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Fukushima: A Lurking Global Catastrophe?

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Year over year, ever since 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown grows worse and worse, an ugly testimonial to the inherent danger of generating electricity via nuclear fission, which produces isotopes, some of the most deadly poisonous elements on the face of the planet.

Fukushima Daiichi has been, and remains, one of the world’s largest experiments; i.e., what to do when all hell breaks lose aka The China Syndrome.

Scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the government estimates will take four decades and cost ¥8 trillion. It is not yet known if the fuel melted into or through the containment vessel’s concrete floor, and determining the fuel’s radioactivity and location is crucial to inventing the technology to remove the melted fuel.1

As it happens, “”inventing technology” is experimental stage stuff. Still, there are several knowledgeable sources that believe the corium, or melted core, will never be recovered. Then what?

According to a recent article, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi,” February 11, 2017 by Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: The Fukushima nuclear facility is a global threat on level of a major catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Abe administration dresses up Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, necessitating a big fat question: Who in their right mind would hold Olympics in the neighborhood of three out-of-control nuclear meltdowns that could get worse, worse, and still worse? After all, that’s the pattern over the past 5 years; it gets worse and worse. Dismally, nobody can possibly know how much worse by 2020. Not knowing is the main concern about holding Olympics in the backyard of a nuclear disaster zone, especially as nobody knows what’s happening. Nevertheless and resolutely, according to PM Abe and the IOC, the games go on.

Along the way, it’s taken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nearly six years to finally get an official reading of radiation levels of the meltdown but in only one unit. Analysis of Unit #2 shows radiation levels off-the-charts at 530 Sieverts, or enough to kill within minutes, illustrative of why it is likely impossible to decommission units 1, 2, and 3. No human can withstand that exposure and given enough time, frizzled robots are as dead as a door nail.

A short-term, whole-body dose of over 10 sieverts would cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks, according to the World Nuclear Association.1

Although Fukushima’s similar to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in some respects, where 1,000 square miles has been permanently sealed off, Fukushima’s different, as the Abe administration is already repopulating portions of Fukushima. If they don’t repopulate, how can the Olympics be held with food served from Fukushima and including events like baseball held in Fukushima Prefecture?

Without question, an old saw – what goes around comes around – rings true when it comes to radiation, and it should admonish (but it doesn’t phase ‘em) strident nuclear proponents, claiming Fukushima is an example of how safe nuclear power is “because there are so few, if any, deaths” (not true). As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For a real life example of how radiation devastates human bodies, consider this fact: 453,391 children with bodies ravaged, none born at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, today receive special healthcare because of Chernobyl radiation-related medical problems like cancer, digestive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, eye disease, blood disease, congenital malformation, and genetic abnormalities. Their parents were children in the Chernobyl zone in 1986.2

Making matters worse yet, Fukushima Daiichi sets smack dab in the middle of earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of Japan. In that regard, according to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University:

The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question.3

Accordingly, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area remains threatened for as long as Fukushima Daiichi is out of control, which could be for generations, not years. Not only that, Gee-Whiz, what if the big one hits during the Olympics? After all, earthquakes come unannounced. Regrettably, Japan has had 564 earthquakes the past 365 days. It’s an earthquake-ridden country. Japan sits at the boundary of 4 tectonic plates shot through with faults in zigzag patterns, very lively and of even more concern, the Nankai Trough, the candidate for the big one, sits nearly directly below Tokyo. On a geological time scale, it may be due for action anytime within the next couple of decades. Fukushima Prefecture’s not that far away.

Furthermore, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex is tenuous, at best:

All four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building falls on the molten core beneath.4

Complicating matters further, the nuclear site is located at the base of a mountain range. Almost daily, water flows from the mountain range beneath the nuclear plant, liquefying the ground, a sure-fire setup for cascading buildings when the next big one hits. For over five years now, radioactive water flowing out of the power plant into the Pacific carries isotopes like cesium 134 and cesium 137, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium americium and up to 100 more isotopes, none of which are healthy for marine or human life, quite the opposite, in fact, as those isotopes slowly cumulate, and similar to the Daleks of Doctor Who fame (BBC science fiction series, 1963-present) “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”

Isotopes bio-concentrate up the food chain from algae to crustaceans to small fish to big fish to bigger humans. Resultant cancer cells incubate anytime from two years to old age, leading to death. That’s what cancer does; it kills.

Still, the fact remains nobody really knows for sure how directly Fukushima Daiichi radiation affects marine life, but how could it be anything other than bad?  After all, it’s a recognized fact that radiation cumulates over time; it’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless as it cumulates in the body, whether in fish or further up the food chain in humans. It travels!

An example is Cesium 137, one of the most poisonous elements on the planet. One gram of Cesium 137 the size of a dime will poison one square mile of land for hundreds of years. That’s what’s at stake at the world’s most rickety nuclear plant, and nobody can do anything about it. In fact, nobody knows what to do. They really don’t.

When faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, why not bring on the Olympics? That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as the world community “all is well.” But, is it? Honestly….

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown presents a special problem for the world community. Who knows what to believe after PM Abe lied to the IOC to get the Olympics; see the following headline from Reuters News:

Abe’s Fukushima ‘Under Control’ Pledge to Secure Olympics Was a Lie: Former PM,” Reuters, September 7, 2016.

Abe gave the assurances about safety at the Fukushima plant in his September 2013 speech to the International Olympic Committee to allay concerns about awarding the Games to Tokyo. The comment met with considerable criticism at the time… Mr. Abe’s ‘under control remark, that was a lie,’ Koizumi (former PM) now 74 and his unruly mane of hair turned white, told a news conference where he repeated his opposition to nuclear power.

As such, a very big conundrum precedes the 2020 games: How can the world community, as well as Olympians, believe anything the Abe administration says about the safety and integrity of Fukushima?

Still, the world embraces nuclear power more so than ever before as it continues to expand and grow. Sixty reactors are currently under construction in fifteen countries. In all, 160 power reactors are in the planning stage and 300 more have been proposed. Pro-Nuke-Heads claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie.

Here’s one of several independent testimonials on deaths because of Fukushima Daiichi radiation exposure (many, many, many more testimonials are highlighted in prior articles, including USS Ronald Reagan sailors on humanitarian rescue missions at the time):

It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it.5

Emi Urabe, “Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots”, The Japan Times, February 17, 2017.

  1. Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster”, USA Today, April 17, 2016).
  2. Shuzo Takemoto, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi”, February 11, 2017.
  3. Helen Caldicott: “The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Continues Unabated”, Independent Australia, February 13, 2017.
  4. Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), “Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor”, RT News, April 21, 2014.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/02/fukushima-a-lurking-global-catastrophe/

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February 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Government to cut housing assistance to some Fukushima evacuees

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It’s been nearly six years since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now, the local government is preparing to slash housing assistance for those who fled.
It would require them to choose between returning to places affected by radiation or, to bear the financial burden of remaining in their adopted places of refuge.

The huge earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear power plant in Fukushima causing tens of thousands of people to evacuate from their homes

According to Fukushima government, at its peak, about 165,000 people were made to evacuate from the contaminated areas.

Some decided to return to their hometown after evacuation orders were lifted. But decontamination and renovation work took time and money

Some decided to leave their homes permanently, finding jobs and life elsewhere.

Over 81000 people are still displaced.

However, the number is said to be much larger, including those that voluntarily evacuated from areas not designated as mandatory evacuation zones, from fears of high levels of radiation in their homes.

The Fukushima local government is preparing to slash unconditional housing assistance for these voluntary evacuees on March 31st.

Many have to choose either to return to areas where they still fear of radiation, or bear the financial burden to remain at their place of refuge

It said that over 32,000 people have to make a choice to self-support themselves or return to Fukushima. where recovery work is slow.

Evacuees said the government is trying to end the Fukushima issues before the Tokyo Olympics, to show the world that “Fukushima is under control.”

It is expected that many will choose to return to Fukushima. But majority say they will not feel safe and under constant fear of lingering radiation. Some even expressed their concerns of possible radiation spills during the decontamination process.

It might be decades until the residents in Fukushima feel truly at ease.

http://america.cgtn.com/2017/02/18/government-to-cut-housing-assistance-to-some-fukushima-evacuees

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Robot investigation shows the situation within the Fukushima reactor is much worse than expected

radiation-emanatingRadiation levels at Fukushima reactor puzzle nuclear experts, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, February 19, 2017   A robot was expected to solidify ways to clean up the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, but its short-lived mission raised puzzling questions that could derail existing decommissioning plans.

The robot, Sasori, was abandoned in the melted-down reactor after it became stuck in deposits and other debris that are believed to have interfered with its drive system.

But it did take radiation measurements that indicate Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant, was too optimistic about the state and location of the melted fuel within the reactor. The melted fuel, in fact, may be spread out all over the reactor’s containment vessel.

Scientists had believed the melted nuclear fuel fell through the reactor’s pressure vessel and landed on metal grating and the floor of the containment vessel.

The results of Sasori’s investigation, coupled with previous data taken from possible images of the melted fuel, show the situation within the reactor is much worse than expected. And a fresh investigation into the reactor is now nowhere in sight.

A remote-controlled video camera inserted into the reactor on Jan. 30 took what are believed to be the first images of melted fuel at the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Based on the images, TEPCO estimated 530 sieverts per hour at a point almost halfway between the metal grating directly beneath the pressure vessel and the wall of the containment vessel. Black lumps on the grating are believed to be melted fuel.

A different robot sent in on Feb. 9 to take pictures and prepare for Sasori’s mission estimated 650 sieverts per hour near the same spot.

Both 530 and 650 sieverts per hour can kill a person within a minute.

Sasori, equipped with a dosimeter and two cameras, on Feb. 16 recorded a reading of 210 sieverts per hour near the same location, the highest figure measured with instruments in the aftermath of the disaster.

Sasori was supposed to travel along a rail connecting the outer wall of the containment vessel with the metal grating to measure radiation doses and shoot pictures inside, essential parts of work toward decommissioning the reactor.

After traveling only 2 meters, the robot became stuck before it could reach the metal grating.

TEPCO at a news conference repeatedly said that Sasori’s investigation was not a “failure” but had produced “meaningful” results.

However, an official close to TEPCO said, “I had great expectations for Sasori, so I was shocked by how it turned out.”……(This article was compiled from reports by Kohei Tomida, Masanobu Higashiyama and Takashi Sugimoto) http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702190042.html

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Growing concern over Trump’s mental condition

Their letter prompted another, from Dr Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical College, who happens to be the expert psychiatrist who defined narcissistic personality disorder.

He rebuked the authors, arguing that to claim that Trump is mentally ill is an insult to those who truly are. But he also had this to say – Trump may be a “world-class narcissist”.

But the debate has taken off.  Another psychologist weighed in last month, telling US News and World Report that Trump displays a malignant narcissism, characterised by grandiosity, sadism and anti-social behaviour.

trump-how-badAmericans take an anxious journey to the centre of Donald Trump’s mind, The Age,Paul McGeough, 20 Feb 17  Washington: Flip references by reporters – mine included – to Donald Trump not taking his meds have been criticised as offensive to the mentally ill. But Trump’s unhinged behaviour, as in his erratic press conference on Thursday, ensures that the President’s mental state is the stuff of debate.

Rick Wilson, a Republican Party strategist and Trump critic, saw the Thursday press conference as a turning point – instead of a divide between left and right, the split he sees in America is between those who saw the spectacle as a “success” and those who are “terrified” for the future of the country.

“[His press conference] could have been evidence in a mental competency hearing,” he told The Washington Post. “It was really pretty disturbing and terrifying to watch this guy and think: ‘What happens when the stakes are higher?’”

On Saturday, The New York Times‘ conservative columnist David Brooks wrote in similar language about the press conference: “President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.”

It’s not just the commentariat in the “fake press”, on which Trump has upped the ante, denouncing them as “the enemy of the American people”. Mental health professionals are weighing in.

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times last week, 35 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers acknowledged they were in breach of professional rules against evaluating public figures, but to remain silent, they wrote, denied journalists and members of Congress the value of their expertise at this critical time.

Here’s their diagnosis: “Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behaviour suggest a profound inability to empathise. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them (journalists, scientists).

“In a powerful leader, these attacks are likely to increase, as his personal myth of greatness appears to be confirmed. We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.”

Their letter prompted another, from Dr Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical College, who happens to be the expert psychiatrist who defined narcissistic personality disorder.

He rebuked the authors, arguing that to claim that Trump is mentally ill is an insult to those who truly are. But he also had this to say – Trump may be a “world-class narcissist”.

But the debate has taken off.  Another psychologist weighed in last month, telling US News and World Report that Trump displays a malignant narcissism, characterised by grandiosity, sadism and anti-social behaviour.

Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio observes: “He lives inside his head, where he runs the same continuous loop of conflict with people he turns into enemies for the purposes of his psychodrama.”

The press conference was Trump unleashed. As though he couldn’t help himself, he seized the lectern at the end of a first chaotic month that had prompted this assessment from General Tony Thomas, head of the military’s Special Operations Command: “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon, because we’re a nation at war.”

In casting aside the usual filters and talking heads such as Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, Trump signalled an attempted reset. After weeks of leaks, he is determined to rewrite the agenda – he was doing it again at a Boeing factory in South Carolina on Friday and at a campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday.

Instead of being confronted by pesky, fake journalists, Trump was hungry for the adoring fans who turned out to both events, described by presidential historian Timothy Naftali as “an attempt to inject some adrenaline into his administration and shake a perception of loserdom“.

At the Florida bash, Trump basked in the glow of a 9000-strong crowd, forgetting his plummeting polls as he re-ran a string of well-worn campaign promises and whacked the media again before reaching his crescendo.

After serial exaggerations and misrepresentations of all that his administration has achieved, or not, he declared: “It’s a new day in America – this will be change for the ages, change like never before.”

But back in the real world, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was probably earning a presidential rebuke by acknowledging Trump’s frustration with media reporting, as she explained the Florida gig was likely to be the first to put Trump out front more often.

“There’s definitely frustration that the media makes up stories and reports things that aren’t true,” she told the Post. The Florida rally, she said, was an attempt “for the President to speak directly to the American people and not have his message filtered through a biased media.”………

As he basked in the limelight at Boeing on Friday, Associated Press dropped an exclusive – an internal administration document outlining a plan for the National Guard to be drafted to round up undocumented migrants. Despite its conformity with all that Trump said in the election campaign, the White House claimed it had been discarded.

Also on Friday, Trump hit a new low in opinion polls – confirming his standing as the least popular new president in American history, Gallup found that just 38 per cent of Americans approve his performance, against 56 per cent who disapprove.

Amidst a constant sense of crisis, two emerging patterns work against Trump – the Republican establishment figures who might save his administration are increasingly reluctant to work for him and he is being hemmed in by the checks and balances of the American democratic process.

Also working against him is the toxic brew he has concocted in the White House – factions divided by ideology and new hires defeated by their youth and inexperience.

After the debacle of appointing a national security adviser who proved incapable of surviving in the job for a month, Trump is desperately seeking for a replacement…….

Trump and those around him are paranoid about loyalty. In the last week, the State Department sacked six senior career staffers who were deemed suspect. And faction wars continue with gusto…….. http://www.theage.com.au/world/americans-take-an-anxious-journey-to-the-centre-of-donald-trumps-mind-20170219-gugc6j.html

February 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Toshiba pulls out: it’s the end for Texas nuclear project

nuclear-dominoesFlag-USAToshiba pulling plug on US nuclear reactor plan. Write-downs, delays spell end to Texas project. Nikkei Asina Review,  February 20, 2017 TOKYO –– Toshiba appears set to withdraw from a plan to build two nuclear reactors at a U.S. power plant amid sizable write-downs on American nuclear operations and lengthy construction delays.

The Japanese manufacturer had been contracted to build the third and fourth reactors for U.S. utility NRG Energy’s South Texas Project, taking Toshiba’s advanced boiling water reactors abroad for the first time. Toshiba looks to pull out of the project, and will decide later what to do with its stake in the joint venture that serves as the developer.

  The reactors were to debut as early as 2016. But delays on the project have brought heavy costs for Toshiba, including write-downs totaling 72 billion yen ($638 million at current rates) logged in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014. Ground has not been broken on the units, while work such as civil engineering lies outside Toshiba’s purview. Further losses are unlikely, according to a source involved with the project……http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Toshiba-pulling-plug-on-US-nuclear-reactor-plan

February 20, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 1 Comment

The real problem of the nuclear industry is simply that it’s unaffordable

scrutiny-on-costsThe Real Problem with Nuclear Power, Fortune Justin Worland Feb 17, 2017 “……Today, the biggest downside to building new nuclear power plants in many developed countries is sheer cost. Data from the Energy Information Administration shows that building a new plant costs more than $5,000 per kilowatt of capacity compared to around $2,100 for the primary type of solar power plants and less than $1,000 for the most common type of natural gas plant. (These figures vary by region within the U.S.). A nuclear power plant also requires six years of lead time while a solar plant can operate in as little as two years.

Nuclear power plants do provide some advantages over other sources, namely that it provides consistent baseload energy that provides a consistent power source at any time of day or night. But because of the costs the debate over nuclear has shifted from whether to keep old nuclear power plants operating to whether to build new ones. http://fortune.com/2017/02/16/toshiba-nuclear-power-plants/

February 20, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Court battle over pro nuclear law – ‘Future Energy Jobs’

legal actionFlag-USANuclear power struggle winds up in court, Herald and Review, TONY REID H&R Staff Writer, 19 Feb 17    CLINTON – Smoldering resentment over the new law that saved Clinton Power Station – and its 700 jobs – has now flared into a federal lawsuit.

Filed on Valentine’s Day, the suit expresses no love for the Future Energy Jobs law and asked a federal judge to block the legislation, which is due to take effect in June.

The law guarantees the survival of the Clinton nuclear power station and another nuclear plant in Quad-Cities for 10 years by offering taxpayer subsidies worth up to $235 million a year to top up the price paid for the stations’ electricity.

 Exelon Corp., the owner of both stations, said they were both losing money and faced closure without cash help. It also claimed the subsidies would help even the playing field with other nongreenhouse gas producing energy sources like wind power, which have enjoyed substantial tax breaks.

The lawsuit was filed by several rival power producers, including Dynegy Inc., which once owned the former Illinois Power Co. in Decatur and which runs natural gas and coal-fueled power stations, and a trade group, the Electric Power Supply Association.

They allege the new law is fundamentally unfair and skews the wholesale power marketplace at the expense of power customers because rivals without the advantage of subsidies won’t be able to compete, causing prices to, eventually, rise.

The lawsuit also claims Illinois lawmakers acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally by interfering in a regional wholesale power market that is under the ultimate control of a federal agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

Running to some 40 pages, the lawsuit spells out the price advantage the two Exelon nuclear stations will enjoy for their power, priced in blocks called megawatt hours, or MWhs. Current prices now, set at regional power auctions, run at $18 and $25 per Mwh for Quad-Cities and Clinton respectively, but will be topped up by taxpayer payments worth another $16.50 per Mwh under the new law…….

And it isn’t just manufacturers that are objecting. The Illinois Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, a consumer organization that often finds itself opposing big companies, is standing with them in opposition to the Future Energy Jobs legislation.

While the organization likes some of the provisions encouraging renewable energy, it has a big problem with effectively bailing out two nuclear power plants.

“We fundamentally don’t agree with it, because Illinois ratepayers have already paid for these nuclear plants multiple times over,” Illinois PIRG director Abe Scarr said.

“Every dollar that we spend on propping up these old nuclear plants is an opportunity lost, and it’s a dollar we’re not spending on the transition to truly clean renewable energy.

“Putting our thumb on the scale for nuclear power depresses the price for the wholesale power market and makes it harder for renewables and other power providers to compete in that market.” http://herald-review.com/business/energy/nuclear-power-struggle-winds-up-in-court/article_389fc122-970a-5910-b39a-b4bf15f8a207.html

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

A financially viable nuclear power station looks increasingly like a mirage

burial NUCLEAR INDUSTRYflag-UKDash for gas — and move on from nuclear power folly   https://www.ft.com/content/2a2d94a8-f461-11e6-95ee-f14e55513608 If an industry cannot finance itself after decades, it’s time to try another industry
Inside London FEBRUARY 17, 2017 by: Neil Collins Remember “Nuclear power? No thanks”? That sunny, smiling sticker which was almost standard on the back of every Citroen Deux-Chevaux? How we smiled at such naivety. Nuclear power was the future! The fume-belching little 2CV may have gone the way of the Trabant but, after another grim week for the nuclear industry, it seems those stickers may have been right after all.

A financially viable nuclear power station looks increasingly like a mirage. Even the eye-watering guarantee from the UK taxpayer for Hinkley Point C is not enough to cover the risk that building it will bankrupt EDF. Toshiba’s woes have claimed the scalp of its chairman. Hitachi is signalling that its project in Anglesey needs government backing to proceed. It’s telling that after 60 years of mostly successful operation, commercial viability still eludes the nuclear power industry. Perhaps we have been lucky to have avoided serious accidents and the decommissioning costs were hugely underestimated — but the combination of ever-rising safety demands and cheap hydrocarbons has destroyed its economics. Appealing for fresh state aid looks like a desperate last throw of the nuclear dice. If an industry cannot finance its own projects after half a century of development, it may be time to try another industry.
Fortunately, other industries are available. The cheapest and quickest fix is to build gas-fired power stations, to tap into worldwide abundance and increasingly diverse supply, even before domestic fracking gets going in the UK. Unfortunately, the artificial barriers imposed by today’s energy policy are preventing this subsidy-free solution. For the longer term, the price of solar energy continues to fall and smart meters that really are smart will start managing the demand side of the equation. Even offshore wind looks a better bet than nuclear as battery technology evolves. 

February 20, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pressure on Hanford doctor to disregard worker safety

see-no-evilFlag-USAFormer Hanford doctor ‘under duress’ to disregard worker safety http://www.king5.com/news/local/hanford/former-hanford-doctor-under-duress-to-disregard-worker-safety/405358477  Susannah Frame, KING  February 09, 2017          In 30 years of medical practice, Dr. Loren Lewis of Spokane said he’s never seen tactics like those used at Hanford.

Instead of putting worker safety as priority number one at the former nuclear weapons complex, the occupational medicine expert said he felt “forced and under duress to…manipulate a medical policy” he wasn’t comfortable with.

From 2004 to 2006, Lewis was the top medical professional at the site, the Site Occupational Medical Director (SOMD). As per federal regulation, he was legally and ethically responsible for overseeing medical policy and programs for the 11,000 workers at the site. As SOMD, he was an employee of a federal government contractor, AdvanceMed Hanford.

Lewis said his supervisors at AdvanceMed Hanford and officials they reported to at the U.S. Department of Energy pressured him to abandon his adherence to the federal regulations and loosen medical policy as it related to keeping workers safe from a highly toxic metal at the site called beryllium.

“That was really a violation of their own regulations. They should have been aware that (the regulation) gives strict authority to the SOMD (to direct medical policy),” said Lewis. “To me, it is unthinkable that a medical professional would be forced to do things that are politically or have some other motivation besides the health of the person. That’s what we are trained to do and what the Hippocratic oath is about – the health of the person.”

In the mid-2000s, the subject of keeping workers safe from beryllium was a hot topic. The metal was used at Hanford in non-sparking tools and processes used to produce plutonium. It is one of the most hazardous metals on the planet, and some workers become allergic to it or contract a life-threatening disease called Chronic Beryllium Disease. The condition is an incurable lung disease that can cause a person’s health to decline over several years. It can affect not only a person’s lungs, but can also damage a person’s heart, nervous system, and mental health, as well as liver and kidney function.

After a worker would be diagnosed with an allergic reaction to beryllium, a condition called beryllium sensitivity, experts say best practice is to keep them away from beryllium to the greatest extent possible.

“It takes a seemingly trivial amount of beryllium to cause this disease,” said Dr. Lee Newman of the University of Colorado Denver. “So if you’re not being as strict as possible in controlling the exposures, it’s, unfortunately, easy for someone to be overexposed.”

Newman is considered the world’s leading expert on beryllium.

“There is no known safe level for someone who is sensitized,” said Newman.

But Lewis said his supervisors and a top U.S. Department of Energy official were pressuring him to come up with a safe level of beryllium and to put that measurement in Hanford medical policy for those who had become sensitized.

Hundreds of internal emails obtained by KING 5 show the bitter dispute over this issue between Lewis and his superiors.

“We received specific guidance from (U.S. Department of Energy administrator) Doug Shoop to reword the policy,” wrote Lewis’ boss on Oct. 8, 2006. “He (Shoop) specifically requested that the wording in the medical restriction document contain a reference to the maximum exposure limit…(but) you began questioning this direction…Such behavior is inexcusable.”

Lewis pushed back in dozens of emails.

“I cannot stress enough that it is very inappropriate for…DOE to exert duress and compulsion on the way that we practice medicine, on medical decision making,” wrote Lewis on Oct. 4, 2006.

“I cannot provide a ‘safe level’ of exposure because there is no medical support of such,” wrote Lewis. “(I’m being) forced and under duress to manipulate a medical policy (by people who do not have) a license to practice medicine in the State of Washington. (Going along) would put Hanford workers at increased risk.”

Shoop said he could barely remember Lewis and that he “didn’t believe” he had put pressure on the SOMD.

“My interest was the health of the worker and keeping them safe and not letting them go back into a situation where they could be harmed further,” said Lewis.

Lewis said making deadlines and getting the work done seemed to eclipse worker safety at the site.

“It was in the best interest of the employer and their profitability and getting people to do the work regardless of what the health consequences were,” said Lewis.

Lewis refused to cave under pressure. Nineteen days after he put his foot down once and for all, he was fired. “My supervisor gave me a note and said the Department of Energy had lost confidence in my leadership and fired me on the spot,” said Lewis.

Lewis said on behalf of the sick and forgotten at Hanford, the fight, the stress, the loss of a job was all worth it.

“It was very difficult to stand up against that,” Lewis said. “There was a lot of force…I was proud of myself that I was willing to stand my ground and stick up for my principals and the ethics I felt were important, and if I did it again, I would do the same thing.”

Lewis now works for the U.S. Department of Labor, helping sick nuclear workers.

During that time in the mid-2000s, he tried to get the word out about what was going on. He filed complaints with the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. Teams came out and investigated, but nothing ever came of it.

That’s why he’s speaking out now, to bring attention to what he thinks is most likely still going on at Hanford.

“The workers are not safe and protected by the system,” said Newman.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear weapons made workers very ill

body-radThe perils of Pantex: Hundreds of workers sickened at Texas nuclear weapons plant http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article49500030.html

Panhandle nuclear weapons assembly plant a hazardous workplace

Workers used to joke that they made soap at the facility

More than 1,300 workers and families have been awarded compensation since 2000

Bob Ruzich, a 31-year worker at the nuclear assembly plant here, rarely got sick. He had to cash out his sick hours every year because he was so healthy.

But in a matter of months, the Pantex Plant worker became so fragile that he had to be rushed by helicopter to the hospital. Ruzich’s 18-year-old son watched from the front yard of their Panhandle home as his father’s motionless body was lifted into the air, said his wife, Barbara Ruzich.

“You do what you have to do,” Barbara Ruzich said. “You don’t sit back and cry.”

Years ago, it was popular for plant workers to tell spouses and other loved ones that they made soap at the nuclear weapons assembly facility on a 16,000-acre parcel. But Pantex now conjures up a different image, as hundreds have suddenly fallen ill or died at the plant, a vital component in the nation’s nuclear weapons program since the 1950s.

The federal government has made concessions to a growing number of workers, like Ruzich, whose Pantex jobs made them sick. Many hundreds have been provided with medical coverage and lump sum payments, under the energy employees’ compensation program, according to records provided to the Star-Telegram by the Labor Department.

Bob Ruzich, now 64, said he never thought the chemicals in the maintenance warehouse and the toxins on the production line would give him throat and tongue cancer.

“I didn’t think much about it, but I do now believe that’s what caused my cancer,’’ said Ruzich, who worked dismantling warheads and in the maintenance department since 1982.

Several years ago, less than 1 in 5 claims were decided in favor of workers and their families, according to records provided to the Star-Telegram. Now, more than half are typically handed compensation and medical care because of a prevalence of scientific evidence that their illness was caused by an exposure to plant hazards, records say.

All told, $171 million in compensation and medical bills has been disbursed to more than 1,300 workers and families since the energy employees’ compensation program began in 2000, the program’s numbers say.

“The number of claimaints or sick workers was beyond the expectations of those who originally created the program,” said Sarah Ray, a former Pantex critical safety systems training specialist, who has filed thousands of claims on behalf of Pantex workers and their families since the program started.

“Overall, there just has not been a real grasp of the true situations faced by nuclear weapons workers,” said Ray, who believes that thousands more aren’t aware that they are sick because they have not developed symptoms. “They are different than workers who insert a bolt in a car door.”

Until they hear about the deteriorating health of co-workers and friends, most people seldom realize the harm that has been done, said Clarence Rashada, an instrument technician at the plant for 21 years.

And then it’s too late, Rashada said.

“People are just coming to grips with this — that the plant made them sick — and they are angry,” he said. “The problem that you have was, for example, the secrecy that we had for so many years.”

 ‘Heartbreaking’

If anyone understands the devastation of Pantex workers and their families, it’s David Pompa, now a Pantex safety and industrial hygiene officer who worked as a production line technician years ago.

Since 2000, Pompa has documented each sick case in a running log that includes more than several hundred employees. Over the years, Pompa has gone with the sick to see doctors, to meet with supervisors and staff members and to special hearings with government claims examiners, employees said.

“These are my friends,’’ Pompa said. “I’ve always been concerned with the health of the workers.”

In the last 1  1/2 years, five current or former employees have died suddenly, Pompa said. When one worker, in his early 60s, was diagnosed with lung cancer early this year, his organs were covered in granulomas, a tissue inflammation that occurs when the body is trying to fight off infection.

“Another worker called me in November that she had some health issues and, in March, she’s gone,” Pompa said. “… Another worker went from the doctor’s office to the hospital to hospice. It was that quick.”

The sick include physical education trainers, auditors, instrument technicians and firefighters, Pompa said. They are production technicians, laboratory workers and janitors. They are security guards and warehouse clerks, Pompa said.

“What I hear is heartbreaking,” Pompa said. “It’s plantwide.”

Ray, the former Pantex training specialist, said she now hears of more families burying their dead.

“Workers at Pantex are walking time bombs,’’ Ray said. “They have this false bravado — especially the guys. Then all of a sudden, they are really, really sick and they learn they are deathly ill from some lung problem. Then they’ve got something else and they die, just because they’re not paying attention to the minor signs.”

Ray’s own husband, a former Pantex engineer, died within three months of a lung cancer diagnosis. He was 54, Ray said.

“He went from being a very active, very healthy man and then he was gone,” Ray said.

Lisa Trevino, a 22-year Pantex employee, now works with Pompa in the safety and industrial hygiene department, which issues to workers safety-protective gear, such as safety glasses, shoes, respirators, radiation dosimeters and other air sampling devices.

“I hear all the people calling David telling him that they are sick, that they have cancer, the respiratory problems, the beryllium,” Trevino said. “It makes me sick just hearing about it.”

Family frustrations

The government had agreed to compensate Eddie Gray, a security guard at the Pantex Plant, for indirectly causing the condition that ultimately led to his death.

But on the July 2014 morning that her 60-year-old husband died, Linda Gray was told that his promised federal benefits would stop.

“I cannot fault Eddie for working there,” Linda Gray said. “It provided for us a very good living, but I hate that the industry was ever established.”

Rachel P. Leiton, director of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program under the Labor Department, says the agency over the years has implemented shortcuts to ease access to the program for families.

‘We try to the best we can to compensate them based on our statutory authority that we’re given. … It’s a nonadversarial system; the money is there to provide benefits to these employees. … We do whatever we can to try to assist them,” Leiton said.

But families like the Grays often become frustrated when trying to tap claims. Many are elderly and have a work-related impairment, such as heart disease or diabetes. Many feel that the government makes the process more difficult for them so as to deter claims.

“Have you ever used any kind of health insurance? You get a whole sense from the insurance companies that they don’t want to pay out the money in the hopes you go away. Here, it is in spades,” said Dr. Arthur Frank, professor of environmental and occupational health in the public health department at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

“The workers are given an extraordinarily hard time,” said Frank, who was at Pantex in the early 2000s to help identify workers who had been exposed to toxins.

Bob Ruzich waited more than three years for a claim to be decided in his favor and was initially denied while in the heat of battle with cancer. Linda Gray submitted her husband’s death certificate last October to try to get a final payment of benefits. It was included in a 15-page fax.

“It will be January before I can get to you,” she was told by the new case examiner assigned to her claim.

The last compensation check arrived more than a year after Eddie Gray’s death.

‘We’re going to help’

When the program began 15 years ago, Ray said, the Labor Department made promises: “We’re going to help you. It’s going to be easy.”

Ray, who has filed thousands of claims on behalf of Pantex workers and their families, said it can take years for claimants to receive money or get healthcare assistance. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in instructional technology.

She’s seen widespread examples of payouts that occur only after a worker dies. She handled the claim of one widow who just this year received a payout on a claim that her husband filed in 2005. The husband died of cancer in 2011.

“Many claimants have commented that they think the claims are drug out so that the claimants die,” Ray said. “It truly is less costly to pay a survivor than it is to pay compensation and provide long-term healthcare for a living worker.”

Half of all claims are settled on behalf of survivors, including workers’ spouses, children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents, Leiton indicated.

Leiton’s office has made some changes in response to similar complaints of delays.

For example, once it secures a statement from a doctor, the Labor Department can grant waivers so that fiscal officers can retrieve bank information and secure lump sum checks into the checking accounts of terminal workers “within a matter of days,” Leiton said.

“I personally believe that the program is very important,” Leiton said.

Dr. Laurence J. Fuortes, professor of occupational and environmental health at the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, said the program has done a lot of good.

“This is not the work of the devil,” said Fuortes, who wrote a health petition that led to more than doubling the number of application claims at Pantex. “These are saints in government who tried to enact a program to address historic wrongs.”

‘They killed him’

It was a typical afternoon drive home for Charlie Somerville, a production line technician at the Pantex Plant.

But as he drove, he began to feel an itching sensation that rose through his body. By the time he got home, he couldn’t bear the discomfort. He tore off his shirt to expose large welts on his back.

“I got it checked out and the doctor told me it was probably hives,” Somerville said.

In 2002, Somerville, now 66, was found to have developed an allergic response to beryllium, a cancer-causing metal used in the production of nuclear warheads. He has since developed chronic beryllium disease, a potentially fatal respiratory disease that can also affect the liver, kidneys, heart and nervous system.

In the early years of the energy employees’ compensation program, more than a dozen workers, like Somerville, tested positive for beryllium sensitization and later developed the full-blown disease and radiogenic cancers, Pompa said.

Eddie Gray, Linda Gray’s husband who was a security guard at Pantex, had chronic beryllium disease before he developed three other cancers, she said.

And Ray suspects that her husband, the former Pantex engineer who died of lung cancer, had a beryllium sensitivity. He died March 6, 1998.

“They killed him, in my estimation,” Ray said.

Workers at Pantex are required to undergo annual physicals in which they submit blood samples sent for analysis to National Jewish Health, a Denver-based medical research facility that specializes in respiratory and allergic disorders.

A local doctor won’t be able to diagnose the condition, said Pete Lopez, a 43-year plant employee who has chronic beryllium disease.

“It’s something doctors don’t deal with daily,” Lopez said. “You say beryllium and they’re like what’s beryllium and how did you get involved with beryllium.”

To treat his condition, Lopez must take heavy steroids and codeine for a cough that would be incessant if left untreated, he said. He has had kidney failure.

“You can’t live dying,” Lopez said. “You got to die living.”

Somerville said he has not been to a doctor since he retired more than five years ago. He has trouble breathing, and he wheezes and has an intermittent cough. He knows he needs immediate medical attention, but he’s not eager to do battle with a government claims examiner to get the proper medical care.

“I don’t understand why you have to do that so often when all you should have to do is make one phone call, but anyway that’s just the way it is,” Somerville said.

“I just got tired of messing with it. But I’m going to have to go because it’s been so long.”

Yamil Berard: 817-390-7705@yberard

February 20, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

USA confirms use of depleted uranium i n Syria, despite its previous promises

depleted-uraniumSamuel Oakford:  US promised it wouldn’t use Depleted Uranium in Syria. But then it did. February 14, 2017. Officials have confirmed that the US military – despite vowing not to use controversial Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria – fired thousands of rounds of such munitions during two high-profile raids on oil trucks in Islamic State-controlled Syria in late 2015. The air assaults mark the first confirmed use of this armament since the 2003 Iraq invasion, when hundreds of thousands of rounds were fired, leading to outrage among local communities which alleged that toxic remnants caused both cancer and birth defects.https://airwars.org/news/depleteduranium1/

ICBUW: United States confirms that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria 21 October 2016. US admits that it fired DU on two occasions in November 2015, contrary to earlier claims; military justification for use unclear after target analysis; ICBUW and PAX call for full disclosure to facilitate harm reduction measures; Russia takes advantage of news to distract from its own conduct in the conflict.   http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/united-states-confirms-fired-du-syria

February 20, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, Syria, USA | Leave a comment

Former boss of BP’s Russian arm is the frontrunner to take charge of Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump

Rowland Dye HANG ON…DID I READ THE CLEANUP COSTS ARE ……..£117BILLION FFS………The former boss of BP’s Russian arm is the frontrunner to take charge of  Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump. David Peattie, 62, is being lined up
to run the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the state-owned body that manages the vast Sellafield site in Cumbria.

Peattie spent more than three decades with BP, leaving in 2013 to become boss of North Sea oil explorer Fairfield Energy. Unfortunately, the move coincided with the oil price collapse, and Peattie left the private equity-backed company two
years later.

The high-flyer’s imminent appointment reflects Whitehall’s determination to get a grip on the NDA. The authority faces a huge damages bill after a court ruling that it botched the award of the £7bn contract to clean up Magnox sites. It is considering an appeal. The NDA’s £3bn annual budget consumes 25% of the business department’s spend¬ing. The clean-up bill for the country’s nuclear plants is estimated at £117bn.

Ex-BP boss lined up for nuclear job Sun Times 19th Feb 2017

The former boss of BP’s Russian arm is the frontrunner to take charge of Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump. David Peattie, 62, is being lined up to run the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)…

February 20, 2017 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

“Forest cities” – a plan to save China from air pollution

‘Forest cities’: the radical plan to save China from air pollution, Guardian 18 Feb 17
Stefano Boeri, the architect famous for his plant-covered skyscrapers, has designs to create entire new green settlements in a nation plagued by dirty air 
When Stefano Boeri imagines the future of urban China he sees green, and lots of it. Office blocks, homes and hotels decked from top to toe in a verdant blaze of shrubbery and plant life; a breath of fresh air for metropolises that are choking on a toxic diet of fumes and dust.

forest-city-for-china

Last week, the Italian architect, famed for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) skyscraper complex in Milan, unveiled plans for a similar project in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing.

The Chinese equivalent – Boeri’s first in Asia – will be composed of two neighbouring towers coated with 23 species of tree and more than 2,500 cascading shrubs. The structures will reportedly house offices, a 247-room luxury hotel, a museum and even a green architecture school, and are currently under construction, set for completion next year.

But Boeri now has even bolder plans for China: to create entire “forest cities” in a country that has become synonymous with environmental degradation and smog.

“We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades,” Boeri told the Guardian. “We are working very seriously on designing all the different buildings. I think they will start to build at the end of this year. By 2020 we could imagine having the first forest city in China.”

 Boeri described his “vertical forest” concept as the architectural equivalent of a skin graft, a targeted intervention designed to bring new life to a small corner of China’s polluted urban sprawl. His Milan-based practice claimed the buildings would suck 25 tons of carbon dioxide from Nanjing’s air each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen every day.

“It is positive because the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen,’ the architect said. “And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”

Boeri said, though, that it would take more than a pair of tree-covered skyscrapers to solve China’s notorious pollution crisis. “Two towers in a huge urban environment [such as Nanjing] is so, so small a contribution – but it is an example. We hope that this model of green architecture can be repeated and copied and replicated.”

If the Nanjing project is a skin graft, Boeri’s blueprints for “forest cities” are more like an organ transplant. The Milan-born architect said his idea was to create a series of sustainable mini-cities that could provide a green roadmap for the future of urban China.

The first such settlement will be located in Luizhou, a mid-sized Chinese city of about 1.5 million residents in the mountainous southern province of Guangxi. More improbably, a second project is being conceived around Shijiazhuang, an industrial hub in northern China that is consistently among the country’s 10 most polluted cities…….. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/17/forest-cities-radical-plan-china-air-pollution-stefano-boeri?CMP=fb_gu

February 20, 2017 Posted by | China, environment | Leave a comment

Top science adviser warns on the change in culture in the Trump era

science-denialObama’s top science adviser’s guide to navigating the Trump era John Holdren: “We can be in for a major shift in the culture around science.” Vox News,  Feb 18, 2017 BOSTON — If there’s a subtext to this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest gathering of scientists of the year, it’s anxiety for the future.

John Holdren, the top science adviser to President Barack Obama who spoke Friday at the conference, summed it up like this:

“I’m worried — based on early indications — that we can be in for a major shift in the culture around science and technology and its eminence in government. We appear to have a president now that resists facts that do not comport to his preferences. And that bodes ill on the Obama Administration’s emphases on scientific integrity, transparency, and public access.”

Trump has yet to select people for several top science jobs in the administration — such as NASA administrator, director of the CDC, and director of the NIH.

 But with the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, he’s signaled that his administration will be making big changes to environmental regulation. One of the first bills he signed as president killed an Obama era rule that made it harder for coal companies to dump waste in streams.

One of the names floated for Trump’s science adviser is Will Happer, a former Princeton physics professor who recently told ProPublica the science on global warming was “very, very shaky.”……

Scientists are becoming more politically engaged in the Trump era, and it shows here at AAAS. Later in the day, Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes got a standing ovation after speaking on how scientists can — and should — be “sentinels” for the public, and shouldn’t fear a loss of credibility for getting more politically engaged……http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/2/18/14653234/holdren-aaas-science-trump

February 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Britain has faced 110 nuclear weapon alerts – four times more than the MoD admits

BRINK OF APOCALYPSE  Britain has faced 110 nuclear weapon alerts – four times more than the MoD admits, One incident reportedly saw nuclear weapons accidentally taken to Falklands War on ship carrying Prince Andrew, The Sun BY DANNY COLLINS 19th February 2017, 

February 20, 2017 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment