nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Google publicly decries climate change, privately donates to climate denialism

Google and other companies were engaged in a “functional greenwashing” given the contradiction in their public pronouncements and private donations.

Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/11/google-contributions-climate-change-deniers

Firm’s public calls for climate action contrast with backing for conservative thinktanks.  The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers,   Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington @skirchy  Email      11 Oct 2019

Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.

Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.

The list includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative policy group that was instrumental in convincing the Trump administration to abandon the Paris agreement and has criticised the White House for not dismantling more environmental rules.

Google said it was disappointed by the US decision to abandon the global climate deal, but has continued to support CEI.

Google is also listed as a sponsor for an upcoming annual meeting of the State Policy Network (SPN), an umbrella organisation that supports conservative groups including the Heartland Institute, a radical anti-science group that has chided the teenage activist Greta Thunberg for “climate delusion hysterics”.

SPN members recently created a “climate pledge” website that falsely states “our natural environment is getting better” and “there is no climate crisis”.Google has defended its contributions, saying that its “collaboration” with organisations such as CEI “does not mean we endorse the organisations’ entire agenda”

It donates to such groups, people close to the company say, to try to influence conservative lawmakers, and – most importantly – to help finance the deregulatory agenda the groups espouse.A spokesperson for Google said it sponsored organisations from across the political spectrum that advocate for “strong technology policies”.“We’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organisations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy,” the spokesperson said.

Amazon has, like Google, also sponsored a CEI gala, according to a programme for the event reported in the New York Times.CEI has opposed regulation of the internet and enforcement of antitrust rules, and has defended Google against some Republicans’ claims that the search engine has an anti-conservative bias.

But environmental activists and other critics say that, for a company that purports to support global action on climate change, such tradeoffs are not acceptable.“You don’t get a pass on it. It ought to be disqualifying to support what is primarily a phoney climate denying front group. It ought to be unacceptable given how wicked they have been,” said Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island who is one of the most vocal proponents of climate action in Congress.“What all of corporate America should be doing is saying if you are a trade organisation or lobby group and you are interfering on climate, we are out. Period,” he added.On its website, Google says it is committed to ensuring its political engagement is “open, transparent and clear to our users, shareholders, and the public”.

Bill McKibben, a prominent environmentalist who has been on the frontline of the climate crisis for decades, said Google and other companies were engaged in a “functional greenwashing” given the contradiction in their public pronouncements and private donations. He said Google and other technology companies had also not used their own lobbyists to advocate for change on climate.

“Sometimes I’ll talk to companies and they will be going on and on about their renewable server farm or natural gas delivery, and I say thank you, but what we really need is for your lobbying shop in Washington to put serious muscle behind it. And they never do,” McKibben said. “They want some tax break or some regulations switch and they never devote the slightest muscle behind the most important issue of our time or any time.”A spokesperson for Google said: “We’ve been extremely clear that Google’s sponsorship doesn’t mean that we endorse that organisation’s entire agenda – we may disagree strongly on some issues.“Our position on climate change is similarly clear. Since 2007, we have operated as a carbon neutral company and for the second year in a row, we reached 100% renewable energy for our global operations.”The company said it called for “strong action” at the climate conference in Paris in 2015 and helped to sponsor the Global Climate Action summit in San Francisco last year.But that position is at odds with the support it gives to CEI.The group’s director of energy and environment policy, Myron Ebell, helped found the Cooler Heads Coalition 20 years ago, a group of libertarian and rightwing organisations that have sowed the seeds of climate denial with funding from the fossil fuel industry.

When Donald Trump was elected to the White House in 2016, Ebell joined the transition team and advised the new president on environmental issues, successfully lobbying Trump to adhere to a campaign promise and abandon the Paris agreement.

Kert Davies, the founder of the Climate Investigations Center, a research group that examines corporate campaigning, said Ebell had led the anti-climate-action crusade for decades.

“They’re extremists,” he said, referring to the Cooler Heads Coalition. “They are never finished,” he said. “Myron has taken a lot of credit for Trump’s actions and is quite proud of his access.”

Recently, however, Ebell – who declined a request for an interview – has criticised the White House for not rolling back environmental protections aggressively enough, even though the Trump administration has gutted every major environmental act established under Obama.

His wishlist now includes reversing a 2009 finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that CO2 and other greenhouse gases endanger the health and welfare of Americans.

CEI said it “respects the privacy of its donors” and declined to answer questions about Google. A CEI spokesperson told the Guardian: “On energy policy, CEI advances the humanitarian view that abundant and affordable energy makes people safer and economies more resilient. Making energy accessible, especially for the most vulnerable, is a core value.”

One source who is familiar with Google’s decision-making defended the company’s funding of CEI.

“When it comes to regulation of technology, Google has to find friends wherever they can and I think it is wise that the company does not apply litmus tests to who they support,” the source said.

 

October 12, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Massive Nuclear Explosion similar to Kyrshtym by Mayak Can Happen Happen at Hanford if the site is not Monitored and tanks not taken care of

 Lane, 6 Oct 19  Mayak Explosion
Ten Thousand Gallon Tank at Mayak Exploded from Heat Decay. The Heat Deacy was from Strontium 90, Cesium 137, Cobalt 60 and Plutonium Stored in the Underground Tank. The explosion was equivalent to 100 tons of TNT. There are55 million gallons of the same Radionuclide Mix stored at Hanford, in UnderGround Tanks. If they become too concentrated and hot, the same thing will Happen there, contaminating a Great Portion of the Pacific NW USA and southe western Canada.

Medvedev, Zhores A. (4 November 1976). “Two Decades of Dissidence”. New Scientist.
Medvedev, Zhores A. (1980). Nuclear disaster in the Urals translated by George Saunders. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-74445-2. (c1979)

In 1957 the cooling system in one of the tanks containing about 70–80 tons of liquid radioactive waste failed and was not repaired. The temperature in it started to rise, resulting in evaporation and a chemical explosion of the dried waste, consisting mainly of ammonium nitrate and acetates (see ammonium nitrate/fuel oil bomb). The explosion, on 29 September 1957, estimated to have a force of about 70–100 tons of TNT,[10] threw the 160-ton concrete lid into the air.[8] There were no immediate casualties as a result of the explosion, but it released an estimated 20 MCi (800 PBq) of radioactivity. Most of this contamination settled out near the site of the accident and contributed to the pollution of the Techa River, but a plume containing 2 MCi (80 PBq) of radionuclides spread out over hundreds of kilometers.[11] Previously contaminated areas within the affected area include the Techa river, which had previously received 2.75 MCi (100 PBq) of deliberately dumped waste, and Lake Karachay, which had received 120 MCi (4,000 PBq).[7]

In the next 10 to 11 hours, the radioactive cloud moved towards the north-east, reaching 300–350 km (190–220 mi) from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 to 20,000 km2 (310 to 7,720 sq mi), depending on what contamination level is considered significant, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90.[7] This area is usually referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace EURT

October 6, 2019 Posted by | history, incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

Humboldt Bay – a case study in how not to involve the community in cleanup of a dead nuclear reactor nuclear

         
The audience found it noteworthy that no seats had been assigned to tribal representation.
 
the public has known very little about the decommissioning process. No seats on the CAB were given to the media, no one on the CAB thought it was their job to speak with the press, PG&E did not speak with the press, and the NRC has a very hands off approach to the decommissioning process and the utility’s relationship with the CAB. 

Input from the public included a strong sentiment that this was a very poor storage location for the spent fuel. 

Laird went on to say that while there’s already been half a meter of sea level rise, a meter more, which is predicted to occur within 40 years, will fully inundate the generation station, 101 in that area and cause the dry cask storage area to become an island, until it is eroded away.  

Notably, PG&E’s Decommissioning Fund will run out in 2025, a mere 5 years from now, the casks the waste are in only have a shelf life of 40 to 50 years, and the half life of the waste in storage in those casks in PG&E’s custody, is 24,000 years.  

NUCLEAR WASTE BEING STORED 115 FT FROM HUMBOLDT BAY AS SEA LEVEL RISES

Bruce Watson the Branch Chief in charge of Reactor Decommissioning at the NRC led the meeting. He instructed everyone that the sole purpose of the meeting was for him to collect their input on the best practices of the Citizen Advisory Boards. He said, “We are not here to talk about other issues related to decommissioning.” The speakers allowed some of their remarks to drift over to address what should be done about the spent fuel rod still being stored at the King Salmon site.

On January 14th, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) was signed into law. According to Jurist Legal News and Research website, NEIMA makes several changes to the licensing process for nuclear reactors. The NEIMA gave the NRC less than a year to “develop and implement a staged licensing process for commercial advanced nuclear reactors.” Continue reading

September 22, 2019 Posted by | investigative journalism, Reference | Leave a comment

Corporate greed, fighting over America’s extravagant $85 billion nuclear missile program

Boeing, Northrop spar over $85 billion nuclear missile program  With Northrop poised to become the Defense Department’s primary provider of ballistic missiles, Boeing has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign, 

There was an $85 billion elephant in the room at this year’s Air Force Association conference, an annual trade show where thousands of uniformed airmen rub shoulders with suit-clad defense contractors hawking the latest advanced weaponry.

Those entering the conference hotel in National Harbor, Md., were welcomed by an enormous blue banner splashed with the Northrop Grumman logo and the words “LEGENDARY DETERRENCE” ― a not-so-subtle reference to the company’s ballistic missile ambitions.

Northrop is poised to take over a massive Air Force nuclear weapons program called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, which will call on a team of contractors to replace the U.S. military’s aging stock of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. But Boeing’s Arlington-based defense business, which has handled the Minuteman program since 1958, has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign in defense of its interests.

Northrop “is on a path to a sole-source opportunity,” Boeing GBSD Program Manager Frank McCall warned in an interview Wednesday on the floor of the trade show.

“There has never been a time in the history of the Minuteman when the Air Force wasn’t supported by both companies,” he said, adding that he thinks the Pentagon is taking “a winner-take-all approach” that is “unprecedented in the history of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

The ground-based missiles make up one leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, which aims to be ready to deliver warheads at a moment’s notice from air, land or sea. They are meant to deter other countries from launching a nuclear strike by sending a message that any first-mover will be destroyed immediately.

The different components of the triad are extremely expensive to build and keep at the ready. For the new ground-based missiles, the Pentagon faces a difficult dilemma as it tries to get the best solution for the best price.

The Air Force had hoped to evaluate multiple competing options. But Boeing, thought to be the only viable competitor aside from Northrop, says it won’t participate unless the Air Force changes its approach.

With Boeing out, the Northrop-led team appears to be the Pentagon’s only option, something that could make it hard for the government to negotiate a fair price.

It is a common dilemma facing Defense Department weapons buyers, who have the impossible task of running a competitive marketplace when there are, at best, two or three potential suppliers for the most expensive weapons systems. The U.S. defense industry has consolidated to a worrying degree in the decades since the Cold War, officials and analysts say, with a handful of dominant suppliers exerting tremendous influence.

A White House report released last year found 300 cases in which important defense products are produced by just a single company, a “fragile” supplier, or a foreign supplier.

There is big money at stake for Boeing and Northrop: Defense Department estimates for the long-term cost of the program range between $62 billion and $100 billion. Both companies have formidable lobbying operations, spending $7.2 million and $8.3 million, respectively, on Washington lobbyists in 2019.

Boeing’s stewardship of the Minuteman program brought it roughly 600 defense contracts totaling $8 billion in the first 30 years of the programs, according to estimates provided by the company. Northrop has traditionally taken a secondary role handling complex systems integration.

In 2017, Northrop and Boeing were awarded contracts worth $349.2 million and $328.6 million, respectively, to develop their own version of a next-generation replacement for the Minuteman. In July, the Air Force asked each company to submit a proposal, hoping to compare the two missile designs and negotiate a fair price.

Boeing quickly threw a wrench into that plan, announcing July 25 that it would walk away from the competition because the Air Force’s request for proposals allegedly favored Northrop.

Boeing’s concerns stem from Northrop Grumman’s 2017 acquisition of a company called Orbital ATK for $7.8 billion. Orbital ATK ― which operates as a Northrop Grumman business unit called Innovation Systems ― is a dominant producer of rocket motors that power ballistic missiles. Aerojet Rocketdyne, the other U.S. manufacturer of rocket motors, also is working with Northrop.

Boeing has taken its case to the Pentagon, as well as to the Federal Trade Commission, but has failed to block the deal.

“We continue to stand ready to support this important program,” wrote Leanne Caret, president of Boeing’s Arlington-based defense business, in a July 23 letter seen by The Washington Post. “As we have discussed, we believe there are other procurement structures that could provide this capability more rapidly at less cost, and we will look for ways to leverage the work … to help support this critical national security mission.”

Boeing later approached Northrop about the possibility of teaming up but was rejected, a Boeing official said. So it came as little surprise Monday when Northrop released the list of companies it is teaming up with, and Boeing isn’t on it.

Air Force officials stood by their approach but declined to comment on how they will proceed.

“We are very open to a variety of proposals. … We are open to teaming relationships. We just don’t want to dictate,” Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters Monday. “We think it should be decided by industry and what they think is best value.”

Soon afterward, Boeing countered that it is pursuing a multifaceted advocacy and lobbying campaign asking the government to force Northrop to collaborate.

“We believe it is a path to a better weapons system solution that will allow us to field the solution more quickly than either company could handle on its own,” said McCall, the Boeing official.

Analysts expressed concern over the current arrangement, in which Northrop will almost certainly be the only bidder. Whether Boeing’s proposal will resolve the problem is less clear.

“I would much rather see a direct competition between Northrop and Boeing,” said Dan Grazier, a former Marine Corps captain working at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group. “The best practice for any acquisition system would be a solid, honest, competitive prototyping, where the government can weigh competing options and get a competitive price.”

September 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian  

https://theecologist.org/2019/sep/10/advanced-nuclear-power-sector-dystopian, Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor 10th September 2019  The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian because of its connections to fossil fuel mining and nuclear weapons proliferation.

A documentary called New Fire was released promoting ‘advanced’ nuclear power concepts last year. The heroes of the film were young entrepreneurs Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie, founders of a start-up called Transatomic Power that was developing a ‘Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor’.

Problems arose during the long gestation of New Fire. Transatomic Power gave up on its plan to use nuclear waste as reactor fuel after its theoretical calculations were proven to be false, and the waste-annihilating reactor was reinvented as a waste-producing, uranium-fuelled reactor.

Worse was to come: just before the release of New Fire, Transatomic Power went broke and collapsed altogether. An epic fail.

Reactor

The Australian parliament’s ‘inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy‘ is shaping up to be another epic fail. The conservative chair of the inquiry claims that “new technologies in the field are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production.”

But the ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector isn’t advanced and it isn’t advancing.

The next ‘advanced’ reactor to commence operation will be Russia’s floating nuclear power plant, designed to help exploit fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic ‒ fossil fuel reserves that are more accessible because of climate change. That isn’t ‘advanced’ ‒ it is dystopian.

Russia’s enthusiastic pursuit of nuclear-powered icebreaker ships (nine such ships are planned by 2035) is closely connected to its agenda of establishing military and economic control of the Northern Sea Route ‒ a route that owes its existence to climate change.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) says the purpose of its partly-built ACPR50S demonstration reactor is to develop floating nuclear power plants for oilfield exploitation in the Bohai Sea and deep-water oil and gas development in the South China Sea.

God-awful

‘Advanced’ nuclear reactors are advancing climate change. Another example comes from Canada, where one potential application of small reactors is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from tar sands.

Some ‘advanced’ reactors could theoretically consume more nuclear waste than they produce. That sounds great ‒ until you dig into the detail.

An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‒ co-authored by Allison Macfarlane, a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‒ states that “molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues.”

The subclass of sodium-cooled fast reactors called ‘integral fast reactors’ (IFRs) could theoretically gobble up nuclear waste and convert it into low-carbon electricity, using a process called pyroprocessing.

But an IFR R&D program in Idaho has left a god-awful mess that the Department of Energy (DOE) is struggling to deal with. This saga is detailed in a 2017 article and a longer report by the Union of Concerned Scientists’ senior scientist Dr. Edwin Lyman, drawing on documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.

Breeder

Dr. Lyman writes: “Pyroprocessing has taken one potentially difficult form of nuclear waste and converted it into multiple challenging forms of nuclear waste. DOE has spent hundreds of millions of dollars only to magnify, rather than simplify, the waste problem. …

The FOIA documents we obtained have revealed yet another DOE tale of vast sums of public money being wasted on an unproven technology that has fallen far short of the unrealistic projections that DOE used to sell the project”.

Some ‘advanced’ reactors could theoretically consume more fissile (explosive) nuclear material than they produce. Instead of contributing to weapons proliferation risks and problems, they could contribute to the resolution of those problems.

That sounds great ‒ until you dig into the detail. After Russia’s floating nuclear plant, the next ‘advanced’ reactor to commence operation may be the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) in India.

Weapons

The PFBR has a blanket with thorium and uranium to breed fissile uranium-233 and plutonium respectively ‒ in other words, it will be ideal for weapons production.

India plans to use fast breeder reactors (a.k.a. fast neutron reactors) to produce weapon-grade plutonium for use as the initial ‘driver’ fuel in thorium reactors.

As John Carlson, the former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office, has repeatedly noted, those plans are highly problematic with respect to weapons proliferation and security.

There’s nothing “cleaner, safer and more efficient” about India’s ‘advanced’ reactor program. On the contrary, it is dangerous and it fans regional tensions and proliferation concerns in South Asia ‒ all the more so since India refuses to allow International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards inspections of its ‘advanced’ nuclear power program.

And if those regional tensions boil over into nuclear warfare, catastrophic climate change will likely result. Fossil fuels provide the surest route to catastrophic climate change; nuclear warfare provides the quickest route.

Reactors

The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector isn’t advanced ‒ it is dystopian. And it isn’t advancing ‒ it is regressing.

The Russian government recently clawed back US$4 billion from Rosatom’s budget by postponing its fast neutron reactor program; specifically, by putting on hold plans for what would have been the only gigawatt-scale fast neutron reactor anywhere in the world.

France recently abandoned plans for a demonstration fast reactor. Pursuit of fast reactor technology is no longer a priority in France according to the World Nuclear Association.

And funding is tight because of yet another failing project: a 100-megawatt materials testing reactor that is 500 percent over-budget (and counting) and eight years behind schedule (and counting).

Other fast reactor projects have collapsed in recent years. TerraPower abandoned its plan for a prototype fast reactor in China last year due to restrictions placed on nuclear trade with China by the Trump administration, and requests for US government funding have reportedly received a negative reception.

The US and UK governments have both considered using GE Hitachi’s ‘PRISM’ fast reactor technology to process surplus plutonium stocks ‒ but both governments have rejected the proposal.

Failed

Fast reactors and other ‘advanced’ concepts are sometimes called Generation IV concepts.

But fast reactors have been around since the dawn of the nuclear age. They are best described as failed Generation I technology ‒ “demonstrably failed technology” in the words of Allison Macfarlane.

The number of operating fast reactors reached double figures in the 1980s but has steadily fallen and will remain in single figures for the foreseeable future.

Currently, just five fast reactors are operating ‒ all of them described by the World Nuclear Association as experimental or demonstration reactors.

Modular

As discussed previously in The Ecologist, most of the handful of small modular reactors (SMRs) under construction are over-budget and behind schedule; there are disturbing connections between SMRs, weapons proliferation and militarism more generally; and about half of the SMRs under construction are intended to be used to facilitate the exploitation of fossil fuel reserves.

SMRs aren’t leading to “cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production”. And SMRs aren’t advancing ‒ projects are falling over left, right and centre:

  • Babcock & Wilcox abandoned its mPower SMR project in the US despite receiving government funding of US$111 million.
  • Westinghouse sharply reduced its investment in SMRs after failing to secure US government funding.
  • China is building a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) but it is behind schedule and over-budget and plans for additional HTGRs at the same site have been “dropped” according to the World Nuclear Association.
  • MidAmerican Energy gave up on its plans for SMRs in Iowa after failing to secure legislation that would force rate-payers to part-pay construction costs.
  • Rolls-Royce sharply reduced its SMR investment in the UK to “a handful of salaries” and is threatening to abandon its R&D altogether unless massive subsidies are provided by the British government.

 

Zombie reactors

Fast reactors are demonstrably failed technology. SMRs have failed previously and are in the process of failing yet again. What else is there in the ‘advanced’ nuclear sector?

Fusion? At best, it is decades away and most likely it will forever remain decades away. Two articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Dr. Daniel Jassby ‒ a fusion scientist ‒ comprehensively debunk all of the rhetoric spouted by fusion enthusiasts.

Thorium? There are no fundamental differences between thorium and uranium, so building a thorium fuel cycle from scratch to replace the uranium fuel cycle would be absurd ‒ and it won’t happen.

High-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) including the pebble-bed modular reactor sub-type? This zombie concept refuses to die even as  one after another country embarks on R&D, fails, and gives up. As mentioned, China is building a prototype but has dropped plans for further HTGRs.

Paper reactors

Claims that new nuclear technologies are leading to “cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production” could only be justified with reference to concepts that exist only as designs on paper.

As a nuclear industry insider quipped: “We know that the paper-moderated, ink-cooled reactor is the safest of all. All kinds of unexpected problems may occur after a project has been launched.”

There’s nothing that can be said about ‘advanced’ reactor rhetoric that wasn’t said by Admiral Hyman Rickover ‒ a pioneer of the US nuclear program ‒ all the way back in 1953.

“An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose (‘omnibus reactor’). (7) Very little development is required. It will use mostly off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now.

“On the other hand, a practical reactor plant can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It is requiring an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. Corrosion, in particular, is a problem. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of the engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.”

This Author

Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Iraqi children with congenital disabilities caused by depleted uranium

September 20, 2019 Posted by | children, depleted uranium, Iraq, Reference | Leave a comment

NuScale’s nuclear reactor looks suspiciously like an old design, (that melted down)

Why Does NuScale SMR Look Like a 1964 Drawing of Swiss Lucens Nuclear Reactor (which suffered a major meltdown in 1969)?
https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/why-does-nuscale-smr-look-like-a-1964-drawing-of-swiss-lucens-nuclear-reactor-which-suffered-a-major-meltdown-in-1969/
Whatever NuScale is, or is not, it clearly isn’t “new”. The Bible must have foreseen the nuclear industry when it said that there was no new thing under the sun. While there might be something new about it, certainly its scale is not. And, it seems mostly a remake of old military reactors, perhaps with influence from swimming pool reactors.

The main ancestor seems to be the US Army’s SM-1, made by the American Locomotive Company, making its most distant ancestor the steam locomotive.

Government subsidizes for NuScale are a deadly taxpayer rip rip-off. Even without an accident, nuclear reactors legally leak deadly radionuclides into the environment during the entire nuclear fuel chain, as well as when they are operating. Then, the nuclear waste is also allowed to leak for perpetuity.

The 1964 Lucens Design certainly looks like the one unit NuScale. Did MSLWR, now NuScale, take from Lucens or from an earlier common design ancestor?

NuScale 12 years ago when it was called MASLWR and still an official government project, 2003, INEEL/EXT-04-01626.

This is for single reactors. They want to clump them together.

Is there a common ancestor in either the US nuclear power station in Greenland or Antarctica? Actually, the main “parent” for the underground concept, according to the Swiss documentation, is underground hydroelectric power stations, dating from the 1800s. These caverns have been known to collapse, which, along with the WIPP collapse, points to another risk associated with underground nuclear reactors, besides leakage and corrosion.
being mostly in an underground cavern proved to be a liability rather than an asset for Lucens. The cavern leaked water and contributed to corrosion issues that ultimately led to nuclear meltdown.

Despite its tiny size, tinier than NuScale, it still is classified as a major nuclear accident. Furthermore, the cavern did not keep the nuclear fallout from escaping into the environment. There was 1 Sv (1000 mSv) per hour of
radiation in the cavern. Radiation was measured in the nearby village, and the cavern still leaks radiation. Continue reading

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Japan is lying about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, as it promotes the 2020 Olympic Games

the Japanese government is lying and should be held accountable for hoodwinking the world about the ravages of Fukushima, especially with the Olympics scheduled for next year.
 “The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in a town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers; others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains. They were simply labeled “decontamination troops”
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis,   https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/09/16/fukushimas-radioactive-water-crisis/
   Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which experienced three massive meltdowns in 2011, is running out of room to store radioactive water. No surprise! But now, what to do about phosphorescent water?

Addressing the issue, Japan’s environmental minister Yoshiaki Harada held a news conference (September 2019). Unfortunately, he proffered the following advice: “The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it.” (Source: Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Fukushima: Japan Will Have to Dump Radioactive Water Into Pacific, Minister Says, The Guardian, Sept. 10, 2019)

“The only option”… Really?

Over the past 8 years, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has scrambled like a Mad Hatter to construct emergency storage tanks (1,000) to contain upwards of one million tonnes of contaminated radioactive water, you know, the kind of stuff that, over time, destroys human cells, alters DNA, causes cancer, or produces something like the horrific disfigured creature in John Carpenter’s The Thing! That’s the upshot of a triple nuclear meltdown that necessitates constant flow of water to prevent further melting of reactor cores that have been decimated and transfigured into corium or melted blobs. It’s the closest to a full-blown “china syndrome” in all of human history. Whew! Although, the truth is it’ll be a dicey situation for decades to come.

Ever since March 11, 2011, TEPCO has scrambled to build storage tanks to prevent massive amounts of radioactive water from pouring into the ocean (still, some lesser amounts pour into the ocean every day by day). Now the government is floating a trial balloon in public that, once the tanks are full, it’ll be okay to dump the radioactive water into the ocean. Their logic is bizarre, meaning, on the one hand, the meltdown happens, and they build storage tanks to contain the radioactive water, but on the other hand, once the storage tanks run out of space, it’s okay to dump radioactive water into the ocean. Seriously?

Meantime, the Fukushima meltdown brings the world community face to face with TEPCO and the government of Japan in an unprecedented grand experiment that, so far, has failed miserably. Of course, dumping radiation into the Pacific is like dumping radiation into everybody’s back yard. But, for starters, isn’t that a non-starter?

Along the way, deceit breeds duplicity, as the aforementioned Guardian article says the Japanese government claims only one (1) death has been associated with the Fukushima meltdown but keep that number in mind. Reliable sources in Japan claim otherwise, as explained in previous articles on the subject, for example, “Fukushima Darkness, Part Two” d/d November 24, 2017, and as highlighted further on in this article.

When it comes to nuclear accidents, cover-ups reign supreme; you can count on it.

As such, it is believed the Japanese government is lying and should be held accountable for hoodwinking the world about the ravages of Fukushima, especially with the Olympics scheduled for next year.

For example, the following explains how death by radiation is shamefully hidden from the public via newspeak: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station worker deaths “that expire at home” are not officially counted. Accordingly, how many workers on a deathbed with radiation sickness leave home to go to work (where deaths are counted) just before they die? Oh, please!

Meanwhile, the last thing the world community needs in the face of an uncontrollable nuclear meltdown, like Fukushima, is deceptiveness and irresponsibility by the host government. Too much is at stake for that kind of childish nonsense. And just to think, the 2020 Olympics are scheduled with events held in Fukushima. Scandalously, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is A-Okay with that.

In contrast, a Greenpeace International March 8th 2019 article entitled: Japanese Government Misleading UN on Impact of Fukushima Fallout on Children, Decontamination Workers: “The Japanese government is deliberately misleading United Nations human rights bodies and experts over the ongoing nuclear crisis in areas of Fukushima… In areas where some of these decontamination workers are operating, the radiation levels would be considered an emergency if they were inside a nuclear facility.” Enough said!

“In its reporting to the United Nations, the Japanese government deliberately misrepresents the scale, complexity, and radiation risks in areas of Fukushima, the working practice and conditions for workers, and its disregard for children’s health and wellbeing. This reality should shame the government to radically change its failing policies,” said Kazue Suzuki, Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Japan.

As such, either Greenpeace or the IOC is “dead wrong” about the conditions at Fukushima. Take your pick.

After all, the trend of misrepresentation of nuclear accidents has been established for decades. Not only Fukushima, Chernobyl (1986) is a nuclear disaster zone where the “official death count from radiation exposure” has been considerably discounted by various governmental agencies and NGOs. For inexplicable reasons (actually explicable but a long story), nuclear accidents are given Get Out Jail Free cards by the world’s press and associated governmental orgs and NGOs.

Yet, over time, the truth comes out, and when it does it’s dreadfully atrocious: A BBC special report, The True Toll of the Chernobyl Disaster d/d July 26, 2019 says: “The official, internationally recognized death toll, just 31 people died as an immediate result of Chernobyl while the UN estimates that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster.”

That’s the official tally. Ugh! It’s so far off the mark that, if it were a baseball pitch, it’d be in the dirt, and a prime example of the public not getting the truth about the ravages of nuclear power accidents.

Of course, it is important to take note of how “wordsmiths” describe the death numbers, i.e., “died as an immediate result of Chernobyl” can only include someone standing at the site when it happened, leaving out all cases of radiation exposure that kills and cripples over subsequent days, months, and years. Or, in the case of the UN statement, “only 50 deaths can be directly attributed.” Only those standing there when it happened… ahem!

According to the BBC article, the Russian Academy of Sciences said as many as 112,000-125,000 died by 2005. That’s 2,500xs more deaths than the official reports, which also never increase in number over time as radiation takes its merry ole time blasting, destroying, and/or altering human cell structure. Ukrainian authorities claim death rates of Chernobyl cleanup workers rose from 3.5 to 17.5 deaths per 1,000 between 1988 and 2012 on a database of 651,453 cleanup workers, which equates to 11,392 deaths. Additionally, Belarus had 99,693 cleanup workers, equating to 1,732 deaths. Not only that, disability among workers shows that approximately 5% are still healthy in 2012 (only 5%, meaning 95% unhealthy) with commonality of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and nervous system problems.

By 2008 in Belarus alone 40,049 liquidators or cleanup workers of Chernobyl were registered with cancer.

Viktor Sushko, deputy director general of the National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine (NRCRM) based in Kiev, Ukraine, describes the Chernobyl disaster as: “The largest anthropogenic disaster in the history of humankind,” Ibid.

Thus begging the most obvious of questions re Fukushima victims in the years ahead; how many cases of cancer, and how many will die? Unfortunately, radioactive isotopes don’t stop once they’re activated in a nuclear meltdown. They’re pernicious over time destroying and/or grotesquely altering human cell structure. For proof, visit second-generation Chernobyl children locked up in orphanages in Belarus.

“As of January 2018, 1.8 million people in Ukraine, including 377,589 children, carried status of victims of the disaster, according to Sushko and his colleagues. Not only that, there has been a rapid increase in the number of people with disabilities, rising from 40,106 in 1995 to 107,115 in 2018,” Ibid.

According to a USA Today article – Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, April 17, 2016: “There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.” Many of the children are hidden away deep in the forested countryside in orphanages in Belarus.

Back to Fukushima, there are numerous instances of governmental meddling to hide the truth, starting with passage of the 2013 government secrecy act, The State Secrecy Law, aka: Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (SDS), Act No. 108, which says that civil servants or others who “leak secrets” will face up to 10 years in prison, and those who “instigate leaks,” especially journalists, will be subject to a prison term of up to 5 years. Subsequently, Japan fell below Serbia and Botswana in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index.

Horrifically, at the end of the day, when nuclear goes bad, it takes everyone along on a daunting trip for years and years and more years, outliving life spans but continuing generation after generation, like the 453,391 Chernobyl-radiated-influence children born after the nuclear blowout in 1986. Chernobyl altered their genes before they were born…. Imagine that!

Cliodhna Russell visited children’s orphanages in Belarus in 2014: “Children rocking back and forth for hours on end, hitting their heads against walls, grinding their teeth, scraping their faces and putting their hands down their throats.” (Source: How My Trip to a Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus Made Me Proud to be Irish, the journal.ie, March 18, 2014.)

Postscript: “It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture) Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT News, April 21, 2014)

Post-Postscript: “The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in a town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers; others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains. They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside,” (Source: Mari Yamaguchi, Fukushima ‘Decontamination Troops’ Often Exploited, Shunned, AP & ABC News, Minamisona, Japan, March 10, 2016)

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Japan, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Rising temperatures, rising seas – the growing climate change menace to nuclear power

Changing ambient temperatures are already posing serious risks to nuclear plants across the world. Nuclear regulators cannot wait until sea-level rise coupled with storm surges begin impacting operational safety of their plants—they must act now.

Nuclear vs. Climate Change: Rising Seas https://www.nrdc.org/experts/christina-chen/nuclear-vs-climate-change-rising-seas,  

Note: This is part two of a two-part blog series on the impacts of climate change on nuclear power plants. Check out our first blog post on the impact of increasing ambient temperatures.

Climate action isn’t simply about reducing emissions—it’s also about addressing local environmental concerns and minimizing risks to human health and safety. With that in mind, if nuclear power is going to have a role in addressing climate change, stronger safety and environmental regulations will be needed.

Unfortunately, this approach is missing from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which in January voted in a 3-to-2 decision to water down recommendations from its own staff to reevaluate seismic and flooding hazards at nuclear sites. “This decision is nonsensical,” Commissioner Jeff Baran wrote in his dissent, “Instead of requiring nuclear power plants to be prepared for the actual flooding and earthquake hazards that could occur at their sites, NRC will allow them to be prepared only for the old, outdated hazards typically calculated decades ago when the science of seismology and hydrology was far less advanced than it is today.” 

The January ruling came almost eight years after staff scientists released a list of recommendations in direct response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown. With the approval (and pending approvals) this year to rollback  multiple safety regulations , the U.S. nuclear fleet, the oldest in the world, cannot afford to wait another decade to strengthen safety and environmental regulations in preparation of climate change–in this case, rising sea levels.

What are the Risks?

Nuclear power plants require huge amounts of water to prevent fission products in the core and spent nuclear fuel from overheating (incidentally making nuclear the most water intensive energy source in terms of consumption and withdrawal per unit of energy delivered). That’s why over 40 percent of the world’s nuclear plants are built along the coasts, with that number rising to 66 percent for just plants under construction.  Unable to run on the electricity it generates itself to power the pumps that provide cooling water to the core and to the spent nuclear fuel stored onsite, a nuclear plant must rely on the grid or backup generators to ensure cooling water circulation. Any hazard that cuts off access to those sources of power restricts access to cooling water, ultimately risking a nuclear meltdown and off-site release of radiation, as happened during the flooding of Fukushima.

Flooding evaluations conducted by the NRC concluded that 55 of the 61 evaluated U.S. nuclear sites experienced flooding hazards beyond what they were designed to handle. Even more alarming, in 2014, the flood barriers at Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie Nuclear Plant–one of the few plants reported to be prepared for disaster but which had been missing proper seals for decades–gave way to 50,000 gallons of water after heavy rainfall.

Storm surges like the one at St. Lucie Nuclear plant and extreme weather events, as witnessed in Fukushima, pose very real risks to both operational and decommissioned plants, almost all of which (in the US) will continue to store nuclear waste onsite for decades until a permanent storage solution is found. Coupled with increasingly rising sea-levels, these risks will continue to grow.  Even under a very low scenario of 1°C warming by midcentury, the 2018 U.S. National Climate Assessment reports that the “frequency, depth, and extent of both high tide and more severe, damaging coastal flooding will increase rapidly in the coming decades.” And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that 1.5°C of warming could be reached in as little as 11 years.

While all energy technologies will be impacted in some way by the increasing severity of natural disasters and sea level rise, the failure of nuclear power plants can result in irreversible health and environmental consequences on top of social and economic damages, including worst of all the release of radiation that can remain lethal for thousands of years.  Under government estimates, the Fukushima meltdown resulted in the displacement of 165,000 people, cleanup and compensation costs of up to $200 billion, and a timeline of 30 to 40 years. Experts say, however, that true costs could reach $500 billion and decontamination timelines could be underestimated by decades.

Nuclear in East Asia

Despite initial vocal opposition from the public in many East Asian countries that have slowed down nuclear buildout after Fukushima, the direction of government policies for nuclear development in East Asia remain mostly unchanged, and have simply resulted in rather a more conservative, moderate pace. In fact, this pace has sustained much of nuclear development in East Asia, home to many countries that have found nuclear power as an attractive solution to addressing the dilemma between achieving energy security for an increasing population and decarbonizing to mitigate global climate change.

Of the 56 nuclear power plants currently in construction around the world, 33 of them are in Asia; 16 in China alone. As observed in the graph below, [on original] if all nuclear units that are currently under construction reach completion, East Asia is slated to become the region with the largest number of operating nuclear power plants, 93 percent of which will reside along the coast.

What is alarming is that East Asia and the Pacific region is uniquely vulnerable to sea-level rise. A 2015 report by Climate Central found that of the top 10 countries most likely to be affected sea level rise for 4°C warming, seven are in Asia. Similarly, in a study by the World Bank, China and Indonesia will be the most vulnerable to permanent inundation. Given the heightened flooding risks in Asia, strengthening the authority of regulatory structures that oversee the safety of nuclear build out will be increasingly important.

What’s the Plan?

Fukushima was a lesson to the global community that even one of the world’s most technologically advanced and experienced countries can fail to prevent a nuclear meltdown. To prepare for the realities of rising sea levels that pose unique risks to different nuclear plants, regulators must require climate adaptation plans and heightened safety oversight. Nonetheless, at the international scale, not much work is being done to address these sea-level rise concerns.

The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), in recognizing that the “world is ill-prepared for the risks from a changing climate,” conducted a study on the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to climate change, which is not yet available to the public. Since 2014, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has begun to include a section about the impacts of climate change on nuclear energy in its annual Climate and Nuclear Power Report. Yet even as these international organizations detail the many hazards changing climate poses to nuclear reactors, preventative and/or adaptation measures do not seem to be prioritized or encouraged, especially for existing nuclear plants.

“Outside of their Scope” at Home

Similar attitudes are held here in the U.S. Perched at the southern tip of Florida, the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is seeking to be the first U.S. nuclear plant permitted to run for 80 years. Initially refusing to consider sea-level rise in the environmental review of the license extension, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a revised draft this year, only to come to the following conclusion: It’s outside of the scope of the agency.

If new information about changing environmental conditions (such as rising sea levels that threaten safe operating conditions or challenge compliance with the plant’s technical specifications) becomes available, the NRC will evaluate the new information to determine if any safety-related changes are needed at licensed nuclear power plants,” the NRC report said.

The report arrives at this conclusion by utilizing lower-bound sea level rise estimates from the 2018 U.S. Climate Change assessment, rationalizing that the report “assigns very high confidence to the lower bounds of these projections and medium confidence to the upper bounds.” As highlighted by this Bloomberg analysis released this year, nuclear plant operators are not only allowed to perform their own flood risk estimates but are also able to decide what assumptions are made, with review from the NRC.

The uncertainty that comes with sea-level rise projections obviously exists. In securing the safety of such critical infrastructure, however, using the highest sea-level rise estimates is the only way to ensure that all actions that can be taken against a potential threat are taken. On the other hand, relying on the lowest storm surge estimates is akin to receiving a warning about a potential threat, and taking the bare minimum actions to prepare for it.

Changing ambient temperatures are already posing serious risks to nuclear plants across the world. Nuclear regulators cannot wait until sea-level rise coupled with storm surges begin impacting operational safety of their plants—they must act now. With the world’s scientists calling attention to the climate crisis ahead of us, action must be taken to ensure nuclear plants are part of the solution, not the problem.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Ontario’s secretive role in helping Trump to nuclear weaponise Space

The space race has a dirty nuclear secret and it’s right here in Ontario, https://nowtoronto.com/news/space-race-nuclear-power-ontario/  by Rosemary Frei, SEPTEMBER 16, 2019   

Unbeknownst to most Canadians, the Darlington nuclear power plant 70 kilometres east of Toronto has been playing a not-so-small role in the U.S. race to weaponize space

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission added momentum to the new push to go farther into outer space than humans have ever gone before.

Ontario’s nuclear industry could receive both a reflected glow from the extraterrestrial travel hype and a new revenue stream. It could also potentially increase international nuclear-weapons proliferation.

Unbeknownst to most Canadians, the Darlington nuclear power plant 70 kilometres east of Toronto has already been playing a not-so-small role in the space race.

The plant has been producing radioactive plutonium-238 as fuel for spacecraft in NASA’s mushrooming space pipeline since 2017.

That’s when Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced excitedly that it would start making plutonium-238 for space exploration. The plant produces about 10 kilograms of plutonium-238 a year.

“We are proud to have Ontario play a part, however small, in this most noble of human endeavours,” OPG’s then-president and CEO Jeff Lyash said in a news release.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), which runs the Chalk River facility near Ottawa, another participant in the initiative, posted a “Success Stories” article on its website seven days later. It cautioned that “this opportunity is still subject to regulatory and licensing processes.” But it quotes a CNL official as saying “staff should take a lot of pride in the fact that we are key partners.”

CNL has continued communicating with other project stakeholders. But when NOW contacted CNL for a comment it responded on September 5 that it is no longer involved in the project. OPG has removed the news release from its website and did not respond to NOW’s request for information. Turns out a company called Technical Solutions Management (TSM) is steering the initiative now.

TSM is owned by former nuclear-industry executives Billy Shipp, Pierre Tremblay and Paul Spekkens. CEO Shipp told NOW in an August 29 phone interview that NASA has yet to give its formal thumbs-up.

“For us to get out ahead of our client [NASA], in terms of anticipated need [for plutonium-238], or making statements of their need, is not that professional on our part. So we really have been very low-key on this,” Shipp says when reached for an interview aboard a boat off Vancouver Island.

But he noted that U.S. President Donald Trump’s establishment of a Space Command makes the project more likely to proceed.

Plutonium-238 has long been used to fuel flight, via conversion into electricity of the intense heat the atom pumps out. The U.S. powered military satellites with it in the 1960s. NASA also harnessed it most recently to propel Curiosity Rover to Mars in 2011.

The steps involved for the manufacture of made-in-Canada plutonium-238 to supplement the U.S.’s production involves first synthesizing neptunium-237, plutonium-238’s precursor at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington.

From there, the material is transported to Chalk River where it is put into bundles before it’s sent to Darlington and inserted into CANDU reactors. There, the neptunium-237 catches stray neutrons, transforming it into plutonium-238. The bundles are shipped back to Chalk River where the plutonium-238 is separated from by-products and packaged into pellets. The pellets are transported to Idaho National Lab where they are readied as ‘nuclear batteries’ for spacecraft engines. The current price of plutonium-238 isn’t public, but back in 2003 one kilogram was worth about $8 million U.S.

Gordon Edwards, co-founder and president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, says the form of radioactivity emitted by plutonium (namely, alpha particles) is highly toxic when inhaled but often isn’t picked up by radiation detectors.

For example, in November 2009, hundreds of workers at OPG’s Bruce nuclear plant breathed in plutonium dust (a by-product of nuclear-energy production) but the plutonium remained undetected for weeks. Many of the workers had not been given respirators. It was the largest preventable exposure of workers to internal radioactive contamination in the history of the civilian nuclear industry.

Even worse, says Edwards, is the fact the process used to create plutonium-238 can also be used to transform depleted uranium into plutonium-239, the key explosive in nuclear bombs.

“I grant that TSM’s plutonium-238 program does not fundamentally enhance this danger, but it does provide an opportunity to tell the public and politicians that if you can produce one kind of plutonium for the space program you can just as easily produce another kind of plutonium for a nuclear-weapons program, using essentially the same CANDU technology,” Edwards tells NOW.

However, no one inside the space or nuclear industries appears be seriously addressing these well-known problems. And there is plenty of money potentially available for a new plutonium-238 venture. NASA projects its research and development budget – including developing power and propulsion systems – will be $1.5 billion next year, rising to $3.4 billion by 2024.

TSM’s other co-owners, Tremblay and Spekkens, are well-placed to move such a project forward. Tremblay was OPG’s chief nuclear operating officer and president of OPG’s subsidiary Canadian Nuclear Partners. He became AECOM Canada Nuclear Operations’ president and CEO in August 2018. The American multinational is playing key roles in the multi-billion-dollar Darlington refurbishment. Tremblay started consulting for AECOM in June 2016; an industry article about this said the firm “has recruited key expertise that will undoubtedly position the company to play a key part in the massive nuclear power projects anticipated for Ontario over the next decade.”

Spekkens retired in 2016 as OPG’s vice president of science and technology and as chair of the CANDU Owners Group, a Toronto-based private organization that promotes CANDU use around the world. He then became a consultant and director of nuclear technology at Kinectrics.

He opined on the nuclear industry’s future at a June 2017 conference. In the abstract of his lecture, Spekkens says “this future will, of course, depend heavily on technology. But also (and perhaps equally) important will be non-technical considerations such as public acceptance, a pipeline full of qualified future employees, public policy in several levels of government, and of course, finances.”

@nowtoronto

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The danger, the unwisdom, of highly enriched uranium in space

Do we need highly enriched uranium in space (again)?  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Christopher Fichtlscherer, September 12, 2019 “……. Weapon-grade fuel for the Mars mission. In this rush to realize the old dream of space colonization, a central question is how to provide a planetary base with electrical power. Currently it seems as though NASA is in favor of nuclear energy. Most recently, on August 20, 2019, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum authorizing the possible launch into space of nuclear reactors fueled by highly enriched uranium (HEU) for “orbital and planetary surface activities.” But sending HEU reactors into space is risky and unnecessary because there are viable options for using low-enriched uranium (LEU), or for avoiding nuclear power altogether by harnessing solar energy.

Since 2015, NASA has funded a group at Los Alamos National Laboratory to build what is called the Kilopower reactor, a nuclear fission reactor for space applications. The Kilopower reactor is a sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactor with a block core that produces electrical energy with Stirling engine heat converters. NASA plans to build four or five Kilopower reactors, each with a lifetime of 12 to 15 years and a continuous energy output of 10 kilowatts, which could meet the energy needs of a possible Mars base. This Kilopower fast reactor could be fueled with either LEU or HEU. While the LEU fuel for the Kilopower reactor would contain 19.75 percent uranium 235, the HEU fuel would contain 93 percent of this isotope, a degree of enrichment that is called “weapon-grade.” In the newest prototype, these two versions of the fast reactor have essentially the same design but differ by size and weight. Los Alamos published a white paper about the Kilopower reactor in August 2017 supporting the LEU designs, but half a year later the lab successfully tested the HEU design. In October 2018, Los Alamos published a second white paper that favored HEU on the grounds that it would have a lighter weight.

Indeed, the HEU version of the Kilopower reactor is lighter, but it comes with alarming risks: the block fuel element contains around 43 kilograms of HEU, enough material for a terrorist group to build a nuclear weapon. There is also a proliferation risk. Kilopower would establish a precedent that other states could use to justify their own production of weapon-grade uranium. That is why, over the last four decades, the United States has led an international effort to persuade research reactor operators to switch from using HEU to using LEU. Building an HEU-fueled space reactor would undermine those attempts and the nonproliferation policies that inform them.

There are other downsides beyond the security risks. For example, the use of HEU would exclude private industry from taking part in space-reactor research and development. Such a reactor would also be more expensive than the LEU version because of the high costs required to secure significant quantities of HEU during the development and the launch. Finally, an HEU reactor would be sure to stir controversy for the reasons mentioned above and would be subject to cancellation by Congress.

Beyond that, the main advantage of the HEU reactor may not actually be much of an advantage. In 2015 scientists from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, and in 2018 scientists from the Colorado School of Mines, each published designs for different, lighter LEU reactor models with a similar power output to the Kilopower LEU version. Moreover, it seems realistic that we can expect further weight and launching cost reductions well before a Mars colonization mission could start.

Accident risks. Sending nuclear reactors into space is not a new idea. The Soviet Union launched over 30 into orbit during the Cold War to power radars that tracked the US Navy. The United States launched only one reactor, in 1965. Dubbed the SNAP-10A, it had to be shut down after only 43 days due to an electrical component failure.

Most of these reactors are still orbiting above us—but not all of them. For example, the Soviet Kosmos 954 reactor crashed to earth in 1978, spreading radioactive material over a large area of northern Canada. In total there is about one ton of nuclear material in orbit, and all of it is at risk of colliding with other space debris and coming back to earth.

Major accidents have occurred in over 20 percent of space reactor missions. That is probably one of the reasons why no country has launched a reactor into space since the Cold War. Given these issues, why not avoid radioactive material for space missions altogether? Perhaps solar energy should be the first choice for electrical energy in space. Most satellites launched into space get their energy from solar panels, as does the international space station, which has successfully operated for over 10 years with solar arrays that produce up to 120 kilowatts of electricity. The NASA Mars rover Opportunity ran for over 14 years powered by solar panels. In short, the difficulties of running a solar power system on Mars seem manageable.

If we really want to build a Mars base in the not-so-distant future, why should we go with weapon-grade uranium, with all its security and proliferation risks, when we have both the option of affordable alternative LEU designs and solar options that eliminate these risks?  https://thebulletin.org/2019/09/do-we-need-highly-enriched-uranium-in-space-again/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter09162019&utm_content=NuclearRisk_UraniumInSpace_09122019

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Reference, space travel | Leave a comment

“The Guardian” co-opted by UK security services?

Getting Julian Assange   The Guardian also appears to have been engaged in a campaign against the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who had been a collaborator during the early WikiLeaks revelations in 2010.

It seems likely this was innuendo being fed to The Observer by an intelligence-linked individual to promote disinformation to undermine Assange.

In 2018, however, The Guardian’s attempted vilification of Assange was significantly stepped up. A new string of articles began on 18 May 2018 with one alleging Assange’s “long-standing relationship with RT”, the Russian state broadcaster. The series, which has been closely documented elsewhere, lasted for several months, consistently alleging with little or the most minimal circumstantial evidence that Assange had ties to Russia or the Kremlin.

How the UK Security Services neutralised the country’s leading liberal newspaper.   https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-09-11-how-the-uk-security-services-neutralised-the-countrys-leading-liberal-newspaper/ By Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis• 11 September 2019, The Guardian, Britain’s leading liberal newspaper with a global reputation for independent and critical journalism, has been successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the ‘security state’, according to newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists.

The UK security services targeted The Guardian after the newspaper started publishing the contents of secret US government documents leaked by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013.

Snowden’s bombshell revelations continued for months and were the largest-ever leak of classified material covering the NSA and its UK equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters. They revealed programmes of mass surveillance operated by both agencies.

According to minutes of meetings of the UK’s Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee, the revelations caused alarm in the British security services and Ministry of Defence. Continue reading

September 14, 2019 Posted by | media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors safe? Not so

HELEN CALDICOTT: Small modular reactors — same nuclear disasters  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/helen-caldicott-small-modular-reactors–same-nuclear-disasters,13087

By Helen Caldicott | 9 September 2019  The Morrison Government has opened the door to the notion of nuclear power as peddled by the nuclear sociopaths.

Now that the “nuclear renaissance” seems dead and buried following the Fukushima catastrophe (one-sixth of the world’s nuclear reactors were closed after the accident), the corporations invested in making nuclear plants and radioactive waste –including Toshiba, Nu-Scale, Babcock and Wilcox, GE Hitachi, General Atomics and the Tennessee Valley Authority – are not to be defeated.

Their new strategy is to develop small modular reactors (SMR), which can be sold around the world without, they say, the dangers inherent in large reactors — safety, cost, proliferation risks and radioactive waste.

There are basically three types of SMRs which generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity compared to the current 1,000-megawatt reactors.


Light water reactor 
designs

These will be smaller versions of present-day pressurised water reactors using water as the moderator and coolant but with the same attendant problems as Fukushima and Three Mile Island. They are to be built underground, which obviously makes them dangerous to access in the event of an accident or malfunction.

They will be mass-produced (turnkey production) and large numbers must be sold yearly to make a profit. This is an unlikely prospect because major markets – China and India – will be uninterested in buying U.S. reactors when they can make their own.

If a safety problem arises, such as with the Dreamliner plane, all of them will have to be shut down — interfering substantially with electricity supply.

SMRs will be expensive because the cost of unit capacity increases with decrease in the size of the reactor. Billions of dollars of government subsidies will be required because Wall Street will not touch nuclear power. To alleviate costs, it is suggested that safety rules be relaxed — including reducing security requirements and a reduction in the ten-mile emergency planning zone to 1,000 feet.


Non-light water
 designs

These are high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) or pebble bed reactors. Five billion tiny fuel kernels of high-enriched uranium or plutonium will be encased in tennis-ball-sized graphite spheres which must be made without cracks or imperfections — or else they could lead to an accident. A total of 450,000 such spheres will slowly be released continuously from a fuel silo, passing through the reactor core, and then re-circulated ten times. These reactors will be cooled by helium gas operating at very high temperatures (900 C).

The plans are to construct a reactor complex consisting of four HTGR modules located underground to be run by only two operators in a central control room. It is claimed that HTGRs will be so safe that a containment building will be unnecessary and operators can even leave the site — “walk-away-safe” reactors.

However, should temperatures unexpectedly exceed 1600 degrees Celsius, the carbon coating will release dangerous radioactive isotopes into the helium gas and at 2000 C, the carbon would ignite creating a fierce graphite Chernobyl-type fire.

If a crack develops in the piping or building, radioactive helium would escape and air would rush in igniting the graphite.

Although HTGRs produce small amounts of low-level waste, they create larger volumes of high-level waste than conventional reactors.

Despite these obvious safety problems and despite the fact that South Africa has abandoned plans for HTGRs, the U.S. Department of Energy has unwisely chosen the HTGR as the “Next Generation Nuclear Plant”.


Liquid metal fast reactors 
(PRISM)

It is claimed by the proponents that fast reactors will be safe, economically competitive, proliferation-resistant and sustainable.

They are to be fueled by plutonium or highly enriched uranium, and cooled by either liquid sodium or a lead-bismuth molten coolant creating a potentially explosive situation. Liquid sodium burns or explodes when exposed to air or water and lead-bismuth is extremely corrosive producing very volatile radioactive elements when irradiated.

Should a crack occur in the reactor complex, liquid sodium would escape burning or exploding. Without coolant, the plutonium fuel would melt and reach critical mass, inciting a massive nuclear explosion. One-millionth of a gram of plutonium induces cancer and it lasts for 500,000 years. Yet it is claimed that fast reactors will be so safe that no emergency sirens will be required and emergency planning zones can be decreased from ten miles to 1,300 feet.

There are two types of fast reactors, a simple plutonium fueled reactor and a “breeder”. The plutonium reactor core can be surrounded by a blanket of uranium 238, the uranium captures neutrons and converts to plutonium creating ever more plutonium.

Some are keen about fast reactors because plutonium waste from other reactors can be fissioned converting it to shorter-lived isotopes like caesium and strontium which last “only” 600 years instead of 500,000. But this is fallacious thinking because only ten per cent is fissioned leaving 90 per cent of the plutonium for bomb-making and so on.

Construction

Three small plutonium fast reactors will be arranged together forming a module. Three of these modules will be buried underground and all nine reactors will connect to a fully automated central control room. Only three reactor operators situated in one control room will be in control of nine reactors. Potentially, one operator could simultaneously face a catastrophic situation triggered by the loss of off-site power to one unit at full power, in another shut down for refuelling and in one in start-up mode.

There are to be no emergency core cooling systems.

Fast reactors will require a massive infrastructure including a reprocessing plant to dissolve radioactive waste fuel rods in nitric acid, chemically removing the plutonium and a fuel fabrication facility to create new fuel rods. A total of 15,000 to 25,000 kilos of plutonium are required to operate a fuel cycle at a fast reactor and just 2.5 kilos is fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Thus, fast reactors and breeders will provide the perfect plan for nuclear weapons proliferation and despite this danger, the industry plans to sell them to many countries.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

A small nuclear reactor was definitely the cause of the Russian missile engine explosion

 It can therefore be stated with certainty that the “isotopic source of energy” referred to by Rosatom was a nuclear reactor. 

The Mysterious Explosion of a Russian Nuclear Missile Engine The BESA CENTER. By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, September 6, 2019 BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,280, September 6, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The fatal explosion that occurred recently during testing of the Russian Burevestnik nuclear cruise missile raises many questions. Could it have been avoided? Was it a fundamental failure of the ambitious armaments plan declared by President Putin in 2018? Whatever the answers to these questions, the renewed trend toward an unconventional armaments race could deteriorate into a second Cold War.

On August 8, during a test of the nuclear-powered engine of the 9M730 Burevestnik cruise missile (petrel in Russian; nicknamed the SSC-X-9 Skyfall in the West), held on a floating platform in the White Sea near the Nyonoksa missile test site in the far north of Russia, a mysterious explosion occurred that killed eight people. The blast raised questions about the status of a new generation of five advanced weapons introduced by Putin in 2018, of which Burevestnik, described by the Russian president as supersonic and of unlimited range, occupied pride of place.

Five of the eight people killed in the explosion were Rosatom (Russian State Atomiс Energy Corporation) employees, and three more employees were injured. According to the company’s announcement, the disaster occurred while testing an “isotopic energy source for a liquid propulsion system.”

Shortly after the explosion, the weather monitoring agency Roshydromet reported a significant spike in radiation 40 km from the blast site. Also, in the city of Severodvinsk, which is near the explosion site in the Archangelsk district, the radiation level was reported to have jumped to 16 times the normal level. This led the alarmed residents to rush to stock up on iodine, which reduces the effects of radiation exposure.

The initial response of the Russian authorities to the incident was befuddling (if reminiscent of their conduct in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster). Following the blast, residents of the village of Nyonoksa, which is close to the beach and adjacent to the blast site, were told to evacuate immediately – but the order was soon rescinded. Information about the blast was difficult to obtain. …….

According to the DIA (US Army Intelligence), 13 tests of the Burevestnik or its systems have been conducted since 2016, including the August 8 disaster. Only two can be classified as having been relatively successful. In a November 2017 test, a missile was launched from a site in Novaya Zemlya and all missile systems were tested during flight. But the flight lasted only about two minutes, during which the missile went 35 km and then crashed into the Barents Sea. Another test of the missile’s nuclear reactor was carried out in January 2019; according to the Russian news agency TASS, it was a success. …..

The nuclear jet engine sucks air through its nozzle and then compresses and heats it to a very high temperature through the nuclear reactor inside the engine, which is shaped like a hollow cylinder. The air is then emitted sharply outward from the rear, providing the missile with the thrust to move forward.

Rosatom said the failed experiment of August 8 was testing an “isotopic energy source for a rocket engine fueled with liquid fuel.” This negates the possibility that the source of energy applied to the Burevestnik missile is the metallic plutonium-238 isotope, as does the steep jump in the level of radioactivity in the areas near the explosion site. This is because plutonium-238 is not fissionable and therefore cannot be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor. Although this isotope is an alpha radiation emitter, it has very short-range radiation that is stopped after 5 cm of air.

With that said, the isotope’s potent alpha emission renders it usable as a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). Indeed, it was used by the US space program as an energy source. It can therefore be stated with certainty that the “isotopic source of energy” referred to by Rosatom was a nuclear reactor. The advantage of a nuclear reactor is that it allows a cruise missile to move through the air for a very long time, giving it an essentially unlimited flight range. 

However, the jump in radioactivity in the air near the blast site reduces the likelihood that the nuclear reactor installed in the Burevestnik missile is fueled with enriched uranium, or even highly enriched. It is therefore reasonable to conjecture that the nuclear fuel of the reactor is plutonium-239, which, in addition to being toxic, is radioactive. It is also more suitable for refueling a miniature reactor because its critical mass is five times lower than that of uranium-235, which makes it possible to reduce the reactor’s dimensions.

Moreover, it is possible that the plutonium fuel in the reactor was not metallic but in a saline state, which would further reduce the amount of plutonium needed to fuel it. This hypothesis might explain Rosatom’s reference to “an isotopic source of energy for a liquid-fueled rocket engine.” Rosatom conducts many activities related to the development of molten salt reactors (MSR). These are nuclear fission reactors in which the primary reactor coolant and/or nuclear fuel is a molten salt mixture, and they use plutonium-239 as fuel.

The August 8 rocket engine explosion appears to have been caused by a rapid jump in reactor criticality beyond the permitted level. Nuclear missiles use a liquid-fueled booster rocket to accelerate to a speed that will enable their reactors to operate. There is thus a high probability of failure during the launch phase due to an obstacle hindering synchronization between the rocket’s acceleration and the nuclear reactor system, or – either alternatively or in addition – a failure of the reactor’s criticality control system.

Taking an overall view, it appears we now have a resurgence of an unconventional armaments race between the big powers, at least for purposes of deterrence – a situation that could deteriorate into a second Cold War.

View PDF

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, a BESA Center Research Associate, is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and technology who served as a senior analyst in the Israeli intelligence community. https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/russia-nuclear-missile-engine/

 

September 7, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Russia, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors – expensive, dangerous and leave dangerous radioactive isotopes with long half-lives

New nuclear power proposal needs public  debate   https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/new-nuclear-power-proposal-needs-public-discussion,13071   By Helen Caldicott | 4 September 2019  The prospect of thorium being introduced into Australia’s energy arrangements should be subjected to significant scrutiny, writes Helen Caldicott.

AS AUSTRALIA is grappling with the notion of introducing nuclear powerinto the country, it seems imperative the general public understand the intricacies of these technologies so they can make informed decisions. Thorium reactors are amongst those being suggested at this time.

The U.S. tried for 50 years to create thorium reactors, without success. Four commercial thorium reactors were constructed, all of which failed. And because of the complexity of problems listed below, thorium reactors are far more expensive than uranium fueled reactors.

The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials.

The truth is, thorium is not a naturally fissionable material. It is therefore necessary to mix thorium with either enriched uranium 235 (up to 20% enrichment) or with plutonium – both of which are innately fissionable – to get the process going.

While uranium enrichment is very expensive, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from uranium powered reactors is enormously expensive and very dangerous to the workers who are exposed to toxic radioactive isotopes during the process. Reprocessing spent fuel requires chopping up radioactive fuel rods by remote control, dissolving them in concentrated nitric acid from which plutonium is precipitated out by complex chemical means.

Vast quantities of highly acidic, highly radioactive liquid waste then remain to be disposed of. (Only is 6 kilograms of plutonium 239 can fuel a nuclear weapon, while each reactor makes 250 kilos of plutonium per year. One millionth of a gram of plutonium if inhaled is carcinogenic.)

So there is an extraordinarily complex, dangerous and expensive preliminary process to kick-start a fission process in a thorium reactor.

When non-fissionable thorium is mixed with either fissionable plutonium or uranium 235, it captures a neutron and converts to uranium 233, which itself is fissionable. Naturally it takes some time for enough uranium 233 to accumulate to make this particular fission process spontaneously ongoing.

Later, the radioactive fuel would be removed from the reactor and reprocessed to separate out the uranium 233 from the contaminating fission products, and the uranium 233 then will then be mixed with more thorium to be placed in another thorium reactor.

But uranium 233 is also very efficient fuel for nuclear weapons. It takes about the same amount of uranium 233 as plutonium 239 – six kilos – to fuel a nuclear weapon. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already, to its disgrace, ‘lost track’ of 96 kilograms of uranium 233.

A total of two tons of uranium 233 were manufactured in the United States. This material naturally requires similar stringent security measures used for plutonium storage for obvious reasons. It is estimated that it will take over one million dollars per kilogram to dispose of the seriously deadly material.

An Energy Department safety investigation recently found a national repository for uranium 233 in a building constructed in 1943 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

It was in poor condition. Investigators reported an environmental release from many of the 1,100 containers could

‘… be expected to occur within the next five years because some of the packages are approaching 30 years of age and have not been regularly inspected.’

The DOE determined that this building had:

Deteriorated beyond cost-effective repair and significant annual costs would be incurred to satisfy both current DOE storage standards, and to provide continued protection against potential nuclear criticality accidents or theft of the material.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management now considers the disposal of this uranium 233 to be ‘an unfunded mandate’.

Thorium reactors also produce uranium 232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter that can penetrate through one metre of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

Although thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste to those from uranium-235. This still includes many dangerous alpha and beta emitters, and isotopes with extremely long half-lives, including iodine 129 (half-life of 15.7 million years).

No wonder the U.S. nuclear industry gave up on thorium reactors in the 1980s. It was an unmitigated disaster, as are many other nuclear enterprises undertaken by the nuclear priesthood and the U.S. government.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, thorium | 1 Comment