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Woolsey fire has reached a Cold War-era rocket testing site, raising radiation fears

Woolsey fire radioactive risk: Health fears as Woolsey Fire rips through nuclear site

WOOLSEY fire has caused alarm in the community as the blaze has reached a Cold War-era rocket testing site. But is there a health risk as Woolsey Fire tears through a nuclear site?By RACHEL RUSSELL, Nov 14, 2018

The Woolsey Fire has burned at least 91,000 acres and destroyed around 370 structures, according to the latest Cal Fire update. And now the ragong blaze has torn through a former nuclear site, sparking health fears. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is located in the California hills between Chatsworth and Simi Vally.
The nuclear research facility survived a partial meltdown in 1959, which was one of the worst nuclear accidents in the USA’s history.

Radioactive emissions were deliberately released into the nearby areas in order to prevent a nuclear explosion from happening.

However, this resulted in high rates of cancer and chronic illnesses among children for many decades afterwards.

Despite parents and physicians fighting to have the contaminated area made safer, clean up efforts have faced seemingly endless delays over the past decade.

The 2,800-acre site is also known as Rocketdyne.

Members of the community have now expressed concern that flames from the Woolsey fire, which has burning since Thursday, could have burned through toxins that have already contaminated the soil and vegetations around the site.

This potentially could have then released the toxins into the air, along with smoke and ash.

The L.A. chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility group said: “Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust and ash.”

s there a health risk?

California Department of Toxic Substance Control have issued a statement to reassure people the laboratory does not pose an immediate dangers.

The statement read: “There is no evidence that smoke from the area around the SSFL is any more dangerous than other wildfire smoke.”

The statement added LA and Ventura county fire department hazardous materials experts agreed there was no risk.

The department said full testing has not yet been completed due to the area remaining an active evacuation zone.


November 15, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Renaissance has failed. China and Russia cannot save it.

Energy Policy (accessed) 12th Nov 2018 , Steve Thomas: Is it the end of the line for Light Water Reactor technology or can China and Russia save the day?

The Nuclear Renaissance has failed. China and Russia cannot save it.

LWR technology is a blind alley. In the
late 1990s, a new generation of reactor designs evolved from existing
designs was touted as solving the economic problems that led to the
collapse of reactor ordering after the Chernobyl disaster. It was claimed
these designs would be cheap and easy to build because they would be
simpler and use passive safety, modular construction and standardisation.

The US and UK governments were convinced by this and launched reactor
construction programmes. However, 20 years on, the claims have proved false
and the US and UK programmes are in disarray. The last hope for the nuclear
industry appears to be that Chinese and Russian reactor vendors, with
powerful support from their governments, will take over, providing reactors
that are cheap but meet the safety standards required in Europe and North

However, these vendors and their designs are largely unproven in
open markets. There is also little evidence that their reactors will be
cheap, there are concerns about quality and safety culture and there are
national security concerns that may deter customers. New technologies, such
as radical new ones, Generation IV, and Small Modular Reactors are unproven
and, at best, a long way from commercial deployment.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant under investigation by NRC

Alabama, By Paul Gattis |,, 

A north Alabama nuclear plant is facing investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a high dosage of radiation was discovered in water near the plant.

The NRC announced Wednesday has initiated a “special investigation” at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Huntsville ” to determine how and why a diver received a dose rate alarm during underwater work in the Unit 1 equipment pit.”……

November 15, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons – genocidal, xenophobic and racist

Hayley Ramsay-Jones


By definition nuclear weapons are genocidal, xenophobic and racist, 11.11.2018 – Madrid, Spain – Tony Robinson At the II World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace, in Madrid from the 5th to the 8th of November, Pressenza took the opportunity to cover activities carried out by the international team of activists from ICAN.

A combined presentation by Dr. Aurora Bilbao from IPPNW and Hayley Ramsay-Jones from Soka Gakkai International covered two very important topics: the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the intersectional aspects of gender and race discrimination in nuclear disarmament.

We were especially interested to find out more about the gender and race aspects to nuclear disarmament, so after the presentation we caught up with Hayley to ask her a few questions…

November 12, 2018 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

The collapse of Britain’s Moorside project shows that nuclear power has no real future

Moorside’s atomic dream was an illusion. Renewables are the future

The collapse of Toshiba’s project underlines the fact that new nuclear is a more unreliable proposition than wind and solar  Toshiba’s decision to pull out of building a nuclear power station in Cumbria last week will cause shockwaves far beyond the north-west of England.The outcome is a disaster for the surrounding area, which is heavily reliant on the nuclear industry for jobs and prosperity. Local politicians admit it is a blow and a disappointment for Cumbrians hoping for roles at the proposed Moorside plant. They say they genuinely believe a new buyer for the site will come forward. But that looks like wishful thinking.

To an extent, the demise of Moorside can be attributed to problems with it as a specific project. It has looked doomed since Toshiba’s US nuclear unit, Westinghouse, declared bankruptcy in 2017 and the company ruled out new nuclear investments outside of Japan. Efforts to woo the South Korean energy company Kepco as a buyer then floundered. The executive leading the sale for Toshiba blamed the failure to find a buyer on being “caught between a series of unplanned and uncontrollable events”.

But the end of Moorside is also emblematic of the wider challenges that new nuclear faces. It took a decade from Tony Blair signalling the UK’s renewed interest in nuclear power in 2006 for France’s EDF Energy and the British government to sign a generous subsidy deal and green-light Hinkley Point C, the UK’s first new nuclear plant in a generation. In all likelihood, it will not be generating electricity until 2027.

Ministers insist new nuclear power stations are still an essential way of hitting the country’s greenhouse gas emission targets and providing energy security as old plants are switched off in the 2020s.

Losing Moorside means there are just five other new nuclear projects planned, including Hinkley Point C. Eyes will now turn to Hitachi’s proposed Wylfa Newydd plant on Anglesey. The project is the furthest along the line after Hinkley, but it’s far from a done deal.

The new nuclear drive was meant to be solely funded by the private sector, but the government has already made a striking exception in the case of Wylfa. Ministers have promised Hitachi they will use public money to take a £5bn stake in the scheme. Such a dramatic U-turn on policy is explained by the fact that Wylfa is about more than the UK’s desire for new nuclear: it is also about cooperation with Tokyo and bringing forth other investment from Japanese firms, such as carmakers, after Brexit.

There is a pattern here. The subsidy deal for Hinkley was declared exceptional because it was the first new nuclear plant and the risk was loaded on to the developer. Now the second one will be exceptional too. What’s to say that the third, fourth and fifth will be any different?

The collapse of Moorside should be cause for the government to look again at whether it is backing the right horse by doggedly pursuing new nuclear. Even the government’s own advisers, the National Infrastructure Commission, are urging a rethink. Renewables, they point out, are simply less risky.

Ministers will probably invoke the spectre of missed climate-change targets to argue for nuclear. But the statutory advisers on those targets recently saidthe 2030 goal could be achieved with Hinkley alone.

The momentum is with renewables. The technology is becoming cheaper, investors view it as an increasingly safe bet and the need for subsidies is diminishing. Next year we will find out how much cheaper offshore wind, which has already halved in cost, can become in a new round of government auctions.

Ditching new nuclear would require a huge increase in the amount of wind and solar power already expected in coming years. It would need dramatic progress on energy storage, smarter grids and even more efficient use of energy. All those things will be difficult. But pursuing an impossible atomic dream, as Moorside demonstrates, looks even harder.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

In USA 100 women elected to Congress- could they challenge the nuclear status quo?

Newly-Elected Women Should Challenge U.S. Nuclear Posture, International Policy Digest,   Cassandra Varanka  08 NOV 2018 On Tuesday night, women made history. For the first time the United States elected more than 100 women to serve in the United States House of Representatives. These women are diverse in so many ways – the first Native women, the first Muslim women, the youngest woman. They bring incredibly different backgrounds – from military veterans to teachers.

As these newly-elected women converge on Capitol Hill and are sworn in January, they have the opportunity to challenge the nuclear status quo and usher in a new era of nuclear nonproliferation. Many of our nuclear policies have been the same since the invention of the atomic bomb. The president’s nuclear posture review touts “escalate to de-escalate” and relies on the Cold War tactic of mutually assured destruction. The president maintains the sole authority to launch a nuclear weapon and can do so at any time without further authorization. Right now, the United States is risking a return to the Cold War by trashing international agreements regarding nuclear weapons (INF, JCPOA) and building “more usable” nuclear weapons.

Women have played a crucial role in ending dangerous nuclear policies in the past. They led the way in demanding that the United States government put an end to atmospheric nuclear testing after their organizing efforts revealed radioactive isotopes in baby teeth. They led the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980’s. Today, Beatrice Fihn is leading the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in their work to advance the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which has now has 69 signatories.

While men have been caught up in the need to build bigger, better weapons regardless of the monetary, health, or environmental costs, women have understood the existential threat these weapons pose. Women have and continue to push back on the assumption that we cannot survive without our nuclear arsenal.

Right now, there’s a small but growing women’s movement against nuclear weapons taking place across the United States. Women in state legislatures from Georgia to California have introduced resolutions in nine states calling on Congress to end the president’s sole authority to launch a nuclear weapon. The president has the power to unilaterally decide to launch a nuclear first strike against another country, and no one can stop the president once that order has been issued. …….

History was made on Tuesday, but it was only a first step. The incredible women who have been newly elected to serve in the 116th Congress now have the opportunity to champion policies that have been ignored by those in power for too long. Women have played an important role in reforming reckless nuclear policies in the past, and it is time for them to do it again.

November 10, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

One British nuclear build fiasco ends – Moorside. More to Come?

 9th Nov 2018 , How radioactive can you get? “The British government has blood on its
hands”. Really? Lucky it hasn’t declared war or anything – because Justin Bowden might run out of words. Who he? The GMB union’s national secretary for energy, giving his measured response to the implosion of Moorside’s
nuclear dreams: the ones looking nightmarish ever since the Nugen project’s champion, Japan’s Toshiba, went into financial meltdown.

And maybe it will mean fewer jobs in Cumbria building a £10 billion-plus nuclear white elephant. But even so, here’s an alternative view: axing the project is a let-off for Britain.

We’ve got one nuclear fiasco already: the £20 billion Hinkley Point C, forcing consumers to pay twice the wholesale price for its electricity, or £92.50 per megawatt hour, for 35 years.

And one look at how Toshiba got into its mess shows why we don’t need another one. It was bl own up by Westinghouse, the nuclear developer Britain sold for $5.4 billion in 2006. It set about building four reactors in America with its whizzy AP1000 technology. The upshot? $10 billion of cost overruns and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Such was the carnage that Toshiba was forced to flog its prized memory chip unit for $17.7 billion.

So, no great shock it’s gone cold on a repeat affair in Cumbria. Indeed, EDF would be in a similar pickle after the cost overruns on its Hinkley prototypes in France and Finland if it wasn’t 84 per cent-owned by the French government.

All the same, Toshiba’s decision to shut down Nugen raises key issues for Britain’s
energy policy. Moorside was meant to provide 7 per cent of our energy needs. So two key questions spring to mind. What’ll replace it? And should it be nuclear?

As the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit points out, offshore wind and solar power is already cheaper – as is gas. Throw in smart grids, energy saving and battery technology and the case for overpriced nukes vanishes. Toshiba is proof of the dangers.


November 10, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Intersection of climate and nuclear dangers

The global responsibility to prepare for intersecting climate and nuclear risks, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Christine ParthemoreFrancesco FemiaCaitlin Werrell, November 1, 2018 The effects of climate change stand to heighten nuclear risks in various ways, including direct impacts on nuclear facilities, exacerbation of political and economic disruptions, and a diminishment of the strength of global institutions. Governments and international organizations have a responsibility to prepare for this collision of climate and nuclear threats, notably by using the unprecedented foresight that new technologies can provide………..

November 5, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recognising that nuclear waste is not just a technical issue

GDF Watch 28th Oct 2018 The publication of the tailored review on the Committee on Radioactive
Waste Management (CoRWM) sets out some revised principles for the
Committee’s future role. While the review says that the Committee’s
role and objectives needs updating, and that these should be set out in a
new framework, the Government says little about what that role might
actually be.

However, one specific area of activity under review is the
extent to which, and on what basis, CoRWM more actively participates in
public and community engagement. The July appointment of Sir Nigel Thrift
as CoRWM’s new Chair underlines the Government’s awareness of the need
to shift priority as the siting process relaunches. Sir Nigel is a human
geographer, a social scientist.

This is a marked shift from CoRWM’s
historic technical/scientific foundations, and a recognition that the
issues are increasingly social rather than technical – civics not
science. The minutes from CoRWM’s recent public plenary sessions indicate
that the Committee itself has been examining whether and how it should
become more active and more visible. Those who gave evidence to the
Committee, including GDFWatch, were in agreement that a revamped CoRWM
could have a critical role in building public trust in geological disposal
and the siting process.

November 5, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reprimanded for nuclear safety breaches

The Ferret 4th Nov 2018 , The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been formally reprimanded by its internal
safety regulator for five nuclear safety breaches, according to documents
seen by The Ferret.

The Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR) served MoD
nuclear agencies with one safety improvement notice in 2017, two in 2016
and two in 2010. The notices alleged a series of serious safety failings
with submarines stationed on the Clyde and at Trident bomb bases.

The DNSR accused the MoD of “a failure of safety culture”, “inadequate
resourcing” and “continued non-compliance”. In 2010 DNSR expressed
concern that “that future nuclear reactor programme safety may be

Green MSP and environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell said
“It is time for Trident to be decommissioned, and the money, resources
and skills connected to Faslane redeployed towards sustainable progressive
infrastructure projects.”

November 5, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Spiralling costs of Britain’s Sellafield nuclear site

Afloat 31st Oct 2018 BBC News reports that The UK government must “get a grip” on spiralling
costs and project delays that have plagued the Sellafield nuclear site,
located on the far side of the Irish Sea on the Cumbrian coast,
approximately 170 km (112 miles) from the northeast coast of Ireland, just
128 miles from Dublin. The UK’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in a
report that some decommissioning projects had already been delayed by more
than a decade. It said estimated budget overruns had climbed to nearly

November 3, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Radioactive waste disposal in four words: “We do not know”.

Energy Transition 30th Oct 2018 Nuclear
waste will remain dangerous for more than 100,000 years – so what are
countries and producers doing to deal with this problem? Passing the buck,
apparently: so far, not a single facility to safely store spent nuclear
fuel has been created in Europe, or the world for that matter.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Brazil’s new president will make it harder to limit climate change

New Scientist, By Michael Le Page, 29 Oct 18

It is being described as a catastrophe for the planet. The far-right winner of Brazil’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, looks likely to further weaken protections for the Amazon rainforest and make the goal of limiting global warming to under 2°C even harder to achieve.

“If he carries through on his rhetoric we can expect tribal genocide, torture of dissidents, and climate-altering destruction of the Amazon forest,” tweeted Christopher Dick of the University of Michigan, who studies the rainforest. “This is a nightmare scenario.”

Bolsonaro has …(subscribers only)

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Serious concern in nuclear industry over no-deal Brexit

Utility Week 26th Oct 2018 , The Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association has waned. Tom Greatrex says
the absence of a transition period could cause serious problems. Although
the UK and EU have already reached agreement over what their future
relationship should be, these plans would be scuppered if the wider deal
falls apart. With the free movement of workers and components at stake a no
deal Brexit is a serious concern.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New global approaches needed to tackle climate change

FT 29th Oct 2018, For the past 20 years the orthodox response to the threat of climate change
has been focused on the search for a global agreement to reduce emissions.
Such an approach is entirely logical and rational. Climate change is a
global risk and so everyone should be involved in the response. The only
problem is that the approach has failed.

The Paris conference in 2015 brought people together and collected a range of loose promises from almost
every country in the world. Those promises in aggregate were inadequate, and some have already been forgotten as regimes have changed, not least in the US.

Many countries are taking action to mitigate climate change, but these actions don’t add up to an answer. Potential global solutions such as a universal carbon tax remain off the agenda. What is the alternative? The
best hope for limiting emissions comes from the application of science to
the energy market. That means finding sources of energy that can be made
available to all the world’s citizens, at a price they can afford, enabling
them to switch away from the carbon-intensive fuels such as coal that are
the main source of the problem. If politics cannot solve climate change,
perhaps science and economics can do better.

New techniques to store renewable electricity would be a great advance making sustainable power
available worldwide. Dramatic gains in the efficiency of energy consumption
may also be within reach. And there could be other answers to be found if
we looked.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment