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US Senate Bill 2795 on Deregulation of the Nuclear Industry – Are Senators Inhofe, Booker, Carpo et. al. Just Lazy and Stupid or is it Conflict of Interest? Why is Sen. Carper Such a Jerk? A Quick and Dirty Look

Mining Awareness +

It is perfectly possible that Inhofe, Booker, Carpo et. al. are simply lazy, stupid and ignorant in pushing a bill (S. 2795) claiming that US nuclear reactors are “operating safely and securely”. Maybe they’ve just observed that the US NRC does exactly what the nuclear industry wants anyway so should indeed have funding cut. It is actually pretty funny that all the workers at US NRC that have sold their soul to the nuclear devil have their jobs on the cutting block anyway. So, the proposal to cut funding to the US NRC is actually pretty funny. Watch and learn before you sell your soul to the devil. However, many NRC workers will just go home to their countries of origin, leaving the children of the American Revolution and others who have no other home stuck with their nuclear crimes. But, why not just totally shut down the US NRC?

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April 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 28 Energy News

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World:

¶ Australian credit finance group FlexiGroup has made a landmark issue of green Asset Backed Securities, a type of bond, raising $50 million to refinance residential rooftop solar systems in Australia. The issue brings rooftop solar into the mainstream bond market in Australia for the first time. [RenewEconomy]

Rooftop solar systems Rooftop solar systems

¶ The end of the internal combustion engine may be in sight. The Austrian Ministry of Agriculture and Environment is working on a study that would mean an end to conventional cars sales by 2020. India, Norway, and the Netherlands have plans to end sales by 2025. [Renewables International]

¶ Global solar installations are expected to reach 66.7 GW in 2016, thanks to strong growth in China, the US, Japan, and India, according to Mercom. According to the Solar Market Update, China, the United States, Japan, and India will make up the year’s…

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April 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US Senate Efforts to Do Away with Mandatory Licensing Hearings for So-Called Advanced Nuclear Reactors-Small Modular Reactors

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Excerpts below from the April 21st, 2016 US Senate Hearing on Nuclear Energy Regulation (i.e. deregulation).”Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. Hearings held. Type of Action: Committee Consideration, Action By: Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety S.2795 — 114th Congresshttps://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2795/all-actions?resultIndex=3&overview=closed This bill needs to be watched.

This part discusses the effort by nuclear industry, and their lackeys in the Senate, to do away with mandatory hearings for new reactor types, on the basis of circular logic. Senator Markey stands up for public safety.
Ed Markey US Senate Nuclear Hearing 21 April 2016

Senator Ed Markey:
Dr. Lyman, This Bill would scrap the requirement that the NRC hold a mandatory hearing on each application for a construction permit or operating license. Instead, such hearings would only occur if they are requested by a person who’s interest might be effected. Is there any…

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April 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 27 Energy News

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Opinion:

¶ “Coal for water: crisis incoming”• The world’s rapidly dwindling freshwater resources could be further depleted if plans for hundreds of new coal power plants worldwide go ahead, threatening severe drought and competition, according to a new Greenpeace International report. [The Phuket News]

The Great Water Grab: How the coal industry is deepening the global water crisis. The Great Water Grab: How the coal industry
is deepening the global water crisis.

¶ “Mikhail Gorbachev: 30 years after Chernobyl, time to phase out nuclear power” • At 85, committed environmentalist Mikhail Gorbachev still campaigns to bring the failed nuclear experiment to an end, while encouraging a clean, efficient and renewable global energy economy. [The Ecologist]

¶ “Digitalization: Where are the German digital utilities?” • In Germany, a lot has been written about two energy megatrends of our time, liberalization of energy markets and decentralization of the energy landscape. What we think has been neglected is a third megatrend: digitalization. [

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April 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food truck from Fukushima feeds quake victims in Kumamoto

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The food truck parked in front of the Takamori town government building provides hot meals to quake victims in Kumamoto Prefecture.

TAKAMORI, Kumamoto Prefecture–A “meals on wheels” truck that provided hot food to victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is now doing the same for people affected by the recent series of tremors here.

The food truck was brought to Takamori to feed quake victims in the neighboring villages of Minami-Aso and Nishihara, which were particularly hard-hit.

“I understand the food truck played an important role during the Great East Japan Earthquake,” said Takamori Mayor Daisei Kusamura. “Town residents have many relatives and friends living in the two villages with greater damage. The Aso region is unified as one, and during natural disasters, those who can help should do so.”

The idea for the food truck came from Shidax Corp., a company that operates karaoke parlors, as well as providing food services.

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the food truck provided meals for about three years and nine months from August 2011 in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

The truck was then donated to the Soma city government. It can be used to prepare 400 to 500 meals at a time.

After the first major Kumamoto earthquake struck on April 14, Soma Mayor Hidekiyo Tachiya volunteered to lend out the vehicle.

Kusamura took up the offer, in part because his town was not as heavily damaged as its two neighboring villages.

Three Soma city government workers drove the food truck from Fukushima to Kumamoto and arrived in Takamori on April 22.

Shidax will provide the ingredients and workers to prepare the meals.

The initial plan was to provide meals on April 24 at the evacuation center set up at Minami-Aso Junior High School, the village’s largest. However, some evacuees there were found to be infected with norovirus, so plans were changed at the last minute, and the food truck began operations in front of the Takamori town government building.

A 40-year-old woman and her three children were among those taking advantage of the service. Her home in Minami-Aso was severely damaged, so she pushed up plans and moved to Takamori where a new home was already being constructed for the family.

“I couldn’t handle household chores because I had my hands full just cleaning up the Minami-Aso home,” she said. “I am so happy to be able to eat a hot meal.”

The food truck is scheduled to park by the Yamanishi Elementary School in Nishihara for one week from April 25. It will provide the main dish for lunches, joining the Self-Defense Forces, who are already at the evacuation center providing rice.

The food truck is scheduled to head to Minami-Aso the following week.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604280007.html

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ice wall won’t stop all radioactive groundwater from seeping out – chief architect

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An ice wall being built at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant won’t completely prevent groundwater from flowing inside the facility and leaking out into the earth as radioactive water, according to a chief architect of the project.

Chief architect Yuichi Okamura told AP that gaps in the wall and rainfall will still allow for water to creep into the facility and reach the damaged nuclear reactors, which will in turn create as much as 50 tons of contaminated water each day.

“It’s not zero,” Okamura, a general manager at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said. “It’s a vicious cycle, like a cat-and-mouse game…we have come up against many unexpected problems.”

The wall, which will be 1.5km (1 mile) long, will consist of an underground pipe network stretching 30 meters (100 feet) below the surface, around the reactor and turbine buildings. The pipes are designed to transport refrigerant cooled to -30° Celsius (-22°F) to chill the nearby soil until it freezes.

The barrier is being turned on in sections for tests, and the entire freezing process will take eight months since it was first switched on in late March. The process requires an amount of electricity that would power 13,000 Japanese households.

Despite its current efforts, TEPCO – the operator of the Fukushima plant – has been fiercely criticized by those who say the groundwater issue should have been forecasted and dealt with sooner.

Shigeaki Tsunoyama, an honorary professor and former president of University of Aizu in Fukushima, said that building a concrete wall built into the hill near the plant after the disaster would have minimized the contaminated water issue.

Okamura acknowledged that the option of building a barrier at a higher elevation near the plant was considered in the days following the disaster, but defended the actions of TEPCO, stressing that the priority is on preventing contaminated water from escaping into the Pacific Ocean.

Others have criticized the US$312 million wall, which is being built by construction company Kajima Corp., as a waste of taxpayer money.

TEPCO has repeatedly faced criticism for its handling of the Fukushima crisis, which occurred after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to a meltdown of reactors at the facility in March 2011. The disaster was the worst nuclear accident to take place since Chernobyl in 1986.

The company has admitted that it did not act properly during the disaster, confessing in February that it announced the nuclear meltdowns far too late. It also stated in a 2012 report that it downplayed safety risks caused by the incident, out of fear that additional measures would lead to a shutdown of the plant and further fuel public anxiety and anti-nuclear campaigns.

Despite the ongoing problems encountered following the meltdowns, TEPCO has set 2020 as the goal for ending the plant’s water problem – an aim which critics say is far too optimistic.

However, the water problem is just part of the monumental challenges faced at the facility. Controlling and dismantling the plant is expected to take 40 years. Robots have been tasked with taking photos of the debris, as the radiation levels are too high for humans to complete the job.

https://www.rt.com/news/341231-fukushima-ice-wall-groundwater/

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima plant’s new ice wall not watertight

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In this Feb. 10, 2016, file photo, members of a media tour group wearing protective suits and masks walk together after they receive a briefing from Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees (in blue) in front of storage tanks for radioactive water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture

TOKYO (AP) — Coping with the vast amounts of ground water flowing into the broken Fukushima nuclear plant — which then becomes radiated and seeps back out — has become such a problem that Japan is building a 35 billion yen ($312 million) “ice wall” into the earth around it.
But even if the frozen barrier built with taxpayers’ money works as envisioned, it won’t completely block all water from reaching the damaged reactors because of gaps in the wall and rainfall, creating as much as 50 tons of contaminated water each day, said Yuichi Okamura, a chief architect of the massive project.

“It’s not zero,” Okamura said of the amount of water reaching the reactors in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week. He is a general manager at Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, which operates the facility that melted down after it was hit by a tsunami in 2011, prompting 150,000 people to evacuate.

Workers have rigged pipes that constantly spray water into the reactors to keep the nuclear debris inside from overheating, but coping with what to do with the resulting radiated water has been a major headache. So far, the company has stored the water in nearly 1,000 huge tanks around the plant, with more being built each week.

TEPCO resorted to devising the 1.5-kilometer (1-mile)-long ice wall around the facility after it became clear it had to do something drastic to stem the flow of groundwater into the facility’s basement and keep contaminated water from flowing back out.

“It’s a vicious cycle, like a cat-and-mouse game,” Okamura said of the water-related issues. “We have come up against many unexpected problems.”

The water woes are just part of the many obstacles involved in controlling and dismantling the Fukushima Dai-chi plant, a huge task that will take 40 years. No one has even seen the nuclear debris. Robots are being created to capture images of the debris. The radiation is so high no human being can do that job.

The ice wall, built by construction company Kajima Corp., is being turned on in sections for tests, and the entire freezing process will take eight months since it was first switched on in late March. The entire wall requires as much electricity as would power 13,000 Japanese households.

Edward Yarmak, president of Arctic Foundations, based in Anchorage, Alaska, which designs and installs ground freezing systems and made an ice wall for the Oak Ridge reactor site, says the solution should work at Fukushima.

“The refrigeration system has just been turned on, and it takes time to form the wall. First, the soil freezes concentrically around the pipes and when the frozen cylinders are large enough, they coalesce and form a continuous wall. After time, the wall increases in thickness,” he said in an email.

But critics say the problem of the groundwater reaching the reactors was a no-brainer that should have been projected.

Building a concrete wall into the hill near the plant right after the disaster would have minimized the contaminated water problem considerably, says Shigeaki Tsunoyama, honorary professor and former president of University of Aizu in Fukushima.

Even at the reduced amount of 50 tons a day, the contaminated water produced at Fukushima will equal what came out of Three Mile Island’s total in just eight months because of the prevalence of groundwater in Fukushima, he said.

Although TEPCO has set 2020 as the goal for ending the water problems, Tsunoyama believes that’s too optimistic.

“The groundwater coming up from below can never become zero,” he said in a telephone interview. “There is no perfect answer.”

Okamura acknowledged the option to build a barrier in the higher elevation near the plant was considered in the early days after the disaster. But he defended his company’s actions.

The priority was on preventing contaminated water from escaping into the Pacific Ocean, he said. Various walls were built along the coastline, and radiation monitors show leaks have tapered off over the last five years.

Opponents of nuclear power say the ice wall is a waste of taxpayers’ money and that it may not work.

“From the perspective of regular people, we have serious questions about this piece of research that’s awarded a construction giant,” says Kanna Mitsuta, director of ecology group Friends of the Earth Japan. “Our reaction is: Why an ice wall?”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160428/p2g/00m/0dm/096000c

 

 

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to dismantle top of exhaust stack at Fukushima plant due to fractures

Radiation measurements conducted at the base of the structure in 2013 stood at an estimated 25 sieverts per hour — an extremely high level that would kill nearly everyone exposed for that long.

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The fractured steel beam section of the exhaust stack pillar at the No. 1 and 2 reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will begin dismantling the upper section of the joint exhaust stack for the No. 1 and 2 reactors of its Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in fiscal 2018, company officials announced on April 25 during a meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

NRA officials had advised TEPCO to disassemble the structure due to fractures in its pillars that increased the risk of it collapsing.

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The joint exhaust stack for the No. 1 and 2 reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, whose upper section has been fractured.

Because the vent to reduce the pressure of the nuclear reactor containment vessels contaminated the stack in the 2011 nuclear disaster at the plant, and it is releasing extremely high radiation, the work will be undertaken from a distance utilizing a large crane. The work is expected to be completed in fiscal 2019.

Explaining the dismantling plans during the NRA meeting, TEPCO officials said that fractures or deformities had been detected in a total of eight different sections of the pillars’ steel joints, which are found at approximately the 66 meter-mark of the exhaust stack. The structure stands at a total height of around 120 meters.

The cracks are thought to have been caused by the hydrogen explosions that occurred during the disaster.

Radiation measurements conducted at the base of the structure in 2013 stood at an estimated 25 sieverts per hour — an extremely high level that would kill nearly everyone exposed for that long.

While TEPCO has determined that the structure “would not fall over even if an earthquake of the same intensity as that which struck during the Great East Japan Earthquake (an upper level 6 on the Japanese scale) were to occur again,” the utility decided to dismantle the top section as it would have repercussions on the reactor decommissioning work taking place in the area in the unlikely event of the structure’s collapse.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160425/p2a/00m/0na/024000c

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Mikhail Gorbachev: 30 years after Chernobyl, time to phase out nuclear power

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By Linda Pentz Gunter

Thirty years after Chernobyl former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev remains haunted by the world’s greatest ever industrial catastrophe, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. Now 85 and a committed environmentalist, he’s still campaigning to bring the failed nuclear experiment to an end before further disasters follow, and encouraging a clean, efficient and renewable global energy economy.

“From the moment I was informed – by telephone, at five o’clock in the morning on that fateful April 26, 1986 – that fire had broken out in Block Four of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, my life has never been the same.”

The author of these words, Mikhail Gorbachev, is 85 now. His health is failing.

He would like to travel the world and deliver this message. But more often than not, he cannot muster the energy. So in March, he sent an eloquent emissary in his stead, to address a gathering in London.

Gorbachev watched the Unit 4 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explode and melt down and the Soviet Union dissolve during his tenure as premier from 1985-1991.

Arguably it was the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe that turned him into an environmentalist. By 1992 he had founded Green Cross International, based in Geneva and from whence came his London emissary – Dr. Alexander Likhotal, the organization’s current president.

In a public and parliamentary meeting at Westminster’s Portcullis House entitled Fukushima 5 Years On, Chernobyl 30 Years On, Gorbachev’s words resonated in a room filled mainly with supporters of the organizers, Kick Nuclear, Japanese Against Nuclear UK and London Region CND.

One of the most tragic incidents of our time

In marking those twin, grim anniversaries, Gorbachev reminded us that both Fukushima and Chernobyl were “the result of the inability of scientists and engineers to foresee how seemingly small problems can snowball into disasters of almost unimaginable scale.” Chernobyl, Gorbachev said, “remains one of the most tragic incidents of our time.”

Indee it was the biggest nuclear disaster of our time, as Dr. Ian Fairlie reminded us two days later at the Cher30byl and Fuku5hima – Beyond Nuclear meetings in Manchester.

“The collective doses are higher for Chernobyl than Fukushima,” said Fairlie, who recently updated his 2006 TORCH report (The Other Report on Chernobyl), which was originally produced to debunk the grossly diluted findings in the official 2003-2005 Chernobyl Forum produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Radiological contamination around Chernobyl was 50 times higher than around Fukushima”, said Fairlie, who took pains to point out that this in no way diminishes the seriousness of the Fukushima disaster which occurred in a far more densely populated area than Chernobyl.

Fairlie continues to predict 40,000 fatal cancers as a result of Chernobyl, lower than some estimates but far higher than the ‘official’ IAEA numbers. He also estimates there have been 6,000 thyroid cases to date, with 16,000 more anticipated.

Deaths from PTSD and other disaster-related traumas should be counted

But Fairlie insists that these are not the only numbers that matter. Both Chernobyl and Fukushima, he says, will contribute to “tens of thousands of deaths from PTSD, stress and trauma” directly related to the nuclear tragedies – which should not be dismissed or discounted.

These troubling statistics, and the prospect of another Chernobyl or Fukushima, says Gorbachev, remind us that “the questions raised by Chernobyl and reiterated by Fukushima are more relevant today than ever before, and they are still unanswered.”

Nor, asserts Gorbachev, are the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters the only serious accidents we should be tallying: “Contrary to the statements of nuclear energy advocates that there were only two major accidents, if one refines an accident to include incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or significant loss in property damage, a very different picture emerges.”

That picture, said Gorbachev, should in fact include a total of 99 nuclear accidents “totaling more than $20.5 billion in damages” which occurred worldwide between 1953 and 2000 averaging “more than one incident and $300 million in damage every year.”

Cost-free conservation and renewables

Such a frightening, not to mention costly, pace can be reduced, Gorbachev said, by simple actions that lie in our individual and collective hands: “Supporting new, more efficient technologies has a huge role in reducing waste, but massive improvements can be achieved just by changing behaviors and choices which costs nothing to do.”

On the international political scale, Gorbachev urges that “it is imperative that members of the international community work together to develop and distribute clean and renewable sources of energy.” He favors a gradual, rather than rapid, phase-out of nuclear energy, but notes that nuclear power should not be viewed through a narrow lens:

“It is vital that any discussions about nuclear energy address the issue comprehensively and in all its complexity. Nuclear power systems are not just a security issue, an environmental issue, or an energy issue. They are all of those at once.”

Most important to Gorbachev is the lesson of transparency that he himself pioneered through “the process of Perestroika and the policy of Glasnost.” Governmental openness is taken for granted in many countries and is being fought for in many others.

“Today, people want to have a say in what direction their countries’ economies take. They want to know how it affects the air they breathe, the water they drink, the food they eat, and the future they leave to their children. Governments have a responsibility to respond to those concerns.”

US regulators claim a major nuclear disaster is too unlikely to be worth preparing for

In the nuclear sector such responsibility is invariably shirked if not suppressed. In highly nuclearized countries such as the US, France and Russia, access to information about nuclear safety is convoluted and opaque, or not available at all.

In the US we have frequently been told by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that a major nuclear disaster is effectively too unlikely to be worth preparing for. But these flawed Probabilistic Risk Assessments are designed to protect the nuclear industry from additional expense – not the public from another Chernobyl or Fukushima.

Such a policy is dangerously divorced from reality, as researchers recently found; reseachers that Gorbachev cited when he warned that “the chances are 50:50 that a major nuclear disaster will occur somewhere in the world before 2050.”

These are not good odds. Thirty years on, the octogenarian Gorbachev is still haunted by that dawn phone call when he instantly realized “something horrific was happening.”

And yet our governments persist in leading us toward the same abyss.

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987518/mikhail_gorbachev_30_years_after_chernobyl_time_to_phase_out_nuclear_power.html

 

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April 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Timothy Mousseau reports the decline of organisms in contaminated areas

Contrary to the mass media newsroom stories on the abundance of wildlife in Chernobyl exclusion zone, Dr. Timothy Mousseau reports the decline of organisms in contaminated areas. Result of the technological stupidity and ignorance of the mankind!

Watched the video:

https://vimeo.com/164193914

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | | Leave a comment

Blind mice and bird brains: the silent spring of Chernobyl and Fukushima

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Radioactivity warning sign on the hill at the east end of Chernobyl’s Red Forest, so called due to the characteristic hue of the pine trees killed by high levels of radiation after the disaster

Evolutionary biologist Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues have published 90 studies that prove beyond all doubt the deleterious genetic and developmental effects on wildlife of exposure to radiation from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. But all that peer-reviewed science has done little to dampen the ‘official’ perception of Chernobyl’s silent forests as a thriving nature reserve.

Dr Timothy Mousseau has published more than 90 peer reviewed articles in scientific journals, related to the effects of radiation in natural populations (and more than 200 publications in total).

He has spent 16 years looking at the effects on wildlife and the ecosystem of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

He and his colleagues have also spent the last five years studying how non-human biota is faring in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns in Japan.

But none of this work has received anything like the high profile publicity afforded the ‘findings’ in the 2006 Chernobyl Forum report which claimed the Chernobyl zone “has become a wildlife sanctuary”, and a subsequent article published in Current Biology in 2015 that said wildlife was “thriving” around Chernobyl.

“I suppose everyone loves a Cinderella story”, speculated Mousseau, an evolutionary biologist based at the University of South Carolina. “They want that happy ending.” But Mousseau felt sure the moment he read the Forum report, which, he noted, “contained few scientific citations”, that the findings “could not possibly be true.”

Ninety articles later, Mousseau and his research partners from around the world are able to demonstrate definitively and scientifically that non-human biota in both the Chernobyl zone and around Fukushima, are very far indeed from flourishing.

Far from flourishing around Chernobyl, birds and animals are fading

What Mousseau found was not unexpected given the levels of radiation in these areas and what is already known about the medical effects of such long-term exposures. Birds and rodents had a high frequency of tumors.

“Cancers are the first thing we think about”, Mousseau said. “We looked at birds and mice. In areas of higher radiation, the frequency of tumors is higher.” The research team has found mainly liver and bladder tumors in the voles and tumors on the head, body and wings of the birds studied, he said.

But Mousseau wanted to look beyond cancers, which is what everyone expects to find and what researchers had looked for, but only in humans. There were few wildlife studies, a fact Mousseau found surprising, given nature’s ability to act as a sentinel for likely impending human health impacts.

Mousseau and his fellow researchers found cataracts in birds and rodents. Male birds had a high rate of sterility. And the brains of birds were smaller. All of these are known outcomes from radiation exposure.

“Cataracts in birds is a problem”, Mousseau said. “A death sentence.”

Mental retardation has been found among children exposed to radiation in utero. Mousseau and colleagues discovered the same pattern in the birds they studied. “Birds already have small brains, so a smaller brain size is a definite disadvantage”, he said.

Almost 40% of male birds examined were sterile

There were also just fewer animals in general. “There were many fewer mammals, birds and insects in areas of higher radiation”, Mousseau said. And they had their hunch as to why.

He and his colleagues extracted sperm from the male birds they caught and were shocked to find that “up to 40% of male birds in the radiologically hottest areas were sterile.”

The birds’ sperm were either deformed or dead. None would be able to reproduce. The discovery, he said, was “not at all surprising. These are the levels of radiation known to influence reproduction. At the same time, there is no safe level of radiation below which there aren’t detectable effects.”

Fewer birds have already been observed in the contaminated areas around Fukushima, said Mousseau. “Although it’s too early to assess the long term impact on abundance and diversity around Fukushima, there are very few butterflies and many birds have declined in the more contaminated areas. If abundance is compressed, biodiversity will follow.”

Five years into the still on-going Fukushima disaster, Mousseau’s research continues to uncover “a dramatic reduction in the number of birds and numbers of species in areas of high radiation”, he said.

At least in that region, Japan could be headed toward a Silent Spring.

No doubt that Fukushima and Chernobyl are causing genetic damage

The consequences of radiation exposure, says Mousseau, “will have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of these animals, and the length of quality of life. It need not necessarily be cancers”, that cause these damages he said. “There is no doubt that the levels of radiation in Chernobyl and Fukushima generate genetic damage.”

A study by Mousseau et al. that did get some attention, most notably from the Smithsonian Institution, found disturbing changes in the decomposition of organic matter in the Chernobyl Zone.

Fungi and other microorganisms are decomposing at half the usual rate. Trees fall but rot unusually slowly. Leaf matter piles up without much decay, creating a tinder-box risk in the event of forest fires, several of which have occurred in the Zone.

“There is an accumulation of highly radioactive organic matter” in these areas, Mousseau said. All of this could be lofted into the air during a forest fire and redistributed as radiological contamination elsewhere, he points out.

Indeed, a map in an April 2006 edition of National Geographic Magazine, shows that this has already happened, expanding the Chernobyl Zone from its original 30km radius. High-altitude winds swept radioactive smoke and ash across a wider area, which scientists traced from soil levels of cesium 137, a long-lived isotope,” read the map’s caption. Major forest fires in the Chernobyl Zone in 2010 and 2015 have likely worsened the situation.

While the radiation spread by Chernobyl fell mostly on land, where it is easier to study the medical effects on humans and animals, the initial Fukushima radioactive plume blew mainly out to sea. And since 2011 when the accident began, further dumping of radioactive water into the Pacific has occurred.

A responsibility to protect the environment and wildlife, not just man

This has led to speculation – and some unscientific and alarmist rumors – that sea life in the Pacific is collapsing due to the Fukushima radiation.

“Catastrophic marine events started 40-50 years ago”, Mousseau points out. “Bird populations in the Pacific were in decline long before Fukushima.”

One important cause, says Mousseau, is “plastics in the environment that are consumed by marine animals which were in downward spirals long before the Fukushima accident.” Marine population decline has likely also been “compounded by climate change”, he says.

Indeed, Mousseau, who grew up on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, remembers the local harbor encrusted with star fish when he was a child. Recently, when he took his son there, he found none.

Fukushima cannot necessarily be blamed, as some would wish, but the compounding and potentially synergistic effect of radiation in the Pacific could still be taking its toll, Mousseau avowed.

“We don’t know how different environmental stresses interact with each other”, he said. “They could be synergistic and related. There is almost no research on this even in the Pacific off Fukushima – virtually nothing on the biological consequences in really contaminated areas.”

With “little real science” to rely on, Mousseau says, “we will never know” just how much marine damage the Fukushima disaster may do.

He finds the continued lack of other independent animal studies in radioactive zones frustrating. “We have a responsibility to protect the environment and wildlife, not just man”, he said. It may be expensive and difficult to conduct these kinds of studies, but, says Mousseau, “that is not an excuse.”

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987598/blind_mice_and_bird_brains_the_silent_spring_of_chernobyl_and_fukushima.html

 

 

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , , , , | Leave a comment

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

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White storks on road near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many parts of the Chernobyl region have low radioactivity levels and serve as refuges for plants and animals. Tim Mousseau, Author provided

The largest nuclear disaster in history occurred 30 years ago at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what was then the Soviet Union. The meltdown, explosions and nuclear fire that burned for 10 days injected enormous quantities of radioactivity into the atmosphere and contaminated vast areas of Europe and Eurasia. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that Chernobyl released 400 times more radioactivity into the atmosphere than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Radioactive cesium from Chernobyl can still be detected in some food products today. And in parts of central, eastern and northern Europe many animals, plants and mushrooms still contain so much radioactivity that they are unsafe for human consumption.

The first atomic bomb exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico more than 70 years ago. Since then, more than 2,000 atomic bombs have been tested, injecting radioactive materials into the atmosphere. And over 200 small and large accidents have occurred at nuclear facilities. But experts and advocacy groups are still fiercely debating the health and environmental consequences of radioactivity.

However, in the past decade population biologists have made considerable progress in documenting how radioactivity affects plants, animals and microbes. My colleagues and I have analyzed these impacts at Chernobyl, Fukushima and naturally radioactive regions of the planet.

Our studies provide new fundamental insights about consequences of chronic, multigenerational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation. Most importantly, we have found that individual organisms are injured by radiation in a variety of ways. The cumulative effects of these injuries result in lower population sizes and reduced biodiversity in high-radiation areas.

Broad impacts at Chernobyl

Radiation exposure has caused genetic damage and increased mutation rates in many organisms in the Chernobyl region. So far, we have found little convincing evidence that many organisms there are evolving to become more resistant to radiation.

Organisms’ evolutionary history may play a large role in determining how vulnerable they are to radiation. In our studies, species that have historically shown high mutation rates, such as the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), the icterine warbler (Hippolais icterina) and the Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), are among the most likely to show population declines in Chernobyl. Our hypothesis is that species differ in their ability to repair DNA, and this affects both DNA substitution rates and susceptibility to radiation from Chernobyl.

Much like human survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, birds and mammals at Chernobyl have cataracts in their eyes and smaller brains. These are direct consequences of exposure to ionizing radiation in air, water and food. Like some cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, many of the birds have malformed sperm. In the most radioactive areas, up to 40 percent of male birds are completely sterile, with no sperm or just a few dead sperm in their reproductive tracts during the breeding season.

Tumors, presumably cancerous, are obvious on some birds in high-radiation areas. So are developmental abnormalities in some plants and insects.

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Chernobyl reactor No. 4 building, encased in steel and concrete to limit radioactive contamination.

Given overwhelming evidence of genetic damage and injury to individuals, it is not surprising that populations of many organisms in highly contaminated areas have shrunk. In Chernobyl, all major groups of animals that we surveyed were less abundant in more radioactive areas. This includes birds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, grasshoppers, spiders and large and small mammals.

Not every species shows the same pattern of decline. Many species, including wolves, show no effects of radiation on their population density. A few species of birds appear to be more abundant in more radioactive areas. In both cases, higher numbers may reflect the fact that there are fewer competitors or predators for these species in highly radioactive areas.

Moreover, vast areas of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are not presently heavily contaminated, and appear to provide a refuge for many species. One report published in 2015 described game animals such as wild boar and elk as thriving in the Chernobyl ecosystem. But nearly all documented consequences of radiation in Chernobyl and Fukushima have found that individual organisms exposed to radiation suffer serious harm.

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Map of the Chernobyl region of Ukraine. Note the highly heterogeneous deposition patterns of radioactivity in the region. Areas of low radioactivity provide refuges for wildlife in the region.

There may be exceptions. For example, substances called antioxidants can defend against the damage to DNA, proteins and lipids caused by ionizing radiation. The levels of antioxidants that individuals have available in their bodies may play an important role in reducing the damage caused by radiation. There is evidence that some birds may have adapted to radiation by changing the way they use antioxidants in their bodies.

Parallels at Fukushima

Recently we have tested the validity of our Chernobyl studies by repeating them in Fukushima, Japan. The 2011 power loss and core meltdown at three nuclear reactors there released about one-tenth as much radioactive material as the Chernobyl disaster.

Overall, we have found similar patterns of declines in abundance and diversity of birds, although some species are more sensitive to radiation than others. We have also found declines in some insects, such as butterflies, which may reflect the accumulation of harmful mutations over multiple generations.

Our most recent studies at Fukushima have benefited from more sophisticated analyses of radiation doses received by animals. In our most recent paper, we teamed up with radioecologists to reconstruct the doses received by about 7,000 birds. The parallels we have found between Chernobyl and Fukushima provide strong evidence that radiation is the underlying cause of the effects we have observed in both locations.

Some members of the radiation regulatory community have been slow to acknowledge how nuclear accidents have harmed wildlife. For example, the U.N.-sponsored Chernobyl Forum instigated the notion that the accident has had a positive impact on living organisms in the exclusion zone because of the lack of human activities. A more recent report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation predicts minimal consequences for the biota animal and plant life of the Fukushima region.

Unfortunately these official assessments were largely based on predictions from theoretical models, not on direct empirical observations of the plants and animals living in these regions. Based on our research, and that of others, it is now known that animals living under the full range of stresses in nature are far more sensitive to the effects of radiation than previously believed. Although field studies sometimes lack the controlled settings needed for precise scientific experimentation, they make up for this with a more realistic description of natural processes.

Our emphasis on documenting radiation effects under “natural” conditions using wild organisms has provided many discoveries that will help us to prepare for the next nuclear accident or act of nuclear terrorism. This information is absolutely needed if we are to protect the environment not just for man, but also for the living organisms and ecosystem services that sustain all life on this planet.

There are currently more than 400 nuclear reactors in operation around the world, with 65 new ones under construction and another 165 on order or planned. All operating nuclear power plants are generating large quantities of nuclear waste that will need to be stored for thousands of years to come. Given this, and the probability of future accidents or nuclear terrorism, it is important that scientists learn as much as possible about the effects of these contaminants in the environment, both for remediation of the effects of future incidents and for evidenced-based risk assessment and energy policy development.

https://theconversation.com/at-chernobyl-and-fukushima-radioactivity-has-seriously-harmed-wildlife-57030

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

Thyroid Cancer in Fukushima Children: When the Language and Information Gaps Mislead

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With the year 2016 marking the passage of five years since the Fukushima nuclear accident, many writings—articles, editorials, academic papers—have been released reflecting on the first five years after the accident. Some of the writings address a psychosocial aspect of the accident such as “problems” caused by the stress of evacuation and the “unwarranted” fear of radiation, dismissing the potential health effects of radiation exposure, even ignoring the science. Others focus on the alleged withholding of medical data by authorities, speculating on the health effects of the Fukushima accident reaching even the United States.

Official data and information available in English are often limited and biased. Transparency and impartiality of such information, released by the government and international agencies, can be influenced by ulterior motives other than public health protection. However, without a fluency in Japanese and an ability to navigate through and comprehend the mass of official and unofficial information only available in Japanese, it may not become obvious that the transmission of accurate information is indeed hindered by the language barrier.

Furthermore, followers of numerous government committee meetings regarding the health effects of the Fukushima nuclear accidents—most of them live streamed on the Internet—have witnessed a systematic underestimation of health effects due to low-dose radiation exposure, with the claim of the outdated and unscientific 100 mSv threshold discourse. Despite concerns from local medical associations, potential health effects in prefectures adjacent to Fukushima Prefecture were dismissed, as if the radioactive plume was blocked by an invisible wall at prefectural borders. This is a far cry from the precautionary principle that should be in place for the protection of public health.

Consider the Japanese government’s haste to return evacuees to their still contaminated hometowns. This must be done so things appear “back to normal” for the purpose of recovery (mostly economic), even though it is clearly impossible to decontaminate a whole community in a natural setting of mountains and forests. Radiation doses of returned residents are to be monitored to keep an additional exposure dose below the regulatory limit. (But how good is it to know what your exposure dose is after the fact?)

In essence, the health effects by the Fukushima nuclear accident are being maximally minimized.

One of the most controversial topics about the health effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident is the thyroid cancer cases detected in Fukushima children as a result of the thyroid ultrasound screening. Most of the English writings on this topic accept, at face value, certain claims made by Fukushima Medical University as well as Japanese government officials in order to dismiss any connection between the Fukushima thyroid cancer cases and radiation.

Below, some items in the March 25, 2016 editorial in Chicago Tribune, “The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead,” are addressed to point out the misleading information that is widespread even amongst the academic circle.

1. There is no regional difference of thyroid cancer occurrence.

The March 25, 2016 Chicago Tribune editorial states:

“Children living closer to the accident in areas of greatest contamination had no greater rate of early cancer than those living farther away.”

This essentially refers to the lack of dose response, but it might depend on how the prefecture is divided into regions.

According to the official data by Fukushima Medical University (FMU) and Fukushima Prefecture in the final report of the first round screening [1], no regional difference was reported based on the comparison amongst 4 regions—one region including 13 municipalities with the highest dose and the evacuation zone, and three other geographically-divided regions. However, topography can vary even within the same geographical region, potentially affecting the flow of the radioactive plume. In other words, regional divisions like this might mask critical differences.

On the other hand, the biggest surprise in the official comparison was the Aizu region in western part of Fukushima Prefecture where the prevalence rate of 32.6 per 100,000 was very close to the prevalence rate in the highest dose area, 33.5 per 100,000.

Read more here . http://fukushimavoice-eng2.blogspot.fr/2016/04/thyroid-cancer-in-fukushima-children.html

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

China Exclusive: Fukushima water tests faster with new tech

QINGDAO, Shandong, April 22 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have begun using a ship-borne device that provides immediate analysis of radioactivity in water, using it to check for pollution from the Fukushima nuclear accident in the Yellow Sea.

Previously, they faced the time-consuming task of transferring water into containers and bringing it to labs to check the concentration of cesium, a radionuclide. Cesium has a very low absorption rate into water, so large quantities of water must be analyzed.

The team with the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) that developed the device installed it on a police patrol ship for a 10-day voyage to the Yellow Sea area earlier this month. It took just one person to run the tests.

The development team’s Shi Hongqi explained that the device can filter seven liters of water per minute. It analyzed 22 samples of 800 liters in the Yellow Sea, finding no signs of dangerous radioactivity.

No specific data from the tests was disclosed, but Shi said the statistics will be included in annual SOA monitoring reports at the end of the year.

The SOA now plans to install more of these monitoring devices on police patrol ships, to check waters potentially affected by Fukushima as well as elsewhere.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-04/22/c_135304059.htm

April 28, 2016 Posted by | China | , , | Leave a comment

Central bankers, financial facts, bringing an end to the nuclear power era?

Central Bankers Stimulate Nuclear End That Evaded Activists  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-25/central-bankers-stimulate-end-for-nuclear-that-evaded-activists  April 26, 2016 — 

  • Interest rates near record lows cut funds for decommissioning
  • Industry faces $1 trillion of liabilities from retiring plants
  • Central banks may accomplish what a generation of anti-nuclear activists have failed to do: Force operators to finally decommission almost 150 reactors now sitting in limbo across the globe.

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    The plants have been shut down, either because they’re too expensive to run or because of concerns about their safety or age. They can’t send electricity to the grid, and they’ll need the special funds saved over decades for formal decommissioning and clean-up of radioactive waste.

    In the past, many operators delayed decommissioning to allow growth in the clean-up funds. As the global economy weakened, however, and central banks kept interest rates low, the principal in some of those funds shrank. Last year in the U.S., seven of the 10 biggest funds lost money, falling to $43.7 billion, a drop of 1.1 percent. Now, with projected costs rising, industry advocates say owners are more likely to opt for full decommissioning before the funds decline further.

  • “One can’t rely as much on fund growth as in the past,” said Patrick Joseph O’Sullivan, a decommissioning specialist with the International Atomic Energy Agency. “It’s actually pushing utilities to think about bringing forward all this work because they’re not able to rely anymore on assuming high returns on investments.”
  • The change in emphasis comes 30 years after the April 26, 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl reactor spread radioactive fallout across Europe. That event, followed 25 years later by meltdown at the Fukushima plant in Japan, undercut nuclear as a power generator as low-cost options like natural gas and renewable energies became increasingly available.A 2005 report by the IAEA forecast costs to shut a 1,000 megawatt reactor would range from 150 million euros ($169 million) to 750 million euros. In the U.S., the country with the most decommissioning experience, actual costs have ranged from $307 million to $819 million, according to the Nuclear Energy Agency.

    Twenty-four U.S. decommissioning projects with site-specific estimates will require average clean-up funds of about $750 million per reactor, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported. Those costs jive with an estimate by Exelon Corp., which operates reactors at 15 U.S. nuclear power plants.

  • Exelon estimates it will take $1 billion to decommission its 2-unit plant in Zion, Illinois. It told shareholders in February that “sustained low market prices or depressed demand” could accelerate “asset retirement obligation expense related to future decommissioning activities.” Exelon’s clean-up fund fell 2 percent to $10.3 billion last year.Utilities operating in Germany including EON SE, RWE AG and Vattenfall SE have set aside funds deemed “acceptable” by regulators to cover 47.5 billion euros of estimated costs to decommission the country’s 17 reactors. Shares of those utilities jumped in February after reports that the German government would kick in an additional 17.7 billion euros to help store the radioactive waste.

    “Understanding of these costs is fundamental for the development of estimates based on realistic decommissioning plans,” the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency said last month in a 260-page report prepared for regulators and utilities. “More and more questions are raised over the adequacy of the necessary infrastructure and human resources, as well as the ability and mechanisms to finance the costs.”

    There are 438 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide and less than 4 percent of the power reactors built have been fully decommissioned. Fewer still have figured out how to store waste for the thousands of years it will remain dangerous.

  • “For us, the trend toward early dismantling has important advantages,” said the IAEA’s O’Sullivan. “It will contribute to better burden sharing between current and future generations.”About $200 billion will be spent worldwide in the next 20 years on decommissioning the world’s aging fleet of reactors, Thomas LaGuardia, an American nuclear engineer who is helping the IAEA to establish decommissioning guidelines, said in an interview. Nuclear operators that haven’t saved sufficient decommissioning funds may opt to put plants in safe storage until their accounts bulk up, he said.
  • Project management and environmental remediation companies in the U.S. and Europe could see their markets grow as utilities draw down decommissioning funds to shut aging reactors, Swedish radiation safety analyst Simon Carroll said in an interview.“One person’s cost is another man’s income,” he said.

    Sweden’s decommissioning fund fell 0.5 percent last year, Carroll said in an e-mail. The country reported on Tuesday that returns on it’s 59.3 billion krona ($7.3 billion) Nuclear Waste Fund also dropped 0.5 percent in 2015.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference | Leave a comment