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The pitfalls of Direct Democracy- Taiwan’s referendum and the vote on nuclear power

How Direct Democracy Went Nuclear in Taiwan, A contentious vote on Taiwan’s nuclear future showed how the country’s public referendums went haywire. The Diplomat , By Nick Aspinwall, January 18, 2019 It only took one month for Huang Shih-hsiu, a 31-year-old nuclear energy advocate, to upend a core energy policy of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The policy, prior to its downfall, stated that Taiwan would decommission its three active nuclear power plants by 2025.

It makes for an entangled web of policy which, ideally, a direct democracy would sort out through a patient and measured process of public debate, consultation with experts, and consensus-building to avoid polarization and finger-pointing. Everyone does seem to agree on one thing, however: This did not happen in Taiwan.

Will the World Learn From Taiwan?

Matt Qvortrup, a professor of political science at Coventry University and leading referendum expert, has watched referendums surge in popularity throughout Europe and, gradually, to corners of the world like Taiwan, whose large-scale plebiscites provided lessons for global democracies in what, or what not, to do.

Qvortrup is a believer in referendums, but with conditions. “Democracy is discussion and deliberation,” he says, and that does not happen when voters are rushed to the polls. “To have meaningful democracy,” he says, “you need to have time to debate things.” Taiwan’s CEC-sanctioned TV debates were held in a cramped three-week window – five public forums each for 10 referendum questions.

He noted that debate on the high-interest issue of same-sex marriage dominated much of Taiwan’s already congested pre-referendum discourse, drowning out interest in the intricacies of energy policy. “That’s bad, because people will be voting on things they haven’t had the opportunity to talk about,” Qvortrup says.

Chao of RSPRC agrees, saying there was far from enough time for voters to have an informed debate. Shortly after the referendum, his center published a study showing that voters were not informed on nuclear power – most were unaware of the details of Tsai’s phaseout proposal, and 44 percent believed nuclear power provides most of the island’s energy. (It produces just over 8 percent, far behind coal-fired power.)

“For democracy to work, it has to be limited to relatively few issues,” says Qvortrup. “If you have too many issues on the ballot, people just get saturated. They turn off, they can’t be bothered. You need to save up your civic reserves.”

Taiwan’s nuclear power plebiscite was not even the only energy-related measure on the ballot: Two separate measures, both successful, called for Taiwan to reduce thermal power and stop expansion of coal-fired power plants. A measure to maintain Taiwan’s ban on food imports from the Fukushima disaster area also passed, angering Japan.

The team at Cofacts, a collaborative social media fact-checking platform that monitored online discussion leading up to the referendums, says it observed a combination of disinformation and voter apathy ahead of the energy plebiscites. “In comparison to other issues, nuclear power was one of the less popular topics,” writes Rosalind, a Cofacts editor, in an open response to questions from The Diplomat. “Even when people talked about it, they were actually talking about air pollution, reducing thermal power generation plants, new alternative energy, and polluted foods.” This did not allow voters to consider the nuances of the issues, such as whether Taiwan does in fact face a looming electricity shortage, says Rosalind.

“The people wanted to be on the ‘winning’ side of these yes/no questions, even though most of them did not know the referendum topics until the day of the election,” says Cofacts founder Johnson Liang. He notes that online discussion on nuclear power paled in comparison to talk of the same-sex marriage referendums. “There were way too many topics to vote [on] within a timespan that is too short, and they did not have time to follow the television debates.”

It takes a resonant message to cut through an overload of information and mangled discourse, and Huang Shih-hsiu had one: Nuclear Mythbusters ran with the slogan “Nuclear energy is green energy,” sizing it up against a future coal-fired dystopia and dismissing the present-day viability of affordable renewables, all while cutting through the opposing stance that nuclear power is an environmental crisis waiting to happen.

This approach has always been effective, but it’s especially potent in the digital age, says Dion Curry, senior lecturer of public policy at Swansea University. Public figures with “little political power, but immense media power” – he cites Brexit’s Nigel Farage as an example – can strategically reach voters through targeted Facebook ads and participation in social media “echo chambers,” he says………. https://thediplomat.com/2019/01/how-direct-democracy-went-nuclear-in-taiwan/

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January 21, 2019 Posted by | politics, Reference, Taiwan | 1 Comment

Dr Gordon Edwards explains the background to former NRC chairman’s opposition to nuclear power

Nuclear Regulatory Commission ex-Chairman Gregory Jaczko is adamantly opposed to the idea of keeping existing nuclear reactors running as a way to offset climate change, because each reactor is like a time bomb ready to explode if the cooling is cut off by a total station blackout, by equipment failure, by major pipe breaks, or by acts of warfare, sabotage, or terrorism. The societal dislocation caused by the spread of radioactive material over wide areas, affecting drinking water, food and habitation for decades or centuries, is as bad as the ravages of climate change for the communities so affected.
As Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has a unique insight into the factors that make nuclear power plants dangerous even after so-called “safe” shutdown. The Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 4 knows, too, that the arguments levied against renewables are ultimately incorrect, as technology to store energy and to rechannel it is growing by leaps and bounds. Investing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into maintaining old nuclear reactors, which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they age, is simply stealing money away from investments in the renewable revolution that is our best hope for a sustainable energy future.     
Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 1 Background:  by Dr Gordon Edwards, http://www.ccnr.org/Jaczko_nixes_nukes_2019.pdf January 11, 2019 Commercial nuclear power plants are water-cooled. They are fuelled by ceramic uranium fuel pellets stacked inside long narrow rods made of zirconium metal. A number of these rods are bound together into a fuel assembly — in Canada such an assembly is called a fuel bundle.
Heat is produced by splitting uranium atoms. That heat is transported by the liquid water coolant which flows past the zirconium tubes containing the fuel. The heat is used to produce steam that will turn the blades of a steam turbine to generate electricity.
As the uranium fuel undergoes nuclear fission (splitting uranium atoms), hundreds of varieties of intensely radioactive byproducts build up inside the fuel. These are (1) broken fragments of uranium atoms, called “fission products”; (2) heavier-than-uranium elements, including plutonium, called “transuranic actinides”. These byproducts are millions of times more radioactive than the original fuel.
  Loss of Cooling During a severe nuclear accident, the cooling is lost. Even if the reactor has been safely shut down just beforehand, and the fission process has been totally arrested, the temperature of the fuel will still soar to destructive levels without adequate cooling.
 The problem is that radioactivity cannot be shut off. The radioactive byproducts created during nuclear fission remain in the fuel, and they continue to generate heat. In the case of a 1000 megawatt reactor, immediately following shutdown, over 200 megawatts of heat continue to be generated by the ongoing atomic disintegrations of the radioactive waste byproducts. After one hour this drops to about 30 megawatts of heat, which is still a tremendous rate of thermal energy release.
If the coolant is no longer circulating — perhaps because of a station blackout, as at Fukushima, or due to a large pipe break followed by a failure of emergency cooling — that “residual heat” or “decay heat” will not be removed from the core of the reactor.
Make no mistake, even 30 megawatts is a lot of heat — unless it is rapidly removed, that heat is more than enough to melt the fuel and surrounding structural materials of a nuclear reactor at a temperature of 2800 degrees C (5000 degrees F). That’s more than twice the melting point of steel. It’s the beginning of a partial or total core meltdown.
Hydrogen Gas Buildup At about 1800 degrees C (3300 degrees F), long before the fuel melts, the solid zirconium “cladding” surrounding the fuel starts to melt. Any failure of the zirconium cladding allows the escape, under high pressure, of dozens of radioactive waste byproducts that were previously trapped inside the fuel. The superheated steam that now fills the reactor vessel is suddenly infused with a multitude of radioactive gases, vapours, aerosols and ashes, all ready to be expelled into the atmosphere if there is any failure of containment.
At an even lower temperature, 700-800 degrees C, steam reacts chemically with the zirconium metal. Recall that water molecules are combinations of hydrogen and oxygen atoms (H2O). The blistering hot zirconium metal strips the oxygen out of the steam, forming zirconium oxide, while releasing all the left-over hydrogen. Hydrogen gas mixes with the steam-filled radioactively contaminated air to form an explosive mixture. Any spark will detonate the hydrogen in a devastating blast, more powerful than a natural gas explosion.
Such hydrogen gas explosions almost always accompany a nuclear meltdown. There were several such explosions during the partial meltdown of the NRX reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, in 1952; during the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in Pennsylvania in1979; and during the triple meltdown at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan in 2011. Such explosions will often damage the containment envelope of the nuclear reactor, spewing highly radioactive materials into the outer atmosphere.
Radioactive Exposures People, animals and plants are irradiated from above by “skyshine” from gamma-radiation-emitting gases passing overhead. Metallic radioactive vapours such as cesium-137, iodine-131 and strontium-90 will condense on vegetation, soil, buildings, skin, clothing, and surfaces of all kinds, leaving a lasting legacy of radioactive contamination, irradiating living things by “groundshine”. And these radioactive materials gradually work their way into the food chain, sometimes re-concentrating along the way, yielding contaminated crops, meat, fish, water, milk, mushrooms, berries, and much else besides. Ingesting or inhaling such materials will lead to the internal irradiation of people and animals by radioactive materials that lodge in the lungs, the bones, the blood, or the soft organs of the body.
For example, radioactive iodine condenses on pastureland, and the concentration of radioactive iodine in the grass becomes about 100 times greater than in the air above the pasture. The concentration of radioactive iodine in cow’s milk is about 100-1000 times greater than it is in the grass they eat. Then, when a young child drinks the cow’s milk, the concentration of radioactive iodine in the child’s thyroid gland is about 7-10 times greater than it is in the contaminated milk. So, a child’s thyroid can be exposed to radioactive iodine levels that are several orders of magnitude greater than that found in the contaminated air that they might breathe.
Radioactive cesium accumulates in meat and fish, often making them unsuitable for human consumption. Even today, hunters in Germany and the Czech Republic are compensated by their respective governments if they kill a wild boar, because they cannot eat the meat due to radioactive cesium contamination from the Chernobyl accident 33 years ago. In Japan, wild boars in the Fukushima forested areas have levels of radioactive cesium in their bodies that are 10 to 150 times greater than the maximum permissible levels for human consumption. Boars love mushrooms, and fungi are especially adept at concentrating radioactivity.
 Nuclear Regulatory Commission ex-Chairman Gregory Jaczko is adamantly opposed to the idea of keeping existing nuclear reactors running as a way to offset climate change, because each reactor is like a time bomb ready to explode if the cooling is cut off by a total station blackout, by equipment failure, by major pipe breaks, or by acts of warfare, sabotage, or terrorism. The societal dislocation caused by the spread of radioactive material over wide areas, affecting drinking water, food and habitation for decades or centuries, is as bad as the ravages of climate change for the communities so affected.
As Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has a unique insight into the factors that make nuclear power plants dangerous even after so-called “safe” shutdown. The Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 4 knows, too, that the arguments levied against renewables are ultimately incorrect, as technology to store energy and to rechannel it is growing by leaps and bounds. Investing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into maintaining old nuclear reactors, which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they age, is simply stealing money away from investments in the renewable revolution that is our best hope for a sustainable energy future.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | radiation, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

How does plutonium affect human health?

TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR PLUTONIUM , Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine/Applied Toxicology Branch,  Atlanta, Georgia

” …….Plutonium may remain in the lungs or move to the bones, liver, or other body organs. It generally stays in the body for decades and continues to expose the surrounding tissues to radiation. Lung, liver, and bone cancer You may develop cancer depending on how much plutonium is in your body and for how long it remains in your body. The types of cancers you would most likely develop are cancers of the lung, bones, and liver…….

The risks of mortality and morbidity from bone and liver cancers have also been studied in Mayak workers. Increasing estimated plutonium body burden was associated with increasing liver cancer mortality, with higher risk in females compared to males…….

Cardiovascular Effects. Epidemiological Studies in Humans. Possible associations between exposure to plutonium and cardiovascular disease have been examined in studies of workers at production and/or processing facilities in the United Kingdom (Sellafield)……..  within a cohort of Sellafield workers   morality rate ratios for plutonium workers were significantly elevated for deaths from circulatory disease and ischemic heart disease . ….

the Mayak studies provide evidence for increased risk of cancer mortality (bone, liver, lung) in association with increased internal plutonium-derived radiation dose and/or body burden, with approximately 4-fold higher risks in females compared to males…….

Risks of mortality and morbidity from bone and liver cancers have also been studied in Mayak workers ….. Increasing estimated plutonium body burden was associated with increasing cancer mortality, with higher risk in females compared to males…..

U.K. Atomic Energy Authority and Atomic Weapons Establishment Workers. ………..The mortality rate ratio was significantly elevated for breast cancer  and cerebrovascular disease  in a cohort of female Sellafield workers identified as plutonium workers……..

Comparisons of mortality rates between plutonium workers and other radiation workers yielded significantly elevated mortality rate ratios for all deaths , all cancers , breast cancer, circulatory disease , and ischemic heart disease.

GENOTOXICITY Abundant information is available regarding the genotoxicity of ionizing radiation……….Although epidemiological studies do not provide conclusive evidence that plutonium produces genetic damage in humans, results of some studies provide suggestive evidence of dose-related increases in chromosomal aberrations in plutonium workers with measurable internalized plutonium……. ……https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp143.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1iffNMF8xj33aBhDW-zhtFzPejF0eNlQ5QUaIgxBhCcujUKU0XRC8NvMc

January 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference | 1 Comment

New nuclear technology is NOT a solution to climate change

Debate Continues: Can New Technology Save Nuclear Power?   Power, 01/01/2019 | Kennedy Maize.………Are advanced nuclear reactor designs the answer to the decades-long doldrums for nuclear power? For the U.S., a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel led by long-time nuclear advocate M. Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon University, issued a pessimistic report last July—US nuclear power: The vanishing low-carbon wedge.

The academy’s report found, “While advanced reactor designs are sometimes held up as a potential solution to nuclear power’s challenges, our assessment of the advanced fission enterprise suggests that no US design will be commercialized before midcentury.” That’s a chilling indictment for all advanced LWRs. The crux of the Morgan report is an assessment that the economic hurdles for nuclear in the U.S. are insurmountable.………

Peter Bradford, a veteran electric utility regulator and nuclear skeptic who served on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from 1977 to 1982, agrees that nuclear power in the U.S. is priced out of the market. “Even if, for once, they could contain or level out the costs,” he told POWER, “new nuclear is so far outside the competitive range. They have to cut costs and they can’t cut costs without building a bunch [of reactors]. That really isn’t in the cards.”

Nor does Bradford see new nuclear as a way to combat global warming. “Even if it is scaled up much faster than anything now in prospect, it cannot provide more than 10% to 15% of the greenhouse gas displacement that is likely to be needed by mid-century. Not only can nuclear power not stop global warming, it is probably not even an essential part of the solution to global warming,” he wrote in 2006. Since then, he argues, the declining costs of renewables and energy efficiency swamp nuclear economics even further.

While advocates call for setting a price on carbon to reward carbon-free generation, Bradford said that is a weak reed. “At any given level” of carbon prices, he said, “it is going to wind up benefiting renewables and storage,” not nuclear. A reasonable carbon price, he argued, “might not be enough to keep existing plants running.”

SMRs to the Rescue?…. 

while smaller nuclear reactors are an appealing technological approach to keeping nuclear in the generating mix, they come with their own set of problems.

On closer inspection, said the NAS panel, “Our results reveal that while one light water SMR module would indeed cost much less than a large LWR, it is highly likely that the cost per unit of power will be higher. In other words, light water SMRs do make nuclear power more affordable but not necessarily more economically competitive for power generation.”

Given the “economic premium” of SMRs, along with “the considerable regulatory burden associated with any nuclear reactor, we do not see a clear path forward for the United States to deploy sufficient numbers of SMRs in the electric power sector to make a significant contribution to greenhouse gas mitigation by the middle of this century,” the report says. Economist Kee echoed that conclusion. When it comes to SMRs, he said there “is a lot of work to do and not much time to do it.”

SMRs also face a challenge of demonstrating their viability: Making an economic or climate impact requires many reactors. Neil Alexander, a Canadian nuclear consultant, wrote recently, “Everything about SMRs such as the cost of construction, availability of fuel, cost of shared services, availability of trained operators, and cost of research needed to resolve emerging challenges, only work economically when the unit is in a fleet. A FOAK [first-of-a-kind] cannot stand alone and the barrier to entry that the industry faces is more akin to the ‘First Dozen of a Kind.’ ”

Portland, Oregon-based NuScale appears to be the leader in developing SMR technology (Figure 4 on original). It is taking Alexander’s advice. NuScale has a customer for a 12-unit (720-MW) station: Utah Associated Municipal Power System (UAMPS), which has a site at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho National Laboratory (INL). UAMPS will own the project and Energy Northwest, a municipal joint action agency that operates the Columbia nuclear station near Richland, Washington, will run the plant. Columbia is a 1,100-MW boiling water reactor.

NuScale recently selected BWX Technologies (BWXT) of Lynchburg, Virginia, to begin engineering work leading up to the manufacture of the 60-MW NuScale reactors. BWXT, created after reactor builder Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) emerged from bankruptcy in 2006, has deep experience in the U.S. naval reactor program. NuScale has received a commitment of some $200 million from the DOE. Global engineering firm Fluor Corp. is the majority investor in NuScale.

Ironically, BWXT was the early leader in the SMR race, with its 195-MW mPower pressurized water reactor design. After spending some $400 million on the mPower venture (including $100 million from the DOE), B&W declared it officially dead in March 2017. Rod Adams, who worked on the project for B&W, had this epitaph for the mPower project, “There was simply too much work left to do, too much money left to invest, and an insufficient level of interest in the product to allow continued expenditures to clear corporate decision hurdles.”

NuScale still has a long way to go to demonstrate the validity of its SMR. The company said it expects the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will approve the NuScale reactor design in September 2020. UAMPS will also have to get NRC approval for a combined construction and operating license for the site at INL. Nonetheless, NuScale’s optimistic schedule projects commercial operation “by the mid-2020s.”

Past experience suggests that nuclear construction schedules are made to be broken. SMRs pose unique challenges to federal regulators, both in the reactor designs and in operational issues such as staffing levels and communications among 12 discrete units, particularly if they are used to follow load. Additionally, power prices in the Western U.S. are already low and natural gas is driving them lower.

Recognizing the challenges to deploying SMRs, the DOE in November issued a report suggesting state standards and incentives, modeled on those boosting renewables, be applied to SMR technology. But, as POWER reported, “To make a meaningful impact, nearly $10 billion in incentives would be needed to deploy 6 GW of SMR capacity by 2035.”

Beyond the LWR?

Several efforts are in place to replace conventional LWRs with other approaches to splitting atoms to generate power. Admittedly longshots, these build-on technologies go back to the early days of civilian nuclear power, and were previously abandoned in favor of the proven LWR designs.

The highest profile of the LWR apostates is TerraPower, based in Bellevue, Washington, and backed by Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Bill Gates. [ Ed note: TerraPower has now abandoned this joint project with China] Founded in 2006, TerraPower is working on a liquid-sodium-cooled breeder-burner machine that can run on uranium waste, while it generates power and plutonium, with the plutonium used to generate more power, all in a continuous process.

Liquid sodium has advantages over pressurized water as a coolant, including better heat transfer. It also does not act as a moderator to slow neutrons, which allows for breeding plutonium. Sodium coolant has its own set of problems. Sodium catches fire when exposed to oxygen so coolant leaks can be devastating, as has happened in the past.

Nuclear power father Adm. Hyman Rickover, after a bad experience with the Seawolf-class submarine sodium-cooled reactor—the second subs to use LWR technology after the USS Nautilus—commented that sodium-cooled systems were “expensive to build, complex to operate, susceptible to prolonged shutdown as a result of even minor malfunctions, and difficult and time-consuming to repair.” TerraPower hopes to have commercial machines operating in the late 2020s, but industry insiders have reported that the company’s prototype reactor being built in China has experienced major problems.

Another approach to bypass LWRs is the molten salt reactor, long a favorite of nuclear pioneer Alvin Weinberg. A Canadian firm, Terrestrial Energy, is pushing a 190-MW SMR design using the technology Weinberg developed at Oak Ridge National Lab in the mid-1960s. Molten salt technology operates at close to atmospheric temperature and combines the fuel and the coolant. Terrestrial plans to use the technology to power an SMR, with a target date for the late 2020s. Molten salt poses new engineering challenges for nuclear reactors. One nuclear observer commented, “I prefer solid fuel” to the liquid fuel-coolant in the molten salt reactor.

Finally, developers are looking at abandoning uranium as the primary nuclear fuel. Instead, the idea is to use thorium, one of the most-common elements on the planet. Thorium is a slightly radioactive metal. But thorium is not fissile—able to undergo nuclear fission—so it has to be irradiated with enriched uranium in order to be transmuted into fissile U-233.

Thorium’s chief attribute is that the fuel is so plentiful. Terrestrial Energy has shown interest in using thorium in its molten salt reactors, along with low-enriched uranium that is used in the design it is pursuing in Canada. Skeptics suggest that thorium is an answer in search of a question, given the easy availability of uranium, particularly in seawater. Uranium shortages, forecast in the 1960s when advocates first suggested using thorium, have never materialized.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is currently wrapping up a study of the new, non-LWR reactor designs. Physicist Ed Lyman, a veteran UCS staffer, told POWER, “Our overall conclusion is that vendors, DOE, and advocates are greatly exaggerating the benefits” of the technologies. “The whole landscape is not compelling. We question whether the best direction for nuclear power is to go off on these more exotic tangents,” rather than focus on making LWRs cheaper and safer. “That’s potentially a better near term” investment, he said.

The original generations of civilian nuclear power failed to live up to their promises. The U.S. nuclear industry stalled in the mid-1970s and has not recovered, despite repeated government and industry attempts at a restart.

Gen III reactors were aimed at overcoming the perceived safety and economic shortcomings of the original machines. As those new designs appear to be falling short, attention has shifted to SMRs or new approaches that abandon traditional light-water technology. Whether they will live up to their billing remains a serious, open question. ■

Kennedy Maize is a long-time energy journalist and frequent contributor to POWER. https://www.powermag.com/debate-continues-can-new-technology-save-nuclear-power/?pagenum=1 

 

January 5, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Tons of methane being released into atmosphere by melting ice sheets

Melting ice sheets release tons of methane into the atmosphere, study finds https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/uob-mis010319.php, 3-JAN-2019

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL MELTING ICE SHEETS RELEASE TONS OF METHANE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE, STUDY FINDS

The Greenland Ice Sheet emits tons of methane according to a new study, showing that subglacial biological activity impacts the atmosphere far more than previously thought.

An international team of researchers led by the University of Bristol camped for three months next to the Greenland Ice Sheet, sampling the meltwater that runs off a large catchment (> 600 km2) of the Ice Sheet during the summer months.

As reported in Nature, using novel sensors to measure methane in meltwater runoff in real time, they observed that methane was continuously exported from beneath the ice.

They calculated that at least six tons of methane was transported to their measuring site from this portion of the Ice Sheet alone, roughly the equivalent of the methane released by up to 100 cows.

Professor Jemma Wadham, Director of Bristol’s Cabot Institute for the Environment, who led the investigation, said: “A key finding is that much of the methane produced beneath the ice likely escapes the Greenland Ice Sheet in large, fast flowing rivers before it can be oxidized to CO2, a typical fate for methane gas which normally reduces its greenhouse warming potency.”

Methane gas (CH4) is the third most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere after water vapour and carbon dioxide (CO2). Although, present in lower concentrations that CO2, methane is approximately 20-28 times more potent. Therefore smaller quantities have the potential to cause disproportionate impacts on atmospheric temperatures. Most of the Earth’s methane is produced by microorganisms that convert organic matter to CH4 in the absence of oxygen, mostly in wetlands and on agricultural land, for instance in the stomachs of cows and rice paddies. The remainder comes from fossil fuels like natural gas.

While some methane had been detected previously in Greenland ice cores and in an Antarctic Subglacial Lake, this is the first time that meltwaters produced in spring and summer in large ice sheet catchments have been reported to continuously flush out methane from the ice sheet bed to the atmosphere.

Lead author, Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, from Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, said: “What is also striking is the fact that we’ve found unequivocal evidence of a widespread subglacial microbial system. Whilst we knew that methane-producing microbes likely were important in subglacial environments, how important and widespread they truly were was debatable. Now we clearly see that active microorganisms, living under kilometres of ice, are not only surviving, but likely impacting other parts of the Earth system. This subglacial methane is essentially a biomarker for life in these isolated habitats.”

Most studies on Arctic methane sources focus on permafrost, because these frozen soils tend to hold large reserves of organic carbon that could be converted to methane when they thaw due to climate warming. This latest study shows that ice sheet beds, which hold large reserves of carbon, liquid water, microorganisms and very little oxygen – the ideal conditions for creating methane gas – are also atmospheric methane sources.

Co-researcher Dr Elizabeth Bagshaw from Cardiff University added: “The new sensor technologies that we used give us a window into this previously unseen part of the glacial environment. Continuous measurement of meltwater enables us to improve our understanding of how these fascinating systems work and how they impact the rest of the planet.”

With Antarctica holding the largest ice mass on the planet, researchers say their findings make a case for turning the spotlight to the south. Mr Lamarche-Gagnon added: “Several orders of magnitude more methane has been hypothesized to be capped beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet than beneath Arctic ice-masses. Like we did in Greenland, it’s time to put more robust numbers on the theory.”

This study was a collaboration between Bristol University, Charles University (Czechia), the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, Newcastle University, the University of Toronto (Canada), the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Cardiff University (UK), and Kongsberg Maritime Contros (Germany). It was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), with additional funds from the Leverhulme Trust, the Czech Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Fond de Recherche Nature et Technologies du Québec (Canada).

Paper: ‘Greenland melt drives continuous export of methane from the ice sheet bed’ by Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, Jemma L. Wadham, et al. Nature, Doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0800-0

January 5, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

Scientists support feasibility of 100%renewable-electricity systems, refute the nuclear lobby’s “Burden of Proof” paper

 

Christina’s note: “Burden of Proof”comes from a very small, but very vocal, Australian pro nuclear shill.

 

Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’ Science Direct Volume 92, September 2018, Pages 834-847 lT.W.BrownabT.Bischof-NiemzcK.BlokdC.BreyereH.LundfB.V.Mathieseng   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2018.04.113

December 31, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Numerous nuclear accidents at sea (doesn’t inspire confidence for nuclear-powered space travel)

Explosive Accidents: The Lost Nuclear Arsenal at the Bottom of the Sea https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/09/03/nuclear-arsenal/?fbclid=IwAR1dPU13kVGGrYK–PFmFciWyMO28xaa1nU7OFMlC7UfuQwjMFh4

Sep 3, 2018 Ian Harvey In July of 2018, Andrew Thaler wrote for Southern Fried Science that there were at least two nuclear capsules, four unarmed weapons, and one armed nuclear weapon sitting on the ocean floor, that he was aware of.

His information was based on declassified U.S. Department of Defense narrative summaries of accidents involving U.S. nuclear weapons.

He noted that the documents he had access to only covered the period of time between 1950 and 1980. Any more recent data would still be classified. There is reason to believe that his estimated numbers for nuclear material in the oceans are far too low.

Business Insider in 2013 wrote that since 1950 there have been 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as Broken Arrows, where an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons resulted in the firing, launching, theft, or loss of said weapon.

BI reported in this piece that there were six nuclear weapons that have been lost and never recovered. The time frames for the BI list continued into the 2000’s, but this is also a lowball number.

According to a 1989 article in the New York Times, however, there have been at least 50 nuclear warheads and nine reactors scattered on the ocean floors since 1956.

These were the result of various accidents on the part of U.S. and Soviet bombers, ships, and rockets, according to a study of naval accidents that was published by Greenpeace and the Institute for Policy Studies.

The study outlines 1,276 accidents, both nuclear and non-nuclear, on the part of the world’s navies, and has some, more limited, information on another 1,000 accidents. The study points out that the total number of incidents amounts to one major peacetime accident a week

Information for the study was gathered mostly through the Freedom of Information Act, which included American intelligence assessments of Soviet naval accidents.

Eighty days after it fell into the ocean following the January 1966 midair collision between a nuclear-armed B-52G bomber and a KC-135 refueling tanker over Palomares, Spain, this B28RI nuclear bomb was recovered from 2,850 feet (869 meters) of water and lifted aboard the USS Petrel (note the missing tail fins and badly dented “false nose”).

The authors also received information from the governments of other nations. The report said that the worst accident occurred in 1986, when a Soviet submarine sank 600 miles northeast of the Bermuda coast, depositing two nuclear reactors and 32 nuclear warheads on the bottom of the ocean.

That one accident left more nuclear material under the sea than the authors of the first two pieces posited, combined. The study also notes that it doesn’t reflect data on any of the “many hundreds” of Soviet accidents about which little is known, and suggested that the Soviet Navy has far more accidents than those of America.

The accidents are, for the most part, due to human factors, ranging from issues of faulty navigation to outright sabotage.

So far, the U.S. has admitted to knowing of one hydrogen bomb that is leaking radioactive material. That bomb was accidentally dropped into the sea south of Japan in 1965 by an aircraft carrier.

Read another story from us: The Missing Nuclear Weapons Lost Off The Coast Of Bermuda

There is some likelihood that other bombs may have also begun to leak radiation into the water, and are just unknown as yet. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, the chances of such leaks will increase over time as the weapons degrade, having the potential to cause untold harm to the oceans and our planet as a whole.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | incidents, oceans, Reference | 1 Comment

High Iodine distribution, low intake among children after Fukushima nuclear accident

 https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/thyroid/news/in-the-journals/%7B33ecf315-c68e-474b-aeda-81c5271d2371%7D/high-iodine-distribution-low-intake-among-children-after-fukushima-nuclear-accident    Despite a high distribution rate of stable iodine after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, only 63.5% of parents reported children took the tablets, with many citing safety concerns in questionnaires, according to findings published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism.

The intake of stable iodine after a nuclear emergency is a key strategy for preventing childhood thyroid cancer, along with evacuation and other measures, Yoshitaka Nishikawa, MD, a physician and medical researcher in the department of internal medicine at Hirata Central Hospital in Fukushima, Japan, and colleagues wrote in the study background. The timing of iodine administration is optimally between 24 hours before and up to 2 hours after the expected onset of exposure, they noted; however, iodine is still reasonably effective when taken up to 8 hours later. To date, there is limited information about the acceptability and feasibility of implementation of iodine distribution in actual cases, they wrote.

“To prepare for future nuclear emergencies, investigations of the operational issues in an actual case are needed,” the researchers wrote.

In a retrospective, observational study, Nishikawa and colleagues analyzed data from 961 children from Miharu, a town in Fukushima prefecture, who underwent biennial thyroid screenings at Hirata Central Hospital between August and November 2017 (median age at time of accident, 5 years). In addition to the Fukushima Health Management Survey, Miharu has continued thyroid screenings for all primary and secondary school students.

In Miharu, health care professionals distributed stable iodine to 3,134 households (94.9% distribution rate) after explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant caused by the 2011 earthquake in eastern Japan, along with instructions provided by the local government. Screening and questionnaire records included age of participants at the time of the nuclear accident, sex, region of residence before the accident, whether the participant was evacuated, whether the child and parents took stable iodine orally after the accident and dietary habits, including iodine intake. Researchers used logistic regression models to identify factors associated with stable iodine intake.

Within the cohort, 610 children (63.5%) had taken stable iodine, according to questionnaire data.

Researchers found that children were more likely to take stable iodine provided after the accident if their parents took stable iodine (OR = 61; 95% CI, 37.9-102.9). Compared with preschool and school-aged children, infants (aged 2 years or younger) were less likely to take stable iodine (OR = 0.21; 95% CI, 0.11-0.36).

In assessing questionnaire data from parents who reported children did not take stable iodine (n = 351), concern about safety was the most frequent reason provided (n = 164; 46.2%), followed by evacuation to other areas, no national or prefectural instruction and iodine not being delivered.

“Qualitative analysis revealed that concern about safety was the major reason for avoiding intake,” the researchers wrote. “Other issues related to distribution methods, information about the effects and adverse events and instruction about intake. In future nuclear disasters, it would be important to explain to both children and parents the effects and adverse effects of iodine intake and to provide detailed instructions about the intake of iodine by infants.” – by Regina Schaffer

DisclosuresThe authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | children, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear nightmare -the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant

UK’s dream is now its nuclear nightmare https://climatenewsnetwork.net/uks-dream-is-now-its-nuclear-nightmare/?fbclid=IwAR3CEunSXXOxdK_-N8Ka9kwpCMzvHFXNkZf23VGjd6oFuDecember 14, 2018, by Paul Brown 

Nobody knows what to do with a vast uranium and plutonium stockpile built up in the UK by reprocessing spent fuel. It is now a nuclear nightmare.

LONDON, 14 December, 2018 − Thirty years ago it seemed like a dream: now it is a nuclear nightmare. A project presented to the world in the 1990s by the UK government as a £2.85 billion triumph of British engineering, capable of recycling thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel into reusable uranium and plutonium is shutting down – with its role still controversial.

Launched amid fears of future uranium shortages and plans to use the plutonium produced from the plant to feed a generation of fast breeder reactors, the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, known as THORP, was thought to herald a rapid expansion of the industry.

In the event there were no uranium shortages, fast breeder reactors could not be made to work, and nuclear new build of all kinds stalled. Despite this THORP continued as if nothing had happened, recycling thousands of tons of uranium and producing 56 tons of plutonium that no one wants. The plutonium, once the world’s most valuable commodity, is now classed in Britain as “an asset of zero value.” Continue reading

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, UK, wastes | 2 Comments

Amazon planning to run a “global brain” for the Pentagon.

To understand the implications of JEDI, we must realize that the information being gathered and sorted will inevitably be used for the targeting and killing of not only opposing government-based military forces, but also nongovernmental individuals and groups who are viewed as political or potential military threats by the US.

The transfer of a massive amount of military information into a privately owned and built cloud, as will happen with the creation of JEDI, raises the possibility that the owner or owners of that cloud will — because of their knowledge of the cloud structure, capabilities and content — become more powerful than military and elected officials.

“Alexa, Drop a Bomb”: Amazon Wants in on US Warfare, Nick Mottern, Truthout     https://truthout.org/articles/alexa-drop-a-bomb-amazon-wants-in-on-us-warfare/December 16, 2018 

Amazon is seeking to build a global “brain” for the Pentagon called JEDI, a weapon of unprecedented surveillance and killing power, a profoundly aggressive weapon that should not be allowed to be created.

Founded in 1994 as an online book seller, Amazon is now the world’s largest online retailer, with more than 300 million customers worldwide, and net sales of $178 billion in 2017.

Amazon has built a vast, globally distributed data storage capacity and sophisticated artificial intelligence programs to propel its retail business that it hopes to use to win a $10 billion Pentagon contract to create the aforementioned “brain” that goes by the project name Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, a moniker obviously concocted to yield the Star Wars acronym — JEDI.

As of the October 12, 2018, deadline for submitting proposals for JEDI, Amazon is the betting favorite for the contract, which will go to just one bidder, in spite of protests by competitors, chief among them Microsoft and IBM. The Pentagon appears likely to select a winner for the contract in 2019.

Jedi Powers? Continue reading

December 17, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive reindeer in Finland and Norway

Rudolph the radioactive reindeer https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/12/16/rudolph-the-radioactive-reindeer/ December 16, 2018

Dosed by Chernobyl and atomic tests, reindeer and their herders are carrying a heavy nuclear burden, By Linda Pentz GunterFallout from Soviet atomic bomb tests over the Arctic Ocean, compounded by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, have left reindeer too radioactive to eat, even today. That may be good news for the reindeer, sort of. But it’s bad news for the indigenous Laplanders in Finland and Sami herders in Norway, who carry high levels of radiation in their own bodies as well as in the reindeer on which they depend for sustenance and sales.

Reindeer carry heavy radioactive doses, mainly of cesium-137, because they devour lichen, moss and fungi, which bioaccumulate radioactive deposits from fallout. Norway’s radioactive contamination is primarily from Chernobyl, made worse because it was snowing heavily at the time of the April 26 accident. 

The Sami story is beautifully explained in this stunning photo essay by Amos Chapple and Wojtek Grojec for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

As the essay describes it, despite the length of time since the Chernobyl disaster, the fallout is a nasty gift that keeps on giving. “In 2014, there was a huge spike in radiation levels that scientists put down to a bumper season for mushrooms. Hundreds of Norwegian reindeer intended for slaughter had to be released back into the wild.”  Levels apparently shot from 1,500 becquerels per kilogram to 8,200.

A video of Chapple and Grojec’s work, on Tech Insider, also explains the impact of cesium-137 fallout on reindeer and their herders. [0n originall] 

Unfortunately, Norway’s “allowable” radiation standards are far higher than in other parts of Europe, at 3,000 becquerels per kilogram of food compared to the EU standard of 600 becquerels. When Chapple and Grojec were compiling their story, the herd they visited was testing at 2,100 becquerels, passing the Norwegian test for “safe”. The authors say that the higher levels were established by the Norwegian government in “response to radiation levels in reindeer that threatened the very existence of the Sami herders.”

This practice of simply moving the radiation goalposts to make dangerous levels safe still goes on today, of course, most notably in Japan. As was pointed out in an earlier story on our site, the Japanese government, eager to show the world that the Fukushima region could quickly be made safe for habitation, simply raised the “allowable” annual exposure rate from 1 millisievert to 20, an entirely unacceptable dose for most people, especially women and children.

In Finland, most of the persistent radiation levels are due to atomic testing during the Cold War. Measurements continue to be taken among the Lapland reindeer herders where cesium levels are ten times higher than in the rest of Finland. Although cesium levels in humans were a shocking 45,000 becquerels per kilo in the 1960s according to one report, they still hover at over 1,000 today.

The reduction in slaughter of reindeer comes with other side effects as well. As far back as 1997, it was already being observed that the increase in reindeer population, leading to “Over-grazing and trampling, is causing more damage to the fragile tundra than some of the world’s most seriously polluting factories,” wrote Geoffrey Lean in The Independent.

Now, as Russia begins using floating nuclear reactors to plunder the Arctic Ocean for oil, the region has been placed under threat of a radioactive catastrophe again. From both an economic and health perspective, neither the reindeer nor their indigenous herders can afford a second assault.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | environment, Finland, Reference | 1 Comment

The drying of soils due to climate change is shrinking the world’s water supply

The long dry: why the world’s water supply is shrinking, EurekAlert, : 13-DEC-2018

Global water supplies are shrinking, even as rainfall is rising; the culprit? The drying of soils due to climate change

UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry.

The study – the most exhaustive global analysis of rainfall and rivers – was conducted by a team led by Professor Ashish Sharma at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. It relied on actual data from 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites in 160 countries, instead of basing its findings on model simulations of a future climate, which can be uncertain and at times questionable

“This is something that has been missed,” said Sharma, an ARC Future Fellow at UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “We expected rainfall to increase, since warmer air stores more moisture – and that is what climate models predicted too. What we did not expect is that, despite all the extra rain everywhere in the world, is that the large rivers are drying out.

“We believe the cause is the drying of soils in our catchments. Where once these were moist before a storm event – allowing excess rainfall to run-off into rivers – they are now drier and soak up more of the rain, so less water makes it as flow.

“Less water into our rivers means less water for cities and farms. And drier soils means farmers need more water to grow the same crops. Worse, this pattern is repeated all over the world, assuming serious proportions in places that were already dry. It is extremely concerning,” he added.

For every 100 raindrops that fall on land, only 36 drops are ‘blue water’ – the rainfall that enters lakes, rivers and aquifers – and therefore, all the water extracted for human needs. The remaining two thirds of rainfall is mostly retained as soil moisture – known as ‘green water’ – and used by the landscape and the ecosystem.

As warming temperatures cause more water to evaporate from soils, those dry soils are absorbing more of the rainfall when it does occur – leaving less ‘blue water’ for human use.

“It’s a double whammy,” said Sharma. “Less water is ending up where we can store it for later use. At the same time, more rain is overwhelming drainage infrastructure in towns and cities, leading to more urban flooding.”

Professor Mark Hoffman, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering, welcomed Sharma’s research and called for a global conversation about how to deal with this unfolding scenario, especially in Australia, which is already the driest inhabited continent (apart from Antarctica).

“It’s clear there’s no simple fix, so we need to start preparing for this,” he said. “Climate change keeps delivering us unpleasant surprises. Nevertheless, as engineers, our role is to identify the problem and develop solutions. Knowing the problem is often half the battle, and this study has definitely identified some major ones.”

The findings were made over the past four years, in research that appeared in Nature GeoscienceGeophysical Research LettersScientific Reports and, most recently, in the American Geophysical Union’s Water Resources Research………..

Sharma said the answer was not just more dams. “Re-engineering solutions are not simple, they have to be analysed on a region-by-region basis, looking at the costs and the benefits, looking at the change expected into the future, while also studying past projects so mistakes are not repeated. There are no silver bullets. Any large-scale re-engineering project will require significant investment, but the cost of inaction could be monstrous.”

In urban areas, the reverse will be needed: flooding is becoming more common and more intense. Global economic losses from flooding have risen from an average of $500 million a year in the 1980s to around $20 billion annually by 2010; by 2013, this rose to more than US$50 billion. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects this to more than double in the next 20 years as extreme storms and rainfall intensify and growing numbers of people move into urban centres.

Adapting to this is possible, but will require large-scale re-engineering of many cities, says Sharma. “Tokyo used to get clobbered by floods every year, but they built a massive underground tank beneath the city that stores the floodwater, and releases it later. You never see floods there now.” https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-12/uons-tld121118.php

December 15, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

How France multiplies hazardous nuclear waste.

Reporterre 11th Dec 2018  Claiming to ” recycle ” used nuclear fuel, the reprocessing industry complicates the management of waste by increasing the amount of plutonium and hazardous materials.
Most countries engaged in this dead-end way come out … but not France.
According to the official communication, the reprocessing does not generate
contamination, only ” authorized discharges ” . They are spit by the
chimneys, dumped at the end of a pipe buried in the Channel.
In reality, according to the independent expert Mycle Schneider, ” the plant is
authorized to reject 20,000 times more radioactive rare gases and more than
500 times the amount of liquid tritium that only one of the Flamanville
reactors located 15 km away. ” . It contributes ” almost half to the
radiological impact of all civilian nuclear installations in Europe ” .
https://reporterre.net/Comment-la-France-multiplie-les-dechets-nucleaires-dangereux

December 13, 2018 Posted by | France, Reference, reprocessing, wastes | 2 Comments

No answer to clean up Washington’s Hanford nuclear site

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

New nuclear power plants, prolong existing ones – to solve global warming?

Evaluation of Nuclear Power as a Proposed Solution to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security In 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything Textbook in Preparation Mark Z. Jacobson December 10, 2018 Contact: Jacobson@stanford.edu; Twitter @mzjacobson
Summary In evaluating solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security, two important questions arise are (1) should new nuclear plants be built to help solve these problems, and (2) should existing, aged nuclear plants be kept open as long as possible to help solve these problems? To answer these questions, the main risks associated with nuclear power are examined.
The risks associated with nuclear power can be broken down into two categories: (1) risks affecting its ability to reduce global warming and air pollution and (2) risks affecting its ability to provide energy and environmental (aside from climate and air pollution) security. Risks in the former category include delays between planning and operation, emissions contributing to global warming and outdoor air pollution, and costs. Risks in the latter category include weapons proliferation risk, reactor meltdown risk, radioactive waste risk, and mining cancer and land despoilment risks. These risks are discussed, in this section. Here are additional specific findings:
New nuclear power plants cost over 3.5 times those per kWh of onshore wind or utility solar PV, take 7-14 years longer between planning and operation, and produce 9 to 37 times the emissions per unit electricity generated.
As such, a fix amount of money spent on a new nuclear plant means much less power generation, a much longer wait for power, and much greater emission rate than the same money spent on WWS technologies.
There is no such thing as a zero- or close-to-zero emission nuclear power plant. Even existing plants emit due to the continuous mining and refining of uranium needed for the plant. However, all plants also emit 4.4 g-CO2e/kWh from the water vapor and heat of reaction they release. This contrasts with solar panels and wind turbines, which reduce heat or water vapor fluxes to the air by ~2.2 gCO2e/kWh for a net difference from this factor alone of 6.6 g-CO2e/kWh.
On top of that, because all nuclear reactors take 10-19 years or more between planning and operation vs. 2-5 year for a utility solar or wind plant, nuclear emits 64-102 g-CO2/kWh more over 100 years just due emissions from the background grid waiting for it to come online or be refurbished vs. a wind or solar farm.
 Overall, emissions from new nuclear are 78-178 g-CO2/kWh, not close to 0   [detailed chart on original, compares emissions from various technologies]…….
  3.3. Why Nuclear Power Represents an Opportunity Cost In evaluating solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security, two important questions arise are (1) should new nuclear plants be built to help solve these problems, and (2) should existing, aged nuclear plants be kept open as long as possible to help solve these problems? To answer these questions, the main risks associated with nuclear power are first examined. The risks associated with nuclear power can be broken down into two categories: (1) risks affecting its ability to reduce global warming and air pollution and (2) risks affecting its ability to provide energy and environmental (aside from climate and air pollution) security. Risks in the former category include delays between planning and operation, emissions contributing to global warming and outdoor air pollution, and costs. Risks in the latter category include weapons proliferation risk, reactor meltdown risk, radioactive waste risk, and mining cancer and land despoilment risks. These risks are discussed, in this section. ………..
3.3.1. Risks Affecting the Ability of Nuclear Power to Address Global Warming and Air Pollution The first category of risk associated with nuclear power includes risks affecting nuclear power’s ability to reduce global warming and air pollution. These risks include the long lag time between planning and operating and for refurbishing a nuclear reactor, nuclear’s higher carbon equivalent emissions than WWS technologies, and nuclear’s high costs.
3.3.1.1. Delays Between Planning and Operation and Due to Refurbishing Reactors As discussed in Section 3.2.2, the longer the time lag between the planning and operation of an energy facility, the more the air pollution and climate-relevant emissions from the background electric power grid. Similarly, the longer the time required to refurbish a plant for continued use at the end of its life, the greater the emissions from the background grid while the plant is down. The time between planning and operation of a nuclear power plant includes the time to obtain a site, a construction permit, financing, and insurance; the time between construction permit approval and issue; and the construction time of the plant.
In March 2007, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first request for a site permit in 30 years. This process took 3.5 years. The time to review and approve a construction permit is another 2 years and the time between the construction permit approval and issue is about 0.5 years. Thus, the minimum time for preconstruction approvals (and financing) in the United States is 6 years. An estimated maximum time is 10 years. The time to construct a nuclear reactor depends significantly on regulatory requirements and costs. Although recent nuclear reactor construction times worldwide are often shorter than the 9-year median construction times in the United States since 1970 (Koomey and Hultman, 2007), they still averaged 6.5 years worldwide in 2007 (Ramana, 2009). As such, a reasonable range estimate for construction time is 4-9 years, bringing the overall estimated time between planning and operation of a nuclear power plant worldwide from 10-19 years.
An examination of some recent nuclear plant developments confirms that this range is not only reasonable, but is an underestimate in at least one case. The Olkiluoto 3 reactor in Finland was proposed to the Finnish cabinet in December 2000 to be added to an existing nuclear power plant. Its latest estimated completion date is 2020, giving a planning-to-operation (PTO) time of 20 years. The Hinkley Point nuclear plant was planned starting in 2008 and, as of 2019, has an estimated completion year of 2025-27, giving it a PTO time of 17-19 years. The Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors in Georgia were first proposed in August 2006 to be added to an existing site. The anticipated completion dates are November 2021 and November 2022, respectively, given them PTO times of 15 and 16 years, respectively. The Haiyang 1 and 2 reactors in China were planned starting in 2005. Construction started in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Haiyang 1 was commissioned October 22, 2018 and Haiyang 2 is expected in 2019, giving them construction times of 9 years and PTO times of 13 and 14 years, respectively. The Taishan 1 and 2 reactors in China were bid in 2006. Construction began in 2008. Taishan 1 was connected to the grid in August 2018 and Taishan 2 is not expected to be connected until 2019, giving them construction times of 10 and 11 years and PTO times of 12 and 13 years, respectively. Planning and procurement for four reactors in Ringhals, Sweden started in 1965. One took 10 years, the second took 11 years, the third took 16 years, and the fourth took 18 years to complete. In sum, PTO times for both recent and historic nuclear plants have mostly been in the range of 10-19 years.
…….. 3.3.1.2. Global Warming Relevant Emissions From Nuclear Nuclear power contributes to global warming in the following ways: (1) Emissions from the background grid due to its long planning-to-operation times and refurbishment times (Section 3.2.2.1), (2) its lifecycle emissions (constructing, operating, and decommissioning the plant), (3) emissions from its heat and water vapor emissions (Sections 3.2.2.2 and 3.2.2.3), (4) emissions due to covering soil or clearing vegetation due to it (Section 3.2.2.5), and (5) the risk of emissions due to nuclear weapons proliferation (Section 3.3.2.1). Every one of these categories represents an actual emission or emission risk, yet most of these emissions, except for lifecycle emissions, are incorrectly ignored in virtually all lifecycle studies, thereby distorting the impacts on climate associated with some technologies over others.
Table 3.5 [ on original] summarizes the CO2e emissions from nuclear power from each of the five categories ….
Emissions from the heat and water vapor fluxes from nuclear (totaling 4.4 g-CO2-kWh) alone suggest that during the life of an existing nuclear power plant, nuclear can never be a zero-carbon-equivalent technology, even if its lifecycle emissions from mining and refining uranium were zero. On the other hand, the emissions from nuclear due to covering and clearing soil are relatively small (0.17-0.28 g-CO2e/kWh). Finally, Table 3.5 provides a low estimate (zero) and a high estimate (1.4 g-CO2e/kWh) for the 100-year risk of CO2e emissions associated with nuclear weapons proliferation due to nuclear energy. This issue is discussed in Section 3.3.2.1
The total CO2e emissions from nuclear power in Table 3.5 are 78 to 178 g-CO2e/kWh. These emissions are 7.2-25 times the emissions from onshore wind power. Although the emissions are lower than from coal and natural gas with carbon capture, nuclear power’s high CO2e emissions coupled with its long planning-tooperation time render it an opportunity cost relative to the faster-to-operation and lower-emitting alternative WWS technologies.
. 3.3.1.3. Nuclear Costs The third risk of nuclear power related to its ability to reduce global warming and air pollution is the high cost for a new nuclear reactor relative to most WWS technologies. In addition, the cost of running existing nuclear reactors has increases sufficiently and the costs of new WWS technologies have dropped so much that many existing reactors are scheduled to shut down early. Others have requested large subsidies to stay open. In this section, nuclear costs are discussed briefly.
The levelized cost of energy for a new nuclear plant in 2018 according to Lazard (2018), is $15.1 (11.2 to 18.9)/MWh, which compares with $4.3 (2.9 to 5.6) for onshore wind and $4.1 (3.6 to 4.6) for utility-scale solar PV. A good portion of the high cost of nuclear is related to its long planning-to-operation time, which in turn is partly due to construction delays.
The spiraling costs of new nuclear plants in recent years has resulted in the cancelling of several nuclear reactors under construction    (e.g., two reactors in South Carolina) and in requests for subsidies to keep construction projects alive (e.g., the two Vogtle reactors in Georgia). High costs have also reduced the number of new constructions to a crawl in liberalized markets of the world. However, in some countries, such as China, nuclear reactor growth continues due to large government subsidies, albeit with the same 10-19 time lag between planning and operation and escalating costs.
 In sum, a new nuclear power plant costs over 3.5 times that of onshore wind or utility solar PV, take 7-14 years longer between planning and operation, and produce 9 to 37 times the emissions per unit electricity generated. As such, a fix amount of money spent on a new nuclear plant means much less power generation, a much longer wait for power, and much greater emission rate than the same money spent on WWS technologies.
  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change similarly concluded that the economic, social, and technical feasibility of nuclear power have not improved over time,
“The political, economic, social and technical feasibility of solar energy, wind energy and electricity storage technologies has improved dramatically over the past few years, while that of nuclear energy and Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) in the electricity sector has not shown similar improvements.” (de Coninck et al., 2018, page 4- 5)
Costs of operating existing nuclear plants have also escalated tremendously, forcing some plants either to shut down early or request large subsidies to stay open. Whether an existing nuclear plant should be subsidized to stay open should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The risk of shutting a functioning nuclear plant is that its energy may be replaced by higher-emitting fossil fuel generation. However, the risk of subsidizing the plant is that the funds could otherwise be used to replace the nuclear plant with lowercost and lower-emitting wind or solar electricity generation, which the nuclear plant would likely need to be replaced by within a decade in any case.
For example, three existing upstate New York nuclear plants requested and received subsidies to stay open using the argument that the plants were needed to keep emissions low. However, Cebulla and Jacobson (2018) found that subsidizing such plants may increase carbon emissions and costs relative to replacing the plants with wind or solar. For different nuclear plants and subsidy levels, however, the results could change, which is why each plant needs to be evaluated individually.
3.3.2. Risks Affecting the Ability of Nuclear Power to Address Energy and Environmental Security The second category of risk related to nuclear power is its risk of not being able to provide energy and environmental (aside from climate and air pollution) security. One reason for this is risk of nuclear meltdown. Others are its risks related to weapons proliferation, waste disposal, and uranium mining (cancer and land degradation). WWS technologies do not have these risks. ……https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NuclearVsWWS.pdf

December 11, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment