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The past week in nuclear news

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Climate Change news is very worrying, with latest research showing that the Arctic permafrost is thawing, and that this is likely to cause runaway releases of Co2, and irreversible global warming.

Japan is again the focus, as campaigning heats up for their December 16th elections. Nuclear power is the major issue, and Prime Minister Noda reaffirmed his plan to phase out nuclear power. Smaller political parties are uniting to form a stronger no-nuclear campaign.

Egypt is quite a worry at the moment, President Mohamed Morsi decided to give himself dictatorial power. In a volatile Middle Eastern country, with a nuclear power program, this is not  a good look, not  a safe look.

Investigation of remains of Yassa Arafat should shed light on whether or not he was murdered by use of radioactive polonium.

South Korea. To add to their worries about their planned nuclear export industry, and domestic safety, nearly 1000 more nuclear quality certificates have been found to be fakes.

UK govt boasts that it will not subsdise new nuclear power.  But they craftily got around this, by promising electricity suppliers a definite price that consumers must pay for what they call “Low Carbon” energy.  That lovely phrase, “Low Carbon” is code for nuclear power, with a bit of renewable energy chucked in, too.

USA. 60,000 homes near nuclear reactors  in Illinois to be given Potassium Iodide pills, just in case of radiation exposure.  Federal government casting around to find communities willing to host nuclear waste dump

India. Confusion and uproar over reported plan to dump Kudakulam nuclear waste into Kolar old gold mines.

Computer hackers got into International Atomic Energy Agency’s server,  demanding an open investigation into Israel’s nuclear program.

Julian Assange’s book “Wikileaks”  is published, with its warning on Internet surveillance

Rupert Murdoch might get big control of media in USA, as the  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering changes to media cross-ownership rules. He is likely start by taking over the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, if the rules are weakened.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

VOX POPULI: Lake Biwako as a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.

November 28, 2012

Using a calculator, I found that Lake Biwako occupies less of Shiga Prefecture than I thought. On a map, its blue expanse appears to cover a third of the prefecture. But in fact the lake occupies slightly less than 17 percent. Its significance as a water supply for 15 million residents along the Yodogawa river makes the lake look larger than it is.

Yukiko Kada, 62, is the governor of Shiga—and the guardian of Lake Biwako. She has announced the formation of a party, Nippon Mirai no To (Japan Future Party), with the banner of “moving on from nuclear power.” Kada, also an environmental sociologist, has retained a strong attachment to the lake since her student days at Kyoto University. Her motivation in forming the new party is a sense of crisis: that if a major accident occurs at one of the nuclear reactors on Wakasa Bay in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, Lake Biwako would be contaminated with radioactive materials—and so would the water it supplies.

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November 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Precious Time Has Been Lost: Article by Dr. Michel Fernex

25 NOVEMBER 2012
“The first victims of a serious nuclear accident are and will be children, with an increase in allergies and an aggravation of infectious diseases, which become chronic and involve serious complications…

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot admit that these serious and common illnesses were caused by ionising radiation, because once known, it would prevent the development of the nuclear industry throughout the world. The IAEA… denies the health catastrophe and gives priority to economic considerations; its statutes forbid attributing to, or associating serious illness with, radiation. Incorrect estimates delay the evacuation of communities that have been highly exposed to radiation. It was almost incomprehensible that at Fukushima there was no distribution of stable iodine to the population that would soon be under threat.”

Fukushima: precious time has been lost
by Dr. Michel Fernex, Emeritus Professor, Basel Faculty of Medecine and Former Consultant, World Health Organization, 2 August 2012

“What should WHO have done after Chernobyl ?” asked Dr Nabarro in 2002 when he was Acting Director-General of the World Health Organization. I replied immediately, and then confirmed it in writing: “Convene a Scientific Working Group on Ionising Radiation and Genetics” like the one in 1956, and add the words “and Genomic Instability”.

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November 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda strengthens pledge to phase out nuclear power

The pledge amounted to a slight hardening of announcements made earlier this year when his cabinet said it would work towards scrapping nuclear power by the end of the 2030s

Japan goes to the polls on December 16, with most commentators expecting no party to gain overall control of the powerful lower house. A possibly shaky coalition government is seen as the likeliest outcome.

Japan’s ruling party to phase out nuclear power Radio Australia,  28 November 2012, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to rid Japan of nuclear energy in coming decades as he set out his party’s platform before next month’s general election.  Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Japan might get a new no-nuclear party, led by Shiga governor

Shiga governor mulls new no-nuclear party, Japan Times, 27 Nov 12 Move might rally others unwilling to bend on ‘third force’ objectives Kyodo OTSU, Shiga Pref. — Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada is considering founding a new political party with the key goal of phasing out nuclear power, sources said Monday.

Although Kada didn’t make it official when she met the press in Otsu in the afternoon, her reported move to create a new party ahead of the Dec. 16 Lower House poll quickly drew attention from other small parties that aren’t fitting into the major “third
force” that has been evolving around Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) led by ex-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) fail on safety and economic grounds

More backup systems, he pointed out, would drive up the cost of small reactors, which already have a sizable economic disadvantage compared with large reactors. Because of economies of scale, the capital cost per kilowatt for a small reactor would be approximately 250 percent more than that for a large conventional reactor.

Lyman warned about allowing the industry to site small modular reactors in remote areas or developing countries that have no nuclear experience or emergency planning infrastructure. “UCS believes that [small modular reactors] are only suitable for deployment where there is an established infrastructure to cope with emergencies, and if sufficient numbers of trained operator and security staff can be provided

Nuclear Expert Dispels Myths about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in Senate Testimony WASHINGTON (July 14, 2011) –– A physicist from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today testified before a Senate subcommittee that small modular nuclear reactors are not necessarily any safer or more secure than conventional size reactors and could be more dangerous. Companies vying to sell small reactors, he said, are overstating their benefits and downplaying their potential pitfalls. Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

A slap on the wrist for Bechtel’s negligence about radiation safety at Hanford

there are mistakes, but not the type of mistakes that come with every project, but incompetent blunders. When workers are not trained and safety regulations are being violated when dealing with radioactive waste, is an inexcusable offence.

‘it is the governments fault for making everything harder for us to do anything because there are all these rules to follow so people don’t get hurt.’

 The corporate executives live in another world that is secluded to ours, in which the rules don’t apply and that any regulations that protect people from something as serious as radioactive material, is government taking away freedom from them.

Corporate Radiation, 26 Nov 12, Another story of corporate incompetence has surfaced. The Bechtel Corporation is in hot water due to failing safety guidelines, not training workers up to standard, and failing to follow procedures at the Hanford Nuclear plant outside of Richland, Washington. Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

6 elderly anti nuclear women found guilty, in Massachusetts court case

6 Yankee protesters convicted of trespassing , November 27, 2012 BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) — A jury has found six Massachusetts women guilty of trespassing at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant last year to protest the continued operation of the reactor.

Police say the women, all members of the Shut It Down Affinity Group, traveled to the nuclear plant’s gate in Vernon on Aug. 30, 2011, used a chain and padlock to lock the entrance gate and chained themselves to the fence, while officials were busy with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.

It’s one of about 22 protests the group has mounted against the reactor’s continued operation in recent years.

In court, the woman, who range in age from 69 to 93, represented themselves and raised concerns about the ecological and health effects of the facility.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Legal, USA, women | Leave a comment

Brave older Japanese work at Fukushima, and tell the truth

In Post-Fukushima Japan, Civil Society Turns up Heat on Officials Global Issues, by Kim-Jenna Jurriaans (United Nations), November 27, 2012
Inter Press Service

– For the former industrial engineer Yastel Yamada, retirement has not meant he can finally stop working. Instead, the 73-year-old and about 700 other skilled seniors across Japan have volunteered to tackle the most dangerous part of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant cleanup and spare a younger generation from the effects of extreme radiation.

Yamada and his army of radiation Samaritans are among a growing number of civil society groups across Japan that are taking measures to inform the public about the lingering dangers of radiation and advocate for a stronger government response to the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | 2 Comments

The Arafat investigation, and how polonium poisoning works

If investigators find elevated levels of polonium-210 similar to those found on Arafat’s clothes, it would point to poisoning as a likely cause of death

Tirawi did not specify when results would be announced, but he says it could take months.

Arafat’s bones could reveal polonium poisoning, November 2012 by Jacob Aron   The body of Yasser Arafat is set to be exhumed tomorrow in an effort to determine whether his death in 2004 was caused by polonium-210 poisoning. Tests earlier this year found unusually high levels of the radioactive materialon the former Palestinian leader’s clothes and toothbrush, but it’s still unclear whether Arafat was murdered. Could tests on his bones eight years after his death finally solve the mystery?

Why is Arafat’s death such a puzzle?
When Arafat died at a French military hospital, his doctors could not establish a cause of death. Medical records obtained by The New York Times in 2005 suggest he died from a stroke resulting from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection. But Swiss scientists working with the Al Jazeera news organisation tested a urine stain on Arafat’s underwear for radioactive polonium-210 and found that it measured 180 millibecquerels (mBq). They also found 54 mBq on his toothbrush. A control garment belonging to Arafat measured just 6.7 mBq.

Those results were deemed inconclusive, as Arafat’s possessions could have been contaminated after his death. However, after hearing a deposition from Arafat’s widow, Suha, French prosecutors decided to open a murder inquiry in August that is still ongoing.

What is polonium-210, and what can it do to the body? Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | health, MIDDLE EAST, Reference | Leave a comment

Thawing of Arctic permafrost leads to irreversible climate change

Where even the earth is melting, SMH, November 28, 2012   Ben CubbyENVIRONMENT EDITOR THE world is on the cusp of a “tipping point” into dangerous climate change, according to new data gathered by scientists measuring methane leaking from the Arctic permafrost and a report presented to the United Nations on Tuesday.

“The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human time scales,” says the report, Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost. “Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started.”

While countries the size of Australia tally up their greenhouse emissions in hundreds of millions of tonnes, the Arctic’s stores are measured in tens of billions. Human-induced emissions now appear to have warmed the Arctic enough tounlock this vast carbon bank, with stark implications for international efforts to hold global warming to a safe level. Ancient
forests locked under ice tens of thousands of years ago are beginning to melt and rot, releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA, Reference | Leave a comment

USA extends corporate and military power with Trans Pacific Partnership

The U.S. has also pledged to put 2,500 marines in northern Australia, as well as regional missile-defense systems 

Obama’s hawkish anti-Chinese rhetoric on the campaign trail coincided closely with U.S.complaints before the World Trade Organization over China’s allegedly illegal subsidization of its auto industry. And only a couple weeks ago, the U.S. International Trade Commission levied sizeable punitive tariffs against Chinese solar companies.

All of which will certainly cast a long shadow over Obama’s Pacific visit.

Asia pivot a go-go, Online opinion, By Marc-William Palen , 28 November 2012  Barack Obama’s speedy post election pivot to Asia has left the world in a tizzy. With the U.S. elections safely behind him, Obama promptly headed off to Asia in advance of this week’s East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh.

100 years ago, American businessmen and diplomats had obsessed over gaining access to the fabled China Market. With intense U.S. involvement in the trade-oriented Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the once mythical Asia Market is fast becoming even more of a reality…. But, American interest in Asian markets brings with it sizeable Sino-American tensions, much as it did 100 years before.

Particularly, like the United States, China is also aggressively seeking to expand its economic influence in the region. For example, it is even now moving forward with its own trilateral trade agreement with South Korea and Japan.

Further American military expansion in the Asia-Pacific will only heighten these tensions, and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta only just finished up a visit to Cambodia for the purpose of expanding U.S. military ties there. This move closely followed his announcement that the Pentagon will be enlarging the size of its military exercises in the region, ostensibly to put pressure on North Korea.

The U.S. has also pledged to put 2,500 marines in northern Australia, as well as regional missile-defense systems with the stated purpose of further deterring North Korea.

These alleged North Korean maneuvers nevertheless have “spooked” Australia, according to Peter Jennings, the head of the government-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He views China to be at the heart of any U.S. military buildup in the region. Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

An American Fukushima is possible – whistleblower

 the NRC concealed the information from the public. 

The mainstream media showed little or no interest in a story about yet another example of the NRC lying to the public about the safety of nuclear power plants.

Whistleblower: Nuclear Regulators Suppress Facts, Break LawNation of Change, William Boardman,  27 November 2012 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has known at least since 1996 that flooding danger from upstream dam failure was a more serious threat than the agency would publicly admit.   The NRC failed from 1996 until 2011 to assess the threat even internally.  In July 2011, the NRC staff completed a report finding “that external flooding due to upstream dam failure poses a larger than expected risk to plants and public safety” but the NRC did not make the 41-page report public.  Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium’s radioactive dust – the forgotten pollutant

The problem is, when DU armor piercing projectiles penetrate their targets, they become incendiary spewing radioactive dust

The Toxic Legacy of Depleted Uranium Weapons 11-26-2012, EcoWatch, By Paul E McGinniss “………  how many of us know about the current manufacturing and active use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons? DU (Uranium 238) is a radioactive waste by-product of the uranium enrichment process. It results from making fuel for nuclear reactors and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

In a frightening adaptation of the “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy in manufacturing, which seeks to use waste in the manufacturing process to create other “useful” products, militaries around the world have come up with the “brilliant” idea of taking DU and making “conventional” weapons with it.

According to, approximately 20 countries are thought to have DU weapons in their arsenals. Nations known to have produced these weapons include UK, U.S., France, Russia, China and Pakistan.
DU is well liked by armed forces Continue reading

November 28, 2012 Posted by | depleted uranium, Reference, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear lunacy: USA’s secret plan to nuclear bomb the moon

Confirmed: US planned to nuke the moon 26 November, 2012, In a secret project recently discovered, theUnited States planned to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb in the 1950s as a display of the country’s strength during the Cold War space race.

The secret project, called “A Study of Lunar Research Flights”, as well as “Project A119” was never carried out but initially intended to intimidate the Soviet Union after their launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, which demonstrated their technological power, the Daily Mail reports.
The sight of a magnificent nuclear flash from Earth was meant to terrify the Soviet Union and boost US confidence, physicist Leonard Reiffel, 85, told the Associated Press. The nuclear device would have been launched from a missile from an unknown location. It would have
ignited upon impact with the moon, causing a massive explosion that was visible from Earth.

The detonation would have been the result of an atom bomb, since a hydrogen bomb was too heavy for a missile to carry the 238,000 miles to the moon…… In his interview with AP, which took place in the year 2000, Reiffel said the nuclear detonation could have occurred by
1959, which is when the US Air Force deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles. The project documents were kept secret for nearly 45 years and the US government has never formally confirmed its involvement in the study.

But in the end, the mission was abandoned due to safety concerns about the radioactive material that would contaminate space. The scientists were also worried about the bomb detonating prematurely, thereby endangering the people on Earth.

Rather than blow up the moon, the US continued the space race, sending its first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit on Jan. 31, 1958. The project was officially canceled by the Air Force in Jan. 1959, and the US instead focused on sending a man to the moon.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | history, Reference, USA | 1 Comment