nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Space exploration – it’s for weapons, too – theme for November 17

from Bruce Gagnon     We have become an occupied nation. The corporate oligarchy that runs the show in Washington uses space-based technologies to spy on us and to direct all warfare on the planet. In a way, you could call today’s expensive military satellites the “triggers” that make the high-tech weapons, like drones and offensive missiles, work. These satellites allow the military to see everything, to hear everything, and to target every place on the planet. We are sold the line that high-tech robotic warfare will save American lives and will be a cheaper way to fight.

A New Space Arms Race | Bruce Gagnon

The military industrial complex has become the primary resource-extraction service for corporate globalization and is preparing the future generations for its dead end street of perpetual war……

The aerospace industry says it needs nuclear power in space for mining the sky. Nuclear reactors on rockets will be needed to give them the kind of lift capability to reach Mars. International space law is now being re-written by corporate interests to allow their control of the planetary bodies. The industry plan is to scrap the United Nations Moon and Outer Space Treaties.

Rovers on Mars today are currently powered by plutonium-238……

Space entrepreneur Elon Musk says we must move our civilization to Mars. The Mars Society says the Earth “is a rotting, stinking, dying planet” and that we have to terraform Mars to make it habitable. Imagine how much money that would cost?……

The militarization of everything around us is a spiritual sickness. The Ongoing and Dangerous Militarization of Space https://ratical.org/radiation/NuclearExtinction/BruceGagnon022815.html

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November 11, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

This week: nuclear and climate news

Sometimes the news in one country is pivotal to the fortunes of the global nuclear industry. Right now, this country is arguably South Africa. Nuclear corruption has been entrenched in South Africa for a long time. It’s becoming urgently important now, as President Zuma nears the end of his term.  The global nuclear lobby must be watching, with some trepidation, to see whether a whole African nation can be bought,  despite the obstacles. In South Africa, the obstacles are: legal, financial, political, and technical. And that’s before one even talks about public opinion, and health and environmental impacts.

With one eye on South Africa, the nuclear lobby’s other eye is, of course, on the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany, where the nuclear lobby is working hard on the sidelines, to persuade the UN that their industry is “clean” – and therefore deserving of financial support.

Investigative reporting lives!! – Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management

SA energy minister Tom Koutsantonis slammed the federal government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee as an attack on renewables. More at reneweconomy.com.au

What’s happening in the UN climate talks in Bonn?  USA now the only country opposed to Paris climate accord, as Syria now joins.

Sleeping Ice Giants Stir — East Antarctica’s Totten Glacier Accelerates Toward Southern Ocean

EUROPE. Release of radioactive material to atmosphere – French Institute says probably from Russia or Kazakhstan.   Climate Change Related Drought Bakes the Iberian Peninsula.

NORTH KOREA. NORTH Korea has threatened to destroy the Unites States with a “barrage of concentrated strikes”. Why North Korea wants nuclear weapons – the lesson from Libya. Health, environmental, disaster at North Korea’s nuclear test site.

USA.

UK.  Nuclear Safeguards and Brexit.   Small Modular Nuclear Reactors: the last desperate hope of UK’s failing nuclear industry.   Big problems in Britain’s techno-optimism about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.  Wind power from Denmark to supply UK, by underwater cable

RUSSIA. Russia’s Rosatom touting for nuclear sales to Saudi Arabia.  Russia’s nuclear corporation talking up wind, solar power – (doubts about nuclear future?)

JAPAN. Edward Snowden discusses  Japanese Government surveillance findings. Fukushima Frozen soil wall nearly complete; NRA still doubts effect.

FRANCE. France still aims to reduce nuclear power, but postponing target for this.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa’s new Energy Minister rushes into nuclear power development with indecent haste. Coal and nuclear lobbies want to kill off renewable energy, says physics expert

SWITZERLAND. Swiss government worried about obsolescent cooling circuits of nearby French nuclear reactors.

CHINA. Bill Gates and China get together on new nuclear technology.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Don’t Nuke the Climate

No2 Nuclear Power 9 Nov 17

Nuclear power is, according to the nuclear industry, nearly carbon-free and indispensable for mitigating climate change as a result of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. In the official publications of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the nuclear industry no figures could be found regarding the present and/or envisioned future nuclear contribution to the reduction of the global emissions of greenhouse gases.

A new study by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen assesses the following questions:

How large would the present nuclear mitigation share be, assumed that nuclear power does not emit carbon dioxide CO2?

  • How large could the reduction become in the future, starting from nuclear generating capacity scenarios published by the IAEA, and also assumed that nuclear power does not emit CO2?
  • How feasible are the projections of the nuclear industry?
  • How large could the actual nuclear CO2 emissions be, estimated on the basis of an independent life cycle analysis?
  • Does nuclear power emit also other greenhouse gases?

Present nuclear mitigation contribution

In 2014 nuclear power contributed 1.6% of global usable energy supply. If we assume nuclear power displaced fossil-fuelled electricity generation its contribution to emissions reduction would be about 4.7%, assuming nuclear power is free of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) (which it is not).

Nuclear mitigation contribution in the future

A hypothetical nuclear mitigation contribution in 2050, based on two IAEA scenarios (assuming nuclear power is free of GHGs) shows the following reductions in GHGs:

IAEA Low scenario – constant nuclear capacity, 376 GWe in 2050: 1.3 – 2.4% reduction

IAEA High scenario – constant nuclear mitigation share, 964 GWe in 2050: reduction 3.8 – 6.8%.

Global construction pace

By 2060 nearly all currently operating nuclear power plants (NPPs) will have closed because they reach the end of their operational lifetime. The current construction rate for new capacity of 3-4 GWe per year is too low to maintain global nuclear capacity at the current level, so it is declining. To maintain current capacity the construction rate needs to be doubled. For the IAEA High Scenario it would need to increase to around 27 GWe/yr until 2050. In view of the massive cost overruns and construction delays that plague the nuclear industry such a high construction rate looks highly unlikely.

Prospects of new advanced nuclear technology

The nuclear industry talks about advanced nuclear systems that would enable mankind to use nuclear power for hundreds to thousands of years. These concepts concern two main classes of closed-cycle reactor systems: uranium-based systems and thorium-based systems. However, the prospects seem questionable in view of the fact that, after more than 60 years of research and development in several countries (e.g. USA, UK, France, Germany, the former Soviet Union) with investments exceeding €100bn, still not one operating closed-cycle reactor system exists in the world. If nuclear power ends up relying exclusively on a once-through cycle, as seems likely, the size of the uranium resources will be a restricting factor.

Nuclear generating capacity after 2050

In the highly unlikely event that the nuclear industry does manage to build 964 GWe of new nuclear capacity by the year 2050 these will be operating for 40-50 years. Will the industry expect to continue expanding?

Uranium demand and resources

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that no new nuclear power stations are built after 2050 with nuclear power phased out by 2100, presently known world recoverable uranium resources would be adequate to sustain the IAEA Low scenario, but not High scenario. A common view amongst nuclear proponents is that more exploration will yield more known resources, and at higher prices more and more uranium would become economically recoverable. In this view uranium resources are virtually inexhaustible. However, the amount of energy consumed per kg of recovered natural uranium rises exponentially with declining ore grades. No net energy can be generated by the nuclear system as a whole from uranium resources at grades below 200- 100 ppm (0.2-0.1 g U per kg rock); this relationship is called the energy cliff.

Actual CO2 emission of nuclear power

The nuclear process chain is a sequence of industrial activities which are required to generate nuclear electricity. CO2 emissions will result from the burning of fossil fuels and chemical reactions throughout the nuclear chain, except the nuclear reactor itself. The sum of the CO2 emissions of all processes in the chain are estimates at estimated at: 88-146 gCO2/kWh.

CO2 trap

The energy consumption and consequently the CO2 emission of the recovery of uranium from the earth’s crust strongly depend on the ore grade. As the average ore grade approaches 200 ppm, the specific CO2 emission of the nuclear energy system will surpass that of fossil-fuelled electricity generation. This phenomenon is called the CO2 trap. If no new major high-grade uranium resources are found in the future, nuclear power might lose its low carbon profile within the lifetime of new nuclear build.

Emission of other greenhouse gases

No data are found in the open literature on the emission of greenhouse gases other than CO2 by the nuclear system, likely such data never have been published. Assessment of the chemical processes required to produce enriched uranium and to fabricate fuel elements for the reactor indicates that substantial emissions of fluorinated and chlorinated gases are unavoidable; some of these gases may be potent greenhouse gases, with global warming potentials thousands of times greater than CO2. It seems inconceivable that nuclear power does not emit other greenhouse gases. Absence of published data does not mean absence of emissions.

Krypton-85, another climate changing gas

Nuclear power stations, spent fuel storage facilities and reprocessing plants discharge substantial amounts of a number of fission products, one of them is krypton-85, a radioactive noble gas. Krypton-85 is a beta emitter and is capable of ionizing the atmosphere, leading to the formation of ozone in the troposphere. Tropospheric ozone is a greenhouse gas, it damages plants, it causes smog and health problems. Due to the ionization of air krypton-85 affects the atmospheric electric properties, which gives rise to unforeseeable effects for weather and climate; the Earth’s heat balance and precipitation patterns could be disturbed.

Questionable comparison of nuclear GHG emission figures with renewables

Scientifically sound comparison of nuclear power with renewables is not possible as long as many physical and chemical processes of the nuclear process chain are inaccessible in the open literature, and their unavoidable GHG emissions cannot be assessed. When the nuclear industry is speaking about its GHG emissions, only CO2 emissions are involved. Erroneously the nuclear industry uses the unit gCO2eq/kWh (gram CO2-equivalent per kilowatt-hour), this unit implies that other greenhouse gases also are included in the emission figures, instead the unit gCO2/kWh (gram CO2 per kilowatt-hour) should be used. The published emission figures of renewables do include all emitted greenhouse gases. In this way the nuclear industry gives an unclear impression of things, comparing apples and oranges.

A second reason why the published emission figures of the nuclear industry are not scientifically comparable to those of renewables is the fact that the nuclear emission figures are based on incomplete analyses of the nuclear process chain. For instance the emissions of construction, operation, maintenance, refurbishment and dismantling, jointly responsible for 70% of nuclear CO2 emissions, are not taken into account. Exactly these components of the process chain are the only contributions to the published GHG emissions of renewables. Solar power and wind power do not consume fuels or other materials for generation of electricity, as nuclear power does.

Climate Change and Nuclear Power: An analysis of nuclear greenhouse gas emissions by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen. https://wiseinternational.org/will-nuclear-power-save-climate

Also see Don’t Nuke the Climate: http://www.dont-nuke-the-climate.org/?lang=en

The solutions to the climate crisis are clear: A rapid, just transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. The only sure way to stop the global warming impacts of energy use is to transition as quickly as possible from antiquated energy models of the 20th Century and their polluting nuclear power and fossil fuel technologies … to the safe, clean, affordable and sustainable renewable, efficient, and smart technologies of the 21st Century. Nuclear power in particular cannot solve the climate crisis. Indeed, its continued use exacerbates global warming by preventing the deployment of clean energy systems.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

NASA’s First Flight With Crew Will Mark Important Step on Journey to Mars

Mining Awareness +

This is a dangerous waste of taxpayer money unless the fact that “deep space travel poses a real and unique threat to the integrity of neural circuits in the brain” [1] can be solved. The US taxpayer has been paying for this work for some time and the Trump administration just signed to let Russia have it, probably for free, overriding the intent of the US Congressional sanctions. While Mars is an unlikely outcome due to the dangers of radiation, it most likely has military applications. According to a recent poll, the majority of Americans do not approve of Trump and are worried about Russia, increasingly and justifiably so. The majority are also opposed to nuclear power.

Dec. 1, 2016
NASA’s First Flight With Crew Will Mark Important Step on Journey to Mars

When astronauts are on their first test flight aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which will…

View original post 1,168 more words

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The latest on the COP23 climate talks

The latest news from COP23  What has been going on in the second half of the first week of COP23 climate change negotiations? https://dailyplanet.climate-kic.org/latest-news-cop23/, Will Yeates, 10 Nov17, 

Emerging nations have told rich countries to do more to cut emissions quicker. A group of campaigners have called for the US to be kicked out of the talks. But the main story seem to be around rich countries reluctance to commit to past promises around climate finance. NGOs may even sue.

With lighter news of how kale is climate-friendly and some art from Venice, here are the biggest COP23 stories from the second half of this week.

1. Emerging nations urge rich to kick-start climatepact before 2020

Emerging nations pressed developed countries on Wednesday to step up cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to kick-start the Paris climate agreement, saying the rich were wrongly focused on 2030 goals.

“We came here needing to hit the accelerator, not the brakes,” Brazil’s chief negotiator Antonio Marcondes told Reuters
Read more on Thomson Reuters Foundation

2. African campaigners call for the US to be kicked out of major UN climate talks because of Donald TrumpThe Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has organised a petition in favour of the US delegation being barred from the UN negotiations in response to Mr Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The group claims the US has no right to be involved in discussions on how the agreement should be implemented given that it has chosen to opt-out of the deal.Read more on The Independent

3. Climate-hit nations ask: Who will pay the rising costs of disasters?

The question of who might pay the mounting costs of disasters is a controversial one at the talks. Developed countries — as the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions — have been reluctant to discuss the costs, fearing they could be held liable.
Read more on Thomson Reuters Foundation

4. Carbon price among policy wishlist issued by businesses at COP23Members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), including the chief executives of more than 200 international businesses, have called for governments to collaborate with the private sector to set meaningful carbon prices and improve climate resilience.Read more on Edie

5. Kale on the agenda at COP23

Ten years ago, Nordic chefs drafted a manifesto to shape a new food culture, grounded in gastronomy, but their overall ambition was to create a new, sustainable food identity. What came out of was a boost in Nordic gastronomy based on locally sourced vegetables, creating thousands of new jobs and inspiring others across the food sector to follow suit.Read more on Huff Post

6. Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23

Andreco Studio has unveiled its latest art installation, Climate 04-Sea Level Rise in Venice, to raise awareness of the climate change conference COP 23 currently underway in Bonn, Germany. Introduced as a project promoting dialogue between the arts and sciences, the climate change-inspired installation calls attention to the effects of potential sea level rise in Venice.Read more on Inhabitat

7. COP23: NGOs may take nations to court over climate loss and damage

Developed countries have not lived up to their promises around climate financing. NGOs at the UN climate talks in Bonn are now pushing for action through legal means.Read more on Eco Business

7. COP23: NGOs may take nations to court over climate loss and damage

Developed countries have not lived up to their promises around climate financing. NGOs at the UN climate talks in Bonn are now pushing for action through legal means.Read more on Eco Business

9. Climate summit deadlocked over immediate action

A closed-door meeting over the inclusion of immediate climate action in the agenda at this year’s conference in Bonn, Germany, has failed to break the deadlock between developing and developed countries.

From the start of the UN summit on Monday, developing countries led by India, China and Iran have been asking for the inclusion of immediate climate action in the agenda.

Developed countries have been opposing this because it puts their actions under the spotlight. The Paris Agreement comes into force in 2020 so prior efforts to limit climate change are largely the responsibility of industrialised countries under the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. But many industrialised countries have not even ratified the second phase in their legislatures.Read more on China Dialogue

10. One nation, two tribes: opposing visions of US climate role on show in Bonn

Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris accord – but other Americans are standing with the world to help fight the ‘existential crisis’ of global warming. Deep schisms in the US over climate change are on show at the UN climate talks in Bonn – where two sharply different visions of America’s role in addressing dangerous global warming have been put forward to the world.Read more on Guardian

11. Rich countries not talking climate finance seriously, say African officials

Developed countries promised to deliver $100bn a year by 2020 in public and private fund to help struggling countries cope with climate change. Current flows are estimated at between $17bn and $61bn. However, at UN climate talks in Bonn, Seyni Nafo, who leads the group of African states, said the rich were refusing to advance even on procedural discussions around finance.Read more on Climate Home

November 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

NORTH Korea has threatened to destroy the Unites States with a “barrage of concentrated strikes”

North Korea threatens ‘barrage of concentrated nuclear strikes’ on US mainland

NORTH Korea has threatened to destroy the Unites States with a “barrage of concentrated strikes” in an astonishing rant in which they accuse Donald Trump of seeking to trigger World War 3.  Express UK, By LAURA MOWAT North Korean newspaper, Rodung Sinmum, said Washington was trying to spark nuclear warfare by conducting military exercises on the doorstep of the rogue nation.

Tensions between the US and North Korea have reached boiling point in recent months and Pope Francis has stepped in to try and save the planet from nuclear war.

There are fears of another world war after the hermit nation continued its internationally condemned nuclear missile testing programme. ……http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/877996/World-War-3-North-Korea-latest-news-Trump-nuclear-strikes-United-States

November 11, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What It’s Like for Informal Labour Employed in Nuclear Power Stations in Japan

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17,  

Sworn to secrecy,12 after a superficial safety education drill, they are sent into highly contaminated, hot and wet labyrinthine areas.

Irregular workers’ oral contracts with tehaishi are often illegal or dangerous, and are sometimes imposed on workers through threats or use of force.

Over the past 40 years, poor monitoring and record-keeping has meant that many former nuclear workers who develop leukaemia and other illnesses have been denied government compensation due to their lawyers’ inability to prove the etiological link between their disease and employment.

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17,  “…

Conditions for Informal Labour Employed in Nuclear Power Stations  The phenomenon of assembling and recruiting a relatively unskilled labour pool at the cheapest rate possible is typical in nearly all of Japan’s large-scale modern industrial projects in the 20th century. As early as the late 19th century, however, non-criminal homeless men were recruited for such projects, whether forced, coerced or voluntarily from the major day-labourer (hiyatoi rōdōsha 日雇い労働者) sites (yoseba) established in Sanya (Tokyo), Kotobuki (Yokohama), Kamagasaki (Osaka) and Sasashima (Nagoya). In pre–World War II and wartime Japan, yakuza tehaishi (手配師 labour recruiters) operated forced labour camps known as takobeya (たこ部屋 octopus rooms) for Korean and Chinese labourers who had been transported to work mainly in coal mines and on construction sites.6………

The rapid build of nuclear power stations was planned in the 1960s by a consortium of major investment banks, electric utilities and construction companies and/or industry manufacturers (Mitsubishi, Tōshiba, Hitachi, Sumitomo, etc.), and was carried out in the 1970s, with increased momentum in response to the oil crisis of 1974–76. Through an intensive ‘regional development’ program of rural industrialisation from the early 1970s, politically disempowered communities were targeted as potential cheap labour as their environs were designated as sites for nuclear projects by investment capital. In a combination of regulatory capture and economic dependency, utilities moved in to provide employment opportunities to communities while the same communities steadily lost control over their resources and subsistence economies. In the process, they lost political agency as their political representatives often received corporate and state inducements for these projects. As TEPCO owns the electricity distribution system in Fukushima Prefecture, which includes hydroelectric and thermal power stations as well as nuclear, and is a major employer and investor in Fukushima Prefecture,10 it has considerable sway in the political process as well as over electricity bills.

By the early 1980s, irregular workers came to comprise nearly 90 per cent of all nuclear workers.11 As nuclear reactors grow increasingly contaminated and corroded by radiation over time, informal labour became fodder for regular maintenance, cleaning, repairing and/or venting and refuelling of these nuclear reactors to reduce exposures to permanent company employees such as scientists and engineers. As the power station must be halted during the maintenance period, this period equates to a lack of production and profitability and is kept to a bare minimum by the operators, an approach that led to a litany of safety oversights and accidents.

Although provided less training, informal nuclear workers are paid higher over a shorter employment period than regular workers, whose insurance is taken out of their wage. Sworn to secrecy,12 after a superficial safety education drill, they are sent into highly contaminated, hot and wet labyrinthine areas. Their work includes scrubbing contaminated areas, installing shields to reduce exposure for skilled workers, decontaminating and repairing pipes and tanks, welding, transporting contaminated materials and waste, washing contaminated uniforms and tools, removing filters and clearing garbage, inspecting gauges in high-level areas, dispersing chemicals over nuclear waste piles, pouring high-level liquid waste into drums and mopping up waste water. Although radioprotection regulations have been tightened in the last decade, working conditions for irregular workers have not necessarily improved and, without sufficient information about radiation danger, they can still be exposed to over 1 millisievert (mSv) of external radiation within minutes in high concentration areas and accumulate large amounts of internal radiation.13

Since 3.11, invoking the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s (ICRPs) often-used ALARA (as low as reasonably allowable) principle to justify this regulatory contingency, the state also raised nuclear workers’ limits from no more than 50 mSv per year (mSv/y) and 100 mSv/5 years to 250 mSv/y to deal with emergency conditions, and determined that there would be no follow-up health treatment for those exposed to doses below 50 mSv/y, while TEPCO decided to not record radiation levels below 2 mSv/y in the misplaced justification that the effects would be negligible. In December 2011, ‘cold shutdown’ was (erroneously) declared and the workers’ limit was returned to 100 mSv/5 years. It will likely be raised again as the government expedites decommissioning to meet its estimated completion by 2030–2050.14 Although very few regular workers’ cumulative doses exceeded 20 mSv/y in any year prior to 3.11, by June 2015 the official number rose to 6,64215 with doses of irregular nuclear workers often un(der)counted.

In a fast-track 40-year plan to decommission Fukushima Daiichi (i.e. removing the cores and dismantling the plant), as of August 2015 roughly 45,000 irregular workers (‘front-line’ workers, or ‘nuclear gypsies’) had been assembled at the J-Village Iwaki-Naraha soccer stadium before entering the sites. As well as jobs at the power stations, they work on decontamination and construction sites throughout the prefecture, which include those designated for the 2020 Olympics, a new school in Futaba (the town nearest to FDNPS), a large centre for radiation monitoring, a large research and training institute for reactor decommissioning, and a giant sea wall for tsunami prevention (see also Chapter Five). Yakuza-linked labour brokers (tehaishi/ninpu-dashi), eager to profit from the post-3.11 decommissioning budget (conservatively estimated at $150 billion), use social media and oral contracts to recruit these workers from the most vulnerable populations for ‘clean up’ work.16 In this customary cascade of diluted responsibility, their original wage and conditions are skimmed or cut away (pinhane sareta ピンハネされた) by contractors (roughly 733 companies) so that some irregular workers receive as little as 6,000 yen per day and only a very small fraction of the 10,000 yen per day in danger money promised by the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) and TEPCO.17

Irregular workers’ oral contracts with tehaishi are often illegal or dangerous, and are sometimes imposed on workers through threats or use of force.18 In addition, the day labourer may become indebted to tehaishi for housing and/or loans for lifestyle dependencies (i.e. gambling, drugs, prostitution). As products of structural discrimination, itinerant and/or irregular workers who are already socially isolated may find it difficult to build support networks, whether through marriage, family or solid friendships. Obligated within a semi-legal economy and stripped of rights and protections, each worker is pitted against the other, young and old, stronger and weaker, individual and family man, for basic survival.

Over the past 40 years, poor monitoring and record-keeping has meant that many former nuclear workers who develop leukaemia and other illnesses have been denied government compensation due to their lawyers’ inability to prove the etiological link between their disease and employment. For example, the death of Yoshida Masao (58), the Fukushima Daiichi manager who was among the ‘Fukushima 50’ who remained at the plant to manage the nuclear meltdowns in their critical phase and who developed oesophagal cancer in 2013, was not recognised by TEPCO as related to radiation exposure from Fukushima Daiichi as the cancer was deemed to have developed too quickly after the initial accident.

