Coronavirus: The European Union Unravels

Coronavirus: The European Union Unravels
by Soeren Kern

March 27, 2020 at 5:00 am

Faced with an existential threat, EU member states, far from joining together to confront the pandemic as a unified bloc, instinctively are returning to pursuing the national interest. After years of criticizing U.S. President Donald J. Trump for pushing an “America First” policy, European leaders are reverting to the very nationalism they have publicly claimed to despise.

Ever since the threat posed by coronavirus came into focus, Europeans have displayed precious little of the high-minded multilateral solidarity that for decades has been sold to the rest of the world as a bedrock of European unity. The EU’s unique brand of soft power, said to be a model for a post-national world order, has been shown to be an empty fiction.

In recent weeks, EU member states have closed their borders, banned exports of critical supplies and withheld humanitarian aid. The European Central Bank, the guarantor of the European single currency, has treated with unparalleled disdain the eurozone’s third-largest economy, Italy, in its singular hour of need. The member states worst affected by the pandemic — Italy and Spain — have been left by the other member states to fend for themselves.

The European Union, seven decades in the making, is now unravelling in real time — in weeks.

In recent weeks, EU member states have closed their borders, banned exports of critical supplies and withheld humanitarian aid. Pictured: Trucks are backed up on the road leading to the Austrian-Hungarian border crossing near Nickelsdorf, Austria on March 18, 2020. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
As the coronavirus pandemic rages through Europe — where more than 250,000 people have now been diagnosed with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 15,000 have died — the foundational pillars of the European Union are crumbling one by one.

Faced with an existential threat, EU member states, far from joining together to confront the pandemic as a unified bloc, instinctively are returning to pursuing the national interest. After years of criticizing U.S. President Donald J. Trump for pushing an “America First” policy, European leaders are reverting to the very nationalism they have publicly claimed to despise.

Ever since the threat posed by coronavirus came into focus, Europeans have displayed precious little of the high-minded multilateral solidarity that for decades has been sold to the rest of the world as a bedrock of European unity. The EU’s unique brand of soft power, said to be a model for a post-national world order, has been shown to be an empty fiction.

In recent weeks, EU member states have closed their borders, banned exports of critical supplies and withheld humanitarian aid. The European Central Bank, the guarantor of the European single currency, has treated with unparalleled disdain the eurozone’s third-largest economy, Italy, in its singular hour of need. The member states worst affected by the pandemic — Italy and Spain — have been left by the other member states to fend for themselves.

The seeds of the European Union were planted in the ashes of the Second World War. In May 1949, Robert Schuman, one of the EU’s founding fathers, boldly announced the creation of new world system:

“We are carrying out a great experiment, the fulfillment of the same recurrent dream that for ten centuries has revisited the peoples of Europe: creating between them an organization putting an end to war and guaranteeing an eternal peace.”

The European Union, seven decades in the making, is now unravelling in real time — in weeks. After the dust of the coronavirus pandemic settles, the EU’s institutions will almost certainly continue to operate as before. Too much political and economic capital has been invested in the European project for European elites to do otherwise. However, the EU’s attraction as a post-national model for its own citizens, much less for the rest of the world, will have passed.

Recent examples of the unilateral pursuit of the national interest by European leaders, many of whom publicly espouse globalism but in times of desperation embrace nationalism, include:

France. On March 3, France confiscated all protective masks made in the country. “We will distribute them to healthcare professionals and to French people affected by the coronavirus,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. On March 6, the French government forced Valmy SAS, a face mask manufacturer near Lyon, to cancel an order for millions of masks placed by the UK’s National Health Service.

Germany, March 4. Germany banned the export of medical protective equipment such as safety glasses, respiratory masks, protective coats, protective suits and gloves. On March 7, the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that German customs authorities were preventing a Swiss truck carrying 240,000 protective masks from returning to Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU. The Swiss government summoned the German ambassador to protest against the export ban. “In these contacts, the German authorities were urged immediately to release the blocked products,” a Swiss government spokesperson was quoted as saying. After facing a backlash from other EU member states, Germany on March 19 reversed course and lifted the export ban.

Austria, March 10. Austria became the first EU country to close its borders to another EU country. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced controls along the border with Italy and a ban on the entry of most travelers from there. “The utmost priority,” Kurz said, “is to prevent the spread and thus importing the illness into our society. There is therefore a ban on entry for people from Italy into Austria, with the exception of people who have a doctor’s note certifying that they are healthy.” The government also announced a ban on all air or rail travel to Italy. Austria’s decision threatened to undo the so-called Schengen Area, which entered into effect in 1995 and abolishes the need for passports and other types of control at the mutual borders of 26 European countries.

Slovenia, March 11. The government closed some border crossings with Italy and at those remaining open, had started making health checks to combat the spread of the virus.

Czech Republic, March 12. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš closed the country’s borders with Germany and Austria and also banned the entry of foreigners coming from other risky countries. On March 22, the government said that the border restrictions may last for up to two years.

Switzerland, March 13. The Swiss government imposed border controls with other European countries. Switzerland, although not a member of the European Union, is part of the Schengen zone.

Italy, March 13. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde dismissed calls by Italy for financial assistance to help it cope with the pandemic. After her comments rattled financial markets, Lagarde said that the ECB was “fully committed to avoid any fragmentation in a difficult moment for the euro area.” Italian President Sergio Mattarella replied that Italy had a right to expect solidarity rather than obstacles from beyond its borders.

Denmark, March 14. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen imposed border controls on all traffic by land, sea and air until at least April 13.

Poland, March 15. The government closed the country’s borders to everyone except Polish citizens or people with a Polish residence permit.

Germany, March 16. Germany, the largest and most powerful country in the European Union, introduced controls on its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The move came after Germany registered 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in just one day.

Hungary, March 16. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán halted all passenger traffic into Hungary would be halted and only Hungarian citizens allowed to enter the country.

Spain, March 16. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska decreed the establishment of controls at all land borders.

Serbia, March 16. President Aleksandar Vučić declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus. He condemned the EU for restricting exports of medical equipment and appealed for help from his “friend and brother,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping. “European solidarity does not exist,” Vučić said. “That was a fairy tale on paper. I have sent a special letter to the only ones who can help, and that is China.” Serbia applied to become a member of the EU in 2009. Accession talks began in January 2014.

Czech Republic, March 17. Czech authorities seized 110,000 face masks that China had sent to Italy. On March 23, the Czech Republic delivered the confiscated material to Italy. “There are 110,000 masks on board the bus as a gift to Italy, which is supposed to replace the material that was probably a Chinese gift for Italian compatriots,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Stichova.

Germany, March 18. Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a rare televised speech, urged all Germans to obey rules aimed at reducing direct social contact and avoiding as many new infections as possible. “It is serious,” she said. “Take it seriously. Since German reunification, actually, since World War Two, there has never been a challenge for our country in which acting in solidarity was so very crucial.” Merkel’s address to the nation was the first time in nearly 15 years in office that she had spoken to the country other than in her annual New Year’s address. She did not mention the European Union or other EU member states.

Belgium, March 22. The coronavirus has fueled tensions between Belgium, which is on lockdown, and the Netherlands, which is not. “In the Netherlands, shops are still open and meetings of 100 people are still allowed — these are breeding grounds for the virus,” said Marino Keulen, mayor of the Belgian border town Lanaken. Belgian authorities have set up barricades along the border and are ordering cars with Dutch license plates to turn around and return home. Keulen called the border checks a “signal to The Hague” to “quickly scale-up” its response and align with neighboring countries. “The Dutch government is incompetent and ridiculous in its response to the coronavirus crisis,” said Leopold Lippens, the mayor of Belgian seacoast town Knokke-Heist. “The Netherlands is doing nothing, so we have to protect ourselves.”

Spain, March 25. After failing to obtain assistance from the European Union, the Spanish government asked NATO for help in acquiring 1.5 million face masks and 450,000 respirators. NATO lacks this material and is limited to passing the Spanish request on to the remaining 29 allies, many of which are also members of the EU.

Poland, March 25. Polish authorities prevented hundreds of thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer from being exported to Norway, which is not a member of the EU. The Norwegian company Norenco manufactures and packages hand sanitizer for the Scandinavian market at a factory it owns in Poland. Norenco’s chief executive, Arne Haukland, said that after he applied for an export license, five men arrived at the factory, and demanded to be shown its stock of hand sanitizer. He said the company then received a letter ordering it to sell any hand sanitizer it had produced to the local city authorities in Lubin at a fixed price, under emergency coronavirus laws passed in Poland at the start of March. The seizure will exacerbate the supply problem faced by Norwegian hospitals.

France, March 25. President Emmanuel Macron, in an address to the nation at a military hospital in the eastern city of Mulhouse, which has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, called for national, as opposed to European, unity: “When we engage in war, we engage fully, we mobilize united. I see in our country factors of division, doubts, all those who want to fracture the country when it is necessary to have only one obsession: to be united to fight against the virus. I call for this unity and this commitment.”

Meanwhile, in Italy, a nationwide survey published on March 18 found that 88% of Italians believe that the EU is not helping their country. Only 4% thought the opposite while 8% did not have an opinion. More than two-thirds (67%) of Italians said that they believe that being part of the European Union is a disadvantage for their country.

In an article titled, “Coronavirus Threatens European Unity,” Bill Wirtz, a political commentator based in Luxembourg, observed:

“As the coronavirus unfolds, Schengen countries are shutting their own borders. Whether or not they do so because they believe that a coordinated European response would be inefficient, or whether they believe that their own voters wouldn’t buy it — at this stage it’s irrelevant. The mere fact that borders have resurfaced in Europe is a failure for the integrity of the Schengen open borders agreement….

“A coordinated EU response to this crisis does not exist, and as the recommendations fall on deaf ears, Brussels is dealing with a crisis of confidence. There is no union-wide crisis response, coordinated testing or research. Worse than that, the EU institutions are bystanders to a war between countries, which are trying to limit exports of medical supplies in order to keep them for themselves. In times of crisis, the true influence and capacity of the EU has shown, and it is very little.

“As it stands, countries are dealing with a crisis of missing hospital beds, medical equipment, and overall resources. If the virus ever happens to lay lower than it does now, and the conclusion is drawn that the European Union was a powerless bystander in the eye of the storm (which it is), then the Schengen Agreement and open borders in Europe could be dealing with a difficult recovery.”

Darren McCaffrey, the political editor of the France-based news channel Euronews, wrote:

“In the past couple of weeks, solidarity has collapsed in the bloc. Countries have started imposing border controls on neighboring EU countries, and even Germany has taken steps to manage the flow of people entering and leaving its territory.

“On Tuesday, a 35-kilometer-long queue formed at the Polish-German border, where hundreds of Europeans — Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians — were stuck in trucks, cars and buses.

“As the EU must take measures to prevent the spread of the disease, many are worrying about the essence of the European Union and its four freedoms [the free movement of goods, services, capital and people].

“What is the EU if its own citizens can’t move freely? What is the single market if goods can’t cross Europe’s borders without hindrance?”

In an article titled, “Nations First: The EU Struggles for Relevance in the Fight against Coronavirus,” the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel noted:

“As the pandemic takes hold in Europe, the decades-old union is showing its weaknesses. While the EU managed to survive Brexit and the euro crisis, the corona crisis may yet prove to be an insurmountable challenge.

“Instead of trying to come up with joint solutions, the Continent is becoming balkanized and is reverting to national solutions. Instead of helping each other out, EU countries are hoarding face masks like panicked Europeans are hoarding toilet paper. The early decisions made by some EU member states to refrain from exporting medical equipment to Italy — the EU country that has thus far been hit hardest by the pandemic — has even overshadowed the lack of European solidarity displayed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the refugee crisis.

“Europeans are even divided on the question as to how to combat the virus. Whereas Germany is eager to prevent as many people as possible from encountering the virus and becoming infected, the Netherlands wants to see as many healthy people as possible fight off COVID-19, thus becoming immune. The signal is clear: When things get serious, every member state still looks out for itself first — even 60 years after the founding of the community.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.

12 Experts Questioning The Coronavirus Panic

From Principia Scientific Website

12 Experts Questioning The Coronavirus Panic

Published on March 27, 2020

Written by James Fetzer

Below is our list of twelve medical experts whose opinions on the Coronavirus outbreak contradict the official narratives of the MSM, and the memes so prevalent on social media.

Dr Sucharit Bhakdi is a specialist in microbiology. He was a professor at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene and one of the most cited research scientists in German history.

What he says:

We are afraid that 1 million infections with the new virus will lead to 30 deaths per day over the next 100 days. But we do not realise that 20, 30, 40 or 100 patients positive for normal coronaviruses are already dying every day.

[The government’s anti-COVID19 measures] are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous […] The life expectancy of millions is being shortened. The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences on medical care are profound. Already services to patients in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling. All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

All these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide based on nothing but a spook.


Dr Wolfgang Wodarg is a German physician specialising in Pulmonology, politician and former chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In 2009 he called for an inquiry into alleged conflicts of interest surrounding the EU response to the Swine Flu pandemic.

What he says:

Politicians are being courted by scientists…scientists who want to be important to get money for their institutions. Scientists who just swim along in the mainstream and want their part of it […] And what is missing right now is a rational way of looking at things.

We should be asking questions like “How did you find out this virus was dangerous?”, “How was it before?”, “Didn’t we have the same thing last year?”, “Is it even something new?”

That’s missing.


Dr Joel Kettner professor of Community Health Sciences and Surgery at Manitoba University, former Chief Public Health Officer for Manitoba province and Medical Director of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases.

What he says:

I have never seen anything like this, anything anywhere near like this. I’m not talking about the pandemic, because I’ve seen 30 of them, one every year. It is called influenza. And other respiratory illness viruses, we don’t always know what they are. But I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why.


I worry about the message to the public, about the fear of coming into contact with people, being in the same space as people, shaking their hands, having meetings with people. I worry about many, many consequences related to that.


In Hubei, in the province of Hubei, where there has been the most cases and deaths by far, the actual number of cases reported is 1 per 1000 people and the actual rate of deaths reported is 1 per 20,000. So maybe that would help to put things into perspective.


Dr John Ioannidis Professor of Medicine, of Health Research and Policy and of Biomedical Data Science, at Stanford University School of Medicine and a Professor of Statistics at Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences. He is director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS).

He is also the editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Clinical Investigation. He was chairman at the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine as well as adjunct professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.

As a physician, scientist and author he has made contributions to evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, data science and clinical research. In addition, he pioneered the field of meta-research. He has shown that much of the published research does not meet good scientific standards of evidence.

What he says:

Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.

The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.


Could the Covid-19 case fatality rate be that low? No, some say, pointing to the high rate in elderly people. However, even some so-called mild or common-cold-type coronaviruses that have been known for decades can have case fatality rates as high as 8% when they infect elderly people in nursing homes.


If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year. At most, we might have casually noted that flu this season seems to be a bit worse than average.

– “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data”, Stat News, 17th March 2020


Dr Yoram Lass is an Israeli physician, politician and former Director General of the Health Ministry. He also worked as Associate Dean of the Tel Aviv University Medical School and during the 1980s presented the science-based television show Tatzpit.

What he says:

Italy is known for its enormous morbidity in respiratory problems, more than three times any other European country. In the US about 40,000 people die in a regular flu season and so far 40-50 people have died of the coronavirus, most of them in a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.


In every country, more people die from regular flu compared with those who die from the coronavirus.


…there is a very good example that we all forget: the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico and until today there is no vaccination against it. But what? At that time there was no Facebook or there maybe was but it was still in its infancy. The coronavirus, in contrast, is a virus with public relations.

Whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong.

– Interview in Globes, March 22nd 2020


Dr Pietro Vernazza is a Swiss physician specialising Infectious Diseases at the Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen and Professor of Health Policy.

What he says:

We have reliable figures from Italy and a work by epidemiologists, which has been published in the renowned science journal ‹Science›, which examined the spread in China. This makes it clear that around 85 percent of all infections have occurred without anyone noticing the infection. 90 percent of the deceased patients are verifiably over 70 years old, 50 percent over 80 years.


In Italy, one in ten people diagnosed die, according to the findings of the Science publication, that is statistically one of every 1,000 people infected. Each individual case is tragic, but often – similar to the flu season – it affects people who are at the end of their lives.


If we close the schools, we will prevent the children from quickly becoming immune.


We should better integrate the scientific facts into the political decisions.

– Interview in St. Galler Tagblatt, 22nd March 2020


Frank Ulrich Montgomery is German radiologist, former President of the German Medical Association and Deputy Chairman of the World Medical Association.

What he says:

I’m not a fan of lockdown. Anyone who imposes something like this must also say when and how to pick it up again. Since we have to assume that the virus will be with us for a long time, I wonder when we will return to normal? You can’t keep schools and daycare centers closed until the end of the year. Because it will take at least that long until we have a vaccine. Italy has imposed a lockdown and has the opposite effect. They quickly reached their capacity limits, but did not slow down the virus spread within the lockdown.

– Interview in General Anzeiger, 18th March 2020


Prof. Hendrik Streeck is a German HIV researcher, epidemiologist and clinical trialist. He is professor of virology, and the director of the Institute of Virology and HIV Research, at Bonn University.

What he says:

The new pathogen is not that dangerous, it is even less dangerous than Sars-1. The special thing is that Sars-CoV-2 replicates in the upper throat area and is therefore much more infectious because the virus jumps from throat to throat, so to speak. But that is also an advantage: Because Sars-1 replicates in the deep lungs, it is not so infectious, but it definitely gets on the lungs, which makes it more dangerous.


You also have to take into account that the Sars-CoV-2 deaths in Germany were exclusively old people. In Heinsberg, for example, a 78-year-old man with previous illnesses died of heart failure, and that without Sars-2 lung involvement. Since he was infected, he naturally appears in the Covid 19 statistics. But the question is whether he would not have died anyway, even without Sars-2.

– Interview in Frankfurter Allgemeine, 16th March 2020


Dr Yanis Roussel et. al. – A team of researchers from the Institut Hospitalo-universitaire Méditerranée Infection, Marseille and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, conducting a peer-reviewed study on Coronavirus mortality for the government of France under the ‘Investments for the Future’ programme.

What they say:

The problem of SARS-CoV-2 is probably overestimated, as 2.6 million people die of respiratory infections each year compared with less than 4000 deaths for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of writing.


This study compared the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 in OECD countries (1.3%) with the mortality rate of common coronaviruses identified in AP-HM patients (0.8%) from 1 January 2013 to 2 March 2020. Chi-squared test was performed, and the P-value was 0.11 (not significant).


…it should be noted that systematic studies of other coronaviruses (but not yet for SARS-CoV-2) have found that the percentage of asymptomatic carriers is equal to or even higher than the percentage of symptomatic patients. The same data for SARS-CoV-2 may soon be available, which will further reduce the relative risk associated with this specific pathology.

– “SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data”, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 19th March 2020


Dr. David Katz is an American physician and founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center

What he says:

I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near-total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.

– “Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?”, New York Times 20th March 2020


Michael T. Osterholm is regents professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

What he says:

Consider the effect of shutting down offices, schools, transportation systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the public dole. The likely result would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown, with countless permanently lost jobs, long before a vaccine is ready or natural immunity takes hold.


[T]he best alternative will probably entail letting those at low risk for serious disease continue to work, keep business and manufacturing operating, and “run” society, while at the same time advising higher-risk individuals to protect themselves through physical distancing and ramping up our health-care capacity as aggressively as possible. With this battle plan, we could gradually build up immunity without destroying the financial structure on which our lives are based.

– “Facing covid-19 reality: A national lockdown is no cure”, Washington Post 21st March 2020


Dr Peter Goetzsche is Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen and founder of the Cochrane Medical Collaboration. He has written several books on corruption in the field of medicine and the power of big pharmaceutical companies.

What he says:

Our main problem is that no one will ever get in trouble for measures that are too draconian. They will only get in trouble if they do too little. So, our politicians and those working with public health do much more than they should do.

No such draconian measures were applied during the 2009 influenza pandemic, and they obviously cannot be applied every winter, which is all year round, as it is always winter somewhere. We cannot close down the whole world permanently.

Should it turn out that the epidemic wanes before long, there will be a queue of people wanting to take credit for this. And we can be damned sure draconian measures will be applied again next time. But remember the joke about tigers. “Why do you blow the horn?” “To keep the tigers away.” “But there are no tigers here.” “There you see!”

– “Corona: an epidemic of mass panic”, blog post on Deadly Medicines 21st March 2020


The New Nukes On The Block

My friend Robert (less formally Bob) has a Science background with training in Chemistry and Biology. For many years he has had a keen interest in energy, especially the merits of nuclear energy and I have invited him to write on the matter. This is the first of a number of articles he will write for this blog.

The New Nukes on the Block

“There is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power… We’ve done the math and we can’t power the world without nuclear energy.”
– Open letter COP 21: Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, James Hansen, Tom Wigley

Even if you don’t buy into the exaggerated hype of catastrophic climate change,
there is something exciting happening in nuclear energy, capturing the attention of tens of thousands of online YouTubers. Remember that unrealized promise of clean, abundant, cheap energy for all? It is coming, slowly hatching from the experiments of nuclear physicists in the 1960’s and the need to do something to provide the boundless energy for a prosperous future – for all. This is the way forward, forget the ecoextremist mantra of having energy only when the wind blows and the sun shines , forget tightening your belt and overthrowing capitalism, nuclear is the way forward, promising as good if not better way of life for your grandchildren and the grandchildren of everyone around the world.

And unlike fusion, the physics is already there. Nuclear reactors all have a few things in common; they all use the fission of unstable nuclei (thus nuclear) of uranium and plutonium atoms to release heat. Lots of heat. The energy dense fuel heats a circulating coolant that is then used to produce the high energy steam needed to spin turbines and generate electricity.

Similar to a coal fired plant, really, except that the coal plant needs 16 tonnes of coal for every kilogram of uranium, and produces far more waste. And that waste from coal is largely released into the local environment while the waste (actually spent fuel) from nuclear is stored on site. A reactor’s entire spent fuel from five decades of electrical production can be safely stored on two acres of land, in a few dozen cement and steel casks.

There have been three generations of earlier nuclear reactors, the prototype Gen I and the commercial Gen II, followed now by the hopefully more economic Gen III reactors. These generations are dominated by huge light water reactors to and a few heavy water reactors (water, light or heavy, is the coolant). Now, around the world, entrepreneurs and states are designing novel Gen IV reactors with an emphasis on increased efficiency, inherent safety and improved economics.

For example, one of the more developed Gen IV designs, by Nuscale of Portland Oregon, encapsulates a light water reactor in a single integrated unit, complete with an outer containment vessel that sits in a large pool of cooling water. Compared to Gen II reactors, the Nuscale unit is small, only 23 m by 4.5 m, and can be built in a factory and transported to site on a truck or barge. A single Nuscale Power Module produces 200 MW of heat that can deliver 60 MW of electricity or enough power for about 40,000 homes. Up to 12 of these modules, 720 MW electric, can be combined and run from a single control room.

Another small modular reactor (SMR) is the Integrated Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) envisioned by Terrestrial Energy with offices in the USA, Canada and the UK. This reactor takes a departure from the light water reactors and uses a mixture of molten salts as both the fuel and the coolant. Although experiments with molten salt reactors were carried out in the 1960s, this reactor has not yet been prototyped and requires more materials research and testing. The IMSR is presently advancing through the Canadian regulatory framework and Terrestrial Energy is planning to build a research reactor at Chalk River, Ontario by the mid 2020s. The IMSR concept is a reactor vessel that will output 400 MW thermal, converting 195 MW to electrical, enough for about 120,000 homes. All this and a projected price that could be competitive with gas or coal.

But what is so wrong with the Gen II reactors that they need replacing? Why are many of these reactors being shuttered early? Why are there so few new builds of Gen III reactors? These Gen II and III reactors are now providing 20% of the US’s, 60% of Ontario’s and 70% of France’s electricity. And the reactors do it quietly and safely, providing these vast amounts of clean, inexpensive electricity with 90%+ capacity factors, impervious to inclement weather.

By the 1970s light water reactors were being built throughout the US and the capital costs and electricity prices were coming down. Then the honeymoon came to an abrupt end with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Bizarrely, despite the assurances that a meltdown was a million to one event, the accident had been predicted in a movie just months before. Public confidence in nuclear was shaken, then stirred some more with Chernobyl in 1986 and collapsed with the Fukushima incident in 2011. Japan shut down all of its reactors, Germany has scheduled the decommissioning of its reactors, while France, despite an excellent safety record, has been contemplating powering down its fleet. In the US, several reactors are scheduled for early closure and some new builds have been cancelled. Australia, despite having some of the largest uranium reserves has laws to prevent the building of its own nuclear reactors.

When you ask the pubic or politicians if they support nuclear, safety is the biggest issue, with the names Chernobyl, and( Fukushima quick to mouth. Surprisingly the issue is not safety, but perceived safety. Nuclear power has the best safety record of any other source of electricity except … well there are no exceptions, better than wind, solar and even hydro. That’s better than hydro even when you discount the largest power related disaster, the 1975 Banqiao dam flood that swept away tens of thousands of Chinese and resulted in the famine related deaths of nearly 200,000 more.

Funny that, hardly anyone seems to remember Banqiao even though they remember Three Mile Island which happened only four years later, fully forty years ago. TMI was an expensive accident, but hardly a disaster in terms of loss of life. Even though there was a serious release of radioactive gases, official measurements estimated an average exposure of 0.08 mSv to people near the reactor, about the same as one chest X-ray, up to a maximum exposure of 1 mSv, significantly less than a year of exposure to natural background radiation (1.8 mSv in Canada, 3.0 mSv in the US). The official estimate, no deaths, that’s zero people killed by the exposure to radiation from TMI.

TMI rated a 5 on the scale of nuclear accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima were 7s, right at the top of the scale. At Fukushima there has been one cancer death attributed to radiation exposure, with far more deaths (573) related to the evacuation. It is estimated that the increased radiation exposure to people near the Fukushima plant would be about 10 mSv; compare that to a chest CT scan at 7 mSv and to a lifetime of background radiation at 170 mSv. The Linear No Threshold theory (LNT) predicts that the local increase in cancer risk will be about 1% with about 130 eventual cancer deaths among those exposed. However, at these low radiation doses the LNT theory is considered to be conservative, estimating a cancer risk that is (far?) too high.

For Chernobyl, the LNT estimates eventual cancer deaths to be about 4000. Discount those exaggerated Greenpeace estimates of tens of thousands of casualties – they are busy fundraising. Except for an increased incidence of thyroid cancers, the health effects of Chernobyl have been difficult to detect statistically against a background of cancers that occur under normal conditions.

And forget all those mutants you see in movies and TV, despite the media hype, birth defects are an unfortunate fact of life and there is no statistically significant increased risk of birth defects, miscarriages or still births at TMI or Fukushima. You can also dismiss that wild hyperbole from the ‘most trusted man in Canada’ about having to evacuate the west coast of North America. The Fukushima radiation detected on the West Coast was the unique radiation signature of a few atoms of caesium-137 and caesium-134 isotopes, there has been no detectable increase in overall background radiation. A widely circulated image, in vivid reds, purportedly showing the flow of radiation to the West Coast was actually the wave height of the tsunami as it spread over the Pacific.

Intriguingly, after the Fukushima accident, the estimated death rate caused by global use of nuclear power was reduced. Yes, the predicted mortality went down, starting with 0.074 estimated deaths per TWh (1 billion kWh) in 2007, down to 0.01 estimated deaths per TWh in 2016. This means that the accidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima have actually demonstrated the safety of nuclear power; Fukushima was as bad as it gets with light water reactors and the casualty rate was remarkably low. Yes, Chernobyl was worse but it was an entirely different design, a RBMK graphite moderated reactor with far fewer safety features and regulations.

The problem with nuclear reactors is not safety, it is perceived safety. And, because of this, the accidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima have actually cost thousands of lives and will continue to kill thousands into the future. In the US, lives have been lost because the building of nuclear plants has slowed and almost stopped. In Japan more lives are lost when all of the nuclear plants were shut down and electrical production was replaced with coal. Germany is finding that wind and solar are not able to replace the decommissioning of reliable, uninterrupted nuclear power and are replacing its nuclear fleet with lignite coal. This means that power with a death rate of 0.01 per TWh is being replaced with brown coal and a recently estimated death rate of 32.7 deaths per TWh, over 3000 times the death rate of nuclear. Questionable estimates of deaths from coal are statistical, calculated from the increased mortality thought to be caused by airborne particulates and can vary from 10 deaths/TWh to over 100 deaths/TWh.

There is an unreasoning fear of nuclear and unless we overcome this fear, we may be condemning our grandchildren to a poorer future that, for political reasons, will not be powered by fossil fuels and cannot be powered by renewables. Nuclear power is the only low carbon dioxide electrical utility that can be scaled to meet the energy needs of the planet and has the promise of providing power for tens of thousands of years.

People are dying because we are not using nuclear. We should not be so quick to get rid of existing Gen II nuclear and if anything, we should be extending their working years.

But if our existing reactors are so safe, why should we support the development of the new nukes of Gen IV?

The next article in this series explores the weaknesses of today’s nuclear reactors.

Bob McCarter H. BSC , MS

Good News From Washington State

From Powerline Website



Instead of updating Wuhan coronavirus stats for whole countries, today I want to focus on the numbers from Washington state, the original center of the outbreak in the U.S. The news from there is encouraging.

The Washington Post reports:

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals.

“We don’t know if this last two weeks has been a calm before the storm or if the social distancing and all those things that are being practiced are working,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Jeff Tomlin, whose hospital has handled 40 of Washington state’s more than 130 virus-related deaths.

It’s too early to say for sure, but if I had to bet I’d say social distancing and related practices are working and that this is not the calm before the storm.

The statewide picture is also encouraging:

In the state that saw the nation’s first confirmed covid-19 case on Jan. 31, and the first recorded coronavirus-related death on Feb. 29, initial dire predictions of massive spikes have waned even as testing has increased rapidly. While the number of cases in Washington state grew by as much as 28 percent in one day on March 15 — it has since slowed significantly statewide, as have hospitalizations and deaths.

State authorities said there have been 2,580 positive cases and 132 deaths, and as testing in Washington has ramped up, the percentage of positive cases has remained low — holding at about 7 percent.

So, fewer than 150 deaths (or exactly 150 according to this source) in a state that was once the center of the epidemic and in which the number of reported cases per day is decreasing even as testing increases.

What’s happening in Washington state seems similar to what happened in South Korea, where the number of cases “flattened.” This also happened in China, if the Chinese government’s reported numbers are half-way credible.

The progress made in Washington state has come at a significant cost to small businesses, especially in Kirkland where the epidemic broke out at a nursing home. To its credit, the Post discusses that cost in some detail.

The whole article is worth reading.

Canadian Professors Opposed To Any Government Support To Oil and Gas Industry

Canadian Professors Opposed To Any Government Support To Oil and Gas Industry

In a letter in the last days we see Professors at Universities in Canada oppose any support to the oil and gas industry .

Many of these professors are from the Province of Alberta whose very jobs depend in large part on the revenue from the Province of Alberta . The Province depends in large measure on oil and gas revenues.

What gives???

First , many of these Professors are not economists.

There are some who call themselves Political Economists.

Now , there is a term for you. Political economists.

Others are a combination of geographers, and sociologists who never have had to meet a payroll.

To see this parading in the mainstream media tells you a lot.

So few people even now do not realize what fuels their cars , homes and businesses .

It’s as if this all comes from thin air unencumbered with hard work, risk investment , and wells and pipelines .

How we ever got to this place is bewildering .

Perhaps we have to suffer even more for these fancy land academics to realize the reality of our society and economy.

Europe is also full of these people as they think they can power their economy on solar and wind as they discover they need coal for base power . And their slavish dependence on Putin’s Russia for natural gas belies their so called green bona fides.

What a world we now live in —-hypocrites on all sides.

Did You Know ? The Malaria Drug , Cholorquine was positively reviewed

In The Lancet medical journal in 2003.

The Lancet is touted by Wikipedia as a ‘ weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is among the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and best known general medical journals.’

John O’Sullivan on the website Principia reports and I quote:

‘The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal and among the world’s oldest, most prestigious,reported in 2003 that chloroquine is a supremely effective drug in the treatment of coronaviruses.

Strangely, the world’s panic porn media have lambasted President Trump for making similar recommendations.

The article says among other thing:

“Chloroquine is a 9-aminoquinoline that has been known since 1934. Specifically synthesised to be used as an antimalarial agent, chloroquine was subsequently shown to have immunomodulatory properties that have encouraged its application in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis….the tolerability, low cost, and immunomodulatory properties of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine are associated with biochemical effects that suggest a potential use in viral infections, some of whose symptoms may result from the inflammatory response…

We raise the question of whether this old drug whose parent compound, quinine, was isolated in the late 19th century from the bark of the tropical cinchona tree, may experience a revival in the clinical management of viral diseases of the era of globalisation.’

You can get more from going to the the principia -scientific site or the Lancet site .

52 International Fights To Vancouver Today

52 International Fights To Vancouver Today

Have you checked?

I have.

According to the Vancouver International Airport website there are 52 International Flights landing in Vancouver today .

Many are from the US:Seattle, SanFrancisco, Denver, Houston, Los Angels .

There are two flights from mainland China , from Xiamen .

There are three flights from Taipei.

There are three flights from Mexico City.

There is one from Seoul , South Korea and one from Tokyo, Japan.

There are flights from New Zealand and Australia.

In Europe, there are four flights from London, three from Amsterdam, one from Iceland.

So one has to ask, what measures are in place to examine the health of all these people?