Australian news, and some related international items

Doomsday Clock set to 90 seconds to midnight, here’s the plan – ICAN

 Doomsday Clock set to 90 seconds to midnight, here’s the plan. ICAN has
a roadmap for ridding the world of nuclear weapons in four steps:
prohibition, stigmatisation, negotiation, elimination.

 ICAN 24th Jan 2023

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Geopolitics’ New Frontier in Space

1969 : “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.

Now : any future competition between the US and China to return humans to the moon’s surface should be treated not as an act of simple exploration, but rather of conquest.

Energy Intelligence, Jan 23, 2023 Scott Ritter, Washington

A recent statement by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) head Bill Nelson that the US was in a space race with China, when combined with recent moves by both the US and China to militarize space, could send the US on a policy trajectory that transforms established policy regarding space-based activities as being exclusively exploration-driven in nature, to one where conquest and domination become the dominating factors.

Such a move would be a sharp departure from past practice and inconsistent with existing treaty obligations banning such conduct. However, the current level of anti-Chinese rhetoric in the US and an historical willingness to walk away from treaty vehicles that fall foul of US interests, could combine and result in Bill Nelson’s self-declared “space race,” becoming the foundation of future US declaratory policy — especially once billions of dollars are allocated by the US Congress premised on such a notion.

‘Space, the Final Frontier’

Most individuals, when hearing this phrase, will conjure up visions of Capt. James Kirk and the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, both having become household names thanks to the television show Star Trek and a series of movie spin-offs. The purpose of Kirk’s five-year mission was to “explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations — to boldly go where no man has gone before”.

Such is the world of fiction. Enter reality: According to statements made during an interview with Politico, published on Jan. 1, 2023, NASA’s Nelson, a former congressman and senator from Florida, declared that the US was in a “space race” with China that could see the Chinese make territorial claims to parts of the moon. “It is a fact,” said Nelson, who in 1986, while serving in Congress, flew onboard the space shuttle Columbia. “We’re in a space race. And it is true that we better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, ‘Keep out, we’re here, this is our territory.’”

So much for exploration — the idyllic mission of the Starship Enterprise and its crew appears to have been replaced by a competition that increasingly sounds more like a race for territorial acquisition. And while Nelson’s assessment has not been echoed by anyone in the Biden administration, it does come on the heels of recent moves by both the US and China to militarize space, which when seen in that light, could reflect a changing mindset within the US government that any future competition between the US and China to return humans to the moon’s surface should be treated not as an act of simple exploration, but rather of conquest.

……………………………… when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the moon, on Jul. 20, 1969, they deployed a plaque containing the following statement: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

There was no mention of a US-Soviet space race, or even of the US. The statement “We came in peace for all mankind” was in fact derived from the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act’s declaration of policy and purpose “that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.”

Militarization of Space

NASA is currently engaged an active program to return US astronauts to the moon, perhaps as early as 2024. The area of interest on the moon is the lunar south pole, where concentrations of valuable minerals, water and geographical features conducive to sustaining 24-hour solar power generation combine to create the ideal conditions for the creation of a moon colony.

But NASA isn’t the only party interested in putting a man back on the moon. China has been conducting exploratory missions to the moon, with the intent to establish a robotic research station on the lunar surface prior to setting up its own full-time base in the vicinity of the lunar south pole, something US intelligence assesses could occur as early as 2026……………………………………………

Given that both the US and China have recently declared space to be a “military domain,” it is possible, if not probable, that any future commercial exploration and exploitation interest by either party on the lunar surface would be treated as a national security priority, and therefore subject to military protection — especially after both parties have invested so much of their respective treasury and prestige into putting their citizens on the moon. The interests “of all mankind,” it seems, is no longer the driving factor behind lunar exploration, instead replaced by the kind of national chauvinism space exploration was supposed to supersede.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 26 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “With Concrete, Less Is More” • In its recent urbanization, China used more concrete between 2011 and 2013 than the US did in the entire 20th century. Concrete is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions. The concrete industry must reduce emissions by 16% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 to stay within […]

January 26 Energy News — geoharvey

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week in nuclear news

Some bits of good news. Eight things that went right this week, including big energy and health wins. Once Biologically Dead, the River Mersey in England is “Best Environmental Story in Europe”.

Pandemic. The world needs a COP-like process for pandemic preparedness

Climate.  A few pieces of good news on climate change (and a reality check)

Nuclear.  Am I the only one who thinks that it’s a bit bizarre to see the World Nuclear News bragging about new nuclear reactors going ahead in Ukraine –     just as the IAEA staff are tearing their hair out about the dangers of nuclear reactors in Ukraine?

AUSTRALIA. Greens Senator Barbara Pocock ‘s reminder that the Kimba nuclear waste storage has no longterm plan for removal of that waste to permanent disposal. Media keeps mum about earthquake near planned nuclear waste dump. 

Nuclear submarines deal an exercise in futility and should be sunk. Nuclear submarines are not going to have ‘any effect’ at all. Australia to become major hub for US submarines, [and target?].      Push in US Congress to exempt Australia from International Traffic in Arms Regulations, so that it can import nuclear submarines. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a good step towards a nuclear-free world.

Christina notes: Nuclear toys for the boys. What fun! To ramp up militarism, (and the USA weapons corporations) the US Congress might decide to dump Regulations on Traffic in Nuclear Weapons.

CLIMATE. The first breach of 1.5°C will be a temporary but devastating failure. Absurd that we listen to those causing the climate crisis’ in Davos, says Greta ThunbergThe ‘all-of-the-above’ story used to sneak nuclear power in as a climate-action technology along with renewables . Suffolk: Sizewell C nuclear ‘should not get licence’ due to coastal erosion.

CIVIL LIBERTIES. UK police powers increased, to shut down climate protestsUK govt to tighten anti-protest restrictions, despite criticism from human rights groups .

ECONOMICSAs the war rages on and military spending booms, the US arms industry is a big winner in Ukraine.    Marketing: South Korea keen to market nuclear technology to United Arab Emirates, and missile technology, too. Poland’s energy company agrees to buy France’s NOT YET DESIGNED so-called “small” Nuward nuclear reactor!  

The British government’s Regulated Asset Base – the test case for reviving its nuclear power dream. “Great British Nuclear “- it’s high time that they came clean on what this will cost.       David Schlissel: Small modular reactor project likely to end badly for Utah utilities.

EMPLOYMENT. The French nuclear sector up against the wall in terms of recruitment.

ENERGY. Germany aims for faster expansion of wind energy, not nuclear. Prolonged outages of France’s nuclear reactors. Renewable energy is the only credible path forward -António Guterres. Four separate reports show that the UK could save over €120 bn by 2050 by switching to a renewable energy strategy.

HEALTH. Investigation underway after nine nuclear missileers develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

LEGAL. Fukushima: court upholds acquittals of three Tepco executives over disaster. UK High Court to hear challenge against plans for Sizewell C nuclear station

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY. The Nuclear Fallacy: Why Small Modular Reactors Can’t Compete With Renewable Energy. U.S. approves design for NuScale small modular nuclear reactor, but significant problems remain.

OPPOSITION to NUCLEARDemonstrators gather in Hamburg against threat of nuclear confrontation in Ukraine.


POLITICS INTERNATIONAL and DIPLOMACYThe Problem With Primacy – America’s Dangerous Quest to Dominate the Pacific.     Diplomatic Cables Show Russia Saw NATO Expansion as a Red Line. Pacific islands urge Japan to delay release of nuclear plant waste water.


SECRETS and LIES. Man arrested on suspicion of terror offences after uranium found at Heathrow.

SPACE. EXPLORATION, WEAPONSNATO activating space war center in France. New NASA Nuclear Rocket Plan Aims to Get to Mars in Just 45 Days

SPINBUSTERA bit of panic in the UK small nuclear reactor lobby?

TECHNOLOGY. Canadian MP Charlie Angus Questions the Claims of SMRs (Small Modular Reactors)


      WAR and CONFLICT. US may assist Ukrainian strikes on Crimea – NYT.       Ukraine: Is the Hammer About to Fall?.

WEAPONS and WEAPONS SALES. CNN: Ukraine Has Become a ‘Weapons Lab’ for Western Arms . Ukraine Narrative Fraying, But Weapons Will Continue To Flow. Ukraine war boon/boondoggle for U.S. arms makers, Pentagon’s warfighting capabilities.        Germany Says US Must Lead Way On Tanks For Ukraine, As Republican Party Also Piles On Pressure         Nuclear Notebook: United States nuclear weapons, 2023.

 Plutonium Pit Bomb Plans Excoriated by General Accounting Office.  Pentagon can’t account for $220 billion in govt property, fails fifth audit. US Installs New Nukes in Europe: As Destructive as 83 Hiroshima Bombs.    

The US has a new nuclear proliferation problem: South Korea. The Disastrous Downsides of South Korea Building Nuclear Weapons. It comes down to weapons.

January 24, 2023 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australia’s top 10 best performing solar farms in 2022 include some originals — RenewEconomy

Australia’s best performing solar farms in 2022 include some of the very first assets built up to a decade ago. The post Australia’s top 10 best performing solar farms in 2022 include some originals appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australia’s top 10 best performing solar farms in 2022 include some originals — RenewEconomy

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Greener and cheaper:” Deakin Uni extract silicon from solar panels to make batteries — RenewEconomy

Landmark discovery to extract silicon from solar panels for use in building better batteries helps to solve two long-term challenges in the clean energy transition. The post “Greener and cheaper:” Deakin Uni extract silicon from solar panels to make batteries appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“Greener and cheaper:” Deakin Uni extract silicon from solar panels to make batteries — RenewEconomy

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Accident at Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant ‘still cannot be excluded’: IAEA 

EuroNews, By Méabh Mc Mahon   23/01/2023

The threat of a nuclear accident in Ukraine is still very high, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Euronews on Monday.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnsky last week during a visit to the war-torn country, described the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as very precarious and said that reaching a deal on the establishment of a safe zone is tricky as the military are involved in the talks.

“We did have situations where this facility was shelled, attacked directly. There is still a lot of military activity around. So it cannot be excluded that this happens again,” Grossi told Euronews.

“So before it does, we can take an interim practical measure, which would be to exclude this huge facility from a military action attack,” he added.

Grossi spoke from Brussels where he briefed European Union foreign affairs ministers on the situation on the ground. He will also provide an update to the European Parliament on Tuesday.

The IAEA has a team on the ground monitoring the nuclear plant, which is not producing energy at the moment and is under the control of Russian forces. Similar IAEA missions are also stationed at the other Ukrainian nuclear power plants in Rivne, Khmelnytskyi and Chornobyl.

Grossi is to visit Moscow in early or mid-February for a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. ……………………. more

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine steps up preparations for new nuclear reactors (NO this is not a joke!)

WNN 23 January 2023

The Cabinet of Ministers in Ukraine has given the go-ahead to begin work on project documentation for the construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant.

Ukraine’s Minister of Energy, Herman Halushchenko, said the decision was a key moment for the country.

He said: “The Cabinet of Ministers decided that we are starting to develop technical documentation for a new type of reactors that have never been built in Ukraine. In other words, we have ended the era of the creation of nuclear energy based on Soviet technology.”

According to the country’s energy’s ministry, the target date to complete construction and start-up of the two power units at Khmelnitsky is 2030-2032, subject to the impact of the current war. It estimates the cost of each unit at about USD5 billion. Then cabinet decision means that a technical and economic feasibility study and other project documentation can be taken forward……………………………………….

In June last year, Energoatom agreed to increase from five to nine the number of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built in the country, which will include unit 5 and unit 6 at Khmelnitsky, plus a switch to supply all of the country’s nuclear fuel………………………….more

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investigation underway after nine nuclear missileers develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

ABC News 23 Jan 23

Nine military officers — who had worked decades ago at a nuclear missile base in Montana — have been diagnosed with a blood cancer, and there are “indications” the disease may be linked to their service, according to military briefing slides obtained by The Associated Press. One of the officers has died.

Key points:

  • One of the nine officers diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma has since died
  • Top officials say military medical professionals are investigating the new cases
  • Previously, 14 cancer cases were investigated at the base, which was deemed safe

All of the officers — known as missileers — were assigned as many as 25 years ago to Malmstrom Air Force Base, home to a vast field of 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile silos.

The nine officers were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a January briefing by US Space Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Sebeck.

Missileers ride caged elevators deep underground into a small operations bunker encased in a thick wall of concrete and steel.

They remain there sometimes for days, ready to turn the launch keys if ordered to by the country’s president.

“There are indications of a possible association between [this] cancer and missile combat crew service at Malmstrom AFB,” Lieutenant Colonel Sebeck said in slides presented to his Space Force unit this month.

The “disproportionate number of missileers presenting with cancer, specifically lymphoma” was concerning, he said…………………………..

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — which, according to the American Cancer Society, affects an estimated 19 out of every 100,000 people in the US annually — is a blood cancer that uses the body’s infection-fighting lymph system to spread………………..

The median age for adult non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 67, according to the National Institutes of Health.

However, the former missileers affected are far younger.

Officers are often in their 20s when they are assigned duty watch.

The officer who died, who was not identified, was a Space Force officer assigned to Schreiver Space Force Base in Colorado, with the rank of major, a rank typically achieved in a service member’s 30s.

Two of the others are in the same Space Force unit with the rank of lieutenant colonel, which is typically reached in a service member’s early 40s…………………………………………………

Last year, President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act, which greatly expanded the the types of illnesses and toxic exposures that would be considered presumptive — meaning a service member or veterans would not face an uphill battle to convince the government that the injury was tied to their military service — in order to received covered care.

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Media keeps mum about earthquake near planned nuclear waste dump.

Kazzi Jai, Fight to stop a nuclear waste dump in South Australia 20 Jan 23

Port Augusta had a magnitude 3.2 earth tremor Sunday morning with epicentre near Port Paterson and not a peep in the media!

It was just below 4.0 (and above)which is considered an earthquake …

Only Geoscience Australia officially recorded it.

So, surely there should have been noise about it in the media….or is it just “selective” news these days?

Port Augusta isn’t that far from Kimba…and we’ll remember the greedy landowner commenting once that the nuclear dump would only “bounce up and down” in the event of SEISMIC ACTIVITY!!

Don’t know about anyone else…but concrete and steel drums bouncing up and down results in cracking of concrete and possible breaching of steel drums (steel and concrete interfaces results in concrete corrosion …not to mention the corrosion caused by interaction of radiation emissions contained within)!

Not SAFE AT ALL considering this dump is meant to FULLY CONTAIN this nuclear waste from the environment FOR 300 YEARS!!!


January 23, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, media | Leave a comment

ASIO spied on Pine Gap military base protesters in the 1980s, declassified documents reveal

ABC Alice Springs / By Lee Robinson, Sat 21 Jan 2023 

Declassified ASIO files have revealed the national security agency planted spies among a group protesting against the Pine Gap military base in Alice Springs during the 1980s. 

The 1987 documents, released last year by the National Archives of Australia, show intelligence about peace activists and their protest plans were being fed to ASIO’s central office by one or more covert operatives who surreptitiously attended the group’s meetings.

The peace movement had gained momentum in the political landscape during the Cold War era, as concerns ran high over the threat posed by the Soviet Union and the possibility of nuclear warfare.

Pine Gap, the top-secret defence facility that had begun operating during the previous decade on the outskirts of town, was feared to be a target due its strategic importance to the United States Department of Defense and the Australian government.

Surveillance of peace group no surprise

Russell Goldflam was a bright-eyed idealist and vocal member of the Alice Springs Peace Group (ASPG) in the late 1980s.

Now a semi-retired lawyer still living in Alice Springs, he was not surprised to learn that ASIO had been surveilling the group’s activities.

“I would have been amazed if there hadn’t been a spy amongst our ranks,” Mr Goldflam said.

“We were campaigning against the largest spy base run by the United States outside the continental US.

“It would have been absolutely extraordinary if [ASIO] — or somebody in the security establishment — didn’t go to some trouble to try and make sure that there was no threat to that base from local people who were publicly saying, ‘We want to get it closed down’.”

Protest meetings documented

There are hundreds of files, with some revealing nothing more than bland meeting minutes, while others contain heavy redactions and delve into the perceived threats posed by peace activists……

Covert operatives remain a mystery

Mr Goldflam, who was arrested several times for trespassing at the military base during demonstrations, said he was never able to confirm the identity of any covert operatives…………………………………………………………..

A ‘great privilege’

Mr Goldflam has provided legal assistance throughout his career to a number of peace activists who had broken the law at Pine Gap and faced serious charges.

“It was a great privilege to be able to work as a lawyer for those people fighting for what are pretty fundamental rights, and that’s the right to be able to express an opposing point of view,” he said.

He believed the documents also painted the national security agency as holding grave concerns about the peace movement having a “malign influence” on local Aboriginal people, which Mr Goldflam said “couldn’t be further from the truth”.

“Our concern is where opinions tip into the promotion of violence, or actual acts of violence.”

January 23, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Nuclear power in Ukraine: what would happen if Zaporizhzhia was hit?

The most likely risk scenario is a breach of spent fuel held in canisters or cooling ponds outside of the reactor core containment structure. This spent fuel is still highly radioactive and vulnerable to missiles, shells and rocket strikes which could spread radiation directly or start fires spreading radiation. An impact by an aircraft is also a significant risk due to the highly inflammable aircraft fuel onboard.

Scientists for Global Responsibility, Dr Philip Webber, 22 Jan 23

The Zaporizhzhia region in south eastern Ukraine houses the largest nuclear power station in Europe – the Zaporizhzhia NPP – one of the ten largest such plants in the world. It is currently in an intensely fought war zone. Dr Philip Webber, SGR, explains some of the risks of radiation releases that this poses, both nationally and internationally.

Article from Responsible Science journal, no.5; advance online publication: 15 December 2022

About the Zaporizhzhia site

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant [1] is part of a huge industrial complex some 8km square. It houses six large (1 gigawatt or GW) VVER-1000 Russian designed and built nuclear power reactors, [2] three thermal (coal- and gas-powered) power stations, and the purpose-built city of Enerhodar, which was built in 1970 to house 11,000 power plant workers and a total population of around 53,000. [3]  Before the war, the nuclear plant supplied about 20% of Ukraine’s electricity – widely used for heating in large apartment blocks. The reactors’ containment structures [4] house the nuclear core and used or ‘spent’ nuclear fuel in cooling pools. After five years, this spent fuel is transferred to dry storage casks nearby, which are air-cooled. In addition, huge external cooling ponds – which are continuously sprayed with water – store many older used nuclear fuel rods. The three thermal plants were shut down in May 2022 having run out of fuel due to the Russian invasion.

The Zaporizhzhia power site is much larger than the biggest UK nuclear sites such as Sellafield or Hinkley Point – either of these would fit within just the area of the cooling ponds at Zaporizhzhia. The entire complex is situated on a flat promontory on the south-east bank of the Dnipro River which is 5km wide at that point. [5]  The site is 50km south west of the city of Zaporizhzhia, also on the south bank of the Dnipro. Kherson is about 150km to the south west – but on the other bank of the river.

Under occupation

The reactor site has been occupied by Russian military forces since March 2022 – with Ukrainian forces in control of the opposite river bank. The original Ukrainian Energoatom plant operators are being forced to keep working there under conditions of extreme stress. These stresses include excessively long shifts, extreme concerns about family safety, and even the arrest of the plant chief. Various parts of the site have been hit by artillery shells and warheads from rocket-launched missiles over several months. Photographs show cratering and rocket tubes embedded in the ground. Both sides accuse the other of deliberately targeting and hitting the plant site. As a result of major safety concerns, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has placed monitoring teams at the site and nearby, but sourcing reliable information remains extremely difficult. [6]

The local electricity grid is very extensive and extremely vulnerable. Before the war, several high voltage (HV) power lines extended east from the nuclear and thermal plants to what is now Russian-occupied Ukraine via extensive electricity sub-stations, whilst one large HV line connected directly across the Dnipro to the opposite bank – under the control of Ukraine – via Marhanets just 15km away. Artillery shells can easily be fired over 40km whilst rocket launchers can reach even further, so the entire area is within range of both Russian and Ukrainian forces. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the IAEA continue to report that connections to the electricity grid keep being destroyed by artillery shelling which are then intermittently repaired. Repairs are very difficult owing to a severe shortage of supplies such as power transformers, insulators, cabling and HV circuit breakers. So far, neither the containment buildings for the reactors, nor the spent fuel assemblies in canisters, nor the large cooling ponds appear to have been seriously breached, but there is no guarantee this will continue to be the case.

The plants remain in a highly contested conflict area. The IAEA and UN have called for the plants to be placed in a demilitarised safety zone. No such zone has yet been set up. It is perhaps worth saying that any such demilitarised zone would have to include the city of Enerhodar because of its intimate connection and proximity to the nuclear power plants and power lines that traverse the entire area. Creating such an exclusion zone at the centre of a high intensity war zone is extremely difficult and has been rarely achieved in other conflicts.

Emergency shutdown

It is extremely difficult to secure a reliable picture of what is actually going on at the Zaporizhzhia power generation site……………………………

What if the cooling fails?

Any nuclear reactor, for safe operation, needs to be connected to an electricity supply to provide a reliable source of emergency core cooling power. Without such active cooling from pumped water, the reactor core will eventually overheat to dangerous levels. Outside the reactor cores, radioactive decay in spent fuel continues, releasing heat inside the reactor containment structure, the dry storage casks, and the external ponds. Any failures of, or threats to, electricity supplies create serious emergency situations. Because of this danger, each reactor has emergency diesel-fired electricity generators with around 10 days of fuel. [8]  Ultimately, without active cooling powered by the grid, and once back-up diesel generators run out of fuel, core temperatures would rise uncontrollably. This would lead first to hydrogen gas release, then explosions, and ultimately, runaway core meltdowns breaching the core containment.

This is what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in 2011 [9] – when the cores in three reactors could not be cooled, large volumes of hydrogen gas were released into the containment structures, which then exploded, releasing highly radioactive materials into the environment – mainly as gases and vapours. After a few days, the reactor cores reached the melting points of the nuclear fuels and these highly radioactive molten materials burned down through the lower regions of the reactor vessels. This situation also has similarities with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – the site of which is now part of Ukraine (and was occupied briefly by Russian troops early during the invasion).

In a reactor core of 1GW size, as those at Zaporizhzhia, if the cooling system breaks down, hydrogen explosions would occur after 8 to 12 hours. After about two days, the reactor core would become hot enough to burn through the base of the reactor vessel. [10]

Cooling for the reactor cores and spent fuel storage relies on several factors: a reliable supply of water; a reliable supply of power for the cooling pumps; working pumps; and staff to conduct any repairs and maintain the cooling systems. Without a reliable connection to the electricity grid, the only source of power for the pumps are, as mentioned, the back-up generators. With all of these factors now under threat, the risk of a reactor containment breach due to cooling failure is high. [11]

Other risks result from the ongoing conflict. Whilst an artillery shell or conventional cruise missile strike is unlikely to breach the reactor core containment directly, the threat is much greater to the integrity of over 3,000 spent fuel assemblies stored locally in concrete containers. Artillery, or a cruise missile could easily breach any of these containers releasing highly radioactive materials. This in turn could make part of the site – for example, cooling circuitry or fuel supplies – too dangerous to manage, which would lead to an even more serious core failure.

The possible effects of a nuclear disaster

There are a wide range of possible disaster scenarios.

Firstly, considering a meltdown of one or more reactor cores, the most comparable reactor accident so far has been the Fukushima plant radiation releases following the Great East Japan Earthquake and its subsequent tsunami in 2011. This led to an initial obligatory exclusion zone of 20km radius around the plant with 30km radius stay-at-home and no-fly zones and finally a larger zone extending 40km to the north west. Within a year, some people were permitted to return home within the 20km zone, whilst others with higher radiation levels were restricted for five years after the disaster, and a 30-year clean up period was envisaged. The Fukushima experience however does not give one high confidence that future nuclear disasters may be better managed……………………….

A further difficulty arising from the conflict is that emergency responses such as evacuation of population, distribution of iodine tablets or provision of emergency medical treatment would be very difficult to coordinate, especially as no one authority would be able to take charge of the situation………….

The most likely risk scenario is a breach of spent fuel held in canisters or cooling ponds outside of the reactor core containment structure. This spent fuel is still highly radioactive and vulnerable to missiles, shells and rocket strikes which could spread radiation directly or start fires spreading radiation. An impact by an aircraft is also a significant risk due to the highly inflammable aircraft fuel onboard.

What if a nuclear weapon were used?

The worst possible scenario is nuclear strike on a reactor.  A direct strike by even the smallest nuclear warhead, for example, a 10 kilotonne (kT) ‘tactical’ nuclear warhead – smaller than that dropped on Hiroshima in World War II – would breach the core containment and spread the highly radioactive materials inside. A strike missing the core containment would spread the large amounts of spent fuel stored nearby. A 10kT nuclear blast and fireball would create a 1km radius zone of major destruction, a crater 25m deep and carry radioactive materials into a cloud of 8km altitude and 3km across depositing them underneath and downwind as fallout.

The reactor waste products contain long-lasting radioactive isotopes such as caesium and strontium which are readily absorbed into the body or into crops contaminating farmland. This would create a major radiation problem tens to hundreds of times worse and much longer-lasting than the nuclear weapon alone. [13]

At Zaporizhzhia, the large amounts of spent fuel storage make this risk even worse. Fallout would create a lethal radiation risk across the entire plant site and city of Enerhodar. …………………… a completely unmanageable evacuation requirement in peacetime let alone in the middle of an intense war. Depending on the dose rates, some areas may need to be avoided for years to decades………………………………….

Impacts in a war zone

Both the risk of a nuclear disaster and the consequences of it are multiplied in a war zone. In Ukraine, the population are already suffering intense pressure, strain and casualties due to direct impacts such as widespread Russian bombardment with artillery and missiles…………………………….

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the existence of nuclear plants in any war zone creates a whole new range of risks and dangers ………………….. The other three Ukraine reactor sites are also at high risk due to damage to the electricity grid and have already been subject to emergency shutdown due to such damage…………..more


January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As the war rages on and military spending booms, the US arms industry is a big winner in Ukraine

ABC News, By Annika Burgess  21 Jan 23

As the war in Ukraine heads towards the one-year mark, so far there has been only one clear winner — the US arms industry. 

There is no way Ukraine would have been able to hold out against Russia without American weapons.

But as the conflict rages on, there have been accusations from some EU officials that the US is profiting from the war through weapons sales and gas prices. 

Meanwhile, analysts have warned of excessive spending and the US military-industrial complex (MIC) expanding beyond what is needed in response to Ukraine. 

Defence budgets are also booming worldwide as countries replenish stocks sent to Ukraine and try to boost military capabilities in the face of mounting security threats.

Ultimately, the US defence contractors are set for a bonanza.  ……..

What are the issues with the MIC?

The military-industrial complex is a term coined during the Cold War to describe the relationship between a government and defence industry contractors that lobby for increased military spending.

A country’s MIC has the potential to exert influence over government policy, especially if there are legislators who can benefit from the partnerships.

In the US, there is a wider vested interest in keeping the industry thriving, especially for local economies that are highly dependant on defence contractors for jobs. 

Charles Miller, senior lecturer at the ANU’s school of politics and international relations, said about 800,000 jobs are directly tied to the sector.

“The local economy is highly dependent on defence contractors for its economic wellbeing,” Mr Miller told the ABC.

“And that’s not the Raytheons or the Boeings themselves, but what’s called the secondary contractors — that is, the people and the companies that make a living by servicing them.”

Former US president Dwight Eisenhower warned of the rise of the MIC and its threat to democracy in his 1961 farewell address.

“He viewed it as a huge problem,” Bill Hartung, a defence analyst at the US Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told the ABC.

“Although, he did say in the Cold War-era large military sales were necessary, but the question was how to control it, and what democratic guardrails could be put in place.”

Today, there doesn’t seem to be the same level of concern.

The MIC was already a “powerful force”, and in response to Ukraine the US has stripped away many safeguards to protect against waste and price gouging, Mr Hartung said.

He added that a lot of changes being discussed will last far beyond the war in Ukraine.

“The United States is kind of seizing this moment to try to get out a bunch of things that have been on their wish list for years, like committing to multi-year procurement of weapons,” Mr Hartung said.

“All of which will probably make it easier for those companies to rip off the government, because there will be less negotiation over prices and the inclination to just push things out the door.”………………………………….

Who are the biggest winners? 

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, the US and its NATO allies have been throwing tens of billions of dollars worth of military aid Ukraine’s way.

The United States alone sent around $US21.3 billion ($30 billion) in security assistance to Kyiv last year.

Contracts have been rolled out thick and fast to speed up weapons production and fill supply gaps.

And there are a small number of companies in the highly consolidated industry that are reaping the rewards.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and Northrop Grumman — all from the US — are among the top contractors.

They also produce some of the most in-demand and expensive weapons being sent to Ukraine.

The conflict has sent their stocks surging, with the share price of Northrop Grumman increasing 40 per cent by the end of 2022, while Lockheed Martin’s was up by 37 per cent.

In October, the Pentagon announced $US1.2 billion in contracts were underway to replenish US military stocks for weapons sent to the battlefield.

Production for Lockheed Martin’s popular Javelin anti-tank missiles — dubbed “Saint Javelin”, the protector of Ukraine — increased from 2,100 to nearly 4,000 per year.

While production for its High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) shot up from 60 to 96 units a year. 

The US upped the ante further in November, awarding Raytheon — which also co-produces Javelins — a $US1.2 billion contract for another six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) for Ukraine.

Soon after, Lockheed Martin won a $US7.8 billion contract modification for F-35 aircraft, and $US431 million to deliver new HIMARS and support services for the US Army and its foreign allies.

Australia this month also announced it was purchasing 20 HIMARS and associated hardware for $558 million.

Global defence spending boom

Last month, the US Senate passed a funding bill that included a record $US858 billion in annual defence spending — up from $US740 billion the previous year.

It was $US45 billion more than what was proposed by President Joe Biden.

The bill includes funding for Taiwan and Ukraine, allowing the Pentagon to buy massive amounts of high-priority munitions using multi-year contracts — both to help Kyiv fight Russia and to refill US stockpiles.

“It’s surprising how much it has gone up,” Mr Hartung said.

Hanna Homestead, a policy associate from the Center for International Policy (CIP) — a US-based group monitoring military spending and weapons — said contractors were already receiving a staggering amount.

“In 2020, Lockheed Martin got more money through federal contracts than the Department of State and USAID combined,” she told the ABC.

Allies like Japan have also announced historic surges in defence spending.

Last month, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he was boosting Japan’s 2023 defence budget by 20 per cent in the face of regional security concerns and threats posed by China and North Korea.

It includes around 250 billion yen ($3.16 billion) to buy Lockheed Martin fighter jets. 

Japan’s major military reform plan will see it double defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP by 2027, using a spending target that follows the NATO standard.

Meanwhile, some NATO countries are pushing for a greater defence commitment in response to the Ukraine conflict, saying the benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP should be the bare minimum.

‘That’s just the way it is’

Many believe the US arms industry doesn’t have a great reputation.

“They continue to arm repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines and Algeria that have horrific human rights records and have engaged in destabilising activities,” Mr Hartung said. 

He also accused companies of “pure profiteering” when it came to Ukraine, saying they are buying back their own share market stocks to boost the prices at a time when they claim they need more money.

“[This] has nothing to do with making anyone safer,” Mr Hartung said. 

“In general, the chaos of war makes profiteering easier. 

The European Union’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell has accused the US of profiting from high gas prices, weapons and trade while its allies suffer.

However, Ms Homestead said it was still a small amount of companies getting the bulk of the benefits, which doesn’t necessarily trickle down. 

“It’s really the private companies that are profiting, I wouldn’t say the US government is profiting,” she said. ………………………………………….

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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