Archive for the ‘Nuclear Crisis’ Category

Nuclear Power Plant Leaks Transformer Fluid Into Hudson River After Fire

May 14, 2015

Emergency crews were trying to contain and clean up the transformer fluid that leaked from the Indian Point 3 plant. (photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News/AP)
Emergency crews were trying to contain and clean up the transformer fluid that leaked from the Indian Point 3 plant. (photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News/AP)

By Al Jazeera America

11 May 15

 

New York Gov. Cuomo says oil seeps into Hudson River from holding tank after blaze at nuclear power plant

ew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that part of a nuclear power plant remains offline after a transformer fire that has created another problem: thousands of gallons of oil leaking into the Hudson River.

At an afternoon briefing, Cuomo said emergency crews were out on the water near Buchanan, New York, trying to contain and clean up the transformer fluid that leaked from the Indian Point 3 plant.

“There’s no doubt that oil was discharged into the Hudson River,” Cuomo said. “Exactly how much, we don’t know.”

Cuomo revealed Sunday that even after the blaze on the non-nuclear side of the plant was quickly doused, the heat reignited the fire, but it was again extinguished.

Oil in the transformer seeped into a holding tank that did not have the capacity to contain all the fluid, which then entered river waters through a discharge drain.

Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said measures were taken to keep the oil from spreading, including setting up booms over an area about 300 feet in diameter in the water.

The cleanup should take a day or two, Cuomo said.

A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. regulator for nuclear power, said several thousand gallons of oil may have overflowed the transformer moat.

The reactor itself was deemed safe and stable throughout, said a spokesman for Entergy Corp., which owns the plant. The adjacent Unit 2 reactor was not affected and remained in operation.

The transformer at the Indian Point 3 plant, which is around 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan and surrounded by about 20 million residents, failed on Saturday evening, causing a fire that forced the automatic shutdown.

The fire on the non-nuclear side of the plant was quickly extinguished and the reactor was deemed safe and stable, said a spokesman for owner Entergy Corp.

“These situations we take very seriously. Luckily this was not a major situation. But the emergency protocols are very important,” Cuomo said Saturday. “I take nothing lightly when it comes to this plant specifically.”

The transformer at Indian Point 3 takes energy created by the plant and changes the voltage for the grid supplying power to New York state. The blaze, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky, was extinguished by a sprinkler system and on-site personnel, Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said. Westchester County police and fire were on site as a precaution.

It was not immediately clear what caused the failure, or whether the transformer would be repaired or replaced. Nappi said there were no health or safety risks.

“There is no threat to area residents,” said Eliot Brenner, director of public affairs for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “They declared an unusual event. That’s the lowest of our four situation designations.”

An “unusual event” classification indicates a potential security threat or a possible “degradation of the level of safety” at a plant, according to the NRC website. It also means there have been “no releases of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring.”

The Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County.

In accordance with federal regulations, the NRC plus state, county and local officials were notified of the event, considered the lowest of four emergency classifications for U.S. nuclear plants.

Cuomo said there had been too many emergencies recently involving Indian Point. Unit 3 was shut down Thursday morning for an unrelated issue — a water leak on the non-nuclear side of the plant. It was repaired and there was no radioactive release, Nappi said. In March, Unit 3 was shut down for a planned refueling that took about a month.

The environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper issued a statement Sunday saying the latest Indian Point accident proves that the plant should be closed for good.

 

A recent fire at Indian Point Nuclear Plant in New York is prompting renewed calls to close the plant.

May 13, 2015

A recent fire at Indian Point Nuclear Plant in New York is prompting renewed calls to close the plant. Does the federal government have a historic, reckless and scandalous weakness when it comes to the nuclear power plant?

In 1976, Robert Pollard, a rarity among U.S. government nuclear officials—honest and safety-committed—said of the Indian Point nuclear power station that it was “an accident waiting to happen.”

Pollard had been project manager at Indian Point for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from which he resigned at that time charging the NRC “suppresses the existence of unresolved safety questions and fails to resolve these problems.” He joined the Union of Concerned Scientists.

An explosion and fire at a transformer at Indian Point 3 on Saturday is but one of the many accidents that have occurred at the Indian Point facility through the years—none catastrophic as have been the disasters at the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.

But Indian Point 2 has been in operation for 41 years, although when nuclear power was first advanced in the United States, plants were never seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So licenses were limited to 40 years.

Indian Point 2 is thus now running without an operating license while the NRC considers an application before it from the plant’s owner, Entergy, to allow it to run another 20 years—for 60 years.

Indian Point 3, where the transformer explosion and fire occurred, has been operational for 39 years and its license expires this year. (Indian Point l was shut down early because of mechanical deficiencies.) Entergy also is seeking to have Indian Point 3’s operating license extended to 60 years.

These old, long problem-plagued nuclear plants, 26 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, are now disasters waiting to happen in a very heavily populated area. Some 22 million people live within 50 miles of the Indian Point site.

This plant is the nuclear plant that is closest to the most densely populated area on the globe,” declared New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Indian Point site on Sunday. Cuomo, who has been pushing to have the Indian Point nuclear plants closed, noted that this was “not the first transformer fire” at them. And the concern is that “one situation is going to trigger another.”

Entergy PR people in recent days have stressed that the transformer explosion and fire occurred in the “non-nuclear part” of Indian Point 3. However, as Pollard noted in a television documentary, “Three Mile Island Revisited,” that I wrote and narrated on that accident, “there is no non-nuclear part of a nuclear plant.”

What could be the extent of a major accident at Indian Point?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1982 issued a report titled “Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences” or CRAC-2. The research for the report was done at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

CRAC-2—you can read the full report online athttp://www.ccnr.org/crac.html–projects

—projects that in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident with breach of containment at Indian Point 2, there could be 46,000 “peak early fatalities,” 141,000 “peak early injuries,” 13,000 “cancer deaths” and a cost in property damages (in 1980 dollars)  of $274 billion (which in today’s dollars would be $1 trillion)

For an accident at Indian Point 3 in which the transformer explosion and fire happened, because it is a somewhat bigger reactor (generating 1,025 megawatts compared to Indian Point 2’s 1,020) the impacts would be greater, said CRAC-2

For Indian Point 3, in the event of a meltdown with breach of containment, CRAC-2 estimates 50,000 “peak early fatalities,” 167,000  “peak early injuries,” 14,000 “cancer deaths” and a cost in property damage at $314 billion.

Compounding the problem of the Indian Point plants being old—consider driving a 60-year-old car on a high-speed Interstate—they are at the intersection of the Ramapo and Stamford earthquake faults. As a 2008 study by seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found: “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident. This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”

“This aging dilapidated facility has endless problems leaking radioactive chemicals, oil and PCB’s into the Hudson River. It’s unconscionable to permit the continued operation of Indian Point,” said Susan Hito-Shapiro, an environmental attorney and member of the leadership council of the Indian point Safe Energy Coalition.

Further, she pointed out this week, Indian Point has been described as “the most attractive terrorist target” in the U.S. because of its proximity to New York City and it also being seven miles from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Indeed, there was consideration by the 9/11 terrorists of crashing into Indian Point. Both captured jets flew over the Indian Point nuclear station before striking the World Trade Center minutes later.

And she described it as “outrageous” that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved an evacuation plan for Indian Point “although it would never work” in the event of a major accident at the plants considering the millions of people who stand to be affected.

The key to New York State’s strategy to shut down Indian Point is the denial by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to give Entergy a “water use permit” to let it continue to send many hundreds of millions of gallons of water a day from the nuclear plants into the Hudson River.

“We need to make sure DEC stays strong,” says Hito-Shapiro.

In light of the historic, reckless, scandalous weakness of the federal government when it comes to Indian Point—and the nuclear power plants of other utilities—strong state action is most necessary.

 

TV: Huge explosion at nuclear plant near NYC — 200 foot high fire ball reported

May 12, 2015

ENENews


TV: Huge explosion at nuclear plant near NYC — 200 foot high fire ball reported — “Huge black ball of smoke… alarms went off immediately… emergency vehicles coming from every direction” — Fire reignited after burning for half hour — Loudspeaker: “This is not a drill, please be aware, this is not a drill” (VIDEO)

Posted: 10 May 2015 06:16 AM PDT

Khamenei: US Invented Nuclear Myth; Iran Will Never Invade Another Country

April 21, 2015
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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, has said once again that his nation has no desire for a nuclear weapon and would never preemptively invade or attack a foreign nation. (Photo: AP file)

The clerical leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, gave a speech on Sunday in which he urged that Iran maintain its military readiness in order to fend off any hostile invasion or attack. But, he said, “Iran has never invaded a country and never will.” He also called US charges that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon a “myth” and “propaganda.”

Whatever else is wrong with the Islamic Republic of Iran, you have to admit that it is refreshing for a country’s leader to make such a pledge. No American politician could even run for election on such a platform, of “no conventional military attack on another country.” American politicians are always talking about keeping all options open or ‘on the table’, by which they mean that Washington might at any moment take it into its head suddenly to go to aggressive war against another country, even though that country had not attacked the US. The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 was only the most recent and dramatic such attack.

Iran has a small military budget, about $10 bn., on the order of that of Norway or Singapore. It has no air force to speak of. The US military budget is roughly 80 times that of Iran.

Khamenei said that Iran has a no first strike policy and is no danger to its immediate neighbors (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, and Kuwait), much less to countries further away (he may be referring to Israel and Yemen).

What about Khamenei’s claim that Iran hasn’t invaded another country? He probably meant the the Islamic Republic has launched no wars of aggression since its founding in 1979. This is true. In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran. Iran fought the invaders to a standstill and ultimately made peace, making no effort to occupy Iraqi territory.

Iran did invade Herat in Afghanistan in the 1850s, but Iranians argue that Herat had long been part of the Iranian empire and so Iran was just recovering what was theirs. Before that, Iran invaded Iraq in 1785 and took Basra. So it has been a long time.

Critics of Iran will complain that it does support Hizbullah and the al-Assad regime in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. This is true, though the latter has been exaggerated. But offering an ally strategic advice or logistical help on demand is different from invading with tanks.

Those who only read the US press on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program may be surprised to see Khamenei deny that Iran wants a nuclear bomb. But he has been saying this all along. He said in 2006 of US criticisms of his country:

“Their other issue is [their assertion] that Iran seeks [a] nuclear bomb. It is an irrelevant and wrong statement, it is a sheer lie. We do not need a nuclear bomb. We do not have any objectives or aspirations for which we will need to use a nuclear bomb. We consider using nuclear weapons against Islamic rules. We have announced this openly. We think imposing the costs of building and maintaining nuclear weapons on our nation is unnecessary. Building such weapons and their maintenance are costly. By no means we deem it right to impose these costs on the people. We do not need those weapons. Unlike the Americans who want to rule the world with force, we do not claim to control the world and therefore do not need a nuclear bomb.”

Khamenei has repeated this stance numerous times, but the US media can’t seem to hear him say it. He considers nuclear bombs to be against Islamic law, since they kill large numbers of innocent non-combatants, including women and children, when deployed. Of course, he could be lying. But that is sort of like the Pope maintaining a condom factory in the basement of the Vatican. You have to ask yourself, why ban something religiously that you intend to promote in actuality? If the contradiction became known, it would damage the religious leader’s credibility.

According to the BBC Monitoring translation of Khamenei.ir , Khamenei said:

“Iran not “a threat” to any country

The Islamic Republic is not a threat to any country. We have never been a threat even to our neighbours, let alone to distant countries. Our contemporary history clearly shows this. Even when some of our neighbours treated us not in a neighbourly manner, we showed restraint. Iran has never invaded a country and never will. The fake myth of nuclear weapons has been devised by America and then Europe and some other bootlickers in order to portray the Islamic Republic as a threat.”

Khamenei went on to point out that it is the USA that has illegally launched wars of aggression in the Middle East, along with Israel. Iran, he said, never has.

I think he was pointing to Iraq when he said, “Even in some cases it has graciously forgiven the bad attitude of its neighbours. Insecurity is coming from the direction of unleashed powers which take over everywhere.”

As for Yemen, while Iran stands accused of giving military aid to the rebel Houthi movement, that charge is not easy to prove. It seems unlikely that the Houthis needed Iran to launch their protest movement. It is Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the USA, who have launched an attack on the Houthis even though they did not attack Saudi Arabia. Khamenei in his speech said that Iran is merely helping countries that have been attacked.

Today, these heartbreaking events are happening in Yemen and the Americans support the tyrant. The West supports the tyrant. Insecurity is coming from their direction. It is them who make countries unsafe, and make the environment insecure for people to live in. It is them who bring insecurity. The Islamic Republic of Iran considers security as the biggest divine gift both for itself and others and stands up for its security and defends it.”

h/t to BBC Monitoring for translations.

 

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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NRC: We’re Keeping Fukushima-Style Nuclear Reactors Going

January 24, 2015
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Federal agency rejects appeal by watchdog group to suspend operations at reactors identical to those at disaster-stricken reactors in Japan.

An anti-nuclear demonstration in 2012.  (Photo:  Energ Justice Actions/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected an appeal to halt operations at the nearly two dozen reactors in the nation that have the same containment system as those at the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.

The decision was posted (pdf) in the Federal Register on Friday.

Watchdog group Beyond Nuclear filed the appeal in April, 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, charging that the then-21 Mark 1 design General Electric Boiling Water Reactors were “accidents waiting to happen.”

The filing (pdf) sought emergency enforcement action to protect the public from the “unreliability of [the design’s] containment system to mitigate a severe accident and the lack of emergency power systems to cool high density storage pools each containing hundreds of tons thermally hot and extremely radioactive used reactor fuel assemblies located atop the reactor building s and outside a rated containment.”

The suspension is necessary “in response to the dramatic and ongoing failure of similarly designed and constructed GE Boiling Water Reactors systems, structures and components at one or more units at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan,” the group wrote.

In response to the decision posted Friday, Beyond Nuclear stated that though it acknowledges that “a portion of the actions that we requested in April 2011 have been taken at some of these reactors,” it says it rejects the NRC decision that the issues raised have been resolved.

Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear and the person who initiated and submitted the petition, called the efforts taken so far to address the issues are “inadequate half measures that need not be fully implemented for years to come, if ever.”

“In critical safety areas for the Mark I containment vulnerability, the proposed corrective actions credited in the [NR] Director’s Decision are not even conceptually finalized or approved by the regulator. Moreover, there are significant agency staff non-concurrences on how to proceed with post-Fukushima action plans,” Gunter concluded.

Jim Riccio, Greenpeace’s Nuclear Policy Analyst, wrote last month that “despite the efforts of green groups to ensure that the lessons of Fukushima have been learned by the nuclear industry and their regulators, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is backing off post Fukushima fixes at reactors around the country due to fear that added regulatory costs would topple more nuclear plants.”

Beyond Nuclear adds that its continued concerns are based in part on a “nuclear industry that first considers its financial margins over public safety margins.”

“Our common struggle for real public safety, environmental protection and energy independence remains to permanently closing down an inherently dangerous atomic power industry.” it states.

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North Korea offers to cancel nuclear tests, U.S. uninterested

January 22, 2015

There’s crazy, and then there’s rejecting offers to move the world away from nuclear war.

To learn more and to urge the United States not to reject this offer, click here.

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Charlie Hebdo & Nuke Reactor Terror

January 14, 2015

http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/13/charlie-hebdo-global-nuclear-disaster/     Terror Attack on Charlie Hebdo Ignites Fear of Global Nuclear Disaster

Harvey Wasserman | January 13, 2015 9:10 am | Comments

The powerful global response to the terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo must now face a terrifying reality: It’s a horrible thing when an organ of free speech is assaulted and journalists die.

It will be an apocalyptic thing when it happens to an atomic reactor and whole continents are irradiated, with children first to suffer, a death toll in the millions and eco-economic impacts beyond calculation…..

Read the rest at Ecowatch.com

Terror Attack on Charlie Hebdo Ignites Fear of Global Nuclear Disaster – EcoWatch

January 13, 2015
OpEdNews Op Eds 1/13/2015 at 08:48:48

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Reprinted from ecowatch.com

The powerful global response to the terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo must now face a terrifying reality: It’s a horrible thing when an organ of free speech is assaulted and journalists die.

It will be an apocalyptic thing when it happens to an atomic reactor and whole continents are irradiated, with children first to suffer, a death toll in the millions and eco-economic impacts beyond calculation.

For decades our global security apparatus and its attendant media mavens have pretended that the radioactive elephant in the room of global terror does not exist. But after Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, 9/11, Charlie Hebdo and so much more, a terrible reality has become all too clear.

We have seen four American-designed reactors explode and three melt at a single Japanese site. A severely escalated thyroid cancer rate has followed, with more health disasters yet to come. Some two dozen sibling GE reactors currently operate in the U.S.

We have seen an entire continent–and more–irradiated by Chernobyl, with at least one major study calculating well over a million downwind deaths. Chernobyl-style reactors still operate in Europe.

We have seen a U.S. reactor rocked by a 1979 hydrogen explosion and melt-down (repeatedly denied by its owners) that poured still-unknown quantities of radiation into the Pennsylvania countryside.


Slain cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were allies of anti-nuclear movement. Here’s a cover from the September-October 2012 issue of Charlie Hebdo.
(image by Charlie Hebdo)

Today, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission is poised to force ratepayers to subsidize the fault-riddled Davis-Besse nuke–a Three Mile Island clone–with millions of gouged dollars to keep it running despite profound vulnerability to its own advanced deterioration and the absolute impossibility of protecting it from a possible terror attack.

It has long been established that the accused 9/11 attackers contemplated hitting the reactors at Indian Point, 35 miles up the Hudson from Manhattan.

Neither U.S. military nor local police forces could not have stopped such an attack, which could have poisoned millions of people in the American northeast and gutted the entire U.S. ecology and economy.

Worldwide there are more than 430 commercial reactors still operating. There are more than 50 in France, just under 100 in the U.S.

Not one of them can be effectively guarded against a concerted terror attack. Each could spew massive radiation releases and do untold damage to the human race, the planetary ecology, the global economy.

Every serious student of terrorism knows that such an attack is merely a matter of time. Every serious expert on atomic reactors knows the potential human costs simply cannot be calculated.

It’s impossible for a sane world to comprehend why someone would want to attack one of these reactors.

But it’s impossible to deny that there are probably those right now contemplating how to do just that.

Perfectly protecting these reactors is impossible. But their owners are almost entirely shielded from liability from the consequences of such an attack.

And the fallout would utterly dwarf any other catastrophe the world has yet seen.

We now have the ability to replace all these reactors with renewable sources and added efficiencies that are cheaper, cleaner, more reliable and–above all–safer than atomic reactors.

No city will be irradiated by an attack on a wind farm. No downwind children will die from a terrorist machine-gunning at a solar facility.

All across the world, from Illinois and Ohio to France and Japan, corrupt corporate reactor owners demand public subsidies to keep these obsolete, non-competitive, supremely dangerous machines in operation.

But in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and of so much else we now know about today’s world, there’s no excuse for running these reactors–anywhere.

Why must we wait for the inevitable disaster to occur, and for the talking heads to then tell us that such insanity “could not have been predicted?” And that there is “nothing to worry about?”

Charlie Hebdo was an anti-nuclear publication. Its cartoons repeatedly lampooned the horrible dangers of this insane technology.

Its warnings now bear an added dimension, far deeper than the atomic industry–or the world’s leaders–seem willing to face.

As millions march in fear and mourning, will we now ignore Charlie twice? Are you willing to pay the next radioactive price?

Or will you act, and shut them all down?

 

Harvey Wasserman edits  www.nukefree.org . His SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at  www.solartopia.org . The Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show airs at www.progressiveradionetwork.com .
HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is available athttp://www.harveywasserman.com/, as is A GLIMPSE OF THE BIG LIGHT and clues to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail.

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As Nuclear War Danger Grows, NYC Conference Set For Feb. 28

December 21, 2014
General News 12/20/2014 at 12:54:47

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The growing threat of planet-wide nuclear extinction will bring some of the world’s leading scholars and activists to New York City for a two-day symposium Feb. 28-March 1, 2015.
This conference will be held at the New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Ave., N.Y., NY, sponsored by The Helen Caldicott Foundation. The press is invited.[tag]

From flickr.com/photos/52996534@N00/3856834913/: Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud
Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud
(image by andy z)
Dr. Caldicott is an Australian physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate who has founded several associations dedicated to opposing the use of nuclear power, depleted uranium munitions, and nuclear weapons. She has been awarded 21 honorary doctoral degrees and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling.
This symposium will be unique, linking the existential threat of Artificial Super Intelligence(ASI) with the current existential threat of nuclear war. It will examine a future in which intelligent machines could launch a nuclear war with no human input.
This threat is compounded as the escalating crisis in the Ukraine has significantly increased nuclear risk. According to Dr. Caldicott: “As the Cold War heats up again, the U.S. and Russia each maintain over one thousand nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert to be launched with a press of a button, increasing the risk of a global conflagration.”
“Between them,” she goes on to say, “the U.S. and Russia possess 93% of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons arsenal, a situation which is made worse by outdated equipment, negligence, poor maintenance, viruses, and hacking within the arsenals of both countries.”
Far from his past disarmament promises, “President Obama plans to earmark $1 trillion over the next 30 years to replace every nuclear weapon, missile, ship, submarine and plane.”
Among the Conference discussion topics are:
*How many times have we come close to nuclear war with Russia? What are the precipitating human and technological factors?
* What are the medical and environmental consequences of a limited or major nuclear war?
* How can we cure the present political pathology leading the world to the brink of nuclear war?
February 28, 2015
Session One
* Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, author of “Command and Control,” who will discuss multiple nuclear accidents and near misses.
* Seth Baum, co-founder of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, will discuss the catastrophic risk of nuclear war.
* Max Tegmark, professor of physics at MIT, a Swedish-American cosmologist, will discuss the threat of artificial intelligence and of computers launching a nuclear war with no human input.
Session Two
* Hans Kristensen, of Silver Spring, Md., Director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, will address the current size of nuclear arsenals.
* Bill Hartung, Center for International Policy of Washington, D.C., will discuss the inordinate power of the U.S. military-industrial complex.
* Greg Mello, Secretary and Executive Director of the Los Alamos Study Group, Albuquerque, N.M., will discuss the role and funding of the nuclear weapons laboratories.
* John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute of Policy Studies, Washington, D.C., will compare military expenditures with global warming outlays.
* Bruce Gagnon, co-ordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, will speak on the dangerous, ongoing militarization of space.
Session Three
* Bob Alvarez, Senior Scholar for Nuclear Policy at the Institute of Policy Studies, Washington, D.C., will discuss lateral proliferation and describe how a small nuclear exchange could trigger a global holocaust.
March 1, 2015
Session Four
* Holly Barker, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, will discuss teratogenic and genetic pathology (congenital malformations) from U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.
* Alan Robock, Distinguished Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., will outline his pioneering work on Nuclear Autumn and Nuclear Winter.
* Lynn Eden, author of “Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Devastation” (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs), will discuss an issue the Pentagon has ignored: the holocaust of firestorms in the aftermath of nuclear war.
Session Five
* Janne Nolan, Research Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., will discuss the underlying psychological pathology of nuclear warriors.
* Mike Lofgren, former chief analyst for military spending at the Senate Budget Committee, will describe U.S. capitalism as it relates to tenuous nuclear situation.
* Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Programme Leader for IKV Pax Christi, Utrecht, The Netherlands, will discuss 2014 report “Don’t Bank on The Bomb.”
Session Six
* Hugh Gusterson, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., will describe his research after spending one year at the Los Alamos Labs.
* Robert Sheer, author of “Star Warriors” and Clinical Professor of Communications at the University of Southern California, will describe his research on the young men who do the research on nuclear weapons development at Lawrence Livermore Labs.
Session Seven
* Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics at MIT, Cambridge, Mass., will present the pathology within the present political system that could induce extinction.
Session Eight
* Tim Wright, Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Geneva, Switzerland, will suggest some potential and exciting solutions.
* David Krieger, Founder and President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, Ca., about the law suit brought on behalf of the Marshall Islands.
* Helen Caldicott, President of The Helen Caldicott Foundation, will discuss an urgent prescription for survival.
The conference will begin at 9 a.m. sharp both days; check-in at 8 a.m. Press must register in advance with the Media Coordinator and must have current press credentials to be admitted.
The sessions will be livestreamed globally and broadcast by TUC radio, London.
The mission of the Helen Caldicott Foundation is to educate the public, the media, and public officials about the grave medical and environmental dangers inherent in nuclear power and the nuclear fuel chain, the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons, nuclear war, and climate change.
The Foundation is located at 131 Forest Hill Drive, Asheville, NC 28803. Mali Lightfoot is Executive Director. -30-

 

Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular “Workplace” column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more…)

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Renewables Help Push Nuclear Giants to Brink of Collapse

December 14, 2014

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Plans are forming to build two giant nuclear reactors in England with approval from the UK and energy backing from France. Since general elections are coming up soon in the UK, there will be no final approval, if any approval, for a while. Lets hope this plan gets denied.

Plans to build two giant nuclear reactors in south-west England are being reviewed as French energy companies now seek financial backing from China and Saudi Arabia—while the British government considers whether it has offered vast subsidies for a white elephant.

A long-delayed final decision on whether the French electricity utility company EDF will build two 1.6 gigawatt European Pressurised water Reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset—in what would be the biggest construction project in Europe—was due in the new year, but is likely to drift again.

Construction estimates have already escalated to £25 billion, which is £9 billion more than a year ago, and four times the cost of putting on the London Olympics last year.

Costs Escalate

Two prototypes being built in Olikuoto, Finland and Flamanville, France, were long ago expected to be finished and operational, but are years late and costs continue to escalate. Until at least one of these is shown to work as designed, it would seem a gamble to start building more, but neither of them is expected to produce power until 2017.

With Germany phasing nuclear power out altogether and France reducing its dependence on the technology, all the industry’s European hopes are on Britain’s plans to build 10 new reactors. But British experts, politicians and businessmen have begun to doubt that the new nuclear stations are a viable proposition.

Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, London, said: “The project is at very serious risk of collapse at the moment. Only four of those reactors have ever been ordered. Two of them are in Europe, and both of those are about three times over budget. One is about five or six years late and the other is nine years late. Two more are in China and are doing a bit better, but are also running late.”

Tom Greatrex, the British Labour party opposition’s energy spokesman, called on the National Audit Office to investigate whether the nuclear reactors were value for money for British consumers.

Peter Atherton, of financial experts Liberum Capital, believes the enormous cost and appalling track record in the nuclear industry of doing things on time mean that ministers should scrap the Hinkley plans.

Billionaire businessman Jim Ratcliffe, who wants to invest £640 million in shale gas extraction in the UK, said that the subsidy that the British government would pay for nuclear electricity is “outrageous.”

Finding the vast sums of capital needed to finance the project is proving a problem. Both EDF and its French partner company, Areva, which designed the European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR), have money troubles. Last week, Areva suspended future profit predictions and shares fell by 20 percent.

Chinese power companies have offered to back the project, but want many of the jobs to go to supply companies back home—something the French are alarmed about because they need to support their own ailing nuclear industry. Saudi Arabia is offering to help too, but this may not go down well in Britain.

On the surface, all is well. Preparation of the site is already under way on the south-west coast of England, with millions being spent on earthworks and new roads. The new reactors would be built next to two existing much smaller nuclear stations—one already closed and the second nearing the end of its life. The new ones would produce 7 percent of Britain’s electricity.

But leaks from civil servants in Whitehall suggest that the government may be getting cold feet about its open-ended guarantees. The industry has a long history of cost overruns and cancellations of projects when millions have already been spent—including an ill-fated plan to build a new nuclear station on the same site 20 years ago.

The Treasury is having a review because of fears that, once this project begins, so much money will have been invested that the government will have to bail it out with billions more of taxpayers’ money to finish it—or write off huge sums.

The whole project is based on British concern about its aging nuclear reactors, which produce close on 20 percent of the country’s electricity. The government wanted a new generation of plants to replace them and eventually produce most of the country’s power.

Guaranteed Prices

In order to induce EDF to build them, it offered subsidies of £37 billion in guaranteed electricity prices over the 60-year life of the reactors. This would double the existing cost of electricity in the UK.

The European Commission gave permission for this to happen, despite the distortion to the competitive electricity market. But this decision is set to be challenged in the European Court by the Austrian government and renewable energy companies, which will further delay the project.

Since the decision was made to build nuclear power stations, renewable energy has expanded dramatically across Europe and costs have dropped. Nuclear is now more costly than wind and solar power. In Britain alone, small-scale solar output has increased by 26 percent in the last year.

In theory, there are a number of other nuclear companies—from the U.S., China, Japan and Russia—keen to build stations of their own design in Britain, but they would want the same price guarantees as EDF for Hinkley Point.

With a general election in the UK looming in May next year, no decisions will be reached on any of these projects any time soon. And a new government might think renewables are a better bet.


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