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EU looks at lifting import curbs on Fukushima rice, Tohoku marine products, wild vegetables ???

It could be some propaganda spin on the Japanese side, but I doubt it. It is most probably true as Japan and Europe just signed a new trade deal on Thursday July 6, 2017, when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met top European Union officials in Brussels on the eve of a G20 summit of world leaders, including President Trump, in Germany.

The deal, which had been discussed since 2011, will remove almost all customs duties on European exports to Japan. Those are currently worth as much as €1 billion ($1.1 billion) a year.

That lifting import curbs on Fukushima rice, Tohoku marine products, wild vegetables, into Europe, might have been included in that trade deal package, to the detriment of the health protection of yet unaware Europeans.

n-fukushimafood-a-20170711-870x580.jpgThe European Union may lift an import restriction on rice produced in nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture.

 

BRUSSELS – The European Union is considering lifting an import restriction on rice produced in meltdown-hit Fukushima Prefecture as well as on wild vegetables and marine products from Japan, sources said Sunday.

At present, the EU requires that radiation inspection certificates be submitted by exporters of some food products from 13 prefectures in the eastern half of the Japanese archipelago.

But the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has drafted import regulation reform plans that call for scrapping the requirement when it comes to rice from Fukushima, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the sources said.

The EC also proposes removing the regulation for some kinds of seafood, including shrimp, crab, octopus, yellowtail, red sea bream and bluefin tuna, from the seven prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Iwate, and certain wild vegetables from seven prefectures including Akita, Nagano and Yamagata.

Meanwhile, the radiation certificate obligation will remain in place for food imports from Yamanashi, Niigata and Shizuoka prefectures.

A formal decision on the deregulation proposal could come as early as this autumn, the sources said.

The Fukushima No. 1 power plant is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/10/national/eu-looking-lift-import-curbs-fukushima-rice-tohoku-marine-products-wild-vegetables-sources/

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July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear safety chief raps Tepco’s attitude on Fukushima No. 1 crisis, restarting other reactors

n-tepconuke-a-20170711.jpg

The head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority told Tepco’s top management he questions their attitude toward decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the company’s ability to resume operating its other reactors.

I feel a sense of danger,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said during a special meeting Monday with the top management of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Tanaka also said Tepco does “not seem to have the will to take the initiative” toward decommissioning the crippled nuclear power station that suffered three reactor meltdowns in March 2011.

Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura and President Tomoaki Kobayakawa attended the meeting. The authority felt it is necessary to hear from the top executives before it could make a decision on whether to approve Tepco’s plan to resume operation of reactors 6 and 7 at its massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture.

Tepco filed for a safety assessment of the two reactors in September 2013 to reactivate them, hoping to restore its financial condition as it needed massive funds to pay compensation related to the Fukushima disaster and to scrap the plant.

The NRA’s safety screening found that Tepco failed to report insufficient earthquake resistance for an emergency response center at the Niigata complex even though it knew about the insufficiency for three years.

In June, Tepco submitted to the watchdog its revised safety measures for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex.

An operator lacking the will to take the initiative does not have the right to resume operation of nuclear reactors,” Tanaka said.

Tepco’s chairman responded by saying: “There are citizens who believe nuclear power is necessary. Operating reactors is our responsibility.”

But Kawamura also admitted there is room for only two more years’ worth of space in the tanks to accommodate the contaminated water building up at Fukushima No. 1.

During the meeting the NRA asked Tepco’s management about the company’s safety measures for the Niigata complex — the biggest nuclear power station in the world — as well as its safety awareness.

Tanaka said the NRA does consider Tepco’s responses at the meeting as sufficient and requested that it submit further explanations on its plan to decommission Fukushima No. 1 and resume operation of the two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

Tanaka plans to conduct on-site checkups at the two reactors, saying, “Tepco, which caused the (Fukushima) accident, is not an ordinary operator.”

The two boiling water reactors at the Niigata plant are the same type that suffered core meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1, and no such reactors have cleared the authority’s safety screening since the 2011 crisis.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/10/national/japans-nuclear-safety-chief-raps-tepcos-attitude-fukushima-no-1-crisis-restarting-reactors/

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Voluntary evacuees from 2011 disaster still need support

DTMANAGE.000000020170702154140312-1.jpgSix years have passed since this woman voluntarily evacuated to Chiba city from Fukushima city after the 2011 nuclear accident. She frequently shuttles between the two cities by car.

 

FUKUSHIMA — Three months have passed since the Fukushima prefectural government stopped providing free housing on March 31 to residents who voluntarily left areas outside the evacuation zone after the 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

More than 2,000 applications have been submitted to a new rental subsidy system started by the prefectural government in place of free housing, to ease this sudden change in evacuees’ lives. This was more than initially predicted, which indicates there are still many voluntary evacuees who require public support.

The number of voluntary evacuees inside and outside the prefecture totals about 12,000 households.

The free housing provision had been promoted under a system in which the prefecture shouldered the rent for those who voluntarily evacuated from areas outside those subject to evacuation orders — up to ¥60,000 per month in principle — using the national budget.

The prefecture ended the rental provision system at the end of fiscal 2016, for reasons including progress in decontamination work. The new system applies to households with a monthly income of ¥214,000 or less, offering up to ¥30,000 per month as a rental subsidy. The subsidy will be reduced to ¥20,000 per month in fiscal 2018.

According to the prefecture, applications for the new system have been accepted since October last year, totaling 874 cases as of the end of March. About 1,200 more came in during the three months from April to June.

The prefecture had estimated 2,000 cases would be approved for the new rental subsidy, but the ultimate number is likely to surpass the initial estimates and applications will likely increase further, according to the prefecture.

However, low-income earners living in public housing, and those who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to other prefectures and moved again to another prefecture in response to the end of the free housing provision, are disqualified from the new rental subsidy. Therefore, many evacuees have been put in a worse position by the termination of the free housing provision.

Immediately after the nuclear accident, a 62-year-old woman evacuated with her daughter, 22, who was then a high school student, from Fukushima city to Chiba city. Since the end of the free housing provision, she often pays the rent for her public housing later than the due date. Two-thirds of the deposit to rent her public housing remains unpaid, and she has no savings. She manages to make ends meet by receiving her pension benefits early.

In Chiba city, the woman has been teaching painting techniques for porcelain at a class, but her salary — less than ¥100,000 a month — is not enough to support her family.

Since April, she has been visiting Fukushima city by car to resume teaching painting to her former students.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003797179

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi and California Tidal Life in La Jolla

Via Majia’sBlog

This post is a follow-up from my previous posts regarding ocean life conditions in La Jolla California’s tidepools.

In the summer of 2011, my family and I noticed a significant (almost total) reduction in sand and hermit crabs in La Jolla tidal life at Wynd and Sea Beach and at the Cove, locations I’ve frequented extensively since 1984 (I lived in Pacific Beach from 84-89 and returned annually through 2011).

Please see my post about the poor condition of tide pools in 2011 at Wynd and Sea Beach in La Jolla. http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/speculation.html

I was so distressed by the collapse of tidal life in the summer of 2011 that we did not return to La Jolla for 5 years. In 2016, we visited again and saw that life was slowly returning

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/fukushima-daiichi-blob-and-pacific.html

However, sea lions and seals were experiencing unprecedented infant mortality at that time, a trend that had started in 2012. You can read my posts about the sea lion adverse mortality events here:

2013 Majia’s Blog: Sea Lion Deaths

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/sea-lion-deaths.html

2013 Majia’s Blog: Stranded Sea Lions in Southern California and Fukushima Fallout

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/stranded-sea-lions-in-southern.html

2016 Majia’s Blog: California Sea Lions, the Blob, and Fukushima Daiichi http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/01/california-sea-lions-blob-and-fukushima.html

Southern California beaches were first hit with Fukushima fallout via precipitation in 2011. Here is a scientific source documenting Fukushima contamination in Southern California kelp:

S. Manley and C. Lowe (6 March 2012) ‘Canopy-Forming Kelps as California’s Coastal Dosimeter: 131I from Damaged Japanese Reactor Measured in Macrocystis Pyrifera’, Environmental Science & Technology, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es203598r?journalCode=esthag

In 2013, a radioactive plume of water arrived in Southern California according to one group of researchers. Stan-Sion, Enachescu, and Pietre identified arrival of the ocean-borne plume of radionuclides from the initial days of the Fukushima disaster in La Jolla, California, evidenced by a 2.5 factor increase in Iodine-129 and Iodine-127 activity peaking June 18 2013 (date collection ended July 2013):

C. Stan-Sion, M. Enachescu, and A. R. Petre, “AMS analyses of I-129 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in the Pacific Ocean waters of the Coast La Jolla – San Diego, USA” Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 17(5)(2015): 932-938 DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00124B

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2015/em/c5em00124b#!divAbstract

A separate study modeling dilution declines of Cesium 137 published in Environmental Research Letters predicted that after seven years the ‘total peak radioactivity levels would still be about twice the pre-Fukushima values’ off the coastal waters of North America’:

E. Behrens, F. Schwarzkopf, J. Lübbecke, and C. Böning (2012) ‘Model Simulations on the Long-Term Dispersal of 137Cs Released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima’, Environ. Res. Lett., 7.3, http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/3/034004/ http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/3/034004

Blogger Nuke Pro suggested that the destruction of tidal life could be explained by bioaccumulation of radionuclides, such as strontium, in chitin:

Nuke Pro. 2016. Thursday, February 11, 2016. A Scientific Basis For Destruction Of Ocean Food Chain Via Radiation http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-scientific-basis-for-destruction-of.html

Nuke Pro. 2016. Mechanism By Which Radiation Destroys “Chitin” Which Destroys The Ocean Food Chains and Bees http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/2016/03/mechanism-by-which-radiation-destroys.html

We just returned from La Jolla yesterday and I’d like to update observations. 

The good news is that tidal life in La Jolla’s tide pools appears to have largely recovered. We saw several varieties of crabs, including the sand and hermit crabs that had disappeared from the pools in 2011. We also saw small fish in the pools. The quantity and diversity of tidal life was much improved, although perhaps not as abundant as before Fukushima.

Here is an image of one odd creature we discovered:

1.png

 

The sea lion situation was more complicated. First, it is difficult for me to make direct before-and-after-comparisons for the sea lions because they moved into La Jolla cove within the last 10 years or so.

That said, I was disturbed to see a small abandoned sea lion cub. The surfer in the picture said he had pulled it out of the water two days ago when it was drowning. The cub was dying a slow death and it was heartbreaking. 

2.png

 

I was also disturbed to see tourists approach and “pet” two other slightly larger sea lion cubs, with no apparent concern by the surrounding adult sea lions. Either those two sea lions were similarly orphaned or their mothers have become completely inured to the risks of human contact.  I found the scene disturbing as did other more environmentally conscientious onlookers at the beach.

Enenews has reported that sea mammals continue to wash up dead on California beaches in unusual numbers: 

http://enenews.com/tv-huge-number-of-sea-creatures-washing-up-dead-along-west-coast-its-a-crisis-all-along-southern-california-large-numbers-getting-sick-and-dying-video

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that sea lions continue to die because of the toxic algae bloom along California beaches:

More California sea lions are dying because of poisonous algae blooms. Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-ln-sea-lions-dying-20170419-story.html

The toxic algae bloom has been held primarily responsible for the mass mortality events of sea mammals that began in 2012 along the Pacific North American coast. The bloom was attributed to a warm water “blob” that emerged in 2012.

However, the water in La Jolla Cove this year when we visited was 62 degrees, which is quite cold and contrasts strikingly with the 79 degree temperature we encountered at the Cove last year.

I can only hope that life is more resilient than the chemical and radioactive forces of our unceasing and escalating environmental pollution.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/07/fukushima-daiichi-and-california-tidal.html

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Dry Removal Plan Confirmed For Fukushima Daiichi

A state-backed entity is expected to soon compile a plan for decommissioning the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, unveiling how to extract fuel debris from three reactors for the first time, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation entity was established after the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, to help the utility pay damages for the calamity. The state-backed entity holds a majority stake in Tepco.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., tasked with providing technical support for decommissioning the complex, has confirmed they will likely use a method to attempt to remove melted nuclear fuel that does not include flooding the containment structures.

Until now, the NDF had considered employing the submersion fuel retrieval method — filling the containment vessels with water — alongside the dry method. In the submersion method, water shields plant workers from radiation. The three units at Fukushima Daiichi all suffered full meltdowns and failure of the reactor vessels. This meant they would have to determine a way to flood the containment structures. This concept was found to have multiple challenges including preventing criticalities in the fuel debris, preventing leaks of highly contaminated water and preventing a structural failure of the then flooded containment.

A method to fulfill reactor containers with water first is effective in blocking radiation from spreading but the entity decided not to adopt the approach as the three reactor containers are believed to have been damaged and water would likely leak.

The NDF, however, determined that repairing all damaged areas of the containment vessels in order to be able to fill the reactor wells to the top with water would be too difficult. Instead, for the time being, the NDF decided to prioritize dry removal of the nuclear fuel debris using robotic arms.

“It isn’t that we’ve decided to completely do away with the submersion method, but we have to think about how best to distribute the technological resources we have,” said one source closely involved with the NDF.

When using the dry nuclear fuel retrieval method, it is crucial to implement measures to prevent microscopic radioactive substances from spreading in the air. To counter this, the NDF is considering spraying water on the fuel as robotic arms are used to sever and retrieve the fuel debris.

jhhklm.jpgShown in red is melted nuclear fuel, or nuclear debris. Shown in black is a drill or laser for scraping off the debris.

 

The damage differs from reactor to reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. Probes of the reactor interiors conducted by TEPCO have yet to directly observe the nuclear fuel, meaning that the shape and distribution of the debris remain unknown. Fuel removal methods specific to the state of each reactor must be decided before moving ahead.

n-fukushima-a-20170706-870x328.jpgA series of photos taken on Jan. 30 shows the inside of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s reactor 2 pressure vessel. A specific method for removing debris is set to be revealed soon.

 

In the No. 1 reactor, much of the nuclear fuel is believed to have melted through the pressure vessel onto the floor of the reactor containment vessel. Inserting a robotic arm through the side of the containment vessel to remove the melted fuel is under primary consideration to deal with this situation.

It means the debris inside the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi complex is likely to be shaved off gradually with a drill or laser equipment, while pouring water shower under a remotely controlled operation, the sources said.

Under the method the entity currently envisions, some part of debris would remain in the air during the operation so a major challenge facing the debris extraction work is how to shield radiation and prevent debris from flying off.

While debris in the reactors has yet to be directly confirmed and information on the exact locations and conditions is limited, the extraction work, the most difficult part of the decommission project, is expected to proceed in stages from the side of the bottom part of each reactor container while ensuring safety measures, the sources said.

Based on the decommission plan to be compiled by the entity, the government and the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. are expected to determine a debris extraction scheme for each reactor building this summer and possibly review a road map for decommissioning the complex as well, the sources added.

The various parties involved in decommissioning research are required to publish a clear plan for removing the melted fuel by the summer of 2017. To publish such a plan necessitates admissions of the conditions within the three reactor units. Admitting that only a dry method of fuel removal will be proposed is a major departure from Tepco 2011 claims that only partial meltdown took place, and tells much about the extent of the damage within the units even as they have been unable to identify the location of any of the fuel.

july 5 2017 fuel debris removal 2

* Estimated that most fuel melted and almost no fuel rod remains based on the muon measurement, analysis result, and the fact that a water level is not formed

* Estimated almost no heat source remained in core region from the fact that sub-cooling conditions were achieved before starting CS injection (12/10/2011)

 

The current road map calls for completion of a plan on how to extract debris from each reactor this summer and finalizing a detailed method for at least one of the three units in the first half of fiscal 2018 to begin the extraction operation in 2021.

Sources:
https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/07/ddee4ff9fec7-debris-extraction-method-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-to-be-revealed.html

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170705/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/05/national/group-mulls-fukushima-no-1-melted-fuel-debris-extraction-without-filling-containment-vessels-water

 

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Call for Working Together to Enact the Chernobyl Law in Japan!

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July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

USA-South Korea bombing drill on the Korean peninsula angers North Korea

Tipping point for nuclear war’ – North Korea lashes out after US practice bombing run, Telegraph UK,   9 JULY 2017  North Korea on Sunday lashed out at a live-fire drill the US and South Korea staged in a show of force against Pyongyang, accusing Washington of pushing the peninsula to the “tipping point” of nuclear war.

The allies held the rare live-fire drill as tensions grew over the peninsula following the North’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test held last week. The test sparked global alarm as it suggested North Korea now possessed an ICBM capable of reaching Alaska, a major milestone for the reclusive, nuclear-armed state.Saturday’s drill, designed to “sternly respond” to potential missile launches by the North, saw two US bombers destroy “enemy” missile batteries and South Korean jets mount precision strikes against underground command posts.

The North’s state-run Rodong newspaper accused Washington and Seoul of ratcheting up tensions with the drill, in an editorial titled “Don’t play with fire on a powder keg.”

“The US, with its dangerous military provocation, is pushing the risk of a nuclear war on the peninsula to a tipping point,” it said, describing the peninsula as the “world’s biggest tinderbox.”During Saturday’s drill, long-range B-1B Lancer bombers reportedly flew close to the heavily-fortified border between two Koreas and dropped 2,000-pound (900 kilogram) bombs.

Pyongyang described the joint drill as a “dangerous military gambit of warmongers who are trying to ignite the fuse of a nuclear war on the peninsula.”

“A small misjudgment or error can immediately lead to the beginning of a nuclear war, which will inevitably lead to another world war,” it said…… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/09/north-korea-us-practice-bombing-run-could-tipping-point-nuclear/

July 10, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Climate change: clear split between USA and everyone else at G20

When it Comes to Climate Change, It’s G19 vs the United States, Slate, By Daniel Politi  8 Jul 17 The annual Group of 20 meeting is supposed to be one of those boring gatherings where world economic powers get together to slap each other on the back and utter platitudes about things they all agree on. This year though, the conflicts were clear and the divisions were stark. No split was more evident than climate change, where President Donald Trump was left isolated as as every other world leader signed up to the final compromise agreement that declared the Paris accord “irreversible.” They also vowed that the deal would be implemented “swiftly” and without exceptions.

Global leaders didn’t hide their anger at Trump’s intractable position. British Prime Minister Theresa May, for example, said she was “dismayed at the U.S decision to pull out” of the Paris accord and had personally urged Trump to reconsider. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also was careful to highlight the points of disagreement with the United States. “Wherever there is no consensus that can be achieved, disagreement has to be made clear,” Merkel said at the end of the summit. “Unfortunately—and I deplore this—the United States of America left the climate agreement.”

For some the global meeting marked yet another example of how the United States is moving against the current when it comes to the crucial issue—a decision that allies of the former administration say could cost the U.S. economy dearly. “This is a clear indication that the U.S. has isolated itself on climate change once again, and is falling back while all other major economies step up and compete in the clean energy marketplace created by the Paris Agreement estimated to be worth over 20 trillion dollars,” said Andrew Light, a senior climate change adviser at the State Department under President Barack Obama……. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/07/08/at_the_g20_the_united_states_stood_alone_on_climate_change.html

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics international | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer incidence greater in counties near to Three Mile Island nuclear accident

Study Links Three Mile Island Nuclear Partial Meltdown To Thyroid Cancers In Surrounding Counties https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/07/study-links-three-mile-island-nuclear-partial-meltdown-thyroid-cancers-surrounding-counties/, June 7th, 2017 by James Ayre A new study from the Penn State College of Medicine has — for the first time, apparently — linked the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station on March 28, 1979, to thyroid cancers in the surrounding counties.

To be more exact here with the wording, the researchers have found a “shift in (thyroid cancer) cases to cancer mutations consistent with radiation exposure from those consistent with random causes,” as worded by the press release.

As most people reading this will remember, the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island facility — near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — definitely released some radiation into the wider environment, but according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the levels were low enough that no detectable health effects were associated with it.

The new work — which analyzed tumor samples from people who have been verified through an extensive vetting process to have lived in areas surrounding the nuclear facility at the time of the accident, to have stayed in the area, and to have later developed thyroid cancer there — shows that this apparently hasn’t, in fact, been the case.

The press release provides more:

“In this retrospective cohort study — meaning the patients in the study already had thyroid cancer and were known to have been exposed to the TMI accident — lead researcher Dr David Goldenberg, professor of surgery, and colleagues identified 44 patients who were treated at the Penn State Health Milton S Hershey Medical Center for the most common type of thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer, between 1974 and 2014. The patients were then divided into two groups: at risk and control groups.

“Patients in the at-risk group were those who developed cancer between 1984 and 1996, consistent with known latency periods of radiation-induced thyroid cancer, and who lived in at-risk geographical areas — based on reported weather patterns — at the time of the accident.”

“This definition was designed to allow us to identify relatively acute effects of radiation exposure from the accident,” explained Goldenberg.

The press release continues: “Patients who developed cancer outside of the expected latency period were placed in the control group. Researchers searched through all thyroid cancer tumor samples in the hospital’s possession from the study period for patients who lived in at-risk regions Dauphin, York, eastern Cumberland, Lancaster and western Lebanon counties. They used genealogical software to verify that the patient was in an at-risk area during the accident, remained until cancer developed and was treated at the Medical Center. The tumor samples of those patients who were positively linked to the TMI accident area were then processed through the Penn State Institute for Personalized Medicine to determine genetic makeup of the cancer.

“While most thyroid cancers are sporadic, meaning they happen without clear reasons, exposure to radiation has been shown to change the molecular makeup of the cancer, according to the researchers. The researchers observed an increase in the genetic mutation caused by exposure to low-dose radiation in the at-risk group and a decrease in the incidence of sporadic thyroid cancer, identified by a specific genetic mutation known as BRAF. The BRAF mutation is typically not present in the radiation-induced types of thyroid cancer.

“The study indicates that these observations are consistent with other radiation-exposed populations. In the control group, 83% of patients had the BRAF mutation. The BRAF mutation was found in only 53% of patients in the at-risk group. In the at-risk group, there was also a rise in other molecular markers seen in radiation induced thyroid cancer, the researchers added.”

So, this is yet another example of the way that nuclear energy is probably not the safest (or most economical) way to go about providing people with electricity.

Goldenberg continued: “While no single marker can determine whether an individual tumor is radiation-induced, these data support the possibility that radiation released from TMI altered the molecular profile of thyroid cancers in the population surrounding the plant.”

The researchers are now planning to expand the work to include patients from other regional hospitals, to try and determine if the correlation is true on the larger scale as well.

The new research is detailed in a paper published as a supplement to the latest issue of the journal Laryngoscope.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Ionising radiation’s cancer effect far greater in females than in males

The highest incidence of cancer, looking across 60 years, was among those who were children when they were exposed. This is not news. The surprise is that in this group, females suffered twice as much cancer across their lives than did males.

The difference between male and female, with males more resistant to radiation harm, is measurable in all the age-of-exposure cohorts, even into old age

For every two men exposed in adulthood who died of cancer, three women died of cancer

Females Exposed to Nuclear Radiation Are Far Likelier Than Males to Suffer Harm http://www.passblue.com/2017/07/05/females-exposed-to-nuclear-radiation-are-far-likelier-than-males-to-suffer-harm/, by Mary Olson • July 5, 2017 • The new nuclear weapons ban treaty, to be most likely adopted by the United Nations General Assembly this week, arises from hope for our future. The negotiations for the treaty have elevated new information about the damage from ionizing radiation to the world stage. That is exactly where it needs to be heard.

More cancers are derived from radiation than national regulators now report. They may not be aware that both age-at-exposure and one’s sex determine how much harm we suffer from radiation.

Women exposed to ionizing radiation during childhood suffer from cancer at a rate 10 times higher than predicted by traditional models used by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The models assume that “Reference Man” represents us all. Invented to simplify calculations, Reference Man is 25 to 30 years old, weighs 154 pounds, is 5 feet 6 inches tall, “Caucasian and has a Western European or North American” lifestyle.

There has never been a pause as more than 2,000 atomic tests since 1945 have been spreading radioactivity worldwide and hundreds of nuclear factories have proliferated. No one asked if Reference Man is an appropriate stand-in for all of humanity and radiation harm.

It turns out that adult males are hurt by radiation, but they are significantly more resistant than their mothers, sisters, wives or daughters. Use of Reference Man masks gendered impacts and therefore systematically underreports radiation harm.

My first paper on radiation, published in 2011, “Atomic Radiation Is More Harmful to Women,” answers a simple question from a woman who raised her hand at one of my public lectures in North Carolina a year earlier, asking, “Does radiation exposure harm me more than a man?” She did not mean in pregnancy; she meant her own body.

I was shocked. That was 2010; in decades of work on radioactive waste policy, I had never heard of gender as a factor in radiation harm. I could not even attempt an answer. When the literature yielded nothing, my mentor, Rosalie Bertell, suggested I look at the numbers myself. Bertell was a mathematician and a recipient of a Right Livelihood Award, which is called an alternative to the Nobel prizes. Bertell devoted her life to communities hurt by radiation, including the ones she pointed me to in order to examine the data.

Only one large data set includes all ages and both genders exposed together to a single flash of gamma and neutron radiation: the survivors of the US nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. They survived in shelters or other shielding amid the first horrific years. Sixty years of data on cancer incidences and fatality among the survivors — called the Hibakusha — was published by the US National Academy of Science in 2006.

I regret that this data even exists — it was my government that used the first nuclear bombs on cities full of people, and I certainly wish they had not. I nonetheless use the numbers. They hold a message for humanity: gender matters in the atomic age. That does not make it right.

The highest incidence of cancer, looking across 60 years, was among those who were children when they were exposed. This is not news. The surprise is that in this group, females suffered twice as much cancer across their lives than did males.

The difference between male and female, with males more resistant to radiation harm, is measurable in all the age-of-exposure cohorts, even into old age — the difference between genders is smaller when adults are exposed rather than when they are children.

For every two men exposed in adulthood who died of cancer, three women died of cancer. A 50 percent difference in the rate of cancer death from radiation exposure in adulthood is not insignificant to most female readers! Indeed, this finding is changing my own behavior in fieldwork.

The question, Why is gender a factor?, is waiting for researchers to tackle. A team lead by David Richardson in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2016 showed that the A-bomb cancer data mirrors the outcomes of many smaller radiation exposures over time, adding up to the same exposure level as the Japanese survivors.

We are all getting these smaller radiation exposures.

The 10-females-to-1-male ratio cited here is the comparison of cancer outcomes from the youngest female survivors versus the 25- to 30-year-old males: the group that underpins Reference Man. This dramatic order-of-magnitude difference in biological research is like a siren blaring: pay attention!

It is time to retire Reference Man. Any level that is set for public exposure to radiation should be based on little girls. When we protect them, everyone is better protected. Unless we protect girls, our collective future is at stake.

The radiation and gender “siren”  has not been heard widely, but it has been heard. In 2014, I was honored to present my findings at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons and exhilarated to read the draft treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, where one basis for the need for the new treaty is the disproportionate harm to women and girls from ionizing radiation.

The treaty falls within the jurisdiction of humanitarian law, which includes the most human activity of all: making babies, from which flow future generations. For these countless people to come, I celebrate that the news on radiation has been heard at the UN as it takes the next vital step of voting on a new nuclear-ban treaty.

It is a sturdy seedling of hope.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, women | Leave a comment

The rise and political rise of Russia’s secretive nuclear tsar Sergey Kirienko

Russian media tell us that Kirienko and his PR team are off to the Kremlin to prepare Putin’s next election campaign. Looking at Kirienko’s 11 years as head of Russia’s nuclear power industry, we can say that in terms of spending and achievements on paper, Rosatom’s former head has few equals. Kirienko’s team are experts at working with the media, putting pressure on dissenters and forging loyalty

Kiriyenko--tsarSergey Kirienko, from nuclear to political power, Open Democracy VLADIMIR SLIVYAK 11 October 2016  After ten years as head of Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko is now deputy head of Russia’s Presidential Administration. What will he bring to the job? “…….

Information and secrecy

News of these two appointments came out rather oddly. Prior to 24 September, when RBC broke the story of Kirienko’s appointment, there had been no rumours at all about Kirienko’s move, and another two weeks passed before he was officially given his new job…….

This fact illustrates the effectiveness of Kirienko’s PR team. All of Rosatom’s information channels are hermetically sealed, and if any important news appears, it is only by the grace of the residents of the agency’s enormous headquarters building on Moscow’s Bolshaya Ordynka street. There has been the odd information leak, but usually involving foreign media, which Rosatom has little control over.

The way Kirienko’s appointment has developed as a story demonstrates the level of openness, or rather lack of it, which Kirienko’s team has created in recent years. If a major accident had occurred at a nuclear power plant in Russia during Kirienko’s time at Rosatom, it is unlikely that anyone would have heard about it for some time. Instead, there would have been a scenario reminiscent of 1986, when the Soviet government tried to hush up the scale of the Chernobyl disaster for as long as possible.

This lack of transparency is dangerous precisely because in the case of another nuclear accident, it could be a matter of life and death. And this is not a question of official secrets or nuclear weapons. Rosatom is funded by Russia’s taxpayers and has to be accountable to them — not in terms of reporting how many “mini-Olympics” have taken place at nuclear power plants, but in terms of public safety.

Paper power plants

Kirienko’s legacy at Rosatom is a separate issue. Given this recent appointment, he is, it seems, highly regarded by the Kremlin.

There may have been two to three times fewer nuclear power plants built on his watch than were planned. There may have been plenty of corruption scandals involving the arrest of senior staff, including Kirienko’s deputies, on embezzlement charges. But the corporation’s “portfolio” for power plants to be built abroad is worth an astronomical $100bn. And for the Kremlin, which periodically uses energy supply threats to put pressure on countries it is displeased with, nuclear power is not just a question of prestige and money.

To assess Kirienko’s effectiveness as a manager, however, we need to look inside Rosatom’s commission portfolio. These “orders” are not contracts specifying delivery dates, costs and a clear timescale for loan repayments (in most cases the money lent by Russia for power plant construction comes with a repayment date). Eighty to ninety per cent of these reported arrangements are agreements in principle that are vague on details, and in the overwhelming majority of cases the contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Russian media frequently give the impression that Rosatom is building reactors all over the world. It is true that there have been orders from over 20 countries, but they are actually being built in only three places — China, India and Belarus. And in the case of the first two, international cooperation began long before Kirienko joined the nuclear energy sector.

So it is clear that Kirienko’s team has been excellent at drawing up and signing papers, and providing an information blockade for the industry. Actually building nuclear plants seems to be beyond them.

But only abroad…  https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/vladimir-slivyak/sergey-kirienko-from-nuclear-to-political-power

July 10, 2017 Posted by | politics, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

The international nuclear industry in financial meltdown

Global Meltdown? Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilis, Jim Green, New Matilda, 9 July 2017 https://newmatilda.com/2017/07/09/global-meltdown-nuclear-powers-annus-horribilis/

This year will go down with 1979 (Three Mile Island), 1986 (Chernobyl) and 2011 (Fukushima) as one of the nuclear industry’s worst ever ‒ and there’s still another six months to go, writes Dr Jim Green.

Two of the industry’s worst-ever years have been in the past decade and there will be many more bad years ahead as the trickle of closures of ageing reactors becomes a flood ‒ the International Energy Agency expects almost 200 reactor closures between 2014 and 2040. The likelihood of reactor start-ups matching closures over that time period has become vanishingly small.

In January, the World Nuclear Association anticipated 18 power reactor start-ups this year. The projection has been revised down to 14 and even that seems more than a stretch. There has only been one reactor start-up in the first half of the year according to the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System, and two permanent reactor closures.

The number of power reactors under construction is on a downward trajectory ‒ 59 reactors are under construction as of May 2017, the first time since 2010 that the number has fallen below 60.

Pro-nuclear journalist Fred Pearce wrote on May 15: “Is the nuclear power industry in its death throes? Even some nuclear enthusiasts believe so. With the exception of China, most nations are moving away from nuclear ‒ existing power plants across the United States are being shut early; new reactor designs are falling foul of regulators, and public support remains in free fall. Now come the bankruptcies…. The industry is in crisis. It looks ever more like a 20th century industrial dinosaur, unloved by investors, the public, and policymakers alike. The crisis could prove terminal.”

Pro-nuclear lobby groups are warning about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis“, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“, and noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

United States

The most dramatic story this year has been the bankruptcy protection filing of US nuclear giant Westinghouse onMarch 29. Westinghouse’s parent company Toshiba states that there is “substantial doubt” about Toshiba’s “ability to continue as a going concern”. These nuclear industry giants have been brought to their knees by cost overruns ‒estimated at US$13 billion ‒ building four AP1000 power reactors in the U.S.

The nuclear debate in the US is firmly centred on attempts to extend the lifespan of ageing, uneconomic reactors with state bailouts. Financial bailouts by state governments in New York and Illinois are propping up ageing reactors, but a proposed bailout in Ohio is meeting stiff opposition. The fate of Westinghouse and its partially-built AP1000 reactors are much discussed, but there is no further discussion about new reactors ‒ other than to note that they won’t happen.

Six reactors have been shut down over the past five years in the US, and another handful will likely close in the next five years. How far and fast will nuclear fall? Exelon ‒ the leading nuclear power plant operator in the US ‒ claims that “economic and policy challenges threaten to close about half of America’s reactors” in the next two decades. According to pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress‘, almost one-quarter of US reactors are at high risk of closure by 2030, and almost three-quarters are at medium to high risk. In May, the US Energy Information Administration released an analysis projecting nuclear’s share of the nation’s electricity generating capacity will drop from 20 per cent to 11 per cent by 2050.

There are different views about how far and fast nuclear will fall in the US ‒ but fall it will. And there is no dispute that many plants are losing money. More than half in fact, racking up losses totalling about US$2.9 billion a year according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And a separate Bloomberg report found that expanding state aid to money-losing reactors across the eastern US may leave consumers on the hook for as much as US$3.9 billion a year in higher power bills.

Japan

Fukushima clean-up and compensation cost estimates have doubled and doubled again and now stand at US$191 billion. An analysis by the Japan Institute for Economic Research estimates that the total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation could be far higher at US$443‒620 billion.

Only five reactors are operating in Japan as of July 2017, compared to 54 before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. The prospects for new reactors are bleak. Japan has given up on its Monju fast breeder reactor ‒ successive governments wasted US$10.6 billion on Monju and decommissioning will cost another US$2.7 billion.

As mentioned, Toshiba is facing an existential crisis due to the crippling debts of its subsidiary Westinghouse. Toshibaannounced on May 15 that it expects to report a consolidated net loss of US$8.4 billion for the 2016‒2017 financial year which ended March 31.

Hitachi is backing away from its plan to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors in Wylfa, Wales. Hitachi recentlysaid that if it cannot attract partners to invest in the project before construction is due to start in 2019, the project will be suspended.

Hitachi recently booked a massive loss on a failed investment in laser uranium enrichment technology in the US. A 12 May 2017 statement said the company had posted an impairment loss on affiliated companies’ common stock of US$1.66 billion for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2017, and “the major factor” was Hitachi’s exit from the laser enrichment project. Last year a commentator opined that “the way to make a small fortune in the uranium enrichment business in the US is to start with a large one.”

France

The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever” according to former EDF director Gérard Magnin. France has 58 operable reactors and just one under construction.

French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns for the two reactors amount to about US$14.5 billion.

Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“. Now Areva itself is in tatters and is in the process of a government-led restructure and another taxpayer-funded bailout. On March 1, Areva posted a €665 million net loss for 2016. Losses in the preceding five years exceeded €10 billion.

In February, EDF released its financial figures for 2016: earnings and income fell and EDF’s debt remained steady at €37.4 billion. EDF plans to sell €10 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, and to sack up to 7,000 staff. The French government provided EDF with €3 billion in extra capital in 2016 and will contribute €3 billion towards a €4 billioncapital raising this year. On March 8, shares in EDF hit an all-time low a day after the €4 billion capital raising was launched; the share price fell to €7.78, less than one-tenth of the high a decade ago.

Costs of between €50 billion and €100 billion will need to be spent by 2030 to meet new safety requirements for reactors in France and to extend their operating lives beyond 40 years.

EDF has set aside €23 billion to cover reactor decommissioning and waste management costs in France ‒ just over half of the €54 billion that EDF estimates will be required. A recent report by the French National Assembly’s Commission for Sustainable Development and Regional Development concluded that there is “obvious under-provisioning” and that decommissioning and waste management will take longer, be more challenging and cost much more than EDF anticipates.

In 2015, concerns about the integrity of some EPR pressure vessels were revealed, prompting investigations that are still ongoing. Last year, the scandal was magnified when the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of parts manufactured at the site. At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Work at the Creusot Forge foundry was suspended in the wake of the scandal and Areva is awaiting ASN approval to restart the foundry.

French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot said on June 12 that the government plans to close some nuclear reactors to reduce nuclear’s share of the country’s power mix. “We are going to close some nuclear reactors and it won’t be just a symbolic move,” he said.

India

Nuclear power accounts for just 3.4 percent of electricity supply in India and that figure will not rise significantly, if at all. In May, India’s Cabinet approved a plan to build 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR). That decision can be read as an acknowledgement that plans for six Westinghouse AP1000 reactors and six French EPR reactors are unlikely to eventuate.

The plan for 10 new PHWRs faces major challenges. Suvrat Raju and M.V. Ramana noted: “[N]uclear power will continue to be an expensive and relatively minor source of electricity for the foreseeable future…. The announcement about building 10 PHWRs fits a pattern, often seen with the current government, where it trumpets a routine decision to bolster its “bold” credentials. Most of the plants that were recently approved have been in the pipeline for years. Nevertheless, there is good reason to be sceptical of these plans given that similar plans to build large numbers of reactors have failed to meet their targets, often falling far short.”

South Africa

An extraordinary High Court judgement on April 26 ruled that much of South Africa’s nuclear new-build program is without legal foundation. The High Court set aside the Ministerial determination that South Africa required 9.6 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear capacity, and found that numerous bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements were unconstitutional and unlawful. President Jacob Zuma is trying to revive the nuclear program, but it will most likely be shelved when Zuma leaves office in 2019 (if he isn’t removed earlier). Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on June 21 that South Africa will review its nuclear plans as part of its response to economic recession.

South Korea

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in said on June 19 that his government will halt plans to build new nuclear power plants and will not extend the lifespan of existing plants beyond 40 years. President Moon said: “We will completely re-examine the existing policies on nuclear power. We will scrap the nuclear-centred polices and move toward a nuclear-free era. We will eliminate all plans to build new nuclear plants.”

Since the presidential election on May 9, the ageing Kori-1 reactor has been permanently shut down, work on two partially-built reactors (Shin Kori 5 and 6) has been suspended pending a review, and work on two planned reactors (Shin-Hanul 3 and 4) has been stopped.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s Cabinet reiterated on June 12 the government’s resolve to phase out nuclear power. The government remains committed to the goal of decommissioning the three operational nuclear power plants as scheduled and making Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025, Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said.

UK

Tim Yeo, a former Conservative politician and now a nuclear industry lobbyist with New Nuclear Watch Europe, saidthe compounding problems facing nuclear developers in the UK “add up to something of a crisis for the UK’s nuclear new-build programme.”

The lobby group noted delays with the EPR reactor in Flamanville, France and the possibility that those delays would flow on to the two planned EPR reactors at Hinkley Point; the lack of investors for the proposed Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa; the acknowledgement by the NuGen consortium that the plan for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside faces a “significant funding gap”; and the fact that the Hualong One technology which China General Nuclear Power Corporation hopes to deploy at Bradwell in Essex has yet to undergo its generic design assessment.

The only reactor project with any momentum in the UK is Hinkley Point, based on the French EPR reactor design. The head of one of Britain’s top utilities said on June 19 that Hinkley Point is likely to be the only nuclear project to go ahead in the UK. Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive officer of SSE, an energy supplier and former investor in new nuclear plants, said: “The bottom line in nuclear is that it looks like only Hinkley Point will get built and Flamanville needs to go well for that to happen.”

There is growing pressure for the obscenely expensive Hinkley Point project to be cancelled. The UK National Audit Office report released a damning report on June 23. The Audit Office said: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits… Today’s report finds that the Department has not sufficiently considered the costs and risks of its deal for consumers…. Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C’s contract for difference has increased from £6 billion to £30 billion.”

Writing in the Financial Times on May 26, Neil Collins said: “EDF, of course, is the contractor for that white elephant in the nuclear room, Hinkley Point. If this unproven design ever gets built and produces electricity, the UK consumer will be obliged to pay over twice the current market price for the output…. The UK’s energy market is in an unholy mess… Scrapping Hinkley Point would not solve all of [the problems], but it would be a start.”

And on it goes. Hinkley Point is one of the “great spending dinosaurs of the political dark ages” according to The Guardian. It is a “white elephant” according to an editorial in The Times.

EDF said on June 26 that it is conducting a “full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project” and the results will be disclosed “soon”. On July 3, EDF announced that the estimated cost of the two Hinkley reactors has risen by €2.5 billion (to €23.2 billion, or €30.4 billion including finance costs). In 2007, EDF was boasting that Britons would be using electricity from Hinkley to cook their Christmas turkeys in December 2017. But in its latestannouncement, EDF pushes back the 2025 start-up dates for the two Hinkley reactors by 9‒15 months.

Oliver Tickell and Ian Fairlie wrote an obituary for Britain’s nuclear renaissance in The Ecologist on May 18. Theyconcluded: “[T]he prospects for new nuclear power in the UK have never been gloomier. The only way new nuclear power stations will ever be built in the UK is with massive political and financial commitment from government. That commitment is clearly absent. So yes, this finally looks like the end of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’.”

Switzerland

Voters in Switzerland supported a May 21 referendum on a package of energy policy measures including a ban on new nuclear power reactors. Thus Switzerland has opted for a gradual nuclear phase out and all reactors will probably be closed by the early 2030s, if not earlier.

Germany will close its last reactor much sooner than Switzerland, in 2022.

Sweden

Unit 1 of the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden has been permanently shut down. Unit 2 at the same plant was permanently shut down in 2015. Ringhals 1 and 2 are expected to be shut down in 2019‒2020, after which Sweden will have just six operating power reactors. Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan have made deliberate decisions to phase out nuclear power; in Sweden, the phase out will be attritional.

Russia

Rosatom deputy general director Vyacheslav Pershukov said in mid-June that the world market for the construction of new nuclear power plants is shrinking, and the possibilities for building new large reactors abroad are almost exhausted. He said Rosatom expects to be able to find customers for new reactors until 2020‒2025 but “it will be hard to continue.”

China

With 36 power reactors and another 22 under construction, China is the only country with a significant nuclear expansion program. However nuclear growth could take a big hit in the event of economic downturn. And nuclear growth could be derailed by a serious accident, which is all the more likely because of China’s inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of the World Information Service on Energy’s Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, politics, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, USA | Leave a comment

“This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.” – Hiroshima survivors respond to UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Atom bomb survivors in Japan welcome UN resolution on nuclear weapons http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/atom-bomb-hiroshima-un-nuclear-weapons-japan-a7832081.html ‘I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived’ says Hiroshima Setsuko Thurlow Fiona Keating , 9 Jul 17, A United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons has been welcomed by survivors of the deadly atom bomb attacks on Japan which ended the Second World War.

Rare footage show the nightmare aftermath of Hiroshima after atomic bomb killed 140,000 people

Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the Hiroshima blast, was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when she was near to the hypocentre of the explosion on August 6, 1945.

“I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” she told the Japan Times. “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”

Recounting what happened in the aftermath to survivors, she said: “Their hair was standing on end — I don’t know why — and their eyes were swollen shut from the burns. Some peoples’ eyeballs were hanging out of the sockets. Some were holding their own eyes in their hands. Nobody was running. Nobody was yelling. It was totally silent, totally still. All you could hear were the whispers for ‘water, water.’

  • “How do you describe a hell on Earth?”

    Toshiki Fujimori, assistant secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organisations also hailed the adoption of the treaty.

    “I never would imagine this treaty was going to be concluded,” he said. “I think it is the collective effort of the humanity of all the people that came together here at the United Nations.”

    The United Nation’s first-ever adoption of the nuclear weapons ban  was agreed by a total of 122 countries, with only the Netherlands opposed and Singapore abstaining.

  • Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders said the Netherlands supported the ban on nuclear weapons but was concerned over issues with the resolution itself. Particularly, how checks and controls would be adhered to.

    Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the UN conference on prohibiting nuclear weapons was jubilant. “We all feel very emotional today. We feel that we are responding to the hopes and to the dreams of present and future generations — that we undertake our responsibility as a generation to do whatever is in our hands to achieve and to move the world toward the dream of a world free of nuclear weapons.”

  • The treaty will enter into force three months after the document is ratified by 50 countries. It is legally binding for an unlimited period. The text of the charter also bans threats to use nuclear weapons.

    In direct reference to A-bomb survivors, victims of the atrocity, which killed more than 140,000 people, will be provided with medical care and rehabilitation.

  • However, none of the countries known or believed to have nuclear weapons – the US, Britain,  Russia, North Korea , France, India, Pakistan, and Israel — is backing the pact.

    Nikki Hayley, the US Ambassador, agreed in principle on the ban but suggested “we have to be realistic”, according to Time magazine.

    She added that North Korea would be “cheering” such a ban on nuclear weapons, leaving US residents at risk.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Climate change affecting huge numbers of children in Africa

Climate change’s brutal toll on Africanewsroom, 9 Jul 17   United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund The vast majority of child migrants uprooted by violence, poverty and climate change remain in Africa, write UNICEF’s Lachlan Forsyth and Patrick Rose

The vast majority of child migrants uprooted by violence, poverty and climate change remain in Africa, according to a new report by child rights organisation UNICEF.

It is a bitter irony that the countries that have done the least to cause climate change are going to suffer the most. Countries that have minuscule carbon footprints are going to be the first to suffer the consequences of flooding, drought and displacement.

In West and Central Africa, the impact of climate change will be especially severe, with the region set to experience a 3 to 4 degree rise in temperature this century – more than one and a half times higher than anywhere else on the planet.

For the millions of people living in this vast region, longer droughts and intense storms will make farming and herding more difficult, and people will be forced to seek a better life.

Already, children account for more than half of the 12 million West and Central African people on the move each year. Contrary to many opinions, 75 percent of them remain in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer than one in five heading to Europe.

This current wave of migrants is just the start of a swelling humanitarian crisis. Migration involving children and young people is likely to increase due to rapid population growth and urbanisation, climate change, inequitable economic development, and persistent conflict.

Poverty is a powerful driver of migration in West and Central Africa. Countries with high levels of poverty are more likely to be a source of migration as people look to improve their lot in life. In interviews conducted by UNICEF, migrants describe the feeling of ‘having nothing to lose,’ aware that by migrating they are taking a risk, but it is a gamble that might pay off.

Helene is one of them. She is 14 years old, holding a sign saying “I am a child, and not a commodity.”……..

With drought and temperatures intensifying in West and Central Africa, tensions in accessing scarce resources for cattle are also increasing hostilities in many rural areas, pushing greater numbers of people towards cities. But with more than 100 million people living in coastal cities less than one metre above sea level, even conservative estimates of a sea-level rise could result in the forced displacement of millions of climate refugees as people seek safety for their families and children.

For organisations like UNICEF, the challenges are enormous and complex. Aid money can only fix so much, when monumental societal changes are required also. Until the root causes of poverty are addressed, and solutions provided in the form of economic opportunities, access to health care and access to quality education, people are likely to continue to take dangerous risks migrating for better opportunities.

Unless the long-term planning of governments and civil society is equipped to anticipate these climate shocks and subsequent migration, the unmitigated impact of these forces will create detrimental outcomes for children across the region.

To read the full UNICEF report, click  here  https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/07/09/37772/climate-changes-brutal-toll-on-africa

July 10, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, children, climate change | Leave a comment

Brexit likely to devastate UK nuclear power industry

Brexit will cause an ‘alarming mess’ for UK nuclear power, scientists warn, Independent, 9 Jul 17
Ben Kentish “….
Scientists say leaving the Euratom agency that oversees nuclear safety in Europe will cause widespread confusion and have a potentially devastating impact on the industry in Britain.

Possible consequences include a reduction in foreign investment in UK nuclear power facilities, the loss of thousands of jobs and Britain losing its place as a world leader in new nuclear technologies.

Professor Roger Cashmore, chair of the UK Atomic Energy Agency, told Buzzfeed News the current situation was “alarming” and “a mess”.

Although the treaties relating to Euratom are separate to those keeping Britain in the EU, the agency requires members to be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which Theresa May has insisted the UK must withdraw from as part of Brexit.

It is unclear how the UK will replace the procedures and regulations currently managed by Euratom. These cover the transportation of nuclear materials around Europe. Britain is a major producer of enriched uranium, which is used in nuclear fuel, and exports much of the material to other EU countries. The UK Government also owns a third of Urenco, the European uranium-enrichment company.

Unless new treaties relating to the transportation of nuclear materials between Britain and the EU are agreed quickly, the UK could run out of nuclear fuel within two years, meaning nuclear power stations would be unable to produce energy…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-nuclear-power-euratom-hinckley-point-risks-nuclear-fusion-energy-bills-a7832136.html

July 10, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment