Why We Are In Trouble At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Why NRC Nuclear Safety Inspections are Necessary: Indian PointDave LochbaumThis is the second in a series of commentaries about the vital role nuclear safety inspections conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) play in protecting the public. The initial commentary described how NRC inspectors discovered that limits on the maximum allowable control room air temperature at the Columbia Generating Station in Washington had been improperly relaxed by the plant’s owner. This commentary describes a more recent finding by NRC inspectors about animproper safety assessment of a leaking cooling water system pipe on Entergy’s Unit 3 reactor at Indian Point outside New York City.Indian Point Unit 3: Leak Before BreakOn February 3, 2017, the NRC issued Indian Point a Green finding for a violation of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50. Specifically, the owner failed to perform an adequate operability review per its procedures after workers discovered water leaking from a service water system pipe.On April 27, 2016, workers found water leaking from the pipe downstream of the strainer for service water (SW) pump 31. As shown in Figure 1, SW pump 31 is one of six service water pumps located within the intake structure alongside the Hudson River. The six SW pumps are arranged in two sets of three pumps. Figure 1 shows SW pumps 31, 32, and 33 aligned to provide water drawn from the Hudson River to essential (i.e, safety and emergency) components within Unit 3. SW pumps 34, 35, and 36 are aligned to provide cooling water to non-essential equipment within Unit 3.

Fig. 1 (Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Plant Information Book) (click to enlarge)Each SW pump is designed to deliver 6,000 gallons of flow. During normal operation, one SW pump can handle the essential loads while two SW pumps are needed for the non-essential loads. Under accident conditions, two SW pumps are needed to cool the essential equipment. The onsite emergency diesel generators can power either of the sets of three pumps, but not both simultaneously. If the set of SW pumps aligned to the essential equipment aren’t getting the job done, workers can open/close valves and electrical breakers to reconfigure the second set of three SW pumps to the essential equipment loops.Because river water can have stuff in it that could clog some of the coolers for essential equipment, each SW pump has a strainer that attempts to remove as much debris as possible from the water. The leak discovered on April 27, 2016, was in the piping between the discharge check valve for SW pump 31 and its strainer. An arrow points to this piping section in Figure 1. The strainers were installed in openings called pits in the thick concrete floor of the intake structure. Water from the leaking pipe flowed into the pit housing the strainer for SW pump 31.The initial leak rate was modest—estimated to be about one-eighth of a gallon per minute. The leak was similar to other pinhole leaks that had occurred in the concrete-lined, carbon steel SW pipes. The owner began daily checks on the leakage and prepared an operability determination. Basically, “operability determinations” are used within the nuclear industry when safety equipment is found to be impaired or degraded. The operability determination for the service water pipe leak concluded that the impairment did not prevent the SW pumps from fulfilling their required safety function. The operability determination relied on a sump pump located at the bottom of the strainer pit transferring the leaking water out of the pit before the water flooded and submerged safety components.The daily checks instituted by the owner included workers recording the leak rate and assessing whether it had significantly increased. But the checks were against the previous day’s leak rate rather than the initial leak rate. By September 18, 2016, the leakage had steadily increased by a factor of 64 to 8 gallons per minute. But the daily incremental increases were small enough that they kept workers from finding the overall increase to be significant.The daily check on October 15, 2016, found the pump room flooded to a depth of several inches. The leak rate was now estimated to be 20 gallons per minute. And the floor drain in the strainer pit was clogged (ironic, huh?) impairing the ability of its sump pump to remove the water. Workers placed temporary sump pumps in the room to remove the flood water and cope with the insignificantly higher leak rate. On October 17, workers installed a clamp on the pipe that reduced the leakage to less than one gallon per minute.The operability determination was revised in response to concerns expressed by the NRC inspectors. The NRC inspectors were not satisfied by the revised operability determination. It continued to rely on the strainer pit sump pump removing the leaking water. But that sump pump was not powered from the emergency diesel generator and thus would not remove water should offsite power become unavailable. Step 5.6.4 of procedure EN-OP-14, “Operability Determination Process,” stated “If the Operability is based on the use or availability of other equipment, it must be verified that the equipment is capable of performing the function utilized in the evaluation.”The operability determination explicitly stated that no compensatory measures or operator manual actions were needed to handle the leak, but the situation clearly required both compensatory measures and operator manual actions.The NRC inspectors found additional deficiencies in the revised operability determination. The NRC inspectors calculated that a 20 gallon per minute leak rate coupled with an unavailable strainer pit sump pump would flood the room to a depth of three feet in three hours. There are no flood alarms in the room and the daily checks might not detect flooding until the level rose to three feet. At that level, water would submerge and potentially disable the vacuum breakers for the SW pumps. Proper vacuum breaker operation could be needed to successfully restart the SW pumps.The NRC inspectors calculated that the 20 gallon per minute leak rate without remediation would flood the room to the level of the control cabinets for the strainers in 10 hours. The submerged control cabinets could disable the strainers, leading to blocked cooling water flow to essential equipment.The NRC inspects calculated that the 20 gallon per minute leak rate without remediation would completely fill the room in about 29 hours, or only slightly longer than the daily check interval.Flooding to depths of 3 feet, 10 feet, and the room’s ceiling affected all six SW pumps. Thus, the flooding represented a common mode threat that could disable the entire service water system. In turn, all safety equipment shown in Figure 2 no longer cooled by the disabled service water system could also be disabled. The NRC estimated that the flooding risk was about 5×10-6 per reactor year, solidly in the Green finding band.

Fig. 2 (Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Plant Information Book) (click to enlarge)UCS Perspective“Leak before break” is a longstanding nuclear safety philosophy. Books have been written about it (well, at least one report has been written and may even have been read.)  The NRC’s approval of a leak before break analysis can allow the owner of an existing nuclear power reactor to remove pipe whip restraints and jet impingement barriers. Such hardware guarded against the sudden rupture of a pipe filled with high pressure fluid from damaging safety equipment in the area. The leak before break analyses can provide the NRC with sufficient confidence that piping degradation will be detected by observed leakage with remedial actions taken before the pipe fails catastrophically. More than a decade ago, the NRC issued a Knowledge Management document on the leak before break philosophy and acceptable methods of analyzing, monitoring, and responding to piping degradation.This incident at Indian Point illustrated an equally longstanding nuclear safety practice of “leak before break.” In this case, the leak was indeed followed by a break. But the break was not the failure of the piping but failure of the owner to comply with federal safety regulations. Pipe breaks are bad. Regulation breaks are bad. Deciding which is worse is like trying to decide which eye one wants to be poked in. None is far better than either.As with the prior Columbia Generating Station case study, this Indian Point case study illustrates the vital role that NRC’s enforcement efforts plays in nuclear safety. Even after NRC inspectors voiced clear concerns about the improperly evaluated service water system pipe leak, Entergy failed to properly evaluate the situation, thus violating federal safety regulations. To be fair to Entergy, the company was probably doing its best, but in recent years, Entergy’s best has been far below nuclear industry average performance levels.The NRC’s ROP is the public’s best protection against hazards caused by aging nuclear power reactors, shrinking maintenance budgets, emerging sabotage threats, and Entergy.Replacing the NRC’s engineering inspections with self-assessments by Entergy would lessen the effectiveness of that protective shield.The NRC must continue to protect the public to the best of its ability. Delegating safety checks to owners like Entergy is inconsistent with that important mission.Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Here comes the true winds of God‘s wrath: Jeremiah 23

Hurricane center predicts 2 systems emerge in western Atlantic; both with low odds of being next tropical storm

The National Hurricane Center’s Thursday afternoon forecasts predicts two systems, with low odds of becoming the next tropical storm, to emerge in the Atlantic sometime after this weekend.

First, a broad non-tropical pressure system several hundred miles east-southeast of Bermuda is expected to form early next week, according to the NHC’s 2 p.m. update. It has a 20% chance of forming into a tropical depression or tropical storm early next week.

After it emerges, the system is expected to pass between Bermuda and the northern Lesser Antilles.

Next, a broad area of low pressure is forecast to emerge early next week over the southwestern Caribbean with some gradual development expected as it continues moving west-northwest.

The system has a 20% chance of development in the next five days.

Whichever system, if either, develops into a tropical storm would be the 26th named storm of the year and be named Epsilon.

The official last day of hurricane season is Nov. 30.

Joe Mario Pedersen

Joe Mario Pedersen is a member of the Sentinel’s Breaking News team. He’s a native of Florida, the home of the Florida Man. Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Joe is a University of Central Florida graduate with a major in Radio & Television. He worked for four years at The Villages Daily Sun, including on the newsroom’s multimedia story projects.

US embargo pressure on Iran has failed

Arms bazaar – The arms embargo on Iran is coming to an end | Middle East & Africa | The Economist

Oct 13th 2020

But don’t expect it to go on a buying spree

THE F-14 TOMCAT was a cutting-edge fighter jet when it first flew 50 years ago. It acquired iconic status when it starred in “Top Gun”, a Hollywood blockbuster, at the height of the Reagan era. Newer planes have long since taken its place in America’s air force. But Tomcats are still a feature of Iran’s decrepit armed forces, which acquired the planes shortly before the Islamic revolution in 1979. Many of the country’s other arms, from infirm British tanks to vintage American helicopters, are also museum pieces. But the expiration of a United Nations arms embargo on October 18th allows the country’s generals to dream of shinier weapons.

Iran’s armed forces have long had to make do with junk. Though America and Britain sold advanced weapons to the pro-Western Shah in the 1960s and 1970s, the theocracy that followed lost somewhere between one-half and two-thirds of that equipment in a brutal eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The departure of Western technicians and an informal arms embargo prevented the Iranians from maintaining or replacing what was left. In 2007 the UN imposed a formal arms embargo, amid rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The US puts pressure on the Chinese nuclear horn

U.S. Working to End Chinese Secrecy Around Nuclear Capabilities

John GradyOctober 15, 2020 3:16 PM

Chinese leader Xi Jinping aboard a PLA Navy ship. Xinhua photo

America’s senior arms negotiator said Washington is taking diplomatic and military steps to put an end to Beijing’s “great wall of secrecy” that surrounds its rapid and expanding strategic weapons program.

Speaking at a Heritage Foundation online forum this week, Marshall Billingslea, senior envoy for arms control, said Xi Jin-ping and the Communist Party leadership are engaged “in a crash nuclear build-up” with the intent of re-establishing China as the Middle Kingdom, the dominant global power.

China continues “to hide a dagger in a smile” diplomatically, Billingslea said.

Billingslea contrasted the more than 100-page document the United States has released on nuclear strategy to the five paragraphs China has publicly released on its nuclear program and strategy. He said in prepared remarks and in answers to questions that the United States is willing to engage in nuclear arms talks with Beijing and Moscow to avoid a new nuclear arms race.

Billingslea was speaking a little more than a month after the Pentagon released a report saying China has 200 operational nuclear weapons in its stockpile and is driving to at least double that number over the next decade.

Visible proof of Chinese intentions to build up strategic forces came most recently in the two-and-a half-mile-long parade of cruise and ballistic missiles on Oct. 1. In marking the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of China, Xi unveiled a new mobile launched DF-41 intercontinental missile.

For the past several years, Beijing has “aggressively” been testing cruise and ballistic missiles. Billingslea said that as of August, China has conducted “at least 70 this year.” The schedule “portends a major shift in Chinese nuclear posture.” Several times during the forum, Billingslea noted that the shift was taking place as Beijing increased pressure on Taiwan, asserting its territorial claims in the South and East China Seas and escalating border tensions with India.

“This is a warmongering Communist Party,” he said.

Billingslea said, “this cannot continue.” The result of China’s secrecy over the nuclear program, the aggressive cruise and ballistic missile testing and its refusal to join in serious arms control talks could lead to a three-way nuclear arms race.

The great danger is that Chinese nuclear “capability is likely outpacing their strategic thinking.” He noted China is also operating as a major nuclear power without any hotline connections to Washington or protocols on data exchanges to avoid miscalculations in a crisis.

“Diplomacy has not yet run its course,” he said. Billingslea argued countries would see Beijing in a better light internationally if China sat down to talk with the United States and Russia, as its prestige has fallen for its aggressive behavior and its initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billingslea noted the support from Washington’s European allies — Austria, Sweden and expected support from New Zealand and Australia — on pressing the Chinese to honor their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and become involved in writing a new strategic arms agreement.

As a way to entice China to participate in serious negotiations, “we’ll start with the Russians” on extending the START [Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty], he added. But any “new treaty has to be multilateral,” meaning China needs to come aboard at some point.

“We’re ready to strike the deal” to extend the treaty’s terms with the Kremlin, freezing nuclear weapon stockpiles, but with new verification methods in place. China has to come aboard at some point to make the treaty viable.

Other nuclear powers, especially India, are watching to see whether China chooses to engage in these new strategic arms limitation talks, Billingslea said.

For allies and other nations, he said “now’s time to ring up the Russians and tell them to take the deal.” The next step would be for Moscow to work to bring China into the wider negotiations. So far, they “are not going to us get there.”

Right now, the Chinese “want to finish the build-up before they sit down to talk,” he added.

The steps the United States is taking to counter Chinese and Russian nuclear build-ups include modernizing its nuclear triad — from systems like the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine to low-yield warheads and sea-launched missiles. Billingslea added that Washington is also developing land-based intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles for the Army and Marine Corps and hypersonic weapons.

Billingslea estimated China has “as many as 2,000 intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles.” Like START, China was never part of a treaty agreement to limit these weapons. The United States withdrew from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, arguing Russia had violated its terms repeatedly by stationing missiles with a range of 500 TO 5,500 kilometers on its western border.

In addition, to show Beijing that China’s “wanton aggression to your neighbors has consequences,” Billingslea said the United States will field new missile defense systems throughout Asia and Europe.

Russia says no nuclear deal

Russia Dismisses Trump Hope of Nuclear Deal Before U.S. Election

Ilya Arkhipov

October 15, 2020, 8:36 AM MDT

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 13. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump said he was ready to boost his offer for spending in a fiscal-stimulus package, a bid that was quickly rejected by his fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said of administration’s offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats.

As he trails in polls with the election less that three weeks away, Trump said on Fox Business Thursday that he would go still higher than the $1.8 trillion the White House has already floated to get a deal. He blamed Pelosi, who wants a $2.2 trillion package, for standing in the way.

Pelosi, speaking to Democrats in a private conference call later Thursday, mocked Trump for facing opposition from his own party, according to a person on the call. She said while she doesn’t want to wait until January — when Joe Biden might be sworn in as president — to pass the next stimulus package, Democrats cannot give up fighting for their values, according to the person.

The speaker also reiterated a view from earlier this week, that her side has maximum leverage in the negotiations, another call participant said.

Skinny Bill

McConnell said earlier Thursday that the administration has already gone beyond what Republicans in the Senate could support, all but killing any chance for a stimulus in the near term. In a news conference in Kentucky, McConnell said the Senate will vote next week on a narrow stimulus plan worth roughly $500 billion to aid an economy still reeling from pandemic-induced shutdowns.

That amount is “what we think is appropriate to tackle this dread disease,” he said at one of several appearances in his home state.

Pelosi is scheduled to have another call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Thursday in a continuing saga of talks on another fiscal boost for the economy.

Investor disappointment over the continuing impasse in the U.S. and new virus restrictions in Europe has weighed on stocks this week. The S&P 500 Index fell 0.2% late in the session Thursday, off of its lows but still down for a third day.

‘Not Giving Up’

Mnuchin said earlier Thursday that Pelosi’s “all or nothing approach doesn’t make sense for the American people,” but that the administration is “not giving up” trying for an agreement.

The president expressed frustration with Mnuchin, his main negotiator. “So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon,” Trump said.

Read More: Stimulus Doomed by Diverging Goals of Trump, Pelosi, McConnell

Trump indicated he’d be open to calling Pelosi on the stimulus but doubted it would result in a deal. The two haven’t spoken directly in about a year.

Trump, who canceled negotiations last week and only days later reversed course to advocate a bigger stimulus than congressional Republicans support, said that Pelosi has “a lot of mental health problems and it’s going to be very hard to do anything with her.”

The president and speaker have each been questioning each other’s mental faculties. Pelosi said last week that Trump was “in an altered state right now,” and she suggested to colleagues that his thinking might be affected by the steroids he was given as treatment for Covid-19.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the president’s latest $1.8 trillion offer for a stimulus package is “a very big deal,” and, like Trump, blamed Pelosi for the stalemate. Asked at a news conference if he thought there would be a stimulus compromise before the election, McCarthy wasn’t optimistic.

“As long as Nancy Pelosi is involved, the answer is easily no,” McCarthy said. “She is the only hurdle, the only roadblock for us to be able to vote on something.”

Meanwhile, the economy continues to show evidence of the impact of a withdrawal of past fiscal stimulus — just as anticipated by Federal Reserve policy makers and private economists alike.

Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits unexpectedly jumped last week to the highest since August, a report showed Thursday. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs totaled 898,000 in the week ended Oct. 10, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey, Labor Department data showed Thursday.

Trump said Thursday that he did still think a deal is possible before Nov. 3 — “because I think there’s a lot of pressure on Pelosi.”

Trump’s own undermining of his team, by endorsing a bigger package than they have fought for — and that Senate Republicans oppose — has encouraged the Democrats to hold out.

“Pelosi suggests that she has the leverage in negotiations with Mnuchin since President Trump seems anxious for a big pre-election deal,” said Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The closer to the election a deal might be reached, the better for Democrats and the worse for Trump.”

— With assistance by Mario Parker, and Saleha Mohsin

Palestinians outside the Temple Walls Protest in Solidarity with Prisoner in Hunger Strike: Revelation 11

Palestinians in Gaza Protest in Solidarity with Prisoner in Hunger Strike (PHOTOS)

October 14, 2020

Gazans protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Maher al-Akhras. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

Palestinians in Gaza staged an indefinite protest Tuesday at the building of the International Committee of the Red Cross in solidarity with a Palestinian prisoner who began a hunger strike 80 days ago against his detention without charge by Israel.

Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups voiced concern over his condition.

Maher Al-Akhras, 49, is now in an Israeli hospital suffering from heart pain and convulsions and has slipped occasionally into a coma, his wife said.

A resident of the city of Jenin in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Akhras was taken into custody in July under an Israeli “administrative detention” order.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said Akhras was detained after it received information that he was an operative of the Islamic Jihad militant group, an allegation his wife denied.

Three weeks ago, he has been moved to the Kaplan Medical Center in the Israeli city of Rehovot, where he has been drinking water but refusing solid food, according to his family.

At the hospital, Akhras’s wife Taghreed told Reuters that he would continue the hunger strike for his immediate release despite a decision on Monday by Israel’s Supreme Court not to extend his four-month detention term beyond November 26.

“The responsibility for what happens next lies with those who can prevent his further deterioration and even death,” the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which is monitoring the case, said in a statement. “They can still stop this from happening.”

Ahkras’s wife said her husband, too weak to leave his bed, was not handcuffed in the hospital, and there were no guards visible near his room.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights called on international rights groups to intervene immediately to “save the life of Akhras before it is too late.”

There are around 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, 350 of them under administrative detention, Palestinian officials said. Israeli officials say detention without trial is sometimes necessary to protect the identities of undercover operatives.

(All Photos: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

Kashmir has become the flashpoint for the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Kashmir has become nuclear flashpoint: AJK president

Our Correspondent

LAHORE: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has said that India would fail in its nefarious aims and Pakistan would get Kashmir in any case.

Addressing a webinar organised by Lahore Centre for Peace and Research held here on Tuesday, Sardar Masood Khan said if there was a nuclear war anywhere in the world, it would be in South Asian region as Kashmir has become a nuclear flashpoint.

Addressing a webinar on the oppression of Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Senator Sherry Rehman said that the ongoing human rights violations in Kashmir, especially atrocities against women, have raised voices in India as well as around the world.

Sherry Rehman said one of the reasons for raising voice against these atrocities is the Hindutva policy of the Modi government. She said even in India people have now refused to accept Hindutva policy and enlightened Hindus are now raising their voice against this venomous Hindutva thinking. Sherry Rehman said that the foundations of India’s secular identity have shaken. Former Ambassador Shamshad Ahmed, moderator of the seminar and chairman of Lahore Centre for Peace and Research, started the webinar by saying that the current situation in Kashmir is a reflection of Hindutva thinking. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Nazir Hussain, President, Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights, said that war is necessary. If the war is not between Pakistan and India, it will be between the people of Kashmir and India.

Mishal Hussain Malik, wife of Yasin Malik, freedom fighter in Indian Occupied Kashmir and chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, said that the recent status of Kashmir was part of Modi’s election campaign and it was clear that India was now following the Hindutva footsteps.

Regarding the ongoing atrocities in Kashmir, Ms Malik said that the property deeds of Muslims were being changed. The Delhi government is transferring all powers from the locals to the people of Delhi, she said, adding all these steps are due to Hindutva thinking.

She said steps need to be taken to ban the RSS at the international level and that the United Nations should send a delegation to India to conduct an independent inquiry into the killings of detainees.