Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)


Published: October 24, 1989

AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.

The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.

But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.

For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”

If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California. Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.

Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.

The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”

On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.

Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.

The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.

No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.

The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.

The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.

Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.

Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 

Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California, said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.

The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”

 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.

Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.

Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.

”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.

New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.

Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.

As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.

New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.

”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”

For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.

”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”

In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.

Tunnels Vulnerable

The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.

Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.

”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”

Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?

”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

A Quart of Wheat for a Denarius (Revelation 6)

Protesters’ rage over ‘income and bread’ challenges Iraqi government

Amna Nawaz

Oct 8, 2019 6:40 PM EDT

The streets of Baghdad were silent Tuesday after a week of peaceful protests — against corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services — turned deadly. More than 100 people were killed as Iraqi security forces and armed groups clashed with the demonstrations and protesters were shot. Amna Nawaz reports on the conditions that have led to the uprising.

• Judy Woodruff:
Young people in Iraq have turned their country upside-down over the past week. They have taken to the streets, demanding better social services and more economic opportunities.
Clashes with security forces have sometimes turned violent, and deadly, with many protesters killed. One question is who is doing the killing.
Amna Nawaz examines why these protests are happening now.

• Amna Nawaz:
The streets of Baghdad were silent today, after a week of deadly protests that wracked the nation from the capital and beyond.
Two hours south, in the Iraqi city of Najaf, grief-stricken families buried their loved ones.

• Sabah (through translator):
He is exactly like the other protesters. They shoot the innocent and the criminals together. People are protesting for income and bread. Look at the youth. Every day, they go out in thousands. What is the result?

• Amna Nawaz:
More than 100 people have been killed in the worst violence since the defeat of the Islamic State two years ago. But this wasn’t the result of insurgency or terrorism.
What started as peaceful protests last week, demanding an end to rampant corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services, violently shifted into clashes with security forces and armed groups. In response, the Iraqi government pledged to add public sector jobs, and today approved a grant for employment development. But it may not be enough.
Protesters pin the blame on corrupt leaders they say don’t represent them. Despite the country’s oil wealth, much of Iraq’s 40 million people live in dire conditions.

• Protester (through translator):
We went out protesting because we are in pain and suffering. There is no electricity, no jobs, and people are dying of starvation. People are sick. It is a curse.

• Amna Nawaz:
Analysts say the government’s dismissal of a widely respected Iraqi general, Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, helped set off the protests. Al-Saadi was key to the anti-ISIS fight.
Leaders of two major political parties, including one led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have called for the government to resign. Back in 2016, al-Sadr inspired widespread protests in Iraq. Last fall, Iraqis in the southern city of Basra took to the streets to protest corrupt leaders and a lack of basic services.
But Laith Kubba, an adviser to Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, said this round of protests are leaderless and apolitical.

• Laith Kubba:
For the younger generation, those who went into these protests, they were all born in a period where they know nothing about Saddam Hussein. They are less concerned about sectarian or national issues. They see the world through their Facebook and through their telephones, smartphones.
They see how the rest of the world is living. And their questions are very, very simple. Iraq is a rich country. Why are we in such a mess?

• Amna Nawaz:
Iraqi-born expert Abbas Khadim was in Baghdad for an economic conference last week. He said the factors that led to these protests are decades in the making.

• Abbas Khadim:
Iraq has been having war, turmoil and economic hardships ever since the 1980s. A depleted country witnessed the invasion of the United States and the change of government, and led to lack of security, terrorism, and another 15 years of hardship.

• Amna Nawaz:
The uprising is the biggest political challenge for the prime minister since he assumed office last year. Last weekend, Iraq’s Parliament speaker met with representatives of the protest movement in an attempt to calm the unrest.
And Iraqi authorities lifted a days-long curfew and Internet blackout on Saturday. Now Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi said he was willing to respond to the protesters’ demands. He promised jobs for graduates, but also said there was no magic solution for the country’s problems.

• Laith Kubba:
In the short term, I think this will calm a lot of people. Of course, it doesn’t solve the fundamentals of the challenges that are facing the government.

• Amna Nawaz:
Hundreds more protesters took to the streets of Baghdad’s Sadr City district on Monday, demanding new jobs and denouncing the killings of protesters.
Iraqi police responded in force, using live bullets and water cannons against the protesters. Iraqi President Barham Salih condemned the attacks on protesters.

• Barham Salih (through translator):
The government and the security forces reaffirm that there has been no orders to fire at protesters, and it has not been issued by the country and their instruments. Therefore, those who are committing these actions are criminals and outlaws.

• Amna Nawaz:
Iraqi federal police warned last week that snipers separate from the security forces were shooting at protesters. But it is unclear if these snipers are rogue elements of the police or foreign agents.

• Abbas Khadim:
Knowing the nature of who is in charge right now, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi and the minister of interior, these are not people who are putting snipers on top of buildings to assassinate Iraqi protesters.
So, that is definitely the work of terrorist groups or sleeping cells.

• Amna Nawaz:
For now, the streets remain quiet, but the rage here may yet reignite, putting greater pressure on a government already on edge.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Amna Nawaz.

The First Nuclear Winter (Revelation 8 )

Students in Mumbai rally against nuclear weapons on the anniversary of the world’s first wartime use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima.

Study: a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could lead to a mini-nuclear winter – Vox

Kelsey PiperOctober 9, 2019 1:10 pm

Study: a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could lead to a mini-nuclear winter

Both countries are expanding their nuclear arsenals.

• By Kelsey Piper

• on October 9, 2019 1:10 pm

Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto via Getty Images

More than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are held by the United States and Russia. The world’s other nuclear powers — Britain, China, France, Israel, India, and Pakistan — are believed to maintain much smaller arsenals, probably 100 to 300 warheads each. But in the past few years, India and Pakistan are believed to have expanded their nuclear capabilities.

And that, argues a new paper, is a recipe for disaster. In the paper, “Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe,” published last week in Science Advances, Owen Toon of the University of Colorado and co-authors analyze the effects of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan in 2025, if both countries continue to expand their nuclear capabilities as they reportedly currently are. Unsurprisingly, the expanded capabilities would make a nuclear exchange between the two countries deadlier and more devastating.

Even if no other country in the world got involved, the effects would be worldwide and devastating. It’s a reminder that having countries with nuclear weapons is a frighteningly unstable situation. While most attention may focus on the US and Russia, any two nuclear-armed countries are more than sufficient for a global catastrophe.

“A war with 15-kt weapons,” — or about the explosive force of the weapons deployed against Hiroshima and Nagasaki — “could lead to fatalities approximately equal to those worldwide in WWII and a war with 100-kt weapons could directly kill about 2.5 times as many as died worldwide in WWII, and in this nuclear war, the fatalities could occur in a single week,” write the authors.

That reflects just the direct effects of a nuclear exchange between the two countries — that is, the deaths caused by being near the bombs when they went off.

The paper also looks at another source of effects: deaths caused indirectly by changes to the climate and atmosphere. Many atmospheric scientists have modeled the effects of nuclear exchanges, and believe that large-scale use of nuclear weaponry would cause ozone destruction and large climate changes, due to the release of dust and ash both by the nuclear explosions and by subsequent firestorms.

The authors estimate “surface sunlight will decline by 20 to 35%, cooling the global surface by 2° to 5°C and reducing precipitation by 15 to 30%, with larger regional impacts.” This would be disastrous, leading to famines across much of the world. They forecast that it’d take more than 10 years for the global climate to return to normal and that, in the meantime, millions more people would die of starvation.

It’s worth noting that the atmospheric science estimates in this paper aren’t settled science. Researchers have produced many different models of the effects of nuclear exchanges on the climate and atmosphere. There’s a lot of uncertainty about whether nuclear exchanges would cool the planet, and for how long the effects would linger. And the scenario that the researchers studied is one that analysts considered plausible, but not the only scenario for war or for atmospheric effects. It should be considered a good starting point, but far from certain.

Nonetheless, the model suggests in more detail what we already knew: Nuclear war between India and Pakistan would be very, very bad, and the prospect gets worse as the two countries acquire more and more sophisticated nuclear weapons.

Of course, India and Pakistan are very unlikely to get into a nuclear war. The same principle of mutually assured destruction that held the United States and the Soviet Union away from nuclear conflict, even during decades of bitter enmity, applies here too. Very few politicians would want to launch a suicidal strike.

But despite the principle of mutually assured destruction, the US and the USSR frequently came terrifyingly close to nuclear exchanges. During the Kennedy administration, the two countries almost plunged the world into nuclear holocaust during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1983, a Soviet early warning system reported incoming American missiles. Rather than reporting a strike and potentially prompting a nuclear retaliation, the officer on duty concluded (correctly) that it was a false alarm: The system had picked up the sun’s reflection on clouds and mistook it for missiles. What if someone else had been on duty?

When rival nations have large nuclear arsenals, mistakes or unintended escalations or stupid decisions by leaders can be catastrophic. That makes India and Pakistan’s increasing arsenals nerve-wracking, and it makes the far larger arsenals maintained by the United States and Russia an ongoing cause for concern.

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The Growing Threat of Russia’s Nuclear Triad (Daniel 7)

The Russian Navy is Building New (Heavily Armed) Nuclear-Powered Submarines

David Axe

October 8, 2019, 8:10 PM UTC

The Russian navy is building new nuclear-powered submarines and deploying them more aggressively, seemingly reviving a Cold War approach to naval warfare.

But in attempting to counter the Russian subs, the United States and NATO should avoid slipping back into its own Cold War ways, warned Andrew Metrick, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Specifically, the Western alliance should not reinforce the geographic chokepoint between Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom, Metrick advised. A response centered on the so-called “GIUK Gap” “risks misprioritizing future investments.”

“In the past few years, Russian submarine activities have become a focal point for U.S. and NATO planners, part of the larger discourse on Russia’s revanchist role in the wake of its illegal annexation of Crimea,” Metrick wrote.

“Several military leaders have observed that Russian activities in the undersea domain have reached the highest levels seen in 20 years, and this heightened pace of operations has set off alarm bells from the United Kingdom to Finland and spurred comparisons to the Cold War.”

During the Cold War, Soviet submarines needed to pass the GIUK Gap in order to reach the open ocean and close within striking range of NATO ports and ships. That’s not the case with newer Russian subs with their longer-range weapons.

“Russian submarines no longer have to transit the gap to have a dramatic impact on the European military balance,” Metrick wrote. “Rather, they can operate from the relative safety of bastions in the Norwegian and Barents seas and strike targets across Northern and Central Europe.”

Assuming budgets remain at their current level, in the 2020s the Russian submarine fleet could include up to 10 Yasen-class guided-missile submarines plus upgraded Kilo, Akula, Oscar and Sierra attack submarines, for a grand total of probably around 50 vessels.

Many of the boats will carry the Russian navy’s new Kalibr land-attack cruise missile, which apparently can strike targets as far away as 1,500 miles. Kalibr “gives the Russian navy a long-range strike capability it has never before possessed,” Metrick wrote.

A Yasen-class submarine could fire its 40 Kalibrs from the Russian side of the GIUK Gap and still strike strategic NATO ports in western Europe such as Bremerhaven. “This new reality cannot be addressed by focusing on the GIUK Gap,” Metrick warned.

To respond adequately, the United States and NATO must move beyond the outdated barrier-defense concept and fully embrace open-ocean ASW, with far greater emphasis on operating in contested waters well north of the Arctic Circle. Instead of static ASW barriers, the United States and NATO must shift to a model of mobile ASW nets that can be rapidly constituted and focused on likely areas of operation.

This will require developing a new generation of ASW capabilities. Chief among potential systems are large unmanned underwater vehicles with considerable on-station time to provide initial cueing for other ASW assets. In addition, the [U.S.] Navy will need a new family of disposable acoustic ASW payloads.

A major element would be small, disposable UUVs and unmanned surface vessels deployed by ships, aircraft, submarines, or large UUVs that could quickly be seeded into an area and provide persistent ASW coverage for upward of a week.

These new capabilities will be effective only if they are paired with a new networking concept that knits together aerial, surface, and subsurface assets to understand the undersea battlespace. This is a daunting technical challenge, likely achievable only if subsurface platforms have considerable onboard processing and analytic capacity and are supported by persistent communication nodes.

A new Russian submarine threat requires new NATO defenses. But the Western alliance should not despair, Metrick wrote.

“By unshackling themselves from past modes of thinking and forging new and existing capabilities together, the United States and its NATO allies will be able to meet the evolving challenge posed by the Russian submarine fleet.”

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad.

Indian Nuclear Plant Leaking Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Red Flags Raised Over Radioactive Waste at Indian Point Plants

October 8, 2019 By Abby Luby

Left to right, John Sullivan, Marilyn Elie, Margot Frances, Manna Jo Greene and Jeanne Shaw, members of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, in front of an inflatable, life-size nuclear waste cask last week. Abby Luby Photo

The closure and dismantling of Indian Point plants 2 and 3 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, have raised red flags about the storage and handling of more than 1,700 tons of dangerous radioactive waste.

At a public meeting last Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) answered questions about the decommissioning process. About 90 people crowded into the Morabito Community Center in Cortlandt to ask Bruce Watson, NRC chief of the reactor decommissioning branch, about the regulatory agency’s oversight role during the plant closures.

For three hours, many were frustrated with the unreliable audio system that made it difficult to hear the speakers. A major concern was about Holtec International, a family-owned corporation based in Camden, N.J., slated to purchase, dismantle Indian Point and manage the irradiated nuclear fuel. Although Holtec has more than 30 years’ experience handling radioactive waste, it has come under scrutiny for fast-tracking decommissioning of nuclear plants.

Holtec proposes to dispose of the waste in as little as eight years; the NRC allows 60 years for the process.

“Holtec is a company with a record of bribery, lies and risk-taking. We know the NRC allowed the company into plants in New Jersey and Massachusetts even before objections by citizens’ groups were heard,” charged Richard Webster, legal director for Riverkeeper.

“Can you describe the NRC’s role in approving and selecting companies like Holtec for decommissioning?” asked Peekskill City Councilman Colin Smith during the meeting.

Watson replied that the agency is not privy to contractual details or sale agreements.

“Our sole responsibility is to ensure the applicant is licensed and has the technical and financial ability to own a particular plant,” he said.

When Smith asked for an estimated timeline for transporting the spent fuel rods, Watson said, “Congress promised to take care of high-level waste when they encouraged all these plants to be built. It’s in their ballpark to facilitate the disposal of the spent fuel. It’s way below my pay grade to make that kind of policy. I wish I had an answer for you.”

NRC’s oversight role with Holtec directly ties into the formation of Community Advisory Boards (CABs) as stipulated in a federal law under the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act. Watson indicated that the NRC would be checking in regularly with the progress of the decommissioning, but acknowledged that a heavier oversight role would be put on the Community Advisory Boards.

Many have questioned the authority of the newly formed local CAB, chaired by Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker with Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi serving as vice chair.

“We are all in this together,” said Puglisi in defense of the CAB. “We created a task force two years ago when we learned of the decommissioning and have been meeting monthly. We have a large membership including business people, environmentalists, school officials, chamber of commerce, county executives from Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange, along with state representatives.” Puglisi told the NRC to officially recognize the group as a Community Advisory Panel rather than a board.

Knickerbocker said the Community Advisory Panel was a diverse group with Indian Point supporters and critics.

“We are the eyes and ears and the voice for our community,” she said. “Our agenda is the safe decommissioning of Indian Point. This panel will drive the bus for decommissioning.”

The watchdog group Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) has supported a funded Citizens Oversight Board comprised of impartial members, independent scientists, experts, first responders, plant workers, environmentalists and other informed stakeholders.

“The board should have a budget to hire experts and have appointed environmentalists and volunteers who hold monthly, open meetings,” said IPSEC member Marilyn Elie.

IPSEC maintains a CAB made up of local politicians who might have financial or economic agendas is problematic. IPSEC has drafted citizens’ oversight board legislation that is expected to be introduced to state, county and local lawmakers in January.

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining) told Watson the NRC should fund the CAB.

“The NRC allowed the nuclear plants to be here, and now that they are being decommissioned, you should be sponsoring and funding the CABs using money in the federal government budget,” Galef said.

Although Indian Point units 2 and 3 generate about 2,000 megawatts of electricity, Con Ed no longer gets electricity from Indian Point. In 2017, the contract between Con Ed and Entergy expired and was not renewed, according to the utility. Up to that point, Indian Point supplied only 560 megawatts to Con Ed.

With competing solar and wind markets offering cheaper energy, Entergy’s high price for electricity has priced the company out of the market. Today, Entergy is closing its aging plants across the country.

An upcoming forum on decommissioning Northeast nuclear plants is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 10 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose.

Another Child Dies Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinians bid farewell to Fadi Osama Hijazi, 21, who died of wounds he sustained in February 2019 by Israeli fire in Gaza. (Photo: via Twitter)

Palestinian Youth Dies of His Wounds in Gaza

October 8, 2019

A Palestinian youth died Monday of his wounds after being exposed to Israeli army gunfire near the fence separating besieged Gaza Strip from Israel, according to Palestinian Health Ministry, reports Anadolu Agency.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement:

“Palestinian youth Fadi Osama Hijazi, 21, died of wounds after being injured by Israeli bullets in February of this year near the town of Jabalya, northern Gaza Strip.”

Hijazi was severely injured while taking part in the weekly anti-occupation protests, known as the Great March of Return.

Since the Gaza rallies began in March last year, nearly 270 protesters have been martyred and thousands more wounded by Israeli forces at the security fence with Gaza.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has shattered the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its two million inhabitants of free movement in and out from Gaza and prevented many basic amenities.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Iran’s Nuclear Program Back to Pre-Obama Situation

Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Back To Pre-JCPOA Situation, Says Nuclear Chief

Radio Farda

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Chief Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran will soon introduce a set of 30 modern IR-6 centrifuges within the next 2 or 3 weeks as the latest development in its nuclear program.

Salehi added that a new part of the heavy water reactor in Arak in central Iran will become operational within the next two weeks.

This comes while Iran is bound by its 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) not to employ more than 30 of this model of centrifuge until 2023.

Salehi said in an interview with Iran’s state TV on Tuesday October 8 that Iran’s nuclear program has “returned to pre-JCPOA situation” as it has increased the production of over 3.5 percent enriched uranium to 5 to 6 kilograms a day.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization had said in September that the IR-6 centrifuges is several times more powerful than the machines currently being used in Iran’s nuclear program.

Ali Akbar Salehi (L) shakes hands with Acting Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Cornel Feruta during their meeting in Tehran, September 8, 2019

Kamalvandi said at the time that a series of 20 IR-4 and IR-6 have become operational and a series of 10 IR-5 centrifuges would be operational within two months as part of a Research and Development (R&D) project.

The United States pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and has demanded a more comprehensive deal that would also limit Iran’s ballistic missile program and its interventions in the region.

Following the imposition of heavy sanctions by the United States, Iran has been warning the European signatories of the JCPOA that it will reduce its commitment to the deal as long as Europe fails to help Tehran to sell oil in the international markets and repatriate its revenues.

In three steps, Iran exceeded the 3.67% enrichment level and the 300 Kilogram stockpile of enriched Uranium allowed by the 2015 deal and employed modern centrifuges that will enable it to enriched more higher grade uranium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency announced in September that “Iran has installed or is installing 22 IR-4, one IR-5 and 30 IR-6 centrifuges.”


Iran And EU Increasingly Divided As Europe Reportedly Threatens To Leave Nuclear Deal

Iran has also threatened to take the 4th step in reducing its nuclear commitments by November 6. Asked about what is going to happen in the 4th step, Salehi told reporters in Tehran that “it is too early to talk about this,” adding that it “was not within his powers” to decide on the matter, although he stressed “We are ready to implement any decision that might be taken in this regard.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on October 2 that “Iran will continue to reduce its nuclear commitments with utmost seriousness”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned that the reduction of Tehran’s nuclear commitments under the JCPOA “will increase tensions.”

Other French officials had warned earlier that further reduction in Iran’s commitment might put an end to the JCPOA as European parties might leave the deal altogether.

However, speaking at the Iranian Parliament on October 6, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed last week that Europe is not in position to leave the JCPOA. Zarif said that Europe has failed to fulfil its commitments in the nuclear deal with Iran, adding that “Europeans are not in a position to withdraw from the 2005 deal.”