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Canadian Arctic nearly loses entire ice shelf

Posted by Admin on October 1, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/canadian-arctic-nearly-loses-entire-ice-shelf-214311365.html

By CHARMAINE NORONHA – Associated Press | AP – 23 hrs ago

TORONTO (AP) — Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in new research.

The loss is important as a marker of global warming, returning the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years, scientists say. Floating icebergs that have broken free as a result pose a risk to offshore oil facilities and potentially to shipping lanes. The breaking apart of the ice shelves also reduces the environment that supports microbial life and changes the look of Canada’s coastline.

Luke Copland is an associate professor in the geography department at the University of Ottawa who co-authored the research. He said the Serson Ice Shelf shrank from 79.15 square miles (205 square kilometers) to two remnant sections three years ago, and was further diminished this past summer.

Copland said the shelf went from a 16-square-mile (42-square-kilometer) floating glacier tongue to 9.65 square miles (25 square kilometers), and the second section from 13.51 square miles (35 square kilometers) to 2 square miles (7 square kilometers), off Ellesmere Island‘s northern coastline.

This past summer, Ward Hunt Ice Shelf‘s central area disintegrated into drifting ice masses, leaving two separate ice shelves measuring 87.65 and 28.75 square miles (227 and 74 square kilometers) respectively, reduced from 131.7 square miles (340 square kilometers) the previous year.

“It has dramatically broken apart in two separate areas and there’s nothing in between now but water,” said Copland.

Copland said those two losses are significant, especially since the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has always been the biggest, the farthest north and the one scientists thought might have been the most stable.

“Recent (ice shelf) loss has been very rapid, and goes hand-in-hand with the rapid sea ice decline we have seen in this decade and the increasing warmth and extensive melt in the Arctic regions,” said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, remarking on the research.

Copland, who uses satellite imagery and who has conducted field work in the Arctic every May for the past five years, said since the end of July, pieces equaling one and a half times the size of Manhattan Island have broken off. Co-researcher Derek Mueller, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s geography and environmental studies department, said the loss this past summer equals up to three billion tons. Copland said their findings have not yet been peer reviewed since the research is new, but a number of scientists contacted by The Associated Press reviewed the findings, agreeing the loss in volume of ice shelves is significant.

Scambos said the loss of the Arctic shelves is significant because they are old and their rapid loss underscores the severity of the warming trend scientists see now relative to past fluctuations such as the Medieval Warm Period or the warmer times in the pre-Current Era (B.C.).

Ice shelves, which began forming at least 4,500 years ago, are much thicker than sea ice, which is typically less than a few feet (meters) thick and survives up to several years.

Canada has the most extensive ice shelves in the Arctic along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island. These floating ice masses are typically 131 feet (40 meters) thick (equivalent to a 10-story building), but can be as much as 328 feet (100 meters) thick. They thickened over time via snow and sea ice accumulation, along with glacier inflow in certain places.

The northern coast of Ellesmere Island contains the last remaining ice shelves in Canada, with an estimated area of 217 square miles (563 square kilometers), Mueller said.

Between 1906 and 1982, there has been a 90 percent reduction in the areal extent of ice shelves along the entire coastline, according to data published by W.F. Vincent at Quebec’s Laval University. The former extensive “Ellesmere Island Ice Sheet” was reduced to six smaller, separate ice shelves: Serson, Petersen, Milne, Ayles, Ward Hunt and Markham. In 2005, the Ayles Ice Shelf whittled almost completely away, as did the Markham Ice Shelf in 2008 and the Serson this year.

“The impact is significant and yet only a piece of the ongoing and accelerating response to warming of the Arctic,” said Dr. Robert Bindschadler, emeritus scientist at the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Bindschadler said the loss is an indication of another threshold being passed, as well as the likely acceleration of buttressed glaciers able to flow faster into the ocean, which accelerates their contribution to global sea level.

Copland said mean winter temperatures have risen by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade for the past five to six decades on northern Ellesmere Island.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects in paragraph 3 that Serson Ice Shelf shrank to two remant sections three years ago, not five years ago; and in paragraph 13 the size of the last remaining ice shelves in Canada. Minor style edits, For global distribution.)

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Fukushima and the Battle for Truth

Posted by Admin on September 30, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26798

Large sectors of the Japanese population are accumulating significant levels of internal contamination
Global Research, September 27, 2011
- 2011-09-26
Fukushima’s nuclear disasteris a nightmare. Ghostly releases of radioactivity haunt the Japanese countryside. Lives, once safe, are now beset by an ineffable scourge promising vile illness and death.Large sectors of the population are accumulating significant levels of internal contamination, setting the stage for a public healthtragedy.A subtle increase in the number of miscarriages and fetal deaths will be the first manifestation that something is amiss. An elevated incidence of birth defects will begin in the Fall and continue into the indefinite future. Thyroid diseases, cardiac diseases and elevated rates of infant and childhood leukemia will follow. Over the next decade and beyond, cancer rates will soar.


Chernobyl was the harbinger of this heartbreaking scenario. It taught mankind the inescapable biological truths that emerge within populations internally contaminated by heightened levels of fission products. And yet, government and industry schemers attack these truths as unfounded scare-mongering. With cold indifference, they deny that Chernobyl was a mass casualty event. They turn a blind eye to a huge body of research and deviously proclaim that no evidence exists that more than a handful of people suffered harm from the Ukrainian disaster. They publish propaganda, draped in the guise of science, that dismisses the hazard of low levels of internal contamination. Believing their subterfuge to have been successful and intoxicated by their hubris, they are already positioning themselves to stage-manage the public’s perception of Fukushima. 

Japan’s government, its Nuclear Safety Commission, and the Tokyo Electric  Power Company have already demonstrated that they will do everything in their power to keep citizens ignorant of what is taking place. The emerging health crisis is scheduled to be erased. Following a time-tested blueprint worked out by prior radiation releases around the world, data relevant to assessing the medical impact of the accident will not be gathered. Radiation doses to the population will be woefully underestimated. The hazards associated with low levels of internal contamination will be obliterated from all discussions of risk. Academic journals that support the nuclear agenda will be flooded with bogus studies demonstrating that no health detriment was suffered by the population. The heightened incidence of childhood leukemia will be attributed to some as yet unidentified virus unleashed by population mixing following the evacuations caused by the tsunami. (This theory is currently in vogue to deny that the heightened incidence of leukemia among children under five years of age living nearby to nuclear reactors is radiation induced.)  The birth defects will be summarily dismissed as impossible because the risk models upheld by the International Commission on Radiological Protection don’t predict them. The possibility that the models are fraudulently constructed escapes consideration. (See a Betrayal of Mankind by the Radiation Protection Agencies, available as a free download at http://www.du-deceptions.com/excerpts.html.)

How is TRUTH to gain ascendancy when blocked by this institutionalized matrix of deceit? What agency can possibly take the lead to accurately document the full scope of the disaster, identify its victims and those at risk, and publish trustworthy public health information? Who is going to take responsibility to protect the children? To wait for the government to come to the rescue is naive. The history of radiation accidents testifies that governments routinely betray their citizens in deference to their nuclear weapons program and the nuclear industry. No, only one alternative is open to the people of Japan. They must become proactive. They must seize the initiative and wrest control from government and industry of the “perception” of the catastrophe. 


The accident at Fukushima demands that a peoples’ campaign be initiated to produce an honest assessment of the current situation, catalog the medical consequences as they emerge, and offer accurate advice as to how citizens can protect themselves. Using the internet as a platform, scientists from all relevant disciplines must band together with interested laypeople with something valid to contribute to create a widely distributed open source research project. The evolving online encyclopedia will archive all pertinent data and preserve it from future tampering. The accident from its inception must be documented. With published reports frequently in conflict with one another, all available information, whether from government sources, citizen investigators or eyewitnesses, must be gathered for future evaluation. Worldwide meteorological data since March 11 must be assembled. All official and unofficial measurements of radiation in the environment, both in Japan and worldwide, must be collected and collated. This is essential information required for future epidemiological studies. Contaminated agricultural areas must be identified. Samples of all edible material for human and animal consumption must be evaluated for safety. As suspected radiation-induced illness begins to appear in the population, healthcare providers and victims must make public their experiences. Initially, this information will be anecdotal but nonetheless invaluable. It will identify emerging trends of morbidity and mortality and define population subgroups requiring more systematic scientific investigation.   Researchers working alone or in groups must seize the initiative to pursue study in their fields of expertise and interest. (One excellent suggestion by Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility is the widespread collection of babies’ teeth to provide objective data on the geographic dispersion and uptake of strontium-90 [1].) Methodologies, data and results need be posted online as they become available. Free access to the whole body of work must be guaranteed so as to allow scrutiny by people from all over the world. Transparency must be paramount. An open dialogue will allow divergent points of view to be fairly represented. Disagreements over research protocols or the interpretation of results will point the way to new avenues of investigation where clarification and consensus might be achieved. Objective investigation via the scientific method will be the final arbitrator of truth. The ultimate goal of this effort will be to produce an unbiased determination of the public health consequences of radiation released into the environment, assess the accuracy of current standards of radiation safety and identify how improvements can be made for the common welfare of humanity.

It is urgent that this initiative commence immediately. Data must be captured while it is remains untainted. Of particular importance is the securing of pre-accident health statistics for the population of Japan. Rates for various pregnancy outcomes; the frequency of different types of birth defects; the incidence of thyroid diseases, heart diseases, cancers and so forth, all must be cataloged. There is good reason why this baseline data need be preserved. The history of radiation accidents is littered with examples of the outright falsification of data that has prevented an honest evaluation of the effects of low levels of internal contamination on human health. For instance, evidence exists that morbidity and mortality data published by the U.S. Government’s Public Health Service was altered in the wake of radiation releases from nuclear weapon production facilities and commercial nuclear power plants so as to hide cancer deaths in the population [2]. The accident at Three Mile Island, persistently painted by government and industry spokesmen as a benign event, in fact produced illness and death among humans and farm animals downwind [3,4]. After the accident at Chernobyl, hundreds of thousands of so-called “liquidators” participated in cleanup operations in close proximity to the destroyed reactor and also built a concrete sarcophagus around the reactor building to entomb the radiation. According to the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), in subsequent years this population was reported as having a lower rate of leukemia than the general population. Only later did it come to light that Soviet doctors were forbidden from recording leukemia in their diagnoses [5]. The Wales Cancer Registry was cited by the ECRR as excising cases of cancer from its database so as to prevent the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in the U.K. from being blamed for causing illness to the population. Also mentioned by ECRR was the alteration of infant mortality figures in Germany after Chernobyl so as to mask the impact of the accident on public health [5].

Mischief has not been confined to falsifying health records. In 1957, a fire broke out in the graphite reactor at Windscale, England on the site now occupied by the Sellafield facility. The amount of radiation released and the incidence of cancer induced in the population of Ireland has remained fiercely contentious issues. According to the ECRR, at some point after the fire, meteorological records were altered “with the apparent motive of concealing the likely location of any effects” [5]. Similarly, the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Japan suffered a devastating fire in 1995. Prefecture and city officials found that the operator had tampered with video images of the fire to hide the scale of the disaster [6].     

If an accurate documentation of the health consequences of Fukushima is to succeed, one condition is paramount: the project MUST retain its independence from the international agencies that currently dominate the discussion of radiation effects. The tacit mandate of these organizations is to support nuclear weapons programs and the nuclear industry, and they do so by publishing fraudulent scientific studies that downplay the hazards to health of radioactive material released into the environment. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and other UN organizations jointly published Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-economic Impacts [7].  This study is routinely cited as proof that Chernobyl had little impact on public health. It concluded that only twenty-eight first responders died from acute radiation syndrome and 4,000 children developed thyroid cancer, fifteen of whom died by 2002. In addition, it estimated that an additional 4,000 fatal cancers might arise in the overall population. This sanitized version of the catastrophe was reached by the devious method of consulting only 350 sources of information, mostly published in English, while ignoring  30,000 publications and 170,000 sources of information available in languages other than English [8]. A summary of this large body of literature, published as Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, concluded that radiation-induced casualties approached 980,000 [9].

To offer a second example, a number of prestigious institutions have published disinformation on the hazards to health of depleted uranium weapons. These include WHO, IAEA, the European Commission, the Royal Society in the U.K., the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in the U.S., the Rand Corporation, and the Health Physics Society [10,11,12,13,14,15,16]. All concluded that weaponized uranium creates no adverse health effects when internalized by soldiers on the battlefield and downwind populations. Justification for this conclusion came from a survey of the scientific literature regarding uranium contamination among workers in the uranium and nuclear industries and populations exposed to elevated levels of uranium in their drinking water. Historically, the only two types of adverse health effects documented among these populations is altered kidney function due to uranium’s chemical toxicity and cancer due to uranium’s radioactivity. But studies of veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome reveals no evidence of kidney disease. And according to models promulgated by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the radiation dose from battlefield uranium is too low to initiate cancer. The conclusion? Case closed! DU cannot be a factor in the severe suffering of veterans or the increased incidence of cancer and birth defects in Fallujah and other areas of Iraq. As convincing as the logic of these studies attempt to be, they all suffer from fatal flaws. They all fail to acknowledge that combustion-derived micro- and nano-sized particles of uranium have unique biokinetics when internalized that are not comparable to historical types of uranium exposure, and they quit cleverly fail to take into account the most up-to-date research on the toxicology of uranium. New research conducted since the first Gulf War has demonstrated that uranium is genotoxic (capable of damaging DNA), cytotoxic (poisonous to cells), mutagenic (capable of inducing mutations), teratogenic (capable of interfering with normal embryonic development) and neurotoxic (capable of harming nerve tissue).  This research has yet to dislodge the stale mantra that uranium is only capable of causing kidney disease and cancer. (For a thorough disclosure of the fraudulent science used to discount the hazards of DU and a summary of recent research on the toxicology of uranium, see this author’s “The Harlot of Babylon Unmasked: Fraudulent Science and the Cover-Up of the Health Effects of Depleted   Uranium”  in   A   Primer   in   the   Art   of   Deception   available   at

Mischief also infects the radiation protection community. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima conducts ongoing medical research on the health of the survivors of the atomic bombings at the end of WWII. The Life Span Study is the single most important piece of evidence used by the ICRP for setting worldwide guidelines for radiation safety. That radiation safety for all types of exposure and all manner of radiation-induced illnesses relies so heavily on this research is incredibly disturbing because the Life Span Study is deeply and irreparably flawed. Initiated five years after the bombings, after tens of thousands of victims succumbed to unidentified levels of radiation exposure, results are hopelessly skewed in favor of finding radiation less hazardous than it in fact is.  Further, the study can provide no meaningful information on the birth outcomes to fetuses exposed in utero.  More problematic is the fact that both the study and the control groups were internally contaminated by the black rain that showered down upon the destroyed cities after the blasts. This unacknowledged contamination of the control group hopelessly compromises any meaningful conclusions of the rates of radiation-induced illnesses in the study group. The Life Span Study is plagued by numerous other flaws that raise serious questions as to why it has become the centerpiece of radiation standards. (For further information on this topic, consult Exhibit C in the aforementioned free download at http://www.du-deceptions.com/downloads/Betrayal_Chap6.pdf.)

The Japanese have been victimized by nuclear horror more than any other people on Earth. Today they are immersed in an imperceptible tragedy that will slowly but inevitably bring disease and heartbreak to millions. In response to this crime, a rare and courageous opportunity exists. By undertaking a national campaign to honestly document the disaster that is engulfing them, they can  lead all of humanity to break through the quagmire of deception and deceit that has allowed nuclear weapons and reactors to flourish. Truth finally has an opportunity to triumph over falsehood. In some small but significant way, this would be fitting repayment for the malevolence of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima. 


Paul Zimmerman is the author of A Primer in the Art of Deception:  The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science.  A more technical, fully referenced presentation of the fraudulent nature of current radiation standards and the coverup of the effects of depleted uranium weapons can be found within its pages. Excerpts, free to download, are available at www.du-deceptions.com.

Notes

[1]  Gordon Edwards. Tepco Confirms the Presence of Radioactive Plutonium and Strontium Contamination. Email newsletter from Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition of Nuclear Responsibility (http://www.ccnr.org/). September 4, 2011. 
[2]  Jay Gould, Benjamin Goldman. Deadly Deceit: Low Level Radiation, High Level Cover-Up. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows; 1990.
[3] Sue Sturgis. “Fooling with Disaster? Startling Revelations About Three Mile Island Raise New Doubts Over Nuclear Plant Safety.” Counterpunch. April 3-5, 2009.http://www.counterpunch.org/sturgis04032009.html
[4]  Katagiri Mitsuru, Aileen M. Smith. Three Mile Island: The People’s Testament. (1989), a series of interviews with approximately 250 Three Mile Island (TMI) area residents from 1979 to 1988. 
[5]  European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk: the Health Effects of Ionising Radiation Exposure at Low Doses for Radiation Protection Purposes. Regulators’ Edition.  Brussels; 2003. www.euradcom.org
[6]  Hiroko Tabuchi. Japan Strains to Fix a Reactor Damaged Before Quake. New York Times. June 17, 2011.
[7]  The Chernobyl Forum. Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental
and Socio-economic Impacts. Austria: International Atomic Energy Agency; April, 2006. http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Booklets/Chernobyl/chernobyl.pdf
[8]  Janette D. Sherman. Chernobyl, 25 Years Later. CounterPunch. March 4-6, 2011. http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/03/04/chernobyl-25-years-later/
[9]  A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko. Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature.  The New York Academy of Science. 2009.http://books.google.com/books/about/Chernobyl.html?id=g34tNlYOB3AC 
[10]  World Health Organization (WHO). Depleted Uranium: Sources, Exposure and Health Effects. Department of Protection of the Human Environment. WHO/SDE/PHE/01.1. Geneva: WHO; 2001.
[11]  International Atomic Energy Agency. Features: Depleted Uranium.
[12]  European Commission, Directorate General of Environment. Opinion of the Group of Experts Established According to Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty: Depleted Uranium. March 6, 2001.
[13]  Royal Society. Health Hazards of Depleted Uranium Munitions: Part I. London: Royal Society, March 2002. http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2001/10023.pdf
        Royal Society. Health Hazards of Depleted Uranium Munitions: Part II. London: Royal Society, March 2002. http://royalsociety.org/policy/publications/2002/health-uranium-munitions-ii/
[14]  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Toxicological Profile for Uranium. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 1999.
[15]  Naomi H. Harley, Ernest C. Foulkes, Lee H. Hilborne, Arlene Hudson, C.R. Anthony. A Review of the Scientific Literature as it Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses: Volume 7 – Depleted Uranium. Santa Monica: Rand National Defense Research Institute; 1999. 
[16] Health Physics Society.  http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q746.html 
[17]  Paul Zimmerman. A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science. 2009.  http://www.du-deceptions.com/  
Global Research Articles by Paul Zimmerman

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Inside Fukushima

Posted by Admin on August 20, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/aug/20/fukushima-interactive-guide

Earlier this month, Kazuma Obara became the first photojournalist to gain unauthorised access to the power plant and produced an exclusive glimpse of life inside the facility

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Special Report: How Indonesia crippled its own climate change

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/special-report-indonesia-crippled-own-climate-change-065209503.html

By David Fogarty | Reuters – 57 mins ago

Birute Mary Galdikas, the founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), visits a feeding station at OFI's orangutan care and quarantine centre in Pangkalan Bun in the province of Central Kalimantan in this undated handout photo courtesy of InfiniteEARTH.

Birute Mary Galdikas, the founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), visits a feeding station at OFI's orangutan care and quarantine centre in Pangkalan Bun in the province of Central Kalimantan in this undated handout photo courtesy of InfiniteEARTH. REUTERS/InfiniteEARTH/Handout

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – In July 2010, U.S. investor Todd Lemons and Russian energy giant Gazprom believed they were just weeks from winning final approval for a landmark forest preservation project in Indonesia.

A year later, the project is close to collapse, a casualty of labyrinthine Indonesian bureaucracy, opaque laws and a secretive palm oil company.

The Rimba Raya project, on the island of Borneo, is part of a United Nations-backed scheme designed to reward poorer nations that protect their carbon-rich jungles.

Deep peat in some of Indonesia’s rainforests stores billions of tonnes of carbon so preserving those forests is regarded as crucial in the fight against climate change.

By putting a value on the carbon, the 90,000-hectare (225,000 acre) project would help prove that investors can turn a profit from the world’s jungles in ways that do not involve cutting them down.

After three years of work, more than $2 million in development costs, and what seemed like the green light from Jakarta, the project is proof that saving the world’s tropical rainforests will be far more complicated than simply setting up a framework to allow market forces to function.

A Reuters investigation into the case also shows the forestry ministry is highly skeptical about a market for forest carbon credits, placing it at odds with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who supports pay-and-preserve investments to fight climate change.

Hong Kong-based Lemons, 47, a veteran of environmentally sustainable, and profitable, projects, discovered just how frustrating the ministry can be to projects such as his.

“Success was literally two months around the corner,” he said. “We went through — if there are 12 steps, we went through the first 11 on time over a 2-year period. We had some glitches, but by and large we went through the rather lengthy and complicated process in the time expected.”

That’s when the forestry ministry decided to slash the project’s area in half, making it unviable, and handing a large chunk of forested deep peatland to a palm oil company for development.

The case is a stark reminder to Norway’s government, the world’s top donor to projects to protect tropical forests, on just how tough it will be to preserve Indonesia’s rainforests under its $1 billion climate deal with Jakarta.

UNLIMITED CORRUPTION

The dispute has turned a spotlight on Indonesia’s forestry ministry, which earns $15 billion a year in land permit fees from investors. Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said last month it will investigate the granting of forest permits and plans to crack down on corruption in the resources sector.

“It’s a source of unlimited corruption,” said Chandra M. Hamzah, deputy chairman at the KPK.

Indonesia Corruption Watch, a private watchdog, says illegal logging and violations in issuing forest use permits are rampant. It estimates ill-gotten gains total about 20 trillion rupiah ($2.3 billion) each year.

A forest ministry official connected with the U.N.-backed forest carbon offset scheme was sentenced in April to three years in prison for accepting a $10,000 bribe to ensure an Indonesian company won a procurement tender.

Wandojo Siswanto was one of the negotiators for Indonesia’s delegation at the 2009 U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, despite being a bribery suspect. His case has highlighted concerns about the capacity of the forestry ministry to manage forest-carbon projects.

The forestry sector has a long history of mismanagement and graft. Former trade and industry minister Bob Hasan, a timber czar during the Suharto years, was fined 50 billion rupiah ($7 million) for ordering the burning of forests in Sumatra and then imprisoned in a separate case of forestry fraud after Suharto was toppled from power in 1998.

In an interview in Jakarta, senior forestry ministry officials denied any wrongdoing in the Rimba Raya case and criticized the project’s backers for a deal they made with Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, to market the project’s carbon credits.

Internal forestry ministry documents that Reuters obtained show how the ministry reversed its support for the project after a new minister came in, and a large chunk of the project’s land was turned over to a palm oil firm.

The case illustrates how growing demand for land, bureaucratic hurdles and powerful vested interests are major obstacles to conservation projects in Indonesia and elsewhere in the developing world.

That makes it hard for these projects to compete and navigate through multiple layers of government with the potential for interference and delay.

“We have systematically not been able to demonstrate that we can complete the loop to turn projects into dollar investments,” said Andrew Wardell, program director, forests and governance, at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia.

“Which is why the palm oil industry is winning hands down every time.”

SHOWCASE PROJECT

The Rimba Raya project was meant to save a large area of carbon-rich peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan province and showcase Jakarta’s efforts to fight climate change.

Much of the area is dense forest that lies atop oozy black peat flooded by tea-colored water. Dozens of threatened or endangered species such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, otter civets and Borneo bay cats live in the area, which is adjacent to a national park.

Rimba Raya was designed to be part of the U.N’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program. The idea is simple: every tonne of carbon locked away in the peat and soaked up by the trees would earn a steady flow of carbon credits.

Profit from the sale of those credits would go to project investors and partners, local communities and the Indonesian government. That would allow the project to pay its way and compete with palm oil farmers and loggers who might otherwise destroy it.

Rich countries and big companies can buy the credits to offset their emissions.

By preserving a large area of peat swamp forest, Rimba Raya was projected to cut carbon emissions by nearly 100 million tonnes over its 30-year life, which would translate into total saleable credits of about $500 million, Gazprom says.

It would also be a sanctuary for orphaned or rehabilitated orangutans from elsewhere in Borneo. Rimba Raya teamed up with the founder of Orangutan Foundation International, Birute Mary Galdikas, in which OFI would receive a steady income from annual carbon credit sales.

It was the sort of project President Yudhoyono and Norway have pledged to support. Yudhoyono has put forests — Indonesia is home to the world’s third-largest forest lands — at the center of a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2020.

He tasked a senior adviser to press for reforms to make REDD projects easier and for greater transparency at the forestry ministry.

GOLD STANDARD

Rimba Raya was poised for success. It got backing from the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative, which helped pay for some of the early costs. Gazprom invested more than $1 million.

It was the first in the world to meet stringent REDD project rules under the Washington-based Voluntary Carbon Standard, an industry-respected body that issues carbon credits. Rimba Raya was also the first to earn a triple-gold rating under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, a separate verifier.

Companies including German insurer Allianz and Japanese telecoms giant NTT pledged to buy credits from the project if it gets its license.

In December 2009, the forestry ministry tentatively named the now Indonesian-registered company PT Rimba Raya Conservation the license holder for nearly 90,000 ha, contingent on it passing an environmental impact assessment. It did so a few months later.

The ownership of PT Rimba Raya Conservation is split 70 percent foreign and 30 percent Indonesian, with Lemons and business partner Jim Procanik holding small stakes.

Lemons is CEO of Hong Kong-based firm InfiniteEARTH, which is the developer and manager of the Rimba Raya project as well as investment fund-raiser. Procanik, 44, is the managing director.

In June last year, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan asked for a map that would set the final boundary of the project, according to a copy of the instruction seen by Reuters. This mandatory step normally takes a few weeks. Once the map is issued, a project is eligible for a license to operate.

But by September last year it was clear something was wrong, according to Lemons. Despite repeated promises by ministry officials, the final map had not been issued. No explanations were given.

“No one has ever said, ‘No’. So that’s exhausting,” said Lemons.

What followed instead was a series of steps by the forestry ministry that have resulted in the project being undermined.

A ministry review focused on conflicting claims to the land by several companies belonging to palm oil firm, PT Best Group.

PT Best, which is run by Indonesian brothers Winarto and Winarno Tjajadi, had long coveted the peat land within the area the forestry ministry set aside for the Rimba Raya project.

On December 31, 2010, PT Best was granted 6,500 ha of peat swamp land for palm oil development, next to a smaller parcel of deep peat land granted a year earlier — part of PT Best’s broader plan to connect its palm oil plantations in the north with a port on the coast nearby. The land granted last December was part of the original area set aside for Rimba Raya.

The Tjajadi brothers declined several requests by Reuters to comment.

The December allocation to PT Best came despite assurances from Forestry Minister Hasan that he would not allow deep peatlands to be converted for agriculture.

The allocation also came a day before a two-year moratorium on issuing licenses to clear primary forests and peat lands was due to start on January 1 this year. The moratorium is a key part of the climate deal with Norway.

After months of delay, the forestry ministry finally ruled that PT Rimba Raya was only eligible for 46,000 ha, a decision that cut out much of the peatlands covering nearly half the original project area.

OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATES

The case has now been brought before the office of the Indonesian government’s Ombudsman. In an interview, senior Ombudsman Dominikus Fernandes told Reuters he believed the forestry ministry should issue the license to Rimba Raya.

“If Rimba Raya has already fulfilled the criteria, there should not be a delay in issuing the license,” he said.

“This is a model project in Indonesia that should be prioritized. If we don’t give an example on the assurance of investing in Indonesia, that’s not a good thing.”

Officials from the forestry ministry, in a lengthy interview with Reuters, said the area was given legally for palm oil development because PT Best had claims to the land dating back to 2005.

Secretary-General of the ministry Hadi Daryanto stressed the peatland areas originally granted to Rimba Raya were on a type of forest called convertible production forest, which can be used for agriculture but not REDD projects. Handing that nearly 40,000 ha to Rimba Raya would be against the law, he said.

Yet in 2009, the ministry was ordered to make the title switch for this same area of peatland so it could be used for a REDD project. The instruction to immediately make the switch, a bureaucratic formality, was never acted on.

In the Oct 2009 decree seen by Reuters, former Forestry Minister H.M.S. Kaban issued the order as part of a broader instruction setting aside the nearly 90,000 ha for ecosystem restoration projects. Kaban left office soon after.

Indonesian law also bans any clearing of peat lands more than 3 meters deep. An assessment of the Rimba Raya area by a peat expert hired by InfiniteEARTH showed the peat is 3 to 7 meters deep, so in theory was out of bounds for PT Best to clear for agriculture.

For Lemons, 47, the mood has switched from exhilaration to bitter disappointment. “We’ve been here every day pushing like hell from every angle,” he said.

Procanik says the disappointment is personal. “Todd and I have both invested what savings we had for our kids’ college education in this project,” he said.

Gazprom is also upset.

In a letter dated June 16 to the Indonesian government, the Russian firm criticized the ministry’s failure to issue the license for Rimba Raya and threatened to abandon clean-energy projects in Indonesia estimated to be worth more than $100 million in foreign investment. The government has yet to respond.

CARBON DREAMS?

Secretary-General Daryanto and Iman Santoso, Director-General for forestry business management, said another major problem was InfiniteEARTH’s deal with Gazprom, which was made in the absence of any license.

“We didn’t know about the contract with Gazprom. They had no legal right to make the contract,” Daryanto told Reuters.

Santoso described it as the project’s “fatal mistake.”

Daryanto also questioned whether REDD would ever work and whether there was any global appetite for carbon credits the program generates, a view at odds with other parts of the Indonesian government, which has been actively supporting REDD projects.

“Who will pay for the dream of Rimba Raya? Who will pay? Nobody, sir!” Daryanto told Reuters during an interview in the heavily forested ministry compound near central Jakarta.

Lemons said the Gazprom deal was explained in person during a presentation of a 300-page technical proposal submitted to the ministry to prove the project would be financially viable. Daryanto was among a ministry panel that approved the proposal.

“One of their biggest concerns was whether REDD could deliver the same revenues to the state as other land-use permits such as palm oil, logging, mining. We were required to show contracts that demonstrated we could pay the fees and annual royalties,” he said.

Gazprom, designated as the sole marketer of carbon credits from Rimba Raya, said it had already agreed long-term sales contracts with buyers at between 7 and 8 euros ($10 to $11.40) per tonne — contingent on the license being issued.

“We’ve sold to four or five companies around that price,” said Dan Barry, Gazprom Marketing & Trading’s London-based global director of clean energy.

Gazprom became involved, he said, because it was a project that looked to have official support. The Russian company agreed to a financing mechanism that ensured the project’s viability for 30 years, regardless of the price level of carbon markets.

Those markets, centered on the European and U.N. carbon trading programs, were valued at $142 billion in 2010, the World Bank says. National carbon trading schemes are planned for Australia and South Korea, while California is planning a state-based scheme from 2013. New Zealand’s carbon market started in 2008.

“If you ever want a successful REDD scheme, you are going to have to have a process that people believe in,” Barry said.

“The Ministry of Forestry ought to be doing everything it can to support a program that benefits forestry as opposed to favor a program that’s there to cut it down and turn it into palm oil.”

“AHEAD OF ITS TIME”

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the REDD task force in Indonesia who is also in charge of the president’s government reforms unit, said the Rimba Raya case highlighted deep flaws in the bureaucracy and the need for sweeping reforms to underpin the 40 other REDD projects in Indonesia.

“The core concern is the trust in government statements of readiness, and responsibility,” he told Reuters in an email. “Even with the best of intentions, the unsynchronous action of the central government’s ministry and the district government’s action is not conducive for investment, especially in this new kind of venture.

“I can surmise that the case of Rimba Raya is a case of a business idea that is ahead of its time. The government infrastructure is insufficiently ready for it.”

Legal action was one solution to this case, he added.

That is a path Lemons and Procanik may eventually take but for now they have proposed a land swap deal with PT Best in which the firm gives PT Rimba Raya 9,000 ha of peat land in return for a similar sized piece of non-peat land held by PT Rimba Raya in the north of the project near other PT Best landholdings.

PT Best rejected an earlier offer by Rimba Raya of 9 percent of the credits from the project, Lemons said.

Based on recent satellite images, PT Best has yet to develop the disputed 9,000 ha area.

The delays mean it is too late for Rimba Raya to become the world’s first project to issue REDD credits. That accolade has since gone to a Kenyan project.

“Our whole point here is to show host countries that REDD can pay its way,” said Lemons. “And if it can’t pay its way then we haven’t proven anything.”

In a sign a resolution could still be possible, Ombudsman Fernandes, Forestry Minister Hasan and PT Rimba Raya are scheduled to meet on Aug 19.

(Additional reporting by Olive Rondonuwu and Yayat Supriatna in Jakarta and Harry Suhartono in Singapore; Editing by Simon Webb, Simon Robinson and Bill Tarrant)

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U.N. flies food into famine-hit Somali capital

Posted by Admin on July 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-flies-food-famine-hit-somali-capital-175012420.html

By Abdi Sheikh | Reuters – 29 mins ago

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – The United Nations airlifted emergency food for starving children into the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday as aid groups warned of a growing influx of hungry families from the famine-hit south of the country.

Some 3.7 million Somalis — almost half of the population — are going hungry with drought hitting some 11.6 million people across what local media have dubbed a “triangle of death” straddling Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Though the U.N. food agency had already distributed food in the capital, this is its first airlift of food into Somalia since the food crisis began.

“We need to scale up our programs, and especially the nutrition programs, in order to avoid children falling into severe malnutrition,” Stephanie Savariaud, a U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman, told Reuters.

“Then they need to get hospitalized and it’s much more difficult to save them.”

The U.N. plane carried 10 tonnes of so-called therapeutic food — the type used to feed malnourished children under five. The shipment will feed 3,500 children for a month, WFP said.

The agency said it has an additional 70 tonnes ready in Kenya, which it will fly to Somalia over the coming days.

Aid agencies say they cannot reach more than two million Somalis facing starvation in the parts of the country where Islamist militants control much of the worst-hit areas.

WFP officials have said they will try to deliver food to the areas controlled by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels over the next week and that they will consider food drops from aircrafts as a last resort.

There are about 400,000 displaced people in the capital Mogadishu, with about 1,000 new arrivals each day, the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement on Tuesday. It estimated that 100,000 internally displaced people have arrived in the city over the last two months.

People in makeshift settlements are fighting over food being distributed by local charities, with the weaker ones unable to push through the crowds to get it, UNHCR said.

“Even if people are able to obtain the food and water being distributed, they often lack even the most basic containers to carry it. Often, they must haul food and water in plastic bags,” UNHCR said.

The WFP has set up 16 feeding centers across the capital, providing hot meals to new arrivals using supplies delivered by sea from Kenya and Tanzania.

Boats are continuing to shift food in but they can take months to arrive. They are escorted by the European Naval Force to Somalia to deter pirate attacks.

(Additional reporting and writing by Katy Migiro in Nairobi; Editing by Barry Malone and Elizabeth Fullerton)

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World Population to Hit Seven Billion by October

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25562

Global Research, July 8, 2011
IPS
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7, 2011 (IPS) – The United Nations commemorates World Population Day next week against the backdrop of an upcoming landmark event: global population hitting the seven billion mark by late October this year.According to current projections, and with some of the world’s poorest nations doubling their populations in the next decade, the second milestone will be in 2025: an eight billion population over the next 14 years. Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), told IPS seven billion represents a challenge, an opportunity and a call to action. 

On 

World Population Day Jul. 11, he will be launching a campaign called “7 Billion Actions”. “It will engage people on what it means to live in a world with seven billion people and encourage action on issues that affect all of us,” he added. 

Together, he said, “we can forge the future with young people, advance rights for girls and women, and safeguard the natural resources on which we all depend.” 

The rise in population is expected to have a devastating impact on some 215 million women who want – but do not have – access to quality reproductive health and family planning services. 

Tamara Kreinin, executive director of 

Women and Population at the U.N. Foundation, told IPS, “With the world’s population poised to cross the seven billion mark in October 2011 and continue to grow over several more decades, this unmet need is only likely to increase.” She said the quality and availability of family planning services is instrumental in interrupting the inter-generational cycle of poverty and creating stronger, more stable families and communities. 

Investing in voluntary family planning programmes gives women the tools to make critical decisions about the size of their families and spacing of their pregnancies, she noted. 

Kreinin said meeting the need for family planning would result in a 32-percent decrease in maternal deaths, and reduce infant mortality by 10 percent. 

Dr. Osotimehin told IPS protecting reproductive health and rights “is fundamental to our collective future and sustainable development”. 

“Together, we can meet the needs of some 215 million women in developing countries who want to plan and space their births but do not have access to modern contraception,” he said. “Together, we can prevent the deaths of 1,000 women every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.” 

He said there is also an opportunity and responsibility to invest in the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth aged 10 to 24. 

They constitute more than a quarter of the world’s population and almost 90 percent live in developing countries. 

“Every young person deserves education, including sexuality education, and access to comprehensive health services,” he noted. 

With the right policies, investments and social support, young people can enjoy healthier lives free of poverty and enhance prospects for peace and stability, he added. 

“As the most interconnected population, young people are already transforming society, politics and culture. By more actively engaging women and young people, we can build a better future for all generations,” Dr. Osotimehin declared. 

The world’s five most populous countries are China (1.3 billion), India (1.2 billion), the United States (310.2 million), Indonesia (242.9 million) and Brazil (201.1 million). 

A 

new study titled “Africa’s Demographic Multiplication”, released last month and commissioned by the Washington-based Globalist Research Center, points out that Africa’s population has more than tripled during the second half of the 20th century, growing from 230 million to 811 million. As a result, Africa has become more populous than Europe. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country at 158 million, is expected to grow to 730 million by century’s end, making it larger than Europe’s projected population of 675 million. 

Nigeria is currently the only African country with a population exceeding 100 million. 

But 10 other countries in the African continent are expected to join that club before the close of the century: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. 

Jose Miguel Guzman, chief of the UNFPA’s Population and Development Branch, told IPS that globally, the population growth rate is not as high as it has been in the past. 

Fertility decline in most countries of the world has contributed to a decline in population growth rates. 

“But if we take into consideration least developed countries (LDCs) or most of the sub-Saharan countries, the situation is quite different,” Guzman said. 

In most of these countries, he said, fertility is still high, and the rate of growth is also high. 

In some cases, it is as high as three percent, which implies that the population in these areas will double in about 20 to 25 years. 

The date for the eight billion population milestone is projected now to be 2025, he predicted. 

Kreinin told IPS that in many countries, every dollar spent on voluntary family planning saves at least four dollars that would otherwise be spent treating complications arising from unplanned pregnancies. 

Despite the low cost and many benefits of voluntary family planning, world leaders have not placed a priority on its funding. 

Emerging countries are spending about half of what they pledged at the historic 1994 International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) for reproductive health spending, while developed countries, including the U.S., have provided less than a quarter of the promised spending, she added. 

She said U.S. investment in international family planning has traditionally been strong, but support peaked in 1995 and has declined significantly since. 

Although in nominal terms funding has recovered in recent years, Kreinin said, it still remains 40 percent below peak funding levels when adjusted for inflation, even as the unmet need continues to grow. (END)

 

Global Research Articles by Thalif Deen

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Population growth must stop, says Sir David Attenborough

Posted by Admin on April 24, 2011

http://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/population-growth-must-stop-says-sir-david-attenborough/

By Liz Thomas
21st April 2011

Warning: Sir David Attenborough encouraged population growth controlWarning: Sir David Attenborough encouraged population growth control

Sir David Attenborough has warned that population growth must be stopped in order to offer a ‘decent life’ for all.

The wildlife broadcaster said people were shying away from accepting that the world’s resources cannot sustain current levels of population growth.

‘There cannot be more people on this Earth than can be fed,’ he writes in the New Statesman.

‘The sooner we stabilise our numbers, the sooner we stop running up the down escalator – and we have some chance of reaching the top; that is to say, a decent life for all.’

Sir David, 84, said the global population is over six billion and will hit nine billion in 30 years, but ‘there seems to be some bizarre taboo around the subject’.

He warned of a ‘perfect storm of population growth, climate change and peak oil production’, leading to ‘insecurity in the supply of food, water and energy’.

‘We now realise that the disasters that continue increasingly to afflict the natural world have one element that connects them all – the unprecedented increase in the number of human beings on the planet,’ he added.

‘All these people, in this country and worldwide, rich or poor, need and deserve food, water, energy and space. Will they be able to get it? I don’t know.’

Sir David said there was a ‘taboo’ tackling the subject and that people shied away from stating the fact that a world’s resources cannot sustain current levels of population growth.

He said: ‘There seems to be some bizarre taboo around the subject. This taboo doesn’t just inhibit politicians and civil servants who attend the big conferences.

‘It even affects the environmental and developmental non-governmental organisations, the people who claim to care most passionately about a sustainable and prosperous future for our children.’

Crowded: The global population is now more than six billion and is predicted to hit nine billion within 30 yearsCrowded: The global population is now more than six billion and is predicted to hit nine billion within 30 years

The 84-year-old praised controversial 18th century demographer Thomas Malthus, who argued that populations increase until they are halted by ‘misery and vice’.

He added: ‘The population of the world is now growing by 80 million a year. One and a half million a week. A quarter of a million a day.

‘The government’s chief scientist and the last president of the Royal Society have both referred to the ‘perfect storm’ of population growth, climate change, and peak oil production, leading inexorably to more and more insecurity in the supply of food, water and energy.’

Expert: Wildlife presenter Chris Packham spoke of ‘too many’ people

The global population is now in excess of six billion and is predicted to hit nine billion within 30 years.

Experts have predicted that the British population – which is currently around 62million – will increase to 70million by 2029.

A report by the sustainable development group Forum For The Future said Britain would struggle to handle such growth. The increase in population would be ‘catastrophic’ and put unsustainable pressure on housing, schools and hospitals as well as natural resources.

Current trends will see a city the size of Bristol added to the population of the UK every year for the next two decades.

Sir David’s comments follow a similar warning from BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham.

The Springwatch presenter suggested offering Britons tax breaks to encourage them to have smaller families.

He effectively endorsed China’s controversial one-child policy, which sees couples who adhere to the rule given a lump sum on retirement.

But he stopped short of suggesting people should be penalised for having too many children.

Packham, 49, who has no children of his own, told Radio Times: ‘By 2020, there are going to be 70million people in Britain. Let’s face it, that’s too many.’

He added: ‘There’s no point bleating about the future of pandas, polar bears and  tigers when we’re not addressing the one single factor that’s putting more pressure on the ecosystem than any other – namely the ever-increasing size of the world’s population.’

Controversial: A woman and her child walk by a birth control propaganda poster in China, which has a one-child policyControversial: A woman and her child walk by a birth control propaganda poster in China, which has a one-child policy

Packham suggested offering couples a financial incentive as ‘a carrot’ to persuade them to have fewer – or no – children.

He said: ‘I would offer them tax breaks for having small families: say, 10 per cent off your tax bill if you decide to stick with just one child. And an even bigger financial incentive if you choose not to have a family at all.’

‘I question the way, for example, people have two children with one partner, then split up and have two with their next partner, just to even up the score.

‘Fact is, we all eat food, breathe air and require space, and the more of us there are, the less of those commodities there are for other people and, of course, for the animals.’

Population growth must stop, says Sir David Attenborough | Mail Online.

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Nuclear Power is Safe: India to Build the Biggest Reactor Ever !

Posted by Admin on April 24, 2011

Nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France

Nuclear Power Plant, Cattenom France

http://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/nuclear-power-is-safe-india-to-build-the-biggest-reactor-ever/

Nuke protester murdered in India as police open fire on peaceful crowd

Funeral procession of Tabrez Sayekar.

Rady Ananda, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Authorities responded to peaceful protest of a proposed nuclear power plant site in India by shooting at the crowd, killing one and injuring eight. Over sixty others were arrested. Killed by police on Monday, the body of 30-year-old Tabrez Sayekar was carried through the streets at a funeral march attended by more than 2,000 people on Wednesday. No one has been charged in his murder.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), along with the French nuclear energy giant, Areva, plan to build the world’s largest nuclear power plant complex generating nearly 10,000 megawatts of electricity in an agricultural area at Jaitapur in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
In December, the world renowned Tata Institute of Social Sciences published a social and environmental assessment of the proposed project conducted by Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management last April, calling it a potential disaster. According to DNA India, the report charges that the government has hidden and suppressed important and relevant information, and “has subverted facts” by labeling the proposed 968-hectare site as barren land that the locals use for agriculture, horticulture and grazing.

‘Farmers and horticulturists have spent lakhs of rupees to make the land cultivable over years and even the government has supported them. This includes Alfonso mangoes and cashews. Now, when the time has come for them to reap their investments, they are afraid of losing their land as the government now claims it is barren land,’ says the report. It adds that even the fisherfolk of the region are against the project.

Even the level of seismicity was changed, from a high severity earthquake zone to moderate seismic severity zone.

“‘The government is not only hiding facts, but also manipulating them,’ the report alleges.”

NPCIL, an agency of the Indian government, defends the moderate label. Seismicity is one of the key criteria in site selection for nuclear power plants and the Jaitapur site meets the requirements for siting as stipulated in the atomic energy regulatory board’s code on safety, it said in response to TISS.”
However, last month, Times of India reported:

[T]he Geological Survey of India shows that between 1985 and 2005, there were 92 earthquakes [in the area].
“The ground is unstable, say activists and geologists, and there is no guarantee that the government’s safeguards will protect the people and ecologically sensitive Konkan coast from a nuclear disaster should there be another earthquake.
Environmental activist Pradeep Indulkar said: ‘The third explosion at the Fukushima plant in Japan on Tuesday confirms that in the event of an earthquake, precautionary measures and safeguards will not avert a disaster. It is better not to have a nuclear power plant in this seismic zone region.’
At Shivane village, 20 km from Jaitapur, Chandrakant Padkar remembers the day the earth shook and the road outside his house vanished. The unreported earthquake took place two years ago, and the village still bears the scars.

Greenpeace India plans to deliver a petition to the Maharashtra Chief Minister on April 26, the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine. You can sign the petition here.

Instead of ignoring and ruthlessly suppressing the protest against the Jaitapur nuclear reactor park, Prithviraj Chavan, Maharashtra Chief Minister, needs to scrap the project. The CM needs to know that he cannot build Jaitapur against the people’s will when alternatives exist.

Sane Response to Deadly Energy Source

Nuclear power is the deadliest, costliest form of energy on record, according to Dr. Benjamin Sovacool of Project Syndicate. “Not counting the Fukushima catastrophe, there has been more than one nuclear incident and $330 million in damage every year, on average, for the past three decades.”


In a policy brief published in January, Sovacool notes, “The nuclear fuel cycle involves some of the most dangerous elements known to humankind. These elements include more than 100 dangerous radionuclides and carcinogens such as strontium-90, iodine-131 and cesium-137, which are the same toxins found in the fallout of nuclear weapons.”

The damage done to Earth by nuclear accidents and waste is permanent, for a mere 20-30 years of electricity, a dirty secret that the nuclear industry has not resolved. In the U.S., for example, the waste is stored in holding pools at four to five times the pool’s capacity.

Despite the world’s clean water shortage, Sovacool reports:

Nuclear plants use 25-50% more water per unit of electricity generated than fossil fuel plants with equivalent cooling systems…. The average US plant operating on an open–loop cooling system withdraws 216 Million litres of water every day and consumes 125 Million litres of water every day.
“Nuclear plants and uranium mining also contaminate water and the methods used to draw the water and exclude debris through screens kill marine and riparian life, setting in place a destructive chain of events for ocean/river systems.

Der Spiegel writes, “The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, for all the attention it gets, is far from the only nuclear no-go area on the planet.”  In its recent catalogue of several now-uninhabitable spots on the planet as a result of nuclear use, leaks, waste and accidents, Spiegel documents thousands of square miles in the U.S., Germany, Kazakhstan, Japan, India, Britain and Northern Africa contaminated by radiation, areas which produce high rates of birth defects and cancers. Their report doesn’t even touch the depleted uranium used in the Middle East by the U.S. and its allies.

While we watch Fukushima’s radiation fall on the northern hemisphere, contaminating our milk and water in the U.S., Canada and Europe, it’s notable that, like previous nuclear accidents, governments lie about the severity. Fifty years after the UK’s worst nuclear disaster, experts advise that the radiation released was twice what was originally reported.

Chernobyl was no different, as a recent book published by the New York Academy of Sciences reveals.  Government authorities reported 3,000 casualties from that disaster, but in Chernobyl:

Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, the authors conclude that, based on now available medical data, 985,000 people died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster, as of 2004. The researchers based their conclusions on 5,000 radiological surveys, scientific reports and health data.

Because of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, EnviroVideo released a video based on that book: “Chernobyl: A Million Casualties.” Watch it at http://blip.tv/file/4922080. The film will air nationally on Free Speech TV (freespeech.org) on April 23rd.

Neither is Japan any different. Engineer Keith Harmon Snow writes:

In a recent WikiLeaks diplomatic cable, politician Taro Kono, a high-profile member of Japan’s lower house, told U.S. diplomats that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (MITI) — the Japanese government department responsible for nuclear energy — has been ‘covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry.’ In 2002 ‘the chairman and four executives of TEPCO, the company that owns the stricken Fukushima plant, resigned after reports that safety records were falsified.’

Corporate-run governments will not stop destroying the planet for profit. It is up to humanity to do all in its power to end the ongoing ecocide. Sometimes this means putting your life on the line, as Tabrez Sayekar did on Monday, just short of the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
A version of this article first appeared at Global Research.

Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and administers the sites, Food Freedom and COTO Report.

Activist Post.

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The nuclear industry’s trillion dollar question

Posted by Admin on April 18, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/The-nuclear-industry-trillion-reuters-3234646850.html

The Akademik Lomonosov, a floating nuclear power station, is launched at Baltiyskiy shipyard in St. Petersburg, in this handout picture taken March 25, 2011. REUTERS/Baltisky Shipyard/Handout
On Monday 18 April 2011, 2:04 PM

By Muriel Boselli and Geert De Clercq

PARIS (Reuters) – In the inbox of Petr Zavodsky, director of nuclear power plant construction at Czech power group CEZ are three sets of proposals from American, French and Russian consortiums, all angling for a $30 billion contract to build five new reactors.

State-owned CEZ, central Europe’s biggest utility group, plans to build two additional units at its Temelin plant near the Austrian border as well as up to two other units in neighbouring Slovakia and another at its Dukovany station in the east of the Czech Republic.

In the running to build the plants are Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse, an alliance of Russia ‘s Atomstroyexport and Czech firm Skoda JS, and France’s Areva.

Unlike Germany, which has said it will hasten its exit from nuclear energy following the crisis in Japan , and Italy, which has announced a one-year moratorium on plans to relaunch atomic power, the Czech Republic has no intention of slowing its push for more nuclear power. Less than a week after the Fukushima disaster, Prime Minister Petr Necas said that he could not imagine that Prague would ever close its plants. “It would lead to economic problems on the border of an economic catastrophe.”

At the same time there’s little doubt the Fukushima crisis will change the Czech Republic’s thinking about safety in the new plants — and that could influence whose bid will ultimately be successful.

“Nuclear energy works on the basis of lessons learned from past events,” Zavodsky told Reuters. “We will analyse what happened in Japan and will surely include recommendations arising from this analysis for suppliers in the tender.”

That’s just one way the Japan crisis is already changing the game for the nuclear industry.

Before Fukushima, more than 300 nuclear reactors were planned or proposed worldwide, the vast majority of them in fast-growing developing economies. While parts of the developed world might now freeze or even reduce their reliance on nuclear, emerging markets such as China, India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe will continue their nuclear drive.

But with fewer plants to bid on, the competition for new projects is likely to grow even fiercer — and more complicated. Will concern about safety benefit Western reactor builders, or will cheaper suppliers in Russia and South Korea hold their own? And what if the crisis at Fukushima drags on as appears likely? Could it still trigger the start of another ice age for nuclear power, like Chernobyl did in 1986? Or will it be a bump, a temporary dip in an upward growth curve?

A RUSH TO REASSURE

With nuclear plants costing several billion dollars apiece, the answer to those questions may be worth a trillion dollars to the nuclear industry. Little wonder that the main players have rushed to reassure their clients that all is well.

On March 15, just three days after the first Fukushima reactor building blew up, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew to Belarus to revive a $9 billion plan to build a nuclear plant there, saying that Russia had a “whole arsenal” of advanced technology to ensure “accident-free” operation.

The next day, President Dmitry Medvedev met with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow and pledged to press ahead with a $20-billion deal to build a four-reactor Russian plant in Turkey. “The answer is clear: it can be and is safe,” Medvedev said.

It was a similar message in France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country with 58 nuclear reactors that provide almost four-fifths of its electric power. “France has chosen nuclear energy, which is an essential element of its energy independence and the fight against greenhouse gasses,” president Nicolas Sarkozy said after his government’s first post-Fukushima cabinet meeting. ” Today I remain convinced that this was the right choice.”

The American nuclear industry has also gone on a public relations drive. The industry’s main lobby group, the Nuclear Energy Institute, has been out in force in Washington since the disaster, kicking off its response with a meeting three days after the quake in which it briefed 100 to 150 key aides to U.S. lawmakers on the crisis.

“Our objective is simply to be sure policymakers understand the facts as we understand them,” Alex Flint, vice president for governmental affairs at the institute told reporters. To appreciate how much is at stake for the industry it’s worth remembering that until Fukushima the prospects for nuclear power had been at their brightest in more than two decades, reversing a long period of stagnation sparked by the Chernobyl disaster.

The number of new reactors under construction, up to 30 or more per year in the 1970s, dropped to low single digits in the 1990s and early 2000s; by 2008 the total number of reactors in operation was 438, the same number as in 1996, International Atomic Energy Agency data show. In the past few years, that trend has reversed itself, and in 2008 construction started on 10 new reactors, the first double-digit number since 1985.

Today , there are 62 reactors under construction, mainly in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia , India and China), with 158 more on order or planned and another 324 proposed, according to World Nuclear Association data from just before Fukushima. China, which currently has just 13 reactors in operation, has 27 more under construction and was planning or proposing another 160. India was planning or proposing 58 and Russia 44.

Anti-nuclear lobby activists argue that demand for safer designs will make nuclear power more expensive. That should help low-carbon renewables such as solar and wind, and end nuclear power’s momentum according to Greenpeace EU Policy Campaigner Jan Haverkamp. “Fukushima will end all this talk about a nuclear renaissance. The industry says nothing will change. Forget it,” Haverkamp said.

But even if Fukushima does increase public resistance to nuclear, it seems unlikely to stop the emerging market countries’ nuclear ambitions altogether. For one thing, public opinion in Asia does not drive policy like it does in the West. Even India, with a democratic tradition and a post-Bhopal sensitivity to industrial disasters, seems set to keep its nuclear plans on track.

“The global socio-political and economic conditions that appear to be driving the renaissance of civil nuclear power are still there: the price of oil, demands for energy security, energy poverty and the search for low-carbon fuels to mitigate the effects of global warming,” Richard Clegg, Global Nuclear Director at Lloyd’s Register told Reuters.

CATCHER IN THE RYE

Few companies have more at stake than France’s Areva, the world’s largest builder of nuclear reactors. Even before the Japan crisis, the state-owned firm touted its next-generation, 1,650 megawatt reactor — designed to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis or the impact of an airliner — as the safest way to go.

Now Areva’s ramping up that message whenever it can. “Low-cost nuclear reactors are not the future,” Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon told French television just days after the first explosion at the Fukushima plant.

But Areva’s new EPR reactor is not without its own issues. Originally called the “European Pressurised Water Reactor” (EPR), Areva’s marketeers later rebaptised it the “Evolutionary Power Reactor”. Anti-nuclear activists mockingly refer to it as the “European Problem Reactor” because of its troubled building history.

Designed with multiple and redundant back-up systems to safeguard against natural disasters, the EPR’s design was updated after 9/11 to be able to withstand the impact of an airliner crashing into it. Areva’s Chief Technical Officer Alex Marincic says that the EPR’s design reduces the probability of a core meltdown to less than one in a million per reactor per year, compared to one in 10,000 for older second-generation reactors.

Even if the worst were to occur, the EPR comes with a “core catcher” below the reactor containment vessel that is designed to prevent a melting reactor from burrowing China Syndrome-style into the ground.

Marincic said that the EPR, and in particular its back-up diesel generators, would have resisted the force of the tsunami wave in Fukushima as all buildings and doors are designed to be leak tight and to withstand the force of an external explosion.

“Had the reactor in Fukushima been an EPR, it would have survived,” he said.

Construction of the first EPR started in 2005 in Olkiluoto, Finland, where Areva signed a three billion euro turn-key contract with Finnish utility TVO. But due to a string of construction problems, the project is now three years behind schedule and nearly 100 percent over budget. The reactor is not expected to come on stream before 2013 and Areva is embroiled in a bitter arbitration procedure with the Finns over who will shoulder the extra costs.

Work on a second EPR started in Flamanville, France in December 2007 and is expected to be completed in 2014, also after several years’ delay. French utility group EDF says that in 2010 the investment cost for the reactor was estimated at about five billion euros.

Areva is also building two EPRs in Taishan, southern China, due to come on stream in 2013 and 2014. Areva says that contract was worth eight billion euros.

The size of nuclear deals varies widely depending on what is included. At a minimum, a vendor can sell a reactor or a license to build it. But vendors can also take on construction of the reactor building or even the entire nuclear plant. Deals often also include long-term contracts for nuclear fuel delivery or financing by firms in the vendor country. Building costs also range enormously depending on where the plants are built.

In resource-poor India, for instance, where Areva is negotiating the sale of two EPRs, the deal could include 25 years of fuel deliveries, an Areva spokesman said. CEO Lauvergeon has referred to Areva’s strategy as the “Nespresso model” — Areva not only sells reactors, it enriches and sells uranium, and can recycle the spent fuel.

A French official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Chinese authorities have told French partners that following the Fukushima disaster China now wants to use third-generation reactor designs for its smaller power plants.

This would be a huge boost for Areva, which is developing — with Japan ‘s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — a new 1,100 megawatt ATMEA1 pressurized water reactor designed to supply markets with lower electricity needs.

Areva spokesman Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier said the group is currently negotiating some twenty projects in countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, India, China and the Czech Republic. The firm still hopes to capture one third of the market for new reactors by 2030, though the Fukushima events may push back that target date.

CONVECTION AND GRAVITY

Areva’s main competitor is Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse, which is building four of its third-generation “Active Passive” AP1000 reactors in China, with the first expected to go on-line in 2013.

Considered to be the most up-to-date technology, the AP1000, rather than focusing on multiple back-up systems like the EPR, introduces the concept of “passive safety” which relies on gravity and natural convection flows of water — instead of pumps driven by electricity — to cool down the core in case of an emergency.

One of its key features is a 300,000 gallon water tank inside the containment area, above the core. Westinghouse says the AP1000 does not require backup diesel for cooling, as all water needed for an emergency will run down from the tank and begin the cooling process without the need for electricity or human intervention. The water would boil, turn to steam and condense on the inside of the steel containment vessel and then fall back into the core.

“So you have a perpetual rain forest in there,” Westinghouse Electric spokesman Vaughn Gilbert said. Kind of. The passive system would “last for three days and with minimal additional use of a small diesel you can go four additional days,” according to the company.

Like Areva, Westinghouse claims that its new reactor would have withstood the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake “would have been a non-event for the AP1000,” Westinghouse chief executive officer Aris Candris told Reuters.

The firm has said it expects to finalize agreements with China this fall to build 10 power plants with Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, on top of the four already under construction. Candris says that Westinghouse is in negotiations to sell more AP1000s in other countries including the UK, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and was involved in preliminary discussions in Brazil and India.

“The share of the AP1000s in the market will go up following the events in Japan because more and more people — around the world and in China, the biggest market going forward — will see the advantages of the passive design,” he added.

Experts agree that passive safety is a good idea but urge caution.

The AP1000 design has not yet been approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the company acknowledges that the NRC may require more backup generators, batteries and other features at US nuclear plants as it integrates the lessons learned from Japan .

“No reactor that I know of can indefinitely take care of itself without external intervention,” said James Acton, Associate, Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Fukushima was a beyond-design basis event. The earthquake and particularly the tsunami were much larger than the plant was designed to withstand. You can have the most modern sophisticated well run reactor in the world but if it is hit by a beyond basis event, then you cannot guarantee the safety of the reactor,” he said.

Acton believes that “the industry as a whole will be damaged by the crisis in Japan and presumably General Electric” — which designed the Fukushima reactors — “will be damaged the most.”

GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a tie-up between the two companies, has two “Advanced Boiling Water Reactors” (ABWR) third-generation plants in operation in Japan and a more recent design, the ESBWR, in the planning stages.

The firm lags some distance behind Areva and Toshiba-Westinghouse and is in no mood to look for commercial opportunities while the disaster in Japan is still unfolding. Officials refused to answer questions about how Fukushima might impact the power balance in the industry, saying that the firm remains focused on providing assistance to the people of Japan .

“Now is not the time to speculate on future sales,” GE Hitachi PR manager Michael Tetuan told Reuters.

Western firms do not have a monopoly on safety. Experts say that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ APWR, the Korean APR-1400, the Russian VVER and the Chinese CNP1000 are all third-generation reactors, each with their own merits.

Privately, the big players all seem happy to criticise their rivals’ reactor designs demerits. If you promise not to quote them, competitors will tell you that Areva’s EPR does not have much in the way of passive safety features, for instance, while French sources rarely fail to suggest that some rival reactors are not designed to withstand the impact of an airline crash.

HIGH-LEVEL ENGAGEMENT

It’s not all about safety features and price, of course. Nuclear contracts often come down to geopolitics. The firms that sell reactors are mostly state-owned which means negotiations about nuclear deals are often done government to government.

Even the privately owned U.S. reactor builders get an extraordinary level of diplomatic support. Numerous cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that U.S. missions, with the active support of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, have led lobbying initiatives for nuclear contracts in countries such as China, Hungary, South Africa, Kuwait , Abu Dhabi and Italy.

Just one example, from a February 23, 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in Rome illustrates the size of the stakes and how closely U.S. and French diplomats watch each other. The cable recounts how the U.S. mission orchestrated a visit by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials who provided Italy with Washington’s views on nuclear power just as the Italian government prepared to reintroduce nuclear power after a twenty-year shutdown.

“U.S.-made nuclear reactors may prove to be the best technological and commercial choice for Italy, but intense French lobbying, including by President Sarkozy, could win the day for the French. The Mission will continue our efforts to provide U.S. nuclear technology firms with an opportunity to win what could be billions of dollars in contracts,” the confidential cable said.

The cable goes on to say that France was lobbying the Italian government at the highest political levels on behalf of Areva and that “all our sources conclude that a political decision by Berlusconi will likely trump any and all expert input.”

American diplomats said that the U.S. mission in Italy had been “vigorously promoting a broad effort to encourage new energy technologies”, paying special attention to the nuclear sector, “given the enormity of potential orders for U.S. firms”.

“U.S. company representatives and their Italian allies are apprehensive that absent high-level U.S. lobbying, French pressure will push the decision toward a purchase of their technology. We clearly need to engage at the highest level. Tens of billions of dollars in contracts and substantial numbers of high-technology jobs could be involved,” the cable concluded.

Areva spokesman Saulnier said that it is perfectly normal for countries to support their export industries. “In most cases we deal with private clients where the public authorities have no impact. But there are other cases, notably China, where the state-to-state relationship plays its full role and it is important that the political authorities not only give their imprimatur but work side by side with the French company,” he said.

RUSSIAN ECONOMIC LOGIC

Russia seems unworried about the impact of Fukushima, or at least determined to push on regardless, even though there is little doubt that the Fukushima fallout will hit the government’s ambitious goal to triple nuclear exports to $50 billion a year by 2030.

“The country that turns away from atomic energy today, will become dependent tomorrow on those who did not curtail it,” Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia ‘s state-owned nuclear power monopoly Rosatom, said recently in an interview with state television.

Rosatom says it is now building more nuclear plants than anyone — 14 of the 62 reactors under construction worldwide — including projects in China, India and a controversial first plant for Iran . It says it has orders to build some 30 more.

Russia also possesses about 40 percent of the world’s uranium enrichment capacity, and exports some $3 billion worth of fuel a year, offering discounts to clients who buy Russian-built reactors.

Experts say that while one-third of the operating reactors in Russia are ageing Chernobyl-style nuclear plants, the current export designs meet global safety standards. Rosatom’s main export reactors are the VVER-1000 and the VVER-1200 which it describes as a third “plus” generation light-water pressurised reactor and which sell for between $3 billion and $6 billion each.

Rosatom boasts that the twin VVER-1000 reactors in a plant that opened in 2008 in Tianwan, China, are the first in the world to feature a core-catcher — a safety net invented by Russian physicists after the Chernobyl disaster.

The company also says its active and passive safety barriers will cool its reactor for at least 72 hours without intervention. If temperatures rise too high, containment sprinklers with fast-melting metal caps spray coolant on the reactor. Two other passive systems are designed to flood the reactor with water in case of an emergency, both relying only on gravity. Two more VVER-1000s under construction in Kudankulam, India, are also outfitted with vents to allow excess heat to escape from the sealed reactor and be cooled at the roof of the containment dome, capping temperatures within.

“The Fukushima accident is the result of unlearnt lessons of Chernobyl,” Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said. “We have been learning our lessons for the past 25 years.”

Novikov said the fallout from Japan will force nuclear energy companies to protect against even more negligible risks. Work is already underway to protect plants in Russia against the “one-in-a million chance” of a gale-force tornado. New Russia plants to be built in Bulgaria and Turkey are designed to withstand the impact of a 400-tonne plane crashing into them.

“Chernobyl was a bad experience, but an experience nevertheless which we have learned from. Our reactors are definitely up to IAEA standards,” said Gennady Pshakin, a former International Atomic Energy Agency official who now heads a Russian institute in Obninsk.

But Norwegian environmental group Bellona, an authority on the Russian industry, has its doubts. In its latest report the group said that in order to reduce costs, Russia cuts corners on safety, from rushing licensing to using poor equipment and cheaper unskilled labour.

” Russia and Rosatom traditionally save money and beat their competitors with a quite low level of safety,” which should average about 40 percent of the capital cost, said Greenpeace energy expert Vladimir Chuprov, one of the authors of the report.

Environmentalists say that as Rosatom works to make its reactors as safe as Western models, it is becoming less competitive. “Prices are approaching those of the French EPR reactor series. If earlier Russian reactors were at least trusted to sell well because of the lower prices, this hope is now vanishing fast,” Russian environmental group Eco-Defense’s Vladimir Slivyak wrote in a comment on the Bellona site.

Russia ‘s ex-deputy minister for atomic energy Bulat Nigmatulin concedes that the Russian industry regularly scores export contracts by offering generous export credits to underbid competitors. Nigmatulin told Reuters that he had personally lobbied Putin to convince him of the importance of the nuclear industry, arguing that it is one of the few high-tech sectors in which Russia can compete globally. “It’s the only industry that we are not behind in and we must grow it, but there remains one big but: we must be governed by real economic logic,” he said.

DESERT CAMPAIGN

As customers rethink the balance between safety and price, will safety now win out?

Just over a year ago, price was still a potent factor.

In early December 2009, Areva was convinced it would win a landmark contract with Abu Dhabi to build four reactors — the first nuclear power plants in the Gulf Arab region. Also in the running were Westinghouse, GE Hitachi and a consortium of South Korean firms with no prior experience of selling reactors abroad.

The final offers, according to a WikiLeaks cable, were “followed by intense political lobbying by Korean, French, Japanese and U.S. officials, including French President Sarkozy”, and the Japanese and Korean prime ministers “who all repeatedly called the Crown Prince.” South Korean President Lee Myung-bak even flew to the United Arab Emirates to personally defend the Korean bid with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

In the end it came down to price. The consortium led by GE Hitachi dropped its final price by “double-digit billions” according to a Wikileaks cable. But the Gulf state chose the rookie South Korean nuclear consortium, which proposed a price per kilowatt/hour that was 82 percent lower again according to a U.S. embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks and seen by Reuters.

The winning consortium was led by state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and included Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Samsung C&T Corp .

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said the value of the contract for the construction, commissioning and fuel loads for the four 1,400-MW APR1400 reactors was about US$20 billion, with a high percentage of the contract offered under a fixed-price arrangement.

In the end “the difference between the South Korean and the French reactors is a very safe reactor and an extremely safe reactor,” said James Acton at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Insiders say that it was not just price or safety considerations that drove ENEC’s decision. “Areva’s schedule slippage of over three years and cost overrun of over $3 billion on Olkiluoto did not help Areva,” an industry source told Reuters.

The French still hope that Abu Dhabi might change its mind and the market has been thick with rumours about a possible review, although industry watchers say these may have been spread by French diplomats in order to test Abu Dhabi’s resolve.

A spokesperson at Emirates nuclear corporation ENEC said that the UAE will continue to work with the South Koreans and is not looking to change partners.

CHINA – FROM CUSTOMER TO COMPETITOR

The biggest prize remains China, which is buying reactors from American, French and Russian builders while working hard on developing its own.

Beijing favoured Westinghouse’s plant over Areva’s in March 2007 when the Toshiba-owned firm signed a technology transfer agreement worth about $5.3 billion that put the AP1000 at the core of China’s plans to develop its own “localized” reactors.

Industry experts say that Areva’s failure was caused by its reluctance to give away its patents. In 2007, China ditched plans to build two EPRs in Yangjiang on the southeast coast, choosing to use its own second-generation CPR1000 designs instead after growing frustrated at the pace of negotiations.

So far, the AP1000 is on budget and on schedule in China.

But Areva has fought back and has subsequently won its own deal to build two EPRs at Taishan, also in the southeast, after finally agreeing to transfer key technology to the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation.

Beijing ‘s impatience over third-generation plants has led to the fast-tracking of dozens of second-generation reactors, which led to charges of corner-cutting even before the Japanese quake.

In a paper published in January, scholars at the State Council Research Office said China was moving too fast and that many regions were bucking worldwide industry trends by building less reliable second-generation reactors. It recommended that apart from plants that have already been approved, all new nuclear projects should “in principle” be based on third-generation designs.

Li Ning , a nuclear expert and director of the Energy Research Center at China’s Xiamen University, told Reuters that because of the Fukushima crisis China’s focus will now shift further to third-generation technology.

That could give Westinghouse and Areva a competitive advantage, although it may not last very long. Just as Areva precursor Framatome adopted U.S. technology in the 1960s, the Chinese are learning quickly from their Western suppliers. Li expects that in the near future China will be capable of building projects abroad.

“When China localizes technology, manufacturing and construction it will be able to export to the rest of the world, sooner rather than later because the world will demand such newer technologies. China will have the advantage in manufacturing and skills and this advantage should not be restricted to the domestic market,” Li said.

U.S.-based independent nuclear consultant John Polcyn, who has worked in the nuclear industry worldwide for utilities as well as reactor vendors, expects that the Chinese will align with both Areva and Westinghouse to sell third-generation reactors abroad.

“The Chinese have publicly stated they can build nuclear power plants, including the EPR for 30 percent less than Areva. It could help Areva to be more cost-competitive,” Polcyn said.

He believes the two big Chinese firms will also market, build and operate China’s indigenous CNP1000 reactor. “The Chinese will claim the CNP1000 as a Generation III nuclear power plant, and I cannot disagree. The plants are designed to today’s latest requirements, have state-of-the-art, world-class digital control systems and use the latest materials,” he said.

He said that a number of Chinese entities are already marketing the CNP1000, notably in South Africa, Argentina and Saudi Arabia , where Chinese companies have been meeting with top officials.

The Chinese arrival on the reactor market will put pressure on the existing reactor suppliers, forcing them to take more cost and schedule risk for plant completions. Fukushima might buy the incumbents a bit more time, as China tries to incorporate the lessons learned, but not much.

“The Chinese announced their intent to begin exporting their nuclear power plant technology starting in 2013. I expect that due to the recent events in Japan there will be some delay, to 2014 or 2015. They are looking for opportunities,” Polcyn said. Even with the crisis in Japan , those opportunities aren’t likely to vanish.

(Reporting by Muriel Boselli and Geert De Clercq in Paris, Michael Kahn in Prague, Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow , Scott DiSavino and Martin Howell in New York, Scott Malone in Boston, Eileen O’Grady in Houston, Amena Bakr in Abu Dhabi, Cho Meeyoung in Seoul, Krittivas Mukherjee in New Delhi, and David Stanway in Beijing ; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Simon Robinson )

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One man’s crusade to stop toxic sludge dumping in Indonesia

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

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By Simon Montlake Simon Montlake Mon Apr 11, 2:57 pm ET

Gresik, Indonesia – Fish net in hand, Prigi Arisandi kicks off his sandals and wades into a shallow stream. Behind him a gaggle of uniformed high school students bend to their task: identifying the plants and bugs scooped from the waterway. Water samples are decanted into ice-cube trays and the contents are matched with textbook drawings.

For Mr. Prigi, an environmental activist, these weekly classes are another way to tackle river pollution, which has afflicted vital waterways in Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island. He wants to instill in his students the need to protect the biodiversity of the 13-mile Surabaya River where he once played as a child, before factories moved in and the waters ran black.

The stream is clear and healthy. The nearby fields are planted with sugar cane. But Prigi worries that factories and houses will soon replace the fields and pose a threat to the rivers. So he’s teaching the kids to understand and cherish their environment.

“More factories and houses will come here. I want [the children] to be prepared,” he says.

Prigi’s efforts to check the dumping of toxic waste have become a personal crusade. “He never stops thinking about the river,” says Daru Setyorini, his wife and fellow activist, whom he met while studying biology at university.

In recognition of these efforts, Prigi is a recipient of the 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize, announced Monday, April 11, in San Francisco. The award is worth $150,000 and is given to six worldwide recipients in various categories.

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Together with Ms. Daru, with whom he has three children, Prigi runs Ecoton, an nongovernmental organization with a staff of nine people and an annual budget of around $57,000. The award represents a boost for its campaign against river pollution, which has led it to sue the provincial government in 2007 for failing to enforce water-quality regulations. In a landmark ruling, the court ordered the government to set maximum limits for toxic discharges by factories into the Surabaya River.

The government now monitors the discharges using river boat patrols. And the water quality has improved, according to official data. But Prigi says the government should do more.

Prigi plans to use part of his prize money to build a research and ecotourism site near the river’s pristine source, where it is known as the Brantas River. He worries that unchecked upstream development could pollute the Brantas and other waterways. His plan is to work with local villages to develop eco-friendly alternatives that generate income.

“We are rich in biodiversity, but we don’t know it,” he says.

Firsthand impact of rapid industrialization

Growing up in Gresik, outside the port city of Surabaya, Prigi saw firsthand the impact of rapid industrialization. As a student he led protests against factories that dumped untreated waste into the river. His passion for environmental causes and field research left little time for study, but with Daru’s help he graduated and plunged into full-time activism.

He began running river tours for young people and encouraging schools to add environmental programs. Some looked askance at the bespectacled activist with his wildlife posters. “They thought I was a salesman. I said, no, I want to give this to you,” he laughs.

At the same time, Prigi tried to goad local authorities into tackling water pollution. After the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesia’s media found its voice and Prigi became adept at courting publicity for his causes. But effluents from factories and houses continued to flow into the Surabaya River, which provides drinking water for the city’s 3 million residents.

“It was black, like coffee,” says Daru.

In October 2007, it got worse. Prigi got reports of dead fish floating in the river and set off to find the cause. His investigation led him to a state-owned sugar factory that had tried to cover up a leak in its treatment plant. After Prigi went to the local media with his findings, the factory admitted its error and agreed to upgrade its plant, a legacy of Dutch colonial rule.

Koesriharto, a factory official, says the new equipment has cut the amount of effluent discharged into the river. “We want to improve our waste-water treatment with new technology,” he says.

Indonesia passed a new environmental law in 2009 that stiffens penalties for polluters, including criminal charges for company owners. But Prigi knows that some factory bosses will shrug off the risk of prosecution. That’s why he keeps putting pressure on provincial authorities to monitor water quality and keep tabs on industrial zones.

Ongoing efforts

Factories aren’t the only culprits. On a recent overcast morning, Prigi paddles his rubber boat past a swath of houses that back onto the river. Garbage floats past: plastic bags, bottles, tree branches, flip-flops, and lighters. Pipes protrude from brick outhouses, flushing waste directly into the river. Yet women still bend to wash clothes in the murky water.

After years of castigating factories for their toxic discharge, Prigi has begun to focus on the problem posed by household waste. Thousands of houses line the riverbank and there is little awareness of the health risks. “People don’t care about the river. They don’t know that the river [supplies] our drinking water,” he says.

As he scans the riverbanks, Daru scoops up water samples to test on her hand-held equipment. She shows the results to Prigi, who suspects that an upstream sluice gate has been opened, sending a cascade of waste into the river. He pulls out his mobile phone and calls the river regulatory agency, ready to do battle again.

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What Does Fukushima’s New “Level 7″ Status Mean?

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

Internationally recognized symbol.

Warning You are repeating the same MISTAKE!

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By KRISTA MAHR Krista Mahr Tue Apr 12, 6:40 am ET

Japanese officials announced on Tuesday morning that they were planning to raise the event level at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from a 5 to the maximum level of 7, the highest on the international scale for nuclear incidents and the same level assigned to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

The decision was made after Japan‘s nuclear safety body determined that at one point after the March 11 earthquake, the plant was releasing 10,000 terabecquerels of iodine-131 for several hours; level 7 accidents are defined as releasing tens of thousands of terabecquerels. “The INES rating itself is not an indicator of a daily phenomena, but the assessment after careful consideration and calculation on the event that happened in the past,” Ken Morita of NISA told TIME on Tuesday morning. (See inside Japan’s nuclear wasteland.)

NISA has also noted, however, that the amount of radioactive material being released at Fukushima today is less than 1 terabecquerel. The agency says that, to date, Fukushima has only released about 10% of total radiation released 25 years ago in Chernobyl, or about 1.8 million terabecquerels. About 30 people, mostly workers, died in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl, though the UN has estimated that the long-term death toll due to exposure could eventually be as high as 4000.

The International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), designed in 1989 by the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the OECD, ranges from 1 (anomaly) to 7 (major accident). The scale is intended to help easily communicate with the public to indicate the seriousness of a nuclear event. Chernobyl is the only other nuclear accident to have been given a 7, an accident classified as having a major radioactive release with widespread impact on the environment and public health. According to INES, “Such a release would result in the possibility of acute health effects; delayed health effects over a wide area, possibly involving more than one country; long-term environmental consequences.” (Read the IAEA’s glossary of short- to long-term health effects of radiation exposure here.) (See the world’s top 10 environmental disasters.)

Besides Chernobyl, the only event that’s come close to a 7 before was a 1957 accident at a fuel processing plant (where spent nuclear fuel is recycled into new fuel) in Russia, in which an off-site release of radiation prompted preventative evacuations. The Three Mile Island accident in the U.S. in 1978, in which a reactor core was severely damage but off-site release of radioactivity was limited, was classified as a 5. Almost all reported events at nuclear facilities are a level 3 or under, according to INES.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on the back of a minor fire spotted by workers outside Fukushima’s reactor 4 on Tuesday morning, shortly after the second of three major aftershocks to hit the beleaguered northeast in the space of 24 hours. Three people in Iwaki died in landslides triggered by the 7.1 aftershock on Monday evening. The government also expanded the exclusion zone around Fukushima on Monday to include several towns within a 30-km (19-mile) radius that had formerly been told that they could remain at home, but were recommended to stay indoors. The towns now added to the mandatory evacuation zone were found to have high levels of radiation. (See the battle to hold Fukushima’s cores.)

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has said that in a survey conducted in Fukushima last week, its team of experts found radiation levels 75 times higher than the government recommendation in 11 samples of vegetables from gardens and small farms. The environmental group also announced that it found radiation levels equivalent to an annual exposure of 5 millisieverts – the evacuation threshold for Chernobyl – in a playground in Fukushima City, population 300,000. Greenpeace is urging the government to delay the start of the school year.

Though raising Fukushima’s level to 7 may not herald any immediate worsening of events, it is sure to add to many residents’ growing concern – and feelings of helplessness – over what could happen at dozens of other nuclear reactors spread across this seismic archipelago. On Sunday, over 17,000 people protested at two separate demonstrations in Tokyo against nuclear power. It was the first time that Yohei Nakamura, 45, had ever been to a protest. “For a long time I’ve been suspicious of nuclear power, but now I realize it’s a serious problem,” he said amidst the crowds carrying placards and shouting slogans. He said anti-nuclear demonstrations were undercovered in the Japanese press because of the influence of Tokyo Power and Electric Power Company, which owns Fukushima. “TEPCO is one of the most powerful companies in Japan,” Nakamura said. “They use a tremendous amount of money for adverstising. If the mass media shows anti-nuclear power activities like demonstrations, they risk losing TEPCO as an advertiser.”

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