The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

EDF removes employees, fears radicalisation at nuclear facilities

Nuclear Free by 2045?   Nuclear power can’t avoid Islamic radicals*

translation of:
Le Journal du Dimanche (Sunday Journal) by Matthieu Pechberty November 22, 2015
safety-symbol1flag-franceRadicalization has affected nuclear power plants operated by EDF (Électricité de France). Authorities have already withdrawn access for dozens of employees since the beginning of the year.
Since the attacks [November 13, 2015], state authorities are on the lookout as they face a rise in Islamic radicalization at EDF sites. During a meeting of the High Commission for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Security (HCTISN), the high commissioner for defense of nuclear security, Christophe Quintin, acknowledged, without being more precise, that employees are being refused access to nuclear power plants notably for reasons related to Islamic radicalization. Michel Lallier, representative of the CGT [labor union] (Confédération Général de Travail) confirmed, “He certainly spoke of radicalization, even if his response was evasive. We’ll never know exactly what the security concern was.”

At this meeting, Mr. Quintin’s assistant, Colonel Riac, emphasized the justification for the lack of transparency of the authorities. A Greenpeace representative who was at the meeting, Yannick Rousselet, said, “He clearly said he would not state the reasons for the denial of access to an employee. It could be because he frequented a radical milieu. He even acknowledged that these people have not committed any offense and the judgment process is somewhat arbitrary.” The two officials were contacted, but did not return calls.
An employee at Flamanville targeted by DGSI
On November 4th, Christophe Quintin made an important announcement. At a lunch conference devoted to information on nuclear sites, one of the attendees reported that Mr. Quintin told the invited group that he estimated “the services eject one person per week for the phenomenon of radicalization.” He explained that this surveillance applied to French workers but less so to foreign workers and workers subcontracted by EDF. Each year, the services of the state make 100,000 administrative inquiries for 73,000 workers (of which 23,000 are contractors)………
In August 2014, a Muslim engineer employed by an EDF subcontractor was denied access to the nuclear power plant at Nogent-sur-Seine. There again, the prefecture did not explain its motives for the decision, but religion was at the heart of it. One year ago, Belgian authorities discovered that a person who left to fight in Syria had spent several years working as an engineer at the Doel NPP with access to the reactor. The plant is operated by the French company Engie (formerly GDF Suez).

November 25, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Danger to Ukraine’s nuclear power stations, with attack on transmission towers

safety-symbol-Smflag-UkraineUkraine nuclear power plants ‘dangerously’ without power as towers feeding energy to Crimea blown up,  23 Nov, 2015 In an eerie reminder of a possible nuclear catastrophe, a senior Ukrainian energy official revealed that the attack on transmission towers that cut off the delivery of electricity from Ukraine to Crimea also created an emergency situation at nuclear power plants.

The apparent act of sabotage in Ukraine’s Kherson region forced an emergency power unloading at several Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous, according to the first deputy director of Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo, Yuriy Katich.

Russia’s Crimea was forced to switch to autonomous reserve power after transmission towers in the adjacent Ukrainian region were blown up, causing a blackout. Meanwhile, the repairs were delayed by Right Sector and Crimean Tatar“activists” attempting to block crews from getting to the scene. None of the groups have accepted responsibility.

“All of these events have led to an additional emergency shutdown of the electrical network of two units at thermal power plants – the Dnieper and Uglegorskaya – and the emergency unloading by 500 MW of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. This includes Zaporozhskaya NPP and the South Ukrainian NPP. I want to stress that such emergency unloading of a nuclear plant – it is very dangerous,” 112. Ukraine online portal quoted Katich as saying………

November 25, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Did China dump nuclear trash in Northern Sudan?

radioactive trashflag-ChinaSudan: Govt Urged to Investigate ‘Nuclear Waste Dumping’   Khartoum / Merowe — The Sudanese Parliament and the Communist Party of Sudan (CpoS) have called on the government to “immediately investigate the burial of nuclear waste” from China in the Northern State. The director of the governmental Dams Implementation Unit has strongly denied the “presence of containers with chemicals or harmful substances to Sudan from any other country”.

The former director of the Sudan Atomic Energy Commission in Sudan, Mohamed Siddig, said at a conference in Khartoum last Tuesday that 60 containers with nuclear waste were brought from China to Sudan during the construction of the Merowe Dam in the Northern State.

Siddig told the audience that 40 containers were buried in the desert not far from the Merowe Dam construction site. Another 20 containers were disposed of in the desert. He did not mention the date the waste was dumped, however China worked on the dam between 2004 and 2009. On Sunday, the spokesman for the caucus of the independent MPs, Mubarak El Nur, called for an immediate investigation into the alleged crime. The perpetrators should be brought to justice, he stressed.

The chairman of the Northern State’s parliamentary Services Committee, Ali Hassan Bateik, said that the northern MPs will also demand an investigation into the rapid rise of cancer and kidney failure in the region

Medics  The medical contingent of the Communist Party demanded that the government disclose the exact sites of the 60 Chinese containers.

In a statement on Sunday, the doctors emphasise the need for holding those involved in the operation accountable: “Charge them with murder, and sentence them to maximum penalties”.

The medics also blame the government for keeping silent on the growing number of people in the area who suffer from kidney failure or cancer.

Rumours The director of the governmental Dams Implementation Unit, Jaafar Mohamed Hammad, however, strongly denied the “presence of containers with chemicals or harmful substances to Sudan from any other country”.

He told the Sudan News Agency (Suna) in Khartoum last week that he will take legal action “against those who spread the rumours” about the dumping of Chinese nuclear waste in the Northern State.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | AFRICA, China, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear company EDF increases security following the Paris attacks

safety-symbol1flag-franceEDF boosts nuclear plant security after Paris attacks France’s EDF has increased security at its nuclear plants following the Paris attacks in which 130 people died last week, the head of the state-controlled utility said on Tuesday.

“We are in a state of extreme vigilance on all our sites,” Jean-Bernard Levy said on France 2 television.

EDF operates 58 reactors at 19 nuclear plants across France, which relies on atomic energy for about three quarters of its electricity.

Levy said EDF had been on “maximum alert” since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January and that it made systematic background checks on all people who work in its nuclear installations, both its own staff and outside contractors.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

In Japan, the “Nuclear Village” is in charge again

In Japan the propaganda warfare took a more sinister turn blaming the victims for their predicament. Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun that is closely connected to Japan’s ruling elite has run a series of articles on “radiophobia”, attributing health complaints of the affected to psychological and emotional stress.

revolving-door1The long standing and corrupt practice of “amakudari” -“descent from heaven” which led to the capture of regulators by the regulated in form of career revolving doors has made any meaningful reform a pipe dream.

The Fukushima disease: Creation of virtual world based on radioactive reality, 24 Nov 15  Derek Monroe “…………”We are in a difficult position that we made ourselves reliable on nuclear energy first and then were hurt by it,” said a local Minamisoma city employee who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to talk to the media. “Many people here had good jobs and good lives and when the nuclear accident happened this came to a complete halt,” he said. The city’s website now is very optimistic in its proclamation of moving forward without nuclear power, despite the central government’s move to the contrary. The government in Tokyo has decided what is best for the citizens of Minamisoma and all of Japan.


Furthermore, nuclear power is back in charge as if it never left.  Nationalist Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s administration is another one anointed by “kempatsu mura” – “the nuclear village”, power and money complex that has been a steady fixture in the history of modern Japan.  In 2012, Tokyo’s Waseda University researcher Tetsuo Arima disclosed declassified CIA documents dating to the 1950s. It was revealed that the long time kingmaker of Japanese politics, Matsutaro Shoriki and head of the country’s most powerful Yomiuri Shimbun media empire, worked hand in hand with the CIA to popularize nuclear energy as way for the future. Despite its peaceful angle and spin thrown onto the Japanese public that was still traumatized within a generation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Shoriki insisted the way to a successful future would have to include Japan’s nuclear armament………..

The long standing and corrupt practice of “amakudari” –“descent from heaven” which led to the capture of regulators by the regulated in form of career revolving doors has made any meaningful reform a pipe dream. This ultimately allowed the Tokyo Power Company (TEPCO), Japan’s largest utility, to defeat any efforts to improve plant safety as it would cost it too much money to comply with increased regulatory requirements. ………..

In Britain the government together with the industry decided on a strategy to spin the information released to the public as to avert a backlash against nuclear energy experienced in Germany as result of the disaster in Japan.

In Japan the propaganda warfare took a more sinister turn blaming the victims for their predicament. Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun that is closely connected to Japan’s ruling elite has run a series of articles on “radiophobia”, attributing health complaints of the affected to psychological and emotional stress. Ironically the same took place during a period of “radiophobia” scare doled out by medical professionals and nuclear experts in the Soviet Union after the Chernobyl disaster. Their fears and concerns were met with explanation that the victims were subjected and suffered from fear of radiation rather than the radiation itself. University of California anthropologist Adriana Petryna’s ethnographic study of the Chernobyl medical assessment and compensation system shown it was biased against the victims and politically manipulated. The same now applies to the case of Fukushima disaster victims as the more sophisticated forms of manipulation employing intrinsically Japanese traits of shame and group think are now used to shift the effects of the disaster onto victims’ own sense of responsibility. This allows the system to move on and not take responsibility for what transpired while using the cultural trait of the population’s acquiescence as a catalyst for its de facto forced amnesia.

Looking at the Japanese media and governmental space that work hand in hand to obfuscate its responsibility to inform, the truth of the matter is : the technology to decommission melted reactors doesn’t exist and the most optimistic scenario of final solution to the crisis is pure fiction.

As the country’s political establishment is readying itself to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for which there is no public money or popular support whatsoever, the nuclear sword of Damocles will be hanging over it. The negligence and incompetence bordering on willful disregard for lives of its citizens makes the Japanese government a perfect candidate for prosecution under the crimes against humanity statues. Its handling of the Fukushima crisis puts into doubt Japanese credentials as a real democracy that is able and willing to address its citizens’ needs instead of using them as fodder for obscene corporate profits and foreign policy gamesmanship.

As a result Fukushima is worse than Chernobyl in many respects, making the difference between both political systems only a semantic one at best.

Japan Red Cross declined to be interviewed for the story.
Japanese Government did not respond to questions about its propaganda funding.
Chicago Tribune did not respond to request for interview.
Greg Burns did not respond to request for interview.
TEPCO did not respond to request for interview.
Japan Times did not respond to request for interview.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Mini nuclear reactors – costly, and need costly security – while renewables get cheaper

But for all the activity, the nascent SMR industry faces familiar nuclear challenges: cost, public acceptability, security and waste disposal. The nuclear industry has a long record of broken promises over cost

Developing SMRs is not going to be cheap either …40-70 SMRs would need to be ordered to make building a factory worthwhile…….. All the while, the competition from renewable energy gets hotter as it falls in price.

Security is also a key issue for nuclear plants….The challenge for SMRs is that security costs soar relative to power output if there are small reactors in many locations to protect.

text-SMRsAre mini-nuclear reactors the answer to the climate change crisis?
Industry looks to the UK to develop factory-built reactors ready to provide affordable, low-carbon energy wherever it is needed – but issues around security and waste disposal remain,
Guardian, , 24 Nov 15  Mini nuclear power plants could be trucked into a town near you to provide your hot water, or shipped to any country that wants to plug them into their electricity grid from the dock. That is the aim of those developing “small modular reactors” and, from the US to China to Poland, they want the UK to be at the centre of the nascent industry. The UK government says it is “fully enthused” about the technology.

With UN climate change summit in Paris imminent, the question of how to keep the lights on affordably, while cutting emissions, is pressing.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) aim to capture the advantages of nuclear power – always-on, low-carbon energy – while avoiding the problems, principally the vast cost and time taken to build huge plants. Current plants, such as the plannedFrench-Chinese Hinkley Point project in Somerset, have to be built on-site, a task likened to “building a cathedral within a cathedral”. Continue reading

November 25, 2015 Posted by | Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Paris COP21 Information Hub Virtual Participation

logo Paris climate1 Paris COP21   Information Hub Virtual Participation with live webcast, social media community tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr enable virtual participation in the UN Climate Change Conference Paris (30 November – 11 December). See the full list of our social media accounts below.

Information on which sessions will be webcast live each day will be made available in the daily programme, and can be seen on the main meetings page and also on the webcast interface.

The main Twitter hashtag for the event is #COP21.

Conference participants can take pictures of themselves next to giant hashtags placed around the conference venue. Screens distributed around the venue will display the global conversation happening in real time on Twitter and Facebook during the event.

Apps, Platforms and Accounts

A UNFCCC Negotiator app collects all the information in one place, including social media and webcast.

App for Iphone/Ipad

App for Android

Full list of our social media accounts


Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres

UNFCCC in English

UNFCCC in French

UNFCCC in Spanish

UNFCCC in German

Momentum for Change

UN Carbon Mechanisms

UNFCCC In-session documents

Lima-Paris Action Agenda



Momentum for Change

Adaptation Exchange

UN Carbon Mechanisms

Other Channels

UNFCCC on LinkedIn

UNFCCC on Flickr

UNFCCC on YouTube

Momentum for Change on Vimeo

Momentum for Change on SoundCloud

UNFCCC on Google+

November 25, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Corporate greenwashing at Solutions COP21

Paris: closed to civil society, open to greenwashers, New Internationalist , 24 Nov 15  By Pascoe Sabido |”…….Solutions COP21 is a platform for some of the world’s most socially and environmentally destructive corporations, whose business models constantly attack life, youth, friendliness, solidarity and any notion of an equitable approach.

Sponsored by the likes of dirty energy giant Engie (formerly GDF Suez, also an official sponsor of COP21) alongside fracking enthusiast Suez Environment and agrofuels giant Avril-Sofiproteol, the event at the Grand Palais will also welcome Vinci, the company behind the proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, coal financiers HSBC and BNP Paribas, and Coca-Cola, among many others.

As the organizers are proud to admit, corporate climate criminals will be joined inside the event by small and medium enterprises, NGOs (some of whom have pulled out after public pressure) and international artists (some of whom have refused to pull out on discovering the true nature of the event).

Such an ensemble lends a veneer of respectability that money can’t buy. But what it can buy is political access. Corporate packages ranging up to $266,000 ensure you don’t have to settle for mere exhibition space but can have VIP access to networking areas with negotiators and politicians, as well as guaranteed TV coverage.

In short, the French government has put its weight behind a corporate greenwashing event for the biggest polluters to push their false solutions – such as fracking, nuclear energy, GMOs and market-based solutions – at the same time as silencing those very communities coming to Paris to denounce such destructive business practices and the fatal impacts they have on the ground.

Before the attacks took place, there was already a public call for mass civil disobedience against (false) Solutions COP21, coming from a diverse range of organizations including ATTAC FranceVia Campesina, the trade union Solidaires, the grassroots activist networks Climate Justice Action and the JEDIsSortir du Nucleaire and Corporate Europe Observatory. Huge uncertainty followed, but hearing the response from both the organizers of Solutions COP21 and the French government, it now feels more important than ever for the mobilization to take place.

The fight for climate justice is intertwined with the fight for peace, not just in Europe but in communities around the world facing violence and terror as a result of our extractivist economic model.

If the French government thinks that events in the Grand Palais are more important than the voices of those on the frontline fighting climate change and its causes, then that’s where their message needs to be delivered.

If you are in Paris on Friday 4 December, make your way to the venue from 10.00am, where guides will take you on a ‘toxic tour’ around the expo with representatives of frontline communities as they call out the false solutions on offer. Meanwhile, creative acts of civil disobedience are planned to stop the event from staying open.

As others in the climate movement have said already, now is not the time to stay silent. No-one intends to.

Pascoe Sabido is a researcher and campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Is everyone forgetting the greenhouse gas emissions from military sources?

These issues will be explored at a series of launch events for the book Secure and Dispossessed – Challenging the militarization of climate change (Pluto Press/TNI) published this month. The London launch will be held at 6.30pm on 25 November at Free Word CentreLondon, the Amsterdam launch at 7.30pm Tuesday 1 December at Pakhuis de Zwijger and the Paris launch during the climate forum meetings on the 5 and 6 December. An earlier version of this article was published by Global Justice Now.climate-changemilitary-industrial-complexThe elephant in Paris – the military and greenhouse gas emissions

By Nick Buxton | n the aftermath of the terrible killings in Paris, military responses are again taking central stage, writes Nick Buxton.

There is no shortage of words in the latest negotiating document for the UN climate negotiations taking place in Paris at the end of November – 32,731 words to be precise, and counting. Yet strangely there is one word you won’t find: military. It is a strange omission, given that the US military alone is the single largest user of petroleum in the world and has been the main enforcer of the global oil economy for decades.

The history of how the military disappeared from any carbon accounting ledgers goes back to the UN climate talks in 1997 in Kyoto. Under pressure from military generals and foreign policy hawks opposed to any potential restrictions on US military power, the US negotiating team succeeded in securing exemptions for the military from any required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Even though the US then proceeded not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the exemptions for the military stuck for every other signatory nation. Even today, the reporting each country is required to make to the UN on their emissions excludes any fuels purchased and used overseas by the military.

As a result it is still difficult to calculate the exact responsibility of the world’s military forces for greenhouse gas emissions. A US Congressional report in 2012 said that the Department of Defense consumed about 117 million barrels of oil in 2011, only a little less than all the petrol and diesel use of all cars in Britain the same year. Deploying that oil across the globe to the fuel-greedy hummers, jets and drones has become a growing preoccupation of NATO military strategists.

But the responsibility of the military for the climate crisis goes much further than their own use of fossil fuels. As we witnessed in Iraq, the military, the arms corporations and their many powerful political supporters have consistently relied on (and aggressively pushed for) armed intervention to secure oil and energy supplies. The military is not just a prolific user of oil, it is one of the central pillars of the global fossil-fuel economy. Today whether it is in the Middle East, the Gulf, or the Pacific, modern-day military deployment is about controlling oil-rich regions and defending the key shipping supply routes that carry half the world’s oil and sustain our consumer economy.

The resulting expansion of conflict across the globe has consumed ever-increasing levels of military expenditure: in 2014, global military expenditure reached $1.8 trillion dollars. This money is a huge diversion of public resources that could be invested instead in renewable energy as well as providing support for those most affected by climate change. When the British government in 2014 allocates £25 billion to the Ministry of Defence but only £1.5 billion to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, it is clear where its priorities lie.

Ironically despite their role in the climate crisis, one of the loudest voices calling for action on climate change is coming from the military. British Rear Admiral Morisetti is typical of a growing chorus of military generals identifying climate change as the major security challenge of this century. He argues for action on climate change because it will be a ‘threat multiplier’ with the potential to exacerbate the ‘development-terrorism’ nexus. The argument has been readily picked up by politicians who increasingly talk about the security implications of climate change.

This could seem a welcome development. After all who would not want one of the most powerful forces on your side in tackling humanity’s greatest ever challenge? But there is a good reason also to be cautious of who we jump into bed with. A close look at military climate change strategies reveals that their focus is on securing borders, protecting trade supply-routes for corporations, controlling conflicts around resources and instability caused by extreme weather, and repressing social unrest. They turn the victims of climate change into ‘threats’ to be controlled or combated. There is no critical examination of the military’s own role in enforcing a corporate-dominated fossil-fuel economy that has caused the climate crisis.

In fact, there is evidence that many players in this corporate-military-security industrial nexus are already seeing climate change not just as a threat but an opportunity. Arms and security industries thrive on conflict and insecurity and climate change promises another financial boon to add to the ongoing War on Terror. British arms giant BAE Systems was surprisingly open about this in one of their annual reports explaining ‘New threats and conflict arenas are placing unprecedented demands on military forces and presenting BAE Systems with new challenges and opportunities.’ An Energy Environmental Defence and Security (E2DS) conference in 2011 jubilantly proclaimed that ‘the aerospace, defence and security sector is gearing up to address what looks set to become its most significant adjacent market since the strong emergence of the civil/homeland security business almost a decade ago.’

In the aftermath of the terrible killings in Paris, military responses are again taking central stage. It seems that the lack of evidence of any success from 14 years of bombings, drone killings, armed invasions is no obstacle to the military-security juggernaut. Do we really want the same forces to now dominate our response to climate change which will affect millions of people over the coming decades? A growing number of social movements are saying that climate change demands breaking the cycle of violence in order to build a collective caring response to a crisis that will affect us all. The Paris climate talks are an opportunity to draw attention to the military elephant in the room and demand that adaptation to climate change is led by principles of human rights and solidarity, rather than militarism and corporate profits.


November 25, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Increasing risk of sabotage by extremists working in the nuclear industry

safety-symbol-SmWorking in Nuclear while Muslim , Nuclear Free by 2045?, 24 Nov 15  Since the inception of nuclear energy, anti-nuclear critics have been warning about the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to deliberate sabotage. Recent events indicate that we are moving closer to a period of global instability in which state governments cannot protect against non-state actors who will deliberately or unintentionally create a nuclear disaster.

This week a group of Tatar radicals attacked electricity transmission lines in Ukraine which deliver power to Crimea. The government of Ukraine has a well-known dispute with Russia over its claim to Crimea, but it likely had no intention of committing such a war crime that would endanger the lives of millions of civilians and create further tensions with Russia. The narrow-minded attackers were apparently unaware of the effect their assault would have on Ukrainian nuclear power plants, but nonetheless two of them were cut off from the electrical grid and had to use backup power. A report in Russia Today quoted a Ukrainian energy company official about the seriousness of the situation:
The apparent act of sabotage in Ukraine’s Kherson region forced an emergency power unloading at several Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous, according to the first deputy director of Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo, Yuriy Katich. [1]
It was backup power that was famously lost at Fukushima-Daiichi, leading to the meltdown of three reactor cores and a melting of spent fuel in the Reactor 4 building. Thus these plants in Ukraine are just one step away from meltdown, but it is likely in this case that backup power can be maintained until the transmission towers are repaired. Yet the incident highlights how things will go worse in the future when a similar event occurs in a failing state where fuel for backup generators can’t be supplied on time and the main transmission lines can’t be repaired.
Social instability is also a factor now in France. The attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015 highlighted the inability of security agencies to identify and break up groups of French citizens who are intent on committing acts of mass violence. If they couldn’t be found in the suburbs of Paris, how can we be sure that they will be found among people who work at nuclear power plants? This issue came to light in a report published in Le Journal du Dimanche on November 22, 2015 (translated below). It was reported that French security agencies have been using religious affiliation as a reason to deny access to nuclear power plants.
Everyone would like to keep NPPs safe from malicious attack, but there are serious problems involved in trying to eliminate all risks. The security agencies are using affiliations as the basis of exclusion, without any official charge of criminal intent or conspiracy. Thus if an enterprise is so dangerous that large segments of society have to be denied the right to work in it, in the vain hope that doing so will prevent sabotage, it is worth asking whether this enterprise should exist at all. Is there a safer way to boil water or to produce electricity without boiling water?

November 25, 2015 Posted by | France, safety, World | Leave a comment

Why pilots and air hostesses are classified as radiation workers

radiation-warningHere’s why airline crewmembers are classified as radiation workers  Nov. 19, 2015 

Airline crewmembers have tough jobs. They have to maintain an aircraft’s safety while dealing with grumpy and inattentive passengers — all while keeping smiles on their faces.

But flight attendants and pilots also face an unseen menace on the job: Cosmic radiation.

You can’t see it or feel them, but at any given moment, tens of thousands of highly charged particles are soaring through space and slamming into Earth from all directions.

These particles, sometimes called cosmic rays or cosmic ionizing radiation, originate from the farthest reaches of the Milky Way. They’re bits and pieces of atomic cores shot to nearly light-speed by black holes and exploding stars, and they smash into (and through) anything and everything in their way.

With that incredible speed and energy, it’s no surprise cosmic rays can easily penetrate human flesh and, in the process, pose risks to our health. Their damage to tissues and DNA have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems, for example.

The good news is that these rays don’t pose much of a risk to humans on Earth. That’s because our planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field form a mighty shield against these rays. But the shield isn’t impenetrable, and some particles leak through.

Those who spend a lot of time high up in the atmosphere — flight crews, for instance — face much higher exposure to cosmic radiation. The closer to the ground you are, the less exposure you’ll get. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies airline crewmembers as radiation workers.

In fact, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reported in 2009 that aircrews have, on average, the highest yearly dose of radiation out of all radiation-exposed workers in the US.

The annual hit to aircrews is an estimated 3 millisieverts (mSv) — a complicated-sounding measure of the amount of background radiation a person receives in one year in the US — which beats out the annual doses received by other high-radiation jobs, such as X-ray technicians and nuclear power workers. (Only astronauts are more exposed; 10 days in spaces delivers about 4.3 mSv to the skin alone, which is about 4.3 years’ worth of cosmic radiation on the surface of Earth.)

Flying through the sky increases your exposure of two different types of cosmic radiation: galactic cosmic radiation, which is always soaring through an aircraft, and solar particle events, which only occur during solar flares. The latter, very intense bursts of energy from the sun can occur anywhere from one to 20 times per day.

We know that ionizing radiation — which not only comes from space, but from X-rays, nuclear power generation, and atomic bombs — causes cancer and reproductive issues in humans, including miscarriage and birth defects. But we don’t know the health effects of cosmic radiation alone.

Most studies have looked at people bombarded with high amounts of various kinds of radiation, such as atomic bomb survivors and those who received radiation therapy. For this reason we don’t know what level of cosmic radiation is safe for humans,according to the CDC. Which is why there are no official limits on the amount of radiation a crew member can receive in a given year.

There are some worldwide guidelines, however. The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends that a crew member not be exposed to more than 20 mSv per year. The ICRP says that the general public, on the other hand, should receive less than 1 mSv per year. That same 1 mSv recommendation goes for those who are pregnant, both in the sky or on the ground.

But for crewmembers, these limits are difficult to abide, according to the CDC, and such exposures may put them at greater risk for health effects.

To minimize exposures, crew members should try to limit working on flights that are very long, at high altitudes, or that fly over the poles, which are all associated with heightened exposures. Pregnant crewmembers are also particularly at risk and should try not to fly during their first trimester, or at all when the sun is having a solar particle event, which can deliver a higher dose of radiation in one flight than is recommended for the entirety of the pregnancy, according to the CDC.

To calculate your exposure on a typical flight, check out this handy Federal Aviation Administration online tool.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | employment, radiation | Leave a comment

Call on President Obama to protect precious groundwater from uranium mining in Grand Canyon

Why the President Must Ban Grand Canyon Uranium Mining , 
Huffington Post, 24 Nov 15,  [Good maps]
 “…….The mining industry’s statement counts on readers to be ignorantgrand-canyon of the fact that federal and state agencies do not require wells to measure water pollution more than a thousand feet underground, where uranium mining threatens aquifers that feed springs deep within the Grand Canyon. No monitoring means contamination is undetected: out of sight, out of mind.

water-radiationBut that’s changing as the U.S. Geological Survey pieces together samples taken from existing wells and places where groundwater flows downward into the Grand Canyon. These show that mining has already polluted 15 springs and five wells within the Grand Canyon’s watershed with toxic levels of uranium.

The National Park Service reports that existing uranium mines, including some closed more than two decades ago, have fouled the regional aquifer in their vicinity with uranium levels considered unsafe to drink. Water from one sample has uranium concentrations 1,200 times the safe maximum.
Evidence is mounting to suggest that the Grand Canyon’s uranium spills have been ongoing — and undetected — for decades. We now know that contaminated water from the Orphan uranium mine on the canyon’s south rim is poisoning a spring-fed creek deep below the rim where the damage cannot be repaired. On the surface, the mining company walked away from their mess and left the taxpayers with the $15 million clean-up bill. On the canyon’s north rim, miners discovered more than two million gallons of highly contaminated groundwater filling the deep shaft of the Pinenut uranium mine when they re-opened it in 2009.

As I’ve said with regards to oil and gas development, one well contaminated or one person made sick is one too many. The same is true for uranium mining, making the situation around the Grand Canyon a disaster where we can least afford one.

In 2012, this sorry history led my friend and fellow Coloradan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, to impose a 20-year ban on new uranium mining in the watersheds that drain directly into the Grand Canyon. His action came in response to thousands of new mining claims filed in the preceding decade. Science and prudence also guided his decision, coupled with the knowledge that nearly $1 billion in annual economic activity is generated by this greatest of earth’s geological treasures.

An unprecedented coalition of interests wrote over 300,000 comments in support for his action, led by the Havasupai Tribe, “people of the blue-green water,” whose only source of water is threatened by a mine at the headwaters of Havasu Canyon……..

Need for Permanent Ban on Grand Canyon Uranium Mining

Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, recently introduced the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act aimed at making the 20-year ban permanent and protecting traditional cultural uses of lands around the canyon (summarized here). It was written in collaboration with Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi leaders. The Navajo Nation, which banned all uranium mining on its land in 2005, joined in support along with Zuni, Paiute and Yavapai leaders.

The bill aims to protect 1.7 million acres of historical tribal homeland, including water sources and sacred sites.

Unfortunately, there’s almost no chance that the legislation will gain approval in today’s gridlocked Congress. But the 1906 Antiquities Act gives the president unilateral authority to set aside federal lands as protected national monuments to stop the looting of archaeological sites and for reasons of “historic or scientific interest.”

I’ve long believed we will be judged by the nation we leave to future generations. After all, we don’t inherit the earth from our parents — we borrow it from our children. The president should act now to protect the Grand Canyon from irresponsible development around this national treasure.

The National Mining Association may not be willing to stop digging — literally or figuratively — but the president owes it to us all to help them.

Mark Udall, who represented Colorado as a Democrat in the Senate from 2009 to 2015 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 through 2009, is a member of the board of the Grand Canyon Trust. Posted: 24/11/2015

November 25, 2015 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Hackers could shut down UK’s £31 billion nuclear weapon system – warns defence expert

hackerflag-UKA former Defence Secretary has warned that the UK’s £31 billion nuclear weapon system could be shut down by hackers, Business Insider  SAM SHEAD , 24 Nov 15Former Defence Secretary Lord Browne has told the BBC that the UK’s nuclear weapon system, Trident, could be rendered obsolete by hackers.

The ex-Labour minister, who was Defence Secretary between 2006 and 2008, said “weak spots” in Trident need to be addressed — otherwise Prime Minister David Cameron won’t be able to rely on the nuclear deterrent “when he needs to reach for it.”

Trident, the UK’s nuclear programme, consists of four Vanguard-class submarines armed withTrident II D-5 ballistic missiles. It is the most powerful capability of the British military forces but at £31 billion it’s also the most expensive.

Lord Browne told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg that the Tory government has an “obligation” to assure MPs that all aspects of Trident have been assessed against the risk of a cyber attack and that the appropriate security measures were in place.

“If they are unable to do that then there is no guarantee that we will have a reliable deterrent or the prime minister will be able to use this system when he needs to reach for it,” he added……

November 25, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

European Commission in-depth investigation into Hungarian investment support for Paks II nuclear power

flag-EUState Aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Hungarian investment support for Paks II nuclear power plant Brussels, 23 November 2015

The European Commission has opened an in-depth state aid investigation into Hungary’s plans to provide financing for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Paks.

The Commission will in particular assess whether a private investor would have financed the project on similar terms or whether Hungary’s investment constitutes state aid. If the project is found to involve state aid, the Commission will investigate whether as planned it would lead to distortions of competition in particular on the Hungarian energy market. Continue reading

November 25, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

California Governor appeased utilities while SanOnofre nuclear station was under scrutiny?

Email Suggests Governor Appeased Utilities During Calls For San Onofre Investigation, KPBS, AMITA SHARMA, Investigative Reporter | Contact, November 24, 2015

San Onofre’s new steam generators were supposed to last 40 years.

But less than one year after they were installed, hundreds of tubes had shown wear, causing a radioactive leak in January 2012. The leak forced the plant’s closure and stuck San Diego and other Southern California ratepayers with a multibillion dollar bill.

By May 2013, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer had in her possession two key documents. They showed that Edison officials knew there was potential for premature tube wear before those steam generators were installed but didn’t allow for fixes. One reason, according to internal documents was that the company wanted to avoid a rigorous government review.

Boxer was incensed.

The California Democrat called on the U.S. Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Edison had lied to federal regulators about what it knew before the faulty equipment was turned on.

“At that point, it was clear that things had gone very seriously awry,” said John Geesman, an attorney for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility……….

Meanwhile, a series of bills intended to reform the PUC passed the Legislature this year. One would have compelled the commission to release the sought-after communications between regulators and Brown’s office on San Onofre.

The governor vetoed the reforms, calling them important but technical and conflicting.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment


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