Indian Point Nuclear Will Be Trouble At The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

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Recent series of Indian Point shutdowns worst in years

Ernie Garcia, elgarcia@lohud.com

A review of unplanned shutdowns from January 2012 to the present showed this year’s events happened within a short time frame, between May 7 and July 8, in contrast with events from other years that were more spread out, according to data released by Indian Point.

If a nuclear plant has more than three unplanned shutdowns in a nine-month period, its performance indicator could be changed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which results in additional oversight. That’s what happened with Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., after four unplanned shutdowns in 2013.

So far, Entergy said there doesn’t appear to be a pattern to the Indian Point shutdowns.

“You do want to look at these events holistically to see if there is something in common, but you also look individually to see what the causes were,” Nappi said. “A plant shutdown in and of itself is not a safety issue.”

One of the four recent Buchanan shutdowns triggered a special inspection by the NRC and calls to close the nuclear plant by environmental groups and elected officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in the past Indian Point should close, but his office did not respond to a request for comment about whether the recent shutdowns have prompted any state scrutiny.

The NRC is expected to release a quarterly report on Indian Point this month that will address the transformer failure and, by year’s end, is planning an inspection of the transformer and an analysis of transformer issues since 2007.

Besides its transformer-related inquiries, the other three shutdowns have not raised “any immediate safety concerns or crossed any thresholds that would result in additional NRC oversight,” agency spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an email.

The unplanned shutdowns at Indian Point and Pilgrim in Massachusetts were mostly preventable, said Paul Blanch, a former Indian Point employee with 45 years of nuclear power experience.

“For this to happen this frequently indicates a deeper problem,” he said. “I believe it’s management oversight in the maintenance of these plants.”

Nappi said the transformer that failed May 9 and caused a fire and oil spill into the Hudson was regularly monitored. Investigators determined the failure was due to faulty insulation.

“The transformer inspection and reviews were in accordance with our standards and industry expectations, yet there was no indication the transformer was going to fail,” Nappi said.

The NRC conducted a separate, but related special inspection into the May 9 incident that focused on a half-inch of water that collected in an electrical switchgear room floor. Inspectors determined a fire suppression system’s valve failed to close properly.

Inspectors noted in their report that Entergy knew about that problem since April 2011 and replaced the valve but didn’t discover the actual cause — a dysfunctional switch — until after the fire.

Indian Point’s Unit 3 was down 19 days May through July, with the transformer failure accounting for 16 days. The shutdowns didn’t cause the public any supply problems because New York’s grid can import electricity from other states and New York has an energy plan to maintain reliability, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The nuclear energy industry judges a power plant on how continuously it produces energy, which is called a capacity factor.

There were 100 nuclear plants in the United States in 2014, a record year in terms of efficiency. In January, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced the U.S. average capacity factor was 91.9 percent.

Indian Point has an above-average efficiency rate. The plant’s Unit 2 and 3 reactors were each online more than 99 percent of the time during their most recent two-year operating cycles. They are currently in the middle of other cycles.

The Reality About the Iran Deal

Former Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman told Newsmax he is urging the president “not to recertify” the Obama administration’s controversial deal with Iran.“Every 90 days that the agreement stays on the book is not in the national security interests,” said Lieberman, who caucused with the Democrats and was the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee. He now heads a bipartisan group known as “United Against a Nuclear Iraq.”

President Trump has stated he has not made up his mind on whether to recertify the nuclear agreement, and the Iranian regime says they expect him to break it off.

Lieberman for his part, said of the deal made in January 2016: “The Iranian government was in trouble and, in the negotiations, they were playing with a very weak hand,” Lieberman told me, “So we gave away a lot for not much.”

Among the benefits that Iran received: lifting of U.S. sanctions that have been in place since the present Tehran regime came to power in 1979, and unfreezing an estimated $1.6 billion in Iranian assets that were held in U.S. banks.

Even without solid evidence Iran is violating the agreement and enriching more nuclear facilities than permitted, Lieberman strongly feels there is ample evidence to decertify the agreement and not to do business with Tehran.

“You have a regime that is a police state, and supports repression of its own people,” he said, “and it is already a supporter of the Hamas wing in Gaza, which wants to kill us and our allies. And Iran still supports the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

I asked Lieberman about President Trump’s remarks concerning the Iran government at a private gathering of reporters at the White House earlier this year. At the time, the president remarked that the $1.6 billion that was unfrozen “is going to Swiss bank accounts that benefit the Ayatollah and his friends.”

Lieberman said: “I wouldn’t be surprised. The imams don’t take any vows of poverty.”

As for Iran’s controversial enrighment program, under what is known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran will be limited to installing no more than 5,060 of its nearly 20,000 centrifuges (enrichment facilities to produce fuel for nuclear power plants) in the next 10 years.

The centrifuges that will be installed will be among the oldest and least efficient in Iran.

President Obama often reminded reporters that if the U.S. ever “snapped backed” and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, Germany, France and other countries that were now dealing with Baghdad would not follow suit and the revived U.S. sanctions would not pack the wallop they formerly did.

“True, but remember — all foreign businesses want to do business with the U.S.,” Lieberman told me, “and it might be wise to limit the ability of foreign countries to do business in this country when they business with Iran.”

Among those on the board of Against a Nuclear Iran, are Bill Clinton’s CIA Director James Woolsey, Florida’s former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

Save the Oil and the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

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Elena Holodny

 

Wall Street’s top oil watcher says there are three geopolitical headwinds that might be “coming to a head in October” — and they could have implications for oil markets.

The three risks come from uncertainty surrounding Iraq’s Kurdish region, the nuclear deal with Iran, and the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, according to RBC Capital Markets’ Helima Croft.

Here’s an outline of her arguments why those three regions are something oil watchers should keep an eye on:

  1. The Kurdistan region: Last week residents of the Kurdistan region in Iraq voted in a non-binding referendum on independence. It was “met with harsh rhetorical responses from opponents and is sparking fears of a substantial supply shut in,” according to Croft.
  2. The nuclear deal with Iran: US President Donald Trump called the Iran deal “one of the worst deals ever negotiated” and repeatedly vowed to rip up the agreement. “President Trump will have the opportunity to make good on his pledge to decertify Iran on October 15, a decision that could set in motion a process that could lead to Congress reinstating the extra-territorial sanctions that prohibited investment in Iran’s upstream sector and compelled countries to reduce their Iranian crude imports,” Croft said. “Even if Trump has an 11th hour change of heart, new sanctions for non-nuclear transgressions are likely looming and they could deep-six the deal.”
  3. Venezuela: The White House has previously said it could up economic pressure on Maduro’s government. “New US sanctions will undoubtedly make it more difficult for the national oil company, PDVSA, to maintain current levels and meet its debt obligations,” said Croft.

In short, geopolitical risks look like they might be coming back for some oil producers. And even if they manage to avoid “full-blown crises,” Croft argues they will continue to “face considerable turbulence.”

10 3 17 oil COTD

Washington Must Choose Between the Kurds and the Antichrist

By David L. Phillips

Nearly 93 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted for independence in the referendum on September 25. Now Washington faces a choice. The U.S. can either support the Iraqi Kurds who are staunch allies. Or it can back Iraq, a sectarian theocratic state acting as a proxy for Iran.

Premier Heider al-Abadi became prime minister in 2014, with endorsement from Iran’s National Security Council and support from President Hassan Rouhani. Abadi’s predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, was a deeply polarizing figure, also backed by Tehran. Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi works closely with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Larijani, a staunchly conservative politician and former military man.

Close security cooperation bind Iran and Iraq. The Iraqi armed forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against ISIS. Just a few days ago, Iran and Iraq held a joint military drill on Iraqi Kurdistan’s border, warning their “common enemy”.

Shiite militias, the Popular Mobilization Forces Militias (Hash’d al Shaabi) were created via a fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, extolling their “sacred duty” to liberate Mosul from ISIS. Shiite militias in Iraq are responsible for the deaths of many Americans.

Other Iraqi paramilitary units also threaten U.S. forces. The Peace Brigades are loyal to the virulently anti-American Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The Badr Organization is a well-armed Iranian proxy militia.

ISIS was an economic bonanza for Iran. Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization reports that Tehran’s non-oil exports to Baghdad grew from $2.3 billion in 2008 to $6.2 billion in 2015 during which time Iraq helped Iran access global markets in violation of international sanctions.

Iran and Iraq also cooperate extensively in the energy sector. On September 25, the day of Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum, Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi announced a major investment in two new joint oil production facilities.

While the Trump administration condemns Iran’s support for terrorism, it effectively supports Iran by aligning itself with Iraq. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mistakenly calls Iraq “united, federal, and democratic.” Backing Baghdad, he criticized Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum for lacking “legitimacy.”

Iraq is not “united”. Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed de-facto independence since 1991. Deep sectarian divisions exist between pro-Iranian Shiites and Iraqi Sunnis, many of whom support ISIS.

Iraq is not “federal”. A recent study found 55 violations by Baghdad of its federal constitution. The Iraqi government repeatedly refuses to implement Article 140, which requires a referendum on the status of Kirkuk.

Iraq is far from “democratic”. Its Shiite majority exerts majoritarian rule, disenfranchising both Sunnis and Kurds.

The U.S. Congress is increasingly aware of Iran’s nefarious influence. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, accused “[Iraq]’s neighboring countries, led by despots who oppose a Kurdish State because it threatens the status quo and their self-interests.” Senator John McCain supports a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state. They understand that Iraqi Kurdistan is a bulwark against Iranian influence.

A “sense of the Congress” resolution should call on the United States to recognize Iraqi Kurdistan if/when it declares independence.

The Congress should provide a direct appropriation to Kurdistan’s peshmerga. Increasing the supply of heavy weapons would deter an attack by the Iraqi armed forces and Shiite militias.

The Congress should also restrict the transfer of heavy and offensive weapons to Iraq, which fall into the hands of Iranian-backed militias.

U.S. policy is at a fork in the road. Washington should align itself with Iraqi Kurdistan, supporting democracy and the national aspirations of Iraqi Kurds

Mr. Phillips is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Experts to the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau of the State Department, working on the Future of Iraq Project. He authored Losing Iraq: Inside the Post-War Reconstruction Fiasco.

 

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