Irregular nuclear workers have commonly relied on permanent employees to monitor, record and calibrate their doses. Denied sufficient information about radiation exposure risks, and preferring not to jeopardise their contracts and provoke physical intimidation if they complain about their conditions, many collude with company officers (who record their accumulated doses) to camouflage and underestimate their dose rates (particularly for internal doses). This allows them to extend their time and contracts at nuclear plants before they are deemed to have reached (or exceeded) the maximum annual dose limit (50 mSv/y).19 When a nuclear worker is diagnosed with abnormalities in a routine check-up, some subcontractors may falsify nuclear workers’ passbooks.20 Despite the long lives of internalised radionuclides, it has been customary either not to measure this properly and/or to simply reset the dose record at the end of each financial year.

While protective clothing and procedures have grown more stringent for nuclear workers, especially after some workers died and fell ill from heat-related causes, irregular workers remain far less protected.22 At Fukushima Daiichi, where crews are overworked and understaffed, irregular workers often commit errors leading to cases of serious injury and large leaks of radioactive materials into the environment. This is further compounded by the lack of understanding or recognition of chronic illnesses in either permanent or irregular nuclear workers. This has sometimes led to poorly explained deaths of nuclear workers.23

In October 2015, a welder in his late 30s and father of three from Kita-Kyushu became the first worker in four years to be awarded workers’ insurance payments (medical costs and loss of income for temporary disability) while three more cases remained undecided. He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukaemia after having accumulated 19.8 mSv/y from exposure to a radiation leak and one year’s work at Fukushima Daiichi (Reactors 3 and 4) and the Genkai nuclear plant (Kyushu) (both of which use MOX fuel).24 While compensation was recognised under nuclear workers’ compensation insurance legislation (1976), the Health Ministry maintained that a causal link between illness and employment remains to be scientifically proven. After the delayed report by TEPCO of 1,973 workers exposed to over 100 mSv/y by mid-2013, by August 2015 21,000 of the 45,000 irregular workers had been exposed to over 5 mSv/y and 9,000 workers to over 20 mSv/y.25 TEPCO and the central government would certainly be worried about a spike in compensation claims.

Without a proper health regime, the permanent damage incurred by irregular nuclear workers far outweighs the value of their cheap labour power. With their use as filters as they move to each plant, as nuclear workers grow older and sicker they become less able to commodify their labour and are unlikely to receive proper treatment and/or compensation (due to insufficient data and high radiation safety limits among other things). Although the endless production of labour willing to take on this dangerous work and the devolution of responsibility and ambiguity around radiation health effects are used to justify the continuation of these practices, if workers are knowingly placed in harmful conditions the employer is in breach of a duty of care under the Labour Standards Law. As byproducts of a discriminatory industrial labour system, these irregular nuclear workers and their families, like many elsewhere, are deprived of basic rights to health and well-being. As one labourer stated in relation to Fukushima Daiichi: ‘TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves’.26 In short, Fukushima Daiichi clearly illustrates the social reproduction, exploitation and disposability of informal labour, in the state protection of capital, corporations and their assets….http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n2335/html/ch06.xhtml?referer=2335&page=11

November 11, 2017 Posted by | employment, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

Why North Korea wants nuclear weapons – the lesson from Libya

Libya: The Forgotten Reason North Korea Desperately Wants Nuclear Weapons, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/libya-the-forgotten-reason-north-korea-desperately-wants-23129

Ted Galen Carpenter, The United States and its allies continue to cajole and threaten North Korea to negotiate an agreement that would relinquish its growing nuclear and ballistic-missile programs. The latest verbal prodding came from President Trump during his joint press conference with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. Trumpurged Pyongyang to “come to the negotiating table,” and asserted that it “makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing.” The “right thing” Trump and his predecessors have always maintained, is for North Korea to become nonnuclear.
It is unlikely that the DPRK will ever return to nuclear virginity. Pyongyang has multiple reasons for retaining its nukes. For a country with an economy roughly the size of Paraguay’s, a bizarre political system that has no external appeal, and an increasingly antiquated conventional military force, a nuclear-weapons capability is the sole factor that provides prestige and a seat at the table of international affairs. There is one other crucial reason for the DPRK’s truculence, though. North Korean leaders simply do not trust the United States to honor any agreement that might be reached.

Unfortunately, there are ample reasons for such distrust. North Korean leaders have witnessed how the United States treats nonnuclear adversaries such asSerbia and Iraq. But it was the U.S.-led intervention in Libya in 2011 that underscored to Pyongyang why achieving and retaining a nuclear-weapons capability might be the only reliable way to prevent a regime-change war directed against the DPRK.

Partially in response to Washington’s war that ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the spring of 2003, ostensibly because of a threat posed by Baghdad’s “weapons of mass destruction,” Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to capitulate regarding such matters. He signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in December of that year and agreed to abandon his country’s embryonic nuclear program. In exchange, the United States and its allies lifted economic sanctions and pledged that they no longer sought to isolate Libya. Qaddafi was welcomed back into the international community once he relinquished his nuclear ambitions.

That reconciliation lasted less than a decade. When one of the periodic domestic revolts against Qaddafi’s rule erupted again in 2011, Washington and its NATO partners argued that a humanitarian catastrophe was imminent (despite meager evidence of that scenario), and initiated a military intervention. It soon became apparent that the official justification to protect innocent civilians was a cynical pretext, and that another regime-change war was underway. The Western powers launched devastating air strikes and cruise-missile attacks against Libyan government forces. NATO also armed rebel units and assisted the insurgency in other ways.

Although all previous revolts had fizzled, extensive Western military involvement produced a very different result this time. The insurgents not only overthrew Qaddafi, they captured, tortured and executed him in an especially grisly fashion. Washington’s response was astonishingly flippant. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quipped: “We came, we saw, he died.”

The behavior of Washington and its allies in Libya certainly did not give any incentive to North Korea or other would-be nuclear powers to abandon such ambitions in exchange for U.S. paper promises for normal relations. Indeed, North Korea promptly cited the Libya episode as a reason why it needed a deterrent capability—a point that Pyongyang has reiterated several times in the years since Muammar el-Qaddafi ouster. There is little doubt that the West’s betrayal of Qaddafi has made an agreement with the DPRK to denuclearize even less attainable than it might have been otherwise. Even some U.S. officials concede that the Libya episode convinced North Korean leaders that nuclear weapons were necessary for regime survival.

The foundation for successful diplomacy is a country’s reputation for credibility and reliability. U.S. leaders fret that autocratic regimes—such as those in Iran and North Korea—might well violate agreements they sign. There are legitimate reasons for wariness, although in Iran’s case, the government appears to becomplying with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Tehran signed with the United States and other major powers in 2015—despite allegations from U.S. hawks about violations.

When it comes to problems with credibility, though, U.S. leaders also need to look in the mirror. Washington’s conduct in Libya was a case of brazen duplicity. It is hardly a surprise if North Korea (or other countries) now regard the United States as an untrustworthy negotiating partner. Because of Pyongyang’s other reasons for wanting a nuclear capability, a denuclearization accord was always a long shot. But U.S. actions in Libya reduced prospects to the vanishing point. American leaders have only themselves to blame for that situation.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author or coauthor of ten books, including The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea. He also is the author of more than seven hundred articles and policy studies on international affairs.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Libya, North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

release of radioactive material to atmosphere – French Institute says probably from Russia or Kazakhstan

French institute says pollution suggests release of nuclear material in Russia or Kazakhstan in September, Guardian, Ian Sample and Kim Willsher, 10 Nov 17, A cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe in recent weeks indicates that an accident happened in a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September, the French nuclear safety institute IRSN has said.

The IRSN on Thursday ruled out an accident in a nuclear reactor, saying it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine. There has been no impact on human health or the environment in Europe, it said.

IRSN, the technical arm of French nuclear regulator ASN, said in a statement it could not pinpoint the location of the release of radioactive material but that based on weather patterns, the most plausible zone lay south of the Ural mountains, between the Urals and the Volga river.

This could indicate Russia or possibly Kazakhstan, an IRSN official said………

Peres said that in recent weeks IRSN and several other nuclear safety institutes in Europe had measured high levels of ruthenium-106, a radioactive nuclide that is the product of splitting atoms in a reactor and does not occur naturally.

IRSN estimates a significant quantity of ruthenium-106 was released, between 100 and 300 terabecquerels, and that if an accident of this magnitude had happened in France it would have required the evacuation or sheltering of people in a radius of several kilometres around the accident site.

The ruthenium-106 was probably released in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine, Peres said. Because of its short half-life of about a year, ruthenium-106 is used in nuclear medicine – for example in cancer therapy for eye tumours – but can also be released when nuclear fuel is reprocessed.

Jean-Christophe Gariel, director for health at the IRSN, said the responsibility for identifying the source of the nuclear cloud was now with the Russians or Kazakhs. If they failed to identify where the contamination had come from, the matter could be referred to the United Nations, he said.

“The matter is closed as far as France is concerned. It’s not a problem for France, what is not satisfactory is that ruthenium-106 has been detected across Europe and that poses a question,” Gariel told the Guardian……..

The IRSN ruled out an accident in a nuclear reactor, as that would have led to contamination with other substances. It also ruled out the crash of a ruthenium-powered satellite as an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded that no ruthenium-containing satellite has fallen back on Earth during this period.

Measurement from European stations showed relatively high levels ofruthenium-106 in the atmosphere of the majority of European countries at the beginning of October, with a steady decrease from 6 October onwards. The radioactive element has not been detected in France since 13 October…….. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/10/nuclear-accident-in-russia-or-kazakhstan-sends-radioactive-cloud-over-europe

November 11, 2017 Posted by | environment, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration wants nuclear safety reports hidden from public

Energy undersecretary wants nuclear safety reports hidden from public, Independent watchdog agency entertained the idea Center for Public Integrity ,By Patrick Malone , 10 Nov 17

The head of the federal agency that produces U.S. nuclear weapons has privately proposed to end public access to key safety reports from a federal watchdog group that monitors ten sites involved in weapons production.

Frank Klotz, administrator of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, made the proposal to members of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in an October 13 meeting in his office overlooking the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, multiple U.S. officials said.

Klotz contended that recent media stories about safety lapses that relied partially on the board’s weekly disclosures were potentially counterproductive to the NNSA’s mission, the officials said. His solution was presented as the Trump administration considers an acceleration and expansion of nuclear warhead production at the federally-owned sites inspected by the board in eight states, including California, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Tennessee

Four of the safety board’s five members heard Klotz’s appeal, and one of them — Bruce Hamilton, a Republican — responded by drafting and briefly circulating a proposal among the members to stop releasing the board’s weekly and monthly accounts of safety concerns at nuclear weapons factories and laboratories.

Under Hamilton’s proposal, these accounts of accidents and problematic incidents — prepared by board staff that routinely visit or are stationed at these federally-owned sites — would be replaced by oral reports by those staff members to their superiors in Washington, which would not be divulged to the public, according to multiple federal officials, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic under discussion.

The proposal represented the second effort by federal officials in recent months to curtail public access to information about persistent safety problems in the nuclear production complex, which the Center for Public Integrity documented in articles published between June and August……… https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/11/09/21261/energy-undersecretary-wants-nuclear-safety-reports-hidden-public

November 11, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Official Medicine: The (Il)logic of Radiation Dosimetry – disguising the true health effects of Fukushima radiation

it is not surprising that the overwhelming emphasis in scientific studies and public reports has been placed on psychological impacts rather than disease and deaths

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, Adam Broinowski , ANU 7 Nov 17 

“….Official Medicine: The (Il)logic of Radiation Dosimetry

On what basis have these policies on radiation from Fukushima Daiichi been made? Instead of containing contamination, the authorities have mounted a concerted campaign to convince the public that it is safe to live with radiation in areas that should be considered uninhabitable and unusable according to internationally accepted standards. To do so, they have concealed from public knowledge the material conditions of radiation contamination so as to facilitate the return of the evacuee population to ‘normalcy’, or life as it was before 3.11. This position has been further supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which stated annual doses of up to 20 mSv/y are safe for the total population including women and children.43 The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) also asserted that there were no ‘immediate’ radiation related illnesses or deaths (genpatsu kanren shi 原発関連死) and declared the major health impact to be psychological.

While the central and prefectural governments have repeatedly reassured the public since the beginning of the disaster that there is no immediate health risk, in May 2011 access to official statistics for cancer-related illnesses (including leukaemia) in Fukushima and southern Miyagi prefectures was shut down. On 6 December 2013, the Special Secrets Protection Law (Tokutei Himitsu Hogo Hō 特定秘密保護法) aimed at restricting government employees and experts from giving journalists access to information deemed sensitive to national security was passed (effective December 2014). Passed at the same time was the Cancer Registration Law (Gan Tōroku Hō 癌登録法), which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues including evaluation of medical data obtained through screenings, and denied public access to certain medical records, with violations punishable with a 2 million yen fine or 5–10 years’ imprisonment. In January 2014, the IAEA, UNSCEAR and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University (FMU) signed a confidentiality agreement to control medical data on radiation. All medical personnel (hospitals) must submit data (mortality, morbidity, general illnesses from radiation exposures) to a central repository run by the FMU and IAEA.44 It is likely this data has been collected in the large Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation, which opened in Minami-Sōma in late 2015 to communicate ‘accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety’.

This official position contrasts with the results of the first round of the Fukushima Health Management Survey (October 2011 – April 2015) of 370,000 young people (under 18 at the time of the disaster) in Fukushima prefecture since 3.11, as mandated in the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act (June 2012).45 The survey report admitted that paediatric thyroid cancers were ‘several tens of times larger’ (suitei sareru yūbyōsū ni kurabete sūjūbai no ōdā de ōi 推定される有病数に比べて数十倍のオーダーで多い) than the amount estimated.46 By 30 September 2015, as part of the second-round screening (April 2014–March 2016) to be conducted once every two years until the age of 20 and once every five years after 20, there were 15 additional confirmed thyroid cancers coming to a total of 152 malignant or suspected paediatric thyroid cancer cases with 115 surgically confirmed and 37 awaiting surgical confirmation. Almost all have been papillary thyroid cancer with only three as poorly differentiated thyroid cancer (these are no less dangerous). By June 2016, this had increased to 173 confirmed (131) or suspected (42) paediatric thyroid cancer cases.47

The National Cancer Research Center also estimated an increase of childhood thyroid cancer by 61 times, from the 2010 national average of 1–3 per million to 1 in 3,000 children. Other estimates of exposure to radiation, obtained from direct thyroid measurements in Namie town in April 2011, although discontinued under government pressure, also returned much higher results than official estimates (i.e. 80 per cent positive, 1 at 89 mSv, 5 over 50 mSv, 10 at 10mSv or under).48 In April 2014, Dr Tsuda Toshihide, an epidemiologist at Okayama University, declared this a ‘thyroid cancer epidemic’ (kōjōsen densenbyō 甲状腺伝染病), and predicted multiple illnesses from long-term internal radiation below 100 mSv/y and advocated for a program of outbreak (emergency or rapid) epidemiology in and outside Fukushima.49Similarly, a Tokyo-based physician, Dr Mita Shigeru, circulated a public statement notifying his colleagues of his intention to relocate his practice to Okayama due to overwhelming evidence of unusual symptoms in his patients (roughly 2,000). Given that soil in Tokyo post-Fukushima returned between 1,000 and 4,000 Bq/kg, as compared to an average of 500 Bq/kg (Cs 137 only) in Kiev soil, Mita pointed to a correlation between these symptoms and the significant radiation contamination in Tōhoku and metropolitan Tokyo.50

While results from the Fukushima Health Survey demonstrate flaws in the official dosimetry model and public safety campaign, the survey itself also has clear limitations. It is limited to subjects in a specific age bracket in one prefecture and one non-fatal illness (thyroid cancer, which can be treated with surgery but has lifelong side effects) from the ingestion of one radionuclide (Iodine 131) with a relatively short half-life (eight days) that comprised only 9.1 per cent of the total releases. Its dosimetry is based on the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) model,51 which is for external exposure only, does not account for exposures in the initial days of the disaster and uses Japanese Government data that has been criticised for underestimating releases and exposures.52 Further, the survey ignores the damage from the bulk of the total inventory including longer-lived radionuclides (such as Plutonium 239, Caesium 137, Strontium 90, Americium 241, among others), some of which are more difficult to measure on ordinary and less sensitive Geiger counters and which have been distributed and continue to circulate across a wide area. It also ignores other organ diseases, unusual chronic illnesses and premature births and stillbirths, voluntary terminations and birth deformities occurring in and beyond Fukushima prefecture.

In addition to the control of relevant data, the government has used other methods to encourage residents to stay in radiation-contaminated areas. In May 2011, Dr Yamashita Shunichi, then co-director of Fukushima Medical University and the Fukushima Health Management Survey and a specialist from Nagasaki on radiation illness in Chernobyl, declared there was a 1 in 1 million chance of children getting any kind of cancer from radiation and there would be negligible health damage from radiation below 100 microSv/h, and prescribed smiling as an aid to living with radiation to a public audience in Fukushima.53

Dr Yamashita is only one among a host of politicians, bureaucrats, experts and advertising and media consultants who support the post-3.11 safety mantra of anshin (secure 安心), anzen (safe 安全), fukkō (recovery 復興). Through public meetings, media channels, education manuals and workshops,54 local citizens in Fukushima Prefecture were inundated with optimistic and reassuring messages, also known as ‘risk communication discourse’, and central and prefectural government-sponsored ‘health seminars’ encouraging a ‘practical radiation protection culture’ in which they have been urged to take responsibility (jiko sekinin 自己責任) for their own health (e.g. wearing glass badges, self-monitoring, avoiding hotspots), form bonds of solidarity (kizuna 絆) with their community and participate in the great reconstruction (fukkatsu 復活) for the revitalisation of a resilient nation (kyōjinka kokka 強靭化国家) as a whole. To counteract baseless rumours (ryūgen higo 流言蜚語) and the negative impact of gossip (fūhyō higai 風評被害) of radiation in contaminated Fukushima produce, citizens in and beyond Fukushima Prefecture, and even non-citizens, have been encouraged to buy and consume Fukushima produce as an expression of moral and economic support (through slogans such as ‘Ganbare Fukushima!’ がんばれ福島!). At the same time, to reduce ‘radiophobia’ and anxiety, while focusing on the psychological impact from stress, health risks from radiation exposures have been trivialised and/or normalised for the general public.55

This approach is backed up by international nuclear-related agencies. As stipulated on 28 May 1959 in the ‘WHA12-40’ agreement, the WHO is mandated to report all data on health effects from radiation exposures to the IAEA, which controls publication. On no other medical health issue is the WHO required to defer publication responsibilities to another institution. Scientific expertise at the IAEA primarily lies in nuclear physics (radiology and dosimetry) as opposed to epidemiology and medical expertise on radiation effects to living tissue. The IAEA and its related UN bodies are informed by the International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP) recommendations on radiation dose assessments derived from the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission/Radiation Exposure Research Foundation (ABCC/RERF) lifetime studies of hibakusha (被爆者) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This dosimetry is primarily based on an average exposure of a 20–30-year-old ‘reference man’ (originally modelled on a US Army soldier) mainly to short-term one-off acute gamma radiation exposure. While it recommends caution, the ICRP continues to maintain that anything below 100 mSv/y is a ‘low dose’ and that the risk of ‘stochastic effects’ are yet to be scientifically proven beyond doubt. Within this framework, it would seem reasonable to raise the level from 1 to 20 mSv/y.

The ABCC/RERF studies ignored, however, biological contingencies of sex, age, constitution, other health conditions and the variegated effects (including complicating chemical and metabolic dynamics) from both internal and external exposures to different radionuclides of all types (‘low level’ internal radiation is at least 20 times greater). After Chernobyl, the WHO and IAEA used the ICRP dose model to conclude that there were up to 56 deaths of ‘liquidators’ (clean-up workers) from acute radiation sickness and 4,000 additional cancers;56 and that environmental effects such as lifestyle (i.e. parental alcoholism, smoking) and ‘radiophobia’ (stress and depression) contributed to excess illnesses in 80 per cent of adult cases. It also concluded that no harm would be received by the 2 million farmers and more than 500,000 children who continued living in radioactive areas in Belarus.

Nevertheless, it is no longer possible to ignore a significant body of research, including 20 years of scientific studies compiled in Belarus and Ukraine that show serious depopulation, ongoing illnesses and state decline.57 These studies have found genetic effects within a radius of 250–300 km from Chernobyl, while children’s health in Belarus has declined from a situation where 80 per cent of the child population was healthy prior to the Chernobyl disaster to a situation post-Chernobyl where only 20 per cent are healthy.58 In 1995, Professor Nechaev from the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry (Moscow) stated that 2.5 million people were irradiated from Chernobyl in the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian Prime Minister Marchuk stated that 3.1 million had been exposed to Chernobyl radiation and Professor Okeanov from Belarus observed a spike in leukaemia and cancers among liquidators in Gomel relative to duration of exposure.59 By 2001, of 800,000 healthy Russian and Ukrainian liquidators (with an average age of 33 years) sent to decontaminate, isolate and stabilise the reactor, 10 per cent had died and 30 per cent were disabled. By 2009, 120,000 liquidators had died, and an epidemic of chronic illness and genetic and perigenetic damage in nuclear workers’ descendants appeared (this is predicted to increase over subsequent generations).60 The full extent of the damage will not be understood until the fifth generation of descendants. By the mid-2000s, 985,000 additional deaths between 1986 and 2004 across Europe were estimated as a direct result from radiation exposure from Chernobyl.61

Given this background of regulatory capture and radical discrepancies in methods and estimates prior to the Fukushima disaster, it is less surprising that there may be a process of regulatory capture and cover up underway in response to Fukushima Daiichi. In December 2011, a Cabinet Office Working Group chaired by RERF chairman Nagataki Shigenobu consisted of 18 Japanese ICRP members (including Niwa Otsura and Yamashita Shunichi). The experts invited Mr Jacques Lochard to provide external expertise. Lochard is an economist, ICRP member, Director of the Center of Studies on the Evaluation of Protection in the Nuclear Field (CEPN) (funded by Electricité de France EDF), and co-director of the CORE-ETHOS Programme in Chernobyl (1996–1998).

The CORE (Cooperation and Rehabilitation in the Belarusian territories contaminated by Chernobyl) Programme organised a takeover of radioprotection health centres in Ukraine and Belarus, and delayed a health audit beyond five years while it produced the ETHOS report outlining a ‘sustainable system of post-radiological accident management for France and the European Union’.62 While local scientists (led by Yuri Bandazhevsky and Vassili Nesterenko) recommended whole body counts (WBC) for each child (in which 50,000 children would be tested with spectrometers), food measurement, dietary radioprotection (prophylaxis through adsorbents) and resettlement of those exposed to radiation over 1 mSv/y,63 the ETHOS manual concluded that in a similar radiological event in western Europe, resettlement would be restricted to those exposed to more than 100 mSv/y. By factoring in ‘social, economic and political’ costs, ETHOS proposed ways for populations to live with radiation, and identified psychosomatic illnesses derived from ‘stress’ based on unfounded fears (i.e. ‘radiophobia’) of radiation as the greatest health risk. After a prolonged delay, in 1996 the IAEA and WHO finally settled on 5 mSv/y as the mandatory evacuation limit in a compromise between the Soviet (1 mSv/y) and western European (100 mSv/y) recommendations after Chernobyl.64These agencies targeted ‘alarmist’ reports (including social protests) as encouraging ‘radiophobia’, stressing the psychological impacts of radiological events.

In post-3.11 Japan, the Japanese Cabinet Office Working Group65 reinforced the IAEA dosimetry regime by reiterating that cancers only emerge four to five years after exposure, that increases in cancers within this period could not be attributable to the accident,66 and that illnesses in people exposed to radiation below 100 mSv/y could be concealed by other carcinogenic effects and other factors (rendering them statistically negligible), and thus could not be proven to be radiation related. In fact, in July 2014, Nagataki Shigenobu declared that it would be ‘disastrous to conclude [from the survey findings] an increase in thyroid cancer’ was due to radiation exposure.67 Consequently, privileging a government study of the thyroid glands of 1,080 children in late March 2011 (a very small sample), Nagataki claimed that almost none had exceeded 50 mSv for internal exposure and that 99.8 per cent of the population in Fukushima Prefecture could be estimated to have received an external dose below 5 mSv. Nagataki dismissed the need for further medical screenings, regular check-ups or internal radiation tests (whole body counter, urine and blood tests) at hospitals and clinics in Fukushima Prefecture or elsewhere.

Instead, the government appears to have adopted the ETHOS model: ‘improving’ community life in radiation-contaminated areas through local education and support groups; encouraging proactive self-responsibility (i.e. self-monitoring with government monitors) for children and parents (including pregnant women); stamping out ‘stigma’ attached to ‘Fukushima’ residents, the area and its produce while stigmatising ‘radiophobia’; and encouraging evacuees’ return after and even prior to ‘decontamination’.68

By September 2015, an officially estimated 3,407 people (up from 3,194 the previous year) had died from ‘effects related to the great east Japan earthquake’ (Daishinsai kanren shi 大震災関連死).69 In March 2015, about 1,870 deaths of those who had evacuated due to the overall disaster were deemed to have been from ill-health and suicide. By March 2016, this had increased to 2,208 deaths, while 1,386 deaths were estimated to have been caused by effects related specifically to the nuclear disaster (genpatsu kanren shi).70 Further, a statistically significant 15 per cent drop in live births in Fukushima Prefecture in December 2011, and a 20 per cent spike in infant mortality were found to have been caused mainly by internal radiation from the consumption of contaminated food.71 Nor do statistics on abortions seem to have been factored into official accounts. As the statistics are so temporally specific, anxiety (disruption, evacuation) is unlikely to have been the major factor as the spikes would be more prolonged. It has also been extrapolated from the conservative UNSCEAR 2013 estimate of a 48,000 person Sv collective dose, that another 5,000 are expected to die from future cancers in Japan (and larger numbers to become ill).72 Using the Tondel model, however, the European Commission on Radiation Risk (ECRR), in contrast to the ICRP dose model, which estimates 2,838 excess cancers within 100 km radius over 50 years excluding internal radiation, estimated that 103,000 excess cancers within 100 km would be diagnosed within 10 years and 200,000 in the next 50 years.73

As with informal and formal nuclear workers, if these deaths were officially recognised as being tied to radiation from Fukushima Daiichi, then the family of the deceased as main income earner would be eligible for a 5 million yen ‘consolation’ payment (half for others). Further, it would also imply the need for stricter radiological protection standards and a greater number of permanent evacuations and official health treatment program that would effectively limit the so-called ‘benefits’ associated with nuclear power generation.74 In short, it is not surprising that the overwhelming emphasis in scientific studies and public reports has been placed on psychological impacts rather than disease and deaths (particularly but not limited to nuclear workers and children) and the argumentation over the significance of thyroid cancers. The same pattern occurred after Chernobyl and Three Mile Island……http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n2335/html/ch06.xhtml?referer=2335&page=11

November 11, 2017 Posted by | health, Japan, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Senate hearing to examine Trump’s ‘authority to use nuclear weapons’

Corker announces Senate hearing to examine Trump’s ‘authority to use nuclear weapons’ https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/09/senate-hearing-to-probe-trumps-authority-to-use-nuclear-weapons.html Christina Wilkie@christinawilkie 8 Nov 17

  • Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Wednesday that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing Nov. 14 to examine the president’s “authority to use nuclear weapons.”
  • Corker is one of Trump’s fiercest critics within his own party. The hearing represents a significant escalation of Corker’s concerns about the president’s temperament and fitness for office.
  • The hearing was announced less than a day after Trump delivered a speech in which he called the nuclear-armed North Korean dictatorship a “dark fantasy” and a “military cult.”

After months of questioning President Donald Trump’s temperament and fitness for office, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Wednesday that he would convene a hearing to examine the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons.

The announcement of the Nov.14 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, amounts to a significant escalation of what has so far been a war of merely words between the powerful Republican and his party’s standard-bearer.

“A number of members both on and off our committee have raised questions about the authorities of the legislative and executive branches with respect to war making, the use of nuclear weapons, and conducting foreign policy overall,”Corker said in a statement Wednesday.

After months of questioning President Donald Trump’s temperament and fitness for office, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Wednesday that he would convene a hearing to examine the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons.

The announcement of the Nov.14 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, amounts to a significant escalation of what has so far been a war of merely words between the powerful Republican and his party’s standard-bearer.

“A number of members both on and off our committee have raised questions about the authorities of the legislative and executive branches with respect to war making, the use of nuclear weapons, and conducting foreign policy overall,” Corker said in a statement Wednesday.

 If President Trump were to order a nuclear strike, here’s what would happen  

“This continues a series of hearings to examine those issues and will be the first time since 1976 that this committee or our House counterparts have looked specifically at the authority and process for using U.S. nuclear weapons. This discussion is long overdue, and we look forward to examining this critical issue,” Corker said.

The announcement came less than a day after Trump delivered a combative speech aimed at North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in which the president called North Korea a “dark fantasy” and a “military cult.” Speaking in South Korea, Trump accused the hermit kingdom of being founded on “a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent-protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people.”

Trump’s insistence on engaging in brinkmanship with the nuclear-armed dictator has stunned many military and foreign policy professionals, who fear the president’s ego could lead the country down a path to war.

Some of those professionals are scheduled to testify at Tuesday’s hearing. One, Brian McKeon, is the former Acting Under Secretary for Policy at the Department of Defense under President Barack Obama, and a critic of Trump’s approach to nuclear-armed North Korea.

Another witness is retired Air Force General Robert Kehler, a former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command and an expert in nuclear weapons and the capabilities of America’s nuclear arsenal.

The third witness is Peter Feaver, a former director for Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration. In 2016, Feaver was one of nearly 50 Republican national security officials who signed a letter opposing Trump’s candidacy for president. Since then, Feaver has made no secret of the fact that he views Trump as a potential threat to national security.

“In a crisis, for instance with a nuclear-armed North Korea, Trump’s temperament could be problematic and could lead to dangerous escalation, whereas another President with better self-control might be able to manage it more safely,” Feaver told the Duke University Chronicle in August of last year.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond late Wednesday to a request for comment on the hearing.

Feaver’s view is one that Corker has expressed repeatedly, not least when he called the White House “an adult day care center” last month in response to attacks from Trump.

 

November 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN chief urges global community to accelerate climate action

Accelerate climate action and raise ambition, urges UN chief http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58066#.WgYJwdKWbGg  10 November 2017 – As the impact of climate change worsens around the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on the global community to redouble efforts to help countries respond to climate shocks, especially the most vulnerable.

“I am encouraged to see climate action taking hold, at all scales, at all levels, involving an ever-wider coalition of actors and institutions,” said the Secretary-General, at a press stakeout at the UN Headquarters, in New York.

“But we need to do more,” he underlined.

In his remarks, the UN chief said that he will be travelling to Bonn to participate in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), where, he will urge efforts to accelerate climate action as well as to raise ambition to do more.

“The window of opportunity to meet the 2-degree target may close in 20 years or less – and we may have only five years to bend the emissions curve towards 1.5 degrees,” he said, noting the need for a further 25 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.

Speaking on the need for bolstering finance, Mr. Guterres called for mobilizing the agreed $100 billion annually for developing countries, which is crucial to spur action.

He also said that in September 2019, he will convene a Climate Summit to mobilize political and economic energy at the highest levels.

“I ask world leaders to show courage in combatting entrenched interests; wisdom in investing in the opportunities of the future; and compassion in caring what kind of world we build for our children,” he said.

“As a former politician myself, I have no doubt that in today’s world, this is the path to progress today and a meaningful legacy for tomorrow.”

Also at the stakeout, the UN chief informed that before Bonn, he will visit the Philippines to attend the UN-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit, and after participating at COP23, he will deliver an address at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London on counter-terrorism and human rights on Thursday, 16 November.

“As the world responds to modern terrorism, our goal must be to win the fight while upholding our values,” he said.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Big problems in Britain’s techno-optimism about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

 NO2 Nuclear Power, 9 Nov 17 

The Financial Times reports that the Government is preparing to revive the faltering effort to create a new generation of small-scale nuclear reactors in spite of an official analysis that cast doubt on the economic case for the technology. Talks have intensified in recent weeks between government officials and companies including Rolls-Royce, the UK engineering group, over potential public funding to support development of so-called small modular reactors (SMRs).

Development of SMRs is regarded as crucial to the future of the nuclear industry as it struggles to remain competitive against the rapidly falling cost of renewable wind and solar power. Support for SMRs is expected to be part of a wider commitment to nuclear engineering in a new industrial strategy to be unveiled by the government this month.

However, the enthusiasm has been complicated by a technology assessment, commissioned by the business department and carried out by EY, the accounting firm, which reached a negative verdict on the cost-effectiveness of SMRs. The findings are expected to be published in the coming weeks and will confront the government with awkward questions about why public money should be used to help commercialise the unproven technology.

Competitors are expecting the government’s funding for SMRs to be split into three areas, with the largest portion being committed to technology ready for rapid deployment over the next decade. In the future there may also be funding for more experimental technology, with a third area of potential financial support for suppliers working alongside SMR developers, according to people briefed on the government’s plans. The most intense competition for funding is in the first of these areas, with Rolls-Royce vying with rivals including NuScale and Westinghouse of the US. (1)

At the Tory Party Conference the Policy Exchange organised a fringe meeting entitled “A Nuclear Reactor in Every Town”. According to Matthew Rooney, who is the Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment Research Fellow, “It is fair to say large nuclear reactors are not doing very well in the nuclear world” as evidenced by Hinkley Point C “It is very difficult in liberalized economies to fund large nuclear reactor projects these days and that is where small modular reactors could come in.” Small modular reactors (SMRs), he said, offer the potential to provide scalable and reliable low carbon power and heat. (2)

It’s easy to see why Rolls Royce and other companies in the nuclear engineering business are pushing the UK government finance the development a new generation of SMRs says Oliver Tickell, writing in the Ecologist. Whether the project succeeds or fails, there are juicy profits to be had for them at taxpayers’ expense. But it is much harder to see why the Government might fall for the industry’s techno-optimism which is pure fantasy for a second time in a little over a decade. (3)

According to a recent report by Rolls-Royce and its partners in the ‘SMR Consortium’ (SMRC), a UK SMR program could create 40,000 skilled jobs, contribute £100 billion ($132 billion) to the economy and open up a potential £400 billion global export market. Nuclear Industries Association chairman Lord (John) Hutton claims in the foreword that a UK SMR programme could “help the UK become a vibrant, world-leading nuclear nation.” He asserts his belief that “it is fundamental for the UK to meet its 2050 decarbonisation targets and will deliver secure, reliable and affordable electricity for generations to come.”

The SMRC report envisages an approximate doubling of the UK’s 9.5GW existing nuclear capacity by 2030, then another doubling by 2050 to around 40GW. That implies that come 2050, SMRs would be delivering some 30GW – the output of 100 300MW units scattered around the UK.

There are just two problems with the rosy scenario, says Tickell. First, the techno-optimism that oozes from every page is a fantasy. The cost of renewables is falling so fast that nuclear power will be utterly irrelevant in meeting decarbonisation targets. There is no £400 billion export market. Who would want SMRs in 2050, when their power will be 50-100 times more expensive than solar?

Secondly, nuclear power stations have got bigger to achieve economies of scale: it’s much cheaper to build a single 1.2GW unit than four 300MW units, or a dozen 100MW units. There is nothing new about SMRs – they have been powering submarines and aircraft carriers ever since the 1950s. If there really are huge cost savings to be achieved from the mass production of SMRs, how come they have not already been achieved?

We now know thanks to Andy Stirling and Philip Johnstone of Sussex University that the government wants to use the civilian nuclear programme to generate expertise, and technology, for military use, especially reactors for Trident nuclear submarines. Lord Hutton gave the game away in his introduction to the SMRC report when he wrote: “A UK SMR programme would support all 10 ‘pillars’ of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and assist in sustaining the skills required for the Royal Navy’s submarine programme.”

Senior civil servants revealed that the government’s decision to build a new generation of civil nuclear power stations starting with Hinkley Point is linked to maintaining enough skills to keep Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The disclosure came at a hearing of the Commons Public Accounts Committee looking at the huge cost of building Hinkley Point power station which critics see as uneconomic and not properly costed.

Stephen Lovegrove told the committee “I was in regular discussion with Jon Thompson, former Permanent Secretary at the MOD, to say that as a nation we are going into a fairly intense period of nuclear activity … We are building the new SSBNs (nuclear armed nuclear submarines) and completing the Astutes … We are completing the build of the nuclear submarines which carry conventional weaponry. We have at some point to renew the warheads, so there is very definitely an opportunity here for the nation to grasp in terms of building up its nuclear skills.” (4)

With regard to Hinkley, Stirling and Johnstone say there is a “remarkable persistence and intensity of UK Government attachments to what is increasingly recognised as an economically untenable project.” The persistence of this nuclear attachment looks to be at least partly due to a perceived need to subsidise the costs of operating and renewing the UK nuclear-propelled submarine fleet. (5)

The governments new Clean Growth Strategy includes, amongst other things, £20m R&D/innovation funding for low carbon heat and energy efficiency, but that is dwarfed by the £480m proposed for nuclear R&D including R&D on SMRs. In terms of low carbon research priorities there are arguably more urgent options to explore such as Power to Gas (P2G) especially. (see Balancing Green Energy, nuclear News No.100 http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo100.pdf) The Government’s funding priorities need to be debated further. (6)  http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo101.pdf

November 11, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear Safeguards and Brexit

 NO2 Nuclear Power, 9 Nov 17

The government cannot guarantee Britain will have enough nuclear inspectors when it leaves the EU. The Office of Nuclear Regulation has recruited four new safeguards inspectors but says it needs more time to fill the specialised roles. Nuclear minister Richard Harrington said there was “plenty of time” to recruit the staff needed. But he stopped short of offering a firm guarantee. The government has stressed that nuclear safeguards – the processes by which the UK shows its civil nuclear material is not diverted into weapons programmes – are different from nuclear safety – the prevention of nuclear accidents. Mr Harrington said the UK was committed to leaving Euratom in March 2019. (1)

Industry figures have warned about significant disruption to energy production in the UK if there is not a new inspection regime ready to go to, to replace the one currently overseen by Euratom.

Dr Mina Golshan gave evidence on behalf of the Office for Nuclear Regulation to the Safeguards Bill Committee on 31st October 2017. (2) Dr Golshan completely ducked addressing the most important aspect of the bill, according to nuclear security expert Dr David Lowry. It is- not the operational technicalities which concern Lowry, but the diplomatic acceptability of a nation state asserting that it will replace an independent international safeguards verification regime with a self verified regime, albeit one that intends to be populated by the appropriate expertise from a current recruitment drive.

Dr Golshan also overlooked the fact the current trilateral safeguards agreement (UK-EURATOMIAEA) has an opt out of safeguards application to fissile material, under its article 14, if the Government so decides; and this has actually been done over 600 times since September 1978, when the trilateral safeguards agreement came into force. Foreign states regard this as UK ‘doit-yourself’ nuclear proliferation on an industrial scale, as comments at successive NPT review conferences attest, but ministers routinely ignore.

Indeed, the ONR itself now publishes annual data on such withdrawals on its web site, http://www.onr.org.uk/safeguards/withdrawals.htm

See: Nuclear Safeguards Bill 2017-19 – Library briefing, http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8107/CBP-8107.pdf  more http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo101.pdf

November 11, 2017 Posted by | politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment