More for the Ukraine War

We love the Ukraine war !!!

$40 Billion More the Ukraine War: A Wakeup Call for Those Who Still Believe in Lesser-Evilism, Anti-War.com, by Ryan Costello , , The US House of Representatives just approved another massive military “aid” package for the Ukraine War. The Biden administration had initially requested $33 billion in new money for the war, but leaders of both parties in Congress, eager to support the war, quickly said this was not enough, and raised the total for this package to $40 billion, a truly staggering total.

The administration had already spent $14 billion before this latest weapons package. The latest spending spree (at a time when many Americans are struggling with crushing debt loads, lack of baby formula and other key supplies, and skyrocketing inflation) brings the total spent in Ukraine in 3 months to $54 billion on the books (not counting all the dark money for the spy agencies). The official annual budget for the War in Afghanistan averaged $46 billion…The sum the US has already spent on this war in a few months is quickly approaching the annual military budget of the entire Russian military.

This money goes to companies like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, etc. These merchants of death make up the military industrial complex; they promote the permanent war economy, and have a vested interest in ensuring the US continues to engage in and support devastating wars abroad that destroy whole countries and societies, lead to millions of deaths and untold horrors like what we have seen in Yemen over the past few years.

These same corporate and state ghouls are salivating over the profits to be made in a new cold war with China. In this conflict for global dominance they see a shining opportunity to bleed the taxpayers of this country dry, looking to get blood from a stone in our country where the rich pay and big corporations no real taxes, but the middle class and poor are bled dry, being pushed deeper and deeper into debt-peonage and wage slavery by rising tax rates, shrinking paychecks, and red hot inflation (itself a result of the Federal Reserve’s reckless money printing to bailout the banks numerous times since 2008).

And yet not one of the so-called progressive Democrats could find a spine to stand against this weapons package. Not AOC, not Ilhan Omar, not any of them. This is not so surprising when one considers their spinelessness on Yemen (introducing a War Powers Resolution under Trump, knowing he would veto it, bur refusing to do so now that Biden is president), their posturing around Palestine (where they consistently rotate turns supporting more military funding for Israel), and countless other betrayals and hypocrisies.

Of all the “squad” only Cori Bush has released a statement justifying her vote for the bill. The others have remained silent and refused to respond to requests for comment on why they voted to fund the war machine after so many promises (clearly hollow) to end “the forever war.” Bush’s statement, like the entire legacy of the Squad, is a pathetic excuse for progressive politics. First, she claims that this $40 billion in military funding is about “strengthen[ing] the Ukrainian people’s fight against oppression and tyranny.” She makes no mention of the fact that key US leaders from Hillary Clinton to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have made it clear that they want this war to drag out as long as possible to bleed Russia. 

In the course of such a prolonged conflict, we can only imagine the cost the people of Ukraine will pay. In short, this bill is both about padding the pockets of the military industrial complex and also about sacrificing Ukraine to weaken Russia as a rival to the US and NATO. As many have noted, the US elite are more than happy to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.

At the end of her statement, Bush includes a hollow note that “The sheer size of the package given an already inflated Pentagon budget should not go without critique. I remain concerned about the increased risks of direct war and the potential for direct military confrontation.” This is akin to helping someone pour gasoline on a fire, and then saying that one remains concerned about the risk of the fire spreading! This is what we can expect from Bush, the squad, and the entire so-called progressive wing of the democratic party…………………..

The time has come to cast aside illusions about our so-called representatives in Washington, to stop believing in the lie of the Democratic Party as the supposed lesser of two evils, and to redouble our efforts to build up a renewed antiwar movement. Likewise, while a few dozen Republicans voted against the $40 billion, this is no reason for optimism that the Republican Party can be a vehicle for real change. During the Iraq War, once the protests swelled in size, many Democrats made court theater by feigning opposition to the war when Bush was president, only to support continued escalations and drone strikes once Obama was elected. As Howard Zinn notes over and over again in A People’s History of the United States, the two parties are part of one unified system of corporate monopoly rule. They exist to co-opt, mislead, and ultimate destroy movements that seek to change this system of oligarchical control of nearly every aspect of our country.

As long as we remain beholden to the Democrat or Republican Party politics, our movements will be gobbled up, defanged, and spat back out; regurgitated as pliant pawns of the corporate state and the military industrial complex, able to offer only the mildest of criticisms, and utterly impotent and unable to stand against the machinations of the megalomaniacs who run this country and are driving us all towards the brink of WWIII.

Ryan Costello is an organizer in New York City with United Against War and Militarism and a member of the Yemen Peace Vigil  https://original.antiwar.com/ryan_costello/2022/05/15/40-billion-more-the-ukraine-war-a-wakeup-call-for-those-who-still-believe-in-lesser-evilism/

May 17, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pentagon-Funded Think Tank Simulates War With China On NBC

 https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/05/16/pentagon-funded-think-tank-simulates-war-with-china-on-nbc/ 16 May 22

the mass media are now openly teaming up with war machine think tanks to begin seeding the normalization of a hot war with China into the minds of the public

As we’ve discussed previously, citing war machine-funded think tanks as expert analysis without even disclosing their financial conflict of interest is plainly journalistic malpractice. But it happens all the time in the mass media anyway, because the mass media exist to circulate propaganda, not journalism.

This is getting so, so crazy. That the mass media are now openly teaming up with war machine think tanks to begin seeding the normalization of a hot war with China into the minds of the public indicates that the propaganda campaign to manufacture consent for the US-centralized empire’s final Hail Mary grab at unipolar domination is escalating even further. The mass-scale psychological manipulation is getting more and more overt and more and more shameless.

This is headed somewhere very, very bad. Hopefully humanity wakes up in time to stop these lunatics from driving us off a precipice from which there is no return.

NBC’s Meet the Press just aired an absolutely freakish segment in which the influential narrative management firm Center for a New American Security (CNAS) ran war games simulating a direct US hot war with China.

CNAS is funded by the Pentagon and by military-industrial complex corporations Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, as well as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, which Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp has described as the de facto US embassy in Taiwan.

The war game simulates a conflict over Taiwan which we are informed is set in the year 2027, in which China launches strikes on the US military in order to open the way to an invasion of the island. We are not told why there needs to be a specific year inserted into mainstream American consciousness about when we can expect such a conflict, but then we are also not told why NBC is platforming a war machine think tank’s simulation of a military conflict with China at all.

It happens that the Center for a New American Security was the home of the man assigned by the Biden administration to lead the Pentagon task force responsible for re-evaluating the administration’s posture toward China. That man, Ely Ratner, is on record saying that the Trump administration was insufficiently hawkish toward China. Ratner is now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs in the Biden administration.

It also happens that the Center for a New American Security has openly boasted about the great many of its other “experts and alumni” who have assumed senior leadership positions within the Biden administration.

It also happens that CNAS co-founder Michele Flournoy, who appeared in the Meet the Press war games segment and was at one time a heavy favorite to become Biden’s Pentagon chief, wrote a Foreign Affairs op-ed in 2020 arguing that the US needed to develop “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.”

It also happens that CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine has been featured all over the mass media pushing empire narratives about Russia and China, telling Bloomberg just the other day that the war in Ukraine could serve the empire’s long-term interests against China.

“The war in Ukraine could end up being bad for the pivot in the short-term, but good in the long-term,” Fontaine said. “If Russia emerges from this conflict as a weakened version of itself and Germany makes good on its defense spending pledges, both trends could allow the US to focus more on the Indo-Pacific in the long run.”

It also happens that CNAS is routinely cited by the mass media as an authoritative source on all things China and Russia, with no mention ever made of the conflict of interest arising from their war machine funding. Just in the last few days here’s a recent NPR interview about NATO expansion with CNAS senior fellow Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a Washington Post quote from CNAS fellow Jacob Stokes about the Chinese threat to Taiwan, a Financial Times quote from CNAS “Indo-Pacific expert” Lisa Curtis (who I’ve previously noted was cited by the mass media for her “expert” opposition to the US Afghanistan withdrawal), and a Foreign Policy citation of the aforementioned Richard Fontaine saying “The aim of U.S. policy toward China should be to ensure that Beijing is either unwilling or unable to overturn the regional and global order.”

As we’ve discussed previously, citing war machine-funded think tanks as expert analysis without even disclosing their financial conflict of interest is plainly journalistic malpractice. But it happens all the time in the mass media anyway, because the mass media exist to circulate propaganda, not journalism.

This is getting so, so crazy. That the mass media are now openly teaming up with war machine think tanks to begin seeding the normalization of a hot war with China into the minds of the public indicates that the propaganda campaign to manufacture consent for the US-centralized empire’s final Hail Mary grab at unipolar domination is escalating even further. The mass-scale psychological manipulation is getting more and more overt and more and more shameless.

This is headed somewhere very, very bad. Hopefully humanity wakes up in time to stop these lunatics from driving us off a precipice from which there is no return.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The dangerous business of dismantling America’s aging nuclear plants

The NRC has given Holtec permission to pare back safety and security requirements at its plants, including security personnel, cybersecurity, emergency planning, terrorist attack drills and accident insurance, according to documents on the agency’s website.

“The NRC has not figured out a permanent solution” to nuclear waste………. “They are using Holtec as a Band-Aid.”

  Accidents at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek power plant have spurred calls for stricter oversight of the burgeoning nuclear decommissioning industry  Washington Post, By Douglas MacMillan  PORKED RIVER, N.J. — The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation’s oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents.

The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation’s oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents.

One worker was struck by a 100-ton metal reactor dome. Another was splashed with radioactive water, according to internal incident reports and regulatory inspection reports reviewed by The Washington Post. Another worker drove an excavator into an electrical wire on his first day on the job, knocking out power to 31,000 homes and businesses on the New Jersey coast, according to a police report and the local power company.

All three incidents occurred on the watch of Holtec International, a nuclear equipment manufacturer based in Jupiter, Fla. Though the company until recently had little experience shutting down nuclear plants, Holtec has emerged as a leader in nuclear cleanup, a burgeoning field riding an expected wave of closures as licenses expire for the nation’s aging nuclear fleet.

Over the past three years, Holtec has purchased three plants in three states and expects to finalize a fourth this summer.  The company is seeking to profitably dismantle them by replacing hundreds of veteran plant workers with smaller, less-costly crews of contractors and eliminating emergency planning measures, documents and interviews show. While no one has been seriously injured at Oyster Creek, the missteps are spurring calls for stronger government oversight of the entire cleanup industry.

In the nearly three years Holtec has owned Oyster Creek, regulators have documented at least nine violations of federal rules, including the contaminated water mishap, falsified weapons inspection reports and other unspecified security lapses. That’s at least as many as were found over the preceding 10 years at the plant, when it was owned by Exelon, one of the nation’s largest utility companies, according to The Post’s review of regulatory records.,…………………

Holtec is pioneering an experimental new business model. During the lifetime of America’s 133 nuclear reactors, ratepayers paid small fees on their monthly energy bills to fill decommissioning trust funds, intended to cover the eventual cost of deconstructing the plants. Trust funds for the country’s 94 operating and 14 nonoperating nuclear reactors now total about $86 billion, according to Callan, a San Francisco-based investment consulting firm.

After a reactor is dismantled and its site cleared, some of these trust funds must return any money left over to ratepayers. But others permit cleanup companies to keep any surplus as profit — creating incentives to cut costs at sites that house some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

Even after reactors are shut down, long metal rods containing radioactive pellets — known as spent fuel — are stored steps away, in cooling pools and steel-and-concrete casks. Nuclear safety experts say that an industrial accident or a terrorist attack at any of these sites could result in a radiological release with severe impacts to workers and nearby residents, as well as to the environment.

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the independent federal agency tasked with overseeing safety at nuclear sites, conducts regular inspections during the decommissioning process. But state and local officials say the NRC has failed to safeguard the public from risks at shut-down plants, deferring too readily to companies like Holtec.

“The NRC is not doing their job,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who has pushed the agency to adopt stricter regulations around plant decommissioning. “We need a guaranteed system that prioritizes communities and safety, and we don’t have that right now.”

The NRC’s leadership is divided over the role regulators should play. The agency was created in 1974, as the first generation of commercial reactors was going online, and its rules were mainly designed to safeguard the operation of active plants and nuclear-material sites. As reactors shut down, the NRC began reducing inspections and exempting plants from safety and security rules.

Last November, the NRC approved a new rule that would automatically qualify shut-down plants for looser safety and security restrictions.

Continue reading

May 14, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Devious nuclear zealots at it again in Ohio – new Bill to lead to subsidising ”next-generation nuclear reactors”

Lyman and Bradford found it odd for HB 434 to follow so soon on the heels of HB 6, the nuclear and coal bailout law at the heart of Ohio’s ongoing corruption scandal.

You’d think after that fiasco the legislature would be a little more cautious,”

Ohio bill would open door to subsidize next-generation nuclear power work, Nuclear power critics say the legislation could amount to a blank check for private companies researching nuclear reactor technology, while supporters say it would create jobs and bring in federal contracts. Energy News Network,  by Kathiann M. Kowalski 10 May 22,

Three years ago, Ohio lawmakers attempted to bail out the state’s aging nuclear power plants with a law to make utility customers pay more than $1 billion in subsidies for those former FirstEnergy plants.

The nuclear subsidies were eventually repealed, but now some lawmakers are pushing legislation to help private companies develop a type of next-generation nuclear technology in the state known as a molten salt reactor.

House Bill 434 does not include any direct funding but would establish a state nuclear development authority meant to attract federal research contracts. It would also be eligible for state economic development funding and would have the authority to acquire property.

Representatives of a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization, eGeneration   [who are they?], testified for the bill and stressed the potential benefits of developing the project in Ohio. Supporters say the technology could generate carbon-free power for centuries using spent fuel depleted at conventional nuclear power plants or by converting thorium into fuel.

Critics see the bill as another attempt by Ohio lawmakers to favor a particular form of generation. They’re also concerned about the potential lack of transparency with state economic development spending, much of which is handled by a group not subject to the state’s public records law. The Ohio Nuclear Free Network calls the bill a “radioactive taxpayer subsidy.”  

What the bill would do

HB 434 would set up an Ohio nuclear development authority with members appointed by the governor after a nomination process resembling that of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The authority, in turn, would be within the state’s Department of Development……..

The nuclear authority set up by the current bill would seek authority from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or Department of Energy for the research and development of advanced nuclear technology. And it would promote commercialization of that technology, ranging from the manufacture of components to treatment, storage and disposal technology for spent fuel……………………….

Sarah Spence, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, testified in favor of the bill. The group supports energy innovation in Ohio and aims to promote an all-of-the-above strategy, she said. Nonetheless, she said, the group would have concerns if in practice the bill were used to subsidize one or two companies at the expense of others.

An unknown price tag

Under HB 434, the newly formed state nuclear authority would perform “an essential government function [on] matters of public necessity for which public moneys may be spent and private property acquired.” But the bill doesn’t hint how much money might be spent.

Any fiscal impacts wouldn’t be known until an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or Energy Department is in place, Stein said. 

HB 434’s lack of spending limits is a red flag for critics like Connie Klein, an organizer for the Ohio Nuclear Free Network. An early version of a similar bill introduced by Stein in 2019 would have written eGeneration’s role into the law and let it spend up to $1 million per year

Meetings of the nuclear authority would be deemed public meetings. But the nuclear authority could use staff or experts at the Department of Development, which delegates many activities to JobsOhio, a statutorily created corporation that is exempt from Ohio’s public records law. Funding for JobsOhio comes from Ohio Liquor pursuant to a partnership with the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Liquor Control.

The Department of Development did not return a phone call seeking clarification of what role JobsOhio might play if HB 434 is enacted. 

“It’s hard to know who’s going to be more disappointed — the citizens of Ohio if that bill becomes law and they actually spend any money trying to promote a molten-salt thorium-based reactor, or the promoters of the bill if anyone takes a serious look at how much it would cost actually to incubate a thorium fuel-cycle in Ohio,” said Peter Bradford, a former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner who has also served as utility regulator in New York.

“Nuclear power’s biggest problem is its cost,” and thorium-based molten salt reactors are more expensive than other designs, Bradford said. “Also, they are at least a decade away from being licensed and building a prototype, which would still have to prove itself to be reliable and economically competitive, which it is unlikely to be able to do.” He estimates it would take about $10 billion to build a prototype, but it probably wouldn’t be able to produce power economically.

Additionally, it’s unclear what, if anything, the bill could actually authorize without a go-ahead from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Department of Energy. The nuclear authority couldn’t build a molten salt reactor on its own without a federal go-ahead. Stein said a legislative resolution had requested a delegation of authority from the federal government some years ago, but that has yet to happen.

“It’s not obvious really that [HB 434] does much more than lend comfort to the tub thumpers for thorium or small reactors generally,” Bradford said.

Simply no guardrails’

Ed Lyman, director of nuclear safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that to his knowledge the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not licensed any authority to a state for licensing a molten salt reactor.

Moreover, Lyman said, “there’s already a lot of work on the federal level” focused on small nuclear reactor designs. Although Elysium Industries has done some limited work funded by the Department of Energy, big players at that level haven’t lined up behind the Ohio bill, Lyman said.

“There isn’t one technology,” for small nuclear reactors, said Jess Gehin, associate laboratory director for the Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate at Idaho National laboratory. The Department of Energy is doing research and working with companies on a range of technologies, including water-cooled and gas-cooled designs, as well as some in the molten salt arena. 

But other designs are closer to coming online than the molten salt reactor envisioned by HB 434’s supporters.

“A molten salt reactor isn’t going to be the next one over the finish line,” Gehin said.

Neither Elysium Industries nor eGeneration responded to requests for comment. Meanwhile, Lyman and Bradford found it odd for HB 434 to follow so soon on the heels of HB 6, the nuclear and coal bailout law at the heart of Ohio’s ongoing corruption scandal.

“There is not even a requirement that there be board members well versed in energy economics or selecting among energy resources or consumer protection or environmental protections,” Bradford said. “There’s simply no guardrails or safeguards against any of the abuses that Ohio citizens or customers have suffered in the last five or six years, which is pretty breathtaking.”

“You’d think after that fiasco the legislature would be a little more cautious,” Lyman said.

HB 434 passed in the Ohio House at the end of March. Hearings have not yet been scheduled in the Ohio Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee. https://energynews.us/2022/05/10/ohio-bill-would-open-door-to-subsidize-next-generation-nuclear-power-work/

May 12, 2022 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Anti- Russian hysteria

U.S. Plays ‘Dangerous Game’ in Trying to ‘Cancel’ Russia, Ambassador Says

NewsWeek, BY TOM O’CONNOR  5/11/22 MOSCOW’S ENVOY IN WASHINGTON HAS WARNED THAT A GROWING BACKLASH AGAINST ALL THINGS RUSSIA-RELATED IN THE UNITED STATES IN RESPONSE TO THE WAR IN UKRAINE HAS SURPASSED EVEN COLD WAR-ERA LEVELS, TELLING NEWSWEEK THAT NOT ONLY DIPLOMATIC TIES BUT ALSO CULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC WERE UNDER UNPRECEDENTED STRAIN.

“The United States has been swamped by a wave of Russophobia fuelled by the media at the instigation of the ruling circles,” Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek. “The situation has taken the worst forms of the anti-communist paranoia and witch-hunt of the McCarthy era.”

He argued that the present state of affairs has sunken below even that of the infamous “red scare” led by late Senator Joseph McCarthy in the aftermath of World War II, as he stated that the scope of targets was now broader.

“Even during the Cold War, our nations continued cultural, educational and scientific contacts,” Antonov said. “I just hope that common sense will prevail and help end the dangerous game of canceling Russia, bordering on the ideas of racial superiority.”…….

Pointing to some recent examples, he said that “anti-Russian hysteria has quickly spread to everyday life.”

Among the more high-profile incidents has been the decision by a number of major musical institutions to drop performances by Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev, both prominent supporters of Putin, shortly after the conflict in Ukraine erupted. In some cases, even classical songs have been removed from the bill, including the works of 19th-century composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, renowned for ballets such as “Swan Lake,” “The Nutcracker” and the “1812 Overture.”

Also on the chopping block have been longstanding associations between professionals in the U.S. and Russia. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates has suspended certification for Russian citizens and the oncology group OncoAlert has severed ties with Russian doctors, both actions taken in displays of solidarity with Ukraine…………………   https://www.newsweek.com/us-plays-dangerous-game-trying-cancel-russia-ambassador-says-1705770

May 12, 2022 Posted by | media, psychology - mental health, USA | Leave a comment