nuclear-news

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

USA’s Patriot Act destroys civil liberties

“It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”– Thomas Paine

While Congress subjects the nation to its impeachment-flavored brand of bread-and-circus politics, our civil liberties continue to die a slow, painful death by a thousand cuts.

Case in point: while Americans have been fixated on the carefully orchestrated impeachment drama that continues to monopolize headlines, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law legislation extending three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which had been set to expire on December 15, 2019.

Once again, to no one’s surprise, the bureaucrats on both sides of the aisle—Democrats and Republicans alike—prioritized political grandstanding over principle and their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.

As Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) predicted:

Today, while everyone is distracted by the impeachment drama, Congress will vote to extend warrantless data collection provisions of the #PatriotAct, by hiding this language on page 25 of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that temporarily funds the government. To sneak this through, Congress will first vote to suspend the rule which otherwise gives us (and the people) 72 hours to consider a bill. The scam here is that Democrats are alleging abuse of Presidential power, while simultaneously reauthorizing warrantless power to spy on citizens that no President should have… in a bill that continues to fund EVERYTHING the President does… and waiving their own rules to do it. I predict Democrats will vote on a party line to suspend the 72 hour rule. But after the rule is suspended, I suspect many Republicans will join most Democrats to pass the CR with the Patriot Act extension embedded in it.

Massie was right: Republicans and Democrats have no problem joining forces in order to maintain their joint stranglehold on power. Continue reading

December 12, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Los Alamos National Laboratory lost 250 barrels of nuke waste

State report: LANL lost track of 250 barrels of nuke waste, Santa Fe New Mexican, By Scott Wyland sfnewmexican.com, Dec 9, 2019 

The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.

Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times.

Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.  …..

A disastrous “kitty litter” incident happened under Los Alamos National Security, in which a waste barrel was packaged in error with a volatile blend of organic cat litter and nitrate salts, causing the container to burst and leak radiation at the Southern New Mexico storage site. WIPP closed for almost three years, and the cleanup cost about $2 billion.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy that oversees the lab, declined to renew LANS’ contract in 2015. Triad took over operations in November 2018. Among Triad’s duties is to dispose of waste at the lab generated from 1999 to the present.

N3B won a $1.4 billion contract in December 2017 to clean up waste produced at the lab before 1999.

The company was cited for a slew of mislabeled waste containers during the year. Inspectors also found some waste barrels, which are stored under tent-like domes, coated with snow or rainwater.

N3B also failed to remedy within 24 hours the flaws that inspectors found in equipment or structures that could present an environmental or human-health hazard, the report said. Inspectors discovered N3B took as long as 18 months to fix cracks in concrete and asphalt surfaces…….. https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/state-report-lanl-lost-track-of-barrels-of-nuke-waste/article_e9de8348-17cc-11ea-bae3-c71a1aadd222.html

December 12, 2019 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Devastating array of craters on the ocean floor, from nuclear tests

 

Enormous Craters Blasted in Seafloor by Nuclear Bombs Mapped for the First Time, Live Science, By Mindy Weisberger – Senior Writer 11 Dec FRANCISCO — Today, all seems quiet in the remote Bikini Atoll, a chain of coral reef islands in the central Pacific. But more than 70 years ago, this region’s seafloor was rocked by powerful atomic bombs detonated by the U.S. Army.

For the first time, scientists have released remarkably detailed maps of this pockmarked seabed, revealing two truly massive craters. This new map shows that the seabed is still scarred by the 22 bombs detonated at Bikini Atoll between 1946 and 1958.

The map was presented yesterday (Dec. 9) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

During the 1946 nuclear weapons test known as “Operation Crossroads,” the U.S. wanted to test the impact of nuclear bombs on warships. To that end, the Army assembled more than 240 ships — some of which were German and Japanese — that held different amounts of fuel and munitions, then deployed two nuclear weapons to destroy them, researcher Arthur Trembanis, an associate professor with the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of Delaware, said in the presentation.

At the time of the tests, Trembanis said, comedian Bob Hope joked grimly:

“As soon as the war ended, we found the one spot on Earth that had been untouched by war and blew it to hell.”……….

But as powerful as the early atomic tests were, they were dwarfed by the later blasts caused by hydrogen and fusion bomb tests in the 1950s. The researchers investigated a crater that was 184 feet (56 m) deep and had an unusual oblong shape; they determined that it was a composite crater from multiple blasts: “Castle Bravo,” a 15-megaton bomb that was the largest ever detonated by the U.S., and “Castle Romeo,” the first deployed thermonuclear bomb.

These tests left behind a uniquely devastating array of shipwrecks and craters, and the first detailed map of their aftermath will help scientists to tell this untold story and connect to “a moment at the dawn of the nuclear age,” Trembanis said. “Our new findings provide insights into previously unknown conditions at Bikini and allow us to reflect on the lasting consequences from these and other tests.” https://www.livescience.com/mapping-reveals-bikini-atoll-nuclear-craters.html

December 12, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Congress members call on Trudeau to stop nuclear waste dumping near Great Lakes

December 12, 2019 Posted by | Canada, environment, opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Flammable hazard stalls LANL’s plutonium operations, waste shipments

Flammable hazard stalls LANL’s plutonium operations, waste shipments, Sante Fe New Mexican , By Scott Wyland , swyland@sfnewmexican.com

    • Dec 9, 2019  Concerns that a calcium residue might be flammable prompted officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory to curtail plutonium operations and suspend waste shipments in early November, according to a federal report.

The lab suspended most waste generation and certification at its plutonium facility and halted all waste shipments after officials questioned the accuracy of documentation, particularly on how much calcium-and-salt residue remained in transuranic waste after processing, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent oversight panel, said in a Nov. 15 report that was publicly released Friday.

Calcium is used to help reduce oxidation in plutonium. Traces of the substance typically linger after processing, and if they are too high, they can ignite when exposed to open air, the report says…… https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/flammable-hazard-stalls-lanl-s-plutonium-operations-waste-shipments/article_dad5a96c-186c-11ea-ac96-a345865823f1.html

December 12, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

The Santa Susana nuclear waste scandal

December 09, 2019 Caroline Reiser I grew up in Los Angeles and work on nuclear safety, but I just learned recently that a nuclear reactor melted down in our area. In a shocking reminder of the perils of nuclear energy, that radioactive release (and releases from other nuclear work and rocket engine tests at the site) has left behind a toxic legacy. Federally-funded studies have found that contaminants have migrated offsite and there are markedly elevated rates for key cancers associated with proximity to the site.

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory was established seventy years ago as a remote site for work too dangerous to conduct near communities. It’s situated on a rise on the north-west end of the Los Angeles Valley. What was once sparsely inhabited is now a packed community of 150,000 living within five miles of the site and more than half a million people living within 10 miles.

To the north, the community of Simi Valley. To the south-west, Thousand Oaks. And to the east, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, and West Hills. From these suburban streets, the hills around Santa Susana provide a beautiful backdrop of round sandstone and golden grass. But the picturesque view hides a secret—the fact that Santa Susana Field Laboratory is one of the most contaminated sites in California.

The site is no longer active; that doesn’t mean it’s benign. Over the years Santa Susana hosted a variety of activities, including ten nuclear reactors, a rocket engine testing facility, and multiple open-air “burn pits” where radioactively and chemically contaminated items were “disposed of” through burning. These activities left their mark. In 1959, one of the nuclear reactors partially melted down, an incident that scientists estimate may have released more radioactive iodine than Three Mile Island. And rocket-engine testing released toxic chemicals like TCE, dioxins, PCBs, and heavy metals. Wind and rain, and fires like the Woolsey Fire that burned 80 percent of the site in 2018, continue to carry contaminates from the site into the neighborhoods that have grown up around it.

All of this history is known, and really, none of these facts are in dispute. That’s why community members like Melissa Bumstead and Lauren Hammersley (both of whose daughters had rare forms of cancer), community organizations like Physicians for Social Responsibility–Los Angeles and Committee to Bridge the Gap, and celebrities like Kim and Kourtney Kardashian have all been advocating on this issue. The Santa Susana Laboratory must be cleaned up, and cleaned up quickly. But the Trump administration is trying to walk away from its commitments, and that’s a clear danger to nearby residents.

Today, responsibility for the site is shared by Boeing, the Department of Energy, and NASA. Back in 2010, the Energy Department and NASA both signed legally binding agreements with California setting strict levels of cleanup to “background levels.” Essentially, this means cleanup to the condition the site was in before all of the pollution. The agreements also require the federal agencies obtain approval from California for all aspects of the cleanup. This was the right deal to make; NRDC strongly supported the deal then, and still does to this day.

But now the Department of Energy and NASA seem to be trying to shirk their obligations.

First, the Energy Department issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for remediation of the areas of the Field Lab it is responsible for. This is a legally required document designed to set forth the harms for the public, as well as the plan to mitigate those harms. In this document, the Department acknowledges that most of what it is considering violates its agreement with California, but it provides one-sided assurance that it will negotiate these points with California. Then in September, the Energy Department issued decisions to demolish multiple buildings without California’s consent, directly contradicting the cleanup obligations spelled out in the agreement.

NASA seems to be taking a similar course; in October it published a supplemental environmental impact statement proposing alternatives that would leave most of the contamination not cleaned up, in violation of its agreement with California. Absurdly, NASA argues that each of the alternatives it considers provides the same health benefits even though all but one of the alternatives would abandon in place most of the contaminated soil. It presented this information at “public meetings” in November but called the police when members of the public tried to share their concerns that NASA’s alternatives would breach the agreement to reach the required “background levels.” In short, NASA is setting itself up to violate the binding cleanup standards set by California and doesn’t seem to want the public to know that’s what it’s doing.

But under their agreements with California, and also under the primary hazardous waste law, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Energy Department and NASA don’t have the authority to choose how much they must clean up and how much contamination they can abandon in place. This authority is California’s alone.

Luckily, the state of California is on top of it, closely monitoring the situation. Both the California EPA and the Department of Toxic Substances Control strongly reminded the Energy Department of its obligations and that the state would enforce the cleanup agreement. Should NASA follow through on any of the alternatives it has considered that would ignore its obligations, we are hopeful California stands ready again.

But enough is enough for all of this. The cleanup agreements are well thought out documents, have broad public support, and it’s readily apparent that the neighbors of Santa Susana Field Laboratory will continue to be at risk until the Department of Energy, NASA, and Boeing meet their full obligations to clean up the site. We stand beside California, local organizations, and community members to ensure that these toxic remnants will be removed and the site cleaned up so the nearby residents can live in safety and peace.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | 2 Comments

It’s time to reset US nuclear waste policy

December 10, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Pentagon to get more control over the news? Is this a GOOD idea?

December 8, 2019 Posted by | media, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Magical thinking of the nuclear lobby as it jumps on the Green New Deal bandwagon

Unfortunately, the case for nuclear as a green technology is not so simple—the technology faces a spate of environmental and economic challenges, while its track record as a bridge fuel shows it may be more rivalrous than concomitant with renewables. In fact, it may be the nuclear industry that needs the Green New Deal, not the other way around.

For as long as it’s existed, nuclear has been an aspirational technology as much as an extant one

the magical thinking of the nuclear industry has taken different forms. Over decades, breeder reactors, salt reactors, large-scale fusion have all been the nuclear future just over the horizon. “The industry that people talk about is a theoretical industry,” says Jaczko. “The actual industry is not that.”

So the enthusiasm for the public investment of the Green New Deal is primarily a tactical one, with the promise of a massive outlay of public funds enticing an industry in need of a lifeline.

The Tantalizing Nuclear Mirage, Many see nuclear power as a necessary part of any carbon-neutral mix. The reality isn’t so simple. The American Prospect, BY ALEXANDER SAMMON DECEMBER 5, 2019  

It took seven months on the campaign trail for Cory Booker to emerge as the Democratic Party’s foremost champion of nuclear power. In September, after he unveiled a signature climate plan replete with “$20 billion dedicated to research, development and demonstration of next-generation advanced nuclear energy,” he embraced the technology with unprecedented ardor. “I didn’t come to the United States Senate as a big nuclear guy,” Booker told Grist in an interview. “But when I started looking at the urgency of climate change … nuclear has to be a part of the blend.”

To hear Booker tell it, his evolution on the subject was the product of scientific rigor and anti-ideological clarity on decarbonization. He related this narrative during a media blitz, comparing anti-nuclear Democrats to Republican climate deniers over their rejection of an incontrovertible science, while pledging to usher in a nuclear future that no right-minded person could deny. “Where the science is going, to me, at first sounded like science fiction … new nuclear actually portends of exciting things where you have no risk of the kinds of meltdowns we’re seeing,” he proclaimed at CNN’s climate town hall.

Grandiosity aside, Booker isn’t alone in his nuclear embrace. He’s part of an unlikely pro-nuclear political alliance, an emergent accord that spans the centrist think tank Third Way, Andrew Yang, Jay Inslee, environmental activists, and progressive commentators alike. “The left should stop worrying and learn to love existing nuclear power plants,” wrote New York’s Eric Levitz in a subsequent send-up of Bernie Sanders’s and Elizabeth Warren’s twin commitments to phase out the technology.

In a world where the rapid deployment of zero-carbon energy production is urgent, nuclear power, the argument goes, represents the only proven bet.

……..With 11 years, per the U.N.’s 2018 IPCC report, to overhaul our energy system, to be serious about decarbonization is to find a place at the table for nuclear.

It’s an alluring idea. Already, this logic has been embraced in states like Ohio and Booker’s New Jersey, which have been allocating green tax subsidies to nuclear projects. And while it’s largely played out in the background, the question of what to do about nuclear has vexed Green New Dealers since the rollout of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s framework in February. While plane travel and hamburgers raised hackles in the press, one of the first clauses to be deleted from the initial proposal pledged to phase out the technology altogether.

So does the Green New Deal need nuclear to achieve its lofty goals? Does zero-carbon energy infrastructure necessitate a nuclear buildout, or at least an embrace of already-existing nuclear as a bridge fuel, as countries like Sweden have done? Unfortunately, the case for nuclear as a green technology is not so simple—the technology faces a spate of environmental and economic challenges, while its track record as a bridge fuel shows it may be more rivalrous than concomitant with renewables. In fact, it may be the nuclear industry that needs the Green New Deal, not the other way around.

DESPITE THE NEWFOUND exigency of overhauling the country’s energy mix, this is not the first time America’s energy system has arrived at a crossroads in the last ten years, nor is it the first time nuclear has been trotted out as its last, best hope. In the late aughts, with oil prices soaring and production stagnant, policymakers made a commitment to expanding American nuclear generation. An era of so-called “nuclear renaissance” began, with four next-generation reactors commissioned at two plants, one in Georgia and the other in South Carolina.

Now, over a decade later, that project managed to bankrupt its construction company, Westinghouse, nearly taking down the entire Toshiba conglomerate, Westinghouse’s parent company, with it. The two reactors in South Carolina were abandoned, while the Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power utility companies assumed control of the remaining two reactors in Georgia, the Vogtle 3 and 4. But even a cash infusion from Georgia ratepayers, who began subsidizing the completion of the project in 2011, was not enough to keep the project close to its budget or timeline. Initially expected to come online in 2016-2017, the Vogtle plant has run some $14 billion over budget. Its completion dates have been deferred to 2021-2022. There’s currently no other active nuclear development in the United States.

That timeline should be particularly alarming for nuclear enthusiasts………

WHEN DID NUCLEAR get this environmental rebrand? Until very recently, the industry hadn’t led with its environmental chops. In fact, for years, nuclear buddied up with the coal industry, courting the Trump administration for subsidies, while the Nuclear Energy Institute supported the Department of Energy’s failed coal and nuclear bailout, and lauded Ohio’s controversial coal and nuclear subsidy package earlier this year.

For as long as it’s existed, nuclear has been an aspirational technology as much as an extant one. Since Eisenhower first announced nuclear energy generation as a civilian project in 1953, its promises of worldwide abundance have far outpaced its production. Twenty years later, in 1973, Richard Nixon pledged to have 1,000 nuclear plants online by 1980, a goal that never approached realization. Since then, the magical thinking of the nuclear industry has taken different forms. Over decades, breeder reactors, salt reactors, large-scale fusion have all been the nuclear future just over the horizon. “The industry that people talk about is a theoretical industry,” says Jaczko. “The actual industry is not that.” Since the development of nuclear weapons, the non-military nuclear energy program has always been a PR charge as much as it was a serious proposal. “Historians have determined that the rollout of civilian nuclear power in the 1960s had as much to do with Cold War PR as the need for electricity,” says Brown.

Nuclear’s pivot to unlikely environmental champion and running mate of the Green New Deal is far from a happy accident. It’s a deliberate posture, informed as much by shrewd marketing as Booker’s data-driven rationale. With the rapid development of solar and wind, nuclear is now far more expensive to produce in terms of dollars per kilowatt hour. With the rapid growth of renewables, nuclear now finds itself on the wrong side of free-market forces, in dire need of public subsidy to stay afloat.

So the enthusiasm for the public investment of the Green New Deal is primarily a tactical one, with the promise of a massive outlay of public funds enticing an industry in need of a lifeline. “Of course the nuclear industry is trying new alliances; they are desperate.” says Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. Cutting them in would be an unforced error for GND legislation—the money that would be spent making nuclear viable, shielding it from an array of climate disasters, and figuring out what to do with its waste would be much better spent figuring out battery storage or something else to stitch in the gaps in renewable generation.

Looking closer at Booker’s proposal, it’s not clear even he believes the sales pitch he’s making. Despite his lofty pronouncements, the climate plan, which sums to $3 trillion, allocates just two-thirds of 1 percent to nuclear development. The $20 billion is barely enough to cover the cost overruns of the two reactors at Georgia’s Vogtle plant. The notion that such a paltry sum would finally put the industry over the top after decades of malaise, indeed, sounds like science fiction. https://prospect.org/greennewdeal/the-tantalizing-nuclear-mirage/

December 7, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Florida nuclear station gets license for 80 Years

December 7, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Paducah, Kentucky – its nuclear waste tragedy is compounded by climate change

I never said a bad thing about the plant the whole time I was growing up,” Lamb said. “It made the economy good. But then we got sick.”  

“People who were not highly educated could make really good money working in these industries

“Not only that but the government was saying, this is your patriotic duty. We need this. So everybody just went along because the compensation was pretty good.”

GAO report released in November showed that 60 percent of U.S. Superfund sites are at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Instead of focusing on cleanup plans, some state lawmakers and federal agencies are loosening regulations on hazardous sites…… Last year, the DOE also moved to relax restrictions on the disposal and abandonment of radioactive waste

December 5, 2019 Posted by | climate change, investigative journalism, Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Chaos ahead in international relations due to Trump’s chaotic nuclear weapons policies

December 5, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

NRC Approves Transfer of Nuclear Plant Operating Licenses From FirstEnergy Solutions to Energy Harbor,

NRC Approves Transfer of Nuclear Plant Operating Licenses From FirstEnergy Solutions to Energy Harbor, On November 25, FES announced that it will change its corporate name to Energy Harbor when its restructuring process is completed.AKRON, Ohio, Dec. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) announced today that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the transfer of the operating licenses for the Davis-Besse, Perry and Beaver Valley nuclear power stations from the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) to Energy Harbor Nuclear upon the company’s successful emergence from restructuring.

On November 25, FES announced that it will change its corporate name to Energy Harbor when its restr

completed…..https://finance.yahoo.com/news/nrc-approves-transfer-nuclear-plant-140000164.html

December 5, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Support candidates in 2020 who will work for nuclear disarmament

December 3, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Prominent Americans to wage ‘World War Zero’ against climate change

John Kerry Launches Star-Studded Climate Coalition, NYT, By Lisa Friedman, Nov. 30, 2019 WASHINGTON — John Kerry, the former senator and secretary of state, has formed a new bipartisan coalition of world leaders, military brass and Hollywood celebrities to push for public action to combat climate change.

The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050.

The star-studded group is supposed to win over those skeptical of the policies that would be needed to accomplish that.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are part of the effort. Moderate Republican lawmakers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, and John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, are on the list. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher round out the roster of more than 60 founding members.

The star-studded group is supposed to win over those skeptical of the policies that would be needed to accomplish that.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are part of the effort. Moderate Republican lawmakers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, and John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, are on the list. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher round out the roster of more than 60 founding members.

“We’re going to try to reach millions of people, Americans and people in other parts of the world, in order to mobilize an army of people who are going to demand action now on climate change sufficient to meet the challenge,” Mr. Kerry said in an interview.

The launch of the new group on Sunday comes as diplomats gather in Madrid on Monday for global climate negotiations aimed at strengthening the 2015 Paris Agreement, from which President Trump has vowed to withdraw next year. Earlier this week the United Nations found that the world’s richest countries, responsible for emitting more than three-fourths of planet-warming pollution, are not doing enough to keep Earth’s temperature from rising to dangerously high levels. Net carbon emissions from the two largest polluters, the United States and China, are expanding……….. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/climate/john-kerry-climate-change.html?smid=tw-nytclimate&smtyp=cur

December 2, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment