Australian news, and some related international items

Friends of the Earth call on Madeleine King, Minister for Resources to overturn the declaration on Kimba nuclear waste site.

The Hon Madeleine King MP

Minister for Resources

Dear Ms King

Kimba Nuclear Waste Dump

We are writing in regard to the proposed construction of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (nuclear waste dump) at Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia. Napandee was declared on 26 November 2021 by Liberal National Party MP Keith Pitt, then Minister for Resources and Water, as the chosen site for the permanent disposal of low level radioactive waste (LLW) and temporary storage of intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW).

We urge you to overturn the declaration of this site by the previous government.

1. First Nations Voice to Parliament
We were greatly encouraged when Prime Minister Albanese, in his election night speech, embraced the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including its call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution. A voice to parliament would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. The clear advice from the Barngarla people, the Traditional Owners of the area, is that they don’t want it. The Barngarla people were excluded from a community ballot conducted by the Kimba District Council in November 2019, so they conducted their own independent poll. Not a single Traditional Owner voted in favour of the dump.

We wish to lend our support to the Barngarla people’s call for their voices to be heard and for the nuclear waste dump proposal to be cancelled. We note that the Premier of South Australia Peter Malinauskas recently reiterated SA Labor policy that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over nuclear projects. South Australia has a law prohibiting the establishment of nuclear waste storage facilities in this state (Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000), which, while not binding on the Commonwealth, should be respected.

2. Process
While a majority of those who were actually allowed to vote in the Kimba community ballot supported the dump, a substantial minority opposed it and the proposal has divided the community. Furthermore, besides the Barngarla people, significant other affected communities have not been consulted. A facility that would involve transportation of radioactive waste to the storage and disposal site should involve consultation with all communities along the transport route and with the wider public. No such consultation has occurred. In fact, transport of repatriated reprocessed intermediate level waste was excluded from the March 2022 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act referral.

3. Better alternatives
In a submission last year to a public consultation about the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF), Friends of the Earth Australia stated (1):

‘Moving LLILW [Long-Lived Intermediate-Level Waste] to an above-ground ‘interim’ store adjacent to a repository for lower-level wastes makes no sense given that much of the waste is currently located at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site, which is properly secured and home to much of Australia’s nuclear expertise. ANSTO also enjoys considerably higher access to nuclear monitoring, security, waste management expertise and emergency response capacity than any other site in the nation.’ 


‘Successive governments have assumed that a shallow, remote repository is the best solution for low-level radioactive waste (LLW). That assumption needs to be tested as no federal government has attempted to demonstrate the net benefit of a remote repository. Measured by radioactivity, a large majority of LLW is stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site; measured by volume, ANSTO manages about half the total volume. ANSTO expects to continue to operate at the Lucas Heights site for many decades into the future and it is by no means clear that a remote repository is preferable to ongoing storage at Lucas Heights, especially given the continuing uncertainty around the long-term future management options for LLILW.’

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency’s National Inventory of Radioactive Waste released on 6th Sept 2022 shows that ANSTO is the predominant source of existing and future radioactive waste to be disposed and stored at Kimba.

When asked if ANSTO could continue to manage its own waste, Dr Ron Cameron (ANSTO) said, ‘ANSTO is capable of handling and storing wastes for long periods of time. There is no difficulty with that. I think we’ve been doing it for many years. We have the capability and technology to do so.’ (2) More recently, CEO of Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Dr Carl Magnus Larsson, confirmed that ‘Waste can be safely stored at Lucas Heights for decades to come.’ (3)

In light of the above circumstances, you should not feel under any obligation to honour the decision of the previous government. The sooner you cancel this project, the better.

Yours sincerely,

Philip White 12 October 2022
On behalf of Friends of the Earth Adelaide

1. Friends of the Earth Australia, ‘NRWMF public consultation: Published response: Submission re Proposed Nomination of Napandee (Kimba, SA) for a National Nuclear Waste Dump and Store’, 22 October 2021:

2. ARPANSA forum, Adelaide, 26 February 2004:

3. Hansard, Parliament of Australia, Economics Legislation Committee, 30/06/2020:

October 13, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

“Is Port Augusta a proposed transport corridor for radioactive waste” Rally at Port Augusta 15 October

Paul Waldon Fight to stop a nuclear waste dump in South Australia 13 Oct 22

Remember when Department Of Energy, informed unsuspecting residents of Santa Fe, their town was on a designated radioactive waste transport corridor for shipments of atomic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, resulting in the escalation of the number of anti nuclear waste activists pushing for a change.

Port Augusta is the crossroad at the top of the gulf, so will the port be a radioactive transport route, and will there be “another” radioactive spill like the one before that struggled to get a mention. The question has been put to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, “Is Port Augusta a proposed transport corridor for radioactive waste,” and all we have heard is a deafening silence from the department, the same department that claimed there was public consultation.

Moreover, Saturday the 15th of October is the day of the rally, I say Saturday is a day of opportunity the inform the community their town is not as safe as they my think!

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Facing the Warmongers: An Assange Update

Australian Independent Media ,October 11, 2022, by: Dr Binoy Kampmark

On the latest slimed path Julian Assange has been made to trod, a few things have presented themselves. The rusty sword of Damocles may be suspended above him (he, we are informed, has contracted COVID-19), but there are those, in the meantime, willing to defend him with decent conviction against his dispatch to the United States, where he is certain to perish.

From the side of decent conviction and steadfastness came the October 8 protests across a number of cities, attended by thousands. A human chain numbering some 7,000 persons formed around the Houses of Parliament in London demanding the release of the WikiLeaks publisher from Belmarsh Prison.

Then there was the Boadicea-like performance that his wife is becoming famous for. On the ideologically dry-cured medium of Piers Morgan’s Uncensored Program, a taster of that vengeance US justice is famous for could be gathered from an encounter between Stella, and the trumpeting warmonger and failed Trump advisor, John Bolton.

Bolton, it should be remembered, was the only evidence that President George W. Bush, dyslexic and reformed drunk, had a mild sense of humour. Sending that man to the United Nations as US ambassador was the equivalent of appointing a randy, murderous fox to guard unsuspecting chickens. That appointment had it all: resentment, masochism and disgust for that concept known as international law.

There is much to say that former President Donald Trump, for all his insufferable foibles, insoluble perversions and naggingly vicious pettiness, never embarked on the eschatological murderous destiny that Bolton believes the US is destined for. The messianic types always find some higher meaning for death and sacrifice, as long they are not the ones doing it. The difference between the suicide bomber and the deskbound scribbler keen on killing is one of practice, not conviction. Both believe that there is a higher meaning written in blood, inscribed in the babble of post-life relevance and invisible virtue. For us humble folk, life is good enough, and should be preserved.

According to Bolton, the 175 years Assange might receive for exposing the abundant dirty laundry known as US foreign policy and imperial violence was hardly sufficient. He would, naturally, get a “fair trial” in the United States (never explain the ideologically self-evident), though absolute fairness was dependent on him receiving 176 years. “Well, I think that’s a small amount of the sentence he deserves.” With such a fabulous nose for justice, Bolton shares common ground with the commissars and gauleiters.

Unsurprisingly, Stella Assange had a view markedly at odds with such an assessment. Her husband was being pursued, “For receiving information from a source and publishing it, and it was in the public interest. It was US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he revealed tens of thousands of civilian deaths that had not been acknowledged before………………………

Stella, aflame with purpose and aware of her brief, also reminded the audience who she was talking to. Bolton, she shot with acid fury, “sought to undermine the international legal system, sought to ensure that the US is not under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction.”

Then came the well fashioned grenade, pin removed. “And if it was, Mr Bolton might in fact be prosecuted under the ICC [International Criminal Court]. He was one of the chief cheerleaders of the Iraq war, which Julian then exposed through these leaks, so he has a conflict of interest.”

There have been other befouling episodes that can only be of concern to Assange and his family. It has now come to light that security officials, in Australia’s Parliament, were under “significant pressure” to seize books from the Assange delegation during their August visit to Canberra. A letter to Greens Senator David Shoebridge by the Department of Parliamentary Services explained that it was all linked to a protest.

The nature of the bureaucrat’s tone is to mock the valuable and diminish the relevant. In the considered view of the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, Rob Stefanic, “I appreciate that Assange’s family may not have viewed the screening procedure in a positive light, but having reviewed the processes followed by security staff, I am confident they performed their duties with respect and due diligence.” Such reasoning would suffice for most police states, where bureaucrats sup at the same table with the security wonks.

The Department, it transpired, had tripped up. The claim about the protest was inaccurate, as neither Assange’s father, John Shipton, nor his brother, Gabriel, had attended any protests. “It is apparent that there are factual inaccuracies in the letter to Senator Shoebridge and the secretary will be writing to correct the record.”

The world has turned full circle. Those opening the cabinet of secrets are considered the nasty tittle-tattles, who simply revealed the fact that daddy fiddled and mummy drank. In this world, homicidally excited types like Bolton revel in expressing unsavoury views in the open; those who expose the bankruptcy of such views are to be punished. We await the next grotesquery with resigned disgust. Aust more

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power Isn’t Clean — It Creates Hellish Wastelands of Radioactive Sewage

If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

Harvey WassermanTruthout October 12, 2022,

Joshua Frank’s brilliant Atomic Days, from Haymarket Books, takes us deep into the horrific clogged bowels of the failed technology that is nuclear power.

Frank’s excursion into the radioactive wasteland of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, in eastern Washington State’s Columbia River Valley, is the ultimate real-world nightmare.

Unfortunately, it serves as a wailing siren for what faces us with the atomic wastes from our commercial reactors, now joined at the toxic hip to the global weapons industry.

“Like a ceaseless conveyer belt,” Frank writes, “Hanford generated plutonium for nearly four long decades, reaching maximum production during the height of the Cold War.”

It is now, he says “a sprawling wasteland of radioactive and chemic sewage … the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet.”

Current cost estimates to clean up the place, says Frank, “could run anywhere between $316 and $662 billion.”

But that depends on a few definitions, including the most critical: What does it mean to “clean up” a hellhole like Hanford? If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

To put it in perspective, we spend $2.6 billion each year just to preserve Hanford as it is. The clean-up estimate, according to Frank, has roughly tripled in the past six years, leaving us to believe that in another six years it could easily be over $6 trillion.

The environmental consequences are colossal. As Frank abundantly documents, Hanford is an unfathomable mess. Giant tanks are leaking. Plutonium and other apocalyptic substances are rapidly migrating toward the Columbia River, which could be permanently poisoned, along with much more. Local residents have been poisoned with “permissible permanent concentration” of lethal isotopes on vegetables, livestock, and in the air and drinking water.

Such exposures have even included a deliberate experiment known as the “Green Run” in which Hanford operatives “purposely released dangerous amounts of radioactive iodine.”

Such emissions are especially damaging to embryos, fetuses and small children, whose thyroids can be easily destroyed (as we are now seeing at Fukushima). But back then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to know how fallout would flow in wind currents.

The product was a “death mile” stretching from the Columbia River basin to the ocean, filled with casualties of radioactive poisoning.

After decades of devastating leaks from defective storage tanks, the Los Angeles Times reported that more radioactivity was stored at Hanford “than would be released during an entire nuclear war.”

Thousands of such tanks at Fukushima may soon be given a governmental green light to dump their poisons in the Pacific, with potentially apocalyptic results.

At Hanford, “the waste was so hot it would boil … for decades to come,” i.e., right up to the present day, writes Frank.

Despite official denials, Frank documents a terrifying range of catastrophic leaks into the soil, water tables and streams throughout the reservation. By 1985, he writes, “despite $7 billion spent over the previous ten years, no progress had been made in ridding the aging tanks” of their deadly offal.

To this day “Hanford remains the most complex environmental mess in the United States,” riddled with problems that provide huge profits for corporations that land clean-up contracts and then fail to deliver, exceeding the complexity even of the infamous waste dump at West Valley, New York, and the highly radioactive fallout zone at Santa Susana, California, just north of Los Angeles.

But Hanford’s not alone. Frank also takes us to Chelyabinsk, the site of a Soviet era disaster, and to another wasteland around Kyshtym. Like the 1000-square-mile “dead zone” around Chernobyl, Hanford is full of areas where human life is perilous at best. ………………………………………………….. more

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plutonium and high-level nuclear waste

About plutonium and the “reprocessing” or “recycling” of used nuclear fuel. Gordon Edwards, 12 Oct 22

Plutonium is less than 1/2 of one percent of the used nuclear fuel, but it is a powerful source of energy that can be used for military or civilian purposes (nuclear bomb or nuclear reactors). To get the plutonium out of the used fuel is a very messy operation. The places where reprocessing has been done on a large scale are among the most radioactively contaminated sites in the world. Although NWMO says that plutonium use  is not on their agenda, it is included, in writing, as one of their options. Today, in New Brunswick, government funding is going to Moltex Corp. to proceed with plans that require plutonium use. Chalk River is just beginning to build a billion-dollar brand new research facility that will be dealing with plutonium as a priority. A large nuclear industry mural painted on the walls of the Saskatoon Airport states that reprocessing used fuel to get the plutonium out is the last step in the “Nuclear Fuel Cycle”.

(1) Nuclear fuel can be handled with care before it goes into a nuclear reactor. But used nuclear fuel will never be handled by human hands again, at least for several centuries, because of the hundreds of newly-created radioactive materials inside each fuel bundle. These are (a) the broken pieces of uranium atoms that have been spit, (b) the newly-created “transuranic” (heavier than uranium) materials that are produced, and (c) the so-called “activation products” (non-radioactive materials that have been de-stabilized and so are now radioactive).  See “Nuclear Waste 101”

(2) Radioactivity is not a thing, but a property of certain materials that have unstable atoms. Most atoms are stable and unchanging. Radioactive atoms are unstable. Each radioactive atom is like a tiny little time bomb, that will eventually “explode” (the industry uses the word “disintegrate”). When an atom disintegrates it gives off projectiles that can damage living cells, causing them to develop into cancers later on. These projectiles are of four kinds: alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, and neutrons. These damaging emissions are called “atomic radiation”. No one knows how to turn off radioactivity, so they remain dangerous while they exist.

(The danger lasts for tens of millions of years)

(3) Used nuclear fuel is so radioactive that it can give a lethal dose of gamma radiation and neutrons to any unshielded humans that are nearby. Even the “30-year old” used fuel that  NWMO wants to transport to a “willing host community” is still far too dangerous to be handled without massive shielding and robotic equipment. The job of repackaging the used fuel bundles requires the use of shielded “hot cells” — which are specially constructed airtight rooms with thick windows (4 to 6 feet thick) and large robot arms like those used in outer space to protect the workers from being overexposed to radiation.  Any damage to the outer metal coating on the fuel bundles will allow radioactive materials to escape from inside the fuel in the form of radioactive gasses, vapours, or dust. That’s why the hot cells have to be air-tight,  and why these rooms themselves will eventually become radioactive waste. 

See (below)

(3) Nuclear proponents often point out that the used nuclear fuel – the stuff that NWMO wants to “bury” underground – still has a lot of energy potential and could be “recycled”. That’s because one of the radioactive materials in the waste, called “plutonium”, can be used to make atomic bombs or other kinds of nuclear weapons, and it can also be used as a fuel for more nuclear reactors. But to get plutonium out of the fuel bundles they have to be dissolved in some kind of acid or “molten salt”, turning the waste into a liquid form instead of a solid form. This allows radioactive gasses to escape from the fuel, and makes it much more difficult to keep all the other radioactive materials (now in liquid form) out of the environment of living things. Any plutonium extraction technology is called “reprocessing”.

4) Although NWMO says that reprocessing is not their intention, it has always been considered a possibility and has never been excluded. It is stated in all NWMO documentation that reprocessing remains an option. Once a willing host community has said “yes” to receive all of Canada’s used nuclear fuel, the government and industry can then decide that they want to get that plutonium out of the fuel before burying it.  That means opening up the fuel bundles and spilling all the radioactive poisons into a gaseous or liquid medium so they can separate the plutonium (and maybe a few other things) from all the rest of the radioactive garbage. Canada has built and operated reprocessing plants in the 1940s and 1950s at Chalk River. AECL tried but failed to get the government to build a commercial-scale reprocessing plant in the late 1970s. Canada did some experimental reprocessing in Manitoba, when AECL built the “Underground Research Laboratory” to study the idea of a DGR for used nuclear fuel in the 1980s and 1990s.  Read . 

(5) The big reprocessing centres in the world include Hanford, in Washington State; Sellafield, in Northern England; Mayak, in Russia; La Hague, in France; and Rokkasho, in Japan. There is also a shut-down commercial reprocessing plant at West Vallay, New York.  These sites are all environmental foul-ups requiring extremely costly and dangerous cleanups. 

HANFORD: over $100 billion needed to clean up the site

SELLAFIELD: over 200 billion pounds ($222 billion) for cleanup

MAYAK: severe environmental contamination but no cost estimates

LA HAGUE: widespread contamination, no detailed dollar figure provided

ROKKASHO: years of cost overruns and delays – $130 billion for starters

WEST VALLEY: only operated for 6 years, about $5 billion in cleanup cost

(6) Newer reprocessing technologies are smaller and use different approaches – but basically, any time you are going to open uo the fuel bundles, you are “playing with fire” and it is much harder to keep all the radioactive pioisons in check once they are out of the fuel bundle.


(7) My feeling is that any “handling” or “repackaging” or “reprocessing” of used nuclear fuel should NOT be done in a remote community that does not have the economic or political “clout” to demand that things be done properly. If It is to be dine at all, this should be done back in the major population centres where the reactors are located and people living there can raise a fuss if things are not done safely.  

(8) Also, my feeling is that the fuel should not be moved at all until the reactors are all shut down. The radioactive wastes can be very well packaged and carefully guarded where they are. Since NWMO will only move 30-year old used fuel, there will ALWAYS be 30 years worth of unburied waste right at the surface, right beside the reactors, ready to suffer a catastrophe of some sort, no matter HOW fast they bury the older fuel. In fact, the nuclear indusrtry does not really want to “get rid” of nuclear waste at all, but just move some of the older stuff out of the way so that they can keep on making more. The best place to take the waste is where there are no reporters or TV broadcasters or influential wealthy people to blow the whistle if things go badly. Maybe I’m a little over-suspicious, but given the history of waste management, you can’t be too careful.

9) In Germany, they buried radioactive waste in an old salt mine as a kind of DGR for a very long time. When radioactive contamination kept leaking into the ground water and the surface waters, the nuclear scientists in charge did not tell the government or the public for almost 10 years. Then, when it became clear that the environment was being severely affected, the German government decided to take all the waste OUT of the DGR – a difficult and dangerous operation that will take 15-30 years and cost over 3.7 billion euros ($5 billion Canadian equivalent.) 


Any potential willing host community would be well advised to insist that all “handling” of individual fuel bundles, of any kind whatsoever, whether repackaging or reprocessing, should not be part of the plan for the willing host community to accept. But it would have to be in writing and legally enforceable.

Of course the decision is entirely up to the willing host community, not me – and hopefully, not the industry either.

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Young girls up to 10 times more vulnerable to ionizing radiation, especially girls up to 5 years old.

Nuclear Radiation Risk Impacts One Group Far More Than Any Other. Young girls could be up to 10 times more vulnerable to nuclear radiation thanother members of society, with girls aged up to five twice as likely to develop cancer as boys of the same age.

Understanding the risk posed by radiation exposure has been catapulted into public consciousness since
February, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Talk of nuclear war has simmered ever since, with rhetoric ramping up on October 6 when President Joe Biden warned of “Armageddon,” despite the U.S. having no new intelligence that Russian President Vladimir Putin was planning a nuclear strike.

Today, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission bases its evaluations of the impact of ionizing radiation on the public, and thus its decisions on nuclear licensing and regulation, on a subset of data which describes the “Reference Man.”

The Reference Man, as defined by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, is 20 to 30 years old, weighs 154 pounds, is 5 foot and 6 inches tall, and is Caucasian with a Western European or North American lifestyle. This one-size-fits-all approach describes only a small subset of society.

 Newsweek 10th Oct 2022

 MSN 10th Oct 2022

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Growing the economy – but growth of what?

Michael Jacobs: Liz Truss dreams of growth – but even if she pulls it off, it won’t help Britain. Fifty years ago, the landmark report The Limits to Growth warned that, unless the composition of growth was
radically changed, its environmental impacts would lead to ecological and social collapse within 100 years.

Many of the projections made by The Limits to Growth have proved prescient. Yet it is also true that developed economies have been able to “uncouple” growth from some environmental
impacts. Over the past 20 years, the UK and others have notably seen rising GDP accompanied by falling greenhouse gas emissions.

Economists have described this as “green growth”, and many have argued that this, rather than growth per se, should be governments’ goal. Some environmentalists argue that environmental sustainability does not allow for any economic growth. Only the “degrowth” of western economies, they claim, is compatible with ecological salvation (and indeed, wellbeing). Others claim that GDP could still grow in a radically greener form. But in present circumstances this is a rather arcane dispute.

Both sides agree that some parts of the economy must degrow, notably the fossil fuel sector and fossil-intensive industries, while growth is clearly needed in others, such as renewable energy and the “care economy” of health, education, social care and childcare. The real question is therefore not “growth or
not?”, but “growth of what?”

 Guardian 10th Oct 2022

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WAR ON THE ROCKS, JEREMY SHAPIRO, 12 Oct 22, In war, nothing is inevitable and not much is predictable. But the war in Ukraine has a direction that observers can see and that we should name. What began as a criminal Russian aggression against Ukraine has become a proxy war between Washington and Moscow. The two sides are locked in an escalatory cycle that, along current trends, will eventually bring them into direct conflict and then go nuclear, killing millions of people and destroying much of the world. This is obviously a bold prediction and certainly an unwise one to make — in part because if I’m right, I’m unlikely to be around take credit for it. 

President Joe Biden has named this dangerto great criticism, apparently because he believes that acknowledging the danger increases the chances of avoiding such a terrible outcome. Indeed, much can change the current trajectory, but doing so will require purposeful action by both sides specifically intended to avoid direct confrontation. At the moment, neither side seems willing or politically able to take such steps. On the contrary, in Russia nuclear threats are a prominent part of the Russian war strategy. In the United States, commentators condemn those who even name this danger, fearing that doing so will weaken Western resolve. Any mention of such considerations on Twitter, where it is always 1938, inevitably provokes accusations of appeasement and references to Neville Chamberlain.

Despite the opprobrium, not naming the danger is unlikely to reduce it. Think tank analysts prefer instead to talk in terms of “scenarios,” wherein we can bury the most likely outcome amongst a few other less likely possibilities. Such exercises are useful for planning purposes, and they appropriately reflect our general inability to predict events on the ground. But scenarios also serve to hide the relative likelihood of the various outcomes. Here I present just the central scenario of nuclear escalation. I take as a starting point that, although we may experience long periods of relative stalemate and we may never arrive at such a horrific outcome, uncontrolled escalation is the path that we are currently on.

Testing the Red Lines

No rational or even sane leader plans to start a nuclear war. And for all of the Russian regime’s risk taking, it does not show signs of suicidal tendencies. The essence of the problem is more insidious than mere insanity: Once an escalatory cycle begins, a series of individually rational steps can add up to a world-ending absurdity. In Ukraine, both sides have publicly pledged that they cannot lose this war. They hold that doing so would threaten their very way of life and the values that they hold most dear. In the Russian case particularly, a loss in Ukraine would seem to threaten regime survival and even the territorial integrity of the country. 

As the war has moved against the Russians, they have drawn numerous red lines to warn the West against escalation. The Russians called the provision of long-range rocket systems near the Russian border “intolerable,” warned against the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO, and threatened that any attack on Crimea would “ignite judgment day.” In each case, the crossing of these Russian red lines by Ukraine, the United States, or Europe generated some sort of response but fell well short of Russian threats.  

As Russian red lines have proven very pink, they are increasingly questioned in the West. Numerous Western commentators now assert that Russia is a paper tiger and dismiss Russian nuclear threats as “bluster.” The most recent Russian red line warns against the provision of long-range missile systems to Ukraine. The Russian government says that if the United States crosses this line, it would become “a direct party to the conflict.” Given all of the red lines already crossed, however, it is doubtful that U.S. decision-makers see such threats as very meaningful.

The problem that the Russians have had in their signaling is that their decision to escalate likely revolves around the progress that the Ukrainians make on the ground, not on any discrete action (such as the provision of new weapons systems) that the West might take. The likelihood of escalation, in other words, has stemmed from developments on the battlefield, not from the crossing of some arbitrary red line. Experts on the Russian military have long suspected that Russian nuclear signaling is an elaborate bluff meant to instill fear and caution in a weak-willed Western enemy. But events in Ukraine and the possibility of a catastrophic military loss may have changed that calculation. Nobody really knows. It is likely that the Russians don’t know either.

What is clear is that both sides have consistently escalated in Ukraine when they fear that they might lose. The United States and its European partners have continually upped their military assistance to Ukraine, in both quality and quantity, regardless of red lines. Under the pressure of war, they decided to deliver weapons and intelligence that just a few months ago they believed carried too great an escalation risk to provide. They have similarly incrementally increased economic sanctions to the degree that they now appear intended to permanently weaken Russia and destroy the Russian regime, as Biden has said is necessary to end the war. 

The Russians have consistently responded to battlefield setbacks with their own escalations including energy cut-offs to Europe, increased bombing of civilian targets, and recently through the formal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces and the partial mobilization of Russian manpower reserves. This last step carries obvious risks for the Russian regime, as the multiple protests against it across Russia testify, but the leadership preferred those domestic risks to losing the war.

In taking these escalatory steps, both sides have also increased the domestic and geopolitical costs of compromise, thus increasing the incentive for further escalations. Thus, for example, the Russian annexations are intended to signal to foreign and domestic audiences that the occupied parts of Ukrainian territory will now be defended as if they were Russia itself. But it is not just a signal, it also genuinely reduces Russia’s ability to back down and abandon these provinces. This is essence of an escalatory cycle — it contains a logic of its own wherein previous escalations make future ones more likely.

Of course, wars have often escalated but no war since 1945 has ended in nuclear use. Nuclear powers have at times considered their use for warfighting, notably in Korea in 1953 and in Israel in 1973, but have always stepped back from the brink.  In the current situation, both sides have many more steps to take before direct confrontation: ………………………………………………………………………..

This is only a scenario. None of it is inevitable, of course. But this is the path that we are currently on and the likelihood of it coming to pass grows by the day as one side or the other becomes more desperate. The consequences of this path are deeply ruinous. It should be named.

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crimean Bridge Attack: Ukraine’s Sabotage Teams Take Orders From Washington, Senior Official Reveals Ilya Tsukanov, 12 Oct 22, The 19-km bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula to the Russian mainland sustained serious damage following the detonation of a truck bomb on one of its road sections on Saturday morning. Ukrainian officials boasted to US media that Kiev was responsible.

Ukrainian officials keep their US counterparts abreast of Kiev’s sabotage ops and other anti-Russian actions, Sergey Pashinsky, the head of the Association of Ukraine’s Defense Enterprises, accidentally revealed.

“We are planning several operations. My position is: we must and are obliged to inform our American partners about them. And those operations which I am conducting right now – I have the opportunity to conduct operations myself, I http://cut channels this is also the CIA http://cut have their own intentions. Because I understand that the US also carries responsibility for them and has the right to veto all of our operations,” Pashinsky said, speaking to infamous Russian pranksters Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov, who posed as US officials.

Pashinsky clarified that he has been in charge of some major Ukrainian military actions, including operational planning on Zmeiny (‘Snake’) Island – the small but strategically significant island situated off the western coast of Romania in the Black Sea, and which saw heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces earlier this year.

“I planned the Zmeiny Island operation, I carried it out personally [using] Ukrainian Bohdan and French Caesar [howitzers]. Yes, this was my operation in its entirely,” the official said.

Pashinsky indicated that operations against a piece of infrastructure like the Crimean Bridge became possible only once the US gives the green light.

“As soon as you tell me that the US approves the sabotage of the Crimean Bridge, the situation can move forward. [Laughs]. A verbal message is enough for me. We don’t want to take responsibility of this scale for ourselves, while Mr. Zelensky – I don’t know, I don’t even want to know about this situation,” Pashinsky said.

“The Crimean Bridge is an important artery, but on the other hand I think you know [Vladimir] Putin better than I do. That is, who can analyze Putin’s actions in the event of sabotage against the Crimean Bridge? Who?” the official asked.

The pranksters did not clarify whether the interview with Pashinsky was conducted before or after Saturday’s sabotage attack.

Two senior Ukrainian officials told the New York Times on Sunday that Ukrainian intelligence were behind the attack on the bridge, one of them grading the success of the attack as “excellent” and saying that the operation “showed the failure of the Russian system to guarantee the security even of the most significant and sacred targets.”

Ukrainian officials also publicly gloated over the act of terror, with presidential advisor Mikhail Podolyak saying the bridge attack was only “the beginning” and that “everything illegal must be destroyed” and “everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine.”

“Today was not a bad day and mostly sunny on our state’s territory. Unfortunately, it was cloudy in Crimea. Although it was also warm,” President Vladimir Zelensky said in a sarcasm-laden address to the nation on Saturday night.

Russia launched a series of missile strikes deep into Ukraine on Monday in the wake of the bridge attack after confirming Ukrainian special forces’ involvement, with the strikes targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure and military command and communications posts across the country. President Putin warned that strikes would be followed up if Ukrainian attacks against Russian infrastructure continue.

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine held talks with Britain for destruction of Crimean bridge August 2022,

Deputy of the Rada Goncharenko announced negotiations with Wallace on the destruction of the Crimean bridge, APA reports.

Ukraine held talks with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace on a plan to destroy the Crimean Bridge at the NATO summit in June, Verkhovna Rada deputy Oleksiy Goncharenko said.

The parliamentarian drew attention to the statement of expert Igor Korotchenko, who said on the air of the Rossiya 1 TV channel that, according to some information, the plan for striking the bridge was allegedly being developed under the personal supervision of the head of the British military department.

“Ben Wallace and I discussed the plan to destroy the Crimean bridge back in June,” Goncharenko wrote, posting a photo from the talks, which, in addition to him and the head of the British Ministry of Defense, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In July, Aleksey Arestovich, an adviser to the head of Vladimir Zelensky’s office, said that Ukraine could attack the Crimean Bridge as soon as the first technical opportunity appeared.

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Joshua Frank’s book Atomic Days shows the nuclear industry’s only real role – it is essential for the USA’s ‘permanent war economy’

As the atomic energy business is increasingly priced out of the electricity market by wind, solar, batteries, and increased efficiency and conservation, we will likely see the nuclear power industry increasingly admitting to what it always was — a necessary servant of the nuclear weapons industry.

Nuclear Power Isn’t Clean — It Creates Hellish Wastelands of Radioactive Sewage, Harvey WassermanTruthout October 12, 2022,

“……………………………..To put the nuclear power industry in a larger context, Frank guides us through the “permanent war economy” birthed during WWII, and discusses Franklin Roosevelt’s ambivalent relations with the “Malefactors of Great Wealth” who often stood in the way of making the U.S. the “Arsenal of Democracy,” and who once even plotted to kill him.

With the decision to build an A-Bomb, the giant Bechtel Corporation used the 120-square-mile reservation at Hanford to produce 103.5 metric tons of plutonium, perhaps the deadliest substance known to humanity.

But there was no effective solution for what might happen to the place in the aftermath. The Waste Treatment Plant meant to “vitrify” rad wastes into glass began construction in 2002, with plans to open in 2011. It has become, in both cost and area, “the largest single construction operation taking place anywhere in the United States,” now with an estimated price tag of $41 billion and a projected opening in 2036.

With “a string of bungled jobs under its belt,” Bechtel’s failed “Big Dig” in Boston — a much-vaunted tunnel from Logan Airport to downtown — reflected its work at Hanford when a collapse killed a 39-year-old woman and resulted in $357.1 million settlement exempting management from criminal prosecution.

As the U.S.’s fourth-largest privately held company, Bechtel spending $1.8 million on D.C. lobbying in 2019-20 was par for the course. The payback, Frank writes, comes in the tragic diseases suffered by Hanford workers like Abe Garza and Lawrence Rouse, usually amid terse, well-funded official denials. Researchers like Karen Wetterhahn and veterans like Victor Skaar have joined Vietnam victims of Agent Orange in being victimized by exposures they were repeatedly assured were “safe.” Whistleblowers like Ed Bricker were even subjected to intense spying and sabotage by close associates he was deceived into accepting as friends.

Meanwhile activists like Russell Jim of the Yakama Tribe began to force “an immeasurable amount of transparency” around the Hanford disaster. Their decades of hardcore community organizing came with a growing demand for accountability that has changed the political atmosphere surrounding the cleanup.

The debate has carried into the use of commercial atomic power.

Because of Hanford’s nuclear presence, five atomic reactors were constructed in Washington State, promising electricity that would be “too cheap to meter.”

But like the soaring costs of plutonium production and clean-up, the Washington Public Power System plunged into the biggest public bankruptcy in U.S. history, due to massive delays and cost overruns. Only one of the nukes now operates.

Sadly, some self-proclaimed climate activists have fallen into the atomic pit, arguing that in the face of the acute threat of climate change, nuclear power should be pursued as a way to lower emissions.

But they all ignore the big lesson Joshua Frank teaches us about Hanford: All the rhetoric in the world can’t cover for the physical realities of dealing with atomic radiation. And atomic fires burning at 571 degrees Fahrenheit will never cool the planet. The mines, the mills, the fuel fabrication, the reactors themselves, the waste dumps, all that horrendous multitrillion-dollar paraphernalia — they together comprise the most lethal and expensive technological failure in human history.

Many reactor promoters have long vehemently denied any connection between their “peaceful atom” and the scourge of war, but anti-nuclear activists have exposed the falsity of those claims. For example, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a British advocacy organization that opposes both nuclear weapons and the building of new nuclear power facilities, writes:

The civil nuclear power industry grew out of the atomic bomb programme in the 1940s and the 1950s. In Britain, the civil nuclear power programme was deliberately used as a cover for military activities…. The development of both the nuclear weapons and nuclear power industries is mutually beneficial. Scientists from Sussex University confirmed this once again in 2017, stating that the government is using the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to subsidise Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system.

As the atomic energy business is increasingly priced out of the electricity market by wind, solar, batteries, and increased efficiency and conservation, we will likely see the nuclear power industry increasingly admitting to what it always was — a necessary servant of the nuclear weapons industry.

Fittingly, the only future for atomic reactors will be as a bottomless pit for ecological suicide and massive public subsidies — exactly like Hanford.

Indeed, for readers truly interested in the future of atomic energy, take a good look at how it plays in Joshua Frank’s Atomic Days. Then ask how soon we can cover the whole damn place with solar panels.

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Georgia nuclear plant’s cost now forecast to top $30 billion May 9, 2022 Associated Press,

A nuclear power plant being built in Georgia is now projected to cost its owners more than $30 billion.

A financial report from one of the owners on Friday clearly pushed the cost of Plant Vogtle near Augusta past that milestone, bringing its total cost to $30.34 billion.

That amount doesn’t count the $3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners after going bankrupt, which would bring total spending to more than $34 billion.

Vogtle is the only nuclear plant under construction in the United States, and its costs could deter other utilities from building such plants, even though they generate electricity without releasing climate-changing carbon emissions.

The latest increase in the budget, by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, wasn’t a surprise after lead owner Georgia Power Co. announced delays and $920 million in overruns on March 3. Georgia Power’s costs only cover the 45.7% of the plant it owns, meaning that the cooperatives and municipal utilities that own the majority of the two-reactor project later update their financial projections as well.

MEAG, which owns 22.7% of Vogtle and provides power to city-owned utilities, raised its total cost forecast, including capital spending and borrowing costs, to $7.8 billion from the previous level of $7.5 billion.

Oglethorpe Power Corp., which provides power to 38 cooperatives in Georgia, owns 30% of Vogtle. In March bumped up its cost projects by $250 million to $8.5 billion.

The city of Dalton, which owns 1.6%, estimated its cost at $240 million in 2021. It hasn’t released a public update.

The municipal utility in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as some other municipal utilities and cooperatives in Florida and Alabama are obligated to buy power from the plant.

When approved in 2012, the third and fourth reactors were estimated to cost $14 billion, with the first electricity being generated in 2016. Now the third reactor is set to begin operation in March 2023, and the fourth reactor is set to begin operation in December 2023.

Atlanta-based Southern Co., which owns Georgia Power, has been charging increasing shares of its cost overruns as shareholder losses, saying it’s unlikely that the Georgia Public Service Commission will approve adding amounts to the bills of Georgia Power’s 2.6 million customers. But Oglethorpe, MEAG and Dalton don’t have shareholders, meaning customers are fully exposed to overruns.

Georgia Power’s customers, as well as some Oglethorpe customers, are already paying the costs of Vogtle.

To protect themselves, the other owners signed an agreement with Georgia Power in 2018 specifying that if costs reach a certain point, the other owners can choose to freeze their costs at that level. In exchange for paying more of the costs, Georgia Power would own a larger share of the reactors.

Oglethorpe wants to freeze its costs at $8.1 billion, selling 2% of the reactor to Georgia Power in exchange for Georgia Power paying $400 million more in costs. MEAG also said Friday it wants to freeze its costs, but didn’t say how much it sought to shift to Georgia Power.

Southern has acknowledged it will have to pay at least $440 million more to cover what would have been other owners’ costs, and has said another $460 million is in dispute.

Georgia Power is disputing the cost threshold at which it must shoulder more of the burden and saying it shouldn’t have to pay the other owners’ share of extra costs stemming from COVID-19. The owners are in talks aimed at resolving their disagreements.

“Cost sharing is imminent, however, until the parties reach agreement, Oglethorpe will continue to pay its full share of the construction costs as billed by Georgia Power, but will do so under contractual protest,” Oglethorpe CEO Mike Smith said in March.

All the owners did vote to continue construction on Feb. 25. Also, the owners report that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March completed a follow-up inspection of wiring problems at the third reactor and signed off that problems it identified in November had been fixed, returning the reactor to its less intensive baseline inspection regime.

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How nuclear testing leaves lasting environmental scars Edited by: Tamsin Walker 13 Oct 22,

With analysts predicting further nuclear tests in North Korea, the planet stands to lose. The ongoing environmental effects of nuclear testing are felt worldwide and for millions of years.

Since late September, North Korea has launched a flurry of ballistic missile tests as part of what experts believe is a program to develop so-called tactical nuclear weapons. If the reclusive state were to move beyond testing missiles to testing actual nuclear warheads, as some analysts are predicting, it would not only ramp up political tensions, but also pose a significant environmental threat. 

In the past, countries such as the United States, the former Soviet Union and the United Kingdom tested their nuclear weapons in the open atmosphere and in the sea — and around Pacific Islands, the Australian desert, mainland US, remote parts of the USSR and other places. These tests left contaminated landscapes and spread their radioactive clouds far afield. 

Thanks to global treaties, nuclear tests were largely moved underground after 1963, a slightly preferable scenario environmentally speaking. And since a 1996 test ban, only India, Pakistan and North Korea have tested weapons at all. 

North Korea is the only country known to have conducted tests in the 21st century. 

The impact of nuclear testing on mammals

“The legacy of nuclear weapons testing has been absolutely catastrophic for humans and for the environment,” said Alicia Sanders, the policy research coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. 

One of the unique consequences for the environment, she added, “is that it lasts essentially forever.”

Putting aside the development required to set up test sites, the first major effects are felt in the microseconds after the explosion. 

A 2015 paper on the environmental impact of military actions found that nuclear blasts represent an extreme threat to local biodiversity. 

The massive energy released in the thermal emission from the blast — comprising light and heat — kills any organisms unfortunate enough to be near the epicenter. Depending on the yield of the bomb, even organisms several kilometers away face lethal temperatures. What remains is a charred mess.  

The effect from the thermal shock on animals is not well researched, but humans face serious, life-threatening burns even several kilometers away, depending on the power of the bomb. A similar effect is assumed for other mammals. They also suffer from the pressure of the blast, which causes lung damage and hemorrhaging.

And animals that aren’t killed immediately are more likely to die from infections in the days and weeks following the explosion, leading to a localized die-off event, the 2015 review found.

The impact on plants, birds and marine life

Plants are also not spared the effects of a nuclear blast. The sheer force strips trees of their foliage, tears down branches and uproots vegetation.  

For fish, meanwhile, the impact is similar to that of a non-nuclear explosion, but on a much larger scale. The US tests in Alaska, and those of France in French Polynesia in the late 1960s and early 70s were associated with large-scale die-offs of fish, as their gas-filled swim bladders ruptured.

Marine mammals and diving birds suffered similarly, post-mortem analysis showed. However, marine non-vertebrates appeared to be more resistant to pressure waves as they do not have gas-containing organs, according to defense studies at the time. 

Long-term environmental impacts

During the Cold War, the United States detonated scores of nuclear weapons in atmospheric tests in the Pacific. Entire islands were incinerated and many are still uninhabitable. Local residents were forced to leave. A 2019 study found that some of the affected areas had radiation levels 1,000-times that of those found in Chernobyl and Fukushima. 

Significant long-term environmental consequences of nuclear testing are the contamination of surface soil and groundwater, land disturbances in the form of craters or partially collapsed mountains — as in the case of the North Korean testing site — and the addition of radionuclides to sediments in seabeds.

Atmospheric nuclear tests spread radionuclides — unstable particles that releases radiation as they break down — far and wide, contaminating topsoil.

But even in underground testing, high pressure conditions can propel radionuclides into the atmosphere — a phenomenom known as venting — where they can be carried by winds and deposited far away from the test sites and enter food-chains.

Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy program, says Pyongyang has thus far avoided the pitfall of venting.

“The North Koreans have actually, with their last five nuclear tests at least, been very effective at preventing the venting of radionuclides,” he said. “Because some of these radionuclides can even offer hints about the specific materials that are being used in the nuclear device.”

At the very least, underground tests deposit huge quantities of radioactive material which will remain there for millions of years. The long-term ecological damage from such contamination is unknown.  

The impact on drinking water

Underground testing also poses a threat of radionuclides leeching into drinking water.

Studies at the US nuclear testing site near Las Vegas, found that some contaminants released by underground nuclear tests can get into the surrounding water. Plants and animals are particularly liable to pick up radioactive strontium and caesium, which are easily spread in water.

With a half-life of 30 years, these two radionuclides can cause health issues in the food chain for decades. A common shrub in New Mexico, chamisa, has roots that extend deep into the ground, bringing strontium back up to the surface near the Los Alamos testing site in New Mexico, from where it can be widely distributed as the leaves fall, decay, and contaminate the soil understory.

“Animals will eat from contaminated land and that becomes very dangerous. These can be key sources of food for people,” ICAN’s Sanders said.

Organizations such as ICAN continue to push for complete denuclearization. 

Until that happens, one factor that might help clean up the legacy of nuclear testing is a provision in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which requires signatories to provide assistance to victims of nuclear weapons and begin to remediate contaminated environments. States should next year begin initial assessments of environmental damage and use that as a basis for future remediation efforts. 

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment