Sunday, April 22, 2018

That Same Old Sinking Feeling

"As seas rise, Pilgrim officials consider moving nuclear waste to higher ground" by David Abel Globe Staff  April 20, 2018

Under recent worst-case projections, tides could rise as much as 10 feet by the end of the century and as much as 37 feet by 2200. That’s not accounting for storm surges, such as the 15-foot high tides that battered the Massachusetts coast during two nor’easters this winter, causing widespread flooding.

Officials at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said they have no reason to believe that the current location is a problem. They note that Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and the nation’s other nuclear plants were required to reevaluate their vulnerability to flooding in the aftermath of the tsunami that ravaged Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011, the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 meltdown in Chernobyl.

Which, when last heard from (can't remember an actual article addressing the current situation) was leaking or dumping 300 tons a day, yes a day, of radioactive water into the Pacific to keep whatever is down there cool because at least of the containment vessels had the bottom fall out.

“The NRC is satisfied that Pilgrim’s post-Fukushima flooding reevaluation and the agency’s associated review are reasonable and account for the latest information regarding climate trends, including sea level rise,” said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the commission.

Regulators continue to study the risks posed by rising sea levels to the nation’s nuclear plants and their spent fuel, but they say the casks would remain safe even if submerged in water, Sheehan said.

“The NRC’s conservative evaluation of partial or full submersion . . . is that adequate cooling of the spent fuel would be maintained and the fuel would remain in the dry cask storage system,” he said.

Hope and pray that he's right and not wrong, but if not they can send this down: 

"MIT researchers have designed a small robot fish with a wiggling tail that they hope can mingle with real fish, offering marine biologists an insider’s view of underwater life. The researchers, who work in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, built SoFi, a foot-and-a-half-long robot powered by a lithium polymer battery that can navigate through 60-foot-deep waters and collect information with a camera. The researchers envision that, in addition to opening a window on marine life, robot fish in the future might be able to lead swarms of fish away from known pollution sites, among other tasks....."

You can't eat the robot and you would have better luck herding cats (unless you want to net the fish). 

As for the other tasks, they wouldn't include spying or sabotage, would they? 

You know, planting a bomb under a ship so it blows up and off to war we go? 

It's happened before. 

Remember the Maine?

The decision about where to store the casks comes as the 46-year-old plant faces a host of maintenance challenges. Entergy Corp., the Louisiana-based conglomerate that owns Pilgrim, announced three years ago that it would close Pilgrim in June 2019, after a litany of economic woes and safety issues. In 2015, the NRC designated Pilgrim as one of the nation’s three least-safe reactors.

Those problems have persisted. Until Thursday, the plant had been offline for 43 days — one of its longest unplanned outages — after crews discovered a significant issue with a transformer that provides power for Pilgrim to operate. It was the second unplanned shutdown this year.

Maybe it should just stay that way.

Plant officials must also weigh a range of other issues in deciding whether to move the waste, including security, radiation, and the impact on decommissioning the plant.

Cost is another factor.

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't, huh?

Special vehicles are required to move the casks, as are specially built roads that can handle the immense weight. For example, at Vermont Yankee, which began the decommissioning process several years ago, it cost $143 million to fill and move their remaining casks to a new storage site.

Moving the casks uphill would add to the expense, and storing nuclear waste has long been a thorny political issue, one that has become increasingly urgent as more aging plants are shuttered.

I a$$ume property values are among the least of the worries?

That's why some people always wanted alternative developments, but you know:

"Eversource Energy’s controversial solar demand charge is now getting scrutiny from the state’s congressional delegation. US Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and US Representative Joe Kennedy signed a letter to Eversource on Thursday asking the company to rethink the new charge before it takes effect for new solar customers on Dec. 31. They cite the extra cost for homeowners who adopt solar — in the neighborhood of $100 a year. The new charge, the federal lawmakers say, could undermine the state’s clean-energy goals and hurt blue-collar solar workers. State lawmakers are also looking at Eversource’s charge and have indicated they may soon revisit the law that initially allowed the charge to be put in place. Meanwhile, Eversource says it simply wants to ensure that solar users pay their fair share of the costs for the poles and wires that carry electricity on their streets." 

Yeah, and we all know how concerned are the power companies and their CEOs about people getting their fair share.

Federal officials had long planned to store the waste in a multibillion-dollar repository bored deep into Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But state officials and residents there blocked the site from opening, saying it presents public safety and environmental risks.

Harry Reid had a big hand in it, too.

Federal officials have been reviewing other options, including opening temporary facilities elsewhere in New Mexico or in Texas. But those options have similar problems: The government would have to overcome local concerns and potential challenges over transporting the fuel through a variety of jurisdictions.

Until then, the waste will remain scattered at plants such as Pilgrim, even well after they shut down.

Baker administration officials declined to answer questions about whether they would press Pilgrim to move the casks to higher ground.....

That means out here, and forget it!


And the big question still looms: what will the GE of the future look like after the lawsuits over their designs?

They “don’t have a crystal ball,” you know.

"The Embr Wave is more than an odd-looking wristband. It just might be a secret weapon in the fight against climate change. Alas, you can put me down as a non-combatant. The Wave is the sort of gadget you might see on a TV infomercial at 3 a.m. — a chunky little box that straps around your wrist like a watch. Except it doesn’t tell time, but rather functions like a personal thermostat, cooling you off when you’re hot or warming you up when it’s chilly. It sounds crazy, and even a little scammy, but before you grab for the remote, check out the cast of characters......"

Look who will be basking in the radiation:

"Why did they meet? 1,400 basking sharks were spotted in area of ocean off Mass. in 2013" by Martin Finucane Globe Staff  April 20, 2018

In November 2013, marine biologist Leah Crowe was aboard a plane, assessing the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket because the area was being considered for a wind farm, when an unprecedented scene unfolded before her eyes.

“We found a huge area of basking sharks,” Crowe said Thursday.

Group after group after group came into view. “It really looked like streams of basking sharks eddying off into little circles,” said Crowe, who worked for the Center for Coastal Studies at the time and now works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Within a circle with an 11.5-mile radius, there were 1,398 of the sharks, researchers believe, though that may be undercounting because some of the sharks may have been swimming too deep to be seen from the air.

It was the largest grouping of the sharks ever reported, researchers said.

The sighting led researchers to look further into such basking shark meetings, Crowe said. The results of their work, a review of the top 10 basking shark aggregations that were available in decades’ worth of aerial survey records, were recently published in the Journal of Fish Biology. Crowe is the lead author.

The observations weren’t comprehensive, since the researchers combed through reports that had been contributed to the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium database. Basking sharks were not the focus of the reports, but aerial surveyors note such gatherings when they observe them, Crowe said. Finding the sharks “is kind of an extra thing,” she said.

Basking sharks grow as long as 32 feet and weigh more than 5 tons. They’re the world’s second-largest fish, according to NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. They’re slow-moving and harmless to humans, though they can cause panic when they’re confused with the fearsome great white shark. They feed on zooplankton with their giant mouths open. Their total population is unknown.

So why were the sharks convening? An annual meeting? Planning what to do with mankind when they take over?

Researchers believe the sharks gather for either feeding, socializing, courtship, or some combination of the three. (One theory is that they feed in groups so they can draft behind each other, lessening some of the drag from having their huge maws open.)

In the end, though, researchers don’t know.

“There’s a lot of secrets still, I guess,” Crowe said.....


A different kind of Basqueing:

"Basque militant group ETA says it’s sorry" Associated Press  April 20, 2018

MADRID — The Basque militant group ETA on Friday offered an unprecedented apology for the pain caused during its more than four decades of armed campaign for independence from Spain and France, and vowed not to return to violence.

ETA, which killed around 850 people including police, politicians, and entrepreneurs, is due to announce its final dissolution early next month, ending one of Europe’s last standing violent nationalist conflicts.

After nearly half a century of car bomb attacks, shootings, and kidnappings, the group gave up its violent campaign in 2011. One year ago, the organization also handed over to authorities most of its remaining arsenal.

In a statement published on Friday by Basque newspapers Berria and Gara, ETA acknowledged its responsibility for the pain caused by assassinations, torture, kidnappings, and people forced to leave the Basque country, in a vague reference not only to ETA’s victims but also to the plight of some of its own militants.

‘‘We want to show our respect to the dead, the injured, and the victims that ETA’s actions have caused,’’ the statement said. ‘‘We really are sorry.’’

Spain’s government, which considers ETA a terrorist organization, welcomed the organization’s move but said the apology came too late.

‘‘ETA should have sincerely and unconditionally asked for forgiveness for the damage caused a long time ago,’’ the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a brief note.

It added that Friday’s announcement was ‘‘nothing more than another consequence of the fortitude of the rule of law that has defeated ETA with the arms of democracy.’’

ETA’s victims were also critical of the announcement because it sought the forgiveness of victims ‘‘who didn’t have a direct participation in the conflict,’’ apparently excluding those who had been specifically targeted by ETA.

AVT, a national association of terrorism victims, said the statement aimed to ‘‘whiten’’ ETA’s past, while COVITE, another victim group based in the Basque town of San Sebastian, said the distinction between ‘‘guilty and innocent victims’’ treats them ‘‘as collateral damage in the imposition of a totalitarian project.’’

ETA emerged in the late 1950s during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco with the stated aim of forming an independent state from Basque areas on both sides of the Pyrenees. Basques have a distinct culture and an ancient language, Euskara.

In the 1980s, shadowy death squads killed and tortured dozens of ETA militants in what was known as the Spanish government’s ‘‘dirty war’’ against the group.

Have they apologized?

Both France and Spain, where ETA committed most of its deadly actions, had been demanding an apology and that the group take a further step and disband.

The official Basque regional broadcaster ETB, which has in the past had access to the organization’s plans, reported this week that ETA’s dissolution would be announced in the first weekend of May.


Think the Catalonia get the message?

"Catalan separatist leader arrested in Germany" by Griff Witte Washington Post  March 25, 2018

BERLIN — Authorities in Germany arrested former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Sunday after he crossed into the country from Denmark, setting up a possible extradition of the fugitive separatist leader to Spain.

And why was he there?

"Las Vegas may be the easiest place to get married, but when it comes to a quick divorce, Denmark has the highest divorce rate in western Europe....."

Spain still fighting it.

Puigdemont’s lawyer said his client had been taken to a police station. German police confirmed that Puigdemont had been arrested at 11:19 a.m. Sunday by highway patrol officers in Schleswig-Holstein, a state that borders Denmark.

Prosecutors said a court would decide at a procedural hearing Monday whether to keep Puigdemont in custody pending a Spanish extradition request.

Authorities had been tipped off that Puigdemont would be entering Germany, and multiple German media outlets reported that Spanish intelligence had been used to snare the Catalan nationalist.

In Barcelona, thousands of proindependence Catalans gathered to protest the arrest, leading to clashes with police, the Associated Press reported. Protesters also turned out in the northern city of Girona, where Puigdemont was mayor before he became regional president in 2016.

The arrest marked the latest in a series of maneuvers that have left Catalonia’s independence movement with few leaders who are not either being held or sought as fugitives.

Puigdemont is wanted in Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition arising from his role in organizing an October referendum on Catalan independence. If convicted, he could face as many as 30 years in prison.

The Catalan leader has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since he fled Spain five months ago amid the uproar over the referendum.

Separatists won that vote, and Puigdemont’s government declared independence. But the Spanish government deemed the ballot unconstitutional and imposed direct rule.

Spain had reactivated an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont on Friday. At the time, he was in Finland.

The detention comes at a tense moment in Catalonia. Separatists hold a majority in the regional Parliament following elections in December. But they have not been able to form a government and have abandoned plans to name a new president after the arrest of their latest candidate, Jordi Turull.

Puigdemont had sought to reclaim the presidency for himself but abandoned that bid on March 1, announcing in a 13-minute video that he had come to the decision with ‘‘the greatest sadness.’’

But he also said he would set up a foundation that had the makings of a government in exile.

‘‘I will not throw in the towel. I will not quit. I will not give up in the face of the illegitimate behavior of those who lost at the ballot box,’’ he said.

That message was in contrast to the one he had communicated privately to a colleague in messages that were captured by a TV camera and that acknowledged the Spanish government’s crackdown ‘‘has won.’’

‘‘I guess that you’ve realized that this is over,’’ reads one of the messages.

In Barcelona, police in riot gear struck demonstrators with batons as they tried to push back a large crowd that tried to advance on the office of the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia.

In Scotland, police said the lawyer of another fugitive former member of Catalonia’s government has contacted officers and is preparing for the politician to be handed over to authorities.....



"A German court on Monday ordered Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont to be held in custody for the length of extradition proceedings. Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, said the arrest of Puigdemont was ‘‘good news’’ because ‘‘nobody can infinitely mock justice.’’ ‘‘Democrats and those who believe in the rule of law are relieved to see that the institutions work and in this country that is Spain we are all equal under the law,’’ Saenz de Santamaria told reporters in Madrid. Separatist politicians have condemned Sunday’s street violence in Barcelona and other Catalan cities that led to 100 people, including 23 police agents, to be treated for minor injuries. The riots followed another massive peaceful demonstration earlier in the day in support of Puigdemont....."

Just stay out of the road going home, will ya'?

"Roads blocked in Catalonia to protest leader’s detention" Associated Press  March 28, 2018

MADRID — Demonstrators angered by the detention of former leader Carles Puigdemont blocked highways across Catalonia and roads in central Barcelona on Tuesday, as the separatist politician remained in a German jail pending a decision on Spain’s extradition request.

Transportation authorities in the northeastern Spanish region said a main motorway remained blocked in Figueres, near the border with France. Demonstrators also stopped traffic in another highway leading to the city of Lleida, and a national road between Tarragona and Valencia.

Protesters also caused disruptions early Tuesday on several roads in Barcelona.

Catalonia has been marred by largely peaceful protests for more than six months, since a bid for secession from Spain began in earnest. The Catalan Parliament’s declaration of independence in late October following an ad-hoc referendum that was banned by the Spanish government received no international recognition and provoked a takeover of the regional government by Spanish authorities.

Well, at least the AP lets you know which side they are on.

Puigdemont was ousted and fled to Belgium. Last week, a Spanish judge charged the 55-year-old politician with rebellion and misuse of public funds.


Also seeGerman court orders former Catalan president freed till extradition request is decided

Car is already running:

"German officials say there has been a sharp drop in sales of new diesel cars, following a court decision that allows cities to ban the use of heavily polluting vehicles. Figures released Wednesday by the Federal Motor Transport Authority show new registrations of diesel-powered cars dropped by 25.4 percent in March to under 109,000, compared with about 146,000 during the same month a year earlier. Germany’s top administrative court ruled Feb. 27 that cities can ban diesel cars and trucks to combat air pollution."

(Car stalls and nothing but starter whine as blog editor tries ignition again and again. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr.)

"Carles Puigdemont, the fugitive former president of Spain’s Catalonia region, made a renewed call Saturday for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over Catalonia’s secession claim. A day after he was released from a German prison, Puigdemont said a German court’s decision not to extradite him to Spain on charges of rebellion shows that ‘‘dialogue is needed’’ to defuse the political conflict (AP)."

Maybe it's a good thing the car stalled:

"All new cars in the European Union will need to have a special system that automatically calls the emergency services in case of an accident. Erik Jonnaert, the secretary general of the ACEA car manufacturers’ association, said Wednesday that the eCall system ‘‘has the potential to save many lives by shortening the reaction time of emergency services.’’ Sensors in the car automatically transmit its location, the exact time, and direction it was headed in when the accident happens. The eCall system was approved by the 28-nation EU in 2015, and the three-year transition period ends this weekend."

Can't blame him for wanting a cigarette.

Look what else the net hauled in:

"Body found off highway in Canton identified as missing Marine recruit from Boston" by John R. Ellement and Danny McDonald Globe Staff  March 29, 2018

The agonizing search by relatives of Joseph Brancato, the Marine recruit who disappeared in November, is now over, as authorities said Thursday that his body was discovered in the brush alongside Interstate 95 in Canton on Wednesday.

Brancato, 21, was reported missing Nov. 18 in Roslindale’s Mendelssohn Street area, where he was living and training with ex-Marine Gunnery Sergeant Frank Lipka, a Marine recruiter who has since been named as a person of interest in what was once a missing-person case.

Lipka was the sole recruiter at the Roslindale office where Joseph Brancato was processed, Ed Buice, a spokesman for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, has said in an e-mail. Brancato was living with Lipka in the hopes of passing the physical tests necessary to become a Marine, his family has said.

In Winthrop, an emotional scene played out outside the two-story home on Otis Street where Brancato had lived with his mother and grandmother before moving in with Lipka.

“I’m never going to be the same; I lost my son,” his mother, Kim Brancato, said, before becoming overcome with emotion.

Your lies killed her son.

Brancato attended a vocational high school, was a fisherman, and badly wanted to be a Marine, she said.

“He was Joey,” she said. “There was no one like Joey.”

When she learned that a body had been found off a highway in Canton on Wednesday, Brancato said she went into shock.

“I still had a little bit of hope that Joey would walk through the door and this would all be just a big nightmare,” she said. His grandmother, Midge LeBaron, said the family is looking for answers.

Kim Brancato said her son wanted to “fight for this country and he hooked up with the wrong person,” referring to Lipka.

Lipka was arraigned on Monday in West Roxbury Municipal Court on charges unrelated to Brancato’s disappearance, and bail was set at $10,000 cash.

He was charged with assaulting a pizza delivery driver during an incident last September.

That why it never came?

In the weeks since Brancato disappeared, Boston police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have searched wooded areas along Turtle Pond Parkway in the Stony Brook Reservation in Hyde Park on multiple occasions.

Brancato’s body apparently was discovered by happenstance. According to Morrissey’s office, a motorist pulled over in the breakdown lane and saw the remains Wednesday afternoon on a curving part of I-95 where the highway branches off from I-93.

While on the side of the road, the person saw “human remains a modest distance off the roadway.” Responding State Police troopers confirmed the sighting and oversaw the recovery of Brancato’s remains.....


"Brockton mother accused of killing sons indicted on murder charges" by Laney Ruckstuhl Globe Correspondent  March 30, 2018

The Brockton woman accused of killing her two sons in what investigators believe may have been some sort of ritual was indicted on murder charges by a grand jury, prosecutors announced Friday.

Latarsha L. Sanders, 43, was indicted on two counts of murder and one count of misleading a police investigation, the Plymouth district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Prosecutors say Sanders admitted to stabbing the two boys, ages 5 and 8, multiple times with a kitchen knife in her Prospect Street home Feb. 5. She allegedly cleaned them up, placed them in bed, and mopped up the crime scene. She did not seek medical attention for her sons and they died in the home, according to the statement.

SeeWoman refuses medical help after Brockton crash, dies later

RelatedWoman’s death investigated

Just confirming that an investigation has been opened after she was found dead in the basement.

Sanders initially made false statements to police after the boys were discovered, blaming the killings on other people before stating responsibility, according to a police report.

Sanders’ mother told police that before the boys’ deaths, she had become obsessed with the Illuminati and ritual sacrifices. Her mother believed Sanders was mentally ill, but said she refused to seek treatment.

Sanders was arrested by State Police and arraigned in Brockton District Court on Feb. 6. She was ordered held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictments in Brockton Superior Court on April 10.