Earth Matters: Indian Point’s Final Days – Nyack News and Viewsby Barbara PuffIndian Point has been the crown jewel of the nuclear industrialist complex and closing it is a big step to a sustainable energy future. — Susan Shapiro, environmental lawyer.When scientists began exploring nuclear power in the 1950s, pollsters didn’t ask the public their opinion as support was almost unanimous. By the ’60s, there had been a few protests and opposition increased to 25%. So when Indian Point opened on September 16, 1962, it was greeted with enthusiasm, fanfare, and, in hindsight, naivete.Within a few years, increased pollution, loss of wildlife, and accidents at the plant elicited concern. In response, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Riverkeeper were formed in 1966. After incidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, public opinion began to turn against the use of nuclear power.In 1984, her first year as a legislator, Harriet Cornell formed the Citizens Commission to Close Indian Plant. A glance at her press releases over the years shows her convictions regarding closing the plant. In a recent speech she noted: “Were it not for the superhuman efforts of concerned individuals and dedicated scientific and environmental organizations focusing attention on the dangers posed by Indian Point, who knows what might have happened during the last 40+ years.”Simultaneously Riverkeeper began documenting incidents, including:1 An antiquated water-cooling system killed over a billion fish and fish larvae annually.2 Pools holding spent nuclear fuel leaked toxic, radioactive water into the ground, soil, and Hudson River.3 Recurring emergency shut-downs.4 27% of the baffle bolts in Unit 2 and 31% in Unit 3, holding the reactor core together, were damaged.5 The plant was vulnerable to terrorist attack.6 Evacuation plans were implausible.7 No solution for spent nuclear fuel, posing the risk of radioactive release and contamination of land.8 The plant was near two seismic zones, suggesting an earthquake over 6.2 could devastate the area.9 Asbestos exposure.These and other issues led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rate Indian Point in 2000 as the most trouble-plagued plant in the country. Lamont-Doherty Observatory agreed, calling it the most dangerous plant in the nation.As individuals realized the seriousness of the situation, urgency for a solution grew and Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition was formed in 2001. Comprised of public interest, health advocates, environmental and citizen groups, their goals were to educate the public, pass legislation, and form a grassroots campaign with hundreds of local, state, and federal officials.Clearwater also began monitoring the plant around that time. Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, recalls, “We were concerned when one of the planes that struck the WTC flew over the plant, including several buildings that hold huge fuel pools, filled with spent fuel rods and radioactive waste.” Had anything happened, the nuclear power industry had provided protection for themselves while neglecting surrounding communities. Powerful lobbyists, backed by considerable financing, induced Congress to pass the Price-Anderson Act in 1957. This legislation protected nuclear power plant companies from full liability in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack.With such warnings, it’s hard to believe as late as 2010, The New York Times stated, “No one should be hoping for a too hasty shutdown.” Over time, the cost of litigation by New York State proved more fatal to the continuance of plant operations than protests, though they were a crucial factor and led to initial filings. Attorney General Schneiderman was very active in filing contentions, legal reasons the plant shouldn’t be relicensed, and won several important court cases on high-level radioactive storage.In 2016, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Entergy a discharge permit for hot water into the Hudson River, part of their once-through cooling system. This permit was necessary for continued operation of the plant and a requirement for relicensing. The New York State Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management, denied Entergy a water quality certificate the same year, which it also needed to relicense. After more than four decades of danger to the environment and residents, Governor Cuomo announced in January 2017 the plant would finally be closing. Unit 2 would cease production on April 30, 2020 and Unit 3 would end productivity on April 30, 2021.Later that year, in March 2017, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board allowed Entergy to renew the plant’s licenses until 2021, dismissing final points of contention between the company, New York State, and Riverkeeper. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino attempted to sue the state and reopen the plant in April 2017 but failed.Ellen Jaffee, NYS Assemblywoman, stated, “After 46 years of operation, I am glad to finally see the closure of Indian Point. Since joining the Assembly, I have long fought for its closure. I would not have been able to pursue these efforts if not for the environmental advocates, like the Riverkeeper, who fought long and hard beside myself to close the plant. The plant’s closure must be conducted in a safe manner, where all radioactive materials will be properly disposed of, without inflicting further harm on our environment. The closure of Indian Point shows that we can reduce our impact on the environment.”Harriet Cornell said, “We have waited years for this to happen and frankly, it can’t happen soon enough. The facts have long shown there is no future for this dangerous plant.”“The closure of Indian Point marks the shutdown of dirty polluting energy,” noted Susan Shapiro.Holtec, the company chosen to oversee decommissioning of the plant, has a horrific track record. New York State Attorney General Tish James released a statement in January expressing multiple grave concerns about them. According to Riverkeeper, they have a scandalous corporate past, little experience in decommissioning, dubious skills in spent fuel management, workplace safety infractions, and health violations. Another fear is the cost will exceed a decommissioning fund set aside by Entergy, Holtec will declare bankruptcy, and the public will absorb the difference.“Entergy made huge profits from Indian Point,” said Manna Jo Greene. “They’ve hired Holtec, a company with a poor record of decommissioning, to complete the work. Entergy plans to declare bankruptcy, thereby having taxpayers foot the bill. We are not out of danger. It is a different danger.”Richard Webster, Legal Program Director at Riverkeeper, adds, “Decommissioning must be done promptly, safely and reliably. Selling to Holtec is the worst possible option, because it has a dubious history of bribes, lies, and risk taking, very limited experience in decommissioning, is proposing to raid the decommissioning fund for its own benefit, and is proposing leaving contaminated groundwater to run into the Hudson River.”State Senator David Carlucci warned, “The NRC Inspector General Report shows there is much to be done by the NRC to gain the confidence of myself and the public, as the commission is charged with overseeing the decommissioning of Indian Point and ensuring the health and safety of Hudson Valley Communities. We demand answers from NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki. The Chairman needs to come to the Hudson Valley immediately and outline the steps being taken to address our safety and explain how the commission will properly inspect and guard the pipeline near Indian Point moving forward.”One of the gravest dangers in decommissioning is the storage of spent fuel rods. A fuel rod is a long, zirconium tube containing pellets of uranium, a fissionable material which provides fuel for nuclear reactors. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel assemblies, which are loaded individually into a reactor core. Fuel rods last about six years. When they’re spent and removed they are placed in wet storage, or pools of water, which is circulated to reduce temperature and provide shielding from radiation. They remain in these pools for 10 years, as they are too hot to be placed in dry storage, or canisters. Even in dry storage, though, they remain extremely radioactive, with high levels of plutonium, which is toxic, and continue to generate heat for decades and remain radioactive for 10,000 years.“Elected officials and government groups became involved once they understood the fatal environmental dangers nuclear energy creates for millenium,” said Susan Shapiro. “It is the only energy that produces waste so dangerous that governments must own and dispose of it.”Robert Kennedy, Jr., of Waterkeeper, explained “If those spent fuel rods caught on fire, if the water dropped, the zirconium coatings of the spent fuel rods would combust. You would release 37 times the amount of radiation that was released at Chernobyl. Around Chernobyl there are 100 miles that are permanently uninhabitable. I would include the workplaces, homes of 20 million Americans, including the Financial District. There’s no evacuation plan. And it’s sitting on two of the biggest earthquake faults in the northeast.”On April 24, 2020, Beyond Indian Point Campaign was launched to advocate for a safe transition during decommissioning. Sponsored by AGREE, Frack Action, Riverkeeper, NIRS and Food and Water Watch, they’re demanding Cuomo hire another company, opposing a license transfer before the State Public Service Commission and NRC and pushing state legislation to establish a board to supervise the decommissioning fund. When decommissioning is finished Beyond Indian Point hopes to further assist the community in the transition to renewable energy. These include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydrothermal power. Sign an online petition on their website to support their work, future generations and earth at BeyondIndianPoint.com, Facebook, or Twitter.“Bravo to everyone involved in making this historic day come to pass,” said Susan Shapiro.Raised in the Midwest, Barbara Puff is a writer who lives in Nyack, NY.
(MENAFN – Gulf Times) Iran has stressed its nuclear activities are peaceful and conform to safeguard obligations, after the UN nuclear watchdog said it has established a process to accelerate production of highly enriched uranium. International Atomic Energy Agency director Rafael Grossi informed IAEA member states that Iran was boosting such capacity at its Natanz enrichment plant.
“All of (Iran’s) nuclear programmes and actions are in complete compliance with the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), Iran’s safeguards commitments, under IAEA supervision and previously announced,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Tuesday.
The UN agency verified on Saturday that“Iran had configured a new operational mode for the production of UF6 enriched up to 60 percent U-235,” Grossi said in a statement to AFP.
This involved using two centrifuge cascades compared with one previously, he added. Iran had started in mid-April to enrich uranium to 60%. The Islamic republic has gradually rolled back its nuclear commitments since 2019, a year after then US president Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal and began imposing sanctions. The 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
Iran“will pursue its peaceful nuclear programme based on its needs, sovereign decisions and within safeguard obligations’ framework until the full and unconditional implementation of the JCPOA by America and other parties,” Khatibzadeh said.
Six rounds of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers – with the US indirectly taking part – were held in Vienna between April and June in an attempt to revive the accord. The last round concluded on June 20, with no date set for another.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli gunfire on Saturday wounded 24 Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, health officials said. An Israeli policeman was critically wounded by Palestinian gunfire during the clashes along Gaza’s border with Israel.
The violence erupted after hundreds of Palestinians took part in a demonstration Saturday organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers to draw attention to a stifling Israeli blockade of the territory. The demonstration grew violent after dozens of people approached the fortified border fence and threw rocks and explosives toward Israeli soldiers from behind a black smoke screen spewing from burning tires.
The Israeli military said that hundreds of demonstrators approached one area of the fence in northern Gaza and attempted to climb over while throwing explosives at troops. It said that troops fired tear gas and live rounds toward the protesters.
It also said a member of the paramilitary border police was hospitalized in grave condition after being shot. Amateur video from the Palestinian side showed a protester running up to the concrete barrier and firing a pistol into a hole used by an Israeli sniper.
In Gaza, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said 24 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire. Two of them, including the 13-year-old boy, were in critical condition.
The violent confrontations were reminiscent of the weekly border demonstrations organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers in 2018 and 2019 to draw attention to Israel’s stifling blockade over the tiny seaside territory.
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies that have fought four wars and countless skirmishes since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election. The most recent war, in May, ended in an inconclusive cease-fire after 11 days of fighting.
Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official, told protesters that the confrontation with Israel “was still open.”
There has been growing tension in recent weeks, with Hamas calling for Israel to ease the blockade, which greatly restricts movement of people and goods in and out of the territory. Israel has imposed the blockade with Egyptian help since 2007, saying it is needed to prevent Hamas from arming itself.
In a statement, the Israeli army said troops responded with live rounds after hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated at the Gaza-Israeli border.
During the border protests in 2018 and 2019, over 350 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. The protests ground to a halt after mediators, including Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations brokered an unofficial deal in which Israel eased some of its economic restrictions on Gaza and allowed Qatar to deliver tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments to needy Gaza families and Hamas salaries.
Since the May war, the new Israeli government, headed by Naftali Bennet, has blocked the Qatari aid, calling for a mechanism to ensure Hamas doesn’t benefit from the cash. It also has blocked the import of key reconstruction materials while demanding that Hamas first return the remains of two soldiers killed in a 2014 war and two Israeli civilians believed to be alive.
Running out of patience, Hamas called for Saturday’s protest to signal its frustration with Israel delaying the Qatari cash injections.
On Thursday, however, Israel announced an agreement with the Gulf Arab country to resume aid payments to thousands of families in the Gaza Strip step aimed at easing tensions with the Palestinian territory in the wake of the war. Under the new arrangement, the funds are to be transferred by the United Nations directly to Gaza families, while giving Israel oversight over the the list of recipients. The payments are expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Hamas made the call for the protest at Gaza-Israel frontier before the new agreement on the resumption of Qatari aid was reached. It also said the protest was meant to mark the anniversary of a 1969 arson attack at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque by an Australian tourist later found to be mentally ill.
At least 254 people were killed during May’s Gaza-Israel war, including 67 children and 39 women, according to the Gaza health ministry. Hamas has acknowledged the deaths of 80 militants. Twelve civilians, including two children, were killed in Israel, along with one soldier.
The main contractor for China’s nuclear projects has seen a massive increase in orders from the military compared with a year ago, signalling Beijing’s intensified push to boost its military nuclear capacities.
China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Group Corporation Limited reported that the value of its military contracts in the first seven months had surged nearly fourfold year-on-year.
Observers said the figures reflected China’s steadfast efforts to catch up with the United States, which is increasingly concerned about China’s nuclear capabilities, including recent reports about the build-up of missile silos.
A statement on Wednesday said the company had received about 17.2 billion yuan (US$2.65 billion) in new military contracts up to July, an increase of 391 per cent over the same period last year.
As a state-owned listed company, China Nuclear Engineering and Construction is a contractor for national defence industry projects. It is mainly engaged in the military, nuclear power, and industrial and civil engineering projects, and has developed hi-tech projects in the nuclear, aerospace, aviation, shipping and weapons sectors, according to the company website.
Its military engineering arm in particular saw a sharp increase in new contracts, going up by 302.2 per cent year on year in June and 332.4 per cent in May.
The boost for military nuclear engineering is in line with China’s strategy of strengthening its defence forces, according to the company’s 2020 annual report, which pointed that the “the world’s major powers have accelerated the development of advanced defence and military technologies and increased their investment in the field of nuclear energy”.
Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor, said that it was normal and necessary for China to increase the number of nuclear weapons and improve the nation’s nuclear capability in the face of the rising challenge posed by the US and its strategy of suppression.
“The numbers [released by the company] indicate a trend of expanding our nuclear weapons and power systems, which come under the nuclear military engineering sector,” he said.
“It is necessary for us to expand our capabilities in this field in order to maintain national security on our own, as the United States is increasingly challenging China and interfering in China’s internal affairs more deeply”.
The US has in recent months expressed increasing concern over China’s nuclear arsenal and repeatedly called on China to join it and Russia in a new arms control treaty.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concerns about China’s growing nuclear arsenal during a meeting with foreign ministers of Asian countries and partner nations, saying it highlighted “how Beijing has sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence”.
Last month, US think-tank reports based on satellite imagery said that China appeared to be constructing hundreds of new silos for nuclear missiles, although Chinese media outlets suggested it was a wind farm.
Li Bin, a nuclear issues expert at Tsinghua University, said it was hard to explain the factors behind the sharp growth of the company’s military nuclear projects: it may have been due to a low base last year caused by the pandemic. However, if China was indeed building more nuclear silos, it was only acting responsibly by improving its “strategic stability”.
“If the reports that China is constructing more silos are true, it means that it will be harder for the US to attack China, which is a responsible attitude as it improves strategic stability,” Li said
August 19, 20218:19 AM MDTLast Updated 2 days ago
BERLIN, Aug 19 (Reuters) – France, Germany and Britain voiced grave concern on Thursday about a report that Iran had accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons grade, saying this was a serious violation of its commitments.
At a time when the West and Iran are looking to resume talks on reviving a nuclear deal, the U.N. atomic energy watchdog said in a report seen by Reuters that Iran had accelerated its enrichment of uranium. read more
In a joint statement, the three countries said they were worried about IAEA reports confirming that Iran has produced uranium metal enriched up to 20% fissile purity for the first time and lifted production capacity of uranium enriched to 60%.
Both are key steps in the development of a nuclear weapon, they said.
Uranium metal can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb, but Iran says its aims are peaceful and it is developing reactor fuel.
“Iran must halt activities in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) without delay,” said the joint statement from the three foreign ministries.
“We urge Iran to return to the negotiations in Vienna as soon as possible with a view to bringing them to a swift, successful conclusion. We have repeatedly stressed that time is on no-one’s side,” they added.
The accelerated enrichment is the latest move by Iran breaching restrictions imposed by a 2015 nuclear deal, which capped the purity to which Tehran can refine uranium.
The United States and its European allies have said such moves threaten talks on reviving the deal, which is currently suspended.
Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Gareth Jones
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Aug. 19, 2021 6:30 pm ET
Since Kabul fell to the Taliban Sunday, critics have flayed President Biden for diminishing America’s global standing, empowering the Taliban and their al Qaeda partners, cold-shouldering U.S. allies, and abandoning Afghans who risked their lives to work with Americans. Add one more likely consequence of the cack-handed U.S. withdrawal: an emboldened Pakistan, whose Taliban-friendly generals and plethora of jihadist groups feel the wind in their sails.
In official statements, Pakistan says it backs a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan. But if there is one global capital where the Taliban victory was greeted with barely disguised glee, it was in Islamabad. On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan praised Afghans for “breaking the shackles of slavery.” On social media, retired generals and other Taliban boosters hailed the triumph of Islam, never mind that the defeated Afghan government too called itself an Islamic republic.
Exultant Pakistanis shared a video clip from 2014 featuring Hamid Gul, a former head of the army’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. “When history is written, it will be stated that the ISI defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America,” Gul says to a fawning TV studio audience. “Then there will be another sentence. The ISI, with the help of America, defeated America.”
You can understand why Taliban fans want to gloat. Between 2002 and 2018, the U.S. government gave Pakistan more than $33 billion in assistance, including about $14.6 billion in so-called Coalition Support Funds paid by the Pentagon to the Pakistani military. (Donald Trump ended nearly all military assistance and also slashed nonmilitary aid from its peak in the Obama years.) During the same period, Pakistan ensured the failure of America’s Afghanistan project by surreptitiously sheltering, arming and training the Taliban.
“We found ourselves in an incredibly bizarre situation, where you are paying the country that created your enemy so that it will let you keep fighting that enemy,” says Sarah Chayes, a former adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a phone interview. “If you wanted to win the war, you had to crack down on Pakistan. If you wanted to conduct operations [in Afghanistan] you had to mollify Pakistan.”