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.
US soldiers participating in a drill with South Korean troops near Pocheon in 2017 Photo: AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je
Over 200 US, South Korean Warplanes Conducting Secret Operations In Korea Amid Pyongyang’s Missile Test
By Meera Suresh
- The annual drills conducted by the countries were scaled back in 2018
- The allies have restarted it, amid the recent missile test by Pyongyang
- The U.S. had called on North Korea to engage in talks over its nuclear program
The U.S. and South Korea are reportedly carrying out a large-scale joint air drill in South Korea, amid tensions in the region following North Korea’s recent missile test.
Over 200 aircraft are said to be involved in the five-day drill that began Monday. The long-time allies are said to be keeping the aerial exercise low-key as the U.S. efforts to hold talks with North Korea about its nuclear program gain pace, reported The Drive.
South Korea and the U.S. had previously collaborated on a large scale. The exercises called Vigilant Ace held in 2017 witnessed the participation of tens of thousands of troops and 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and bombers. A USAF B-1B bomber out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, had flown over the peninsula at that time, in what was seen as a show of force to Pyongyang.
The annual drill held every December was scaled back in 2018, following the revival of dialogues between the Koreas, and between the U.S. and North Korea.
However, the maneuvers are back in large-scale this year. Reports say 100 fighter jets from each country are taking part in them, including South Korea’s F-15K and KF-16 jets. The U.S.’ F-16s will also be a part of the drill. However, no equipment or soldiers from the U.S. mainland would join the exercises.
In a statement to the Korean Yonhap news agency, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) said: “We cannot comment on the exercise as it is one that is not disclosed to the media.” The U.S. military has so far not released any information either, said The Drive report.
North Korea recently test-fired a new, smaller ballistic missile from a submarine. Washington had then reacted by urging North Korea to refrain from further “provocations” and that the “United States remained open to engaging diplomatically with North Korea over its weapons programs.”
North Korea had earlier denounced the U.S.-South Korea drills calling them a “war rehearsal for an invasion and used them as an excuse for provocations.” The reclusive regime had also called for their cancellation as a condition to continued negotiations.
Last week, the U.S. had called on North Korea to engage in talks. U.S. envoy for North Korea Sung Kim had then said that the United States is committed to exploring “sustained and substantive diplomacy” with North Korea.
BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 11/4/21 AT 12:29 PM EDTAD Loading
AChinese official has responded to the Pentagon‘s latest report on China’s military power in comments shared with Newsweek, saying it is the United States, not China, that is bringing the world closer to nuclear war.
The Department of Defense released on Wednesday its annual “Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” covering a wide range of assessments regarding China and its People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest armed forces and the top military competitor of the U.S.
Among the more notable findings was the observation that China was “accelerating the large-scale expansion of its nuclear forces,” which it was seeking to “modernize” and “diversify.” The report noted that the current number of Chinese warheads is believed to be “in the low-200s,” but stated that this number was expected to grow.
“The accelerating pace of the PRC’s nuclear expansion may enable the PRC to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027,” the report found. “The PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the pace and size the DoD projected in 2020.”
These capabilities were noted specifically as they could potentially impact the U.S. The report added that the “number of warheads on the PRC’s land-based ICBMs capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to roughly 200 in the next five years.”
In response to this report, the spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington offered a different characterization of his nation’s strategic prowess.
“China has always adhered to its self-defensive nuclear strategy,” the spokesperson told Newsweek. “China abides by the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and undertakes unequivocally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China has never participated in any form of nuclear arms race, nor has it deployed nuclear weapons abroad.”NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
The spokesperson argued that the same could be said for the U.S., pointing to the Pentagon’s far larger arsenal, believed to consist of about 5,550 warheads.
“As we all know, the United States has the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world,” the spokesperson said. “The US has not only violated international consensus and refused to fulfill its special priority responsibility for nuclear disarmament, but also willfully ‘reneged’ and ‘withdrew’ from nuclear disarmament.”
He also highlighted the U.S. military budget that still soars above that of China, arguing that Washington “has spent trillions of dollars to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and expanded the scope of nuclear strikes, thus seriously undermining global strategic security and stability.”
“The world will decide who is doing nuclear madness,” the spokesperson said. “By smearing China and playing the trick of thief crying ‘stop thief,’ the US can only amuse itself and deceive the world.”https://d2f73b4511f718a93f838a1ecb9849ae.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
While both China and the U.S. have denied seeking to pursue a Cold War-style arms race, both they and fellow near-peer competitor Russia have set out to ramp up their capabilities in the nuclear realm.
At the center of this nuclear weapons development are next-generation hypersonic capabilities, including the fielding of boost-glide vehicles capable of better evading existing defense systems. Both the U.S. and Russia have openly begun testing such platforms, and recent reports in the Financial Times have suggested China has also conducted at least two tests this year.READ MORE
November 03, 2021 – 08:00 AM EDT
Iran: Nuclear talks doomed without Biden guarantee
Iran’s top national security official said that talks to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal are doomed without “guarantees” from President Biden.
“The U.S. president, lacking authority, is not ready to give guarantees,” Ali Shamkhani, who heads Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“If the current status quo continues, the result of negotiations is clear,” he continued.
Shamkhani’s comments come as Iran is expected to give a date for rejoining negotiations to return to the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said last week that the country would announce an exact date for returning to negotiations before the end of November.
Talks that began in April for returning to the deal were halted in June after the election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who is a hard-line critic of the West.
As part of the Obama-era deal, Iran agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to inspections in exchange for sanctions relief.
nullFormer President Trump pulled the U.S out of the deal in 2018, saying that it would not stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Tehran stopped complying with the terms of the deal a year later and has said it would not return until the U.S. lifts sanctions put in place under the Trump administration.As Reuters noted, Iran also wants the U.S. to guarantee that it would not backtrack on the agreement again.The U.S., on the other hand, has insisted that Tehran begin complying with the terms of the deal before it gets sanctions relief.nullSecretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the U.S. is looking into “other options” in case Tehran is not “prepared to engage quickly in good faith.”
Written By: Nikhil PandeyNEW DELHI Published: Nov 04, 2021, 01:00 PM(IST)
Nuclear Deterrence Photograph:( Twitter )
Approximately 13,080 nuclear warheads are held by the world’s nuclear-armed powers, with Russia and the United States accounting for nearly 90% of them.There are around 9,600 warheads in military service, with the remainder awaiting disarmament.
India feels confident in its strategic deterrent capabilities, which would be bolstered by the continuing induction of Agni-V missiles and the commissioning of nuclear submarines, despite being behind China and Pakistan in terms of nuclear weapons.
According to a recent analysis in the US-based Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, Pakistan continues to develop its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, delivery systems, and an expanding fissile materials production business.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Beijing the “No. 1” nation-state military challenger to the United States.
WASHINGTON — China is continuing to strengthen its strategic nuclear arsenal and could have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, according to a new Defense Department report released Wednesday.
The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military might estimates that China could have 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and 1,000 three years later. In addition, it warns that China has “possibly already established a nascent nuclear triad with the development of a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile and improvement of its ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities.”
Even with the accelerated nuclear expansion, Beijing is still behind the United States, with its nuclear stockpile of 5,550 warheads, and Russia, which has 6,255, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent organization. China has about 350 nuclear warheads, the organization said.
But Beijing has refused to join arms control talks, arguing that its nuclear arsenal is far smaller than those of the world’s two major nuclear powers. At the same time, it has pursued a broad military modernization program that has raised questions about its intentions.
The American military’s most senior officer said on Wednesday that he views China as the “No. 1” nation-state military challenger to the United States. The comments, by Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a discussion moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum, came a week after he characterized China’s recent launch of a hypersonic weapon designed to evade American defenses as a near “Sputnik” moment, in an allusion to the Soviet launch of a satellite in 1957, which spooked the American public and helped spur the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.
China, General Milley said on Wednesday, is “clearly challenging us regionally, and their aspiration is to challenge us globally.” He added that “they have a China dream, and they want to challenge the so-called liberal rules-based order.”
Asked if the United States could “match” China’s hypersonic capability, General Milley declined to answer. But he said later that “if we in the United States don’t do a fundamental change ourselves, then we will be on the wrong side of a conflict.”Sign Up for On Politics A guide to the political news cycle, cutting through the spin and delivering clarity from the chaos. Get it sent to your inbox.
General Milley said the United States “absolutely” could defend Taiwan from an attack by China if — and that part is a big if — political leaders decided to do so. Such a decision by any American president would be a huge shift, since the United States for decades has followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” that leaves open the question of whether the United States would back Taiwan in a military conflict with China. General Milley did not veer from that policy on Wednesday.
He said he did not expect China to take military action against Taiwan in the next 24 months. But when pressed on whether the Pentagon could defend Taiwan, he said that “we absolutely have the capability to do all kinds of things around the world, to include that, if required.”
On China’s reunification with Taiwan, he added that “the Chinese are clearly and unambiguously building the capability to provide those options to the national leadership if they choose at some point in the future.” China considers Taiwan a breakaway province.
China’s most recent defense strategy, released in 2019, said it would keep its “nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security.” Beijing has also vowed not to use nuclear weapons first or against any non-nuclear state.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Pentagon report makes little mention of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China in 2019 and spread globally, killing more than 5 million people so far and infecting millions more.
The Pentagon report also backs General Milley’s account of his phone calls with his Chinese counterpart in late 2020 to reassure China that the United States under President Donald J. Trump had no intention of attacking. According to the report, the calls came at the direction of Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense at the time, Mark T. Esper, whom Mr. Trump would later fire.U.S.-China RelationsBiden expresses confidence in Milley amid questions about his calls to China.Sept. 15, 2021If China Tested a New Orbital Weapon, It’s Not Much of a SurpriseOct. 19, 2021In First Talks, Dueling Accusations Set Testy Tone for U.S.-China DiplomacyMarch 18, 2021
Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent. She was previously an editor, diplomatic correspondent and White House correspondent, and was part of the team awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for its coverage of the Ebola epidemic. @helenecooper
Hamas: Situation is heading to escalation with Israelhttp://andrewtheprophet.com
September 21, 2021
People hold banners during a protest against Israel’s administrative detention and a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails outside the International Committee of the Red Cross building in Gaza City, Gaza on 1 November 2021. [Mustafa Hassona – Anadolu Agency]November 2, 2021 at 9:29 am
The situation between the Palestinians and Israel is heading towards a military confrontation, member of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Zaher Jabareen, said yesterday.
Speaking to Al Aqsa Radio, Jabareen said: “Tensions inside prisons have been escalating since the escape from Gilboa Prison.”
Jabareen called for the Palestinians to unite and “stand as one body” beside their brothers inside Israeli jails.
“We, the resistance, are monitoring what is going on inside the prisons… We, the resistance, have informed all the countries with which we have relations that this issue [of the prisoners] could cause the situation to deteriorate.”
The Hamas official continued: “We, the resistance and the Palestinian people, cannot stay silent while our prisoners are being hurt.”
Jabareen said that the Palestinian will tirelessly continue their solidarity with prisoners.