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USA pushing mini-nuclear reactors for military reasons

US pursuing mini-nuclear reactors to support military expeditionary capabilities,  Defence Connect, 20 Mar 19, The US military is conducting research into the development of rapidly deployable, container mounted nuclear reactors to support deployed American and allied forces, reducing threats to traditional supply and support convoys…….

The US has initiated a series of programs to develop, test and deploy alternatives to traditional petrol-based fuel systems, particularly for power generation and small-scale manufacturing of key materials like munitions at forward operating bases operating in close proximity to peer-competitors, limiting supply line and convoy exposure to enemy interdiction.  ….. Enter the development of very small modular nuclear reactors (vSMRs), designed to deliver between one and 10 megawatts (MW) for years without refuelling in a rapidly-deployable (road and/or air) package. Both the US Department of Defense and NASA have collaborated on the development of such reactors for use in military and space exploration contingencies.   ………The HOLOS reactor in particular has been designed to support deployed military requirements……..
https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/key-enablers/3737-us-pursuing-mini-nuclear-reactors-to-support-military-expeditionary-capabilities

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March 21, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard calls for end of ‘wasteful wars,’ nuclear tension

Campaigning in Vegas, Gabbard calls for end of ‘wasteful wars,’ nuclear tension, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/03/19/campaigning-vegas-gabbard-calls-end-wasteful-wars-nuclear-tension/March 19, 2019 at 4:48 AM HST – Updated March 19 at 4:48 AM 

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard says her top priorities if she’s elected to the White House in 2020 would be to end military action in countries like Iraq and Syria and to de-escalate tensions with nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China.

The Hawaii congresswoman told a small but diverse crowd in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon that she wants to end what she called “wasteful regime change wars” that are costing the country trillions of dollars and instead spend that money on health care, education and other needs in the U.S.

Gabbard, a 37-year-old combat veteran, was making her first foray into early-nominating state Nevada as a presidential candidate.

She planned to hold a “meet and greet luau” west of the Las Vegas Strip later in the evening.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | 2 Comments

Chelsea Manning – an American hero! Daniel Ellsberg explains

March 21, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power plants under threat from climate change

Susan Stranahan: Climate change’s threat to nuclear plants https://www.twincities.com/2019/03/17/susan-stranahan-climate-changes-threat-to-nuclear-plants/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

The incessant statement that nuclear is “carbon free” is untrue, and the nuclear industry knows it

RealAccounting , 17 Mar 18  The incessant statement that nuclear is “carbon free” is untrue, and the nuclear industry knows it. The carbon footprint of a standard nuclear plant is in its construction and infrastructure. Many tons of concrete; google the carbon footprint of cement. Then the fossil fuel needed to dig up, crush, size, wash and transport aggregate for the concrete. We’ll ignore carbon costs of acquiring and pumping water for the concrete, at this point. Then steel. Many tons of steel; much of it specialized, using manufacturing processes that use 2-5x more heat (coal/coke) than plain mild steel. Mining. Smelting. Forming. Ore transport. Steel transport. All done with fossil fuels- not zero. Then there’s operating staff. A 2.2 MW coal plant has about 350 employees. Three Mile Island has 675. Numbers for maintaining/operating wind and solar plants are wildly variable, since so much depends on size and site at this point; but you understand that taking care of an installed wind or solar plant is a job for a very few technicians.

When “selling” a power plant to the public, the fact that it “provides” lots of jobs is seen as a positive. But in terms of carbon footprint and allocation of resources; the more humans needed to operate the plant; the bigger the carbon footprint, forever. This bit of resource accounting is always ignored, and is very far from trivial. Basically, in order to operate Three Mile Island, a small village of 700 people, + all the services they need, all the support- belongs to the carbon footprint of the nuclear plant. If those same people were elsewhere; their carbon costs would be attached to whatever enterprise they are involved in. Time to be serious about it; and honest. Only “Lifetime- total system” accounting – counts

 

Are these tiny, ‘inherently safe’ nuclear reactors the path to a carbon-free future?  by Andrew Maykuth, March 16, 2019 

 

Are these NuScale nuclear power stations REALLY tiny?

“……the industry sees the future not in building gargantuan plants, but in small modular reactors, or SMRs — factory-built units with fewer parts, designed to be installed underground with passive cooling systems that the industry says are “inherently safe.”

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Democrats propose policy to use nuclear weapons only in response to attack.

FROM JOSEPH FARAH’S G2 BULLETIN

DEMS PROPOSE U.S. GIVE UP FIRST-STRIKE NUCLEAR OPTION https://www.wnd.com/2019/03/dems-propose-u-s-give-up-first-strike-nuclear-option/  Plan would pledge to use nukes only in response to attack

18 Mar 19,  Democrats are proposing in Congress that the United States give up the option for a nuclear first strike – for any reason, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The policy for decades deliberately has been one of “calculated ambiguity.” It stemmed from a Cold War era in which the U.S. and NATO faced “numerically superior” Soviet and Warsaw Pact conventional forces in Europe, explains a document prepared by the Congressional Research Service.

“At the time, the United States not only developed plans to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield to disrupt or defeat attacking tanks and troops, but it also hoped that the risk of a nuclear response would deter the Soviet Union from initiating a conventional attack. This is not because the United States believed it could defeat the Soviet Union in a nuclear war, but because it hoped the Soviet Union would know that the use of these weapons would likely escalate to all-out nuclear war, with both sides suffering massive destruction.”

That policy of ambiguity has been continued, with even the Obama administration promising that the U.S. “would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances,” far short of a promise never to use them first.

Democrats now are demanding to change that.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mas., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., have proposed legislation, S. 272 and H.R. 921, that would adopt the statement: “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.”

Other members of Congress are divided,” the report from the CRS explained, with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., warning the Democrats’ plan “betrays a naïve and disturbed world view.”
Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/03/dems-propose-u-s-give-up-first-strike-nuclear-option/#6cgKvfB7PXt22tiR.99

The Trump administration already had rejected the idea, in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which said the weapons contribute to “deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attack; assurance of allies and partners; achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails; and the capacity to hedge against an uncertain future.”

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How Leonardo DiCaprio is fighting climate change with finance 

Putting his money where his mouth  is. Your Money, 18 Mar 2019, Jack Derwin  Digital Journalist,    Oscar-winning actor and Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio has long been an environmental activist, but he’s now turning to the world of finance to help tackle his chosen cause.

DiCaprio has announced he will become a senior adviser to a new $150 million environmental unit at fund manager Princeville Capital that invests directly into tech companies fighting global warming.

Taking to Twitter, it appears he is willing to put his money where his mouth is, becoming an investor himself.

“What I like about Leo’s fund if you are predisposed to wanting to improve the climate or stop climate change, this is a fund that invests in companies that are trying to mitigate the effects of climate change,” The Motley Fool head of investment Scott Phillips told Your Money Live.

The major difference between DiCaprio’s fund and other ethical funds is rather than divesting from big polluters, his is actively investing in potential future solutions…….. https://www.yourmoney.com.au/wealth/investment/leonardo-dicaprio-climate-change/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nebraska nuclear station is threatened by flooding, as Missouri River continued to rise

Deadly, Historic Midwest Flooding Threatens Ericson Dam, Nuclear Plant in Nebraska, By Pam Wright and Ron Brackett, weather.com  15 Mar 19, 

At a Glance

  • New evacuations were ordered overnight in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • A Nebraska farmer was killed trying to rescue a stranded motorist.
  • A Nebraska nuclear plant is threatened.
  • A ‘compromised’ dam forced evacuations along the Niobrara River.
  • A third of the 24,000 residents in Norfolk, Nebraska, were ordered to evacuate Thursday.
  • Flooding in parts of the Midwest has left one man dead threatens a Nebraska dam and nuclear power plant as heavy rains mixed with a melting snowpack swell waterways to historic levels……..
  • In Nebraska, a utility company was placing sandbags around a threatened nuclear power plant Thursday as the Missouri River continued to rise, the Omaha World-Journal reports.

    Mark Becker, spokesman for the Nebraska Public Power District, told the newspaper that should the river hit the level of 45.5 feet as projected by the National Weather Services this weekend, the Cooper Nuclear Station, which accounts for 35 percent of NPPD’s power, will have to be shut down………… https://weather.com/news/news/2019-03-14-flooding-severe-tornadoes-nebraska-iowa-texas

March 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry pushes for weaker regulations:NRC Board dominated by Trump appointees

Nuclear industry pushing for fewer inspections at plants

The board of the agency charged with enforcing regulations on commercially operated nuclear plants is dominated by Trump appointees. NBC News, March 16, 2019,  By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The nuclear power industry is pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cut back on inspections at nuclear power plants and throttle back what it tells the public about plant problems. The agency, whose board is dominated by Trump appointees, is listening.

Commission staffers are weighing some of the industry’s requests as part of a sweeping review of how the agency enforces regulations governing the country’s 98 commercially operating nuclear plants. Recommendations are due to the five-member NRC board in June.

Annie Caputo, a former nuclear-energy lobbyist now serving as one of four board members appointed or reappointed by President Donald Trump, told an industry meeting this week that she was “open to self-assessments” by nuclear plant operators, who are proposing that self-reporting by operators take the place of some NRC inspections. …….

the prospect of the Trump administration’s regulation-cutting mission reaching the NRC alarms some independent industry watchdogs, who say the words “nuclear safety” and “deregulation” don’t go together……..

“For an industry that is increasingly under financial decline … to take regulatory authority away from the NRC puts us on a collision course,” said Paul Gunter, of the anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear. With what? “With a nuclear accident,” Gunter said………..

Trump has said he wants to help both the coal and nuclear power industries. So far, it’s the more politically influential coal industry that’s gotten significant action on the regulatory rollbacks that it sought from the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies.

In January, Trump appointees to the NRC disappointed environmental groups by voting down a staff proposal that nuclear plants be required to substantially — and expensively — harden themselves against major floods and other natural disasters. The proposal was meant to be a main NRC response to the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster after Japan’s 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in 2011……… https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/nuclear-industry-pushing-fewer-inspections-plants-n983671

March 16, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Senators want probe of Trump admin nuclear energy talks with Saudi Arabia

US senators seek probe of Trump admin nuclear energy talks with Saudi Arabia  https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190315-us-senators-seek-probe-of-trump-admin-nuclear-energy-talks-with-saudi-arabia/A Democratic US senator and his Republican counterpart on Friday asked Congress’ investigative arm to probe Trump administration talks with Saudi Arabia over sharing nuclear power technology, Reuters reports.

In the latest effort by lawmakers to shed light on the potential deal, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio asked the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, to investigate the talks as soon as possible. They also asked the GAO to review executive branch negotiations with Saudi Arabia on nuclear energy since 2009, when Democrat Barack Obama was president.

Rubio and Menendez, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, want to ensure any agreement “includes rigorous nonproliferation safeguards and other conditions to prevent nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia from undermining or threatening regional or international security,” said their letter to the GAO, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to build at least two nuclear power plants, has been in talks with the United States for years on importing technology.

The OPEC member, which is also in talks with countries including Russia, China and France, has at times resisted US standards on sharing nuclear technology that prevent uranium enrichment and spent fuel repossessing.

Both of those techniques are potential paths to clandestinely making fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Nonproliferation experts worry that if Saudi Arabia is not held to such a “gold standard,” in what is known as a 123 agreement, it could risk a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates, which recently built reactors, could renegotiate its nonproliferation agreements if Saudi Arabia is allowed to bypass the standards.

Concerns in Congress rose last year after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS News his kingdom would develop nuclear weapons if archrival Iran did. The killing of journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year has also sparked backlash against any deal.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has had quiet talks with Saudi officials, including his friend, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, on nuclear power.

The Department of Energy and the National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The senators said the negotiations are occurring in a “very opaque manner” and that the Trump administration is not keeping their committee informed.

Perry has said he told Saudi Arabia it is important for the kingdom to be seen around the world as strong on nonproliferation. He also said that part of the talks center on making sure any nuclear inspections would not be intrusive for sensitive areas in the kingdom.

Perry told the Financial Times this week that talks with Saudi Arabia were at a pace “closer to one mile an hour than to Mach 1.2.”

Last month, Democratic House members alleged in a report that top White House aides ignored warnings they could be breaking the law as they worked with former U.S. officials in a group called IP3 International to advance a multibillion-dollar plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

The B-52 Bomber: Getting Ready to Carry Nuclear-Armed Cruise Missiles?

The Air Force is now arming its fleet of B-52 Bombers with prototype nuclear-armed cruise missiles to prepare the aircraft for the possibility of launching the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) weapon. National Interest, 

by Kris Osborn  he Air Force is now arming its fleet of B-52 Bombers with prototype nuclear-armed cruise missiles to prepare the aircraft for the possibility of launching the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) weapon.

Through a $250 million deal, the Air Force will work with B-52 manufacturer Boeing to build missile carriage hardware and software, and “test” LRSO integration.

The Air Force has been working with industry on prototyping and design work on the emerging Long Range Stand-Off weapon nuclear-armed cruise missile, set to enter into a new phase of construction by 2022, service officials said. Raytheon and Lockheed, are now working on a $900 million Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction deal for the LRSO……… https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/b-52-bomber-getting-ready-carry-nuclear-armed-cruise-missiles-47582

March 16, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Continuing concern over thyroid and other cancers, due to Three Mile Island nuclear accident

Thyroid cancer caused by low-level radiation has a different “mutational signal” than most thyroid cancer, Goldenberg said. He and his colleagues used molecular research that had been pioneered after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to find that genetic marker.  
 
                                       ************************************************************
Three Mile Island and thyroid cancer: Debates continue over health issues after nuclear plant accident

On March 28, 1979, Chris Achenbach-Kimmel was a 14-year-old freshman at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Cumberland County. Fourteen miles away, on the Susquehanna River, staff at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station were trying to contain the damage from an accident at one of its reactors.

“I just remember being in class, and just getting the news, and wondering, what does this mean?”……

Her mother kept her and her siblings inside as much as possible. TV news reports echoed through the house as her mother waited for an “all clear” from authorities. ……

For Achenbach-Kimmel, the accident became merely one more high school memory. She graduated in 1982 and went on to a career in occupational therapy.

It wasn’t until her thyroid cancer diagnosis in 2010 that she thought again about Three Mile Island.

“I think as soon as I got over the initial shock, it’s like, oh my gosh, I wonder if these two things are related,” said Achenbach-Kimmel, now a 54-year-old academic fieldwork coordinator at the Elizabethtown College occupational therapy department.

Her doctor wasn’t surprised when Achenbach-Kimmel mentioned TMI.

“She said, ‘oh yeah, we see an increased incidence in the area compared to what my colleagues see around the country.’”

Pennsylvania has had one of the highest thyroid cancer rates in recent years, according to Centers for Disease Control.

For those who grew up in central Pennsylvania, Chris’s story is a common one. People blame TMI for their illnesses, and some doctors accept it could have been the case.

Yet, the nuclear industry’s position has been that there has been no conclusive link between the accident and adverse health effects…….

Dr. David Goldenberg, a surgeon and thyroid researcher, launched the Penn State College of Medicine Study after years of hearing his patients bring up the nuclear plant accident.

……  thyroid cancer caused by low-level radiation has a different “mutational signal” than most thyroid cancer, Goldenberg said. He and his colleagues used molecular research that had been pioneered after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to find that genetic marker.

The scientists screened out many thyroid cancer patients, limiting their study to 44 people who were born in counties around Three Mile Island, were present during the accident and were treated at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

“We found a shift, which absolutely can be attributed to exposure to radiation, during the correct time frame of the Three Mile Island accident,” he said, adding that this does not prove that TMI caused the cancer. It just shows a correlation.

Goldenberg is quick to point out the study’s limitations, emphasizing that he’s working on a larger follow-up study. Still, it has put him in the middle of a 40-year-old debate: Did the accident at TMI release more radiation than the government says? Did it harm people? https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/03/three-mile-island-and-thyroid-cancer-study-ignites-debate-over-health-issues-after-nuclear-plant-accident.html

March 16, 2019 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Changes in Congenital Anomaly Incidence in West Coast and Pacific States (USA) after Arrival of Fukushima Fallout 

https://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=54828#.VuSFAXQrkCs.twitter  Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:336KB) PP. 76-89    [multiple references supplied]

ABSTRACT

Radioactive fallout after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown entered the U.S. environment within days; levels of radioactivity were particularly elevated in the five western states bordering on the Pacific Ocean. The particular sensitivity of the fetus to radiation exposure, and the ability of radioisotopes to attach to cells, tissues, and DNA raise the question of whether fetuses/newborns with birth defects with the greater exposures suffered elevated harm during the period after the meltdown. We compare rates of five congenital anomalies for 2010 and 2011 births from April-November. The increase of 13.00% in the five western states is significantly greater than the 3.77% decrease for all other U.S. states combined (CI 0.030 – 0.205, p < 0.008). Consistent patterns of elevated increases are observed in the west (20 of 21 comparisons, 6 of which are statistically significant/borderline significant), by state, type of birth defect, month of birth, and month of conception. While these five anomalies are relatively uncommon (about 7500 cases per year in the U.S.), sometimes making statistical significance difficult to achieve, the consistency of the results lend strength to the analysis, and suggest fetal harm from Fukushima may have occurred in western U.S. states.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | children, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Waste Isolation Pilot Project workers trapped underground during power outage, due to wild weather

WIPP workers trapped underground during power outage

Adrian C Hedden, Carlsbad Current-ArgusPublished 1:14 p.m. MT March 13, 2019 A group of 36 miners at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were trapped underground in an elevator for about three hours, Tuesday due to a power outage during heavy wind and storms.

The facility also ceased operations Wednesday due to an ongoing threat of heavy, damaging winds.

Tornadoes were confirmed Tuesday night in the Dexter and Loving areas.

Bobby St. John, spokesman for Nuclear Waste Partnership said an initial investigation showed WIPP’s utility provider lost power due to the “extreme weather.”……..

Work stoppage a safety measure

James Mason, acting public affairs manager with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office said pausing WIPP operations on Wednesday was meant to ensure worker safety for commutes to and from the facility during the ongoing heavy winds.

The National Weather Service predicted winds in the area could reach up to 80 mph.

“The decision not to work today was based the prediction of 80 mph wind gusts,” Mason said. “With the community out there, with high-profile traffic, it’s a safety measure.”…….https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2019/03/13/wipp-workers-trapped-underground-during-power-outage-tornado/3151570002/

March 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

USA Government Accounting Office reports lack of financial oversight at Hanford and other nuclear sites

March 16, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment