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Climate change, drought, and the migrant caravan

The Climate Implications of the Migrant Caravan, EcoWatch,   The U.S. military will send as many as 5,000 troops to the country’s Southern border to meet thousands of refugees and migrants who are traveling north through Mexico from Central America, The Independent reported Monday.

The group of thousands grew out of 160 people who gathered at a bus stop in the crime-plagued Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 12, BBC News explained. News of the plan spread on social media, and, by the next day, the group had reached 1,000 members.

The migrants are heading north for a variety of reasons, from unemployment to violence. But one of the underlying causes is climate change.

“Central America, in general, has had chronic impacts of climate change,” Oxfam Guatemala Country Director Ana María Mendez Libby told Earther.

That’s because of drought and irregular rainfall in something called the Dry Corridor, a region in the lowlands of Central America along the Pacific coast. Migration from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has rapidly increased in the past 10 years, which coincides with a period of drought that has cost the three countries around 700,000 acres in corn and bean crops just this year.

A study led by the UN World Food Program found that the drought, rather than violence, was the driving factor causing people to leave the region to seek food and work elsewhere, National Geographic reported.

While scientists still don’t know how much the current drought, driven primarily by an increasingly erratic El Niño cycle, can be blamed on man-made climate change, experts with experience in the region know the current weather patterns are more extreme than in the past. ………


October 29, 2018 Posted by | climate change, NORTH AMERICA | 2 Comments

Uranium mining in India – just another kind of nuclear disaster

The real cost of uranium mining  October 29, 2018

The case of Tummalapalle By Krishna Shree and Rajesh Serupally, First PostGangotri was 10 when the first boil appeared on her leg — an itchy pustule that soon led to others. Two years later today, both her legs are covered in scabby blisters that continue to spread. Doctors haven’t been able to diagnose her condition or cure it.

Gangotri is a chirpy, carefree child — she unselfconsciously showed us the skin disease (pictured above the headline) that has so changed her life. However, the mood in her village — Kottala in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh — is one of anger. Gangotri isn’t the only one to suffer from the mysterious ailment, other cases abound, as do other conditions: unheard-of diseases, death of livestock, loss of crops. Bad news is in plenty, and residents point to one culprit: the neighbouring Tummalapalle uranium mine.

The mine started its operation in 2012 after getting the requisite environmental clearance in 2006; the uranium ore in the Kadapa Basin is the largest reserve in the country. The neighbouring villages of Tummalapalle, Mabbuchintalapalle, Bumayigaripalle and Rachakuntapalle of Velpula and Medipentla Mandals and 60 hectares in Kottala village of Vemula Mandal were acquired by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (a government enterprise) for ‘tailing disposal’ — these are the areas where waterborne refuse material is pumped into a body known as a tailing pond. This is where the radioactive mining waste has been dumped for the past six years.

The Tummalapalle project, consisting of an underground mine and processing unit, processes 2,350 tonnes of ore per day (according to a letter sent to the Uranium Corporation of India by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board). Only 1,305 grams of uranium can be extracted out of the 2,350 tonnes and the rest becomes radioactive waste which is dumped into the tailing pond. It’s been six years since the plant was commissioned, in April 2012. So if we do the math, then till today the plant has dumped some 51,46,500 tonnes (that’s 5,14,65,00,000 kg) of radioactive waste into the tailing pond.

The remnants of the mining process are stored in the form of a semi-solid slurry, pumped to the pond located six km away from the unit. This slurry contains thorium and radium, which are common components of the leached material and airborne dust from uranium ore tailings and waste piles. They pose a serious health hazard if inhaled or ingested. When we visited the tailing pond, we noted that neither is the area cordoned off, nor does it have restricted entry. The locals with their cattle frequent the area for grazing and other such activities, almost as if it is a normal thoroughfare.

Global safety protocol dictates that all tailing ponds be lined with bentonite clay and polyethene to avoid polluting ground water. But the tailing pond at Tummalapalle is unlined and the radioactive slurry has found its way into all the neighbouring water bodies. It has affected everything in its wake, from livestock to crops and has started to show its effects on the people as well.

The ground water in surrounding villages has become contaminated by uranium and other heavy metals according to a Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) report. This test was carried out at the behest of YS Avinash Reddy (Member of Parliament elected from Kadapa ) after having received complaints from the locals about the apparent water contamination.

Dr Babu Rao, a retired scientist from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT, Hyderabad) says, “They admit that they have not lined the pond as per the conditions given in the CFE (Consent For Establishment document). UCIL claims that they have followed the more stringent norms of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). It does not stand to scrutiny with the reality at the pond. Now that the pond is full, it is difficult to cross check the permeability of the bottom. Side slopes abutting the tailings are not lined or compacted — as is evident visually. Slopes are highly porous and may be causing severe seepage loss of liquid coming with tailings. Even the bottom is not seepage proof. Approximate calculations indicate a loss of at least 43 m3/day from the bottom surface. That is a lot of contamination.”

After numerous complaints, UCIL established an RO plant (Reverse Osmosis for water purification) in KK Kottala and Mabuchintalapalle. Kanampalli’s request was denied. Ravi Nayak, the Mandal Praja Parishad (MPP) president of Kanampalli told us, “Despite offering our land free of cost to set up the RO plant, UCIL never approved one for our village. Now we are buying drinking water from outside.”

In KK Kottala, Mabuchintalapalle and Kanampalli, as soon as people found out we were there to talk about the mine, they started pouring in with complaints. Most of these were about chronic skin problems which doctors had been unable to cure, uniformly present in people of all ages since all of them still use the contaminated groundwater for cooking, washing, bathing etc. They showed us their limbs covered in itchy black scabs. A similar pattern of skin problems was seen in the livestock as well.

Karthik, a nine-year-old from KK Kottala, has been suffering from skin problems for the past few years. He constantly itches his body, pain visible on his young face. His right thigh had finally healed after years of medication. But the disease has now reappeared on his left hand and is spreading again.

The rashes are just the first strike. Thorium and radium present in mine tailings which have contaminated the water sources, have been shown to lead to a higher risk of cancer (eg. cancer of the bone).

Uranium, which is a radioactive element, has a half life of 2,40,000 years and emits radiation for thousands of years. Uranium radiation has the ability to damage human DNA. A team comprising members of NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movements) and HRF (Human Rights Watch) measured radiation at different places in and around the tailing pond on 11 June 2018, as part of their study of the impact of the mine. The reading were recorded using a Radiation Dosimeter. At the tailing pond, the reading was as high as 0.80-0.90 µSv Microsievert/hour (a measure of the amount of radiation that a person is exposed to during one hour in the specific area). And at a farm in Kanampalli, it was found to be 0.26 µSv Microsievert/hour. The maximum permissible limit is set at 0.24 µSv Microsievert/hour by internationally accepted standards on background radiation.

Chandra Nayak’s farm was once flourishing but the past few years have been bleak. When we visited, the farm only had droopy plantains trees with blackened, shrivelled branches to show.

The death of the cattle in the affected villages made us recount the words of Ghansham Birulee of Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation. Birulee was among the first people to witness the effects of uranium mining in Jaduguda in Jharkhand. “The animals started leaving Jaduguda area immediately after the mining started… They must have sensed the radiation earlier than the humans,” Birulee had said.

Back in Kunampalle, P Narsimulu a 65-year-old resident, says, “The livestock in the village has been dying in large numbers since last year. The goats have been shedding hair excessively. They are unable to walk properly due to weak bones. This is all due to radiation.”

The Lambada community in Kanampalli is among the worst affected. They do not own any land and depend on cattle (goats, cows, buffaloes) to make a living. We spoke to Bhaskar, who lost 30 of his goats over the last couple of years. “I didn’t even have money to take all of them to the vet. Each injection costs more than Rs 175 and the vet himself was 12 km away in Pulivendula. I just sat and watched them die one after the other.” ………..

Ashish Birulee say that “once the mining starts it would be very difficult for the locals to shut it down even when they finally learn and realise (the full extent of) the problems. Jaduguda should be taken as an example. Whatever the villagers are going through is real — severe health problems and cancers are very common. And the future is sure to be much worse, and people should take that as a given. UCIL will never accept the truth that uranium mining and dumping of radioactive waste negatively impacts human health and environment.”

“It took almost five decades for the effects of the radiation to become evident in Jaduguda. But by what we can see in Tummalapalle, it might take less than 15 years for it to become the next Jaduguda,” he adds. Birulee points out that UCIL still hasn’t answered a question which the people of Jaduguda have been asking for decades: “What will happen to us once the mining stops?”

If Jaduguda is any indication, UCIL will disappear from the site as soon as the project loses its economic viability. Those who live in the area will be left grappling with the tonnes of radioactive waste left behind. Where will these people go for help? Who should they complain to, about the way their lives have been bartered in the name of development and better economic prospects? Amid the finger-pointing any real solution remains elusive.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | environment, health, PERSONAL STORIES, Uranium | Leave a comment

Brazil’s new President – a danger to environment and to action against climate change

October 29, 2018 Posted by | Brazil, climate change | Leave a comment

Brazil’s new president will make it harder to limit climate change

New Scientist, By Michael Le Page, 29 Oct 18

It is being described as a catastrophe for the planet. The far-right winner of Brazil’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, looks likely to further weaken protections for the Amazon rainforest and make the goal of limiting global warming to under 2°C even harder to achieve.

“If he carries through on his rhetoric we can expect tribal genocide, torture of dissidents, and climate-altering destruction of the Amazon forest,” tweeted Christopher Dick of the University of Michigan, who studies the rainforest. “This is a nightmare scenario.”

Bolsonaro has …(subscribers only)

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Serious concern in nuclear industry over no-deal Brexit

Utility Week 26th Oct 2018 , The Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association has waned. Tom Greatrex says
the absence of a transition period could cause serious problems. Although
the UK and EU have already reached agreement over what their future
relationship should be, these plans would be scuppered if the wider deal
falls apart. With the free movement of workers and components at stake a no
deal Brexit is a serious concern.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New global approaches needed to tackle climate change

FT 29th Oct 2018, For the past 20 years the orthodox response to the threat of climate change
has been focused on the search for a global agreement to reduce emissions.
Such an approach is entirely logical and rational. Climate change is a
global risk and so everyone should be involved in the response. The only
problem is that the approach has failed.

The Paris conference in 2015 brought people together and collected a range of loose promises from almost
every country in the world. Those promises in aggregate were inadequate, and some have already been forgotten as regimes have changed, not least in the US.

Many countries are taking action to mitigate climate change, but these actions don’t add up to an answer. Potential global solutions such as a universal carbon tax remain off the agenda. What is the alternative? The
best hope for limiting emissions comes from the application of science to
the energy market. That means finding sources of energy that can be made
available to all the world’s citizens, at a price they can afford, enabling
them to switch away from the carbon-intensive fuels such as coal that are
the main source of the problem. If politics cannot solve climate change,
perhaps science and economics can do better.

New techniques to store renewable electricity would be a great advance making sustainable power
available worldwide. Dramatic gains in the efficiency of energy consumption
may also be within reach. And there could be other answers to be found if
we looked.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

California Governor Jerry Brown joins Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in campaign against threats of nuclear war and climate change

Outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown has a new job: preventing nuclear war  Brown is joining the team behind the Doomsday Clock, which combats existential risks to humanity. VOX, By California Gov. Jerry Brown has been sounding the alarm about the risks of nuclear weapons since his first term as governor in the 1970s. In the last few years, other threats to a stable human future have started to concern him as well.

Last week, the governor — whose term ends this January — announced that he’s accepted a position as the executive chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit that combats the risks of nuclear war and other threats to the world.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by researchers who worked on the atomic bomb. It published a regular magazine in which the scientists who built the bomb made the case for worldwide disarmament. Today, it publishes research on “manmade existential threats such as nuclear war, climate change, and disruptive technologies.”

The organization is best known for its Doomsday Clock, which the group updates annually to reflect the risks facing humanity. The clock currently says we are two minutes from midnight — the closest we’ve been since the Cold War to a disaster that could annihilate humanity……..

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists publishes research and updates on nuclear riskclimate change, and emerging risks to humanity from new technologies. All of those feature in their Doomsday Clock. In their 2018 statement, though, nuclear risks loomed largest. “Major nuclear actors are on the cusp of a new arms race,” the group wrote, “one that will be very expensive and will increase the likelihood of accidents and misperceptions. Across the globe, nuclear weapons are poised to become more rather than less usable because of nations’ investments in their nuclear arsenals.” …..

Brown and the team behind the Doomsday Clock are not alone in raising concerns about nuclear war and other threats.

The Global Challenges Foundation, which publishes an annual report on global catastrophic risks, named many of the same concerns that have driven the Doomsday Clock team to move us from six minutes to midnight in 2010 to two minutes to midnight today. Nuclear war is prominent among the risks they consider; they’re also worried about climate change, pandemics, AI, and threats we can’t yet anticipate — just like, 10 years before the atomic bomb, only a few scientists had any inkling it was possible. …….

October 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

France’s people turning away from nuclear power

French public opinion growing against nuclear power French public is becoming less and less in favour of nuclear power, as awareness and concern for the environment grows, according to a new study.

Over half (53%) of French people said they were now opposed to nuclear power, in the survey by pollster Odoxa. This is compared to 67% who said they were in favour, in a another poll five years’ ago.

The change in opinion has been attributed to the growth and improvement in renewable energy sources, and the rising awareness of the public towards the environment.

The safety of nuclear reactors has also been in question recently, after a spike in breakdowns, and more and more people living within 80 km of a central reactor.

Environmental campaigner Greenpeace, said: “We have gone from a world in which French society believed that nuclear was the only choice. The public thought it was bad, but a necessary evil. But now, with the rise in renewable energy, with sun and wind, we can bypass nuclear completely.”

Concern over the environmental impact of nuclear power has also played a role, it suggested.

The statement continued: “We are waking up to the fact that when we turn on a light or a toaster at home, we are producing radioactive waste that is going to remain on Earth for thousands of years. We are starting to ask ourselves if this is a clean source of energy.”

Despite this, however, the same poll found that just 28% of people would be willing to pay more for their energy to fix the nuclear problem.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

America shouldn’t trust Saudi Arabia with nuclear technology

Khashoggi’s Killing Should Be a Nuclear Red Flag,  The Saudis can’t be trusted to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel. WSJ, By Jamie Fly and Henry Sokolski,Oct. 28, 2018 If the Saudi government’s prevarications about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder teach us anything, it should be that there are limits to how far the U.S. can trust Riyadh. In particular, America shouldn’t trust Saudi Arabia with nuclear technology……….

the risk of regime change if there is nuclear power in Saudi Arabia. Nuclear reactors operate for 40 years or more and are far more dangerous than any conventional arms sales. In the 1970s, the U.S. considered selling the shah of Iran 23 reactors. That would have been a colossal mistake. Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have publicly threatened to violate the Kingdom’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons if they believe Iran is acquiring them. The U.S. has never negotiated a nuclear cooperation agreement with a country threatening to get nuclear weapons.

The United Arab Emirates, a Saudi neighbor and ally, agreed to allow intrusive international nuclear inspections and to forgo enriching uranium and reprocessing spent fuel as part of its 2009 nuclear cooperation agreement with Washington. Riyadh has refused to make such pledges.

Enriching and reprocessing could bring Riyadh within weeks of making bombs. It is unclear if the administration is intent on pressing the Saudis on this point……..

After Saudi Arabia’s kidnapping last year of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, its bungling of the war in Yemen, its erratic diplomatic moves against Canada, its continued jailing of human-rights activists, and now the killing of Khashoggi, Washington must demand more. This regime can’t be trusted with nuclear technology. Concluding a nuclear cooperation agreement to Riyadh’s liking would undermine the Trump administration’s effort to reverse the nuclear concessions President Obama made to Iran and set a dangerous precedent in the region.

Any negotiations regarding a U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperation agreement should be halted. If the Trump administration refuses to do this, Congress should make clear, as part of its broader response to the Khashoggi killing, that any agreement submitted for review will be blocked.

This episode should serve as a reminder that unreliable proxies are no substitute for American leadership. A Reaganesque approach to Iran requires the fortitude to stand up for what is right, be it on nonproliferation or human rights, whether it involves friend or foe.

Mr. Fly is a senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Mr. Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and author of “Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future.”


October 29, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Study of 120,000 hibakusha atomic bomb survivors shows raised risk of breast cancer

October 29, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, women, Women | Leave a comment

The world is in danger, as Donald Trump and John Bolton just don’t ‘get it’about nuclear treaties

October 29, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear facilities in UK – perfect targets for terrorism

October 29, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

New research on impacts of climate change in the Mediterranean

October 29, 2018 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | 1 Comment

Climate change bringing more droughts, more extreme rainfalls, more often

Meteorologist expects severe drought and heavy rain events to worsen globally, October 25, 2018, University of Oklahoma

Summary:  Meteorologists expect severe drought and long-lasting rainfall events to worsen in the future. Researchers have  determined how frequent, intense and long lasting these types of events will be in the future.
A University of Oklahoma meteorologist, Elinor R. Martin, expects severe drought and long-lasting rainfall events to worsen in the future. In Martin’s new study just published, she determines how frequent, intense and long lasting these types of events will be in the future. Martin looks at both severe drought and rain events, but it is the first time extended heavy rain events have been studied.

“In some places, there will be more frequent droughts, and other places can expect more frequent rainfall,” said Martin, professor in the School of Meteorology, OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. “The Caribbean and Central America will have more extreme droughts and the north and northeast of North America can expect more extreme heavy rain events. Around the world, some places will see droughts and heavy rain events become more intense, longer lasting and more frequent. For the agriculture and related industries, this is particularly important.”

Globally, there are areas that will overall become wetter and areas that will become drier. When it gets warmer, the water builds up and it rains for long periods, but there will be longer periods between rain events and in places, it will become drier. Even regions that are projected to become drier overall, like the Southwest and South Central United States, are expected to see more severe, longer and frequent periods of heavy rain. Martin refers to the May 2015 rain event in Oklahoma and Texas as one example of what could be expected in the future.

“When it gets warmer, water vapor can build up in the atmosphere, so when it does rain it rains a lot and for long periods, but there will be longer periods between rain events so droughts will become worse.” said Martin. She points to a changing climate as the reason these events will worsen, and defines droughts and rain events by using a standardized rainfall index to compare events between regions and seasons. For this study, Martin used the same climate models as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Oklahoma. Original written by Jana Smith

October 29, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Japan’s Onagawa nuclear reactor No 1 to be scrapped

October 29, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment