Nuclear news week to 19 August

August 19, 2019

CN LIVE! Mark Davis Wikileaks Revelations

The repercussions of the Russian explosion at a missile test centre continue. However, the radiation release was brief, and did not extend beyond the region, and not to neighbouring countries. There was confusion and secrecy following the explosion and Russian doctors were kept in the dark about patients being nuclear accident victims.

Attention has moved to questioning the missile project, – a mystery new nuclear weapon, dubbed Russia’s ‘flying Chernobyl’. What is clear, is that, in the month when we commemorate the nuclear tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,  – the world, led by Donald Trump, is ripping up arms control measures, and ramping up nuclear weapons development.

I haven’t been able to keep up with the news on climate change –  extreme weather events in various countries, the UN report including humanitarian effects, the costs, injustices, and inability to meet the goal of confining temperature rise to 1.5 C. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHdcpxmJ6vg   In a powerful symbol, Iceland holds a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change.

A bit of good news: a win for Aboriginal people in the abandonment of uranium mining in Australia’s Northern Territory. Mirrarr people to lead the Kakadu region’s transition.

AUSTRALIA

Australians need to rally in support of Julian Assange.

Time that Australia stopped blindly following USA into wars.

$40 billion a year needed for infrastructure to catch up with our population growth.

NUCLEAR. False statements on nuclear power by  Federal Liberal National Party MP Keith Pitt. Victoria parliament decides to hold its own nuclear power inquiry.  DELAY is the most salient reason why Small Modular Nuclear Reactors can’t work in Australia.

Nuclear waste:  21 August Senator Matt Canavan to hold closed meeting , then 2 open ones, in region designated for nuclear waste dumping.   Kimba committee even discussed transitioning out of the site selection process. Why is the Australian government planning a nuclear waste dump in an earthquake zone? Nuclear waste dump: Barngarla group says indigenous ballots won’t fix its worries over vote discrimination,

CLIMATE. Pacific islander nations fed up with Australia’s inaction on climate change. Australia tells Pacific Islands to “reflect” on climate action, dial down “crisis” talk. Australia demands Paris targets be removed from Pacific Islands communique.

South Australian students plan more climate action -“No jobs on a dead planet”.  Reserve Bank issues another warning to companies to take climate risks seriously. Bankrupted traditional owner vows to keep opposing Adani.

Investigative journalism:  Australian investigative journalist Mark Davis explodes the myths around Julian Assange. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZkyLoaMvRg

RENEWABLE ENERGY.  Solar investors give Australia wide berth, thanks to Morrison’s lump of coal.

INTERNATIONAL.

Climate change killing nuclear power? nuclear reactors can’t cope with water needs, as temperatures rise.

Cyber wars – as dangerous and deadly as nuclear wars ? Warning of  10 year totally dark Earth. – after a nuclear war between the US and Russia.

The Anthropocene is not an epoch. It’s a passing blink in geological time.

ARCTIC. Melting Ice Everywhere — Arctic Sea Ice Extent Hit New Record Lows in Late July and Early August.  Arctic sea ice could disappear completely through September if temps increase 2 degrees.

USA.

RUSSIA. Russia says small nuclear reactor blew up in deadly accident.    Russian Region Orders Gas Masks After Deadly Nuclear Blast. ‘Dirty bomb’: Mystery Russian ‘superweapon’ kills five.  Russia Testing Nuclear-Powered Mega-Torpedo Near Where Deadly Explosion Occurred.  USA abandoned the Nuclear-Powered Missile long ago due to its extreme danger. It seems that Russia just tried it again.     Russia’s fast nuclear reactor project is postponed.

JAPAN. Anxiety over risks of radiation and heat at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Fukushima: Nuclear-contaminated water raises 2020 Games site fears.  Swim marathon: Tokyo 2020, FINA watching water quality, temperature. Japan’s govt urges Fukushima evacuees to return – in drive to promote 2020 Olympics.   Will the propaganda ploy – the Tokyo 2020 Olympics really revitalise the nuclear industry and Fukushima?

Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water to run out of tanks in 2022.  Japan to resume effort to tackle contaminated water problem at Fukushima.   Tepco toughens stance toward nuclear disaster damages settlement. Fukushima students speak on 2011 disaster in Berlin.

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea Wary of Japan’s Plans to Dump Fukushima Daiichi Radioactive Water into the Pacific.

KASHMIR. Kashmir – a “nuclear flashpoint“?

PAKISTAN. Pakistan’s “triad” of nuclear weaponry.

INDIA. India ponders changing its “no first use” nuclear weapons policy.     Implications for India if it revokes its No First Use nuclear weapons policy.

UKRAINE. HBO “Chernobyl”series grasped the truth about the conditions that led to the disaster.

UK. Hinkley nuclear project: UK govt faces questions about involvement of US export blacklisted Chinese firm. Revealed: mental health crisis at Hinkley Point C nuclear construction site. UK’s nuclear waste plans – squabbles in a local Council. No it wasn’t the wind turbines that caused a UK blackout.

CHINA. Li Yang’s photography of 404: China’s abandoned nuclear city. Solar power is now cheaper than grid electricity in cities across China.

GERMANY. Germany shows how it can lead the world in neatly shutting down nuclear power.

SAUDI ARABIA. Saudi Arabia wind farm claims world record low energy cost.

Advertisements

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – a REALLY bad idea for Australia

August 17, 2019

7 reasons why Small Modular Nuclear Reactors are a bad idea for Australia,  https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/seven-reasons-why-small-modular-nuclear-reactors-are-a-bad-idea-for-australia,13010  

International news reports that, in a failed missile test in Russia, a small nuclear reactor blew up,  killing five nuclear scientists, and releasing a radiation spike.

In Australian news, with considerably less media coverage, Parliament announced an Inquiry into nuclear energy for Australia, with an emphasis on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Submissions are due by September 16.

A bit of background.  The U.S. government and the U.S. nuclear industry are very keen to develop and export small modular nuclear reactors for two main reasons, both explained in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018     Firstly, with the decline of large nuclear reactors, there is a need to maintain the technology and the expertise, trained staff, necessary to support the nuclear weapons industry. Secondly, the only hope for commercial viability of small nuclear reactors is in exporting them – the domestic market is too small.  So – Australia is seen as a desirable market.

The USA motivation for exporting these so far non-existent prefabricated reactors is clear.  The motivation of their Australian promoters is not so clear.

These are the main reasons why it would be a bad idea for Australia to import small modular nuclear reactors.

  1. COST.Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy concluded that the SMR industry would not be viable unless the industry received “several hundred billion dollars of direct and indirect subsidies” over the next several decades. For a company to invest in a factory to manufacture reactors, they’d need to be sure of a real market for them – Australia would have to commit to a strong investment up front.

The diseconomics of scale make SMRs more expensive than large reactors.  A 250 MW SMR will generate 25 percent as much power as a 1,000 MW reactor, but it will require more than 25 percent of the material inputs and staffing, and a number of other costs including waste management and decommissioning will be proportionally higher.

study by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, commissioned by the 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated costs of A$180‒184/MWh (US$127‒130) for large pressurised water reactors and boiling water reactors, compared to A$198‒225 (US$140‒159) for SMRs.

To have any hope of being economically viable, SMRs would have to be mass produced and deployed, and here is a “Catch-22″  problem The economics of mass production of SMRs cannot be proven until hundreds of units are in operation. But that can’t happen unless there are hundreds of orders, and there will be few takers unless the price can be brought down. Huge government subsidy is therefore required

  1. Safety problems. Small nuclear reactors still have the same kinds of safety needsas large ones have. The heat generated by the reactor core must be removed both under normal and accident conditions, to keep the fuel from overheating, becoming damaged, and releasing radioactivity.   The passive natural circulation coolingcould be effective under many conditions, but not under all accident conditions. For instance, for the NuScale design a large earthquake could send concrete debris into the pool, obstructing circulation of water or air.  Where there are a number of units, accidents affecting more than one small unit may cause complications that could overwhelm the capacity to cope with multiple failures.

Because SMRs have weaker containment systems than current reactors, there would be greater damage if a hydrogen explosion occurred.  A secondary containment structure would prevent large-scale releases of radioactivity in case of a severe accident.  But that would make individual SMR units unaffordable. The result?  Companies like NuScale now move to projects called “Medium” nuclear reactors – with 12 units under a single containment structure.  Not really small anymore.

Underground siting is touted as a safety solution, to avoid aircraft attacks and earthquakes. But that increases the risks from flooding.  In the event of an accident emergency crews could have greater difficulty accessing underground reactors.

Security 

Proponents of SMRs argue that they can be deployed safely both as a fleet of units close to cities, or as individual units in remote locations. In all cases, they’d have to operate under a global regulatory framework, which is going to mean expensive security arrangements and a level of security staffing.  ‘Economies of scale’ don’t necessarily work, when it comes to staffing small reactors.   SMRs will, anyway, need a larger number of workers to generate a kilowatt of electricity than large reactors need.  In the case of security staffing, this becomes important both in a densely populated area, and in an isolated one.

  1. Weapons Proliferation.

The latest news on the Russian explosion is a dramatic illustration of the connection between SMRs and weapons development.

But not such a surprise. SMRs have always had this connection, beginning in the nuclear weapons industry, in powering U.S. nuclear submarines. They were used in UK to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Today, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to use SMRs  as part of “dual use” facilities, civilian and military. SMRs contain radioactive materials, produce radioactive wastes – could be taken, used part of the production of a “dirty bomb” The Pentagon’s Project Dilithium’s small reactors may run on Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) , nuclear weapons fuel – increasing these risks.

It is now openly recognised that the nuclear weapons industry needs the technology development and the skilled staff that are provided by the “peaceful” nuclear industry. The connection is real, but it’s blurred.  The nuclear industry needs the “respectability” that is conferred by new nuclear, with its claims of “safe, clean, climate-solving” energy.

  1. Wastes.

SMRs are designed to produce less radioactive trash than current reactors. But they still produce long-lasting nuclear wastes, and in fact, for SMRs this is an even more complex problem. Australia already has the problem of spent nuclear fuel waste, accumulating in one place – from the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.  With SMRs adopted, the waste would be located in many sites, with each location having  the problem of transport to a disposal facility.  Final decommissioning of all these reactors would compound this problem.   In the case of underground reactors, there’d be further difficulties with waste retrieval, and site rehabilitation.

6. Location. 

I have touched on this, in the paragraphs on safety, security, and waste problems.  The nuclear enthusiasts are excited about the prospects for small reactors in remote places. After all, aren’t some isolated communities already having success with small, distributed solar and wind energy?   It all sounds great. But it isn’t.

With Australia’s great distances, it would be difficult to monitor and ensure the security of such a potentially dangerous system, of many small reactors scattered about on this continent. Nuclear is an industry that is already struggling to attract qualified staff, with a large percentage of skilled workers nearing retirement. The logistics of operating these reactors, meeting regulatory and inspection requirements, maintaining security staff would make the whole thing not just prohibitively expensive, but completely impractical.

  1. Delay. 

 For Australia, this has to be the most salient point of all. Economist John Quiggin has pointed out that Australia’s nuclear fans are enthusing about small modular nuclear reactors, but with no clarity on which, of the many types now designed, would be right for Australia.  NuScale’s model, funded by the U.S. government, is the only one at present with commercial prospects, so Quiggin has examined its history of delays.   But Quiggin found that NuScale is not actually going to build the factory: it is going to assemble the reactor parts, these having been made by another firm, – and which firm is not clear.  Quiggin concludes:

Australia’s proposed nuclear strategy rests on a non-existent plant to be manufactured by a company that apparently knows nothing about it.

As  there’s no market for small nuclear reactors, companies have not invested much money to commercialise them. Westinghouse Electric Company tried for years to get government funding for its SMR plan, then gave up, and switched to other projects. 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. 

Russia’s  programme  has been delayed by more than a decade and the estimated costs have ballooned.

South Korea decided on SMRs, but then pulled out, presumably for economic reasons.

China is building one demonstration SMR, but has dropped plans to build 18 more, due to diseconomics of the scheme.

There’s a lot of chatter in the international media, about all the countries that are interested, or even have signed memoranda of understanding about buying SMRs, but still with no plans for actual purchase or construction.

Is Australia going to be the guinea pig for NuScale’s Small and Medium Reactor scheme?  If so,when?  The hurdles to overcome would be mind-boggling. The start would have to be the repeal of Australia’s laws – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 Section 140A and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998. Then comes the overcoming of States’ laws, much political argy-bargy, working out regulatory frameworks, import and transport of nuclear materials, – finding locations for siting reactors, – Aboriginal issues-community consent,  waste locations.  And what would it all cost?

And, in the meantime, energy efficiency developments, renewable energy progress, storage systems – will keep happening, getting cheaper, and making nuclear power obsolete.

Nuclear power for Australia? NO SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE (or anything else)

August 16, 2019

Friends of the Earth Australia Statement August 2019 http://www.nuclear.foe.org.au 

  1. Introduction 2. Nuclear Power Would Inhibit the Development of More Effective Solutions 3. The Nuclear Power Industry is in Crisis 4. Small Modular Reactors 5. Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Nuclear Winter 6. A Slow Response to an Urgent Problem 7. Climate Change & Nuclear Hazards: ‘You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.’ 8. Nuclear Racism 9. Nuclear Waste 10. More Information
  2. Introduction 

Support for nuclear power in Australia has nothing to do with energy policy – it is instead an aspect of the ‘culture wars‘ driven by conservative ideologues (examples include current and former politicians Clive Palmer, Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, Barnaby Joyce, Mark Latham, Jim Molan, Craig Kelly, Eric Abetz, and David Leyonhjelm; and media shock-jocks such as Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin). With few exceptions, those promoting nuclear power in Australia also support coal, they oppose renewables, they attack environmentalists, they deny climate change science, and they have little knowledge of energy issues and options. The Minerals Council of Australia – which has close connections with the Coalition parties – is another prominent supporter of both coal and nuclear power.

In January 2019, the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts, issued a policy statement concluding that nuclear power plants “are not appropriate for Australia – and probably never will be”. The statement continued: “Nuclear power stations are highly controversial, can’t be built under existing law in any Australian state or territory, are a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and transport of nuclear waste, and use of water”.

Friends of the Earth Australia agrees with the Climate Council. Proposals to introduce nuclear power to Australia are misguided and should be rejected for the reasons discussed below (and others not discussed here, including the risk of catastrophic accidents).

  1. Nuclear Power Would Inhibit the Development of More Effective Solutions 

Renewable power generation is far cheaper than nuclear power. Lazard’s November 2018 report on levelised costs of electricity found that wind power (US$29‒56 per megawatt-hour) and utility-scale solar (US$36‒46 / MWh) are approximately four times cheaper than nuclear power (US$112‒189 / MWh).

A December 2018 report by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator concluded that “solar and wind generation technologies are currently the lowest-cost ways to generate electricity for Australia, compared to any other new-build technology.”

Thus the pursuit of nuclear power would inhibit the necessary rapid development of solutions that are cheaper, safer, more environmentally benign, and enjoy far greater public support. A 2015 IPSOS poll found

that support among Australians for solar power (78‒87%) and wind power (72%) is far higher than support for coal (23%) and nuclear (26%).

Renewables and storage technology can provide a far greater contribution to power supply and to  climate change abatement compared to an equivalent investment in nuclear power. Peter Farley, a fellow of the Australian Institution of Engineers, wrote in January 2019: “As for nuclear the 2,200 MW Plant Vogtle [in the US] is costing US$25 billion plus financing costs, insurance and long term waste storage. For the full cost of US$30 billion, we could build 7,000 MW of wind, 7,000 MW of tracking solar, 10,000 MW of rooftop solar, 5,000MW of pumped hydro and 5,000 MW of batteries. That is why nuclear is irrelevant in Australia.”

Dr. Ziggy Switkowski ‒ who led the Howard government’s review of nuclear power in 2006 ‒ noted in 2018 that “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed”, that nuclear power is no longer cheaper than renewables and that costs are continuing to shift in favour of renewables.

Globally, renewable electricity generation has doubled over the past decade and costs have declined sharply. Renewables account for 26.5% of global electricity generation. Conversely, nuclear costs have increased four- fold since 2006 and nuclear power’s share of global electricity generation has fallen from its 1996 peak of 17.6% to its current share of 10%.

As with renewables, energy efficiency and conservation measures are far cheaper and less problematic than nuclear power. A University of Cambridge study concluded that 73% of global energy use could be saved by energy efficiency and conservation measures. Yet Australia’s energy efficiency policies and performance are among the worst in the developed world.

  1. The Nuclear Power Industry is in Crisis 

The nuclear industry is in crisis with lobbyists repeatedly acknowledging nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis”, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West” and “the crisis that the nuclear industry is presently facing in developed countries”, while noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies” and engaging each other in heated arguments about what if anything can be salvaged from the “ashes of today’s dying industry”.

It makes no sense for Australia to be introducing nuclear power at a time when the industry is in crisis and when a growing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power (including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea).

The 2006 Switkowski report estimated the cost of electricity from new reactors at A$40–65 / MWh. Current estimates are four times greater at A$165‒278 / MWh. In 2009, Dr. Switkowski said that a 1,000 MW power reactor in Australia would cost A$4‒6 billion. Again, that is about one-quarter of all the real-world experience over the past decade in western Europe and north America, with cost estimates of reactors under construction ranging from A$17‒24 billion (while a reactor project in South Carolina  was abandoned after the expenditure of at least A$13.3 billion).

Thanks to legislation banning nuclear power, Australia has avoided the catastrophic cost overruns and crises that have plagued every recent reactor project in western Europe and north America. Cheaper Chinese or Russian nuclear reactors would not be accepted in Australia for a multitude of reasons (cybersecurity, corruption, repression, safety, etc.). South Korea has been suggested as a potential supplier, but South Korea is slowly phasing out nuclear power, it has little experience with its APR1400 reactor design, and South Korea’s ‘nuclear mafia‘ is as corrupt and dangerous as the ‘nuclear village‘ in Japan which was responsible for the Fukushima disaster.

  1. Small Modular Reactors 

The Minerals Council of Australia claims that small modular reactors (SMRs) are “leading the way in cost”. In fact, power from SMRs will almost certainly be more expensive than power from large reactors because of diseconomies of scale. The cost of the small number of SMRs under construction is exorbitant. Both the private sector and governments have been unwilling to invest in SMRs because of their poor prospects. The December 2018 report by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator found that even if the cost of power from SMRs halved, it would still be more expensive than wind or solar power with storage costs included (two hours of battery storage or six hours of pumped hydro storage).

The prevailing scepticism is evident in a 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on the insights of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. They predict that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

No SMRs are operating and about half of the small number under construction have nothing to do with climate change abatement – on the contrary, they are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Worse still, there are disturbing connections between SMRs, nuclear weapons proliferation and militarism more generally.

  1. Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Nuclear Winter 

“On top of the perennial challenges of global poverty and injustice, the two biggest threats facing human civilisation in the 21st century are climate change and nuclear war. It would be absurd to respond to one by increasing the risks of the other. Yet that is what nuclear power does.” ‒ Australian

Nuclear power programs have provided cover for numerous covert weapons programs and an expansion of nuclear power would exacerbate the problem. After decades of deceit and denial, a growing number of nuclear industry bodies and lobbyists now openly acknowledge and even celebrate the connections between nuclear power and weapons. They argue that troubled nuclear power programs should be further subsidised such that they can continue to underpin and support weapons programs.

For example, US nuclear lobbyist Michael Shellenberger previously denied power–weapons connections but now argues that “having a weapons option is often the most important factor in a state pursuing peaceful nuclear energy”, that “at least 20 nations sought nuclear power at least in part to give themselves the option of creating a nuclear weapon”, and that “in seeking to deny the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, the nuclear community today finds itself in the increasingly untenable position of having to deny these real world connections.”

Former US Vice President Al Gore has neatly summarised the problem: “For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program. And if we ever got to the point where we wanted to use nuclear reactors to back out a lot of coal … then we’d have to put them in so many places we’d run that proliferation risk right off the reasonability scale.” 

Running the proliferation risk off the reasonability scale brings the debate back to climate change. Nuclear warfare − even a limited, regional nuclear war involving a tiny fraction of the global arsenal − has the potential to cause catastrophic climate change. The problem is explained by Alan Robock in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists“[W]e now understand that the atmospheric effects of a nuclear war would last for at least a decade − more than proving the nuclear winter theory of the 1980s correct. By our calculations, a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan using less than 0.3% of the current global arsenal would produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history and global ozone depletion equal in size to the current hole in the ozone, only spread out globally.” 

Nuclear plants are also vulnerable to security threats such as conventional military attacks (and cyber-attacks such as Israel’s Stuxnet attack on Iran’s enrichment plant), and the theft and smuggling of nuclear materials. Examples of military strikes on nuclear plants include the destruction of research reactors in Iraq by Israel and the US; Iran’s attempts to strike nuclear facilities in Iraq during the 1980−88 war (and vice versa); Iraq’s attempted strikes on Israel’s nuclear facilities; and Israel’s bombing of a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria in 2007.

6. A Slow Response to an Urgent Problem 

Expanding nuclear power is impractical as a short-term response to climate change. An analysis by Australian economist Prof. John Quiggin concludes that it would be “virtually impossible” to get a nuclear power reactor operating in Australia by 2040.

More time would elapse before nuclear power has generated as much as energy as was expended in the construction of the reactor. A University of Sydney report states: “The energy payback time of nuclear energy is around 6.5 years for light water reactors, and 7 years for heavy water reactors, ranging within 5.6–14.1 years, and 6.4–12.4 years, respectively.”

Taking into account planning and approvals, construction, and the energy payback time, it would be a quarter of a century or more before nuclear power could even begin to reduce greenhouse emissions in Australia … and then only assuming that nuclear power displaced fossil fuels.

  1. Climate Change & Nuclear Hazards: ‘You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.’ 

“I’ve heard many nuclear proponents say that nuclear power is part of the solution to global warming. It needs to be reversed: You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.” ‒ Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum

Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to threats which are being exacerbated by climate change. These include dwindling and warming water sources, sea-level rise, storm damage, drought, and jelly-fish swarms.

At the lower end of the risk spectrum, there are countless examples of nuclear plants operating at reduced power or being temporarily shut down due to water shortages or increased water temperature during heatwaves (which can adversely affect reactor cooling and/or cause fish deaths and other problems associated with the dumping of waste heat in water sources). In the US, for example, unusually hot temperatures in 2018 forced nuclear plant operators to reduce reactor power output more than 30 times.

At the upper end of the risk spectrum, climate-related threats pose serious risks such as storms cutting off grid power, leaving nuclear plants reliant on generators for reactor cooling.

‘Water wars’ will become increasingly common with climate change − disputes over the allocation of increasingly scarce water resources between power generation, agriculture and other uses. Nuclear power reactors consume massive amounts of cooling water − typically 36.3 to 65.4 million litres per reactor per day. The World Resources Institute noted last year that 47% of the world’s thermal power plant capacity ‒ mostly coal, natural gas and nuclear ‒ are located in highly water-stressed areas.

By contrast, the REN21 Renewables 2015: Global Status Report states: “Although renewable energy systems are also vulnerable to climate change, they have unique qualities that make them suitable both for reinforcing the resilience of the wider energy infrastructure and for ensuring the provision of energy services under changing climatic conditions. System modularity, distributed deployment, and local availability and diversity of fuel sources − central components of energy system resilience − are key characteristics of most renewable energy systems.” 

  1. Nuclear RacismTo give one example (among many), the National Radioactive Waste Management Act dispossesses and disempowers Traditional Owners in every way imaginable:
    • The nomination of a site for a radioactive waste dump is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent.
    • The Act has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect archaeological or heritage values, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions.

The nuclear industry has a shameful history of dispossessing and disempowering Aboriginal people and communities, and polluting their land and water, dating from the British bomb tests in the 1950s. The same attitudes prevail today in relation to the uranium industry and planned nuclear waste dumps and the problems would be magnified if Australia developed nuclear power.

The Act curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage.

  • The Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste dump.

9. Nuclear Waste

Decades-long efforts to establish a repository and store for Australia’s low-and intermediate-level nuclear waste continue to flounder and are currently subject to legal and Human Rights Commission complaints and challenges, initiated by Traditional Owners of two targeted sites in South Australia. Establishing a repository for high-level nuclear waste from a nuclear power program would be far more challenging as Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan has noted.

Globally, countries operating nuclear power plants are struggling to manage nuclear waste and no country has a repository for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste. The United States has a deep underground repository for long-lived intermediate-level waste, called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). However the repository was closed from 2014‒17 following a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel. Costs associated with the accident are estimated at over A$2.9 billion.

Safety standards fell away sharply within the first decade of operation of the WIPP repository ‒ a sobering reminder of the challenge of safely managing nuclear waste for millennia.

  1. More Information 
  • Climate Council, 2019, ‘Nuclear Power Stations are Not Appropriate for Australia – and Probably Never Will Be‘
  • WISE Nuclear Monitor, 25 June 2016, ‘Nuclear power: No solution to climate change‘
  • Friends of the Earth Australia nuclear power online resources

Nuclear news – week to 12 August Australia and beyond

August 12, 2019

NUCLEAR. This week , the spotlight has been on Russia, as conflicting and ambiguous reports come out, about a Russian rocket test explosion that caused radiation levels to spike in the Arkhangelsk region. The Russian nuclear agency Rosatom finally admitted its involvement. Russia honours as ‘national heroes’ the 5 nuclear scientists who died in this suspected secret testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

CLIMATE. While governments and the older generation in general continue on their merry way with business as usual, young people are ever more concerned about climate change. It’s THE issue at this week ‘s International Congress of Youth Voices, in Puerto Rico.  High school students are organising Youth Climate Strikes.    Why stay in school if our planet will die?

AUSTRALIA

Three  Parliamentary Nuclear Inquiries are now underway, with short deadlines for submissions. (You can bet that the nuclear lobby’s well-paid shills have sent theirs in already.)

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce’s heavy-handed, repressive, approach to community consultation. It’s even more undemocratic than the one in Wales, UK. Federal nuclear waste management “consultative committees” – secretive – a farce?  Nuclear waste: residents near proposed dump told to sign draconian code of conduct.   Bangarla people call on Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt to intervene in support of their vote on nuclear waste dump.

Jervis Bay and previous governments’ secret plans for nuclear weapons.

Does Energy Minister Angus Taylor REALLY believe that nuclear energy would be viable in Australia. Energy Minister Angus Taylor orders inquiry into nuclear energy – a distraction from Australia’s climate policy failure?. Australia’s Liberal Coalition government still dreaming about nuclear power.

Australia’s strategy for ‘new nuclear’ – based on non-existent plantSmall Modular Nuclear Reactors don’t operate anywhere yet – but USA companies are keen to sell them to Australia.  Nuclear advocate Switkowski admits that Small Modular Reactors have big problems.

Australia needs intelligent long-term energy policy – nuclear does not ‘stack up’.  Pro nuclear promoter Warren Mundine back on the propaganda trail.

CLIMATE. Australian coal lobby plans another multi-million PR campaign.  EnergyAustralia plunges into red after massive writedowns, coal problems.

RENEWABLE ENERGY.  Queensland officially opens its first completed large scale wind farm. Stunning low costs inspire Alinta to ramp up renewables push, sees early coal exit. Rooftop solar slashes demand levels and emissions across main grid . AGL plans more storage as it eyes $200 billion energy transition opportunity,  Finley solar farm starts sending power to NSW grid.

INTERNATIONAL

How the viewing public was ‘protected’ from seeing what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing did to people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uas1WtocwOo  Hiroshima nuclear bombing, and the birth of the Doomsday Clock.

Another expensive nuclear weapons race about to take off. Putin And Trump are ‘normalising’ the increasing numbers, and the use, of nuclear weapons.

Wildfire cloud study sheds light on the processes of ‘nuclear winter”

Harm to astronauts’ brains from space radiation.

Even the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  is concerned about radioactive trash management from Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

JAPAN.

RUSSIA.

Putin’s silence on mysterious radiation accident. Test rocket explosion causes radiation spike in northern Russian city.   Two accidents involving Russia’s military. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK_WDxjhu0Y  Nuclear fuel carrier “Serebryanka” is still at anchor near Russian military test site.  Naval base is on mysterious lockdown after an accidental missile explosion  Scientists found evidence that Russia covered up – a major nuclear accident in 2017.

Barents Observer report on Russian nuclear reactors in the Arctic. Russia’s planned dangerous expansion into the Arctic with nuclear icebreakers, Rosatom in control, increasing climate change.

KASHMIR. India and Pakistan on Hair-Trigger Nuclear Alert Over Kashmir.  Pakistan on the brink again, as India abolishes self-rule for Kashmir.

ARCTIC. Anxiety over Russian nuclear power plant afloat in Arctic.

MURUROA. Health research on descendants of Pacific nuclear veterans.

NORTH KOREA. It’s realistic to accept North Korea as a nuclear state.

USA.

UKRAINE. Chernobyl ‘sarcophagus” on the verge of collapse.

CHINA. China’s nuclear policy.  China buried nuclear waste in Sudan desert.

UK. Three British nuclear submariners sacked over cocaine use.

THAILAND. Government under pressure with growing opposition to nuclear reactor plan.

GERMANY. Tower of German nuclear station demolished. The plant was on line for only 13 months.

Hiroshima – Nagasaki week – nuclear news

August 6, 2019

There’s a not at all funny irony in that significant nuclear weapons decisions have been made by USA and Russia in this anniversary week.    USA formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile. Putin warns that Russia will follow if USA develops new nuclear missiles. A dangerous nuclear arms race likely to follow, if the New Start Treaty is not renewed.  USA Democrats struggle with Senator Elizabeth Warren and others’ determination to change America’s present “presidential first use” policy, and make it official U.S. policy not to be the first to use a nuclear weapon.

Intense heat waves have swept Europe this summer, breaking temperature records in at least a dozen countries. Scientists have warned that the world should expect more scorching heat waves and extreme weather due to climate change.   July confirmed as the world’s hottest month ever recorded.

AUSTRALIA

NUCLEAR. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says no USA missile base in Australia – (not YET, anyway).

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby urges Australia to sign up to nuclear weapon ban treaty.

Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister for Coal and Nuclear, wants to launch Inquiry into nuclear power. Nuclear power in Australia to be examined by multi-party parliamentary inquiry.  Small modular nuclear reactors for Australia?   Labor demands that the federal government outline potential locations for nuclear power plantsNo investment appetite for nuclear- says Ziggy Switkowski.  Barnaby Joyce’s fantasy for Australia– nuclear unicorns?

Paul Richards refutes Heiko Timmers’ push for Australia to import nuclear wastes.

What would it really take, for Australia to get “its own nuclear deterrent”?.

New South Wales Parliament inquiries on uranium, nuclear, and energy.

Yeelirrie uranium project court outcome shows environment laws in need of urgent repair.

Australian govt ignored nomination panel, appointed uranium industry’s Vanessa Guthrie to ABC Board.

Looks as if Malaysia will let Lynas keep its radioactive wastes there, after all.

CLIMATE  Emissions auction flop rams home climate policy failures as Taylor blames election timing.  Australia’s government, lackey of the coal industry, in denial over climate change. – says former Liberal leader.

water.  Drought-stricken NSW braces for an early bushfire season with not enough water to take them on.   Australia’s one great river system – Murray-Darling Basin Plan ‘untenable’ – corrupt?      Water shortage hitting Queensland town Stanthorpe.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Windlab’s sol ar-wind-battery project finally connected to Queensland grid. AGL shows off what will be Australia’s largest wind farm. Victoria solar rebate “disaster” as August quota fills in 90 minutes.

INTERNATIONAL

Samantha Smith – a 10 year old who acted to reduce nuclear weapons.

The Myths, the Silence, and the Propaganda That Keep Nuclear Weapons in Existence.  Collapse of the INF treaty could be followed by the expiry of New Start.     What Exactly Is Nuclear ‘No First Use’?

Nuclear power will ‘lumber into extinction,’ ex-regulator says.  Nuclear power has never been financially viable.

Major problem for astronauts – radiation damages mood and memory?

UKRAINE. Belarus’ forgotten children – victims of Chernobyl’s nuclear radiation.

JAPAN.

USA. 

MARSHALL ISLANDS. Radiation Levels Higher in Marshall Islands Than in Chernobyl. Marshall Islands to survey leaking nuclear dome.

FRANCE. Another French nuclear plant having difficulties due to hot weather and poor river flow. Climate change continues to affect France’s nuclear power industry.

RUSSIA. Sunken Soviet Sub leaking high levels of radiation, Norwegian researchers say.The nuclear disasters that we don’t hear about – The Kyshtym DisasterRussia’s coverup of 2017 nuclear accident in the Ural mountains.   The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – Soviet Submarine K-19.

INDIA. Kashmir, nexus of conflict between nuclear antagonists India and Pakistan, faces crackdown, plunges into fear.

UK. The nuclear disasters we don’t hear about – The Windscale Fire.

IRELAND. Overwhelming arguments against nuclear power for Ireland.

BRAZIL. The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – The Goiânia Accident.

CANADA. The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – Chalk River Ontario.

BELGIUM. Belgium broke law but can keep nuclear plants open, EU court rules.

UK. Brexit: nuclear medicine at risk from no-deal. UK union unhappy with financing plan for new nuclear power plants.  Concern in Suffolk over the socio-economic and environmental effects of massive Sizewell nuclear project.

Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister for Coal and Nuclear, wants to launch Inquiry into nuclear power

August 5, 2019

Taylor presses nuclear button, as energy wars enter dangerous new phase, Giles Parkinson 5 August 2019  https://reneweconomy.com.au/taylor-presses-nuclear-button-as-energy-wars-enter-dangerous-new-phase-47854/

Australia’s energy minister Angus Taylor has campaigned against renewables since before he entered parliament in 2013, appearing at anti-wind events organised by an anonymous and unpleasant website, and vowing on many occasions to scrap the renewable energy target.

He has been powerless to stop the build out of wind and solar, although he has complained about it often enough. But now Taylor and the Coalition government have taken their war against wind and solar to its next inevitable phase: They’ve pressed the nuclear button.

Taylor revealed late Friday that he had asked the Environment and Energy Standing Committee to launch a new inquiry into nuclear energy, including its costs and issues of waste etc. They’ve got four months to produce a report.

Taylor insists that there is no intention to repeal the laws that outlaw nuclear energy in Australia. But that beggars the question. Why have the inquiry in the first place?

The answer is simple. As Taylor revealed in an interview on ABC’s AM program, he simply doesn’t accept that renewables can power the electricity grid. A view that is loudly shared by many of his Coalition colleagues, the Murdoch media, and of course the coal industry.

The timing of the announcement is interesting. It comes just a couple of days after the end of the parliamentary sitting week (they won’t be back again until September) and just as the country’s far-right conservatives got ready to gather at the Australian Conservative Political Action Conference.

Tellingly, this is the first policy or initiative that Taylor has announced since the shock re-election of the coalition government in May, and comes after a major push by the far right ideologues of this conservative government to reconsider the ban on nuclear.

And as we have noted before, the same Coalition MPs that have been pushing for nuclear are the very same Coalition MPs pushing for new coal generation, and the very same Coalition MPs who reject the science of climate change, or make a mockery of the urgings of young people that they should take it seriously.

This is no co-incidence. This is not about carbon emissions, and it is certainly not about cheap energy. The common enemy of these people is wind and solar, and the shift from a centralised system based around “baseload” fossil fuel generators to a renewable system that is largely decentlralised (and democratised), and based around renewables, storage and demand management.

Australia is one of those regions – like Germany and California – that is at the forefront of this transition, and the fossil fuel industry view is that it cannot be allowed to succeed.

So it is no coincidence that the biggest industry supporter of nuclear is the coal lobby itself, in the guise of the Minerals Council of Australia, which is also pushing for new coal generators and urging the government to do as little as possible on climate.

The MCA is cosy with the Coalition – its former CEO and deputy CEOs are now key advisors in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office, and its chair is the former Coalition minister Helen Coonan. Its current CEO, Tania Constable, was appointed by the Coalition government to the board of the ABC, over-riding independent recommendations.

A new dimension is also added.

One of the noisiest opponents of renewable energy technologies is Trevor St Baker, pushing for new coal generators and whose Vales Point coal generator in NSW – currently in the queue to get federal government funding to remain open beyond its schedule closure date – is also the founder of a company SMR Nuclear that looking at new “modular” nuclear technologies that Taylor suggests could be a focus of this inquiry.

Like St Baker, the likes of Constable argue that only nuclear is able to deliver 24/7 emissions free power. They insist it is “cheap”, but that is nonsense.

The International Energy Agency desperately wants nuclear to succeed, but it concedes that costs have surged, as this graph (above) from a recent report illustrates. While the cost of solar has fallen 95 per cent over the past decade, and the cost of battery storage by some 70 per cent, the cost of nuclear has more than trebled upwards.

Even re-fitting existing stations was considered more expensive than wind and solar, although as BloombergNEF founder and now commentator Michael Liebreich has pointed out, the costs might be close enough to convince some countries to extend their life.

But there is no economic case for new nuclear. Liebreich says. Cost blowouts are occurring in the UK with Hinckley, and in France and in Finland with their versions of the latest technology, as it is in China (which has begun no new projects in the last three years), and in the US.

This graph[on original] from Le Monde in France illustrates how costs have surged in its next generation technology at its flagship project in Flamanville. It was begun in 20017 with promises it would be finished in 2012 at a cost of €3.5 billion.The latest delay and cost blowout have pushed the assumed finish date to 2022 and the new estimate of costs to €11.5 billion.

As France’s own National Infrastructure Commission said last year, a focus on renewables ‘looks like a safer bet than constructing multiple new nuclear plants’”.

Into this debate recently landed Industry Super Australia, the union fund research body with a report that is quite possibly one of the most inept analyses of the energy industry that has been produced in Australia. And that says something because it has had strong competition. The ISA, and the ISF that oversees it, should be embarrassed that it is published in its name.

To address the issue of costs, the ISA report produces a completely nonsensical “capital cost” assumption that confuses output with capacity factors, multiplies it by the cost of solar plants built more than 5 years ago.

It delivers a figure of $16 billion per gigawatt for the cost of solar. It is not a rough “back of the envelope” calculation as the authors try to claim, it is complete and utter garbage.

Among its other laughable claims are that Australia would need “one hundred” Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro schemes, or 72,000 Tesla big batteries were it to go 100 per cent renewables.

It’s a preposterous number that completely misunderstands the workings of the energy system, and the role of storage technologies, and fails to appreciate that if we do electrify everything, then we will be using less energy, not more.

Apart from now being expensive and polluting, burning fossil fuels is hugely inefficient – most of it disappears as heat, be it in a coal fired power station or in the internal combustion engine of a car – and it is two or three times more wasteful than electric motors and batteries.

But the authors of this report seek to mislead, either deliberately or through their ignorance. They make the patently false claim that fossil fuel plants “do not need back up.” Try running that past anyone who actually operates an electricity  grid, and has to deal with large plants that need regular maintenance or which may trip for any number of reasons.

The study is so poorly researched it even claims that the Invanpah solar tower facility in California does not need back-up.

If the authors bothered to spend two minutes researching that project, rather than relying on the blogs of nuclear fantasists, they would have discovered that it has no storage, and needs gas plants to help fire it up in the morning. Yes, it was costly, but it turned out to be such a bad idea that no plant like it has or will be built again. All new solar towers do and will have storage.

But the authors’ minds were set. They even dismiss the reaction to the disasters at Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island to “behavioural bias” and compares the lot of the nuclear industry with that of a baseball pitcher in 1930s, Chad Bradford, who had an unusual throwing action.

  1. “They just judged him on the way he looked. So they demoted him to the minor leagues for a time,” they plead.
  2. For heavens sake, nuclear is not judged by the way it looks, or its throwing action, but for its costs. And the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator – like the IEA – have made it clear that nuclear – like new coal – costs a multiple more than the cheapest alternatives, wind and solar backed by dispatchable capacity, be that pumped hydro, batteries, or demand management.

You won’t see baseload mentioned in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, the 20-year blueprint for the future. Neither will you see it championed by the grid operators in the UK, or China. The world has moved on.

AEMO says Australia has the technology and know-how to move to 100 per cent renewables, although they would differ about the time frame from the most enthusiastic renewables supporters.

The problem is that like the ISA report, the nuclear boosters in the Coalition are prone to accept garbage as gospel.

The energy industry has largely dismissed nuclear as an option in Australia, knowing that it is absurdly expensive, and that if it were built in Australia it would take so long – possibly two decades at the very least – that the country would be powered almost exclusively by much cheap wind and solar and dispatchable storage by that time (if allowed to).

But Ted O’Brien, the chair of the committee reviewing the nuclear issue (it is stacked with four out of seven members from the Coalition) has already made up his mind.

Like his Coalition colleague Craig Kelly, lampooned in the cartoon above, he’s long been a big fan of nuclear – and given his analysis of Labor’s energy policy – he said it would be a tax on Tim Tams – he might have been about as thorough in his assessment of nuclear as Homer Simpson.

Don’t laugh.These people really are that stupid. They are not interested in the advice of experts – be it on climate science, energy technologies,  or electric vehicles. But one thing they can’t admit is that the Greens – and now the rest of the energy industry – are right about wind and solar, and the focus on “dispatchable” power rather than “base-load”.

If Australia can demonstrate that a modern economy can be run on a predominantly renewables grid, it’s all over for the fossil fuel industry across the world. So expect this push to have some powerful friends, and not just in the media industry, and not just in Australia.

Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid and founder/editor of The Driven. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.

Nuclear news to 31 July – Australia and beyond

July 31, 2019

Oh it’s climate again! How can we ignore it?  This time, it’s not just the heat-waves across the Norther hemisphere, but the effects of that hot air moving to the Arctic. Greenland and the Arctic in general, are headed for a record sea ice melt.  It will be an unprecedented ice loss – ultimately rapid loss will lead to rising sea levels.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E6PazzbEoA&t=23s

Nuclear news?   There doesn’t seem to be much. Is that because the important stuff is kept secret, or at best, pretty quiet?   Russia is the best at this.  Now it is revealed, by an international team of scientists, that in September 2017 there must have been a nuclear accident at the Mayak nuclear reprocessing facility in Southern Russia. It’s the only feasible explanation for the cloud of Ruthenium-106 across Europe in late September.

New economic research discusses nuclear power’s real costs – ‘seven decades of economic ruin’. (a brief report on this is here)

Bits of good newsInternational kindness to Chernobyl children from radiation-contaminated areas – but more help is needed.  For First Time Ever, Scientists Identify How Many Trees to Plant and Where to Plant Them to Stop Climate Crisis

AUSTRALIA

It’s climate here, too. Except that the current Australian government doesn’t believe that climate change is a serious problem. Australia is in an unprecedented drought – long-lasting, and across wide areas. With this government, “water shortage”is becoming an unmentionable political term like “climate change”. (Officially no human -caused climate change in Australia) but Queensland towns are running out of water. And Norther Territory towns are running out of water.

NUCLEAR.

RENEWABLE ENERGY.  Energy minister Angus Taylor a no-show at clean energy summit. Wind and solar turn up ramping pressure in South Australia and Queensland. Queensland drops bidding directions, says wind and solar less than $50/MWh.   Solar dominates day-time markets, lifting share and pushing down prices. CEFC looks to energy storage, grid stability, after record spend on renewables. Victoria drafts new guidelines to smooth way for solar farms.

BHP casts doubt on renewables as it commits $US400m to cut emissions  – via including nuclear power and carbon capture, 

Senate voted on Press Freedoms – Matter of Public importance.

INTERNATIONAL

‘Thermal limits’ – extreme heat effects on the body

The horrors of nuclear weapons testing – 460,000 premature deaths.

New report: nuclear energy cannot be classified as “clean”, nor as economic.

ARCTIC.  Unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic release huge CO2 to the atmosphere.

PACIFIC ISLANDS. Bikini Atoll, site of nuclear bomb testing, still 10 times more radioactive than Chernobyl.

JAPAN.

Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control. 17 years needed to send treated Fukushima water into sea: expert. Robots the only hope for highly radioactive areas in wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The ghost towns in Fukushima Prefecture.   Is Fukushima Safe for the OlympicsOlympic Games as PR to change the image of Fukushima and its radiation problems. Anti-Olympics groups want more attention put on event’s downfalls.   Opponents want Olympic money used to rebuild Fukushima. The 2020 Olympics may become a disaster. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are showing the nightmare waiting for L.A. in 2028.    Asahi’s ‘Fukushima beer’ launch invites South Korea scorn.

Mothers’ group in Kyoto hosts Fukushima preschoolers, parents for retreat.  Beach in Fukushima Prefecture reopens for first time since 2011 disasters. Temporal variation of radionuclides contamination of marine plants on the Fukushima coast after the East Japan nuclear disaster. TEPCO to decommission all four reactors at Fukushima Daini.

International Symposium for Peace: The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition.  Nuclear-Free Forum in Japan calls for worldwide end to nuclear power. Churches aim for joint church action to end nuclear energy.

IRAN. Constructive talks between Iran and Europe, but no definite result. Iran links tanker row to nuclear deal.  Iran intends to restart activities at Arak heavy water nuclear reactor.

MIDDLE EAST. Heading for a Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Arms Race in the Middle East.

USA. Investigative journalism –  How did Ohio’s nuclear industry get a $1.1billion bailout?dark money did the job! Ohio takes a backward leap, as Ohio Governor Signs Coal and Nuclear Bailout at Expense of Renewable Energy,

UK. Surprise surprise! UK’s New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a big fan of the nuclear industry.

UK Nuclear Finance: From No Subsidies to Nuclear Tax. A layman’s guide to the ‘Regulated Asset Base’ that will fund Sizewell C nuclear power plant. Tax-payers still on the hook for UK’s planned ‘nuclear renaissance’. UK’s love-in with “an innovative funding model” does not hide the hideous expense of nuclear power.

Yet more delay at Flamanville nuclear debacle – doesn’t bode well for UK’s Hinkley Point C project.  UK government commits to ordering mini nuclear reactors from Rolls Royce.

Boris Johnson’s secret instructions on nuclear action.

UKRAINE.  The dreadful truth of Chernobyl radiation’s health and death toll is now coming out.

RUSSIA. The often forgotten nuclear disaster in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Fears about a Soviet-era nuclear waste site, on the planned route for a Moscow expressway.

CHINA.China absolutely clear on its policy of No First Use of Nuclear Weapons.

EUROPE.  Nuclear power losing its appeal in Eastern Europe. Soaring temperatures in Europe – risk of record ice melt in Greenland.

INDIA. India’s Govt prohibits mining of thorium and other atomic minerals by private entities  .

GERMANY  Germany’s Grohnde nuclear plant headed for shutdown, due to high temperatures. Renewable energy providing more electricity than coal and nuclear power combined in Germany.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea’s new submarine.

Australia’s ban on nuclear power is reaffirmed by the Senate

July 30, 2019

This motion was moved by Senator Hanson-Young and passed by the Senate, 29 July 19

Australia will keep its ban on nuclear power, says Environment Minister Sussan Ley

July 29, 2019

Environment Minister Sussan Ley refuses to consider an amendment to nuclear power ban in Australia The West Australian, 29 July 2019

Environment Minister Sussan Ley has quashed a push to lift the moratorium on nuclear power, saying she will not consider the ban as part of an upcoming review of Australia’s environmental protection legislation.

Speaking to The West Australian, Ms Ley gave the Federal Government’s strongest comment yet on the issue, indicating the settings would remain the same on nuclear power and a moratorium would not be lifted.

“I will not be looking to change the moratorium on nuclear power as part of that review,” Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley also said she would not be reviewing the decision by her predecessor — West Australian Melissa Price who was dumped from Cabinet — to approve the Yeelirrie uranium mine 500km north of Kalgoorlie a day before the May 18 Federal election.

“I don’t propose to review decisions that were already made before I became minister,” Ms Ley said, despite advice the mine could lead to the extinction of up to 12 native species.

As part of her portfolio, Ms Ley will have carriage over the 10-year review of the Environment Protection and Bio-diversity Conservation Act, which needs to begin by October.

The Act recognises the protection of the environment from nuclear actions as a matter of national environmental significance and specifically prohibits nuclear power generation in Australia.

A group of Coalition MPs, including Craig Kelly, James McGrath and Keith Pitt, want the Act to be amended to allow nuclear power generation to be permitted in Australia as a way to supply reliable, low-emissions base load power.

The move is backed by the Minerals Council of Australia and industry with Prime Minister Scott Morrison handed a draft terms of reference into a nuclear power inquiry last month. Ms Ley’s stance also comes as Labor tries to wedge the Government on power prices.

Shadow energy minister Mark Butler will today say average wholesale energy prices in the States connected to the National Energy Market — of which WA is not a participant — have risen 158 per cent since 2015.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan said it “makes sense” to see if nuclear power was a worthwhile option in the current environment but that he was not convinced it would be good for Australians struggling with higher power prices.

“It may not meet our present needs given we have a desperate need to reduce power prices and nuclear power is on the more expensive end of the scale,” he said.

Former deputy prime minister and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, who wants an inquiry into nuclear power, said last night he believed it was the only way to achieve zero emissions power.

“If this absurd zeitgeist believes that Australia singlehandedly contains the temperature of the globe by reason of them using coal fired power – as much as I disagree with that based on science – I’ll take the next alternative for baseload power which is nuclear power,” he said.

“Although we send uranium all around the world for zero-emissions power, there is an exceptional paranoia about it in Australian politics,” he said.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor told Question Time last week the government had an “open mind” on nuclear power generation but that there was no current plan to lift the moratorium.

“We always approach these things with an open mind, but we do not have … a plan to change the moratorium,” he said.

Opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler said nuclear power would not bring price relief for Australians.

“Based on the advice of industry and experts, it is clear nuclear power is not a viable option for Australia… The economics do not stack up and it would just mean higher power bills,” he said.

Nuclear power generation in Australia was pushed by John Howard while Prime Minister, with the Coalition running on a pro-nuclear platform at the 2007 election.

In 2006 former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski chaired a Commonwealth government inquiry into nuclear power which concluded Australia was well placed to consider adding nuclear to its energy mix.

An energy Green Paper by the Coalition government in 2014 suggested nuclear energy was a “serious consideration for future low emissions energy”.

Australia is home to a third of the world’s uranium deposits and is the third largest producer behind Kazakstan and Canada.

Uranium accounts for around a quarter of Australian energy exports.

To July 23 – Nuclear and Climate News

July 23, 2019

Again – hard to focus on nuclear issues, as extreme climate events continue.  Africa is suffering from a crippling drought, as is IndonesiaEurope Faces Another Record-Setting Heat Wave This Week . India cops both flooding and heatwaves. Record high temperatures in America. Australian writer Peter Boyer– outlines the plight not only of his country, but of countries across the globe.

Nuclear news – less  dramatic, but still important.    In USA and UK, how to fund nuclear development is the preoccupation of the industry. The State of Ohio is just about to finalise a vote for a dodgy plan that will subsidise its nuclear plants, while ending incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Meanwhile the UK plan is for consumers to pay upfront through energy bills, for new nuclear projects before they’re even built,  – and might not even be built.   Alas, we don’t have access to information on Russia and China, but it appears that both countries are more and more relying on selling nuclear reactors overseas, rather than making them economically viable at home.

AUSTRALIA

NUCLEAR. Energy Minister Angus Taylor grilled by Labor, says no to Barnaby’s “free” nuclear fantasy. MP Barnaby Joyce suggests free electricity as an incentive for communities to host nuclear power plants. The National Party’s Barnaby Joyce recommends nuclear power for impoverished rural Australians.  The probably insuperable hurdles to Australia getting nuclear reactors.    John Quiggan demolishes the case for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in South Australia.

How the Mirrar Aboriginal people, helped by environmentalists stopped uranium mining at Jabiluka.

CLIMATE.

No clear answer in sight, for Lynas’radioactive waste problem in rare earths project in Malaysia.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Electricity prices across the grid fall to zero as renewables reach 44% share. Melbourne’s tram network is set to be powered by the state’s largest solar farm. Northern Territory government backs 10GW solar and storage plant, biggest in world . Network plans for Victoria wind and solar sparks outrage from Federal Energy Minister Taylor.  Fourth huge solar and battery project approved for South Australia.  NSW to loan up to $14,000 to homes for rooftop solar and batteriesSolar industry fights back against surge of climate trolls on social media.

INTERNATIONAL

America’s original moon plan was to explode a nuclear bomb on the moon.  A heightened solar cycle, by chance, reduced the exposure of Apollo astronauts to space radiation.   Future space travellers will be, in reality, radiation guinea pigs.

Dangerous nuclear arms race to follow, if New Start Treaty is not renewed. World security needs nuclear New Start agreement – USA-Russia, not a distraction about China.

July to be world’s hottest month on record.

UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano dies at 72.

New research shows how low dose ionising radiation promotes cancer.

The radioactively polluted oceans.

MARSHALL ISLANDS.  New revelations on the very high radiation in the Marshall Islands.

IRAN. Iran makes ‘substantial’ nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions. Iran’s diplomatic offer on nuclear inspections meets with USA scepticismU.S. Slaps Sanctions On Nuclear Supply Network for Iran’s Enrichment Program.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea, angered by US military exercises, plans to resume nuclear, missile, tests.

JAPAN. 40 years, $2.5bn costs for 4 Fukushima Daini nuclear reactors to be shut down.   Fukushima Upper House candidates face cynical voters despite anti-nuclear platforms. Fukushima: The ‘100 times normal’ radiation area outside exclusion zone – ‘Worrying!’

FRANCE. Climate change continues to affect France’s nuclear power industry.  France’s nuclear reactors impacted by latest heat wave.   Swedish climate champion Greta Thunberg has received the first Freedom Prize in France.

GERMANY. Activists walk “cease and desist” order into nuclear weapons base.

USA.

GUAM.  New bill introduced in U.S. Congress will benefit Guam victims of radiation exposure

CHINA. China faces up to the pollution and radioactive waste problems of rare earths mining and processing.

UKRAINE.  Doubts on the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors.    Vladimir Shevchenko – heroic photographer of Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti-WdTF2Qr8&t=3s

UK. Hinkley Pt nuclear station’s cooling system will mean massacres of fish.

TURKEY. A lot of safety worries for Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear plant.

CANADA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – at least 10 years away – Canadian Nuclear Association.

EUROPE. Secret Locations of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe revealed.

INDONESIA. Strong rejection of nuclear power for Indonesia.

RUSSIA. For the second time in a week, take-down of Russian nuclear reactors, due to malfunction. Uncertainty over safety of Russia’s floating nuclear power plants. Moscow’s Polymetals Plant’s slag heap – an intractable radioactive hazard=- could become Moscow’s Chernobyl?.

SOUTH AFRICA. The sorry history and sorry future of nuclear power in South Africa.