Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

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 https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/nuclear-power-ukraine-what-would-happen-if-zaporizhzhia-was-hit


 

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. ………………………………………….  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-21/us-arms-industry-military-spending-profits-ukraine-war-russia/101843752

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

Full price benefits of wind and solar won’t be seen until we get rid of gas — RenewEconomy

The full benefits of low cost wind and solar won’t be felt until gas is dumped as the setter of marginal prices. Battery storage will be key. The post Full price benefits of wind and solar won’t be seen until we get rid of gas appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Full price benefits of wind and solar won’t be seen until we get rid of gas — RenewEconomy

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

Cannon-Brookes keeps world’s biggest solar project alive with $65m zero interest loan — RenewEconomy

Cannon-Brookes zero interest loan of $65 million will ensure the staff and vision of Sun Cable are retained while a sale is finalised. The post Cannon-Brookes keeps world’s biggest solar project alive with $65m zero interest loan appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Cannon-Brookes keeps world’s biggest solar project alive with $65m zero interest loan — RenewEconomy

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

SolarEdge software first to get approval for rooftop solar flexible export plan — RenewEconomy

Built-in inverter software also offers a new – modern – option for states looking for a backstop system to handle high levels of residential solar exports. The post SolarEdge software first to get approval for rooftop solar flexible export plan appeared first on RenewEconomy.

SolarEdge software first to get approval for rooftop solar flexible export plan — RenewEconomy

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

German start-up plans “Apple-like” solar stores as it snaps up Australian solar companies — RenewEconomy

The European supergroup expects deals to come thick and fast in 2023 to turn it into the biggest solar company in Australia by revenue. The post German start-up plans “Apple-like” solar stores as it snaps up Australian solar companies appeared first on RenewEconomy.

German start-up plans “Apple-like” solar stores as it snaps up Australian solar companies — RenewEconomy

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

Push in US Congress to exempt Australia from International Traffic in Arms Regulations, so that it can import nuclear submarines.

Democrat push to grant Australia a waiver to import nuclear subs earlier than expected


SMH, ByFarrah Tomazin, January 21, 2023 —

Washington: A maze of US regulations and export control laws stand between Australia and the multibillion-dollar AUKUS submarine agreement, prompting a key ally of the pact in Congress to propose a blanket exemption to accelerate delivery of the nuclear-powered fleet.

Democratic congressman Joe Courtney, who recently spearheaded a bipartisan defence of the Australia-UK-US pact amid jitters from some of his Washington colleagues, wants Australia to be given a waiver from strict US export controls that could otherwise derail the agreement.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations is one set of rules which could delay for years the transfer of crucial technologies at a time when Australia is racing to bolster its submarine capacity before the retirement of its Collins-class fleet.

Defence Minister Richard Marles has said the government will announce by March which type of submarine it will acquire, after receiving a recommendation from Jonathan Mead, the head of the Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce.

The announcement is expected to provide the first concrete insights into the cost, timing and procurement of the AUKUS deal. The modelling so far has suggested that if the submarines are produced in Australia, as the government has suggested, the earliest possible delivery date would be 2055.

While President Joe Biden supports AUKUS, he needs the backing of a divided Congress to make good on his promise to share American submarine secrets with Australia.

Courtney, who co-chairs the bipartisan “AUKUS caucus” and is regarded as one of Congress’ top navy experts, said a potential solution to the difficulties posed by US law would be to pass an exemption, with the support of the Pentagon, allowing Australia to bypass rules such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and related nuclear submarine laws, for the strict purpose of advancing AUKUS……………………………….

Australian officials have for years been pushing their US counterparts to reform their treatment under arms regulations, and the issue was front and centre of the December Australian-US Ministerial consultations between Marles and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin…………

In response to questions from this masthead, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Defence said it was anticipating that export arrangements would need to change “to ensure technology and expertise could be transferred seamlessly and effectively among AUKUS partners, as well as their respective industrial bases, within a suitably designed protective framework”…………

At a seminar last week, Democratic congressman Adam Smith, a ranking member of the House of Representatives armed services committee, also warned that while AUKUS was “a great idea, with a lot of promise” it “could also go bloop” unless some regulatory restrictions were eased.

And Mark Watson, the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Washington office, suggested that “an AUKUS express lane is what we need” to avoid delaying or derailing the project due to the maze of red tape and complex US laws surrounding it.

But the regulatory hurdles are not the only difficulty the alliance faces.

One of the concessions Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy made this month to secure the speakership of the House of Representatives was a vote on a framework that caps discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels. Some fear that this could result in the US defence budget being cut in real terms, which Courtney warned “could have a very negative effect on AUKUS”.

Helping Australia acquire nuclear submarines will also test America’s submarine manufacturing industry, which has already been strained by the COVID pandemic.  https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/democrat-push-to-grant-australia-a-waiver-to-import-nuclear-subs-earlier-than-expected-20230120-p5ce4e.html

January 21, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a good step towards a nuclear-free world

More than 100 federal parliamentarians have called on Canberra to fulfil this promise, as have hundreds more from around Australia, including in local government.

On this second anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ entry into force, Australia must again take up the message of the Canberra Commissioners. Indeed, while Australia’s high-risk nuclear propelled submarine proposal clearly creates global proliferation concerns, by signing the TPNW Australia can demonstrate its non-proliferation commitments.

 https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8054916/nuclear-danger-is-strong-but-landmark-agreement-offers-hope/ By Marianne Hanson, Margaret Beavis, January 21 2023

January 22 marks the two-year anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), a landmark agreement that made nuclear weapons illegal on the basis of international humanitarian law.

Yet the potential for nuclear war remains as great as ever.

Fears that the unthinkable might happen were raised most clearly last year when President Vladimir Putin implied that Russia would consider using ‘all forces and means’ necessary in its fight against Ukraine.

It reminded us of the Cuban missile crisis 60 years earlier, once again bringing to the fore the prospect that nuclear war was in fact quite thinkable.

Thankfully, no nuclear weapons have been used in this war, but we cannot be complacent. Deterrence cannot be relied on forever. If Russia (or the United States) were to use even one small “tactical” nuclear weapon, a greater conflagration could easily follow.

It is not only Putin who has threatened to use nuclear weapons; nor is it the case that nuclear dangers vanished after the Cuban crisis or even after the end of the Cold War.

The leaders of every one of the nine states which possess these weapons of mass destruction – Russia, the US, France, China, Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – regularly signal that they would indeed use these weapons.

Their nuclear doctrines, the ongoing modernisation of their nuclear arsenals, their war-fighting practices and nuclear targeting all threaten the use of weapons which have the potential to kill millions and devastate the planet.

The end of the Cold War did nothing to reduce these dangers. While there was a period when goodwill between the major powers prevailed, and the US and Russia embarked on a program of reduction via the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties, in truth a window of opportunity was lost when the nuclear-armed states refused to move seriously to eliminate their nuclear arsenals completely.

At the time, Australia was at the forefront of calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons; the Labor government’s Canberra Commission in 1996 put forward a sober and considered assessment of the utility of nuclear weapons.

Nineteen commissioners from around the world, including several military leaders from the US, Britain and elsewhere, concluded that nuclear arsenals had very little military utility, that their existence continued to threaten the world – via deliberate or accidental use – and that as long as any one state possessed nuclear weapons, other states would want them too.

As predicted, three more states have acquired these WMDs since the Cold War ended.

The Canberra Commission set out a comprehensive program to encourage the phased, balanced, mutual, and verified elimination of nuclear weapons. It did not call for unilateral disarmament, nor did it insist that this should happen overnight. But it did warn that dangers would increase if the world did not act to eliminate these most destructive of all weapons.

Several other organisations and think tanks around the world added to the Canberra Commission’s message in subsequent decades and the nuclear states made clear promises to disarm. But they have stalled in the process of disarmament and are, instead, making their existing arsenals even more destructive than they were before.

Thoroughly fed-up with this intransigence, more than 120 states at the United Nations in 2017 voted to adopt a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. The TPNW entered into force two years ago, and now has 92 state signatures.

Formed in Melbourne, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel peace prize for its work in raising awareness of nuclear dangers and its contribution towards the new treaty. This was the first and only time that an Australian-born group has been awarded the Nobel peace prize.

ICAN’s work was premised on the history of banning other weapons considered to be inhumane, unjust, and uncivilised. Landmines have been banned and are hardly used at all today, a far cry from a few decades ago. Chemical and biological weapons have been banned, and any state that attempts to use them is immediately stigmatised and reprimanded.

In the same way, the TPNW is designed to stigmatise, delegitimise, and in time lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons. ICAN, the 92 governments which have signed, and people around the world who support nuclear disarmament understand that a legal instrument banning nuclear weapons is a necessary step in the move to a nuclear weapons-free world.

It might surprise readers to know that several prominent politicians and military leaders also support this goal; Henry Kissinger and William Perry from the US are notable advocates of disarmament; so too were Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Here in Australia, Labor promised at its 2018 and 2021 National Conferences that it will sign the TPNW when in government.

More than 100 federal parliamentarians have called on Canberra to fulfil this promise, as have hundreds more from around Australia, including in local government.

The call to eliminate nuclear weapons also finds strong support at the grassroots level in Australia; doctors and other health practitioners, environmental groups, trade unions, faith-based leaders, lawyers and others are calling on the government to sign the TPNW.

This is because banning and abolishing nuclear weapons is seen as a public health and humanitarian imperative. Our planet is worth preserving and human life should be valued. The Australian Red Cross as well as prominent Rotarians around the world are calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, in the same way that they are working to eliminate polio and malaria.

On this second anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ entry into force, Australia must again take up the message of the Canberra Commissioners. Indeed, while Australia’s high-risk nuclear propelled submarine proposal clearly creates global proliferation concerns, by signing the TPNW Australia can demonstrate its non-proliferation commitments.

A nuclear-free world requires visionary and bold leadership. It is a global public good. Signing the TPNW, and playing an active role internationally for balanced, phased and verified disarmament will be an excellent start.

  • Associate Professor Marianne Hanson and Dr Margaret Beavis are co-chairs of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Nobel peace prize 2017) Australia.

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The ‘all-of-the-above’ story used to sneak nuclear power in as a climate-action technology along with renewables .

“These claims are almost entirely misleading as you start looking at the facts”

Nuclear power gets another look in ‘all-of-the-above’ energy approach as climate worries mount

But critics cite safety concerns, costs and say widespread use of reactors is decades away.

Utility Dive. Jan. 20, 2023, Nuclear energy is increasingly getting another look by federal and state officials seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and bolster energy security………

A federal zero-emission nuclear power production credit, state legislation ending bans on nuclear plant construction and state policies easing development of small modular reactors, defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as advanced nuclear reactors with a capacity of up to 300 MW, are among the recent developments spurring renewed interest in the industry.   

Detractors cite safety risks, rising costs and other concerns. Critics also caution that a significant increase in nuclear generation in the U.S. is years, maybe even decades, away……….

In the U.S…..nuclear electricity generation declined for a second consecutive year in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Output from nuclear power plants totaled 778 million MWh, or 1.5% less than in 2020. Nuclear’s share of U.S. electricity generation across all sectors in 2021 was similar to its average share in the previous decade: 19%.

As of November, seven units with a net summer capacity of 5,505 MW had retired since 2018, according to the EIA. The agency listed four Entergy plants: Palisades in Michigan; Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 in New York; and Pilgrim in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Also retired were two Exelon plants: Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and Oyster Creek in New Jersey and NextEra Energy’s Duane Arnold facility in Iowa.

In addition, California’s Diablo Canyon, which is slated to retire a unit in 2024 and another in 2025, could remain open with funding conditionally approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Federal money, state policies induce nuclear investment

The Inflation Reduction Act, which commits $369 billion for climate efforts, includes a zero-emission nuclear power production credit. It provides up to $15 a MWh for electricity produced, assuming labor and wage requirements are met.

The credit will be available for plants in service in 2024 and would extend through 2032, according to the DOE.

However, the fiscal year 2023 omnibus spending measure enacted last month cut funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy by $182 million from fiscal year 2022, to $1.47 billion. The FY 2023 spending includes $85 million for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, $322 million for fuel cycle research and development, $114 million for accident tolerant fuels and $259 million for reactor research and development. 

Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the $1.7 trillion spending bill includes “robust funding” for public-private partnerships and support for nuclear energy education and research infrastructure. But she said it “fell short” of $2.1 billion needed to bolster the domestic nuclear fuel supply.

Federal spending to provide incentives for nuclear energy development began before Congress and President Joe Biden approved the omnibus spending bill last year.

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Biden signed into law in November 2021 includes $62 billion for clean energy projects. Spending was directed at advanced nuclear projects, preventing the premature retirement of nuclear plants and considering how nuclear power may produce hydrogen for other energy applications. 

In addition, states are looking to bolster nuclear power. Christine Csizmadia, senior director of state government affairs and advocacy at the NEI, said several states are broadening policies that aim to advance nuclear energy. Legislation supports studies of small modular reactors, providing tax incentives for nuclear power plant construction and ending moratoriums on new plants…………………………………………………………………………………..

The U.S. is not a ‘great market’ for new nuclear plants

Policies giving nuclear energy a boost have their limits. 

Bret Kugelmass, CEO of Last Energy a manufacturer of what it calls micro modular reactors that generate about 20 MW, is active in European markets. It’s announced 10 projects in Poland, two in Romania and has “some activity” in the U.K. that has yet to be publicly detailed, he said in an interview……………………………………

Next nuclear technology is seen as a decade away

Avi Brenmiller, president and CEO of Brenmiller Energy, a thermal energy storage manufacturer, said the next nuclear technology is 10 years away “to be safe and clean, and I don’t see the move yet.”…………………………………………………………

Critics say nuclear power is potentially dangerous and that its promoters are overly optimistic about construction schedules. 

Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said during the forum that nuclear power has the potential for a “catastrophic accident that could lead to large scale radiological contamination of the environment, massive economic damages and the potential for significant human health impacts.”

The industry cannot easily estimate the risks associated with storms, earthquakes and tidal waves as climate change makes weather more unpredictable, he said.

Even if a reactor is safe against accidents, it’s vulnerable to terrorists or military attacks as in Ukraine at the hands of Russia, Lyman said.

He questioned whether SMRs are easier to cool and are less radioactive than light water reactors “and therefore we don’t have to worry about it as much.”

“These claims are almost entirely misleading as you start looking at the facts,” he said.

Developers looking to reduce capital expenses and operating costs are cutting “rigorous requirements” for sites in or near populated urban centers or towns, Lyman said.

David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, cited cost overruns and schedule delays in the nuclear power industry.

“We don’t need a transition from coal to nuclear,” he said at the Dec. 15 forum. “We’re already pretty far along a transition from coal and natural gas to renewables.”……………………… https://www.utilitydive.com/news/nuclear-power-smr-climate-ira-omnibus-spending/639484/

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine war boon/boondoggle for U.S. arms makers, Pentagon’s warfighting capabilities

Anti-Bellum  January 20, 2023 Author: Rick Rozoff


Stocking Ukraine could generate foreign military sales boom

Replacing the military equipment transferred to Ukraine by the United States’ NATO allies could lead to roughly $21.7 billion in foreign military sales or direct commercial sales for American industry, according to research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Military and Political Power.

….It would also enhance the quality of the weapons U.S. warfighters wield and strengthen U.S. defense industrial base capacity.

In addition to the $24.2 billion worth of security assistance the United States has committed (as of Jan. 6) to Ukraine since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, other NATO members have contributed billions of dollars’ worth of equipment. It is difficult to calculate precisely the cumulative value because many countries, unlike the United States, do not publish detailed lists.

NATO countries (not including the United States) have cumulatively increased their real defense spending each year since 2015, and those levels of defense spending are likely to increase further….Poland, for example, is raising its defense spending from 2.2% of its gross domestic product to 3%, which will help Warsaw purchase more military equipment………….. https://antibellum679354512.wordpress.com/2023/01/20/ukraine-war-boon-boondoggle-for-u-s-arms-makers-pentagons-warfighting-capabilities/

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine: Is the Hammer About to Fall?

The UNZ REview MIKE WHITNEY • JANUARY 17, 2023

The plan to engage Russia militarily is a tacit admission that the United States can no longer maintain its global dominance through economic or political means alone. After exhaustive analysis and debate, western elites have settled on a course of action aimed at dividing the world into warring blocs in order to prosecute a war on Russia and China. The ultimate strategic objective of the current policy, is to tighten the grip of western elites on the levers of global power and to prevent the dissolution of the “rules-based international order.”

But after 11 months of nonstop warfare in Ukraine, the US-backed western coalition finds itself in a worse position than when it began. Aside from the fact that the economic sanctions have severely impacted Washington’s closest European allies, the West’s control of Ukraine has plunged the economy into a protracted slump, destroyed much of the country’s critical infrastructure and annihilated a sizable portion of the Ukrainian Army.

More importantly, Ukrainian forces are now suffering unsustainable casualties on the battlefield which is laying the groundwork for the inevitable splintering of the state. Whatever the outcome of the conflict may be, one thing is certain: Ukraine will no longer exist as a viable, independent, contiguous state.……………………………………………………………….

 The level of incompetence in the planning of this war is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. It appears that all the preparation was focused on provoking a Russian invasion, not on the developments that would happen soon afterwards. What’s clear, is that the Pentagon never “gamed out” the actual war itself or the conflict as it is presently unfolding. Otherwise, how does one explain these glaring errors in judgement:

  1. They never thought the sanctions would backfire
  2. They never thought they’d run out of weapons and ammo
  3. They never thought Russia’s oil receipts would skyrocket
  4. They never thought that the majority of countries would maintain normal relations with Russia
  5. They never figured they’d actually need a coherent military strategy for fighting a ground war in eastern Europe.

Is there anything they got right?

Not that we can see…………………………………………………………………………………………

Let’s summarize:

  1. The media is “overestimating the (effect of) Ukrainians’ regionally limited offensives”. In short, the Ukrainians are losing the war.
  2. The Russians are winning the war. (“The Russians are clearly advancing. They will probably have completely conquered the Donbass before long.”)
  3. Weapons alone will not change the outcome of the war. (“the martens and leopards are not enough.”)
  4. There is no evidence that the west has clearly defined strategic objectives. (“Do you want to achieve a willingness to negotiate with the deliveries of the tanks? Do you want to reconquer Donbas or Crimea? Or do you want to defeat Russia completely? There is no realistic end state definition. And without an overall political and strategic concept, arms deliveries are pure militarism…Military operations must always be coupled with attempts to bring about political solutions.”)

This is not just an indictment of the way the war is being conducted, but of the strategic objectives which remain murky and poorly-defined. NATO is being led around by the nose by Washington, but Washington has no idea what it wants to achieve. “Weakening Russia” is not a coherent military strategy. It is, in fact, an aspirational phantasm nurtured by hawkish neocons playing armchair generals. But that is why we are in the predicament we are today, because the policy is in the hands of deranged fantasists. Does anyone seriously believe that the Ukrainian army will recover the territories in east Ukraine that have been annexed by Russia?

No, no serious person believes that. And, yet, the illusion that the “plucky Ukrainians are winning” persists, even while the casualties mount, the carnage increases and millions of Ukrainians flee the country. It’s beyond belief…………………………………………

Remember the Powell Doctrine? “The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

The former Secretary of Defense Colin Powell developed his Doctrine to avoid any future Vietnams. And while the Biden administration has not yet committed US combat troops to Ukraine, we think it’s only a matter of time. After all, the media is already beating the war drums while demonizing all-things Russia. That is traditionally how they prepare the public for war. (“Russophobia … is all about dehumanizing one’s opponents to make killing more acceptable (and destroying) all the mental restraints that keep men from barbarism.” Gilbert Doctorow)

Meanwhile, the US continues to pump Ukraine full of weapons while the Pentagon has begun training Ukrainian servicemen in Germany and Oklahoma. It looks like the decision has already been made to embroil the US in another conflict for which there is no vital national security interest and no clear path to victory. In other words, the Powell Doctrine has been shrugged off and replaced with another lunatic neocon plan aimed at dragging Russia into a bloody “Afghanistan-type” quagmire that will drain its resources and prevent it from blocking US expansion into Central Asia.

And how is the neocon plan working so far?

Here’s what Colonel Douglas MacGregor said in a recent interview:

“There are now 540,000 Russian troops stationed around the outskirts of Ukraine preparing to launch a major offensive that I think will probably end the war in Ukraine. 540,000 Russian troops, 1,000 rocket artillery systems, 5000 armored fighting vehicles including at least 1,5000 tanks, hundreds and hundreds of tactical ballistic missiles. Ukraine is now going to experience war on a scale we haven’t seen since 1945.”

And if that wasn’t bleak enough, here’s more from a recent video with Alexander Mercouris and Alex Christoforou:……………………………..more  https://www.unz.com/mwhitney/ukraine-is-the-hammer-about-to-fall/

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Government steps in to pave way for wind addition to solar and hydro hybrid — RenewEconomy

Queensland government steps in to give priority to the wind component of Kidston clean energy hub, which will be the first to combine wind, solar and pumped hydro. The post Government steps in to pave way for wind addition to solar and hydro hybrid appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Government steps in to pave way for wind addition to solar and hydro hybrid — RenewEconomy

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EPA details its carbon crackdown on industry, and fossil fuel generators are not happy — RenewEconomy

EPA unveils its carbon crackdown. Coal generators say it is all too much, and environmentalists say it is not nearly enough. The post EPA details its carbon crackdown on industry, and fossil fuel generators are not happy appeared first on RenewEconomy.

EPA details its carbon crackdown on industry, and fossil fuel generators are not happy — RenewEconomy

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Italian energy giant gets approval for “very first” solar and battery hybrid in Australia — RenewEconomy

Italian energy group says it has secured the “very first” approval for a solar farm and battery storage project to be connected at the same point in Australia. The post Italian energy giant gets approval for “very first” solar and battery hybrid in Australia appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Italian energy giant gets approval for “very first” solar and battery hybrid in Australia — RenewEconomy

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 20 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “This Is An Era Of Plentiful, Cheap, Renewable Energy, But The Fossil Fuel Dinosaurs Can’t Admit It” • It remains a mystery how a reputation for well-meant inadequacy clings to renewable energy. It can’t all be the result of fossil fuel industry lobbying. It’s one triumph after another in green energy. We just […]

January 20 Energy News — geoharvey

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment