Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Landmark Swedish Court Judgment against Nuclear Waste Repository

Landmark Swedish Court Judgment against Nuclear Waste Repository: Read the English Translation  http://www.dianuke.org/landmark-swedish-court-judgment-nuclear-waste-repository-read-english-translation/

MKG, the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review has made an unofficial translation into English of the Swedish Environmental Court opinion on the power industry’s Nuclear Waste Company SKB’s license application for a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, Sweden.

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. The translation shows the courts judicial argumentation and why it decided not to accept the regulator SSM’s opinion that the problems with the integrity of the copper canister were not serious and could likely be solved at a later stage in the decision-making process.

The main difference between the court’s and the regulator’s decision-making was that the court decided to rely on a multitude of scientific sources and information and not only on the material provided by SKB. It had also been uncovered that the main corrosion expert at SSM did not want to say yes to the application at this time that may have influenced the court’s decision-making. In fact there appear to have been many dissenting voices in the regulator despite the regulator’s claim in the court that a united SSM stood behind its opinion.

The court underlines in its opinion that the Environmental Code requires that the repository should be shown to be safe at this stage in the decision-making process, i.e. before the government has its say. The court says that some uncertainties will always remain but it sees the possible copper canister problems as so serious that it is not clear that the regulator’s limits for release of radioactivity can be met. This is a reason to say no to the project unless it can be shown that the copper canister will work as intended. The copper canister has to provide isolation from the radioactivity in the spent nuclear fuel to humans and the environment for very long time-scales.

 It is still unclear how the process will proceed. The community of Östhammar has cancelled the referendum on the repository, as there will be no question from the government in the near future. The government has set up a working group of civil servants to manage the government’s handling of the opinions delivered by the court and SSM. SSM has told the government that it is ok to say yes to the license application.

The court has stated that there are copper canister issues that need to be considered further. The nuclear waste company SKB has said that it is preparing documentation for the government to show that there are no problems with the canister. Whether the government thinks that this will be enough remains to be seen. This is likely not what the court had in mind. The government would be wise to make a much broader review of the issue. There is a need for a thorough judicial review on the governmental level in order to override the court’s opinion. Otherwise the government’ decision may not survive an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

There are eminent corrosion experts that are of the opinion that copper is a bad choice as a canister material. There is also increasing experimental evidence that this is the case. One problem for the court was likely that SKB has hesitant to do the required corrosion studies that show that copper does not corrode in an anoxic repository environment. The 18-year FEBEX field test shows that copper corrodes relatively rapidly with pitting corrosion. SKB says that all corrosion is due to in-leaking oxygen but it is now clear that experimental systems containing copper and clay become anoxic within weeks or months so this explanation is not valid. 

MKG has for long wanted SKB to retrieve the next experimental package in the LOT field test in the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory. SKB had refused. The remaining packages have now been heated for 18 years. When a 5-year package was retrieved in 2006 it was discovered that there was “unexpectedly high corrosion”. There is clearly a need for more lab and field test results to decide whether copper is a good and safe choice for a canister material.

The court’s decision-making shows the importance of a democratic and open governance in environmental decision-making. It is important that the continued decision-making regarding the Swedish repository for spent nuclear is transparent and multi-faceted.

Advertisements

February 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

America puts a good-looking young woman as nuclear weapons chief

She may be very smart, and even have a bit of integrity. I hope so. But are we here seeing the macho nuclear weapons lobby copying the “nuke nukes” gimmick of appointing a good-looking young woman to front their dangerous operation?

First woman in history takes helm of US nuclear weapons arsenal, Washington Examiner by John Siciliano | Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday swore in the first woman in history as head of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty was sworn in as administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which under President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal would comprise nearly half of the Energy Department’s funding.

…….http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/first-woman-in-history-takes-helm-of-us-nuclear-weapons-arsenal/article/2649778

“The selection of Gordon-Hagerty, who [came] to USEC without any experience operating a company, surprised some enrichment industry analysts,” USEC Watch commented December 22, 2003. “But some sources suggested that the new COO [would] concentrate on improving USEC’s relationships with DOE and with the national security community.  https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Lisa_E._Gordon-Hagerty

February 24, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Urgency of USA’s nuclear waste problem – Diablo Canyon Power Plant as an example

Are Australia’s radioactive waste experts paying attention to the issues raised here?   The so-called “Intermediate” Level Wastes (ILL) from Australia’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor will face the same problems, albeit on a smaller scale, as Diablo’s.

What about the type and strength of canisters transporting highly radioacyive wastes from spent nuclear fuel rods?

What about the risks of transport accidents, over a 2000 km trail, past towns?

What about setting up “interim”nuclear waste dumps -, without any final deep repository existing – to become stranded nuclear waste dumps?

A pact with the devil,  https://www.newtimesslo.com/sanluisobispo/a-pact-with-the-devil/Content?oid=4329619, BY AMY HEWES , 22 Feb 18 

Diablo Canyon Power Plant is due to shut down in 2025, maybe earlier, but the radioactive waste it has generated will threaten our lives for another 200,000 years.

Society owns this Pandora’s box—but we haven’t owned up to the responsibility.

“For 30 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has kept its head in the sands,” U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) said.

To his credit, Carbajal understands the urgency of the nuclear waste problem and has co-signed a bipartisan bill, HR 3035, that he hopes will provide a temporary solution.

Unfortunately, that legislation is seriously flawed. Without amendments or follow-up legislation, the bill threatens huge population centers in the event of likely unavoidable transportation accidents. It also establishes unsafe consolidated waste dumps without mandating a permanent, geological repository.

Having lived in the shadow of Diablo Canyon since 1985, most of us on the Central Coast have become inured to the dangers that lurk there. But even after decades of decay, it takes just a few minutes of exposure for spent fuel rods to deliver a killing dose of radioactivity. According to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), “Certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) in ‘spent’ fuel will remain hazardous to humans and other living beings for hundreds of thousands of years. Other radioisotopes will remain hazardous for millions of years. Thus, these wastes must be shielded for centuries and isolated from the living environment for hundreds of millenia.”

“Today, there are 100 reactors operating at 59 sites in the U.S., and 35 permanently shut-down reactors at 25 additional sites,” noted Tim Judson, NIRS executive director.

How many tons of highly dangerous waste has accumulated at these sites? “The last reliable estimate was 74,000 tons in 2015—more than the 70,000-ton mandated capacity limit for Yucca Mountain [the stalled U.S. geologic repository located in Nevada],” said Judson.

On average, the industry generates about 2,000 tons of additional irradiated fuel each year, bringing the total tonnage to 80,000 tons.

Just over the hill from San Luis Obispo, approximately 2,200 metric tons of toxic waste is stored onsite at Diablo Canyon. By the time the plant closes, we’ll face a 2,690-metric-ton, 200,000-year-long local problem.

No wonder Carbajal has embraced HR 3035, which would authorize mass transportation of waste to parking lot dumps, supposedly “interim” consolidated storage sites—now proposed in Texas and New Mexico. Under the bill, our mountain of waste would become someone else’s problem.

Or would it? Why does NIRS, the Union of Concerned Scientists, San Onofre Saftey, Beyond Nuclear, and SLO-based Mothers for Peace, among others, oppose the bill?

First, consider transportation of the world’s deadliest waste. Shipments would travel through 45 states, exposing millions of people to murderous radiation in an accident.

And accidents do happen. Amtrak’s latest derailment in December sent train cars plummeting onto the interstate in DuPont, Washington. Meanwhile, in 1999, the American Petroleum Institute reported that heavy truck accidents occur approximately six times per million miles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2015 alone there were 57,313 fatal and injury crashes involving large trucks on our highways. Of those accidents, at least 154 resulted in the release of hazardous material.

Imagine if that hazardous material was radioactive.

OK, but aren’t the shipment casks built to withstand accidents?

Nope. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows U.S. nuclear plants to store or transport spent fuel waste in thin walled welded stainless steel canisters designed to withstand a crash at 30 miles per hour. Do you want to bet lives that they would hold up in a calamity at 80 miles per hour?

Before HR 3053 is approved—and before any more thin-walled canisters are stored at earthquake-prone Diablo Canyon—there needs to be legislation mandating upgraded, thick-walled casks such as those used in Europe and Japan. We should also demand continuous, long-term monitoring and inspection of all transportation containers and/or dry storage casks, whether they’re stacked at Diablo Canyon or at consolidated the “interim” sites envisioned in HR 3053.

And let’s be honest: The Nuclear Waste Policy Act currently disallows “interim” nuclear waste storage at consolidated sites unless a permanent U.S. geologic repository is built. HR 3053, however, does away with that mandate. Without that leverage—and in light of the enormous political and scientific challenges to establishing a permanent repository—in all likelihood, “interim” will de facto become “permanent.”

What to do? Carbajal and his congressional colleagues should listen to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which has testified that “spent fuel can be managed safely at reactor sites for decades, but only if … the security of dry cask storage is enhanced.” UCS told a House committeee last year that interim facilities should not be allowed unless a permanent repository is established. And, finally, the science-based group has called for Congress to fully support the technical work needed to build a safe and secure permanent repository.

Carbajal agrees that HR 3053 is only a temporary fix and that Mothers for Peace and other opponents have legitimate concerns. But we cannot let what he terms a “Sophie’s choice” bill to become a pact with the devil.

Carbajal and Congress must address the problems before this legislation goes forward. Because, as Mothers for Peace spokesperson Linda Seeley said, “Diablo Canyon is our baby—a horrible, poisonous monster—but we have to take care of it. It’s morally wrong to do otherwise.” Δ

Amy Hewes is actively involved in grassroots political action. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

 

February 23, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Arctic temperatures soar 45 degrees above normal, flooded by extremely mild air on all sides

This latest temperature spike is another striking indicator of the Arctic’s rapidly changing climate…. (registered readers only) 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2018/02/21/arctic-temperatures-soar-45-degrees-above-normal-flooded-by-extremely-mild-air-on-all-sides/?utm_term=.52bc34406fde

February 23, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

 MILITARY PLUTONIUM To be manufactured at Hinkley

 “MILITARY PLUTONIUM To be manufactured at Hinkley”

The charade of Atoms for Peace, Dr David Lowry , 23 Feb 18, “……Atoms for Peace ( in reality a cynical project promoting  US  global nuclear technology  dominance launched by President Eisenhower at the UN in New York in December 1953)   using a special atomic train  taking nuclear scientists around the country promoting nuclear power.

But it was a charade. The first public hint came with a public announcement on 17 June 1958 by the Ministry of Defence, on:   “the production of  plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear ] power stations programme as an insurance against  future defence needs…” in the UK’s  first generation Magnox (after the fuel type, magnesium oxide) reactor.

A week later in the UK Parliament, Labour Roy Mason, who incidentally later became Defence Secretary, asked  (HC Deb 24 June 1958 vol 590 cc246-8246) why Her Majesty’s Government had

“decided to modify atomic power stations, primarily planned for peaceful purposes, to produce high-grade plutonium for war weapons;  to what extent this will interfere with the atomic power programme; and if he will make a statement.?” to be  informed by the Paymaster General, Reginald Maudling

“At the request of the Government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise.
The modifications will not in any way impair the efficiency of the stations. As the initial capital cost and any additional operating costs that may be incurred will be borne by the Government, the price of electricity will not be affected. Continue reading

February 23, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Lawsuits against USA agencies and companies, over Widespread radioactive contamination in St Louis, Missouri

HBO documentary, “Atomic Homefront” at St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase

Lawsuits: Widespread radioactive contamination in north county
The lawsuits seek relocation and financial awards for thousands of people
ksdk.com  Grant Bissell, February 22, 2018 

February 23, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Swedish Court’s finding on dubious safety of copper canisters for radioactive wastes

MKG 20th Feb 2018, Translation into English of the Swedish Environmental Court’s opinion on
the final repository for spent nuclear fuel – as well as some comments onthe decision and the further process. The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later.

The translation shows the court’s judicial argumentation and why it decided not to accept the regulator
SSM’s opinion that the problems with the integrity of the copper canister were not serious and could likely be solved at a later stage in the decision-making process.

The main difference between the court’s and the regulator’s decision-making was that the court decided to rely on a multitude of scientific sources and information and not only on the material provided by SKB.

It had also been uncovered that the main corrosion expert at SSM did not want to say yes to the application at this time that may have influenced the court’s decision-making. In fact there appear to have been many dissenting voices in the regulator despite the regulator’s claim in the court that a united SSM stood behind its opinion.
http://www.mkg.se/en/translation-into-english-of-the-swedish-environmental-court-s-opinion-on-the-final-repository-for-sp

February 22, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small Modular Reactors for Nuclear Power: Hope or Mirage?

 https://www.theenergycollective.com/m-v-ramana/2426847/small-modular-reactors-nuclear-power-hope-mirage   by M.V. Ramana 

Supporters of nuclear power hope that small nuclear reactors, unlike large  plants, will be able to compete economically with other sources of electricity. But according to M.V. Ramana, a Professor at the University of British Columbia, this is likely to be a vain hope. In fact, according to Ramana, in the absence of a mass market, they may be even more expensive than large plants.

In October 2017, just after Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry asked the audience at a conference on clean energy
in Washington, D.C.: “Wouldn’t it make abundant good sense if we had small modular reactors that literally you could put in the back of a C-17, transport to an area like Puerto Rico, push it out the back end, crank it up and plug it in? … It could serve hundreds of thousands”.

As exemplified by Secretary Perry’s remarks, small modular reactors (SMRs) have been suggested as a way to supply electricity for communities that inhabit islands or in other remote locations.

In the past decade, wind and solar energy have become significantly cheaper than nuclear power

More generally, many nuclear advocates have suggested that SMRs can deal with all the problems confronting nuclear power, including unfavorable economics, risk of severe accidents, disposing of radioactive waste and the linkage with weapons proliferation. Of these, the key problem responsible for the present status of nuclear energy has been its inability to compete economically with other sources of electricity. As a result, the share of global electricity generated by nuclear power has dropped from 17.5% in 1996 to 10.5% in 2016 and is expected to continue falling.

Still expensive

The inability of nuclear power to compete economically results from two related problems. The first problem is that building a nuclear reactor requires high levels of capital, well beyond the financial capacity of a typical electricity utility, or a small country. This is less difficult for state- owned entities in large countries like China and India, but it does limit how much nuclear power even they can install.

The second problem is that, largely because of high construction costs, nuclear energy is expensive. Electricity from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, has been cheaper historically ‒ especially when costs of natural gas have been low, and no price is imposed on carbon. But, in the past decade, wind and solar energy, which do not emit carbon dioxide either, have become significantly cheaper than nuclear power. As a result, installed renewables have grown tremendously, in drastic contrast to nuclear energy.

How are SMRs supposed to change this picture? As
the name suggests, SMRs produce smaller amounts of electricity compared to currently common nuclear power reactors. A smaller reactor is expected to cost less to
build. This allows, in principle, smaller private utilities and countries with smaller GDPs to invest in nuclear power. While this may help deal with the first problem, it actually worsens the second problem because small reactors lose out on economies of scale. Larger reactors are cheaper
on a per megawatt basis because their material and work requirements do not scale linearly with generation capacity.

“The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers”

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale by savings through mass manufacture in factories and resultant learning. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low; indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs rose with construction experience.

Ahead of the market

For high learning rates to be achieved, there must 
be a standardized reactor built in large quantities. Currently dozens of SMR designs are at various stages of development; it is very unlikely that one, or even a few designs, will be chosen by different countries and private entities, discarding the vast majority of designs that are currently being invested in. All of these unlikely occurrences must materialize if small reactors are to become competitive with large nuclear power plants, which are themselves not competitive.

There is a further hurdle to be overcome before these large numbers of SMRs can be built. For a company to invest
in a factory to manufacture reactors, it would have to be confident that there is a market for them. This has not been the case and hence no company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Company, which worked on two SMR designs, and tried to get funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE). When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and decided to focus its efforts on marketing the AP1000 reactor and the decommissioning business. Explaining this decision, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, announced: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers. … The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market”.

Delayed commercialization

Given this state of affairs, it should not be surprising that
 no SMR has been commercialized. Timelines have been routinely set back. In 2001, for example, a DOE report on prevalent SMR designs concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor (SMR) designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed”. Nothing of that sort happened; there is no SMR design available for deployment in the United States so far.

There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to make it financially viable to manufacture SMRs by the thousands

Similar delays have been experienced in other countries too. In Russia, the first SMR that is expected to be deployed is the KLT-40S, which is based on the design of reactors used in the small fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that Russia has operated for decades. This programme, too, has been delayed by more than a decade and the estimated costs have ballooned.

South Korea even licensed an SMR for construction in
2012 but no utility has been interested in constructing one, most likely because of the realization that the reactor is too expensive on a per-unit generating-capacity basis. Even the World Nuclear Association stated: “KAERI planned to build a 90 MWe demonstration plant to operate from 2017, but this is not practical or economic in South Korea” (my emphasis).

Likewise, China is building one twin-reactor high- temperature demonstration SMR and some SMR feasibility studies are underway, but plans for 18 additional SMRs have been “dropped” according to the World Nuclear Association, in part because the estimated cost of generating electricity is significantly higher than the generation cost at standard-sized light-water reactors.

No real market demand

On the demand side, many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Good examples are the cases of Jordan, Ghana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one.

Neither nuclear reactor companies, 
nor any governments that back nuclear power, are willing to spend the hundreds of millions, if not a few billions, of dollars to set up SMRs just so that these small and remote communities will have nuclear electricity

Another potential market that is often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs is small and remote communities. There again, the problem is one of numbers. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to make it financially viable to manufacture SMRs by the thousands so as to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power. Neither nuclear reactor companies, 
nor any governments that back nuclear power, are willing to spend the hundreds of millions, if not a few billions, of dollars to set up SMRs just so that these small and remote communities will have nuclear electricity.

Meanwhile, other sources of electricity supply, in particular combinations of renewables and storage technologies such as batteries, are fast becoming cheaper. It is likely that they will become cheap enough to produce reliable and affordable electricity, even for these remote and small communities ‒ never mind larger, grid- connected areas ‒ well before SMRs are deployable, let alone economically competitive.

Editor’s note:

Prof. M. V. Ramana is Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, as part of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  This article was first published in National University of Singapore Energy Studies Institute Bulletin, Vol.10, Issue 6, Dec. 2017, and is republished here with permission.

 

February 22, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Donald Trump suggests extra pay for teachers who carry guns

Trump floats pay bonus for teachers who carry guns in class, NBC News 22 Feb 18 WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump expanded on his idea to train and arm some teachers with guns Thursday, suggesting that firearm-adept school staff be given “a little bit of a bonus” for carrying weapons, and promising federal funds for their training.

At a White House discussion of school safety solutions with state and local officials, Trump said “highly adept people…who understand weaponry” could carry guns in schools, estimating that between 10 and 40 percent of teachers could be qualified for such a task. Those who are would undergo “rigorous training,” he said, later adding that he’d consider offering federal money for that effort. Officials “can’t just give a teacher a gun,” he said.

Asked if he had concerns about teachers with guns making quick judgments in the chaos of a school shooting, the president said he did not, because they would be “experts.”…….https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-floats-bonuses-teachers-willing-carry-guns-class-n850281

February 22, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Swedish court rules these nuclear waste containment canisters unsafe – liable to corrosion.

 

Are these the same sort of  canisters planned by the Australian Government for Kimba, South Australia?

Sweden’s problem is also our problem https://cumbriatrust.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/swedens-problem-is-also-our-problem/  February 21, 2018 by cumbriatrust

Last month Cumbria Trust reported that the Swedish Environmental Court had blocked a licence application to construct a GDF for spent nuclear fuel after serious concerns were raised over the corrosion of the copper canisters used in the KBS-3 method. The same containment method is intended to be used in the UK. This court ruling was a success for MKG, the Swedish environmental organisation which receives government funding to act as a critical friend, scrutinising Sweden’s plan to bury nuclear waste.

MKG have now released some further details which show that the corrosion concerns are shared by experts within the Swedish regulator, SSM. While the nuclear industry, including the UK’s Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) seem keen to minimise the significance of this court ruling, by describing it as a delay and a request for more information, it appears the problem may be more fundamental, and could lead to this method of KBS-3 copper encapsulation being abandoned……problem https://cumbriatrust.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/swedens-problem-is-also-our-problem/

February 21, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A public watchdog wants USA govt to demand stronger nuclear waste canisters

NRC Petitioned To Require Stronger Canisters To Store Nuclear Waste Indefinitelyhttp://www.kpbs.org/news/2018/feb/19/nrc-asked-require-stronger-canisters-indefinite-nu/ February 19, 2018   By Alison St John 

February 21, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Is the promis of “jobs” worth the contamination of a community’s agricultural land ?

Paul Waldon  Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, An irresponsible, nuclear ignorant proponent of nuclear waste with no business acumen or idea of economics, once said to me “If one person gets a job, its worth it.” So would one job that cost the taxpayer millions, that creates a tourist void, promotes the impact of the forever atomic stigma, divides families and friends, enhances the risks of contaminating the environment, and invites death, to name but just a few issues, have a greater value?. If so, the people that are espousing a nuclear waste dump in Hawker of Kimba, don’t seen perturbed about the future of these communities. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

February 21, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Britain’s Local Governments support deep disposal of higher-level radioactive waste

GDF Watch (accessed) 19th Feb 2018, The Local Government Association’s special interest group on radioactivewaste, NuLeAF, explain why the UK’s Local Authorities support geological
disposal, and set out their expectations of Government policy. Guided by a
government White Paper published in 2014, the Geological Disposal Facility
(GDF) will be the repository for the UK’s higher-level radioactive waste.

It will involve the construction of a highly-engineered facility many
hundreds of metres below the surface and spreading out over several
kilometres. Once all the waste has been placed in the site it will be
permanently sealed.

Given the nature of the material being disposed of, and
the scale of the repository, this is clearly a huge technical challenge.
However an even greater challenge is political. The Government is clear –
the GDF will not be imposed on a community; instead a consenting host area
will have to be found. As such, local government is central to the GDF
siting process, and NuLeAF, as the Local Government Association’s
representative body on nuclear decommissioning, has been active in shaping
the government’s approach.

NuLeAF’s view is that a deep geological
repository represents the best current solution for disposing of our
high-level radioactive wastes. In line with CoRWM, the UK Government’s
expert independent advisory group, we believe that we must dismantle and
make safe our ‘high hazard’ legacy nuclear sites. Such material will
pose risks to people and the environment for hundreds of thousands of
years, and locking it away underground will remove it from human contact
and the risk of accidents. Such ‘deep disposal’ is agreed
internationally as the best solution and similar facilities are already
under development in France, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland.
http://www.gdfwatch.org.uk/local-authorities-speak-geological-disposal/

February 21, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Is China Really Threatening America with Nuclear Weapons?

  National Interest, Asia Times, 20 Feb 18

China, according to the Federation of American Scientists, has 270 warheads in its nuclear arsenal.

The Washington-based research group’s estimate has never been challenged by the Pentagon. It compares with an official tally of 4,480 nuclear warheads for the US. Unlike the American side, China also renounces “first use” of nuclear weapons and holds that its ability to retaliate is sufficient to deter attack.

 Why, then, is Beijing’s modernization of its nuclear arsenal — something that Washington is also doing — considered a major security threat requiring a sharp turn in US policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons?

That’s part of the reasoning behind the Pentagon’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review(NPR) issued on February 2. The document is a benchmark US statement on nuclear policy and is drawn up by new presidents. The Trump administration’s first policy position on the issue focuses on creating new nuclear deterrents to Russia and China, while addressing North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.

……..  critics contend the latest NPR reverses years of bipartisan consensus on the use of US nuclear weapons. The review also gives the go-ahead to develop low-yield tactical nukes and sub-launched cruise missiles in the first roll-out of new US nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War. It also expands the circumstances under which the US would consider using nukes to include “non-nuclear strategic attacks” such as cyberattacks.

……….Chinese not on nuclear ‘alert’ Gregory Kulacki, the China project manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a Washington-based science advocacy group, argues that Trump’s NPR is surfacing at a time when China isn’t preparing to fight a nuclear war with the US. He says his talks with Chinese nuclear strategists indicate they don’t believe such an attack from the US is possible because the Americans know a sufficient number of Chinese missiles would survive to launch a nuclear counter-strike.

……… China, for its part, has urged the US to drop its “Cold War mentality” and not misread its intentions in modernizing its nuclear forces following the NPR’s release.

Miscalculation leading to war  Kulacki notes in his article that Chinese strategists have one worry: they fear the US might miscalculate by thinking it could escape full nuclear retaliation by using a massive first strike along with an anti-missile shield that can down any Chinese missiles that a pre-emptive attack would miss.

US negotiators, he says, are exacerbating such fears by declining to assure their Chinese counterparts that a US first strike is “off the table.”

 China’s relatively modest nuclear modernization efforts, according to Kulacki, are designed to ensure that enough of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) can survive a pre-emptive US attack and penetrate US missile defenses.

“In the absence of a no first-use commitment from the United States, these improvements are needed to assure China’s leaders their US counterparts won’t take the risk of attacking China with nuclear weapons,” Kulacki says in his piece………http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/china-really-threatening-america-nuclear-weapons-24565

 

February 21, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Japan task force echoes foreign minister calls to back renewables over coal, nuclear

Channel News Asias, 20 Feb 18, An energy task force advising Japan’s foreign minister has proposed boosting renewable energy and shifting away from coal-fired and nuclear power at home, arguing the country’s energy policies are outdated and undermine its global competitiveness

The advice comes in a report commissioned by minister Taro Kono, a maverick lawmaker with prime ministerial ambitions, and echoes his own convictions, pitting him against Japan’s powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). METI urges using coal at home and financing coal-powered projects abroad.

The task force report, presented to Kono on Monday, argues nuclear power has lost economic competitiveness and says the world’s third-biggest economy should cut reliance on atomic energy to as little as possible, and instead boost use of renewables.

“If Japan focuses on renewable energy rooted in its abundant natural resources and reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels and uranium, this will contribute to its energy security and make possible a new domestic economy,” the task force said in the report. “It is obvious that Japan is lagging.”

The report comes as METI, also a proponent of nuclear power, is reviewing the country’s energy policy. METI said it had no immediate response to the task force report……….

……https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/japan-task-force-echoes-foreign-minister-calls-to-back-renewables-over-coal–nuclear-9974292

February 21, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment