Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

‘Ticking time bomb’: New government report claims UK’s nuclear enterprise is not ‘fit for purpose’

RT | September 21, 2018

Budget constraints are preventing the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) from scrapping potentially dangerous nuclear subs, a new government report showed, noting that some nuclear-servicing facilities were “not fit for purpose”.

The condition of some of the UK’s 13 nuclear sites and constant delays in maintenance created “a ticking time bomb,” House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in their latest report.

The document, published Friday, earmarked two facilities in particular which are in need of urgent upgrades – the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and Devonport Dockyard, where the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines are refitted. It said further investment delays are no longer acceptable.

“Although they had deferred dismantling on affordability grounds in the past, this was no longer acceptable on safety and reputation grounds,” the report said, noting that it is likely that the first sub will not be dismantled until the mid-2020s. The UK currently possesses 20 submarines awaiting disposal, nine of which contain fuel (the type of fuel is not specified).

“I am particularly concerned that the infrastructure available to support the Enterprise is not fit for purpose,” Meg Hillier, the chair of the PAC committee noted, adding that the military better “get on top of this quickly.”

Despite MoD reassurances that it is committed to the safety of the “nuclear programmers” and will “carefully” consider the MPs’ recommendations, Labour lawmaker Luke Pollard warned that there is actually no clear plan on how to dismantle and recycle the submarines. And, crucially, the military simply lacks money for it, he said as cited by the Independent.

To maintain the nation’s nuclear deterrent for the next decade, the government must spend £51 billion on nuclear equipment and support programmers, the report claimed.

Britain’s nuclear arsenal has quite a history of safety mishaps and authorities were even accused of downplaying the real dangers stemming from the nuclear deterrent.

UK’s Trident nuclear program in particular has caused concern after reports it operated on a variant of Microsoft’s Windows XP, which has been at the center of the global ransomware outbreak. Last year, Defence Police Federation chairman Eamon Keating warned that budget cuts left military bases practically open to attack.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Ofgem exploited national security law to silence us, whistleblowers claim

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | September 17, 2018

From the Guardian :

Britain’s energy regulator has been fighting to keep secret the claims of two whistleblowers who independently raised concerns about potentially serious irregularities in projects worth billions of pounds, the Guardian can reveal.

The two men say Ofgem threatened them with an obscure but sweeping gagging clause that can lead to criminal prosecutions and possible jail terms for those who defy it.

MPs and the whistleblowing charity Protect fear Ofgem is abusing its position and exploiting a law that was intended to protect UK national security – not a regulator from potential embarrassment.

The Labour MP Peter Kyle said: “Whistleblowers save lives and protect our economy from harm; they should be protected by law, not have it used against them.”

One of the whistleblowers told the Guardian he was “continually threatened … for trying to tell the truth. For doing my job and uncovering an issue, Ofgem made my life hell.”

He said the regulator had attempted to “scare me witless with threats of imprisonment” and he felt “utterly ashamed” of Ofgem’s behaviour.

Ofgem said it encouraged staff to report suspected wrongdoing and took their concerns seriously.

Both men worked for Ofgem in entirely different areas of the business and were regarded as qualified experts in their respected fields.

One was Greg Pytel, an economist with oversight of the rollout of the £10.9bn smart meter programme, which is due to be completed in 2020.

Smart meters are electronic devices for homes and businesses that measure the use of electricity and gas. They are designed to make billing easier and to help energy companies manage the supply of electricity more efficiently.

The second whistleblower, who has asked to remain anonymous, worked on the renewable heat incentive (RHI), which offers financial rewards to promote the use of new technologies such as green boilers.

The scheme, which started in 2011, has been controversial – and could eventually cost taxpayers £23bn. Both projects are key to the government’s stated aim of making the UK a low-carbon economy.

The two whistleblowers do not know each other and have not been involved in each other’s cases. They say they are only linked by the reaction of Ofgem to their claims.

They found themselves in similar positions after being tasked with scrutinising elements of the two major projects they were working on between 2014 and 2017. Both raised concerns with their managers.

Instead of welcoming their input and investigating their concerns, the men allege they were bullied, treated unfairly and sidelined to such an extent they felt compelled to bring their grievances to an employment tribunal.

The RHI whistleblower claimed he was “continually ignored or threatened.” In both instances, the men say they were told they would not be allowed to reveal to the tribunal, or anyone else, the concerns they had. They say Ofgem warned them that the details were protected by Section 105 of the Utilities Act 2000.

This prohibits the disclosure of certain types of evidence relevant to the energy sector – and it is so restrictive that those who ignore it can be fined or jailed for up to two years.

At an early hearing of Pytel’s case, the tribunal ruled Ofgem was required to disclose his documents about public procurement arrangements for the smart meter programme, citing the Human Rights Act. It said he had the right to freedom of expression without interference from a public authority. But Ofgem has against appealed the decision.

Peter Daly at Bindmans, the legal firm that is acting for Pytel, said: “Ofgem’s position appears to be that anyone who disclosed or reported the content of his whistleblowing would be themselves committing a criminal offence.

“They [Ofgem] are appealing an employment tribunal order to provide disclosure in the proceedings because they say to do so would be a criminal offence. Ofgem’s appeal therefore indicates that in Ofgem’s view this prohibition extends to Ofgem themselves.”

Daly says if Ofgem wins this legal battle, it would “have a corrosive and asphyxiating effect on the rights of whistleblowers in the energy sector and would create a binding precedent.”

A second hearing of the case will take place in October.

The second whistleblower has described the alleged reaction of his managers when faced with the concerns he raised. “Specifically I was told that if I told the truth, my career with Ofgem would be finished.”

Despite the threats, he said, he briefed the National Audit Office – a move that infuriated Ofgem, he claimed.

He said a senior manager “screamed and shouted” at him, and he was then warned his disclosures were a breach of section 105 of the Utilities Act 2000.

The whistleblower says he left Ofgem last year after being “threatened with imprisonment if I shared information about the wrongdoings that I had witnessed”. He has described Ofgem as being “dishonestly secretive”.

Kyle, a member of the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, said: “Ofgem do have many commercial secrets that are vital to the wellbeing of our nations’ infrastructure, but the power they have to gag whistleblowers is an extreme one and should be used in only extreme circumstances.

“I’m now extremely concerned about the potential abuse of these powers. Parliament might need to look at who has oversight and scrutiny of them and see if the law needs updating.”

Protect, formerly Public Concern at Work, has been helping both of the Ofgem whistleblowers, and has intervened in one of the ongoing legal cases.

The body’s chief executive, Francesca West, said: “The whole of the UK energy market – that’s more than 600,000 workers – are currently being held to ransom over Section 105 of the Utilities Act, and threatened with a prison sentence if they speak up over wrongdoing. It is utterly shameful.

“Our society needs whistleblowers to speak up, to stop harm. But we also need organisations to be honest, open and operate legally.”

Ofgem said it had only had to consider the use of section 105 once in the last five years.

“In carrying out our duties as the energy regulator, Ofgem handles large amount of information from consumers and businesses which is often both personal in nature and commercially sensitive.

“With the exception of a few prescribed circumstances, section 105 of the Utilities Act 2000 prohibits the disclosure of the information we receive. Section 105 is intended to ensure that consumers and businesses can share their information without fear that it may be subsequently disclosed. Ofgem takes our obligations under law very seriously, including the restrictions in section 105.

“Ofgem adheres to its whistleblowing policy which encourages staff to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible, in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated.”

Curiously the Guardian gives no hint of what the two whistleblowers wanted to tell us.

It does not take a genius to work out the whole smart meter programme has been highly flawed from the outset, and an obscene waste of billions of pounds.

As for the RHI, many more billions are being wasted, often on environmentally damaging projects, and again for the same reasons of reducing CO2 emissions.

The fact that the Guardian has been wholeheartedly behind both schemes might give a clue as to why they are reluctant to tell the whole story.

September 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Kristen Iversen – Full Body Burden – Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats

argusfest – June 20, 2012

This talk was filmed at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado on June, 19, 2012.

Kristen Iversen shared excerpts from her new book “Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats”.

Here are some quotes about her book…

“In this powerful work of research and personal testimony, Iversen chronicles the story of America’s willfully blinkered relationship to the nuclear weapons industry . . . masterful use of the present tense, conveying tremendous suspense and impressive control of the material.” Publishers Weekly starred review

“Superbly crafted tale of Cold War America’s dark underside . . . exquisitely researched.” Kirkus starred review

“Iversen has crafted a chilling, brilliantly written cautionary tale about the dangers of blind trust . . . Full Body Burden is both an engrossing memoir and a powerful piece of investigative journalism.” Bookpage

“Full Body Burden is one of the most important stories of the nuclear era—as personal and powerful as Silkwood, told with the suspense and narrative drive of The Hot Zone. With unflinching honesty, Kristen Iversen has written an intimate and deeply human memoir that shows why we should all be concerned about nuclear safety, and the dangers of ignoring science in the name of national security. Rocky Flats needs to be part of the same nuclear discussion as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. So does Full Body Burden. It’s an essential and unforgettable book that should be talked about in schools and book clubs, online and in the White House.
–REBECCA SKLOOT, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“This terrifyingly brilliant book – as perfectly crafted and meticulously assembled as the nuclear bomb triggers that lie at its core – is a savage indictment of the American strategic weapons industry, both haunting in its power, and yet wonderfully, charmingly human as a memoir of growing up in the Atomic Age.”
–SIMON WINCHESTER, author of The Professor and the Madman and Atlantic

“News stories come and go. It takes a book of this exceptional caliber to focus our attention and marshal our collective commitment to preventing future nuclear horrors.”
–Booklist

Her website is: http://www.kristeniversen.com/

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

The Tip of the Radiation Disaster Iceberg

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | August 31, 2018

The World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. ¶ But claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.

CHALK RIVER (Ontario), Dec. 2, 1952: The first major commercial reactor disaster occurred at this Canadian reactor on the Ottawa River when it caused a loss-of-coolant, a hydrogen explosion and a meltdown, releasing 100,000 curies of radioactivity to the air. In comparison, the official government position is that Three Mile Island released about 15 curies, although radiation monitors failed or went off-scale.

ROCKY FLATS (Colorado), Sept. 11, 1957: This Cold War factory produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons 16 miles from Denver. It caused 30 to 44 pounds of breathable plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 to catch fire in what would come to be known as the second largest industrial fire in US history. Filters used to trap the plutonium were destroyed and it escaped through chimneys, contaminating parts of Denver. Nothing was done to warn or protect downwind residents.

WINDSCALE/SELLAFIELD (Britain), Oct. 7, 1957: The worst of many fires burned through one reactor igniting three tons of uranium and dispersed radionuclides over parts of England and northern Europe. The site was hastily renamed Sellafield. Another large radiation leak occurs in 1981and leukemia rates soared to triple the national average.

KYSHTYM/CHELYABINSK-65 (Russia), Sept. 29, 1957: A tank holding 70 to 80 metric tons of highly radioactive liquid waste exploded, contaminating an estimated 250,000 people, and permanently depopulating 30 towns which were leveled and removed from Russian maps. Covered up by Moscow (and the CIA) until 1989, Russia finally revealed that 20 million curies of long-lived isotopes like cesium were released, and the release was later declared a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The long covered-up explosion contaminated up to 10,000 square miles making it the third- or 4th-most serious radiation accident ever recorded.

SANTA SUSANA (Simi Valley, Calif.), July 12, 1959: The meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment just outside Los Angeles caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Arjun Makhajani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research. Released radioactive materials were never authoritatively measured because “the monitors went clear off the scale,” according to an employee. The accident was kept secret for 20 years.

CHURCH ROCK (New Mexico), July 16, 1979: Ninety-three million gallons of liquid uranium mine wastes and 1,000 tons of solid wastes spilled onto the Navajo Nation and into Little Puerco River, and nuclear officials called it “the worst incident of radiation contamination in the history of the United States.” The Little Puerco feeds the Little Colorado River, which drains to the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead—a source of drinking water for Los Angeles.

TOMSK-7 (Russia), April 7, 1993: In “the worst radiation disaster since Chernobyl,” Russian and foreign experts said a tank of radioactive waste exploded at the Tomsk nuclear weapons complex  and that wind blew its plume of radiation  toward the Yenisei River and 11 Siberian villages, none of which were evacuated.

MONJU (Japan), Dec. 8, 1995: This sodium-cooled “breeder reactor” caused a fire and a large leak of sodium coolant into the Pacific. Liquid sodium coolant catches fire on contact with air and explodes on contact with water. Costly efforts to engineer commercial models have failed. Japan’s Monju experiment was halted in 2018 after over 24 years of false starts, accidents and cover-ups.

TOKAI-MURA (Japan), Sept. 30, 1999: A uranium “criticality” which is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction caused a “neutron burst” that killed three workers and dispersed neutron radiation throughout the densely populated urban area surrounding the factory.

Not to be slighted, deliberate contamination has also been enormous: Five metric tons of plutonium was dispersed over the earth by nuclear bomb testing, and other nuclear weapons processes; Over 210 billion gallons of radioactive liquids were poured into the ground at the Hanford reactor complex in Washington State; and 16 billion gallons of liquid waste holding 70,000 curies of radioactivity were injected directly into Idaho’s Snake River Aquifer at the Idaho National Lab.

Sources. 

Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, by Gar Smith (Chelsea Green, 2012)

Mad Science: The Nuclear Power Experiment, by  Joseph Mangano (OR Books 2012)

In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, by Stephanie Cooke (Bloomsbury, 2009)

Criticality Accident at Tokai-mura, by Jinzaburo Takagi (Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, 2000)

Nuclear Wastelands: A Global Guide to Nuclear Weapons Production & Its Health & Environmental Effects, by Arjun Makhijani, et al (MIT Press, 1995)

The Nuclear Power Deception, by Arjun Makhijani & Scott Saleska (Apex Press, 1999)

Nuclear Madness, Revised, by Helen Caldicot (Norton, 1995).

Multiple Exposures: Chronicles of the Radiation Age, by Catherine Caufield  (Harper & Row, 1989).

Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age, by John May (Pantheon, 1989).

Deadly Defense: Military Radioactive Landfills, edited by Dana Coyle, et al (Radioactive Waste Campaign 1988)

No Nukes, by Anna Gyorgy (South End Press, 1979).

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 14 Comments

Russian prosecutors brand US group Pacific Environment ‘undesirable organization’

RT | August 24, 2018

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has included US NGO Pacific Environment (PERC) on a list of undesirable foreign organizations after determining the group’s work can threaten Russia’s security and constitutional order.

“After studying some materials it had received the Prosecutor General’s Office on August 24 decided to recognize as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation, the work of foreign non-government organization Pacific Environment (PERC) from the USA,” chief spokesman for the agency, Aleksandr Kurennoy, was quoted as saying by TASS on Friday.

“It has been established that the work of this organization creates a threat to the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order and the security of the Russian state,” the official added. The order to put the group on the list of undesirable organizations will now be forwarded to the Justice Ministry where it needs to be registered to come into force.

Founded in 1987, the Pacific Environment group states its primary objective as protecting the living environment of the Pacific Rim. In Russia, its activists have instigated public opposition to several major mining and energy projects in Siberia and the Far East.

Russia introduced the law on undesirable foreign organizations in mid-2015. According to this act the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry have the powers to create a list of “undesirable foreign organizations,” making the activities of such groups in Russia illegal. Violations of this law are punished by civil penalties, but repeated and aggravated offenses can cause criminal prosecution and carry prison sentences of up to six years.

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism | , | 2 Comments

US Navy Considered $1 Billion Plan for Breaking Down Old Nuclear-Powered Carrier

Sputnik – 03.08.2018

The US Navy has yet to choose a way forward for dismantling the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. The delay has been motivated in part by the fact that disposing of the nuclear-powered craft could cost more than $1 billion ‒ a pill the Navy is loathe to swallow.

The Government Accountability Office published a report Thursday indicating that in 2013 “the Navy’s cost estimate for the shipyard” in Puget Sound, Washington, “to perform all [USS Enterprise] dismantlement and disposal activities increased — from a range of $500 million to $750 million — to well over $1 billion.”

As a result of this rather significant expense — about 25 percent of what it cost to build the ship in 1958 in inflation-adjusted terms — the Navy decided to ditch the plans. As the ship, built between 1958 and 1961, was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the government wants to take special care in dismantling it and must comply with stringent guidelines set in place by nuclear regulation bodies separate from the Navy.

There is also a policy precedent to be set by how the carrier is deconstructed, in terms of “the processes, costs and oversight that may be used to dismantle and dispose of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the future.” Specifically, the manner in which the Enterprise is disposed of will set an example for how to do the same thing with the US Navy’s aging fleet of Nimitz-class carriers.

One of the thornier issues when it comes to disposal of the carrier is what to do with the nuclear waste produced by its propulsion generators. In 2016, the Navy thought it would have commercial contractors bid for contracts to break down the non-nuclear parts of the ship — everything except what’s referred to as the propulsion space section.

As GAO conducted its study, the Navy decided to ditch this plan. Instead, the Navy is now considering two options for the USS Enterprise, the watchdog noted. One route would be to do most of the deconstruction in Puget Sound, and then dump the nuclear waste at the US Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The other route is for commercial contractors to do all the dismantling. There is no estimate provided in GAO’s report for how much each of these routes would cost the US Navy, and by extension US taxpayers.

Under the 100 percent commercial dismantling route, the US Navy needs to coordinate with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has regulatory jurisdiction over the private nuclear industry, the GAO said. The Pentagon agreed with this recommendation, Stars and Stripes reported Friday.

August 3, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Militarism | | Leave a comment

UK Parliament’s Committee Supports Nuclear Waste Disposal Under National Parks

Sputnik – 31.07.2018

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee of the UK House of Commons supported the government’s proposal to permanently bury highly radioactive nuclear waste under national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), the committee said in a report on Tuesday.

“We decided against adding an exclusionary criterion for National Parks and AONBs as in our view it is right for safety matters to prevail over environmental concerns in this case. Although we agree that major developments should not be allowed in designated areas except under exceptional circumstances,” the report’s summary read.

The committee also noted that the existing legislation and the NPS had sufficient safeguards against potential environmental damage to national parks and AONBs.

“We support the Government’s view that it is conceivable for a GDI to be designed in a way that would be acceptable to communities, preserve the socioeconomic benefits that National Parks and AONBs currently bring them and avoid any intrusive surface facility in conservation areas,” the report added.

On January 25, the UK government presented to the parliament its draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for Geological Disposal Infrastructure (GDI). The GDI is a facility made of specially-engineered underground vaults and tunnels located between 200 and 1,000 meters (124 and 621 miles) and designed to host the higher activity radioactive waste that cannot be stored at existing surface facilities on a permanent basis.

In 2013, the UK government failed to implement its plans on building an underground storage dump for nuclear waste, when the Cumbria County Council voted against the continuation of the preliminary work.

July 31, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

The sea of death

By John Loretz | IPPNW | July 13, 2018

The US conducted 105 atmospheric and underwater tests at its Pacific Ocean proving ground from 1946-1962. Massive amounts of radioactive fallout from those tests spread across the Pacific, causing severe health effects that have continued to this day.

One of the best-known incidents from this reckless and shameful history was the fate of the Japanese fishing boat the Lucky Dragon. Despite being 90 miles away from ground zero, all 23 crew members were covered in thick layers of fallout from the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo explosion, which, at 15 megatons, was the largest US nuclear test. The entire crew suffered from acute radiation sickness and were hospitalized for months. One crew member died from his injuries.

As it turns out, the Lucky Dragon was not an anomaly. Japanese film maker Hideaki Ito has produced a documentary called “Exposure to Radiation—Post X Years,” which explores how the extensive tuna fishing ground came to be known as “the sea of death.” The fishing crews had no idea they were working in heavily contaminated waters, and contaminated tuna became a health hazard throughout Japan.

Hideaki and his crew surveyed affected communities some 50 years later, and spoke with public health experts about the limited data that’s available. Field maps obtained from what was then the US Atomic Energy Commission, show fallout paths extending across the Pacific and the US, reaching into Canada and parts of Central and South America. Today, cesium-137 from the tests has been detected in ground samples under houses in Okinawa, Kyoto, and Yamagata prefectures.

Hideaki’s full documentary exists only in Japanese. When he visited IPPNW last fall after a showing at an MIT film festival, we encouraged him to make at least a portion of the film available in English. He has now come back to us with an 11-minute abridged version that we highly recommend to anyone concerned about the health and environmental consequences of nuclear testing and their persistent legacy.

“Knowing how much damage was done in order to make nuclear weapons,” Hideaki told us, “I believe it will be a great accomplishment to abolish them.”

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Cloud Seeding Water Wars Causing Eco-Disasters?

By Victor Thorn | American Free Press | November 4, 2011

Without realizing it, Diane Macmillan may have stumbled upon one of the biggest conspiracies currently taking place in America: A quiet war being waged over natural resources that could be behind heavy rains and huge snowfalls in some areas and droughts and wildfires in others.

As a licensed realtor in Colorado, Ms. Macmillan started noticing that rain and snowfall east of the Rocky Mountains had been undergoing significant changes. Researching this phenomenon for the past 15 years, Ms. Macmillan discovered a secret that may be adversely affecting the entire nation.

During an October 26 interview, she told this writer: “Water districts and ski areas west of the Continental Divide have engaged in cloud seeding that has produced a snow pack 500% above normal. Not only are ski resorts enjoying boom times, but the water runoff greatly benefits their housing divisions.

“Cloud seeding is actually permitted throughout the state of Colorado,” she said. “In fact, we even have an official Division of Weather Modification that acknowledges cloud seeding.”

As of now, this is being done almost exclusively on the west side of the Rocky Mountains. But there is a downside. East of the Rockies, the rain and snow that usually falls has been sucked away, resulting in severe weather on that side of the mountain range.

Ms. Macmillan continued: “Without getting their natural amount of rain and snow that they’d previously been getting for centuries, severe droughts have resulted, causing a heavy economic toll on farmers. Their crops are dwindling, cattle don’t have enough hay to eat and aquifers and underground wells are depleted.”

But that’s only the beginning. Ms. Macmillan noted another byproduct: “The lack of snow cover in winter creates soil diseases and E. coli in cows because certain bugs don’t die off. Most people aren’t aware of it, but the cantaloupe listeria outbreak that killed 25 people began in Colorado.”

This story, though, has broader ramifications. Ms. Macmillan paints the picture. “Because it’s so dry, eastern Colorado has suffered a rash of wildfires,” she said. “But we’re not the only ones. Every state along the Continental Divide permits cloud seeding. So, if you’ve noticed, there were deadly fires last summer in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, all because of drought conditions.”

Like placing pieces together in a puzzle, Ms. Macmillan added: “Today, silver iodide is used for cloud seeding. Yet before, pilots dropped ashes onto clouds to produce rain. In this context, what do wildfires produce huge amounts of? Ashes.”

Here is where it gets interesting. Ms. Macmillan theorized: “Due to Colorado’s fires, ashes—acting as cloud seeding agents—filtered up into the atmosphere, drifted northeast toward Wisconsin, and then caused tremendous flooding. Plus, did ash produced by half-million-acre wildfires in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas create record-breaking rainfall and flooding in states along the Mississippi River such as Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi? Then, of course, there were hailstorms, 100-day long heatwaves, and a tornado that obliterated Joplin.”

Billions of dollars in destruction came in the aftermath, leaving families homeless, communities wrecked, and insurance companies scrambling to cover their costs. With so many lives ruined, what could possibly be the motive for this possible cloud-seeding plot? An answer might be found in something called the Colorado River Compact where cities built on desert land such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles are starved for water and therefore rely on surpluses from their northern mountain neighbors. Thus, with substantially more rain and snow west of the Continental Divide due to cloud seeding, teeming reservoirs spill into the Colorado River, which then feeds Las Vegas and the L.A. aqueducts.

What we’re talking about are water wars and astronomical amounts of money being paid to Colorado by water-hungry areas in the southwest. Ms. Macmillan weighed in: “Last year, the city and county of Denver spent $200,000 on cloud seeding. But in Colorado, there’s a blackout on this story among those in the press.”

When this reporter inquired as to why insurance companies haven’t investigated this matter, Ms. Macmillan responded, “I don’t think they’ve put the whole picture together yet.”

2018 video report:

Central Colorado Mountains Cloud Seeding Program goal is to increase snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin

See Also:

Israel’s CRAZY offer to Iran: we’ll give you water, you give us your LAND

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Ever wonder where the 275 billion taxpayers money went that got poured down the EU carbon trading system hole?

eu democracy

By Tim Channon | Tallbloke’s Talkshop | June 28, 2018

Talkshop readers may remember a damning report by UBS about the billions of public money lost in the ETS carbon trading system. It calculated that if the money had been invested in modernising the European power generation fleet, CO2 could have been cut by 40% (and generate a huge number of high quality jobs). EU emissions rose 1.8% last year.

Despite all the recent turmoil over the UK steel industry and meetings in Brussels today, the reality is that the European Union has actually been subsidising the Chinese steel industry for years, in payments hidden amongst its efforts to combat Climate Change.

Using complex methods of carbon credits and carbon offsets, the EU devised rules on climate change ended up paying Chinese steel manufacturers billions to upgrade their steel mills and other energy intensive industry.

According to the analysis company, European Insights, almost €1.5 billion was paid to over 90 steel plants in China with the purpose of modernising them to consume less energy, and making the plants more efficient. Taken with the downturn in Chinese trade and the need for them to reduce world market prices to sell their product, the output of these mills has flooded onto the European market making steel products artificially cheap and endangering thousands of jobs in the UK. One plant alone, Anshan Iron and Steel, received a payment of €150 million to help pay for the installation of up to date equipment and replace the old inefficient Communist era machinery.

The money came from the EU’s self-claimed flagship Climate Directive, the Emission Trading System, and paid for by power and industrial companies in the EU who are, as part of their industry, emitters of carbon dioxide. This system forces big carbon emitters in Europe to buy carbon offsets, known as Certified Emission Reductions. They can buy these on the “carbon market” but companies in China, for example, who could show they intended to reduce their own levels of carbon emissions, would qualify.

The system then allowed Chinese steel producers to exploit a loophole that allowed their modernisation to be financed by the sale of these credits, as they received upfront payments of billions of Euros.

European installations that involve high energy consumption also can participate in this carbon trading market, but at a much lesser scale. Effectively around 12,000 European installations, including power stations and steel mills, were forced by the EU into subsidising Chinese industrial growth and development in a trade worth up to a total of €45 billion.

The Think Tank, European Insights, said: “These Chinese upgrades have now, sadly, assisted in record levels of Chinese steel production and are contributing to the low steel price that is endangering jobs in the UK. The system of carbon credit trading is highly complex, and we uncovered 91 individual steel mills in China that received funding of this nature. We estimate that the total paid to them was €1.4 billion.”

The EU approach to Climate Change is another example of the unintended consequences associated with policies made at an EU level. The initiative was well-meaning maybe, but failed totally to anticipate the consequences on world trade and impact on EU member states. Most damaging is that EU is also terribly slow to ameliorate the negative effects of its own policies.

The full report by European Insights can no longer be found here:

http://europeaninsights.org/carbon-credits-and-steel/

And you won’t find it on the wayback machine at Archive.org either

https://web.archive.org/web/20180628113838/http://europeaninsights.org?reqp=1&reqr=

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power Won’t Survive Without A Government Handout

By Maggie Koerth-Baker | FiveThirtyEight | June 14, 2018

Once upon a time, if you were an American who didn’t like nuclear energy, you had to stage sit-ins and marches and chain yourself to various inanimate objects in hopes of closing the nation’s nuclear power plants. Today … all you have to do is sit back and wait.

There are 99 nuclear reactors producing electricity in the United States today. Collectively, they’re responsible for producing about 20 percent of the electricity we use each year. But those reactors are, to put it delicately, of a certain age. The average age of a nuclear power plant in this country is 38 years old (compared with 24 years old for a natural gas power plant). Some are shutting down. New ones aren’t being built. And the ones still operational can’t compete with other sources of power on price. Just last week, several outlets reported on a leaked memo detailing a proposed Trump administration plan directing electric utilities to buy more from nuclear generators and coal plants in an effort to prop up the two struggling industries. The proposal is likely to butt up against political and legal opposition, even from within the electrical industry, in part because it would involve invoking Cold War-era emergency powers that constitute an unprecedented level of federal intervention in electricity markets. But without some type of public assistance, the nuclear industry is likely headed toward oblivion.

“Is [nuclear power] dying under its own weight? Yeah, probably,” said Granger Morgan, professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Morgan isn’t pleased by this situation. He sees nuclear energy as a crucial part of our ability to reduce the risks of climate change because it is our single largest source of carbon emissions-free electricity. Morgan has researched what the U.S. could do to get nuclear energy back on track, but all he’s come up with is bad news (or good news, depending on your point of view).

The age of the nuclear fleet is partly to blame. That’s not because America’s nuclear reactors are falling apart — they’re regularly inspected, and almost all of them have now gone through the process of renewing their original 40-year operating licenses for 20 more years, said David McIntyre, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A few, including the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Florida, have even put in for a second round of renewals that could give them the ability to operate through their 80th birthdays.

Instead, it’s the cost of upkeep that’s prohibitive. Things do fall apart — especially things exposed to radiation on a daily basis. Maintenance and repair, upgrades and rejuvenation all take a lot of capital investment. And right now, that means spending lots of money on power plants that aren’t especially profitable. Historically, nuclear power plants were expensive to build but could produce electricity more cheaply than fossil fuels, making them a favored source of low-cost electricity. That changed with the fracking boom, Morgan told me. “Natural gas from fracking has gotten so cheap, [nuclear plants] aren’t as high up in the dispatch stack,” he said, referring to the order of resources utilities choose to buy electricity from. “So many of them are now not very attractive economically.”

Meanwhile, new nuclear power plants are looking even less fetching. Since 1996, only one plant has opened in the U.S. — Tennessee’s Watts Bar Unit 2 in 2016. At least 10 other reactor projects have been canceled in the past decade. Morgan and other researchers are studying the economic feasibility of investment in newer kinds of nuclear power plants — including different ways of designing the mechanical systems of a reactor and building reactors that are smaller and could be put together on an assembly line. Currently, reactors must be custom-built to each site. Their research showed that new designs are unlikely to be commercially viable in time to seriously address climate change. And in a new study that has not yet been published, they found that the domestic U.S. market for nuclear power isn’t robust enough to justify the investments necessary to build a modular reactor industry.

Combine age and economic misfortune, and you get shuttered power plants. Twelve nuclear reactors have closed in the past 22 years. Another dozen have formally announced plans to close by 2025. Those closures aren’t set in stone, however. While President Trump’s plan to tell utilities that they must buy nuclear power has received criticism as being an overreach of federal powers, states have offered subsidies to keep some nuclear power plants in business — and companies like Exelon, which owns 22 nuclear reactors across the country, have been happy to accept them. “Exelon informed us that they were going to close a couple plants in Illinois,” McIntyre said. “And then the legislature gave them subsidies and they said, ‘Never mind, we’ll stay open.’”

So intervention can work to keep nuclear afloat. But as long as natural gas is cheap, the industry can’t do without the handouts.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Radioactive Dust Found in Homes of Workers at Major US Nuclear Weapons Facility

Sputnik – June 14, 2018

Radioactive microparticles were detected in the homes of six workers in central Washington state’s Tri-City area who are associated with the Hanford nuclear site, a major Cold War-era plutonium manufacturing facility, scientists have reported.

A study published this month in the Journal of Environmental Engineering Science reported that small but still dangerous amounts of radioactive elements were found in dust collected by cloth wipes and vacuum cleaners in order to track the potential spread of radiation from one of the United States’ most notorious nuclear cleanup sites.

The same study also found radioactive particles in the homes of nuclear workers associated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado. All three sites are heavily associated with nuclear weapons production.

It’s believed the particles could have found their way into the homes in a variety of ways, including being attached to workers’ clothing and being stirred up by wind storms and wildfires, which are common in the region, and blown inside.

The tests found radioactive uranium, thorium, plutonium and americium particles that, while innocuous in the external environment, represent a “potential source of internal radiation exposure” if ingested, warns Marco Kaltofen, a civil engineer affiliated with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and author of the study, the Seattle Times reported.

Exposure to these materials increases the risk of cancer, the study noted. Plutonium is “fiendishly toxic, even in small amounts,” said Glenn Seaborg, the physicist who discovered the element in 1941, as quoted in a 2011 fact sheet on the Rocky Flats site. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry notes in its public health statement on thorium exposure that the radioactive isotopes can sit in the soil for decades and cause lung cancer if inhaled. Uranium ingestion mainly targets the kidneys, the ATSDR notes, while americium destroys and irradiates bone tissue and can cause bone cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma and damage the thyroid.

“These radioactive particles are tiny and difficult to detect once you get a few inches away, but once inside the body, the distance from our tissue is essentially zero,” Kaltofen explained. While the skin can handle certain amounts of radiation safely, the body’s internal organs have no protection and a tiny amount can prove fatally toxic. Polonium-210, for example, is 250 million times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide, the New York Times reported.

The report’s conclusions come from years of testing coordinated with Hanford Challenge, a Seattle-based organization that has fought for decades for accountability in the federal cleanup of the Hanford site. Kaltofen used an unusual technique that involves both electron microscopy and a specialized X-ray analysis that can detect extremely low levels of radioactive particles. The samples were compared to those taken from the Hanford site, which served as a kind of fingerprint for identifying the particles.

The levels found in the Hanford workers’ homes represented a health risk exceeding that considered acceptable by the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s safety standards. However, the manager of the Radioactive Air Emissions Section of the Washington Department of Health John Martell told the Seattle Times that the level found in the study “is not jumping out to us as a public health risk.”

The US Department of Energy (DoE) performs regular environmental monitoring to measure radionuclide concentrations in the air, water and soil, as well as in fish and wildlife “to assure the public that the dose and risk from Hanford contaminants are well understood,” the department says.

Hanford Site, or Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is a 586 square-mile site between the Columbia and Yakima Rivers, just upstream from the Tri-Cities and adjacent to Richland. It is roughly half the size of Rhode Island. The site was established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, the United States’ top secret program to develop an atomic bomb.

Hanford housed the world’s first full-scale plutonium reactor in the world, B Reactor, and was expanded to nine nuclear reactors and five plutonium processing plants. Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the Trinity blast, the world’s first nuclear explosion, as was the fuel for the two atom bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in August 1945, that killed more than 200,000 people. Most of the nuclear fuel for the 60,000 nuclear weapons the United States produced through the 1980s came from the Hanford site, according to the US Department of Energy.

Hanford was decommissioned after the Cold War but remains the storage site for 53 million gallons of liquid nuclear waste and 25 million cubic feet of solid nuclear waste, the DoE website notes. Neither the stored waste nor the waste from production has been properly stored, and large radiation leaks have contaminated much of the area, which remains the nation’s largest environmental cleanup site. According to Earth Island Journal, between 1944 and 1972, “as much as 1.7 trillion gallons of liquid waste, radionuclides and hazardous chemicals” were dumped into the Columbia River or into the ground.

The site regularly leaks nuclear contaminants, notably in February 2016 and May 2017, with the planned December 2017 demolition of a Hanford plutonium finishing plant being halted after several workers inhaled contaminated particles, arousing fears of a larger contamination if demolition continued, the Seattle Times reported at the time. Plutonium and americium traces were found up to 10 miles away from the condemned plant in subsequent tests. However, all of Kaltofen’s samples came from before the demolition began.

The Yakama Nation, whose reservation sits only 20 miles from the site, for decades fought turning Hanford into a nuclear waste site, as did other affected tribes such as the Nez Perce and Umatilla nations. Three counties around the Yakama reservation have seen high rates of a rare and fatal birth defect called anencephaly, in which a fetus’ brain and skull fail to fully form, which is believed to be caused by irradiation, Earth Island reported. Higher rates of anencephaly are also associated with sites in Iraq where the US military used depleted uranium rounds during the Iraq War, Iraqi doctors in Basra and Baghdad have noted.

Indigenous nations in Washington aren’t the only ones negatively affected by the US nuclear weapons program: decades of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation have caused extensive irradiation of the countryside, creating a disease known as Navajo Neuropathy, NPR reported. One spring in northeastern Arizona was reported in 2015 to have uranium levels “at least five times greater than safe drinking water standards” by a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The contamination caused the early deaths of many children who drank from the spring or whose mothers drank the water while pregnant.

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment