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Fears of children who have to check radiation levels outside before they can go and play

The main problem is internal radiation thru food and drinking, which in this article is not enough emphasized. Plus there is no safe level of manmade radiation.
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Almost seven years after the Fukushima disaster, staff are forced to check if schoolyards are too poisonous to play
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Pupils have to scan their school playground
Children are still using Geiger counters to test for deadly radiation levels at schools struck by the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Almost seven years after the worst nuclear meltdown in decades, staff are forced to check if schoolyards are too poisonous to play.
A large Geiger counter in their playground measures the invisible threat still hanging over them after the nearby nuclear plant was hit by an earthquake and engulfed by the ensuing tsunami.
If radiation readings are too high, the children are told they cannot go outside.
Students even have their own handheld devices to check for themselves if schoolyards are too poisonous to play in.
One, 13-year-old Yume, admits what many others also feel. “I’m afraid I’m going to get cancer,” she says bluntly.
Her classmate Mei adds: “Some of the playgrounds near here have been shut – the radiation is too high.”
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Device shows readings equal to having a chest x-ray
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Explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station on March 14, 2011
The disaster in March 2011 was the worst nuclear incident in 30 years. Now students spend lessons scanning their school and plotting hotspots on a map back in class.
Ryu, 13, explained: “The trees are where the highest readings are. We picked up 0.23 last month.”
That level is double the 0.1 millisieverts patients face during a chest X-ray, or equal to 50 scans at the dentist.
While those last just seconds, these children are exposed constantly. The Japanese government has declared Fukushima safe, with a 20-mile no-go zone around the crippled power station itself.
Science teacher Takahira Abe, 52, leads workshops designed by Save the Children to educate about the dangers.
He said: “Fukushima will be a shadow these children live with for the rest of their lives. Most were so young life seems normal, but often when we teach them about radiation they get flashbacks.”
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Kids in the area are more likely to get cancer
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Science teacher Takahira Abe
They are taught about monitoring radiation in local crops and fish.
Mr Abe explains: “I want them to understand the risks – and that they are more likely to get cancers. It gives them tools to protect against further dangers.”
After the disaster Mr Abe and his wife Hiromi decided not to flee – despite protests from their son and daughter, then nine and 13. He said: “The school had a geiger counter for science, so I took readings. Levels were not too high.
“My duties as a teacher were more important. I had to stay and educate others.”
His textbook was created by Save the Children to help those living under a radiation threat. And counsellors have been brought in to help deal with mental health issues.
Mr Abe adds: “That’s one positive – we’re encouraging children to talk openly. That’s not happened before in Japan.”

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December 31, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

About 50% of local bodies near nuke plants want say over reactor restarts

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Roughly 50 percent of local governments within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant — excluding municipalities where the plant is located — want to have a say in the restarting of nuclear reactors, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.
Among 121 neighboring local bodies, 60 of the 119 that provided answers in the survey said that they wanted to have a say in whether nuclear reactors can be reactivated.
Since the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, the reactivation of nuclear reactors has been subject to consent from prefectures and municipalities hosting the facilities. However, taking into consideration the widespread damage and risks associated with the disaster in 2011, neighboring authorities have also been keen to get involved in the approval process.
A total of 155 local governments were targeted in the survey, which was conducted between September and November 2017 and addressed to local government heads and also to assemblies. The local authority where the Fukushima No. 1 power plant is located also took part.
Thirty-four of the 155 authorities (13 prefectural and 21 municipal) have a commercial nuclear power plant directly within their jurisdictions. The remaining 121 neighboring local bodies (eight prefectural and 113 municipal) are situated within 30 kilometers of a power plant.
Of the 155 local bodies approached, 153 local government heads — excluding those of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture and Ikeda, Fukui Prefecture — gave answers while 154 local assemblies, excluding that of Iitate, cooperated.
Local government heads were asked whether they are for or against reactor restarts at the local nuclear power plant, the extent of their local government’s involvement, and the status of any safety agreements with electric power companies. Assemblies were asked whether or not they have adopted any written statements concerning the restarting of nuclear reactors, among other questions.
Regarding the right to approve reactivation of reactors at nuclear power plants and the right to conduct on-site investigations — which have effectively already been given to mainly local governments where plants are located — the local government heads were asked if these rights should be extended to neighboring bodies as well. In response, 56 heads stated that it was necessary to grant such rights, seven said that it is partly necessary, 24 said it was unnecessary, one head did not know, 60 gave other answers, and five did not reply.
Altogether, 60 of the 63 heads who said the granting of such rights was “necessary” or “partly necessary” belong to neighboring local governments. Of these 60 local bodies, 16 said that they are against restarting nuclear reactors.
Meanwhile, of the 24 heads who said the granting of these rights was “unnecessary,” 10 belong to local governments where a nuclear power plant is located, including Fukui Prefecture — revealing a difference in attitudes between the immediate and nearby local governments.
However, of the immediate local governments, the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture — which was seriously affected by the 2011 disaster — said that the rights need to be extended on the grounds that, “Once an accident happens, the impact spreads across a wide area.”
The village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture — where the Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant is based — was among those that replied that it is “partly necessary” to extend the rights.

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December 31, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

A quiet plea from Mordechai Vanunu the humble nuclear whistleblower! 31st Dec 2017 #ICANN

Screenshot-2017-12-30-11.32.33_preview

On Thursday (28December 2017) Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli nuclear whistle blower published a photo of himself alongside the statue of St. Stephen at St. Stephens Church in east Jerusalem and tweeted:

“Life continue. waiting for my freedom to travel, now after 32 years with all the restrictions. nothing changes, nothing to report, nothing to post. see you in 2018 very soon.”

By Eileen Fleming

http://thearabdailynews.com/2017/12/30/st-stephen-and-israels-nuclear-whistleblower-mordechai-vanunu/

On 16 July 2009, this American was walking down Nablus Road in east Jerusalem when I heard the unmistakable voice of Mordechai Vanunu call out, “Hi, remember me?”

I turned to see Vanunu who quipped, “This is the same spot where the first Christian was martyred for freedom of speech.”

We had crossed paths in front of St. Stephens Church in east Jerusalem and Vanunu was referring to the book of Acts 7:54-60:

The Stoning of Stephen

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

UPDATE:

I tried to share this link on Facebook but it blocked my comment on Eileen Flemings (the author) Facebook post. So I screenshotted the blocking of the comment and the comment as well. I then went to Google and checked Mordecai`s name within the past hour and got no results even though 2 bloggers had posted titles with his name in. Here is the screenshots anff a link to the Intercept on how Facebook is working with extreme elements within Israel.

“It’s hard to believe that anyone’s ideal view of the internet entails vesting power in the U.S. government, the Israeli government, and other world powers to decide who may be heard on it and who must be suppressed. But increasingly, in the name of pleading with internet companies to protect us, that’s exactly what is happening.” https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-deleting-accounts-at-the-direction-of-the-u-s-and-israeli-governments/

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December 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hiding the costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Hurricane costs and corporate bailouts? Insurance report Dec 2017

Posted to nuclear-news.net

Posted by Shaun McGee

29th Dec 2017

For the insurance companies, The Japan 2011 Earthquake and nuclear disaster was not a concern, as I lay out below. The costs were to be managed largely by the government. The Insurance companies were getting of so lightly that they even paid out compensation to the victims, though they were not obliged too!

SwissRE, whose data this article is based off, compiles reports for the Global insurance industry. The Insurer with the largest impact from the Fukushima 2011 disaster was Lloyds of London with some 2 billion Dollar loss, 20 percent of the total insurance industry costs. This may account for the interest in the UK Government helping cover up the health and environmental impacts of the disaster in the long term, having got “skin in the game”, including the damage to the UK`s nuclear industry (MOX fuel reprocessing and nuclear reactor new builds etc).

The actual costs of the disaster as of April 2017 was 626 Billion Dollars up from the Japanese government total cost of the disaster of roughly 9 billion Dollars. Although, the initial figure seems to be based on the Insurers losses and not the governments calculations. The insurers, probably thinking of their 100`s of billions dollars investments in the nuclear industry (with the big 5 UK based insurers having 300 billion pounds sterling invested until they divested into PFI contracts leaving the UK tax payer holding the nuclear energy bill), played down the total costs and even seemed to bemoan the extra regulations that would be brought in as a response to the nuclear aspect to the Tohuku disaster in 2011.

Finally, In a recent article published on RT concerning the report for the year 2017 from Swiss RE we get dramatic headline of huge increased  loses to some 300 Billion Dollars (Less than half of the Fukushima disaster cost)  with 100 Billion of that specific to the USA. Once again though we do not get the uninsured loses from the disasters. And that is not the only problem.  SwissRE does not mention that the actual US figures for total losses are 135 Billion Dollars for the hurricanes, 9 billion for the fires and the largely uninsured losses of 95 billion for Puerto Rico and similar for the Virgin Islands. Swiss RE`s recent claim that total insured loses from around the world have risen to 136 billion Dollars seems to be more of a PR move to hide the fact that governments are using tax payer money to bail out the Insurance companies over man made and natural disaster costs? I will leave evidence and links below;

 

“A private think tank says the total cost of the Fukushima disaster could reach ¥70 trillion ($626 billion), or more than three times the government’s latest estimate. In a study Saturday, the Japan Center for Economic Research said costs of dealing with the heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. could rise to between ¥50 trillion and ¥70 trillion.

In December, the government estimated the costs would reach roughly ¥22 trillion. “If costs rise, the public burden could greatly increase. The country’s nuclear policy needs to be reviewed,” JCER said. The government’s initial expectations pegged the costs at ¥11 trillion.”  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/01/national/real-cost-fukushima-disaster-will-reach-%C2%A570-trillion-triple-governments-estimate-think-tank/#.WkfdJvZpFhE

Page 21 of this Jan 2012 RE Swiss Global insurance report said of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Screenshot from 2017-12-30 18:46:02

http://www.swissre.com/library/Global_Risks_Report_2012.html#inline

In the 2013 Fukushima specific report, Swiss RE did give some figures for the cost of the disaster;

Screenshot from 2017-12-30 18:48:32

From 2013 report link; http://www.swissre.com/library/archive/A_History_of_Insurance_in_Japan.html

RT report for December 2017 from Swiss RE ;
“Economic losses from natural and man-made disasters have soared by 63 percent in 2017 to an estimated $306 billion, according to a report from reinsurance firm Swiss Re.

 The company estimates, insured losses from natural and man-made disasters around the world was approximately $136 billion, up from $65 billion in 2016. This is “well-above the annual average of the previous ten years, and the third highest since… records began in 1970,” Swiss Re said in its report. The reinsurance firm said insured losses from disasters have exceeded $100 billion in a number of years.

“The insurance industry has demonstrated it can cope very well with such high losses,” said Martin Bertogg, Head of Catastrophe Perils at Swiss Re.” https://www.rt.com/business/414623-global-disasters-2017-cost/

 

December 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK: Renewables a better option than nuclear power: but nuclear is needed for maintaining nuclear weapons

Cheap renewables undercut nuclear power,  The technology advances and plunging costs of cheap renewables make base load nuclear power redundant. Climate News Network, by Paul Brown, LONDON, 29 December, 2017 “………Completion doubts

Even the former UK energy secretary Sir Edward Davey, who signed off on the Hinkley Point deal, said “the economics have clearly gone away.” He doubted that the building would ever be completed, he told Greenpeace in an interview.

All the other UK nuclear projects are still at various stages of planning, and how any of them will be paid for is yet to be worked out. It is already clear that none can be financed without government subsidy.

An important political development in 2017 was that for the first time both the US and the UK admitted that their support for the nuclear industry is linked to the need to maintain their military capability in nuclear submarines and personnel. This is key, because both powers have previously claimed that there is no link between civil and military nuclear industries.

Even before their admission it was already clear that the big economies which have no nuclear weapons, like Germany, can see no point in having a civil nuclear industry.

Export drive

That does not stop smaller countries, some without any nuclear power stations at all at present, signing agreements with the Russian state-owned company Rosatom. In what many see as a Russian policy to extend its international influence, Rosatom already says it is building reactors in Belarus, China, India, Bangladesh, Hungary, Turkey, Finland and Iran, and is seeking to expand, with tenders in for 23 other reactors abroad.

These include Sudan, where the current president is wanted for war crimes. Whether all the plans will come to fruition remains doubtful. https://climatenewsnetwork.net/cheap-renewables-undercut-nuclear-power/

December 30, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, UK | 1 Comment

Donald Trump’s  National Security Strategy (NSS) puts America in peril

Trump’s “America First” Security Strategy Imperils the US  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43066-trump-s-america-first-security-strategy-imperils-the-us, December 29, 2017By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis Last week, with great fanfare, Donald Trump rolled out his new National Security Strategy (NSS). Its guiding theme is “America First.” An analysis of the 55-page document, however, reveals a program that renders the United States more unpopular and vulnerable to external threats.

Trump’s plan takes Barack Obama’s policy of “American exceptionalism” to a new level. In his speech accompanying the NSS’s release, Trump stated, “America has been among the greatest forces for peace and justice in the history of the world.”

Yet Trump has not only continued but also escalated the Bush-Obama wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, dropped Tomahawk missiles on Syria, threatened North Korea and Iran, intensified airstrikes against Muslim countries, and fanned the flames of conflict in the Middle East.

Trump’s NSS stresses military might but makes scant reference to diplomacy. His administration is building 10 new aircraft carriers worth $13 billion each as a counterweight to China, and expanding the US nuclear weapons program to the tune of $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Nuclear weapons are “the foundation of our strategy to preserve peace and stability by deterring aggression against the United States, our allies, and our partners,” according to the NSS. But Trump has dangerously escalated tensions with North Korea, providing that country with increasing incentives to develop nuclear weapons that reach around the world.

And by refusing to recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, in spite of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency’s finding to the contrary, Trump is further imperiling peace.

The NSS’s brief mention of working with international organizations is belied by the Trump administration’s abiding contempt for the United Nations. The UN Charter was created in 1945 by the countries of the world to collectively restore and maintain international peace and security.

As with Trump’s domestic program, the NSS makes no pretense of concern for human rights in other countries. This is evidenced in practice by Trump’s unwavering support for Israel‘s brutal occupation of Palestinian lands, including, most recently, his declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel .  The NSS accurately states, “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region.”

But the NSS minimizes Israel’s central responsibility for the conflict, stating, “the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.”

In defiance of nearly all other nations, Trump’s Jerusalem declaration endangers world peace. Indeed, last week, the UN Security Council voted 14-1, with a US veto, to condemn Trump’s characterization of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And in a rarely used procedure called Uniting for Peace (UFP), the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly followed suit. UFP allows the General Assembly to take measures to restore international peace and security when the Security Council is unable or unwilling to act. By utilizing UFP, which requires a two-thirds vote, this resolution has greater force than other General Assembly decisions. The International Court of Justice upheld the legality of UFP in its 1962 advisory opinion.

Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights, told Truthout that, “What is already evident on the basis of [Trump’s Jerusalem] decision itself is the severe damage done to the global and regional leadership reputation of the United States.”

While setting forth the goal of being an “energy-dominant nation,” the NSS gives short shrift to “the importance of environmental stewardship.” Obama’s 2015 NSS, on the other hand, correctly stated that climate change was an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” Yet Trump’s NSS does not recognize the threat of climate change. And in spite of increasingly extreme and unseasonal weather events such as recent hurricanes and wildfires, Trump has alarmingly and irresponsibly pulled out of the Paris climate accord.

The four pillars of the NSS, according to Trump, are protecting the US homeland, promoting US prosperity, achieving peace through strength and advancing US influence in the world.

Pillar I: Protect the Homeland

The NSS singles out unauthorized immigration as a threat to the homeland, but also implicitly attacks authorized immigration as well. It states that residency and citizenship decisions “should be based on individuals’ merits and their ability to positively contribute to US society, rather than chance or extended family connections.” This policy leads to the separation of families and makes us no safer.

Pillar I stresses securing our borders “through the construction of a border wall,” embodying Trump’s campaign mantra. There is no evidence that an expensive border wall will secure US borders or make us safer.

“The United States rejects bigotry and oppression,” according to Pillar I. Yet Trump has instituted three iterations of a Muslim ban, which would exclude from the United States immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries, as well as North Korea and Venezuela.

The Trump administration has also drastically cut back on accepting refugees from Syria, whose people are suffering from a prolonged, tragic civil war.

Pillar I pledges the US government will “help communities recover and rebuild” after natural and other disasters. Yet Trump has failed to meaningfully respond to the devastation wrought by the recent hurricane in Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States.

Pillar II: Promote American Prosperity

One subsection of Pillar II, called “Reduce the Debt Through Fiscal Responsibility,” cites “modernizing our tax system” as a way to “make the existing debt more serviceable.” Ironically, at Trump’s urging, the GOP-controlled Congress passed a radical tax overhaul that will reportedly add $1.5 trillion (or more) to the debt in the next 10 years. This is the height of irresponsibility.

Moreover, the United Nations has just conducted an investigation of extreme poverty in the United States, with disturbing results. It concluded that the prevalence of poverty and inequality “are shockingly at odds with the [US’s] immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.” The report documented a rise in poverty that disproportionately affects women and people of color as well as many white Americans. Homelessness, police surveillance, criminalization of poverty and unsafe sanitary practices were also flagged as problems.

Yet documentation of poverty in the United States is conspicuously absent from Trump’s NSS. In fact, Pillar II cites “unnecessary regulations” as problematic. Deregulation serves the interest of the wealthy. Since he took office, Trump has eliminated hundreds of regulations that protect health, safety and workers.

Pillar III: Preserve Peace Through Strength

This pillar identifies China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and jihadist terrorist groups as “actively competing against the United States and our allies and partners.” It stresses diplomacy “short of military involvement” as “indispensable.” Yet Trump castigated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for pursuing diplomacy with North Korea while escalating the war of words and pushing punishing sanctions against that emerging nuclear power. Although Pillar III pays lip service to the “law of armed conflict,” Trump’s actions have violated those rules.

Pillar IV: Advance American Influence

Pillar IV states, “Around the world, nations and individuals admire what America stands for. We treat people equally and value and uphold the rule of law.” But since taking office, Trump has celebrated white supremacists, pardoned racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio and ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He has also consistently violated US and international law.

The United States sells weapons and provides military advisers to Saudi Arabia, which enables the Saudis’ illegal bombing and medical/food/fuel blockade of Yemen, the poorest Arab country. This has resulted in famine and an outbreak of cholera affecting millions of Yemenis, particularly children. California Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu and Ro Khanna both warned that such actions expose US officials to criminal liability for aiding and abetting Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

This pillar admits that the UN “can help contribute to solving many of the complex problems in the world.” It emphasizes that the “United States supports the peaceful resolution of disputes under international law.” Yet the administration reacted to the Security Council and General Assembly’s rejections of Trump’s Jerusalem-as-capital-of-Israel declaration by threatening countries that voted against it with loss of foreign aid. Moreover, Trump threatened to cut off funding to the UN itself, the most significant peacekeeping organization in the world.

Resist Trump’s Agenda

Increasing disillusionment with Trump’s policies and, most recently, his unpopular new tax bill, may lead to the loss of a Republican majority in one or both houses of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. It is incumbent on us all to continue and escalate our resistance to the Trump regime. The future of the United States and indeed, the world, depends on it.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | politics international, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Russia’s warning to USA and North Korea: risk of the worst war in human history

‘War worse than ANY in human history’ Russia’s stark warning to US and North Korea https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/669884/North-Korea-War-Russia-US-Vladimir-Putin-Donald-Trump-Kim-Jong-un-Missile-Nuclear-Test, 30 Dec 17

RUSSIA has warned North Korea and the US are on course for an explosive war of a level “never before seen in human history”. US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un could stumble into a nuclear war of “unprecedented scale”, warned Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat Oleg Burmistrov.

Russia’s so-called ambassador-at-large predicted the start a war could be “unprovoked” and said the US it is “playing with fire” in goading North Korea.

Moscow has repeatedly called for calm in the region as Trump and Kim’s fiery war of words stoked the conflict to horrifying new heights in recent months.

Burmistrov called on the world to do “everything possible” to prevent the war that would spiral into the first use of nuclear weapons since World War 2.

North Korea is feared to be plotting another missile test before the end of the year – with US “missile sniffer” plane Cobra Ball taking flight yesterday amid Kim’s threats.Burmistrov told Sputnik: “[It could be] the catastrophe of the scale, never before seen in human history.

“We are talking not only about a major military conflict but also about a conflict that potentially has a nuclear component.

“Now we are in the face of a major military conflict, which can become a reality if the military solution plan is implemented.

“And we need to do everything possible to prevent this from happening.” Putin’s top man suggested US war drills in the region may be “testing” North Korea and looking for grounds to impose a total economic blockade on Pyongyang.

He described the region as a “powder keg” as military forces continue to march into the Korean Peninsula.

The ambassador added: “The situation on the Korean Peninsula is characterised by an unprecedented level of tension, there is a growing danger of slipping into an armed conflict, unprovoked, but which may begin due to accidental circumstances.”

Burmistrov has previously visited Pyongyang to discuss the nuclear crisis and has also hosted meetings with North Korean officials in Moscow. This week, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson to discuss North Korea.

Despite separate tensions between Moscow and Washington, the two came to an agreement that they would “never accept” a nuclear-armed Kim.

North Korea is believed to be gearing up to launch a space rocket, which experts have warned could be a cover for another weapons test. Kim should be expected to carry out at least one more launch before the end of the year, North Korea expert Michael Madden told Daily Star Online.

Pyongyang is believed to have long-term ambitions to launch a nuclear missile into the heart of the Pacific.

This test is known as the dreaded Juche Bird – and has been described as Trump’s “red line” that could spark World War 3.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Trump’s NASA Space Plans – Potential for a Nuclear Catastrophe

Trump’s NASA Plans Are a Nuclear Disaster Waiting to Happen http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43021-the-nuclear-disaster-of-trumps-nasa-plans December 29, 2017By Linda Pentz Gunter,   Earlier this month, President Trump announced that he wants the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to “lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars.” But while couched in patriotic sound bites and pioneering rhetoric that “Florida and America will lead the way into the stars,” the risks such ventures would entail — and the hidden agenda they conceal — have scarcely been touched upon.

For those of us who watched Ron Howard’s nail-biter of a motion picture, Apollo 13,and for others who remember the real-life drama as it unfolded in April 1970, collective breaths were held that the three-man crew would return safely to Earth. They did.

What hardly anyone remembers now — and certainly few knew at the time — was that the greater catastrophe averted was not just the potential loss of three lives, tragic though that would have been. There was a lethal cargo on board that, if the craft had crashed or broken up, might have cost the lives of thousands and affected generations to come.

It is a piece of history so rarely told that NASA has continued to take the same risk over and over again, as well as before Apollo 13. And that risk is to send rockets into space carrying the deadliest substance ever created by humans: plutonium.

Now, with the race on to send people to Mars, NASA is at it again with its Kilopower project, which would use fission power for deep space. It would be the first fission reactor launched into space since the 1960s. Fission, commonly used in commercial nuclear reactors, is the process of splitting the atom to release energy. A by-product of fission is plutonium.

Small reactors would be used to generate electricity on Mars to power essential projects in the dark. But first, such a reactor has to get to Mars without incident or major accident. And the spacecraft carrying it would also be nuclear-powered, adding monumentally to the already enormous risk. As physicist Michio Kaku points out, “Let’s be real. One percent of the time, rockets fail, they blow up, and people die.” With plutonium on board, the only acceptable accident risk has to be 0 percent.

When Apollo 13 mission astronaut John Swigert told NASA Mission Control “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” it only touched on the most immediate crisis: the damaging of the craft after the explosion of an oxygen tank that forced the crew to abort the planned moon landing.

However, what few knew at the time — and what was entirely omitted from Howard’s 1995 film — was the even bigger crisis of what to do about the SNAP-27 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) on board. The RTG was carrying plutonium-238. It was supposed to have been left on the moon to power experiments. Now that no moon landing was to occur, what would become of the RTG, especially if Apollo 13 ended up crashing back to Earth in a fireball? Such an outcome could disperse the plutonium as dust, which, if inhaled, would be deadly.

One (and possibly the only) journalist who has been consistently on the “nukes in space” beat for more than 30 years is Karl Grossman. When the Apollo 13 movie came out, he picked up the phone and called the film’s production company, Imagine Entertainment, to ask why they had not included the higher drama of the plutonium problem. “It was surprising to see Hollywood not utilizing an Armageddon theme,” he told Truthout.

Grossman said that Michael Rosenberg, then executive vice president and now co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment, told him that the omission was an “artistic decision.” However, since NASA personnel had served as advisors for the film, Grossman speculated that the agency might have been more than a disinterested party. Far better that the film confine itself to the life-threatening jeopardy of the three astronauts rather than the danger to life on Earth that would have been posed by falling plutonium.

Grossman was already well aware of the Armageddon potential of NASA missions by the time he called Howard’s production company. In 1985, he had learned that two space shuttle missions planned for 1986 would carry plutonium-powered probes to be lofted into space to orbit the Sun and Jupiter. As it turned out, the ill-fated Challenger was one of the shuttles scheduled for the May 1986 plutonium mission, in what would have been its second flight that year.

Grossman said he had been worried at the time about a rocket explosion on launch, a not unprecedented disaster. Or what if a shuttle carrying a plutonium-fueled space probe failed to attain orbit, exploded and crashed back to Earth?

The official NASA and Department of Energy (DOE) documents Grossman eventually obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, “insisted that a catastrophic shuttle accident was a 1-in-100,000 chance,” he said.

But on January 28, 1986, Challenger exploded. (Shortly thereafter, NASA changed the odds of a catastrophic shuttle accident to 1-in-76.) Grossman called The Nation and asked if they knew that Challenger’s next mission would have carried plutonium. The magazine invited Grossman to write an editorial — “The Lethal Shuttle” — which ran on the magazine’s front page.

After The Nation editorial, Grossman was invited over to the offices of “60 Minutes.” He duly appeared with armfuls of documents and alarming “what ifs” but, as he told Truthout, “there was no ignition,” and “60 Minutes” never picked up the story.

Over the years, articles about the use of nuclear power on space devices and military plans for space continued to be ignored. With the mainstream media apparently reluctant to challenge the space program — perhaps out of a misplaced sense of “patriotism” — Grossman continued his solo investigations. In 1997, he penned a book, The Wrong Stuff, which detailed NASA’s blunders with plutonium-fueled missions and its unrealistic calculations about the probability of a major accident.

There had been problems before Challenger. In 1964, an aborted mission carrying an RTG had resulted in a reentry burn-up over Madagascar. Plutonium was found in trace amounts in the area months later. Although the event was downplayed, it had serious consequences, as Grossman found in a report he cited in The Wrong Stuff. The plutonium had spread all over the world.

According to page 21 of the report, “A worldwide soil sampling program carried out in 1970 showed SNAP-9A debris to be present on all continents and at all latitudes.”

John Gofman, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, and involved in the isolation of plutonium in the early years of the Manhattan Project, connected the SNAP-9A accident to a worldwide spike in lung cancer, as reported on page 12 of Grossman’s The Wrong Stuff.

Similarly, in 1968, a weather satellite was aborted soon after takeoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The plutonium from its RTG plunged into 300 feet of water off the California coast. Fortunately, in this instance, it was retrieved. At the time, all satellites were powered by RTGs. But in the wake of these disasters, NASA had already begun to push to develop solar photovoltaic (PV) power for satellites. Today, all satellites are powered by solar PV, as is the International Space Station.

Apollo 13 jettisoned its 3.9 kg of plutonium over the South Pacific, already the setting for scores of atomic weapons tests by the US and France. Contained in a graphite fuel cask, it supposedly came to rest in the deep Tonga Trench. No one will ever bother to retrieve it, even though it is now technically feasible, because of the enormous cost. Whether it has leaked (likely) and how it has affected marine life will now never be known.

Grossman kept on writing about the dangers of nuclear materials in space as well as the possibility for space wars. He found that one of the reasons NASA and the DOE sought to use nuclear power in space was to work in tandem with the Pentagon, which was pushing Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, known colloquially as “Star Wars.” Star Wars was predicated on orbiting battle platforms with nuclear reactors — or “super RTGs” — on board, providing the large amounts of energy for particle beams, hypervelocity guns and laser weapons.

Although seemingly alone on the issue as a journalist, Grossman is not without an important resource in the form of Bruce Gagnon’s Maine-based Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, which has been campaigning on the issue since 1992. Gagnon has watchdogged space weaponry but also US government plans to plunder other planets and moons for minerals, as the Trump administration is hinting it expects to do. Gagnon told Grossman that such plans have never been far from the nuclear industry’s radar and that at nuclear power industry conferences, “Nuclear-powered mining colonies and nuclear-powered rockets to Mars were key themes.”

The topic was also covered by Helen Caldicott and Craig Eisendrath in their 2007 book, War in Heaven. That same year, the Cassini space probe was launched. It carried 72.3 pounds of plutonium fuel, used to generate electricity, not propulsion — 745 watts of it to run the probe’s instruments. As Grossman wrote in a recent article and drew attention to in his documentary — Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens — Cassini “was launched on a Titan IV rocket despite several Titan IV rockets having blown up on launch.”

In 1999, because “Cassini didn’t have the propulsion power to get directly from Earth to Saturn…. NASA had it hurtle back to Earth in a ‘slingshot maneuver’ or ‘flyby’ — to use Earth’s gravity to increase its velocity,” Grossman wrote. A catastrophic failure of that operation could have seen Cassini crash to Earth, dispersing its deadly plutonium load. According to NASA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission, Section 4-5, the “approximately 7 to 8 billion world population at the time … could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure.” And yet, the agency proceeded to take that chance.

The world had once again dodged a radioactive bullet. In September 2017, having completed its mission, Cassini was deliberately crashed into Saturn, contaminating that planet with plutonium. While less controversial than lethally dumping it on Earth, the event raises at least moral, if not scientific questions about humankind’s willingness to pollute other planets with abandon after already doing so to our current home.

The Trump administration’s planned new missions to the moon and Mars would seem to follow that pattern, with Trump stating ominously, “this time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint.” The US now intends to conduct “long-term exploration and use” on Mars and the moon.

A recent article in Roll Call suggested that while Trump has said little publicly about the militarization of space, behind-the-scenes space satellite warfare is very much on the agenda with serious money set aside to develop “weapons that can be deployed in space.”

A war in space might not involve nuclear weapons — for now. But warring satellites could knock out nuclear weapons early warning systems and set other potential disasters in motion. These cataclysmic risks play strongly into the arguments — enshrined in the recent UN nuclear weapons ban — that we should be disarming on Planet Earth, not arming in space.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | Reference, safety, technology | Leave a comment

Defectors from North Korea show signs of radiation exposure

Radiation fears for North Korean defectors http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/radiation-fears-for-north-korean-defectors/news-story/3917a3a1dc9cd27d55d196772dd42a09,  YUNA PARK, Reuters,  December 28, 2017 At least four defectors from North Korea have shown signs of radiation exposure, the South Korean government says, although researchers could not confirm if they were was related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

The four are among 30 former residents of Kilju county, an area in North Korea that includes the nuclear test site Punggye-ri, who have been examined by the South Korean government since October, a month after the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a news briefing.

At least four defectors from North Korea have shown signs of radiation exposure, the South Korean government says, although researchers could not confirm if they were was related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

The four are among 30 former residents of Kilju county, an area in North Korea that includes the nuclear test site Punggye-ri, who have been examined by the South Korean government since October, a month after the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a news briefing.

They were exposed to radiation between May 2009 and January 2013, and all defected to the South before the most recent test, a researcher at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, which carried out the examinations, told reporters.

They were exposed to radiation between May 2009 and January 2013, and all defected to the South before the most recent test, a researcher at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, which carried out the examinations, told reporters.

North Korea has conducted six nuclear bomb tests since 2006, all in tunnels deep beneath the mountains of Punggye-ri, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and international condemnation.

The researcher cautioned that there were a number of ways people may be exposed to radiation, and that none of the defectors who lived had lived in Punggye-ri itself showed specific symptoms.

A series of small earthquakes in the wake of the last test – which the North claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb – prompted suspicions that it may have damaged the mountainous location in the northwest tip of the country.

Experts warned that further tests in the area could risk radioactive pollution.

After the September 3 nuclear test, China’s Nuclear Safety Administration said it had begun emergency monitoring for radiation along its border with North Korea.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | health, North Korea | Leave a comment

USA former Vice President Dick Cheney sabotaged diplomacy efforts with North Korea

How Cheney and His Allies Created the North Korea Nuclear Missile Crisis,    December 28, 2017, By Gareth Porter, Truthout | News Analysis, The Trump administration has been telling people for months that the crisis with North Korea is the result of North Korea’s relentless pursuit of a nuclear threat to the US homeland and past North Korean cheating on diplomatic agreements. However, North Korea reached agreements with both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations that could have averted that threat, had they been completed.

Instead, a group of Bush administration officials led by then-Vice President Dick Cheney sabotaged both agreements, and Pyongyang went on to make rapid strides on both nuclear and missile development, leading ultimately to the successful late November 2017 North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.

The record shows, moreover, that Cheney and his allies derailed diplomatic efforts to curb North Korean nuclear and missile development, not because they opposed “arms control” (after all, the agreements that were negotiated would have limited only North Korean arms), but because those agreements would have been a political obstacle to fielding the group’s main interest: funding and fielding a national missile defense system as quickly as possible. The story of Cheney’s maneuvering to kill two agreements shows how a real US national security interest was sacrificed to a massive military boondoggle that served only the interests of the powerful contractors behind it………http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43048-how-cheney-and-his-allies-created-the-north-korea-nuclear-missile-crisis

December 30, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Technology advances and plunging costs of cheap renewables make base load nuclear power redundant

Cheap renewables undercut nuclear power
The technology advances and plunging costs of cheap renewables make base load nuclear power redundant. Climate News Network, by Paul Brown, LONDON, 29 December, 2017 – Cheap renewables are mounting a serious challenge to nuclear power, which in 2017 has had a difficult year.

Key projects have been abandoned, costs are rising, and politicians in countries which previously championed the industry are withdrawing their support.

Renewables, on the other hand, especially wind and solar power, have continued to expand at an enormous rate. Most importantly, they have got significantly cheaper.

And newer technologies like large-scale battery storage and production of hydrogen are becoming economic, because they harness cheap power from excess renewable capacity.

This latest trend – the production of hydrogen from excess wind and solar power– raises the possibility of replacing natural gas, at least in part, for domestic heating and cooking and for power stations.

The output from renewables can be stored and balanced out. Base load nuclear power is no longer needed

Many existing gas pipelines and domestic networks are equally capable of taking natural gas, biogas and hydrogen, or a mixture of all three.

The speed with which the transition is taking place has exceeded all official estimates. In favourable locations across the world, including the United States, Europe and India, onshore wind and solar farms are the least expensive way of producing electricity.

Even off-shore wind, five years ago more expensive than nuclear power, has developed so quickly that the latest Dutch off-shore farms are to be built without any subsidy at all.

These advances in renewables that are cutting the cost of power are in sharp contrast to continued cost overruns and delays in nuclear power stations.

An analysis of countries’ plans for tackling climate change showed that 108 were looking to expand renewables and just nine wanted to build new nuclear stations.

US blow

The biggest single blow to nuclear power’s expansion came in August: two nuclear reactors under construction in the US state of South Carolina were abandoned when 40% complete. ……

The continued difficulties of nuclear power are reflected in the French government’s declared intention to reduce nuclear’s share in electricity generation from 75% to 50%, by closing old stations and building more renewables.

Long delay

While it will not close old reactors as fast as it originally intended, France does not plan to build any new nuclear plants beyond the one still awaiting completion at Flamanville, which is years late and over budget.

The South Korean government has similarly been promising to halt nuclear expansion and develop more renewables. Japan, still suffering from the after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, is abandoning plans to restart some of its older reactors because of public resistance and the expense of upgrading safety.

Even in China and Russia, where state control means market economics have little effect on decision-making, plans to build more nuclear stations appear to be on hold, although no official statements have been made.

This has not stopped the nuclear industries in all these countries trying to export their technologies – notably to the UK, which is inviting all of them except Russia to build their latest nuclear power station design on its shores. If the plans succeed, the UK would have four different designs

The most advanced of these, Hinkley Point C in the west of England, is a set of two reactors of similar design to the badly delayed French reactor at Flamanville. It was originally due to be completed by Christmas 2017, but is now scheduled for 2025, although that is now seen as optimistic……..

The claim to a bright future which the nuclear industry clung to for the last 20 years was that the technology produced large quantities of low carbon electricity at a low price – something that intermittent renewables could not do.

In 2017 it is clear this argument has fallen apart. Nuclear is ever more expensive, and the cost is growing, while renewables are getting cheaper all the time.

But perhaps most important is that, with the development of batteries, biogas and hydrogen, the output from renewables can be stored and balanced out. Base load nuclear power is no longer needed. – Climate News Network https://climatenewsnetwork.net/cheap-renewables-undercut-nuclear-power/

December 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

The International Uranium Film Festival

The Uranium Film Festival & The Perils of Nuclear Power, Clean Tecnica, December 27th, 2017,  by Carolyn Fortuna , “……..The International Uranium Film Festival is dedicated to all films about nuclear power and its associated risks of radioactivity. This educational event merges art, ecology, environmentalism, and environmental justice as it informs the public about uranium mining and milling, nuclear power issues, nuclear weapons, and the nuclear fuel cycle. The dynamic media of film and video allow organizers and festival participants to educate and activate the international public as it brings together cultures and generations around the effects of radioactivity and radioactive materials.

Founded in 2010 in Rio de Janeiro by Norbert Suchanek and Marcia Gomes de Oliveira, the visual exhibition has traveled to nine countries around the world and has successfully organized about 60 Uranium Film Festivals. The films typically have content that critiques and analyzes uranium mining, milling, and use and the effects those processes have on land, water, and human health. The dialogue that results, hopefully, can lead to a more peaceful, healthy future and hold promise to promote a safe, sustainable future without nuclear risks……..

  • Uranium is radioactive and can therefore increase the likelihood of cancer in exposed individuals.
  • Uranium is a heavy metal that can have toxic effects (primarily on the kidneys) if it enters the bloodstream through ingestion or inhalation.
  • Depleted uranium hexafluoride (depleted UF6).    UF6 can react with moisture in the air to produce HF, a corrosive gas that can damage the lungs if inhaled.

In addition to the radiological and chemical health risks associated with depleted UF6 cylinders, there are also risks of industrial accidents and transportation-related accidents during handling, storage, or transport of depleted UF6.

In addition to the radiological and chemical health risks associated with depleted UF6 cylinders, there are also risks of industrial accidents and transportation-related accidents during handling, storage, or transport of depleted UF6.

The Atomic Age nuclear world has produced millions of metric tons of high-level, low-level, and intermediate-level radioactive waste during the past sixty years. This waste will remain hazardous for over 100,000 years. The Union of Concerned Scientists reminds us that the 2011 accident at Fukushima was a wake-up call about the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

We are at a turning point in which many investors are shying away from fossil fuels as energy sources due to their imminent status as stranded assets because of the serious risk they pose to our health and our environment. Shockingly, however, nuclear power is gaining appeal for investors looking for a fast return. Nuclear power is being pitched by some financial planners as “necessary” and — are you ready for it? — “actually good for the environment.”

Solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hybrid and electric cars, and aggressive energy efficiency are climate solutions that are safer, cheaper, faster, more secure, and less wasteful than nuclear power. The Uranium Film Festival can help people around the world to understand how our transition from fossil fuels to an equally dangerous source is not a climate solution.

The Uranium Film Festival honors the best and most important films about uranium with trophies produced by Brazilian waste-material-artist Getúlio Damado, who lives and works in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro.

Submissions to the Next Uranium Film Festival

The upcoming International Uranium Film Festivals planned for 2018 are in Rio de Janeiro (May/June 2018) and in Berlin (October 2018). If you’re interested in submitting an entry to the 2018 Uranium Film Festival, be sure that you restrict your narrative to productions dealing with nuclear power, radioactivity, and the use of radioactive elements like uranium.

Sample subjects are:……..

The Thinking Behind the Uranium Film Festival

The Festival’s must-see documentaries and movies that are rarely shown in TV or in film theaters give nuclear filmmakers a global audience. A further important achievement of the Festival is a first-ever film archive and documentation center dedicated to all films about the nuclear fuel chain and radioactivity: the Atomic Cinematheque, or the Yellow Archive.

Every year, the Festival receives new invitations from all over the world to introduce its films to other cities and countries like Australia, Greenland, Tanzania, Spain, or Scotland. This is only possible through the kindness of donations from like-minded concerned individuals and other non-profit organizations. The organizers do kindly ask for your support, welcoming any donation and distribution.

The Uranium Film Festival is a project against forgetting and ignoring. The horror of atomic bombs and uranium weapons, and nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Goiânia, or now Fukushima, should never be forgotten — nor repeated. https://cleantechnica.com/2017/12/27/uranium-film-festival-perils-nuclear-power/

December 30, 2017 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

In 1986 UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher demanded nuclear emergency plans

Thatcher demanded nuclear plans after ‘shambles’ Chernobyl response,  The Scotsman, PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS, 29 DEC 17, Margaret Thatcher demanded the government draw up new contingency plans for a major nuclear incident after the response to the Chernobyl disaster was branded a “farce” and a “shambles”.

Classified government papers released today reveal concern in the weeks following the disaster that failings in the government’s response could give ammunition to opponents of nuclear power and snarl proposed new power stations.

 Ministers had agreed to the construction of a second nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk at the time of the disaster but the decision had not been made public.

Margaret Thatcher demanded the government draw up new contingency plans for a major nuclear incident after the response to the Chernobyl disaster was branded a “farce” and a “shambles”.

Classified government papers released today reveal concern in the weeks following the disaster that failings in the government’s response could give ammunition to opponents of nuclear power and snarl proposed new power stations.

 Ministers had agreed to the construction of a second nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk at the time of the disaster but the decision had not been made public……..

On 16 May, the prime minister received a damning assessment of the government’s response from her policy adviser on energy, John Wybrew. On 16 May, the prime minister received a damning assessment of the government’s response from her policy adviser on energy, John Wybrew.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

U.S. President Trump mocks climate change: delights in showing his ignorance?

Trump’s call for some ‘good old global warming’ ridiculed by climate experts. US president again conflates weather with climate to mock climate change. Experts call comments ‘scientifically ridiculous and demonstrably false’, Guardian, Michael McGowan and Joanna Walters, -30 Dec 17-Donald Trump once dismissed it as a “hoax” created by the Chinese to destroy American jobs, but on a freezing Thursday night in the eastern US the president found himself pining for some of that “good old global warming”.

On holiday in Florida on Thursday, Trump wondered if global warming might not be such a problem after all.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Radioactive material again found in cars and trucks at Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant

More radioactively contaminated cars, trucks found at Hanford, Tri City Herald  BY ANNETTE CARY, acary@tricityherald.com, DECEMBER 27, 2017 

December 30, 2017 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment