Archive for the ‘spinbuster’ Category

Transatomic Power’s false claims about Generation IV nuclear reactors

March 9, 2017

It’s interesting the way that, for dubious nuclear enterprises, they like to put a young woman at the top. Is this to make the nuclear image look young and trendy? Or is it so they she can cop the flak when it all goes wrong?


Nuclear Energy Startup Transatomic Backtracks on Key Promises The company, backed by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, revised inflated assertions about its advanced reactor design after growing concerns prompted an MIT review. MIT Technology Review by James Temple  February 24, 2017 
Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations, MIT Technology Review has learned.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, founded in 2011 by a pair of MIT students in the Nuclear Science & Engineering department, asserted that its molten salt reactor design could run on spent nuclear fuel from conventional reactors and generate energy far more efficiently than them. In a white paper published in March 2014, the company proclaimed its reactor “can generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor.”

Those lofty claims helped it raise millions in venture capital, secure a series of glowing media profiles (including in this publication), and draw a rock-star lineup of technical advisors. But in a paper on its site dated November 2016, the company downgraded “75 times” to “more than twice.” In addition, it now specifies that the design “does not reduce existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel,” or use them as its fuel source. The promise of recycling nuclear waste, which poses tricky storage and proliferation challenges, was a key initial promise of the company that captured considerable attention.

“In early 2016, we realized there was a problem with our initial analysis and started working to correct the error,” cofounder Leslie Dewan said in an e-mail response to an inquiry from MIT Technology Review.

The dramatic revisions followed an analysis in late 2015 by Kord Smith, a nuclear science and engineering professor at MIT and an expert in the physics of nuclear reactors.

At that point, there were growing doubts in the field about the company’s claims and at least some worries that any inflated claims could tarnish the reputation of MIT’s nuclear department, which has been closely associated with the company. Transatomic also has a three-year research agreement with the department, according to earlier press releases.

In reviewing the company’s white paper, Smith noticed immediate red flags. He relayed his concerns to his department head and the company, and subsequently conducted an informal review with two other professors.

“I said this is obviously incorrect based on basic physics,” Smith says. He asked the company to run a test, which ended up confirming that “their claims were completely untrue,” Smith says.

He notes that promising to increase the reactor’s fuel efficiency by 75 times is the rough equivalent of saying that, in a single step, you’d developed a car that could get 2,500 miles per gallon.

Ultimately, the company redid its analysis, and produced and posted a new white paper………

The company has raised at least $4.5 million from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Acadia Woods Partners, and Daniel Aegerter of Armada Investment AG. Venture capital veteran Ray Rothrock serves as chairman of the company.

Founders Fund didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry……https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy-startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/

Ben Heard sets up Australian nuclear front group; 25 prominent South Australians sign up

February 1, 2017

12 Dec 16 Australian nuclear lobbyists have had remarkable success in making themselves famous internationally, which is probably their main aim. . Barry Brook set this off, with a thin veil of environmentalism covering his dedication to the nuclear industry, in Brave New Climate. He got a heap of well-meaning environmentalists to sign up to a pro nuclear letter.

Now Ben Heard has gone a step further, with HIS nuclear front group – Bright New World. He’s got 25 important people to sign up to a pro nuclear campaign for South Australia.  As with Brook’s disciples, some of these people seem quite altruistic and disconnected with the nuclear and mining industries.

Others do not:

Dr Ian Gould:   chairing South Australia Energy and Resources Investment Conference 23-24 May 2017  Adelaide, geologist with  40 years experience in the minerals industry in diverse and senior positions, mainly within the CRA/Rio Tinto Group, current Chancellor of the University of South Australia and was awarded an AM in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to mining.

David Klingberg is a South Australian businessman, civil engineer and former Chancellor of the University of South Australia. director of ASX listed companies E & A Ltd and Centrex Metals Ltd. Klingberg is chair of a technical sub-group working on the Australian Government‘s National Radioactive Waste Management Project. 

Dr Leanna Read is South Australia’s  Chief Scientist, Expert Advisory Committee of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia.] Read is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering,[which advocated for nuclear power in Australia in August 2014.. Read is also the Chair of the South Australian Science Council.

Stephen Young  director or Chairman on a number of companies including ,Electricity Trust of South Australia, Australian Submarine Corporation ,The University of Adelaide ,E&A ltd and its Subsidiaries.

Mr Jim McDowell Chancellor of the University of South Australia   Jim McDowell is currently Chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and non-Executive director of a number of private and listed companies. He advises the Federal Government in a number of areas of Defence and Defence Procurement. He is a member of the First Principles Review of the Department of Defence and is currently on the Expert Advisory Panel for the Future Submarine. Formerly CEO OF BAE Systems Australia, the nation’s largest defence contractor.

Michael John Terlet  Primary qualification in Electrical EngineeringNon Executive Chairman of Sandvik Mining and Construction Adelaide Ltd, a Director of Australian Submarine Corporation Pty. Ltd. Served as the Chief Executive Officer at AWA Defence Industries, Chairman of SA Centre for Manufacturing, Defence Manufacturing Council SA (MTIA)

Graham Douglas Walters AM, FCA Mr. Graham Douglas Walters, AM, FCA, serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Minelab Electronics Pty Ltd. Mr. Walters serves as Chairman and Director at Minelab International Pty Ltd.

Scrutinising ARPANSA’s Information for Stakeholders on nuclear radioactive waste facility

February 1, 2017

Effectively this is the same draconian situation that existed under the earlier Commonwealth Noonan, David
Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 introduced by the Howard government to override State and Territory interests to protect community health, safety and welfare from the risks and impacts of nuclear wastes and to nullify Federal laws that protect against imposition of nuclear wastes.


Public submission to the draft ARPANSA Information for Stakeholders & associated Regulatory Guide to Licensing a Radioactive Waste Storage or Disposal Facility

Summary

Revised ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” should address the following:

The nuclear fuel waste Store in the Flinders Ranges is intended to operate for approx. 100 years.

The ARPANSA “Information for Stakeholders” fails to be transparent and is not fit for purpose.

ARPANSA must inform the public on the proposed licence period for this nuclear fuel waste Store.

ARPANSA should also publicly acknowledge the Contingency that the proposed nuclear fuel waste Store may be at a different site to the proposed near surface Repository in the Flinders Ranges.

The proposed above ground Store in our iconic Flinders Ranges is unnecessary as the ANSTO’s existing Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can manage reprocessed nuclear fuel waste on contract from France and from the United Kingdom over the long term.

The ANSTO application for the Interim Waste Store was conservatively predicated on a 40 year operating life for the IWS, and ANSTO has a contingency to “extend it for a defined period of time”.

ANSTO also has a contingency option for the “Retention of the returned residues at ANSTO until the availability of a final disposal option” – which does not involve a Store in the Flinders Ranges.

The Lucas Heights Technology Centre is by far the best placed Institution and facility to responsibly manage Australia’s existing nuclear fuel waste and proposed waste accruals from the Opal reactor.

The Interim Waste Store (IWS) at the Lucas Heights Technology Centre can conservatively function throughout the proposed operating period of the Opal reactor without a requirement for an alternative above ground nuclear fuel waste Store at a NRWMF in the Flinders Ranges or elsewhere.

It is an inexplicably omission or an unacceptably act of denial for ARPANSA to fail to even identity or to properly explain Australia’s existing nuclear fuel wastes and proposed further decades of Opal reactor nuclear fuel waste production in the “Information for Stakeholders”.

Australia’s nuclear fuel wastes are by far the highest activity and most concentrated and hazardous nuclear wastes under Australian management, and must be distinguished from other waste forms. (more…)

Nuclear spin – the same glossy proaganda as in 1986

February 1, 2017

NuClear News No 90 4. Nuclear Waste Updates  The Department of Business, Energy and
Industrial Strategy – BEIS – (formerly called ‘DECC’) was planning to hold two public consultations, on the draft National Policy Statement for a Geological Disposal Facility and on Working With Communities based on the work of the Community Representation Working Group, this autumn, but the uncertainty caused by recent turbulence in the wider political environment means that these now look likely to be delayed until early 2017.

Energy Minister Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe hailed a “nuclear renaissance” when she addressed the Office for Nuclear Regulation Industry Conference in Cumbria. She said that as well as Hinkley Point C and proposals for new reactors at Moorside the Government is “going further, with proposals to develop 18GW of nuclear power across six sites in the UK.”

She said the Government would be launching a new siting process for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in 2017. The Whitehaven News reported that the site for the GDF would almost certainly be in West Cumbria, but this was not in the Minister’s published speech. (1)

Just to finally knock on the head the idea that most of the nuclear waste is in Cumbria already so we might as well build the GDF there, nuClear News has done some number crunching:

Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) has developed a detailed inventory of radioactive waste for disposal in its proposed GDF which it calls the ‘Derived Inventory’. This inventory is subject to uncertainty due to a range of factors such as uncertainty about the life of the AGR reactors and what happens to the UK’s plutonium inventory, and, of course proposals for new reactors.

The Derived Inventory is therefore updated periodically to take into account new information. RWM published a new 2013 Derived Inventory in July 2015. This can be compared with the previous 2010 Derived Inventory to obtain further information about the impact of a new reactor programme. The table below is from an RWM report which does just that. (2)

The 2010 inventory showed a derived inventory (2010 DI) which did not include any spent fuel or other waste from new reactors and an upper inventory (2010 UI) – which did include spent fuel and wastes from a 10GW new reactor programme. On the other hand the 2013 Derived Inventory has only one set of figures which includes spent fuel and waste from a 16GW new reactor programme. As mentioned above this could increase in future to take account of the fact that the Government now anticipates the size of the new reactor programme will be 18GW, to allow for the latest additional to the proposed fleet – Bradwell B. Beyond that there are ambitions to build between 7 and 21GW of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) capacity by 2035.

The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will be small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.

A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors. The total activity measured in Terabecquerels (TBq) of the 2010 Derived Inventory, (not including any wastes from new reactors) was 4,770,000 TBq.

The total activity given in the 2013 Derived Inventory, which includes waste and spent fuel from a 16GW new reactor programme, was 27,300,000 TBq. Not all of this huge increase in activity is down to new reactors. For instance there is a big jump in the activity of legacy spent fuel and 3,700,000 TBq from spent mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MoX) fuel – a category which does not appear at all in the 2010 inventory. However, 19,793,000 TBq is activity from new reactor wastes and spent fuel. So the activity of radioactive waste from a new reactor programme would be roughly four times the activity in the total 2010 inventory.

Of course this figure is for a 16GW new reactor programme. For an 18GW programme the total activity of spent fuel and intermediate level waste would be about 22,267,125 TBq or almost five times the activity of existing waste.

[Table on original]

These numbers are significant because of the amount of repository space taken up by existing waste mostly located in Cumbria compared with waste stored on reactor sites outwith Cumbria. The NDA has estimated the total repository footprint for a baseline inventory (the total waste expected to be created by the existing programme) of between 5.6 km2 and 10.3km2 depending on the rock-type. However, the footprint from a maximum inventory which includes a 16GW new reactor programme would be between 12.3km2 and 25km2. (3)  [Table on original]

So the activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf

“Experts” mislead South Australians on the health effects of ionising radiation

September 13, 2016

Bananas, brazil nuts and some other foods contain radioactive potassium-40 — but in extremely low doses. Potassium-40 in bananas has a specific activity of 71 ten millionths of a curie per gram. Compare that to the 88 curies per gram for Cesium-137. This is like comparing a stick of dynamite to an atomic bomb. Our bodies manage the ingested Potassium 40, so that after eating bananas, the excess is quickly excreted and the body’s Potassium-40 level remains unchanged.

The radioactive isotopes that come from nuclear fission (such as strontium -90, cesium -137 and iodine 131) were unknown in nature before atomic fission: our bodies are not adapted to them. And as well as being far more radioactive that Potassium -40, they can accumulate in the body.

I had hoped for something sensible to come out of these Citizens’ Juries. That doesn’t look like happening if the juries continue to be fed this kind of nonsense. 

On the matter of ionising radiation and health, Noel Wauchope rebuts five misleading speakers at the Nuclear Citizens’ Jury hearings on Australia’s nuclear waste importation plan.

IN TWO DAYS of 25 Citizens’ Jury sessions in Adelaide (on 25-26 June), about nuclear waste importing, there was minimal coverage of the question of ionising radiation and health.

What little there was, was skimpy, superficial and downright deceptive, in 209 pages of transcripts.

There was not one mention of the world’s authoritative bodies on the subject — The World Health Organisation, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or any of the reports on biological effects of ionising radiation.

There was no explanation of the “linear no threshold” (LNT) theory on ionising radiation and health, despite the fact that this theory is the one accepted by all the national and international health bodies, including the Ionising Radiation Safety Institute of Australia who, on this topic, quote the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

Instead of explaining this basic concept in radiation protection, the slight coverage on radiation and health given to the Jury, was done in a trivial manner as the following examples (listed in the transcript report) illustrate.

First Speaker

Greg Ward, Chief of Staff, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, was asked the following question by a juror (p 28):

“Why didn’t the commission report to us the effect of radioactivity in these two [Hiroshima and Nagasaki] populations?”

Greg Ward

That’s just one example … There are lots of studies being undertaken … to look at it from other angles as well … I would have to say that there’s a cloudy area, and that’s largely around the impact of low doses of radiation on humans … You’ve got others who would argue that actually small amounts of radiation actually has a beneficial effect on your immune systems, but there’s certainly no — I would have to say there’s no universal agreement at this point.

Rebuttal

But there IS universal agreement on the Linear No Threshold theory, as explained by the health bodies named above.

Second Speaker

Chad Jacobi, Counsel Assisting, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (p. 31):

Chad Jacobi

the effects that we’re looking at, they are what are known as stochastic effects, they deal with lower doses where you need to do epidemiological studies in order to determine the relationship between radiation and a particular consequence … outstanding evidence, from Geraldine Thomas … She gave excellent evidence on this topic and her evidence is very interesting.  

Rebuttal

Mr Jacobi did not go on to explain any of this evidence, so the jurors were left in the dark here.

However, Professor Geraldine Thomas of the Imperial College London, cited by Jacobi, is well known as a speaker promoting the message that ionising radiation is nothing to worry about. She pops up wherever the nuclear lobby is doing a soft sell and in particular, downplays the health effects of radiation on all species as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. She also claimed (at an international conference on radiation research in Warsaw in 2011):

Following Fukushima I doubt that there’ll be any rise in thyroid cancers in Japan.

Thomas’ views are greatly contested. Screening has shown an abnormal rise in thyroid cancers in Fukushima. Professor Timothy Mousseau has studied the Chernobyl and Fukushima situations extensively, finding ill effects of radiation — including genetic damage and increased mutation rates in many species.

Third Speaker

Nigel McBride, Chief Executive Business SA — the state’s peak business and employer group. Mr McBride had a lot to say — some snatches (p 88):

Nigel McBride

Maralinga atomic experiments … British atomic tests are not linked to this discussion; they’ve got nothing to do with it very subtle way of linking two completely unrelated issues to bring fear and emotion … 60,000 people work directly in the UK nuclear industry and in 60 years there has not been one fatality. Neither has there been a fatality in Canada, France, Germany, India and even the U.S. … Five and a half thousand people we understand die from some level of obesity yet we don’t ban sugar and sugary drinks … education over hysteria.

Rebuttal

On Maralinga, from Keith Thomas, Chief Executive of the South Australian Native Title Services (p 97):

Keith Thomas

For Aboriginal people the past really does shape the present and the future. Significant events like happened at Maralinga very much become a part of that … that’s affected people all the way to the present as there’s people dying young, which shouldn’t be happening … Aboriginal people — “We don’t want that stuff here because we’ve seen what it does to people.”

On nuclear workers’ fatalities:

An investigation in the U.S. last year, revealed at least 33,480 American nuclear workers died as a result of their radiation exposure. International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organisation also reported on nuclear workers’ leukaemia.

Fourth Speaker

Jason Kuchel, Chief Executive South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy. At last, the fun part about bananas and chocolate. He provided these to jurors, as some sort of evidence of the benignness of ionising radiation (p 117):

Jason Kuchel

I took the opportunity during the break to put some bananas and some chocolates on the tables … you will get to see the point of that as we go through. … [the risks of] getting an x-ray, flying in a plane or even eating a bananaAt the Onkalo waste repository in Finland, the worst case radiation dose if someone were to stand on top of the facility for a whole year and there was a defective package, the equivalent radiation would be equal to eating one bite of a banana.  

As the facility is not yet accepting radioactive waste, all that hardly matters. And that was all from Mr Kuchel.

Fifth Speaker

Associate Professor Michael Penniment, Director Royal Adelaide Hospital, went on at length about the present storage of radioactive materials in hospitals and so on in Adelaide. He took a long time to go near the question of health effects of low level radiation but he finally got to talking about radioactive sources (p 124):

Michael Penniment

It may be that you may not want to avoid them anyway … I got the banana association straight up. I didn’t get the Lindt one [the reference is to the Lindt chocolate factory, which is quite near a nuclear power plant]; I didn’t see that coming. But certainly there’s some radioactive potassium.

You can decrease your risk by doing a few things: you can live in a wooden house, that will take per cent house; if you live in a tent, that will take 20 per cent off; if you live in the open, that will take 50 per cent off.  (He goes on to elaborate the benefits of radiation in treating cancer).  And that’s it — end of his presentation.

However, later in the Q and A section, Penniment did return to that subject ( p.132):

I saw an article by … David Webb … in the follow-up to Chernobyl … there were 28 deaths, and those were the radiation workers that were sent in to clean up the initial spill … And then there was something of the order of 1500 people that died from suicide because of their concerns about radiation, which he described as really the fallacy of radiation, that those people were so worried, and beyond that nobody has died form that incident.

There’s even data that suggests, and it’s reassuring to me, there was data from the British Radiology Association a number of years ago that low level exposure that’s above what we’ve set as the community limit actually may have an improvement in health in terms of what’s called radiation hormesis. The study of radiation workers in the 50s and 60s where controls aren’t as tight as 30 they are now suggests that it may actually have a very low level exposure to radiation but above what we would deem safe might actually have an improvement in health.

Rebuttal

On Chernobyl deaths:

Professor Penniment has taken his information from the World Nuclear News. As well as the sources noted above, eminent Russian scientists have put the death toll at 985,000. The most recent study TORCH-2016, an independent scientific evaluation of the health-related effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, explains the difficulty in getting an accurate estimate but suggests a conservative estimate of 30,000.

On nuclear workers’ health: 

As explained above, in rebutting Nigel McBride.

On radioactivity of bananas:  

Bananas, brazil nuts and some other foods contain radioactive potassium-40 — but in extremely low doses. Potassium-40 in bananas has a specific activity of 71 ten millionths of a curie per gram. Compare that to the 88 curies per gram for Cesium-137. This is like comparing a stick of dynamite to an atomic bomb. Our bodies manage the ingested Potassium 40, so that after eating bananas, the excess is quickly excreted and the body’s Potassium-40 level remains unchanged.

The radioactive isotopes that come from nuclear fission (such as strontium -90, cesium -137 and iodine 131) were unknown in nature before atomic fission: our bodies are not adapted to them. And as well as being far more radioactive that Potassium -40, they can accumulate in the body.

I had hoped for something sensible to come out of these Citizens’ Juries. That doesn’t look like happening if the juries continue to be fed this kind of nonsense.

Tobacco lobby shows the way for coal lobby propaganda

September 13, 2016

Here we go again: Fossil fuel industry takes a play from Big Tobacco’s playbook http://www.dailyclimate.org/t/1692193038704125011  August 31, 2016 by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Last year, coal mining executives attending the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute were treated to a presentation on the future of American mining titled:“Survival Is Victory: Lessons From the Tobacco Wars.”  As the title implies, the presentation laid out a path for the fossil fuel industry to weather a barrage of lawsuits and new safety and health regulations, modeled on the efforts of the tobacco industry in the 90s and early 2000s.  (See John Schwartz’s story in The New York Times.)

Richard Reavey, the Cloud Peak Energy vice president who delivered the presentation, described the similarities between what Big Tobacco went through and the challenges facing coal today as “remarkable and eerie.” (We should take his word for it. Before working for Cloud Peak, a mining company, Reavey was an executive at tobacco giant Philip Morris for 17 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.) His advice to the coal execs: do what tobacco did and “cut a deal while we are still relevant.” After all, “a much more heavily regulated tobacco industry is still viable and profitable.”

Ironically, Reavey’s presentation on these similarities between tobacco and fossil fuel strategies has a much deeper parallel.

For decades, cigarette makers hid from the public and from policymakers the scientific evidence they had of their product’s dangers. The Justice Department brought, and ultimately won, a civil racketeering lawsuit against the major tobacco companies for carrying out that fraud. Today, researchers often compare this tobacco fraud on the public to the fossil fuel industry’s suppression of its research on the dangers of carbon pollution.

Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University has written about the pattern followed by both industries: hiring their own scientists to churn out favorable research; creating (and bankrolling) front groups to sow doubt in the public debate about scientific consensus, while obscuring the hand of the industry; and even attacking and harassing individual scientists whose work may discredit the industry propaganda. Professor Mann himself has been the target of vexatious “investigations” and efforts to intimidate and harass him, including death threats—just for producing peer-reviewed academic research shedding light on the effects of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Dr. Robert Brulle of Drexel University has documented an intricate propaganda web of climate denial, with over one hundred organizations, from industry trade associations to conservative think tanks to plain old phony front groups. The purpose of this sophisticated denial apparatus, he says, is “a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate.” These are tactics that were developed, tested, and proven effective by the tobacco industry—and in some cases the very same front groups were involved.

Public lawyers demanded that the “tobacco files”” behind this fraud be made a public record. A recentanalysis by the Center for International Environmental Law of millions of documents from these tobacco industry archives reveals close collaboration over the better part of a century between cigarette manufacturers and oil producers on research, lobbying, and public relations.  The new bookPoison Tea, by Climate Nexus Executive Director Jeff Nesbit, chronicles this same relationship.

In the book and film Merchants of Doubt, Drs. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway identify spin doctors, spokespeople and even scientists-for-hire who were involved in the tobacco and now fossil fuel campaigns. Not only has the energy industry recycled tobacco’s strategies and front groups, it’s redeploying some of the same personnel, like Mr. Reavey, the coal convention presenter.

Sharon Eubanks, lead counsel on behalf of the United States in United States v. Phillip Morris, the federal tobacco litigation, has said she believes the government could make a case against fossil fuel producers very similar to the one she led against tobacco under federal civil racketeering laws.  That’s not just because coal companies are openly taking cues from tobacco’s legal and regulatory fight.  It’s because mounting evidence indicates that, like tobacco, the fossil fuel industry may have engaged in a deliberate, protracted fraud to mislead the public, to protect their profits, to the peril of us all.

Debunking the myths around medicine and a nuclear waste dump

June 11, 2016

A very comprehensive 2010 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report found reactor based isotope production requires significant taxpayer subsidies, as the cost of sale does not cover the cost of production.

The report concludes: “In many cases the full impact of Mo-99/Tc-99m provision was not transparent to or appreciated by governments… The full costs of waste management, reactor operations, fuel consumption, etc were not included in the price structure. This is a subsidisation by one country’s taxpayers of another country’s health care system. Many governments have indicated that they are no longer willing to provide such subsidisation.”

What is needed urgently is a debate about how much waste we make. We have a choice: whether we follow ANSTO’s expensive business model to ramp up reactor manufacture (and the long-lived radioactive waste that goes with it), or collaborate with Canada to develop cyclotron manufacture of isotopes that does not produce long-lived nuclear waste.

Debunking the myths around medicine and a nuclear waste dump

Nuclear Waste In Australia: A Few Home Truths https://newmatilda.com/2016/03/07/50511/   By  on March 7, 2016 Australia’s hunt for a central nuclear waste dump continues, but we already have more waste than we know what to do with, writes Margaret Beavis.

The Federal government is seeking a location for a nuclear waste facility. But the provision of information to communities has been problematic, with some major flaws.

Claims have been made that provision of nuclear medicine services is a key reason to build it, but existing medical waste makes up a very small proportion of the total waste requiring disposal.

In addition, little has been said about ANSTO’s business plan to greatly ramp up Australia’s reactor based production of isotopes from 1 per cent to over 25 per cent of the world’s market, which will massively increase the amount of long-lived radioactive waste produced in the future.

A new process may reduce the volume of the waste, but the actual quantity of radioactive material to store will be significantly greater, and will become most of the radioactive waste Australia produces.

In Australia nuclear medicine isotopes are indeed useful, but according to Medicare figures represent less than 3 per cent of medical imaging. They are most commonly used for bone scans and some specialised heart scans. They are not needed (as claimed by government) for normal X-rays, most heart scans and the vast majority of cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy).

Government statements that one in two Australians at some point in their life need nuclear medicine stretch credibility.

It is interesting to hear government adviser Dr Geoff Currie’s contribution to this debate. But it does not reflect the position of the world leaders in isotope production.

The Canadians, who have been the leading exporters and best practice experts producing 30 per cent of the world’s isotopes for many decades, are in the process of phasing out nuclear reactor production.

Canada produced a “Report of the Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope Production 2009”. After this report the Canadian government stated, “Canadians have been left to shoulder a disproportionate amount of the nuclear waste burden associated with reactor-based isotope production. This includes the significant costs associated with long-term management of the waste. The Government favours a new paradigm in which Canadians benefit from Canadian-based isotope production, supplemented if necessary from the world market, and supply is sustainable because of reduced waste and improved economics.”

They gave a number of other reasons why Canada wished to phase out reactor use. These included reliability of supply (reactor breakdowns created worldwide isotope supply shortages); investment in reactor production of medical isotopes would crowd out investment in innovative alternative production technologies like cyclotrons; and reactor production was the most expensive option, at no stage commercially viable without major taxpayer subsidies.

The Canadian Triumf research team had a successful pilot project in January 2015. They demonstrated a process that enables the routine production of sufficient Tc-99m (which is 85 per cent of isotopes used) to satisfy the daily demand for a population the size of British Columbia – or 500 patients – from a six-hour run on a common brand of medical cyclotrons.

Clinical trials began in early 2015. There are plans to have 24 cyclotrons operating across Canada by 2018, when they are planning to close down their reactor.

A very comprehensive 2010 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report found reactor based isotope production requires significant taxpayer subsidies, as the cost of sale does not cover the cost of production.

The report concludes: “In many cases the full impact of Mo-99/Tc-99m provision was not transparent to or appreciated by governments… The full costs of waste management, reactor operations, fuel consumption, etc were not included in the price structure. This is a subsidisation by one country’s taxpayers of another country’s health care system. Many governments have indicated that they are no longer willing to provide such subsidisation.”

Clearly cyclotron production of nuclear medicine is not widely available right now, but planned in Canada in the next three to five years. How rapidly we adopt their technology will determine how long we need to use reactor produced isotopes.

What is needed urgently is a debate about how much waste we make. We have a choice: whether we follow ANSTO’s expensive business model to ramp up reactor manufacture (and the long-lived radioactive waste that goes with it), or collaborate with Canada to develop cyclotron manufacture of isotopes that does not produce long-lived nuclear waste.

It is a bit like Australia’s stance on coal for energy – with continued reliance on 19th century technology rather than a switch to 21st century renewables – do we continue with 20th century reactor technology and back the wrong horse?

ANSTO is a taxpayer-funded organisation. The decision to ramp up reactor waste production will leave many future generations with radioactive materials that last hundreds of thousands of years. So for the six communities proposed, Australia’s future nuclear waste burden is the elephant in the room.

When managing toxic materials, the first principle should be reducing their production at source. We urgently need an inquiry into nuclear waste production in Australia, given we already have more radioactive waste than we know what to do with.

Australia’s nuclear radiation regulator is not really “independent”

June 11, 2016

Jim Green 21 Feb 16 Bruce Wilson (from the federal government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science) and other governments reps were keen to talk up the role of the ‘independent’ regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). But ARPANSA has a troubled history. Its troubles began immediately: the government allowed ANSTO a direct role in selecting the founding CEO of ARPANSA, so ARPANSA’s independence was undermined from the start.

Here’s a more recent example of problems with ARPANSA, summarised in a 2011 ABC article:

“A review of Australia’s nuclear industry regulator, ARPANSA, has found an improper relationship with the main agency it monitors [ANSTO]. The Health Department’s audit and fraud control branch has been investigating how ARPANSA handled allegations of safety breaches and bullying at the nation’s only nuclear reactor in Sydney. Whistleblowers had alleged ARPANSA was too close to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which runs the Lucas Heights research facility.”

ABC, 8 July 2011, Nuclear regulator ‘too close’ to ANSTO,www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/07/3264086.htm

An independent regulator could provide some confidence. But a not-so-independent regulator with a poor track record …

 

More information about ARPANSA:

Poor credibility of nuclear propagandist Barry Brook as an “outstanding scientist”

June 11, 2016

Jim Green, 19 Feb 16 Tas Uni academic Barry Brook’s university webpage says that in 2005 he was listed as one of the “2000 Outstanding Scientists of the 21st Century” by theInternational Biographical Centre (IBC). But the IBC is a zero-credibility money making operation.

The WA Government’s Dept of Commerce ‘ScamNet’ website states: “The material promoting the International Biographical Centre creates a false impression about the credentials of the organisation. It also wrongly implies that the receiver of the letter has been picked through a special research process considering their work and qualifications.”

If there was any doubt about the IBC’s illegitimacy, one of Brook’s academic colleagues nominated a squeaky toy lobster and Prof. Lobster was accepted for inclusion as one of the ‘2000 Outstanding Scientists of the 21st Century’. And the IBC has accepted a nomination for Clive Palmer to be listed as one of the ‘2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century’. A ‘Medal of Intellect’ will be sent to Palmer on payment of a $240 fee.

Feel free to test the IBC’s credibility yourself … you’ll have no trouble getting the Wiggles or the Bananas in Pyjamas or Thomas the Tank Engine accepted as Outstanding Scientists or Outstanding Intellectuals.

Given that the illegitimacy of the IBC is beyond doubt, why does the IBC accolade remain on Brook’s university webpage?

Sources:

Pro nuclear’environmentalists’ shills: Hansen and Shellenberger exposed

June 11, 2016

How low can they go? Hansen, Shellenberger now shilling for Exelon Green World,  Michael Mariotte
April 6, 2016 “…….Enter the pro-nuke “environmentalists.”

Specifically, renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen and industry-oriented Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute, came to Illinois this week to weigh in on the Exelon bailout debate.  And no, they didn’t support renewables or other clean energy technologies. They didn’t question whether the nation’s largest electric utility really needs to gouge Illinoisans for another $300 million to keep aging, money-losing reactors open. Their message was pretty simple: in an open letter to Illinois legislators they, and several dozen others (most of whom are long-standing nuclear advocates) urged them to “do everything in your power to keep all of Illinois’s nuclear power plants running for their full lifetimes.”

Sometimes Dr. Hansen just makes you wonder if he isn’t undertaking some bizarre experiment to see how far he can undermine his own credibility before it all blows up in his face.

Back in November 2013 he and three colleagues wrote an open letter to us nuclear opponents urging us to reconsider nuclear power. It’s worth going back and reading some of that letter.

“As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems,” the letter began. It added, “We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem.” And: “We understand that today’s nuclear plants are far from perfect. Fortunately, passive safety systems and other advances can make new plants much safer.”

Note the emphasis: Hansen is clearly talking about “safer” nuclear reactors. To be precise, he was seeking environmentalist support for development and deployment of Generation IV reactors. Which, to date, do not exist.

NIRS and Civil Society Institute organized a response, signed by 300+ organizations, to Hansen’s letter explaining our continued opposition to nuclear power as a climate response and calling for a public debate on the issue. We never received a reply.

Now jump ahead to December 2015, just four months ago. Shortly before the Paris COP 21 climate talks, Hansen et. al. issued a new missive: “Nuclear power, particularly next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle (where spent fuel is reprocessed), is uniquely scalable, and environmentally advantageous. Over the past 50 years, nuclear power stations – by offsetting fossil fuel combustion – have avoided the emission of an estimated 60bn tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy can power whole civilizations, and produce waste streams that are trivial compared to the waste produced by fossil fuel combustion. There are technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely. However, nuclear does pose unique safety and proliferation concerns that must be addressed with strong and binding international standards and safeguards. Most importantly for climate, nuclear produces no CO2 during power generation.”

While there is much to dispute in this paragraph, again note the emphasis on safety and “next-generation nuclear power” and continued acknowledgement of nuclear’s “unique safety and proliferation concerns.”

Fukushima-clone Quad Cities, which began operation in 1972, and Clinton, which began operation in 1987, clearly do not fall under the “safer” or “next-generation” nuclear memes. By endorsing not only their continued operation, but their continued operation enabled by forcing the people of Illinois to further line Exelon’s pockets, Hansen has made a mockery of his earlier safety concerns and exposed himself as no different than any other Exelon-paid-for Nuclear Matters spokesperson.

But it gets worse, because by allying himself with the Breakthrough Institute’s Shellenberger, Hansen has gone a step even further, a step right over the credibility cliff. Because asMidwest Energy News reported,  “Shellenberger described next-generation technology as farther away from viability than he had previously hoped, and urged more focus on the nation’s existing reactors.

“How much safer could they be?” he said. “If you have nuclear plants that don’t hurt anyone, keep running them.”

In other words, Shellenberger dismisses Hansen’s support of Generation IV reactors in one phrase and argues in essence that because Fukushima hasn’t happened yet at Quad Cities, well, hell, it never will; keep them running… But Fukushima did, in fact, happen. And there were supposed to have been lessons learned from that disaster. One of those is to be highly skeptical of GE Mark I nuclear reactor designs that are essentially identical to Fukushima, and that have been highly controversial even since their inception in the 1960s.

Thus, Hansen and Shellenberger (and the rest of the letter’s signers, most of whom probably know little about the actual situation in Illinois) are now dismissing any pretense of caring about nuclear safety. For what? To enable Exelon, the largest electric utility in the nation, to gouge Illinoisans for another $300 million to keep open three aging, uneconomic and unsafe nuclear reactors, because of their low carbon emissions.

Seriously, do Hansen and Shellenberger really intend to argue that the world’s climate depends on whether three midwestern nuclear reactors stay open or not? Especially when, to the extent their power needs to be replaced at all it will not be replaced by coal (check out the growing list of coal bankruptcies, there won’t be any new coal plants in Illinois) but to some limited and temporary extent by gas and over the longer and larger term by clean energy. Genuinely clean energy. The kind that doesn’t routinely spew out toxic radiation into the air and water nor create lethal radioactive waste that–their protestations to the contrary–there is not yet, and may not be for centuries, a scientifically-responsible and publicly-acceptable storage solution.

And why have they even entered this debate at all? Shellenberger has gone so far as to establish a new organization called Environmental Progress Illinois to “protect and grow solar, wind and nuclear energy.” He claims that the group hasn’t taken a position on state legislative proposals yet, but expressed support for the concept of having nuclear power treated like renewables in a new “clean energy portfolio standard.” Which happens to be Exelon’s proposal.

Shellenberger, for the record, says his new group takes no money from the energy industry.

And why is Hansen jumping into this battle? This is not the Keystone pipeline. Closing three reactors–or 30 reactors over the next few years for that matter–is not “game over” for climate, not when those reactors can be replaced by clean energy technologies, as both EPA and EIA analyses project they will be.

Arguing for environmentalists to consider Generation IV reactor technology was one thing. For many reasons, we rejected that approach and explained in detail why we did so, but at least it was a fair challenge. But actively working to prevent the shutdown of three reactors of 1960s nuclear technology under the pretense that it would matter for the climate is a leap too far. I hate to say it, but it is a leap so far that it brings into question Hansen’s credibility on the far more important issues of his climate science generally. I have long trusted Hansen on climate issues; now, I am nervous about that. If he can be so wrong in Illinois, and so far removed from his own previous statements on nuclear safety, and seems willing to sell himself to the nation’s largest, and quite possibly greediest, electric utility, well, how can I trust his other work?

I have been telling myself–and others– as Hansen’s pro-nuclear statements have become more and more strident and outlandish over the past few years that, well, Hansen is a climate expert, not an energy expert, and there is a big difference between the two. That’s still true, of course. But I’m having my doubts. Could some of his climate statements–that I’m not expert enough to evaluate the way I am expert enough to evaluate his nuclear statements–be as far removed from reality as his Illinois positions? Fortunately, there are a lot of other climate experts out there. I’ll start listening more closely to them. And there are lots of real energy experts out there, but I already know them and I’ll continue to listen to them. As for Hansen, I probably won’t listen to him anymore on either subject.

As for Illinois, closing Clinton and Quad Cities would not only save its citizens money and reduce the daily risk these dangerous reactors pose, it would help usher in substantial new clean energy investment, something the state desperately could use. That would be the kind of win-win situation–for the state and the climate, if not for Exelon–that the legislature hopefully will recognize. https://safeenergy.org/2016/04/06/how-low-can-they-go/