Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Sun setting on Japan’s nuclear export sector

 http://www.atimes.com/article/sun-setting-on-japans-nuclear-export-sector/

Post-Fukushima cost overruns may kill a giant power project in Turkey, and there are few other deals to replace it

 DECEMBER 16, 2018 10:29 AM (UTC+8)  apan’s nuclear export industry could be dealt a fatal blow if Mitsubishi Heavy Industries pulls out of a massive project to build four large power plants on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, as reports have suggested.

The Sinop plant project in Turkey was seen as Japan’s best chance for an industry – battered and bruised after the 2011 tsunami and triple meltdown at Fukushima – to put together a workable export strategy that did not break the bank of potential international customers.

Aside from Sinop, the Japanese industry has only one viable export project still upcoming: Hitachi’s bid to build two reactors on the island of Anglesey in Britain. And even that deal is looking shaky.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has not pulled the plug yet on its stake in the four-reactor project on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, but a slew of domestic media reports and talk in Tokyo, suggests that, in the face of seemingly ever-rising construction costs to meet new safety standards that have been put in place since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the company will bail.

Fukushima legacy

When the deal was signed with Ankara in 2013, the ownership profile was: 65% awarded to a consortium made up of MHI, Itochu, France’s Areva, and GDF Suez. The other 35% was covered by Turkey’s electric power utility, Elektrik Uretim.

However, in April, Itochu pulled out of the consortium, citing cost overruns. That left the consortium with 51%, and the remaining 49% owned by the Turkish utility.

Without Mitsubishi the viability of the project is in question, sources say, unless Turkey can find a new partner or is willing to take on the project without its largest foreign partner. The Russians, who are building a nuclear complex on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, might be interested.

According to Kyodo, a thorough cost evaluation was to be completed by the end of this year. Itochu waited for the report to be released before bailing out of the deal. MHI is apparently waiting for the study to be completed before deciding its next move.

When the deal with Mitsubishi was signed in 2013, the estimated cost was $18 billion for four 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plants. But overall costs have soared, passing $42 billion in April – when Itochu withdrew, and is now put at about $44 billion.

Cost increases are nothing new in the nuclear power industry, but have been exacerbated in recent years by expensive adjustments phased in to meet more stringent safety concerns following the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed four units of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Sinop cost rises, however, also encompass other problems encountered in construction.

Fukushima, one of the most serious nuclear accidents in history, turned most of Japan against nuclear power. Before March 11, 2011, Japan had 54 nuclear plants. All were shut down after the accident and some are slowly returning to service having passed scrutiny by the regulator. Five are expected to restart within the next five years, and eight will likely be decommissioned. But prospects for the remaining plants are unclear.

Aware that no new nuclear plant may ever be built at home amid the anti-atomic public mood, Japan’s nuclear vendors have turned to overseas exports as the Fukushima accident does not appear to have destroyed the Japanese industry brand in other countries.

Endgame for nuclear exports?

If Mitsubishi does pull out of the huge project in Turkey it will be a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees international exports of nuclear technology as an important way to boost the economy. On his many trips abroad, he often acts as a salesman for nuclear exports. For example, it was a topic of discussion with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Argentina.

Details of the conversation were not revealed, but it would be a good bet that they discussed the Sinop project with the threat of Mitsubishi hanging over them, and that Abe sought ways to keep the project viable.

Meanwhile, it is not just MHI that may have doubts about the sector. Japan’s nuclear export industry has suffered plenty of setbacks in the seven years since Fukushima. Questions about the future of the sector hang over all three main players in the sector.

Toshiba, one of Japan’s big-three nuclear constructors, recently pulled out of the nuclear power business overseas after incurring huge losses in the United States.

Toshiba has also suffered something of an administrative meltdown in its quest to win construction contracts in the US. In February it finally unloaded it money-losing American subsidiary, Westinghouse, for $1 billion less than it paid to acquire the company 10 years ago.

If the export program is to remain viable, it may be in Wales, where the British government is seeking to build a two-reactor nuclear power plant on the island of Anglesey. Among those bidding for the project is Japan’s third nuclear constructor, Hitachi, through a subsidiary called Horizon Nuclear.

In the nuclear world, there are constructors – like MHI, Toshiba and Hitachi – and operators, who run the plant after it is completed, and they are not always the same. Japan learned from Korea’s successful bid to build six nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates that offering to build and also run them – a one-stop service – is key to making sales.

Hitachi is teaming up with the Japan Atomic Power Company, which operates two plants in Japan (although both are currently shut down pending the review by regulators). The plan is to present the British with a package deal.

Now, there are worries that Hitachi might pull out of the British project. Chairman Hiroaka Nakanishi was quoted in the Times of London saying his company was “facing an extreme situation,” and that a final decision on whether to stay with the project or leave it will be made next year.

If Mitsubishi does, as is widely expected, pull out of the huge project in Turkey, the only egg left in Japan’s overseas nuclear export basket will be Wales.

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December 18, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors lost at sea (will they be safe in space rockets?)

Explosive Accidents: The Lost Nuclear Arsenal at the Bottom of the Sea https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/09/03/nuclear-arsenal/?fbclid=IwAR1dPU13kVGGrYK–PFmFciWyMO28xaa1nU7OFMlC7UfuQwjMFh4

Sep 3, 2018 Ian Harvey In July of 2018, Andrew Thaler wrote for Southern Fried Science that there were at least two nuclear capsules, four unarmed weapons, and one armed nuclear weapon sitting on the ocean floor, that he was aware of.

His information was based on declassified U.S. Department of Defense narrative summaries of accidents involving U.S. nuclear weapons.

He noted that the documents he had access to only covered the period of time between 1950 and 1980. Any more recent data would still be classified. There is reason to believe that his estimated numbers for nuclear material in the oceans are far too low.

Business Insider in 2013 wrote that since 1950 there have been 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as Broken Arrows, where an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons resulted in the firing, launching, theft, or loss of said weapon.

BI reported in this piece that there were six nuclear weapons that have been lost and never recovered. The time frames for the BI list continued into the 2000’s, but this is also a lowball number.

According to a 1989 article in the New York Times, however, there have been at least 50 nuclear warheads and nine reactors scattered on the ocean floors since 1956.

These were the result of various accidents on the part of U.S. and Soviet bombers, ships, and rockets, according to a study of naval accidents that was published by Greenpeace and the Institute for Policy Studies.

The study outlines 1,276 accidents, both nuclear and non-nuclear, on the part of the world’s navies, and has some, more limited, information on another 1,000 accidents. The study points out that the total number of incidents amounts to one major peacetime accident a week

Information for the study was gathered mostly through the Freedom of Information Act, which included American intelligence assessments of Soviet naval accidents.

Eighty days after it fell into the ocean following the January 1966 midair collision between a nuclear-armed B-52G bomber and a KC-135 refueling tanker over Palomares, Spain, this B28RI nuclear bomb was recovered from 2,850 feet (869 meters) of water and lifted aboard the USS Petrel (note the missing tail fins and badly dented “false nose”).

The authors also received information from the governments of other nations. The report said that the worst accident occurred in 1986, when a Soviet submarine sank 600 miles northeast of the Bermuda coast, depositing two nuclear reactors and 32 nuclear warheads on the bottom of the ocean.

That one accident left more nuclear material under the sea than the authors of the first two pieces posited, combined. The study also notes that it doesn’t reflect data on any of the “many hundreds” of Soviet accidents about which little is known, and suggested that the Soviet Navy has far more accidents than those of America.

The accidents are, for the most part, due to human factors, ranging from issues of faulty navigation to outright sabotage.

So far, the U.S. has admitted to knowing of one hydrogen bomb that is leaking radioactive material. That bomb was accidentally dropped into the sea south of Japan in 1965 by an aircraft carrier.

Read another story from us: The Missing Nuclear Weapons Lost Off The Coast Of Bermuda

There is some likelihood that other bombs may have also begun to leak radiation into the water, and are just unknown as yet. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, the chances of such leaks will increase over time as the weapons degrade, having the potential to cause untold harm to the oceans and our planet as a whole.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Far from perfect, but still, nearly 200 nations reached an agreement on climate action rules

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear reprocessing plant – now a nightmare

UK’s dream is now its nuclear nightmare https://climatenewsnetwork.net/uks-dream-is-now-its-nuclear-nightmare/?fbclid=IwAR3CEunSXXOxdK_-N8Ka9kwpCMzvHFXNkZf23VGjd6oFuDecember 14, 2018, by Paul Brown 

Nobody knows what to do with a vast uranium and plutonium stockpile built up in the UK by reprocessing spent fuel. It is now a nuclear nightmare.

LONDON, 14 December, 2018 − Thirty years ago it seemed like a dream: now it is a nuclear nightmare. A project presented to the world in the 1990s by the UK government as a £2.85 billion triumph of British engineering, capable of recycling thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel into reusable uranium and plutonium is shutting down – with its role still controversial.

Launched amid fears of future uranium shortages and plans to use the plutonium produced from the plant to feed a generation of fast breeder reactors, the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, known as THORP, was thought to herald a rapid expansion of the industry.

In the event there were no uranium shortages, fast breeder reactors could not be made to work, and nuclear new build of all kinds stalled. Despite this THORP continued as if nothing had happened, recycling thousands of tons of uranium and producing 56 tons of plutonium that no one wants. The plutonium, once the world’s most valuable commodity, is now classed in Britain as “an asset of zero value.” Continue reading

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Rudolph the radioactive reindeer

 https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/12/16/rudolph-the-radioactive-reindeer/  Dosed by Chernobyl and atomic tests, reindeer and their herders are carrying a heavy nuclear burden, By Linda Pentz Gunter, December 16, 2018

Fallout from Soviet atomic bomb tests over the Arctic Ocean, compounded by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, have left reindeer too radioactive to eat, even today. That may be good news for the reindeer, sort of. But it’s bad news for the indigenous Laplanders in Finland and Sami herders in Norway, who carry high levels of radiation in their own bodies as well as in the reindeer on which they depend for sustenance and sales.

Reindeer carry heavy radioactive doses, mainly of cesium-137, because they devour lichen, moss and fungi, which bioaccumulate radioactive deposits from fallout. Norway’s radioactive contamination is primarily from Chernobyl, made worse because it was snowing heavily at the time of the April 26 accident. 

The Sami story is beautifully explained in this stunning photo essay by Amos Chapple and Wojtek Grojec for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

As the essay describes it, despite the length of time since the Chernobyl disaster, the fallout is a nasty gift that keeps on giving. “In 2014, there was a huge spike in radiation levels that scientists put down to a bumper season for mushrooms. Hundreds of Norwegian reindeer intended for slaughter had to be released back into the wild.”  Levels apparently shot from 1,500 becquerels per kilogram to 8,200.

A video of Chapple and Grojec’s work, on Tech Insider, also explains the impact of cesium-137 fallout on reindeer and their herders. [0n originall] 

Unfortunately, Norway’s “allowable” radiation standards are far higher than in other parts of Europe, at 3,000 becquerels per kilogram of food compared to the EU standard of 600 becquerels. When Chapple and Grojec were compiling their story, the herd they visited was testing at 2,100 becquerels, passing the Norwegian test for “safe”. The authors say that the higher levels were established by the Norwegian government in “response to radiation levels in reindeer that threatened the very existence of the Sami herders.”

This practice of simply moving the radiation goalposts to make dangerous levels safe still goes on today, of course, most notably in Japan. As was pointed out in an earlier story on our site, the Japanese government, eager to show the world that the Fukushima region could quickly be made safe for habitation, simply raised the “allowable” annual exposure rate from 1 millisievert to 20, an entirely unacceptable dose for most people, especially women and children.

In Finland, most of the persistent radiation levels are due to atomic testing during the Cold War. Measurements continue to be taken among the Lapland reindeer herders where cesium levels are ten times higher than in the rest of Finland. Although cesium levels in humans were a shocking 45,000 becquerels per kilo in the 1960s according to one report, they still hover at over 1,000 today.

The reduction in slaughter of reindeer comes with other side effects as well. As far back as 1997, it was already being observed that the increase in reindeer population, leading to “Over-grazing and trampling, is causing more damage to the fragile tundra than some of the world’s most seriously polluting factories,” wrote Geoffrey Lean in The Independent.

Now, as Russia begins using floating nuclear reactors to plunder the Arctic Ocean for oil, the region has been placed under threat of a radioactive catastrophe again. From both an economic and health perspective, neither the reindeer nor their indigenous herders can afford a second assault.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

World has enough uranium for the foreseeable future

Global uranium supply sufficient to meet future demand – NEA14th December 2018 BY: MARLENY ARNOLDI Mining Weekly 
CREAMER MEDIA ONLINE WRITER  Intergovernmental agency, the Nuclear Energy Association (NEA), says the world’s supply of uranium is more than adequate to meet projected requirements for the foreseeable future, regardless of the role that nuclear energy will play in meeting future electricity demand …..http://m.miningweekly.com/article/global-uranium-supply-sufficient-to-meet-future-demand-nea-2018-12-14/rep_id:3861

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Privatising warfare: Amazon’s bid to become the Pentagon’s “brain”

To understand the implications of JEDI, we must realize that the information being gathered and sorted will inevitably be used for the targeting and killing of not only opposing government-based military forces, but also nongovernmental individuals and groups who are viewed as political or potential military threats by the US.

The transfer of a massive amount of military information into a privately owned and built cloud, as will happen with the creation of JEDI, raises the possibility that the owner or owners of that cloud will — because of their knowledge of the cloud structure, capabilities and content — become more powerful than military and elected officials.

“Alexa, Drop a Bomb”: Amazon Wants in on US Warfare, Nick Mottern, Truthout     https://truthout.org/articles/alexa-drop-a-bomb-amazon-wants-in-on-us-warfare/December 16, 2018 

Amazon is seeking to build a global “brain” for the Pentagon called JEDI, a weapon of unprecedented surveillance and killing power, a profoundly aggressive weapon that should not be allowed to be created.

Founded in 1994 as an online book seller, Amazon is now the world’s largest online retailer, with more than 300 million customers worldwide, and net sales of $178 billion in 2017.

Amazon has built a vast, globally distributed data storage capacity and sophisticated artificial intelligence programs to propel its retail business that it hopes to use to win a $10 billion Pentagon contract to create the aforementioned “brain” that goes by the project name Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, a moniker obviously concocted to yield the Star Wars acronym — JEDI.

As of the October 12, 2018, deadline for submitting proposals for JEDI, Amazon is the betting favorite for the contract, which will go to just one bidder, in spite of protests by competitors, chief among them Microsoft and IBM. The Pentagon appears likely to select a winner for the contract in 2019.

Jedi Powers? Continue reading

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Priest vows to block Adani bulldozers 

One of Queensland’s leading Christian figures has vowed to go to extreme lengths in a bid to stop Adani’s mega-mine going ahead, and called on followers of other religions to join him…. (subscribers only)

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/leading-christian-dr-peter-catt-vows-to-block-adani-bulldozers/news-story/7a77ef8825e519dec97323c2b94ab97c

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A youth activist on the climate crisis: politicians won’t save us

 https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/14/climate-change-young-people-cop24-conferenceAt the COP24 conference, leaders lack the urgency felt by communities on the frontlines of a global threat

As wildfires burn, as temperatures rise, as the last remaining old-growth forests in Poland are logged, world leaders are in Katowiceto negotiate the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. To outsiders, UN climate talks may seem like a positive step. Unfortunately, this is COP24.

For 24 years, world leaders have annually talked at each other instead of to one another in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to mitigate the climate crisis. In all that time, they have barely scratched the surface of an issue that the world’s top climate scientists say we now have 12 years to stop – and that is an optimistic estimate.

There’s an urgency in my heart being here in Katowice, knowing that this negotiation process is supposed to protect my generation and ones thereafter. I am afraid of the lack of accountability in the space, knowing that the people with power will be patted on the back for simply coming together without making meaningful policy commitments.

When the news stories come out about successful negotiations, we forget about when leaders pushed to leave “human rights” out of policy wording, or stood on the floor advocating for fossil fuels as a solution (hint: they’re not), all to placate to their own interest in power and maintaining it. They are voluntarily blind to the suffering their decisions cause. Homes will be lost, families will be torn apart by displacement and at borders, and the sea will encroach upon whole societies, exterminating cultures and livelihoods. Developed countries like the US, corrupted by fossil fuel interests, are to blame.

UN negotiators have been trying to solve the climate crisis since before I was born. When will global leaders admit that this is a broken and dysfunctional charade instead of burying the reality under false solutions and jargon? What will be the catalyst for people in power to do what is right? Do millions of people have to be displaced? Do we have to be stealing a livable planet from people not even born yet? How many millions of people will have to die from climate damage such as drought, famine, superstorms and wildfires before world leaders commit to implementing real solutions to defeat this crisis?

I’ve been doing this work for five years and have given up a lot to do the things I know are right. I’ve given up personal finances, friendships, a normal adolescence and more to get up on the global stage. I’ve taken breaks from school, failed a few classes.

Youth activists everywhere make personal sacrifices every day in order to protect the world we’ll inherit and our governments can’t do the same for us. The institutions meant to protect me don’t seem to care as much as I do and it’s a burden I carry everyday.

I watch my government and governments around the world trade my future for profit. A future my mother fought hard to secure through sacrifice, when she made the journey to immigrate to the United States. There’s a lot of anger and depression inside of me because of this, but I found happiness and reward in seeing the solutions, power and love in the climate movement.

Though political institutions have fallen short, being on the ground here does offer hope: it proves the strength of people power. Politicians will never be the core of this movement. We need to highlight and uplift genuine grassroots movements that properly address the lived experiences of the people they protect. We need to turn our attention and our energy into communities that are helping themselves in the best ways that they can.

The marginalized communities on the frontlines know what it actually means to sacrifice in order to uphold future generations and young people. They understand giving up their own comforts to protect lives.

We have called on our political leaders to demonstrate a similar understanding. But resilience can’t be taught, and it doesn’t come from a president, minister or monarch: it comes from the adversity you have faced. This is why, to fight the powers that hand away pieces of our environment for profit, we must enlist the people who have lived on the margins of society. People power will always be stronger than the people in power.

Victoria Barrett is one of the 21 plaintiffs, aged 10 to 21, in the high-profileJuliana v the United States lawsuit, which faulted the US government for failing to protect its citizens from climate change. She represents marginalized voices at international conferences and has addressed the United Nations general assembly on the topic of youth involvement in its sustainable development goals.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The South Australian  farmers taking the fight to mining companies 

There’s a sound some South Australian farmers are absolutely terrified of hear — it threatens their properties, their families and ultimately, their livelihood. The Sunday Mail explores life on the land, and how mining exploration is impacting our farmers… (subscribers only)

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/farming-in-south-australia-farmers-reveal-the-stress-of-fighting-mining-exploration/news-story/e5bf6787dd099e49dd49d452f28e9415

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Whyalla powering ahead – with renewable energy!

Why Tony, Whyalla’s still on the map … and powering ahead, Brisbane Times, By Peter FitzSimons, 15 December 2018  The irony is exquisite. Back in 2011 when he was opposition leader, Tony Abbott visited the famed industrial town and warned darkly: “Whyalla will be wiped off the map by Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. Whyalla risks becoming a ghost town, an economic wasteland if this carbon tax goes ahead.”

You get the drift. Back then, the leader of the Libs was sounding the clarion call we still hear in certain sections today: turn your back on the whole idea of a green economy, of lowering emissions, of embracing renewable energy, or face economic Armageddon. But what actually happened? Well, funny you should ask. For just last week, as reported by the‘Tiser, the British steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta has announced his plans “to build one of the biggest steelworks in the world in Whyalla, which would aim to pump billions of dollars into the state’s economy and quadruple the city’s population”.

How will those steelworks be powered? Mostly by renewable energy! But wait, there’s more.

There are also plans to sink $145 million into an “intensive horticulture project, powered by solar energy and backed by Chinese investors; a new $45 million hotel on the foreshore to be built by the Pelligra Group, owners of the Holden site in Elizabeth; and a $6 million green organics recycling plant”. You get the drift. Far from being destroyed by the embrace of renewables, Whyalla is heading towards being a national powerhouse, and a renewable powerhouse at that!…… https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/why-tony-whyalla-s-still-on-the-map-and-powering-ahead-20181214-p50me7.html

December 17, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Some good news in the climate battle – over 1000 institutions to divest from fossil fuels

December 15, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Want to solve climate problem? Nuclear isn’t the answer

December 15, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Between 340,000 and 690,000 Americans died from radioactive fallout from 1951 to 1973.

In the 1950s, the U.S. government downplayed the danger of radioactive fallout, asserting that all radioactivity was confined to the Nevada test site. Despite this, a national estimate attributed 49,000 cancer deaths to nuclear testing in the area.

But the results of new research suggest that this number is woefully inaccurate. Using a novel method, and today’s improved understanding of radioactive fallout, Keith Meyers from the University of Arizona discovered that U.S. nuclear testing was responsible for the deaths of at least as many — and likely more — as those killed by the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Specifically, between 340,000 and 690,000 Americans died from radioactive fallout from 1951 to 1973.

At least 340,000 Americans died from radioactive fallout between 1951 and 1973 https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/new-estimate-deaths-from-us-nuclear-tests?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2 Domestic nuclear testing wreaked havoc on thousands of families.   

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. But new research shows that domestic U.S. nuclear tests likely killed more.
  • The new research tracked an unlikely vector for radioactive transmission: dairy cows.
  • The study serves as a reminder of the insidious and deadly nature of nuclear weapons.

When we think of nuclear disasters, a few names probably come to mind. There’s the Chernobyl disaster, which killed around 27,000 people, although estimates are fuzzy. After Fukushima, there were no deaths due to radiation poisoning, but this event occurred relatively recently, and radiation poisoning often kills slowly over decades. When the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, estimates put the death toll at around 200,000 people, but again, exact numbers are difficult to calculate.

One name that almost certainly didn’t come to mind is Nevada. When the Soviet Union detonated their first atomic bomb in 1949, the U.S. was shocked into action. America’s prior nuclear testing had been carried out in the Pacific, but it was logistically slow and costly to conduct tests there. In order to maintain dominance over the growing Soviet threat, the U.S. selected a 1,375 square-mile area in Nye County, Nevada. Continue reading

December 15, 2018 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Time for the world to remember the movie “The Day After”

It’s Time to Face Up to Our Nuclear Reality

The made-for-TV movie The Day After had an enormous impact on America’s national conversation about nuclear weapons in 1983. Resuming that conversation today is essential, and the movie holds some lessons about what that would take. The Nation, By Dawn Stover–  14 Dec 18 This article originally appeared as part of a special section on The Day After at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists “…….The television movie The Day After depicted a full-scale nuclear war and its impacts on people living in and around Kansas City. Continue reading

December 15, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment