Australian news, and some related international items

USA campaign to stop dangerous transport of nuclear wastes (don’t Australians care about this?)

Opponents protest nuclear waste transport in Idaho, June 22, 2018, By SAVANNAH CARDON, Post Register ,Idaho Press CALDWELL — Among the tents set up at the Caldwell Farmers Market on June 13, one stuck out. Covered in nuclear waste symbols and mock waste barrels was the Radioactive Waste Roadshow with Don’t Waste Idaho.

The campaign was coordinated to oppose the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposal to ship 7,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste from Hanford, Wash., to the Department of Energy desert site west of Idaho Falls. After processing, the waste would then be transported to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for disposal, Don’t Waste Idaho campaign coordinator Liz Paul said.

The campaign’s mission is to act as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and educate people on the potential dangers of storing and transporting hazardous material, particularly in regard to the Snake River Aquifer that sits below the Idaho National Laboratory, Paul said. The campaign, which began in early 2018, is supported by the Snake River Alliance.

“We oppose this idea of shipping this waste across our public highways and railways, and we also oppose having it stored indefinitely at the Idaho National Lab,” Paul said………

Don’t Waste Idaho is campaigning across the state to get signatures on a petition asking Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to defend the Nuclear Waste Settlement Agreement.

“We think the people of Caldwell should be concerned,” Paul said. “This waste is a danger. We don’t want it coming on our highways, and we don’t want it stranded.”

The route following Interstate 84 from Hanford to the lab passes through Caldwell, Nampa, Meridian and Boise. However, site spokeswoman Sarah Robertson-Neumann said it’s too early to confirm the route the radioactive waste would travel.

Don’t Waste Idaho will continue through Idaho cities to express its views against the transport of nuclear waste through Idaho, Paul said. The group plans to have representatives at events Saturday in Pocatello at the farmers market and Inkom at the Wild Flower Festival and at the Jackson Brown concert at the Idaho Botanical Gardens July in Boise.

“I’m very concerned about new threats to having even more nuclear waste in the state that might cause damage to people all over, especially in the southern half,” said Julie Hoefnagels, Snake River Alliance board president. “We are just doing what we can to get the word out so people can be aware again.”

June 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UK government oblivious of the climate change threat to Hinkley nuclear project – with rising sea levels

Weatherwatch: the nuclear option and rising levels of anxiety  Danger of coastal flooding might make sensible people think twice about building houses in vulnerable places, let alone nuclear power stations, Guardian,  Paul Brown,

Back in 2012 a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the Environment Agency was warning that 12 out of the UK’s 19 nuclear sites were in danger of coastal flooding and erosion because of climate change. Among them was Hinkley Point in Somerset, one of the eight proposed sites for new nuclear power stations around the coasts.That was before the increasing volume of melting of the Greenland ice capwas properly understood and when most experts thought there was no net melting in the Antarctic.

Melting ice sheets are hastening sea level rise, satellite data confirms
Satellite measurements released earlier this month and other recent observations of how warmer seas are eroding ice shelves and glaciers have removed uncertainty.

Estimates of sea level rise in the next 50 years have gone up from less than 30cm to more than a metre, well within the lifespan of the nuclear stations the UK government has planned.

The extra coastal erosion and threat of storm surges that this increase in sea level will bring to our shores might make sensible people think twice about siting any buildings in vulnerable places, let alone nuclear power stations.

So far, however, the government has yet to respond and is pressing ahead with its plans.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Alas, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) will NOT save the collapsing nuclear power industry

The future of nuclear power in the US is bleak, BY M. V. RAMANA,   06/23/18   Presumably as a way to fulfill election promises, President Trump has ordered the use of emergency federal powers designed for war-time crises to financially prop up coal and nuclear power plants. 

Nuclear power that was once advertised as being “too cheap to meter” has evidently become too costly for electric utilities to buy. Apart from two 1,000 megawatt reactors being constructed in Georgia at enormous expense to ratepayers (even after subsidies from tax payers), there are no immediate prospects for new nuclear power plants in the United States. What of the longer-term future?

One possibility for new nuclear reactor construction comes from what are called the Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). One SMR design called NuScale is slowly making its way to potential construction. Developed by a company based in Oregon, a single NuScale reactor is designed to generate just 50 megawatts of power.Earlier this spring, the NuScale design cleared the first phase of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s certification process. A group of electrical utilities called the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems has expressed an interest in purchasing a power plant, which consists of 12 NuScale reactors. The Tennessee Valley Authority also has applied for a permit to develop a site that could host an SMR.

Why SMRs? According to promoters of these scaled-down reactors, they could solve the multiple challenges faced by nuclear power. SMR developers promise lowered costs, decreased production of radioactive waste, reduction or even elimination of the risk of severe accidents, and no contribution to nuclear proliferation. Dozens of companies claim to be developing their own SMR designs, and many have received funding from wealthy private investors and the U.S. Department of Energy.

However, there is little to suggest SMRs will somehow magically remedy all that ails the nuclear industry. SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison with currently operational reactors. This puts them at a disadvantage.

One known way to reduce the cost of nuclear electricity has been to build larger reactors because the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not increase in direct proportion to the power generated. SMRs will, therefore, cost more than large reactors for each unit of generation capacity. Most of the small reactors built in the United States shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically.

SMR proponents argue that they can compensate by savings through mass manufacture in factories and learning how to hold down costs from the experience of constructing lots of reactors. This is a dubious assumption: In both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest numbers of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with construction experience.

Even if one were to assume that such “learning” actually occurs, SMRs have to be manufactured by the thousands to achieve meaningful savings. There is simply no market for so many reactors.

Even Westinghouse, the company that has directly or indirectly designed the majority of the world’s nuclear reactors, has realized that there is no market. For a decade or more, Westinghouse pursued a SMR design. But, in 2014, the company abandoned that effort. Its CEO explained: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment — it’s that there’s no customers.” Few or no customers means no one would, or should, want to build a factory to construct the modules constituting these SMRs.

What of the claims about safety and nuclear waste? The problem is that the technical demands posed by these different goals conflict with one another, forcing reactor designers to make impossible choices.

For example, safety can be improved by making reactors smaller. But, a smaller reactor, at least the water-cooled reactors that are most likely to be built earliest, will produce more, not less, nuclear waste per unit of electricity they generate because of lower efficiencies. With no long-term solution in sight for nuclear waste, accumulating more radioactive spent fuel aggravates the storage problem.

The poor economic outlook for SMRs also affects safety. Companies that market SMRs propose placing multiple reactors in close proximity to save on costs of associated infrastructure. But this would increase the risk of accidents or the impact of potential accidents on the surrounding population.

At Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex, explosions at one reactor damaged the spent fuel pool in a co-located reactor. Radiation leaks from one unit made it difficult for emergency workers to approach the other units.

The future of nuclear power in the United States, and indeed in much of the world, is bleak. Small modular reactors will not change that prognosis. There is no point in wasting public money on promoting them. 

M. V. Ramana is the Simons chairman in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia and the author of “The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.”

June 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Why is the media not covering the obscenity of Trump’s bombing?

Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, and No One Is Talking About It, TruthDig, Lee Camp, 19 June 18, 

We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names.

Once every 12 minutes.

The United States military drops an explosive with a strength you can hardly comprehend once every 12 minutes. And that’s odd, because we’re technically at war with—let me think—zero countries. So that should mean zero bombs are being dropped, right?

Hell no! You’ve made the common mistake of confusing our world with some sort of rational, cogent world in which our military-industrial complex is under control, the music industry is based on merit and talent, Legos have gently rounded edges (so when you step on them barefoot, it doesn’t feel like an armor-piercing bullet just shot straight up your sphincter), and humans are dealing with climate change like adults rather than burying our heads in the sand while trying to convince ourselves that the sand around our heads isn’t getting really, really hot.

You’re thinking of a rational world. We do not live there.

Instead, we live in a world where the Pentagon is completely and utterly out of control. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the $21 trillion (that’s not a typo) that has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon. But I didn’t get into the number of bombs that ridiculous amount of money buys us. President George W. Bush’s military dropped 70,000 bombs on five countries. But of that outrageous number, only 57 of those bombs really upset the international community.

Because there were 57 strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen—countries the U.S. was neither at war with nor had ongoing conflicts with. And the world was kind of horrified. There was a lot of talk that went something like, “Wait a second. We’re bombing in countries outside of war zones? Is it possible that’s a slippery slope ending in us just bombing all the goddamn time? (Awkward pause.) … Nah. Whichever president follows Bush will be a normal adult person (with a functional brain stem of some sort) and will therefore stop this madness.”

We were so cute and naive back then, like a kitten when it’s first waking up in the morning.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that under President Barack Obama there were “563 strikes, largely by drones, that targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.”

It’s not just the fact that bombing outside of a war zone is a horrific violation of international law and global norms. It’s also the morally reprehensible targeting of people for pre-crime, which is what we’re doing and what the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report” warned us about. (Humans are very bad at taking the advice of sci-fi dystopias. If we’d listened to “1984,” we wouldn’t have allowed the existence of the National Security Agency. If we listened to “The Terminator,” we wouldn’t have allowed the existence of drone warfare. And if we’d listened to “The Matrix,” we wouldn’t have allowed the vast majority of humans to get lost in a virtual reality of spectacle and vapid nonsense while the oceans die in a swamp of plastic waste. … But you know, who’s counting?)

There was basically a media blackout while Obama was president.

…….we now know that Donald Trump’s administration puts all previous presidents to shame. The Pentagon’s numbers show that during George W. Bush’s eight years he averaged 24 bombs dropped per day, which is 8,750 per year. Over the course of Obama’s time in office, his military dropped 34 bombs per day, 12,500 per year. And in Trump’s first year in office, he averaged 121 bombs dropped per day, for an annual total of 44,096.

Trump’s military dropped 44,000 bombs in his first year in office.

He has basically taken the gloves off the Pentagon, taken the leash off an already rabid dog………

Under Trump, five bombs are dropped per hour—every hour of every day. That averages out to a bomb every 12 minutes.

And which is more outrageous—the crazy amount of death and destruction we are creating around the world, or the fact that your mainstream corporate media basically NEVER investigates it? They talk about Trump’s flaws. They say he’s a racist, bulbous-headed, self-centered idiot (which is totally accurate)—but they don’t criticize the perpetual Amityville massacre our military perpetrates by dropping a bomb every 12 minutes, most of them killing 98 percent non-targets.

When you have a Department of War with a completely unaccountable budget—as we saw with the $21 trillion—and you have a president with no interest in overseeing how much death the Department of War is responsible for, then you end up dropping so many bombs that the Pentagon has reported we are running out of bombs.

……….This is about a runaway military-industrial complex that our ruling elite are more than happy to let loose. Almost no one in Congress or the presidency tries to restrain our 121 bombs a day. Almost no one in a mainstream outlet tries to get people to care about this.

Recently, the hashtag #21Trillion for the unaccounted Pentagon money has gained some traction. Let’s get another one started: #121BombsADay.

One every 12 minutes……..

We are a rogue nation with a rogue military and a completely unaccountable ruling elite. The government and military you and I support by being a part of this society are murdering people every 12 minutes, and in response, there’s nothing but a ghostly silence. It is beneath us as a people and a species to give this topic nothing but silence. It is a crime against humanity.



June 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A deadly serious French farce — Beyond Nuclear International

The French nuclear fiasco at Flamanville

via A deadly serious French farce — Beyond Nuclear International

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 24 Energy News



¶ “Thirty Years Ago Today, Global Warming First Made Headline News” • On June 23, 1988, amid a host of environmental issues, global warming jumped from an esoteric news item to the front page. That day, NASA climate scientist James Hansen told a US Senate committee that human-produced greenhouse gases were measurably heating the climate. [NOVA Next]

Fire at Yellowstone National Park in 1988

¶ “How big corporations are – and aren’t – fighting global warming” • Major companies in the US and worldwide are increasingly acting to lower the carbon footprint of what they produce, how they ship goods, and the energy they buy. They are driven by market signals, government mandates, reputational interests, investor pressure, and other factors. [Axios]

¶ “Green energy feels the heat as subsidies go to fossil fuels” • The “big six” energy companies have raised their prices so that the average…

View original post 667 more words

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment