Nuclear Energy

Applying the Dharma for the preservation of planet Earth and its inhabitants
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Leeuwenhoek wrote: Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:54 pm In the USA Democratic party presidential candidates participated in a 7 hour "town hall" on climate change. This produced some interesting reporting about the role of nuclear electric power.

from theverge.com
DEMOCRATS ARE DIVIDED ON USING NUCLEAR ENERGY TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate town hall shows split in candidates’ nuclear policies
  • The elephant in CNN’s climate town hall isn’t a Republican. It’s nuclear energy.
    ... ...
Hi, Leeuw, and welcome back. :smile:
The end of the article you cite is also worth quoting:
When you take a look at the bigger picture, nuclear energy isn’t just dividing Democrats. It’s a hot-button topic among environmentalists as well.

Cohen says that if a safer form of nuclear power could be developed without waste and without the risk of meltdowns, it should be considered. There are those who believe new technologies are coming near to that, but Cohen is cautious. “Many climate scientists are attracted to nuclear as a quick form of carbon-free energy, but I consider the management and political risks of nuclear power to far outweigh the benefits,” Cohen told The Verge. “In the words of the great environmentalist Barry Commoner: ‘Nuclear power is a hell of a complicated way to boil water.’” [bolding mine]
While you've been away, we had a good discussion of the issue over at DWM. The last two posts in it are mine:
Kim O'Hara wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:37 pm One of our think-tanks has just come out with a report saying what I've been saying about nuclear, i.e. it's too expensive and too slow.
Australia's continuing renewable energy boom means the development of nuclear power is not a viable option, a new report from public policy think-tank the Australia Institute has concluded.

With the potential for nuclear power set to be examined by a federal parliamentary inquiry, the institute said the rapid development of wind and solar resources, particularly in South Australia, would render new "baseload" power resources like nuclear uneconomic.

The think-tank's latest National Energy Emissions Audit found that for 44 hours during the month of July, South Australia generated enough wind and solar energy to power 100 per cent of its own demand, with some left over for export to eastern states. ...

Key points:

The Australia Institute's energy emissions audit for the month July was released today
It found SA's renewable energy generation is setting a "real example" for other states
It also found nuclear energy would not complement a high renewables sector ...
:reading: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-27/ ... a/11450850

:thumbsup:
Kim
and
Kim O'Hara wrote: Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:04 am Two more reports - one from Friends of the Earth and another, by the same author but published in RenewEconomy, which reads like a references list for it. Anyone wanting more data than these two pieces provide is probably going to want a sworn affidavit from the sun to say that yes, it does intend to rise tomorrow morning.
https://www.foe.org.au/nuclear_power_climate_change
https://reneweconomy.com.au/small-modul ... ars-73761/

tl;dr = nuclear power is far too expensive for anyone to even consider without massive government subsidies, and the "new" small modular reactors are even worse in every respect than the big ones they are supposed to replace.

:coffee:
Kim
If you would like to comment, either here or there https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f ... 4&start=40, go ahead.
Meanwhile, I'm sure Democrats can and will keep on arguing but that's not going to worry me too much unless their differences suck so much energy out of their challenge to Trump that we end up with another four years of anti-science anti-environment maladministration.

:namaste:
Kim
Leeuwenhoek
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Organizations or web sites that offer the pro-nuclear case?

Post by Leeuwenhoek »

To everyone: Do you know of any Buddhist organizations or web sites that present the pro-nuclear case?

In other words, offer a perspective of nuclear similar to what's been covered on this thread.
Please post citations if you know of any.

I see a lot of so-called eco-buddhist calls for action which are largely silent on specific social/government policy responses to climate change. The ones that do speak to the role of nuclear energy seem almost entirely in the anti-nuke camp.
Leeuwenhoek
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Leeuwenhoek »

People who have a deep understanding and involvement in renewable energy are also pro-nuclear.
Varun Srinivasan Sivaram is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of ReNew Power, India's largest renewable energy company.
He was previously the Philip D. Reed fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan foreign-policy think tank and membership organization, and director of its Program on Energy Security and Climate Change. He is an expert on clean energy technology, climate change, and sustainable urbanization.

Dr. Sivaram holds a
  • PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of Oxford, St. John's College where he was a Rhodes Scholar. His research investigated the use of perovskite solar cells.
    B.S. in engineering physics, Stanford University
    B.A. in international relations from Stanford University
Sivaram is the author of Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet. https://www.cfr.org/book/taming-sun

Why Solar Energy Needs Innovation to Reach Its Potential

TEDx Talk: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV5R7JO-vOc

The Aspen Institute, Apen Ideas Festivals 2019
The Next Chapter in Energy is Here
Sivaram passionately claims that taking any option to reduce carbon emissions off the table, including nuclear power, is morally reprehensible. He argues that it's incumbent on wealthy countries such as the United States to decarbonize as rapidly as possible, to accommodate the longer timescale needed to decarbonize countries such as India that are also rapidly developing their economies at the same time.
https://www.aspenideas.org/sessions/the ... gy-is-here
... From the Indian perspective we are counting on this country to reduce your emissions as quickly as possible. If you shut down an existing coal nuclear power plant and replace it with anything that's more carbon intensive it's morally reprehensible from our point of view.

... Taking any option off the table -- whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible.
-- Varun Sivaram (time 19:45)
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Leeuwenhoek wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:01 am People who have a deep understanding and involvement in renewable energy are also pro-nuclear.
Varun Srinivasan Sivaram is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of ReNew Power, India's largest renewable energy company.
He was previously the Philip D. Reed fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan foreign-policy think tank and membership organization, and director of its Program on Energy Security and Climate Change. He is an expert on clean energy technology, climate change, and sustainable urbanization.

Dr. Sivaram holds a
  • PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of Oxford, St. John's College where he was a Rhodes Scholar. His research investigated the use of perovskite solar cells.
    B.S. in engineering physics, Stanford University
    B.A. in international relations from Stanford University
Sivaram is the author of Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet. https://www.cfr.org/book/taming-sun

Why Solar Energy Needs Innovation to Reach Its Potential ...
TEDx Talk: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV5R7JO-vOc
Nothing very new but it's all good.
And it doesn't mention nuclear power at all.
The Aspen Institute, Apen Ideas Festivals 2019
The Next Chapter in Energy is Here
Sivaram passionately claims that taking any option to reduce carbon emissions off the table, including nuclear power, is morally reprehensible. He argues that it's incumbent on wealthy countries such as the United States to decarbonize as rapidly as possible, to accommodate the longer timescale needed to decarbonize countries such as India that are also rapidly developing their economies at the same time.
https://www.aspenideas.org/sessions/the ... gy-is-here
... From the Indian perspective we are counting on this country to reduce your emissions as quickly as possible. If you shut down an existing coal nuclear power plant and replace it with anything that's more carbon intensive it's morally reprehensible from our point of view.

... Taking any option off the table -- whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible.
-- Varun Sivaram (time 19:45)
...
Okay ... "Taking any option off the table -- whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible," is fair enough.
But look at what's on the table. If there's one bowl each of ice cream, chocolate, pasta, kofta and maggots, you can guess which will be left until last - and left alone forever if at all possible.
Nuclear power is the bowl of maggots.

:toilet:
Kim
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Leeuwenhoek »

Kim O'Hara wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:45 am Okay ... "Taking any option off the table -- whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible," is fair enough.
So we agree? Taking any option off the table -- even if you think of those options as a "bowl of maggots" -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible?

------------------------------------------------
From the Indian perspective we are counting on this country [the United States] to reduce your emissions as quickly as possible if you [in the US] shut down an existing nuclear power plant and replace it with anything that's more carbon intensive it's morally reprehensible from our point of view.
-- Varun Sivaram, The Next Chapter in Energy is Here youtu.be/_B2RCpXc1nE?t=1193
The issue is not just near term closing of existing power plants. It's also longer term, including issues such as technology lock out. Thus Dr. Sivaram goes on to say:
The second thing I quickly want to say is that in most parts of country we're nowhere close to the level of renewables where the grid can't absorb them. In some pockets like California we're getting to that point but otherwise largely you're right.
However the reason I wrote my book is because I worry about a future 10, 20, 30 years ahead where we have become complacent. We say, "hey we'll never get to that point where the renewables hit that penetration ceiling" -- that there's too much wind and solar energy and as a result we no longer can put up more solar and wind so that the grid breaks down and our power prices go up. We need to prepare for that future right now. There are many ways to do that. Build a lot of transmission. Storage is one tiny element of it but you should build a lot of storage. And a fuel mix that is flexible -- nuclear plants, natural gas with carbon capture -- these can all be flexible sources that compensate for renewable intermittency.
Finally, the fourth plank is you add flexible demand such as electric vehicles that charge at the right time. But if you take any of these options off the table I promise you you will not get to the world that I write about which is 33% electricity from solar by 2050. You cannot get there if you don't harvest all four of these opportunities. Taking any option off the table, whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful, so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible.
Edited transcript from The Next Chapter in Energy is Here
Note: There is a lot more from the other speakers in the talk at The Next Chapter in Energy is Here.

More about Dr. Sivaram see People who have a deep understanding and involvement in renewable energy are also pro-nuclear.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Leeuwenhoek wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:20 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:45 am Okay ... "Taking any option off the table -- whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible," is fair enough.
So we agree? Taking any option off the table -- even if you think of those options as a "bowl of maggots" -- so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible?
It looks like we agree on that, but don't read too much into our agreement.

------------------------------------------------
From the Indian perspective we are counting on this country [the United States] to reduce your emissions as quickly as possible if you [in the US] shut down an existing nuclear power plant and replace it with anything that's more carbon intensive it's morally reprehensible from our point of view.
-- Varun Sivaram, The Next Chapter in Energy is Here youtu.be/_B2RCpXc1nE?t=1193
The issue is not just near term closing of existing power plants. It's also longer term, including issues such as technology lock out. Thus Dr. Sivaram goes on to say:
The second thing I quickly want to say is that in most parts of country we're nowhere close to the level of renewables where the grid can't absorb them. In some pockets like California we're getting to that point but otherwise largely you're right.
However the reason I wrote my book is because I worry about a future 10, 20, 30 years ahead where we have become complacent. We say, "hey we'll never get to that point where the renewables hit that penetration ceiling" -- that there's too much wind and solar energy and as a result we no longer can put up more solar and wind so that the grid breaks down and our power prices go up. We need to prepare for that future right now. There are many ways to do that. Build a lot of transmission. Storage is one tiny element of it but you should build a lot of storage. And a fuel mix that is flexible -- nuclear plants, natural gas with carbon capture -- these can all be flexible sources that compensate for renewable intermittency.
Finally, the fourth plank is you add flexible demand such as electric vehicles that charge at the right time. But if you take any of these options off the table I promise you you will not get to the world that I write about which is 33% electricity from solar by 2050. You cannot get there if you don't harvest all four of these opportunities. Taking any option off the table, whether it's nuclear or anything else you might consider distasteful, so long as it's zero carbon, taking anything off the table is morally reprehensible.
Edited transcript from The Next Chapter in Energy is Here
Note: There is a lot more from the other speakers in the talk at The Next Chapter in Energy is Here.

More about Dr. Sivaram see People who have a deep understanding and involvement in renewable energy are also pro-nuclear.
"Technology lock out" is the only idea here which we haven't already discussed and IMO the world is already effectively locked out of large-scale nuclear power because, as I've said before, its timelines are too long to contribute to decarbonisation in the very short time we have left.
Sivaram argues for "Storage is one tiny element of it but you should build a lot of storage. And a fuel mix that is flexible -- nuclear plants, natural gas with carbon capture -- these can all be flexible sources that compensate for renewable intermittency.
Finally, the fourth plank is you add flexible demand such as electric vehicles that charge at the right time."
Of those, storage must be - and can be - a very large element. Flexible demand will certainly help. Natural gas - yes, reluctantly because of emissions, and with no guarantee whatever that carbon capture will ever be viable. And nuclear? Last and least.
His fifth plank just isn't there at all and it exposes a big gap in his thinking. It is simply demand reduction, which offers far more potential than nuclear power.

:namaste:
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Nicholas
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Nicholas »

SMR's are being designed and built all over the place. Their modular construction, much smaller size & cost are too attractive to be ignored. They are close to foolproof re safety also:

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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Nicholas wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:01 pm SMR's are being designed and built all over the place. Their modular construction, much smaller size & cost are too attractive to be ignored. They are close to foolproof re safety also:

[youtube]
By way of a second opinion -
In June, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories put out a “call for a discussion around Small Modular Reactor (SMRs) in Canada,” and the role the organization “can play in bringing this technology to market.”

The news release asserts that SMRs are “a potential alternative to large-scale nuclear reactors,” would be effective at “decreasing up-front capital costs through simpler, less complex plants” and are “inherently safe” designs. All of this warrants examination.

As a physicist who has researched and written about various policy issues related to nuclear energy and different nuclear reactor designs for nearly two decades, I believe that one should be skeptical of these claims. ...

Nuclear power has always been an expensive way to generate electricity. Historically, small reactors built in the United States all shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically. One of the few ways that nuclear power plant operators could reduce costs was to capitalize on economies of scale ...

The NuScale reactor being developed by NuScale Power in the United States is to feed just 47.5 megawatts into the grid. This reduction is chiefly due to the main practical problem with nuclear power: reactors are expensive to build.

Consider the experience in Ontario: In 2008, the province’s government asked reactor vendors to bid for the construction of two more reactors at the Darlington site. The bid from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. was reported to be $26 billion for two 1200-megawatt CANDU reactors — more than three times what the government had assumed. The province abandoned its plans.

Not surprisingly, with costs so high, few reactors are being built. ...

NuScale Power says a 12-unit version of its design that feeds 570 MW to the grid will cost “less than $3 billion.” But because the reactor design is far from final, the figure is not reliable. There is a long and well-documented history of reactors being much more expensive than originally projected. This year, Westinghouse Electric Company — historically the largest builder of nuclear power plants in the world — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States precisely because of such cost overruns.
:reading: https://theconversation.com/small-nucle ... olly-81252

That article is two and a half years old. Unless you can point to SMRs already built or under construction since then, I'm going to believe it's basically correct.

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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Nicholas »

This USA company is getting approved in Canada & USA for SMR's:
https://newsroom.nuscalepower.com/overview/default.aspx

More details beyond these two countries:
https://www.nuscalepower.com/projects/current-projects
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Nicholas wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:34 am This USA company is getting approved in Canada & USA for SMR's:
https://newsroom.nuscalepower.com/overview/default.aspx

More details beyond these two countries:
https://www.nuscalepower.com/projects/current-projects
:thumb: but not :twothumbs:

Thanks for the links, but all I can find through them are approvals and agreements, not "SMRs already built or under construction."

:coffee:
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Leeuwenhoek »

Kim O'Hara wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:13 pm "Technology lock out" is the only idea here which we haven't already discussed and IMO the world is already effectively locked out of large-scale nuclear power because, as I've said before, its timelines are too long to contribute to decarbonisation in the very short time we have left.
Can we agree that a focus on short term thinking -- which thereby tends to exclude mid- to long-term thinking and planning -- is a major factor in the climate change problem?

What, in your view, is "the very short time we have left" measured in years?
(I'm going to leave the "have left" trope alone.)

FYI: lock out is usually a mid- to longer term problem.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kim O'Hara wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:13 pm His fifth plank just isn't there at all and it exposes a big gap in his thinking. It is simply demand reduction, which offers far more potential than nuclear power.
Big gaps in thinking, huh?
I'm not an expert on Dr. Sivaram thinking on demand reduction. As Sivaram is a recognized expert on both energy and international relations, in the spirit of Right Speech, I'd grant him the benefit of the doubt at this time. At minimum I think we all need to admit that there are a number of known unknowns and uncertainties in this area.

The statement that "demand reduction ... offers far more potential than nuclear power" is a hugely loaded, bold, and possibly tainted assertion full of assumptions.
For many meanings of potential, understandings of technology and future possibilities it is almost tautologically false that 'demand reduction offers far more potential than nuclear power'.
Last edited by Leeuwenhoek on Tue Jan 21, 2020 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Leeuwenhoek »

Nicholas wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:01 pm SMR's are being designed and built all over the place. Their modular construction, much smaller size & cost are too attractive to be ignored.
It's impressive to me how much privately funded research and development on SMR's is going on world wide in addition to government projects.

But how many working demonstration reactors are actually being built? This is not to discount the importance of proof of concept tests of various critical components.
----------------------------------
I have a request. Next time would you help out and provide some links to go along with your post?
For instance: --------
Side Note: Campaigners for wind and solar decry the political opposition, roadblocks, etc to more construction of those technologies but ignore the impacts of political opposition to nuclear technology. Or fail to acknowledge the real reasons why the Sierra Club in California reversed it's one time support of nuclear power plants. That pattern is harmful to the environment and contrary to the Buddha's teaching, IMO.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Leeuwenhoek wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 8:12 am
Kim O'Hara wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:13 pm "Technology lock out" is the only idea here which we haven't already discussed and IMO the world is already effectively locked out of large-scale nuclear power because, as I've said before, its timelines are too long to contribute to decarbonisation in the very short time we have left.
Can we agree that a focus on short term thinking -- which thereby tends to exclude mid- to long-term thinking and planning -- is a major factor in the climate change problem?

What, in your view, is "the very short time we have left" measured in years?
(I'm going to leave the "have left" trope alone.)
Yes, "have left" and "very short time" are always going to be fuzzy. For now, I will use Carbon Brief's terminology and call it the time we have left before the Paris agreement's target of 1.5C warming slips out of reach ... especially in view of the disasters that our present 1.0C of warming are bringing: bushfires and sandstorms here, snowstorms in Newfoundland, floods in Jakarta, etc, etc.
That time is less than ten years. If emissions neither rise nor fall before 2027, they have to fall more than 60% in that single year - which is not going to happen, is it?
They have a pretty but scary animated graph at https://www.carbonbrief.org/unep-1-5c-c ... t-of-reach to show you more possibilities.
If you reckon our society can survive 2C warming (it will be ugly, for sure, but we might do it) then we have a bit longer.
But, importantly for your nuclear agenda, we will then be dealing with a 1.5C world, desperately trying to cope with a constant barrage of extreme weather events, falling crop yields, massed climate refugees, etc, ... certainly not putting billions into research projects which might benefit us in another ten or twenty years.
FYI: lock out is usually a mid- to longer term problem.
I think I have just answered that one. :rolleye:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kim O'Hara wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:13 pm His fifth plank just isn't there at all and it exposes a big gap in his thinking. It is simply demand reduction, which offers far more potential than nuclear power.
Big gaps in thinking, huh?
I'm not an expert on Dr. Sivaram thinking on demand reduction. As Sivaram is a recognized expert on both energy and international relations, in the spirit of Right Speech, I'd grant him the benefit of the doubt at this time. At minimum I think we all need to admit that there are a number of known unknowns and uncertainties in this area.

The statement that "demand reduction ... offers far more potential than nuclear power" is a hugely loaded, bold, and possibly tainted assertion full of assumptions.
For many meanings of potential, understandings of technology and future possibilities it is almost tautologically false that 'demand reduction offers far more potential than nuclear power'.
I haven't got time now to look up the details but Japan shut down all its nukes after Fukushima and kept its economy going quite nicely, thank you very much, by demand reduction.
Look it up.
If they can do it when pushed, we can.

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Kim
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Re: Nuclear Energy

Post by Kim O'Hara »

More on that timeline -
Speaking shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump also spoke at the annual summit, hosted by the World Economic Forum, Thunberg rejected the false solutions and half-measures that elected leaders continue to offer even as they allow emissions to increase, new drilling projects to begin, and prove how unserious they are in the face of the looming and existential crisis.

"We don't need to 'lower emissions'—our emissions have to stop," she said, "if we are to have chance to stay below the 1.5°C target" set forth in the Paris climate agreement.

"And until we have the technologies that at scale can put our emissions to minus, then we must forget about 'net zero.' We need real zero," Thunberg said. "Because distant 'net zero' targets will mean nothing if we just continue to ignore the carbon dioxide budget that applies for today not distant future dates. If high emissions continue like now even for a few years that remaining will be completely used up." ...
:reading: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/ ... avos-elite

She's right.

:namaste:
Kim
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