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U.S. Navy respons to challenge of climate change

How the U.S. Navy is Responding to Climate Change, Harvard Business Review AUGUST 18, 2017 FOREST REINHARDT AND MICHAEL TOFFEL, Harvard Business School professors, talk about how a giant, global enterprise that operates and owns assets at sea level is fighting climate change—and adapting to it. They discuss what the private sector can learn from the U.S. Navy’s scientific and sober view of the world. Reinhardt and Toffel are the authors of “MANAGING CLIMATE CHANGE: LESSONS FROM THE U.S. NAVY” in the July–August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. “……The U.S. Navy is raising its bases, using early storm warning systems, and increasingly powering its missions with the sun, instead of fossil fuels……

FOREST REINHARDT: ………. the Navy is our primary waterborne military force. And as the planet warms, the amount of water is going to increase. That is, the area near the poles, which until quite recently has been closed to marine traffic for much if not all of the year, is going to be increasingly open as the ice melts. You think the last time the Western world really encountered a new ocean was in the early part of the 1500s, and the same kinds of opportunities and conflicts are going to exist in the Arctic.

 A second reason is that climate change is potentially destabilizing to societies, especially societies which are not particularly rich and not particularly well governed. And as those societies become increasingly stressed by things like drought and storm severity, the kinds of behaviors that call the military into action are going to become more frequent, whether those are wars or internal conflicts or just need for humanitarian assistance.

MICHAEL TOFFEL: And this is why the military refers to climate change as a threat multiplier. Many have made the connection between the breakdown of societies in the Middle East, in particular in Syria, for example, to be attributed to changing rainwater and other precipitation patterns. So you see these problems right now behind the growth of ISIS. You see these problems also with the migration into Europe and Europe’s struggle with what to do with these migrants. These are examples of issues that climate scientists suggest are only going to get worse in the coming decades..…..

….The Navy also is investing in massive amounts of solar to power their bases. But it’s not motivated so much by those effects that I just mentioned the private sector is trying to claim. It’s really about, in their case, about mission readiness and the resilience of their bases. They want to be sure that as climate change occurs with more intensive storms that that’s not going to knock out the power grids that supply their bases. So they’re investing in some of these power sources because of their distributed nature—the fact that they can produce power on site and not have to rely on long distance ge

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

New allegations of fraud concerning “clean coal”

Environmentalists have long objected to calling a coal-fired carbon capture and sequestration project “clean coal,” arguing that the label is misleading because it focuses on carbon dioxide pollution while ignoring other problems like acid rain and airborne contaminants. And carbon capture projects rely on continuing fossil fuel production, because the CO2 that’s captured is sold to oil companies who pump it into aging wells to coax more oil from the ground.

Politicians nevertheless continue to use the term. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” President Donald Trump said this spring. “We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

New Fraud Allegations Emerge at Troubled ‘Clean Coal’ Project As Southern Co. Records Multi-Billion Loss, Desmog  By Sharon Kelly • Tuesday, August 8, 2017 Southern Co. is accused of fraudulently misrepresenting the prospects for its troubled “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi in several legal filings this summer.

Southern announced in late July that it was shuttering the troubled “clean coal” part of Kemper after construction ran years behind schedule and the company spent $7.5 billion on the 582 megawatt power plant — over $5 billion more than it first projected.In a lawsuit filed today, Brett Wingo, a former Southern Company engineer, alleges he warned the company’s top executives that it would not be possible to meet key construction deadlines. Management responded by retaliating against him, the complaint asserts, and Southern continued to assure investors and the public that Kemper’s schedule and budget targets would be met, then blamed unpredictable factors like the weather when those goals were missed.

Wingo’s claim that Southern misled investors by concealing construction-related problems drew national attention in a front page New York Times investigation last year. In January, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded that Wingo had suffered a “continuing pattern of retaliatory treatment” and ordered Southern to reinstate Wingo, but the company has refused, according to a statement accompanying the lawsuit. (The case is “Brett Wingo v. The Southern Company, et al.,” Case No. 2:17-cv-01328-MHH in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division.)

A second less-noticed legal filing with Mississippi state regulators accuses Southern of misrepresenting Kemper’s prospects right from the outset, before construction even began. Those claims center on Southern’s projections for what it would cost to operate and maintain the plant once it was up and running, which the filing asserts were so low they were “indefensible”.

In an email to DeSmog, Wingo seconds those claims, saying that he believes management knew back in 2012 that its “operation and maintenance” (O&M) projections were off — but kept the accurate numbers under wraps for years.

“By hiding the true O& M costs for so long, apparently since 2012 and likely longer, Fanning basically ensured shareholders would be forced to absorb $6 billion in losses,” Wingo told DeSmog.

“In 2012, sunk costs on Kemper were only around $1 billion and the natural gas part of the plant substantially complete. It would have been a perfect time to stop a runaway train from running off the end of the tracks,” he added. “But history shows, that’s not what Fanning and Southern Company chose to do.”…….

 

Spending Money to Make Money

Why would a company want to build a power plant that’s too expensive to run? Part of the answer, critics say, is the way that utilities like power companies are regulated.

Because they are essentially regulated monopolies, the laws governing how utilities like power companies make money are different than most industries, as explained in a  2015 Wall Street Journal article titled “Utilities’ Profit Recipe: Spend More.”

“[U]tilities have another incentive for heavy spending; It actually boosts their bottom lines — the result of a regulatory system that turns corporate accounting on its head,” The Journal reported, explaining that as long as state-level regulators sign off on a project, regulated utilities get a fixed percentage of what they spend as a profit……..

Clean Coal?

Kemper was supposed to be an engineering feat, able to turn the world’s least efficient but most abundant form of coal, lignite coal, into a climate-friendly fuel. That’s “climate friendly” as compared to the kind of coal-burning power plants upon which the U.S. has historically relied for the bulk of its electricity……..

Environmentalists have long objected to calling a coal-fired carbon capture and sequestration project “clean coal,” arguing that the label is misleading because it focuses on carbon dioxide pollution while ignoring other problems like acid rain and airborne contaminants. And carbon capture projects rely on continuing fossil fuel production, because the CO2 that’s captured is sold to oil companies who pump it into aging wells to coax more oil from the ground.

Politicians nevertheless continue to use the term. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” President Donald Trump said this spring. “We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

Asked about the prospects for new “clean coal” projects in general after Kemper’s shuttering, a top Department of Energy official was dubious. EIA chief Howard Gruenspecht noted the role of natural gas prices, as well as the lower price of oil, which hurts the price of carbon sold to enhance oil recovery.

“In some parts of the world, one could imagine perhaps some efforts there but the cost situation is very, very challenging, certainly in the United States,” Gruenspecht told DeSmog. “One does not have to have an issue with the technology itself, it’s very impressive, but it’s a question of whether things really pencil out or not — there are some significant challenges.” https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/08/08/southern-company-fraud-allegations-kemper-clean-coal-project?utm_source=dsb%20newsletter

 

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Mainstream media and government will now probably ignore the new climate change report

Editorial: New climate change report likely to be ignored to death http://www.stltoday.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-new-climate-change-report-likely-to-be-ignored-to/article_80383a19-d671-5703-b909-f928f594e75b.html, By the Editorial Board  Aug 17, 2017 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially confirmed last week that 2016 was the Earth’s hottest year on record, surpassing 2015, which surpassed 2014. The NOAA had reported this unofficially back in January. What made last week’s announcement noteworthy is that the NOAA is now part of the administration of President Donald Trump, who has famously called global warming a “hoax.”

Climate change denial is getting a little tricky for the president and his fellow Republicans. Politicoreported last week that some business groups, including those allied with Charles and David Koch’s powerful interests, are pushing back against the aggressive efforts of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to deny human-induced climate change.

These groups would rather not argue against the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is a growing threat. They want to roll back environmental regulations anyway without getting into debates that might hurt moderate Republicans. It’s an amazingly cynical strategy: Don’t argue the evidence or address the problem. Just ignore it.

The Trump administration has another chance this week to consider the choice between deny and ignore. Friday is the deadline for the heads of the 13 federal agencies that study various aspects of climate change to sign off on a draft of the Climate Science Special Report compiled by the scientists who work for their agencies. The report is part of the quadrennial National Climate Assessment mandated by Congress in 1990.

The draft was posted on the private nonprofit Internet Archive in January at a time when scientists feared that Trump might halt all climate research. It came to light last week when The New York Times reported that some government scientists were still concerned about potential Trump administration censorship.

The 673-page report largely reflects findings of hundreds, if not thousands, of previous studies of climate change, including those of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is not surprising: Good science must be replicable.

 This report concludes that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

Scientists don’t throw terms like “extremely likely” around casually. It means a 95 percent to 100 percent probability. And yet Pruitt, Trump’s chief environmental official, scoffs at the concept that carbon dioxide released by human activity is a primary cause of global warming.

The draft report ventures into the quickly evolving field of “attribution science,” suggesting that there’s a “very high level of confidence” that global warming is responsible for extreme temperatures and “high confidence” that it’s responsible for extreme precipitation.

The scientific argument is over. It’s silly to deny it. It’s shameful to know it and ignore it.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

State legislatures made nuclear power LOOK profitable – when it wasn’t!

How ‘waste not, want not’ became ‘spend more, profit more The State, IT’S GOT to be one of the toughest decisions we ever face: When do we bail?…..

August 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA interception of nuclear missile could start nuclear war between Russia and America,

North Korea Could Unleash the Unthinkable: Nuclear War Between Russia and America, National Interest,  Dave Majumdar, 18 Aug 17, In the event that North Korea tests another Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) or potentially launches an attack on the United States, the Pentagon could try to intercept those missiles with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. However, as many analysts have pointed out, the interceptors that miss their target could reenter the Earth’s atmosphere inside Russian airspace. Such an eventuality could prove to be a serious problem unless steps are taken to address the issue now.

“You should also be aware of the concern that those interceptors fired from Alaska that miss or don’t engage an incoming North Korean ICBM(s) will continue on and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association told The National Interest.

“This carries a nontrivial risk of unintended escalation.”

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told The National Interest that the United States should open a dialogue with Russia on the issue immediately.

“Good god, yes,” Lewis said emphatically.

Olya Oliker, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies agreed.

“We have time now to consult with Moscow, talk about plans, discuss how notification would work,” Oliker told The National Interest.

“This isn’t the rocket science part of all this.”

Indeed, in a recent op-ed, Lewis argues that an American interceptor launch could accidentally trigger a nuclear exchange if the Russians mistook such a weapon for an incoming ICBM.

“We can’t assume that Russia would realize the launch from Alaska was a missile defense interceptor rather than an ICBM. From Russia, the trajectories might appear quite similar, especially if the radar operator was under a great deal of stress or pressure,” Lewis wrote for The Daily Beast.

“It doesn’t matter how Russia’s early warning system ought to work on paper, the reality of the Russian system in practice has been a lot less impressive.”

Joshua H. Pollack, editor of the The Nonproliferation Review and a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said that the danger is real.

“Whether they actually would enter Russian airspace is probably less important than whether they break the line of sight of Russia’s early-warning radars,” Pollack said…….

Pavel Podvig, an independent analyst based in Geneva who runs the Russian Nuclear Forces research project disagreed with Lewis and Pollack. Podvig noted that the Russian early warning system is in far better shape today than it was during the 1990s. While a GMD launch from Alaska might cause alarm, the Russian philosophy has been to essentially absorb the first initial blows before launching a retaliatory counterstrike.

“The Russian system is built to ‘absorb’ events like this,” Podvig told The National Interest……..

The Russians, however, are not too worried by the prospect of discarded American interceptors landing on their soil. However, Moscow would likely want to be consulted because the interceptors might set off Russia’s ballistic missile early warning system (BMEWS)……..

What is surprising to the Russians is that the United States did not install a self-destruct system on the GMD interceptors to prevent the missiles from landing where they should not……..

the United States should probably consult with Russia about the possibility of intercepting North Korean ICBMs over Moscow’s territory and set up an agreement ahead of time. But even then, during a real intercept attempt, the United States will likely have to count on Russia’s early warning system operating correctly and the Kremlin’s restraint to avoid an unintended nuclear war.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @Davemajumdar.  http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-korea-could-unleash-the-unthinkable-nuclear-war-21948

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

V. C. Summer former nuclear workers filing lawsuits against nuclear plant employers

Attorneys filing lawsuits against nuclear plant employers, http://wach.com/news/local/attorneys-filing-lawsuits-against-nuclear-plant-employersby Michelle Zhu, 18 Aug 17, 

It’s called the WARN Act, which stands for Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification. It requires employers of more than 100 workers to provide 60 day advance notice of mass layoffs. In response, Attorney Jack Raisner and his partners filed lawsuits against both Westinghouse and SCANA at the beginning of August.

At this point, complaints have been filed and the Outten and Golden firm is waiting for an answer. Attorney Raisner says they can’t guarantee an outcome but they feel confident something will come out of the case. If the plaintiffs win, all employees will receive up to eight weeks of lost pay, plus benefits. The process could take as little as a few months or up to several years.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | employment, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

NRC to Amend Rules on Medical Uses of Radioactive Materials

 https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2017/17-038.pdf
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved amendments to its requirements for medical uses of radioactive materials. A final rule, approved Aug. 17, modifies 10 CFR Part 35 and makes conforming changes to Parts 30 and 32. The rule will be published in the coming months in the Federal Register after the NRC staff makes certain revisions directed by the Commission.
The changes will amend the definition of medical events associated with permanent implant brachytherapy; update training and experience requirements for authorized users, medical physicists, radiation safety officers, and nuclear pharmacists; address a petition the NRC received seeking to recognize the qualifications of board certified physicists and radiation safety officers not specifically named on a license; change requirements for measuring molybdenum contamination and reporting generator tests that exceed allowed concentration levels; allow associate radiation safety officers to be named on a medical license; and make several minor clarifications.
While implementing the current regulations, NRC staff, stakeholders, and NRC’s Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes identified the need for the revisions. A proposed rule appeared in the July 21, 2014, Federal Register for 120 days of public comment. The final rule takes those comments into consideration and provides responses to them.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Inquiry into Millstone nuclear station’s financial situation

Inquiry opens into fiscal condition of Millstone nuclear station, The ct mirror, By: MARK PAZNIOKAS | August 17, 2017 “….. Dominion was non-committal Thursday about whether it will provide the financial data sought by two state agencies tasked by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with assessing by Feb. 1 whether the state needs to change the rules for how electricity is bought and sold to ensure the financial viability of Millstone.

Dominion offered no testimony Thursday as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority formally opened the assessment with a public hearing in Hartford, the first of several public sessions. Several of its competitors urged the two agencies to grant no relief unless Dominion proves its case…..

At issue is how much longer Millstone will remain profitable. Dominion disputes portions of the MIT study, as well as an assessment prepared in April for the Electric Power Supply Association that concluded the plant is profitable and will remain so for five years…….

Dominion and its opponents, both competitors and consumer advocates like AARP, spent heavily on lobbying during the legislative session to resolve the issue politically. Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group said Dominion hardly was eschewing politics.

“They’re looking to change the rules for them to get a special deal without the expectaton of being treated as a regulated utility, where their return is based on a cost of service,” Swan said during the hearing. “It is unfathomable to me that we would consider doing this.”https://ctmirror.org/2017/08/17/inquiry-opens-into-fiscal-condition-of-millstone-nuclear-station/

August 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

California Scientists Push to Create Massive Climate Research Program

Effort backed by the state’s flagship universities comes as US President Donald Trump shrugs off global warming, Scientific American By Jeff TollefsonNature magazine on August 17, 2017 

California has a history of going it alone to protect the environment. Now, as US President Donald Trump pulls back on climate science and policy, scientists in the Golden State are sketching plans for a home-grown climate-research institute—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

The initiative, which is backed by California’s flagship universities, is in the early stages of development. If it succeeds, it will represent one of the largest US investments in climate research in years. The nascent ‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming. ……

California might ultimately have some company. At Columbia University in New York City, science dean Peter de Menocal—a palaeoclimatologist—hopes to build an alliance of major universities and philanthropists to support research into pressing questions about the impacts of climate change. Potential topics include local variations in sea-level rise and the changing availability of freshwater resources and food. …..https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/california-scientists-push-to-create-massive-climate-research-program/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

USA does not grasp China’s point of view on the North Korea nuclear situation

US Talks to China about North Korea, But Does Not Listen, UCS, GREGORY KULACKI, CHINA PROJECT MANAGER AND SENIOR ANALYST | AUGUST 16, 2017The United States and China both want North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The North Korean leadership continues to defy them both. The United States says it is willing to risk a war to stop them. China is not.

China’s top priority is preserving the peace, however uneasy that peace might be. A credible North Korean capability to launch a nuclear-armed ICBM may make US officials psychologically uncomfortable. But the Chinese leadership does not feel that increased US anxiety is a sufficient justification for starting a war that could conceivably kill hundreds of thousands of people and collapse Asia’s economy, even if no nuclear weapons were used.

China has made its priorities clear to both the United States and North Korea. An August 10 editorial published in China’s Global Times warned both sides against striking first. The editorial was not an official statement of Chinese government policy but it almost certainly was reviewed and approved at the highest level. It suggested to the leadership in Pyongyang that, “If North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral”. It also suggested to Washington that, “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

China has also made it clear that it will not agree to sanctions that strangle North Korea’s economy. China supports economic penalties that punish North Korea for defying the United Nations and continuing its testing programs. And China is willing to work with the United States and the international community to deny North Korea access to critical technologies. But on August 5th, in an official statement made at the time of the vote on the latest round of UN sanctions, China emphasized, as it has many times in the past, that China “did not intend to negatively impact such non-military goods as food and humanitarian aid.”

US Refusal to Listen

Though China’s position on North Korea is clear and consistent, US policy is based on the assumption that China’s position will change.  On August 13th, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson penned an editorial in which they repeated the claim, believed by most US policy makers and analysts,  that China has “decisive diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea.” The implication is that China can force the North Korean leadership to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The joint editorial reiterated a US policy announced earlier this year by Secretary Tillerson, who said the Trump administration was engaged in an unprecedented effort to “lean hard into China” in order to pressure its leaders to change their policy.

Presumably this means trying to compel China to take steps to strangle the North Korean economy. The United States reportedly attempted to include a crude oil embargo in the latest round of UN sanctions. But China refused, as it has in the past, to agree to sanctions that would have the kind of suffocating economic impact the United States believes would force North Korea to surrender its nuclear ambitions. In their editorial Tillerson and Mattis told their Chinese counterparts they expect China to “do more” than enforce the current round of UN sanctions. They want China to cut off North Korea’s “economic lifelines.”…..

History may well record that in this particular moment of high tension, China’s president acted with greater patience, skill and prudence than the president of the United States.

On August 14th, as tensions began to subside, an editorial in the overseas edition of China’s People’s Daily chastised both the United States and North Korea for “playing a game of chicken on the Korean peninsula.” That’s not the language of a country that lacks confidence in its current position or is overly concerned about upsetting the United States. http://allthingsnuclear.org/gkulacki/us-talks-to-china-about-north-korea-but-does-not-listen

August 18, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Risky venture for Utah counties? will they gamble on speculative thorium nuclear venture?

Will Utah counties fund thorium reactor?  Salt Lake Tribune,  14 Aug 17,  “….Now a Utah startup is developing a thorium reactor, perhaps the first in the U.S. in half a century, and a consortium of eastern Utah counties is exploring whether to participate in the project. The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition (SCIC) last month issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking a “project analyst” to evaluate “a thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. as proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corp.”……

 concerns about the use of limited county resources in such a speculative venture. Nor is it clear how the thorium proposal squares with the coalition’s legal mission, which is to “build essential regional infrastructure elements,” such as pipelines, roads, transmission and rail needed to deliver extracted minerals and power to markets…….
The coalition’s financing and procurement practices have recently come under intense scrutiny by Utah Treasurer David Damschen, who believes the group could be flouting accountability standards.
As a new member of the state Community Impact Board (CIB), which gives out federal mineral royalties to rural counties, Damschen has raised numerous concerns about the coalition’s management of CIB grants— its sole source of revenue. At recent meetings, the state treasurer has openly wondered whether the coalition steers contracts to insiders instead of the best qualified people and spends public money in ways that provide minimal public benefit…….

 thorium technology has years of costly research and development ahead before it’s ready to produce power and isotopes, according to Mike Simpson, a University of Utah metallurgical engineering professor.

“It‘s not accurate to say it’s proven to work. Aspects of it have been proven, but everything that has to be tied together hasn’t happened,” said Simpson….. many technical hurdles remain and these rural counties are not positioned to help address these challenges other than siting assistance for a reactor, Simpson added.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | technology, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Pre-emptive attack on North Korea is not an option: get used to N Korea having nuclear weapons

North Korea’s nuclear weapons ‘aren’t going away’, says former US intelligence boss, ABC News Breakfast, 17 Aug 17, 

Gregory Treverton was the chairman of the powerful US National Intelligence Council until he stood down in January, and today said the US may need to back down a bit to avoid conflict.

“We have got to find a way to avoid [war] … That means climbing down on our side,” he told News Breakfast.

“It means, over time, I think [it will be] very, very hard for us, but to recognise those North Korean nuclear weapons aren’t going to go away.

“The best thing we can try and do is cap them, contain them.”

After a week of rising tensions and threats, US President Donald Trump this week praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a “wise and well reasoned” decision not to fire missiles towards Guam. However, Mr Treverton said the threat of war had by no means passed…….

The plain fact is there is no good military option.”

According to Mr Treverton a pre-emptive attack by the US against North Korea was not a feasible option.

He said North Korea had been building hidden facilities and moving its missiles around. And even if the US could target its nuclear facilities, it would still have non-nuclear options that could devastate South Korean targets.

Trump’s diplomacy is ‘erratic’

Mr Treverton said Mr Trump had “painted himself into a corner” after ramping up his threats towards North Korea and that his approach to foreign policy was “really quite erratic”.

“I came to realise that almost nothing he says has any content,” Mr Treverton said.

“It’s really attention, self-aggrandisement, upsetting the apple cart.”……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-17/north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-arent-going-away/8816010

August 18, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors? a very risky enterprise for Utah

crucially the technology, regulation, and business structures necessary to support a thorium reactor may not yet exist.

A coalition of South Carolina utilities developing what would have been the nation’s first new commercial nuclear reactor recently announced a decision to suspend that project partway through construction, following years of delay, billions of dollars in cost overruns. 

While a thorium reactor might avoid some of these challenges, others are likely systemic to the state of the nuclear power industry from a technological, regulatory, and business perspective, and would be hard for the counties to avoid. The counties may also have more proximate opportunities to achieve similar goals, including by facilitating or developing renewable energy infrastructure.

Will Utah counties fund thorium reactor? JDSUPRA,  PretiFlaherty 17 Aug 17, Could a coalition of rural counties in Utah and a startup company develop a thorium-fueled nuclear reactor for electric power and other purposes?

According to its website, the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is currently comprised of seven counties in eastern Utah: Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, San Juan, Sevier, and Uintah.  The website describes the Coalition’s main roles and mission as “to identify revenue-producing infrastructure assets that will benefit the region” and “to plan infrastructure corridors, procure funding, permit, design, secure rights-of-way and own such facilities,” with operation and maintenance possibly outsourced to third parties.

Apparently under consideration by the Coalition are energy projects, including a “thorium energy” project and a “hydrogen plant” project.  For example, the “Procurement” section of the Coalition’s website includes a Request for Qualifications for Project Analyst for Potential Thorium Energy and Hydrogen Plant Projects, as well as a Request for Qualifications Project Financial Analyst on Potential Thorium Energy Project.

Under the Project Analyst RFQ, which closed August 1, 2017,

The Coalition seeks an individual or team to act as a Project Analyst to advise it and its member counties on two proposed projects, how to evaluate emerging technologies, and the respective project teams. One project is a thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. as proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corporation. The second project consists of hydrogen plants to be used as fueling stations for hydrogen/electric semi-trucks as proposed by Nikola Motor Company, LLC.

Responsibilities defined in this original RFQ would include evaluation of the thorium energy and hydrogen plant projects, including an evaluation of “the feasibility and viability of projects in general, as well as the proposed projects, and determine how the Coalition and its members may use their assets to best benefit the public.”

According to its website, Alpha Tech Research Corp.’s motto is “Changing the face of nuclear power with clean, safe, molten salt reactor technology.”  But little other public information is easy to find on the company.

………crucially the technology, regulation, and business structures necessary to support a thorium reactor may not yet exist.

Fifteen days after the Project Analyst RFQ closed, the Coalition issued another request for qualifications “to seek an individual or team to act as a Project Analyst to advise it and its member counties on a proposed project related to thorium energy. In addition, the Coalition seeks guidance on how to evaluate emerging technologies, and companies or groups proposing projects to the Coalition. The thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. is proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corporation.” Proposals under this subsequent RFQ are due by 2:00 PM on October 2, 2017.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a coalition representative reported, “The coalition’s initial request for qualifications drew no adequate responses by its Aug. 1 deadline.”  (Query why not.)

It’s unclear how far the Utah counties’ efforts can go.  The coalition’s stated criteria for evaluating potential projects include requiring appropriate project benefits (such as facilitating needs in rural Utah that would otherwise go unaddressed), as well as avoidance of any “fatal flaws” (such as “obvious non-Coalition sponsor that should take the lead”, project success unlikely” and “low perceived benefit compared to cost.”)  The coalition is presumably at the stage where it is seeking expert advice to help it evaluate the thorium energy project under these criteria.

In its materials, the coalition emphasizes its expectation to rely on public-private partnerships, in part to allocate project risk to private entities with special expertise in taking those risks.  But developing the first commercial thorium reactor inherently involves a variety of risks — including developing a technology that works, securing all necessary regulatory approvals, and having business or financial arrangements in place that make the project a success.  These risks could pan out in the counties’ favor — but might not.  A coalition of South Carolina utilities developing what would have been the nation’s first new commercial nuclear reactor recently announced a decision to suspend that project partway through construction, following years of delay, billions of dollars in cost overruns.  While a thorium reactor might avoid some of these challenges, others are likely systemic to the state of the nuclear power industry from a technological, regulatory, and business perspective, and would be hard for the counties to avoid. The counties may also have more proximate opportunities to achieve similar goals, including by facilitating or developing renewable energy infrastructure……http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/will-utah-counties-fund-thorium-reactor-26541/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, technology, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

USA power utilities have a long history of abandoning nuclear projects

US POWER COMPANIES HAVE A HISTORY OF WALKING AWAY FROM NUCLEAR PROJECTS, Platts Snapshot. William Freebairn, senior managing editor, Platts Nuclear Publications, August 17, 2017  

After spending close to $10 billion, two South Carolina power companies recently walked away from a half-finished nuclear power plant they were building, and a decision is expected by the end of August about a Georgia project. William Freebairn explains how the story of the Summer project in South Carolina demonstrates the capital-intensive nature of nuclear energy and the substantial risks of cutting-edge nuclear plant design. Will the Vogtle project in Georgia join the ranks of abandoned projects in the US?……

SANTEE COOPER AND SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTRIC AND GAS ABANDONED SUMMER EXPANSION ON JULY 31….

 
OWNERS OF VOGTLE PROJECT IN GEORGIA EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE PROJECT DECISION BY END OF AUGUST
The owners of the Vogtle project in Georgia are expected to announce their decision by the end of August.

It’s certainly not the first time a partly – or even mostly – built nuclear plant was abandoned. In the 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Authority walked away from 11 nuclear reactors for which it had started construction; in fairness, it went back and finished one recently.

Dozens of plants were canceled as costs rose and financial problems mounted, forcing one company, the Washington Public Power Supply System to default on more than $2 billion in bonds and giving the company a new nickname: “whoops”!

The factors that forced all those nuclear plant cancellations in the 1980s may sound familiar to those building today’s plants. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 created pressure for increased safety standards in the middle of construction for those plants, and Fukushima in 2011 did the same for today’s projects.

STARTING CONSTRUCTION BEFORE ENGINEERING IS COMPLETE AND UNDERESTIMATING WORK CAN BE BLOWS TO PROJECTS

Additionally, construction got started before engineering was completed. As with many large infrastructure projects, there was a tendency to underestimate the amount of work required to complete the installation of miles of pipes, cables and concrete.

Whoops indeed. https://www.platts.com/videos/2017/august/snapshot-us-nuclear-power-summer-vogtle-081717

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Florida ratepayers could be up for $millions for two nuclear reactors that may never be built.

FPL nuclear project uncertain, but charges could grow by $90 millionSusan Salisbury,  Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, Aug. 16, 2017 Florida Power & Light Co. ratepayers must wait two months before finding out if they will be required to pay many millions of dollars for costs associated with two nuclear reactors that may never be built.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment