Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree lifting the ban on supplying Iran with uranium enrichment equipment. It is linked to Russia importing enriched uranium from Iran, according to the official government website.
The Russian President is visiting Tehran to take part in Gas Exporting Countries Forum summit, and is holding talks on Monday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
According to the document, the ban on supplying goods, materials and equipment no longer applies “to the exports of the enriched uranium from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The decision to export low-enriched uranium from Iran to Russia was reached in the framework of the agreement between Iran and the six international mediators in July. According to the deal, Tehran must get rid of 98 percent of its enriched uranium. Iran also agreed not to enrich uranium by more than 3.67 percent for 15 years and to possess no more than 300 kilograms of the material.
Here's a nice bit of irony:
James Hansen, the scientist who was first to raise the alarm about climate change, fueling calls to shut down coal-fired power plants, will later this week urge the expansion of nuclear power.
In other words, depending on how things work out, utilities that were forced to close down or convert their coal-powered operations because of Hansen's work, could soon find themselves thanking him for encouraging policymakers and regulators to approve plans to build new nuclear plants.
Hansen will issue his call in Paris, during the two-week climate conference that kicks off Monday. The conference is expected to draw some 20,000 attendees, including President Obama and 120 or so other world leaders.
Joined by several other top climate scientists, Hansen is expected to present research showing that renewables alone cannot realistically meet the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, and that a major expansion of nuclear power "is essential to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."
While nuclear power is on the mitigation list for China, the U.S. and India, Hansen will call for more, including the deployment of light-water reactors.
Just as significantly, he and his fellow scientists will challenge environmental leaders to support their position.
As noted in a news release announcing the press conference, the Climate Action Network, which represents major environmental groups, "still insists despite all evidence to the contrary that `nuclear has no role to play in a fully decarbonized power sector.'"
"The anti-nuclear position of these environmental leaders is in fact causing unnecessary and severe harm to the environment and to the future of young people," Hansen and his fellow researchers say in their news announcement.
Of course, Hansen and his colleagues are not alone.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the UN Sustainable Solutions Network and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate have all argued for more nuclear energy.
This might surprise some people, but nowadays so is President Obama, who has made climate change a focal point of his second term.
In fact, although it attracted far less attention, the Obama administration hosted an important summit on nuclear energy in early November at which it announced a number of steps it was taking to help sustain and finance nuclear energy, including:
Eearmarking $900 million in the Department of Energy's 2016 budget to support commercial nuclear energy;
Making construction of advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors and other projects eligible for DOE loan guarantees;
Launching the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), to accelerate commercialization of the latest nuclear reactor designs by providing outside researchers access to expertise within the DOE;
Providing support to small modular reactor licensing, simulation and control room development for light-water reactors.
The administration's efforts generated praise from, among others, the Nuclear Energy Institute.
(This could possibly include funding the ACP, but it may not help LEU stock if the DOE just takes over)
The EPA wrapped up initial calls with stakeholders Tuesday on its Clean Energy Incentive Program, after President Obama left Paris after the beginning of the United Nations climate change negotiations that will conclude Dec. 11.
The incentive program is a key part of EPA's climate rules for power plants, which are integral to the U.S. meeting its commitments under any U.N. agreement on emission reductions. The weeks of calls the agency concluded Tuesday were meant to field questions about the clean energy program, which was not included in the draft rules but added when the rules were finalized.
EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe, noting that 140 people were on Tuesday's call, said the Clean Energy Incentive Program seeks "to reward early" action on meeting the emissions reduction targets under the agency's Clean Power Plan, which 27 states are opposing in federal appeals court.
The plan requires states to reduce a third of their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Many scientists say the emissions are causing the Earth's climate to warm, resulting in more severe weather. The states opposing the rules say the rules go far beyond EPA's authority under the law and are unconstitutional by violating states' rights.
China, one of the most polluted countries on Earth is, in Hillary's view, the "model" we should be following.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday she expects China to become the clean energy superpower of the 21st century because of big investments its government has made in solar, wind and other energy sources.
"Then they're gonna be exporting and they're gonna be controlling that market unless we understand there's a huge economic opportunity that goes hand in hand with climate change," Clinton said in the second part of her interview with Charlie Rose that aired Tuesday.
The former secretary of state called climate change a "consequential crisis to everybody in the world" and criticized advanced economies for failing to work to reverse or pause the Earth's temperature increase until now.
Note that Hillary didn't mention China's shift to nuclear power and has previously praised the Japanese and German moves to phase out nuclear power.
I remember they were workingon this when Chernobyl happened. The NRC was willing to lower the value of the "source term" which would have drastically reduced the cost of nuclear power.
In June, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission began soliciting comments on whether to revise the safety standards in favor of a more sophisticated view, known as hormesis, which recognizes that organisms bathed in natural radiation have evolved cellular responses that protect against low-level radiation doses. The petitioners for this change include Dr. Carol S. Marcus, a professor of nuclear medicine at UCLA, who pointed to a lack of “scientifically valid support” for the LNT hypothesis and the “enormous” cost of “complying with LNT based regulations.”
Kudos go to Mr. Allison and toxicologist Edward J. Calabrese of UMass Amherst, who’ve fought this battle for decades. Prof. Calabrese’s latest paper, published in October in the journal Environmental Research, traces how a cabal of radiation geneticists associated with the Manhattan Project in the 1950s promoted adoption of the LNT hypothesis to increase the prestige of their discipline.
By now hundreds of papers have added evidence against LNT. A study last year from Munich’s Institute of Radiation Biology showed a specific mechanism by which low levels of radiation induce a nonlinear response in certain cell protection mechanisms.
The consequences have been incalculable. Not from any intrinsic cost, safety or efficiency advantage coal became the world’s go-to electricity source in the early 21st century. China and India today would not be opting for coal. They would be choosing among an array of off-the-shelf, affordable, safe and clean nuclear reactors developed in the advanced industrial countries.
How foolish have we been? In a month, coal mining kills more people than all nuclear power industry accidents since the beginning of time. Though it opens a can of worms, by the standards of LNT, coal is also more dangerous.
Google: A Nuclear Paradigm Shift? Holman Jenkins to see the whole article. I just published a snip.
A buddy of mine working for the NRC says there are plans to raise the dose limits 10X, which would be a major benefit and long overdue. You may need 10 Rem a year exposure just to maintain optimal health! Maybe now that Obama is pro-nuclear (at least for this month) things can move forwards.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Physicists are proposing a new way to process nuclear waste that uses a plasma-based centrifuge. Known as plasma mass filtering, the new mass separation techniques would supplement chemical techniques. It is hoped that this combined approach would reduce both the cost of nuclear waste disposal and the amount of byproducts produced during the process.
How would a plasma-based mass filter system work? The method begins by atomizing and ionizing the hazardous waste and injecting it into the rotating filter so the individual elements can be influenced by electric and magnetic fields. The filter then separates the lighter elements from the heavier ones by using centrifugal and magnetic forces. The lighter elements are typically less radioactive than the heavier ones and often do not need to be vitrified. Processing of the high-level waste therefore would need fewer high-level glass canisters overall, while the less radioactive material could be immobilized in less costly wasteform (e.g., concrete, bitumen).
The new technique would also be more widely applicable than traditional chemical-based methods since it would depend less on the nuclear waste's chemical composition. While "the waste's composition would influence the performance of the plasma mass filter in some ways, the effect would most likely be less than that associated with chemical techniques," said Gueroult.
As of November 2015, China has 31 nuclear power reactors in operation, giving it the capacity to generate a total of approximately 29.3 gigawatts of electricity, or GWe. (One gigawatt is equal to one billion watts. To give a sense of scale, when water levels are high and the hydroelectric plant at the Hoover Dam is working full-tilt, the facility China is on track to have close to 58 GWe in operation by 2020; another 30 GWe should be under construction by 2020, as was planned in 2012. As if that were not enough,many more reactors are under consideration for construction in the coming decades.
To supply the fuel for all these reactors, the Chinese government has been purchasing uranium on the world marketplace, establishing Chinese firms to mine uranium ore overseas, and getting the rest from its own domestic supply of ore. An approach like this will call for a massive increase in the country’s ability to enrich uranium—and China has proclaimed a policy of “self-sufficiency” in enrichment services. But how and where will China enrich the uranium needed to fuel its nuclear power plants? Especially when China’s demand for enriched uranium is expected to triple from about 3 million separative work units, or SWU (the standard unit for measuring a centrifuge’s output) in 2014 to about 9 million SWU in 2020?
Estimates based on satellite imagery, Chinese publications, and discussions with Chinese experts suggest that China is already operating civilian enrichment facilities with a capacity that may be in the range of 4.5 million SWU per year, with an estimated additional 2 million SWU per year under construction; China may well have the ability to continue at a rate that adds a million SWU of additional capacity annually.
As world leaders meet in Paris to agree a legal framework aimed at limiting use of fossil fuels and the resulting rises in global temperatures, a UK company says it could be as little as five years from making “reactor relevant” fusion, a potential game changer in energy production.
A British company believes it is within five years of achieving “reactor relevant” fusion, a major landmark in the six decade long scientific search for the veritable Holy Grail of energy production.
Fusion is how stars produce energy. It occurs when the nuclei of light atoms, such as hydrogen, are fused together under extreme pressure and heat.
Tokamak Energy, from Oxfordshire, believes that the third version of their compact, spherical tokamak reactor will be able to reach temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius by 2020. That’s seven times hotter than the center of the sun and the temperature necessary to achieve fusion. Such a temperature fuses hydrogen atoms together, releasing energy, which differs from fission reactors that work by splitting atoms at much lower temperatures.
Such an achievement wouldn’t mean a rapid rollout of a global fusion electricity network, but would be a significant step to achieving this by 2050, potentially making an enormous contribution both to world energy supplies and reducing carbon emissions.
In Paris world leaders are meeting to try to reach an agreed framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Governments hope the summit will end on December 11 in a deal that will herald a shift from rising dependence on fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution to cleaner energies such as wind or solar power.
Key to Tokamak Energy’s success is the spherical shape of its tokamak – a device using a magnetic field to confine plasma – and thin high temperature superconductor strips.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF.
The state that spawned a generation of activists committed to shutting down nuclear reactors and crippling the industry has lately become a hotbed of advocacy and financial support for fighting global warming with, of all things, nuclear power.
Encouraged by the Obama administration, notable California innovators and financiers are looking to reinvent the industry in the mold of wind and solar power. They are betting on prototype technologies that seek to replace the hulking plants of today with smaller, nimbler units. Environmentally minded nuclear engineers argue that they can be designed so safely that they might be "huggable." They talk of power plants that consume nuclear waste instead of creating it.
State leaders aren't necessarily rushing to embrace the vision in a place where all but one nuclear plant have been mothballed and where old-guard nuclear safety advocates warn that so-called advanced nuclear technologies are an attempt to put shiny earrings on the same old pig.
But the investors and nuclear scientists opening startup labs in the office parks of California's technology hubs and within the research centers of universities see a more influential ally in the White House.
Nuclear power is at the nub of the Obama administration's "all of the above" strategy for reinventing the energy industry in an era of climate change, and its faith in the fraught power source has captured the imagination of some notable and deep-pocketed West Coast thinkers.
Investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, have poured about $2 billion into a few dozen small outfits, many of which are concentrated in the West. The entrepreneurs behind them are racing to design nuclear power facilities engineered to seem no more imposing than a neighborhood arts center.
"This is the place to be," said Jacob DeWitte, chief executive of UPower, a startup that recently migrated here from Cambridge, Mass., in its quest to cr
'Stellarator' is a SUCCESS
Scientists have successfully switched on the world's largest 'Stellarator' fusion reactor.
Dubbed Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), the reactor is designed to contain super-hot plasma for more than 30 minutes at a time.
This week, the reactor produced a special super-hot gas for a tenth of a second.
Scientists hope that, if it can work for longer, it could eventually lead to limitless supplies of clean and cheap energy.
Yesterday, the reactor produced a helium plasma which reached a temperature of one million°C.
'We're very satisfied', concludes Dr Hans-Stephan Bosch, whose division is responsible for the operation of the Wendelstein 7-X, at the end of the first day of experimentation.
'Everything went according to plan.'
The next task will be to extend the duration of the plasma discharges and to investigate the best method of producing and heating helium plasmas using microwaves.
Researchers claim its unusual design, which is housed in a huge lab in Greifswald, Germany, could finally help make fusion power a reality.
Containing super-hot plasma for long periods has been the Holy Grail for reactor designs, and could help scientists provide an inexhaustible source of power.
After a hiatus of more than two years, the LHC was fired up again in June to continue smashing particles together - this time at record-breaking energy levels of around 13 trillion electron volts. (In case you’re wondering, an electron volt is a unit of energy equal to approximately 1.602×10-19 joules, and 6.5 trillion electron volts is twice the energy level used to detect the Higgs boson for the first time in 2012.)
Since then, both the CMS and ATLAS detectors at the LHC have recorded a spike in activity at a particular energy level, corresponding to around 750 giga electronvolts (GeV) - or roughly 750 billion electron volts.
Found hidden in the debris of proton-proton collisions, this unexplained signal could be the sign of a new particle that resembles the Higgs boson, only it’d be around 12 times heavier, with a mass of 1,500 GeV.
"When all the statistical effects are taken into consideration ... the bump in the Atlas data had about a 1-in-93 chance of being a fluke - far stronger than the 1-in-3.5-million odds of mere chance, known as five-sigma, considered the gold standard for a discovery," Dennis Overbye writes for The New York Times. "That might not be enough to bother presenting in a talk, except for the fact that the competing CERN team, named CMS, found a bump in the same place."
That said, the statistical significance of what they found was still very low, with Davide Castelvecchi reporting for Nature that ATLAS detected about 40 pairs of photons above the numbers expected from the standard model of particle physics, and CMS saw only 10. When you consider that’s based on data collected from some 400 trillion proton-proton collisions, it’s safe to say these particles are either super rare, created under extremely difficult-to-recreate conditions, or don't exist.
Renewable energy stocks are beaming. First, the historic Paris climate change summit and now Congress’ vote to extend federal subsidies for renewable energy have perked up the space.
Solar and wind energy got a major boost from Wednesday’s environmental tax credit extension that came as part of the $1.15 trillion federal spending bill, which prevented a government shutdown and lifted the 40-year-old ban on exporting American crude oil.
The legislation entails solar power companies to keep claiming federal investment tax credits ("ITC") at 30% of the price of solar energy systems installed by businesses or homeowners. ITC, which was set earlier to expire at the end of 2016, will look good through 2019. This is because the latest deal approves an additional five years of ITC. However, the credit will start to decline, slashing it to 10% in 2022. The deal still needs approval from lawmakers, which is expected as soon as this week.
Additionally, the wind sector also benefited significantly from the production tax credit (“PTC”) extension. The PTC pays 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated and technically expired at 2014 end due to Congressional gridlock. Now, the PTC will be extended through 2020 but will be gradually decreased over the next four years before being completely phased out.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site is now its newest national park.
Thousands of people are expected next year to tour the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, home of the world's first full-sized nuclear reactor, near Richland, about 200 miles east of Seattle in south-central Washington.
They won't be allowed anywhere near the nation's largest collection of toxic radioactive waste.
"Everything is clean and perfectly safe," said Colleen French, the U.S. Department of Energy's program manager for the Hanford park. "Any radioactive materials are miles away."
The Manhattan Project National Historic Park, signed into existence in November, also includes sites at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Manhattan Project is the name for the U.S. effort to build an atomic bomb during World War II.
At Hanford, the main attractions will be B Reactor — the world's first full-sized reactor — along with the ghost towns of Hanford and White Bluffs, which were evacuated by the government to make room for the Manhattan Project.
The B Reactor was built in about one year and produced plutonium for the Trinity test blast in New Mexico and for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, that led to the surrender of the Japanese.
Starting in 1943, more than 50,000 people from across the United States arrived at the top-secret Hanford site to perform work whose purpose few knew, French said.
The 300 residents of Richland were evicted and that town became a bedroom community for the adjacent Hanford site, skyrocketing in population. Workers labored around the clock to build reactors and processing plants to make plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.
The park will tell the story of those workers, plus the scientists who performed groundbreaking research and the residents who were displaced, said Chip Jenkins of the National Park Service, which is jointly developing the park with the Energy Department.
(AP) -- Security researcher Brian Wallace was on the trail of hackers who had snatched a California university's housing files when he stumbled into a larger nightmare: Cyberattackers had opened a pathway into the networks running the United States power grid.
Digital clues pointed to Iranian hackers. And Wallace found that they had already taken passwords, as well as engineering drawings of dozens of power plants, at least one with the title "Mission Critical." The drawings were so detailed that experts say skilled attackers could have used them, along with other tools and malicious code, to knock out electricity flowing to millions of homes.
Wallace was astonished. But this breach, The Associated Press has found, was not unique.
About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on, according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter.
The public almost never learns the details about these types of attacks - they're rarer but also more intricate and potentially dangerous than data theft. Information about the government's response to these hacks is often protected and sometimes classified; many are never even reported to the government.
These intrusions have not caused the kind of cascading blackouts that are feared by the intelligence community. But so many attackers have stowed away in the systems that run the U.S. electric grid that experts say they likely have the capability to strike at will.
And that's what worries Wallace and other cybersecurity experts most.
"If the geopolitical situation changes and Iran wants to target these facilities, if they have this kind of information it will make it a lot easier," said Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. Air Force cyberwarfare operations officer. "It will also help them stay quiet and stealthy inside."
Another Study Exposes NOAA Temperature Fraud
What happens when devious politicians team up with complicit scientists? You get man-made global warming. Literally. Just ask the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We've documented how the agency artificially increases the temperature trend so it appears steeper than it actually is. And NOAA's not the only one. Likewise, both Australia and Switzerland have fraudulently adjusted temperature data. A new analysis from a research group looks deeper into one of the myriad ways NOAA accomplishes this. James Delingpole provides this concise summary:
While satellite records have shown no global warming for at least 18 years, the land based data sets like the ones maintained by NOAA for the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) continue to show a warming trend. One reason for this discrepancy, the study suggests, is that NOAA has been cherry-picking its raw data. That is, it has ignored the evidence from those weather stations showing little or no late Twentieth century warming and instead placed undue emphasis on the ones that do show warming. But the ones that do show warming also happen to be the least trustworthy. These are the ones, the study shows, which have been most corrupted by the Urban Heat Island effect — and other environmental factors."
As we wrote in October, the ClimateGate fraud is bigger and more malicious than anyone realizes. So it's little wonder why NOAA refuses to turn internal communications over to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: Because it's quite possible those communications provide concrete evidence of the very fraud exposed above.
Climate models used by scientists to predict how much human activities will warm the planet have been over-predicting global warming for the last six decades, according to a recent working paper by climate scientists.
“Everyone by now is familiar with the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in the rate of global warming that has taken place over the past 20 years of so, but few realize is that the observed warming rate has been beneath the model mean expectation for periods extending back to the mid-20th century—60+ years,” Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, climate scientists at the libertarian Cato Institute, write in a working paper released in December.
Michaels and Knappenberger compared observed global surface temperature warming rates since 1950 to what was predicted by 108 climate models used by government climate scientists to predict how much carbon dioxide emissions will warm the planet.
What they found was the models projected much higher warming rates than actually occurred.
“During all periods from 10 years (2006-2015) to 65 (1951-2015) years in length, the observed temperature trend lies in the lower half of the collection of climate model simulations,” Michaels and Knappenberger write, “and for several periods it lies very close (or even below) the 2.5th percentile of all the model runs.”
Climate models fail to predict warming
Source: The Cato Institute
To further bolster their case that climate models are over-predicting warming rates, Michaels and Knappenberger looked at how climate models fared against satellite and weather balloon data from the mid-troposphere. The result is the same, and climate models predicted way more warming than actually occurred.
Satellites show even less warming
Days before the U.N. conference on climate change took place in Paris, the Senate held a hearing and passed resolutions designed to let the world know that Obama did not have the support of the U.S. Senate—which would be needed for any legally binding treaty. While Obama would surely veto any such legislation, the New York Times reported: “proponents believe their defiance will have diplomatic repercussions.” In a statement following the vote, Senator Inhofe said: “The message could not be more clear that Republicans and Democrats in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House do not support the president’s climate agenda and the international community should take note.”
The plan was successful; the “international community” took note. It is believed that the Republican drumbeat, prompted the European Union to back off of its insistence that any carbon goals in the final agreement need to be legally binding. The agreement that was ultimately reached in Paris is, according to the New York Times, “essentially voluntary.”
Polls taken just days before the Paris conference indicate that only 3 percent of Americans believe that climate change is the most important issue facing the country and that a wide majority of voters “oppose the government investigating and prosecuting scientists and others including major corporations who question global warming.”