The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Niigata governor election shows anxiety about nuclear power

kashiwazaki npp.jpg

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture

In an upset, Ryuichi Yoneyama, a rookie candidate backed by the opposition Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, was elected governor of Niigata Prefecture on Oct. 16.

Yoneyama presented a tough stance toward the proposed restart of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the prefecture, which was the main election issue.

He emerged victorious in a virtual one-on-one contest against Tamio Mori, a former mayor of Nagaoka in the prefecture, who was backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito.

The outcome could be called a manifestation of the public will that wants to halt the headlong way the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to have Japan’s idled nuclear reactors brought back online.

The election highlighted the strong anxiety that Niigata Prefecture residents have concerning nuclear power.

Yoneyama said in his campaign pledge that he would not discuss the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant unless the causes of the 2011 disaster at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, its impact and the challenges it highlighted are scrutinized.

He has the responsibility to follow through on his promise and confront the central government and TEPCO, which are seeking to have the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa’s nuclear reactors brought back online, with a resolute attitude.

Hirohiko Izumida, the incumbent governor who has consistently taken a cautious stance toward a nuclear restart, did not seek re-election.

Attention was focused during the gubernatorial race on whether Izumida’s policy line would be succeeded. It was initially thought that Mori, a former head of the Japan Association of City Mayors who emphasized the connections he has with the central government, had an overwhelming advantage.

But Yoneyama, who announced his candidacy immediately before official campaigning started and asserted he would follow Izumida’s stance over the nuclear restart issue, turned out to have more pull.

An Asahi Shimbun survey of eligible voters in Niigata Prefecture found that, while only about 20 percent of the respondents said they approved the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, more than 60 percent opposed it. Yoneyama was elected by that public opinion.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, where seven nuclear reactors are concentrated, is one of the world’s largest nuclear plants. A serious cover-up of technical problems there came to light in 2002. The Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake of 2007 resulted in a fire and the leakage of a small amount of radioactive substances there. It stands to reason that many feel anxious about plant operations.

Izumida told the central government that plans for evacuating local residents in the event of a nuclear plant disaster are not covered by the screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and called for the central government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Guideline to be improved. He also used an expert panel of the prefectural government to pursue an independent investigation into the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The governor also questioned TEPCO’s delay in announcing that core meltdowns had occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. That led to TEPCO’s acknowledgment this year of a cover-up.

One can say that Izumida has demonstrated that a prefectural governor can play various roles without leaving the safety of a nuclear plant up to the central government. The election results have shown that many residents of Niigata Prefecture want their governor to continue that stance.

The Abe administration, which defines nuclear energy as an important mainstay power source, is hoping to restart nuclear reactors that have passed NRA screenings. It also defines the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant as an indispensable step for rehabilitating the embattled TEPCO, which has virtually become a government-owned entity.

The administration, however, should sincerely face up to the public will in Niigata Prefecture.

In Kagoshima Prefecture as well, the winner in a gubernatorial election this summer was a candidate who called for a nuclear plant in the southern prefecture to be taken temporarily offline.

It is the duty of top officials responsible for national politics to listen to the voices of the public.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Prospect of Niigata nuke plant delay threatens Tepco’s Fukushima plans


TOKYO — The election of an anti-nuclear candidate as governor of Japan’s Niigata Prefecture could hit the finances of not only Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings but the public as well, as the utility is relying on a reactor restart in Niigata to cover Fukushima cleanup costs.

The central government reached an arrangement in 2014 to extend up to 9 trillion yen ($86.6 billion currently) in interest-free loans to pay for dealing with the fallout of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. Of this, 5.4 trillion yen is to go toward compensating those affected, with Tepco and other power companies, including Kansai Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, to repay the loans. Another 2.5 trillion yen is earmarked for decontamination work, with the costs to be recouped through the sale of Tepco shares held by the government.

But more than 6 trillion yen in compensation has been paid out so far, and cost overruns on decontamination are seen as all but certain. Decommissioning work at Tepco’s Fukushima plant, such as extracting fuel, falls outside the 9 trillion yen framework.

The 2 trillion yen Tepco had aimed to secure on its own to pay for scrapping the plant will be nowhere near enough. The utility and Japan’s industry ministry had counted on bringing the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture back online, which would improve Tepco’s earnings by 240 billion yen a year. But Gov.-elect Ryuichi Yoneyama has indicated that he is not amenable to a quick restart.

An expert panel set up by the ministry started discussing how to handle the additional costs this month. It laid out a scenario in which improved profit margins at Tepco via restructuring, along with profits from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility, would be used to minimize the amount shouldered by taxpayers.

The longer it takes to restart the plant in Niigata, the larger the hit will be to Tepco’s available funding for Fukushima costs. Though the utility will squeeze out some money via internal reforms, Tepco may use rate hikes to pass on to the public what it cannot cover itself. Tepco and other utilities already have raised rates to recoup part of the compensation costs. A top industry ministry official indicated that rate increases will also be on the table to pay for decommissioning.

Power companies besides Tepco could be affected as well. Since many nuclear plants in eastern Japan use boiling-water reactors like those at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, further delays could hold up other reactor restarts in the region.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nuclear War Is Not on the Table – Because It Makes No Sense


“…..I would like to bring to the attention of the kind reader some issues that we often take for granted. The real industrial profit for the military industrial complex, working hand in glove with Wall Street and London, stems from the preparation for war: spending on research, development, manufacture, stretching costs, inflating them and extorting as much money as possible from the government and the American taxpayers. This is the basic guideline for American military spending doctrine. Do you think that Raytheon and Boeing would derive higher profits from a nuclear exchange with tens of millions of deaths? Unlikely, least of all because those who finance them (common citizens paying taxes) would themselves be reduced to ashes.

If a nuclear exchange is not convenient for anyone, and if MAD cannot be altered willy-nilly, then why does NATO continue to fan the flames, raising the scenario of thermonuclear conflict?

Three main reasons:

1. To intimidate Russia with the ridiculous hope that Moscow will step back from the global arena in which it has been playing the leading role in the last months and years.

2. The constant state of pre-alert as a harbinger of war for billion-dollar contracts for the US arms industry.

3. Placing troops and weapons in distant countries is a way to project power and at the same time make those nations feel important within the Atlantic alliance (with the added benefit that these governments will provide lucrative contracts for the US defense industry)

The second point is the essence of this analysis and continues in the wake of the previous questions. How does Moscow perceive  NATO’s attitude, and what is a possible answer to this continuous aggression?

The answer for Russia is simple: tilt the table and take advantage from the deterioration of international relations. Sanctions are imposed? Implement countermeasures that, while painful, are necessary and in the long term will be positive and decisive. Import and export products looking towards the east. Encourage local production with reduced imports. And, especially, decrease the importing and exporting of goods using the US dollar.

A military doctrine does not differ much from the following basic principle: develop weapons and tactics to counter the existential dangers effectively. It is obvious that when Putin recently pointed out the danger that Romania will face, having decided to accept elements of the missile shield in their country, he was addressing the issue pointed out above in (a), which carries a lot of historical weight and significance.

There are of course two other issues to be addressed:

Many analysts note how the West has a really hard time understanding the Russian mindset in a scenario of existential crisis. They are not wrong to say so, but the conclusion they reach is excessive in my view, especially when they claim that a Russian preemptive strike on the European missile shield is possible in order to prevent (what seems to them) an inevitable US nuclear first strike.

The problem with this thesis is that according to the information at our disposal, there simply are not enough elements to this scenario to make it probable or even possible, especially in relation to a Russian preemptive strike. We observe Russia’s behavior in Libya, Ukraine and now Syria and are left in little doubt that Moscow’s involvement in international affairs has increased exponentially in recent years. But it is always carried out in a proportionate way, accompanied by unceasing diplomatic overtures to Europe and the United States. The carrot and stick always feature prominently in Putin’s global vision of the foreign affairs for the Russian Federation.

Realistically, Moscow is well aware that the military build-up on its borders is not a significant threat and nor is the missile shield. Does this mean that Moscow, or even Beijing, are happy to be surrounded by the Atlantic Alliance’s bases? Of course not. But this does not automatically mean that the time has come for a final showdown of nuclear Armageddon.

Major analysts of Russians think-tanks have reached the same conclusions as set out above, namely, nuclear war is not convenient for anybody, especially NATO. The negative effects of such a conflict would not be limited to Russia. We must remember that the best deterrent, along with MAD, is a nuclear arsenal that is intact, functional, and is ready and deadly. This is exactly the thinking that the Russians have employed over the last 10 years concerning their nuclear stockpile, thanks in large part to NATO’s aggressiveness.

In short, the beating of the war drums by the neo conservative and neoliberals in relation to Russia is only another way to increase military spending and fatten their own pockets……” More on link


October 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Presidential politics and the risk of nuclear war

Pick Your Poison? Presidential Politics and Planetary Prospects

If one wants to work with the dichotomy of “greater” and “lesser” evil, Trump is quite probably the “greater evil” on climate change, whose existence he denies. If president, he says, he would “deregulate [American] energy.” He would help the nation’s fossil fuel firms and their customers extract, sell, and burn as much coal. gas, and oil as they could (and the executive branch can do quite a bit in that regard). Noam Chomsky is right that this could signal “almost a death knell for the species.” We are speeding to ecosystem collapse with AGW in the lead of numerous interrelated “ecological rifts.” A stepped-up carbon orgy under a Trump administration could well seal the tipping-point deal.

But Hillary Clinton is the greater evil when it comes to World War III. She is showing signs that she would view a landslide victory against Trump as what the left analyst Glen Ford calls “a mandate for war with [nuclear] Russia.” The nuclear “dice on humanity’s future” (Ford) are already being shaken by the Obama administration. Consistent with Obama’s long-time commitment (shared the Clintons, Madeline Albright, and the rest of the Council on Foreign Relations crowd) to the Zbigniew Brzezinski project of humiliating Russia, Washington has helped install a vicious right wing and pro-Western government in Ukraine, a key state on Russia’s western border (one that past European invaders have marched through on a path to Moscow). Last May, Washington announced the installation of a so-called European missile defense system in Romania – a deployment that Russia naturally interpreted as an attack on its nuclear deterrence capacity. The White House disingenuously claimed that the system was meant to protect Europe from Iran, something that Moscow immediately and reasonably denounced as a lie. Russia suggested that it might retaliate by placing nuclear missiles in Crimea and Kaliningrad, its exclave on the Baltic Sea, between Poland and Lithuania.

The key hotspot in the U.S. and Western-led “new Cold War” now is of course Russia- and Iran-backed Syria, where U.S. and other Western airplanes “mistakenly” killed 62 Syrian troops one month ago. The attack effectively blew up a Syrian “ceasefire” Washington had arranged with the Syrian government’s key ally Russia just a week before. Now, Pepe Escobar reports, “the Pentagon – supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff – …is peddling ‘potential strikes’ on Syria’s air force to ‘punish the regime’ for what the Pentagon actually did; blow up the ceasefire.” Washington disingenuously claims to have deep humanitarian concerns for the 250,000 or so civilians who are trapped on the eastern side of the city of Aleppo, a rebel/al Qaeda-controlled territory under siege by the Syrian army and Shia paramilitary forces from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. This follows a provocative Washington Post story leaking reports that the Obama administration is thinking about undertaking a direct U.S. covert war on the ground against the Syrian state.

All of this has quite naturally elicited a stern response from Moscow. The Russian Ministry of Defense telling Washington to “weigh the consequences” of its schemes. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov informed the world that it was ready and willing to use its state-of-the-art air defense systems to shoot down U.S. war planes attacking Syrian troops or Russian military installations. If and when that happens, Konashenkov added, things will be moving too fast for the Russians to use the “hotline” to give Washington the “exact flight program” of its air defense missiles in Syria.

This is all bad enough, but Hillary seems to want to up the ante. Listen to her language in her second “presidential” “debate” with Trump. “The situation in Syria is catastrophic,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime by Assad in partnership with Iranians on the ground, the Russians in the air…when I was Secretary of State, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and a safe zone.” Continue reading

October 19, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s bellicose personality – really a promoter of war and terrorism

TrumpDonald J. Trump the Hawk, Counter Punch  Donald Trump is no peacenik. Leave aside Trump’s proclamation that he “love[s] war” and unpredictability, and that he is more “militaristic” than anyone. Forget that he wants to enlarge the military and that he refuses to forswear first use of nuclear weapons. Ignore his bellicosity toward Iran and China or his promise to support Israel unconditionally. Pay no attention to Trump’s 2002 endorsement of the invasion of Iraq and his imploring Obama to invade Libya and overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.

All we have to do to see the real Trump is examine his allegedly dovish statements.

Trump takes heat every time he expresses a wish to get along with Russia. This in itself would be good: the United States and Russia could destroy the world with their nuclear weapons. But the ruling elite disagrees. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact alliance, U.S. rulers have provoked Russia by incorporating its former allies and republics into NATO and enabling a coup against an elected Russia-friendly president of Ukraine, jeopardizing Russia’s naval base in Crimea.

But would Trump really pursue peaceful relations with Russia? It’s not so clear. When asked about his views on Russia at the recent joint appearance with Hillary Clinton, he noted that Russia is “fighting ISIS,” which he implied puts the United States on the same side. “I believe we have to get ISIS,” he said. “We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved.”

Note the words before we can get too much more involved. Trump’s statement indicates that working with Russia is merely a matter of priorities. First  ISIS, then … what? More intervention, presumably against Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad.

After all, Assad is an ally of Iran, which Trump demonizes daily. We have no reason to think that if he presided over the defeat of ISIS, Trump would continue to cooperate on Syria with Russia, which like Iran would still have influence in the Middle East. Thin-skinned nationalist Trump is unlikely to suffer what he regards as impertinences from these nations, which resent having an American president define their places in the world…….

Trump wants to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS. He wants to torture suspected terrorists. He wants to kill the relatives of those suspects. That would only inspire more terrorism. Trump has obviously learned nothing from the wars he once supported and now falsely claims to have opposed……..

October 19, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

A little good sense – Japanese and North Korean students make friends

thumbs-upflag-japanflag-N-KoreaJapanese and North Korean students forge bonds in rare meeting but remain apart over nuclear weapons, Japan Times, BY . 18 Oct 16 KYODO A group of Japanese college students made a rare visit to Pyongyang in late August — just before North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 — for talks on war and peace with local students.

But three days of social exchanges and intense discussions left the groups at odds on issues such as how best to achieve world peace and whether nuclear disarmament is feasible……..

The student-to-student program was initiated in 2012 by a group of Japanese nongovernmental organizations. Among them was Tokyo-based Relief Campaign Committee for Children, Japan, which conducts cultural exchanges.

Participants in the annual program have gradually become able to take up political issues over the years, organizers said, despite the isolated communist regime’s strict controls on speech.

Jinguji was one of eight Japanese students who took part in this year’s program. The 11 North Koreans were all in their early 20s and majoring in Japanese language at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies……..

On the morning when the Japanese students were to return home, tears could be seen in the eyes of some of the North Korean students.

“I know that our current bilateral relations aren’t good, but I want to see you all again,” one North Korean student said upon departure at the airport.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | health | Leave a comment

Financial disaster of America’s failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX)

MOXhighly-recommendedNuke Fuel Facility Costs Ten Times Estimate, is 41 Years Behind Schedule   By: Lydia Dennett | October 13, 2016   Imagine you have a contractor working on your house. They quoted you a price and told you the project would be done in no time. Sure, you realize costs will probably go up some and the schedule will slip due to an unexpected problem or two. But months turn into years, years turn into a decade, and now, 14 years later, you find that they’ve already spent five times their original estimate and they aren’t even halfway done!

That’s the situation the Department of Energy is facing with the contractor building a nuclear fuel facility in South Carolina. The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, known as MOX, is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that is behind schedule, is over budget, and will never be able to complete its mission. Now the Army Corps of Engineers has released an independent cost estimate for the project that reveals things are even worse than we thought.

MOX was originally conceived as part of an agreement between the United States and Russia in which each country pledged to dispose of weapons grade plutonium. But that was back in 2000. As cost overruns and the technical failure has become clear, the Department of Energy asked Congress to cancel the program this year. The South Carolina delegation, defending jobs in their districts, pushed back and claimed doing so would violate the agreement. Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would be withdrawing from the agreement.

Without Russia being party to the agreement, the last remaining pretense for this boondoggle is shattered.

Congress will soon be reviewing the budget for fiscal year 2018 and should ensure that funding for this project is ended once and for all.

The new independent cost estimate shows that finishing the construction of the MOX facility has gone from $1.6 billion to a staggering $17 billion—more than 10 times the original projection. And while the facility was supposed to be fully constructed in 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers stated that MOX won’t be finished and ready for operations until 2048—putting it 41 years behind schedule.

But even if Congress decides to accept spending $17 billion in taxpayer dollars and waiting 41 extra years for the facility, the project will never work.

MOX technology dates back to the 1960s and has caused experts to raise concerns about the technical viability of the U.S. facility should it ever be completed and become operational. In 2014, Energy Department experts concluded that U.S. implementation of MOX technology still remains a “significant risk.” Moreover, even if the facility were to work perfectly and produce the mixed oxide fuel as intended, there aren’t any commercial nuclear reactor companies interested in purchasing it. In 2008, the project lost its only potential customer and hasn’t been able to find a single replacement.

What is even more unbelievable is that $17 billion isn’t even the bottom line for this monstrosity. Other independent estimates have found that over the facility’s lifetime, which includes the costs of operating the plant for 20 years on top of construction costs, MOX will cost taxpayers $110 billion.

The fact that these cost estimates come from independent sources is important. For the last several years the contractor in charge of the MOX project, CB&I AREVA MOX Services, has been spreading misleading facts and figures about the project’s true costs.

These contractor statements have been proven wrong time and time again by the Department of Energy, independent sources, and reality. The new Army Corps analysis exposes just how the contractors’ optimistic estimates border on delusional. For example, the contractors stated earlier this year that finishing the job will cost $3 billion; the Army Corps found the contractors’ estimate should have come closer to $10 billion. The contractors’ calculation, they found, had serious problems which led to the inaccuracies. “The MOX Services estimate-at-completion is not credible because it was developed using unrealistic production and productivity rates, artificially low escalation, inappropriate allocation of management reserves and contingency that is not time phased across the project duration, and lack of escalation applied to these reserves,” the Army Corps’ report stated. Based on their calculations the MOX project is only 28 percent complete, not 48 percent as the contractor has asserted.

What CB&I AREVA MOX Services also seem to conveniently forget in its calculations is that the project is running on at least a 25 percent rework rate, meaning approximately a quarter of the work already done will have to be re-done—the project takes one step back for every four steps forward. This includes everything from walls that were installed incorrectly to piping that was ordered but didn’t meet specifications.

These kinds of mistakes led to CB&I AREVA MOX Services receiving only half of its possible contract award fee in 2015.  “Overall performance is below the level needed for successful project completion, as culminated in cost overruns and schedule delays,” thegovernment documents stated. They cited the contractor’s poor management of the project and failure to adequately perform random drug testing. Still, CB&I AREVA MOX Services received $4.33 million of the possible $8.86 million in bonuses for that year.

It may seem remarkable that CB&I AREVA MOX Services has managed to retain the contract after so many missteps, but it could be the result of a very successful lobbying effort. The two companies that make up CB&I AREVA MOX Services, Chicago Bridge & Iron Works (CB&I) and AREVA, spent a total of $2.4 million lobbying the government in 2015 on various issues including the MOX project. In the first two quarters of 2016 alone the groups have spent $1.4 million. That amount doubles when including other organizations, like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, that listed MOX as a lobbying objective.

The contractor has effectively lined up several Senators and Representatives who have made sure that taxpayer dollars continue to flow to the MOX project, and thus to CB&I AREVA MOX Services. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tim Scott (R-SC), and Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Rick Allen (R-GA) have done their best to support MOX. During the budget process this year, Wilson wrote a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development urging them to continue funding the MOX program. Clyburn and Allen also signed the letter. It comes as no surprise that Representatives Wilson and Clyburn as well as Senator Scott are among the AREVA Group’s top recipients for campaign donations. Also on the list are Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee which determines annual funding for MOX. At this point the MOX project is nothing more than pork barrel politics.

“We are confident [the MOX project] is not feasible in this environment. We are going down a road spending money on something that will never happen. Unfortunately, that seems to us to be a very large waste of taxpayer money,’’ DOE Associate Deputy Secretary John MacWilliams told The State reporter Sammy Fretwell on a tour of the construction site.

MOX is unaffordable, 41 years behind schedule, and will never work. And now that Russia has withdrawn from the agreement, the United States would be the only ones trying to uphold it. Congress’s decision to continue funding this disaster was based on grossly inaccurate information about both the cost and performance of this project. But they have time to revisit this decision with unbiased facts and analysis before the next budget decisions need to be made. There are cheaper and faster ways to dispose of the plutonium, methods that the Energy Department is already exploring. There is no reason Congress should continue forcing taxpayers to fund such an obvious boondoggle.

By: Lydia Dennett, Investigator

Lydia Dennett is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Lydia works on safety and security of nuclear weapons and power facilities, foreign lobbying and influence, and works with Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblowers.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium: USA ignored its own guidelines in weapons use in Iraq. Syria too?

A new resolution on DU weapons will be voted on by governments at the UN General Assembly this month.  
depleted-uraniumUS broke its own rules firing depleted uranium in Iraq

An analysis of recently declassified military data shows that the United States military ignored its own guidelines for the use of depleted uranium ammunition in the 2003 Iraq War, firing the controversial weapons at unarmoured targets, buildings in populated areas and troops. It has also tripled the number of sites known to be contaminated in Iraq to more than 1,000; even as fears grow that the US has used depleted uranium in Syria.
5 October 2016 – ICBUW

The targeting data, which details the use of 30mm DU ammunition by USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft – or “Warthogs”, was released under FOIA and accounts for 54,000kg of the 118,000kg of DU ammunition that the US and UK have acknowledged firing in the conflict. Analysis by PAX and ICBUW of the 1,116 strikes, which took place during the first month of the 2003 invasion, and published in a new report Targets of Opportunity shows that DU use was widespread across Iraq.

For the first time, the data also reveal that the majority of targets attacked with the radioactive and chemically toxic weapons were not armoured. This runs counter to claims by the US that the A10’s ammunition is specifically for destroying tanks and other armoured vehicles. A significant number of the 182,000 30mm PGU-14/B rounds fired by the aircraft – each of which contains 298g of DU – were also fired in or near populated areas, increasing the likelihood that civilians would be exposed.

The need to destroy armour is central to the US’s ongoing military justification for the use of the weapons, which place civilians at risk of exposure and leave a complex and costly legacy for years after the end of conflicts. The US’s own legal guidelines, which were placed on the use of the armour-piercing incendiary weapons in 1975, restricts their use to armoured vehicles, a restriction that appears to have been ignored in the 2003 conflict.

Little transparency, even less assistance

While the UK released information to the UN on where it fired 1,900kg of DU, the US is still withholding data on where it fired 62,000kg of the weapons. This is hampering clearance work. PAX has reported that Iraq continues to struggle with the identification and remediation of DU contaminated sites, and the country has called for assistance in doing so from the international community.

“With the current burden of fighting the Islamic State, the Iraqi government’s capacity is already stretched. But people are worried about DU contamination, especially in southern Iraq,” says one of the report’s authors, PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “The US did too little, too late, and now Iraq’s people are facing layer upon layer of toxic health risks as a result of the conflicts.”

“At present countries that use DU weapons, or are affected by them, are under no formal obligations to clear contamination after conflicts in order to minimise the risks it poses to civilians,” said co-author Doug Weir from ICBUW. “This is in stark contrast to land mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. Governments must take steps to meaningfully address the legacy from DU and other toxic remnants of war that can harm civilians and their environment for years after the end of conflicts.” 

New information suggests that A-10s have used DU in Syria n early 2015, the US stated – contrary to previous claims – that its A-10 aircraft had not and would not use DU in Iraq or Syria in operations against Islamic State. However information obtained by ICBUW suggests that US A-10s have used DU on at least two occasions in Syria.

ICBUW and PAX are calling for urgent clarification from the US authorities on both the incidents and its DU policy for the conflict, and for them to swiftly release the targeting data to ensure that the relevant authorities can conduct clearance and risk awareness efforts and to isolate and recover contaminated material.

A new resolution on DU weapons will be voted on by governments at the UN General Assembly this month.         :

October 19, 2016 Posted by | depleted uranium, Iraq, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Climate Change and Renewable Energy policies – Hillary Clinton

clinton-hillaryclimate-changeThe Hillary Clinton Environmental Scorecard  The former Secretary of State could inherit a number of ambitious eco-commitments established by President Obama. Here’s where she stands on each one. Outside  By: Juliet Eilperin Oct 17, 2016 “…….

Climate Change and Renewable Energy

In contrast to Obama, who barely mentioned the issue when he was running for reelection in 2012, Clinton has made tackling climate change a major theme in her campaign. She’s mentioned it during both the primary and general election debates, mocking Trump during the first debate by saying, “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.” Trump replied, “I did not. I did not. I do not say that.” (He actually did tweet that, and he has also questioned whether global warming is even underway.)

Clinton has vowed to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and 80 percent by mid-century. She’s also pledged to cut U.S. oil consumption by a third, ensure that half a billion solar panels will be installed by 2020, and carry out a ten-fold increase in renewable energy production on public lands. On top of that, she aims to provide $60 billion to state and city officials through a “clean energy challenge fund” so they can reduce their carbon output and enhance their resilience to climate impacts, along with another $30 billion to struggling coal communities.

Such ideas make Clinton attractive to environmentalists. “It’s probably fair to say that, by the time his term is over, President Obama will be regarded as the most environmental president we’ve ever seen, and yet we’re confident Secretary Clinton will build on this record, and even do more,” says League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, whose group is pouring $10 million into the presidential race this cycle.

Clinton’s 2020 overall emissions target is more aggressive than what Obama has pledged under the Paris climate agreement. Her solar plan, for example, suggests that the U.S. will have 140 gigawatts of installed solar by the end of 2020, compared to the 100 gigawatts that’s now projected. But the question of whether she can deliver on her promises remains—especially since she has yet to embrace the idea of imposing a sweeping carbon tax, and it’s unlikely that Congress would hand over tens of billions of dollars to her administration if she’s elected. While Clinton has vowed to defend federal regulations limiting the carbon output of existing power plants, which are currently being challenged in court, she will have to do much more than that in order to meet her professed goals. …….

October 19, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Nuclear brinkmanship going on now. fear that it could tip over into World War 111

bombed cityStop the Next President From Waging the Next War  Hillary Clinton now says her “number one priority” in Syria is the removal of Bashar al-Assad, putting us on the path of war with Syria and Russia next year. Whether or not you are voting for her, you should commit yourself to stopping her from this insanity, which President Obama wisely averted in 2013. Syria and Russia are indeed committing war crimes in Aleppo, but if you’re tempted to buy in to a “no-fly zone” or “humanitarian intervention” against Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces, consider these ten facts and observations:

1/  We never hear about the atrocities committed by the Sunni rebel forces backed by the U.S., including the Al Qaeda-aligned Islamists that are now tacitly included in the rebel ranks. A sudden regime change in Syria will result in these forces being in charge, and fighting each other for power. Some victorious rebels would commit ethnic/sectarian cleansing against Alawites, Christians, and Kurds, causing many of these and other minorities to fear the rebels as much as the Sunni majority fears Assad. Yes, the war can and will get even worse with more outside intervention.

2/  Any “no-fly zone” over Syria will certainly be followed by the shooting down of both Russian and U.S. jets, in an unpredictable escalation that could easily spread elsewhere in the region or world. Bombing Syrian/Russian forces would result in more civilian deaths, not fewer civilian deaths. In a leaked 2013 transcript, Hillary admitted, “To have a no-fly zone, you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk– you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.”

3/ The U.S. is actively aiding Saudi bombing of Houthi rebels in Yemen, with devastation and civilian deaths that differs little from the Syrian/Russian bombing of Aleppo. The U.S. just directly launched missiles against the Houthis, embroiling us in a very dangerous part of the regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. State Department spokesperson John Kirby became tongue-tied when reporters asked him to define the difference between the Russian in Syria and the Saudis in Yemen.

4/ The U.S. has around 800 foreign military bases around the world. Russia has exactly two bases outside former Soviet territory–both of them in Syria. Putin is trying to emulate what the U.S. did in Iraq and Afghanistan, by establishing Russia as a regional and global power. Russia is doing exactly what the U.S. did in Panama–brazenly intervene in the affairs of a country that hosts its bases. The U.S. has zero legitimacy to criticize an upstart in global imperialism, or to demonize Russia for committing the same atrocities that U.S. forces did in Fallujah and elsewhere.

5/  Russia will not back down if we start shooting down its aircraft. Putin was the “Butcher of Grozny” in Chechnya (as the West turned a blind eye), and has intervened against nationalist governments in Georgia and Ukraine. He will pivot to somewhere else in the world–arming Iran, establishing a naval base in Egypt, or threatening Latvia. One way to lessen his popular appeal is to stop feeding into his nationalist propaganda that NATO is encircling Russia and tacitly backing fascists and ultranationalists on its borders. He only thrives politically when the West’s military pressure increases, and he can portray himself as standing up to NATO. Both Russia and Iran also thrive when U.S. and Israeli saber-rattling drives up global oil prices.

6/ The practice of “humanitarian intervention” upholds double standards that only highlight atrocities by the other side and not by U.S. allies. Bill Clinton’s bombings in Bosnia and Kosovo stopped ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces, but actively enabled ethnic cleansing by Croatian and Albanian militias. Obama’s bombing of Libya to supposedly “save” Benghazi ended up turning Libya into a free-fire zone. It wasn’t stepping in as a neutral party, but taking sides in a civil war and prolonging it. A real “humanitarian intervention” would order all sides to freeze in place, not attack one human rights abuser in favor of another.

7/  The U.S. seems to want to rubberstamp the partition of Syria into ethnic/sectarian enclaves as part of a “settlement,” just as it did in Yugoslavia and to a large extent in Iraq. Partition does not bring lasting peace, as the examples of Palestine and India demonstrate. Regional autonomy is helpful to build peace, but communities and even families are too mixed together historically to allow for a “clean” territorial separation without massive violence and genocidal ethnic/sectarian cleansing. But it helps neoliberal capital to have large multiethnic states divided into more easily controllable mini-states.

8/ There have been many paths not followed in bringing peace to Syria since the genuine democratic revolution against Assad began in 2011. There has never been a choice between “doing something” and “doing nothing.” The U.S. and Israel could stop supporting Sunni Islamist rebels in return for Russia and Iran holding back the worst of Assad’s Alawite-led military atrocities, and vice versa. They could both support the Kurds’ valiant defense against ISIS, instead of selling them out (once more) to the Turkish military. They could engage with Syrian civil society that began the revolution, instead of only arming the militaries and militias. They could negotiate for a regional deescalation and coalition government that guarantees minority rights, and allows Syrians to focus on the real threats of ISIS and the economic ruin of war.

9/ The regime change in Iraq will look like small potatoes, if the new Administration tricks the American people into allowing a so-called “humanitarian intervention” in Syria. We could very quickly get involved in a full-blown regional war–with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Israel, Gulf states, and Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni Sunnis on one side, and Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraqi Shi’as, Hezbollah, and Houthis on the other side. The region is a powder keg, with entangled alliances much like Europe on the eve of World War I. It wouldn’t take much for that nightmare to escalate into a nuclear confrontation. Russia is clearly mobilizing for a possible conflict, and signaling its warnings through state media and civil defense exercises, but we haven’t been told by our leaders how risky the situation has become.

10/ A lot more is at stake in Syria in 2017 than in Iraq in 2003.

The Iraq War never had the potential of escalating into a full-blown war with Russia and Iran, or triggering a nuclear confrontation. And since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump uncritically accept Benjamin Netanyahu’s view of Iran as the main enemy in the Middle East, Israel and the Gulf States will be unleashed next year to restart military brinkmanship with Iran, which could also bring us to the gates of hell.

It is possible to stand against Assad and Putin, and still oppose wars waged by Clinton or Trump that will inflame the Middle East. Whoever wins on November 8th, the names of the losing candidates will quickly fade. Our “number one priority” the next day should be to stop the new president from taking us down the path of a new major war.

Zoltan Grossman is a professor of Geography and Native Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, who has been a warm body in peace, justice, and environmental movements for the past 35 years. His website is and email

October 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japanese nuclear research facility hacked

how-to-hack-wordpressNation-State Hackers Hit Japanese Nuclear Facility, Info Security Magazine, 19 Oct 16,   A Japanese nuclear research facility has been hacked, resulting in the theft of 59,000 files.

The University of Toyama’s Hydrogen Isotope Research Center is one of the world leaders in tritium research. Tritium, also known as Hydrogen-3, is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is an important fuel for controlled nuclear fusion, and a key component of hydrogen bombs.

It is also one of the contaminants in the water building up at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The infiltrators stole the lab’s tritium research, according to Japanese media, along with the personal details of 1,493 researchers. Attackers stole data in three batches: December 2015, March 2016 and June 2016.

The malware that was used in the breach was delivered via a spear-phishing attack in November of 2015, when a hacker posed as a Tokyo university student working on a research assignment. Investigators said that the malware samples they analyzed were also pre-programmed to search the victim’s computer for the term IAEA, which is the acronym for the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The breach at the University of Toyama’s Hydrogen Isotope Research Center is a textbook example of the sort of cyber-threats facing academia,” said Vishal Gupta, CEO of Seclore, via email. “Researchers are extremely lucrative targets for nation-states, as it’s cheaper to invest in the theft of existing data then to conduct the research outright……..

October 19, 2016 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Nuclear political battles ahead for Japan’s PM Abe in 2017

text politicsflag-japanAbe’s Nuclear Japan Goals Face More Ballot-Box Battles in 2017, Bloomberg  SStapczynski October 19, 2016

  • Anti-nuclear candidates win in Niigata, Kagoshima prefectures
  • Three gubernatorial races next year in regions facing restarts

    “Even as the Abe administration remains committed to including nuclear power as part of Japan’s energy mix, implementing this vision will require overcoming ever-more-dogged resistance from local communities and their representatives,” Tobias Harris, a vice president with Teneo Intelligence in Washington D.C., said in a note Monday. “The restart process will continue to proceed unevenly at best.”

     Almost all the country’s reactors remain shut because of new safety regulations and public opposition following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Only 2 of Japan’s 42 operable reactors are producing power commercially as of Oct. 6, when Kyushu Electric Power Co. shut its Sendai No. 1 unit for maintenance.

    Local Approval

    Sendai’s return to service may be delayed due to the recently elected Kagoshima governor’s strong opposition to its operation. Local government approval — including endorsement from the governor — is traditionally sought by Japanese utilities before returning plants to service.

    Elections will be watched closely as support from local governments are crucial to get more nuclear reactors back online, according to Syusaku Nishikawa, an analyst at Daiwa Securities Co. About 57 percent of the Japanese public oppose restarts, according to an Asahi newspaper poll earlier this month. Lawsuits have also threatened reactor operations.

     Public opposition and the slow pace of returning reactors will be a challenge to Abe’s goal of having nuclear power provide at least 20 percent of Japan’s electricity by 2030, Harris said.

    Gubernatorial races are held within about 30 days of when the current term ends, which will happen in 2017 in the following prefectures, according to the local-government websites and data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Shizuoka…….

  • Miyagi……

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Britain’s old dead nuclear submarines – no way to dispose of them for decades

HMS Astute, first of the class of nuclear hunter killer submarine built at Barrow in FurnessNavy’s old nuclear submarines ‘will not be finally disposed of until after 2040’, Telegraph,    defence correspondent 18 OCTOBER 2016
A lack of money, expertise and disposal sites mean derelict British nuclear submarines containing radioactive material will not be fully dismantled and disposed of for 25 years, officials have admitted.

The Royal Navy has 19 old nuclear-powered submarines stored in ports waiting to be dismantled, with another eight due to retire and join them in the coming years.

HMS Dreadnought, the Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine, has been waiting to be dismantled since it retired 36 years ago. Ministry of Defence officials told MPs that radioactive parts on board could not be finally disposed of until an underground dump for all of the UK’s nuclear waste has been chosen and built. That site is not due to be ready until 2040.

The submarines are currently stored at Devonport, near Plymouth, and at Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth.

Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the MoD, told the Commons defence committee that a lack of money and skills meant it was impossible to speed up the process……..Ministry of Defence officials told MPs that radioactive parts on board could not be finally disposed of until an underground dump for all of the UK’s nuclear waste has been chosen and built. That site is not due to be ready until 2040.

The submarines are currently stored at Devonport, near Plymouth, and at Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth.

Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the MoD, told the Commons defence committee that a lack of money and skills meant it was impossible to speed up the process…..

October 19, 2016 Posted by | wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Public distrust inside and outside Belarus about troubled nuclear power project

safety-symbol1Controversial new nuclear plant ignites Belarus Thirty years after Chernobyl catastrophe, construction of new nuclear station on border with Lithuania stirs debate. Aljazeera by  Minsk, Belarus , 19 Oct 16, – Thirty years after an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station devastated the countryside on the southern border of Belarus, leaving behind lasting consequences for millions of people, the construction of a new nuclear station is stirring discord between government officials, opposition politicians, the local populace and foreign diplomats.

The death of a 43-year-old Russian contractor last month, after an explosion at the Belarusian nuclear power plant (BelNPP) construction site near Astravets in northern Belarus on its border with Lithuania, is only the latest in a string of little-publicised incidents that has raised concerns at home and abroad about the how the station is being constructed.

On July 10 of this year, the 330-tonne reactor casing dropped from a height of between two and four metres in an incident that only came to the public’s attention two weeks later when a member of the Belarus United Civil Party, Mikalai Ulasevich, leaked the news to the local press.

The Ministry of Energy eventually released a statement acknowledging the incident, and Rosatom – the Russian state nuclear corporation and the primary contractor for the project, said that tests had revealed the dropped casing to be safe.

Concerns and opposition

However, with the memory of Chernobyl looming large, both the energy ministry and Rosatom, which agreed to replace the casing to “mitigate rumours and panic among the population” have so far failed to reassure all Belarusians of the station’s safety.

“They are building a crematorium,” Ulasevich says, driving through the rural village of Varniany where BelNPP’s stacks loom over the horizon.

“The only way to guarantee the safety of the plant is to cease its construction.”

Anti-BelNPP activists, including Ulasevich, are concerned by the government’s decision to build the plant in an ecologically pristine region of the country’s north, surrounded by agricultural land and lakes not affected by Chernobyl.

They have also accused the Belarusian government of violating both the Aarhus andEspoo environmental protection conventions in the planning and the construction of the station in Astravets……..

Threatened neighbour

News of the spate of accidents has been met with concern in neighbouring Lithuania. The country’s interior ministry recently indicated that plans were being drafted, in the event of an accident at Astravets, for the evacuation of the capital, Vilnius, which is only 50km from the BelNPP construction site.

Meanwhile, Lithuania has called for Belarus to carry out IAEA stress tests at the site, during which experts both from the EU and Lithuania may be present.

A Lithuanian delegation for the plant said that until the tests are carried out, Belarus should halt the construction work. In August, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite described the project as an “existential” threat to European security……..

Public mistrust

By June of this year, the Belarussian public was largely split on BelNPP. A poll conducted by the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies suggested that a slight majority – 35 percent or respondents – disapproved of the project.

Tatyana Korotkevich, who was an independent candidate in the country’s parliamentary elections in September, told Al Jazeera in her offices in central Minsk that Belarusians in her electorate feel their questions about the plant have not been sufficiently addressed by the government………

Who will profit?

Energy analysts and activists alike say that the government’s economic arguments for the station are outdated since the Belarusian economy entered into a decline that the World Bank forecasts will continue into 2017 [PDF].

They say there is little evidence to suggest that the country’s economy would benefit from or even require the energy surplus the $11bn BelNPP will produce.

Minsk, which in July owed Moscow almost $300m in energy debts, hopes its nuclear project will help to levy energy independence. But anti-nuclear activists and independent analysts note that Russia, the primary contractor, will be the sole supplier of fuel for the project once completed…..

Like thousands of Belarusians following Chernobyl, anti-nuclear activist Tanya Novikova was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She, like other anti-nuclear activists in Belarus, including Ulasevich, report having been detained and harassed in their opposition to the plant. But Novikova won’t be deterred, she told Al Jazeera.

“I personally know that the consequences of Chernobyl may be more scary, more dramatic than being arrested,” she said.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Belarus, safety | Leave a comment

South Australian government pushes the global nuclear lobby’s agenda

Ultimately, this dump is about helping the global nuclear industry. The current build-up of site-by-site waste acts as a brake on investment. They want somewhere to dump it forever so they can go on producing more of it.


South Australia to become global nuclear waste capital Sixty years ago, Maralinga went up in a mushroom cloud. The British government had been given permission to test atomic weaponry in South Australia.

That is to say, they had been given permission by the right wing Menzies government. The local Maralinga Tjarutja people had no say in it at all. Many of them were not even forewarned of the first blast. Thunderous black clouds condemned them to radiation exposure, illness and death, the survivors being driven from their homeland during the long years of British testing and fallout.

South Australia has a dark history with the nuclear industry. Maralinga remains contaminated, despite cheap clean-up efforts. Uranium tailings have leaked from BHP’s Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs. Fukushima’s reactors held South Australian uranium when catastrophe struck in 2011.

Today, Jay Weatherill’s state Labor government is trying to open a new radioactive chapter. He wants South Australia to construct the world’s first international high-level nuclear waste dump. This would mean no fewer than 138,000 tonnes of waste (one-third of the world’s total) being shipped from the world’s reactors into South Australian ports, to be permanently buried in Aboriginal land.

This would be history’s largest nuclear dumping operation, and make South Australia the hazardous waste capital of the world.

Weatherill, aware of most people’s instinctive and rightful mistrust of anything nuclear, has launched a meticulous, expensive PR campaign. He is trying to fit a Hello Kitty mask onto Mr Burns.

The propaganda machine was put into motion by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, at a cost of $7.2 million. Headed by Kevin Scarce, a former naval officer and South Australian governor, the commission imagines a lip-licking profit to be made by importing and burying the waste. It also recommends expanding uranium mining and laying the groundwork for nuclear power generation.

To soothe concerns, the government is periodically erecting “Know Nuclear” stalls across the state. These stalls spread misinformation. For instance, the government pamphlet “What is Radiation?” boasts that bananas contain potassium-40, a low-level radionuclide found in nature. But they make no comparison to human-made fission products such as strontium-90, which releases almost 20 million times more radiation than your friendly fruity isotope.

In August, more than 150 high school students were whisked to a secretly organised forum about the future of nuclear industry in the state. Secrecy was justified by the suggestion that violent anti-nuclear protesters might endanger the pupils.

Why does the state need to pour such big bucks into this festival of confusing roadshows, misleading science, TV ads and youth re-education sessions? Because most people who know anything about nuclear waste will recognise the danger posed by the proposed dump.

We live in a country in which black lung disease has re-emerged. Mining companies, in a world of competition, refuse to pay for basic safety measures to prevent excessive coal dust inhalation. This logic of cutting costs infuses all business under capitalism; nuclear waste dumps are no exception. As the MUA correctly stated: “Maritime workers – seafarers and wharfies – will be the first exposed to this toxic waste … Nowhere on this planet has a country designed a safe repository for nuclear waste”.

Indeed, the most technologically advanced repositories in the world, no matter how deep underground, have failed. Over many years, German radioactive waste had been disposed of in a deep facility in Lower Saxony. In 2008, it was discovered that some of the 126,000 barrels of waste had been leaking into ground water for decades. In 2014, New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant suffered a burst drum, contaminating the whole facility, including ventilation and surrounding air. Soon after, workers at the plant tested positive for radiation exposure.

This is the most hazardous waste ever produced by industry or the military. The royal commission explains that this stuff “requires isolation from the environment for many hundreds of thousands of years”. That makes the Roman Empire seem like yesterday; it is longer than the human race has existed.

Moreover, previous projects have involved only national waste storage; to transport waste by sea to an international dump has never been attempted and involves multiple dangers of accidental spillage.

Ultimately, this dump is about helping the global nuclear industry. The current build-up of site-by-site waste acts as a brake on investment. They want somewhere to dump it forever so they can go on producing more of it.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment