Australian news, and some related international items

Mr Albanese goes to Madrid: Australia on the alliance path to Global Nato

Albanese’s trip to the leaders’ summit of a US-dominated alliance centred on the other side of the world will prepare the way for deeper Australian integration into a broadened Nato.

Above all, in one respect Mr Albanese’s rush to Madrid is not so different from his predecessor’s cajoling of Washington and London to help out a mate with the anachronistic PR nonsense of AUKUS and the gift horse of a ‘privileged’ offer to allow Australia to buy massively expensive American or conceivably British nuclear-powered submarines. By Richard TanterJun 30, 2022, While most eyes rest on the remains of Scott Morrison’s failed attempt at a khaki election through last September’s announcement of a backward-looking AUKUS alliance, prime minister Anthony Albanese’s trip to Madrid for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit points to a much more significant shift in Australia’s alliance with the United States – ‘a global alliance of democracies’, aka Global NATO.

 Scott Morrison’s AUKUS centring on agreement with the US and UK to provide Australia with submarine nuclear propulsion evoked derision about its back to the 1950s strategic vision and despair about what promises to be the worst and most consequential of Australia’s numerous recent politically-driven defence procurement choices.

The submarines debacle apart, AUKUS for the most part remains a matter of two or three lines of unpromising promises in media releases, largely dealing with matters already the subject of bilateral agreements or dimly-seen possible futures like quantum computing for defence purposes.

The most recent, if somewhat limp, nudge to keep the Albanese government on the nuclear submarine track came at the National Press Club when the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove mocked an informed questioner concerned about the deal’s implications for the tattered nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This widely-held worry – if first Australia, then serious nuclear weapon-wannabes Brazil and South Korea – was in fact unimportant Fullilove replied, since experts such as former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans have assured us are under control.

At the same time the US has just added its confidence booster to this process with a bill before Congress for an Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act that would allow two RAN submariners a year to attend a seven-week nuclear reactor training, take the US Navy’s Submarine Officer Basic Course, and then deploy aboard a US nuclear-powered submarine.

This only leaves the imponderables of deciding the strategic rationale of the mission to which the submarines are to be solution, the actual technical requirements that would be entailed by that mission, the design of the submarine, the choice of country and lead contractors for the build, the development of a full-scale naval nuclear-engineering safety and maintenance regime, and a brief discussion of the lifetime costs likely to be more than a couple of multiples of the $100 billion estimate for the French submarines.

What could possibly go wrong?

And that’s before any discussion of opportunity costs – even for alternative contenders for defence spending, let alone meeting non-military requirements for a secure Australia – of the lifetime costs of a commitment to nuclear submarines that are likely to move towards the half trillion dollar mark.

But Albanese’s trip to the leaders’ summit of a US-dominated alliance centred on the other side of the world will prepare the way for deeper Australian integration into a broadened Nato.

For over a decade US and Nato officials and Australian defence advisors have been calling for ‘a global alliance of democracies’. The Australian prime minister, together with the leaders of Nato’s other ‘Asia-Pacific partners’ from JapanNew Zealand and South Korea, will participate in the launch of the first formal iteration of Global Nato with Nato’s Strategic Concept 2022.

Two decades of high tempo deployment of Australian military under Nato auspices in the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East have conditioned the Australian Defence Force to close operational coordination and interoperability with US-led Nato ground, air, and naval forces.

Defence planners have gradually integrated Nato into high-level Australian strategic planning, first as an ‘Asian partner’ Nato along with Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, and recently as an ‘Enhanced Strategic Partner’.

Nato’s centrality to the hyper-multinational International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan provided the first and possibly most important Australian escalator into Nato.

While replete with consequences as lethal for the people of Afghanistan as they were dysfunctional for all of the alliance militaries involved, ISAF, together with the parallel US-orchestrated Combined Maritime Forces in the western Indian Ocean from 2002, provided deep operational experience and ‘learnings’ for a Nato-centred US-led coalition on a scale approaching a multilateral ‘global’ presence.

Nato’s Strategic Concept 2022 is to be formalised at the Madrid Summit, representing a maturation of US post-Cold War planning for a major step towards an integrated global defence alliance after seventy years of US-dominated Nato in Europe and the limitations of bilateral hub-and-spokes alliances in Asia.

Most importantly, apart from integrating its Asian partners more closely, the new Strategic Concept is to prepare Nato ‘against all threats, from all directions’.

Full membership of Nato for any of these Asian partners will be a long way off, not least because the governing institutions of a now 30 member country nuclear alliance will need adjustment, even assuming there is no uncomfortable internal opposition as Turkey has mounted against the admission of Sweden.

For the present, Australia, Japan and Korea – and possibly New Zealand – will be drawn into Nato’s seemingly endless rounds of political, diplomatic, military and civil society consultations (though the last is in practice a most attenuated and selective grouping of actual national and international civil society).

US-led military interoperability drives will be coupled with injunctions for closer political and strategic planning coordination between Canberra and Brussels (aka Washington).

But there can be little doubt of the ultimate goal for Washington in the construction of ‘an alliance of democracies’ with global reach.

The follies of AUKUS distract attention from the scale of the quiet achievement of the United States in rescuing Nato from post-Cold War obsolescence, latterly assisted greatly by the Russian war against Ukraine.

Drawing the line from Kyiv to Taipei, ‘we know’, the Prime Minister said, ‘that there is an alliance that has been reached as well between Russia and China. There are implications for our region, given the strategic competition that is in our region, which is why this Nato summit comes at such a critical time’.

As Mr Albanese rightly put it Russia’s ‘brutal invasion is against the rule of law’, and carries implications for ‘all of those who cherish democracy, who cherish the rule of law, and who cherish the rights of nations to be sovereign’.

Yet Australia needs to tread carefully.

The warm glow of rhetorical solidarity with Ukraine facing World War 2-scale Russian attack tends to veil the fact that multiple US-auspiced Nato interventions in the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan have led, via great destruction, to evident defeat or specious ‘mission accomplished’.

Moreover the list of Nato members and partners does not provide an unsullied list of countries honoured for their respect for democracy, rule of law, or sovereignty.

Mr Albanese might like to chat about the rule of law with Victor Orbán from Hungary or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Turkey, or indeed with Boris Johnson – or mull over the battered state of American democracy with Joe Biden.

Perhaps a stopover by his RAAF plane in Diego Garcia might prompt some thoughts about British respect for the rule of law – in certain respects, such as the forced dispossession of the indigenous Chagos Islanders to make way for a giant US military base often used by Australia, more egregious than China’s violations of international law somewhat further east.

Above all, in one respect Mr Albanese’s rush to Madrid is not so different from his predecessor’s cajoling of Washington and London to help out a mate with the anachronistic PR nonsense of AUKUS and the gift horse of a ‘privileged’ offer to allow Australia to buy massively expensive American or conceivably British nuclear-powered submarines.

By all means, let us make common cause with governments we find congenial – when our interests do in fact genuinely align. Defence coordination and cooperation with democratic states in our principal areas of strategic interest is a must for Australia. The problem is that Europe is not such an area, and neither was the Middle East, Afghanistan, nor Nato’s latest fronts in North Africa and the Sahel.

Thinking about an alliance of democracies is not inherently foolish. The problem comes when the form of periodic elections is confused with the substance of democracy. It may seem carping to point to the Orbans and Erdoğans of Nato, but with Marine Le Pen possibly just one more election away from the Elysée, the authoritarian threat in Europe is palpably real.

Remarking on a British prime minister’s announced willingness to trash international agreements for political gain at the risk of re-starting a war in Northern Ireland may seem unoriginal, it is scarcely beside the point with talk of new alliances built on rule of law.

Most seriously of all, we should be talking about the risk of a precipitous decline, or even collapse, of democracy in the United States extremely seriously. Appalling as it is, the Supreme Court decision abolishing US women’s rights to control their bodies is but the latest blow to the unexamined claim for the United States to still be called a global model of democracy.

The view in Canberra seems to be that the US alliance has survived the threat of Trump, so it’s back to business as usual, and onward to ever closer union – with the path leading now through Brussels. Yet the dangers to Australia from unconsidered reliance on a country with both systemic dysfunction and deep anti-democratic impulses at its heart should not be ignored.

The common element between the swooning Australian interest in Global Nato and the Morrison fiasco with AUKUS and the manifold problems of its submarine element is that in both cases a considered assessment of whether Australian national interests align with those of the United States – in this case in the guise of Nato – is absent.

The new Australian foreign minister has started a commendable reset of Australian regional relations in an effort to recover, at least as a start, from the wreckage of a decade of coalition policy.

In a series of important statements on foreign policy in recent years Penny Wong eloquently has made the case for understanding that a proper consideration of our national interest cannot be separated from the long and sometimes difficult process of working out who we are.

Interests very largely flow from identity, especially when it comes to reading a map of threats and opportunities. Why then would the first foreign policy ventures of a new prime minister be tied to an alliance with the other side of the world – for Australia, the old world?

July 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, reference | Leave a comment

World Health Organisation is subservient to International Atomic Energy Agency

The subordination of the WHO to IAEA is a key part of the systematic falsification of nuclear risk which has been under way ever since Hiroshima, the agreement creates an unacceptable conflict of interest in which the UN organisation concerned with promoting our health has been made subservient to those whose main interest is the expansion of nuclear power.

Dissolving the WHO-IAEA agreement is a necessary first step to restoring the WHO’s independence to research the true health impacts of ionising radiation and publish its findings.

it is time the WHO regained the freedom to impart independent, objective advice on the health risks of radiation

Toxic link: the WHO and the IAEA, Oliver TickellA 50-year-old agreement with the IAEA has effectively gagged the WHO from telling the truth about the health risks of radiation. F

Fifty years ago, on 28 May 1959, the World Health Organisation‘s assembly voted into force an obscure but important agreement with theInternational Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations “Atoms for Peace” organisation, founded just two years before in 1957. The effect of this agreement has been to give the IAEA an effective veto on any actions by the WHO that relate in any way to nuclear power – and so prevent the WHO from playing its proper role in investigating and warning of the dangers of nuclear radiation on human health.

The WHO’s objective is to promote “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”, while the IAEA’s mission is to “accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”. Although best known for its work to restrict nuclear proliferation, the IAEA’s main role has been to promote the interests of the nuclear power industry worldwide, and it has used the agreement to suppress the growing body of scientific information on the real health risks of nuclear radiation.

Under the agreement, whenever either organisation wants to do anything in which the other may have an interest, it “shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement”. The two agencies must “keep each other fully informed concerning all projected activities and all programs of work which may be of interest to both parties”. And in the realm of statistics – a key area in the epidemiology of nuclear risk – the two undertake “to consult with each other on the most efficient use of information, resources, and technical personnel in the field of statistics and in regard to all statistical projects dealing with matters of common interest”.

The language appears to be evenhanded, but the effect has been one-sided. For example, investigations into the health impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine on 26 April 1986 have been effectively taken over by IAEA and dissenting information has been suppressed. The health effects of the accident were the subject of two major conferences, in Geneva in 1995, and in Kiev in 2001. But the full proceedings of those conferences remain unpublished – despiteclaims to the contrary by a senior WHO spokesman reported in Le Monde Diplomatique.

Meanwhile, the 2005 report of the IAEA-dominated Chernobyl Forum, which estimates a total death toll from the accident of only several thousand, is widely regarded as a whitewash as it ignores a host of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies indicating far higher mortality and widespread genomic damage. Many of these studies were presented at the Geneva and Kiev conferences but they, and the ensuing learned discussions, have yet to see the light of day thanks to the non-publication of the proceedings.

The British radiation biologist Keith Baverstock is another casualty of the agreement, and of the mindset it has created in the WHO. He served as a radiation scientist and regional adviser at the WHO’s European Office from 1991 to 2003, when he was sacked after expressing concern to his senior managers that new epidemiological evidence from nuclear test veterans and from soldiers exposed to depleted uranium indicated that current risk models for nuclear radiation were understating the real hazards.

Now a professor at the University of Kuopio, Finland, Baverstock finally published his paper in the peer-reviewed journal Medicine, Conflict and Survival in April 2005. He concluded by calling for “reform from within the profession” and stressing “the political imperative for freely independent scientific institutions” – a clear reference to the non-independence of his former employer, the WHO, which had so long ignored his concerns.

Since the 21st anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in April 2007, a daily “Hippocratic vigil” has taken place at the WHO’s offices in Geneva, organised byIndependent WHO to persuade the WHO to abandon its the WHO-IAEA Agreement. The protest has continued through the WHO’s 62nd World Health Assembly, which ended yesterday, and will endure through the executive board meeting that begins today. The group has struggled to win support from WHO’s member states. But the scientific case against the agreement is building up, most recently when the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) called for its abandonment at its conference earlier this month in Lesvos, Greece.

At the conference, research was presented indicating that as many as a million children across Europe and Asia may have died in the womb as a result of radiation from Chernobyl, as well as hundreds of thousands of others exposed to radiation fallout, backing up earlier findings published by the ECRR in Chernobyl 20 Years On: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident. Delegates heard that the standard risk models for radiation risk published by the International Committee on Radiological Protection (ICRP), and accepted by WHO, underestimate the health impacts of low levels of internal radiation by between 100 and 1,000 times – consistent with the ECRR’s own 2003 model of radiological risk (The Health Effects of Ionising Radiation Exposure at Low Doses and Low Dose Rates for Radiation Protection Purposes: Regulators’ Edition). According to Chris Busby, the ECRR’s scientific secretary and visiting professor at the University of Ulster’s school of biomedical sciences:

“The subordination of the WHO to IAEA is a key part of the systematic falsification of nuclear risk which has been under way ever since Hiroshima, the agreement creates an unacceptable conflict of interest in which the UN organisation concerned with promoting our health has been made subservient to those whose main interest is the expansion of nuclear power. Dissolving the WHO-IAEA agreement is a necessary first step to restoring the WHO’s independence to research the true health impacts of ionising radiation and publish its findings.”

Some birthdays deserve celebration – but not this one. After five decades, it is time the WHO regained the freedom to impart independent, objective advice on the health risks of radiation.

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AUKUS nuclear submarine plan to be revealed by March 2023

ABC By defence correspondent Andrew Greene 29 June 22, 

Key points:

July 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Spinbusting the propaganda of SMR Nuclear Technology’s Tony Irwin as he spruiks for Small Nuclear Reactors for Australia

First to nuclear power, which, we should remember, has been effectively banned in Australia since the late 1990s.

On page three of the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, columnist Piers Akerman wrote an “exclusive” news
story showing “nuclear energy is cheaper” than coal, gas, solar or wind. Such a claim would overturn pretty much all serious analysis of electricity costs around the globe. So where did it come from? The
International Energy Agency maybe, or perhaps the CSIRO?

No. Akerman quoted “new data” from Tony Irwin, who is a nuclear industry veteran and a technical director at a consultancy company with “specialist industry knowledge on the procurement and development of nuclear technologies” with a focus on small modular reactors (SMR).

But one problem with using Irwin’s numbers is they are based on an estimate of the cost of one
particular SMR design which has not yet been built and won’t produce power until at least 2029.

Guardian 30th June 2022

July 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

NATO has completed its post-Cold War transformation from Europe’s guard dog into America’s attack dog

 The guard dog had, it seems, been re-trained as an attack dog. Scott Ritter 1 July 22, From an ostensible defensive alliance, NATO has grown into an aggressor designed to promote ‘rules’ dictated by the US,

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has just wrapped up its annual summit in Madrid, Spain. The one-time trans-Atlantic defensive alliance has, over the past three decades, transformed itself from the guardian of Western Europe into global cop, seeking to project militarily a so-called values- and rules-based posture.

NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, famously noted that the mission of the bloc was “to keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in.” In short, NATO served as a wall against the physical expansion of the Soviet Union from the perch it had established in eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War. Likewise, the creation of NATO prevented a treaty from being concluded between Germany and the Soviet Union that would enable the reunification of Germany. And lastly, the existence of NATO mandated that the US retain a significant full-time military presence in Europe, helping break America’s traditional tendency toward isolationism.

At the Madrid Summit, NATO radically redefined its mission to reflect a new mantra which could be encapsulated as “keep the Russians down, the Americans in, and the Chinese out.” It is an aggressive–even hostile–posture, premised on sustaining Western (i.e., American) supremacy.

This mission is to be accomplished through the defense and promulgation of a so-called “rules-based international order” which exists only in the minds of its creators, which in this case is the United States and its allies in Europe. It also represents a radical break from past practice which sought to keep NATO defined by the four corners of its trans-Atlantic birthright by seeking to expand its security umbrella into the Pacific.

The guard dog had, it seems, been re-trained as an attack dog.

Continue reading

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Preparing for future crises

Preparing for future crises

John Hewson

While the climate debate intensifies over the inevitability of further, even more extreme weather events, and the necessary transitions to a low-carbon Australia, it seems that governments are ignoring or playing down the possibility of further pandemics and the need to be better prepared next time.

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Military social media campaigns promote the war in Ukraine, and attack any ”wrongthink” that dares criticise role of USA and NATO

Ukraine Is The Most Aggressively Trolled War Of All Time: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin’s Newsletter, 1 July 22,

There’s a lot going on in America and the people are very stressed out and frightened, but don’t worry, there’s nothing the US government won’t do to make sure more High Mobility Artillery Rocket systems get to Ukraine.

Rest assured Americans: no matter how dark things may seem right now, no matter how insecure and uncertain you may feel, you can sleep soundly knowing your government is moving mountains around the clock to make sure the Ukraine war becomes a strategic quagmire for Moscow.

The Ukraine war is the single most aggressively trolled issue I’ve ever witnessed. As soon as it started, Twitter was full of brand new accounts swarming anyone who uttered wrongthink about Ukraine, and now there are entire extremely coordinated troll factions working to scare people away from criticizing empire narratives about this war. It’s plainly very inorganic, so it’s good to recall what we know about the trolling operations of western militaries.

[Ed. note – several examples given here]

So the western empire is responding to a war that was caused by NATO expansion by greatly expanding NATO, at the same time we learn that the Biden administration doesn’t even believe Ukraine has any chance of winning that war. This is going great, guys. Good job everyone.

Sure the worst case scenario of all this brinkmanship with Russia is nuclear war, but on the other hand the best case scenario is securing planetary domination for an empire that has spent the 21st century killing people by the millions in wars of aggression for power and profit. Totally worth the risk!

When you realize the US really only has one political party, you cease seeing one good party protecting people from a bad party and start seeing one giant party threatening to take away people’s civil rights if they don’t obey and submit. You suddenly understand that saying one party is a “lesser evil” is like saying a boxer should want to get hit by his opponent’s left hand because his right cross hurts more. It’s two arms on the same boxer, and they’re both working together to knock you out……………..

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The impossibility of humans colonising space

Ukraine Is The Most Aggressively Trolled War Of All Time: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Caitlin’s Newsletter, Caitlin Johnstone 30n June 22

”……………………………………………………………………………..One thing we learned from Covid is that being stuck inside sucks. Space colonization would be like being in permanent lockdown with no windows, no Uber Eats, no birdsong or rain on the roof and no chance of ever going home. Even if it somehow became possible, it’s a dumb idea and I hate it.

And there’s no reason to believe it will ever become possible. Science is nowhere near finished learning about all the countless ways the human organism is inseparably intertwined with Earth. The belief that we can solve our problems with space colonization is unscientific. We’re just going to have to change how we function as a species.

Astronauts lose decades’ worth of bone mass in space that many do not recover even after a year back on Earth, researchers said Thursday, warning that it could be a “big concern” for future missions to Mars

The biggest obstacle remains the fact that science has no idea how to sustain human life in a way that is separate from earth’s ecosystem. We don’t even have any evidence that it’s possible. We’re no closer to being able to do it than we were a thousand years ago; today’s space stations are not independent of Earth’s ecosystem in even the tiniest way. They’re still 100 percent dependent on terrestrial supplies, which is an unsustainable model if you’re talking about actual colonization.

The idea of space colonization appeals to the capitalist mentality because it means we can keep expanding our population and keep expanding the economy and keep harvesting and consuming resources in the way we have been. But there’s literally zero scientific evidence that it’s feasible.

A future of space colonization is a fairy tale we tell ourselves so that we won’t have to change. So we can keep up our egocentric way of functioning without adapting and transcending our self-destructive patterns. We’re like a slacker who refuses to get off their parents’ couch and get their shit together who babbles made-up nonsense about NFT get-rich-quick schemes when asked about their plans for the future.

Collective extinction is easier to imagine than collective ego death.

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The IAEA Needs Access to Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plant. Biden Can Help

Since Russia seized the plant in March, the safety and security of the plant have been in jeopardy. Anthony Ruggiero and  Andrea Stricker, 30 June 22,

“Untenable.” That’s how Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), last week described the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), which Russia seized in March. He said that every day “the independent work and assessments of Ukraine’s regulator are undermined,” the “risk of an accident or a security breach increases.” Grossi asserted he wants to send an IAEA mission to the ZNPP, which is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. In a twist, however, Ukraine’s atomic energy regulators, presumably at the direction of Kyiv, have rejected Grossi’s request. 

Ukraine believes an IAEA visit to the ZNPP would legitimize Russia’s control of the complex. Grossi has rejected that characterization, emphasizing that “it is absolutely incorrect. When I go there, I will be going there under the same agreement that Ukraine passed with the IAEA, not the Russian Federation.” President Joe Biden urgently needs to convince Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to let the IAEA in to ensure the ZNPP is safe and secure.

The ZNPP, located in east Ukraine, is a facility with six light water reactors, and it produced up to one-fifth of Ukraine’s electricity production before the war. To gain control of it, Russia shelled the area with missiles, sparking a widely reported fire. The missile attack spurred fears that Moscow could further damage the facility and cause a nuclear radiological incident that could harm Ukrainian civilians and neighboring countries.

Ukrainian authorities brought the fire under control, but Russia installed officials from its atomic energy agency, Rosatom, to oversee day-to-day work of Ukrainian personnel. The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine warned in a statement that life at Zaporizhzhia has become intolerable under Moscow’s direction: Russia’s military and representatives of Russia’s Rosatom and its subsidiary Rosenergoatom “constantly terrorize and directly threaten the lives of the plant personnel.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Russian military officers have been interrogating ZNPP employees to assess their loyalties to Moscow and reprimanding “workers who speak in Ukrainian rather than Russian and screening their cellphones for evidence of allegiance to Kyiv.” The Russians have also abducted, tortured, or shot workers. Russian officials at the plant have told workers that they intend to connect the ZNPP to Russia’s electricity grid, which would be costly and take years to accomplish, reinforcing Kyiv’s concerns that Moscow is preparing for long-term control of the facility.

Russia has not publicly opposed an IAEA visit. Grossi claimed in a June 6 statement to the IAEA Board of Governors that Ukraine had requested an IAEA mission to the plant and that the agency was ready to go. The day after Grossi’s statement, however, Ukraine’s atomic agency, Energoatom, wrote in a Telegram post that it had not invited the IAEA to visit. “We consider this message from the head of the IAEA as another attempt to get to the (power plant) by any means in order to legitimise the presence of occupiers there and essentially condone their actions,” the post stated. 

In March, Grossi said that seven pillars of nuclear plant safety and security were at risk at the ZNPP. Those pillars include: maintenance of physical integrity; functional safety and security systems and equipment; freedom of operating staff to fulfill their safety and security duties and without undue pressure; a secure off-site power supply from the grid for all nuclear sites; uninterrupted logistical supply chains and transportation to and from the site; effective on-site and off-site radiation monitoring systems backed by emergency preparedness and response measures; and reliable communication with regulators and others. In his June 6 statement to the IAEA board, Grossi declared that five of seven pillars had been compromised. “This is why IAEA safety and security experts must go,” he said.

Moreover, the ZNPP stopped transmitting safeguards information to the IAEA on May 30, meaning the agency could not ascertain whether there had been theft or loss of nuclear material. “The Ukrainian regulator has informed us they have lost control of the nuclear material,” Grossi told the board.

President Biden is in a difficult spot: He is focused on fortifying Zelenskyy’s fighting forces against Russia, but Putin’s control of the ZNPP could lead to a safeguards or safety crisis in Ukraine. Biden should urge Ukraine to approve an IAEA visit. He should also insist that Russia stop its intimidation and violence against ZNPP workers and return the plant to Ukraine. 

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UN Ocean Conference ends with call for greater ambition and global commitment to address dire state of Ocean

UN Ocean Conference ends with call for greater ambition and global commitment to address dire state of Ocean

Following a week of discussions and events in Lisbon, Portugal, the UN Ocean Conference concluded on Friday, with governments and heads of state agreeing on a new political declaration to Save Our Ocean.

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is Nuclear Power Just Too Dangerous?

The New Republic , 1 July 22,

A survey of the world’s worst nuclear disasters highlights the catastrophic consequences of technical hubris.

On February 24, 2022, Russian troops began occupying Ukrainian territory in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant 26 years earlier remains the worst nuclear disaster the world has yet experienced. …………….Soon enough it became clear that Russian forces were not actively targeting Chernobyl’s facilities, including the sarcophagus that protects the damaged reactor core. Rather, they had chosen the sparsely populated area as the fastest route from Belarus to Kyiv.

……………The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, issued assurances that there was no cause for alarm. But nuclear watchers could be forgiven for their panic. The spotty news emerging from Chernobyl this spring uneasily echoed the trajectory of several of the world’s major nuclear disasters, including Japan’s Fukushima and Three Mile Island in the United States. 

……………………None of this had yet transpired when Serhii Plokhy, a professor of history and director of the Ukrainian Institute at Harvard, began writing Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear DisastersNuclear power has, in fact, been gaining popular support, despite its dangers. In recent years, some climate activists have aligned with the nuclear power industry to argue that nuclear power offers the only off-ramp from the urgent and existential threat of climate change. The World Nuclear Association, an industry lobbying group, wants to raise the share of electrical energy produced by nuclear plants from 10 to 25 percent by 2050.

While Plokhy acknowledges the threat of climate change, his study of the history of nuclear accidents has convinced him that the risks are simply too high. His account, which draws on contemporary reports of six radiological disasters as well as government investigations conducted after the fact, argues persuasively that nuclear reactors remain inherently unsafe. Nuclear engineers add new safety features after each disaster, only to be astonished by the devilish and statistically unlikely path of the next one. Citing research based on acknowledged nuclear incidents that predicts “one core meltdown accident every 37,000 reactor years,” Plohky forecasts that we will likely see another large-scale accident before 2036. We may be lucky to make it that long.

America’s first hydrogen bomb test did not go according to plan………………………………………………..

Similar scenarios unfolded in each of the cases Plokhy discusses in the book. ………………………….  a storage tank for radioactive waste at the Maiak plutonium production facility had exploded, in September 1957………………….   In the critical hours leading up to a reactor fire at the U.K.’s Windscale facility, one month later, operators struggled to understand the pile’s strange behavior during a maintenance operation that had been postponed several months in the name of plutonium production. ……………….. in March 1979. Plant managers at Chernobyl made the disastrous decision to press pause halfway through a test of the backup generators to satisfy demands made by the regional administrator of the electrical grid.    At Fukushima, plant designers located the backup generators below sea level for a facility nestled against the sea in a country vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis 

The technical details in these stories matter immensely, and Plokhy excels at breaking them down. …………… The bad news is that the authorities in charge of building nuclear power plants do not always incorporate these safety features into their designs. ……………

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small modular nukes fall short on climate promises, new study suggests.

SMRs are inherently less efficient, hence the “higher volumes and greater complexity” of the waste, says the study. SMRs leak more neutrons, which impairs the self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

GreenBiz, By Clifford Maynes, 1 July 22,  Small modular reactors (SMRs), seen by the beleaguered nuclear industry as a shining hope for a global revival, may have hit a serious snag. A new study finds that mini-nuclear power stations produce higher volumes of radioactive waste per unit of generation than larger-scale traditional ones.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada are among the countries investing in SMRs on the hope of a cheaper, faster way to build out nuclear capacity. In Canada, the federal government is leading and funding a “Team Canada” approach involving several provinces, industry players, and others, envisioning SMRs as “a source of safe, clean, affordable energy, opening opportunities for a resilient, low-carbon future and capturing benefits for Canada and Canadians.”

In Ontario, the Ford government selected GE Hitachi to build an SMR at the Darlington nuclear plant site, with a projected in-service date of 2028.

Now, however, the first independent assessment of radioactive waste from SMRs has modeled the waste from three SMR designs, Toshiba, NuScale and Terrestrial Energy. The conclusion: “SMRs could increase the volume of short-lived low and intermediate level wastes… by up to 35 times compared to a large conventional reactor,” New Scientist reports.

“For the long-lived equivalent waste, SMRs would produce up to 30 times more,” the story adds. For spent nuclear fuel, up to five times more.

Stanford University’s Lindsay Krall, who led the research, said information from the industry is “promotional,” echoing past criticisms that SMRs are still “PowerPoint reactors” with no detailed engineering to back up the concept. “SMR performed worse on nearly all of our metrics compared to standard commercial reactors,” Krall said.

SMRs are inherently less efficient, hence the “higher volumes and greater complexity” of the waste, says the study. SMRs leak more neutrons, which impairs the self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

“The study concludes that, overall, small modular designs are inferior to conventional reactors with respect to radioactive waste generation, management requirements, and disposal options,” Stanford News reports.

“The research team estimated that after 10,000 years, the radiotoxicity of plutonium in spent fuels discharged from the three study modules would be at least 50 percent higher than the plutonium in conventional spent fuel per unit energy extracted.” 

……………………………………. Proponents hope SMRs will have “small is beautiful” appeal and focus on their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But critics say they sidestep public concerns about accidents, wastes, cost and other impacts, noting that SMRs aren’t small: the Darlington reactor will be rated at 300 megawatts, about a third the size of the existing Candu reactors on the site, and more than half the size of the units at the nearby Pickering station.

SMRs are also new and unproven, critics warn. They say there is no reason to think SMR construction will be exempt from the massive cost overruns and completion delays that typically plague reactor construction, and megaprojects in general. And there is no real-world experience to date to demonstrate that SMRs can be built on time and on budget.

The biggest concern is that SMRs will soak up investment dollars and grid capacity that should go to proven, successful renewables such as solar and wind, which can be rapidly deployed and have falling rather than escalating costs. Because of the time lag, nuclear is not expected to make a large contribution to meeting the immediate, global goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted in its sixth assessment that small-scale, distributed energy sources such as wind and solar had exceeded expectations, while large, centralized technologies such as nuclear had fallen short.

“It takes too long to site and build nuclear reactors, especially compared to solar and wind installations,” said MIT researcher Kate Brown.

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Macron’s energy plans in tatters, as major flaws cause shutdown’s in France’s nuclear reactors

Macron’s energy plans in tatters as EDF nuclear reactor flaw deals hammer
blow. French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious plans to transform
energy systems around the world may be scuppered by major flaws in EDF’s
nuclear reactors.

During a speech at the 48th G7 summit held in Germany, Mr
Macron laid out his plans to rid the world of coal and get the planet to
net zero emissions by 2050. In his roadmap, he touted the benefits of
nuclear energy, which is the largest source of electricity generation in
France, accounting for 70 percent of the country’s supply.

However, recent reports of cracks being discovered in some of EDF’s nuclear reactors may
throw a spanner in the works. The French leader admitted one disadvantage
of nuclear energy is the technology is not permanent, as ageing nuclear
reactors need to decommission, usually after 40 or 50 years after opening.
While France has a large fleet of nuclear reactors, many of them are
ageing, with French regulators pushing the scheduled shutdown of over half
of EDF’s reactors by over a decade.

Express 28th June 2022

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July 1 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Supreme Court Deals A Massive Blow To The Planet” • The Supreme Court’s limits on the EPA’s power to push for carbon neutrality is a massive blow. It sets the US back in its efforts to eliminate fossil fuel pollution. We already are decades behind on that task, and the world is likely […]

July 1 Energy News — geoharvey

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment