Standard and Poor’s: dismantling Europe’s old nuclear power plants will run up a hundred billion pound bill for EDF EON RWE and others
Nuclear liabilities of the largest eight nuclear plant operators in Europe totaled €100bn at the end of last year, representing around 22 per cent of their aggregate debt, according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s.
Operators are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high. Europe’s main nuclear operators include France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE. They are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high.
While the analysis by S&P treats nuclear liabilities as debt-like obligations, it recognises that several features differentiate them from traditional debt. But given the size of the liabilities against a company’s debt, they can impact a company’s credit metrics, and their credit rating.
The report noted that a company’s nuclear provisions are difficult to quantify, as well as cross compare, because accounting methods vary between different countries.
It also foresees many operational challenges ahead, including a reality check on costs and execution capabilities.
How Nuclear Power Causes Global Warming, The Progressive, September 21, 2016 Harvey Wasserman
Supporters of nuclear power like to argue that nukes are the key to combatting climate change. Here’s why they are dead wrong.
Every nuclear generating station spews about two-thirds of the energy it burns inside its reactor core into the environment. Only one-third is converted into electricity. Another tenth of that is lost in transmission. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Nuclear fission is the most water intensive method of the principal thermoelectric generation options in terms of the amount of water withdrawn from sources. In 2008, nuclear power plants withdrew eight times as much freshwater as natural gas plants per unit of energy produced, and up to 11 percent more than the average coal plant.
Every day, large reactors like the two at Diablo Canyon, California, individually dump about 1.25 billion gallons of water into the ocean at temperatures up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the natural environment.
Diablo’s “once-through cooling system” takes water out of the ocean and dumps it back superheated, irradiated and laden with toxic chemicals. Many U.S. reactors use cooling towers which emit huge quantities of steam and water vapor that also directly warm the atmosphere.
These emissions are often chemically treated to prevent algae and other growth that could clog the towers. Those chemicals can then be carried downwind, along with radiation from the reactors. In addition, hundreds of thousands of birds die annually by flying into the reactor domes and towers.
The Union of Concerned Scientists states:
The temperature increase in the bodies of water can have serious adverse effects on aquatic life. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water, thus discharge from once-through cooling systems can create a “temperature squeeze” that elevates the metabolic rate for fish. Additionally, suction pipes that are used to intake water can draw plankton, eggs and larvae into the plant’s machinery, while larger organisms can be trapped against the protective screens of the pipes. Blocked intake screens have led to temporary shut downs and NRC fines at a number of plants.
And that’s not all.
All nuclear reactors emit Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are “carbon free.” And the fuel that reactors burn is carbon-intensive. Themining, milling, and enrichment processes needed to produce the pellets that fill the fuel rods inside the reactor cores all involve major energy expenditures, nearly all of it based on coal, oil, or gas.
And of course there’s the problem of nuclear waste. After more than a half-century of well-funded attempts, we’ve seen no solution for the management of atomic power’s intensely radioactive waste. There’s the “low-level” waste involving enormous quantities of troublesome irradiated liquids and solid trash that must be dealt with outside the standard civilian waste stream. And that handling involves fossil fuels burned in the process of transportation, management, and disposal as well ………
There are no credible estimates of the global warming damage done by the intensely hotexplosions at the four Fukushima reactors, or at Chernobyl, or at any other past and future reactor meltdowns or blowups. …..
Overall, the idea that atomic power is “clean” or “carbon free” or “emission free” is a very expensive misconception, especially when compared to renewable energy, efficiency, and conservation. Among conservation, efficiency, solar and wind power technologies, there are no global warming analogs to the heat, carbon, and radioactive waste impacts of nuclear power. No green technology kills anywhere near the number of marine organisms that die through reactor cooling systems.
Rooftop solar panels do not lose ten percent of the power they generate to transmission, as happens with virtually all centralized power generators. S. David Freeman, former head of numerous large utilities and author of All Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future, says: “Renewables are cheaper and safer. That argument is winning. Let’s stick to it.”
No terrorist will ever threaten one of our cities by blowing up a solar panel. But the nuclear industry that falsely claims its dying technology doesn’t cause global warming does threaten the future of our planet.
Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. He editsnukefree.org. You can find his GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW at www.prn.fm
the BBC Science team’s involvement in a shocking display of bad science during the commemorations of the 2011 disaster in 2016 March this year. Even though there was outrage in the scientific community at the Fukushima video, it was some months before the BBC quietly took down the video.
the public that saw the biased Fukushima video were unaware of the wrong and dangerous information that was given.
There are many other articles out there that show the BBC defending Geraldine Thomas (BBC Expert) after the complaints came in and rebuffs for that on fissionline magazine and this was also added pressure that forced the BBC to take the Fukushima video down. (Ed note: Geraldine Thomas is currently in Australia, extolling the benefits of the nuclear industry, and downplaying the health effects of ionising radiation) )
Sellafield – Contempt of Parliament – BBC News missed it. https://europeannewsweekly.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/sellafield-contempt-of-parliament-bbc-news-missed-it/by arclight2011part2 The nuclear industry supported press, in rebuffing the BBC Panorama teams claims of safety issues and lies to Parliament, we see some counters to the safety concerns but no response to the well documented evidence of the head of the Sellafield consortium lying to the Parliamentary committee and covering up the grave incident of plutonium release (and its cost) in November 2014.
Tony Price lies to Parliament (from Panorama Documentary) [on original]
The Spokesperson for Sellafield can be seen on the video acting a bit surprised at the questioning and revelations the Panorama reporter revealed. He just denied that any “spin” (ie lies) were said during the Parliamentary committee and that is the last word we have on this explosive revelation of criminality from the nuclear industry.
It is most surprising that the BBC News office did not pick this up as we see on the BBC web site they are fully aware of the issue of contempt of parliamentary procedure;
“….Examples of contempt include giving false evidence to a parliamentary committee, ….The Commons has the power to order anyone who has committed a contempt of Parliament to appear at the Bar of the House and to punish the offender…..”2008 BBC
Since that report was uncovered, the nuclear industry and their PR and government connections have swayed the public and eased their fears. The BBC and Science Media Centre (SMC UK) (Also called Sense About Science) was crucial to doing this and at the same time minimising the environmental and health impacts of the 2011 Fukushima disaster that had caused a huge drop in investor interest in nuclear projects.
So in the last 5 years the BBC has produced many supportive documentaries and educational materials favouring nuclear energy (Since the SMC UK started to receive large corporate funding) . In fact at the end of last year, the BBC science department was involved with promoting Sellafield and largely ignoring the many problems that existed there.
That was followed up by the BBC Science teams involvement in a shocking display of bad science during the commemorations of the 2011 disaster in 2016 March this year. Even though there was outrage in the scientific community at the Fukushima video, it was some months before the BBC quietly took down the video. Thereby, much of the public that saw the biased Fukushima video were unaware of the wrong and dangerous information that was given. Then just a couple of months ago a high profile visit to Sellafield by dignitaries was to underline the improvements and give Sellafield the all clear. Still other experts tried to combat the BBC and SMC UK PR management of all media regarding nuclear;
“The Ecologist, 12th August 2015 Dr David Lowry
Professor ‘Jim’ Al’Khalili’s ‘Inside Sellafield’ programme was a tour de force of pro-nuclear propaganda, writes David Lowry – understating the severity of accidents, concealing the role of the UK’s nuclear power stations in breeding military plutonium, and giving false reassurance over the unsolved problems of high level nuclear waste…”
The main thing for the BBC, government and nuclear industry was that the nuclear industry was still being perceived as above board and transparent. We saw a similar maneuver after the release of the Panorama Documentary on its You Tube site (Under BBC management orders?). The video was removed after just a few hours of being uploaded and after the link had been shared to an international social media audience. The video was put back up sometime later but after the interest had passed.
Although the media has largely ignored this story many experts have been commenting on the situation in Sellafield and there is a lot of well sourced data that bears the whistleblowers observations and claims (See source links below) . But it is the criminal manipulation of politicians during the Parliamentary committee process that demands our immediate attention. It undermines our Democracy.
Whilst discussing the issue of coverage, by the BBC, of the nuclear industry (with the exception of the excellent undercover investigative abilities of the BBC Panorama team) , I asked an experienced Science Media journalist and Author on how he viewed the BBC`s general coverage of nuclear matters over recent years and he had this to say;
“The BBC is guilty of a journalistic disgrace.” Karl Grossman, Professor of Journalism, State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, USA. [11th September 2016]
Meanwhile in the UK Paul Dorfman (Energy analyst spokesman for main stream UK media) said to me;
”Recent events reveal the ongoing national disgrace that is Sellafield, including the truly appalling state of the historic spent fuel ponds’….”
And Paul Dorfman was able to qualify his point through the excellent investigative work of the Panorama team. [11th September 2016]
In France an Energy systems engineer, well versed in La Hague (The French equivalent to Sellafield) and its impacts said this in response to a discussion on the Panorama revelations;
“….those plants, Sellafield and La Hague, would exterminate the whole world population in under 40 years, because there are tons of plutonium in Sellafield and tons in La Hague adding thousand times more than necessary to exterminate all animals through the world. The biggest aberration of history, the timing bomb for the global extinction, a potential aschimothusia .[“sacrifices” committed by force of a state ] …” Xavier Nast 11 September 2016
Marianne Birkby confirmed to me the ongoing “legacy” of dangerous safety practices at Sellafield;
“…The state of the Sellafield ponds is described by the BBC as an “historic legacy” but the “legacy” is ongoing with every reactor that continues to burn nuclear fuel whose waste is sent to Sellafield for reprocessing. . The now infamous photographs of the shocking state of the Sellafield ponds that were given to Radiation Free Lakeland by a brave whistleblower are not “historic.” Those shocking photographs are a graphic illustration of the continuing madness of nuclear power….” Marianne Birkby, Founder of Radiation Free Lakeland 11 September 2016
Sources for this article (Not already linked above)
The BBC Panorama You Tube documentary linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ1i3HScYak
Dr Lowry http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.ie/2016/09/inside-sellafield-and-military.html?spref=tw
Dr Ian Fairlie response to the Panorama findings and historical summary on Sellafield here http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/bbc-panorama-programme-sellafield/
Critical scientific analysis of the BBC Science departments dangerous and insulting attempts of reporting on Fukushima (And the reason that the BBC had to take down the video, some months later. The comments on this video are enlightening and you can see both pro nuclear and anti nuclear people actually agreeing and making known their complaints to the BBC) – March 2016https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrgdAA5oiIA
Note from writer; There are many other articles out there that show the BBC defending Geraldine Thomas (BBC Expert) after the complaints came in and rebuffs for that on fissionline magazine and this was also added pressure that forced the BBC to take the Fukushima video down.. The whole story of BBC bias in Energy matters is too vast to cover here but I leave you with the above Key words and links (for the researcher) . The truth will out!! – Shaun McGee
Sean Arclight Hervé Courtois CRIIRAD calls to mobilize against the adoption of very high reference levels
to manage nuclear accidents and their consequences.
The French authorities are preparing to establish the zones management criteria contaminated following a nuclear accident (or after an attack affecting a nuclear installation). What level of radiation exposure, and thus risk, will be taken in reference to decide whether or not to hire a particular action to protect the population? Very concretely: to what level of risk you will be condemned to live in contaminated areas? At what level of risk can you expect to be compensated and rehoused in a healthy environment?
The French authorities have retained the levels of effective dose as high as possible: 100 mSv for the accident phase and 20 mSv / year for accidental post phase (while for the public, the maximum dose limit is typically 1 mSv / year and that this value is already at a high level of risk). More limitations are high, lower are the expenses related to the protection and compensation for damage. This choice is unfortunately consistent with the capping of compensation for victims of a major nuclear accident. Nuclear power is exempted from the application of the polluter pays principle: they are the victims who bear the health and economic consequences of the disaster.
This decision does not just happen. It is the fruit of 20 years of efforts of the nuclear lobby, and specifically the French nuclear lobby via the Trojan horse, the FNEC (1). The key idea is to convince people that can be done entirely live in contaminated areas. Just a bit of training and equipment to control their environment, food. These experts have just “forgot” the central problem of the deteriorating health status of people, especially children.
If you are shocked by the image of the Japanese children wear around their necks a dosimeter as a pendant, if it is not the future you want for your children, act!
1. Study Centre on the Protection of the evaluation in the field Nuclear: an association with 4 members (EDF, AREVA, CEA and IRSN) and has widely infiltrated the national and international decision-making and including the ICRP (Jacques Lochard, Director of the FNEC, is now vice chairman of the main committee)
The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Marine has launched a consultation on the draft decree on the Directive 2013/59. Remember that France must transpose the Directive into French law by January 2018. This consultation is an opportunity to denounce the proposals which we find unacceptable and show already our requirements. We later learned of this consultation will end on 30 September.
Take part in the public consultation
and say NO to the obligation to live in contaminated areas!
> Learn more
> How to participate in the public consultation?
The Directive covers many topics which will be discussed further. Other actions will be implemented in the coming weeks. We already rely on your help to relay! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/
The 15 costliest nuclear disasters and the nuclear risks of the future,Treehugger, Christine Lepisto (@greenanswer) September 20, 2016 The names Chernobyl and Fukushima connote nuclear disaster. But do you remember Three Mile Island? Have you ever heard of Beloyarsk, Jaslovske, or Pickering? These names appear among the 15 most expensive nuclear disasters.
- Chernobyl, Ukraine (1986): $259 billion
- Fukushima, Japan (2011): $166 billion
- Tsuruga, Japan (1995): $15.5 billion
- Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, USA (1979): $11 billion
- Beloyarsk, USSR (1977): $3.5 billion
- Sellafield, UK (1969): $2.5 billion
- Athens, Alabama, USA (1985): $2.1 billion
- Jaslovske Bohunice, Czechoslovakia (1977): $2 billion
- Sellafield, UK (1968): $1.9 billion
- Sellafield, UK (1971): $1.3 billion
- Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA (1986): $1.2 billion
- Chapelcross, UK (1967): $1.1 billion
- Chernobyl, Ukraine (1982): $1.1 billion
- Pickering, Canada (1983): $1 billion
- Sellafield, UK (1973): $1 billion
A new study of 216 nuclear energy accidents and incidents crunches twice as much data as the previously best review, predicting that
“The next nuclear accident may be much sooner or more severe than the public realizes.”
The study points to two significant issues in the current assessment of nuclear safety. First, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) serves the dual masters of overseeing the industry and promoting nuclear energy. Second, the primary tool used to assess the risk of nuclear incidents suffers from blind spots.
The conflict of interest in the first issue is clear. The second issue may not be transparent to the layperson until they understand more fully how industry conducts the probabilistic safety assessments (PSAs) which are the source of the standard predictions of the risk of nuclear accidents. …….http://www.treehugger.com/energy-disasters/15-costliest-nuclear-disasters-and-nuclear-risks-future.html
Where will SA put lethal nuclear waste?, BD Live, BY NEIL OVERY SEPTEMBER 20 2016, “……THE UK’s Thorp reprocessing plant, built at great cost in the 1990s, is due to close in 2018, leaving a decommissioning nightmare estimated to take at least 100 years to complete, at huge cost. In Japan, the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, which was due to open in 2008 at a cost of R100bn, has yet to open and has so far cost nearly R400bn over a 26-year period.
France, the only country that reprocesses nuclear fuel on a significant scale, has only been able to do so because of a huge subsidy from the state-owned energy company, EDF.
Despite initial hopes, a large quantity of highly radioactive waste that still needs disposing remains after processing. There are also serious security considerations, because reprocessing high-level waste results in the creation of separated plutonium, which could be stolen and worked into a simple, dirty bomb. The very existence of separated plutonium eases nuclear proliferation.
Nuclear proponents often champion so-called “fast reactors” as a different form of reprocessing that could solve the waste problem. These reactors are designed to burn more plutonium than they breed.
But after 50 years of research and vast expense, not one has operated commercially due to the high costs associated with running them and the fact that they still produce significant quantities of high-level waste that needs disposal. Due to these chronic limitations, most have closed down.
The Kalkar fast reactor in Germany, which cost R100bn to build, never operated and was sold at a huge loss in 1995 and converted into an amusement park.
The US National Academy of Sciences stated in 2008 that the reprocessing of nuclear fuel makes nuclear energy “more expensive, more proliferation-prone and more controversial”……
The US has tried, and after spending the equivalent of R1.4-trillion, has given up. In 2002, Yucca Mountain in Nevada was identified as the site for an underground repository for high-level waste. Despite tens of thousands of pages of scientific research and countless investigations, no agreement has been reached about whether it is safe to store high-level nuclear waste underground. The site was closed in 2011 by the Obama administration.
In Onkalo, Finland, a R75bn underground repository is being built, despite significant opposition.
Similar options are being considered in the UK, France and Sweden.
No one knows, however, if waste can be stored safely underground for tens of thousands of years…….. http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/2016/09/20/where-will-sa-put-lethal-nuclear-waste
HINKLEY GREEN LIGHT A MASSIVE STRATEGIC MISTAKE, SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE THINK TANK http://tomburke.co.uk/2016/09/15/hinkley-green-light-a-massive-strategic-mistake-says-climate-change-think-tank/ September 15, 2016 by tomburke Following reports today that the Government is about to give the green light to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, E3G, a leading climate change think tank said it would be a hugely expensive strategic mistake, using expensive 20th century technology that would soon be obsolete.
E3G Chairman, Tom Burke said: “It is a 20th Century solution to 21st Century problems. Bigger is no longer better. There are faster, cheaper, cleaner and smarter ways to deliver affordable, secure, low carbon electricity to Britain’s consumers.
Nothing about this deal is good for Britain’s hardworking families. They will pay the bill for decades but the jobs will go abroad. It is bad for consumers, bad for the climate and bad for the country.
The Prime Minister is missing a real opportunity to set Britain on course to a more productive and secure future. Instead she has committed us to an expensive and anachronistic energy policy that will leave Britain further behind in a rapidly changing world.”
- E3G sets out below ten reasons why this is a bad deal for British consumers and documents the range of cheaper, smarter, options for low carbon energy security that are better value for money.
HINKLEY POINT : The 10 Mistakes
The Investor Agreement that Greg Clark will sign with EDF is an irrevocable index-linked ‘take or pay’ contract to purchase 35 years’ worth of electricity from EDF at more than twice the current wholesale price. This will cost British consumers £37 billion in subsidy, four times that originally forecast
- This deal binds future governments as well as the current Government. It will prevent Britain’s consumers buying cheaper electricity if it would displace that from EDF.
- It means Britain’s electricity consumers will pay more than £1 billion/year in subsidy to EDF for 35 years.
- The business case for this Agreement has never been subject to informed public scrutiny. The arguments for HPC and the rest of the nuclear programme have never been stress tested.
- The National Audit Office has already raised doubts that it represents value for money in the light of developments, including significant reductions in electricity demand forecasts, since it was first proposed.
- The National Infrastructure Commission has identified a package of other measures that could provide affordable, secure, low carbon electricity at lower cost.
- The National Grid has cut its forecast of the need for new centralised generation capacity in Britain by more than 50%, announcing its estimate of growth for decentralised generation was 50 times too low
- EDF’s unions will argue in the French Courts that delaying a Hinkley decision until 2018 would allow for a design review to be completed that would reduce the subsidy needed from £92.50/MWh to £75/MWh.
- State Aids clearance for the UK subsidy is under challenge by the Austrian Government and others in the European Court. A further State Aids challenge is likely to the French Government’s re-financing of EDF. If either is successful the deal will fall.
- Hinkley will not produce electricity until 2030. There are cheaper, faster, cleaner and more reliable options available to deliver affordable, secure, low cost electricity to British consumers. These include:
- energy efficiency has reduced electricity demand by 25TWh ( 7% – the same as Hinkley will produce ) since 2010. A McKinsey report for the Government estimates that by 2030 demand could be reduced by a further 23% while reducing consumers bills;
- the National Infrastructure Commission reports that additional interconnectors could supply 2-3 Hinkleys by 2025;
- another National Infrastructure Commission report proposed investment in storage and smart grids that would provide the equivalent of 4 Hinkleys by 2030 and save £8 billion.
- Dong Energy, the world’s largest wind energy company, could replace all Hinkley’s electricity sooner and at lower cost. Offshore wind costs are continuing to fall.
- electricity from solar power is now also cheaper than Hinkley, having fallen by half in the last five years. From almost no solar panels in the UK, a third of a Hinkley has been added since 2010. Half of that was delivered in just 18 month.
- E3G is an independent global think tank, working to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. E3G specializes in climate diplomacy, climate risk, energy policy and climate finance.
- In 2016, E3G was ranked the number one environmental think tank in the UK by the Go To Think Tank Index, second in Europe and sixth in the World.
This article is important, and should be seen by as many people as possible, as this scientific study will impact greatly the future of our anti-nuclear cause.
By establishing the genetic signatures of any cancer caused by ionizing radiation, any future denial from the nuclear lobby is now impossible. Those scientifically established signatures will also be extremely helpful in court for any future suit from radiation victims.
Ionizing radiation is a potent carcinogen, inducing cancer through DNA damage. The signatures of mutations arising in human tissues following in vivo exposure to ionizing radiation have not been documented. Here, we searched for signatures of ionizing radiation in 12 radiation-associated second malignancies of different tumour types. Two signatures of somatic mutation characterize ionizing radiation exposure irrespective of tumour type. Compared with 319 radiation-naive tumours, radiation-associated tumours carry a median extra 201 deletions genome-wide, sized 1–100 base pairs often with microhomology at the junction. Unlike deletions of radiation-naive tumours, these show no variation in density across the genome or correlation with sequence context, replication timing or chromatin structure. Furthermore, we observe a significant increase in balanced inversions in radiation-associated tumours. Both small deletions and inversions generate driver mutations. Thus, ionizing radiation generates distinctive mutational signatures that explain its carcinogenic potential.
Exposure to ionizing radiation increases the risk of subsequent cancer. This risk exhibits a strong dose–response relationship, and there appear to be no safe limits for radiation exposure1. This association was first noted by March who observed an increased incidence of leukaemia amongst radiologists2. A leading cause of radiation-induced cancers appears to be exposure to medical radiation, either in the form of radiotherapy for an unrelated malignancy3 or diagnostic radiography4, 5. These iatrogenic tumours arise as de novo neoplasms in a field of therapeutic radiation after a latency period that can span decades6, and are not recurrences of the original cancer7.
Many, but not all, environmental carcinogens induce cancer by increasing the rate of mutation in somatic cells. The physicochemical properties of a given carcinogen govern its interaction with DNA, leading to recurrent ‘signatures’ or patterns of mutations in the genome. These can be reconstructed either from experimental model systems8, 9 or from statistical analyses of cancer genomes in exposed patients10, 11, 12. Ionizing radiation directly damages DNA, and can generate lesions on single bases, single-stranded nicks in the DNA backbone, clustered lesions at several nearby sites and double-stranded DNA breaks13. In experimental systems exposed to radiation, including the murine germline and Arabidopsis thaliana cells, ionizing radiation can cause all classes of mutations, with possible enrichment of indels14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. Targeted gene screens in radiation-induced sarcoma have indicated an increased burden of deletions and substitutions with frequent inactivation of TP53 and RB1 (refs 23, 24, 25). In addition, a transcriptome profile that represents a state of chronic oxidative stress has been proposed to be specific to radiation-associated sarcoma26.
We studied the genomes of 12 radiation-associated second malignancies of four different tumour types: osteosarcoma; spindle cell sarcoma; angiosarcoma; breast cancer. These were secondary tumours that arose within a field of therapeutic ionizing radiation and were not thought to be recurrences of the original malignancy treated with radiation. We chose this experimental design for several reasons: the tumours are classic radiotherapy-induced cancers with high attributable risks for the radiation exposure; the radiation exposure occurs over a short time period relative to the evolution of the cancer; and the mutational signatures of sporadic breast cancers and sarcomas have been well documented10, 27, 28, 29. It should be noted that in the absence of biomarkers, a diagnosis of a tumour being radiation-induced cannot be definitively made (see Supplementary Note 1 for clinical details and further discussion).
We subjected these 12 tumours, along with normal tissues from the same patients, to whole-genome sequencing and obtained catalogues of somatic mutations. We compared our findings to 319 radiation-naive breast cancers and sarcomas processed by the same sequencing and bioinformatics pipeline: 251 breast tumours; 33 breast tumours with pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 germline mutations; 35 osteosarcomas (see Methods for cohort details). In addition, we validated our findings in a published series of radiation-naïve and radiation-exposed prostate tumours from ten patients30.
The main aim of our analyses was to search for tumour-type independent, overarching signatures of ionizing radiation. Overall we identified two such signatures in radiation-associative second malignancies, an excess of balanced inversions and of small deletions.
To read more :
Dissolving the WHO-IAEA agreement is a necessary first step to restoring the WHO’s independence to research the true health impacts of ionising radiation and publish its findings.
it is time the WHO regained the freedom to impart independent, objective advice on the health risks of radiation.
Toxic link: the WHO and the IAEA, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/may/28/who-nuclear-power-chernobyl Oliver Tickell, A 50-year-old agreement with the IAEA has effectively gagged the WHO from telling the truth about the health risks of radiation. F
Fifty years ago, on 28 May 1959, the World Health Organisation‘s assembly voted into force an obscure but important agreement with theInternational Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations “Atoms for Peace” organisation, founded just two years before in 1957. The effect of this agreement has been to give the IAEA an effective veto on any actions by the WHO that relate in any way to nuclear power – and so prevent the WHO from playing its proper role in investigating and warning of the dangers of nuclear radiation on human health.
The WHO’s objective is to promote “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”, while the IAEA’s mission is to “accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”. Although best known for its work to restrict nuclear proliferation, the IAEA’s main role has been to promote the interests of the nuclear power industry worldwide, and it has used the agreement to suppress the growing body of scientific information on the real health risks of nuclear radiation.
Under the agreement, whenever either organisation wants to do anything in which the other may have an interest, it “shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement”. The two agencies must “keep each other fully informed concerning all projected activities and all programs of work which may be of interest to both parties”. And in the realm of statistics – a key area in the epidemiology of nuclear risk – the two undertake “to consult with each other on the most efficient use of information, resources, and technical personnel in the field of statistics and in regard to all statistical projects dealing with matters of common interest”.
The language appears to be evenhanded, but the effect has been one-sided. For example, investigations into the health impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine on 26 April 1986 have been effectively taken over by IAEA and dissenting information has been suppressed. The health effects of the accident were the subject of two major conferences, in Geneva in 1995, and in Kiev in 2001. But the full proceedings of those conferences remain unpublished – despiteclaims to the contrary by a senior WHO spokesman reported in Le Monde Diplomatique.
Meanwhile, the 2005 report of the IAEA-dominated Chernobyl Forum, which estimates a total death toll from the accident of only several thousand, is widely regarded as a whitewash as it ignores a host of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies indicating far higher mortality and widespread genomic damage. Many of these studies were presented at the Geneva and Kiev conferences but they, and the ensuing learned discussions, have yet to see the light of day thanks to the non-publication of the proceedings.
The British radiation biologist Keith Baverstock is another casualty of the agreement, and of the mindset it has created in the WHO. He served as a radiation scientist and regional adviser at the WHO’s European Office from 1991 to 2003, when he was sacked after expressing concern to his senior managers that new epidemiological evidence from nuclear test veterans and from soldiers exposed to depleted uranium indicated that current risk models for nuclear radiation were understating the real hazards.
Now a professor at the University of Kuopio, Finland, Baverstock finally published his paper in the peer-reviewed journal Medicine, Conflict and Survival in April 2005. He concluded by calling for “reform from within the profession” and stressing “the political imperative for freely independent scientific institutions” – a clear reference to the non-independence of his former employer, the WHO, which had so long ignored his concerns.
Since the 21st anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in April 2007, a daily “Hippocratic vigil” has taken place at the WHO’s offices in Geneva, organised byIndependent WHO to persuade the WHO to abandon its the WHO-IAEA Agreement. The protest has continued through the WHO’s 62nd World Health Assembly, which ended yesterday, and will endure through the executive board meeting that begins today. The group has struggled to win support from WHO’s member states. But the scientific case against the agreement is building up, most recently when the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) called for its abandonment at its conference earlier this month in Lesvos, Greece.
At the conference, research was presented indicating that as many as a million children across Europe and Asia may have died in the womb as a result of radiation from Chernobyl, as well as hundreds of thousands of others exposed to radiation fallout, backing up earlier findings published by the ECRR in Chernobyl 20 Years On: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident. Delegates heard that the standard risk models for radiation risk published by the International Committee on Radiological Protection (ICRP), and accepted by WHO, underestimate the health impacts of low levels of internal radiation by between 100 and 1,000 times – consistent with the ECRR’s own 2003 model of radiological risk (The Health Effects of Ionising Radiation Exposure at Low Doses and Low Dose Rates for Radiation Protection Purposes: Regulators’ Edition). According to Chris Busby, the ECRR’s scientific secretary and visiting professor at the University of Ulster’s school of biomedical sciences:
“The subordination of the WHO to IAEA is a key part of the systematic falsification of nuclear risk which has been under way ever since Hiroshima, the agreement creates an unacceptable conflict of interest in which the UN organisation concerned with promoting our health has been made subservient to those whose main interest is the expansion of nuclear power. Dissolving the WHO-IAEA agreement is a necessary first step to restoring the WHO’s independence to research the true health impacts of ionising radiation and publish its findings.”
Some birthdays deserve celebration – but not this one. After five decades, it is time the WHO regained the freedom to impart independent, objective advice on the health risks of radiation.
Gamma radiation at a human relevant low dose rate is genotoxic in mice, Anne Graupner, Dag M. Eide, Christine Instanes, Jill M. Andersen, Dag A. Brede, Stephen D. Dertinger, Ole C. Lind, Anicke Brandt-Kjelsen, Hans Bjerke, Brit Salbu, Deborah Oughton, Gunnar Brunborg & Ann K. Olsen Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 32977 September 21016
Even today, 70 years after Hiroshima and accidents like in Chernobyl and Fukushima, we still have limited knowledge about the health effects of low dose rate (LDR) radiation. Despite their human relevance after occupational and accidental exposure, only few animal studies on the genotoxic effects of chronic LDR radiation have been performed. Selenium (Se) is involved in oxidative stress defence, protecting DNA and other biomolecules from reactive oxygen species (ROS). It is hypothesised that Se deficiency, as it occurs in several parts of the world, may aggravate harmful effects of ROS-inducing stressors such as ionising radiation.
We performed a study in the newly established LDR-facility Figaro on the combined effects of Se deprivation and LDR γ exposure in DNA repair knockout mice (Ogg1−/−) and control animals (Ogg1+/−). Genotoxic effects were seen after continuous radiation (1.4 mGy/h) for 45 days. Chromosomal damage (micronucleus), phenotypic mutations (Pig-a gene mutation of RBCCD24−) and DNA lesions (single strand breaks/alkali labile sites) were significantly increased in blood cells of irradiated animals, covering three types of genotoxic activity.
This study demonstrates that chronic LDR γ radiation is genotoxic in an exposure scenario realistic for humans, supporting the hypothesis that even LDR γ radiation may induce cancer……..
In the present study we demonstrate that exposure to a human relevant LDR γ radiation induces genotoxic effects in mouse blood cells assessed with three separate but complementary assays. These effects were expressed as increased levels of chromosomal damage (micronuclei), phenotypic mutations (RBCCD24−) and DNA lesions (ssb/als). The absolute measured changes were small, but significant. The formation of MN was observed in all irradiated groups independent of genotype or diet, and significant changes were seen in both immature and mature erythrocytes. This is an expected result given the chronic exposure and lack of splenic filtration of circulating MN-containing erythrocytes18……..In summary, exposure to chronic LDR of ionising radiation is indeed genotoxic with potential implications for cancer development, and the response is modified by the availability of Se, an element involved in the antioxidative defence report http://www.nature.com/articles/srep32977
The National Audit Office (NAO) stated these tanks pose “significant risks to people and the
environment”. One official review published in The Lancet concluded that, at worst, an explosive release from the tanks could kill two million Britons and require the evacuation of an area reaching from Glasgow to Liverpool. These dangerous tanks have also been the subject of repeated complaints from Ireland and Norway who fear their countries could be contaminated if explosions or fires were to occur.
In short, the practice of reprocessing at Sellafield has been and remains a monumental national disgrace.
Especially serious are the ~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products. Discussing these tanks, the previous management consortium Nuclear Management Partners stated in 2012:
“there is a mass of very hazardous [nuclear] waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable, and in facilities that are well past their designated life.”
most of all, we should recognize that nuclear policies, in both weapons and energy, have poorly served the nation.
Sellafield exposed: the nonsense of nuclear fuel reprocessing http://www.theecologist.org/reviews/2988095/sellafield_exposed_the_nonsense_of_nuclear_fuel_reprocessing.html Ian Fairlie 6th September 2016 Last night’s BBC Panorama programme did a good job at lifting the lid on Britain’s ongoing nuclear disaster that is Sellafield, writes Ian Fairlie. But it failed to expose the full scandal of the UK’s ‘reprocessing’ of spent fuel into 50 tonnes of plutonium, enough to build 20,000 nuclear bombs – while leaving £100s of billions of maintenance and cleanup costs to future generations.
Many readers will have seen the interesting Panorama programme on the poor safety record at Sellafield broadcast on BBC1 last night.
The BBC press release stated this was a “special investigation into the shocking state of Britain’s most hazardous nuclear plant” – and it certainly was.
The most important of several whistleblower revelations was that the previous US managers had been shocked at the state of the plant when they took over its running in 2008.
Although the programme producers are to be congratulated for tackling the subject, it was only 30 minutes long and tells only a fragment of the whole sorry story.
This article tries to give more background information, and importantly, more analysis and explanation. The full story would require several books, and provide exceedingly painful reading.
What is reprocessing for? Continue reading
Here we go again: Fossil fuel industry takes a play from Big Tobacco’s playbook. http://www.dailyclimate.org/t/1692193038704125011 August 31, 2016 by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Last year, coal mining executives attending the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute were treated to a presentation on the future of American mining titled:“Survival Is Victory: Lessons From the Tobacco Wars.” As the title implies, the presentation laid out a path for the fossil fuel industry to weather a barrage of lawsuits and new safety and health regulations, modeled on the efforts of the tobacco industry in the 90s and early 2000s. (See John Schwartz’s story in The New York Times.)
Richard Reavey, the Cloud Peak Energy vice president who delivered the presentation, described the similarities between what Big Tobacco went through and the challenges facing coal today as “remarkable and eerie.” (We should take his word for it. Before working for Cloud Peak, a mining company, Reavey was an executive at tobacco giant Philip Morris for 17 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.) His advice to the coal execs: do what tobacco did and “cut a deal while we are still relevant.” After all, “a much more heavily regulated tobacco industry is still viable and profitable.”
Ironically, Reavey’s presentation on these similarities between tobacco and fossil fuel strategies has a much deeper parallel.
For decades, cigarette makers hid from the public and from policymakers the scientific evidence they had of their product’s dangers. The Justice Department brought, and ultimately won, a civil racketeering lawsuit against the major tobacco companies for carrying out that fraud. Today, researchers often compare this tobacco fraud on the public to the fossil fuel industry’s suppression of its research on the dangers of carbon pollution.
Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University has written about the pattern followed by both industries: hiring their own scientists to churn out favorable research; creating (and bankrolling) front groups to sow doubt in the public debate about scientific consensus, while obscuring the hand of the industry; and even attacking and harassing individual scientists whose work may discredit the industry propaganda. Professor Mann himself has been the target of vexatious “investigations” and efforts to intimidate and harass him, including death threats—just for producing peer-reviewed academic research shedding light on the effects of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Dr. Robert Brulle of Drexel University has documented an intricate propaganda web of climate denial, with over one hundred organizations, from industry trade associations to conservative think tanks to plain old phony front groups. The purpose of this sophisticated denial apparatus, he says, is “a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate.” These are tactics that were developed, tested, and proven effective by the tobacco industry—and in some cases the very same front groups were involved.
Public lawyers demanded that the “tobacco files”” behind this fraud be made a public record. A recentanalysis by the Center for International Environmental Law of millions of documents from these tobacco industry archives reveals close collaboration over the better part of a century between cigarette manufacturers and oil producers on research, lobbying, and public relations. The new bookPoison Tea, by Climate Nexus Executive Director Jeff Nesbit, chronicles this same relationship.
In the book and film Merchants of Doubt, Drs. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway identify spin doctors, spokespeople and even scientists-for-hire who were involved in the tobacco and now fossil fuel campaigns. Not only has the energy industry recycled tobacco’s strategies and front groups, it’s redeploying some of the same personnel, like Mr. Reavey, the coal convention presenter.
Sharon Eubanks, lead counsel on behalf of the United States in United States v. Phillip Morris, the federal tobacco litigation, has said she believes the government could make a case against fossil fuel producers very similar to the one she led against tobacco under federal civil racketeering laws. That’s not just because coal companies are openly taking cues from tobacco’s legal and regulatory fight. It’s because mounting evidence indicates that, like tobacco, the fossil fuel industry may have engaged in a deliberate, protracted fraud to mislead the public, to protect their profits, to the peril of us all.
Even if the ice wall works, Tepco will face the herculean task of dealing with the huge amounts of contaminated water that have accumulated.
Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall, NYT By MARTIN FACKLER, AUG. 29, 2016 FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER STATION — The part above ground doesn’t look like much, a few silver pipes running in a straight line, dwarfed by the far more massive, scarred reactor buildings nearby.
More impressive is what is taking shape unseen beneath: an underground wall of frozen dirt 100 feet deep and nearly a mile in length, intended to solve a runaway water crisis threatening the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan.
Officially named the Land-Side Impermeable Wall, but better known simply as the ice wall, the project sounds like a fanciful idea from science fiction or a James Bond film. But it is about to become a reality in an ambitious, and controversial, bid to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings since the disaster five years ago when an earthquake and a tsunami caused a triple meltdown.
Built by the central government at a cost of 35 billion yen, or some $320 million, the ice wall is intended to seal off the reactor buildings within a vast, rectangular-shaped barrier of man-made permafrost. If it becomes successfully operational as soon as this autumn, the frozen soil will act as a dam to block new groundwater from entering the buildings. It will also help stop leaks of radioactive water into the nearby Pacific Ocean, which have decreased significantly since the calamity but may be continuing However, the ice wall has also been widely criticized as an expensive and overly complex solution that may not even work. Such concerns re-emerged this month after the plant’s operator announced that a section that was switched on more than four months ago had yet to fully freeze. Some also warn that the wall, which is electrically powered, may prove as vulnerable to natural disasters as the plant itself, which lost the ability to cool its reactors after the 45-foot tsunami caused a blackout there.
The reactor buildings are vulnerable to an influx of groundwater because of how the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, built the plant in the 1960s, by cutting away a hillside to place it closer to the sea, so the plant could pump in water more easily. That also put the buildings in contact with a deep layer of permeable rock filled with water, mostly rain and melted snow from the nearby Abukuma Mountains, that flows to the Pacific.
The buildings managed to keep the water out until the accident on March 11, 2011. Either the natural disasters themselves, or the explosive meltdowns of three of the plant’s six reactors that followed, are believed to have cracked the buildings’ basements, Once inside, the water becomes highly radioactive, impeding efforts to eventually dismantle the plant. During the accident, the uranium fuel grew so hot that some of it is believed to have melted through the reactor’s steel floors and possibly into the basement underneath, though no one knows exactly where it lies. The continual flood of radioactive water has prevented engineers from searching for the fuel.
Since the accident, five robots sent into the reactor buildings have failed to return because of high radiation levels
and obstruction from debris.
The water has also created a waste-management nightmare because Tepco must pump it out into holding tanks as quickly as it enters the buildings, to prevent it from overflowing into the Pacific. The company says that it has built more than 1,000 tanks that now hold more than 800,000 tons of radioactive water, enough to fill more than 320 Olympic-size swimming pools.
On a recent visit to the plant, workers were busily erecting more durable, welded tanks to replace the temporary ones thrown up in a hurry during the early years after the accident, some of which have leaked. Every available patch of space on the sprawling plant grounds now appears to be filled with 95-foot tanks.
“We have to escape from this cycle of ever more water building up inside the plant,” said Yuichi Okamura, a general manager of Tepco’s nuclear power division who guided a reporter through Fukushima Daiichi. About 7,000 workers are employed in the cleanup.
The ice wall is a high-technology bid to break that cycle by installing what might be the world’s largest freezer. Continue reading
At San Onofre, spent nuclear fuel is getting special tomb Orange County Register, Aug. 28, 2016 ,By TERI SFORZA “……..Once, San Onofre was a marvel of modern engineering – splitting atoms to create heat, boiling water to spin turbines and creating electricity that fulfilled 18 percent of Southern California’s demand. Now, it’s a demolition project of mind-boggling proportions, overseen by a dozen government agencies.
It’s expected to cost $4.4 billion, take 20 years and leave millions of pounds of spent nuclear fuel on the scenic bluff beside the blue Pacific until 2049 or so, because the federal government has dithered for generations on finding a permanent repository.
In this vacuum, contractors from Holtec International – one of only a handful of companies licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do dry-cask radiation storage in the U.S. – are at work. Construction of the controversial “concrete monolith” to protect San Onofre’s stranded waste has begun, over the protests of critics who decry a “beachfront nuclear waste dump.”
The reinforced concrete pad that will support the monolith is finished.
Last week, Holtec workers used cranes and trucks to maneuver the first of 75 giant tubes into place atop it. When those tubes are bolted in, concrete will be poured up to their necks, and they’ll be topped off with a 24,000-pound steel-and-concrete lid. Earth will be piled around it so that it looks something like an underground bunker.
Southern California Edison, which operates the plant, would not share the Holtec contract or reveal its price tag, but San Onofre’s owners have recovered more than $300 million from the federal government for its failure to dispose of nuclear waste, which is why dry-cask storage must be built in the first place. San Onofre’s decommissioning plan sets aside $1.27 billion for future spent fuel management.
This is one of the first newly licensed Hi-Storm Umax dry-cask storage systems Holtec is building in the United States. Once it’s complete – expected to be late next year – workers will begin the deliberate and delicate dance of removing all spent fuel from cooling pools beside each reactor.
The iconic twin domes you see from the highway and the beach don’t reveal their enormity. They stand as tall as a 13-story building, and the adjacent pools holding their spent fuel are 25 feet wide, 60 feet long, about 40 to 50 feet deep and hold a half-million gallons of water.
When Southern California Edison begins removing the 2,668 fuel assemblies chilling there, bays to those enormous pools will open. Holtec storage canisters will be lowered in. Underwater, 37 spent fuel assemblies will be loaded into each canister and capped. The canister will be slipped into a “transfer cask,” lifted from the pool and drained.
Then it will be loaded onto a truck, driven a few hundred yards to the Umax and lowered into one of those 75 tubes. The waste-filled canister will remain inside. The transfer cask will be removed. The tube will be capped.
This will be repeated more than 70 times, until all the fuel in the more vulnerable pools is entombed in more stable dry-cask storage. That’s slated to be done by mid-2019.
The system will become something of a real-time experiment: Edison is partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop inspection techniques to monitor the casks as they age. The casks’ integrity over time, while holding hotter “high burn-up” fuel, is a major concern of critics.
“Burn-up” – i.e., the amount of uranium that undergoes fission – has increased over time, allowing utilities to suck more power out of nuclear fuel before replacing it, federal regulators say. It first came into wide use in America in the latter part of the last century, and how it will behave in short-term storage containers (which, pending changes in U.S. policy on nuclear cleanup, must be used for longer-term storage) remains a topic of debate……..
ry-cask technology is not new, he said. Nuclear power plants in the U.S. have used it since 1986, and an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute found that it would take at least 80 years before a severe crack could form in a dry storage canister.
The Umax uses the most corrosion-resistant grade of stainless steel; its design exceeds California earthquake requirements, and it protects against hazards such as water, fire or tsunamis.
Critics cast skeptical eyes on those claims.
They don’t disagree that dry storage is safer than the spent fuel pools, but activist Donna Gilmore says officials gloss over the potential for serious cracking – a bigger risk in a moist, salty, oceanfront environment such as San Onofre.
Once a crack starts, it would continue to grow through the wall of the canister, undetected, until it leaked radiation, Gilmore said.
Other countries use thicker-walled casks than those licensed in America, and she believes we should, too.
What everyone wants is to remove the ensconced “stranded waste” from San Onofre as soon as possible, and the only way that can happen is if the federal government takes action.
Palmisano said energy is best expended pushing that forward, not arguing over canisters.
On that front, he is cautiously optimistic.
In January, the U.S. Department of Energy launched a new push to create temporary nuclear waste storage sites in regions eager for the business, currently in West Texas and New Mexico. Several of those could be up and running while the prickly question of coming up with a permanent site is hashed out.
There could be a plan, and a place, for this waste within the next 10 years, Palmisano said – but that would require congressional action, which in turn would likely require much prodding from the public.
“We are frustrated and, frankly, outraged by the federal government’s failure to perform,” he said. “I have fuel I can ship today, and throughout the next 15 years. Give me a ZIP code and I’ll get it there.”…..http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nuclear-727227-fuel-storage.html
It is time to turn nuclear common sense into national policy. A declaration that the United States would never use nuclear weapons when conventional weapons could destroy the target could reduce the number of nuclear weapons we need for legitimate deterrence purposes.
The common-sense fix that American nuclear policy needs, WP, By Jeffrey G.
Lewis and Scott D. Sagan August 24
Jeffrey G. Lewis is director of the East Asian Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Scott D. Sagan is the Caroline S.G. Munro professor of political science and senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. This op-ed was adapted from an article that will appear in the fall issue of Daedalus.
President Obama, in his final months in office, is considering major nuclear policy changes to move toward his oft-stated goal of a world without nuclear weapons. One option reportedly under consideration is a “no first use” pledge, a declaration that the United States would not be the first state to use nuclear weapons in any conflict. While we think that such a pledge would ultimately strengthen U.S. security, we believe it should be adopted only after detailed military planning and after close consultation with key allies, tasks that will fall to the next administration.
There is, however, a simpler change that Obama could make now that could have as important, or even greater, benefits for U.S. security. The president could declare, as a matter of law and policy, that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against any target that could be reliably destroyed by conventional means.
This might seem like common sense, but current U.S. doctrine allows the use of nuclear weapons against any “object” deemed to be a legitimate military target. In 2013, the Obama administration did issue a guidance directing the U.S. military to “apply the principles of distinction and proportionality and seek to minimize collateral damage to civilian populations and civilian objects” and pledged that “the United States will not intentionally target civilian populations or civilian objects.”
This was a good step forward. But Obama’s guidance omitted an important legal concept derived from just-war doctrine — the “principle of necessity,” which suggests that war planners must use only the minimum amount of military force necessary to destroy a target. Ignoring the necessity principle leaves a loophole large enough to fly a nuclear-armed bomber through. To give one egregious example, although the U.S. military does not target civilian populations directly, following the principle of noncombatant immunity, it insists that it can legally target civilian airports in an adversary’s cities because they could be converted to military airports during a war — and there is no restriction in place against using nuclear weapons against such a civilian airport………
It is time to turn nuclear common sense into national policy. A declaration that the United States would never use nuclear weapons when conventional weapons could destroy the target could reduce the number of nuclear weapons we need for legitimate deterrence purposes. Placing conventional weapons at the center of debates about the future of deterrence would also help focus the policy discussion on plausible scenarios with realistic plans for the use of U.S. military power. And it would more faithfully honor the just-war principles of distinction, necessity and proportionality, by placing them at the heart of our deterrence and security policies, where our highest ideals belong. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-common-sense-fix-that-american-nuclear-policy-needs/2016/08/24/b9692dd0-6596-11e6-96c0-37533479f3f5_story.html?utm_term=.a6cc17bf50cf