Nuclear Power news

Germany approves landmark nuclear waste deal with utilities: source

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German cabinet approved a deal on Wednesday for its top utilities to start paying into a 23.6-billion-euro ($25.9 billion) fund next year in return for shifting liability for nuclear waste storage to the government, a source said.
Read more [Reuters]

Japan election key to world's biggest nuclear plant and Abe's energy policy

NIIGATA, Japan (Reuters) - A regional election north of Tokyo between candidates most Japanese have never heard of may decide the fate of the world's biggest nuclear plant and mark a turning point for an industry all but shut down after the Fukushima disaster.
Read more [Reuters]

German cabinet to agree nuclear storage deal on Oct. 19: sources

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German cabinet is due to take a decision on final funding from Germany's top utilities in return for handing over responsibility for the storage of nuclear waste on Oct. 19, government and commission sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Read more [Reuters]

Swiss government opposes campaign for quick nuclear exit

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government opposes an initiative to be voted on in November that would shutter three nuclear plants next year, Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said on Tuesday.
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'Like a nuclear bomb,' cholera and destruction after hurricane in Haiti

PORT-A-PIMENT, Haiti (Reuters) - Patients arrived every 10 or 15 minutes, brought on motorcycles by relatives with vomit-covered shoulders and hoisted up the stairs into southwest Haiti's Port-a-Piment hospital, where they could rest their weak, cholera-sapped limbs.
Read more [Reuters]

Japan signals end for $10 billion nuclear prototype

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan signaled on Wednesday it would scrap a costly prototype nuclear reactor that has operated for less than a year in more than two decades at a cost of 1 trillion yen ($9.84 billion).
Read more [Reuters]

German nuclear commission warns of delay to waste storage deal

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany should speed up implementation of recommendations requiring operators of nuclear plants to pay billions of euros into a fund to cover the costs of waste storage, a commission urged the chancellery in a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Read more [Reuters]

Brent Spar: The sea is not a dustbin

In August 2016, Prestel Books published Photos That Changed the World, including this image of the Greenpeace Brent Spar campaign, captured by David Sims on 16 June 1995.

Greenpeace approaches Brent Spar, 1995, dodging a Shell water cannon. Photo by David Sims, Greenpeace. Selected for "Photos that Changed the World," from Prestel Books.

The story begins in the 1950s, when Royal Dutch Shell found oil near Groningen, in Permian sandstone linked to North Sea formations. By 1971, Shell had located the giant Brent oilfield in the North Sea, 220km east of Shetland Islands. The Brent field produced a valuable, low sulphur crude, and set the standard for the European, or "Brent", oil price.

In 1976, Shell constructed the Brent Spar, a floating oil storage tank, 147 metres tall, with thick steel walls, holding up to 300,000 barrels of crude oil. The Shell team had damaged the tank during installation, and doubts remained regarding its structural integrity. Four years later, Shell constructed a pipeline from the deep sea field to the mainland, making the spar redundant. In 1991, with no use for the Brent Spar, Shell applied to the UK government to dump the installation into the North Sea.

In addition to crude oil, the giant piece of industrial garbage contained PCBs, heavy metals, and radioactive waste. Dismantling the Brent Spar on land would cost an estimated £41 million. Deep sea disposal, exploding and sinking the spar, would cost an estimated £19 million. Shell had some 400 additional platforms in the North Sea that they would eventually have to scrap. Dumping them all in the sea could save the company about £8 billion. They presented the planned dumping to the British government as a "test case".

The UK Ministry of Energy gave Shell full support to dump Brent Spar at North Feni Ridge, 250km from the northwest coast of Scotland, in 2500 metres of water. Shell claimed that sinking it would have only a "localised" effect in a region that offered "little resource value".

Shell planned to tow the spar North of the Shetland Islands to Feni Ridge for dumping.

Enter Greenpeace

Earlier, in 1978, Greenpeace had confronted the ship Gem, dumping European radioactive waste into the North Atlantic. In 1993, the London Dumping Commission, with 70 member nations, passed a worldwide ban against radioactive waste dumping at sea.

A year later, in December 1994, Gijs Thieme in the UK Greenpeace office heard about the planned disposal of the Brent Spar, and urged his colleagues to launch another campaign. The North Sea Environmental Ministers had planned a conference for 1995 in Esbjerg, Denmark, just as Shell planned to dump the Brent Spar. The Greenpeace activists seized the moment to extend the dumping ban to include installations such as the spar. Thieme, Remi Parmentier in France, and Harald Zindler in Germany planned a campaign to occupy the spar and disrupt Shell's plans. Rose Young — an American activist working with the Northern European Nuclear Information Group in the Shetland Islands — organized campaign logistics from the Shetlands. The activists based the campaign on a simple principle: "The sea is not a dustbin."

On 29 February 1995, Greenpeace vessel Moby Dick Left Lerwick in Shetland for Brent Field. A month later, on 30 April, Greenpeace activists occupied the Brent Spar, maintained their presence for three weeks, took samples from the oil storage tanks, and called for a ban of Shell service stations.

Images moved across European and world media, showing Shell security and British police spraying the protesters with water cannons, as Greenpeace relief teams flew in by helicopter. Demonstrations broke out across Europe, the German Ministry of the Environment protested the dumping plan and, on 15 May at the G7 summit, German chancellor Helmut Kohl publicly protested to British Prime Minister John Major. In June, eleven nations at the Oslo and Paris Commission meetings called for a moratorium on sea disposal of offshore installations.

Shell and the British government defied public sentiment, and on 10 June, Shell began towing the spar to the Feni Ridge disposal site. Consumers boycotted Shell stations across Europe. In Germany Shell lost some 50 percent of sales.

In May 1995, Shell succeeded in removing the spar occupiers. At the end of May, Eric Heijselaar, working in a Dutch climbing shop, got a phone call from Greenpeace: "Do you want to help us re-take the Brent Spar?" A week later, he stood on the deck of the Greenpeace ship Altair, skippered by Jon Castle, gazing out at the North Sea. Heijselaar kept a journal, and his account takes us into the maelstrom:

Eric Heijselaar's journal

13/06/95: I had the 04.00 to 06.00 watch. Drove in the Lecomte to the Brent Spar at 10.30. Sea is calm. Sea? I'm sorry, North Atlantic. Bloody hell, a couple of days ago I was selling walking boots.

There's a police helicopter above us, trying to serve us an injunction. They tried to throw in onto the heli-deck. Kevin and I used the fire hose to wash it away. Faik finally managed to get rid of it without touching. You touch, you're served!

14/06/95: Last night on the bridge: Jon: "Yes Eric, I think you're the type who can do this sort of job. Would you like to give it a try with Al?" Scary stuff.

We have journalists on board, some are wearing "Don't dump the Brent Spar" stickers. From a BBC journalist: "Wow, this is more fun than Lockerbie!"

15/06/95: Al, me, and Harald will fly out with the helicopter on Friday morning. First light. How we are gonna do this with all those water cannons is not clear yet. Since the word spread that me and Al are preparing to retake the Spar, there have been a lot of sick jokes from the "heavies"on board.

21/06/95: At our first try to get onto the Spar we had all the boats in the water for a frontal attack. Harald, Al and me in the heli, right above the platform.

Water cannons prevent us from landing or getting close to the platform. Just as the pilot decides to turn back to the ship. The helicopter is hit. We swing around violently. This is my first time in a helicopter. Everybody is pale and silent. Grim faces.

Back on the ship. We decide to give it a second try. Just me and Al Baker. We take off. The pilot sees a window. He literally dives underneath the beam of water. Glad I didn't have breakfast.

We end up ten meters above the heli-deck of the Brent Spar. The mechanic wants us to jump out at this height. Al shouts what I think. "No way man!" The pilot manages to go down another five meters. Al jumps first, then me. One of the water bags hit Al on the head. He is laying face down on the deck. I already feel an itchy pain in my heels. We lay out two banners on the deck. "Save our seas"and "Greenpeace". The photo's went worldwide.

We take all the water and personal equipment below deck on the spar. We find a room that is reasonably dry. The heli is back above the Spar, throwing small containers filled with food, sleeping bags, and cooking stuff, dropped from 50 meters. Most of the stuff is smashed to bits. Only one of the sleeping bags can be used. The other is wet, full of glass, beans, and tomato sauce. Bummer. My heels are starting to hurt from the jump. The painkillers from the first aid kit only take off the rough edge. Bummer 2.

We try to get barbed wire off the railing, onto the heli-deck, to prevent them from landing to take us off. I bend over the railing with my bolt-cutters and get hit by an express train. Water is everywhere at once. Sounds stop. I'm holding on to the barbed wire. Al is gone. Washed away. This was a deliberate attempt to blow us off the Spar with water cannons. We are 50 metres above the ocean. I get the feeling that somebody just tried to kill me.

Next day, in the spar mess-room, three windows are missing. A steel cupboard is blown through a wall. Water is now going into the three rooms we just got dry. We remove the shower units in the rooms and smash the drains through the floor. Now the water can go down to the floor underneath. We start improving our water defences.

Today, we both got hit on the heli-deck. The only thing that stopped us from falling over the edge was a roll of barbed wire. These guys are completely out of control.

[Shell had rigged explosives on the spar for blowing it up at sea. Heijselaar continues:]

Al wanted to disable the explosives. I didn't. We asked Tim to get info about the possible dangers. The expert came back to him with, "It's probably safe to cut the wires." Probably?! Al thinks this is funny. I do not agree. We look at each other briefly. You get to know each other quite well in these circumstances. Al cut the first, brown wire. There were 32 wires in pairs, one brown, one white twisted together.

After about a minute we dare to breath again. Then we cut the rest. When all are cut we sit on the ground and start to giggle. The threat of a single idiot on the Shell ships pushing a button is over.

The last day: Thanks to the painkillers I was eating, I slept well most nights. Just before 18.00, I called Tim on the VHF. The Altair crew were listening to BBC world service, and we were the first item. Tim stopped our conversation abruptly. "Eric, Stand by!" Suddenly, I heard shouting. Shell did the U-turn!

Outside, the water cannons stopped for the first time in weeks. The silence was eerie.

Tears of joy. We waited some hours for the official confirmation. It was really over.

Shell's change of plans

The pain in Eric Heijselaar's heel, turned out to be a broken bone, suffered from the leap out of the helicopter, but for the next few days, he kept taking pain killers as the campaign crew celebrated victory. Rose Young recalls: "Jon Castle, skipper of the Altair, announced that the Spar was altering course and going towards Norway. Unbelievable! A rainbow emerged from a grey sky, whales and dolphins emerged from the sea around the boats. Magic. I'll never forget it."

In July 1995, Norway granted permission to moor the spar in Erfjord, while Shell reconsidered its options. Three years later, in 1998, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) passed a ban on dumping oil installations into the North Sea. Shell announced that Brent Spar would be cleaned out and used as a foundation for a new ferry terminal. In the summer of 2017, Shell will start decommissioning the remaining four Brent field production platforms on land.

The Brent Spar action survives in history as a classic Greenpeace campaign that genuinely did change the way humankind behaves in the world.

The Brent Spar comes to rest in a Norwegian fjord, and would eventually be cleaned of toxic residues to become the foundation for a ferry terminal. Shell is still decommissioning its fleet of North Sea drilling platforms, but not by dumping them in the ocean.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International. 

Sources, links:

Prestel Books: Photos That Changed the World

Pictures that Changed the World: UK Mirror

BBC Report: What it takes to dismantle an oil rig

Greenpeace, 1995: Shell reverses decision to dump the Brent Spar 

Rémi Parmentier: Greenpeace and the Dumping of Waste at Sea

Shell Oil: Brent Field Decommissioning

Short video with activist interviews: Brent Spar, Greenpeace vs. Shell

Read more [Greenpeace international]

U.S. nuclear waste backlog could be eased by private disposal: Moniz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States could alleviate growing stockpiles of nuclear waste at U.S. power plants by allowing private companies to dispose of it and foster support for new nuclear projects, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Tuesday.
Read more [Reuters]

Let's make it a green peace

Today (21 September), around the globe, we mark Peace Day knowing that for many, peace is nowhere to be found. Not today. And unless things change dramatically, not any time soon.

On New Years Day 2016, a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF)-Greenpeace team on the Greek island of Lesbos were joined by groups such as Sea-Watch, the Dutch Refugee Boat Foundation and local communities, to create a peace sign formed from over 3,000 discarded refugee life jackets. The groups are calling for safe passage to those fleeing war, poverty and oppression.

2015 saw the number of refugees and displaced people reach record numbers – surpassing even post-World War II. It is with heavy hearts that we follow the news from around the world. The images are heartbreaking: a terrified child, a ruined hospital, a capsized boat, a city bombed to the ground, a community struggling for survival. For every image that catches the media’s attention, many others go unnoticed. Suffering and grief beyond comprehension, and beyond the limits of what people should have to endure, are the daily reality for many.

And while we cannot pretend to comprehend, we must ask ourselves – what should we do?

For Greenpeace, this is a question we grapple with and hold ourselves accountable to: how can all of us make our world more green and peaceful? Collaborating with and supporting other non-governmental organisations, partners and communities opposing violence is one step in the right direction. Using our skills to help those impacted by conflict is another. These are necessary and important, but are also after the fact.

We are passionate about speaking up against the narratives that we are being sold: that the only way to achieve security is through military might and that borders and weapons hold the key to a peaceful existence. Instead, we all must work to address the root causes leading to conflicts, to try and prevent them from occurring or escalating in the first place. We must all work alongside communities to identify non-violent solutions to problems.

Peace cannot be solely defined by the absence of war or conflict.

This underpins the approaches we take to achieve peace. Governments spend a fortune on ‘defense’, be it guns, bombs, war planes or  the ultimate weapon – nuclear armaments. By comparison there is currently very little focus on and very little time and money spent on proactively preventing conflict.

The twentieth-century model of security, based on military might, is no longer applicable. The notion that weapons are the way to safety, that military dominance is a mark of superiority, and “what happens over there stays over there” are powerful myths that will only lead to more violence and suffering. Violence begets more violence and rarely resolves conflicts. Peace in the 21st century means more than the absence of war.

We need to replace a way of thinking which allows a national security approach based on military might and a fear of those different from ourselves, with one that reflects a broader understanding of true security – human security. Human security focuses on protecting and promoting dignity, empowerment and fulfillment for all people. It means not only protecting people from threat, but creating the kind of environmental, social, political and economic systems that support and enhance people flourishing alongside each other and their environment.

A large scale visual message made by hundreds of people promoting a 100% renewable energy and peace during the COP21 climate summit. 

A healthy environment is key to human security. Caring for the environment is a necessity not a luxury. Our fates and that of the natural world are intimately connected. We humans cannot survive, nor live peacefully, without a healthy, functioning environment.

Nobel Peace Laureate Willy Brandt once said: “Peace is not everything, but without peace everything is nothing.” This logic applies even more-so to the natural world that provides us with the basis of our very existence.

Much of the damage we are inflicting on our planet is irreversible. We are now at a critical juncture, a tipping point, where overstepping our planetary boundaries is leading us down a path to growing instability, resource scarcity, fear, crisis and potential conflict. Some of the adverse impacts of climate change are already unavoidable. Crises will continue to occur. It is how we choose to respond that matters.

Resource scarcity (water, arable land, energy) does not have to lead to conflict. In fact, research shows that often, it can create the conditions for rival parties to cooperate.

Sharing our scarce resources fairly and protecting the Global Commons for us all are two essential ways to achieve a green and more peaceful world.

We can address the issues of growing resource scarcity and the local and global impacts of climate change by promoting sustainable options to resource scarcity.

Take energy, for example. Conflicts are always complex, but around the world, the quest for resources and conflict often go hand-in-hand. Current conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine, Sudan, the South China Sea and Nigeria are all, to an extent, linked to the ownership, access and transport of fossil fuels.

"Resource wars" are not new. But today we can overcome them. Energy is a key example for how transitioning to sustainable, clean renewable sources, could not only reduce conflict, but make life easier and more bountiful for billions. Worldwide 1.3 billion people – equivalent to 18% of global population – continue to live without access to electricity. 2.6 billion people are without clean cooking facilities. This is a problem especially for displaced people and refugees. Renewable energies are already helping to transform lives around the world, and Greenpeace, with your help, is playing a part in contributing to this by both mapping the road to 100% renewable energy for all and working on the ground to connect people (for example in India, Italy and Lebanon).

Dolphins swim alongside the Rainbow Warrior in the Cook Strait, New Zealand; very close to where Texan oil company Anadarko intended to begin prospecting in 2013.

Our vision is for a world where the intimate, symbiotic relationships between peace and the environment are cherished and acted upon. We stand for a world where people coexist peacefully with one another and with nature. We stand for a world where the limits of our resources are respected, celebrated and shared. But to get there we must choose cooperation over conflict. We must choose equity and sustainability over greed, human dignity and courage over exploitation.

We stand for peace.

And as one of our founders said: Let's make it a green peace.

Jennifer Morgan and Bunny McDiarmid are Executive Directors of Greenpeace International.

This story first appeared on The Huffington Post.  

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Russia issues Hinkley nuclear warning

Climate News Network: A major nuclear developer has warned the French energy giant EDF that it must deliver the Hinkley Point project in the UK on time and on budget or risk damaging the credibility of the wider industry. In an exclusive interview with Climate News Network, Kirill Komarov, first deputy chief executive of Russian state-owned corporation Rosatom, expressed fears that problems at other EDF schemes - such as Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland - could be repeated. Rosatom believes the decision...

WIPP nuclear waste accident will cost US taxpayers US$2 billion

Ecologist: The clean-up after the February 2014 explosion at the world's only deep underground repository for nuclear waste in New Mexico, USA, is massively over budget, writes Jim Green - and full operations won't resume until at least 2021. The fundamental cause of the problems: high level radioactive waste, poor regulation, rigid deadlines and corporate profit make a dangerous mix. The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state. It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now...

Hinkley must not be taken as a precedent for other nuclear stations

Guardian: Despite the majority of the British public being opposed to a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, according to various surveys, Theresa May has approved the £18bn project. The arguments against it are well understood – cost, safety and national security. On the first point, George Osborne, the former chancellor, was on the radio supporting the project last week, claiming that the costs would be borne by French group EDF and its Chinese partner CGN. That is disingenuous at best, misleading...

Forty-five years of people power

After forty-five years, countless campaigns and stories - one thing remains central to the Greenpeace identity, and that is people. People are at the heart of who we are and what is needed to create the green and peaceful world we need.

Greenpeace began with a handful of men and women in the port city of Vancouver on Canada’s Pacific coast who volunteered their time, energy and creative skills and courageously took on something greater than themselves. This small group worked together to protest a planned nuclear test on Amchitka Island off the Alaskan coast.

Bob Hunter and Ben Metcalfe at the helm of the Phyllis Cormack en route to Amchitka, September 1971.

After raising funds and securing a boat, known as the Phyllis Cormack, which was renamed the Greenpeace, the small group of activists set sail on their voyage. Unfortunately, the US authorities intercepted the boat and the crew returned home.

Though a simplified version of the story, that was the beginning of a much bigger journey. The tenacious efforts of that small group of activists who set sail in the face of great adversity helped to raise public awareness, and opposition against nuclear testing grew.

What their story demonstrated is that small groups of people can bring communities together, in ways they never thought possible, toward a common goal. This type of collaboration can reveal people’s similarities, which, in this case, were their collective concern for our environment.

Supporters greet returning Greenpeace ship, Vancouver, 27 October 1971.

Since that day in 1971, the Greenpeace network has had many victories and losses. Today, on our forty-fifth anniversary, we celebrate those victories even as we continue to learn from our losses.

We want to acknowledge and thank all the people who were involved from the very beginning; those who have spent nearly a lifetime working tirelessly to protect our planet.

Without the activists and cyber-activists, ships crews and campaigners, volunteers, scientists, lawyers, political lobbyists and researchers, Greenpeace is just a word. Greenpeace is made up of people driven by the same idea. It is our supporters, donors and allies.

Belgian activists protest Tokyo Two verdict, September 2010.

Greenpeace is the more than 36,000 active volunteers strong, across the globe who share their skills, energy and time to organise in their local communities - all these people are Greenpeace.

We celebrate these people who are a positive force of nature because we face significant environmental issues that threaten to radically alter the planet and all the life that call it home. The hope that we can collectively change the course we are on is unflinching and necessary.

Climate change is arguably the biggest global issue of our time. The Paris Agreement is a major step to bring into force and drive far more ambitious international action to hold us at 1.5C and move us toward 100% renewables and safe, secure energy for all. Greenpeace is working to shift the world away from a fossil fuel-based economy, to one built on clean and renewable energy, in ways that bring local benefits to people. To do that we need to shift the power away from the fossil fuel industries.

Arc de Triomphe Solar Action in Paris during COP21, December 2015.

Connected to climate change, ocean acidification is a direct effect of oceans absorbing excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which is already affecting marine life. Greenpeace wants more marine protected areas, less illegal fishing and is collaborating with a group of organisations and already making strides in stopping our oceans from becoming a giant rubbish dump for plastic.

Reef Investigation in Apo Island, July 2013.

Progress, made together with communities and groups, to keep our old growth forests and tropical rainforests standing is critical. This work both supports the unique biodiversity found only in these great forests and helps protect our climate because of the role forests play in balancing our global environmental systems.

Great Bear Rainforest Blockade, June 1997.

Greenpeace is campaigning for growing our food in ways that are good for the planet and people, including farming that helps cope with climate change. And we are working toward a toxic-free future where dangerous chemicals are no longer produced, used and released into our environment.

Farmers pounding rice in the Philippines, January 2014.

Today, we continue to fight vigorously against nuclear power, and although full-scale nuclear testing has slowed thanks to the people who stood up against it, nuclear-armed states continue to possess, develop and modernise nuclear weapons. We need a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Protest at the Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant, South Korea, December 2014.

The health of the planet depends on the health of all of its parts. These interconnected issues are complex and the solutions may sometimes feel far out of reach. Today, as it did those forty-five years ago in Vancouver, it will take people to give voice to our environmental issues and take action toward solutions.

Martin Luther King, Jr said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Today, there is a greater urgency to protect our communities and our planet. People power is needed now more than ever. People taking non-violent direct action, bearing witness, exposing environmental crimes, investigating and highlighting environmental issues and driving the solutions.

Climate Protest at COP 17, December 2011.

More and more people believe and are willing to dream big so that our green and peaceful world can be realised.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” - Arundhati Roy

Happy Anniversary, Greenpeace.

Jennifer Morgan and Bunny McDiarmid are the Executive Directors of Greenpeace International

This story first appeared on the The Huffington Post.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

North Korea flooding kills 133, displaces 107,000: U.N

Reuters: Flooding from heavy rain in North Korea has killed 133 people in its northeast while 395 are missing, with many homes and critical infrastructure destroyed, a U.N. agency said on Monday. News of the natural disaster came as North Korea looked even more isolated from its neighbors and the wider world after its fifth nuclear test last Friday. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report more than 35,500 homes were damaged, two-thirds of them completely...

German utilities say close to nuclear storage deal

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's top utilities said they were nearing a deal with the government over funding for storing radioactive waste, denying a media report that said the cost to the firms of the agreement had risen.
Read more [Reuters]

Scientists expect to calculate amount of fuel inside Earth by 2025

ScienceDaily: Earth requires fuel to drive plate tectonics, volcanoes and its magnetic field. Like a hybrid car, Earth taps two sources of energy to run its engine: primordial energy from assembling the planet and nuclear energy from the heat produced during natural radioactive decay. Scientists have developed numerous models to predict how much fuel remains inside Earth to drive its engines -- and estimates vary widely -- but the true amount remains unknown. In a new paper, a team of geologists and neutrino...

Japan’s lurch away from nuclear hasn’t caused fossil fuels to boom

Ars Technica: In the wake of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, Japan shut down its entire nuclear fleet in order to develop more rigorous safety standards and inspect the remaining plants. As of now, plants are only beginning to come back online. Given that Japan had recently relied on nuclear for over a quarter of its electricity, the expectation is that emissions would rise dramatically. But that hasn't turned out to be the case. While coal use has gone up, it hasn't risen by more than...

Russia demands swift payment for canceled Bulgarian nuclear plant

SOFIA (Reuters) - Russian nuclear company Rosatom has asked Bulgaria to swiftly pay 620 million euros ($696 million) in compensation over the canceled Belene nuclear project, it said on Saturday.
Read more [Reuters]

Magnitude 5.3 seismic event in North Korea: USGS

(Reuters) - The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.3-magnitude seismic event in North Korea on Friday, near a nuclear test site in the northeastern part of the county.
Read more [Reuters]

Abe's Fukushima 'under control' pledge to secure Olympics was a lie: former PM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's promise that the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant was "under control" in his successful pitch three years ago for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympic Games "was a lie", former premier Junichiro Koizumi said on Wednesday.
Read more [Reuters]

Europe’s nuclear club slows emissions cuts

Climate News Network: The prospect of using nuclear energy appears to deter European countries from adopting renewable technologies such as wind and solar, and from introducing energy efficiency measures. Researchers say they found that countries in Europe intending to build new nuclear power stations have a poorer record of reducing their carbon emissions than those that have rejected the technology. Europe has a higher concentration of nuclear power plants for its population than anywhere else in the world, although...

‘High time India acted on climate change’, China’s state-run media says

Times of India: Without mentioning that China thwarted India's Nuclear Suppliers Group membership+ , Beijing-run media said it is "high time" New Delhi shows it means business when it comes to limiting the effects+ of climate change+ . "India has striven to become a world power and to have a bigger say in international affairs, hence it needs to shoulder its due responsibilities+ and take actions, regardless of the difficulties, to help save the planet," said an article in the Chinese government-run Global Times....

Nuclear testing is not a path to security and peace

Today marks the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Since 1945, more than 2000 nuclear tests have been carried out at more than 60 locations around the globe. Nuclear weapons were designed and tested to be the ultimate doomsday weapon, setting a legacy of fear and destruction. No other human invention had as much impact on the story of humanity in recent decades.

Greenpeace demonstrates against nuclear testing at the White House in DC during the 1st Bush Presidency.

Nuclear tests have shaped Greenpeace. They have been a part of our story as an organisation from the outset. They have been a part of my own story, both personally and professionally.

I was 24 when I first witnessed, in person, the disastrous impacts of nuclear testing on people, and on the environment. It was 1985 and I was sailing as a deckhand aboard the Greenpeace Ship, the Rainbow Warrior, on an anti-nuclear campaign in the Pacific. Our first mission was to help 360 members of the Rongelap community to relocate away from their home island in the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific to escape contamination from a round of US nuclear testing some years earlier.

Women of Rongelap island welcome Bunny McDiarmid, who was on the Rainbow Warrior to assist in the evacuation of islanders to Mejato due to a nuclear fallout in 1954 making it a hazardous place for this community to continue living in.

For ten days we helped women, men, elderly and children, many suffering the medical consequences of being exposed to radiation. They had to leave a beloved homeland populated by their ancestors for decades. The land they loved could no longer sustain them - instead it was making them sick. The tragedy inflicted on them was by no fault of their own. Those inflicting it did so with little or no regard to those being impacted. In fact they were glibly told "it was for the good of mankind and to end all world wars." The stupidity behind the thinking that weapons of mass destruction were the path to real security and peace unfortunately has not left many of the halls of power even today. This little known story in the Pacific deeply affected all of us involved and it was clear that the connection between the violence we do to Earth and the violence we do to people mattered little to those who were doing it.

From Rongelap we sailed to New Zealand. The Rainbow Warrior was supposed to lead a flotilla of boats sailing east to Moruroa in French Polynesia, where the French authorities were doing their nuclear testing. Our plans were dramatically altered in a manner none of us could predict. On July 10 1985, French secret service agents, under orders from their government, planted two bombs on the hull of the Rainbow Warrior. The bombs exploded and the boat sank within minutes. Our friend and colleague Fernando Pereira, was murdered in the blast.

Aftermath of shipwreck after the Rainbow Warrior bombing.

Our Rainbow Warrior never made it to Moruroa. She was damaged beyond repair. She was there in spirit though. An even bigger flotilla of yachts sailed to the Pacific to protest the nuclear testing. Money was raised to help pay for a new Rainbow Warrior, which returned to the Pacific many times, until the testing was stopped in 1996.

Things are different now. Full-scale nuclear testing has largely come to a halt thanks to people who stood up, and kept standing up, in the thousand different ways it takes to change the course of history. Governments, who for decades argued that nuclear tests were ‘clean’ and  ‘safe’ can no longer hold on to that lie.

In Busan, South Korea, activists stage a “die in” in protest to a 2016 approval to build two new nuclear reactors in the area. 

Many details related to the tragic history of nuclear tests remain hidden, but the truth is coming out. Declassified papers from the French Ministry of Defence show that nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1960s and 1970s were far more toxic than has been previously acknowledged. Plutonium fallout hit the whole of French Polynesia. Tahiti, the most populated island, was exposed to 500 times the maximum accepted levels of radiation. 

Justice has been painstakingly slow and incomplete for the victims of nuclear testing. Only in the early 1990s did the US acknowledge the damage caused to the Rongelapese and after long legal battles agreed to pay some compensation. It was not until 2010 that France acknowledged that there could be a compensation process (complex and limited to a small geographical area) for veterans and civilians impacted by the tests. Many victims are still struggling to be recognised.

Just like the trauma they inflict, the impact of the testing cannot be cleaned or erased – the contamination created by radiation will impact not only those living in the region now, but also future generations. There are no technologies capable of effectively cleaning up radiation. Nearly 30 years later, many of the Rongelapese still live in exile.

Evacuation of Rongelap Islanders to Mejato by the Rainbow Warrior crew in the Pacific in 1985. 

I am inspired by the stories of those, whose lives have been irreversibly impacted and have turned their tragedy into a struggle, for the sake of the greater good. The Republic of the Marshall Islands, where Rongelap is, has now taken legal action against the nine nuclear states for their failure to disarm. In Japan, the Hibakusha, surviving victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lead a campaign against nuclear weapons. We must not let them stand alone.

Nuclear armed states around the world continue to possess, develop and modernise nuclear weapons, thinking this means security in a complex and fast changing world. This is a travesty. But there is also a growing number of states speaking against this. Last year, majority of UN member states supported a resolution to establish a UN working group for nuclear disarmament, that has now recommended negotiating a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. This will not be an easy road, but certainly one worth taking.

We can not let having weapons of mass destruction be what defines security for people on this little planet we all call home. Instead let the bravery and sacrifice of millions write a different chapter in our civilisation's future, that we overcame and won against nuclear testing, against nuclear weapons.

Bunny McDiarmid is the International Executive Director at Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

EDF chief urges Britain to give go-ahead to nuclear plant

LONDON (Reuters) - The head of EDF Energy has urged the British government to approve the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project, an explicit appeal by the French energy giant ahead of a decision due within weeks.
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Hoax sacrifice video prompts CERN investigation

The administration at the Switzerland-based European Organization for Nuclear Research – or CERN – has opened an internal investigation into a video parody of a human sacrifice that was filmed on the grounds of the laboratory and published online. The video, which has been viewed more than 90,000 times since it was published last week, shows several hooded figures taking part in a mock stabbing of a woman who is lying on the ground. It seems to depict a ritual human sacrifice and was filmed on the CERN grounds in front of a statue of the Hindu god Shiva. “This video was filmed on our property but without the permission of our institution,” a CERN spokesperson told AFP, adding that “[CERN] does not endorse this kind of hoax, which may cause misunderstandings about the scientific nature of our work”. Although clearly a hoax meant as a joke, the video was quickly picked up by conspiracy-oriented websites which claimed that ritual sacrifices are performed at CERN. ...
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Indigenous Australians fight nuclear dump plan on 'sacred land'

HAWKER, Australia (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Enice Marsh remembers the black clouds of "poison stuff" that billowed from the northwest after British atomic bomb tests in the 1950s spread fallout across swathes of South Australia.
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Solar and wind 'cheaper than new nuclear' by the time Hinkley is built

Guardian: The government expects solar and wind power to be cheaper than new nuclear power by the time Hinkley Point C is completed, its own projections show. Theresa May’s government last month made a surprise decision to delay a deal on Hinkley, prompting a renewed look at what alternatives could power Britain if ministers this autumn fail to back new reactors in Somerset. An unpublished report by the energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75...

China halts work on $15 billion nuclear waste project after protests

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A Chinese city has suspended preliminary work on a proposed 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) nuclear waste processing plant following protests by local residents concerned about health risks.
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Belarus under fire for 'dangerous errors' at nuclear plant

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China warns UK relations are at 'historical juncture' over Hinkley Point

Guardian: China has said that its relations with the UK are at a “crucial historical juncture” amid doubts over the future of the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. The intervention by the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom comes after the British government’s decision last month to delay final approval of the project, which is receiving major financial support from China. “If Britain’s openness is a condition for bilateral co-operation, then mutual trust is the very foundation...

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Nuclear safety fears grow as France snubs UK watchdog

Guardian: Britain’s nuclear watchdog was made to wait more than a fortnight for key files from energy giant EDF confirming that components recently revealed to be suspect had not been used in one of Britain’s largest nuclear power stations. Emails released under the Freedom of Information Act show that in early May, France’s EDF Group initially rebuffed requests from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to hand over files about a foundry in France that made specialist parts for EDF’s reactors. The request...

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Survivors of nuclear warfare in Japan are calling for an end to nuclear weapons

This week marks 71 years since atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and devastated the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Often we do not mark a 71st anniversary - unlike a 25th or 50th anniversary, a 71st is simply one more year among many. To many however, 2016 doesn’t feel like just any year. It’s been a year of conflicts, of political turmoil and instability in many countries, of violent and indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations.

Peace doves fly on the eve of the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing in 2005. The message of peace reads: "No More Hiroshima" 

The media depicts a world that is unpredictable and at times frightening, and it feels appropriate to take time to listen to the voices of people who - more than most - have lived through the aftermath of conflict and war, and are asking the world to hear their words as a compelling plea for peace and action.

Earlier this year the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings - the Hibakusha, as they are known in Japan - launched an initiative to get hundreds of thousands of people to join them in asking the world to completely ban all nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

The people in this photo - all women and young children - lived in Nakajima-honmachi, the place that is now the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. The flash from the blast sent temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees C, completely obliterating them. There were no bodies to recover. (Photo provided by Mr. Noboru Katayama)

In their own words:

“The average age of the Hibakusha now exceeds 80. It is our strong desire to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world in our lifetime, so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again. You, your families and relatives, or any other people, should not be made Hibakusha again.”

These heartfelt words are having an impact: people from around the world have added their voices to those of the Hibakusha, and the call for a nuclear-free future continues to build.

President Obama amplified this message when he met with some of the survivors in Hiroshima in May, the first time a sitting President has ever done so. He spoke of them, and of all those who died in the horrific aftermath of the bombings when he said:

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are, and what we might become… (there) is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

Monks pray beside the A-Bomb Dome Memorial during the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing in 2005.

It is of course, not enough that we reject only nuclear warfare. As humans, we have to strive to reject violence of all kinds, to find and embrace peaceful ways to resolve our conflicts. But this week, as we join our hands and voices with the Hibakusha and call for the abolishment of all nuclear weapons, we make a start, and in a small way we pay homage to all those who have gone before us, irreparably impacted by the devastations of war.

Add your voice.

Join Nihon Hidankyo, a local non-government organisation in Japan that is gathering signatures before September from people in Japan and around the world to deliver to the United Nations, calling for nuclear disarmament. Please email your name and address to <>

Tamara Stark is acting Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Uranium from Russia, with love

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N.Y. regulators approve clean energy standard with nuclear subsidies

(Reuters) - New York state energy regulators on Monday approved a plan to pay several upstate nuclear power plants up to $965 million over two years to keep the reactors in service and meet the state's carbon reduction goals.
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United Kingdom: Theresa May delayed Hinkley Point to revisit Chinese involvement

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China's nuclear power ambitions sailing into troubled waters

Associated Press: China's ambitions to become a pioneer in nuclear energy are sailing into troubled waters. Two state-owned companies plan to develop floating nuclear reactors, a technology engineers have been considering since the 1970s for use by oil rigs or island communities. Beijing is racing Russia, which started developing its own in 2007, to get a unit into commercial operation. In China's case, the achievement would be tempered by concern its reactors might be sent into harm's way to support oil exploration...

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