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International Court of Justice sets March dates for Marshall Islands’ nuclear case

David-&-GoliathjusticeMarshalls nuclear case set for ICJ hearing http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/295377/marshalls-nuclear-case-set-for-icj-hearing 1 Feb 16, The Marshall Islands’ legal battle against the world’s nuclear powers has inched forward after an international court announced dates for hearings involving India, Pakistan and Britain.

The UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, set dates between 7 March and 16 March for separate hearings for the three cases.

The Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958, launched action in 2014 against nine nuclear states.

It has accused them of flagrant violation of international law for failing to pursue the negotiations required by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In the cases against India and Pakistan, the court at The Hague will examine whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits.

The hearing involving Britain will look at preliminary objections raised by Britain.

The Marshall Islands’ case against the US hit a stumbling block last year when it was thrown out by the Federal District Court in San Francisco.

An appeal is underway. The Marshall Islands also filed suits against Russia, France, China, Israel and North Korea.

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Hope for nuclear disarmament – the Marshall Islands legal case

David-&-GoliathSay hello to the Marshall Islands, the tiny, heroic island nation in Micronesia, with a population just over 70,000.  This former U.S. territory, which still bears the terrible scars of 67 above-ground nuclear blasts between 1946 and 1958, when this country used it as an expendable nuclear test site, has engaged the United States — and, indeed, all nine nations that possess nuclear weapons — in lawsuits demanding that they comply with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and begin the process of negotiating global nuclear disarmament.

Taking on the Nuclear Goliath http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/08/taking-on-the-nuclear-goliath/ by ROBERT KOEHLER

“Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And . . . as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.

“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Uh…

These words, the core of President Obama’s first major foreign policy speech, delivered in Prague in April 2009, now resonate with nothing so much as toxic irony — these pretty words, these words of false hope, which disappeared into Washington’s military-industrial consensus and failed to materialize into action or policy.

James Carroll, writing at Mother Jones in 2013, describes what happened in the wake of this extraordinary policy declaration:

“In order to get the votes of Senate Republicans to ratify the START treaty, Obama made what turned out to be a devil’s bargain. He agreed to lay the groundwork for a vast ‘modernization’ of the US nuclear arsenal, which, in the name of updating an aged system, is already morphing into a full-blown reinvention of the arms cache at an estimated future cost of more than a trillion dollars. In the process, the Navy wants, and may get 12 new strategic submarines; the Air Force wants, and may get a new long-range strike bomber force. Bombers and submarines would, of course, both be outfitted with next-generation missiles, and we’d be off to the races. The arms races.”

And the cause of global nuclear disarmament, once a dream with geopolitical cred, may wind up entombed in eternal apathy. Continue reading

January 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Legal, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands continues the fight for nuclear disarmament, with lawsuitagainst US govt

David-&-GoliathMarshall Islands fights back in nuclear lawsuit  http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/292690/marshall-islands-fights-back-in-nuclear-lawsuit The Marshall Islands has pulled up the US government over its interpretation of treaty law in a continuing David and Goliath legal battle over nuclear disarmament.

The two sides have been submitting their briefs for the appeal by the Marshall Islands against a US federal judge’s decision to throw out the case.

The Marshall Islands says the US government lawyers have broadly misstated the law surrounding treaty disputes as it pushes ahead with its so-called Nuclear Zero lawsuit.

The country, which was used as a testing ground for the US’ nuclear programme in the forties and fifties, launched action last year to get the world’s nuclear powers to honour their promise to disarm under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

But the case against the US was thrown out in February on constitutional grounds. In its appeal brief the Marshall Islands says the US courts do have the power to oversee disputes over international treaties saying no law elevates the president’s authority to make a treaty above the judiciary’s power to decide disputes.

It also argued it can bring the suit because the US has violated its treaty negotiations and because of the measurable increased danger it faces.

The government contends even if a foreign state was able to sue in US courts, it can’t challenge the president’s foreign affairs responsibilities.

The Marshalls’ Foreign Minister Tony de Brum earlier said the Marshall Islands would use every legal avenue to make sure the lawsuit is won in his lifetime.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will now appoint a three-judge panel to consider the briefs.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Climate refugees will be needing help, whether or not COP21 talks produce a result

Even If Paris Climate Talks Succeed, Pacific Islanders Will Be Looking For New Homes, New Matilda,  By  on December 4, 2015 Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours already face poverty, and soon they’ll be facing even worse. Thom Mitchell reports from Paris.

More than 70 per cent of households in the Pacific Islands of Tuvalu and Kiribati to Australia’s north east say they’re likely to migrate if the impacts of climate change become any worse than they already are, according to research presented in Paris at a global summit on climate change yesterday.

Tuvalu

Climate change already exists as a key driver of migration in the region, according to the study presented by the United Nations University’s Dr Koko Warner, which found it motivating 23 per cent of Kiribati’s migration and eight per cent of Tuvalu’s.

In Nauru – an island nation Australia uses to arbitrarily and indefinitely detain many of its asylum seekers – more than 40 per cent of households said they feel migration would be their likely response if sea level rise or flooding worsened.

All three islands are extremely vulnerable to the climate change impacts like sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, and storm surges, and the survey of more than 7,000 people across the three countries found that climate change was already affecting agriculture and fish stocks, and reclaiming or spoiling land.

Pacific Island leaders have been pushing the issue of climate-induced migration in the opening days of the Paris talks, arguing for a more ambitious target than the two degrees of average global warming the negotiations are aiming for. Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said the two degree target was about “saving economies,” and that for Pacific Islanders their preferred target of a 1.5 degree rise in temperatures is about “saving our people”……..

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, has repeated his calls for Australia to stop approving new fossil fuel developments at the talks, arguing that to be serious about cutting emissions you’ve got to be serious about not approving new coal mines.

“They use the excuse of the poor. But we are the poor, and we are speaking on our own behalf and we will be affected,” Tong said in November. Yesterday, Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt argued that the reason he approved the massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland is that, as a government minister, he makes assessments of projects against the existing law, that greenhouse gasses do not form part of that law, and that it would be “neo-colonial” to make decisions about another countries’ “energy future”…….

Greens Deputy Leader Larissa Waters is also at the Paris climate talks, and she said it is “dishonest and deceptive for Minister Hunt to say he hopes there are no climate refugees at the same time as he approves mega coal mines that he knows full well drive dangerous global warming and threaten our Pacific Island neighbours”.

“President Tong yesterday said that politicians have no compassion, only election cycles; and looking at the Turnbull Government’s dangerous climate policies it’s hard not to agree,” she said………

Phil Glendenning is the Director of the Pacific-focused Edmund Rice Centre and the Refugee Council of Australia, and he said a two degree rise in temperatures would be devastating for Tuvalu and Kiribati.

“Where will these people go? And more importantly, if there was some sort of arrangement where they had some sort of certainty of their future, that would give them a choice and ease the burden they feel at the moment, where they feel it’s all inevitable,” he said.

“I think Australia could play a creative role to become part of the solution rather than a fence or a barrier, but having said that most people want to stay in their homes,” he said. “If they do choose to move, though, Australia should make it easier rather than harder.”

Glendenning said it would be good to see “some sort of freedom of association that would be different but similar to the arrangements that New Zealand has with the Cook Islands and Niue; different but similar to what the Marshall Islands have with the United States”.

“Kiribati and Tuvalu do not have that access,” he said, “and yet both of those countries use Australian currency, and look to Australia as their largest neighbour”.

“Why not have a look at that, because if we look at it Tuvalu has a population the size of Lithgow (to Sydney’s north west) and Kiribati is the same size as Toowoomba (in Queensland’s Darling Downs).”

The study found that while the majority of respondents would prefer to migrate if climate impacts worsen, the average monthly per capita income is just US$12 across the three countries studied, and only a quarter of the population felt their households will have the financial means to relocate. https://newmatilda.com/2015/12/04/even-if-paris-climate-talks-succeed-pacific-islanders-will-be-looking-for-new-homes/

December 6, 2015 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands – first nuclear destruction, now climate destruction as well

A ground zero forgotten, WP, Dan Zak, 29 Nov 15  The Marshall Islands, once a U.S. nuclear test site, face oblivion again  A boy and his grandfather are fishing in the shallows off their tiny island, a dot of green in the sapphire eternity between Hawaii and Australia. The flash comes first, silent and brighter than the sun, from a four-mile-wide fireball beyond the horizon. The sky turns blood red. Wind and thunder follow.

Even 61 years after, Tony deBrum gets “chicken skin” when sharing his memories of the largest American nuclear-weapons test — the biblical, 15-megaton detonation on Bikini Atoll, 280 miles northwest of his island. Its flash was also seen from Okinawa, 2,600 miles away. Its radioactive fallout was later detected in cattle in Tennessee.

About this story: This article was made possible by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

“We pause today to remember the victims of the nuclear-weapons testing program,” deBrum says to a couple hundred people seated in a convention hall in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, a little-known nation that was entrusted to the United States as a primitive society 68 years ago.

It’s March 2 at an event marking Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day, and the boy in the shallows is now the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, which has entered the 21st century as part trust-fund baby, part welfare state. Its elders have endured burns that reached to the bone, forced relocation, nightmarish birth defects, cancers in the short and long term. Its young people have inherited a world unmade, remade and then virtually forgotten by Washington, D.C.

The victims of the tests “have been taken from us before their time,” deBrum says, so that Americans could learn more about the “effects of such evil and unnecessary devices.”

From 1946 to 1958, the United States conducted 67 tests in the Marshall Islands. If their combined explosive power was parceled evenly over that 12-year period, it would equal 1.6 Hiroshima-size explosions per day.

This is not something one gets over quickly.

Payday at Bikini Jack’s“Washington — and this is just my personal opinion — I think they’re going out of their way to wash their hands of the Marshalls,” says Jack Niedenthal, a Pennsylvanian who arrived in the islands with the Peace Corps in 1981 and eventually became one of their unofficial representatives to the United States. “You look at what they spend on Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s billions upon billions. For four bullets into a tree in Iraq, they could fix this entire place.”……

The RMI, as the republic is called, is both vast and slight. There are 1,200 islands — spread out over a chunk of ocean the size of Mexico — whose combined land area is roughly equivalent to D.C.’s. American arrogance and American generosity collide here, and paradox reigns. It was once called the most contaminated place on Earth, yet it has the dizzy beauty of a mirage. Wealthy foreigners spirit themselves to surfer paradise, past islanders living with sky-high rates of diabetes and thyroid abnormalities. In a place where the United States has sunk billions, children play in landfills. The Marshallese couldn’t exist without the ocean, but now sea-level rise attributed to global warming imperils their homes and lives.

Seven thousand miles away is Washington, its tough-love parent, delivering an annual allowance for the RMI’s operations while trying to close the book on a history of destruction and sadness. The United States has been an epic force here for 70 years, and decisions made over the next decade could save the islands or seal their fate……

A chosen people

On a Sunday after church in 1946, a Navy commodore met with the people of Bikini Atoll and told them they were like the Israelites, a chosen people, and that perfecting the atomic bomb would deliver mankind from future wars. Within one month of that conversation, the Bikinians had boarded U.S. ships for relocation. Within five, the first two tests had been conducted.

“We located the one spot on Earth that hadn’t been touched by the war and blew it to hell,” Bob Hope reportedly once said.

“Paradise Lost” with Lijon Eknilang – Marshall Islands

The Marshallese culture is rooted in a history of resource sharing, ecological balance, of an intimate knowledge of how the winds blow, how the waves break, how the stars slip across the sky. Over the past 70 years, though, victimhood, corruption and dependency have produced a different kind of fallout.

“We have basically destroyed a culture,” says Glenn Alcalay, an anthropology professor at New Jersey’s Montclair State University who took part in Greenpeace’s second evacuation of Rongelap in 1985. “We’ve stolen their future. When you take the future from a people, you’ve destroyed them.”…….

cancer and birth defects are the modern connections to the past. There are still radiation-related cancers that have yet to develop or be diagnosed in the population of Marshallese who were on the islands between 1948 and 1970, according to a 2004 report by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Everyone seems to have a relative whose cancer falls on the Energy Department’s list of ailments traceable to radiation…..http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/11/27/a-ground-zero-forgotten/

November 30, 2015 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Republic of Marshall Islands seeks refuge in USA for its climate (and nuclear) victims

A ground zero forgotten, WP, Dan Zak, 29 Nov 15 “……Last year the RMI filed lawsuits against the United States and the eight other nuclear-armed nations, alleging noncompliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The news caught most Marshallese, including RMI officials, by surprise. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in California engineered the lawsuits in collaboration with deBrum, who has been their cheerleader. The suits were filed in U.S. District Court in San Franciscoand to the International Court of Justice.

The U.S. Justice Department, in its motion to dismiss, implied that the lawsuit is a stunt that has no business in the court system. A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed the suit in February (the RMI appealed), and it’s a nonissue in the international court, since the U.S. government does not recognize that court’s jurisdiction.

No matter, deBrum says. It’s the principle of the thing, particularly in this year of the 70th anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and with next year’s 70th anniversary of the first atomic test in the Marshalls.

He comes to the country he’s suing a couple of times a year, to preach about the connection he sees between a nuclear past and a climate-change future. Just 45 minutes away from Majuro by air, 500 Bikinians are struggling on Kili, a rocky island without a lagoon where their elders were exiled. A ship bearing food and diesel arrives every three months, if the weather behaves. In February, the yearly king tide washed completely over the island, fouling freshwater reservoirs.

DeBrum is lobbying Congress to amend U.S. law to definitively allow Bikinians to use their resettlement funds to relocate to the United States.

“How can you separate nuclear from climate with Bikini and Kili?” deBrum says during a reception last month in the Rayburn House Office Building, where anti-nuclear nonprofit groups gave him an award for his work. “It’s the classic case of one meeting the other. You have nuclear refugees on an island affected by climate change.”…….

The U.S. Embassy considers the Marshall Islands to be on the front line of climate change, which manifests most dramatically during late-winter king tides. In March of last year, 1,000 people evacuated Majuro as the surge pulled homes into the ocean.

“Climate change is my nuclear experience,” says Mark Stege, 37, who grew up in Majuro, studied at Columbia University and is now director of the Marshall Islands Conservation Society. “I can see a lot of connections at the emotional level, and the community level, at the individual family level. The same questions are relevant in both situations. There’s this really deep sense of loss.”….http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/11/27/a-ground-zero-forgotten/

November 30, 2015 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Nuclear veterans plea for compensation at French Polynesia Court of Appeal

justiceFrench Polynesia court hears nuclear test victims case http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/289755/french-polynesia-court-hears-nuclear-test-victims-caseThe Court of Appeal in French Polynesia has heard the case of two former nuclear test workers who claim they experienced health problems after being exposed to radiation from French nuclear weapons testing at Mururoa. The case has been subject to a number of appeals since the case was brought in 2009.

The head of the nuclear test veterans organisation Mururoa e tatou, Roland Oldham, says the process for the veterans has been very slow, and one the workers involved in the case has died.

He says he is confident the case will be found in favour of the victims.

“Because the Centre of Atomic Energy didn’t bring up any new proof. It is just the strategy of the French government as usual, to drag on and drag on and drag on and drag on. Because in between as I say, one of the workers is dead. The other one is still alive, but just.”

Roland Oldham says the Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its verdict in February.

He says of 900 workers who have been affected by nuclear testing, only 16 have been compensated.

November 16, 2015 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Bikini Islanders – first expelled by nuclear tests. now by climate change

Exiled by nuclear tests, now threatened by climate change, Bikini islanders seek refuge in U.S. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/28/exiled-by-nuclear-tests-now-threatened-by-climate-change-bikini-islanders-seek-refuge-in-u-s/  By Sarah Kaplan On the morning of July 1, 1946, a second sun rose over the remote Pacific island chain of Bikini Atoll.

Bikini-atom-bomb


The world’s fourth atomic bomb had just been detonated over the area with an “unearthly brilliance that petrified observers,” wrote the Washington Post reporter at the scene.A hundred miles away, from a ship just off the shore of tiny Rongerik Atoll, Bikini’s former residents watched a mushroom cloud form over the place that had been their home. Now it was a bomb site, shrouded in toxic nuclear fallout that would render it uninhabitable. The Bikini islanders didn’t know that yet; they had agreed to a series of nuclear tests on their islands believing they would be able to return as soon as the experiments ended.

Instead, they began a decades-long nomadic existence that would see Bikini islanders starve on atolls too small and sparse to sustain them and sicken from lingering radiation on others. The tiny community would be relocated five times in as many decades before settling elsewhere in the Marshall Islands. Some islanders watch warily as scientists re-evaluate their old home. Others have tried to move on, settle down.

But their bad luck just won’t let them. Now, they say, the rising seas and brutal storms brought on by climate change have rendered their new homes uninhabitable. On Wednesday, Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brumwill meet with members of Congress and ask for a change in the terms of the fund that was set up to help Bikini islanders resettle. Currently, the fund can only be used to help them buy property in the Marshall Islands, but they’re giving up on the Pacific entirely. They want to come to the U.S. instead.

“Kili [is] uninhabitable because of climate change,” de Brum told the BBCTuesday, referring to the tiny island where about 700 people now live. Continue reading

October 29, 2015 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Pacific islands’ climate change refugees – a warning from Fiji’s Prime Minister

Fiji PM Warns Of Syria-Style Refugee Crisis If Rich Nations Don’t Do More On Climate,Thom Mitchell,  New Matilda, 2 Oct 15  Frank Bainimarama has taken aim at advanced nations for ignoring the plight of Pacific Islanders in pursuit of short-term economic growth. Thom Mitchell reports.

The Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has hit out at developing nations for their “unacceptable” progress in reducing carbon emissions as part of a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he warned of a humanitarian refugee crisis on the scale of the current migration out of Syria if more is not done.

The talks come as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop seeks a place for Australia on the UN Security and Human Rights Councils, but Bainimarama warned that developed nations like Australia are not listening to the voice of Pacific Island nations, whose human rights are threatened by rising seas and hostile weather patterns.

“It is simply not acceptable for advanced economies to build a high standard of living on the degradation of the earth and the seas,” Bainimarama said.

The choices we face may be politically difficult in the short run, but the consequences we are already seeing – environmental degradation, unbearable heat, drought, powerful tropical storms and unpredictable weather patterns – are simply unacceptable,” he said.

“[Fiji] plans to move some 45 villages to higher ground, and we have already started.

“We have committed to resettle people from other low-lying, South Pacific Island States that face the prospect of being swallowed up by the rising ocean and falling inexorably to oblivion.

“Should that happen, the people of those Island States would be refugees as desperate and lost as the hundreds of thousands fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq,” he said.

As New Matilda reported in June, experts in migration law, like those at the University of New South Wales’Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, are already warning that the “disasters on steroids” climate change will bring is likely to create a need for special refugee visas.

It is clear by now that international pledges nations have made through the United Nations climate change process will not be enough to keep the global rise in temperature to less than two degrees, which is the level accepted as ‘safe’ by Australia and around 200 other nations: https://newmatilda.com/2015/10/01/fiji-pm-warns-syria-style-refugee-crisis-if-rich-nations-dont-do-more-climate#sthash.hk0kghO3.dpuf

October 2, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Alternative Nobel Prize goes to Marshall Island’s nuclear challenger

Alternative Nobel PrizeMarshall Islands official who challenged China and other nuclear powers wins ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’https://www.hongkongfp.com/2015/10/01/marshall-islands-official-who-challenged-china-and-other-nuclear-powers-wins-alternative-nobel-prize/ 1 October 2015 17:50 Karen Cheung 

A Pacific island state foreign minister who challenged the world’s nuclear powers through unprecedented legal action has won the 2015 Right Livelihood Award. The winner was announced in Stockholm at the Swedish Foreign Office International Press Centre on Thursday.

The award, which is also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, was given to Tony de Brum and the people of the Marshall Islands.

Mr de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, sought to hold all nine nuclear states responsible for their failure to abide by the provisions of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law by filing lawsuits in the International Court of Justice in 2014. Under the NPT, the weapon states pledged to disarm while non-weapon states promised to not acquire nuclear weapons.

The small island nation, which – for 12 years – was a testing ground for US nuclear bombs, argued that it was “justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race”, according to the Guardian.

As a result of the “Nuclear Zero lawsuits”, India, Pakistan and the UK have accepted the courts’ jurisdiction to hear the matter and are in the midst of court proceedings that may last two to three years. In the cases, the Marshall Islands have asked the Court to hold the states in breach of their obligations related to nuclear disarmament and to force them to comply, thus putting the weapons under strict and effective international control.

“Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight so that no one else on earth will ever again experience these atrocities,” de Brum said. “The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the terrible risk they pose to the world threaten us all.”

In addition to his efforts regarding nuclear disarmament, de Brum has led the drafting of the Marshall Islands’ constitution and advocated for its full independence before the UN Security Council, eventually resulting in the signing of the Compact of Free Association between Marshall Islands and the US in 1986. He has also sought to fight climate change by advocating for binding measures to be adopted in the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.

The Awards were founded in 1980 and “honour courageous and effective solutions to secure human rights and respond to global crises”.

The award was given to ex-Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014 “for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights.”

Other award laureates this year include Canada’s Sheila Watt-Cloutier for work in the Arctic, Uganda’s Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera for her advocacy on LGBTI rights, and Italy’s Gino Strada for his medical services to war victims.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Mururoa Nuclear Radiation Report Scheduled for October

Mururoa-test-1971Mururoa Nuclear Radiation Report Scheduled for October http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1509/S00409/mururoa-nuclear-radiation-report-scheduled-for-october.htm
30 September 2015,

An independent report into likely exposure and risk from radiation during the New Zealand government’s 1973 two-frigate protest against French nuclear testing at Mururoa is expected to be released to MNVG Inc in October. 42 years after the event.

The report was commissioned by Veterans Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) in August and is being carried out by Crown research agency Environmental Science and Research Ltd, .it is addressing three issues:• the external dose rate to veterans from nuclear testing; • the internal (perhaps also external) dose rate from seawater used in ships; • hereditary effect on offspring.

Described as “a scientific report written with consideration of a non-specialist/technical audience”, the report is the result of sustained efforts over the last two years by the Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group Inc (MNVG Inc) MNVG Inc President, Wayne O’Donnell, says the group – formed in 2013 and registered as a legal society – has been monitoring the health of the veterans, their children and grandchildren, and is establishing a trust fund to enable the medical testing of the veterans’ children and grandchildren, and to help those in need.

He says the report stems from the MNVG Inc’s meetings with Veterans Affairs Minister Craig Foss and VANZ in May. Following that meeting, Foss directed VANZ to commission an independent examination of the issues.

O’Donnell says Foss and Head of Veterans Affairs New Zealand, Jackie Couchman – both relatively new to their positions – have proved far more receptive and open to looking at the issues than their predecessors.

He says the group hopes the results of this work “will establish the truth of the genetic transfer of illnesses related to the nuclear exposure encountered by the crews”.

“We wanted to get it recognised as an issue, and ideally, to get help from the Government in funding research and establishing a Health Trust Fund.”

New Zealand’s protest in 1973 attracted international attention and helped force the French to switch to underground testing.

Around 500 crew, observers (including a government minister, Fraser Colman) and news media sailed aboard HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Otago to witness two atmospheric nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll. HMAS Supply, with a crew of 200 plus, was also deployed into the radiated waters by the Royal Australian Navy to replenish the frigates with Fuel and Food during the deployment. To date these Australian Sailors have not been recognised or offered Health Assistance in relation to their deployment by the Australian Government.

A number of Mururoa veterans – and some of their children – have died at an early age.

MNVG Inc says there has also been a significant number of miscarriages, stillborn children, and children born with deformities or health problems.

The group has been searching for veterans and their descendants to contribute to the research. However, the search has been complicated by the lack of complete data on who was on board the frigates. While MNVG Inc have a full list for Canterbury, no such list can be found within NZDEF Records or archives for Otago.

Contact has been lost with some of the widows and children of those who have died, says O’Donnell. “We need to make contact with these people so that they can be informed of any findings, be part of the testing but most of all receive the duty of care they are entitled to. We also need to record any medical issues suffered by the generational children of the nuclear veterans. Not just now but in future generations.”

At the end of June 2015, 93 veterans who served at Mururoa were receiving a War Disablement Pension under the Veterans’ Support Act. A list of “conclusively presumed conditions” supports veterans of Pacific testing. A veteran diagnosed with a disability on the list is entitled to free medical treatment.

“This number of 93 is minimal, why ?, simply because many Veterans do not know what they are entitled to and there has been no proactive action taken to locate and inform them in the past. Some of our shipmates are simply living with their health issues and eventually dying, totally unaware of the Duty of Care they are entitled to”, Says O’Donnell.

Until now the New Zealand government has taken the position that the available evidence indicated Mururoa veterans were not exposed to harmful doses of ionising radiation in the frigates, neither of which came within 20 nautical miles – the minimum safe distance – of a detonation. However they did sail thru the contaminated cloud and fallout on more than one occasion and drew contaminated water into the ships.

O’Donnell, who was a navy marine engineer and diver, says it is not just a matter of direct exposure to radiation. He says seawater was collected and desalinated to provide drinking water, and food was stored in lockers on the upper deck in direct exposure to any and all fallout and salt water contamination..

“This water had been radiated for years and years. The testing of samples showed that it had high levels. We were ingesting it”.

He says the concern should be whether radiation was involved, not how much: “Any radiation is too much.”

Mururoa Nuclear veterans and families have been waiting 42 years and look forward to the report and further communications with both the Government and VANZ.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | health, New Zealand | Leave a comment

Australia’s and New Zealand’s Prime Ministers just don’t care about Pacific Islands with sea levels rising

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmTony Abbott faces down Pacific island nations’ calls for tougher action on climate change
ABC Radio AM  By Eric Tlozek in Port Moresby, 11 Sept 15  
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has held his Government’s line on climate change despite pleas from low-lying Pacific island nations for a stronger stance on emissions and temperature rises.

Both Mr Abbott and New Zealand prime minister John Key refused to go further than their existing commitments on global warming at the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby.

Some Pacific island leaders say they are disappointed in the leaders for putting economic growth ahead of the survival of communities in small Pacific nations.

Kiribati 15

“Australia and New Zealand have made no additional commitments when it comes to climate change,” Mr Abbott told reporters after the meeting last night……….

Pacific island nations had said the meeting was their last chance to highlight the threat they face from climate change, before the UN Climate Conference in Paris.The Australian response disappointed leaders who say some people are already being forced out of their homes by rising salinity, lack of water, or damage from severe storms or high tides………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-11/pacific-leaders-fail-to-reach-consensus-on-climate-change/6767038

September 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, New Zealand, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

NRC approves Maryland nuclear station, despite safety concerns

NRC says North Anna nuclear plant passes muster , The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia, September 5, 2015 By Bill McKelway, Richmond Times-Dispatch RICHMOND — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set aside multiple concerns raised by an anti-nuclear power group about operations at Dominion Energy’s North Anna nuclear generating facility.

In a petition filed four years ago after the meltdown of the Fukushima Dalichi facility in Japan and the 5.8-magnitude Louisa County earthquake that tripped the Louisa County nuclear facility offline, the effort by Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear came up empty-handed.

The NRC notified the group and Dominion late last month that none of 12 areas of concern reviewed by the NRC warranted changes in North Anna operations.

The group sought a re-analysis of the North Anna operation’s design basis for earthquakes, its spent fuel storage facility, its reliability of seismic activity measures, an assessment of boil-off or drain-downs of the spent fuel pool and a review of emergency evacuation plans, among other issues.

The NRC review completed late last month rejected a need for changes in 12 specific areas that the NRC agreed to look into. Beyond Nuclear had sought a suspension of operations at the plant, where a third nuclear facility is in the planning stages………

Paul Gunter, a leader with Beyond Nuclear, said the decision to close out the review “comes as no surprise.”

“The NRC continues to ignore growing concerns about high-density storage and overcrowding of high-level nuclear waste spent fuel pools on site,” he said in a written statement. Radioactivity released by a fire or explosion from a drain-down or boil-off “would produce widespread contamination that would likely overwhelm current emergency plans,” he wrote.

He said the group’s effort at least establishes a “public record for what we believe to be ‘willful negligence’ on the part of the nuclear industry and the current federal regulator.”……….http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/nrc-says-north-anna-nuclear-plant-passes-muster/article_d6ea2456-542e-11e5-b7c6-b7cab0860a58.html

September 6, 2015 Posted by | New Zealand, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Pacific Island Forum: theme will be Australia’s Inaction on Climate CHnage

Australia’s inaction on climate change set to dominate Pacific Island talks, Guardian, 6 Sept 15  Australia and New Zealand are expected to face strong criticism from Pacific Island leaders disappointed the nations are not doing more to combat climate change.

islands-sinking

The issue will likely dominate this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Port Moresby, ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris later in the year.

Pacific leaders want the world to work on restricting the global warming temperature rise to 1.5C, fearing a 2C target will risk the survival of many tiny islands.

Natural disaster recovery will be fresh on their minds. The summit starts on Monday, six months after Cyclone Pam, which flattened much of Vanuatu and caused heavy flooding on Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.

Host nation Papua New Guinea is grappling with the opposite problem – what could be its worst drought in 20 years and a potential food crisis.

The prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has said El Niño conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are also experiencing a dry spell………

The Pacific Island Forum runs from 7-11 September. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/06/australias-inaction-on-climate-change-set-to-dominate-pacific-island-talks

September 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

#Nuclear submarines bring increasing danger to Indo-Pacific region

submarine-missilethe more submarines you put in the same body of water, the higher the probability they might collide’.

Indo-Pacific nuclear sub threat to rival Cold WarAFR, by John Kerin, 3 Sept 15  The Indian and Pacific Oceans are becoming increasingly crowded with nuclear armed and conventional submarines increasing the risk of collision and nuclear conflict.

The warning is contained in a new Lowy Institute of International Affairs paper to be released on Friday which argues the region faces the greatest threat of a miscalculation involving nuclear armed submarines since the Cold War era.

“The regional contests for influence between the United States and China and China and India do not yet have the existential or ideological ‘life or death character’ of the Cold War,” the paper by Professor Rory Medcalf of the ANU based National Security College and Brendan-Thomas Noone from the Lowy International Security Program says.

“But quite literally below the surface a new and dangerous competition is emerging as China and India in particular start deploying nuclear weapons at sea……….

The paper says during the Cold War there were estimated to have been between 20 and 40 submarine collisions at sea.

“Dangerous submarine incidents can occur even among allies in the post Cold War world, as shown by a potentially disastrous clash between British and French nuclear armed boats in 2009,” the paper says.

“With the number of submarines operating in the Indo Pacific growing, particularly around choke points, the chances are such encounters will increase.

 “As the Commander of US submarines in the Pacific Rear Admiral Phillip Sawyer has noted ‘the more submarines you put in the same body of water, the higher the probability they might collide’.

The paper says the risk of triggering a nuclear conflict remains low but could occur as countries such as China and India field long range nuclear weapons aboard their submarines for the first time – but crews lack sufficient experience with training and nuclear doctrine.

“There will likely be a long phase of initial instability as China and India start deploying nuclear submarines without the full command and communications systems and the training and doctrine so vital to a credible and secure deterrent,” the paper says.

“Unless these systems are in place nuclear submarines could be a strategic liability, rather than a stabilising presence, particularly during conflict or crisis situations,” it says……….

The first Australia-India naval exercise will be held later this month and the countries are also expected their first joint airforce exercises.: http://www.afr.com/news/policy/indopacific-nuclear-sub-threat-to-rival-cold-war-20150903-gjerpm#ixzz3kiBWLtw1

September 4, 2015 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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