About this project How many wrong decisions can one nation endure? Every
week there’s a new story that shows a shocking lack in judgment or ethics on the part of the government. It’s open season on the environment, on science, on the rights of veterans, and it shames us all.
Media in disarray Cuts to investigative journalism by most media outlets (including Canada’s CBC, which has been decimated by recent government funding cuts) are allowing many stories to remain under-covered, or untold altogether.
Media consolidation has meant there are fewer voices reporting, with ever-tightening restrictions on what they can say. This is a critical threat to democracy, and it’s the principal motivation for this film. Independent voices must pick up the slack.
Science Abandoned The Canadian tradition of being at the forefront of scientific research and innovation, critical to the nation’s prosperity, has been all but abandoned. The Harper government has pulled the plug on any science that doesn’t conform to its specific oil and gas agenda, and it has effectively muzzled scientists by forbidding them from speaking out to the press.
Critical programs that monitored the melting arctic, smoke stack emissions, food inspections, water quality, oil spills and climate change have been systematically dismantled.
Hundreds of the world’s scientists have written an open letter to the Harper government, voicing concerns over the inability to conduct basic research environmental and health issues, and other areas of science that should contribute to the public good.
It is a frivolous waste of taxpayers’ dollars to fund research only to have it repressed, causing decisions to be made without adequate data and information. This puts our citizens at risk, as it leaves us flying blind amid the dangers of increasing pollution and climate change.and other environmental hazards.
Our tradition of scientific prowess and innovation has been flushed down the toilet because of what scientific research is revealing — the effects of our own country’s destructive policies……..
“Not in Our Name”: the film
“Not in Our Name” (NION) will explore the axis of Industry, Media, and Government, which prioritizes corporate interests over the people’s. The film will show how similar tactics are being employed in the US, Britain, Australia…leaders administering the instructions of the multinational corporations who bought them. They count the profits while we, society and the environment count the cost.
If we don’t vigorously confront their stranglehold on our governments, we will have forever crossed the Rubicon, and there will be no turning back. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1916096034/not-in-our-name
Inside the race for Canada’s nuclear waste: 11 towns vie to host deep burial site Canada’s nuclear waste will be deadly for 400,000 years. What town would like the honour of hosting it?CHARLES WILKINS TheGlobe and Mail Feb. 26 2015,
“If I piled any quantity of shit out there and left it with no disposal plan, I’d be shut down and condemned within weeks. And here’s an industry with the capacity for global devastation, with no permanent plan for their garbage, the most dangerous stuff on Earth, and they’re allowed to keep producing it indefinitely.”
There is in fact a plan for that waste. A federally mandated body, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), wants to bury it in what the nuclear industry calls a Deep Geological Repository, or DGR. First, though, the organization must complete its quest—in effect, a competition, although the NWMO doesn’t see it that way—to find a municipality that will serve as a “willing host” for the repository. Among the contenders for the distinction are the municipalities of Huron-Kinloss, South Bruce and Central Huron, all of them close neighbours to Fran and Tony McQuail.
If it doesn’t seem like a competition any municipality would want to win, consider that spending on the project will likely run as high as $24 billion. And, the construction phase aside, the jobs involved are not the sort that will last only until another, perhaps cheaper, location is found. According to the NWMO’s plan, 400,000 years or more will pass between the point at which the waste is buried and the happy day when any sort of safety sticker is likely to be affixed to the vast toxic grave.
One morning in October, 1957, the principal of Keyes Public School in Deep River, Ontario, came into our Grade 5 classroom and declared that we, the children of the town, had “nothing to be afraid of.” We were to pay no attention to rumours that the reactors at nearby Chalk River would be among the Soviet Union’s first targets should the Cold War suddenly heat up.
Because we had older siblings ever willing to heighten our appreciation of reality, we already knew that if the reactors got hit, the explosion would be the equivalent of a thousand, maybe a million, H-bombs. We knew, too, that Deep River was located exactly seven miles from the reactors because that was the minimum distance at which human life would be spared if the plant ever got hit.
Mercifully, the missiles never came. And the plant never blew.
Others did: Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986), Fukushima (2011).
Most of the reactor stories we heard as kids turned out to be fables. Yet more than half a century later, they remain bristling little allegories not just of the risks of splitting the atom but of the doggedness of those who continue to tell us we have “nothing to fear” from an industry that in 1945 said hello to humanity by incinerating 80,000 citizens of Hiroshima…….http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/inside-the-race-for-canadas-nuclear-waste/article23178848/
“Finally,” says Eugene Bourgeois, whose idyllic property lies within a kilometre of the Bruce Power reactors, “it has to be impervious to the potential ignorance or delinquency of people, perhaps ‘peopleoids,’ more than a quarter-million years from now”—which is to say, peopleoids who likely will have no notion even of the languages in which the safety code and signage of the DGR were written.
At the same time, the site can’t be too remote. It must be serviced by roads and rail, so that waste can be brought in, and must have a sufficient population that the thousands of folks who will build the facility and the hundreds who will be employed there long-term will have a place to live
Inside the race for Canada’s nuclear waste: 11 towns vie to host deep burial site Canada’s nuclear waste will be deadly for 400,000 years. What town would like the honour of hosting it? CHARLES WILKINS TheGlobe and Mail Feb. 26 2015,
……..the Western Waste Management Facility, where Ontario Power Generation stores much of its share of the 48,000 tonnes of waste that have accumulated in Canada during the past 65 years and that the company and other nuclear-power producers hope will eventually be lowered into the national DGR (Deep Geological Repository)
The ever-accumulating tonnage, which in the wrong hands could provide payloads for thousands of atomic bombs, is entombed in a thousand snow-white containers (a half-inch of steel atop reinforced concrete), each the size of, say, a Lincoln Navigator set on end and weighing 70 tonnes……..
The $24-billion cost of a deep repository—to be paid by the producers (hence ultimately their customers) out of a fund that now stands at less than $3 billion—sounds like a lot for the existing quantity of nuclear-fuel waste in the country. NWMO spokesman Mike Krizanc visualizes Canada’s 48,000-tonne waste pile as “enough to cover six NHL-sized hockey rinks to the top of the boards.”
The discrepancy is explained by toxicity. According to Gordon Edwards, a mathematician who has critiqued the nuclear industry for decades as president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, irradiated—that is, used—nuclear fuel is “millions of times more radioactive and deadly than when the unirradiated fuel was placed in the reactors.” Studies have connected the various isotopes contained in the waste to cancer, immune system damage and genetic mutation. Those six hockey rinks are enough, say nuclear detractors, that if the waste is buried in the wrong place, or in the wrong way, it could ruin our water, render the landscape useless for agriculture, or, in a darker scenario, render it useless for human habitation…… Continue reading
SNC Lavalin Nuclear and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in court over costs of Darlington nuclear rebuild
We’ll see SNC Lavalin Nuclear in court http://www.cleanairalliance.org/bulletins Angela Bischoff 24 Feb 15 In March 2011, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to obtain details of the contract between Aecon Construction, SNC Lavalin Nuclear and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for the re-building of four reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Station on Lake Ontario.
Aecon Construction and SNC Lavalin, not surprisingly, are not keen to reveal just how rich this mega contract is and refused to provide the information. However, the the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) ruled that the companies should provide relevant details, a decision Aecon and SNC then appealed to the Superior Court.
The companies are insisting that they were “confused” by the Freedom of Information request process, which the Privacy Commissioner’s counsel notes is rather odd, considering that these “are multi-billion dollar companies that have access to a wealth of internal and external legal resources [and] have a history of being involved in access to information requests in other Canadian jurisdictions.“
The companies are also trying to use another technicality to shield the details of the deal, including whether it allows cost overruns to be passed onto taxpayers and ratepayers. They are insisting that contracts are not covered by FOI legislation because they represent information provided by one party to another. The Commissioner’s counsel strongly disagrees in her response, citing an explanation from the Government of Canada:
“.. . The intention of Parliament in exempting financial and commercial information from disclosure applies to confidential information submitted to the government, not negotiated amounts for goods or services. Otherwise, every contract amount with the government would be exempt from disclosure, and the public would have no access to this important information …”
Given the long history of secret deals in Ontario’s nuclear power sector that have led to massive cost overruns – and massive debt for Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers – the OCAA believes the public has every right to know more about the deal struck between OPG and these two construction and engineering giants. We would like to thank the Information and Privacy Commissioner for robustly defending our right to see this information.
We’re hoping we won’t have to repeat this difficult and time consuming exercise with another secret nuclear deal – an agreement to rebuild reactors at the Bruce Nuclear Station. Instead of forcing public interest groups to file freedom of information requests after the fact, the government should walk its talk on openness and transparency by sending any proposed Bruce Deal to the Ontario Energy Board for a full public review.
Please join us to observe the proceedings as well as to show your support for greater transparency in government decision making this coming Monday :
- Monday March 2, 10 a.m.(come at any time during the day)
- Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St. West (NE corner of Queen/University), in Courtroom # 3 (on 2ndfloor), entrance off Queen St., Toronto
A little sunshine can keep everyone healthier.
p.s. Our Ontario budget proposal to take a pass on rebuilding the Darlington Nuclear Plant in favour of importing lower-cost water power from Quebec has clearly made some vested interests in the Ontario nuclear industry very nervous. Our proposal on the government’s budget consultation website has suddenly been inundated with “thumbs down” votes. This orchestrated campaign to deep six our idea just shows how the nuclear industry really can’t compete with our highly sensible proposal. Don’t let them get away with it! Give our idea a thumbs up right now.
Inside the race for Canada’s nuclear waste: 11 towns vie to host deep burial site Canada’s nuclear waste will be deadly for 400,000 years. What town would like the honour of hosting it?CHARLES WILKINS TheGlobe and Mail Feb. 26 2015,
…….So accustomed have we become to such power, we have largely stopped thinking about its uncomfortable truths: For example, that Canada’s signature nuclear technology, the CANDU reactor, seeded proliferation of atomic weapons in Pakistan and India.
Or that the supposedly world-beating CANDU turned out to be a financial white elephant: The CANDU’s creator, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., devoured billions in subsidies before the CANDU technology was finally sold for a pittance to scandal-plagued engineering firm SNC Lavalin.
Nuclear power is said to be cheap—but only if one doesn’t count costs that either have been offloaded or are yet to be fully funded, such as accident liability, waste management and the debts incurred in reactor construction. Moreover, the industry has a history of wild cost overruns: The bill for creating Ontario’s Darlington facility during the 1980s climbed from a projected $3.9 billion to more than $14 billion………http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/inside-the-race-for-canadas-nuclear-waste/article23178848/
Offended tribal elders formed the Committee for Future Generations and initiated what they called the 7,000 Generations Walk Against Nuclear Waste, which saw participants trudge nearly 1,000 kilometres from Pinehouse to the legislature in Regina.
No local DGR debate has been harder fought than the 30-month marathon of psychological and ground warfare that unfolded in Saugeen Shores, one of several contestant municipalities in Bruce County, between 2011 and 2014.
Inside the race for Canada’s nuclear waste: 11 towns vie to host deep burial site Canada’s nuclear waste will be deadly for 400,000 years. What town would like the honour of hosting it?CHARLES WILKINS TheGlobe and Mail Feb. 26 2015,
“……..There are 11 rural and wilderness municipalities vying for the DGR, survivors of an original roster of 22. The aspirants include veteran northern encampments such as Hornepayne, Ontario, where, as Brennain Lloyd of the environmental education group Northwatch describes it, there is “a really fierce desire” on the part of at least a few municipal administrators to “bring the nuke dump to town.”
And Schreiber, a struggling railway town on the north shore of Lake Superior. And Ignace, another struggler, in the boreal wilds to the west. And, to the east, Manitouwadge.
And Creighton, Saskatchewan, directly across the Manitoba border from Flin Flon (Creighton is a town described by a former resident as “having had its fiscal balls to the wall for half a century”).
And Blind River, Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Huron, where survival has for years depended on the uncertain flow of traffic along the Trans-Canada Highway.
And Elliot Lake, some 50 kilometres north of Lake Huron, where uranium mining was the sustaining industry during the 1950s and ’60s but which these days survives on the pensions of retirees who moved to the town to take advantage of discount housing left over from the boom years.
“What makes it all so attractive to competing municipalities is, of course, the money,” says Tony McQuail.
While billions of dollars will flow directly through the chosen town over a period of four or five decades, Lloyd suggests that most of the money is likely to end up in the pockets of big-city consultants and other outside beneficiaries.
Mainly, the price tag will buy decades’ worth of infrastructure and construction costs, as well as maintenance, monitoring and employment training. It will also pay for the transportation of the waste to the spanking new DGR, which will, by the time it opens, have been a reality for its “willing host” for a quarter of a century or more.
Finishing just the first phase of the preliminary assessment brings $400,000 of NWMO money to candidate towns, so they can “build sustainability and well-being.” It has been speculated that some towns had no intention of staying in the process beyond the early payout.
While some towns applied to participate of their own volition, others were, according to Lloyd of Northwatch, courted by the NWMO. “What bothers me most about the process,” says Lloyd, “is the ‘siloing’ that the NWMO practises on the municipal politicians they choose to target.
“They approach them not in the context of their communities, where the politicians are immediately answerable to their constituencies, but at municipal conferences and conventions where they’re away from home, isolated, perhaps a little unsure of themselves. They wine and dine them and soft-talk them about the unimaginable benefits that could accrue to their towns should they consider hosting the DGR.
“Then they fly them to Toronto and put them up in the best hotels and take them up to the Bruce Power site, or other nuclear generating stations, and show them what of course appears to be secure and flawless waste storage. The politicians are just snowed—they’re made to feel like important players. They take this dream of hope and prosperity and safe science back to their communities and in effect go to work for the NWMO.”
Other northern councils—at Ear Falls, at Nipigon, at Wawa—have been more divided over the DGR and so were eliminated early, or withdrew, from the process. Similarly, Brockton, near the site of Bruce Power, was cut late in 2014 after its residents elected a largely anti-DGR council. (The NWMO says Brockton’s assessment simply didn’t pan out.)
The aboriginal communities of Pinehouse and English River, Saskatchewan, were dropped from the process when community debate over land and water issues, as well as a growing distrust of the NWMO, became irresolvable.
While Pinehouse was still in the running, three community leaders, including a cousin of the mayor, received money from the NWMO. Offended tribal elders formed the Committee for Future Generations and initiated what they called the 7,000 Generations Walk Against Nuclear Waste, which saw participants trudge nearly 1,000 kilometres from Pinehouse to the legislature in Regina.
No local DGR debate has been harder fought than the 30-month marathon of psychological and ground warfare that unfolded in Saugeen Shores, one of several contestant municipalities in Bruce County, between 2011 and 2014………..http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/inside-the-race-for-canadas-nuclear-waste/article23178848/
Lavalin, the company promoting thorium nuclear reactors faces rare corporate fraud and bribery charges
SNC-Lavalin faces rare corporate fraud and bribery charges LES PERREAUX, JEFF GRAY AND BERTRAND MAROTTE MONTREAL and TORONTO — The Globe and Mail, Feb. 19 2015, The RCMP have laid rare corporate fraud and bribery charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. after protracted negotiations with prosecutors failed to reach a settlement, threatening the future of an enormous Canadian firm that builds infrastructure around the world.
While former company executives already face criminal charges related to bribing Libyan officials – former vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa has pleaded guilty to Swiss charges – a series of scandals has shown a culture of breaking ethics rules in the company’s executive suite prior to 2012. These are the first charges targeting the company as a whole.
SNC is accused of using at least $47.7-million to bribe Libyan officials. A second count is for fraud of about $130-million related to construction projects in Libya. SNC responded quickly, saying the alleged activities took place between 2001 and 2011 and the people involved have been fired. The company says it has co-operated with authorities for the past three years and intends to plead not guilty.
A source familiar with the investigation said settlement talks between SNC-Lavalin and prosecutors were close to a deal in October.
As part of any deal, the company was expected to face a multimillion-dollar fine. But the possibility that a guilty plea could automatically trigger a 10-year ban on winning Canadian government contracts “complicated everything” and must have been among the factors that scuppered the settlement, the source said.
Long considered soft on anti-corruption enforcement, Canada’s international reputation may benefit from the charges, according to one of the country’s staunchest critics.
“This is a step in advance. Canada is actually gaining ground on its past,” said Mark Pieth, a criminal law professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland and the former chairman of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s bribery working group.
“Finally. I had waited for action against the company for a long time.”
Business analysts played down any immediate threat to the company, saying charges and an eventual fine of up to $300-million were expected. But chief executive Robert Card was unequivocal when he told The Globe and Mail last fall SNC could be broken up or “cease to exist” if the company were convicted and barred from Canadian government contracts for 10 years. He said even laying charges could be damaging enough to SNC’s reputation to pose a threat…..
Riyaz Dattu, a Toronto lawyer with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP who advises companies on corruption issues, said the charges for SNC-Lavalin are a dire warning for other Canadian companies that they need to bring in stronger anti-corruption controls and new training for employees to ensure bribes are not being paid around the world.
“The message is coming through loud and clear to corporate Canada,” Mr. Dattu said.
The Libyan allegations are not the only corruption troubles facing SNC. Ethics probes have involved SNC employees who worked on projects in Algeria, Bangladesh and Montreal. Mr. Ben Aissa is at the centre of many of the allegations, including fraud and corruption charges related to building a Montreal hospital……….http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/snc-lavalin-faces-rare-corporate-fraud-and-bribery-charges/article23108284/
the National Academies of Sciences have found conclusively that any exposure to ionizing radiation will increase the risks of developing cancer.
Calls for baseline and epidemiological health studies on the impacts of uranium mining and milling on nearby communities have gone unanswered by both government and industry since the 1970s.
Indigenous Canadians Are Fighting the Uranium Mining Industry, VICE February 11, 2015 by Michael Toledano On November 22, 2014, a small group of Dene trappers called the Northern Trappers Alliance set up a checkpoint on Saskatchewan’s Highway 955, allowing locals to pass while blockading the industrial traffic of tar sands and uranium exploration companies. On December 1, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police descended on the site with an injunction from the province and forcibly dismantled the blockade.
Eighty days later, the trappers remain camped on the side of the highway in weather that has routinely dipped below -40 C. They are constructing a permanent cabin on the site that will be a meeting place for Dene people and northern land defenders.
“We want industry to get the hell out of here and stop this killing,” said Don Montgrand, who has been at the encampment since day one and was named as one of its leaders on the police injunction. “We want this industry to get the hell out before we lose any more people here. We lose kids, adults, teenagers.”
“They’re willing to stay as long as it takes to get the point across that any of this kind of development is not going to be welcomed,” said Candyce Paul, the alliance’s spokesperson and a member of the anti-nuclear Committee for the Future Generations. “It’s indefinite.”
“We don’t want to become a sacrifice zone. That’s where we see ourselves heading.”
The trappers say an unprecedented rise in cancer is the legacy of contamination from nearby uranium mines. With significant tar sands and uranium deposits in their area, the trappers are developing a long-term strategy to halt the industrial growth threatening to deform their surroundings and scare away the wildlife they depend on for food, income, and culture.
About an hour north of the alliance’s location, a recent discovery by Fission Uranium Corp. could lead to the development of one of the world’s largest high-grade uranium mines.
Further north, abandoned and decommissioned uranium mines already host millions of tons of radioactive dust (also known as tailings) that must be isolated from the surrounding environment for millennia, while no cleanup plans exist for the legacy of severe and widespread watershed contamination that is synonymous with Uranium City, Saskatchewan. To the east, “an integrated uranium corridor spreading over 250 kilometers” hosts the largest high-grade uranium mines and mills in the world, with their own stockpiles of radioactive tailings and a decades-long history of radioactive spills…….
The province is looking to indigenous lands in the north for new bitumen and mineral mines, a high-level nuclear waste dump site, and the construction of nuclear reactors to encourage “environmentally responsible” tar sands extraction by exporting energy to Alberta.
“We know the government really doesn’t care about the northern people. They would rather see us move out of our region,” Continue reading
Is nuclear refurbishment Ontario’s best option?, Corporate Knights, BY TYLER HAMILTON FEBRUARY 11, 2015 A renewables and energy storage combo could do the job and shouldn’t be ignored, a Navius Research analysis argues. ances are slim that shiny new nuclear plants will be built in Ontario. High upfront costs and a history of delays and cost overruns are among the reasons “new builds” will likely never happen in the province.
But there remains widespread debate over plans to refurbish existing reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Clarington, about an hour east of Toronto.
Ontario Power Generation, the province-owned electricity generator, is determined to rebuild the cores of four reactors at the Darlington site. Together, the four reactors represent about 3,500 megawatts of generating capacity and refurbishing them will extend their lives by about 30 years.
The utility estimates the project will carry a final price tag of $12.9 billion once completed a little over a decade from now. Is that a deal for Ontario ratepayers, or is there a better, less risky, and just as climate-friendly alternative?
Let’s put aside the standard anti-nuclear talking points about the risk of a Fukushima-style accident or the challenges and unknown costs involved with storing highly toxic nuclear waste far into the future. A new case study done by Vancouver-based Navius Research calls into question the wisdom of Ontario’s refurbishment plan in a world where solar power and energy storage costs are falling dramatically.
The Navius report, using a detailed model of Ontario’s electricity system that accounts for the current mix and performance of energy generation, simulated the grid for a full year under a variety of different conditions to see how it would respond.
It found that renewables in combination with the right amount of energy storage – in this case, compressed air energy storage (CAES) – and a small amount of natural gas generation would result in “equivalent GHGs and quite similar electricity system costs” compared to nuclear refurbishment……..
the findings are compelling enough that it should give Ontario pause before taking the plunge with Darlington, …….http://www.corporateknights.com/channels/utilities-energy/nuclear-refurbishment-ontarios-best-option/
he nearly two-thirds decline in Cameco’s U.S.-listed share price since February 2011 is about more than a delayed earnings bonanza. Furthermore, fluctuations in uranium’s thinly traded spot market should be viewed cautiously.
Not only do utilities in Japan and elsewhere have substantial inventory on hand but other sources of uranium supply hang over the market. These include low-cost mines in Kazakhstan that now supply around 40% of the market as well as nuclear fuel derived from nonmine sources such as the waste “tailings” of previously processed uranium.
Assuming analysts’ 2018 scenario plays out in terms of output and prices, Cameco now fetches just under 10 times that year’s consensus forecast earnings according to FactSet—hardly a bargain in today’s depressed mining landscape. The cloud hanging over Cameco may not dissipate soon.http://www.wsj.com/articles/uranium-producer-cameco-looks-depleted-ahead-of-the-tape-1423421905
January 28th, 2015
Study: Global consequences from Fukushima-like nuclear disaster; Many nations at risk of ‘great exposure’ — Transport of hot particles to US was especially effective during worst releases after reactor explosions — Radioactivity confined ‘close to surface’ due to seasonal factors
T. Christoudias and Y. Proestos of The Cyprus Institute, J. Lelieveld of Max Planck Institute of Chemistry (Germany), Dec 12, 2014 (emphasis added):
- We estimate the contamination risks from the atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides released by severe nuclear power plant accidents… We present an overview of global risks… [These] risks exhibit seasonal variability, with the highest surface level concentrations of gaseous radionuclides in the Northern Hemisphere during winter [Fukushima crisis began with 10 days left in winter].
- The model setup was evaluated… using emission estimates from… Fukushima
- The risk posed from nuclear power plant accidents is not limited to the national or even regional level, but can assume global dimensions. Many nations may be subjected to great exposure after severe accidents.
- Our model shows increased surface-level concentrations throughout the Northern Hemisphere during the boreal winter months compared to the summer… Not only the expected risk magnitude is higher, but the geographical extent of the high concentrations of transported radionuclides is more pronounced towards the north… Horizontal advection [i.e. transfer] is more efficient in winter due to relatively stronger winds, and the concentrations are highest near the surface [and] surface level concentrations in the summer tend to be more localized in the emission region.
- Our results illustrate that accidents… could have significant trans-boundary consequences. The risk estimate [shows] increased surface level concentrations of gaseous radionuclides in the Northern Hemisphere during winter and a larger geographical extent towards the north and the east… This is related to the relatively shallow boundary layer in winter that confines the emitted radioactivity to the lowest part of the atmosphere close to the surface…It is the view of the authors that it is imperative to assess the risks from the atmospheric dispersion of radioactivity from potential NPP accidents [for] emergency response planning on national and international levels.
JAMSTEC, Univ. of Tokyo, etc.: We show a numerical simulation for the long-range transport from the [Fukushima] plant to the US… Large-scale updraft [over] Japan from March 14 to 15 was found effective in lifting the particles [to the] jet stream that could carry the particles across the Pacific within 3 to 4 days [See study: On Mar. 15, Fukushima reactors emitted 100 quadrillion Bq of cesium into air — This one day was equal to total lifetime release from Chernobyl]… Some of the particles [had a] long-range atmospheric transport over — 10,000 km within 3 to 4 days… [R]adioactive materials were detected in that period over the east and west coasts of the U.S… In order for the particles to be transported with the jet stream, they must be lifted up from the surface boundary layer to the mid- or upper troposphere. Large-scale updraft was indeed observed… on March 14 through 15… [T]he westerlies in mid-March were thus particularly effective in the trans-Pacific transport of the radioactive materials…
B.C.’s citizen scientists on alert for radiation from Japan, Vancouver Sun BY AMY SMART, TIMES COLONIST JANUARY 25, 2015 Since October, citizen scientists have been dipping buckets into the waters of B.C.’s coast, looking for fallout from the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Japan.
At the centre of the search are two man-made isotopes, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, which act as “fingerprints” for radiation specific to the Japan disaster. Both isotopes were released when the reactors failed in the aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami, just as they were during nuclear testing in the mid-20th century.
While Cesium-137 has a half-life — the time it takes for the radioactivity to fall to half its original value — of 30 years, Cesium-134’s is only two years. That means that if Cesium-134 is found in a sample, scientists can be certain it came from Fukushima.
“It’s been sufficiently long since atmospheric weapons testing last century or the Chernobyl disaster that we don’t see traces of [Cesium-134 from those sources] anymore,” said University of Victoria ocean chemist Jay Cullen. “So if we detect it in seawater or an organism, then we know that sample has been affected by Fukushima.”
The radiation is as close as 100 kilometres, with levels expected to peak over the next two years. But so far, members of the InFORM Network — citizen scientists, and representatives from academia, government and non-governmental organizations — haven’t found anything in seawater samples collected by volunteers at 14 coastal locations.
“The models of ocean circulation that the physical oceanographers have put together suggest that we are going to see it along the coast and we can expect it to arrive over the next couple of years, the heart of that contaminated plume,” said Cullen, who leads the network.
InFORM is also monitoring marine life, which can absorb radiation. The first results, from sockeye salmon and steelhead trout selected for their known migration paths, showed traces of Cesium-137, but no Cesium-134……….
John Smith, a senior research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, agrees that the health risks are likely to be “extremely low.” At its peak, the radiation in the plume is expected to be three to five becquerels per cubic metre of water. Canadian guidelines for safe drinking water impose a limit of 10,000 becquerels per cubic metre, he said.
For Smith, who began monitoring the plume’s spread in 2011, it provides a “dye test” for testing theories about ocean currents. The results will have implications for all kinds of models, including understandings of climate change, he said.
“This was a unique oceanographic event in that a large quantity of radioactivity was deposited into the ocean off Japan at a given moment in time and at a given location. It was a tremendous disaster. But it has provided an oceanographic tracer for currents that has never occurred before.”…….. www.vancouversun.com/health/citizen+scientists+alert+radiation+from+Japan/10758982/story.html
Cancer-stricken soldier denied disability claim over exposure to depleted uranium CTVNews.ca Staff , January 20, 2015 A cancer-stricken warrant officer who served with the Canadian military for nearly three decades is facing a long appeal process after Veterans Affairs denied his application for disability compensation.
Alain Vachon of Calgary spent 27 years in military service, which included deployments to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo, among other places. For the past two years, he has been battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
Vachon believes his exposure to depleted uranium at Camp Doha in Kuwait caused his illness. Although Canadians did not use depleted uranium, the American troops at the base did, Vachon said. There was an incident in which “their ammunition dump blew up,” he said in an interview with CTV Calgary………
The couple has a letter from the military admitting that Vachon was exposed to depleted uranium, pesticides and other unknown substances………. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/cancer-stricken-soldier-denied-disability-claim-over-exposure-to-depleted-uranium-1.2198339#ixzz3PhSiGCYs
Study: Fukushima plume spread worldwide, far exceeding the hundreds of miles mentioned previously — 100 Quadrillion becquerels of Cs-137 released tops Chernobyl
“Implicates radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked”
January 21st, 2015
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (pdf), University of Florida College of Medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College, etc. (2014):
- The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident is an example of a contemporary nuclear plant accident with serious implications.
- The Fukushima NPP accident has had health implications due to the high levels of radiation released and vast area over which the radiation has disperse.
- The significant radiation release, as likened to Chernobyl, reflects the context and severity of the Fukushima accident.
- The level of 137Cs that was released is likened to Chernobyl levels, with 100,000 TBq released.
- Radioactive plume dispersion occurs worldwide, far exceeding 300 miles previously mentioned. This should implicate radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked.
Potassium Iodide Distribution
- Radioactive plumes from the Chernobyl accident containing 131I caused benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop, especially in children within a 310 miles radius of the incident.
- The current recommendation is for KI [potassium iodide] availability to people 200 miles from a NPP. Plume radii for nuclear events have been shown to exceed 300 [miles]. Extension of KI availability to 300 miles only further underscores the inadequacy of current preparedness plans.
- In regard to KI prophylaxis, TEPCO utilized 17,500 KI tablets for 2,000 onsite workers… with one individual receiving and taking 85 tablets.
- Radiological plumes containing 131I cause benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop within a 300 mile radius… This necessitates KI pre-distribution to all schools, hospitals and other of-interest sites extending 300 miles from any nuclear reactor. Evacuation or sequestering is impossible in congested urban areas… There is currently virtually no compliance with [the] 20 miles radius KI pre-distribution law, section 127 of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. In fact, there is little compliance with the 10 miles Ki pre-distribution radius law in the United States.
- Japan did not utilize KI for prophylaxis of the general public, acknowledging it was not prepared to act accordingly.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean.
Science 16 January 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6219
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255641 Review
[excerpted] Wildlife populations in the oceans have been badly damaged by human activity…. Human dependency on marine wildlife and the linked fate of marine and terrestrial fauna necessitate that we act quickly to slow the advance of marine defaunation….
Three lessons emerge when comparing the marine and terrestrial defaunation experiences:
- today’s low rates of marine extinction may be the prelude to a major extinction pulse, similar to that observed on land during the industrial revolution, as the footprint of human ocean use widens;
- effectively slowing ocean defaunation requires both protected areas and careful management of the intervening ocean matrix; and
- the terrestrial experience and current trends in ocean use suggest that habitat destruction is likely to become an increasingly dominant threat to ocean wildlife over the next 150 years.[end excerpt]
[Majia writes] Consensus holds that Fukushima constitutes the greatest radiological release into the ocean ever to occur. According to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, levels of radioactive cesium reached more than 100,000 becquerels per cubic meter in early April of 2011.[i] The World Nuclear Association suggests that 169 Petabecquerels of Iodine-131 equivalent were releases into the ocean from Cesium-137, Cesium-134, and Iodine-131from March 26 to September 30th.[ii] This figure does not include March releases into the atmosphere, which the World Nuclear Association calculates at 1020 petabecquerels from March 12 to March 31, 011. The French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) described Fukushima as the world’s worst nuclear contamination event ever for the ocean,[iii] reporting that from March 21st to mid-July 27, 27.1 petabecquerels of cesium-137 contaminated the ocean. One peta becquerel is equivalent to a million billion becquerels, or 10^15. [iv]
Atmospheric and direct ocean releases occurring as contaminated water spilled from reactors into the ocean caused radionuclide levels to spike offshore. Woods Hole scientist Ken Buessler revealed (12/12/2011) that Fukushima cesium-137 radiation in the sea near the plant peaked in April 2011 at 50 million times above normal levels (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2011/12/12/fukushima-ocean-radiation-was-50-million-times-above-normal-but-no-threat-scientists/).
In a separate interview with Straight on October 28, 2011, Ken Buesseler stated that Fukushima was by far the greatest accidental release of radiation into ocean waters, the magnitude of which in April 2011 was over one hundred times Chernobyl’s contamination of the Black Sea.[v]
These comments reflect concerns based on ocean emissions during the first few months of the disaster. Ocean contamination did not however end in the first months of the disaster. The releases of radioactive water from the plant into the ocean have been, in this writer’s opinion, ongoing because of the need for continuous cooling of melted reactor corium and the inability to effectively de-contaminate cooling water.
Reactors 1 through 3 have been continuously cooled since March of 2011 with water injections. The World Nuclear Association reports that by the end of March 2011 all water storage tanks – the condenser units and condensate tanks – around units 1 through 4 were full of contaminated water pumped from the buildings.[vi] Tepco built a wastewater treatment facility to decontaminate the water but has struggled with decontamination and storage given the volume of water being pumped into the reactor buildings and the level of contamination. During the summer of 2011 Tepco installed concrete panels designed to seal water intakes of units 1 through 4 in order to prevent contaminated water from reaching the ocean. In October 2011, Tepco installed a steel water shield wall between the units and the ocean.[vii]
Yet, despite these efforts ocean contamination has continued because the site is literally saturated from the ongoing water injections. In 2012, Tepco reported water injections as follows: five tons per hour at Unit 1reactor; seven tons per hour at unit 2; seven tons per hour at unit 3.[viii] No information was provided about any water injections into unit 4 or the common spent fuel pool. At 456 tons a day of water going into the units, we can expect substantial ongoing leakage into the ocean. In November of 2011,Tepco admitted that its filtration system at the plant dumped more 11,000 tons of water contaminated with cesium 134, 137, and Iodine 131 into the sea.[ix] Tepco stated that it had been spraying about 70 tons of water around the Daiichi compound a day since early October and that water in some trenches measured at 10,000 millisieverts an hour, which is 10 sieverts an hour, a fatal dose.[x]
Ken Buesseler speaking in March 2012, described the data from his international research cruise off Japan that took place in June 2011:
Despite the announcement in December that operators of the power plant had achieved cold shut down, we know they are still using tons of water to cool the reactors and that not all the water has been collected or treated. As a result, the ground around the site is like a dirty sponge, saturated with contaminated water that is leaking into the ocean. He noted that other scientists had confirmed his 2011 findings of radiation levels 400 miles offshore Japan. He pointed out that little was known about radiation levels at seafloor levels but evidence exists that marine sediments are collecting radioactive contamination at higher concentrations than in the water. He said that little information was available about the radiation levels of groundwater.
He tells the public that information about the extent of releases of contaminated water are lacking:
Other measurements show trends that are more worrisome. Levels of radioactivity found in fish are not decreasing and there appear to be hot spots on the seafloor that are not well mapped. There is also little agreement on exactly how much radioactivity was released or even whether the fires and explosions at the power plant resulted in more radioactive fallout to the ocean than did direct releases of radioactivity caused by dumping water on the reactors to keep them cool.[xi] The Mainichi reported on April 3, 2012 that “Cesium up to 100 times levels before disaster found in plankton far off nuke plant” and that the “high concentration of cesium, which is believed to derive from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, suggests that radioactive substances that have leaked from the complex are spreading extensively in the sea.” http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120403p2a00m0na009000c.html
Cesium-134 deposits in marine snow gathered 2000 kilomters away from the plant at depths of 5000 meters measuring 1,200 Becquerels per kilogram indicate that radiation contamination from Fukushima spread far and wide.
Lack of certainty about the extent of initial and ongoing atmospheric and ocean releases of radiation from the plant complicates extrapolations of effects. Tepco has provided no concrete information about the extent of damage to the nuclear fuel in the reactors and pools. Mr. Yastel Yamada, a retired engineer and founder of the volunteer Fukushima Skilled Veterans Corps commented that the fuel from the reactors may possibly be in powder form.[xii]
The radiation contamination of the Pacific will be an ongoing problem. One study that modeled dilution declines of Cesium-137 published in Environmental Research Letters predicted that after seven years the “total peak radioactivity levels would still be about twice the pre-Fukushima values” off the coastal waters of North America”[xiii]. That study did not factor in ongoing contamination.
The risks from contaminated ocean water are not restricted to marine and coastal life. Long-lasting radioactive isotopes, such as Cesium-137 and Plutonium-239, will bio-accumulate in marine life in the same fashion that mercury bio-accumulates currently. Marine animals at the top of the food chain and birds that feed on marine life will become highly contaminated radioactively. The Canadian Museum of Nature notes that orcas are often considered toxic waste when they die based on their high toxicity.[xiv]
Furthermore, contaminants in the ocean do not necessarily stay in the ocean….
The Pacific Ocean was imperiled before Fukushima: what have we wrought?
Pacific Ocean tipping points? http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/pacific-ocean-tipping-points.html
[i] Cited Hiroko Tabuchi. Fears Accompany Fishermen in Japanese Disaster Region The New York Times (2012, June 25): http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/world/asia/fears-accompany-fishermen-in-japanese-disaster-region.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120626
[ii] World Nuclear Association Fukushima Accident (2012, September last update), http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html
[iii] Fukushima nuclear pollution in sea was world’s worst: French institute. Japan Today Oct. 28, 2011 – http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-nuclear-pollution-in-sea-was-worlds-worst-french-institute
[iv] “Fukushima Disaster Produces World’s Worst Nuclear Sea Pollution. The Maritime Excective (2011, October 28) http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/fukushima-disaster-produces-world-s-worst-nuclear-sea-pollution.
[vi] World Nuclear Association Fukushima Accident (2012, September last update), http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html
[vii] World Nuclear Association Fukushima Accident (2012, September last update), http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html
[viii] Sep 1 2012 TEPCO reports drop in water injection rate at N-plant. Yomiuri (2012, Sep 1), http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120831004812.htm
[ix] Robert Mackey and Ravi Somaiya (November 1, 2011) 14 Japanese Official Drinks Water From Fukushima Reactor Buildings. The New York Times By ROBERT MACKEY and RAVI SOMAIYA http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/japanese-official-drinks-water-from-fukushima-reactor-buildings/
[x] Robert Mackey and Ravi Somaiya (November 1, 2011) 14 Japanese Official Drinks Water From Fukushima Reactor Buildings. The New York Times By ROBERT MACKEY and RAVI SOMAIYA http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/japanese-official-drinks-water-from-fukushima-reactor-buildings/
[xi] Ken Buessler What Fukushima accident did to the ocean By Ken Buesseler, Special to CNN March 11, 2012 http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/10/opinion/buesseler-fukushima-ocean/index.html
[xii] “I Don’t Know What Would Happen”: Fuel from Fukushima reactors may be powder — If so, work almost impossible (AUDIO). Enenews (2012, ) http://enenews.com/dont-happen-future-fuel-fukushima-reactors-be-powder-work-almost-impossible-video/comment-page-1#comment-291586Mr. Yastel Yamada, a retired engineer and founder of the Fukushima Skilled Veterans Corps
Uploaded by: OccupyUkiah Filmed: July 30, 2012 Uploaded on: Sept. 27, 2012
[xiii] Erik Behrens1, Franziska U Schwarzkopf1, Joke F Lübbecke2 and Claus W Böning1 Model simulations on the long-term dispersal of 137Cs released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima Erik Behrens et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 034004
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