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Trump administration stops govt practice of disclosing numbers of nuclear weapons

US halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total,  https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/US-halts-recent-practice-of-disclosing-nuclear-13775654.php Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer, April 17, 2019  WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the recent U.S. government practice of disclosing the current size of the nuclear weapons stockpile.
The decision was revealed in a recent Department of Energy letter to the Federation of American Scientists, a private group that studies nuclear weapons issues and advocates for government openness on national security issues.
The Obama administration, in May 2010, had declassified for the first time the full history of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile from its beginning in 1945. It revealed that the warhead total stood at 5,113 as of Sept. 30, 2009, approximately the number that private experts had estimated and about 84 percent below the official peak number of 31,255 warheads in 1967.

As recently as last year, the Trump administration had disclosed that the stockpile consisted of 3,822 nuclear warheads as of Sept. 30, 2017, down 196 warheads from the year before. The 2017 figure was made public in response to a request by the scientists group, which asked for a 2018 update last October.

“After careful consideration … it was determined that the requested information cannot be declassified at this time,” the Energy Department wrote in an April 5 letter responding to the federation’s request. The department provided no explanation for the decision, which it said was made by the Formerly Restricted Data Declassification Working Group, consisting of officials from the departments of Defense and Energy.

“Formerly Restricted Data” is a category of classification that pertains to information such as nuclear stockpile quantities, warhead yields and locations.

The Russian government does not disclose its nuclear stockpile total. The Federation of American Scientists estimates Russia has about 4,350.

Nuclear warheads are attached to bombs and missiles, such as those carried by strategic bomber aircraft, ballistic missile submarines and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, which form the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Hans M. Kristensen, director of the federation’s Nuclear Information Project, wrote in an analysis Wednesday that the decision against disclosing the 2018 nuclear stockpile number was “unnecessary and counterproductive.” In his view there is no national security rationale for keeping the number secret.

“The decision walks back nearly a decade of U.S. nuclear weapons transparency policy — in fact, longer if including stockpile transparency initiatives in the late-1990s,” Kristensen wrote.

“With this decision,” he added, “the Trump administration surrenders any pressure on other nuclear-armed states to be more transparent about the size of their nuclear weapon stockpiles. This is curious since the Trump administration had repeatedly complained about secrecy in the Russian and Chinese arsenals. Instead, it now appears to endorse their secrecy.”

The Pentagon did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

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April 18, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Conflicts of interest in the Trump group’s push to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia

April 18, 2019 Posted by | marketing, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

AARP Ohio, on behalf of its 1.5 million members and families, strongly Ohio nuclear subsidies

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, politics, USA | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear lobby spending up big to get $millions in State subsidies

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

China gambles on untested “Hualong One” nuclear reactor, and plans for international sales

China goes all-in on home grown tech in push for nuclear dominance, David Stanway, SHANGHAI (Reuters)17 Apr 19 – China plans to gamble on the bulk deployment of its untested “Hualong One” nuclear reactor, squeezing out foreign designs, as it resumes a long-delayed nuclear program aimed at meeting its clean energy goals, government and industry officials said.

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, was once seen as a “shop window” for big nuclear developers to show off new technologies, with Beijing embarking on a program to build plants based on designs from France, the United States, Russia and Canada.

But after years of construction delays, overseas models such as Westinghouse’s AP1000 and France’s “Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor” (EPR) are now set to lose out in favor of new localized technologies, industry experts and officials said.

……….Though China has yet to complete its first Hualong One, officials are confident it will not encounter the delays suffered by rivals, and say it can compete on safety and cost.

Beijing has already decided to use the Hualong One for its first newly commissioned nuclear project in three years, set to begin construction later this year at Zhangzhou, a site originally earmarked for the AP1000. [nL3N2152KM]

……… EDF, France’s state-run utility, which helped build the EPR project at Taishan in Guangdong province, declined to comment. Westinghouse, now owned by Brookfield after entering bankruptcy restructuring, also did not respond to a request for comment.

INTERNATIONAL AMBITIONS

China’s ambitions for the Hualong One extend overseas as well. The first foreign project using the reactor is under construction in Pakistan and the model is in the running for projects in Argentina and Britain……..https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-nuclearpower-hualong/china-goes-all-in-on-home-grown-tech-in-push-for-nuclear-dominance-idUSKCN1RT0C0

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, China, marketing, politics, safety | Leave a comment

More countries headed to go into nuclear debt to Russia

Rosatom forges more links with nuclear newcomers, 17 April 2019 Rosatom and its subsidiaries have this week signed a number of agreements with countries planning to introduce nuclear power to their energy mix, including Azerbaijan, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Serbia and Uzbekistan. The documents were signed during the XI International Forum Atomexpo 2019 that the Russian state nuclear corporation is holding in Sochi. It also signed an agreement with established nuclear power country China. ………http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Rosatom-forges-more-links-with-nuclear-newcomers

April 18, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to nuclear subsidy

Supreme court denies challenge to NY nuclear subsidy, Houston Chronicle, April 15, 2019 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a power industry trade group’s petition to challenge New York state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the subsidization of nuclear power plants.

The Electric Power Supply Association claimed in a lawsuit that the New York Public Service Commission had violated federal law requiring power rates be “just and reasonable” when they elected to award $7 billion in rate increases through their zero emissions credit program.

After that argument was rejected by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the group applied to the Supreme Court for relief in January. As is customary, the Supreme Court’s justices offered no explanation on their decision not to hear the case. …….https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Supreme-court-denies-challenge-to-NY-nuclear-13768307.php

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

North Dakota prohibits nuclear waste dumping in the state

Bill prohibits, sets guidelines for nuclear waste disposal

April 17, 2019  BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Legislature has passed a bill that prohibits nuclear waste dumping in the state. The bill passed by the House Wednesday and the Senate a day earlier also sets the regulatory framework for disposal and storage of the radioactive waste if the state is forced to accept it by the federal government…… (subscribers only) https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Bill-prohibits-sets-guidelines-for-nuclear-waste-13775275.php

April 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

EDF’s Belleville nuclear power plant to continue to have increased monitoring by France’s nuclear regulator

France’s ASN regulator keeps enhanced monitoring of EDF’s Belleville nuclear power plant  https://uk.reuters.com/article/france-nuclearpower-safety/frances-asn-regulator-keeps-enhanced-monitoring-of-edfs-belleville-nuclear-power-plant-idUKL5N21Z2CQ,  PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) – France’s ASN nuclear regulator said on Wednesday it was maintaining its close supervision of utility EDF’s 2,600 MW Belleville nuclear power plant, due to the need to continue to monitor safety practices despite some improvements.

The regulator placed the plant under enhanced supervision in September 2017, citing failures in safety standards.

It noted that the state of the plant’s installations and safety practices had generally improved in 2018, but there was still work to do.

“However… the progress noted remains to be consolidated and that the performance of the facilities must still improve,” the ASN said in a statement.

The ASN also said it will carry out additional inspections and checks to documentation, while keeping track of EDF’s action plan to fix the issues. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

April 18, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

U.S.nuclear bailouts – Exelon and the death of competitive energy markets

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear-Climate News – week to 14 April

On the surface, not much seems to be happening in nuclear news. Tensions between Pakistan and India have pulled back from the brink.  USA and North Korea remain at a nuclear stalemate, while South Korea tries for moderate progress. The mainstream media continues to regurgitate nuclear lobby propaganda about solving climate change, especially by developing small nuclear reactors.

The optimistic picture that’s often given of Chernobyl’s supposed recovery from the 1986 nuclear catastrophe has been thoroughly contradicted, as three new books reveal.  Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future by Kate Brown– details the dedicated research done in Belarus and Ukraine, on radiation effects, and draws attention to the pervasive and growing effects of ionising radiation, globally.  Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster– by Adam Higginbotham  describes the course of the disaster and investigates  the propaganda, secrecy, and myths that have obscured the truth on its effects. Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe– by Serhii Plokhy dramatically reconstructs the meltdown, and condemns the  USSR’s bureaucratic dysfunction, censorship, secrecy and mismanagement that preceded the disaster, and hindered the Soviet’s response to it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRu-Xs4U2r4All point to the danger of ionising radiation to the world, as nuclear activities continue, and the radioactive wastes accumulate.

Once again the twin threats of climate change and ionising radiation come together. As glaciers melt, ionising radiation, (from nuclear bomb testing) is released from ice surface sediments. Good news : how we could get (almost) all our energy from the sun by 2050.

The Threat of Nuclear War Is Still With Us,

Police drag Julian Assange from Embassy.  –Extradition of Julian Assange must be opposed. USA govt wants to silence all reports of govt atrocities.  Wikileaks has won many awards for fine journalism.  What Does Julian Assange’s Arrest Mean for Journalists?

EUROPE. Youth climate change protests across Europe.

JAPAN.

PAKISTAN. PAKISTAN’S Prime Minister Imran Khan issues warning on conflict with India, the nuclear danger. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFU_ez_naak&t=9s

USA. 

CANADA. SNC-Lavalin nuclear contracts at risk if it’s convicted.

CHINA. China opens fourth border crossing with North Korea, complete with radiation detectors.

FRANCE, The Flamanville EPR risks a new delay , catastrophic for EDF.

FINLAND. Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor – another delay after delays.

AUSTRALIA  Prime Minister  Scott Morrison says “no special help” Opposition leader Bill Shorten pleads ignorance of the matter.  ‘He uncovered war crimes’: Greens leader urges government  to protect Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes, Nigeria | 2 Comments

South Korea ban on Fukushima seafood divides Seoul, Tokyo

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Japanese seafood from Fukushima is banned in South Korea.
April 12, 2019
April 12 (UPI) — South Korea welcomed — while Japan condemned — a World Trade Organization decision to uphold a South Korea ban on Japanese seafood originating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster zone.
Japan is criticizing the decision despite evidence the product is not widely consumed or avoided entirely by Japanese consumers.
“Even though the ruling did not acknowledge that South Korea’s measures comply with the WTO rules, it is extremely regrettable that Japan’s argument was not approved,” Tokyo’s foreign ministry said Friday, after the WTO’s highest court overturned a judgment from 2018. The verdict is final, according to Kyodo and other Japanese news services.
In Seoul, the ruling Democratic Party welcomed the WTO decision. Party spokesman Lee Hae-sik said in statement the verdict reflects the current administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to “actively defend the nation’s health and food safety” and described the outcome as a “diplomatic victory,” South Korean news service News 1 reported Friday.
Lee also said the ban on imports of seafood originating from the eight prefectures of Japan’s Tohoku region, which are “at risk” due to the nuclear accidents at Fukushima plants, will be sustained.
Following the WTO verdict, Japan is turning its attention to the specialized United Nations agency.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga suggested Tokyo will “cooperate closely with the United States” on WTO reform in order to “maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system.”
But the United States also has partial bans in place against Fukushima products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to monitor the public health risks due to radionuclide contamination and has placed an “import alert” on select Japanese products.
In Japanese fish markets in Tokyo, products labeled “Fukushima region” do not sell well and frequently at below market prices, South Korea television network MBC reported from Japan.
The seafood is not in demand despite safety screenings, according to the report.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to start removing fuel at Fukushima’s No. 3 reactor

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Workers lower the last part of a semi-cylindrical covering on top of the No. 3 reactor building.
April 12, 2019
The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will start removing nuclear fuel from the No. 3 reactor as early as next week through equipment controlled remotely due to high radiation levels inside the building.
This will mark Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s first attempt to remove spent fuel from one of the three reactors that experienced a meltdown during the 2011 nuclear accident.
All spent fuel has already been removed from the No. 4 reactor.
TEPCO workers will use remote control to remove nuclear fuel assemblies kept in the pool on the upper floors of the No. 3 reactor building.
Utility officials acknowledge that the process will not be easy, as they have no experience conducting such a dangerous task remotely.
The 566 nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pool will be removed under a plan expected to take two years to complete.
TEPCO wants to remove the assemblies as quickly as possible owing to concerns that another major earthquake or tsunami could further damage the reactor building and equipment. The No. 3 reactor will also serve as a test case for eventually removing spent nuclear fuel from the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings.
Under the plan, workers will be stationed in a control room about 500 meters from the reactor building and use remote control equipment while observing the process through monitors.
Each nuclear fuel assembly will be lifted and transferred to a special transport container that can hold up to seven such assemblies in water. The container will then be carried out of the reactor building by crane, which will then lower the container outside of the building to a trailer about 30 meters below at ground level.
As a hydrogen explosion blew off the roof of the No. 3 reactor building in the wake of the 2011 nuclear accident, a semi-cylindrical copper covering has been placed over the building to prevent radioactive materials from spreading when the spent nuclear fuel is being removed.
All 1,535 nuclear fuel assemblies at the No. 4 reactor building were removed by the end of 2014. Radiation levels were comparatively low so workers could enter the building to work on the removal.
A TEPCO official in charge of the process called the removal at the No. 4 reactor “normal operating procedures,” but admitted that remote control operations added a new dimension of difficulty.
The utility has experienced problems with the crane and other equipment to be used at the No. 3 reactor.
Under TEPCO’s plan compiled shortly after the nuclear accident, all spent nuclear fuel was to have been removed from all four reactors by the end of fiscal 2021.
“We do not believe the process will proceed with zero problems,” said Akira Ono, president of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Co.
The work at the No. 3 reactor will serve as a model for a similar process planned for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings to start in fiscal 2023.
Government and TEPCO officials have said they will consider a detailed plan for removing spent nuclear fuel from those two buildings after reviewing the work done at the No. 3 reactor building.
The two other reactor buildings present different hurdles for workers.
The top floor of the No. 1 reactor building is covered with debris from a collapsed ceiling and damaged crane, the removal of which has proved difficult. Workers have also confirmed that the lid on top of the containment vessel has shifted, meaning radiation levels inside the building are likely even higher than in the No. 3 reactor building.
It thus remains to be seen if the same equipment to be used for the No. 3 reactor can be used for the No. 1 building. To prevent leaking of radioactive materials, the lid for the containment vessel will first have to be moved back into place.
While the No. 2 reactor building did not suffer major structural damage, large amounts of radioactive materials are believed to be trapped inside the building, meaning radiation levels are also very high there.
The level at the top floor is so high that any worker remaining there for one hour would quickly exceed the annual radiation exposure level. After decontamination, the upper part of the No. 2 reactor building will have to be taken apart to remove the spent fuel. However, this poses the major problem of preventing the spewing of radioactive materials during that process.
“To be honest, it will be difficult to say that no problems will emerge that will force a change in plans,” said Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

Japan pitches safety of food from Fukushima and Tohoku in wake of WTO ruling for South Korea

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April 12, 2019
Japan will seek to reassure other countries about the safety of food produced in areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, officials said Friday, after the World Trade Organization supported South Korea’s import ban on some Japanese seafood.
Fishermen in Tohoku, the region hit hardest by the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that triggered the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, expressed disappointment with the WTO’s decision, saying their catches clear strict safety checks before shipment.
The WTO “maintained factual findings that Japanese food products are scientifically safe and satisfy safety standards in South Korea,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press briefing.
“We will continue to ask South Korea and other countries to lift or ease import restrictions based on scientific evidence,” the top government spokesman said.
Japan has taken a series of steps over the years, such as screening food products for radioactive substances before shipment, to alleviate safety concerns.
“It’s been eight years since the nuclear accident. Does it mean that it’s still early (for the ban to be lifted) by global standards?” asked a frustrated Norio Takahashi, a 59-year-old fisherman from Fukushima.
In Iwate Prefecture, Mikio Morishita, 69, who runs a fish processing company, pointed to the difficulty of regaining consumer trust.
“Although food products (from the disaster-hit areas) are safe, we have yet to dispel bad perceptions (among consumers). The ruling is unfortunate because it suggests the world does not have a positive image” of items from Fukushima and its vicinity, Morishita said.
Japan has been promoting its agricultural and seafood exports, which have been growing in recent years and reached ¥906.8 billion ($8.1 billion) in 2018, putting the government’s target of ¥1 trillion for this year in sight.
By holding baseball and soccer games in the disaster-hit region, Japan hopes to present the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020 as a symbol of reconstruction.
“I will promote the high quality of food products (in the disaster-hit areas),” Olympics minister Shunichi Suzuki said at a news conference held just a day after he was reappointed to his role.
The WTO’s appellate body for dispute settlement on Thursday ruled in favor of South Korea’s import ban on fishery products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures, reversing an earlier decision.
Thursday’s ruling is final as the appellate body is the highest authority in the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism.
Due to fears of radioactive contamination, South Korea expanded its initial ban to include all fishery products from Fukushima and the seven other prefectures in 2013.
A total of 54 countries and regions introduced import restrictions following the meltdowns. The number has since declined, but South Korea is among 23 that are keeping the restrictions in place, according to the Japanese government.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Seoul welcomes WTO’s ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

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Japanese newspapers report about the World Trade Organization’s decision in favor of Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood. Yonhap
April 12, 2019
South Korea on Friday welcomed the World Trade Organization’s decision to rule in favor of Seoul’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and said it would keep the ban in place going forward.
 
The WTO appellate body overturned several points of the 2018 verdict earlier in the day, saying the Seoul government’s measures are not unfair trade restrictions and do not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination.
 
The appellate body, however, sided with Japan on one point, saying that Seoul has not provided enough information to Tokyo in terms of the import ban measures.
 
“The government has been making all-out efforts to follow the principle of making the health and safety of the people a priority, and the government highly appraises the WTO’s decision,” the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Energy said in a statement.
 
The South Korean government said it hopes that there would be no further trade dispute with Japan.
 
In 2015, Japan officially lodged a complaint at the WTO to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements on fish caught after 2013. Tokyo argued that radioactive levels of its fishery product were lower than those from a number of other nations.
 
The WTO’s dispute settlement body ruled in favor of Japan in February 2018.
 
South Korea has been placing import restrictions on 28 kinds of fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima since the nuclear power plant accident.
 
The South Korean government said it will keep the existing import ban on all seafood from the eight prefectures. All Japanese seafood companies will be required to hand in safety certificates when any traces of radiation are found, it added.
 
About 50 countries have maintained bans on imports since the nuclear disaster, but Japan has complained to the WTO about only one country — South Korea.
 
“Currently, 19 more countries have implemented an import ban (on Japanese seafood) at different levels,” said Yoon Chang-yul, the head of the social policy coordination office under the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
 
South Korea, meanwhile, has been replacing its imports of Japanese pollack and mackerel with supplies from Russia and Norway respectively, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.
 
“In the past, (South Korea) imported around 20,000 to 40,000 tons of pollack and mackerel from Japan. Now the volume is below 3,000 tons,” an official from the ocean ministry said.
 
“It is a sovereign country’s right to implement an appropriate level of protection,” an official from the ministry said. “All countries have different standards, and they cannot be judged under the same standard. The Fukushima crisis broke out in a neighboring country, and we needed to review our protection level in a more strict and thorough manner.” (Yonhap)

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment