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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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Nuclear leaks bill will be paid by taxpayer

Nuclear leaks bill will be paid by taxpayer
Private contractors not liable for accidents during decommissioning

Jamie Doward The Observer, Saturday 22 February 2014

Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent, one of the reactors that will be decommissioned. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

The private consortium that will manage the decommissioning of Britain's ageing Magnox nuclear reactors will not be held financially liable if they suffer a major radioactive incident – even if it costs billions of pounds to clear up, it has emerged.

The government will indemnify the private contractors, which means the taxpayer will be left to foot the bill for any leak, a similar arrangement to how things stand now. Critics complain that granting the multimillion-pound contract to a private consortium while freeing it of liability for a nuclear incident is such a poor deal for the taxpayer that it will render its new management unaccountable. The government has rejected this claim.

Confirmation of the indemnity was made at the start of this month, when the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) slipped out a departmental minute relating to the Magnox reactors. Built in the 1960s, originally to produce plutonium to make nuclear weapons, the reactors include those at Sizewell, Hinkley and Dungeness.

They are now at the end of their lives and the government is preparing to fully decommission them, something that has never been done with such a reactor anywhere in the world. The minute reveals that private companies would refuse to bid for the decommissioning contract if they had to face paying out billions of pounds over a radioactive incident.

The minute explains that the firms "are not prepared to accept liability" and states that "because of the nature of nuclear activities, the maximum figure for the potential liability is impossible to accurately quantify".....


Obviously some nuclear programs were rooted in making plutonium for weapons.

Elon Musk and Tesla Plan World’s Biggest Battery Factory

Elon Musk and Tesla Plan World’s Biggest Battery Factory
Announcement coming this week: The Tesla-Giga-Factory-SolarCity-Storage nexus

Eric Wesoff February 24, 2014

Last week EV pioneer Tesla Motors announced strong fourth-quarter results with record shipments and gross margin. Its investor newsletter also included a tantalizing paragraph:
Very shortly, we will be ready to share more information about the Tesla Giga factory. This will allow us to achieve a major reduction in the cost of our battery packs and accelerate the pace of battery innovation. Working in partnership with our suppliers, we plan to integrate precursor material, cell, module and pack production into one facility. With this facility, we feel highly confident of being able to create a compelling and affordable electric car in approximately three years. This will also allow us to address the solar power industry’s need for a massive volume of stationary battery packs.

....Musk also said that Panasonic, currently supplying hundreds of millions of cells to Tesla, would likely join in on the new factory. Samsung has been mentioned as a potential partner. I'll throw in Apple as a potential partner; computers and tablets need lithium-ion batteries (albeit in different form factors), and there's been talk of recent Apple-Tesla meetings.

The Tesla CEO envisions "a plant that is heavily powered by renewables, wind and solar, and that has built into it the recycling capability for old battery packs."

“It is going to be a really giant facility. [...] We are doing that something that’s comparable to all lithium-ion production in the world in one factory," said Musk in a previous earnings call....


The poor nuclear cliche will do anything to avoid the issue of nuclear's high hidden costs

If there is a point to make, you don't need me to say anything - just make the point and stop trying to divert attention away from the fact that if we have a Chernobyl or Fukushima level event, the US taxpayer is going to be on the hook for at least several hundred mission dollars while we have to worry about this also:
Nuclear Reactor Pool Fire/Huge Risks in U.S. – 4.1 Million Displaced, 10,000 Square Miles Uninhabitable If Disaster Happens, According to Unpublicized NRC Study

We could also have a meaningful discussion about the way the public is routinely misled by these profit seeking cretins regarding the actual risk of a serious event; you know, the way the nuclear industry has introduced a bias into their "probabilistic risk assessment" process through the use of proven unrealistic assumptions.

See post 26 in this discussion thread both for 1) a discussion of the lowball risk estimates being fed to the public by the nuclear industry and 2) a sample of why PamGreg was banned from EE.

Wind and solar preferable and cheaper than coal for China

Groundbreaking analysis shows China's renewable energy future within reach

Feb 19, 2014

Wind and solar preferable and cheaper than coal for China Credit: © WWF - Canon

By embracing conservation measures and renewable energy, China can transition to an 80 percent renewable electric power system by 2050 at far less cost than continuing to rely on coal, according to a new report from WWF-US.

As a result, China's carbon emissions from power generation could be 90 percent less than currently projected levels in 2050 without compromising the reliability of the electric grid or slowing economic growth.

The China's Future Generation report was prepared by the Energy Transition Research Institute (Entri) for WWF and uses robust computer modeling to simulate four scenarios based on today's proven technology: a Baseline, High Efficiency, High Renewables, and Low-Carbon Mix scenario. To develop its findings, Entri examines China's electricity supply and demand on an hour-by-hour basis through 2050 using its advanced China Grid Model.

"By fully embracing energy conservation, efficiency and renewables, China has the potential to demonstrate to the world that economic growth is possible while sharply reducing the emissions that drive unhealthy air pollution and climate change," said WWF's China Climate and Energy Program Director Lunyan Lu. "This research shows that with strong political will, China can prosper while eliminating coal from its power mix within the next 30 years."

In addition to ramping up development of renewable power sources, the world's most populous and energy-hungry nation will need ...


You can download copy of report with this link:

The solution to *this* problem would be to move the SNF to dry storage

You might like to read the filing

Here's a snip:
 In the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer Proceeding, the NRC Staff found that if even a small fraction of the inventory of a Peach Bottom reactor pool were released to the environment in a severe spent fuel pool accident, an average area of 9,400 square miles (24,300 square kilometers) would be rendered uninhabitable, and that 4.1 million people would be displaced over the long-term.5 This information is “new” because no EIS for reactor licensing, GEIS for reactor re-licensing, or EA for standardized design certification has specified the size of the area that could be contaminated or the number of people who could be displaced for an extended period of time by a high-density spent fuel pool fire. The information is “significant” because it undermines the NRC’s conclusion in environmental studies for reactor licensing and re-licensing that the impacts of spent fuel storage during reactor operation are insignificant. Such widespread contamination and long-term displacement of people could have enormous socioeconomic impacts, as witnessed by the effects of the Fukushima accident, where “land contamination has disrupted the lives of a large number of Japanese citizens.”6

 In the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer Proceeding, the NRC Staff conducted a series of cost-benefit analyses comparing the costs and safety benefits of expediting the transfer of spent fuel from high-density pool storage to dry storage. These cost-benefit analyses included “sensitivity studies” showing that the safety benefits of reducing the inventory of high-density storage pools, combined with dry storage, outweigh the costs.7 The Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer Proceeding thus shows for the first time that – even when only health-and-safety-related benefits are considered rather than broader environmental benefits -- a combination of reduced-density pool storage and dry storage constitutes a reasonable alternative for mitigating the risks of high-density pool storage of spent fuel.8 In other words, the Staff has acknowledged for the first time that the potential consequences of a pool fire are severe enough to warrant mitigation, regardless of the low probability estimated by the NRC for such an accident. No EIS for reactor licensing, GEIS for reactor re-licensing, or EA for reactor design certification has acknowledged that mitigation of pool fires is warranted or weighed the costs and environmental benefits of such mitigation measures.

 In the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer Proceeding, the NRC concluded for the first time that the likelihood of spent fuel pool fires could be affected by reactor accidents.9 Although the NRC did not evaluate the issue in the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer Proceeding due to resource limitations,10 it undertook a study of the phenomenon in a Level 3 probabilistic risk assessment (“PRA”) for Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Units 1 and 2,” which is now an “ongoing project.”11 At the Commission briefing on January 6, 2014, the NRC Staff confirmed that it is “already doing the analysis for spent fuel pool.”12 While the PRA is not finished, the NRC has planned it in such a way that important results will be available before the final product is completed.13 No EIS for reactor licensing, GEIS for reactor re-licensing, or EA for reactor design certification has identified or evaluated the contribution of reactor accidents to the risk of spent fuel pool fires. The NRC should consider any new information that has been generated by the PRA regarding the effect of reactor accidents on pool fire risks.

Nuclear Reactor Pool Fire/Huge Risks in U.S. According to Unpublicized NRC Study

Petition by these groups filed with NRC

Nuclear Reactor Pool Fire/Huge Risks in U.S. – 4.1 Million Displaced, 10,000 Square Miles Uninhabitable If Disaster Happens, According to Unpublicized NRC Study


New NRC Study Shows Even a Small Reactor Pool Fire Could Displace 4.1 Million People; Make More than 9,000 Square Miles Uninhabitable.

In addition to the NRC’s new data on risks, the groups also pointed out that the Commission has concluded spent reactor fuel could be transferred out of high-density storage fuels (where the fire risk is the greatest) in a cost-effective manner.

The groups pointed to the findings of an unpublicized NRC study of spent fuel storage at Peach Bottom, a reactor in Pennsylvania. This investigation showed that if even a small fraction of the inventory of a Peach Bottom reactor pool were released to the environment in a severe spent fuel pool accident, an average area of 9,400 square miles (24,300 square kilometers) would be rendered uninhabitable for decades, displacing as many as 4.1 million people.

As the groups point out in their petition, the NRC has never before acknowledged such dire pool fire risks in its reactor licensing decisions. The information undermines the NRC’s conclusion in prior environmental studies for reactor licensing and re-licensing that the impacts of spent fuel storage during reactor operation are insignificant.


The NRC has concluded that the “safety” benefit of reducing the density of spent fuel in storage pools would not be great enough to justify an order requiring all operating reactor licensees to thin out their pools. But the NRC focused on the risk of cancer, which is only one effect of a pool fire. The groups contend that NRC must protect not only public health and safety but the environment as well. The environment includes a host of broader values, such as ecological health and socioeconomic well-being. The Fukushima accident illustrates the fact that land contamination and dislocation of people can have enormous effects on society and the environment, regardless of the number of deaths or cancers.


PDF of full petition here:

Second whistleblower Donna Busche fired at troubled Wash. State Hanford nuke plant

Second whistleblower Donna Busche fired at troubled Wash. State Hanford nuke plant

A second whistleblower at the troubled Hanford Nuclear Power Reservation in Washington State is out of a job. The facility is owned by the Department of Energy, and it's undergoing a multi-billion-dollar clean-up.

Her employer denies the woman's firing was tied to her ongoing complaints about safety concerns, but as Carter Evans reported on "CBS This Morning," she believes it sends an ominous message.

Asked if she feels like she's a target, Donna Busche said: "Absolutely."

Until Tuesday, Busche was the manager of Environmental and Nuclear Safety at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. CBS News interviewed her in October after one of her colleagues was also fired. They had raised concerns about the $13 billion cleanup of a treatment facility in southeastern Washington State.

There are currently 53 million gallons of nuclear waste held in 177 underground tanks....


Series of CBS video segments on topic here: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/hanford-whistleblowers-say-theyre-targeted/

Denying climate change isn't scepticism – it's 'motivated reasoning'

Denying climate change isn't scepticism – it's 'motivated reasoning'
True sceptics test a hypothesis against the evidence, but climate sceptics refuse to accept anything that contradicts their beliefs

David Robert Grimes of Oxford University

theguardian.com, Wednesday 5 February 2014

Burying your head in the sand about climate change does not qualify as scientific scepticism. Photograph: Daniel Karmann/DPA/Corbis

The grim findings of the IPCC last year reiterated what climatologists have long been telling us: the climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, and we're to blame. Despite the clear scientific consensus, a veritable brigade of self-proclaimed, underinformed armchair experts lurk on comment threads the world over, eager to pour scorn on climate science. Barrages of ad hominem attacks all too often await both the scientists working in climate research and journalists who communicate the research findings.

The nay-sayers insist loudly that they're "climate sceptics", but this is a calculated misnomer – scientific scepticism is the method of investigating whether a particular hypothesis is supported by the evidence. Climate sceptics, by contrast, persist in ignoring empirical evidence that renders their position untenable. This isn't scepticism, it's unadulterated denialism, the very antithesis of critical thought.


So given the evidence is so strong against them, then why do these beliefs garner such passionate, vocal support? It's tempting to say the problem is a simple misunderstanding, because increasing average global temperature can have paradoxical and counterintuitive repercussions, such as causing extreme cold snaps. The obvious response to this misunderstanding is to elucidate the scientific details more clearly and more often.

The problem is that the well-meaning and considered approach hinges on the presupposition that the intended audience is always rational, willing to base or change its position on the balance of evidence. However, recent investigations suggests this might be a supposition too far. A study in 2011 found that conservative white males in the US were far more likely than other Americans to deny climate change. Another study found denialism in the UK was more common among politically conservative individuals with traditional values. A series of investigations published last year by Prof Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues – including one with the fantastic title, Nasa Faked the Moon Landing – Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science – found that while subjects subscribing to conspiracist thought tended to reject all scientific propositions they encountered, those with strong traits of conservatism or pronounced free-market world views only tended to reject scientific findings with regulatory implications.

It should be no surprise that ...


Is there a way to turn off smilies?

I know there used to be a way to turn off unintended smilies that pop up links and other places. Here is my most recent encounter.
responsible by law; legally answerable.
"the supplier of goods or services can become liable for breach of contract in a variety of ways"
synonyms: responsible, legally responsible, accountable, answerable, chargeable, blameworthy, at fault, culpable, guilty
"they are liable for negligence"

I can't seem to find that feature any longer; am I missing something?

The world’s ‘dumbest trade war’ is being fought over solar panels

I've thought from the beginning that these trade actions over solar are the work of ALEC and interests like coal, nuclear and the utilities.

The world’s ‘dumbest trade war’ is being fought over solar panels
February 20, 2014, 2:18 PM
By Claudia Assis

The “world’s dumbest trade war” is the spat between the U.S. and China over solar panels, according to an article on Slate. But it’s not just dumb: it could threaten the future of solar power, the online magazine says.

Cheap and plentiful solar panels from China have fueled the boom in rooftop solar systems. But now that the U.S. is threatening to slap new tariffs on them, China could retaliate by slapping more duties on U.S. manufactured polysilicon, a key component of the panels, the article says.

It all started when the U.S. division of Germany’s SolarWorld AG started lobbying the federal government for an investigation on alleged duty evasion. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce followed with a call to stop the probe, asking the U.S. government to be “prudent” in taking any further measures.

On Friday, the International Trade Commission voted to proceed with the probe. The ITC and the Commerce Department are running parallel investigations into solar imports from China and Taiwan, out of concern Chinese makers could be evading duties by assembling solar modules from cells made in other countries.


Even supposed beneficiaries — First Solar Inc. FSLR and SunPower Corp. SPWR – would not reap that many benefits, the analysts said...

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