Australian news, and some related international items

Offsite power supply to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant destroyed

Offsite power supply to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant destroyed

Guardian Isobel Koshiw in Kyiv, 10 Sept 22,

A vital offsite electricity supply to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been destroyed by shelling and there is little likelihood a reliable supply will be re-established, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog chief has said.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said shelling had destroyed the switchyard of a nearby thermal power plant.

The plant has supplied power to the nuclear facility each time its normal supply lines had been cut over the past three weeks. The thermal plant was also supplying the surrounding area, which was plunged into darkness.

Local Ukrainian officials said work was under way to restore the connection, which has been cut multiple times this week.

Grossi, who said he had been informed of the situation by IAEA representatives at the plant, called for an “immediate cessation of all shelling in the entire area”. “This is an unsustainable situation and is becoming increasingly precarious,” he said, without apportioning blame for the shelling.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling near Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine and within the perimeter of Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, which has six reactors.

The thermal supply has been cut and restored multiple times this week and Enerhodar, the nearby town, has suffered several complete blackouts.

When the thermal supply has been cut the plant has relied on its only remaining operating reactor for the power needed for cooling and other safety functions. This method is designed to provide power only for a few hours at a time. Diesel generators are used as a last resort. The constant destruction of thermal power supply has led Ukraine to consider shutting down the remaining operating reactor, said Grossi. Ukraine “no longer [has] confidence in the restoration of offsite power”, he said.

Grossi said that if Ukraine decided not to restore the offsite supply the entire power plant would be reliant on emergency diesel generators to ensure supplies for the nuclear safety and security functions.

“As a consequence, the operator would not be able to restart the reactors unless offsite power was reliably re-established,” he said……………..

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear is the worst possible way to back up wind power

 Letter to Scottish Herald Pete Roche: NUCLEAR is the worst possible way to
back up wind power. Full Stop. Baseload – which Iain Macwhirter in his
Herald on Sunday article “Nuclear is the worst possible option … except
for the others” (September 4) suggests is needed when the wind doesn’t
blow – is an outdated concept.

Renewables should not be described as
intermittent – they are variable, which means their output can be
forecast with good accuracy. Nuclear plants are on 24/7, so can’t balance
the output from variable renewables, and would get in the way of their
expansion, because they are inflexible.

There are plenty of better ways of
balancing the grid. We need a more flexible system with smart grids,
time-of-use tariffs, batteries and storage including heat storage and
hydrogen, made using surplus renewables power. A rapidly growing number of
studies show that 100% renewable energy systems are not only feasible but
also cost effective.

And we are not just talking about wind. Solar would
also be a central pillar, but other sources will include geothermal, tidal
and wave power, all backed up with an ambitious energy efficiency

Nuclear power is too expensive. Building nuclear stations will
put energy bills up. Electricity from offshore wind is currently about £37
per megawatt hour. If the UK Government goes ahead with Sizewell, in about
15 years its electricity would cost around £120 per megawatt hour. An
added problem is that new nuclear stations take too long to build.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says
that we have less than 10 years in which to make massive and unprecedented
changes to global energy infrastructure to limit global warming to moderate
levels. The UK Government first started consulting on building new nuclear
power stations in May 2007, but Hinkley Point C is not expected to start
generating electricity until around 2027.

 Herald 9th Sept 2022

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

France, Germany and UK lose faith in negotiations with Iran, to restore the nuclear agreement.

 We the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom have
negotiated with Iran, in good faith, since April 2021 to restore and fully
implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), along with other
participants to the deal and the United States.

In early August, after a
year and a half of negotiations, the JCPoA Coordinator submitted a final
set of texts which would allow for an Iranian return to compliance with its
JCPoA commitments and a US return to the deal. In this final package, the
Coordinator made additional changes that took us to the limit of our

Unfortunately, Iran has chosen not to seize this critical
diplomatic opportunity. Instead, Iran continues to escalate its nuclear
program way beyond any plausible civilian justification. While we were
edging closer to an agreement, Iran reopened separate issues that relate to
its legally binding international obligations under the Non Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) and its NPT safeguards agreement concluded with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

This latest demand raises
serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful
outcome on the JCPoA. Iran’s position contradicts its legally binding
obligations and jeopardizes prospects of restoring the JCPoA.

 French Ministry of Foreign Affairs 10th Sept 2022

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s why the risk of a nuclear accident in Ukraine has ‘significantly increased’ By Geoff Brumfiel, September 9, 2022, The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is warning that the risk of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has “significantly increased,” following ongoing fighting around the site.

“Let me be clear, the shelling around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must stop,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a brief recorded statement released on Friday.

Grossi also warned that the continued fighting might require the plant to shut down its last operating reactor. That would set into motion a chain of events that could intensify the current nuclear crisis. Here’s how.

Nuclear plants need electricity

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is the largest in Europe, capable of producing thousands of megawatts of electricity. But the plant also needs power from the same electricity grid it feeds.

The power is used to run the various parts of the plant, including its safety and cooling systems. Specifically, nuclear power plants require water to be pumped constantly through their cores in order to function safely, and the pumps need electricity.

At Zaporizhzhia, the power is normally supplied by four high-voltage lines, which connect the nuclear complex to Ukraine’s electricity grid, but the conflict has seen those lines systematically cut. The last 750kV line was severed on September 3, according to the IAEA.

A backup line was disconnected two days later due to a fire on the site. In a press conference shortly after returning from Zaporizhzhia, Grossi told reporters that he believed the power lines were being deliberately targeted:

Zaporizhzhia has been making its own power, but that’s a limited solution

Since losing its last connection to the grid on Sept. 5, the nuclear plant has been powering itself in so-called “islanding operation mode.” Under this setup, the Unit 6 reactor has been producing low levels of electricity that are running the rest of the facility.

The reactors at Zaporizhzhia are designed to operate in this mode during startup, according to a nuclear engineer who worked directly with the reactors when the plant began operations in the 1980s, but who was not authorized to speak publicly by his current employer.

“It’s not good, it cannot be done for a long time,” he says. The problem is less to do with the reactor itself than the turbine, generators and other systems–all of which are designed to run at significantly higher power levels than islanding operation mode provides.

Adding to the problem, Grossi said in his statement, is the increasing strain on the plant’s Ukrainian operators. Many of the plant’s current staff of just under 1,000 live in the nearby town of Enerhodar. Its water, sewage and electrical supplies have all been disrupted in recent days by the same fighting that’s damaged the lines around the plant.

“The shelling is putting in danger operators and their families, making it difficult to adequately staff the plant,” Grossi says.

Shutting down the last reactor will trigger emergency generators

With conditions deteriorating, it seems more likely that Ukrainian authorities will decide to power down the last reactor. But in the short term, that could exacerbate the crisis.

That’s because nuclear reactors are more like charcoal grills than gas stoves. Even after they’re shut off, they remain hot for a long period of time. Water must still circulate in the cores to prevent a meltdown.

With its reactors shut down, Zaporizhzhia will switch to backup emergency diesel generators to keep the reactors cool. The emergency generators themselves are a tried-and-true method for cooling a nuclear reactor. In fact, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires U.S. plants to switch to emergency diesel generators immediately, bypassing the “islanding operation mode” used in Zaporizhzhia.

“We don’t want to go on the diesel generators, but it’s a situation you can abide by for awhile,” says Steven Nesbit, a nuclear engineer and member of the American Nuclear Society’s rapid response taskforce, which is tracking the current crisis. For example, after losing power during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant in Florida operated for days on emergency diesel power.

If the generators run out of fuel, a meltdown could occur

Continue reading

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK and Europe cannot depend on nuclear power, with reactors shutting down, just as winter hits.

 The first real winter test of how strained the UK’s energy supplies are will come next month when nuclear reactors start closing for maintenance, just as the heating season kicks off.

Nuclear output makes up roughly 15% of Britain’s energy mix, and the planned shutdowns may challenge
electricity production when the country can least afford it. Two units at n the Heysham plant in northern England are set to halt for periods between October and November, and more nuclear closures are scheduled through winter.

European power prices have surged amid an energy crisis linked to soaring gas costs caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. While early winter weather is expected to be mild, the UK grid risks becoming particularly
tight as it gets colder, with the country exporting power to France because of major outages at reactors there.

 Bloomberg 7th Sept 2022

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Pine Gap a target as Ukraine invasion raises nuclear war risk, Australian defence expert warns

A humiliated Russia could be driven closer to China in a ‘grand coalition’, former Joint Intelligence Organisation director says

Guardian, Ben Doherty 7 Sept 22,

Australia could become a nuclear target due to its hosting of a US military base at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory, one of Australia’s leading defence strategists has warned.

Prof Paul Dibb, an emeritus professor at the Australian National University and former director of Australia’s Joint Intelligence Organisation, said the current Russian invasion of Ukraine carried potential global nuclear consequences, with the possibility of a defeated and humiliated Russia pushed closer to China in “a grand coalition … united not by ideology but by complementary grievances”……….

Australia should not feel its geographic distance from the epicentre of the conflict affords it any significant protection, Dibb argued.

“We need to plan on the basis that Pine Gap continues to be a nuclear target, and not only for Russia. If China attacks Taiwan, Pine Gap is likely to be heavily involved,” he said.

“We need to remember that Pine Gap is a fundamentally important element in US war fighting and deterrence of conflict.”

Pine Gap is a highly secret US-Australian military installation near Alice Springs. It serves as a major hub for US global intelligence interception, and for satellite surveillance operations for military and nuclear missile threats in the region.

Russia is unlikely to be able to subjugate Ukraine in its current invasion, Dibb said, but Ukrainian military is unlikely to succeed in driving out Russian troops entirely. “Most likely there’ll be a negotiated conclusion, probably at the ceasefire talk.”

Regardless, Dibb argued, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was unlikely to be deposed as a result, but he would be a leader grown increasingly isolated, and the threat of nuclear escalation was real.

“There’s little doubt that Putin is the sort of person who won’t resile from the use of nuclear weapons, particularly if it looks as though he’s losing this war. But he must surely realise that there’s no such thing as the limited use of tactical nuclear weapons in isolation from their escalation to a full-scale strategic nuclear war.

“Once we enter the slippery slope of even limited nuclear exchanges, the end result will be escalation to mutual annihilation – something about which both Putin and Xi Jinping may need reminding.”

The comprehensive defeat of Russia in Ukraine would bring its own dangers, Dibb argued.

A severely weakened, isolated and smaller Russia might then become more – not less – dangerous for the world.”

A Russia left humiliated would be driven closer to China, Dibb said, with the nuclear powers forming what he described as a “grand coalition”, unified “not by ideology but by complementary grievances”.

Dibb told the Guardian: “The most serious threat to America would be a de facto alliance between China and Russia, united in the common cause of their hatred for the west.” ………………….

September 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un says North Korea’s new law allowing pre-emptive nuclear strikes is ‘irreversible’

North Korea has officially enshrined the right to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes to protect itself in a new law.

Key points:

  • The new law makes North Korea’s nuclear status “irreversible”, and bars denuclearisation talks
  • It also allows for pre-emptive nuclear strikes if, among other things, there is an imminent attack against its leadership
  • Analysts say the goal is to win international acceptance of the country’s status as a “responsible nuclear state”

The country’s leader Kim Jong Un said the legislation also made its nuclear status “irreversible” and bars denuclearisation talks, state media reported on Friday.

The move comes as observers say North Korea appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, after historic summits with former US president Donald Trump and other world leaders in 2018 failed to persuade Kim to end weapons development.

The North’s parliament — the Supreme People’s Assembly — passed the legislation on Thursday, according to state news agency KCNA.

The new legislation is a replacement to a 2013 law which first outlined the country’s nuclear status…………………………

Pre-emptive strikes

The original 2013 law stipulated that North Korea could use nuclear weapons to repel invasion or attack by a hostile nuclear state, and make retaliatory strikes.

The new law goes beyond that to allow for pre-emptive nuclear strikes if an imminent attack by weapons of mass destruction or against the country’s “strategic targets”, including its leadership, is detected.

“In a nutshell, there are some really vague and ambiguous circumstances in which North Korea is now saying it might use its nuclear weapons,” Chad O’Carroll, founder of the North Korea-tracking website NK News, said on Twitter.

Like the earlier law, the new version vows not to threaten non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons unless they join with a nuclear-armed country to attack the North.

The new law adds, however, that it can launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it detects an imminent attack of any kind aimed at North Korea’s leadership and the command organisation of its nuclear forces.

That is an apparent reference to South Korea’s “Kill Chain” strategy, which calls for pre-emptive strikes on North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure and command system if an imminent attack is suspected…………….

Under the law, Mr Kim has “all decisive powers” over nuclear weapons, but if the command and control system is threatened, then nuclear weapons may be launched “automatically”.

If Mr Kim delegates launch authority to lower commanders during a crisis, that could increase the chances of a catastrophic miscalculation, analysts said.

‘Responsible nuclear state’

The law bans any sharing of nuclear arms or technology with other countries, and is aimed at reducing the danger of a nuclear war by preventing miscalculations among nuclear weapons states and misuse of nuclear weapons, KCNA reported.

Analysts say Mr Kim’s goal is to win international acceptance of North Korea’s status as a “responsible nuclear state.”…………………….. more

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lucky timing for Liz Truss’s absurd energy policy

Not wishing to sound disrespectful, but

The death of Queen Elizabeth has come at a lucky time for Liz Truss and her new Tory ministry. It has swamped the anglophone media – which seems to be ignoring the absurdity of Truss’s energy (and other) policies

Great British Nuclear will bring forward new nuclear projects at a rate of one a year this decade.

and the green light for more fossil
fuel extraction

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment