Nuclear Power news

Putin's Russia in biggest Arctic military push since Soviet fall

MURMANSK, Russia (Reuters) - The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union's Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.
Read more [Reuters]

Tepco spots possible nuclear fuel debris at Japan's Fukushima reactor

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the operator of Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, said on Monday it may have found nuclear fuel debris below the damaged No. 2 reactor, one of three that had meltdowns in the 2011 disaster.
Read more [Reuters]

Tepco finds possible nuclear fuel debris below Fukushima reactor: NHK

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power has found possible nuclear fuel debris below the No.2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, the power plant hit by meltdowns after the 2011 tsunami, public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday.
Read more [Reuters]

Why we need Netflix to join the race towards a green internet

This month Greenpeace released our latest analysis (fifth and counting) of which major internet companies are leading the charge to build a renewably powered internet - and which ones are lagging behind.

The good news: we see a real race emerging to build an internet that is 100% renewably powered by a range of companies. Previous laggards, like Facebook and Apple, are now scoring near the top of the class, with Facebook executives and Apple's Tim Cook alerting the internet about their good grades.

The bad news: many of the companies that are now among biggest drivers of internet traffic – video streaming platforms – have not even approached the starting line.

While it may seem that watching a video online has no physical footprint, powering our online world requires a considerable amount of energy, and is rapidly increasing with the explosion of video. The higher definition a video, the larger the amount of energy needed to deliver it. HD is three to four times more data than standard video, and Super HD is nearly ten times larger.

Streaming video is already responsible for over 60% of internet traffic, and is expected to grow to 80% in some regions by 2020. More than half of the top ten sites in downstream internet traffic in North America are video streaming sites, with Netflix alone commanding over 35% of total downstream internet traffic. Data demand from video streaming is also rapidly expanding in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

YouTube (Google), iTunes (Apple) and Amazon Video (AWS) – along with increasingly video-heavy Facebook – have all made commitments to be 100% renewably powered. Google, Apple and Facebook have also signed sizable renewable energy deals to bring their reliance on clean energy to more than 50%.

Netflix (along with Hulu) has done neither. And with over 90 million subscribers already, Netflix is expected to continue to grow as it expands its service to more than 190 countries. Netflix's lack of commitment means its rapid growth is increasing demand for coal and other dirty sources of energy that are a threat to human health and the climate.

Our latest analysis showed that Netflix's reliance on clean energy is just 17%, with over 80% of its energy coming from dirty and dangerous sources like coal, gas and nuclear. Netflix is not very transparent about its energy use, so we calculated these figures by assessing the energy footprint of Netflix's data center provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

While AWS is now one of the IT companies committed to 100% RE (since December 2014), it has grown rapidly in the last year in regions like Virginia in the US that have only 2-3% renewable electricity. Its clean energy score fell from 23% to 17% since our last assessment in 2015. Netflix is a customer of AWS for its core data center services, but it should make commitments to use renewables independently, and push AWS and its other digital hosts around the world to shift their operations to renewable energy as rapidly as possible.

You can make a difference to help Netflix go green!

When Greenpeace began challenging major internet companies in 2010 to build a green internet, zero companies were willing to commit to be 100% renewably powered. Fast forward six years, and after pressure from customers wanting their cloud to be renewably powered, nearly 20 major internet companies have committed to be 100% renewably powered. These commitments have already translated into a whopping 6GW of renewable energy onto the grid globally, or enough to power more than four million homes for a year!

Sometimes companies need a push from their customers to get motivated and do the right thing. Just as Apple, Facebook and other IT leaders have shown, Netflix can be a leader in building a renewably-powered internet.

Join us and tell Netflix you want your movies and favourite programmes to be powered with renewable energy!

Gary Cook is a Senior IT Campaigner for Greenpeace USA


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Leadership today will shape our common future

Last week, I arrived in Davos for my first World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos meeting unsure of what I was going to find. I was preoccupied with the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President and the news that for the third year in a row, global temperatures had broken all records. Walking to the conference centre every morning I stopped to look at and absorb the beauty of the snow-covered mountains. Watching this fragile beauty increased my determination to directly and forcefully speak truth to the powerful who came to Davos.

Jennifer Morgan joins the Senior Women for Climate Protection group at WEF 17 in Davos, 19 Jan 2017. © Greenpeace / Miriam Künzli

And I knew I was not alone. I was there representing all of you — the tens of millions of Greenpeace supporters who believe that by working together we can rise to the most pressing environmental and security threats facing the world today, from climate change to nuclear weapons proliferation.

The theme of the entire event was ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’. For sure, we need responsible leadership at all levels of society - from Presidents and Prime Ministers, to CEOs, city Mayors, civil society leaders and of course from citizens. But are the people who came together in Davos ready to rise to the challenge?

My impression is mixed. Indeed, it was a roller coaster week, full of moments of inspiration, finding people who understood the challenges the world faces deeply and are ready to act, and moments of darkness, listening to conversations laced with greed and where climate change was not even mentioned as a key threat to our humanity.

One clear bright spot was when I left the center to meet up with the KlimaSeniorinnen, a group of committed Swiss grandmothers, who have taken their government to court for failing to act on climate as needed. They had traveled together to Davos, despite not being allowed into the centre, to give out “earth cookies” baked the night before, and to call for climate justice. They gave me one tin of cookies, with blue and green little earth icing on top, to bring into the conference centre. Giving out those cookies for climate justice gave me the chance to connect with many people in a human way. The combination of such an act of kindness of the grannies with a strong moral call to action, touched the people I spoke with whether they were top journalists, corporate executives or staff at a coffee stand. It linked up people based on our values and our hopes and our dreams for a world of peace and justice, and reminded us of how many people in the world today are ready to stand up and be counted.

Members of KlimaSeniorinnen (Senior Women for Climate Protection), 25 Oct, 2016. © Greenpeace / Ex-Press / Flurin Bertschinger 

Another key moment for me was the speech of President Xi Jingping. I felt the earth shift a bit to the east when listening to his speech. I was relieved he indicated Chinese climate leadership as he made it very clear that China is committed to the Paris Agreement, and the clean energy future it calls for - no matter what other countries do. Indeed, that China is committed to climate action was something I heard echoed again and again by the large Chinese delegation in the conference center. It seemed like China was stepping into the void now left by the United States and trying to establish itself as a global climate leader.

It is no exaggeration to say that the leadership choices we make today will shape our common future at every level. This is the last leadership generation that can avert climate chaos. And no one can deny that the leaders gathered in Davos have a huge role and responsibility in shaping the future. They can choose to be responsible for greater inequity, ecological destruction and insecurity, or they can chose to seize the day and the solutions we have at hand, like renewable energy, to combat climate change and make the world cleaner, safer and fairer. I was in Davos to try to make sure the elite gathered there understood that, and to push them to put people and planet before profit and power.

Greenpeace stands together with the millions that want more responsible leadership to make that world possible, to hold those against that world, accountable and to work with those ready to build bridges, not walls.

Jennifer Morgan is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

This blog was originally published on The Huffington Post 


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Thousands of Fukushima evacuees face hardship as subsidies to be slashed

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nearly six years after Noriko Matsumoto and her children fled Japan's Fukushima region, fearing for their health after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, they confront a new potential hardship - the slashing of vital housing subsidies.
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Newt Gingrich on Trump White House: 'If They Decide To Become Reasonable, They Will Have Failed'

In a SPIEGEL interview, conservative intellectual leader and Trump confidant Newt Gingrich discusses the president-elect's future political course, how he is "very cautious" when it comes to nuclear weapons and the threat of trade wars.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Snowstorms wreak chaos in Bulgaria and Romania

SOFIA/BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Snowstorms paralyzed traffic and cut electricity to hundreds of thousands of people in Bulgaria on Friday while forcing atomic energy producer Nuclearelectrica in neighboring Romania to shut down its No. 1 reactor.
Read more [Reuters]

The best environmental movies of 2016

 A wrap up of some of the best environmental movies and documentaries in 2016.

If art imitates life then surely it must mean that it’s the end of the world as we know it, and climate change is taking us all down with it.

These days, the films that we are getting down to “Netflix and chill” with have less to do with green-screen magic, explosions or mystical monsters; and more to do with the unfortunate slow catastrophe that is unfolding in the world.

Want disaster? How about a town ravaged by a super typhoon? In the mood for tension? How about the real-life David and Goliath story of the indigenous tribe defending their land against major conglomerates? Drama and action more your thing? What about illegal fishing and slavery happening out of sight, and deep in the middle of the vast ocean?

Sadly, these aren’t all synopses of fiction. We are the protagonist, corporations are often the enemy, and the world we live in is the real life “Death Star” that could be destroyed any moment now. Inspiration is in our current events, and directors, documentarians, and even celebrities are using their best weapon – the camera – to educate, engage, and entertain.

But there is hope. In every story there is a hero, and a villain. People power can, will, and always has made the world a better and safer place. Besides, all good movies have a happy ending right?

How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can't Change

What we giveth, climate change taketh away. In this personal journey, director Josh Fox asks, is there anything that climate change hasn’t ruined?

Pandora

When a 6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes, it’s not the aftermath that’s worrying. Radiation is spilling from a nuclear power plant and it’s got an entire city of millions on edge like an asteroid  hurling its way to the planet.

Influenced by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, this South Korean film is already leading the box office in the country and will be available on Netflix next year.

With nuclear power being a contentious topic in the country – this year a permit was given to construct two additional reactors at the Kori nuclear power plant, in Busan, the world’s biggest active plant - the film gets straight to the point and shows the world must never suffer another Fukushima or Chernobyl disaster ever again because nuclear never dies.

Riverblue

The impact of fast fashion is not just about being insta-trendy. It’s also causing insta-pollution, insta-impact, insta-destruction on our rivers through toxic chemical waste. As noted in the film:

“There is a joke in China. They say you can predict the “it” colour for the season by looking at the colour of the river”

Years of Living Dangerously

National Geographic’s series continued again this year featuring the Amazon, China, coal, the ocean, and many more.  Find out more about the series here.

Deep Water Horizon

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is recognized as one of worst environmental disasters in US history.  The tragedy impacted nature, wildlife, and 11 people died from the explosion. This year, the events of how this tragedy unfolded appeared on the big screen.

Before the Flood

Leonardo Dicaprio’s highly anticipated labour-of-love project was released this year, free for audiences around the world to see. From across the globe we see what people on the frontlines of climate change are doing – from indigenous communities to inside the halls of the United Nations. His overall message though couldn’t have been said better than during his well deserved Oscar ‘s speech:

Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species. And we need to work collectively together to stop procrastinating.

Shuk-Wah Chung is a Writer and Content Editor for the Communications Hub at Greenpeace East Asia. Follow her on Twitter here.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Cern off the hook over higher wages for researchers

Cern’s research institutes have a responsibility to ensure that the people they employ have sufficient financial means to cover their living costs and adequate social support, the Swiss cabinet has said. The cabinet's conclusions were included in a report on the working conditions and wages for researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva. The government had been asked by parliament to look for concrete measures to make sure their situation is improved. The issue was raised in parliament back in 2014 after reports in the press that the specialist researchers working at Cern were not being treated fairly. Researchers’ working conditions were described as “precarious”. There was an accusation that more and more researchers from all over the world are employed by foreign research institutes on annual contracts, leading to an “uncertain” situation for these people in terms of job security. Despite Cern being a highly successful and ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Greenpeace activists target EDF Paris HQ in anti-nuclear protest

PARIS (Reuters) - Greenpeace activists blocked access to the Paris headquarters of French power utility EDF on Wednesday in a protest against the company's nuclear activities.
Read more [Reuters]

Elephant in the Room: Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff
Read more [Spiegel Online]

The Anthropocene Debate

"A hushed hundred million years from now, all that we consider to be the great works of man – the sculptures and the libraries, the monuments and the museums, the cities and the factories – will all be compressed into a layer of sediment not much thicker than a cigarette paper?"
— Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction

Two fruit flies hover around our compost bucket, normal in summer, but we are now into December, mid winter in Canada, and I have never before seen fruit flies after October. A little Anna’s hummingbird darts around the rose bush, all ablaze in pink roses. Global warming signs? Maybe: A neighbour recently found a flying fish (Cheilopogon papilio) washed up on the beach. We don’t generally see flying fish on Canadian beaches, and this species is rarely seen North of 26°N. We’re above 50°N. Meanwhile, naturalists identified two Tropical Kingbirds (Tyrannus melancholicus) on Canada’s west coast this winter, a species common in South America and rarely seen above 30°N.

Earth’s climate and biosphere are now transforming faster than at any time in the last 65 million years. Global heating from our carbon emissions is just one of the more obvious changes, along with species loss, disappearing forests, drying lakes, and growing deserts. 

All of this has led some geologists and ecologists to claim that Earth is now entering a new geological “epoch”, linked to human activity, and therefore referred to as the “Anthropocene”: the epoch of human influence in Earth’s geology, biology, and climate. Other geologists and ecologists claim that the new designation provides another example of human arrogance. This sort of scientific debate may seem trivial, but language can shape culture and this particular discussion reveals some critical questions about humanity and ecology. 

The Anthropocene is born

Some ancient creation myths — in East Asia and the Western Hemisphere, for example — imagined long Earth eras prior to human habitation but European science, even in the 17th century, could not yet imagine the epic time span of Earth’s history, as geologists clung to the Biblical “Genesis” for an accounting of Earth’s age.

However, geologists investigating sediment layers in the 18th century began to realise that the timescale could reach billions of years. The top layer of soil, called “quaternary” or “fourth” layer, appeared about two million years old; the deeper “tertiary” formations were about 63 million years old; the deep “secondary” formations 186 million years, and the “primary” bedrock that reached back to Earth’s beginning appeared more than four billion years old. By the mid 19th century, geologists had subdivided these divisions into shorter periods and later divided the periods into roughly equal epochs, defined by distinct changes in the geological and fossil record within the layers of rock. 

Our modern “Cenozoic” (“recent life”) era, dating back to the asteroid that ended the dinosaur era, contains three periods: the Paleogene (66-23 million years ago), the Neogene (23-2.6 mya), and the modern Quantenary (2.6m-present day), the top layer of young soil and rock. These periods are further divided into eight epochs. The early epochs — the time of early mammals, primates and first hominids — are each 10-22 million years long. The later Pliocene epoch— the time of uplifting Alps, wooly mammoths and early human tool makers — is only 2.7 million years long. The Pleistocene, the time of ice ages and fire-making humans, is 2.6 million years and the most recent Holocene, since the end of the last glaciation, is a mere 11,700 years, just a baby in the world of geological epochs. 

In 1864, ecologist G.P. Marsh recognised that humanity had become “ a disturbing agent”, upsetting “the harmonies of nature”. In 1873, Italian geologist Antonio Stoppani called human activity a “new telluric force ... compared to the greater forces of Earth” and first introduced the idea of an “anthropozoic era.” A century later, American biologist Eugene Stoermer first used the term “Anthropocene” to describe this epoch of human impact on Earth.

In 2000, at a climate conference in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen urged the delegates: “Stop using the word Holocene. We’re not in the Holocene any more. We’re in the Anthropocene!” Crutzen and Stoermer then collaborated on an article for the Global Change Newsletter, proposing that geologists “emphasise the central role of mankind in geology and ecology by proposing to use the term ‘anthropocene’ for the current geological epoch.” 

Wait a minute

Other ecologists and stratigraphic geologists have baulked at the notion, pointing out that stratigraphy has no tradition of naming geological epochs for their cause, but rather by their effects. We don’t characterise the Palaeocene by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but rather by the thin layer of dust and the species that filled the vacant ecological niches, such as birds and early mammals. 

We don’t yet know the full effect of human-caused changes to Earth’s systems, and the entire holocene and “anthropocene” may simply turn out to be the end of the pleistocene period, a short, warm few thousand years, in which primates dominated, changed the atmosphere and left behind a thin layer of plastics and other chemicals, followed by a new period of several million years, characterised by a new regime of plants, animals and geological shifts.

Another complaint about “anthropocene” is that the human impact on Earth, as dramatic as it may appear to us, does not nearly approach this scale of epoch-defining geological upheaval. During the Eocene, the 22-million-year period ending 34 million years ago, for example, India collided with Asia, creating the Himalayan Mountains. Geologists Stanley Finney and Lucy Edwards wrote in a paper for the Geological Society of America: “The stratigraphic record of the Anthropocene is minimal.” They suggested the idea may be “political rather than scientific”.

Such questions are being debated now in the halls of science, but there are deeper problems with presuming we are in an “anthropocene”, problems related, not with runaway warming but with runaway human arrogance. 

Anthropocentric hubris

In the Crutzen-Stoermer proposal for the new ‘human” epoch, they presume this age will be overseen by “the research and engineering community to guide mankind towards global, sustainable, environmental management.”

This sort of idea has grown popular in recent years, the notion that we are going to engineer and manage Earth’s ecological systems in a kind of green-industrial renaissance. These hopes vastly exaggerate human ability. Our actual track record in “managing” ecosystems —going back 10,000 years — remains dismal. Managed timber lots are not forests; they become monoculture tree farms. Industrial agriculture mines nutrients from fast-depleted soils. The long-promised “carbon capture” technologies — which the IPCC claims are going to save us from global heating — have yet to arrive. The nuclear industry still has not figured out how to store spent radioactive fuels. Electric cars and windmills have not reduced human carbon emissions. “Efficiency” does not save resources and computers do not make us more sustainable. Greenpeace estimates that a single Apple data centre, for example, consumes as much power as 250,000 European homes. 

The “green” renaissance became a fraud because we failed to do the one thing nature demands of a species that overshoots its habitat’s capacity: we have failed to reduce our consumption. We have failed to recognise that nature imposes limits.

Furthermore, the impacts of human activity are, themselves, self-limiting. Global heating, population growth, toxic waste, soil loss and so forth act in systemic concert to impose even harsher limits on human enterprise.  

Conjuring an “anthropocene” managed by human engineers exposes small, myopic thinking and fails to appreciate the complexity and timescale of natural systems. Bacteria dominated life on Earth for two billion years and caused the first great extinction by filling the atmosphere with oxygen, but we don’t name any time period or epoch after bacteria. “We are trying” says Brad Allenby, at Arizona State University, “to tie geologic time to a windstorm.” 

In Nature journal, Australian Clive Hamilton, warns us to be aware of this arrogance: “The new geological epoch does not concern soils, the landscape or the environment, except inasmuch as they are changed as part of a massive shock to the functioning of Earth as a whole.”

Elizabeth Kolbert (in the quote above) and others have noted: in 50 to 100 million years, the human impact on Earth will likely appear as a thin sediment layer of trash, rare earth metals, hydrocarbon chemicals, iron and a massive plant and animal diversity loss, likely followed by a flourishing of new life forms. 

These are humbling thoughts, but humility feels like precisely the quality humankind needs to soften its impact and discover how to live in a place without destroying it. 

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

Links and resources: 

Elizabeth Kolbert, "The Sixth Extinction"Picador, MacMillan, 2015.

Paul Crutzen, Eugene Stoermer, “The Anthropocene,” Global Change Newsletter, May 2000.

Stanley Finney, Lucy Edwards, “The ‘Anthropocene’ epoch: Scientific decision or political statement?” Geological Society of America, March/April 2016.

Will Steffen, et. al., “The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives”, The Royal Society, January 2011.

Clive Hamilton, “Define the Anthropocene in terms of the whole Earth”, Nature, 17 August 2016.

David Farrier, “How the Concept of Deep Time Is Changing”, The Atlantic, October 31, 2016.  

John Michael Greer, “Myth of the Anthropocene”, Archdruid Report, October 5, 2016. 


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Japan nearly doubles Fukushima disaster-related cost to $188 billion

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's government on Friday nearly doubled its projections for costs related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster to 21.5 trillion yen ($188 billion), increasing pressure on Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to step up reform and improve its performance.
Read more [Reuters]

Japan's CO2 emissions drop 3 pct to 5-year low in FY2015

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's greenhouse gas emissions fell 3 percent to a five-year low in the financial year through March due to lower power demand, growing renewable energy and the restart of nuclear power plants, government figures showed on Tuesday.
Read more [Reuters]

Bill for Japan's Fukushima cleanup to double to $201 billion: source

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 is likely to cost 22.6 trillion yen ($201 billion), slightly more than double a previous estimate, according to a source involved in government discussions on the issue.
Read more [Reuters]

Giant arch slides over Chernobyl site to block radiation for a century

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine (Reuters) - In the middle of a vast exclusion zone in northern Ukraine, the world's largest land-based moving structure has been slid over the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site to prevent deadly radiation spewing from the stricken reactor for the next 100 years.
Read more [Reuters]

Illinois Quad Cities, Clinton nuclear plants could save $3 billion in power costs: study

(Reuters) - Preserving Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants will save businesses and consumers in Illinois more than $3 billion in power costs in the next 10 years, a study conducted by global consulting firm The Brattle Group showed on Monday.
Read more [Reuters]

France turned to fossil fuels in October to offset nuclear shortfall

PARIS (Reuters) - The use of coal, oil and gas to generate power in France jumped nearly 40 percent last month to compensate for a slide in nuclear and hydropower production, network operator RTE said in its monthly report on Monday.
Read more [Reuters]

Fukushima nuclear decommission, compensation costs to almost double: media

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's trade ministry has almost doubled the estimated cost of compensation for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and decommissioning of the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant to more than 20 trillion yen ($177.51 billion), the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday.
Read more [Reuters]

Vietnam abandons plan for first nuclear power plants

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's National Assembly voted on Tuesday to abandon plans to build two multi-billion-dollar nuclear power plants with Russia and Japan, after officials cited lower demand forecasts, rising costs and safety concerns.
Read more [Reuters]

Gas to help cushion French winter power crunch, say operators

PARIS (Reuters) - A record output increase from gas-fired electricity generators since the start of the month could enable France avoid rolling outages this winter amid reduced supply from the country's aging nuclear reactors, gas network operators said on Tuesday.
Read more [Reuters]

South Africa slows nuclear power expansion plans

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa's government has slowed its nuclear power expansion plans, according to a draft energy paper, although state energy utility Eskom said the country should stick to its original plan of bringing a new plant online by 2025.
Read more [Reuters]

Tsunami hits Japan after strong quake near Fukushima disaster site

TOKYO (Reuters) - A powerful earthquake rocked northern Japan early on Tuesday, briefly disrupting cooling functions at a nuclear plant and generating a small tsunami that hit the same Fukushima region devastated by a 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Read more [Reuters]

Atomic energy, national parks and mountains

Here are some of the stories we’ll bring you the week starting November 21: Tuesday The Swiss go to the polls next Sunday to agree an ‘expiry date’ for taking Switzerland’s nuclear power plants offline. We bring you a report showing that if the country does shut them down, it’ll be bucking a global trend. Wednesday Citizens in cantons Graubünden and Ticino will vote on the creation of the new Adula national park. swissinfo.ch found opinion was split ahead of the November 27 vote.  Thursday Today’s scientists have access to some mind-bogglingly sophisticated resources. But sometimes, answers to the most difficult questions can still be found offline and outdoors through nature-inspired innovation, or biomimicry.  We’ll take a look at Swiss researchers who have used fossils, DNA, and even a salamander to inspire new technologies. Saturday Swiss photographer Robert Bösch presents some stunning images of the ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

EU drops part of reservation to Hungary's Paks nuclear project

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission has ended proceedings against Hungary over the award of a contract to Russia's Rosatom to expand the Paks nuclear power plant, although it is still investigating the country's funding for the project.
Read more [Reuters]

Have Switzerland’s nuclear reactors become too old and dangerous?

Fears that age-related issues could trigger a nuclear disaster are likely unwarranted, the evidence suggests. The Green Party and other advocates of a popular initiative for a planned phase-out of nuclear power say the advanced age of Swiss reactors, among the oldest in the world, greatly increases the risk of a major nuclear accident. Such an event, they add, would have devastating consequences on a country as densely populated as Switzerland.   But do Swiss voters really have a reason to fear a disaster purely based on the age of the reactors? The evidence suggests they don’t. That’s because many other factors come into play when considering the risk of a major accident. Serious accidents are rare The World Nuclear Association maintains that commercial nuclear power generation is “extremely safe” and the “risk of accidents in nuclear power plants is low and declining”. “In over 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries, there have ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Japan agrees second nuclear reactor life extension since Fukushima

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's nuclear regulator on Wednesday approved an application by Kansai Electric Power Co Inc to extend the life of an ageing reactor beyond 40 years, the second such approval it has granted under new safety requirements imposed since the Fukushima disaster.
Read more [Reuters]

Democracy, nuclear phase-out and marriage

Here are some of the stories we’ll bring you the week starting November 14: Monday A world ‘summit’ begins this week in the Basque city of Donostia / San Sebastian. We’ll preview the issues to be discussed at the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, and provide full coverage on our pages dedicated to direct democracy. Tuesday If you’re in the market for a pricey watch, read our story about a Swiss timepiece that’ll cost you tens of thousands of dollars - and is being designed in India by an Indian. Wednesday With the Swiss soon going to the polls (November 27) to decide if they’re for or against a speedy phase out of nuclear energy, we explain what it takes to dismantle an atomic power plant. The race is on to conquer the Swiss digital payment market. It’s Apple Pay versus a local rival backed by a powerful alliance of Swiss banks, the stock exchange, post office and state telecoms provider. But we’ve found that the Apple Pay vs ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Swiss halt inquiry into political espionage case

Switzerland’s attorney general has stopped an investigation into suspected political espionage at a Geneva hotel. The investigation was opened a month after talks on Iran’s nuclear plans took place there. There was a lack of evidence about the people behind the spying, the Office of the Attorney General, said on Thursday. It opened criminal proceedings in May 2015 after malware – harmful software – was discovered on computers in the hotel. “Investigations revealed that a significant number of computers (servers and clients) at a hotel in Geneva had been infected with a form of malware,” the office said in a statement. “This malware was developed for the purposes of espionage, and is basically used to gather data from the computers infected.” A source said the malware was discovered on computers at the Hotel President Wilson, where talks on Iran’s nuclear work had taken place a month before, following a tip-off from the Swiss intelligence services. The attorney ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

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...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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‘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....
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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...
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Belarus under fire for 'dangerous errors' at nuclear plant

Guardian: Thirty years after world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Belarus, which saw a quarter of its territory contaminated in the disaster, is building its first energy plant powered by the atom. However a series of mishaps at the site in Astravets are raising concerns over safety, particularly in Lithuania whose capital, Vilnius, lies less than 31 miles (50km) from the site. In July it was reported by local news that a nuclear reactor shell had been dropped while being moved. Local resident...
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