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Is America oblivious to the fact of sick and dying nuclear workers?

U.S. shrugs on nuclear worker safety

Workers are still being exposed to radiationTaxpayers have spent $12 billion in compensation

Contractors cut health benefits in push to reduce costs

Their story is sad.

This is outrageous: Workers in U.S. nuclear facilities are still being exposed to radiation on the job and will suffer the consequences to their health and longevity.

sick worker Idaho

More than 186,000 workers have been exposed to radiation since 2001, when the federal government finally established a fund to compensate sick nuclear workers and their survivors.

The government has already paid $11 million to 118 workers who began working at nuclear weapons facilities after 2001, according to an exhaustive examination of federal data by the McClatchy Washington bureau.

Stronger safety standards and greater awareness are failing to protect today’s workers, even as the U.S. embarks on a $1 trillion, 30-year modernization of its nuclear arsenal.

(The goal is to reduce the number while sharpening the accuracy of our bombs. Whether the U.S. should pay so much to risk another nuclear arms race is a serious question for another day.)

The cost of compensating sick nuclear workers is also high, even though awards are relatively modest and workers and their families often must battle bureaucracy for years to qualify, according to McClatchy’s reporting.

Taxpayers have spent $12 billion so far to compensate nuclear workers whose sickness or deaths were linked to their occupations.

It’s significant that the government underestimated how sick its nuclear workforce would become. Original predictions were that the compensation program would serve 3,000 people. Instead, 53,000 sick workers have been compensated, while 107,394 have been diagnosed with cancer and other work-related diseases, and workers still are getting sick.

Some of the sick are Kentuckians who worked in Paducah, where uranium was enriched for weapons and military reactors and where environmental contamination is also a costly Cold War legacy. (Owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, the nation’s last remaining gaseous diffusion plant now produces nuclear fuel and is leased to a private corporation.)

As was the case in Paducah, nuclear workers still say that the risks are worth it because they have few or no alternatives that pay as well.

People in this line of work also say good health care benefits are a must but the government is pressuring contractors who run nuclear weapons facilities to reduce costs by cutting employee pay and benefits, including health care and sick leave.

As McClatchy reported from the Texas Panhandle, 1,100 union employees at the Pantex plant, where B61 gravity bombs are being modernized, went out on strike earlier this year to protest benefits cuts.

A partnership led by Bechtel and Lockheed Martin known as Consolidated Nuclear Security won the contract to run the Pantex plant and the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. by promising to save the government $3.27 billion over 10 years

Bechtel and Lockheed Martin brought to the assignment a less than stellar record: a combined 11 complaints of retaliation against whistle blowers who raised safety concerns; and $70 million in violations, including falsifying test records and insufficient radiation controls, reports McClatchy.

The two companies’ employees and their survivors have received $200 million in compensation from taxpayers for job-related illnesses.

Pretending that nuclear workers no longer face serious health risks or that the government and its contractors are doing all they can to protect them is a brutal false economy. This country should do better.


December 24, 2015 Posted by | employment, health, USA | Leave a comment

How radiation has damaged plants and animals: Chernobyl and Fukushima

Timothy Mousseau explains the often dramatic effects of radiation on many species of plants and animals, as found in painstaking research in Chernobyl and Fukushima

Fukushima Catastrophe and its Effects on Wildlife

Since 1999, Professor Mousseau and his collaborators (esp. Dr. Anders Pape Møller, CNRS, University of Paris-Sud) have explored the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the radioactive contaminants affecting populations of birds, insects and people inhabiting the Chernobyl region of Ukraine, and more recently, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Their research suggests that many species of plants and animals experience direct toxicity and increased mutational loads as a result of exposure to radionuclides stemming from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. In many species (e.g. the barn swallow, Hirundo rustica), data suggests that this mutational load has had dramatic consequences for development, reproduction and survival, and the effects observed at individual and population levels are having large impacts on the biological communities of these regions. Dr. Mousseau’s current research is aimed at elucidating the causes of variation among different species in their apparent sensitivity to radionuclide exposure.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Leningrad Nuclear Plant accident: radiation spike: mass panic

safety-symbol-Smflag_RussiaMass panic as radioactive cloud pours from nuclear plant — Radiation levels reportedly spike near reactor after emergency shutdown — Traffic jams as people evacuate area — “Everyone got very worried and rushed to get iodine” (PHOTOS)

Express, Dec 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Russians flee Chernobyl-style plant over fears of radioactive leak — Russians took iodine and caused traffic jams… amid fears officials were covering up a radioactive leak. The panic followed the emergence of pictures showing a cloud of vapour pouring from Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, some 50 miles from St Petersburg. The authorities insisted that the was no radioactive leakage… but people did not believe the “no danger” claim. Radio Svoboda reported that in the wake of the incident on Friday locals in Sosnovy Bor started withdrawing money from their credit cards. They said locals were in panic mode despite statements from officials that the radiation level was normal… One local said: “Everyone got very worried and rushed to get iodine.”… There were traffic jams as residents left the area and headed for St Petersburg… The plant manager (not pictured) insists there are no reasons for evacuation. [Oleg Bodrov, chairman of Green World ecological group] said: “They know well that the officials’ first task is to say all is normal but not to report about danger, even if there is one. All those who understand a bit about nuclear energy know that it was an attempt to mistake the wish for the reality… this vapour is surely radioactive… Bodrov called for medical checks for staff at the power plant. Interfax reported that a special commission was working at the nuclear station aiming to find out the reasons for the emission.

Daily Mail photo captions: A cloud of vapourpouring out of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in St Petersburg caused mass panic… Russian radio reported St Petersburg residents rushing out to buy iodine to protect against radiation poisoning after spotting the steam flowing out of the power station… The billowing vapour spreads across buildings

QHA, Dec 19, 2015: Accident occurred at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (PHOTO) — Eyewitnesses of the accident and theinhabitants of the Russia’s northern capital are scared. The second unit was stopped at the station… The accident occurred at the second power unit when a pipe with steam cracked in turbine hall yesterday. The steam filled the room, and leaked beyond the power plant. The employees of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP) had to go home… According to specialists, the release was radioactive, because the waste steam entered the so-called loop reactor coolant. However, the population was encouraged not to panic.

Baltic Newsletter of the Green World, Dec 20, 2015: An emergency stop of the second power unit of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant took place… The reason for the stop and cooling of the reactor was a sudden leak of radioactive steam from a faulty pipe in one of the rooms of the turbine shop… During the cooling – down step, the reactor steam was ejected through the pipe into the environment. A south – southeast wind of 5 meters per second (not typical for this area) blew the radioactive steam toward the Gulf of Finland… Thus, the five millionth city of St. Petersburg, located 40 km east of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant was fortunate this time. According to some sources , the radiation level rose a few times higher than the background radiation only in the NPP area.

Watch video from the Director of Leningrad NPP here

December 24, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Accident at The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant

exclamation-flag_RussiaAnother Accident at Russian Nuke Just a heads-up. The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland suffered an accident on December 18th, according to the Crimean News Agency. A pipe carrying steam from the reactor in the second BWR [Boiling Water Reactor] plant apparently “cracked” [burst, failed] in the turbine hall, releasing radioactive steam and forcing an evacuation of the facility after the reactor was manually scrammed. This would be unit-2 of at the 4-unit facility.

The accompanying photo [on original] was taken of the Leningrad unit-2 plant today (December 20, 2015), showing that radioactive steam is still being emitted in bulk to the atmosphere. Officials at the facility did say they don’t “think” the situation will develop into another Chernobyl. That does not sound particularly reassuring to me, but so far so good.

The four reactors at LNPP are the RBMK-1000 design of Chernobyl type graphite moderated plants. Two more reactors of the newer VVER-1200 type were granted construction license in 2009 and 2010, the first scheduled to go into commercial operation in 2016, and two more are planned in the future.

The population near the plant was encouraged not to panic, as winds are carrying the plume of radiation toward Estonia and Finland. A Latvian news source reported that the government assured citizens there was no danger from the release, the Finnish monitoring stations aren’t showing a spike at present, 3 stations did mark one on the coast east of Helsinki (likely plume path), reaching up to .3µSv/hr on the 18th/19th. Which is .03mr/hr, just above background average.

Measurements of radiation in downtown Sosnovy Bor, 5 km [~3 miles] from the plant, were up to 20mr/hr* (a level about twice the average daily dose most non-grunt workers on the Island at TMI2 absorbed in the days/weeks after that meltdown), so let’s at least hope the residents were warned to “shelter in place” for the duration of this ongoing accident. And have some idea of how to do that properly. Area and regional pharmacies are reported to have ordered potassium iodide, so residents could be getting that. Radiation levels in St. Petersburg, a city of 5 million ~40 miles west of the nuclear facility, are reported to be normal.

The reactors at Leningrad have been plagued with accidents on a semi-regular basis since 1975, most never reported to the media or public. Including one accident at unit-1 in 1975 that came dangerously close to the very same accident later experienced at Chernobyl.

* The reported peak figure of 20mr/hr in the nearest town — which is indeed suspiciously high — is pointed out in the comments to be a mistranslation of µR (microrem) as mR (millirem). Which isn’t enough radiation to register above the considerably higher background. If indeed the Russians have taken to measuring and reporting radiation dose exposures in Rem/Rad instead of the internationally used Sievert. A very odd thing for them to do all of a sudden with this accident when they never did before, but technical deception is a regular art form with nukes of all nationalities. No surprise there.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Russia | 1 Comment

ENE News summarises the most shocking points in India’s scandalous nuclear history

flag-india“Nuclear Nightmare”: Children with mutations “on almost every street” — Deformed heads, lopsided bodies, “toad skin”, eyelids turned inside out — School built using radioactive waste “part of community outreach project” — Nuclear Expert: “Exceptionally worrying, no one should’ve been living anywhere near” (VIDEO) from report on Huffington Post, Dec 14, 2015 (emphasis added):

  • How India’s Nuclear Industry Created A River Of Death
  • Researchers found that the Subarnarekha river and areas around Jadugoda, India, werepoisoned from the emissions of a nearby secret nuclear factory
  • [T]he Center for Public Integrity has reviewed hundreds of pages of personal testimony and clinical reports in the case that present a disturbing scenario…
  • Doctors and health workers, as well as international radiation experts, say that nuclear chiefs have repeatedly suppressed or rebuffed their warnings… The case files include epidemiological and medical surveys warning of a high incidence of infertility, birth defects and congenital illnesses
  • [Dipak Ghosh, a respected Indian physicist and dean of the Faculty of Science at Jadavpur University, with his] team collected samples from the river and from adjacent wells, seven years ago, he was alarmed by the results… “It was potentially catastrophic,” Ghosh said in a recent interview. Millions of people along the waterway were potentially exposed…
  • Many said their children were born with partially formed skulls, blood disorders,missing eyes or toesfused fingers or brittle limbs
  • Analyzing a representative sample of people between 4 and 60 years old living within a mile and a half of the third tailing dam, the researchers hired by [Uranium Corporation of India Limited] concluded that the residents were “affected by radiation.”… symptoms included swollen joints, spleens and livers, and coughing up blood. The UCIL report also described “osteoporosis, defective limbs, and habitual abortion,” as well as many complaints of “missed menstrual cycle” and a cluster of cancer cases…
  • [A]n American diplomat [warned that] “lax safety measures … are exposing local tribal communities to radiation contamination.” In a confidential cable to Washington, Henry V. Jardine, a career foreign service officer and former Army captain, expressed blunt dismay… In a new cable on June 6, 2008… Jardine told Washington that still another epidemiological study had concluded “indigenous groups … living close to the mines reportedly suffer high-rates of cancer, physical deformities, blindness, brain damage and other ailments.” UCIL “refuses to acknowledge these issues,” he noted. Jardine wrapped up: “Post contacts, citing independent research, say that it is difficult to point out any reason other than radiation…”
  • Surendra Gadekar, a nuclear physicist, began taking soil, water and air samples… Their study was published in 2004… It found radiation levels inside the villages around the tailing ponds were almost 60 times the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “safe level.”… [They] also documented the existence in neighboring populations of children withmalformed torsos and deformed heads and the wrong number of fingers, as well as a cluster of cases where infants’ bodies grew at different rates, giving them alopsided gait. Some had hyperkeratosis, a condition known as “toad skin”…
  • In late 2000, [Hiroaki Koide, a nuclear engineer who teaches at the Research Reactor Institute at Kyoto University] took soil and water samples… “These figures wereexceptionally worrying,” Koide said. “No one should have been living anywhere near“… Koide confirmed that uranium rock and finely ground mine tailings had been used as ballast for road leveling and house building and to construct a local school and clinic… [A] senior UCIL official… confirmed these construction projects using irradiated materials had gone ahead as “part of a community outreach project.”

Toronto Star, Sep 15, 2014: India’s nuclear nightmare: The village of birth defects… Neither Alowati nor Duniya can walk, nor can they hold anything; their limbs dangle lifelessly… Their knees and elbows are rubbed raw from crawling… They need help to bathe and use the toilet. Children with birth deformities like Alowati and Duniya live on almost every street in Jadugora… When people began to notice that young women were having miscarriages, witches and spirits were blamed… But people had lesions, children were born with deformities, hair loss was common. Cows couldn’t give birth, hens laid fewer eggs, fish had skin diseases… [L]ocal media reports… included shocking pictures of children who were sick or deformed… A 2007 report by the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development, a non-profit, found a far greater incidence of congenital deformity, sterility and cancer… Mohammad is 13 but looks 7. Like Alowati and Duniya, he drags himself forward with his elbows… A few huts away [a child’s] eyelids are turned inside out

Watch video from AOL here

December 24, 2015 Posted by | health, India, Reference | Leave a comment

USA’s historic nuclear targets, simply called “Population”

“this document may be history, but unfortunately the weapons are not yet history.”

1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight, NYT By DEC. 22, 2015WASHINGTON — Target category No. 275 from the nuclear target list for 1959 may be the most chilling. It is called simply “Population.”


For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States’ potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China.

It lists many targets for “systematic destruction” in major cities, including 179 in Moscow (like “Agricultural Equipment” and “Transformers, Heavy”), 145 in Leningrad and 91 in East Berlin. The targets are referred to as DGZs or “designated ground zeros.” While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated “Population.”

“It’s disturbing, for sure, to see the population centers targeted,” said William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University that obtained the target list in response to a request first made in 2006. Mr. Burr, who specializes in nuclear history, said he believed it was the most detailed target list the Air Force had ever made public.

The targets are identified only generically, with code numbers that correspond to specific locations. The exact addresses and names of facilities from that period are in a still-classified “Bombing Encyclopedia,” which Mr. Burr said he was trying to get declassified.

The 800-page document, marked “Top Secret” and in a fuzzy gray typescript, comes to light as the issue of air power and the possible targeting of civilians is again in the news. The United States has avoided bombing the Islamic State’s headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, for instance, because of the presence of civilian prisoners in the same complex.

But some presidential candidates have criticized President Obama for not ordering more strikes, including Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who has called for “carpet bombing” the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. When challenged, Mr. Cruz said that “the object isn’t to level a city.”

“The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists,” he added, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

The newly declassified target list is titled “Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959.” It is essentially a huge spreadsheet, produced by the Strategic Air Command in 1956 and projecting what could and should be hit in a potential war three years later…….

Stephen I. Schwartz, an independent consultant on nuclear weapons policy and the co-author and editor of a 1998 book on American nuclear weapons, “Atomic Audit,” called the target list “grim and frankly appalling.” But he said he was pleased that the document had been published at a time when fewer and fewer Americans, including policy makers, have much knowledge of nuclear weapons.

“We’ve known the general contours of nuclear war planning for a few decades,” he said. “But it’s great that the details are coming out. These are extraordinary weapons, capable of incredible destruction. And this document may be history, but unfortunately the weapons are not yet history.”

December 24, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Yet more radiation “hot spots” found in St Louis suburb, along with high cancer rates

cancer_cells7 more nuclear waste “hot spots” found in St. Louis suburb  By VINITA NAIR CBS NEWS December 22, 2015,  NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Three-hundred residents of North St. Louis County crowded into a local gym, anxious about what they would hear. Soil near the local creek was contaminated by improperly stored nuclear weapons waste in the 1960’s and 70’s, and people have been getting sick.

The Army Corps of Engineers was there to deliver the latest test results.

Seven additional parcels have been identified,” one official announced.

The seven new “hot spots,” areas of low level nuclear contamination, were discovered as crews tested the creek this summer. The new sites include four commercial properties and three homes. Add in the five sites already slated for clean up, and that’s 12 places in the area with contamination.

  • “Hot spot” near nuclear waste has St. Louis residents on edge
  • “They found a tumor the size of a golf ball,” said Angela Powers. Last fall, she lost her 9-year-old grandchild Jordan to a brain tumor that is rare in children.

    “If it came from this, wow, we want some answers. It’s making me angry. She was my only grandchild.”

    It was a variety of rare illnesses that caught the attention of Jenelle Wright and her neighbors.

    Four years ago, the group created a Facebook page that has since logged 2,700 cancers and autoimmune conditions around town. They begged federal health authorities to investigate.

    “We’ve had to go through many battles, I don’t even know if I can count all of them…literally calling an agency 30 times and not having them return your phone call.”

  • This month, they finally got results. The Centers for Disease Control sent a health assessment team to document the residents stories, which could confirm a link between radiation and the illnesses.

    Mary Oscko has stage four lung cancer and blames it on the contamination.

    “If I shake the table enough, you can’t eat your meal off of it. If I make enough noise, you’ll want to listen to me. And we are now starting to make enough noise. We’re standing up and saying “Hi, I’m Mary. I’m dying of cancer.'”

    Residents are hoping the health study might result in compensation for their medical bills and their homes. But the assessment could take two years, and some folks like Oscko are worried they won’t be around to see it concluded.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | environment, health, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Savannah River Nuclear Station’s scandal of sick and dying workers

Ailing nuclear workers: Relying on Jesus and morphine, Charlotte Observer, 13 Dec 15 

Smitty’ dies at 62 from cancer after working as a reactor operator

No compensation for him, or for thousands of other workers

Frustration with government from workers across the country

Gerry Melendez McClatchy/The State

George Smitty Anderson Savannah River

On an oven-hot Sunday in late August, Smitty wore white dress shorts and a cool lilac shirt that contrasted nicely with his salt-and-pepper hair, dozing in the front pew of the Southside Baptist Church.

Holding a black zippered Bible on his lap, he had his left leg stretched out all the way, resting it on two pillows on the seat of a wheelchair positioned just in front of him. He did it that way to protect a raw wound from a blood clot that ran from his knee to his hip. Doctors told him it was one of the biggest clots they’d ever seen.

[Irradiated: Read the full four-part report]

After working 17 years at the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant, just across the Georgia state line in South Carolina, Smitty found out on Sept. 11, 2008, 10 years after he retired, that he had multiple myeloma, a cancer.

Just like 54,005 other workers who have tried to get help from the federal government after getting sick at a nuclear weapons plant, Smitty never got a penny.

At 62, he relied instead on Jesus and morphine.

That meant up to two 30 milligram tablets of morphine sulfate every four to six hours, as needed, and prayers all day long, including the reading of at least one chapter in the Bible each day…….

Until the end, Smitty said he could not understand how the feds could say there was insufficient evidence to approve his claim for compensation. He said it was particularly perplexing because federal officials first led him to believe that his claim would be accepted, then suddenly ruled against him.

“I thought I was approved and shared it with my wife, and within no time at all, it was disapproved,” Smitty said……..

Survivors such as Priscilla Maez Clovis of Albuquerque, N.M., say the people who run the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program are doing what they’ve always done: “Delay, deny, until you die.”

Over the past year, McClatchy journalists found that, on average, it takes 21.6 months for a claimant to get approved, while 20,496 workers spent five or more years navigating the bureaucracy. The government’s data shows that one production worker at a defunct facility in Portsmouth, Ohio, had to wait 14 years for compensation. The unidentified employee had bladder and brain cancers.

Across the nation, stories of frustration abound:………

The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute, a nonprofit media center based in New York City, helped support this project.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | employment, health, USA | Leave a comment

West Coast of Scotland shellfish polluted by radioactive trash from Sellafield

Scottish shellfish are contaminated by radioactive waste from Sellafield, Herald Scotland 20 Dec 15   Radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria is contaminating shellfish hundreds of kilometres away on the west coast of Scotland, according to a new scientific study.

Scottish researchers discovered traces of radioactive carbon discharged from Sellafield in the shells of mussels, cockles and winkles as far north as Port Appin in Argyll, 160 miles from the notorious nuclear plant.


The findings are a “wake-up call” for anyone who thinks pollution from Sellafield is yesterday’s problem, say campaigners. Sellafield, however, stresses that the contamination is well below safety limits.

 The study was carried out by a team of scientists from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in East Kilbride and The Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. It has been published online in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.

The scientists found raised levels of radioactive carbon-14 in shellfish sampled at Port Appin, at Maidens in South Ayrshire and at Garlieston and Kippford on the Solway coast of Dumfries and Galloway. Mussels were most contaminated “due to the surface environment they inhabit and their feeding behaviour,” they said.

The contamination comes from Sellafield, which has poured huge amounts of radioactivity into the sea, researchers concluded. The plant, which reprocesses spent fuel from nuclear power plants in Scotland and across the UK, has discharged an average of more than eight million megabecquerels (measure of radioactivity) of carbon-14 a year from its pipelines between 1994 and 2013.

The levels peaked in 2003 but have remained “relatively high”, the scientists pointed out. Carbon-14 persists for tens of thousands of years in the environment and the amounts emitted from Sellafield make up the largest contribution to the long-term collective radiation dose across Europe from the entire nuclear industry.

“This is the first study to have shown that radiocarbon is accumulating in areas remote from Sellafield like Port Appin,” the lead researcher, Kieran Tierney, told the Sunday Herald.

 “The enhanced activities we found are due to authorised Sellafield discharges of radiocarbon and they, including the higher activities close to Sellafield, do not pose any radiological risk.”

Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent radiation consultant, described some of the carbon-14 contamination as “surprisingly high”. At Garlieston near Dumfries concentrations in mussels were almost three times the normal background level, while at Port Appin, north of Oban, they were 20 per cent higher…….

Pete Roche, an energy consultant and editor of ‘no2 nuclear power’ website, said: “This is a wake up call for anyone in Scotland who thinks contamination from Sellafield is yesterday’s problem.”

He pointed out that waste fuel from nuclear plants at Torness in East Lothian, Hunterston in North Ayrshire and Dounreay in Caithness will continue to be reprocessed at Sellafield until at least 2018. “Radioactive discharges will continue to flow back in the other direction long after that,” he argued……..

December 24, 2015 Posted by | environment, oceans, UK | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s arsenal of ”tiny” nuclear weapons

Pakistan’s army is building an arsenal of ”tiny” nuclear weapons—and it’s going to backfire, Quartz,  C. Christine Fair December 21, 2015 

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal and, within the next five to ten years, it is likely to double that of India, and exceed those of France, the United Kingdom, and China. Only the arsenals of the United States and Russia will be larger.

In recent years, Pakistan has boasted of developing “tactical nuclear weapons” to protect itself against potential offensive actions by India. In fact, Pakistan is the only country currently boasting of makingincreasingly tiny nuclear weapons (link in Urdu).

 Pakistanis overwhelmingly support their army and its various misadventures. And the pursuit of tactical weapons is no exception. However, there is every reason why Pakistanis should be resisting—not welcoming—this development. The most readily identifiable reason is that, in the event of conflict between the two South Asian countries, this kind of weaponization will likely result in tens of thousands of dead Pakistanis, rather than Indians. And things will only go downhill from there.

Why would Pakistan want “the world’s smallest nuclear weapons”?……….

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Vulnerability of India’s nuclear materials to theft

highly-recommendedflag-indiaIndia’s nuclear explosive materials are vulnerable to theft, U.S. officials and experts say. But Washington has chosen not to press for tougher security while its trade with India is booming, Center For Public Integrity,  By Adrian LevyR. Jeffrey Smith 17 Dec 15  “……..  officials here and outside India depict as serious shortcomings in the country’s nuclear guard force, tasked with defending one of the world’s largest stockpiles of fissile material and nuclear explosives.

An estimated 90 to 110 Indian nuclear bombs are stored in six or so government-run sites patrolled by the same security force, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent think tank, and Indian officials. Within the next two decades, as many as 57 reactors could also be operating under the force’s protection, as well as four plants where spent nuclear fuel is dissolved in chemicals to separate out plutonium to make new fuel or be used in nuclear bombs.

The sites are spread out over vast distances: from the stony foothills of the Himalayas in the north down to the red earth of the tropical south. Shuttling hundreds of miles in between will be occasional convoys of lightly-protected trucks laden with explosive and fissile materials — including plutonium and enriched uranium — that could be used in civilian and military reactors or to spark a nuclear blast.

The Kalpakkam shooting as a result alarmed Indian and Western officials who question whether this country — which is surrounded by unstable neighbors and has a history of civil tumult — has taken adequate precautions to safeguard its sensitive facilities and keep the building blocks of a devastating nuclear bomb from being stolen by insiders with grievances, ill motives, or in the worst case, connections to terrorists.

Although experts say they regard the issue as urgent, Washington is not pressing India for quick reforms. The Obama administration is instead trying to avoid any dispute that might interrupt a planned expansion of U.S. military sales to Delhi, several senior U.S. officials said in interviews.

The experts’ concerns are based in part on a series of documented nuclear security lapses in the past two decades, in addition to the shooting:

  • Several kilograms of what authorities described as semi-processed uranium were stolen by a criminal gang, allegedly with Pakistani links, from a state mine in Meghalya, in northeastern India, in 1994. Four years later, a federal politician was arrested near the West Bengal border with 100 kilograms of uranium from India’s Jadugoda mining complex that he was allegedly attempting to sell to Pakistani sympathizers associated with the same gang. A police dossier seen by the Center states that ten more people connected with smuggling were arrested two years after this, in operations that recovered 57 pounds of stolen uranium.
  • In 2008, another criminal gang was caught attempting to smuggle low-grade uranium, capable of being used in a primitive radiation-dispersal device, from one of India’s state-owned mines across the border to Nepal. The same year another group was caught moving an illicit stock of uranium over the border to Bangladesh, the gang having been assisted by the son of an employee at India’s Atomic Minerals Division, which supervises uranium mining and processing.
  • In 2009, a nuclear reactor employee in southwest India deliberately poisoned dozens of his colleagues with a radioactive isotope, taking advantage of numerous gaps in plant security, according to an internal government report seen by the Center.
  • And in 2013, leftist guerillas in northeast India illegally obtained uranium ore from a government-run milling complex in northeast India and strapped it to high explosives to make a crude bomb before being caught by police, according to an inspector involved in the case.  Continue reading

December 24, 2015 Posted by | incidents, India, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

USA Dept of Energy starting to begin to plan for nuclear waste disposal


Oscar-wastesDOE launches nuclear waste disposal initiative By Timothy Cama – 12/21/15 The Department of Energy is formally launching its initiative aimed at establishing a disposal site for spent nuclear fuel.

The department said Monday that it is accepting input on the disposal plan, which centers on finding at least one place to store spent fuel, with the consent of the local community.

 Officials are also planning forums throughout 2016 to inform a more concrete plan for establishing a disposal site.

It’s a key step toward rolling out what the Obama administration thinks is the best way forward for nuclear waste disposal.

It stands in stark contrast to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, which was designated by Congress to be the country’s main waste site, but which the Obama administration canceled amid strong local and state opposition to it.

“The launch of our consent-based siting initiative represents an important step toward addressing this nuclear waste management challenge, so that we can continue to benefit from nuclear technologies,” Lynn Orr, the Energy Department’s deputy secretary for science and energy, wrote in a Monday blog post.

While it will take years before the first pilot storage site is established, the administration’s action nonetheless is a small step toward solving the problem of nuclear waste sitting at dozens of current and former nuclear power plants and defense-related sites around the country.

The administration’s plan is largely informed by a wide-ranging 2013 report from a blue-ribbon commission, which concluded that a “consent-based” waste site is the ideal strategy and alternative to Yucca.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture’s problem of disposal of radioactive trash

Behind the Scenes / Waste disposal site a dilemma for Fukushima, Japan Times 21 Dec 15  By Yuki Inamura and Keita Aimoto / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writes

On Dec. 4, the Fukushima prefectural government notified the national government that it would accept a proposal to dispose of the radioactive designated waste [definition below page] stored in the prefecture, where a catastrophic accident struck Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant due to the 2011 earthquake. The Fukushima prefectural government’s recent decision signifies a step forward in efforts to rehabilitate the nuclear disaster-hit prefecture. However, the latest move poses a dilemma: In some neighboring prefectures that are home to a large amount of such designated waste, there are persistent calls for their waste to be concentrated in Fukushima Prefecture.

waste acres Fukushima

The government’s proposal would entail the use of the Fukushima Eco-tech Clean Center, an existing private-sector disposal plant in the town of Tomioka, to bury a portion of the designated waste stored in the prefecture. The waste subject to this disposal will consist of garbage and other waste material whose radiation levels stand at 100,000 becquerels or less per kilogram.

Two years ago, the national government formally presented the proposal to the Fukushima prefectural government. This coincided with the national government’s move to unveil another plan aimed at building an interim storage facility in the prefecture. This facility would be used to store, for extended periods, garbage whose radioactive levels exceed 100,000 becquerels per kilogram as well as a massive amount of contaminated soil. There has been a constant increase in the amount of contaminated soil as a result of ongoing decontamination work. The interim storage facility is currently being built. Continue reading

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015, Japan, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

High plutonium content in MOX fuel leaked from Fukushima nuclear reactor

Fukushima-deformed--structuOfficials now say Fukushima reactor with MOX fuel “leaked directly from containment” — TV: Contamination of environment was due to “failure of vessel” — Experts: This has caused additional worries because MOX is more “radioactively aggressive” due to plutonium content (VIDEO)

NHK, Dec 17, 2015 (emphasis added): [TEPCO] says radioactive fallout that polluted the environment in mid-March of 2011 was likely caused by a leak directly from a containment vessel of the facility’s No.3 reactor. Officials… on Thursday reported their latest findings on what happened at the plant… They concluded that radioactive contamination of the environment between the night of March 14th and the 16th was likely caused not by the vent operations but failure of the vessel. They said the vessel likely lost airtightness due to heat from nuclear fuel, leading to the direct release of radioactive substances into the environment.

NHK transcript, Dec 17, 2015: [TEPCO] said the substances in one of the reactors probablyleaked directly from the containment vessel… They suspect the heat of fuel caused the containment vessel to lose airtightness.

TEPCO, Dec 17, 2015: A significant release of steam from the night of March 14 to March 16, 2011 is believed to have been responsible for contamination to the surrounding environment of Fukushima Daiichi. The investigation reports that the primary containment vessels in Units 2 and 3 did likely lose leakage resistant properties by March 15 and had been in a condition where radioactive materials could leak directly from them. It is therefore presumed the environmental contamination outside Fukushima Daiichi during that period was caused by steam leakage directly from the primary containment vessels and not from the vent.

TEPCO, Dec 17, 2015: Leakage and release of a large amount of steam from the Unit 3 Reactor Building — The PCVs of Units 2 & 3 lost the airtightness in the end, which is confirmed by the fact that steam escaped from the Reactor Buildings. Analysis of the behavior of the pressure in the PCVs and the situation at the time of the accident has revealed that the environmental contamination from the night of March 14 to March 16 occurred by steam leakage together withradioactive materials directly from the PCVs not from the vent.

UBS Investment Research (via WikiLeaks), Apr 2011: Of particular concern was Unit 3, because, since September 2010, the plant had been fueled with mixed oxide, or MOx… Use of MOx heightened fuel risk — Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 was fuelled with mixed oxide (MOx), which is about 93% uranium and 7% plutonium. This has caused additional worries for TEPCO and the government, because MOx is more radioactively aggressive. We think national nuclear safety reviews might consider restrictions on its use.

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

Groundwater at Fukushima Daiichi has become increasingly salty

Salt Water Infiltrates Fukushima Daiichi, Simply Info December 19th, 2015 TEPCO has admitted a new problem with the water management and steel sea wall at Fukushima Daiichi.Salt levels in groundwater being pumped up from around the reactor buildings and sea front were found to now have more than the expected amount of salt. This appears to indicate some amount of sea water is infiltrating back into the plant grounds near the reactors.

The solution so far has been to dump the salty water into the reactor building basements. This itself is problematic as excess salt levels will increase the corrosion of structures in the lower levels of the buildings. It has also created a problem for treating the contaminated water. The decontamination systems are not meant to handle water with significant salt levels………

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment