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TEPCO posts $4.3bn profit

Source: PennEnergy

At a time when other Japanese utilities are asking the government for financial help, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has posted a $4.3 billion profit.

TEPCO reported a 438.65 billion yen profit in the fiscal year that ended in March, compared to a net loss of 685.3 billion yen ($6.7 billion) in the previous fiscal period, according to the Jakarta Globe. The earnings were due in part to a $12.8 billion government bailout in 2012 and increasing electricity rates. The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant also booked a special gain of 1.8 trillion yen ($17.6 million) based on funds from the bailout as well as asset sales.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. in April asked the Japan-owned Development Bank of Japan for bailouts. Hokkaido requested $486 million, while Kyushu asked the bank to buy $9.6 million of preferred stock in the company. Kyushu said it estimated a net loss of $1.2 billion for the year ended March 31.

Read more: http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pe/2014/05/tepco-posts-4-3bn-profit.html

Glonass Failure Caused by Faulty Software


Glonass Failure Caused by Faulty Software
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 29, 2014

Recent failures in Russia's Glonass satellite-based global navigation system were caused by mathematical mistakes in software, the head of the Russian space agency said Thursday.

Oleg Ostapenko said during a press conference that the programmers who had designed the satellites' new software had committed several mathematical mistakes, but the problem was not major and has practically been solved.

"There were some mathematical mistakes, but they have been corrected," he said.

Ostapenko added that the remaining problems would be solved by mid-May and there is next to a zero chance of a similar failure happening in the future.


U.S. expects about 10 pct of nuclear capacity to shut by 2020


U.S. expects about 10 pct of nuclear capacity to shut by 2020

HOUSTON, April 28 Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:23am IST

(Reuters) - Lower natural gas prices and stagnant growth in electric demand will lead to the loss of 10,800 megawatts of U.S. nuclear generation, or around 10 percent of total capacity, by the end of the decade, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report issued on Monday.

About 6,000 MW of nuclear capacity will shut by 2020 in addition to six reactors totaling 4,800 MW that have already shut or plan to shut in that time period, the EIA said in its 2014 annual electric output study.


Rising natural gas prices after 2020 may support continued operation of U.S. nuclear plants for several years, but many reactors will reach the end of their 60-year operating license beginning in 2029 and shut permanently.


In its 2013 report, the EIA projected only 7,700 MW, or about 7 percent, of nuclear capacity would retire by 2040. The report did not mention the number of units that are likely shut after operating for 60 years after 2029.


Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 have published a paper on a treaty banning nuclear weapons


Reaching Critical Will
Yesterday at 2:32pm

Hot off the press! Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 have published a joint paper on a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The paper explores the development of a legal framework for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and argues that such a treaty is urgent, feasible, and practical. It's available online in PDF and hard copies will be available at the NPT PrepCom in New York later this week. We'd love to hear your thoughts!



Despite the growing recognition of the risk of a nuclear weapons detonation, nuclear-armed states and those in military alliances with them continue to rely upon and invest in nuclear weapons. However, the renewed focus on the humantiarian consequences of nuclear weapons has opened space for consideration of the most appropriate political and legal responses to the existence of nuclear weapons.

The ban treaty approach discussed in this paper can bridge the gap between long-held aspirations for nuclear disarmament and the seemingly intractable legal and political landscape that exists today. A new legal instrument could provide a framework for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. While participation of all states would be welcomed, such a treaty could be developed even without the participation of the nuclear-armed states and would still have significant impact in both normative as well as well practical terms.

The paper looks at possible principles and provisions of such a framework; how it could be accomplished; and its potential normative and practical impacts.

Published in April 2014 by Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will

Written by Ray Acheson, Thomas Nash, and Richard Moyes

Risk of nuclear accidents is rising, says report on near-misses

Source: Guardian

A report recounting a litany of near-misses in which nuclear weapons came close to being launched by mistake concludes that the risk of potentially catastrophic accidents is higher than previously thought and appears to be rising.

Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options for Policy, published by Chatham House, says that "individual decision-making, often in disobedience of protocol and political guidance, has on several occasions saved the day", preventing the launch of nuclear warheads.

The report lists 13 instances since 1962 when nuclear weapons were nearly used. In several cases the large-scale launch of nuclear weapons was nearly triggered by technical malfunctions or breakdowns in communication causing false alarms, in both the US and Russia. Disaster was averted only by cool-headed individuals gambling that the alert was caused by a glitch and not an actual attack.

The Chatham House authors say the risks appear to be rising. Nuclear weapons are spreading – most recently to North Korea – and disarmament is stalling. Russia and the US still have an estimated 1,800 warheads on high alert, ready to launch between five and 15 minutes after receiving the launch order – a fact that becomes all the more significant with rising tensions over Ukraine.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/29/nuclear-accident-near-misses-report

American Geophysical Union To Make Journals Freely Available Online




28 April 2014

Washington, D.C.— The American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Wiley today announced that, starting 1 May, all AGU journal content from 1997 to content published 24 months ago will be made freely available. This change will apply to all articles and supplementary materials from journals that are not already open access, as well as AGU’s weekly newspaper, Eos. It currently represents more than 80,000 journal articles and issues of Eos. Additional content will continue to become open every month, on a 24-month rolling cycle.

“As the largest publisher of Earth and space science research, not only is it AGU’s responsibility to advance our science and support the execution of high-quality research, of equal importance is our responsibility to share that knowledge as widely as possible,” said Carol Finn, President, AGU. “Our journals are leading the way in a number of areas, including the quality of our peer review, and we have a wealth of content that is relevant to the interests of the public and civic leaders, policymakers, educators, and citizen scientists. Improving their access by unlocking this content serves our mission to promote discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity . . . and it will lead to a deeper understanding of natural hazards, water and air quality, land use, ocean resources, use and monitoring of natural resources, and many other critical societal issues.”

In addition to increasing free access to journals online, AGU has also joined the innovative Access to Research initiative through its publishing partner, Wiley. This program provides patrons of U.K. public libraries instant online access to journal content from 1997 to the present at the library.


Russia Ships First Arctic Oil, Fortifies Oil Defenses

Source: Environment News Service

Riding on his pride in the first export of Russian Arctic oil earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows oil and gas corporations to establish private armed security forces to defend their infrastructure, upping the ante for protestors.

On the same day, April 22, Earth Day, Putin also met with the Russian Security Council. There he said, “Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats. Nothing can be treated as trivia here.”


On April 18, Gazprom loaded the first cargo of oil produced from the Prirazlomnoye field, presently the only Russian hydrocarbon development project on the Arctic shelf.

Demonstrating the importance of Arctic oil exports to Russia, President Putin was on hand and gave the command to start loading the first shipment of Arctic oil onto Sovkomflot’s specially designed ice-class tanker, the Mikhail Ulyanov.

The shipment is on its way to Russia’s first customer, the French company, Total, the international nonprofit organization Greenpeace revealed.


Read more: http://ens-newswire.com/2014/04/29/russia-ships-first-arctic-oil-fortifies-oil-defenses/

(Long article, lots of information).

Mikhail Ulyanov oil tanker arrives at the Prirazlomnaya platform to load Russia’s first shipment of Arctic oil. April 2014 (Photo courtesy Gazprom Neft)

Lies, Half Lies and Nuclear Distortions: There Ought to Be a Law - by William S. Becker


Lies, Half Lies and Nuclear Distortions: There Ought to Be a Law
William S. Becker
Executive Director, Presidential Climate Action Project
Posted: 04/28/2014

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule soon on whether a state can make it illegal for a political candidate to lie about his or her opponent in an election campaign.

Expect the Court to side with the old saw that "all's fair in love and war." After all, this is the Court whose majority ruled that dark money is free speech, corporations are people, and the Constitution is a flak vest for pretenders who lie about being decorated war heroes.

Wouldn't the world be a better place if political candidates were held accountable for lies, intentional distortions, character assassination and over-the-line hyperbole? And wouldn't it be interesting if entire industries were held to the same higher standard?


Another example of corporate distortion is coming from the nuclear power industry in its new Nuclear Matters campaign. The campaign's leaders, who include several former public officials, are promoting nuclear energy as critical to cutting the nation's carbon emissions.


Taiwan Rocked by Anti-Nuclear Protests; Ruling Party Concedes on Halting Nuclear Power Plant


Taiwan Rocked by Anti-Nuclear Protests
Anti-nuclear protesters have taken to the streets of Taipei to demand the end of atomic energy on the island.
By J. Michael Cole
April 28, 2014

Less than a month after the unprecedented occupation of the Legislative Yuan by the Sunflower Movement, riot police and water cannons were once again deployed on the streets of Taipei. But this time, the object of the protests wasn’t a controversial services trade pact with China, but rather nuclear energy, a major point of contention since the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant in Japan.

At the center of the storm is the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction in Gongliao, New Taipei City. Though ostensibly a much safer design than earlier generations of reactors, fears remain that the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) at the Fourth power plant is an unstable assemblage of various systems — a nuclear Frankenstein monster, if you will. Moreover, opponents of the project argue that Taiwan, a highly active seismic area, is too vulnerable to natural catastrophes, including tsunamis and powerful typhoons. Also, they argue that the small size of the island and proximity of nuclear power plants to high-density urban centers raise questions about the ability of the government to evacuate the population in case of a nuclear emergency.



Taiwan Ruling Party Concedes on Halting Nuclear Power Plant
By Yu-Huay Sun 2014-04-28T05:56:49Z

Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang party agreed with the opposition on suspending construction for a nuclear power plant that attracted tens of thousands in a demonstration last weekend.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah said the government won’t be seeking additional funding to complete the project, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Taipei, as a gesture of goodwill to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, during a press briefing carried on cable television networks.

Pressure was mounting on President Ma Ying-jeou’s administration to halt the NT$283.8 billion ($9.4 billion) project, after about 28,500 people rallied against it in front of the president’s office yesterday, according to police. Opposition DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang last week called for a suspension of the project in a televised meeting with Ma. A former chairman of Su’s party has been on a hunger strike since April 22.

“We’re putting the No. 4 nuclear power plant on hold in the spirit of leaving the next generation an option,” President Ma said on a post on his Facebook page yesterday, after a meeting with cabinet members including the premier, ministers of economy and atomic energy, as well as Taipei and Taichung city mayors. “When we need it in the future, it can offer an additional choice.”


mPower Pullback Stalls Small Nuclear; Navigant: even our lower forecast seems optimistic now


mPower Pullback Stalls Small Nuclear
Richard Martin , Contributor
4/28/2014 @ 12:58PM

Nuclear technology supplier Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) has slashed funding for its Generation mPower program, an effort to develop a small modular reactor (SMR) for power generation and other applications. The pullback represents a major blow to the development of SMRs, which have been hailed as the next step forward for the nuclear power industry.

B&W, which had a cost-sharing agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and a reactor construction contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), has cut funding for the program from $60 million to $80 million per year to less than $15 million, let go the head of the mPower unit, and will lay off up to 200 employees who worked in Tennessee and Virginia on the project. The TVA mPower reactors were to be built at the Clinch River site in northern Tennessee, once slated to be the home of the similarly ill-fated Clinch River Breeder Reactor, which itself was terminated in the 1980s after around $8 billion in investment. Clinch River has become the place where nuclear power innovation goes to die.


In our report, Small Modular Reactors, Navigant Research developed two forecast scenarios for worldwide SMR capacity in 2030. Under the base scenario, total capacity would reach 4.6 GW in 2030; the conservative scenario projects 18.2 GW by the same year. Even the lower forecast seems optimistic now.


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