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Takahama nuclear reactor in Fukui halted after alert goes off

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The No. 4 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture

Jan 30, 2023

Fukui – A reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power station in Fukui Prefecture was automatically halted Monday after an alert went off warning of a rapid decrease in the number of neutrons within the unit, the complex’s regulator and operator said.

The No. 4 reactor was halted at 3:21 p.m., the Osaka-based utility said, adding that there has been no indication of the incident causing environmental contamination. The reactor’s cooling function is normal, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The No. 4 reactor restarted in November after being shut down for routine inspections.

The seaside plant has four reactors and faces the Sea of Japan.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/01/30/national/takahama-nuclear-plant-halt/

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February 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Inside Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 Nuclear Reactor – “It’s so small, can you fit a robot inside?” 50μSv exposure in 3 hours of coverage

January 29, 2023
On March 11, 2023, it will soon be 12 years since the world’s worst accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture), which caused the meltdown of Units 1 through 3. There is still no word on when the nuclear fuel (debris) that has melted down inside the containment vessels will be removed. On March 27, a team of reporters from this newspaper went inside Unit 5, which is almost the same type as Units 1-3 where the accident occurred, but was spared from the accident. The team was confronted with the difficulty of working inside the reactor to bring the accident under control. (Kenta Onozawa, photo by Takeshi Yamakawa)
Unit 5 was not in operation at the time of the accident at the nuclear power plant in 2011, as it was undergoing routine inspection.
 Wearing protective clothing that covered his entire body, he tried to enter the work space for equipment maintenance, located directly under the “pressure vessel” that contained the nuclear fuel, and hit his head. Above his head hung a device for moving the control rods that are inserted into the nuclear fuel, and he had to crouch down to enter the space. The circular work space is about four meters in diameter. It was so narrow that it was difficult to move.

The workspace is located directly below the pressure vessel of Unit 5, which is almost the same type as Units 1-3. The control rod drive unit and other equipment looms overhead in this narrow space of about 4 meters in diameter at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Once down at the bottom of the containment vessel, one cannot walk straight due to the complex arrangement of various piping and equipment above one’s head and under one’s feet.
 In Unit 1, this thick wall of concrete had been removed, leaving the reinforcing steel inside exposed.

TEPCO plans to put a robot inside the opening after March to examine the overall damage to the wall. However, we wondered whether the robot could really enter the narrow space, which is believed to contain much debris and collapsed equipment. A TEPCO spokesperson minced no words, saying, “Without actually checking the damage to the wall with the robot, we cannot determine whether the earthquake resistance has been maintained.
 Meanwhile, on the seaward side of the Unit 5 reactor, work was steadily progressing on a water tank to temporarily store water diluted with a large amount of seawater in preparation for the discharge of contaminated water into the ocean after purification. The government expects to begin discharging the water “in spring or summer,” but it is unclear how to gain the “understanding” of fishermen, which is a prerequisite for such a release.

Workers constructing a water tank to temporarily store treated water before it is discharged into the ocean. A lifeline is attached to the workers at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 27.

The reporter was exposed to about 50 microsieverts (μSv) in about three hours of reporting. This is one twentieth of the annual exposure limit for the general public, and this is calculated to have occurred in only a short period of time. The debris removal, which is the main task of restoring order after the accident, is still in the preparation stage, and the situation inside the reactor is still not fully understood. We were reminded once again of the magnitude of the remaining problems.
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/227984?fbclid=IwAR0nrlcpJu_IblZRCxVL7slBttIfS7TGnp7lBMsXWQ6h7EJyPA-c-ofdnpk

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

Plaintiffs’ Opinion Statement: “Recurrence is always in the back of my mind,” Defense Objects to Estimation of Radiation Exposure

Defense lawyers make an appeal in front of the Tokyo District Court before the opening of the trial.

January 26, 2023
On January 25, the fourth oral argument was held at the Tokyo District Court in a lawsuit filed by seven men and women aged 18-28 who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident, claiming that they developed thyroid cancer as a result of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Two of the plaintiffs, a man and a woman, made statements, claiming that the recurrence of the accident was always on their minds.

 The plaintiffs, a man in his 20s who was a junior high school student and a woman in her 20s who was an elementary school student at the time of the accident, made statements on the day. The man has repeatedly suffered recurrences of cancer and has undergone a total of four surgeries and isotope therapy, in which radioactive iodine is administered internally to destroy cancerous tissue when the cancer spreads.

 After the second surgery, in which her thyroid gland was completely removed, she lost her voice and became anxious, even thinking that it might be easier to just die. He confessed that he had made up his mind to “value my own will from now on. I am prepared for a recurrence of cancer, but I want to look only forward. I want to see if my illness is recognized as an effect of radiation exposure.

 Two years ago, a health survey conducted by the Fukushima prefectural government found that she had thyroid cancer, and she underwent surgery. After the surgery, she became emotionally unstable, and she was “on the edge mentally” as she raised her voice to her family. If this continues, I will end up in a state of ambiguity for a long time. Why were we forced to stand (in court)? I hope you will understand at least that much.

 TEPCO claims that the plaintiffs were exposed to an estimated 10 millisieverts or less of radiation to the thyroid gland based on a report issued by a United Nations scientific panel, and that since the risk of developing thyroid cancer does not increase below 100 millisieverts, their cancer was not caused by the nuclear accident.

 In response, the defense submitted a written opinion by Professor Emeritus Shinichi Kurokawa of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), who analyzed data from monitoring posts in Fukushima City from March 15 to 16, 2011, and found that the thyroid exposure of a one-year-old child was approximately 60 millisieverts from breathing alone. He claimed that the Science Commission’s radiation exposure estimate was “a drastic underestimate and irrational.

 The next argument date is set for March 15. Two more plaintiffs are scheduled to present their opinions. (Tetsuya Kasai)
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASR1T6SGFR1TUGTB001.html?iref=pc_photo_gallery_bottom

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s decision to dump Fukushima water is based on biased data, argue scientists

A panel of global experts is urging Japan to halt its plans to dump the radioactive water

Numerous tanks currently store contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Jan.27,2023

A panel of scientists is arguing that the Japanese government’s decision to discharge radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean is based on incomplete and biased data.

The experts contend that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the nuclear plant, concluded that the contaminated water was safe without properly measuring a significant number of radioactive materials (nuclides). The discharge of the wastewater from the Fukushima plant could begin as soon as this coming spring.

This latest analysis comes from a panel of scientists organized by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), an intergovernmental organization made up of 18 Pacific Island countries including New Zealand and Fiji.

These scientists are recommending the Japanese government cease its plans to release the wastewater from the nuclear plant into the ocean and instead seek alternative options.

At a debate held at Korea’s National Assembly on Thursday, the scientists stressed that TEPCO’s contaminated water measurement data cannot function as the basis for deciding on the release of the wastewater into the ocean.

The panel of scientists, including five experts in nuclear energy and oceanography, was formed last March by the PIF. As parties with a direct stake in the consequences of the potential discharge of Fukushima wastewater, the PIF requested relevant information and data from Japan regarding this issue.

On Jan. 13, the Japanese government decided to dilute 1.3 million tons of contaminated water stored in over 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima plant with water and then to release it into the ocean either this coming spring or summer.

“The data provided by Japan to the forum is incomplete, inadequate, inconsistent, and biased, making it unsuitable for making any decisions,” said Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and head of the panel of scientists.

“Since wastewater is not being released into nature in a planned or controlled way from a normally functioning power plant, in this case the word ‘dumping’ should be used instead of the ‘release’ of wastewater,” Dalnoki-Veress said.

The reason the panel believes the data provided by TEPCO is biased is that TEPCO is focusing only on nine materials, including strontium and cesium, among a total of 64 radioactive materials. The remaining 55, which were not measured, are presumed to be always present with the same effect.

The panel of scientists also pointed out that it is not enough to gauge the actual composition and concentration levels of the wastewater as the measurement of materials was performed on a 30-liter sample just before the water in the storage tanks to be treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) were full.

In a report published by the panel on this issue, the scientists raised fundamental questions about the reliability of the Japanese data, saying there are “many abnormal and suspicious measurement values in TEPCO’s measurement data.

” For example, the panel pointed out that measurements for tellurium (Te)-127, a radionuclide with a half-life of only 9.4 hours, ranged from hundreds of thousands to nearly tens of billions of becquerels (Bq) per liter. This is because, if it had been released during the Fukushima accident, it would have broken down a long time ago in terms of its half-life.

“Unless the core is intermittently in a dangerous state of meltdown, these measurements indicate problems with TEPCO’s measurement and data quality control procedures,” the report stated.

The panel also pointed out the major problem that issues such as how tritium present in the wastewater is changed into organic-bonded tritium in the sea, which will affect the marine ecosystem, or the effects of strontium-90’s bioconcentration, are not being properly examined.

“The assumption that dilution is the solution to pollution is scientifically outdated and ecologically inadequate,” the panel said. “The [wastewater] dumping measures are an issue that transcends generations and borders and require much greater contemplation,” they added.

As an alternative to releasing the polluted water into the ocean, the scientists recommended the wastewater be stored for a long time to reduce its radioactivity levels until the polluting elements can be removed using biological methods such as employing animals, plants and fungi. After this, the treated water could be used in the process of making concrete in places with as little human contact as possible.

https://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/1077249.html

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

Judge to be Changed Just Before Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant Appeals Court; Plaintiffs See Problems with His Past Representation of the State

Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant is under construction for restart, from the Oozuru helicopter in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture, in August 2021.

January 25, 2023
The Tokyo High Court, which is in charge of the lawsuit against Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant (Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture), is expected to move to a different division in the appeal trial of the injunction lawsuit against the plant’s operation. The plaintiffs’ lawyers had asked the presiding judge to voluntarily withdraw from the case, citing problems with the fact that he had represented the national government in past administrative lawsuits related to nuclear power plants. The first date of the appeal hearing, which was scheduled for March 31, has been canceled. (Mayumi Kojima)
Defense team “appreciates the decision.
 According to the defense team, the chief judge in charge of the case, Norio Nagatani, worked for many years in the Litigation Division of the Ministry of Justice, which is in charge of proving the government’s case in administrative lawsuits. In addition to representing the government in several nuclear power plant-related lawsuits, he was also a councilor in charge of litigation and in a position to direct the administrative lawsuit (later withdrawn) that sought an injunction against the operation of Tokai No. 2 from the government.
 Last September, Nagatani was transferred from the head of the Hiroshima District Court to the Tokyo High Court, where he became the presiding judge for the appeal of the injunction lawsuit. In December, the defense lawyers asked Nagatani to voluntarily withdraw from the case on the grounds that a fair trial would not be conducted.
 According to attorney Yuichi Kaito of the defense team, on the 25th of this month, Mr. Nagatani explained to them that “in view of various circumstances, the case will be reassigned. A new department is expected to take over the proceedings.
 At a press conference held in Tokyo on March 25, attorney Hiroyuki Kawai said, “Mr. Nagatani said he would be fair and neutral regardless of his background, but objectively speaking, there is an inference that he is siding with the administration. (I commend him for making the decision to change the case. Mr. Kaito said, “You should not be both the representative of the government and the presiding judge in administrative lawsuits. (The exchange of judges (between judges and prosecutors) was banned by the DPJ administration, and the exchange of judges with representatives of the state in administrative lawsuits should also have been banned,” he noted.
◆Although the motion was filed… “It is highly unusual for a judge to actually be replaced.”
 The appeal of the injunction lawsuit against the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant by Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC), which resulted in the unusual prospect of a change in the trial division in charge of the case, was heard by the court. It is rare for judges to be replaced under the same circumstances, and an expert pointed out that “the very fact that he tried to preside over the case in the first place shows a lack of common sense.
 According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the Tokai No. 2 lawsuit, a Supreme Court judge avoided participating in the hearing of the Hyakuri Air Base (Ibaraki Prefecture) lawsuit, in which the constitutionality of the Self Defense Forces was disputed and the Supreme Court rejected the appeal in 1989, because he had been involved in the government’s substantiation activities in the past. In 1991, a judge at the Odawara Branch of the Yokohama District Court was replaced after the plaintiffs alleged that he had conducted the case in a way that favored the defendants.
 In 2018, the Kanazawa Branch of the Nagoya High Court rejected a motion by the plaintiffs to replace a judge at the first instance court that had vacated an injunction on KEPCO’s Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. The Kanazawa District Court also rejected the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction against Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shiga Nuclear Power Plant (Ishikawa Prefecture), which is currently under litigation.
 Former judge Hajime Tada, attorney-at-law, commented on the replacement motion, “It is often a kind of a warning shot to the court. It is extremely unusual for a judge to actually be replaced. In the case of Tokai Daini, he pointed out, “It cannot be said that the court can make a neutral decision, and it is quite natural for the court to change the trial division. He criticized the change, saying, “It shows that the court is leaning toward the administration and disrespects the independence of the judiciary. (Kenta Onozawa)
Plaintiffs’ Residents Welcome the Decision
 The plaintiff residents living near the Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant voiced their surprise and welcome. Hiroko Kawano, 80, whose home is 1.7 km from the plant, said, “It was too badly done, so I am glad. I think the plaintiffs’ petition was approved,” she said happily.
 She learned of Judge Norio Nagatani’s background at a rally held by the plaintiffs’ group in Tokyo on April 22. I thought the government was doing an amazing job,” he said. Although there is supposed to be separation of powers, it looks as if the government has intervened in the appointment of the court.
 Kiyoko Aizawa, 81, of Tokai-mura, said, “I thought the government would continue to forcefully proceed. The news reports have been covering the situation, so perhaps they couldn’t just ignore it. Tokai No. 2 is decrepit, and there are many people living around it. I don’t know who the next presiding judge will be, but I definitely want to win.
 A 74-year-old man living in Hitachi City, a neighbor to the north of Tokai Village, said, “The court effectively accepted our side of the story, and I think they really meant to hit us where it hurts. I don’t think the government’s major policy of wanting to overturn the first trial at any cost has changed. I don’t think the government has changed its major policy of wanting to overturn the first trial at any cost, and I think they may try some more tricks.
 On the other hand, Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) responded to an interview with this newspaper, saying, “We do not know the details of the case, so we will refrain from commenting. (Nagasaki High School and University)
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/227401?fbclid=IwAR2M8pe0zQeUjHI6qABHn-U-W6rBcrAcd5A5jElo-qNPkMf9RmUGhNtz5w4

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Case blaming TEPCO ex-execs for 2011 nuclear accident goes to Supreme Court

Jan. 24, 2023

An appeal was filed with Japan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday over a high court ruling that acquitted three former power utility executives over the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Former Tokyo Electric Power Company Chairman Katsumata Tsunehisa and former vice presidents Takekuro Ichiro and Muto Sakae were indicted in 2016 on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury. The indictment was based on a decision by a prosecution inquest panel composed of randomly chosen citizens.

Patients at a hospital in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima and others died during evacuations prompted by nuclear meltdowns at the plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The former executives, who are in their 70s and 80s, are accused of being responsible for 44 of those deaths.

The Tokyo High Court found the three men not guilty last Wednesday, following a similar ruling by the Tokyo District Court in 2019.

In handing down its ruling, the high court deemed that the defendants were not required to suspend the plant’s operation to avoid accidents as there was no way to predict the giant tsunami.

Court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors in the case said after the ruling that the decision is tantamount to denying the need to take measures against earthquakes and tsunami that remain scientifically unpredictable.

TEPCO declined to make comments on the appeal, but said it apologizes for causing worries and troubles to many people.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230124_21/

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , | Leave a comment

Lawyers condemn acquittal of Fukushima ex-execs

January 18, 2023

Lawyers supporting the victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster criticised a Japanese court’s ruling on Wednesday that absolved Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) of responsibility for the disaster.

Three former executives of TEPCO were found not guilty of negligence over the nuclear meltdowns and the subsequent deaths of more than 40 elderly residents during their forced evacuation.

Prosecution lawyer Shozaburo Ishida described the verdicts as “absolutely unacceptable.”

The Tokyo High Court ruling upheld a 2019 lower court decision that also acquitted the three former top TEPCO officials, noting that a tsunami of that magnitude was unforeseeable.

The court said ex-TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, and two other former executives were also not guilty of causing the deaths of 44 elderly patients whose already waning health deteriorated during or after forced evacuations from a local hospital and a nursing home.

The executives were accused of failing to anticipate the massive tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on March 11, 2011, following a magnitude 9 earthquake, and of failing to take measures that might have saved the plant.

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

Avoiding a Long War- the RAND corporation report

U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict. by Samuel CharapMiranda Priebe  https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PEA2510-1.html

Discussion of the Russia-Ukraine war in Washington is increasingly dominated by the question of how it might end. To inform this discussion, this Perspective identifies ways in which the war could evolve and how alternative trajectories would affect U.S. interests. The authors argue that, in addition to minimizing the risks of major escalation, U.S. interests would be best served by avoiding a protracted conflict.

 The costs and risks of a long war in Ukraine are significant and outweigh the possible benefits of such a trajectory for the United States. Although Washington cannot by itself determine the war’s duration, it can take steps that make an eventual negotiated end to the conflict more likely. Drawing on the literature on war termination, the authors identify key impediments to Russia-Ukraine talks, such as mutual optimism about the future of the war and mutual pessimism about the implications of peace.

. The Perspective highlights four policy instruments the United States could use to mitigate these impediments: clarifying plans for future support to Ukraine, making commitments to Ukraine’s security, issuing assurances regarding the country’s neutrality, and setting conditions for sanctions relief for Russia.

Read report online. https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PEA2510-1.html

February 3, 2023 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

There’s no planet B

Gathering this observation-based information is essential to counter an increasingly popular but flawed narrative that the only way to ensure our survival is to colonise other planets.

The best-case scenario for terraforming Mars leaves us with an atmosphere we are incapable of breathing

The scientific evidence is clear: the only celestial body that can support us is the one we evolved with. Here’s why

AEON, Arwen E Nicholson research fellow in physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter in the UK, Raphaëlle D Haywood senior lecturer in physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter in the UK. 3 Feb 23

At the start of the 22nd century, humanity left Earth for the stars. The enormous ecological and climatic devastation that had characterised the last 100 years had led to a world barren and inhospitable; we had used up Earth entirely. Rapid melting of ice caused the seas to rise, swallowing cities whole. Deforestation ravaged forests around the globe, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. All the while, we continued to burn the fossil fuels we knew to be poisoning us, and thus created a world no longer fit for our survival. And so we set our sights beyond Earth’s horizons to a new world, a place to begin again on a planet as yet untouched. But where are we going? What are our chances of finding the elusive planet B, an Earth-like world ready and waiting to welcome and shelter humanity from the chaos we created on the planet that brought us into being? We built powerful astronomical telescopes to search the skies for planets resembling our own, and very quickly found hundreds of Earth twins orbiting distant stars. Our home was not so unique after all. The universe is full of Earths!

This futuristic dream-like scenario is being sold to us as a real scientific possibility, with billionaires planning to move humanity to Mars in the near future. For decades, children have grown up with the daring movie adventures of intergalactic explorers and the untold habitable worlds they find. Many of the highest-grossing films are set on fictional planets, with paid advisors keeping the science ‘realistic’. At the same time, narratives of humans trying to survive on a post-apocalyptic Earth have also become mainstream.

Given all our technological advances, it’s tempting to believe we are approaching an age of interplanetary colonisation. But can we really leave Earth and all our worries behind? No. All these stories are missing what makes a planet habitable to us. What Earth-like means in astronomy textbooks and what it means to someone considering their survival prospects on a distant world are two vastly different things. We don’t just need a planet roughly the same size and temperature as Earth; we need a planet that spent billions of years evolving with us. We depend completely on the billions of other living organisms that make up Earth’s biosphere. Without them, we cannot survive. Astronomical observations and Earth’s geological record are clear: the only planet that can support us is the one we evolved with. There is no plan B. There is no planet B. Our future is here, and it doesn’t have to mean we’re doomed.


At the start of the 22nd century, humanity left Earth for the stars. The enormous ecological and climatic devastation that had characterised the last 
100 years had led to a world barren and inhospitable; we had used up Earth entirely. Rapid melting of ice caused the seas to rise, swallowing cities whole. Deforestation ravaged forests around the globe, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. All the while, we continued to burn the fossil fuels we knew to be poisoning us, and thus created a world no longer fit for our survival. And so we set our sights beyond Earth’s horizons to a new world, a place to begin again on a planet as yet untouched. But where are we going? What are our chances of finding the elusive planet B, an Earth-like world ready and waiting to welcome and shelter humanity from the chaos we created on the planet that brought us into being? We built powerful astronomical telescopes to search the skies for planets resembling our own, and very quickly found hundreds of Earth twins orbiting distant stars. Our home was not so unique after all. The universe is full of Earths!

This futuristic dream-like scenario is being sold to us as a real scientific possibility, with billionaires planning to move humanity to Mars in the near future. For decades, children have grown up with the daring movie adventures of intergalactic explorers and the untold habitable worlds they find. Many of the highest-grossing films are set on fictional planets, with paid advisors keeping the science ‘realistic’. At the same time, narratives of humans trying to survive on a post-apocalyptic Earth have also become mainstream.

Given all our technological advances, it’s tempting to believe we are approaching an age of interplanetary colonisation. But can we really leave Earth and all our worries behind? No. All these stories are missing what makes a planet habitable to us. What Earth-like means in astronomy textbooks and what it means to someone considering their survival prospects on a distant world are two vastly different things. We don’t just need a planet roughly the same size and temperature as Earth; we need a planet that spent billions of years evolving with us. We depend completely on the billions of other living organisms that make up Earth’s biosphere. Without them, we cannot survive. Astronomical observations and Earth’s geological record are clear: the only planet that can support us is the one we evolved with. There is no plan B. There is no planet B. Our future is here, and it doesn’t have to mean we’re doomed.

Deep down, we know this from instinct: we are happiest when immersed in our natural environment. There are countless examples of the healing power of spending time in nature. Numerous articles speak of the benefits of ‘forest bathing’; spending time in the woods has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and to improve sleep quality, thus nurturing both our physical and mental health. Our bodies instinctively know what we need: the thriving and unique biosphere that we have co-evolved with, that exists only here, on our home planet.

There is no planet B. These days, everyone is throwing around this catchy slogan. Most of us have seen it inscribed on an activist’s homemade placard, or heard it from a world leader. In 2014, the United Nations’ then secretary general Ban Ki-moon said: ‘There is no plan B because we do not have [a] planet B.’ The French president Emmanuel Macron echoed him in 2018 in his historical address to US Congress. There’s even a book named after it. The slogan gives strong impetus to address our planetary crisis. However, no one actually explains why there isn’t another planet we could live on, even though the evidence from Earth sciences and astronomy is clear. Gathering this observation-based information is essential to counter an increasingly popular but flawed narrative that the only way to ensure our survival is to colonise other planets.

The best-case scenario for terraforming Mars leaves us with an atmosphere we are incapable of breathing

The most common target of such speculative dreaming is our neighbour Mars. It is about half the size of Earth and receives about 40 per cent of the heat that we get from the Sun. From an astronomer’s perspective, Mars is Earth’s identical twin. And Mars has been in the news a lot lately, promoted as a possible outpost for humanity in the near future. While human-led missions to Mars seem likely in the coming decades, what are our prospects of long-term habitation on Mars? Present-day Mars is a cold, dry world with a very thin atmosphere and global dust storms that can last for weeks on end. Its average surface pressure is less than 1 per cent of Earth’s. Surviving without a pressure suit in such an environment is impossible. The dusty air mostly consists of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the surface temperature ranges from a balmy 30ºC (86ºF) in the summer, down to -140ºC (-220ºF) in the winter; these extreme temperature changes are due to the thin atmosphere on Mars.

Despite these clear challenges, proposals for terraforming Mars into a world suitable for long-term human habitation abound. Mars is further from the Sun than Earth, so it would require significantly more greenhouse gases to achieve a temperature similar to Earth’s. Thickening the atmosphere by releasing CO2 in the Martian surface is the most popular ‘solution’ to the thin atmosphere on Mars. However, every suggested method of releasing the carbon stored in Mars requires technology and resources far beyond what we are currently capable of. What’s more, a recent NASA study determined that there isn’t even enough CO2 on Mars to warm it sufficiently.

Even if we could find enough CO2, we would still be left with an atmosphere we couldn’t breathe. Earth’s atmosphere contains only 0.04 per cent CO2, and we cannot tolerate an atmosphere high in CO2. For an atmosphere with Earth’s atmospheric pressure, CO2 levels as high as 1 per cent can cause drowsiness in humans, and once we reach levels of 10 per cent CO2, we will suffocate even if there is abundant oxygen. The proposed absolute best-case scenario for terraforming Mars leaves us with an atmosphere we are incapable of breathing; and achieving it is well beyond our current technological and economic capabilities.

Instead of changing the atmosphere of Mars, a more realistic scenario might be to build habitat domes on its surface with internal conditions suitable for our survival. However, there would be a large pressure difference between the inside of the habitat and the outside atmosphere. Any breach in the habitat would rapidly lead to depressurisation as the breathable air escapes into the thin Martian atmosphere. Any humans living on Mars would have to be on constant high alert for any damage to their building structures, and suffocation would be a daily threat…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Living on a warming Earth presents many challenges. But these pale in comparison with the challenges of converting Mars, or any other planet, into a viable alternative. Scientists study Mars and other planets to better understand how Earth and life formed and evolved, and how they shape each other. We look to worlds beyond our horizons to better understand ourselves. In searching the Universe, we are not looking for an escape to our problems: Earth is our unique and only home in the cosmos. There is no planet B. https://aeon.co/essays/we-will-never-be-able-to-live-on-another-planet-heres-why

February 3, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

France what to do as nuclear waste site risks saturation point?

Should saturation happen, France’s reactors would have nowhere to place their spent fuel and would have to shut down

France seeks strategy as nuclear waste site risks saturation point

Reuters, By Benjamin Mallet 3 Feb 23

  • Summary
  • Macron to chair Council on Nuclear Policy on Friday
  • Macron has announced plan for at least six new nuclear reactors
  • EDF working on extra refrigerated pool
  • France also considering plan to bury waste in clay

LA HAGUE, France, Feb 3 (Reuters) – At a nuclear waste site in Normandy, robotic arms guided by technicians behind a protective shield manoeuvre a pipe that will turn radioactive chemicals into glass as France seeks to make safe the byproducts of its growing reliance on atomic power.

The fuel-cooling pools in La Hague, on the country’s northwestern tip, could be full by the end of the decade and state-owned Orano, which runs them, says the government needs to outline a long-term strategy to modernise its ageing facilities no later than 2025.

While more nuclear energy can help France and other countries to reduce planet-warming emissions, environmental campaigners say it replaces one problem with another.

To seek solutions, President Emmanuel Macron, who has announced plans to build at least six new reactors by 2050, on Friday chairs the first of a series of meetings on nuclear policy that will discuss investments and waste recycling.

“We can’t have a responsible nuclear policy without taking into account the handling of used fuel and waste. It’s a subject we can’t sweep under the rug,” a government adviser told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity…….

La Hague is the country’s sole site able to process and partially recycle used nuclear fuel.

France historically has relied on nuclear power for around 70% of its energy, although the share is likely to have fallen last year as the nuclear fleet suffered repeated outages.

Since the launch of the site at La Hague in 1976, it has treated nearly 40,000 tonnes of radioactive material and recycled some into nuclear fuel that can be re-used. The waste that cannot be recycled is mixed with hardening slices of glass and buried for short-term storage underground.

But its four existing cooling pools for spent fuel rods and recycled fuel that has been reused risk saturation by 2030, according to French power giant EDF (EDF.PA), which runs France’s 56-strong fleet of reactors, the world’s second biggest after the United States.

Should saturation happen, France’s reactors would have nowhere to place their spent fuel and would have to shut down – a worst-case scenario that led France’s Court of Audit to designate La Hague as “an important vulnerability point” in 2019.

COOL POOLS AND DEEP CLAY

EDF is hurrying to build an extra refrigerated pool at La Hague, at a cost of 1.25 billion euros ($1.37 billion), to store spent nuclear fuel – a first step before the waste can be treated – but that will not be ready until 2034 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, France’s national agency for managing nuclear waste last month requested approval for a project to store permanently high-level radioactive waste.

The plan, called Cigéo, would involve placing the waste 500 metres (1,640 ft) below ground in a clay formation in eastern France.

Construction is expected in 2027 if it gets approval. Among those opposed to it are residents of the nearby village of Bure and anti-nuclear campaigners

………… Orano, for which EDF accounts for 95% of its recycling business, says it needs clear direction from the government no later than 2025, to give it time to plan the necessary investments.

The costs are likely to be high. Just keeping up with current operations at La Hague costs nearly 300 million euros a year.

Options EDF and Orano are considering include finding a way to recycle the used fuel more than once, but critics say the recycling itself creates more radioactive waste and is not a long-term solution. For now, the backup plan is to fit more fuel containers into the existing pools.

After being cooled in a pool for about seven years, used nuclear fuel is separated into non-recyclable leftovers that are turned into glass (4% of the material), plutonium (1%) to create a new nuclear fuel called MOX, on which around 40% of France’s reactors can run, and reprocessed uranium (95%).

Options EDF and Orano are considering include finding a way to recycle the used fuel more than once, but critics say the recycling itself creates more radioactive waste and is not a long-term solution. For now, the backup plan is to fit more fuel containers into the existing pools.

After being cooled in a pool for about seven years, used nuclear fuel is separated into non-recyclable leftovers that are turned into glass (4% of the material), plutonium (1%) to create a new nuclear fuel called MOX, on which around 40% of France’s reactors can run, and reprocessed uranium (95%).

The uranium in the past was sent to Russia for re-enrichment and return for use in some EDF reactors, but EDF stopped doing that in 2013 as it was too costly.

In spite of the war in Ukraine, which has made many in the West avoid doing business with Russia, EDF is expected to resume sending uranium to Russia this year as the only country able to process it. It declined to confirm to Reuters it would do so.

The facility at La Hague, with its 1980s-era buildings and Star Wars-style control rooms, has its limitations.

“If we had to process MOX fuel in large quantities, the facility today isn’t adapted for it,” Varin said. “For multi-cycle recycling, the technology is not the same, so the modernisation or replacement of installations” would require “significant” investments, he said.

($1 = 0.9098 euros)  https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/france-seeks-strategy-nuclear-waste-site-risks-saturation-point-2023-02-03/

February 3, 2023 Posted by | France, wastes | Leave a comment

Ukraine is sinking. Is the West about to bail out?

Ukraine Is Sinking. Are Western Elites Bailing Out? The UNZ REview, MIKE WHITNEY • FEBRUARY 1, 2023

What makes the RAND Corporation’s latest report on Ukraine so significant, is not the quality of the analysis, but the fact that the nation’s most prestigious national security think-tank has taken an opposite position on the war than the Washington political class and their globalist alliesThis is a very big deal. 

…………… The RAND Corporation’s new report, “Avoiding a long war: US policy and the trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine conflict”, represents just such a split. It indicates that powerful elites have broken with the majority opinion because they think the current policy is hurting the United States. We believe this shift in perspective is going to gain momentum until it triggers a more-assertive demand for negotiations. In other words, the RAND report is the first step towards ending the war.

Consider, for a minute, this excerpt from the preamble of the report:

“The costs and risks of a long war in Ukraine are significant and outweigh the possible benefits of such a trajectory for the United States.”

This quote effectively sumarizes the entire document. Think about it: For the last 11 months we have been told repeatedly that the US will support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” The above quote assures us that that’s not going to happen. The United States is not going to undermine its own interests to pursue the unachievable dream of expelling Russia from Ukraine. (Even the hawks no longer believe that is possible.

Rational members of the foreign policy establishment are going to evaluate Ukraine’s prospects for success and weigh them against the growing likelihood that the conflict could unexpectedly spiral out-of-control. That, of course, would serve no one’s interest and could ignite a direct clash between Russia and the United States. Also, US policymakers will decide whether the ballooning collateral damage is worth the expense. In other words, are the ruptured supplylines, the rising inflation, the increasing energy and food shortages, and the declining weapons stockpiles a fair trade-off for “weakening Russia”. Many would say, “No.”


In some respects, the RAND report is just the first in a long line of falling dominoes. As Ukraine’s battlefield losses mount –and it becomes more evident that Russia will control all the territory east of the Dnieper River– the flaws in Washington’s strategy will become more apparent and will be more sharply criticized. People will question the wisdom of economic sanctions that hurt our closest allies while helping Russia. They will ask why the United States is following a policy that has precipitated a strong move away from the dollar and US debt? And, they will wonder why the US deliberately sabotaged a peace deal in March when the probability of a Ukrainian victory is near zero. The Rand report seems to anticipate all these questions as well as the ‘shift in mood’ they will generate. This is why the authors are pushing for negotiations and a swift end to the conflict. This is an excerpt from an article at RT:

The RAND Corporation, a highly influential elite national security think tank funded directly by the Pentagon, has published a landmark report stating that prolonging the proxy war is actively harming the US and its allies and warning Washington that it should avoid “a protracted conflict” in Ukraine…

(The report) starts by stating that the fighting represents “the most significant interstate conflict in decades, and its evolution will have major consequences” for Washington, which includes US “interests” being actively harmed. The report makes it very clear that while Ukrainians have been doing the fighting, and their cities have been “flattened” and “economy decimated,” these “interests” are “not synonymous” with Kiev’s.” (“Rand calls for swift end to war“, RT)

While the report does not explicitly state that ‘US interests (are) being harmed’, it certainly infers that that is the case. Not surprisingly, the report doesn’t mention any of the collateral damage from Washington’s war on Russia, but, surely, that must have been foremost on the minds of the authors. After all, it is not the $100 billion or the provision of lethal weapons that is costing the US so dearly. It is the accelerating emergence of international coalitions and alternate institutions that has put the US empire on the fasttrack to ruin. We assume that the analysts at RAND see the same things that every other sentient being sees, that Washington’s misguided conflagration with Moscow is a ‘bridge-too-far’ and that the blowback is going to be immense and excruciating. Hence, the urgency to end the war quickly. Here’s a excerpt from the report that was posted in bold print halfway through the text:

“Since avoiding a long war is the highest priority after minimizing escalation risks, the United States should take steps that make an end to the conflict over the medium term more likely.”

…………………………….. Washington’s foolish intervention is clearing the way for the greatest strategic catastrophe in US history. And yet, even now, the vast majority of corporate and banking elites resolutely back the existing policy while shrugging off the obvious signs of failure. Case in point: The World Economic Forum posted a blanket statement of support for Ukraine on its website. Here it is: [on original]

……………………………….. the RAND report may represent the views of the Pentagon and the US Military establishment who believe the United States is racing headlong towards a direct conflagration with Russia. In other words, the report may be the first ideological broadsides against the neocons who run the State Department and the White House.   We suspect this split between the War Department and ‘State’ will become more visible in the days ahead. We can only hope that the more judicious faction at the Pentagon prevails.

February 3, 2023 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

The dark truths WikiLeaks revealed w/Stefania Maurizi | The Chris Hedges Report

February 3, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

US Surrounds China With War Machinery While Freaking Out About Balloons

Caitlin Johnstone 4 Feb 23

In what Austin journalist Christopher Hooks has called “one of the stupidest news cycles in living memory,” the entire American political/media class is having an existential meltdown over what the Pentagon claims is a Chinese spy balloon detected in US airspace on Thursday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his scheduled diplomatic visit to China after the detection of the balloon. The mass media have been covering the story with breathless excitement. China hawk pundits have been pounding the war drums all day on any platform they can get to and accusing the Biden administration of not responding aggressively enough to the incident…………………

China’s foreign ministry says the balloon is indeed from China but is “civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research,” and was simply blown far off course. This could of course be untrue — all major governments spy on each other constantly and China is no exception — but the Pentagon’s own assessment is that the balloon “does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through things like satellites in Low Earth Orbit.”.

So everyone’s losing their minds over a balloon that in all probability would be mostly worthless for spying, even while everyone knows the US spies on China at every possible opportunity. US officials have complained to the press that American spies are having a much harder time conducting operations and recruiting assets in China than they used to because of measures the Chinese government has taken to thwart them, and in 2001 a US spy plane caused a major international incident when it collided with a Chinese military jet on China’s coastline, killing the pilot.

The US considers it its sovereign right to spy on any nation it chooses, and the average American tends more or less to see it the same way. This is highlighted in controversies around domestic versus foreign surveillance, for example; Americans were outraged over the Edward Snowden revelations not because spy agencies were conducting surveillance, but because they were conducting surveillance on American citizens. It’s just taken as a given that spying on foreigners is fine, so it’s a bit silly to react melodramatically when foreigners return the favor.

As Jake Werner explains for Responsible Statecraft:

Foreign surveillance of sensitive U.S. sites is not a new phenomenon. “It’s been a fact of life since the dawn of the nuclear age, and with the advent of satellite surveillance systems, it long ago became an everyday occurrence,” as my colleague and former CIA analyst George Beebe puts it. 

U.S. surveillance of foreign countries is likewise quite common. Indeed, great powers gathering intelligence on each other is one of the more banal and universal facts of international relations. Major countries even spy on their own allies, as when U.S. intelligence bugged the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Typically, even when such surveillance is directed against the United States by a rival power, it does not threaten the safety of Americans and it poses manageable risks to sites where secrecy is of the utmost importance. However — in the context of rapidly increasing U.S.–China tensions — foreseeable incidents like these can quickly balloon into dangerous confrontations.

Now let’s contrast all this with another news story that’s getting a lot less attention. 

In an article titled “US secures deal on Philippines bases to complete arc around China,” the BBC reports that the empire will be adding even more installations to the already impressive military noose it has been constructing around the PRC.

“The US has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan,” writes the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. “With the deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south. The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints – Taiwan and the South China Sea.”

“The US hasn’t said where the new bases are but three of them could be on Luzon, an island on the northern edge of the Philippines, the only large piece of land close to Taiwan – if you don’t count China,” writes Wingfield-Hayes……..

The US empire has been surrounding China with military bases and war machinery for many years, in ways Washington would never tolerate China doing in the nations and waters surrounding the United States. There is no question that the US is the aggressor in this increasingly hostile standoff between major powers. Yet we’re all meant to be freaking out about a balloon……… https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/us-surrounds-china-with-war-machinery

February 3, 2023 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The American Colony of Australia

19 Feb 2021Western media portrays Australia as a beautiful nation with independent people and a close ally of the United States. But the American Empire has no allies, only vassal states. Australia became a colony of the American empire in 1975 after an Anglo-American coup. Australians noticed nothing since Australia had been an British colony since its inception and dispatches military forces when ordered to fight empire wars.

February 3, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Roundtable: Making nuclear injustice an agenda for change

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Franziska StärkUlrich Kühn | February 2, 2023

In a recent essay for the Bulletin, we argued that the global nuclear order is fundamentally unjust. We called for critical reflection on past, ongoing, and future nuclear injustices to better connect the dots between scholarly fields and social movements. For this roundtable, we invited four scholars, practitioners, and abolition advocates to further articulate what a research agenda on nuclear injustice should look like.

Rebecca Gibbons stresses the importance of including those most burdened by past nuclear injustices in the discussion. Setting forth the impact of nuclear testing on the Marshallese people, Gibbons highlights their calls for an apology by the US government, sufficient medical care, and the right to return to a safe and remediated environment.

Alexander Kmentt highlights the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a useful prism to examine current efforts—both substantive and procedural—to address nuclear injustice. Kmentt emphasizes the treaty’s contribution to the democratization and reframing of nuclear debates.

Benoît Pelopidas warns of the pitfalls of a nuclear injustice lens, which could ultimately strengthen arguments in favor of nuclear weapons if based on a conservative reading of nuclear deterrence. Instead, Pelopidas outlines several avenues for a productive research agenda, including a critical reflection on the consequences of nuclear injustice.

Mari Faines considers the effects of colonialism, White supremacy, and racial injustice on nuclear weapons policy. She concludes that efforts to address nuclear injustice must include marginalized voices, build on today’s young people, and be sensitive to intersectionality.

We welcome these valid arguments in favor of broadening the debate about nuclear injustice as they point to the necessity of an inclusive agenda, reaching beyond the usual boundaries of the nuclear policy field and community. One such boundary which deserves more emphasis pertains to the well-being of future generations………………………………………………………  https://thebulletin.org/2023/02/roundtable-making-nuclear-injustice-an-agenda-for-change/

February 3, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment