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Opportunities for US-Russian collaboration on the safe disposal of nuclear waste

Opportunities for US-Russian collaboration on the safe disposal of nuclear waste, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  By Cameron TracySulgiye ParkMaria PlevakaEkaterina Bogdanova, May 13, 2021

Russia and the United States share a common legacy of nuclear waste production and a common need to safely and effectively manage this waste. Both have operated nuclear reactors for more than six decades. 

……. . This nuclear energy is unavoidably accompanied by the production of vast quantities of nuclear wastes. The United States possesses approximately 80,000 metric tons of civilian high-level radioactive waste; Russia possesses about 24,000 metric tons (Laverov 2016; Nuclear Energy Institute 2019). Much of this is in the form of spent fuel composed largely of uranium, as well as transmutation productions (e.g., plutonium, neptunium, and americium) and fission products (e.g., cesium, strontium, and iodine) produced during the irradiation of fuel (Bruno and Ewing 2006).  Low level wastes resulting from nuclear energy generation, including contaminated clothing or equipment exposed to neutron irradiation, constitute another nuclear waste stream (Yim and Simonson 2000).

Alongside these civilian inventories, Russia and the United States possess the vast majority of the world’s weapons plutonium and highly enriched uranium—fissile materials from which nuclear weapons are constructed (International Panel on Fillile Materials 2015). Much of this material has been declared excess to military needs and must be disposed of. Furthermore, the past production of these fissile material stockpiles and of nuclear arsenals has yielded large quantities of radionuclide-contaminated wastes. This totals 340,000 metric tons of material in the United States, and likely similar quantities in Russia (US Department of Energy 1997)……… (subscribers only)


May 15, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Racism, inequities move to the center of the climate debate

COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protests threw underlying systemic inequity magnifying climate change impacts into sharp relief.

Douglas Fischer
  11 Apr 21
Systemic racism and inequity has always run as a powerful undercurrent through environmental and climate change impacts.

But it’s taken a global pandemic and shifting political winds in the U.S. to connect environmental impacts with environmental justice in such a mainstream, widespread way.

That’s according to three journalists at the frontlines of climate and environmental issues…..

April 12, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

The UK would open a “Pandora’s box” if it were to consider using its nuclear arsenal against non-nuclear countries

The UK would open a “Pandora’s box” if it were to consider using its
nuclear arsenal against non-nuclear countries possessing equivalent weapons
of mass destruction, a former defence secretary has warned. Raising his
concerns at Westminster, Labour peer Lord Reid of Cardowan argued against
any shift in the potential deployment of the UK’s submarine-based
deterrent. He made his comments this evening following the Government
publishing details of its major review of foreign and defence policy, known
as the Integrated Review.

City AM 23rd March 2021

March 25, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK’s decision to expand nuclear weapons – destabilises the fragile world order say Musicians for Peace and disarmament

Guardian 23rd March 2021, Letter: Serhii Plokhy’s article (Boris Johnson is playing a dangerous
nuclear game, 19 March) explains why this could not be a worse time for the
government to raise the cap on nuclear warheads. Musicians for Peace and
Disarmament (MPD) has been campaigning for a nuclear-free world since 1983.
Although progress towards this end has been painfully slow, little did we
expect such a sudden and profound setback as the recent announcement.

This reckless decision threatens to destabilise the already fragile world order,
and instead of using precious funds for positive purposes, it squanders
them on weapons of mass destruction that can never be used, are illegal,
and are inherently immoral. Society will need rebuilding after the
destructive effects of the pandemic; millions of people around the world
are in desperate need of help after years of conflict in their countries,
yet foreign aid has been cut; and the climate emergency, now almost at the
point of no return, must be made a matter of absolute priority. Along with
countless other people who have expressed their dismay, MPD strongly urges
the prime minister and his government to show political wisdom and moral
leadership by withdrawing this plan.

March 25, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Why the Fukushima disaster signalled the end of Big Nuclear.

New Statesman 15th March 2021, Why the Fukushima disaster signalled the end of Big Nuclear. Ten years after the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, large nuclear power stations have yet to regain their appeal. While for many energy experts it may not make sense to hot-headedly shut off existing nuclear for largely ideological reasons, as Germany did in 2011, the past decade has left many countries asking why they would take the economic and political risk
associated with new nuclear power stations when they can invest instead in high volumes of renewable energy.

Big Nuclear has demonstrated the mistake of looking for an easy solution, and picking one technology as a silver bullet. Without a pragmatic approach, energy debates veer away from the
facts, technological and economic, and make it harder for governments to decide on the strategies needed for the most significant challenge of all – the need to reach net zero.

March 17, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Ten years on from Fukushima, nuclear power continues to struggle with deeper problems.

Ten years on from Fukushima, nuclear power continues to struggle with deeper problems. Renew Economy, 

Ketan Joshi 10 March 2021  ”……….. Why couldn’t the power plant withstand the tsunami? The official Japanese government inquiry found that it was “collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents”.

The impact of the accident was unmissable. Japan’s fleet of nuclear power stations were shuttered almost immediately. The most noticeable flow-on impact was Germany bringing forward its planned nuclear phase out from 2036 to 2011. However, these shutdowns levelled off only a few years later, and the reduced output from these decisions has been entirely cancelled out by rising nuclear output in China, as shown in Ember’s 2020 electricity review:
A more recent report from Ember focused on Europe highlights the magnitude of change in Europe, and in particular, in France, often heralded as the flagship country for nuclear power
 deployment, and utterly unavoidable in debates or discussions about nuclear.

What that report shows is that in 2020, nuclear power suffered its most significant fall in output probably on record – notably, even greater in scale than the drop after Fukushima. Belgium and Sweden too have seen significant drops in nuclear power.

In an alternative universe where the political and cultural factors never led to the Fukushima nuclear accident, it’s tough to imagine a global electricity system all that different from today’s. Wind and solar would likely still be on a steep downwards cost curve, fossil fuels would still be raking in subsidies (sometimes with the support of the nuclear industry), and though nuclear’s output would still be higher, it would still certainly face the deeper, longer-term economic issues that have defined its growth and decline over the past several decades.
In Australia, nuclear power remains illegal, under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act. It has sat around the middle of popularity surveys for some time, but has seen an extremely gradual softening in public perception over the years. Politically, it’s only ever mentioned as a tactic for conservative politicians to provoke their foes, and is championed mostly by those who also aggressively oppose climate policies, including those that would be needed to make nuclear economical in Australia, such as carbon pricing.

The Fukushima accident has been at times framed as a turn-around point – a disaster exploited by cynical Greens. It was exploited at times, but at most it accelerated pre-existing trends.

In some places in the world, it seems important to sweat nuclear plants for as long as possible. In the US, for instance, the boom of cheap fossil fuels and an absence of strong renewable policies mean gaps will be filled by higher-polluting plants. In Europe, the drumbeat of closures is essentially inevitable, and that means deploying replacement clean energy portfolios as quickly as possible to ensure fossil fuels don’t take hold.

The Fukushima disaster simply catalysed a collection of deep, systemic factors that were already in place, and remain in place today. Nuclear will certainly play some role in the world’s future electricity grids, most likely in countries like China and India. But elsewhere, it is wind and solar that have become the most favoured to serve as the workhorses of grids. They too are not immune to public backlash, to poor economics or to industry headwinds, and there must be far more effort put in to ensuring they don’t suffer a similar fate.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear technology’s role in the world’s energy supply is shrinking

Nuclear technology’s role in the world’s energy supply is shrinking
Anniversaries of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters highlight the challenges of relying on nuclear power to cut net carbon emissions to zero. Nature 10 Mar 21,   …………….
With attention focused on nuclear disasters, it’s hard to imagine the enthusiasm with which nuclear energy was once regarded, when it was seen by many as one answer to global energy demand. From the first experimental reactor in 1951, reactors were commissioned at an increasing rate, with 20–30 commissioned almost every year during a peak period between the late 1960s and the end of the 1970s. A fire in 1957 at one of the United Kingdom’s power plants, Windscale — later renamed Sellafield — did not impede the global rate of growth……….
In addition to the deaths and health risks, the cost of the damages caused by Chernobyl is thought to exceed US$200 billion, and the Japan Center for Economic Research estimates the costs of decontaminating the Fukushima site to be between $470 billion and $660 billion. In the wake of the disaster, 12 of Japan’s reactors have been permanently shut; a further 24 remain closed pending ongoing safety reviews, which are adding to the costs.
What all of this means is that, on top of construction costs, any country investing in nuclear power must be prepared to set aside — or must have access to — vast sums that can be released in the event of disasters, whether they occur as a result of human error or natural phenomena.
What all of this means is that, on top of construction costs, any country investing in nuclear power must be prepared to set aside — or must have access to — vast sums that can be released in the event of disasters, whether they occur as a result of human error or natural phenomena.

Considering the barriers to the adoption of nuclear energy, it is not surprising that much of the nuclear energy generated around the world is produced by nuclear-weapons states. Most countries will baulk at the idea of setting up a nuclear power plant if the total bill could run to hundreds of billions of dollars.

By contrast, although renewable-energy technologies are still in their relative infancy, their costs are falling and their regulation is much more straightforward. This is important: the technology used to turn on lights or charge mobile phones shouldn’t need to involve national or international defence apparatus.

Clearly, nuclear energy will be with us for some time. New plants are being built and older ones will take time to decommission. But it is not proving to be the solution it was once seen as for decarbonizing the world’s energy market. Nuclear power has benefits, but its continued low take-up indicates that some countries think these are outweighed by the risks. For others, the development of nuclear energy is unaffordable. If the world is to achieve net zero carbon emissions, the focus must be on renewable energies — and one of their greatest benefits is that their sources are available, freely, to all nations.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear power faces a wobbly future

Scientific American 9th March 2021,Nuclear power faces a wobbly future 10 years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant
in Japan. But the industry’s unstable footing has less to do with the
Fukushima accident—and more to do with how a natural gas glut and the
rise of renewable power have transformed the global energy landscape.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Fukushima 10 years on – an overview

Peace Boat 7th March 2021 Ten years have passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent disaster at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

This article outlines the current situation of the people impacted by this unprecedented nuclear
disaster, the prospects (or lack thereof) for the decommissioning of the  plant that caused the disaster, and the possibility of using this experience as an opportunity to phase out nuclear power in Japan.

March 9, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021: The decontamination myth and a decade of human rights violations.

Greenpeace 4th March 2021, Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021: The decontamination myth and a decade of human rights violations.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear-weapons treaty the right way forward

February 27, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Biden’s Nuclear Opportunity

February 20, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Press freedom hangs on the fate of Julian Assange

Sabine von Törne   14 Feb 21,  What happens to Wikileaks founder and publisher #JulianAssange who remains unlawfully imprisoned at High Security Prison Belmarsh for exposing US war crimes and corruption of powerful elites matters to all of us.
Yesterday, on 12th of February 2021, the Biden administration submitted an appeal against Magistrate Baraitser’s decision to refuse extradition to the U.S. on humanitarian grounds.
This struggle is far from over. #TheWorldIsWatching with our eyes on #London. We must speak up for Julian’s human rights, for press freedom, free speech, the public’s right to know what those who govern us are up to in our name and thereby for the most basic principles of democracy. Keep fighting. We can win this. #FreeJulianAssange

February 15, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

ICAN urges all countries to sign the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Nuclear Weapons control urged Helen Loing, Princeton , 5 Feb 21,

On January 22, 2021, the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) became international law. More than 50 nations have already ratified this treaty, but the U.S. has not. It is my strong feeling that the new administration should make nuclear arms control and non-proliferation top priorities.

I would urge you to contact your congressional representative, Tom Emmer (202-225-2331) or Pete Stauber (202-225-6211), and our two senators, Amy Klobuchar (202-224-3244) and Tina Smith (202-224-5641), to sign the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons pledge (ICAN) to work for the ratification of the TPNW in the U.S.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons was the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and is urging all lawmakers, in all countries, to support it. I hope you will, too.


February 5, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear Care Partners is helping former Pantex workers

Nuclear Care Partners is helping former Pantex workers  Feb 4, 2021

February 5, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment