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Radiation effects of depleted uranium continue to bring disease and death in Iraq

Fallujah (pop. 300,000) is Iraq’s most contaminated city.

Cancers in Fallujah catapulted from 40 cases among 100,000 people in 1991 to at least 1,600 by 2005. In a 2010International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health article, Busby and two colleagues, Malak Hamden and Entesar Ariabi, reported a 38-fold increase in leukemia, a 10-fold increase in breast cancer, and infant mortality rates eight times higher than in neighboring Kuwait.

Fallujah-babyBusby sampled the hair of Fallujah women with deformed babies and found slightly enriched uranium. He found the same thing in the soil. “The only possible source was the weapons,” he states.

These numbers are probably low. “Iraqi women whose children have birth defects feel stigmatized and often don’t report them,” says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a Michigan-based environmental toxicologist who won the 2015 Rachel Carson Award.

IRRADIATED IRAQ   The Nuclear Nightmare We Left Behind, The Washington Spectator,  By Barbara Koeppel   30 Mar 16 When the United States revealed in January that it is testing a more nimble, more precise version of its B61 atom bomb, some were immediately alarmed. General James Cartwright, a former strategist for President Obama, warned that “going smaller” could make nuclear weapons “more thinkable” and “more usable.”

However, what is little known is that for the past 25 years, the United States and its allies have routinely used radioactive weapons in battle, in the form of warheads and explosives made with depleted, undepleted, or slightly enriched uranium. While the Department of Defense (DOD) calls these weapons “conventional” (non-nuclear), they are radioactive and chemically toxic. In Iraq, where the United States and its partners waged two wars, toxic waste covers the country and poisons the people. U.S. veterans are also sick and dying.

Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps officer in Iraq and United Nations weapons inspector, told me, “The irony is we invaded Iraq in 2003 to destroy its non-existent WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. To do it, we fired these new weapons, causing radioactive casualties.”

The weapons were first used in 1991 during Desert Storm, when the U.S. military fired guided bombs and missiles containing depleted uranium (DU), a waste product from nuclear reactors. The Department of Defense (DOD) particularly prized them because, with dramatic density, speed, and heat, they blasted through tanks and bunkers.

Within one or two years, grotesque birth defects spiraled—such as babies with two heads. Or missing eyes, hands, and legs. Or stomachs and brains inside out.

Keith Baverstock, who headed the radiological section of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Center of Environment and Health in the 1990s, explained why: When uranium weapons explode, their massive blasts produce gray or black clouds of uranium oxide dust particles. These float for miles, people breathe them, and the dust lodges in their lungs. From there, they seep into the lymph system and blood, flow throughout the body, and bind to the genes and chromosomes, causing them to mutate. First, they trigger birth defects. Within five or more years, cancer. Organs, often the kidneys, fail.

At one Basra hospital, leukemia cases in children up to age 14 doubled from 1992 to 1999, says Amy Hagopian, a University of Washington School of Public Health professor. Birth defects also surged, from 37 in 1990 to 254 in 2001, according to a 2005 article in Environmental Health.

Leukemia—cancer of the blood—develops quickly. Chris Busby, a British chemical physicist, explains: “Blood cells are the most easily damaged by radiation and duplicate rapidly. We’ve known this since Hiroshima.”

Dai Williams, an independent weapons researcher in Britain, says the dust emits alpha radiation—20 times more damaging than the gamma radiation from nuclear weapons. The military insists the dust is harmless because it can’t penetrate the skin. They ignore that it can be inhaled.

Fast forward to 2003. When the United States reinvaded Iraq, it launched bunker-busting guided bombs, cruise missiles, and TOW anti-tank missiles. It also fired new thermobaric warheads—much stronger explosives with stunningly large blasts. Many of these, says Ritter, contained some type of uranium, whether depleted, undepleted, or slightly enriched.

Williams says thermobaric weapons explode at extremely high temperatures and “the only material that can do that is uranium.” He adds that while today’s nuclear weapons are nominally subject to international regulations, no existing arms protocol addresses uranium in a non-nuclear context.

While the U.S. government has cleaned up some contaminated sites at home—such as a former uranium munitions plant in Concord, Mass.—it has yet to acknowledge the mess in Iraq.

“Iraq is one large hazardous waste site,” Ritter says. “If it was the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency would declare it a Superfund site and order it be cleaned.

Left behind in Fallujah

Fallujah (pop. 300,000) is Iraq’s most contaminated city. The U.S. military attacked it twice in 2004, and in the November siege, troops fired thermobaric weapons, including a shoulder-launched missile called the SMAW-NE. (NE means “novel explosive.”)

Ross Caputi was there with the U.S. 1st Battalion 8th Marines. He told me, “We used the SMAW-NE and guys raved about how you could fire just one round and clear a building.” Concrete bunkers and buildings were instantly incinerated and collapsed. The DOD was not disappointed.

Cancers in Fallujah catapulted from 40 cases among 100,000 people in 1991 to at least 1,600 by 2005. In a 2010International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health article, Busby and two colleagues, Malak Hamden and Entesar Ariabi, reported a 38-fold increase in leukemia, a 10-fold increase in breast cancer, and infant mortality rates eight times higher than in neighboring Kuwait.

Busby sampled the hair of Fallujah women with deformed babies and found slightly enriched uranium. He found the same thing in the soil. “The only possible source was the weapons,” he states.

These numbers are probably low. “Iraqi women whose children have birth defects feel stigmatized and often don’t report them,” says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a Michigan-based environmental toxicologist who won the 2015 Rachel Carson Award.

Besides the cancers and birth defects, an Irish pathologist (who asked for anonymity) said an unusually high number of children have cerebral palsy (CP) near the city of Hawija. “I was skeptical when Iraqi doctors told me, but I examined 30 and saw it was classic CP. I don’t know what caused this, but the increase is almost certainly war-related.”

It is often argued that uranium occurs in nature, so it’s impossible to link soil and other samples to the weapons. But, Ritter told me that when experts examine a site, they take samples, study them in a special lab, and can easily tell the difference between uranium that is natural and that which was chemically processed. “The idea that you can’t link soil samples to weapons because of the presence of natural uranium is simply ludicrous. It’s done all the time by experts in the International Atomic Energy Agency and within the nuclear programs of all major nuclear powers,” Ritter says.

Burn pits and toxic clouds

In addition to the weapons’ lethal dust, Iraqis and coalition troops were exposed to poisonous smoke from huge open burn pits, some stretching 10 acres. From 2003 to 2011, U.S. military bases burned waste in the pits around the clock—spewing toxic clouds for miles.

Two were near Fallujah. Caputi says,“We dumped everything there. Our plastic bottles, tires, human waste, and batteries.”

Rubber, oil, solvents, unexploded weapons, and even medical waste were also tossed into the pits. As a 2008 Army Times article noted, Balad Air Base burned around 90,000 plastic bottles a day.

When plastic burns, it gives off dioxin—the key ingredient in Agent Orange…..http://linkis.com/washingtonspectator.org/b2hLC

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April 11, 2016 Posted by | children, depleted uranium, health, Iraq | 3 Comments

333 of 522 children diagnosed worse than A2 in Kashiwa city Chiba

For those of you not familiar with Japan’s geography, these children were diagnosed in Kashiwa city, Chiba Prefecture.

Chiba Prefecture is far from Fukushima Prefecture. From Fukushima Daiichi in Fukushima Prefecture to Kashiwa city, Chiba prefecture, at the door of Tokyo, there is 221.05 km, 137.35 miles.

Just one more proof that Tokyo and its surroundings has been also well plumed.

This is the test result from 7/1/2015 to 2/29/2016. 306 children were categorized as A2 (cyst (smaller than 5.1 mm) or nodule (smaller than 20.1 mm) was found), 11 were categorized as B (cyst (larger than 5.1 mm) or nodule (larger than 20.1 mm) was found), and 16 were categorized as C (Follow-up test is required).

 

april 11, 2016 333 thyroid cases

 

 

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On 3/23/2016, Kashiwa city government of Chiba announced 333 of 522 children were diagnosed as A2 ~ C in their thyroid test.

This is the test result from 7/1/2015 to 2/29/2016. 306 children were categorized as A2 (cyst (smaller than 5.1 mm) or nodule (smaller than 20.1 mm) was found), 11 were categorized as B (cyst (larger than 5.1 mm) or nodule (larger than 20.1 mm) was found), and 16 were categorized as C (Follow-up test is required).

The local government states and testees are required to admit the test is not to evaluate the radiation effect on health after 311. Also, children who already have medical care for their thyroid problem were eliminated.

 

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http://www.city.kashiwa.lg.jp/houshasenkanren/3327/3330/p0150603_d/fil/kashiwakojosen.pdf

http://www.city.kashiwa.lg.jp/houshasenkanren/3327/3330/p0150603.html

http://www.city.kashiwa.lg.jp/houshasenkanren/3327/3330/p034081.html

http://fukushima-diary.com/2016/04/333-of-522-children-diagnosed-worse-than-a2-in-kashiwa-city-chiba/

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive wild boars rampaging around Fukushima nuclear site

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Radioactive boars are running wild and breeding uncontrollably in the northern region of Japan contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The animals have been devastating local agriculture and eating toxic, nuclear-contaminated food from around the accident site.

Mass graves and incinerators have been unable to cope with the quantity of boar corpses, shot by local hunters.

A quarantine zone near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where a 2011 meltdown leaked radioactive material into the surrounding countryside has been uninhabited by humans since the disaster.

However, boars remained in the area, unchecked by humans. Their precise number is unknown, but since 2014, the number of boars hunted has increased from 3,000 to 13,000, The Times reported.

The damage to local farms beyond the quarantine zone caused by the boars has correspondingly increased, amounting to ¥98 million (£620,000) since the accident.

The animals are now being killed faster than they can be buried.

Three mass graves, big enough for 600 boars each, are almost full in the city of Nihonmatsu, 35 miles from the nuclear plant. There is no more public land on which further mass graves can be dug.

Hunters have buried the carcasses – often weighing 100kg – in their gardens, but they are often dug up by wild dogs.

“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to ask local people to give us their land to use,” said Tsuneo Saito, a local hunter. “The city doesn’t own land which isn’t occupied by houses.”

In desperation, the authorities are resorting to using incinerators to get rid of the corpses, although it has been difficult to find the workers to chop up the remains into pieces small enough to feed into the furnaces.

In the city of Soma, a purpose-built incinerator has been developed, complete with filters to absorb any radioactive material released by its cremations. However, even this £1million operation can only dispose of three boars a day.

The animals were considered a local delicacy, but the nuclear contaminated boars are unfit for human consumption. Tests have shown the contaminated area remains dangerous, with levels of radiation 300 times the safe limit for humans.

The radiation levels are expected to remain toxic for at least another 30 years.

Despite evidence of mutations to local plant and insect life, there has been nothing yet to suggest the boars suffer any ill effects from the radiation.

The illness caused to humans by the Fukushima disaster has been relatively limited.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/radioactive-wild-boars-rampaging-fukushima-nuclear-site-japan-a6972361.html

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Despite all the misery, nuclear facility vital part of people’s lives Part 2

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A former fisherman who ended up working full-time at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant harbors mixed feelings about his job choice.

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on conditions that contract workers face at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

* * *

For those living in coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture, the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is a bit like the proverbial elephant in the living room, in that it looms large in their lives.

Although the plant unleashed untold havoc five years ago, many people find it unsettling to badmouth the site to which they have owed their economic well-being–even after the disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s sprawling nuclear complex provided them with coveted employment that made the difference between making do and doing without in an otherwise depressed local economy.

One local resident, a onetime fisherman, summed up the thoughts of people in the area by saying: “You cannot deny having a sense of gratitude if you have lived in this coastal region. It is not a question of like or dislike.”

Born in a community close to the crash of waves, the man aspired from an early age to become a fisherman.

He loved the sea so much that he even stopped attending high school for several months to work on a boat trawling for Pacific saury.

He eventually quit high school to make his living by fishing full-time.

Local fishermen can be away from home for months at a time, traveling to distant parts of the globe and danger. The longest time the man had been away was 10 months.

He recalled fishing for squid off Argentina shortly after the Falkland War ended in 1982 and witnessing a ship coming under fire and sinking because the vessel had intruded into the country’s territorial waters.

He began a stint at the Fukushima plant in around 1972, about a year after the plant opened. Although he was a full-time fisherman, the man sought to supplement his income when it was off-season for fishing.

As prices for fish continued to stagnate, he eventually quit fishing altogether in 1989 to become a full-time worker at the Fukushima plant.

Ever since, his life revolved around his work at the site–until the disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

After a break of a couple of months in the aftermath of the triple meltdown, the man returned to the plant to work on ventilation equipment at a reactor building.

He was hired by a construction company based near the crippled facility.

Back in the 1970s, the man recalled that subcontractors were lax about the handling of radioactive materials.

“Workers did not follow the set rules as strictly as today,” he said.

They occasionally disposed of pipes and other radioactive waste generated at reactor buildings manually, although they were expected to use a machine for the task.

His responsibility also involved checking pipes for cracks.

To detect a flaw in piping, it was a standard procedure then, as it is now, to conduct a liquid penetrant test.

Workers paint pipes with a red solution and wipe them after a while.

The penetrant remains inside the damaged parts. Workers then coat the pipes with “developing fluid,” which is a mixture of highly volatile liquid such as thinner and some sort of white powder.

Red stains left in the flawed sections emerge in the process so that workers can identify parts that need to be repaired.

However, they would skip making needed repairs when they feared they would not be able to meet the deadline for the work they had been assigned to do.

“We deliberately did not paint red penetrant to the parts that we knew were damaged,” he recalled.

The man said his crew had no choice.

“The contractor told us to make out a report for all the mistakes we made, but we knew we would be better off not doing so because we would be certainly slapped with a penalty for the errors we would have reported,” he said. “As long as the nature of relations between a contractor and a subcontractor remained that of a higher and lower rung of a pyramid, attempts to cover up oversight were bound to continue.”

When the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck, the man was in the basement of a reactor building.

An inspection was under way at the time to check whether the replacement of parts he had just finished was done properly.

The man heard metallic clanks from a floor above as if two huge objects had collided with each other.

He was desperate to flee right away, but could not. The stairs were shaking so violently that he was unable to climb them. The man was only able to climb ladders and reach safety after the vibrations had subsided.

Ensuing tsunami swept into the compound, but did not reach the office where he took refuge.

He managed to return home that night.

Later, he learned that the last people to leave the plant were engineers who handled valves.

These were the men who knew exactly which direction water will flow when a particular pipe valve was opened.

“All of us hired by a contractor and subcontractors remained on-site after the other workers had left,” a valve engineer told him.

The man returned to work at the plant around May 2011.

The company initially stated that the men would not have to work at the plant. But one day, the president of the company summoned them to a canteen and apologetically told them they had to.

“It is far from my intention to accept work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, but I would be out of a job if we refused,” he said. “I am sorry to have to say this, but I registered you as reserve workers for the plant.”

The president said executives of a contractor had assembled the presidents of subcontractors to ask them to secure manpower for the plant.

One of the presidents demanded an extra allowance for the radiation risks in return.

“The current terms and conditions are unacceptable,” the president said. “We request you provide more hazard pay.”

Then one of the executives of the contractor declared: “We will not partner with a subcontractor that puts money first.”

Some subcontractors went along with the contractor, including the man’s company, while others refused.

When he was a full-time fisherman, the man and his peers were opposed to the plant.

“We believed that warm, discharged water from the plant would cause a change in the ecosystem in waters nearby,” he said.

Still, it was the nuclear power plant that provided him with a job to make a living over nearly four decades.

“Subcontractors have heavily relied on work at the plant as a source of their revenues before and even after the accident,” he said. “Thanks to the contracts with the plant, some companies grew into larger ones and others succeeded in improving their technological skills.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604060001.html

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Braving danger and radiation for chance to earn 11,000 yen a day Part 1

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A one-year contract signed by a man from Nagano Prefecture and a subcontractor for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Part of the image was modified for privacy reasons.

Editor’s note: An army of workers, 6,000 or so, battles daily on the front line of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to get the site ready for the decades-long process of decommissioning the reactors.

An overwhelming majority of the men are hired by subcontractors and endure low pay, fragile job security and hazardous working conditions. Radiation exposure is a constant risk.

This three-part series is intended to shed light on conditions at the plant and how the people working there feel about their jobs.

***

It is winter and still dark when the man awakes at 3:30 a.m. to start his working day. He begins by putting on five layers of clothing under his protective gear, and dons two pairs of gloves and socks, the insides of which are stuffed with disposable hand warmers.

But even then, the 36-year-old native of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, is cold.

Thirty minutes later, a cutting breeze blows from the ocean as the man climbs into a car ordered by his employer to take him to the J-Village facility, where the workers board buses to transport them to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant 20 kilometers away. The man’s job is to lay pipes containing contaminated water at the complex. He works for a fourth-tier subcontractor with Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant.

Five years after the triple meltdown, the plant premises are much tidier than in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Today, the ground is covered with steel sheets.

However, the steel frames of the reactor buildings still stand exposed because the concrete walls were blown out in hydrogen explosions triggered by the overheating of reactor cores.

Inevitably, jobs near the reactor buildings pose radiation risks.

“The closer you get to the reactor buildings, the higher the radiation readings,” the man said. He is required to carry a dosimeter whenever he is on-site.

Each time the man’s dose climbs by 0.16 millisievert, an alarm sounds. If the alarm goes off three times in a single shift, he must stop what he is doing, no matter what work remains to be done.

With a full-face mask and protective gear, working in summer months can be more grueling–and even life-threatening.

He packs ice cubes under his clothes to keep cool, but they melt within 30 minutes.

One summer day, he saw a middle-aged man lying on the floor of a lounge where the workers congregate during their break.

The man had collapsed after the end of his shift. Although the individual was airlifted to a hospital by helicopter, he apparently died of heatstroke.

When the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck, the Iwaki man was working inside the No. 1 reactor building. The power went out and in the darkness he heard a loud crashing noise, as if a piece of equipment had suddenly ground to a halt.

He fled the building as fast as he could.

Fissures dotted the concrete surface of the ground and shards of glass were everywhere.

The man took refuge in a structure in the compound known as the “company building.”

A roll call was taken to check that everybody was safe, and then he and his colleagues were dismissed in the evening.

The Iwaki man did not recall seeing the effects of the tsunami on his way home, which he reached at 8 p.m. By that time, he was running a fever and itched all over his body, probably the result of a stressful and nerve-racking day.

A hydrogen explosion rocked the No. 1 reactor building the following day, March 12.

Several days later, the man and his family evacuated to Nagoya, where he has relatives.

But around May, the president of the company he had worked for called and asked him to consider returning to the plant.

After giving the matter some thought, the Iwaki man accepted. His daughter had just turned 1 year old. He had a family to raise. Leaving his family behind, the man returned to Fukushima for a job that pays 11,000 yen ($97) a day.

ANOTHER MAN’S STORY

A 44-year-old man from Nagano Prefecture landed a short-term position at the plant in 2012 after scouring job ads online.

“I wanted to help contain the spread of radioactive contamination,” said the man, who previously worked in a local car dealership.

Shortly after replying to the ad, he was contacted by a subcontractor.

“We have a job to measure workers’ radiation levels,” the man was told. “It does not entail exposure to high levels of radiation.”

Relieved, the man headed to Iwaki and signed a one-year contract with a company that called itself a fourth-tier subcontractor.

But when he attended a briefing held by a first-tier subcontractor several days later, he learned that the initial job description was far different from what he had just been told.

“As you know, you will be working in an area where radiation levels are high. That’s because the mixers for contaminated water are there,” the official said. “You will be able to stay in the area for five to 10 minutes, no longer.”

The official added that the men would not be involved in replacing the mixers themselves as that is done by veteran workers.

What he and the others were required to do was lay rubber mats on the floor to lower those workers’ radiation exposure to enable them to stay longer.

He was also told that workers have to carry breathing apparatus on their backs.

The Nagano man, upset by what he had just learned about the job, protested to the president of the fourth-tier subcontractor afterward.

“It would be impossible for me to continue with this job as long as for a year if I had such a high level of radiation dose,” he said. “This is not what I signed up for.”

The president tried to appease him.

“Even if you had a reading of 1 millisievert a day, it would halve in a week,” the president said. “If you quit at this stage, the company’s reputation would be jeopardized.”

As it happened, the assignment involving high radiation risks was canceled at the last minute.

Instead, the workers were required to clear the glass shards in the compound.

During a break on the first day of his job, in June 2012, he struck up a conversation with a regular employee of a first-tier subcontractor.

“Would you allow your son to work in a job that gives out several millisieverts of exposure a day?” he asked the middle-aged man.

The employee replied: “It will not be a problem legally, but I would not (send my son to do that kind of work).”

On his way back to his lodgings, the president of the fourth-tier subcontractor called him. He was told to stop by at the office of a third-tier subcontractor.

When he showed up, he was met by someone he didn’t know.

“What you said at the work site gave us problems,” the stranger said. “You do not need to come to work anymore.”

After arguing with the official, the man returned to Nagano Prefecture three days later.

Later, he noticed his bank account had been credited to the tune of 24,000 yen, reflecting what was left over from several days of wages after accommodation costs had been deducted.

The man said he still has no idea at what point the original assignment to measure radiation doses was switched to one that was, without question, dangerous.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604050034.html

 

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April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Cheated every step of the way: a raw deal from subcontractors Part 3

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Two types of monthly paychecks a man in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, received. The payslip issued by a waterworks company in January 2015, right, stated the company paid him 236,828 yen. A cleaning company’s hand-written pay details mention the sum of 204,328 yen. Parts of the images were modified for privacy reasons.

Editor’s note: This is the last installment of a three-part series on conditions that contract workers face at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

* * *

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

And that sums up what contract workers are facing, having signed up for jobs to clean up the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

These men are positioned near the bottom of a pyramid of a multilayered hiring system, and get shunted off to dangerous work on the ground–often without due compensation.

One man who quit working at the plant last October was simply fed up with being shortchanged, especially as the work he did was potentially hazardous to his health.

“My pay was doubly skimmed off,” said the 27-year-old, who is from Iwaki in the prefecture.

The man’s case seems to be anything but exceptional because of a hiring system at the plant in which layers of subcontractors often skim off their shares as they assign work to companies below them.

The man signed on with a cleaning company in late 2012 to do decontamination work in Naraha, a stricken town near the plant. There was no written contract for his employment, just a verbal arrangement.

Then in March 2014, the cleaning company referred him to a “better-paying job” at the plant and asked him to sign a contract with a local waterworks company for the assignment.

His written contract with the waterworks company stated that his daily wage would be 15,500 yen ($137).

But the cleaning company, from which the man received his pay for work performed on behalf of the waterworks firm, told him that he would actually get 2,500 yen less than promised. It cited “miscellaneous expenses.”

“Our company cannot continue to operate without funds,” said an official with the cleaning company by way of explaining the discrepancy.

The cleaning company took possession of the man’s bank passbook and seal, and withdrew all the money the waterworks company paid into his bank account.

The cleaning company handed him a monthly salary in cash that was calculated on the basis of 13,000 yen per day.

He was also given two payslips: one stating a salary based on a daily wage of 15,500 yen and the other for 13,000 yen.

After working at the plant for 18 months or so, the man learned that he was being gypped more than he had realized. What the waterworks company actually paid to the cleaning company as his monthly salary was computed on the basis of a daily wage of 20,000 yen.

When he confronted the cleaning company, an official was evasive.

“It was a referral fee,” the official said of the gap. “We will raise your salary.”

Growing distrustful, the man quit the cleaning company in October.

In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, a female representative at the cleaning company said it had never engaged in fraudulent activities.

“It is true that we kept his bank passbook,” she said. “We did it to withdraw money on his behalf since he could not go to the bank on pay day due to work.”

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced it was doubling hazard pay to 20,000 yen a day in November 2013 to help bolster morale among workers and secure manpower.

The problem is that TEPCO pays the contractors directly, so whether the money actually trickles down to subcontractors–and contract workers they employ–is a separate issue.

In the case of the Iwaki man, his payslip prepared by the waterworks company showed 7,000 yen in hazard pay out of the daily wage of 15,500 yen.

The hand-written slip created by the cleaning company, however, did not have an entry for danger allowance.

Still, the man was involved in work that carried radiation risks, and, in his opinion, with less than adequate protection.

His job at the plant was to install fire hydrants. Radiation readings on the dosimeters that workers were required to carry climbed as his work progressed because the water pipes for hydrants are extended toward the reactor buildings.

Although technicians working near the reactor buildings donned lead vests to shield themselves from radiation, the man had to make do with only protective suits.

On one occasion, his dosimeter started beeping loudly as he approached a reactor building. “Flee!” his boss shouted.

“My work was dangerous,” said the man. “I find it totally unacceptable that my pay was comparable to the money paid for a cleanup assignment.”

Tsuguo Hirota, a lawyer from Fukushima Prefecture who has been involved in lawsuits over back pay of hazard and other allowances for contract workers, said the multitiered hiring system at the plant is at the heart of the problem.

“If the system to repeatedly outsource work to subcontractors were not altered, the practice of skimming off (workers’ salaries) would still be continuing,” he said.

In one case, he said a leading construction company paid a daily wage of 43,000 yen per employee. But all a worker at a third-tier subcontractor ended up with was 11,500 yen.

On the other hand, the skimming of salaries is no longer a widespread practice in the cleanup operation commissioned by the Environment Ministry, although it was the case in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 triple meltdown.

When the ministry places an order with a contractor, its deal includes a clause requiring that designated hazard pay must be paid to workers hired by subcontractors.

But no similar arrangements have been made at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Other problems inherent in a multilayered hiring system center on ultimate responsibility for ensuring the safety of contract workers at the plant and tracking their accumulative radiation exposure over a long period.

When the Iwaki man worked at the plant, he received instructions from the waterworks company, a third-tier subcontractor, on how to perform his tasks. But a second-tier subcontractor and the cleaning company also told him how to do his job, which could have been unlawful.

According to a TEPCO survey last autumn, 14.2 percent of respondents, or 465 workers, said the company that pays their wages is different from the one that gives direction on how to do the job.

Takeshi Katsura, a staff member of the Fukushima nuclear power plant workers’ consultation center, a private group in Iwaki, urged subcontractors to have a greater sense of responsibility for their workers.

“Even five years after the accident, some are working on a mere verbal arrangement,” he said. “A company that concluded a contract with workers should responsibly oversee their wages, safety, social security programs and other work-related matters.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604070003.html

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japanese People Shun Fukushima Survivors While Doctors Refuse Them Care

From 2/26/2016

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Those who do not fit the norm, for whatever reason no matter how abusive, are outcasts. 

In retrospect, societal norms throughout history have sometimes become fatally irresponsible. When it comes to popular movements and health trends, humanity has had its share of shameful events stamped forever into the history books. While working in Vienna General Hospital’s first obstetrical clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards, Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis proposed the novel idea of hand washing in 1847. Despite various publications of results where hand washing reduced mortality from 35% to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected. After his discovery, Semmelweis was committed to an insane asylum and promptly beaten to death by guards. As horrific as these visions and events can sometimes be, they continue to be played out in today’s society partially due to public ignorance, corruption, conflicts of interest and imbedded norms.

The world is rapidly approaching the five year anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The triple meltdown at the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant has seen shameful omissions by global leaders and officials at every level. To compound matters, Japanese survivors are forced to submit to a complicit medical community bordering on anti-human. While the solutions to the widespread nuclear contamination are few, media blackouts, government directives and purposefully omitted medical reporting has made things exponentially worse. Over the last five years, the situation on the ground in Japan had deteriorated to shocking levels as abuse and trauma towards the survivors has become intolerable.

Even before the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan endured another nuclear disaster as a testing ground for the US military’s new nuclear arsenal on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The numbers of Japanese civilians killed were estimated at around 226,000, roughly half of the deaths occurred on the first day. After the initial detonation of the two nuclear bombs, both Japanese cities endured a legacy of radiation damage and human suffering for decades after. Tomiko Matsumoto, a resident of Hiroshima and survivor of the bombing described the abuse and trauma she endured by her society:

I was shocked because I was discriminated against by Hiroshima people. We lived together in the same place and Hiroshima people know what happened but they discriminated against each other. ..I was shocked.

There were so many different kinds of discrimination. People said that girls who survived the bomb shouldn’t get married. Also they refused to hire the survivors, not only because of the scars, but because they were so weak. Survivors did not have 100 percent energy.”

There was a survivor’s certificate and medical treatment was free. But the other people were jealous. Jealous people, mentally discriminated. So, I didn’t want to show the health book sometimes, so I paid. Some of the people, even though they had the health book, were afraid of discrimination, so they didn’t even apply for the health book. They thought discrimination was worse than paying for health care.”

A similar scene is playing out today in Japan as residents of the Fukushima prefecture, who survived triple nuclear meltdowns, are forced to endure similar conditions over half a century later. Fairewinds Energy Education director and former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen is currently embarked on a speaking tour of Japan as their population continues to search for the truth about nuclear risks and the reality of life in affected areas of Japan after the 2011 disaster. Many Fukushima prefecture residents are still displaced and living in resettlement communities as their city sits as a radioactive ghost town. Visiting one such resettlement community, Gundersen had this to say:

Today I went to a resettlement community. There were 22 women who met us, out of 66 families who live in this resettlement community. They stood up and said my name is…and I’m in 6A…my name is…and I’m in 11B and that’s how they define themselves by the little cubicle they live in — it’s very sad.”

Speaking with the unofficial, interim mayor of the resettlement community, she told Gundersen

After the disaster at Fukushima, her hair fell out, she got a bloody nose and her body was speckled with hives and boils and the doctor told her it was stress…and she believes him. It was absolutely amazing. We explained to her that those area all symptoms of radiation [poisoning] and she should have that looked into. She really felt her doctor had her best interests at heart and she was not going to pursue it.

Speaking about how Japanese officials handled this resettlement community’s (and others?) health education after the disaster, Gundersen reported:

They [the 22 women who met with Gunderson] told us that we were the first people in five years to come to them and talk to them about radiation. They had nobody in five years of their exile had ever talked to them about radiation before…Which was another terribly sad moment.

When asked if the women felt isolated from the rest of Japan they described to Gundersen the following:

Some of them had changed their license plates so that they’re not in Fukushima anymore — so their license plates show they’re from another location. When they drive back into Fukushima, people realize that they’re natives and deliberately scratch their cars…deliberately scratch their cars because they are traitors. Then we had the opposite hold true that the people that didn’t change their plates and when they left Fukushima and went to other areas, people deliberately scratched their cars because they were from Fukushima.”

Gundersen summed up the information he received by saying, “The pubic’s animosity is directed toward the people of Fukushima Prefecture as if they somehow caused the nuclear disaster.

 

When it comes to health decisions, the medical community and political class has polarized the conversation into an “either-or” “us vs. them” mentality. Reckless lawmaking and biased reported has only driven the Japanese public further down this slippery slope. In many countries, the public watched as medical dogma and ideology captured healthcare, which in turn began to direct policy and law. Many societies beyond Japan are now facing difficult choices as the free expression of health preservation and medical choice has fallen into a dangerous grey area. Oscillating between authoritative legal action, medical discrimination and public abuse, society’s norms appear to be rapidly heading down the wrong road. Untold damage and traumas are unfolding as governments hide information and quietly omit vital data further fueling the fire. Alternative media and the work of those in medicine with true integrity and compassion have herculean tasks awaiting them as they work to change a historically dangerous narrative attempting to root.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) still not open, and USA’s toxic nuclear waste mounts


wastes-1Flag-USAChanging nuclear landscape alters WIPP’s role  Local News Santa Fe  Apr 10, 2016. By Rebecca Moss The New Mexican “………
Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center, a nuclear safety watchdog group, said more environmental assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act need to be conducted to assess WIPP’s capacity or ability to handle additional plutonium.

“There is more of that waste in existence than there is room at WIPP,” Hancock said. “Insofar as they want to bring in foreign plutonium, they have to get the law changed.”

He said Japan’s civilian plutonium would be in direct violation of the Land Withdrawal Act’s stipulation that the waste stored at WIPP come from U.S. defense activities.

The Land Withdrawal Act states: “The Secretary shall not transport high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel to WIPP or emplace or dispose of such waste or fuel at WIPP.”

“Geological repositories kind of win by default. If the decision is to put it in the ground, then it could be done someplace else,” Hancock said.

“We the public were always told, ‘Oh no, none of this prohibited materials — ignitable, reactive, potential explodable materials — will ever come to WIPP. We are not allowed to ship those ignitable, reactive [materials]. We have lots of safeguards so that will never happen,’ ” Hancock said, adding, that has been proven wrong.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a statement that the future of MOX and what that will mean for New Mexico are questions that should be rigorously considered by Congress. He said it is likely “this debate will continue into the next administration.”

“My understanding is that the amount of defense waste in South Carolina likely would require an expansion at WIPP and a change in its total radiation limits, which are set by law,” he said. “And that is not a small issue to address.”

Before the diluted plutonium in South Carolina can be transported to WIPP, he said, an environmental assessment, public comment and an agreement from the state of New Mexico should occur.

Many “ifs” exist regarding the safety of the waste and the remaining capacity at WIPP, he said. If the waste is transported, he said, New Mexico should be compensated and workers trained to deal with a radiological emergency.

“We shouldn’t talk about new missions for WIPP until it’s open,” he said. “And until we know that it will be able to safely complete its current mission.”

April 11, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Expanded nuclear waste role for USA’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

radioactive trashFlag-USAChanging nuclear landscape alters WIPP’s role  Local News Santa Fe  Apr 10, 2016. By Rebecca Moss The New Mexican When the salt bed trenches of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were mined on the outskirts of Carlsbad in the mid-1980s, Congress dictated specific guidelines for what could be held within its chambers. Only low-level transuranic waste — rags, tools and even soil that had been contaminated with potent radiation through the creation and testing of nuclear weapons in the U.S. — could fill the 6.2 million-cubic-foot cavern more than 2,000 feet below ground.

Even within these limited parameters, finally approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1998, it took WIPP 20 years to open. When the first waste-bearing truck drove from Los Alamos to Carlsbad the following year, two women sat on the pavement and a man parked his car in the middle of the road, hoping to prevent its passage. Others waved American flags in support.

But in the 17 years since the facility opened, the nation’s nuclear landscape has changed. WIPP remains the world’s only underground geological repository for nuclear waste, and a confluence of budget constraints, geopolitical issues, the threat of terrorists obtaining nuclear materials and other concerns have led many to consider whether WIPP’s mission should be expanded to include not only higher levels of waste from the U.S. but also waste from around the world. Plans are already in motion to accept plutonium from Japan.

The U.S. now has 61.5 metric tons of plutonium that require a path to disposal — a path that increasingly points to WIPP, despite vulnerabilities exposed by an underground truck fire at the plant in 2014 and an unrelated radiation leak that followed days later, shutting down the plant for the past two years. Officials say it might reopen by the year’s end.

In late March, the National Nuclear Security Administration announced that more than 6 tons of plutonium would be diluted with a blend of chemical compounds called oxides — a process known as down-blending — at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and would then be shipped to New Mexico. A portion of that plutonium — just under 1 metric ton, or 2,000 pounds — from “foreign sources” could be included in the shipment, the agency said.

The Department of Energy then announced a $6 billion contract spanning a 10-year period for the Savannah River Site to prepare and package the waste. And on April 1, President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced that “critical” highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium had been removed from the Fast Critical Assembly nuclear reactor research facility in Japan and shipped to the U.S.

Despite objections from the state of South Carolina, the plutonium from Japan was sent to the Savannah River Site. NNSA spokeswoman Francie Israeli confirmed to The New Mexican last week that the plutonium ultimately will be placed at WIPP.

WIPP originally was intended to be the nation’s first deep-underground nuclear repository — not the only such facility in the U.S. or in the world. A high-level waste storage site planned for Yucca Mountain in Nevada was abandoned in 2011 following extensive public and political outcry in the state. No other sites have been designated as nuclear repositories since.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration set a goal in 2009 “to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials” worldwide by 2013, and while that deadline has gone unmet, the president has remained a strong proponent of a “global zero” campaign to eliminate the spread of nuclear weapons. Part of this mission rests on an agreement to secure or dispose of all vulnerable nuclear materials.

Critics say storing plutonium from Japan at WIPP would directly violate the laws that govern the underground repository and could fundamentally reshape the facility’s mission — which stipulated storing only transuranic waste from U.S. defense projects. Others say that because the plutonium will be heavily diluted, it will meet WIPP’s criteria.

Since WIPP opened its doors, the original scope of its mission has slowly shifted. Exceptions have been made to allow more than 3 tons of plutonium from the Savannah River Site and the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado to be secured in the salt caverns below Carlsbad — including classified molds that shaped plutonium pits used to trigger nuclear bombs.

The plant’s mission also included a pledge to “open clean and stay clean,” but a runaway reaction from an improperly packaged waste drum from Los Alamos in 2014 caused a radiation leak that escaped the cavern, contaminating the air above ground and breaking that promise.

Meanwhile, the plant is still pegged to take waste waiting at national laboratories, as well as new waste the labs create. The U.S. Department of Energy’s budget for the coming year proposes funding to enhance the nation’s nuclear stockpile and ramp up plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory — work certain to contribute to the waste stream.

Todd Shrader, Carlsbad Field Office manager for the Department of Energy, addressed the plan to bring plutonium to New Mexico during a WIPP public forum Thursday night.

“As with all waste that comes here, it has to meet our waste acceptance criteria and the hazardous waste permit,” he said. “In our mind, it is frankly the same.”………

He also said that plutonium disposal through a nuclear reactor fuel program or storage at WIPP has not been thoroughly studied to show which path — if either of them — is the clear route forward in getting rid of such sensitive materials.

“I worry that we might be trying to jump off of one horse before we are sure that the other horse will be better and faster,” he said.

He [William Tobey, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the former deputy administrator of the Office of Defense Nuclear Proliferation at the NNSA.] said spending money to solve the problem is necessary.

“The people who fought World War II bore significant burdens, but they realized they had a responsibility to do that,” Tobey said. “My argument is we also have a responsibility to bear some burden for the disposition of plutonium” that resulted from the weapons program at that time. “There is a symmetry,” he said………….. Contact Rebecca Moss at 505-986-3011or rmoss@sfnewmexican.com.  http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/changing-nuclear-landscape-alters-wipp-s-role/article_2a57716d-4e92-5e94-bc3a-d2a6ce1ae26c.html

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA Energy Dept moving away from dangerous MOX nuclear fuel plan

MOXRadioactive Pork Finally on the Chopping Block Project On Government Oversight.  By: Lydia Dennett 9 Feb 16 A “Sensitive But Unclassified” document from the Secretary of Energy, obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, indicates that the Department is concerned that parochial interests in Congress may thwart their plans to kill the MOX program.

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) is the result of a bilateral agreement with Russia in which both countries agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of nuclear weapons grade plutonium. In 2002 the U.S. decided to construct the MOX facility to convert this dangerous material into fuel for commercial nuclear power reactors. But now, 14 years later, the MOX program is almost 3,000 percent over budget, lacks even a single potential customer for the fuel, and could actually be putting our nuclear material at risk.

The November 2015 memorandum from Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to President Obama states that MOX is a “high-priority ‘hot potato’ issue” for this Congress and indicates that the Department is finally beginning to shift focus and funding away from MOX and toward a plutonium disposition process that will actually work: “We are working with our appropriators and other stakeholders to shift our plutonium disposition strategy from MOX power reactor fuel to dilution and underground disposal. This is much faster and cheaper.”

Last year, an independent study performed by the Aerospace Corporation confirmed that the cost of finishing construction of MOX and operating the plant for the next 20 years will be at least $47.5 billion and could be as much as $114 billion depending on annual funding from Congress. That would be in addition to the $5 billion already spent on the project. MOX was originally expected to cost a mere $1.6 billion.

Despite the project’s long history of skyrocketing costs, safety and security concerns, and construction problems, it has been kept alive in large part by political officials who have an interest in making sure funding for the project continues.

Problems with the MOX program were first raised in the early 2000s by then-Representative David Hobsen (R-OH), who was serving as Chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee at the time. His efforts to halt construction of the MOX facility were stalled in 2006 due to pressure from the Department of Energy, the Administration, and his own party.He was told that canceling the project would hurt then-South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s chances of being reelected.

In 2013, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC)placed a hold on the president’s nomination for Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz until Moniz promised to finish the MOX plant. Graham eventually relented and removed the hold but remains one of the most outspoken supporters for the project along with Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Representative Rick Allen (R-GA).

Representatives Wilson and Allen recently denounced the dilution and underground disposal method, which would involve mixing the weapons grade plutonium with other materials before sending it to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), an underground repository in New Mexico. The Aerospace Corporation found that this method would cost $17 billion over its lifetime as opposed to the $47.5 billion needed to complete the MOX project.

The Center for Public Integrity has previously detailed the long history of lobbying and campaign donations to the South Carolina members by large companies with a financial interest in the MOX project. Many of these same officials bill themselves as budget hawks, committed to limited federal spending while, at the same time, supporting this multi-billion dollar boondoggle.

Secretary Moniz’s November memo to the president references this difficult history. “While Senate appropriators agree with us, the House appropriators are concerned about alienating the South Carolina delegation.”

One of the concerns raised by Representative Wilson and others is that moving away from the MOX strategy will require re-opening negotiations with Russia, something Wilson told the Nuclear Security and Deterrence Monitor (behind a paywall) “the U.S. should avoid.” Although the Energy Department acknowledges that US-Russia relations are “complicated,” Moniz’s memo confirms that the Energy Department’s Russian partners “are amenable to discussion.”

POGO is pleased to see the Energy Department formally move away from the MOX program and begin working toward a cheaper, faster, and less risky strategy for disposing this dangerous material.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

Statistical analysis indicates we can expect more severe nuclear accidents

safety-symbol-SmHow safe is nuclear power? A statistical study suggests less than expected,  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 16 

ABSTRACT

After the Fukushima disaster, the authors analyzed all past core-melt accidents and estimated a failure rate of 1 per 3704 reactor years. This rate indicates that more than one such accident could occur somewhere in the world within the next decade. The authors also analyzed the role that learning from past accidents can play over time.
This analysis showed few or no learning effects occurring, depending on the database used. Because the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has no publicly available list of nuclear accidents, the authors used data compiled by the Guardian newspaper and the energy researcher Benjamin Sovacool.
The results suggest that there are likely to be more severe nuclear accidents than have been expected and support Charles Perrow’s “normal accidents” theory that nuclear power reactors cannot be operated without major accidents. However, a more detailed analysis of nuclear accident probabilities needs more transparency from the IAEA. Public support for nuclear power cannot currently be based on full knowledge simply because important information is not available……….http://linkis.com/tandfonline.com/acti/kgNSn

April 11, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton unsuited to task of confronting climate change, too enmeshed in corporate thinking

 So let’s forget the smoking guns for the moment. The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships—lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention—shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place…….

 At the center of it all is the canonical belief that change comes not by confronting the wealthy and powerful but by partnering with them. 

USA election 2016 The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview.
Clinton is uniquely unsuited to the epic task of confronting the fossil-fuel companies that profit from climate change. The Nation By Naomi Klein     Twitter  APRIL 6, 2016 

 There aren’t a lot of certainties left in the US presidential race, but here’s one thing about which we can be absolutely sure: The Clinton camp really doesn’t like talking about fossil-fuel money. Last week, when a young Greenpeace campaigner challenged Hillary Clinton about taking money from fossil-fuel companies, the candidate accused the Bernie Sanders campaign of “lying” and declared herself “so sick” of it. As the exchange went viral, a succession of high-powered Clinton supporters pronounced that there was nothing to see here and that everyone should move along…….
 some facts. Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including her Super PAC, has received a lot of money from the employees and registered lobbyists of fossil-fuel companies. There’s the much-cited $4.5 million that Greenpeace calculated, which includes bundling by lobbyists.

 But that’s not all. There is also a lot more money from sources not included in those calculations. For instance, one of Clinton’s most prominent and active financial backers is Warren Buffett. While he owns a large mix of assets, Buffett is up to his eyeballs in coal, including coal transportation and some of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the country.

Then there’s all the cash that fossil-fuel companies have directly pumped into the Clinton Foundation. In recent years, Exxon, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron have all contributed to the foundation. An investigation in theInternational Business Times just revealed that at least two of these oil companies were part of an effort to lobby Clinton’s State Department about the Alberta tar sands, a massive deposit of extra-dirty oil. Leading climate scientists like James Hansen have explained that if we don’t keep the vast majority of that carbon in the ground, we will unleash catastrophic levels of warming.

During this period, the investigation found, Clinton’s State Department approved the Alberta Clipper, a controversial pipeline carrying large amounts of tar-sands bitumen from Alberta to Wisconsin. “According to federal lobbying records reviewed by the IBT,” write David Sirota and Ned Resnikoff, “Chevron and ConocoPhillips both lobbied the State Department specifically on the issue of ‘oil sands’ in the immediate months prior to the department’s approval, as did a trade association funded by ExxonMobil.”

Did the donations to the Clinton Foundation have anything to do with the State Department’s pipeline decision? Did they make Hillary Clinton more disposed to seeing tar-sands pipelines as environmentally benign, as early State Department reviews of Keystone XLseemed to conclude, despite the many scientific warnings? There is no proof—no “smoking gun,” as Clinton defenders like to say. Just as there is no proof that the money her campaign took from gas lobbyists and fracking financiers has shaped Clinton’s current (and dangerous) view that fracking can be made safe.

It’s important to recognize that Clinton’s campaign platform includes some very good climate policies that surely do not please these donors—which is why the fossil-fuel sector gives so much more to climate change–denying Republicans.

Still, the whole funding mess stinks, and it seems to get worse by the day. So it’s very good that the Sanders camp isn’t abiding by Krugman’s “guidelines for good behavior” and shutting up about the money in a year when climate change has contributed to the hottest temperatures since records began. This primary isn’t over, and Democratic voters need and deserve to know all they can before they make a choice we will all have to live with for a very long time……..

The mission of the Clinton Foundation can be distilled as follows: There is so much private wealth sloshing around our planet (thanks in very large part to the deregulation and privatization frenzy that Bill Clinton unleashed on the world while president), that every single problem on earth, no matter how large, can be solved by convincing the ultra-rich to do the right things with their loose change. Naturally, the people to convince them to do these fine things are the Clintons, the ultimate relationship brokers and dealmakers, with the help of an entourage of A-list celebrities.

So let’s forget the smoking guns for the moment. The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships—lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention—shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place…….

At the center of it all is the canonical belief that change comes not by confronting the wealthy and powerful but by partnering with them.

Viewed from within the logic of what Thomas Frank recently termed “the land of money,” all of Hillary Clinton’s most controversial actions make sense. Why not take money from fossil-fuel lobbyists? Why not get paid hundreds of thousands for speeches to Goldman Sachs? It’s not a conflict of interest; it’s a mutually beneficial partnership—part of a never-ending merry-go-round of corporate-political give and take.

Books have been filled with the failures of Clinton-style philanthrocapitalism. When it comes to climate change, we have all the evidence we need to know that this model is a disaster on a planetary scale. This is the logic that gave the world fraud-infested carbon markets and dodgy carbon offsets instead of tough regulation of polluters—because, we were told, emission reductions needed to be “win-win” and “market-friendly.”

If the next president wastes any more time with these schemes, the climate clock will run out, plain and simple……http://www.thenation.com/article/the-problem-with-hillary-clinton-isnt-just-her-corporate-cash-its-her-corporate-worldview/

April 11, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Retired Pakistani diplomat recalls shady nuclear deals

corruptionPakistan veteran recalls shopping trips to nuclear grey markets, http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-diplomat-jamsheed-marker-recalls-shopping-trips-to-nuclear-grey-markets/article8456193.ece  THE HINDU,  KALLOL BHATTACHERJEE , 10 Apr 16 Retired diplomat Jamsheed Marker talks about “meeting characters, genuine and shady, in tiny cafes tucked away in obscure villages deep in the beautiful Swiss and German countryside”.

One of Pakistan’s best-known diplomats has given an unprecedented account of how his country clandestinely built its nuclear arsenal using its diplomatic network in Europe.

In Cover Point: Impressions of Leadership in Pakistan, an autobiographical account of Pakistan’s politicians, retired diplomat Jamsheed Marker, 94, says: “This exercise involved a bit of James Bond stuff, and I remember Ikram and myself meeting characters, genuine and shady, in tiny cafes tucked away in obscure villages deep in the beautiful Swiss and German countryside.”

Mr. Marker served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany between 1980 and 1982, when the meetings took place, which led to Pakistan acquiring sensitive technology from European firms for its nuclear weapons programme.

“The Embassy had a Procurement Department [the nomenclature really fooled nobody] headed by a most able officer of Minister rank named Ikram Khan, who was seconded from our nuclear establishment headed by Dr A.Q. Khan. Ikram was a superb officer, knowledgeable, low-key and efficient, and went about his sensitive job with the combination of initiative and discretion that were its primary requirements,” writes Mr. Marker , revealing how Pakistan sourced technology for its nuclear programme from western markets.

Mr. Marker’s disclosure sheds light on a wide array of willing partners from among firms in Europe which were willing to partner Pakistan’s quest for nuclear weapons, for a price. Mr. Marker, who worked directly under the supervision of General Zia-ul-Haq, played a peripheral role as the “Procurement Department” operated under a cloak of secrecy.

Mr. Marker, served for three decades in various important embassies of Pakistan, but reached the most successful phase of his career with his back-to-back appointments as Pakistani Ambassador to Bonn, Paris and Washington DC during the tenure of Gen Zia (1977-1988). Mr. Marker said that he admired the way Gen Zia (who became civilian President in 1985) diverted the West’s attention while going all out for giving Pakistan its nuclear weapon. “I maintain a mild, amused contempt for the enthusiasm with which western industrial enterprises, in their pecuniary pursuits, conspired with us to evade their own governments’ law prohibiting all nuclear transfers to Pakistan,” he writes in what is the first account from one of Gen. Zia’s key diplomats on the modus operandi adopted to build the nuclear bomb in Pakistan.

Mr. Marker says the U.S. spy services were aware of Pakistan’s determination to go nuclear and were unable to prevent Gen. Zia.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | history, Pakistan, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

How the West keeps quiet about radiation effects on Iraqi people

see-no-evilIRRADIATED IRAQ   The Nuclear Nightmare We Left Behind, The Washington Spectator,  By Barbara Koeppel   30 Mar 16 Even as evidence mounts, the DOD and VA steadfastly deny the health effects of the weapons and pits. The Defense Health Agency website states, “No human cancer of any type has been seen as a result of exposure to either natural or depleted uranium.”

From 2003 to 2011, U.S. military bases burned waste in the pits around the clock— spewing toxic clouds for miles.

Further, in a 2011 DOD report, Exposure to Toxins Produced by Burn Pits, the VA adds: “The effects from burn pits are only temporary and the negative health effects dissipate once a soldier is removed from the source.” In 2014, the VA website assured veterans that “So far, no health problems have been found in veterans exposed to DU.”

While the military admits it used DU in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, it has downplayed the extent. U.S. Marine Corps Captain Dominic Pitrone told The Washington Spectator, “The only weapons with DU in the USMC inventory were 120mm tank rounds.” As for the new SMAW-NE warhead, he said it “does not contain uranium.”

But Ritter says these claims are disingenuous. Though other DU munitions, such as aerial bombs and 25mm cannon rounds, may not have been in the USMC inventory, they were still “available to and used by USMC units in Iraq.”

And while the USMC may not label the SMAW-NE and thermobaric Hellfire missile as uranium weapons, Ritter says that “this doesn’t resolve whether the shaped-charge warheads [inside them] make use of uranium-enhanced liners.”

U.S. coalition partners—such as Britain, which also used uranium weapons—echo the denials. So too do the WHO and the Iraq Ministry of Health, which concluded in 2012 that Iraq had fewer birth defects and cancers than developed countries.

But Hagopian says the ministry surveyed households instead of using hospital records. Finding this unscientific, a 2013 Lancet article called for a new study. Last November, the American Public Health Association asked the military to ban burn pits and fund research on their health effects. It also asked the WHO to rethink its conclusion.

Researchers tell of attempts by authorities to quash investigations. In 1991, for example, the United States tried to keep the WHO from “surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers,” Hans von Sponek, a former U.N. official, told the Guardian.

Karol Sikora, a British oncologist who headed WHO’s cancer program in the 1990s, told me his supervisor (who focuses on non-communicable diseases) warned him that they shouldn’t speak publicly about the cancers and birth defects “because this would offend member states.”

Similarly, Baverstock says, “I was on a WHO editorial committee and I warned about the uranium weapons’ geno-toxicity effect on DNA. My comments were rejected—probably because the WHO monograph didn’t include this.”

Those who persist fare badly.

Horst Gunther, a German physician, went to Iraq to study the spiking diseases. He saw children play with DU shells on Basra’s battlefield, took one to Germany to study, and found it was extremely radioactive. He told German authorities and was arrested for possessing it.

In 2003, Chief Justice Y.K.J. Yeung Sik Yuen of Mauritius, a delegate to the U.N. Sub-Commission on Human Rights, wrote of “the cavalier disregard, if not deception, on the part of the developers and users of these weapons regarding their effects.” After he refused to reverse his position that DU weapons are illegal and violate the Geneva Convention, the U.S. and Britain campaigned against his reelection to the subcommission. He lost.

Hagopian says researchers can’t study the uranium weapons’ effects because “the U.S. won’t fund the work.”

Why can’t the DOD, VA, Iraq government, and WHO come clean?

Ritter says, “The DOD doesn’t want the public to know about the toxic dust, because of the liability. As for Iraq, it will agree with the U.S. as long as it depends on the U.S. for financial and military support. As for the WHO, the U.S. contributes more to U.N. agencies and the WHO than any other country.”

Williams adds that there’s growing international concern about uranium weapons, since they’re radioactive. As early as 1991, Army Lt. Col. Ziehm warned in a memo that because DU weapons “may become politically unacceptable,” after-action reports must “keep this sensitive issue at mind.” In other words, don’t tell.

Media coverage of uranium weapons and the spiraling sickness has been meager. Malak Hamden said when she and colleagues published the 2010 Fallujah study, “CNN said something, but no newspapers touched the story.” A BBC reporter told Williams the public doesn’t want to know about uranium weapons.

In the meantime, the United States continues to build them. Williams notes that U.S. Patent Office records show Lockheed Martin and Raytheon hold patents for enhanced bombs and cruise missile warheads that include uranium options.

Today, with the U.S., Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and Russia bombing Syria, and with the Saudis bombing and the U.S. firing drones into Yemen—with some of the same kinds of weapons unleashed in Iraq—it is likely that the people living there, along with fleeing refugees, will suffer just as the Iraqis and veterans have.

As Busby notes, uranium oxide dust is like a bomb that keeps going off. “People’s genes are damaged for generations. Scientists found this in 22 generations of mice, after Chernobyl. The only way mutated genes disappear is when carriers don’t have children.”

Barbara Koeppel is a Washington D.C.-based investigative reporter.  http://linkis.com/washingtonspectator.org/b2hLC

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Iraq, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders understands what needs to be done about climate change

USA election 2016The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview.
Clinton is uniquely unsuited to the epic task of confronting the fossil-fuel companies that profit from climate change. The Nation By Naomi Klein  Twitter APRIL 6, 2016 

“…….. If we’re to have any hope of avoiding catastrophe, action needs to be unprecedented in its speed and scope. If designed properly, the transition to a post-carbon economy can deliver a great many “wins”: not just a safer future, but huge numbers of well-paying jobs; improved and affordable public transit; more liveable cities; as well as racial and environmental justice for the communities on the frontlines of dirty extraction.

Bernie Sanders’s campaign is built around precisely this logic: not the rich being stroked for a little more noblesse oblige, but ordinary citizens banding together to challenge them, winning tough regulations, and creating a much fairer system as a result.

Sanders and his supporters understand something critical: it won’t all be win-win.

Sanders and his supporters understand something critical: It won’t all be win-win. For any of this to happen, fossil-fuel companies, which have made obscene profits for many decades, will have to start losing. And losing more than just the tax breaks and subsidies that Clinton is promising to cut. They will also have to lose the new drilling and mining leases they want; they’ll have to be denied permits for the pipelines and export terminals they very much want to build. They will have to leave trillions of dollars’ worth of proven fossil-fuel reserves in the ground.

Meanwhile, if solar panels proliferate on rooftops, big power utilities will lose a significant portion of their profits, since their former customers will be in the energy-generation business. This would create opportunities for a more level economy and, ultimately, for lower utility bills—but once again, some powerful interests will have to lose (which is why Warren Buffett’s coal-fired utility in Nevada has gone to war against solar).

A president willing to inflict these losses on fossil-fuel companies and their allies needs to be more than just not actively corrupt. That president needs to be up for the fight of the century—and absolutely clear about which side must win. Looking at the Democratic primary, there can be no doubt about who is best suited to rise to this historic moment.

The good news? He just won Wisconsin. And he isn’t following anyone’s guidelines for good behavior. http://www.thenation.com/article/the-problem-with-hillary-clinton-isnt-just-her-corporate-cash-its-her-corporate-worldview/

April 11, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment