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Extreme makeover: Fukushima nuclear plant tries image overhaul

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Officials have been gradually trying to rebrand the Fukushima nuclear plant, bringing in school groups, diplomats and other visitors
 
August 3, 2018
Call it an extreme makeover: In Japan’s Fukushima, officials are attempting what might seem impossible, an image overhaul at the site of the worst nuclear meltdown in decades.
At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, there’s a flashy new administrative building, debris has been moved and covered, and officials tout the “light” radioactive security measures now possible.
“You see people moving around on foot, just in their uniforms. Before that was banned,” an official from the plant’s operator TEPCO says.
“These cherry blossoms bloom in the spring,” he adds, gesturing to nearby foliage.
If it sounds like a hard sell, that might be because the task of rehabilitating the plant’s reputation is justifiably Herculean.
In 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed thousands and prompted the meltdown of several reactors.
It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and has had devastating psychological and financial effects on the region.
But TEPCO officials have been gradually trying to rebrand the plant, bringing in school groups, diplomats and other visitors, and touting a plan to attract 20,000 people a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.
 
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Upbeat messaging from Fukushima’s operator TEPCO belies the enormity of the challenge to decommission the plant
 
Officials point out that protective gear is no longer needed in most of the plant, except for a small area, where some 3,000 to 4,000 workers are still decontaminating the facility.
Since May, visitors have been able to move around near the reactors on foot, rather than only in vehicles, and they can wear “very light equipment,” insists TEPCO spokesman Kenji Abe.
That ensemble includes trousers, long sleeves, a disposable face mask, glasses, gloves, special shoes and two pairs of socks, with the top pair pulled up over the trouser hem to seal the legs underneath.
And of course there’s a geiger counter.
The charm offensive extends beyond the plant, with TEPCO in July resuming television and billboard adverts for the first time since 2011, featuring a rabbit mascot with electrical bolt whiskers called “Tepcon”.
But the upbeat messaging belies the enormity of the task TEPCO faces to decommission the plant.
It has installed an “icewall” that extends deep into the ground around the plant in a bid to prevent groundwater seeping in and becoming decontaminated, or radioactive water from inside flowing out to the sea.
 
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About 100,000 litres of water still seeps into the plant each day, which requires extensive treatment to reduce its radioactivity
 
But about 100,000 litres (26,400 gallons) of water still seeps into the plant each day, some of which is used for cooling. It requires extensive treatment to reduce its radioactivity.
Once treated, the water is stored in tanks, which have multiplied around the plant as officials wrangle over what to do with the contaminated liquid.
There are already nearly 900 tanks containing a million cubic metres of water—equal to about 400 Olympic swimming pools.
And the last stage of decommissioning involves the unprecedented task of extracting molten nuclear fuel from the reactors.
“There was the Chernobyl accident, but they didn’t remove the debris,” said Katsuyoshi Oyama, who holds the title of TEPCO’s “risk communicator”.
“So for what we have to do here, there is no reference.”

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

NRA OKs plan to bury radioactive waste from nuke plant decommissioning for 100,000 yrs

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The Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in this file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on July 17, 2018.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) plans to require that highly radioactive waste generated when nuclear reactors are decommissioned be buried underground at least 70 meters deep for about 100,000 years until the waste becomes no longer hazardous.
Moreover, disposal sites for such waste should not be built in areas that could be affected by active faults or volcanoes.
The plan is part of the proposed regulatory standards on disposal sites for radioactive waste from dismantled nuclear reactors, which the NRA approved on Aug. 1. The NRA will hear opinions from power companies operating nuclear plants and other entities before finalizing the regulatory standards.
Low-level radioactive waste generated when reactors are dismantled is graded by three ranks in descending order from L1 to L3.
The proposed regulatory standards cover L1 waste, such as containers for control rods and fuel assemblies.
There have been no regulatory standards for L1 radioactive waste even though a growing number of nuclear reactors are bound to be decommissioned under the regulatory standards for nuclear plants that have been stiffened following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.
Under the proposed regulatory standards for L1 waste, electric power companies would be required to build disposal sites on stable ground. Such facilities should not be built near faults at least 5 kilometers in length. Moreover, utilities would be mandated to confirm from records or geological surveys that there has been no volcanic activity over the past 2.6 million years or so near where they plan to build the disposal sites.
Power companies would also be obligated to avoid building disposal sites near oil or mineral deposits because areas with such natural resources may be excavated in the future.
Such radioactive waste must be regularly monitored over a roughly 300- to 400-year period following its disposal to see if the waste contaminates nearby groundwater. The owners of disposal sites would then be banned from digging areas surrounding the facilities without permission from the central government.
The proposed standards also require that additional radiation exposure dosages from disposal sites be limited to 0.3 millisieverts or less a year in accordance with international standards. It is also required to confirm whether radiation doses would be below that limit even if the functions for shielding radiation were partially lost, such as the container holding radioactive waste being broken, by analyzing doses under such scenarios.

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Safety from Japanese Radiation Contaminated Food Import Should or Should Not Be a Political Issue?

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‘Don’t politicize Japanese food import issue’: official

2018/07/31
Taipei, July 31 (CNA) A Taiwan official on Tuesday urged all sides not to politicize food safety after Japan’s top envoy to Taiwan last week raised concerns over an opposition party-initiated referendum to prevent the government lifting an import ban on food from radiation-affected areas of Japan.
 
The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) held an event on July 24 to promote a referendum bid it initiated to prevent the government lifting a ban on the import of food products from five radiation-affected prefectures in Japan — Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba — following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in 2011.
 
Following the KMT event, Japan’s top envoy to Taiwan Mikio Numata (沼田幹夫) issued an open letter to the public, calling the KMT’s move “deeply disappointing,” while urging Taiwan to lift the ban that he said was imposed “without any scientific basis.” Failure to do so could harm the friendly relationship between Japan and Taiwan, he added.
 
Asked to comment, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association (TJRA) Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲), said as a democratic country governed by the rule of law, the government has no right to stop people exercising their civil right to initiate a referendum.
 
She reiterated that the government will do everything possible to safeguard public health, adding that the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which is in charge of food safety, will make the final decision on whether to lift the ban.
 
Chang called on all sides to remain clam and rational as food safety is a highly specialized issue and should not be politicized in ways that adversely impact Taiwan’s trade and economic relations with other countries.
 
The foreign ministry-funded TJRA handles Taiwan-Japan relations in the absence of official diplomatic ties.
 
Since returning to power in May 2016, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has said it is considering lifting the ban but has run into heavy opposition. No progress has been made on the issue since then.
 
 

Food safety issue should not be politicized: official

Aug 01, 2018
Food safety should not be politicized, a top diplomat said yesterday, after Japan’s representative to Taiwan last week raised concerns over a proposed referendum to prevent the government from lifting an import ban on food from Japanese prefectures linked to a 2011 nuclear power plant disaster.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Tuesday last week held an event to promote the referendum bid it initiated to prevent the government from lifting a ban on the import of food products from Japan’s Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures that was imposed following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.
Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata later issued an open letter calling the KMT’s move “deeply disappointing” and urging Taiwan to lift the ban, which he said was imposed “without any scientific basis.”
Failure to do so could harm the friendly relationship between Japan and Taiwan, he added.
Asked to comment on Numata’s remarks, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲) said that as Taiwan is a democratic nation governed by the rule of law, the government has no right to stop people from exercising their civil right to initiate a referendum.
However, the government would do everything possible to safeguard public health, she said, adding that the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which is in charge of food safety, would make a final decision on whether to lift the ban.
Chang called on all sides to remain calm and rational, as food safety is a highly specialized issue and should not be politicized in ways that adversely affect Taiwan’s trade and economic relations with other nations.
The association, which is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handles Taiwan-Japan relations in the absence of official diplomatic ties.
Since returning to power in May 2016, the Democratic Progressive Party administration has said it is considering lifting the ban, but the effort has been met with heavy opposition.

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

After Hiroshima’s horror, the nuclear-caused illness and death continue

What we see when we look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki depends on who we are, and where we are gazing from.,

Some people see a humane use of a weapon of mass destruction whose use “ended the war” and “saved lives.” Some people see a place of sorrow and mourning. For those who live here, we see home, work, friends, we see the same normal place anyone sees when they go about their day.

Recently I published a book chapter on this topic in the wonderful book The unfinished atomic bomb: Shadows and reflections published by Rowman & Littlefield, edited by David Lowe, Cassandra Atherton and Alyson Miller. My chapter is a personal reflection on living and grappling with Hiroshima while working at the Hiroshima Peace Institute.

Among the topics I consider:

Why it is easier for people to stand on the t-bridge that was the aiming point for the Enola Gay crew and photograph the A-Bomb Dome, than to turn the other way and photograph Honkawa Elementary School. The Dome is a Western designed buildilng dedicated to commerce. We can’t intuite how many people were killed inside. Maybe a few. Maybe none. Honkawa Elementary School is a traditional looking Japanese school building. We know for a fact that over 400 elementary school children and ten teachers were killed in the school on the morning of August 6th, 1945. Some things are easier to look at than other things.

I also talk about the retroactive logic of the use of weapons of mass destruction in Japan. Even today people claim that less lives were lost through the use of nuclear weapons than if the US had invaded Japan. They assert that the use of these weapons, even against a civilian population, was “humane.” I explore how that logic appears to only have been legitimate for this one use. Imagine that at the beginning of any modern conflict, lets say the invasion of Iraq, the US had asserted that we should just use chemical weapons on the first day since it would end the war sooner and probably result in less casualites overall. That logic would seem barbaric. Yet it continues to be repeated for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I also examine the maxim that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear weapon should “never be used again.” There have been over 2,000 nuclear weapon detonations since 1945, many of these were thermonuclear weapons that cast vast fallout clouds over inhabited areas. While no one has been directly attacked with nuclear weapons since 1945, nuclear weapons have been detonated, and millions of people have had their lives and health severely impacted by these weapons.

Just as in the classsic 1950 film Rashomon what you see depends on who you are, and where you are looking from.
Read the whole book chapter here.

 

August 6, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Events in Cumbria for Hiroshima Day on Monday 6th August —

“Fair Trade” Barrow, Home to Trident (note this photo is not a spoof! It is real). Sellafield where once there was a farm where baby booties where made – then bombs were birthed. Wastwater – millions of gallons of freshwater daily are abstracted from here to cool the nuclear wastes which make the bombs. […]

via Events in Cumbria for Hiroshima Day on Monday 6th August —

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Sharing the warning until my last breath” — Mining Awareness +

Originally posted on Beyond Nuclear International: Hiroshima survivor, and Nobel Laureate, Setskuo Thurlow’s first person account of experiencing and surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at 13 is a powerful narrative that never fails to move people to tears. Now it has helped entire nations move to ban nuclear weapons. Here is a version of…

via “Sharing the warning until my last breath” — Mining Awareness +

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Major Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemorations at U.S. Warhead Facilities Across the USA

Major Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemorations at U.S. Warhead Facilities Across the Nation Protest Trump’s Risky Nuclear Posture and Budget; Advocate Disarmament http://www.huntingtonnews.net/158411, August 5, 2018 –

Thousands of peace advocates, Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), religious leaders, scientists, economists, attorneys, doctors and nurses, nuclear analysts, former war planners and others across the country are coming together to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this August 6 through 9 at key sites in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

Major commemorations, rallies, protests, many including nonviolent direct action, will place at the Livermore Lab in CA, the Y-12 Plant in TN, the Los Alamos Lab in NM, the Kansas City Plant in MO, the Rocky Flats Plant in CO, the Pantex Plant in TX, in Santa Barbara, CA near Vandenberg’s ICBM launch site, and in GA near the Savannah River Site, along with other locations around the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

These diverse events are sponsored by members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a network of three-dozen groups located downstream and downwind of U.S. nuclear weapons sites. These Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemorations are united by their reflection on the past, and, uniquely, by their focus on the present and future with a resolute determination to change U.S. nuclear weapons policy at the very locations that are linchpins in producing a costly, destabilizing new stockpile of U.S. nuclear warheads, bombs and delivery vehicles.

“Here in Tennessee, as in other locations across the country, I see daily evidence of a dangerous, escalating global nuclear arms race,” noted Ralph Hutchison, the longtime coordinator for the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “This is epitomized by government plans for a new Uranium Processing Facility to produce H-bomb components at Y-12, including for new-design weapons.”

“U.S. plans to ‘modernize’ the arsenal are also underway in California at the Livermore Lab,” stated Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs’ executive director. “Livermore’s new Long-Range Stand Off warhead design geared toward ‘first use’ and its rapid re-start of an ‘interoperable’ warhead design previously delayed by the Obama Administration reveal two facets of this new arms race,” Kelley continued. “In contrast to the cold war, which was largely about sheer numbers, the new arms race and its dangers stem from novel military capabilities now being placed into nuclear weapons.”

“The Trump Administration has put the U.S. on a trajectory to spend nearly $2,000,000,000,000 [trillion] over the coming thirty years on new nukes and bomb plants to build them, when inflation and the new concepts in this year’s Nuclear Posture Review and fiscal 2019 budget request are considered, said Joni Arends, the director for Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety in NM.

Around the world, pressure for the U.S. to show leadership toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is growing. Pope Francis has repeatedly pressed the moral argument against nuclear weapons, inveighing not only against their use but also against their possession. Moreover, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 122 states parties at the United Nations one year ago.

Already, fourteen have completed their ratification procedures for the Treaty, which will fully enter into force when 50 states parties have ratified it. The Treaty establishes new law and a new norm, outlawing nuclear weapons development, testing, possession, use, transfer and/or any offer of assistance in a prohibited activity.   “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons shows us another future is possible,” said Rick Wayman, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a member of the ANA Board of Directors.  “The Treaty and the aspirations of millions of people for a nuclear weapons free future give me hope on this important anniversary of the first use of a nuclear bomb in war,” he continued. “We must listen to those in the U.S. and around the world who have been impacted by nuclear weapons. These weapons must be eliminated so that no one suffers the same fate ever again.”

Actions this week at U.S. nuclear weapons facilities will highlight the mounting international calls for nuclear abolition, with U.S. organizers lending their deep and often unique “on the ground” knowledge from the gates and fence lines of the facilities involved in creating new and modified U.S. nuclear weapons. “This anniversary should be a time to reflect on the absolute horror of a nuclear detonation,” mused Ann Suellentrop of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Kansas City, “yet the new Kansas City Plant is churning out components to extend U.S. nuclear weapons 70 years into the future. The imperative to change that future is what motivates me to organize a peace fast at the gates of the Plant.”

Key events at U.S. nuclear weapons complex sites include:   • Y-12 – remembrance, rally and nonviolent direct action, peace fast and lanterns. (www.orepa.org) • Livermore Lab – peace camp, Aug. 6 rally, march, nonviolent direct action. (www.trivalleycares.org) • Los Alamos Lab – commemoration and vigil, August 4, Ashley Pond, Los Alamos. (jarends@nuclearactive.org or scott@nukewatch.org • Kansas City Plant – vigil and peace fast. (www.psr.org/chapters/kansas/) • Savannah River Site – Aug. 9 seeds of peace observance, Carter Center Rose Garden, Atlanta, GA. (www.nonukesyall.org) • Rocky Flats Plant – peace quilt, film, labyrinth mourning walk. (judithmohling76@gmail.com) • Pantex Plant – Hiroshima exhibit, panel discussion. (www.peacefarm.us) • Santa Barbara – commemoration to remember victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all innocent victims of war. (www.wagingpeace.org)

August 6, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power takes a hit as European heatwave rolls on

 https://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-power-takes-a-hit-as-european-heatwave-rolls-on-87477/  Sophie Vorrath

A scorching European summer has been doing its best to prove that renewables are not the only energy sources at the mercy of the elements – and that climate change is a thing – with nuclear reactors from France to Finland being shut down or their output restricted due to record heat.

Over the weekend, French energy company EDF said it was forced to temporarily halt four nuclear reactors in soaring temperatures, including a reactor at the country’s oldest plant, Fessenheim, to stop it from overheating the water in the nearby river.

The Independent reports that EDF had already shut down three other power plants near the Rhine and Rhone rivers for similar reasons earlier last week.


A scorching European summer has been doing its best to prove that renewables are not the only energy sources at the mercy of the elements – and that climate change is a thing – with nuclear reactors from France to Finland being shut down or their output restricted due to record heat.

Over the weekend, French energy company EDF said it was forced to temporarily halt four nuclear reactors in soaring temperatures, including a reactor at the country’s oldest plant, Fessenheim, to stop it from overheating the water in the nearby river.

The Independent reports that EDF had already shut down three other power plants near the Rhine and Rhone rivers for similar reasons earlier last week.

Nuclear plants like these use the river water to regulate the temperature of their reactors, discharging warm water back into the waterway. But restrictions are put on the volume of water plants can use as the temperatures rise, to protect the rivers’ ecosystems.

In Sweden, state-owned power company Vattenfall was forced to close the 900MW number 2 reactor at its Ringhals nuclear plant on Monday, when the temperature of the sea water used to cool that plant reached its limit of 25°C – threatening the safety and function of the reactor.

Other plants in the Nordic region, while not completely shut down, have had to curb the power output of their reactors to avoid worse, and more dangerous outcomes.

Finland’s Fortum reduced power at its Loviisa plant last week when water temperatures reached 32°C, close to its threshold of 34°C.

As Reuters explains, the northern European summer has been 6-10°C above the seasonal average so far and has not only caused outages for nuclear, but depleted the region’s hydropower reservoirs.

It has been so hot in Finland, that a a supermarket chain invited customers to spend the night at its air-conditioned store in Helsinki on the weekend, because so few homes in the Nordic country actually have air-con.

And in Sweden – which is also suffering through a drought that sparked dozens of severe forest fires through July – the record heat has melted a glacier on the nation’s Kebnekaise mountain, rendering it no longer the country’s highest point.

In fact, according to researchers at Oxford University and the World Weather Attribution network, a number of cities and towns in Norway, Sweden and Finland hit all-time highs this summer, with towns as far north as the Arctic Circle recording nearly 90°F temperatures.

And the weather is not just hotter than normal, but also more erratic, reports the New York Times.

“Torrential rains and violent thunderstorms have alternated with droughts in parts of France. In the Netherlands, a drought — rather than the rising seas — is hurting its system of dikes because there is not enough fresh water countering the seawater,” it says.

“The preliminary results of the Oxford study found that, in some places, climate change more than doubled the likelihood of this summer’s European heat wave.”

August 6, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Many near accidents in nuclear weapons

Viewpoint: Too many nuclear close calls https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/opinion/viewpoint/viewpoint-too-many-nuclear-close-calls/article_a3e7b9ff-9dd5-5f6c-938a-08633a6bb9d2.html, By Wanda L. Mangus, Aug 4, 2018

      The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition opposes the use of nuclear weapons. Any use would have catastrophic consequences everywhere in the world, destroying large cities, killing millions and leaving large areas of contamination for hundreds of years. In an article dated Jan. 16, 2018, Pope Francis states that he fears we are on the brink of nuclear war.

The current world threat exchanges have increased our fears.

The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs states that nuclear weapons have only been used twice, once in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and again three days later on Aug. 9 in Nagasaki, Japan. 350,000 persons were killed in Hiroshima, and 210,000 were killed in Nagasaki, with at least 200,000 vaporized. More than 250,000 persons died later from radiation poisoning.

Irish politician and journalist Eamonn McCann states that based on detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the surviving Japanese leaders involved, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped.

The Union of Concerned Scientists notes there have been many close calls with nuclear weapons. On Nov. 9, 1979, computers at the North American Aerospace Defense headquarters indicated a large scale missile attack was underway. NORAD relayed the info to high-level command posts. Top leaders met to assess the threat. Everyone concerned went on high alert. Bomber crews boarded their planes. Six minutes later satellite data failed to confirm any incoming missiles. It was later discovered that a technician had mistakenly inserted a tape containing a training exercise into an operational NORAD computer simulating a full-scale attack.

On Sept. 26, 1983, a Soviet early-warning satellite indicated one, then two, and then five nuclear missile launches. The Soviet Union had earlier mistakenly downed a South Korean passenger plane. The officer on duty, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, had very little time to respond. However, he deemed the readings a false alarm, thinking that “when people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles.” Later investigations mistook sunlight reflecting off the clouds for missile launches. Petrov’s actions earned him the nickname “the man who saved the world.”

On Jan. 25, 1995, a Russian radar detected an unexpected missile launch off the coast of Norway. The missile’s characteristics seemed similar to that of a U.S. submarine-launched missile. This lead radar operators to believe the missile might detonate a nuclear warhead, blinding Russian radars before a larger attack. Russian nuclear forces went on full alert. Retaliation was avoided when Russian early-warning satellites failed to find activity around US missile silos.

Many more have been described. These close calls shouldn’t happen. As long as we have such weapons that are capable of killing millions of persons, along with the rise of authoritarian leaders, there is the possibility of a country’s retaliation or human error allowing a nuclear bomb explosion.

The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition rejects any new development of nuclear weapons. We reject any testing other than that needed to determine the safety of existing warheads currently in stock until they can be dismantled. We hope that President Donald Trump and our U.S. diplomats will successively negotiate especially with North Korea and Iran to achieve the peaceful and total disarmament of those countries.

It is dangerous and hypocritical for the U.S. to maintain a nuclear weapons stockpile while insisting that the rest of the world disarm. We demand that the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, stop refurbishing our nuclear warheads and resume dismantling them. We and our government must accept responsibility for its serious contamination of the earth and water by cleaning up all waste from nuclear weapons development facilities.

Nuclear weapons should not even be a consideration in the world we live in. Our country could be destroyed as well as any other country. We should lead the world in nuclear disarmament. As we approach the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we ask the community to remember all the dead of World War II by joining us Monday in our weekly vigil on the corner of Main and Jefferson streets in South Bend from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Wanda L. Mangus is a member of the Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition.

August 6, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Dept of Labor looks for nuclear workers eligible for compensation for radiation-caused illnesses

Government seeking nuclear workers who had radiation-caused cancers or their survivors https://triblive.com/local/valleynewsdispatch/13940878-74/government-seeking-nuclear-workers-who-had-radiation-caused-cancers-or-their-survivors,   | SundayAug. 5, 2018 

A federal program that has paid out more than $60 million to former Apollo area nuclear workers for radiation-related illnesses is looking for more former nuclear workers throughout the region who might be eligible for compensation.

The U.S. Department of Labor will hold an information meeting for former workers in the nuclear materials industry or their survivors on Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Quality Inn in New Kensington.

There are about 14 work sites eligible in Southwestern Pennsylvania, including some steel mills and nuclear fuel processing plants.

Among them are the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. (NUMEC) in Apollo and Parks Township, Westinghouse Atomic Power Development Plant in East Pittsburgh, Westinghouse Nuclear Fuels Division in Cheswick, and Aluminum Co. of America — Alcoa — in New Kensington.

The benefits proved helpful to deceased workers’ families to shore up medical expenses and the financial losses.

But it still doesn’t make up for the loss of a loved one.

“It just seems trivial — $150,000 for someone’s life, but it did help my mom out,” said Shellie Robertson, 57, Washington Township, whose father, John Grazetti, died in 2015 at the age of 74 from acute myeloid leukemia.

Grazetti, of Washington Township, was a NUMEC worker as was his father, John Grazetti Sr., who died of colon cancer and a brother who has recently been diagnosed with rectal cancer, according to Robertson.

All three men had cancers associated with exposures to radioactive substances encountered at work, and the compensation claims to the Labor Department by the three men have been accepted.

“My dad said he would probably die of cancer,” Robertson said. “He knew.”

Grazetti, who worked at NUMEC for about 20 years, didn’t talk much about his job, according to his daughter.

All the family knew what that he was foreman and worked with chemicals. However, Robertson did recall her father having to submit urine samples for the company to test for what is now known as radiation over-exposures.

Near the end of his life, Robertson started to hear NUMEC stories when her dad and uncle would talk.

“They would have to clean up stuff, spray down the walls. I remember the soles of my father’s shoes being eaten away from the stuff he was walking in.”

Paid out so far: $15 billion

To date, the program has paid more than $129.3 million in compensation and medical benefits to 1,138 claimants living in Pennsylvania and more than $15.2 billion nationwide, according to the Labor Department.

The government established the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act (EEOICPA) in 2000 to pay sick nuclear workers a lump sum of $150,000 and coverage of related medical expenses.

The program pays people who became ill because of working for a private business subcontracted by the federal government to develop and produce components for nuclear weapons.

Generally, eligible workers must have worked a certain amount of time and developed one of 22 cancers designated by the program and or other illnesses. The benefit also is payable to families of deceased workers.

The Labor Department has visited the area before and is visiting again because there still might be workers or their families still eligible for the benefit.

In Pennsylvania, most of the nuclear workers covered by the program were employed in the 1960s and 1970s.

It’s difficult to say how many more workers could be eligible for the program, but they could number in the hundreds, according to estimates provided by an EEOICPA program official several years ago.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

August 6, 2018 Posted by | employment, health, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump blaming environmental laws for California’s wildfires

Trump: Environmental laws making California wildfires ‘so much worse’ http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/400484-trump-california-environmental-laws-make-wildfires-so-much-worse   Anna Moneymaker

August 6, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment