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August 8, 2016 – Press Pieces

On August 8th, 2016, posted in: Latest News, Press Pieces

August 8, 2016 – Huffington Post – We Regret To Inform You That Cow Dung Will Not Save You From Radiation – In a recent interview with The Indian Express, Shankar Lal, president of Akhil Bharatiya Gau Sewa Sangh, an outfit associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), claimed that dung produced by Indian cows has the power to absorb harmful radiation. The 76-year-old sang praises of both cow dung and cow urine generously. “We drink cow urine and have extracts from her dung, which has kept me healthy even at the age of 76,” he said. “We make pregnant women eat cow dung and urine paste to ensure a normal delivery. We treat all deadly diseases with cow dung.” However, he insisted that the gobar (cow dung) and mutra (urine) should be of a desi cow, “not western monsters like Jersey or Holstein”. Their dung and milk, he claimed, “are nothing but poison”. While cow urine and dung may possibly have antiseptic properties, Lal made a more intriguing case for the use of the latter. He said he applies “fresh cow dung” on the back of his mobile phone to protect himself from harmful radioactive emissions from it. “If cow dung can treat cancer, why can’t it save us from a phone’s microwaves?” Thus went his logic.

August 8, 2016 – The Hill – Nuclear trade group shakes up leadership – The nuclear power industry’s Washington trade group is shaking up its leadership and consolidating numerous executive positions. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said Thursday that it’s consolidating its governmental affairs, communications and policy offices into one operation. Alex Flint, the group’s top lobbyist who has been there for a decade, will leave this fall, along with Scott Peterson, the head of the communications shop, who has worked for the NEI since it was formed in 1994. The NEI will look to hire a new leader for its external affairs operations. The moves come at a pivotal time for the nuclear industry, when many of the fewer than 100 reactors in the country are closing due to increasing costs and competition from cheap natural gas and only a small handful of new plants are being constructed or even planned.

August 8, 2016 – New York Daily News – Your very own dirty bomb: A do-it-yourself guide to a radioactive weapon – It could be mistaken for a page ripped from a script of the soon-to-be-rebooted TV terrorism thriller “24”: Undercover investigators working for the federal government’s chief watchdog agency source the building blocks of a radioactive dirty bomb. Right here, in the U.S. With hardly any trouble at all. Getting radioactive material is supposed to be tough. It requires getting a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is supposed to require jumping through fail-safe hoops. But fewer than 10 people working for the Government Accountability Office set up a shell company, faked their credentials and got permission — via a Texas regulator deputized to give licenses without federal review — to line up shipments of enough toxic stuff to poison a city center.

August 8, 2016 – International Business Times – Neutrino Oscillation Anomaly May Explain Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing – If our current understanding of the universe is correct, it should not even exist. The very fact that planets, stars and galaxies exist undercuts one of the most fundamental premises of particle physics — that the Big Bang, which created our universe 13.8 billion years ago, created equal amounts of matter and antimatter. If this really happened, it begs the question — why, given that matter and antimatter particles annihilate each other when they collide, is there something rather than nothing in the universe? Why do you and I exist when the laws of physics, as we know them, seem to dictate that the cosmos should be nothing but a wasteland strewn with leftover energy?

August 8, 2016 – MetroNews.ca – No more ‘Pokemon Go’ at Hiroshima atomic bomb memorial – It was a bit touch and go for Hiroshima officials, but the atomic bomb memorial park in the western Japanese city is now Pokemon No. The city had asked the developer of the popular “Pokemon Go” smartphone game to remove the creatures and sites that appeared in the park by last weekend, when a solemn annual ceremony was held to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing that killed 140,000 people in the final days of World War II. The “Pokestops” and gyms, and the clumps of players that they attract, were gone by last Thursday, but the monsters that gamers try to catch were still popping up. The city sent an email inquiry to game developer Niantic, and got a response at 1:56 a.m. Saturday, just six hours before the start of the ceremony. “We were so relieved,” city official Tatsuya Sumida said. “We were worried if those ‘Pokemon’ were really going to go away in time.”

August 8, 2016 – South Washington County Bulletin – Web app tracks prevalence of radon in Washington County – A majority of Minnesota counties have high average levels of radon, according to a new online tool that tracks the prevalence of the odorless gas linked to thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. The Minnesota Department of Health collected radon data from 86,000 residential and commercial properties tested from 2010 to 2014, and found 67 of the state’s 87 counties have average radon levels at or greater than 4 pCi/L — the threshold at which the Environmental Protection Agency recommends mitigation measures. The data and an interactive map showing county radon levels can be found at https://apps.health.state.mn.us/mndata/radon.

August 8, 2016 – Lewiston Tribune – Bomb radiation said altering human species – Atomic radiation from exploded A-bombs is at work changing the human species all over the earth, and probably for the worse, according to a distinguished American scientist. He says there is no stopping this, that the change was going on slowly before the advent of the atomic age because of the effects of the earth’s natural radiation, and that the bombs already set off have simply made it worse. He adds that any more bombs will increase the undesirable changes. These views were given by Dr. A. H. Sturtevant, zoologist, before a meeting of the Pacific division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Sturtevant, a specialist in genetics at the California Institute of Technology, spoke as the retiring president of the association. He is widely known abroad as well as at home.

August 8, 2016 – LobeLog – Time to Retire the Nuclear Football – Speculation about whether Donald Trump can be trusted with his finger on the nuclear “button”, should he be elected president, is a reminder that the world’s survival rests on a hair trigger. Contrary to popular belief, there is no actual button to be pushed. But the president of the United States goes nowhere without a briefcase (the “football”) containing a menu of targets and list of verification codes (the “biscuit”). Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War,does it make sense to hold human existence hostage to the decision of one individual, acting alone, on a moment’s notice? To answer this question, we first need to consider the circumstances under which the use of nuclear weapons would ever be contemplated.

August 8, 2016 – Bloomberg News – Bulgaria May Restore Russian Gas Pipeline, Nuclear Plant – Bulgaria and Russia agreed to resurrect the canceled South Stream natural gas pipeline across the Black Sea and the Belene nuclear power plant as the Balkan country strives to reduce penalty payments over unfulfilled contracts awarded to Russia by international courts. Bulgaria and Russia agreed to set up working groups that will seek ways to resume work on the two energy projects, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Saturday in the Black Sea city of Varna, according to an e-mailed statement. He spoke after a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 5. Borissov has discussed the projects with the European Commission and they will be done in compliance with European Union rules, he said.

August 8, 2016 – New York Times – Thousands in Eastern Chinese City Protest Nuclear Waste Project – China’s efforts to expand its nuclear power sector suffered a backlash in one eastern seaboard city over the weekend, as thousands of residents took to the streets to oppose any decision to build a reprocessing plant in the area for spent nuclear fuel. The government of Lianyungang, a city in Jiangsu Province, tried to calm residents on Sunday, a day after thousands of people defied police warnings and gathered near the city center, chanting slogans, according to Chinese news reports and photographs of the protests shared online. They chanted “no nuclear fuel recycling project,” the state-run Global Times reported, citing footage from the scene. “It is unsafe to see another nuclear project coming and besieging us,” one resident told the paper.

August 8, 2016 – Syracuse.com – Instead of a nuclear subsidy, embrace a revenue-neutral carbon tax – A recent editorial supports the decision by the PSC to ratify Gov. Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard — particularly the State’s goal of achieving a 50 percent mix of New York’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. The editorial points out the advantage of particular nuclear subsidies for economic interests of Oswego County referring to them as “a bridge to a worthy public goal.” But in the absence of a longer term, more comprehensive policy that will result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear subsidies are not a bridge and may create a delay in taking real action to achieve the goals of the Clean Energy Standard. Continuing nuclear sourced power does prevent the substitution of fossil fuel sourced power temporarily but doesn’t lead toward 50 percent from renewable energy sources.

August 8, 2016 – Counter Punch – Wake Up: These Unneeded Instruments Can Wreck Mass Destruction – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently advanced a clean energy plan which mandates that New York transition half of its energy needs to renewables by 2030. By regressive contrast, New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved enormous subsidies for three aging nuclear power plants―Ginna, Nine Mile Point and FitzPatrick―located in Upstate New York. Estimates of the costs of these subsidies range from $59 million to $658 million by 2023, with specialists such as Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group predicting that costs could grow to $8 billion. New York consumers will be covering the tab via their utility bills. Ginna and Nine Mile Point are owned by the Exelon Corporation, and Exelon has plans to purchase the FitzPatrick plant. You can be sure that Exelon is frothing at the mouth for this huge bailout that was approved without adequate public scrutiny. Approval of this plan gives New York State the not-so-honorable distinction of being one of the first states to bailout the aging nuclear industry in our increasingly green energy age. The long-coddled nuclear industry is hoping that other states will follow suit.

August 8, 2016 – NJSpotlight – New Jersey unlikely to follow New York’s subsidies of nuclear industry – Profitable nuclear-plant owner PSEG might like to be subsidized, but that’s unlikely to happen in the Garden State. New York this week handed lucrative subsidies to the nuclear industry to keep a trio of power plants upstate afloat, but New Jersey is unlikely to follow suit anytime soon. Subsidies, which in this case amount to $965 million over two years paid by electric customers, are also being sought in other states across the nation as the costs of operating nuclear units have made it difficult to compete economically with cheaper gas-fired plants. The New York system may serve a model for others wrestling with the question. Between 10 to15 nuclear power plants are at risk of closing in the near future and another half dozen already have closed, according to energy executives.

August 8, 2016 – WLTX 19 – USC Chemists Growing Crystals Store Nuclear Waste – A team of scientists at the University of South Carolina are using an $8 million federal grant to study safer ways to store nuclear waste within the structure of crystals. They have already grown crystals to be able to house Uranium within the atomic structures, and say the grant from the Department of Energy will allow them to develop a structure than can store various types of radioactive chemicals, including Plutonium. USC is also working collaboratively with the D.O.E.’s Savannah Riversite in Aiken to test on those materials housed at that nuclear waste facility.

August 8, 2016 – Eau Claire Leader-Telegram – Knight Life: Land purchase will ensure site where nuclear plant was once proposed will remain – I once went for a fishing trip and canoe ride with a top Xcel Energy official who told me — he didn’t intend his comments be made public at the time — that he didn’t think the company would sell the Tyrone property in Dunn County, despite requests from regional sportsman’s groups and environmentalists. Times have changed. On Wednesday the state Natural Resources Board approved the purchase of 991 acres of the property from Northern States Power Co. — a subsidiary of Xcel — that includes 18,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline. The land also incorporates a segment of a state bike trail and habitat of dry prairie, oak savanna, floodplain forest, pine plantations, a 10-acre lake, agricultural land and upland brush.

August 8, 2016 – Sputnik News – Delays During Reopening Nuclear Waste Plant Cost US Taxpayers $64M – The Department of Energy (DOE) did not follow all best practices in analyzing and selecting an alternative for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s (WIPP) new ventilation system. As a result, its analysis was not reliable and the alternative it selected in December 2015 may not best provide the needed capabilities at WIPP, the report noted. DOE’s WIPP is the only deep geologic repository for the disposal of US defense-related nuclear waste. In February 2014, waste operations were suspended following a truck fire and an unrelated radiological release, the report said.

August 8, 2016 – OH&S – GAO Faults Energy Department on WIPP Restart Process – The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report Aug. 4 on its examination of the U.S.Department of Energy’s process for resuming operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the transuranic waste disposal site outside of Carlsbad, N.M. Operations there have been suspended since two serious incidents in February 2014, a salt haul truck fire and a radiological release from a waste container, incidents that exposed workers to smoke and radiation. The GAO report says the resumption has seen a cost increase of about $64 million and a delay of nearly nine months partly because DOE did not follow all best practices in developing the cost and schedule estimates. In particular, its schedule did not include extra time, or contingency, to account for known project risks.

August 8, 2016 – Pueblo Chieftain – Rock cracked Cotter pipeline; contaminants contained at mill site – Cotter Corp. Uranium mill officials say a leak that dumped about 7,200 gallons of contaminated water on the mill property was caused by a rock that punctured a hole in a feeder line. The feeder line connects to the main pumpback pipeline above a Soil Conservation Service dam that helps prevent rainwater runoff from leaving the mill site. The pipeline carries contaminated water that seeps past the earthen dam and returns it to an impoundment. “When Cotter personnel excavated the area of the leak, a large rock was discovered above the feeder line. The rock had punctured the pipe, causing the leak,” said Stephen Cohen, Cotter Mill manager.

August 8, 2016 – Counter Punch – Whistleblower Retaliation Alive and Well at Hanford – It’s getting real out at Hanford in eastern Washington, the site of the most expensive (and likely dangerous) environmental clean-up in the world. On July 21, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, along with watchdog group Hanford Challenge and UA Local Union 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters, filed an emergency legal motion asking US Judge Thomas Rice to intervene and force the US Department of Energy and federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to protect their workers from toxic vapor exposure at the site. “[It’s] as serious as it gets,” Ferguson told King 5 News. “At Hanford there’s a culture of indifference by the federal government and their contractors. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with it anymore…. So right now we’re trying to get before the judge immediately asking for immediate steps required from the federal government to protect workers. That’s the bottom line.”