Nuclear Power news

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. ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

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.
Read more [Reuters]

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 An unpublished report by the energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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.
Read more [Reuters]

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...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Chinese firm with military ties invited to bid for role in UK's nuclear future

Guardian: A controversial Chinese company has been selected to bid for millions of pounds of public money in a UK government competition to develop mini nuclear power stations. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) features twice in a government list of 33 projects and companies deemed eligible to compete for a share in up to £250m to develop so-called small modular reactors (SMR). The involvement of a different Chinese company in the high-profile Hinkley Point C project in Somerset was widely...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Cold War-era radioactive waste stored under Greenland's ice could be released as global temperatures rise

Reuters: Global warming could release radioactive waste stored in an abandoned Cold War-era U.S. military camp deep under Greenland's ice caps if a thaw continues to spread in coming decades, scientists said on Friday. Camp Century was built in northwest Greenland in 1959 as part of U.S. research into the feasibility of nuclear missile launch sites in the Arctic, the University of Zurich said in a statement. Staff left gallons of fuel and an unknown amount of low-level radioactive coolant there when...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Melting ice may ‘release’ toxic waste

Reuters: Global warming could release radioactive waste stored in an abandoned Cold War-era US military camp deep under Greenland’s ice caps if a thaw continues to spread in coming decades, scientists said on Friday. Camp Century was built in northwest Greenland in 1959 as part of US research into the feasibility of nuclear missile launch sites in the Arctic, the University of Zurich said in a statement. Staff left gallons of fuel and an unknown amount of low-level radioactive coolant there when the base...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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 <kj3t-tnk@asahi-net.or.jp>

Tamara Stark is acting Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Uranium from Russia, with love

Ecologist: Our EU and US based nuclear power is currently coming at the cost of poisoning people in Africa. But it begs the question: are we ready to face that reality? Amidst all the fuss about Hinkley C and other planned nuclear power plants in the EU and US, does anyone knows where the stuff that keeps these reactors buzzing comes from? Here's a fun fact: no other country supplies so much uranium to the EU than ... Russia. Putin has more than the gas valve if he wants to play games with Europe. And the...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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.
Read more [Reuters]

United Kingdom: Theresa May delayed Hinkley Point to revisit Chinese involvement

Guardian: Theresa May raised objections to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power deal during the coalition government, the former business secretary Sir Vince Cable has claimed, in remarks that will throw fresh doubt over the project’s future. Cable said that as home secretary, May had been unhappy about the former chancellor George Osborne’s “gung-ho” attitude to Chinese investment. Speaking after May unexpectedly delayed signing-off on government support for the new power station, Cable described the late...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Britain casts doubt on EDF's $24 billion nuclear project

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has cast doubt on a $24 billion project with French utility EDF to build the UK's first new nuclear plant in decades, delaying a final decision on the plan just weeks after the Brexit vote ushered in a new prime minister.
Read more [Reuters]

Fukushima in New York? This Nuclear Plant Has Regulators Nervous

National Geographic: A new documentary explores the fight around Indian Point Energy Center in the wake of Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster. Could what happened in Fukushima happen 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of New York City? That's what many activists and former nuclear regulators fear for the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant that has operated in Westchester County for more than four decades. The plant provides a good chunk of the energy needs for the surrounding area, but it has come under fire...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

France Agrees To Build Huge Nuclear Reactor For UK, Saving $32 Billion

Climate Change Dispatch: The French nuclear giant Electricite de France (EDF) agreed Thursday to build a nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point, United Kingdom by 2025, after years of delays and environmental opposition. U.K. taxpayers could have been stuck paying $31.6 billion if the reactors had been blocked for political reasons, according to released government documents. EDF is moving ahead despite the company’s serious financial problems and the fact that the project’s credit rating is below investment grade. EDF repeatedly...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

EDF Pushes for U.K. Nuclear Project Energy Experts Call ‘Crazy’

Bloomberg: Critics of the U.K.’s first new nuclear plant in more than 20 years, who say the project will prove bad value for millions of British consumers, could be proved right after the government asked to review the deal. U.K. Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, said the government needed to carefully consider the project before making a final decision to build the 18 billion-pound ($23.7 billion) station. That statement came just hours after the board of Electricite de France SA had decided to...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Swiss plan terror alert app

The Swiss authorities plan to create a mobile phone app to alert the public in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The Federal Office for Civil Protection and the federal police are considering launching a mobile phone alert system next year, reported Swiss newspapers on Monday. Such systems already exist in France and in some German states. During an attack in Munich recently, residents with smartphones received a message warning them to avoid certain squares and streets and telling them that public transport had been suspended. Switzerland introduced an SMS alert system in 2011 to warn of child abductions, but only for mobile phone users who registered for the service. In 2015 the Federal Office for Civil Protection launched an online disaster alert service ALERTSWISS in the national languages German, French and Italian to warn people in the event of earthquakes, floods or nuclear accidents. The new terror alert app will build on the success of ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Offshore wind powers ahead as prices drop 30% below nuclear

Environmental News Network: The cost of offshore wind power in the North Sea is 30% lower than that of new nuclear, writes Kieran Cooke - helped along by low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance and mass production. By 2030 the sector is expected to supply 7% of Europe's electricity. Output from the Dogger Bank project will be 1.2 GW (gigawatts) - enough to power more than a million homes. Next year, a 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands is due to start operating, and other schemes along the Dutch coast...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Former Japan nuclear regulator lashes out over earthquake standards

TOKYO (Reuters) - A former senior official of Japan's atomic watchdog has lashed out publicly at the agency's response to his concerns over the assessment of earthquake risks to nuclear plants, adding to a controversy over safety five years after the Fukushima disaster.
Read more [Reuters]

Scientists offer solution to protect your emails

Meet the man who believes he’s come up with a foolproof way of keeping your emails safe from the prying eyes of governments and hackers.  The moment for Andy Yen came in 2013 when the story broke of the United States government’s massive surveillance of phone and internet communications, exposed by Edward Snowden. Yen, a particle physicist at CERN, got together with a few of his colleagues at the Geneva nuclear research centre and started brainstorming ways of making email communication safe. Watch Yen explain the idea behind their secure application, ProtonMail, which is hosted entirely in Switzerland. Their solution to safeguard privacy is to use end-to-end encryption. Compared to encryption using a server, end-to-end encryption ensures that the only people who can read a message are the sender and the recipient. Compared with the most widely used type of encryption using a server, end-to-end encryption ensures that the only people who read a ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

New York's Governor Would Rather Prop Up the Nuclear Industry Than Invest in Renewable Energy

AlterNet: New York is poised to dump $7.6 billion into dirty, dangerous and aging nuclear power plants as part of a policy that Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling the Clean Energy Standard. Although this policy would provide support for renewable energy by requiring utilities to meet New York’s goal of producing 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2030, the real money in the plan is sadly reserved for bailing out nuclear plants. The governor wants to keep several aging nuclear plants open to preserve...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Fire Then and Now

Fire is the fundamental human technology, the foundation of everything that came after in human societies. Controlled fire transformed our diet, physiology, psychology, language, social structure, technologies, and our relationship to the rest of nature.

Some archeologists believe that fire management provided the change that distinguished us from other social mammals. Although we are enamoured by the power of modern technologies, an understanding of our relationship with simple fire informs us about genuine solutions to our ecological impasse.

Canadian tarsands: Humans have been burning fuels for a million years. Fire transformed human society, caused early forest depletion and species extinctions, and our energy use today now exceeds Earth's capacity to sustain. © Jiri Rezak.

The discovery and use of fire

Non-human animals are known to use natural fire. Hawks, cheetahs, and other species hunt prey disrupted by fire. Savanna chimpanzees are not intimidated by fire, behave sensibly around it, and will hunt food after a fire passes. Humans likely used fire for millions of years, before they could ignite or control it.

Fire maintenance likely began among Homo erectus communities, who moved from forest to savanna habitats. Fire ignition followed, and may have contributed to a cognitive advance, the use of intermediaries — tinder and kindling — to ignite a slow burning fuel. Evidence of intentional fire exists around a million years ago, in archeological sites from Chesowanja, Kenya to Yunnan Province, China.

Fire use by humans preceded controlled fires, and firemaking required and augmented advanced human mental powers. Fire is the fundamental human technology. Public domain image.

Three hundred thousand years ago, fire-based technologies existed throughout Eurasia, including stone hunting tools warmed to improve working qualities and hafting glues that required fire to prepare. Fire allowed humans to seize caves previously occupied by other large, fierce mammals. Fired pottery existed 20,000 years ago, and metallurgy 5,000 years ago. During this long history of fire use, hominids distinguished themselves from all other large mammals. Meanwhile, fire revolutionized human society.

The need for fuel and fire maintenance likely led to a division of labour among early hominids. Human communities grew more stationary around the fire and hearth, transforming vocal communication, language, and eventually story-telling. During a million years of fire management, the Homo genus evolved a waking day of about 16 hours, much longer than most other mammal species, and gained survival advantages that our species enjoys to this day.

Cooking may have been fire’s greatest social impact, since it made more calories available from foods, reduced the energy cost of digestion, and freed that energy for other enterprises, tool-making, art, and social interaction. Every species is constrained by its available energy, and cooking gave humans an energy boost, which led to additional technological innovation. These developments also changed human brains, mating habits, and gender divisions of labor. Among most primates, males and females gather the same food. Once hominids controlled fire, males spent more time on wide range hunting and defense, and females and elders refined social ritual and language around the hearth. Fire contributed to food sharing and longer childhoods, and thus greater learning potential.

However, the costs of fire can be high. Cooking fires make a stationary community more vulnerable to predators or invasion, so security became a more constant labour. Fuel-foraging depleted local brush and trees. Some Neolithic settlements, such as Çatal höyök in modern Turkey, provide evidence of long distance foraging for firewood and of woodland management. Fire allowed metal technologies, which led to early mining, which required more wood-burning, and led to localized mineral depletions and deforestation.

One of humanity’s oldest surviving stories, the Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumer, at least 5,000 years old, begins in a settlement protected by kiln-fired brick walls. The story discusses forest depletion, drying marshes, social oppression, and abuse of power, all linked to the power of controlled fire. We witness here, fundamental dysfunctions that remain with society today.

Fire, extinctions, and ecological overshoot

By 50,000 BC, long before agriculture, Homo sapiens population growth surged, and anthropologists find evidence during this period of animal and plant extinctions, primarily caused by controlled human fire used as a hunting technique.

Around 47,000 BC, humans arrived in Australia, regularly set fire to the landscape to flush prey, and eradicated dozens of large mammals, marsupials, reptiles, and flightless birds. The burning also caused localized climate change by reducing water vapour. Declining cloud cover shifted the monsoon cycle, the Nullarbor grassland became desert scrub, and once abundant Lake Eyre became a salt flat.

When human communities advanced into the Western Hemisphere, about 75% of large mammals (mastodons, mammoths, giant beavers, bears, and tigers) vanished. Similar mass extinctions occurred when humans arrived in Madagascar, Hawaii, and in New Zealand.

How does this knowledge help us now? We can see that humanity did not require industrial fossil fuel technology to cause species collapse and climate disruption. Sheer numbers, stone tools, and a plentiful external energy source were sufficient. University of British Columbia professor Dr. William Rees, developer of "ecological footprint" analysis, explains that certain mammalian traits led our species to overshoot ecosystem resources even prior to industrial technology. Like other large mammals, humans are "K-strategists," ("K" stands for a habitat’s capacity, German Kapazität), which means we have evolved to occupy all accessible habitats and use all available resources.

Evolutionary success has costs and, without restraints, can be fatal. Nature taught us to be aggressive and rapacious, as survival skills, but didn’t teach us how to stop. We have to do that ourselves. To solve our ecological dilemma, humanity has to reverse its expansion. Continued growth for a successful species that has overshot its habitat will lead to collapse.

External energy and Food

When a plant or animal’s energy use relies directly on the sun or food, habitat capacity acts as a restraint on growth, and each species remains in dynamic homeostasis as witnessed in predator-prey cycles or in our own gardens. In 1922, Polish-American biophysicst Alfred Lotka, who developed predator-prey dynamics, published "Contribution to the energetics of evolution", proposing that evolution was driven by the ability to access available energy. Trees grow more leaves so they can transform more energy. The sharp eyes of the hawk help it process more energy, with less energy cost.

All plants and animals other than humans rely solely on energy from the sun or food, internal, which biologists call "endosomatic" energy. The energy humans derive from fire, work animals, fossil fuels, hydro dams, or solar panels, is "exosomatic," energy retrieved from outside our bodies. The aristocracy throughout history have also gained exosomatic energy from slaves and exploitive wages for labour.

The average human requires about 2,400 food calories (kilo-calories) per day, about 3,600 megajoules (MJ) each year. In pre-fire hominid societies, each person consumed roughly this much energy from food. Fire provided humans with about 15,000 MJ of extra energy each year, 4-times more external energy than internal energy from food, a 4:1 ratio. About a billion people today still live roughly on this fire-level energy budget. In the poorer nations such as Haiti and Senegal, the average energy consumption is about twice this level, an 8:1 ratio of exosomatic energy.

However, in rich, industrial nations, the use of external energy soars. Europeans use about 40-times as much external energy as they get from food, and the average US, Canadian, or Scandinavian citizen uses about 90-times as much external energy. Among the super-rich, jet-set, multiple-home elite, this energy use can skyrocket to 1000-times as much external energy. We could solve most of our energy problems by limiting frivolous energy waste among the rich.

Most industrial nations spend 12 -16% of their energy budget to grow food. The so-called "green revolution" was really a black revolution, relying on fossil fuels for fertilizer, machinery, transport, and packaging of food. A study by Mario Giampietro and David Pimentel shows that food delivered to the consumer in North America requires ten-times more energy than the food contains. When we add the energy cost of storage, cooking, and waste, industrial food has a negative net energy of over 12:1. Nate Hagens, who teaches "Reality 101" at the University of Minnesota, points out that humanity’s food today is not an energy source, it is "a vast energy sink." In the natural world, spending more energy to get food than the food contains proves unsustainable.

Since 80% of our energy use comes from fossil fuels, we are essentially eating oil. To achieve this level of food production, industrial agriculture has depleted soils, spread toxins, disrupted nutrient cylces, and launched an era of rapid global heating.  In short, humanity has used Earth’s vast energy stores to overshoot their ecological habitat.

Humanity’s destructive consumption of exosomatic energy started with the advent of controlled fire, and that basic fire economy has never disappeared. Firewood use never declined and remains an important source of energy for humans. Coal did not replace wood, but only added to our energy consumption. Oil, gas, and nuclear power did not replace coal and hydropower, but only added to our energy consumption. One might imagine "replacing" oil with renewables, but so far, renewable energy simply adds more energy. Historically, humans only stop using an energy source when it is depleted.

Learning to reduce our energy consumption — not just finding more — remains at the heart of our ecological challenge.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International. The opinions here are his own.

World energy consumption by source: Coal did not replace wood burning, but rather added more energy for human consumption. Likewise, oil did not replace coal. Growing to consume more energy is a trait of all species, until a species overshoots its habitat. Human energy use has now increased to an unsustainable scale. Conservation has to a part of any genuine sustainable energy future. Graph by Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World.

Human use of fire:

Clark JD, Harris JWK. 1985 Fire and its roles in early hominid lifeways. Afr. Archaeol. Rev. 3, 3–27, Springer, 1985.

Discovery of Fire by Humans, J. Gowlett: Royal Society

Fischer-Kolwalski, M. and Haberl, H. eds. (2007) Socio-ecological transitions, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham. Springer Books.

Energy for Cooking, R.M. Amaraskara: Idea Sri Lanka

Overshoot, energy, and food:

Historic Overshoot, R. Weyler, Deep Green

Alfred J.Lotka, "Contribution to the energetics of evolution"; Proc Natl Acad Sci, 8, May, 1922

Energy content of food: Food and Agriculture Organization. UN

Food energy use increase, P. Canning, et. al: US Dept. of Agri.

Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy: Pimentel, D., Giampietro, M. Carrying Capacity Network, 1994.

Human appropriation of photosynthesis, Vitousek, P.M. et al. Bioscience , 1986.

Constraints on the Expansion of Global Food Supply, Kindell, Pimentel, Ambio, 1994. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

"Eating Fossil Fuels," Dale A. Pfeiffer, Wilderness Publications, 2003

Human energy use: EJOLT, Environmental Justice orgs.

Diet for a Small Planet, Lappé, Frances Moore, 1971. Small Planet Inst.

Energy and Population, Paul J. Werbos, dieoff.com

Impact of Population Growth on Food Supplies and Environment, Pimentel et al., Cornell University

World Energy Consumption, Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World

US Food System, Univ. of Michigan

Fertilzer energy use, Fertilizer Institute


Read more [Greenpeace international]

How secure are your emails?

Meet the man who believes he’s come up with a foolproof way of keeping your emails safe from the prying eyes of governments and hackers. (Carlo Pisani, swissinfo.ch) The moment for Andy Yen came in 2013 when the story broke of the United States government’s massive surveillance of phone and internet communications, exposed by Edward Snowden.Yen, a particle physicist at CERN, got together with a few of his colleagues at the Geneva nuclear research centre and started brainstorming ways of making email communication safe. Watch Yen explain the idea behind their secure application, ProtonMail, which is hosted entirely in Switzerland. Contact the author of this story on twitter @carlopisani
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Unfounded fear?

BBC: It's more than five years since the earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan caused a huge leak of radioactive material into the world's oceans. Workers battled to prevent the Fukushima nuclear plant going into complete meltdown and radiation levels rose by a factor of tens of millions. However, a new report by Australian scientists has revealed that radiation in the Pacific Ocean is rapidly returning to normal and should be at its previous level by 2020. So what does this say about radiation...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Can nuclear really deliver 25% of global electricity by 2050?

Climate Home: Despite a record-breaking year of global nuclear construction in 2015, a report by the industry recognises that it still faces unresolved problems and uncertainties The nuclear industry is celebrating breaking records that have stood for a quarter of a century - but a new update on its successes still fails to disperse the clouds over its future. Ten new nuclear reactors came on line last year worldwide, and more new reactors are being built than at any time since 1990. According to the...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Focus: Nuke plan diverts billions from climate change

Sandiego Union Tribune: Last month, California’s largest utility unveiled a deal with environmental groups to scrap Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear power plant, by 2025. Regulators may get details later this month. The idea seems absurd, given the state’s campaign to combat climate change. Replacing the nuke’s output -- cheap, zero-carbon power for 1.7 million homes -- can only hurt the planet, as well as cost consumers billions of dollars that could otherwise go toward displacing fossil fuels. So the only...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

The Future of Nuclear Power Is ‘Challenging,’ Says WNA Report

EcoWatch: The nuclear industry is celebrating breaking records that have stood for a quarter of a century--but a new update on its successes still fails to disperse the clouds over its future. Ten new nuclear reactors came on line last year worldwide and more new reactors are being built than at any time since 1990. According to the report by the World Nuclear Association (WNA), there were 66 power reactors under construction across the world last year and another 158 planned. Of those being built, 24 were...
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Nuclear records paper over flaws

Climate News Network: Nuclear records paper over flaws Guangdong nuclear power plant in China, where the industry is shielded from market forces. Despite a record-breaking year of global nuclear construction in 2015, a report by the industry recognises that it still faces unresolved problems and uncertainties. LONDON, 5 July, 2016 – The nuclear industry is celebrating breaking records that have stood for a quarter of a century - but a new update on its successes still fails to disperse the clouds over its future....
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Pollution guidelines leave a blind spot for assessing the impact of coal and oil

The Conversation: Coal’s impact on the Great Barrier Reef by causing climate change is one of the reasons why environmentalists oppose the development of coal fields and exports in Queensland. But fossil fuels could have a more direct impact on the reef and the waters around it, through chemicals produced during their production and distribution. When coal dust is released in the marine environment it can damage marine ecosystems. Coal contains a number of different chemicals, but it is polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons...
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After NSG rebuff, India falls back on fossil fuels for energy security

Bloomberg: After the failed attempt to join an exclusive group of 48 countries that control the trade in nuclear material and equipment, India is now falling back on its quest for more fossil fuel reserves. Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan will visit the US later this month to seek investments and technology from exploration companies for 67 smaller fields with oil and gas discoveries, which will be auctioned for commercial production under a liberal and simple revenue sharing agreement, said an oil ministry...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Fossil fuel use in US is at its lowest percentage in over a century

Ars Technica: With the 4th of July weekend about to begin, the US Energy Information Administration decided to look back to our nation's founding. So it plotted the country's energy use starting from 1776. Most of the result isn't a surprise: biomass had a long run before fossil fuels took over and stayed on top. But recent years have seen the biggest change since nuclear was added to the mix. Biomass spent nearly a century on top of the US energy mix before being displaced by coal, although it never went above...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Japan: Fukushima and the oceans: What do we know, five years on?

ScienceDaily: A major international review of the state of the oceans 5 years after the Fukushima disaster shows that radiation levels are decreasing rapidly except in the harbour area close to the nuclear plant itself where ongoing releases remain a concern. At the same time, the review's lead author expresses concern at the lack of ongoing support to continue the radiation assessment, which he says is vital to understand how the risks are changing. These are the conclusions of a major 5 year review, with...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

As Japan re-embraces nuclear power, safety warnings persist

Reuters: Japan's re-embrace of nuclear power, on display last week with the recertification of two aging reactors, is prompting some critics to warn that Tokyo is neglecting the lessons of Fukushima. In the first such step since the 2011 disaster, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on June 20 approved Kansai Electric Power Co's application to extend the life of two reactors beyond 40 years. As it became clear the NRA was going to allow the extensions, a former commissioner broke a silence maintained...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

As Japan re-embraces nuclear power, safety warnings persist

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's re-embrace of nuclear power, on display last week with the recertification of two aging reactors, is prompting some critics to warn that Tokyo is neglecting the lessons of Fukushima.
Read more [Reuters]

Brexit hot air causes climate problems

Climate News Network: The shock waves felt round the world at the UK’s decision in a referendum to leave the European Union will have unexpected consequences for some major projects linked to climate change. Plans for four giant nuclear reactors to be built in England by the French are almost certain to be scrapped because opposition among trade unions in France has hardened since last week’s vote. A second major project - a third runway at Heathrow, London’s busiest airport - was due to be given the go-ahead on...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Visible Pollution Leaking from NY Nuclear Plant

Free Thought Project: US Coast Gaurd officials have cordoned off a portion of Lake Ontario this week, after aerial spotters found a visible "sheen" that is coming from a nuclear power plant in upstate New York. The Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew first noticed the sheen on Sunday. Shortly after, a boat crew from the Oswego station tested the sheen and a "temporary safety zone" was put in place. The Free Thought Project spoke to the Coast Guard Sector Buffalo Command Center on Tuesday and confirmed that the zone was...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Risks, ethics and consent: Australia shouldn’t become world’s nuclear wasteland

Conversation: Last month the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission recommended that the state government develop a business venture to store a large fraction of the world’s high- and intermediate-level nuclear power station wastes in South Australia. It proposes to do this by first building an interim above-ground store, to be followed by permanent underground repository. But the commission’s recommendation is based on several debatable assumptions, including: an economic analysis that purports...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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