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Ionising Radiation from Cold War nuclear bomb testing still lingers in reindeer in Lapland

 Lapland reindeer herders still carrying radiation from Cold War nuclear tests, UUTISET  News 5.4.2017 The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority is measuring radiation among people in Ivalo, northern Lapland this week. Measurements have been taken there since the 1960s, which is when radiation figures skyrocketed due to Soviet and US nuclear testing.

Reindeer herders in upper Lapland record higher levels of radiation  than people elsewhere in Finland, but cancer cases there are actually somewhat rarer. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) is measuring radiation among people in Ivalo in the far north this week.

The radiation levels of people living in the northernmost reaches of the country have been studied since the early 1960s. The USSR tested its nuclear capability in the atmosphere during the Cold War; and although the levels of cesium have gone down since those days, there is still more of it among the population of Lapland than elsewhere in Finland.

According to watchdog Stuk, Soviet nuclear bomb tests over Novaja Zemlja in the Arctic Ocean – some 1,000 kilometres from Ivalo – raised the radiation in the city a thousandfold compared with long-term levels.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute published its latest radiation report in 2011, fifty years after the Soviet tests.

Stuke laboratory head Maarit Muikku says that nuclear testing by the United States during the Cold War also released cesium into the stratosphere, from where they have descended to Finnish Lapland and other areas.

The highest average levels of cesium-137 in humans in Inari and Utsjoki – 45,000 becquerels – were recorded in the mid-60s. By comparison, the figures from 2011 have a mid range of about 1,100 becqurels; but that is still ten times higher than the rest of Finland’s population.

From moss to reindeer to person

Reindeer herder Taneli Magga has been involved in the measurements since their inception, first as a school boy in Inari in 1961.

“The levels have gone down every time I’ve been involved. This last time cesium levels had fallen by 200 becquerels in six years,” says Magga.

Most of the cesium in upper Lapland is from atmospheric nuclear testing. The Chernobyl power plant disaster in 1986 only caused a minor spike because the wind blew those cesium clouds south.

Herders obviously eat a lot of reindeer meat, which is full of cesium that the animals ingest when they eat moss and fungi. Fish and berries also contain artificial radiation…….


April 7, 2017 Posted by | environment, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Another incident at Pilgrim nuclear power plant, as workers cause flood at the base of the reactor

Careless workers cause flood at Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican on April 04, 2017   Operators at the 45-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station failed to follow standard procedures last week, causing water to flood into a reservoir at the base of the reactor, reports the Cape Cod Times.

Workers incorrectly opened and shut certain valves, causing water to flood from a massive storage tank to an area of the reactor known as the torus. The torus plays a role in depressurizing and cooling down the reactor in case of a serious accident.

“This was a breakdown in the process that shows lack of adherence to procedure,” according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He said there were no immediate safety concerns.

At noon on Friday, Pilgrim operators were flushing pipes in the reactor’s cooling system in preparation for an upcoming refueling. They opened a valve on the torus without first closing the valve on the water storage tank. Water being drained into the torus, setting off an alarm in the control room.

“This volume of water placed the torus level above the administrative limit for readiness should an unplanned event occur,” a spokesman for plant owner Entergy Corp. told the Cape Cod newspaper. “Station personnel appropriately responded to close the valves and processed and filtered the water from the torus back to the condensate storage tanks.”

Friday’s flood was the second recent serious incident involving operator error. On March 27, workers triggered the wrong switch, causing the temporary shutdown of a coolant injection system that is essential to cool the plant in a severe emergency.

Federal regulators in 2015 labeled Pilgrim as one of the three worst performers in the country and placed under increased oversight for safety violations and unplanned shutdowns.

Soon thereafter, Entergy announced it would close Pilgrim permanently in mid-2019 due to poor market conditions and increased operational costs. The closure will remove 680 megawatts of capacity from the New England power grid.

There have been a number of problems and violations at the aging nuclear power plant in recent years. Pilgrim has reportedly logged $40 million in annual losses.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | 1 Comment