Archive for July, 2015

Exposing the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission’s spin about Electricity

July 31, 2015



Once again we have an issues paper full of pro-nuclear conjecture and crystal ball-gazing with statements like “research has been undertaken”, “under development”, “are proposed”,   “soon to demonstrate”, “could potentially”, “could, if commercialised”, “may be”,” might encourage” and “could have”.  The history of the nuclear industry is a history of overstated optimism. Policy makers would do well to stick to the facts rather than optimistic forecasts from vested interests.

Ionising has been constantly dropped from “ionising radiation”, especially in the section on operational health and safety.  At best this is sloppy science but given the history of the nuclear industry, it might well be considered mischievous.

The word “nuclear” is frequently dropped especially when talking about nuclear reactors. This demonstrates the sensitivity of the nuclear industry to its image. Ironically, the nuclear industry appears to be loathe to admit that it has anything to do with its own scientific and technical foundation.

The issues paper has an unusual view of what constitutes a fuel. In the context of electricity generation, fuels are burnt (combusted) to produce heat for the production of steam which is then used to operate a turbine that drives the generator. Combustion is the reaction of fuel with the oxygen in air and yields carbon dioxide and water.

Over time, the nuclear industry has changed the term fuel to include fissile material used in a nuclear reactor. It even talks about fuel burn-up.

The issue paper’s reference to solar energy and wind energy as fuels removes an important distinction between solar and wind power and non-renewable sources of energy such as fossil and nuclear fuels. Solar and wind energy are not “burnt” to generate electricity and consequently do not produce noxious pollutants.

The unscientific use of the term “fuel” will only serve to confuse the public about the important distinction between renewable non-polluting solar/wind energy and non-renewable polluting nuclear/fossil energy.

The great advantage of solar and wind generators of electricity is that there is no fuel, hence no ongoing costs such as mining, processing, and transport and no noxious wastes and pollution either from these operations or from the operation of the generator. Apparently, the nuclear industry would like to avoid discussing such issues and to give the impression that solar and wind are no different to nuclear in this respect.

This issues paper is divided into three sections, Nuclear Fuels and Electricity Generation, Viability of Electricity Generation in South Australia, and Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Technologies and Fuel Sources; Risks and Opportunities.




  • In its history of the development of nuclear power this issues paper makes no mention of the connection of nuclear weapons research, development and infrastructure to the nuclear power industry or of the role that Governments made and still make to the nuclear industry. It thus ignores the crucial role of government subsidies to the development and operation of the nuclear power industry.


  • The issues paper describes nuclear reactor moderators as “facilitating” the nuclear fission reaction, but it is just the opposite. The role of moderators in nuclear reactors is to control the fission reaction so that it doesn’t get out of hand and lead to catastrophic reactor failure.


  • The power output (MWe) of an electricity generating system is a measure of the rate of electricity generation. The latter is generally measured in MWh (megawatt hour). The issues paper says that the power output is “the amount of electricity produced every second”. It makes as little sense to say that it is the amount of electricity produced every nanosecond or every year.


  • Whilst giving data on the number of operating, under construction and planned nuclear reactors this issues paper gives no data on the number of nuclear reactors being, or planned to be, shut down. Nor does it give data on the net result of these activities.


This section concentrates on electricity supplied through the National Electricity Market (NEM) and hence plays down the role of small but increasingly significant  rooftop solar electricity. Rooftop solar panels supply electricity to the grid but are not part of the NEM.

Additionally, the emphasis is on supply of electricity rather than on services which can often be delivered with no, or greatly reduced, supply of electricity, such as hot water.  Consequently, the issues paper does not look at the alternatives to electricity for supplying services such as hot water and comfortable homes.

Making a home comfortable during periods of high or low temperatures can be done through better housing design and insulation but these cost-competitive alternatives to electricity have to compete on an unequal footing with electricity which is supplied at no up-front cost, time-payment of capital costs and taxpayer subsidies through former, or existing, government ownership.

The NEM is heavily biased towards centrally generated electricity.

It is pointed out that electricity demand in South Australia is very “peaky” but the issues paper does not mention that the problem of peak demand has been reduced by the high uptake of rooftop solar which has not only reduced the magnitude of the peak demand but has shifted it to later in the day.




  • Under the heading “Nuclear accident” only Chernobyl and Fukushima are mentioned. Chernobyl is blamed on uniquely bad design. Nothing is said about human error or the unforgiving nature of nuclear technology. Nor is there any mention of the Three Mile Island meltdown which was also the result of human error.


  • Fukushima is described as an “accident”. There is no mention of a culture of secrecy and deceit which permeated the nuclear industry not only in Japan but also in many other countries including Australia, e.g., the Olympic Dam project, which was given carte blanche thanks to the Indenture Agreement with the SA Government.


  • It is claimed that the design safety and operational efficiency of modern nuclear facilities have improved significantly since those involved in the Fukushima and Chernobyl “accidents”, but gives no evidence to support this.


  • In discussing insurance liability associated with the nuclear industry no mention is made of the fact that a typical insurance policy excludes nuclear accidents from its coverage. This leaves policy holders liable for costs related to the nuclear industry.


  • Under the heading of “greenhouse gas emissions” (GGE) the figures given show that Australia is well on track to exceed its GGE reduction target. Thanks to the renewable energy industry, GGE from electricity generation have departed from their historical pattern of steadily increasing and are now steadily falling.


In SA the Olympic Dam project is the single largest contributor to GGE.


Present GGE targets cannot be used either as an excuse to introduce nuclear power, to expand the Olympic Dam project, to introduce GGE intensive processing of uranium oxide into fissile material for nuclear reactors, or to expend large amounts of energy constructing underground chambers for long term storage/disposal of nuclear waste.


  • In discussing operational health and safety it is stated that workers who deal with radioactive materials need to be informed about the hazards prior to commencing work but nothing is said about the information being readily understandable by the workers.


  • Under health and safety, the word “ionising” has been dropped from “ionising radiation” which suggests that both workers and the general public are being misled about the nature of the risks.


  • It is noted in the issues paper that many generation technologies cannot be switched on or off at the request of power grid operators but it is not mentioned that nuclear power stations are in this category.


The major problem with electricity supply in South Australia, both technically and economically, is the peak load. This problem would not be solved by having a nuclear power station and the problem is already being addressed by rooftop solar electricity which not only reduces the magnitude of the peak load but also shifts it to later in the day.


  • The issues paper suggests that the commercial viability of the nuclear industry should be assisted by guaranteeing a minimum price for their product.


  • The issues paper claims that a nuclear reactor “could potentially” satisfy demand for “seawater desalination”. Given the economically and environmentally disastrous, rarely used, desalination plant south of Adelaide then suggestions about the need for further desalination plants would appear to suggest that the (anonymous) authors of this discussion paper are totally out of touch with the needs of South Australia.


  • It is claimed that a nuclear power industry in South Australia would lead to a need for “specialist training by tertiary and technical providers.” This is not unique to the nuclear power industry but applies to all other technology for providing the same services as the nuclear industry.


Given the capital intensive nature of nuclear technology, it would seem likely that many more jobs would result from deploying technologies, such as wind and solar, that are already significant and growing contributors to the SA economy.

Exposing the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission’s spin about Radioactive Wastes

July 31, 2015

the issues paper appears to be talking about a so-called public-private-partnership (PPT).

 There is no mention of “user pays” or “polluter pays” principles. Nor is there any discussion of the role of Government economic regulation of such a venture.




Once again, the word “ionising” has been omitted from “ionising radiation”. It is hard to believe that this is an oversight and appears to be a deliberate move by the nuclear industry to play down the fact that radiation from radioactive substances is very different in its effect on living tissue from other forms of radiation such as visible light and radio waves.

In addition a new ploy has emerged, not only has nuclear waste been differentiated from radioactive waste but in the majority of cases it is simply referred to as “waste” and we end up with terms like “waste disposal facility”.

I anticipate that in the near future the nuclear industry, its fellow travellers, and the unsuspecting public will be using these sterilised and  misleading terms. For example, it would be a simple matter to quote sections of the issues papers out of context in such a way that terms like “radiation”, “waste” and “waste disposal facility” can be bandied about until they become the standard.

As previously, there is widespread use of terms like “proposed”, “under development”, “being developed”, “would involve”, and research is “ongoing”. Such terms have no place in a document that is being used to determine government policy, especially on such a contentious issue as expansion of the nuclear industry.

This issues paper is in three sections: Nuclear and Radioactive Waste, Facilities and Techniques for the Management, Storage and Disposal of (nuclear and radioactive) Waste, and Risks and Opportunities.



Exposing the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Commission’s spin about FURTHER PROCESSING OF (uranium and thorium)

July 31, 2015



Two things stand out in this the second Issues Paper for the Scarce Nuclear Industry Commission.

One is the consistent use of pro-nuclear jargon/spin, the other is the frequency with which statements are accompanied by provisos.

The pro-nuclear jargon/spin started right from the beginning of this whole process with the name of the Commission. Instead of using the neutral, straight forward term “nuclear industry”, the value –laden, scientifically incorrect, misleading phrase “nuclear fuel cycle” was chosen. This was accompanied by similarly misleading, nuclear industry, feel-good phrases such as “value adding” and “enrichment”.

The most obvious nuclear industry ploy used in this discussion paper is to refer to “radiation” rather than “ionising radiation”. This is unscientific, misleading and potentially confusing to many readers who are familiar with the fact that “radiation” includes microwaves, radiowaves, visible light, and infrared radiation, none of which is ionising.

This issues paper makes frequent use of vague terms such as “may allow”, “ongoing”, “possible”, “currently being developed”, “may be”, “could be influenced”, “being developed”, and “emerging technologies”. These are hardly encouraging or appropriate terms for producing serious policy, especially on such a contentious issue as expanding the nuclear industry in SA.

This issues paper is in four sections: Further Processing, Manufacture, Viability, and Risks and Opportunities.


This includes conversion, “enrichment”, fuel fabrication, and “reprocessing”.

Conversion is the chemical treatment of the solid uranium compound produced at a uranium mine (“yellowcake”, which is a khaki-coloured oxide of uranium) to a gaseous uranium compound. Conversion uses the extremely corrosive and toxic hydrofluoric acid and the product is not only  a radioactive gas but also highly toxic.

This gaseous uranium compound is needed in order to separate U-235 from U-238. This process is called “enrichment” by the nuclear industry. Although the process increases the concentration of U-235 by a factor of 5 , U-235 makes up only 1/30th of the gaseous uranium compound.

The “enriched” gaseous uranium compound must then be converted back to a solid oxide of uranium in order to be used to construct fuel rods for a nuclear reactor.

In the nuclear reactor, the U-235 undergoes nuclear fission which generates heat and fission products in the form of a variety of radioactive isotopes that are orders of magnitude more radioactive than the nuclear fuel. These waste products inhibit the functioning of the nuclear fuel to the extent that this “spent fuel” is only 10% utilised before it must be removed and replaced by fresh fuel. The fuel is not so much “spent” as “contaminated” by the fission products.

According to the issues paper, reprocessing of this highly contaminated fuel “can occur”. In fact, it is an essential part of the operation of a nuclear power station. It is not a question of “can” but “must”.

The process by which the contaminants are removed from the contaminated fuel is called “re-processing”. In most other chemical industries, it would be called purification. The contaminated solid fuel is dissolved with acid, the contaminants are removed, and the purified uranium containing liquid must then go back to the conversion stage so that the concentration of U-235 can be brought back up to the required level in order for it to be made into fuel, which after being only 10% used must again be re-purified. This is what the nuclear industry spin-doctors call “re-cycling”.

Of the original batch of U-235, after ten such conversion-“enrichment”-fabrication-use-purification-conversion cycles there is still some 40% of the original U-235 un-used.. It’s like making steel, where 90% of the original iron ends up as slag.

It is this highly inefficient process that is the basis for the term “nuclear fuel cycle”. Spin has been used by the nuclear industry to turn gross inefficiency into a virtue.

This “nuclear fuel cycle” does not include mining, milling and processing of uranium ore or nuclear waste disposal, which, as shown by the nuclear industry literature, are one-way inputs/outputs of the cycle.

A nuclear fuel cycle enquiry which includes mining, milling and processing of uranium ore or nuclear waste disposal is therefore, from its very start, nonsense.

The issues paper refers to thorium fuelled nuclear reactors, which is says are “under development”. It correctly concludes, “there are no thorium-based reactor designs being actively promoted for broad commercial use.”

A 2015 report from the French Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) goes even further. Of half a dozen so-called “Generation IV” type nuclear reactors, the report says only one type has any chance of being commercially viable in the foreseeable future and that this type has not been shown to be any safer than Generation III reactors which are the intended successors to the 1960s and 1970’s Generation II reactors.



To say that medical and scientific radioactively decaying isotopes are “developed” from stable elements is sheer spin. These radioactive isotopes are produced by either bombardment with neutrons in a nuclear reactor or with high energy particles in a particle accelerator (such as a synchrotron) or formed by the radioactive decay of these isotopes.

  • The issues paper claims that such radioactive isotopes are in increasing demand but gives no evidence to support its claim.
  • Like the nuclear industry the issues paper even avoids using the word radioactive preferring instead the much friendlier sounding term “radioisotope” or simply “isotope”. Given there are a large number of isotopes that are not radioactive then using the term isotope instead of radioactive isotope is sloppy science.
  • Further evidence of sloppy science is the statement that the hydrogen isotope H-2 (deuterium) is radioactive. The only radioactive isotope of hydrogen is H-3 (tritium).
  • Listing naturally occurring radioactive isotopes such as C-14 in a section on manufactured radioactive isotopes is either sloppy science or spin designed to give credibility to the nuclear industry.
  • The use of radioactive isotopes in smoke alarms is also misleading. There are alternative smoke alarms that use light rather ionising radiation. These photoelectric smoke alarms have been supported by the fire fighting industry as being more effective.

Radioactive smoke alarms contain a radioactive isotope of americium which emits alpha-particle ionising radiation that is dangerous only when ingested or inhaled. In the case of a fire in premises containing radioactive fire alarms the alarms are incinerated, the americium is converted to a fine radioactive dust which poses a hazard to fire fighters and demolition workers. These alarms are routinely disposed of along with household waste and pose an environmental risk far into the future.



f the countries listed as having “commercial” uranium oxide conversion plants only one (Canada) is not a nuclear weapons country. The rest (USA, Russia, France, China, UK) all have long established nuclear weapons programmes which preceded their nuclear power programmes.

Similarly, all of the countries listed (China, France, Russia, USA) as having major “commercial” plants for increasing the concentration of fissile U-235 (“enrichment”) are nuclear weapons countries.

  • The issues paper concludes that in the short term there is excess conversion, U-235 concentrating, and fuel fabrication capacity but that in the medium term there “may be” a need to increase capacity. This latter conclusion is based on a very optimistic view of the nuclear industry which appears to be at odds with current trends.
  • The issues paper states that South Australia’s decision to establish conversion, concentrating and fabrication facilities “could” be influenced by developments in “prospective” technologies. But then, the same applies to everywhere else in the world and hence there iss no inherent commercial advantage to South Australia..
  • The issues paper states that 13% of Australia’s radioactive isotope exports are to countries “such as New Zealand and the South East Asian region”. It says nothing about the remaining 87% of exports.
  • It is claimed that new radioactive pharmaceuticals “are being developed” by ANSTO for cancer treatment.


In reference to the high level radioactive wastes from fuel purification (“spent fuel reprocessing”) the issues paper claims that the extent of these wastes “may” be reduced through the use of “emerging technologies”.

In reference to hydrofluoric acid used during conversion, it says that it “can create health implications if inhaled or ingested.” No mention is made of the fact that these health implications include death or that it can cause blindness and tissue damage that is not immediately apparent thus delaying treatment and exacerbating the damage.

In relation to the dangers of ionising radiation the issues paper refers simply to “radiation” thereby lumping it together with electromagnetic radiation including such innocuous things as visible light and radio waves.


Even South Australia’s pro Nuclear Royal Commission admits the threat of the nuclear industry to precious groundwater

July 31, 2015

Groundwater a significant issue: nuclear royal commission, IN Daily,
Adelaide Indpendent News, 30 April  PETER GILL | 30 APRIL 2015
The potential impact of a nuclear waste storage facility on South Australia’s groundwater systems is one of the “significant issues” that need to be addressed in any consideration of expanding the nuclear fuel cycle, according to the royal commission.The second issues paper published by the royal commission says the siting and operation of a waste storage or disposal facility must take potential environmental impacts into account.

“Site selection for a storage or disposal facility would consider the type of facility and waste being stored (including its longevity), geological stability, generation of heat, geographical matters as well as operational issues such as amenity,” the paper says.“In addition to the management of radiative exposure, a significant issue is the potential for the contamination of groundwater sources.

“Addressing that issue requires an understanding of the current frequency, flow and volume of surface and ground waters. “Management of water resources from sourcing and storage will be required if such a facility were to be sited in South Australia.

“Also significant is the potential risk of land contamination at handling, storage and disposal sites.

“Aside from its ecological impact upon animals and plants, contamination of the environment has implications for the health and safety of humans who use those resources.”

The issues paper, entitled Management, Storage and Disposal of Nuclear and Radioactive Waste,was released last week and followed the royal commission’s first public forum in Mt Gambier. Similar forums will be held in Port Augusta today (Thursday 30 April), Port Pirie tomorrow, and Berri on 5 May………

France’s involvement in South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission

July 31, 2015

This Nuclear Royal Commission is becoming a bigger farce with each passing day!

We already knew that the Royal Commission was seeking help from Canada- notorious for the corruption in its nuclear industry

The Advertiser (South Australia’s voice for the nuclear industry) has informed us , apparently with joy and delight, that:

“The French want to sell the state their world-leading uranium enrichment and electricity-generating nuclear technology.”

“Suggestions proposed by the French have already been incorporated into its terms of reference”

“the French Ambassador, Christophe Lecourtier, also briefed Mr Weatherill on the transformation of the regional economy of Normandy, as host to significant sectors of French’s nuclear industry.

The ambassador argued parallels could be found with the South Australian economy if it were to become the home of a fledgling Australian uranium enrichment and nuclear energy industry.

Normandy has the French government’s most modern and main export reactor design, the so-called European pressurised reactor (EPR), which is currently under construction.”

It all sounds so very fine and dandy.


1 France’s Nuclear Financial Crisis France’s State owned nuclear company AREVA now a costly burden  France’s nuclear corporation AREVA in deep financial trouble – needs tax-payer bailout.

2. France’s Nuclear Safety Crisis UK nuclear strategy faces meltdown as faults are found in identical French project.  Future of the entire Flamanville-3  project in doubt, with more problems at EPR nuclear reactor

Analysing Switzerland’s transition from nuclear power to renewable energy and energy conservation

July 31, 2015

It is a simple statement of fact that Germany today produces more solar and wind power than the entire projected electricity demand for Switzerland in 2050. What is possible in Germany should be manageable in Switzerland too. ………Conservation, greater efficiencies, alternative energy sources, the smart grid, and the introduction of new technologies mean that Switzerland should be readily able to find ways to replace the energy  lost by the closing of its existing nuclear power plants. 

Small country, big challenge: Switzerland’s upcoming transition to sustainable energy,Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 25 July 15 Dominic A. Notter

Switzerland has long met a good portion of its energy needs by using nuclear power. But in the wake of the accident at Fukushima, the country will have to turn elsewhere—while still remaining true to its history of self-sufficiency and energy independence. This effort is made more complicated by fears that one of its traditional energy sources, hydropower, may no longer be as reliable as in the past. But with a combination of energy conservation, greater efficiencies, alternative energy sources, the “smart grid,” and the introduction of new technologies currently on the drawing board, the country may readily be able to replace the energy lost by the closing of its existing nuclear power plants. And the loss of the snowpack and glaciers (due to climate change) may not be as dire for Switzerland’s hydropower as first anticipated…….

a nation of only 8 million people—a bit larger in population than the state of Massachusetts—has five nuclear power plants, making Switzerland one of the top seven nuclear-powered nations on the planet on a per capita basis (IAEA, 2014). (The nuclear power plant at Beznau, in the country’s far north, is the world’s oldest operating nuclear power plant.) All told, nine percent of Switzerland’s total energy demand is met by nuclear power—a figure triple that of the United States (World Nuclear Association, 2015a).

Another telling statistic is that nearly 40 percent of Swiss electrical generation comes from nuclear power (see Figure 1) [in original] . To give a sense of what that proportion means, only 19 percent of US electricity is generated from nuclear power (World Nuclear Association, 2015b). …….

Rising discontent

But the old status quo regarding Switzerland’s nuclear power plants will not hold. There has been increasing public resistance to nuclear power in Switzerland over time, starting with a loss-of-coolant accident in 1969 at a small pilot test reactor in the village of Lucens. Though largely overlooked by the outside world, the event did cause a partial core meltdown (, 2003World Nuclear Association, 2015a). There were no fatalities and the underground cave housing the facility was successfully sealed up (Britt, 2013) but the incident planted discontent……..

shut down they will be, because the groundswell of public opinion against nuclear energy is having a powerful effect. Perhaps in response to continuing public concern, on October 27, 2014 the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health began distributing iodide tablets to everyone who lives within 31 miles of a nuclear power plant in Switzerland, an endeavor that would include 4.6 million people—more than half the country’s population. The idea behind the program is that if a disaster happened that involved the release of radiation, people living downwind could quickly saturate their thyroid glands with normal iodine and prevent the absorption of any harmful radioactive iodine. Critics call such “pre-distributing” a drop in the bucket; others suggest it would be more effective to limit the consumption of milk, cheese, cream, and yogurt after a nuclear accident (Bosley and Bennett, 2014)—not a popular idea in a country known for its dairy industry…….

An ambitious vision

With so many forces pulling in different directions, the government launched several large-scale research projects in recent years including the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research, known as SCCER CREST (, to plan for the future.

Each center has a different focus; one investigates scientific and technological aspects of changes in energy while another studies social, economic, and regulatory aspects.

These centers have seven “action areas”: energy efficiency; electrical grids; energy storage; power supplies; economy, environment, law, and behavior; mobility; and biomass.

The goal is to gradually phase out of nuclear power and into renewables by 2034 and to be largely independent of fossil fuels. Reaching it is based upon the idea of combining highly efficient energy production processes with substantial reductions in energy consumption.

Optimistic scenarios show that the amount of carbon produced per person could be reduced from the current 5.7 tons of carbon dioxide to about 1 to 1.5 tons.

In Switzerland, energy consumption per capita has already been decreasing in a moderate way since 1990 (Swiss Statistics, 2015). To hit the target, average energy consumption needs to drop by about another 30 to 40 percent by the year 2050 when Switzerland’s electricity consumption is expected to be about 60 terawatt hours (TWh), or 60 billion kilowatt hours (kWh)……….

At first glance, these may seem like impossibly large numbers of solar cells and wind turbines; however, Germany already gets 30 TWh from photovoltaics and another 45 TWh from wind power (Burger, 2014). These figures far exceed the projected Swiss electrical demand for 2050.

In addition, there is enormous potential for electricity savings in all the appliances and gadgets circulating today. In assessing the potential for electricity savings in households and industry, the Swiss Energy Foundation found that more than 25 TWh could be saved if all inefficient, energy-hungry old devices were replaced with best available new technology (SAFE, 2015). This includes better, more efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescents and light-emitting diodes; more energy-efficient computers, printers, and communications devices; improved electrical motors in industry; more efficient electric baseboard heating units and hot water heaters; and improved building services, to name a few.

If Switzerland exploited all the potential in energy efficiency, the amount of electricity saved would equal all the electricity produced from all nuclear power plants in Switzerland in 2013.

What’s more, there is a basic, fundamental, major change to the electrical grid that occurs when electricity production is switched from a small number of large nuclear power plants to a large number of small-scale plants that use renewable sources. While it will take a huge amount of money to renovate the grid—about 18 billion Swiss francs, or roughly 18.6 billion US dollars as of April 2015—there is a substantial amount of money and energy to be saved in such a complete, top-to-bottom overhaul, due to the fact that the present Swiss grid is out-of-date and inefficient. Rather than being perceived as a burden, the process of such “decentralization” should be looked at for what it truly is: an opportunity.

Renovation of the electricity grid would allow for installing new technologies such as the “smart grid”—which uses information and communications technology to collect information about the behavior of suppliers and consumers which is then automatically used to improve the efficiency of the production and distribution of electricity………..

Last but not least, with subsidies and bonuses the electricity producers could be rewarded for making their customers more energy-efficient, which would undoubtedly lead to more efficient products—an approach that the Swiss Federal Council recently approved (Swiss Federal Council, 2012)…..

The outlook ahead

Over the next four decades, Switzerland will face a huge restructuring of its entire energy supply system. The new supply mix will be free from nuclear power, rather low in carbon intensity, and resting upon much higher efficiencies based on the newest and most energy-efficient technologies—along with the development of smart grids, decentralized power suppliers, hydropower, wind power, photovoltaics, biomass, wood, and the rigorous use of burning waste to generate energy whenever materials cannot be recycled. In case of a shortfall of electricity, natural gas-powered, combined heat and power plants may be used as an intermittent alternative………

It is a simple statement of fact that Germany today produces more solar and wind power than the entire projected electricity demand for Switzerland in 2050. What is possible in Germany should be manageable in Switzerland too. ………Conservation, greater efficiencies, alternative energy sources, the smart grid, and the introduction of new technologies mean that Switzerland should be readily able to find ways to replace the energy  lost by the closing of its existing nuclear power plants.

Science history shows that cancer is caused by environmental facors, not genes

July 31, 2015

Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made October 14, 2010 ( –– Cancer is a modern, man-made disease caused by environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a study by University of Manchester scientists has strongly suggested.

The study of remains and literature from ancient Egypt and  and earlier periods – carried out at Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology and published in Nature Reviews Cancer – includes the first histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy.

Finding only one case of the disease in the investigation of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, with few references to cancer in literary evidence, proves that cancer was extremely rare in antiquity. The disease rate has risen massively since the Industrial Revolution, in particular childhood cancer – proving that the rise is not simply due to people living longer.

Professor Rosalie David, at the Faculty of Life Sciences, said: “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to  and changes to our  and lifestyle.”

She added: “The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.”

The data includes the first ever histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy by Professor Michael Zimmerman, a visiting Professor at the KNH Centre, who is based at the Villanova University in the US. He diagnosed rectal cancer in an unnamed mummy, an ‘ordinary’ person who had lived in the Dakhleh Oasis during the Ptolemaic period (200-400 CE).

Professor Zimmerman said: “In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization”.

The team studied both mummified remains and literary evidence for ancient Egypt but only literary evidence for ancient Greece as there are no remains for this period, as well as medical studies of human and animal remains from earlier periods, going back to the age of the dinosaurs.

Evidence of cancer in animal fossils, non-human primates and early humans is scarce – a few dozen, mostly disputed, examples in animal fossils, although a metastatic cancer of unknown primary origin has been reported in an Edmontosaurus fossil while another study lists a number of possible neoplasms in fossil remains. Various malignancies have been reported in non-human primates but do not include many of the cancers most commonly identified in modern adult humans.

It has been suggested that the short life span of individuals in antiquity precluded the development of cancer. Although this statistical construct is true, individuals in  and Greece did live long enough to develop such diseases as atherosclerosis, Paget’s disease of bone, and osteoporosis, and, in modern populations, bone tumours primarily affect the young.

Another explanation for the lack of tumours in ancient remains is that tumours might not be well preserved. Dr. Zimmerman has performed experimental studies indicating that mummification preserves the features of malignancy and that tumours should actually be better preserved than normal tissues. In spite of this finding, hundreds of mummies from all areas of the world have been examined and there are still only two publications showing microscopic confirmation of cancer. Radiological surveys of mummies from the Cairo Museum and museums in Europe have also failed to reveal evidence of cancer.

As the team moved through the ages, it was not until the 17th century that they found descriptions of operations for breast and other cancers and the first reports in scientific literature of distinctive tumours have only occurred in the past 200 years, such as scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761 and Hodgkin’s disease in 1832.

Professor David – who was invited to present her paper to UK Cancer Czar Professor Mike Richards and other oncologists at this year’s UK Association of Cancer Registries and National Cancer Intelligence Network conference – said: “Where there are cases of cancer in ancient Egyptian remains, we are not sure what caused them. They did heat their homes with fires, which gave off smoke, and temples burned incense, but sometimes illnesses are just thrown up.”

She added: “The ancient Egyptian data offers both physical and literary evidence, giving a unique opportunity to look at the diseases they had and the treatments they tried. They were the fathers of pharmacology so some treatments did work

“They were very inventive and some treatments thought of as magical were genuine therapeutic remedies. For example, celery was used to treat rheumatism back then and is being investigated today. Their surgery and the binding of fractures were excellent because they knew their anatomy: there was no taboo on working with human bodies because of mummification. They were very hands on and it gave them a different mindset to working with bodies than the Greeks, who had to come to Alexandria to study medicine.”

She concluded: “Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message –  is man-made and something that we can and should address.”

More information: A copy of the paper ‘Cancer: an old disease, a new disease or something in between?’ is available at

Provided by: University of Manchester

Role of USA’s Assistant Secretary of State in the spiralling chaos of Ukraine

July 31, 2015

Now, the Ukraine chaos threatens to spiral even further out of control with the neo-Nazis and other right-wing militias – supplied with a bounty of weapons to kill ethnic Russians in the east – turning on the political leadership in Kiev.

Thus, it seems unlikely that Nuland, regarded by some in Washington as the new “star” in U.S. foreign policy, will be fired for her dangerous incompetence, just as most neocons who authored the Iraq disaster remain “respected” experts employed by major think tanks, given prized space on op-ed pages, and consulted at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

The Mess That Nuland Made, Reader Supported News By Robert Parry, Consortium News 22 July 15
Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland engineered Ukraine’s “regime change” in early 2014 without weighing the likely chaos and consequences. Now, as neo-Nazis turn their guns on the government, it’s hard to see how anyone can clean up the mess that Nuland made, writes Robert Parry. 

s the Ukrainian army squares off against ultra-right and neo-Nazi militias in the west and violence against ethnic Russians continues in the east, the obvious folly of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy has come into focus even for many who tried to ignore the facts, or what you might call “the mess that Victoria Nuland made.”

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs “Toria” Nuland was the “mastermind” behind the Feb. 22, 2014 “regime change” in Ukraine, plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych while convincing the ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn’t really a coup but a victory for “democracy.”

To sell this latest neocon-driven “regime change” to the American people, the ugliness of the coup-makers had to be systematically airbrushed, particularly the key role of neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists from the Right Sektor. For the U.S.-organized propaganda campaign to work, the coup-makers had to wear white hats, not brown shirts.

So, for nearly a year and a half, the West’s mainstream media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, twisted their reporting into all kinds of contortions to avoid telling their readers that the new regime in Kiev was permeated by and dependent on neo-Nazi fighters and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who wanted a pure-blood Ukraine, without ethnic Russians.

Any mention of that sordid reality was deemed “Russian propaganda” and anyone who spoke this inconvenient truth was a “stooge of Moscow.” It wasn’t until July 7 that the Times admitted the importance of the neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists in waging war against ethnic Russian rebels in the east. The Times also reported that these far-right forces had been joined by Islamic militants. Some of those jihadists have been called “brothers” of the hyper-brutal Islamic State.

Though the Times sought to spin this remarkable military alliance – neo-Nazi militias and Islamic jihadists – as a positive, the reality had to be jarring for readers who had bought into the Western propaganda about noble “pro-democracy” forces resisting evil “Russian aggression.”

Perhaps the Times sensed that it could no longer keep the lid on the troubling truth in Ukraine. For weeks, the Right Sektor militias and the neo-Nazi Azov battalion have been warning the civilian government in Kiev that they might turn on it and create a new order more to their liking.

Clashes in the West

Then, on Saturday, violent clashes broke out in the western Ukrainian town of Mukachevo, allegedly over the control of cigarette-smuggling routes. Right Sektor paramilitaries sprayed police officers with bullets from a belt-fed machinegun, and police – backed by Ukrainian government troops – returned fire. Several deaths and multiple injuries were reported.

Tensions escalated on Monday with President Petro Poroshenko ordering national security forces to disarm “armed cells” of political movements. Meanwhile, the Right Sektor dispatched reinforcements to the area while other militiamen converged on the capital of Kiev.

While President Poroshenko and Right Sektor leader Dmitry Yarosh may succeed in tamping down this latest flare-up of hostilities, they may be only postponing the inevitable: a conflict between the U.S.-backed authorities in Kiev and the neo-Nazis and other right-wing fighters who spearheaded last year’s coup and have been at the front lines of the fighting against ethnic Russian rebels in the east.

The Ukrainian right-wing extremists feel they have carried the heaviest burden in the war against the ethnic Russians and resent the politicians living in the relative safety and comfort of Kiev. In March, Poroshenko also fired thuggish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky as governor of the southeastern province of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Kolomoisky had been the primary benefactor of the Right Sektor militias.

So, as has become apparent across Europe and even in Washington, the Ukraine crisis is spinning out of control, making the State Department’s preferred narrative of the conflict – that it’s all Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fault – harder and harder to sell.

How Ukraine is supposed to pull itself out of what looks like a death spiral – a possible two-front war in the east and the west along with a crashing economy – is hard to comprehend. The European Union, confronting budgetary crises over Greece and other EU members, has little money or patience for Ukraine, its neo-Nazis and its socio-political chaos.

America’s neocons at The Washington Post and elsewhere still rant about the need for the Obama administration to sink more billions upon billions of dollars into post-coup Ukraine because it “shares our values.” But that argument, too, is collapsing as Americans see the heart of a racist nationalism beating inside Ukraine’s new order.

Another Neocon ‘Regime Change’

Much of what has happened, of course, was predictable and indeed was predicted, but neocon Nuland couldn’t resist the temptation to pull off a “regime change” that she could call her own.

Her husband (and arch-neocon) Robert Kagan had co-founded the Project for the New American Century in 1998 around a demand for “regime change” in Iraq, a project that was accomplished in 2003 with President George W. Bush’s invasion.

As with Nuland in Ukraine, Kagan and his fellow neocons thought they could engineer an easy invasion of Iraq, oust Saddam Hussein and install some hand-picked client – in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi was to be “the guy.” But they failed to take into account the harsh realities of Iraq, such as the fissures between Sunnis and Shiites, exposed by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

In Ukraine, Nuland and her neocon and liberal-interventionist friends saw the chance to poke Putin in the eye by encouraging violent protests to overthrow Russia-friendly President Yanukovych and put in place a new regime hostile to Moscow.

Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy, explained the plan in a Post op-ed on Sept. 26, 2013. Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step toward toppling Putin, who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

For her part, Nuland passed out cookies to anti-Yanukovych demonstrators at the Maidan square, reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” declared “fuck the EU” for its less aggressive approach, and discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leaders of Ukraine should be. “Yats is the guy,” she said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk………..

Now, the Ukraine chaos threatens to spiral even further out of control with the neo-Nazis and other right-wing militias – supplied with a bounty of weapons to kill ethnic Russians in the east – turning on the political leadership in Kiev.

In other words, the neocons have struck again, dreaming up a “regime change” scheme that ignored practical realities, such as ethnic and religious fissures. Then, as the blood flowed and the suffering worsened, the neocons just sought out someone else to blame.

Thus, it seems unlikely that Nuland, regarded by some in Washington as the new “star” in U.S. foreign policy, will be fired for her dangerous incompetence, just as most neocons who authored the Iraq disaster remain “respected” experts employed by major think tanks, given prized space on op-ed pages, and consulted at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

[For more on these topics, see’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy Weakness” and “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here

AREVA – nuclear corporation’s financial collapse

July 31, 2015

As Areva Goes Belly Up, Modi’s French Nuclear Plans May Start Unravelling,, 24 July 15“………..The signs of Areva’s irreparable decline if not imminent death have been on the horizon these past years. With its single product catalogue, Areva has struggled to complete two identical EPR reactors, the first at Olkiluoto for TVO in Finland (still not operational despite a nine-year delay and a trebling of costs) and the second in Flamanville, France, plagued by equally serious construction and security flaws, delays and outrageous cost over-runs. …….

Reactor woes continue

The estimated price of the reactor continues to go up and up – it has nearly trebled from 3.3 billion euros eight years ago to around 9 billion euros at current estimates and could go higher if the EPR’s technical problems persist. The company has run up a deficit estimated at 4.8 billion euros for a turnover of 8.3 billion. Its recapitalisation requirements stand at 7 billion euros. The French government has stepped in to impose draconian solutions on the company that will see its design, construction and operations arm hacked off and handed over to its arch enemy, EDF. When the negotiations with EDF are completed – the haggling over price is currently underway – Areva, a company that has built and operated some 64 nuclear reactors will be reduced to a dwarf.

The French nuclear security watchdog, ASN, has issued a number of severe warnings to Areva on major security issues and manufacturing and construction flaws in the reactor being built in Flamanville, France, one of four EPRs under construction in the world. One of the latest warnings concerns the weakness of the reinforced steel core at the heart of the reactor where nuclear fission takes place. French papers have described fissures in the reactor’s innermost core as measuring as much as 42 centimetres. If the ASN’s suspicions about the poor quality of the forging done by Areva are proved right (the final test results will be available in October), the reactor dome will have to be removed. This can only mean one thing: the total abandonment of the EPR in France. A decision is not expected until 2016.

Several reports published in France on the woes of the EPR describe it as a product of “French technological hubris”. It is a gigantic reactor that looks good on paper. But as the adage goes, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating and India did not wait long enough to see the reactor’s performance before rushing in to buy an untried product.

“The EPR reactor whose problems are at the heart of the current crisis is an expensive failure,” writes energy analyst Nick Butler. “It has to be written off and replaced by a new generation of smaller, less complex reactors that can be built on time and on budget. The EPR was designed at a time when it was believed that energy costs would rise inexorably. That is no longer the case.”…………There is also the question of Areva’s massive debt.

Uncertain future

The Finnish nuclear operator TVO is suing Areva for billions of dollars for the delays, cost over-runs (estimated at 7 billion euros instead of the 3.3 billion originally projected) and technical flaws related to the EPR in Olkiluoto. The failure of the Finnish EPR has contributed vastly to Areva’s troubles.

Once hailed as the harbinger of a nuclear renaissance, the EPR is fast becoming one of the world’s most criticised and by far the most expensive nuclear white elephants. In France work began in 2007 and the reactor was to have gone on stream in 2012. This date has now been pushed forward to 2017 at three times the initial cost.

Leaving aside the problems linked to cost, safety and technological know-how, it is at this stage totally unclear if EDF would like to pursue the EPR programme at all. Last year the European Commission gave the go ahead for building another EPR reactor at Hinkley Point in Britain. But British authorities, which were to have signed in March 2015, now appear reluctant to go ahead. The Financial Times reported that the project might be completely abandoned. In the US, plans to build the EPR have currently been suspended. as World Nuclear News reported in March, Areva “has asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to suspend work on the design certification of the US EPR until further notice, prompting Unistar Nuclear Energy to request the suspension of the review of its construction and operation licence (COL) application for Calvert Cliffs 3.”

Batteries bring a revolutionary change – people can control their own electricity source

July 31, 2015

In the end, the solution might lie on a smaller scale: giving everyone the power to store their own power. Tesla is one company of several in this game: it recently announced a device called the Powerwall, designed for homes and businesses. It uses the same batteries as electric cars to store energy, either from renewables or cheap night-time electricity, ready to be used during the day.

If such systems become commonplace, we might all become a little more aware of where our energy is coming from, and how our own behaviour affects its use and production

The battery revolution that will let us all be power brokers, New Scientist 22 July 15 
Companies are racing to find better ways to store electricity – and so provide us with cheaper energy when and where we want it “……..
. Although they are still dwarfed in most respects by the bulky lead-acid batteries found in almost every car on the road today, in 2015, lithium-ion batteries will account for around a third of the money spent on rechargeable batteries globally (see “Turn it on”), and just under a sixth of the total energy stored, according to French research firm Avicenne.

At the same time, their performance has improved immensely: design tweaks have tripled the energy stored in a given volume since the technology was commercialised in 1991. Success has bred success, and lithium-ion batteries have found new and bigger applications, such as electric vehicles (see “Powered by Lithium”). For example, the Model S electric car designed by Tesla Motors, a company owned by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, is powered by thousands of small lithium-ion batteries arrayed between the car’s axles. It can go from zero to 95 kilometres an hour in 3.1 seconds, and can travel about 430 kilometres on a single charge, although charging it can take many hours.
Tesla has no plans to stop there. Lithium-ion batteries are so important to the company that it has taken manufacturing into its own hands, building a “Gigafactory” just outside Reno, Nevada. By 2020, the company plans to produce as many lithium-ion batteries annually as the entire world produced in 2013 – enough for a fleet of 500,000 electric cars – and with a 30 per cent reduction in production cost per battery………

“Now that lithium-ion is a $15 billion business, big companies are taking notice.”

And it’s not just big companies…………

In the end, the solution might lie on a smaller scale: giving everyone the power to store their own power. Tesla is one company of several in this game: it recently announced a device called the Powerwall, designed for homes and businesses. It uses the same batteries as electric cars to store energy, either from renewables or cheap night-time electricity, ready to be used during the day.

If such systems become commonplace, we might all become a little more aware of where our energy is coming from, and how our own behaviour affects its use and production, says energy researcher Philipp Grünewald of the University of Oxford. “Batteries would be a really helpful thing to give you a sense that you’ve got something you can trade,” he says. He foresees a system where electricity providers put a small battery in customers houses for free, offering them cheaper rates in exchange for being able to manage that slice of energy storage for the good of the grid at large. That, however, would require buy-in from companies and consumers alike.

Chamberlain says it’s hard to predict what changes the world will undergo if the battery revolution comes off – just as the consequences of the information revolution would have been hard to predict a decade or so ago. But he expects a similar empowerment as individuals gain the ability to produce, store and use electricity at will. “Batteries are a linchpin that would enable democratisation of electricity,” he says………..