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Most popular Atomic City blog posts of 2014


Most popular Atomic City blog posts of 2014
December 22, 2014 by Frank Munger

Readers of Atomic City Underground like old and interesting photographs, keep track of current events at the Department of Energy and its affiliated institutions and communities, and sometimes have an affinity for the unusual. That sort of defines what this news blog is all about.

I just took a look at the year’s most popular posts, using a number of analytical tools, and here are those that — sometimes inexplicably — ranked highest.

1. Now that’s a whole heck of a lot of waste.

2. NNSA confirms uranium incident at Y-12; top official coming to Oak Ridge to address situation.

3. In the megaton range at the Y-12 History Center.

4. CNS unveils org structure, some managers.

5. Isn’t this quaint?

6. Another view of K-25’s conclusion.

7. Declassified pics of final A-bomb preparations.

8. Nuclear survivor: Bill Clark recalls 1958 criticality accident and his up-and-down life since then.

9. Backlash on Y-12 benefit changes.

10. Eight workers got internal rad doses during secret project at ORNL; lab was doing work for Y-12.

11. Bobcat visits Oak Ridge lab.

12. Right of incumbents employees at Y-12/Pantex.

13. Workforce reductions in the works at Y-12, Pantex.

14. ‘Spies look and act like normal people’

15. The CNS benefits plan unveiled; employee share of the health premiums to increase at Y-12/Pantex.

16. Retirees planning Dec. 4 protest at Y-12.

17. GAO denies protest on Y-12/Pantex contract; could set the stage for transition of contractors.

18. Fatality at EnergySolutions facility in Erwin.

19. Gene Patterson to join Y-12 contractor.

20. Broken bones at Y-12.

Nuclear: Carbon Free, but Not Free of Unease


Nuclear: Carbon Free, but Not Free of Unease

Next week, if all goes as planned, the 42-year-old nuclear reactor at the Vermont Yankee generating station will be shut down for the last time. The steam turbine at the plant, which at its peak could make enough electricity for about half a million homes with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions, will grind to a halt.

Vermont Yankee, in the river town of Vernon near the Massachusetts border, had been the target of years of protests and lawsuits by state officials, environmentalists and others concerned about safety and radioactive waste.

But in the end, the antinuclear movement didn’t kill the plant. Economics did.

“People are always surprised when we say that really wasn’t the driver in shutting it down,” said Bill Mohl, the president of a division of Entergy Corporation that operates Vermont Yankee and four other nuclear plants, including Indian Point north of New York City. Although Vermont Yankee produced power inexpensively, was upgraded recently and was licensed to operate until 2032, the plant had become unprofitable in recent years, a victim largely of lower energy prices resulting from a glut of natural gas used to fire electricity plants, Mr. Mohl said.


The industry’s recent struggles represent something of a reversal from the previous decade, when there was talk of a nuclear revival in the United States after nearly 30 years without any new reactor construction permits being issued. Even then, however, some experts questioned just how much nuclear power could grow in the United States and abroad, and how much it could contribute to the effort to reduce carbon emissions.


Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction February 28-March 1, 2015 at The New York Aca


Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction February 28-March 1, 2015 at The New York Academy of Medicine

A unique, two-day symposium at which an international panel of leading experts in disarmament, political science, existential risk, anthropology, medicine, nuclear weapons and other nuclear issues will be held at The New York Academy of Medicine on Feb 28- March 1, 2015. The public is welcome.

A project of The Helen Caldicott Foundation

Venue: The New York Academy of Medicine. 1216 Fifth Ave @ 103rd St. NY, NY 10029


The Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction.

Russia and the U.S. possess 94% of the 16,400 nuclear weapons in the global nuclear arsenal. The U.S. maintains its first strike winnable nuclear war policy, and both countries have raised their nuclear arsenals to a higher state of alert because of the situation in the Ukraine. Furthermore it has just been announced that the administration has plans to replace every nuclear warhead and their delivery systems via ship, submarine, missile and plane, at a cost of one trillion dollars over the next thirty years.

This symposium to be held by The Helen Caldicott Foundation will address the following issues:
. What are the human and technological factors that could precipitate a nuclear war between Russia and the U.S., how many times have we come close to nuclear war and how long will our luck hold?
. What are the ongoing technological and financial developments relevant to the nuclear weapons arsenals of the US and Russia?
. What problems are associated with lateral proliferation of nuclear weapons via strenuous corporate marketing of nuclear technology?
. What are the medical and environmental consequences of either a small or large scale nuclear war?
. What are the underlying philosophical, political, and ideological dynamics that have brought life on earth to the brink of extinction?
. How can we assess this situation from an anthropological perspective?
. What is the pathology within the present political situation that could lead us to extinction?
. How can this nuclear pathology be cured?

Moderated by:
Day One: Kennette Benedict, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Day Two: To be announced

The Presenters (confirmed speakers, speaking order may change):

Session 1
Seth Baum- Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, will address the catastrophic risk of nuclear war
Max Tegmark- Professor of physics at MIT and author of “Our Mathematical Universe”, will discuss artificial intelligence and the risk of automation accidentally triggering a nuclear war.

Session 2
Hans Kristensen – Federation of American Scientists, will address the current size of the global nuclear arsenals
Bill Hartung- Center for International Policy, will discuss the inordinate power and pathological dynamics exercised by the US military industrial complex
Greg Mello -Los Alamos Study Group, the role and funding of the nuclear weapons laboratories inherent within the US nuclear armament dilemma
John Feffer – Institute of Policy Studies will compare the money spent on the US military industrial complex compared with the paltry amount spent on the prevention of global warming
Bruce Gagnon – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, will elucidate the ongoing and dangerous militarization of space

Session 3
Bob Alvarez – Institute of Policy Studies, will discuss lateral proliferation and describe how a small nuclear exchange could trigger a global holocaust

Session 4
Steven Starr– Senior Scientist PSR, Clinical Laboratory Science Program Director, University of Missouri. Nuclear War: An Unrecognized Mass Extinction Event Waiting to Happen.
Holly Barker – Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Medical, Teratogenic and Genetic pathology related to US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.
Alan Robock – Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Environmental Sciences. Rutgers University, will outline his pioneering work on Nuclear Famine, Nuclear Autumn, and Nuclear Winter.
Lynn Eden – author of Whole World on Fire, will discuss the enormous issue ignored by the Pentagon of the effect of the holocaust of firestorms following nuclear war.

Session 5
Janne Nolan – Elliott School of International Affairs will outline the underlying psychological pathology of the nuclear warriors
Mike Lofgren – author of Anatomy of the Deep State, will describe the underlying pathology of US capitalism leading to this current tenuous nuclear situation
Susi Snyder- (IKV Pax Christi, the Netherlands), Contributor to 2014 report DON’T BANK ON THE BOMB

Session 6
Hugh Gusterson – Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, George Mason University will describe his anthropological research after spending one year at the Los Alamos Labs.
Robert Sheer – author of STAR WARRIORS will describe his research into the young men who do the research on nuclear weapons development at Lawrence Livermore Labs

Session 7
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics, MIT will present the pathology within the present political system that could induce extinction

Session 8
Dave Krieger – Nuclear Age Peace Foundation on what can we do? How the Marshall Islanders are speaking truth to power.
Tim Wright – Campaign Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – some potential and exciting solutions
Helen Caldicott – President of The Helen Caldicott Foundation – An urgent prescription for survival

Schedule to date:


The end of nuclear deterrence


The end of nuclear deterrence
There was a time when nuclear weapons were seen as the best way to prevent world war. Not anymore.
By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry | December 12, 2014

Since the end of the Cold War, the public mind has pretty much forgotten about the existence of nuclear weapons, except in the Middle East. And yet, they still exist — thousands and thousands of them, ready to destroy all of human civilization several times over. In response, a new nuclear disarmament movement is getting underway.

This week, I attended the Vienna conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. (Full disclosure: one of the sponsoring organizations, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, invited me all expenses paid.) The conference was striking in describing the utter, absolute destruction that can be caused by nuclear weapons.

I came in as a supporter of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, which says that the world's major power-brokers should have nuclear weapons as a way of preventing a new world war. Advocates of this doctrine point to the Cold War, which never went hot, as a success for deterrence.

But supporters of disarmament — including the Red Cross, Pope Francis, and, believe it or not, Henry Kissinger — say that's wrong. These are serious, sober-minded people, not just pie-in-the-sky activists, and they say that deterrence doesn't work in a multipolar world. Instead, the presence of nuclear weapons just creates an incentive for more proliferation, as small countries try to one-up their regional adversaries.

What's more — and this was the most striking thing at the conference — they point to the risks inherent in the existence of nuclear weapons. History has recorded many close calls in which nuclear weapons were almost fired. (This, in turn, could have led to a nightmare scenario where an accidental strike is met with a riposte, triggering Armageddon.) For example, in 2007, six U.S. nuclear warheads went missing because of a bureaucratic mistake. Then there's the story of the U.S. nuclear missile launch officer with the drug problem.


Real costs of nuclear power


Real costs of nuclear power
Dec 22, 2014


Recently a fact has surfaced that contradicts the myth of low power generating costs by nuclear power. More surprisingly, the fact originated from the power industry itself.

At a press conference in September, Makoto Yagi, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC), who also heads Kansai Electric Power Co., said that in order for private corporations to be able to operate nuclear power plants, it is essential that all costs are recovered without fail. For that purpose, he added, his industry would like to seek assistance from the public sector.


According to a journalist specializing in the power industry, that price is ¥0.4 higher than the price at which Japanese power companies are required to purchase electricity generated by wind power under the current FIT scheme, and only ¥1 cheaper than the FIT price for electricity from solar power generation. Moreover, he says, the standard price for the Hinkley Point plant is guaranteed for 35 years, which is longer than the period set for purchase of power generated by renewable energy sources. This means that the financial burden on consumers will become greater.

Even business circles in Japan, which have longed for an expansion of nuclear power generation, are opposed to the introduction of the CfD scheme. A high-ranking official of a major manufacturing company has said that restarting nuclear power plants will have no merit if it leads to higher electricity prices, and that if the CfD system is adopted his company will have no choice but to drastically increase power generation on its own.


A high-ranking official of an electric power company counters that the utilities have supplied power inexpensively based on a tacit understanding that the costs of decommissioning reactors would be borne by the government and that, therefore, it is utterly unreasonable now to be told to bear such costs on their own by setting aside large sums of money as reserves.

Behind this statement is a history of the government taking the initiative in building nuclear power plants from the national security point of view — making sure that Japan can meet its own energy needs and asserting implicitly that it could produce nuclear weapons.

The utility executive has confided that even though his company insisted it had such a large capacity that it would not need nuclear power plants, it was forced by the government to build them in line with the national policy.


This is an abridged translation of an article from the December issue of Sentaku, a monthly magazine covering political, social and economic scenes.

India's Nuclear Ambitions Rattle Tsunami-Hit Coast


India’s Nuclear Ambitions Rattle Tsunami-Hit Coast
Locals Fear Fukushima Scenario at Plant on Shores Ravaged in ‘04

By Jesse Pesta and R. Jai Krishna
Updated Dec. 21, 2014 10:49 p.m. ET

IDINTHA KARAI, India—Here along India’s southern coast—ravaged by tsunami waves 10 years ago—the country’s newest nuclear plant towers over the shoreline.


It comes a decade after the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, in which 228,000 people were lost across countries on the Indian Ocean’s rim, and amid concern about nuclear plants on tsunami-prone shorelines since the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.


Law-enforcement officials have responded by, among other things, charging 227,000 people—including entire villages—with a variety of crimes including sedition and war against the state, according to a lawyer for the protesters.


S.P. Udayakumar of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, one of the main activist groups, calls that a “mockery” of the legal system, saying he personally faces 21 charges of sedition for opposing the plant. He called a practice of charging entire communities, rather than named individuals, harassment. “We are not saying that we don’t need electricity, we don’t need development,” he said. “All we say is, the poor people also have to be included in the development scheme.”



NHK's Decline into Propaganda


NHK’s Decline into Propaganda
Added by Michael Penn on December 23, 2014

SNA (Tokyo) —


... foreign journalists are watching NHK emerge (or reemerge if you count the Tokyo Rose era) as a broadcaster noted more for Japanese nationalist political propaganda than as a source of genuine insight about happenings in this nation.

The most devastating single blow to NHK’s international reputation was the appointment of Katsuto Momii as chairman of the organization, and especially the outrageous comments that he made in his inaugural press conference in January. In particular, his comment that, “When the government is saying, ‘Right,’ we can’t say, ‘Left’” is understood by the rest of the world as a declaration that NHK broadcasts should be viewed merely as Japanese government propaganda, and therefore are not to be taken seriously.

Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of any possible remark that Mr. Momii could have made about his intentions that could have been more damaging to international perceptions of NHK. The fact that such a statement did not result in his immediate dismissal is taken by foreign journalists as representing the Abe government’s tacit approval of turning NHK into a propaganda organ for its rightwing ideology, especially in regard to historical revisionism surrounding the Pacific War.

The foreign media is now pursuing the “NHK story,” and a recent episode is a scoop by Richard Lloyd Parry of The Times, the venerable newspaper of London. A copy of an internal NHK document was leaked to Mr. Parry in which reporters and editors at NHK were instructed exactly what terms to use and to avoid when referring to sensitive matters such as Yasukuni Shrine, the Nanjing Massacre, or island disputes with China.

Mr. Parry’s article declares that the overall effect of the leaked document is that it “is seen as a surrender of editorial independence by Japan’s public broadcaster.” It appears to ban any sort of independent thought or opinion by NHK journalists; instead commanding them to parrot the diplomatic and political line of the Abe administration.


A Japanese-language version of this article appeared in the November 7 issue of Shukan Kinyobi.

Source: Shingetsu News Agency

Via https://www.facebook.com/fukushima311watchdog/posts/708764972555137?_fb_noscript=1

South Korea's Park says leak of nuclear plant data a 'grave situation'

Source: Reuters

A recent series of leaks of data from South Korea's nuclear operator was a "grave situation" that was unacceptable as a matter of national security, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.


"Nuclear power plants are first-class security installations that directly impact the safety of the people," Park said at a cabinet meeting, according to her office.

"A grave situation that is unacceptable has developed when there should have been not a trace of lapse as a matter of national security," she said.

She ordered inspections of safeguards at national infrastructure facilities, including the nuclear power plants, against what she called "cyber terrorism."


Read more: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/World/2014/12/23/South-Koreas-Park-says-leak-of-nuclear-plant-data-a-grave-situation/

S Korean nuclear plant operator stages cyberattack drills

Source: Channel NewsAsia

South Korea's nuclear power plant operator launched a two-day drill on Monday (Dec 22) to test its ability to thwart a cyberattack, as the company said its computer systems have been hacked.

The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP) and the government said only "non-critical" data was stolen in the hacking, and that there was no risk to nuclear installations including the country's 23 atomic reactors. But experts in Seoul said they are very worried.

Since December 15, information on South Korea's nuclear reactors has been posted online four times - internal information on the facilities and employees' personal data. The last posting on Sunday had more details including floor maps and blueprints of the nuclear reactors.

"The latest information contains blueprints that are much more detailed. They disclose the location and the state it is in. Whether this is an action of an insider or an infiltration from the outside, the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power will not be able to escape responsibility," said Suh Kune Yull, professor of nuclear engineering at Seoul National University.

Experts said the bigger problem is the fact that KHNP does not know what more information the hacker has. Lee Hun Seok, president of Energy Justice Actions, said: "I guess more investigations will have to be carried out to find out how the information was leaked. But the fact that they (KHNP) don't even know which files are missing simply suggests that they haven't been taking care of their security-related information."


Read more: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/mobile/latestnews/s-korean-nuclear-plant/1544014.html

Britain's atomic power plants 'could be attacked by drones'

Source: Independent

Nuclear power stations are highly vulnerable to drone attack, according to a confidential report that British ministers are being urged to consider.

Compiled by a British nuclear expert, John Large, the report followed a number of unexplained, but apparently co-ordinated, flights of tiny, unmanned vehicles over French nuclear installations. The grave issues uncovered there, said Mr Large, were equally relevant to the UK's 16 operational reactors, which generate about 18 per cent of the country's electricity.

In public evidence to the French parliament, Mr Large said he set the defences of a standard nuclear power plant against different types of attack that could be launched by drones, such as precisely placed explosive devices and the dropping off of equipment that would aid an insider saboteur.

Existing nuclear power plants, he said, were not designed to counter the threat of "near-cyborg technology". He warned: "In each of the four… attack scenarios that I examined, the plant fared very badly indeed – if these scenarios had been for real, then there would have been the potential for a major radioactive release."


Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-atomic-power-plants-could-be-attacked-by-drones-9938086.html
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