The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear waste dump a danger to water, threat to Nevada’s farming community

Oscar-wastesNevada says national nuclear dump could harm farm community,Naples
Herald, By Nov 23, 2015 BY KEN RITTER  
water-radiationRadioactive well-water contamination could threaten some 1,400 people in a rural farming community if federal regulators allow the nation’s deadliest nuclear waste to be buried in the Nevada desert, state officials said in a report issued Friday.

A 53-page document submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission derides environmental assessments of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository as legally inadequate. It also characterizes the project itself as “an unworkable waste management plan at an unsafe repository site.”

 The state says groundwater studies don’t properly address the danger to people in nearby Amargosa Valley or the cultural and spiritual effect that construction of the repository would have on Native Americans.

“In the end, there are real people there,” said Robert Halstead, chief of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects and the top state official leading opposition to the project.

“That’s the thing about the way the NRC has approached the whole process,” Halstead said Friday. “Their maps imply there is no population there. They label it as the Amargosa desert.”

George Gholson, chairman of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, submitted additional comments Friday accusing commission officials of failing to evaluate effects that building the project would have on tribal members.

“Radioactive contamination of groundwater and springs … affronts the Timbisha’s way of life, is disrespectful to cultural beliefs, and constitutes an environmental justice infringement on the rights of a sovereign nation,” the letter said.

The documents amount to the state staking its legal ground to oppose the Yucca Mountain project. They came on the last day of an environmental study comment period ahead of yet-to-be-scheduled licensing hearings and amid calls from some in Congress to restart the long-mothballed project.

Commission officials didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

More than three decades of study yielded findings that water seeping through tunnels containing some 77,000 tons of spent nuclear reactor waste could become contaminated and slowly migrate into groundwater west along the normally dry course of the ancient Amargosa River, toward Death Valley in California……..

A federal appeals court breathed new life into the project in 2013 with an order that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission either approve or reject the Energy Department license application.

Officials say a full slate of licensing hearings could take at least three years.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes, water | 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

Florida citrus fruitys show trace levels of Fukushima radioactive cesium-137

text cesiumTrace levels of radioactive cesium-137 from Fukushima now being detected in Florida citrus fruits

Posted by aurelius77 on November 18, 2015 (NaturalNews) Radioactive cesium from the 2011 Fukushima disaster is still being detected in citrus and other plants as far away as Florida, according to a report sent to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In March 2011, multiple nuclear meltdowns took place at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. The explosions ejected massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment, most notably radioactive cesium isotopes. In the weeks after the disaster, winds carried airborne radionuclides to every corner of the globe. Most of the radioactivity, however, settled into the Pacific Ocean.

Levels consistent since 2011

The report is Duke Energy Florida’s Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Report to U.S. NRC, dated May 5. It notes that immediately following the Fukushima disaster, radioactive iodine and cesium from the plant were detected in Florida vegetation.

“The Japanese event also affected broad leaf vegetation sample media throughout the year as long-lived radionuclides (Cs-137) were released at Fukushima multiple times,” the report reads.

“The vegetation measurements in 2014 are still affected by the Fukushima event due to the long-lived radionuclides deposited. The vegetation control sample station located in Orlando, Fl. is also experiencing similar Cs-137 deposition on the broad leaf sample media.”

According to the report, levels of Cs-137 have remained relatively constant in the samples tested over the past four years. This is to be expected, because that radionuclide has an incredibly long half-life.

In 2012, 13 of 24 samples taken tested positive for Cs-137, up to 172 pCi/kg (a picocurie is a unit of radiation; approximately 27 pCi is equivalent to one Bequerel [Bq], a common unit of radioactivity). Samples taken in Orlando tested at levels up to 201 pCi/kg.


November 20, 2015 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

California beach had extreme radiation from San Onofre nuclear station – documents reveal

Extreme Radiation On California Beach Leads Nuclear Inspectors To Abandon Duties; Radioactive Waste Threatens Locals, Environment, health freedom alliance, 16 Nov 15  Documents released as part of secret negotiations over the future of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations near San Diego reveal that the now-shuttered plant was lax with security, exposing workers to dangerous levels of radioactivity from leaks and improperly disposing of nuclear waste.


In January 2012, one of the two generators at San Onofre sprang a small leak, and the plant was shuttered. An investigation eventually revealed that the leak had been caused by vibrations in steam generators that occurred as a result of a flawed generator design. Plant operator Southern California Edison said it is pursuing a claim against generator manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as well as Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems.

In June 2013, plant operator Edison decided to permanently close the plant rather than incur the costs of safely restarting it. The future of the plant grounds and all of the toxic waste stored there remains up in the air.

“Probably worse than we think”

In September, an investigation by the NBC TV affiliate in San Diego, KNSD-TV Channel 7, revealed that radioactive equipment from the plant had been stored on both sides of Interstate 5, including along the beach. The investigation, which reviewed documents released to individuals negotiating with Edison over the future of the 25-acre site, also revealed that Edison had covered up evidence of radiation leaks from the plant.

The documents showed that radiation levels at the plant had regularly been so high that Nuclear Regulatory inspectors often refused to perform routine radiation surveys, fearing for their safety. Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

Diablo Canyon nuclear plant – the industry’s last stand in California

If Diablo closes, no nuclear plant will take its place. California law forbids building more until federal officials come up with a permanent way to deal with the waste.
Diablo nuclear power plant
terminal-nuclear-industryNuclear power’s last stand in California: Will Diablo Canyon die?, SF Chronicle,  By David R. Baker
November 14, 2015“……..the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., is the last of its kind in the state. And in less than 10 years, it could close, ending nuclear power’s long history in California….

The first of its two operating licenses from the federal government expires in 2024, the second a year later. Federal regulators are weighing whether to renew those licenses and keep Diablo humming through 2045. PG&E, however, appears to be having second thoughts.

 Once eager to extend Diablo’s licenses, company executives now say they aren’t sure. Since the deadly 2010 explosion of a PG&E natural gas pipeline beneath San Bruno, their focus has been on reforming the company and repairing its image, not relicensing Diablo.

And any extension will involve a fight. The plant sits within a maze of earthquake faults, all of them discovered after construction began in 1968. Seismic safety fears have dogged the nuclear industry in California for more than 50 years, forcing PG&E to abandon plans for one of its first reactors…… Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA, water | Leave a comment

“Worst accidental radioactive pollution of Pacific Ocean” hasn’t moved US to test seafood

Nuclear Power: Dead in the Water it Poisoned, CounterPunch,  by JOHN LAFORGE    NOVEMBER 5, 2015 “………..Radiation exposure and contamination should concern everyone because by all accounts the volume of radiation-in-sea--food-chairadioactive materials discharged to the Pacific Ocean by Fukushima is the single greatest radioactive contamination of the sea ever observed. [27] An estimated 27 “peta-becquerels” (27 million billion becquerels) of cesium-137 had already leaked or been deliberately dumped into the Pacific by October 2011. A becquerel represents one atomic disintegration/second.

Last July, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the Fukushima wreckage, acknowledged that an additional 300 tons-a-day of highly contaminated water is leaking into the Pacific from the six-reactor station — and has been since the beginning of the disaster almost three years ago. The American Medical Association — following the revelation of massive ongoing leaks — called on the US government to “monitor and fully report the radioactivity levels of edible species sold in the United States.”[28]

Yet at present, US seafood is not regularly tested for cesium contamination, in spite of the large numbers of fish and other foods that have been found contaminated by Fukushima isotopes — including blue fin[29] and albacore tuna[30] caught off the US West Coast, grapefruit from Florida, and prunes, almonds, pistachios and oranges from California.[31]

In this context, a coalition of public health and environmental groups petitioned the FDA in early summer demanding a drastic reduction in the amount of radioactive cesium allowed in food. The petition by members of the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN) declared that the arbitrarily high 1,200 becquerels-per-kilogram (Bq/kg) US limit is “ridiculous.” The standard is between 120 times to 24 times weaker than Japan’s.

The petition demands that US foods have no more than 5 Bq/kg of cesium-137 and -134, and that all food be tested and labeled with its cesium content. The FFAN reports that the devastated Fukushima reactors continue to leak more than 10 million becquerels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 per hour into the environment, “with no sign of stopping.” The network said it was “alarmed” at the lack of testing currently in place to meet the threat of radioactive contamination in food. Because cesium-134 has a hazardous life of about 10-20 years, and cesium-137 has a hazardous life of about 300-600 years, the FFAN said, the threat of food contamination “is a long-term issue that deserves immediate attention………”


November 6, 2015 Posted by | oceans, USA | Leave a comment

Scientists confirm “elevated” raadioactivity levels in honey near nuclear power station

text cesiumRadioactive honey found near nuclear power station, 2 Nov, 2015  Honey contaminated with nuclear waste has been found near a disused power station in Scotland, scientists have confirmed, with samples of the product testing positive for “elevated” radioactivity. The samples showed levels of radioactive caesium-137 that are 14 times higher than samples of honey from elsewhere in the UK, prompting scientists to call for an investigation into wider contamination at the site.

The plant, which closed in 1994, no longer produces nuclear energy. It is still in the process of being decommissioned, however.

Independent nuclear energy consultant John Large said bees are an important barometer of environmental health.“Bees are key indicators of what is happening in the environment. They forage in a three-mile radius around the hive and anything in the soil is drawn up into plants and into the nectar they collect.

“This reading is within the limit for human consumption, but caesium-137 should not be turning up in honey at all,” he added.

The results are included in the government’s Radioactivity In Food and the Environment report, published last week…….

November 4, 2015 Posted by | environment, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

Southern Ocean fast becoming acidic, with abrupt effects on the marine food chain

ocean-heatingAbrupt changes in food chains predicted as Southern Ocean acidifies fast: study [excellent pictures]  November 3, 2015   Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Southern Ocean is acidifying at such a rate because of rising carbon dioxide emissions that large regions may be inhospitable for key organisms in the food chain to survive as soon as 2030, new US research has found.

Tiny pteropods, snail-like creatures that play an important role in the food web, will lose their ability to form shells as oceans absorb more of the CO2 from the atmosphere, a process already observed over short periods in areas close to the Antarctic coast.

Ocean acidification is often dubbed the “evil twin” of climate change. As CO2 levels rise, more of it is absorbed by seawater, resulting in a lower pH level and reduced carbonate ion concentration. Marine organisms with skeletons and shells then struggle to develop and maintain their structures.

Using 10 Earth system models and applying a high-emissions scenario, the researchers found the relatively acidic Southern Ocean quickly becomes unsuited for shell-forming creatures such as pteropods, according to a paper published Tuesday in Nature Climate Change.

“What surprised us was really the abruptness at which this under-saturation [of calcium carbonate-based aragonite] occurs in large areas of the Southern Ocean,” Axel Timmermann​, a co-author of the study and oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii told Fairfax Media. “It’s actually quite scary.”

Since the Southern Ocean is already close to the threshold for shell-formation, relatively small changes in acidity levels will likely show up there first, Professor Timmermann said: “The background state is already very close to corrosiveness.”

Below a certain pH level, shells of such creatures become more brittle, with implications for fisheries that feed off them since pteropods appear unable to evolve fast enough to cope with the rapidly changing conditions.

“For pteropods it may be very difficult because they can’t run around without a shell,”  Professor Timmermann said. “It’s not they dissolve immediately but there’s a much higher energy requirement for them to form the shells.”

Given the sheer scale of the marine creatures involved, “take away this biomass, [and] you have avalanche effects for the rest of the food web”, he said.

As carbon dioxide levels rise, the impacts seen in the Southern Ocean – and its counterpart regions in the northern hemisphere – can be expected to spread closer to the equator.

Scientists anticipate that a halt in the increase in greenhouse gases will take time to have an impact on slowing the warming of the planet. However, a faster response can be expected in the oceans to any slowing in the pace of acidification.

“The corrosiveness of the water is a very strong function of the atmospheric C02 and there is not much of a delay [to any changes]”, Professor Timmermann said.

The paper’s release comes about four weeks before delegates from almost 200 nations are expected to gather in Paris, France to negotiate a new global treaty to curb carbon emissions.

November 4, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Fukushima insect study shows there is no safe low level of ionising radiation

Butterfly-grass-blue-mutateThe researchers found that caterpillars that ate radioactive leaves pupated into mutated butterflies that did not live as long, compared with caterpillars that ate non-radioactive leaves. These mutations and increased mortality were seen even in butterflies that consumed only very small doses of radioactive cesium.
 Deaths and mutations spike around Fukushima;  October 16, 2015 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

Plants in the area around Fukushima, Japan are widely contaminated with radioactive cesium, which is Cesium-137
producing mutation and death in local butterflies, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa and published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The butterflies were found to experience severe negative effects at all detectable radiation levels, even very low ones.

“We conclude that the risk of ingesting a polluted diet is realistic, at least for this butterfly, and likely for certain other organisms living in the polluted area,” the researchers wrote.

Insects hard hit

The researchers note that although the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant released “a massive amount of radioactive materials … into the environment,” few studies have looked at the biological effects of this disaster. Researchers have, however, measured elevated radiation levels in the polluted area, and have chronicled the accumulation of radioactive material in both wild and domestic plant and animal life in the region.

Studies have also suggested that insects may be particularly hard-hit by the increased radiation. One study found an increase in morphological abnormalities (physical deformities) in gall-forming aphids. Another found that insect abundance has decreased in the affected region, particularly butterfly abundance. Continue reading

October 19, 2015 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2015, Japan, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Precious Groundwater in Drought Areas Threatened by Uranium Mining

Why Are We Allowing Uranium Miners to Pollute Groundwater in Drought Zones?
water-radiationFlag-USAUranium mining threatens aquifers that could provide the drought-stricken West with emergency water supplies. BRIAN PALMER OCT 16, 2015 
Mining uranium, the fuel for nuclear reactors, is a dirty business. Following World War II, mining companies extracted millions of tons of uranium from Navajo tribal lands in the West, contaminating homes and water supplies in the process. It went on for decades, and Navajo miners developed lung cancer at very high rates.

Today, even as the United States nuclear power industry struggles to survive, uranium mining continues. The techniques are more modern, but conservationists say the threat could be just as insidious: polluting water supplies in drought-ridden parts of the country where drinking water is already alarmingly scarce.

New rules proposed by the federal government last year could help reduce the threat—although industry is fighting to weaken them, along with its Republican allies in Congress. And critics say the proposed regulations might not be strong enough anyhow. Ironically, this might all be happening to extract a resource we barely need anymore—at the risk of one that we most certainly do……..

The industry must now work with what geologists call “roll-fronts.” These are relatively thin uranium deposits that formed deep underground over the course of thousands of years. Typically just 10 to 30 feet in height—too small to be harvested by human miners—the roll-fronts can only be extracted by chemical means.

The process used today is called in situ recovery, or ISR, mining. (Opponents use the more chemically descriptive phrase “in situ leaching,” or ISL.) The mining company drills four or five holes, called injection wells, and then pumps down a mix of an oxidizing agent (often hydrogen peroxide or simple oxygen) and water. Pressure from the constant influx of fluid forces the solution to percolate through the uranium-rich layer of Earth toward another hole, called the production well, which carries it up to the surface. At this point, the company reverses the chemical reaction that dissolved the uranium, using a separate chemical to precipitate the metal out of the water. The water, now stripped of most of the uranium, heads back into the well to continue the cycle…….


In reality, ISR mining isn’t so tidy, and the few peer-reviewed studies available suggest that leaching uranium out of rocks contaminates the surrounding groundwater for decades. As Western states deal with increasing levels of drought, that’s a problem…….

Remediation is water- and time-intensive, but does it work? The answer is pretty disturbing: No one knows. There have been only a handful of major studies on the efficacy of the uranium-mining remediation process. Continue reading

October 17, 2015 Posted by | technology, Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment

What a nuclear apocalypse would do to the Earth’s atmosphere

The Unknown Danger of Nuclear Apocalypse, Foreign Policy Journal, by Dr. Stoyan Sarg       October 9, 2015 
The nightmare scenario of nuclear war may actually be more frightening than you could ever have imagined. 
Life on the Earth is in danger of total destruction like never before. An apocalypse caused not by a natural event but from human behavior due to a scientific misconception. What is that? It is the incorrect concept about space, adopted a hundred years ago. Despite the accumulated evidence about this misconception, the status quo is kept by the established authorities in favor of powerful forces so as not to jeopardize their global interests. For people not aware of this issue, it may seem unimportant. However, it leads to a very dangerous strategy taken by politicians and military adventurers. With the new cold war tension and the present nuclear arsenals, life on Earth is endangered from an apocalyptic event that is not predicted by contemporary science due to the mentioned above misconception……..

In the last few years, the global interest of major powerful countries entered into a conflict. It was raised to the level where negotiations and international rules were neglected and replaced by military solutions. At the same time, confidence between them eroded continuously, while the military opposition grew. Now there are war tension zones in different parts of the globe including the Middle East, but the most dangerous one is in Europe. There is a fast military escalation between Western Europe and the USA on one side and Russia on the other. ……..
With the new NATO plan for installation of nuclear tactical weapons in Europe, nuclear missiles may reach Moscow in only 6 minutes, and the opposite case is also possible in the same time. The question is: how can we be sure that this will not be triggered by a human error or computer malfunction.
 An adequate reaction dictated by the dilemma “to be or not to be” and the concept of preventive nuclear strike may lead to a nuclear consequence that is difficult to stop. At the present level of distributed controlled systems and military global navigations, this will lead to unstoppable global nuclear war. However, there is something not predicted, of which the military strategists, politicians and powerful forces are not aware. Probably, it will not be a nuclear winter that they hope to survive in their underground facilities. The most probable consequence will be a partial loss of the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of one or many powerful simultaneous tornadoes caused by the nuclear explosions………..
in the case of many simultaneous powerful tornadoes, an effect of suction of the earth atmosphere into space might take place……….At the time of atmospheric nuclear tests, made in the last century, a number of induced tornadoes are observed near the nuclear mushroom as shown in Figure 1. [on original]  The strongest antigravitational effect, however, occurs in the central column of the formed nuclear mushroom. The analysis of underwater nuclear tests also indicates a strong antigravitational effect. It causes a rise of a vertical column of water. In the test shown in Figure 2, [on original] the vertical column contains millions tons of water. Thermonuclear bombs are multiple times more powerful. The largest thermonuclear bomb of the former Soviet Union tested in 1961 is 50 megatons. It is 3,300 times more powerful than the bomb dropped by USA on Hiroshima at the second world war and may kill millions.
It is known that Mars once had liquid water and consequently an atmosphere that has mysteriously disappeared. If the scenario described above takes place, the Earth will become a dead planet like Mars. The powerful politicians, military adventurers and their financial supporters must be aware that even the most secured underground facility will not save them if a global nuclear conflict is triggered. Their disgraced end will be more miserable than the deaths of the billions of innocent human beings, including the animal world.   Dr. Stoyan Sarg is Director of the Physics Research Department at the World Institute for Scientific Exploration

October 10, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The continuing scandal of Russia’s Mayak nuclear contamination – whistleblower seeks asylum in France

whistleblowerflag_RussiaA Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal, As the head of the NGO Planet of Hope [Planeta Nadezhd], Nadejda Koutepova has fought for fifteen years for the victims of radioactive contamination in the Urals, near the Maiak factory which, in 1957, gave the world its first nuclear catastrophe. In July, she was forced by circumstances to dissolve the NGO and leave Russia. This Friday, October 2nd, as Francois Hollande receives Vladimir Putin in Paris, she is asking for asylum in France.
Nadejda Koutepova’s story goes from the Soviet past to the Russia of today. She has been fighting unrelentingly for the last fifteen years to get recognition of the nuclear disaster which began in the Urals in 1949. She found herself under attack in 2012 when the Kremlin began clamping down on NGOs, in particular ones concerned with the military and the environment. Threatened with prosecution, she finally left her country in July.
With her departure, one of the most polluted regions of the world is losing its strongest advocate. The Ozersk region (south of Ekaterinburg in the Urals) has been widely irradiated, since the post-war period, and the contamination is still going on thanks to the continuing operations at Maiak. The name is less well-known than Chernobyl and Fukushima, but the gravity of the disaster is comparable, especially if one considers that it has been ongoing for close to sixty years and nothing has been done to resolve the contamination.
Mayak nuclear accident
It was in 1946, at the dawn of the Cold War, that construction began on the nuclear complex. It was to produce the plutonium necessary for a Soviet atom bomb. It was built by forced labor under Stalin, close to the closed city of Ozersk, between Chelyabinsk and Ekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk in the Soviet period). Such closed cities near military-industrial complexes were fairly common in the Soviet Union. They didn’t appear on maps, and permits were required to enter them. In total, there were ten closed cities devoted to nuclear weapons. The first uranium-graphite reactor was opened in Maiak in 1948, and the first bomb was detonated in 1949.
Between 1949 and 1957, very large quantities of highly radioactive liquid waste were dumped into the Techa, a 240 kilometer-long river that flowed past dozens of villages. Today, the Techa is the most radioactively contaminated body of water in the world, and nearby Lake Karachai is considered one of the most polluted places on the planet.
In 1957, an explosion in a container of highly radioactive waste caused a new massive contamination along a plume that was 300 kilometers long and 30-50 kilometers wide. In Russian it is referred to as VOURS–Vostochono-Ouralski Radioactivni Sled, the Eastern Ural Radioactive Plume. This explosion was covered up for twenty years before it was revealed by the biologist Jaurès Medvedev (twin brother of the dissident historian Roy Medvedev). Medvedev, in exile in the UK, published the first article in 1976, followed by the book Nuclear Disaster in the Urals in 1988. Taking a name from the closest town on the map (Maiak still didn’t officially exist), the disaster was then designated as the Kychtym nuclear disaster.
Lake Karachai was close to Maiak and was used as a dump for masses of radioactive liquids. In the spring of 1967 it ran dry and the wind carried off radioactive sediment as far as 75 kilometers, causing large-scale contamination, notably of Cesium 137.
In addition to these three massive emissions, the Maiak complex released radioactive wastes continuously in lesser quantities. Meanwhile, the contamination problems were never resolved. According to the relevant estimates given by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the wastes dumped into the Techa in the early period, essentially between 1949 and 1951, amounted to 100 PBq (10E15 becquerels). According to Patrick Boyer of the IRSN (France’s Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire ), that is about four times as much as what Fukushima has released into the Pacific Ocean.
The releases of Strontium 90 and Cesium 137 during the 1949-51 period also contaminated the Techa floodplain, an area of 240 square kilometers where 80 square kilometers were above the Chernobyl zone limit of 3.7x10E10 Bq/km km2.
Starting in 1956, while Maiak continued to grow, storage areas were built out of natural ponds or by building dams on the Techa. Military production of plutonium ended in 1987. At the time there were seven military reactors on the site. Afterwards, Maiak was put to use for both military and civilian purposes, for producing radioactive materials, and for reprocessing of nuclear fuel.
In spite of the waste reservoirs, liquid contamination never stopped. The main dam leaked, as did creeks flowing out of the canals built to channel the water, and contaminants leached out of the soil. “These are long-term mechanisms, very long,” explains Patrick Boyer to Mediapart. “The situation is stabilized in the sense that the releases are much less than they were in the 1950s, but the leaks continue, and the Techa is going to remain very contaminated for decades.  Additionally, the lakes used as reservoirs of nuclear waste contain a considerable level of radioactivity, which constitutes a risk.”
Contamination in the Maiak complex and the surrounding area has had effects on workers and the rural population. According to a Norwegian report, in 1949, workers received a dose corresponding to 1,000 times the maximum allowed dose for nuclear workers today. The villagers along the Techa were also exposed to high levels of radiation which led to high mortality rates and chromosomal abnormalities. Even though the practices of the Cold War no longer occur, radioactive effluents still flow out. The IAEA document mentioned above notes that releases of strontium in the Techa doubled in the 2001-2004 period.
In fact, the population of the region remains exposed to a level of radioactivity which should, according to a 2011 report by CRIIRAD (Comité de recherche et d’information indépendantes sur la radioactivité), require evacuation. This was precisely one of the struggles that Nadejda Koutepova fought, but Russian authorities paid no attention. The pressures that led to her departure from Russia are symptomatic of the opacity that surrounds the Maiak site. Since 2011, scientific data on the site has no longer been available.
The following is an interview with Nadejda Koutepova that was conducted on October 2, 2015 just as Vladimir Putin was welcomed at the Élysée by Francois Hollande to discuss the wars in Ukraine and Syria…..

October 9, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, environment, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nadejda Koutepova speaks out on the hidden scandal of the Mayak radioactive contamination

flag_RussiaA Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal, The revelation, decades later
“………Fifteen years ago you established the NGO “Planet of Hope” in order to aid the victims of radioactive contamination from Maiak. What led you to this cause?
Nadejda Koutepova :
My grandmother was a chemical engineer and she worked at the complex from the time it opened in 1948. The Soviet state wanted, like the Americans, to develop nuclear weapons, so they built a secret factory in the Siberian forest next to the closed city of Ozersk. People who worked there were forbidden from talking about their work. In 1965, my grandmother died of lymphatic cancer. I never knew her. At the time of the accident in 1957, when a container of highly radioactive waste exploded, my father was a student in Ekaterinburg. He belonged to the Komsomols (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) so he was immediately mobilized as a liquidator. He worked there for nearly five years. In 1985, he died of intestinal cancer. I was a teenager at the end of his life, and it was horrific. He lived with a colostomy bag and was consumed by alcoholism.
But it was only later that I understood what could have caused him and my grandmother to die. One fine day in 1999, I was invited to a conference on the environment organized in Chelyabinsk, the big regional city. It was there that I discovered that the whole Ozersk region is contaminated, yet the local population ignores the situation completely. Officially, the region is not polluted. The inhabitants eat mushrooms and fish in the rivers without asking any questions. This conference was a revelation. At that moment I decided to establish an NGO. I had studied law, sociology and political science at university. I wanted the inhabitants who were still there to have the means to leave and I wanted the unrecognized victims to be able to defend themselves.
Mayak disaster
In the first years of operation of the factory, 1949-52, all the highly radioactive wastes were dumped into the Techa. Cases of leukemia and premature death multiplied in the villages along the river, so the factory started managing the wastes in metal tanks. During the next decade, 34 out of 39 villages along the river were evacuated. At the same time, radioactive wastes were dumped in Lake Karachai. It was only in 1962 that the authorities announced that they would stop these practices.
In reality, the contamination of the surrounding waters never ended. In 2005, the director of the factory at Maiak, Vitali Sadovnikov, was prosecuted for having let the factory release, starting in the year 2000, tens of thousands of cubic meters of radioactive water into the Techa. Sadovnikov was given amnesty by the Duma (Russian parliament) in 2006. Nonetheless, the files on the court decision on Sadovnikov show that 30 to 40 cubic meters of radioactive water were dumped between 2001 and 2004! Since then, we haven’t even had access to the file, and the Maiak factory denies all responsibility for the contamination of the river.
Do the Russian authorities today recognize the victims of radioactive contamination?
A law was enacted in 1993, inspired by the 1991 law on victims of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. This law provides social assistance to the victims of the 1957 accident and to people affected by the contamination of the river—but not to their spouses or children. It specifies the typology of illnesses: if the patient could prove a direct link to her work at Maiak or to a place where she lived with radiation from Maiak, then she had a right to compensation.
In total, 19,000 people have been classified as eligible. The figure is always declining because of deaths. Five years ago there were 23,000. But this only represents a small part of the population affected by the consequences of contamination in the region. Our NGO estimates that the number has grown now to about 100,000.
The typology is very restrictive. It was reduced a lot by scientists after Chernobyl. There are only four categories: cancers, blood diseases, genetic instability, and chronic cellular dysfunction. Mental health and psychosomatic problems, for example, are not on the list. Furthermore, when a patient applies for compensation, a “council of experts” gets together at the center for radiation research in the Urals. Made up of eleven persons, they vote by a show of hands on whether the patient should be compensated. These men are not independent. They raise their hands under pressure from their supervisors. And who are we to question their decisions? They respond that they are the scientists. It is they who have the knowledge. We have tried to set up procedures to appeal their decisions. It is impossible.
Another problem is that many people lived and worked in the city at various jobs, but their occupations were not considered to have put them at risk. These were such people as the teachers at the technical college in Maiak, or workers at the train station in the neighboring town. They couldn’t claim compensation. Others didn’t live within the officially recognized zone of contamination. There is also the story of the children of the village of Karabolka who worked regularly in the fields. They were mobilized after the accident to bury carrots and potatoes. For weeks they handled irradiated produce. But unlike the liquidators, they never received certificates proving their participation. Fifty years later they have finally been recognized.
European Court of Human Rights
Still now local people don’t have the chance to get proper medical tests. When they are done, they are often very cursory. I know a woman who had a chromosome test done, but they looked at only one hundred cells. In order to do it properly, they need at least 500 to 1,000. As a result, no pathology was proven.
Compensation is not large. It depends on the occupation and the place the applicant lived. A former liquidator, for example, receives a food supplement of 600 rubles a month (which is worth about 8 euros at present rates), as well a small payment annually for health care. The recipient has access to free medicine and can, in theory, go once a year to a sanatorium. In some cases, a housing benefit is available…….

October 9, 2015 Posted by | environment, Reference, Russia | 1 Comment

Japan’s coastal population: risks from radiation ignored by govt and IAEA

UK research clearly shows that coastal zone populations are exposed to doses of marine radioactivity under the following set of environmental parameters:

  1. resident in coastal zones up to at least 200kms downstream of a source of liquid radioactive discharges to sea
  2. resident in coastal zones adjacent to coastal waters with high suspended sediment loadings
  3. resident in coastal zones adjacent to extensive fine sediment inter tidal/sub tidal sediment deposits (salt marsh, mud flats etc)
  4. resident in coastal zones subject to prevailing onshore winds and storm or tidal conditions generating marine aerosols, sea spray and coastal inundation
  5. resident in coastal zones where such parameters (A to D above) have, elsewhere, been shown to enable/facilitate the penetration of marine radioactivity for across the shoreline and up to 10 miles inland from the coast.


Fukushima: Japanese government and IAEA ignore radiation risks to coastal population Tim Fukushima toiletDeere-Jones 28th September 2015 

Radiation can be carried long distances by marine currents, concentrated in sediments, and carried in sea spray 16km or more inland, writes Tim Deere-Jones. So Fukushima poses a hazard to coastal populations and any who eat produce from their farms. So what are the Japanese Government and IAEA doing? Ignoring the problem, and failing to gather data.

Review of the official Japanese marine monitoring programme reveals that the Japanese government is turning a blind eye to the risks of marine radiation from the stricken Fukushima site.

The strategy it has adopted, with the support of the IAEA, consistently ignores the latest evidence about the way marine radioactivity behaves in inshore marine environments and the potential radiological risks to coastal populations.

This strategy is based on a flawed hypothesis, developed by the nuclear industry through the late 1940s and early 1950s, when both oceanography and the study of the behaviour and fate of radioactivity in marine environments were in their absolute infancy.

As a result, the principal conclusions on the marine impact of the Fukushima event put forward in recent reports from the IAEA, the Government of Japan and it’s relevant agencies, minimise the environmental and public health negatives and emphasise a range of hypothetical ‘positives’.

This is a major flaw because the empirical evidence from ‘non-aligned’ research in the UK is that coastal communities are subjected to highly enriched doses of marine radioactivity through pathways of exposure, and from environmental parameters, which will not be analysed and researched under current Fukushima monitoring plans.

As a result, significant public health impacts of the event will not be documented, nor will important data about the way Fukushima marine radioactivity behaves at the coastline.

Failing to gather the evidence of coastal radiation Continue reading

September 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment

Saskatchewan plan to clean up neglected Gunnar uranium mine site

Plan for cleaning up uranium tailings ready for approval BY ALEX MACPHERSON, THE STARPHOENIX SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 The cleanup of a derelict northern Saskatchewan uranium mine could move one step closer this week.

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) — which is overseeing the multi-million-dollar Gunnar Remediation Project on behalf of the provincial government — will present its plan to cover the site’s three tailings deposits at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Canada’s nuclear watchdog will consider evidence presented by all interested parties, including the SRC and northern First Nations, before making its decision, which is expected in about six weeks, a CNSC spokesman said Monday…..

After Gunnar ceased production in 1963, the open pit and underground works were flooded with water from Lake Athabasca. The mine was abandoned the following year with little other decommissioning work.

“There was no Department of Environment when those mines were abandoned,” said Ann Coxworth, a nuclear chemist and member of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society board. “At the time, there was, I would say, rather limited understanding of the hazards of leaving those tailings in an unmanaged condition.”

The absence of baseline studies and the insidious effects of radioactive contamination make assessing the Gunnar site’s environmental impact difficult, but it’s clear the work needed to be done, Coxworth said.

“We know that it can’t be cleaned up. (But) the situation can certainly be improved.”……..

Jack Flett, regulatory affairs coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said he hopes work on the Gunnar site continues.

“For me, it’s water,” he said, noting that the northern Alberta First Nation is downstream of the Gunnar mine. “Water is everything. Water is life.”…..


September 30, 2015 Posted by | Canada, environment, Uranium | Leave a comment


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