Eskom may have paid millions to keep anti-nuclear research groups quiet: report, Business Tech April 28, 2017 Millions of rands in Eskom funding appears to have silenced two well-respected research institutions, previously critical of the state-owned utility’s plans to procure a fleet of nuclear power stations, according to a new report by amaBhungane.
According to amaBhungane, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was “effectively gagged” after a meeting in March between acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and CSIR head, Dr Thulani Dlamini.
Insiders speaking to amaBhungane noted that a strong rumour had emerged from the meeting, pointing to R100 million pledge by Eskom for CSIR research on technology related to nuclear energy……
CRSES amaBhungane reported that it appears that a similar agreement was reached between the state-owned power utility and the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), who at the last second decided to withdraw comments it had submitted for publication that were highly critical of Eskom’s nuclear plans.
Further email correspondence seen by amaBhungane suggested that the CRSES was unwilling to offend Eskom for fear of having its funding pulled.
In an email seen by amaBhungane, CRSES director Wikus van Niekerk acknowledged the censorship saying, “We receive significant funding from Eskom, some from a programme where Matshela is personally involved in, and I need to be careful how I react in public not to put this at risk.”
Eskom, the CSIR and CRSES have all denied that Eskom has in any way tried to rein in independent research or debate on nuclear or renewable energy options.
You can read the full report here. https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/172627/eskom-may-have-paid-millions-to-keep-anti-nuclear-research-groups-quiet-report/
Harvard University “Pausing” Investments For Some Fossil Fuels https://cleantechnica.com/2017/04/28/harvard-university-pausing-investments-fossil-fuels/ April 28th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill After several years of growing pressure from students, faculty, alumni, and outside proponents of fossil fuel divestment, Harvard University is set to pause investments in some fossil fuels.
Speaking at a Climate Week event, Colin Butterfield, Harvard Management Company’s (HMC) Managing Director of the Committee of Natural Resources, said that they will be “pausing” direct investments in oil, gas, and coal.
“What I can tell you is, from my area, I could honestly say that I doubt — I can’t say never, because never say never — but I doubt that we would ever make a direct investment with fossil fuels,” he said. “But that’s more of an Investment Committee decision, and I cannot talk on their behalf.”
“We’re heartened to hear Butterfield acknowledge the gross injustice of climate change,” said Isa Flores-Jones ‘19, Divest Harvard Coordinator. “Oil, coal, and natural gas are no longer economically, or morally, viable options.”
It’s been a long road for Harvard divestment proponents, with numerous campaigns and recent blockades all designed to pressure the University’s decision making. The Harvard Crimson provides a comprehensive rundown of the campaigns and the incremental moves made by Harvard administrators.
There will be more to come, as the decision is not binding or long-term, and Harvard divestment campaigners will continue to push the University to make hard-line commitments to completely and permanently divest from fossil fuel investments. But the tide is turning in their favor, and a growing consensus about the harmful nature of fossil fuel investment continues to sway more and more people.
“I clearly feel that we are stealing from the future generations,” said Butterfield. “When you go out there and invest in natural resources, and you start looking at what’s happening in the world of natural resources, it’s pretty scary — we need to have more of these conversations.”
Science in America – Neil deGrasse Tyson
March against madness – denial has pushed scientists out to the streets https://www.skepticalscience.com/march-against-madness.html 25 April 2017 by dana1981
This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and around the world marched in support of science. Next weekend, the People’s ClimateMarchwill follow.
Redglass Pictures and StarTalk Radio created a short film in which the brilliant scientist and communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson – though not specifically talking about the science marches – perfectly articulated the motivations behind them.
For example, last weekend’s March for Science was largely a pushback against the creeping science denial among today’s political leaders, about which Dr. Tyson said:
But in this, the 21st Century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not; what is reliable and what is not reliable; what should you believe, what should you not believe. And, when you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it, and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.
The climate march is in response to so many of our political leaders using science denial to obstruct the important debate about policy solutions:
So once you understand that humans are warming the planet, you can then have a political conversation about that … [policy solutions] have political answers. And every minute one is in denial, you are delaying the political solution that should have been established years ago.
Mythbuster Adam Savage was interviewed on MSNBC about why he decided to speak at and participate in the March for Science in San Francisco:
we live in a time where people are passing legislation like in North Carolina to not pay attention to science when making legislation about coastal water levels rising. That is absolutely ludicrous and anti-human. We need to make, as you just said, policies based on the best evidence we have available to us, and that’s why I’m marching.
The marches have drawn some attention. PBS NewsHour – the only American network news program to consistently report on climate change – did a story featuring our own Geoffrey Supran:
The underlying problem is that it’s been decades since we’ve known enough about the threats posed by human-caused climate change to mitigate those risks. It should be a no-brainer: we have one planet with one climate that we depend upon entirely for our survival. We are in the process of fundamentally changing its atmosphere by dumping 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide into it every year. Our only reasonable option is to curb that carbon pollution as quickly as possible before we destabilize the Earth’s climate.
We seemed to finally be moving in the right direction with the Paris agreement, and now the American government is reneging on its pledges and doing everything in its power to increase carbon pollution. Members of the House Science Committee, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the President of the United States deny basic scientific findings made decades ago. The President proposed a budget that would slash funding for scientific research, he’s failed to appoint people to key scientific posts in his administration, and Republicans in the House of Representatives passed two bills to stifle science at the EPA.
It’s madness. We are risking the future of our society on the slim chance that a 3% fringe minority of climate scientists is right and 97% are wrong. It’s like playing Russian roulette, but with far worse odds. At least with Russian roulette there’s a 5-in-6 chance (83%) you’ll be fine. That’s a far sight better than the 3-in-100 (3%) gamble our leaders are taking on climate change. Worse yet, even the 3% don’t deny that humans are altering Earth’s climate, which is an inherently risky proposition.
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World’s largest moveable steel structure shelters sarcophagus at Chernobyl
April 27, 2017 by Susan Bauer Today marks the 31st anniversary of the catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s Unit 4 reactor. The blast discharged 400 times the radioactivity released by the Hiroshima bomb and drove nearly 200,000 people from their homes near the plant in Ukraine.
Now, the hastily built sarcophagus used to temporarily contain what remained of the reactor’s hull after the meltdown has been permanently entombed. A massive steel arch was built, and in 2016, slid over the sarcophagus where it is expected to safely and securely contain the radioactive debris for 100 years………https://phys.org/news/2017-04-world-largest-moveable-steel-sarcophagus.html
BY COLUMBUS, Ohio – April 25, 2017
– API Ohio Executive Director Chris Zeigler urged members of the Ohio legislature to reject legislation that would subsidize nuclear power companies, and called on corporate supporters of the legislation to stop misleading Ohio consumers with false information on the economic and environmental consequences of shuttering nuclear power plants in the state. Zeigler’s comments come as the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee hears testimony on the bill (H.B. 178) on Tuesday…….http://www.military-technologies.net/2017/04/26/api-ohio-reject-nuclear-subsidies-and-stop-misleading-ohioans
America’s Old Nuclear Plants Could Be Dragging Down Clean Energy Development
Money spent nursing nukes may be better spent on wind, solar, … Technology Review April 25, 2017
Eking out the life of old nuclear plants could cripple the adoption of renewable energy.
The nuclear industry is currently reeling in the wake of the meltdown of Toshiba’s reactor business. As we’ve previously reported, the Japanese technology conglomerate was building the only new reactors currently in construction within the U.S. So its failure to succeed in capitalizing on a new generation of smaller reactors looks set to put a huge damper on the construction of new plants in the coming years.
In reality, though, the industry has been nothing but sluggish for decades. Tightening regulations, soaring construction costs, and a nightmarish PR problem have all served to undermine many plans to build new nuclear facilities….
As Bloomberg notes, New York and Illinois are investing billions of dollars to keep old facilities in action, and Connecticut, New Jersey, and Ohio are among states contemplating the same idea. It’s an expensive process….
But according to Bloomberg’s report, that investment could be damaging the renewables sector. In a painful one-two, clean energy funds are being diverted away from solar and wind projects to keep the nukes running, while sometimes overly high baseload supplies maintained by continued use of old nuclear keeps energy prices low, making investment in renewables less attractive……
Bill McKibben New York Times, 23 Apr 17
President Trump is in charge at a critical moment for keeping climate change in check. We may never recover. President Trump’s environmental onslaught will have immediate, dangerous effects. (subscribers only)
Ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame talks nuclear, cyber threats at CMU, Pittsburgh Post Gazette April 22, 2017, by Courtney Linder It’s two and a half minutes to midnight,” said Valerie Plame, a former covert operative for the Central Intelligence Agency. “The clock says we’re closer to human extinction than ever since 1953.”
Ms. Plame, who worked to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, referred to the Science and Security Board’s “Doomsday Clock” in her keynote speech at Carnegie Mellon University on Friday, prefacing a panel on inclusivity in STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — for students and faculty.
In her hour-long discussion of nuclear threats and cybersecurity, Ms. Plame kept the conversation solutions-oriented, rather than dwelling on the high-profile “Plamegate” scandal that ended her espionage career……..
Ms. Plame didn’t hesitate to criticize those who don’t fully grasp the power of nuclear armaments.
“It’s very clear [President Donald Trump] doesn’t understand much about the nuclear threat,” she said, citing his first television interview as president. He told ABC’s David Muir that having access to the nuclear codes was “very, very, very scary.”
“The fundamental problem is not that Trump has access to the nuclear launch codes, but that they exist at all,” she said. Ms. Plame offered that Mr. Trump could “be the very person to move us toward nuclear disarmament,” prescribing a diet that includes a “no first use” policy, which pledges a country won’t use nuclear arms unless first attacked by an adversary that is using them.
But the only true answer is abolition of nuclear weapons, she said.
In the same vein, she called for deterrence of cyberattacks and influence operations, noting the Democratic National Committee email leak last year. The U.S. needs to work harder to protect its citizens from cyberattacks, she said, deterring use of domestic cyberwarfare, not just abroad.
“To my knowledge, no one has died from a cyberattack … but there is a gray area between peace and war,” she said.
Despite being publicly outed from her own position, she asked that the best and brightest at CMU consider working in public service.
“I believe in much more diplomacy, not less,” Ms. Plame said. “We are living in unprecedented times.” http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2017/04/22/valerie-plame-plamegate-explained-controversy-movie/stories/201704220042
The Times, The White House has hardened its stance on Iran, warning that it is ready to walk away from the international deal reached in 2015 that was designed to end Tehran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.
James Mattis, the defence secretary, said that the US and its allies were ready to “checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption and instability they can cause”, and hinted at an escalation in the fight against the Iranian- backed Houthi rebels in Yemen….. (subscribers only) …….https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/us-threat-to-ditch-iran-nuclear-deal-2v592w6ng
on April 21, 2017 LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. — Seven workers were sickened by fumes inside of a nuclear reactor containment building Thursday evening, an official said.
The incident took place around 9 p.m. Thursday at the Salem 2 plant, according to Joe Delmar, a spokesman for PSEG Nuclear.
It prompted the company to declare an “unusual event,” the lowest of four emergency classifications at a nuclear plant. That declaration was lifted by plant officials at 12:58 p.m. Friday……..http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2017/04/7_workers_sickened_by_fumes_inside_nj_nuclear_reac.html
Donald Trump is betting that the genuine threat of nuclear war will get Kim Jong-un to back down. That is an incredibly dangerous bet to make. Michael Bradley Managing partner at Marque Lawyers…….(Subscribers only) https://www.crikey.com.au/2017/04/19/betting-that-north-korea-wont-launch-nuclear-war-is-a-dangerous-game-of-chicken/
As the industry struggles, is it ‘time to recognize the nuclear show’s over’?, LA Times, 17 Apr 17, There was a time when nuclear power was considered to be the bulwark of America’s energy future.
Now the titan appears to be teetering. Westinghouse Electric Co. — long considered the leader in nuclear power development — filed for bankruptcy protection in late March. The move puts in jeopardy the completion of two nuclear plants in the Southeast that had been heralded as proof the industry’s future was still vibrant.
The news added to a long list of nuclear’s woes:
- California is on the verge of eliminating its last remaining nuclear power plant.
- Nuclear waste, stranded in places such as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, isn’t going away any time soon.
- The industry is still reeling from the 2011 tsunami that hit the Fukushima plant in Japan, which prompted some countries such as Germany to turn away from nuclear power…….
Even the industry’s biggest supporters acknowledged the Westinghouse news was bad.
“I’m freaked out, honestly,” said Michael Shellenberger, president of [Ed. – nuclear front group] Berkeley-based Environmental Progress, a group that considers nuclear power an essential element to battle climate change……..
even before the Westinghouse announcement, nuclear energy faced growing competition from natural gas and renewable sources.
Utilities have increasingly turned to natural gas, which emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal. And thanks to the booming shale market, natural gas can be extracted in burgeoning supplies at a price that has remained consistently low for years.
Renewable sources such as wind and solar also have grown while their costs have dropped. That’s left nuclear struggling to just hold onto its 20% share of the nation’s energy mix.“The bottom line is that nuclear was already having problems and in decline,” said Andy Smith, senior analyst covering utility stocks for the investment firm Edward Jones.
Bedeviled at Diablo The Diablo Canyon facility near San Luis Obispo is the last nuclear power plant operating in California — but maybe not for long.The plant’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., announced plans last summer to shut down the site for good by 2025, blaming greater renewable sources in the state’s power mix, developments in energy efficiency and battery storage as well as lower demand.
In the meantime, the list of nuclear closures keeps growing. A plant in Nebraska shut down at the end of last year, and as many as 10 other reactors are proposed to go offline in the coming years, including the two at Diablo. Ohio’s two nuclear plants are in danger of going down.
The country’s nuclear fleet is also getting older, with 99 reactors having an average age of 35 years old……
Despite heightened surveillance and draconian control measures, the answers from nuclear analysts is far from unanimous. Despite these questions, the French power giant that manages them, EDF, wants to prolong their life by ten or even 20 years. Furthermore, the public utility’s finances are at least €37 billion in debt.
What’s more, EDF is due to build two more reactors in Britain – this after embarrassing revelations of neglect relating to the manufacturer of the reactors, Creusot.
We take a closer look after France‘s nuclear watchdog expressed concern.
Plenty of carbon used in nuclear energy April 14 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/plenty-of-carbon-used-in-nuclear-energy/2017/04/14/055e9262-1e1e-11e7-bb59-a74ccaf1d02f_story.html?utm_term=.a0219255a149 Paki Wieland
The April 2 editorial “Nuclear energy in peril” referred to nuclear energy as carbon-free. It is not carbon-free.If we look at nuclear power in whole, from the uranium mining to the dismantling of nuclear power plants, there is an extraordinary use of energy, from the initial devastation of the environment where the uranium is mined to the costly cleanup.
The impact on the environment continues through every phase of nuclear-energy production. A deep look into the issue of nuclear power would lead to overwhelming evidence to support ending nuclear power as a source of energy.
07 Apr 2017 Once a pioneering nuclear energy giant, the Westinghouse Electric Company now finds itself filing for bankruptcy. This follows uncomfortably close on the heels of another nuclear industry leader, Areva, which was bailed out by the French government in January.
The financial troubles these nuclear powerhouses face is leaving the industry more than a little shaken and raises the question: Is the nuclear industry in meltdown?
“Nuclear industry is not in fine shape at the moment, certainly not in the Western world,” said Chris Yelland, an energy expert and the managing director of EE Publishers…. (subscribers only) https://mg.co.za/article/2017-04-07-00-nuclear-turn-off-tumbles-giants