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Japan must halt returns to Fukushima, radiation remains a concern, says UN rights expert

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GENEVA (25 October 2018) – A UN human rights expert has urged the Japanese Government to halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster seven years ago.
The UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, will present a report to the General Assembly in New York today, highlighting key cases of victims of toxic pollution brought to his attention in recent years that demand global action. The expert said the Japanese Government’s decision to raise by 20 times what it considered to be an acceptable level of radiation exposure was deeply troubling, highlighting in particular the potentially grave impact of excessive radiation on the health and wellbeing of children. 
“It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the UN human rights monitoring mechanism (UPR) to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster,” he said.
Following the nuclear disaster in 2011, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan raised the acceptable level of radiation for residents in Fukushima from 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year. The recommendation to lower acceptable levels of exposure to back to 1 mSv/yr was proposed by the Government of Germany and the Government of Japan ‘accepted to follow up’ on it, according to the UN database.  However, in the expert’s view, the recommendation is not being implemented.
Japan has a duty to prevent and minimise childhood exposure to radiation, added the UN expert referring to his 2016 report on childhood exposure to toxics. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Japan is a Party, contains a clear obligation on States to respect, protect and fulfil the right of the child to life, to maximum development and to the highest attainable standard of health, taking their best interests into account. This, the expert said, requires State parties such as Japan to prevent and minimise avoidable exposure to radiation and other hazardous substances.
The Special Rapporteur said Japan should provide full details as to how its policy decisions in relation to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, including the lifting of evacuation orders and the setting of radiation limits at 20mSv/y, are not in contravention of the guiding principles of the Convention, including the best interests of the chid.
Tuncak has expressed his concerns at the Human Rights Council in recent years, accompanied by explicit requests and pleas by concerned organisations for the Government to invite the mandate to conduct an official visit. The Japanese Government has a standing invitation to all mandate holders but has not to date invited the mandate on hazardous substances and wastes to conduct an official country visit.
Seven years after the nuclear disaster, actions for the reconstruction and revitalisation of Fukushima are in full implementation process, with evacuation orders lifted for most of the areas, and with plans in place for lifting evacuation orders in even the highest contaminated areas during the next five years. In March 2017 housing subsidies reportedly stopped to be provided to self-evacuees, who fled from areas other than the government-designated evacuation zones.
“The combination of the Government’s decision to lift evacuation orders and the prefectural authorities’ decision to cease the provision of housing subsidies, places a large number of self-evacuees under immense pressure to return,” Tuncak said. 
“The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the Government previously considered safe.”
ENDS
The presentation of the thematic report at the General Assembly today will be live-streamed on the United Nations Web TV. 
Mr. Baskut Tuncak is Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. As a Special Rapporteur, he is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
For more information and media requests, please contact: Ms Lilit Nikoghosyan (+41 22 9179936 / lnikoghosyan@ohchr.org) or Mr. Alvin Gachie (+41 22 917 997 1/ agachie@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxics@ohchr.org
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to scrap Onagawa NPP’s reactor#1

The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and they ain’t comin’ back!
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Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Station is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 11, 2011.

Utility plans to scrap reactor at Onagawa plant

October 25, 2018
Tohoku Electric Power Company has told Miyagi Prefecture that it is going to decommission an aging reactor at its Onagawa nuclear power plant.
 
The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
 
The utility’s president, Hiroya Harada, conveyed its decision to Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai on Thursday.
 
Harada explained that additional safety steps would create technical difficulties as the No.1 reactor is more than 30 years old. The measures are required under government regulations that were introduced after the 2011 disaster.
 
Murai asked Tohoku Electric Power to put top priority on safety in scrapping the reactor as the work is expected to take a long time. The governor also asked the utility to properly disclose information and maintain stable power supplies.
 
The utility hopes to put the 2 other reactors back into operation. The No.2 reactor is being checked by the nuclear regulator, and the firm is preparing to apply for an inspection of the No.3 reactor.
 
Utilities have decided to decommission 10 reactors at 7 plants, including Onagawa, since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. They cite the huge cost of additional safety measures. These figures do not include the all 6 reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.
 
 

Tohoku Electric to scrap aging No. 1 unit at Onagawa nuclear plant

October 25, 2018
SENDAI (Kyodo) — Tohoku Electric Power Co. said Thursday it will scrap the idled No. 1 unit at its Onagawa nuclear power plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Miyagi, more than 30 years after it began operation.
The company cited difficulties in taking additional safety measures as well as the relatively small output of the reactor that would make the business unprofitable. Tohoku Electric President Hiroya Harada conveyed its decision to Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai.
“We decided to decommission (the reactor) at a board meeting today. We took into consideration technical restrictions associated with additional safety measures, output and the years in use,” Harada said when the men met at the prefectural government office.
For its resumption, the company has been required to expand safety measures at the unit under stricter standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Under the standards, Japanese nuclear reactors are not allowed, in principle, to operate for more than 40 years.
Having entered into operation in June 1984, the boiling water reactor with an output of 524,000 kilowatts is the oldest among four units operated by the utility.
The utility said in a statement that the No. 1 unit lacked additional space to set up fire extinguishing equipment and infrastructure to secure power supply.
Harada told a press conference on Sept. 27 that decommissioning was an option as the unit’s age made it difficult to implement the required safety measures.
In the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, the basement floors of the Onagawa plant’s No. 2 unit were flooded. The company is building a 29-meter sea wall to guard the complex.
Tohoku Electric aims to resume operations of the No. 2 unit at the three-reactor Onagawa plant in fiscal 2020 at the earliest, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the country’s nuclear watchdog, has been screening its safety measures.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Draft bill omits state burden for nuclear accident compensation

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The central part of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, is deserted after it was designated a difficult-to-return zone following the 2011 accident at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
October 24, 2018
After more than three years of discussions, the nuclear damage compensation law will be left largely intact, including unlimited redress from utilities for accidents at their nuclear plants and vagueness about the government’s responsibility.
Only minor changes will be made to the law, such as measures to accelerate provisional payments to victims of nuclear accidents.
Science ministry officials on Oct. 23 presented a draft of proposed legislation to revise the law at a committee meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The legislation is expected to be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session that began on Oct. 24.
An advisory committee on the nuclear damage compensation system within the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) had been discussing possible revisions since 2015 in part because of the huge compensation amount–now more than 8 trillion yen ($71 billion)–facing Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the 2011 accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Electric power companies had asked for some sort of limit in the law, given the situation at TEPCO.
One suggestion was to more clearly delineate the responsibility of the central government and the utilities for compensating victims of nuclear disasters.
A committee member who once worked in Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) supported setting a limit, saying the companies would face a serious management problem if they are unable to predict potential compensation risks.
In return, the central government would shoulder the compensation amount above a certain limit, the member proposed.
However, the committee could not reach an agreement, and no change was made to the provision that sets unlimited compensation responsibility on the part of the utilities.
Utilities will have to continue setting aside a maximum 120 billion yen for each nuclear plant it operates as insurance for a major accident.
Although the insurance amount would appear to be a sort of limit on the electric power companies, the utilities must also contribute to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which provides assistance when compensation demands concerning a single nuclear plant exceed 120 billion yen.
The central government also contributes funds to the NDF.
Calls arose to raise the insurance limit for electric power companies beyond 120 billion yen. However, the insurance industry would not agree to any higher amount, and no change was made in the limit.
Some committee members brought up the topic of whether the central government’s responsibility for compensation should be included in a legal revision.
The electric power industry said the central government should shoulder a greater portion of the compensation responsibility for nuclear accidents because it has continued to define nuclear energy as an important base-load energy source.
Members of the advisory committee brushed aside that suggestion, saying the public would never be convinced in light of the Fukushima accident and the various shortcomings revealed about TEPCO’s management.
Other members cited the possibility that utilities would cut back on safety investment if they knew the central government would pay for compensation.
Discussions about the central government’s responsibility never did get off the ground in the advisory committee, even though a number of recent court verdicts in civil lawsuits have awarded compensation while clearly stating the central government’s responsibility for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The minor change to the law to allow electric power companies to more quickly begin provisional payments of compensation was proposed to address problems that arose after the Fukushima accident.
TEPCO took about six weeks to begin provisional payments to disaster victims. The delay, according to TEPCO, was because the utility had no idea about the maximum amount of compensation it would have to pay.
Under the proposed change, the central government will provide loans to utilities so they can immediately begin making provisional payments. Utilities will be obligated to compile guidelines that define the procedures for applying for compensation and making those guidelines widely known.
(This article was compiled from reports by Yusuke Ogawa and Senior Staff Writer Noriyoshi Ohtsuki.)

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

France presents vitrification process for Fukushima

Same insane mentality that came up with NPPs and generating nuclear waste wsants vitrification which will melt long before the nuke waste becomes chemically stable. Amazing how self/other destructive some people are and what they’re willing to risk doing to other people and life forms:
23 October 2018
A project to demonstrate the use of innovative radioactive waste vitrification technology, developed in France, at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has been under way for the past six months.
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An in-can prototype developed at CEA Marcoule
Since 27 April, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Orano and ANADEC have been evaluating the potential of using the “in-can” vitrification process developed by CEA to treat waste from water treatment operations at Fukushima Daiichi. Such wastes from these operations include contaminated sludge and mineral adsorbents. Vitrification is the process for immobilising high-level radioactive waste in glass.
CEA’s Marcoule laboratory developed a compact in-can vitrification process in which the melting pot is disposable and serves as the primary canister for the solidified glass.
The project to demonstrate the use of the technology at Fukushima Daiichi comprises two main parts.
The first is to develop and study durable waste form conditioning matrix formulations. Tests on a laboratory-scale (100 grams), on a bench-scale (1 kilogram) and near-industrial scale (100kg) will be carried out in France at the CEA Marcoule laboratories.
The second part of the project is to conduct feasibility studies for process implementation, operation and maintenance principles and waste disposal. These studies will be led by Orano.
In a joint statement Orano and CEA said that laboratory-scale test and part of the bench-scale tests have already been “performed with success”. Near-industrial scale tests, they said, are under way. The feasibility studies will then be carried out, with the complete results expected to be delivered by the end of March 2019.
For the project, “technical and commercial interfaces” in Japan are being provided by ANADEC. This a joint venture set up in 2014 between Orano and Japanese nuclear power plant maintenance and radioactive material management company ATOX.
Multiple facilities including a multi-nuclide removal facility – the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) – are used to treat the contaminated water accumulated at Fukushima Daiichi plant. After the concentration of caesium and strontium contained in the contaminated water is reduced, the ALPS system eventually removes most of the radioactive materials except tritium. The treatment of all highly contaminated water which contained strontium, except residual water in the bottom of the storage tanks, was completed in May 2015. This has helped reduce the risks attributed to contaminated water, such as an increase in radiation dose on the premises or contaminated water leaking from the storage tanks. The water from which caesium and strontium have been already reduced will require additional treatment by ALPS for further risk reduction.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | 3 Comments

More time needed for confidence to return on Fukushima produce: Lam

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam
 
Oct. 22, 2018
HONG KONG – More time is needed for Hong Kong to lift its ban on food imports from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture imposed in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster there as public confidence remains low, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said.
In an interview with Japanese media ahead of her first official working trip to Tokyo since taking office as chief executive in 2017, Lam said that while food safety remains a priority, consumer sentiment is another deciding factor for when the ban should be lifted.
“We will have to continue to monitor the situation and to see when is the right time, especially (for) public acceptance,” Lam said.
She said there’s no point in the government relaxing the ban if the public end up not supporting the move. “They will still not buy the food, so we have to find the right situation with the needed assurance before we change the import restrictions,” she added.
Hong Kong in July lifted the ban on imports of foods including vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and milk formula from the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma nearby Fukushima.
But the ban on food imports from Fukushima, which hosts the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, remains in place.
Lam said that since the lifting of the food ban from the four prefectures, individual cases of food imports lacking needed certificates have led to law enforcement activities, which in turn impacted public confidence.
China, which restricted the import of foods and feedstuff produced in 10 of Japan’s 47 prefectures over radiation worries, has informed Japan of its intention to relax the ban through diplomatic channels, it was reported, according to the sources.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reach a deal when he meets with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Oct 26.
Defending Hong Kong’s recent moves to outlaw an independence-seeking political party and expel a foreign journalist who hosted a talk by the party’s leader, Lam insisted that the people’s rights and freedoms remain intact.
“I am not suggesting that I should, or the government should put a limit on freedom of speech or freedom of reporting in Hong Kong. I am saying, internationally, there is no absolute freedom per se. If anybody is aggrieved by the executive…they can take us to court,” she said.
Lam said judges from foreign common law jurisdictions, including Britain, Australia and Canada, sitting on the territory’s top court to adjudicate cases is proof that Hong Kong courts are not interfered with or influenced by the Chinese government.
The chief executive will embark on the five-day visit to Japan from Oct 29, a first for a Hong Kong leader since 2010. She is slated to meet with Japanese officials over issues covering government business, trade and investment, education, technology science, tourism and women’s affairs.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Abe and Xi expected to discuss food import ban, but chances of progress uncertain

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to visit Beijing this week, with China’s food import ban on Japan likely to be discussed
 
Oct 21, 2018
China’s import ban on Japanese food introduced following the March 2011 nuclear disaster is likely to be discussed between Japanese and Chinese leaders in upcoming summit talks in Beijing this week, though whether any progress can be made on the discussion is uncertain.
China has taken a cautious approach to relaxing the import regulations due to safety concerns among the public.
China has a ban in place on food imports from 10 prefectures: Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Niigata and Nagano. Food products made in other prefectures need to have certificates that confirm they have passed radioactive checks.
China introduced the ban because of concerns over radioactive contamination due to the meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Japan has been asking Beijing to lift the ban at an early date.
In an effort to make this happen, Tokyo has explained the examination process for food and provided data related to their safety.
But China has stood pat over concerns that lifting the ban could create public backlash. Also behind the inaction were tensions over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by Beijing, informed sources said.
Amid warming bilateral ties and an improvement in the public’s perception of Japanese food, Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed in May this year to start working-level talks for a possible easing of the import regulations.
The focus now is on how much progress can be made at the working level before Abe’s three-day visit to China from Thursday, which comes as the two countries mark the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of their peace and friendship treaty, the sources said.
If the ban is relaxed, Japan is expected to make progress toward its goal of attaining ¥1 trillion in annual exports in the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors, the sources said.
The nuclear disaster led a total 54 economies to introduce import restrictions or strengthen radioactive checks on Japanese food products.
Of them, 29 had scrapped their restrictions as of August this year and 17 others conditionally resumed imports. China is among the eight that maintain import bans on food made in some prefectures.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Stop the return of women and child evacuees to radioactive parts of Fukushima – UN’s call to Japan

U.N. rights expert urges Japan to halt women and child evacuee returns to radioactive parts of Fukushima https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/10/26/national/science-health/u-n-rights-expert-urges-japan-halt-women-child-evacuee-returns-radioactive-parts-fukushima/#.W9PVHmgzbIU

KYODO  The Japanese government must halt the return of women and children displaced by the March 2011 nuclear disaster back to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain high, a U.N. human rights expert said Thursday.

The special rapporteur on hazardous substances, Baskut Tuncak, also criticized in his statement the government’s gradual removal of evacuation orders for most of the radioactive areas as well as its plan to lift all orders within the next five years, even for the most contaminated areas.

“The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe,” he said.

An official of Japan’s permanent mission to the international organizations in Geneva rebuffed the statement, saying it is based on extremely one-sided information and could fan unnecessary fears about Fukushima.

Tuncak expressed concerns about people returning to areas with radiation above 1 millisievert per year, a level previously observed by Japan as an annual limit so as to prevent risks to the health of vulnerable people, especially children and women of reproductive age.

“It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the U.N. human rights monitoring mechanism to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster,” he said.

In the wake of the Fukushima reactor meltdowns, the Japanese government heightened the annually acceptable level of radiation to 20 millisieverts, raising concerns for the health of residents.

In August, Tuncak and two other U.N. human rights experts jointly criticized the Japanese government for allegedly exploiting and putting at risk the lives of “tens of thousands” of people engaged in cleanup operations at and around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a claim Tokyo dismissed.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | health, Japan | Leave a comment

Japan’s government refuses UN call to stop returning evacuees to irradiated areas of Fukushima

Japan rejects UN call to stop returns to Fukushima, Channel News Asia, 27 Oct 18  TOKYO: Japan’s government on Friday (Oct 26) rejected calls from a UN rights expert to halt the return of women and children to areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disasterover radiation fears.

UN special rapporteur Baskut Tuncak on Thursday warned that people felt they were “being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the government previously considered safe.”

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s government lifted its standard for the acceptable level of radiation to 20 millisieverts per year from 1 millisievert.

It has been urged to revise that level back down again, but has rejected calls to do so, a decision Tuncak called “deeply troubling.”

“Japan has a duty to prevent and minimise childhood exposure to radiation,” he said.

But Japan’s government rejected the criticism, saying Tuncak’s comments were based on “one-sided information and could fan unnecessary fears about Fukushima,” a foreign ministry official told AFP.

Japan’s government has gradually lifted evacuation orders on large parts of the areas affected by the disaster, which occurred when a massive tsunami sent reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant into meltdown in March 2011.

But other areas remain under evacuation orders because of continued high levels of radiation.

Japan’s government has pushed hard to return affected areas to normal, but has faced criticism that what it refers to as “safe” radiation levels are not in line with international standards.  …….. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/japan-fukushima-meltdown-radiation-fears-10867932

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

NATO – Europeans urge USA not to quit nuclear treaty:

NATO urges Trump officials not to quit nuclear treaty: diplomats https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-nato/nato-urges-trump-officials-not-to-quit-nuclear-treaty-diplomats-idUSKCN1MZ2KZ, Robin Emmott, BRUSSELS (Reuters) 26 Oct 18, – European members of NATO urged the United States on Thursday to try to bring Russia back into compliance with a nuclear arms control treaty rather than quit it, diplomats said, seeking to avoid a split in the alliance that Moscow could exploit.

In a closed-door meeting at NATO, Pentagon, U.S. State Department and National Security Council officials briefed alliance envoys on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles.

Diplomats present said Germany and other European allies called for a final effort on Washington’s part to convince the Kremlin to stop what the West says are violations, or possibly renegotiate it to include China.

Allies want to see a last-ditch effort to avoid a U.S. withdrawal,” one NATO diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the meeting, which took place two days after senior U.S. official John Bolton informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of the plans in Moscow.

Nobody takes issue with Russia’s violation of the treaty, but a withdrawal would make it easy for Moscow to blame us for the end of this landmark agreement,” a second diplomat said.

NATO declined to comment on the details of the meeting but issued a statement saying that allies assessed “the implications of Russia’s destabilizing behavior on our security.”

NATO allies will continue to consult on this important issue,” it added.

Earlier this week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg laid the blame on Russia for violating the treaty by developing the SSC-8, a land-based, intermediate-range Cruise missile which also has the name of Novator 9M729.

Russia denies any such violations.

NATO allies including Belgium and the Netherlands, which host U.S. nuclear weapons facilities in Europe, warned in the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s highest decision-making body, of a public outcry if the United States were to try to install medium-range nuclear weapons on their territory again.

Stoltenberg said on Wednesday he did not think this would lead to reciprocal deployments of U.S. missiles in Europe as happened in the 1980s.

European allies see the INF treaty as a pillar of arms control and, while accepting that Moscow is violating it by developing new weapons, are concerned its collapse could lead to a new arms race with possibly a new generation of U.S. nuclear missiles stationed on the continent.

Diplomats said the U.S. officials did hold out the possibility that the United States may delay its formal withdrawal to after a planned meeting between Putin and Trump in Paris on Nov. 11.

The treaty foresees a six-month notification period for any withdrawal, also potentially giving Washington time to negotiate with Moscow before finally pulling out.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Hugh Lawson

October 27, 2018 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Putin warns European nations on hosting US nuclear weapons – risk to them of counter-strike

Putin says Russia will target nations who host US nuclear weapons https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-putin-missiles-us-arms-treaty-inf-john-bolton-moscow-a8600146.html

‘European countries… must understand that they are putting their own territory at risk of a possible counterstrike,’ says Russian president, Oliver CarrollMoscow @olliecarroll  27 Oct 18Russia would immediately target any European nation that agreed to deploy US missiles on their soil, Vladimir Putin has said, following the announcement from Washington that it would withdraw from a landmark arms control treaty..  

It would be “quick and effective.” Mr Putin said. The Russian president added that if the US “delivers” any new weapons to Europe after they pull out of the deal, Moscow would have no choice but to defend itself.

European countries that agree to host them, if things go that far, must understand that they are putting their own territory at risk of a possible counterstrike,” he said.

The comments, delivered during a news conference following talks with Italian Prime Minster Conte, came a day after meeting US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Moscow. That visit made it clear that the United States intended to issue formal notice on the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, and brought forward the prospect of nuclear weapons returning to European soil.
The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, which was signed in Washington in 1987 by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, committed the two Cold War superpowers to destroy short range and intermediate range missiles (500-5,000km), and not to develop them in the future.

It resulted in a reduction of approximately 85 per cent of all nuclear stockpiles.

Many expect the imminent US withdrawal from this treaty to be followed by the non-renewal of another major arms control deal the strategic arms reduction treaty, the New START, which runs out in 2021.

Mr Putin said that prospect “worried him.” “It is a very dangerous situation, which leaves nothing else but an arms race,” he said.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power lobbyists for Saudi Arabia finding it (a bit) tough following Jamal Khashoggi ‘s murder

Saudi’s Lobbyists Feel Heat of Khashoggi Murder, Bloomberg By Kathleen Hunter, October 26, 2018 It’s not just Donald Trump who has cultivated a cozy relationship with Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has been a cash cow for Washington’s influence industry.

Over the past decade, D.C.’s lobbyists have raked in $76.9 million advocating for the Saudis on everything from nuclear power to fending off legislation that would leave the kingdom liable in lawsuits filed by family members of victims in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Ben BrodyNaomi Nix and Bill Allison report.

That lucrative business is now facing its biggest test in years as the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul draws worldwide criticism. ….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-26/saudi-lobbyists-feel-heat-of-khashoggi-murder-balance-of-power?

October 27, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | 1 Comment

Utah state regulators reject EnergySolutions’ request for burying depleted uranium

Utah says no to EnergySolutions accepting depleted uranium from military, but will it change course in the future? Salt Lake Tribune, By Brian Maffly 26 Oct 18  Radioactive munitions won’t be buried in Utah’s West Desert anytime soon after a decision issued Thursday by state regulators, who rejected EnergySolutions’ emergency request to accept several thousand tons of armor-piercing projectile points made of heavier-than-lead depleted uranium.

The radioactive-waste processor had petitioned the Department of Environmental Quality for an exemption to Utah’s provisional prohibition on burying depleted uranium, or DU. But agency staff and outside consultants concluded metallic DU is more hazardous and unstable than EnergySolutions had characterized it in its presentations.
The company has failed to demonstrate that the “exemption will not result in undue hazard to public health and safety or result in undue hazard to the environment,” Stephen Marschke, nuclear engineer with SC&A Consulting, told the Waste Management and Radiation Control Board.
The panel voted unanimously Thursday to reject the military ordnance, which grows more radioactive over time.
Board members said they were uncomfortable authorizing such waste before DEQ completes its long-running “performance assessment” of the Clive facility, 80 miles west of Salt Lake City, where EnergySolutions hopes to bury far more DU oxide, a granular waste product from the uranium-enrichment process……..
The environmental group HEAL Utah leads a campaign against the firm’s DU proposals, arguing this waste, while not highly radioactive now, poses a dire threat to future inhabitants of Skull Valley because the material becomes dangerous, and eventually deadly, over thousands of years……… https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2018/10/25/utah-says-now-now/

October 27, 2018 Posted by | depleted uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change. Prolonged dry weather leads EDF to curb Fessenheim 2 nuclear reactor output

EDF curbs Fessenheim 2 nuclear reactor output due to dry weather https://www.reuters.com/article/france-drought-nuclearpower/edf-curbs-fessenheim-2-nuclear-reactor-output-due-to-dry-weather-idUSL8N1X63FD

PARIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – French utility EDF reduced output at its 900 megawatts (MW) Fessenheim 2 nuclear reactor on Friday as prolonged dry weather across west and central Europe has led to low water levels at the Rhine river which it uses to cool the reactor.

French grid operator RTE said EDF cut output at Fessenheim 2 by 130 MW due to environmental issues. EDF use water from the Rhine river as coolant for the plant, France’s oldest, which has two 900 MW reactors.

EDF could not be reached for comment on the situation.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

Sea level rise -the threat to nuclear power plants -Pilgrim to move nuclear waste to higher ground

Pilgrim to move nuclear waste to higher ground, http://www.patriotledger.com/news/20181026/pilgrim-to-move-nuclear-waste-to-higher-ground  BJoe DiFazio
The Patriot Ledger PLYMOUTH — Officials at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station said they want to move nuclear waste at the site to higher ground over the next few years with an eye toward sea level rise.

Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for Entergy, the plant’s owner, said that the new proposed site will be located in what is now a parking lot 75 feet above sea level and 350 feet away from Rocky Hill Road. The site is 700 feet away from the closest point on the shoreline, O’Brien said.

Pilgrim is slated to be shut down by June 1. Entergy announced in August it plans to sell the station to Holtec International who will decommission the plant. O’Brien said the plan to move the waste was made in conjunction with Holtec.

O’Brien said that the proposed site was chosen as the best of three under consideration and that it was evaluated for nine regulatory and technical requirements. O’Brien saidEntergy will apply for the required permits and plans to begin construction on the new site before Pilgrim shuts down.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said that the move doesn’t need approval from his agency, but it would monitor construction of the new site and movement of the spent nuclear fuel. The NRC will need to approve Pilgrim’s sale to Holtec.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

The personal struggle – a rare brain cancer – nothing to do with his radiation exposure at Los Alamos National Laboratory?

Half Life Chad Walde believed in his work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Then he got a rare brain cancer, and the government denied that it had any responsibility , Pro Publica, by Rebecca Moss, The Santa Fe New Mexican, 26 Oct 18,“………A Gap Between Records and Recollection

CHAD WAS CLEARED TO RETURN TO HIS JOB at the lab in late January 2015, four months after his diagnosis. He’d undergone radiation and two chemotherapy treatments, and Los Alamos’ occupational medicine staff said he was fit to continue working with classified material, his medical records show. At risk for seizures, he couldn’t drive or climb stairs or ladders. Chad carpooled and had Angela drive him to the laboratory several times a week. His supervisor offered him a desk job, a step down from his managerial role — but one that kept his health insurance running. He accepted. The only real alternative was termination.

Roark says the lab’s goal is to treat all employees with debilitating conditions with “utmost respect” and says when employees are unable to perform the functions of their jobs, Los Alamos “makes reasonable efforts to accommodate them,” which can result in job reassignment.

Separately, to process his claim for cancer benefits, the Department of Labor also told Chad it would need all of his medical and radiation exposure records from the lab. The Department of Labor sends these to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, another federal agency that uses a probability equation to determine if a worker had a high enough dose of radiation to cause cancer. If the computer found a 50 percent or higher correlation, Chad would get benefits.

When the records arrived from Los Alamos, containing a single CD and a brief letter, it was the first time Chad realized that his own experience differed from what the lab had noted in its records.

The lab had found “no records” of Chad having been exposed to anything or other environmental occupational hazards, the letter said. And his dosimetry report, a spreadsheet that showed his total dose of radiation annually, was scant.

The lab had not tracked Chad’s radiation exposure in 1999, his first year on the job, the report indicated, or in 2000, when the Cerro Grande fire burned. External monitoring began in 2001 but showed a clean zero for 11 out of the next 14 years. (Only in 2008, 2013 and 2014 were there any hits on the report.)

The report said his total dose was 0.254 rems over his career, well below safety limits and slightly less than an average person gets from background radiation from the sun and environment in a single year. A rem is a unit used to measure the absorbed dose of radiation, with 1 rem equivalent to a CT scan, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Chad marveled at the document. It didn’t track with his memory — or hold any record of the time he’d been called in for going over his limit and accused of taking his badge to the airport, or when he was sent home wearing disposable clothes.

“They aren’t on here,” Chad said when he looked at the document.

It also seemed impossible there were so many years that were completely blank.

Asked about the discrepancy between Walde’s memory and the reports, Los Alamos spokesman Roark said, in general, that the lab “maintains a comprehensive archive of worker radiation dosimetry data” and that it “provides any and all records in response to requests as quickly as possible.”

When NIOSH reviewed the records, it had a simple way to fill in the gaps. For the two years when Chad was not monitored, NIOSH assumed the maximum dose he could have been exposed to was the maximum background radiation at the lab (which was 0.4 rem), adding in the possibility of a couple missed readings.

NIOSH said Chad’s records showed he had been exposed to “various sources of radiation during his employment,” but the maximum dose he could have received at the lab, based on its calculations and assumptions, was a 3.744 rem dose to the brain. The agency modeled his probability for cancer based on how this amount of radiation would affect and mutate cells of the thyroid. It does not have a model for how external radiation might impact brain tissue.

On a phone call with a NIOSH claims representative in September 2015, Chad asked why the agency used general air monitoring data to fill in his missed readings. Chad, who made a recording of the call, said this would fail to account for the radiation present at the more dangerous nuclear areas he had been assigned to.

He told the representative how his badge often took hits. Like he’d told his father-in-law, and his friends, Chad said his boss kept asking him why his readings were “above the reporting levels.”

I “wonder if we are not missing something,” Chad said on the recording. “I also worry about the Los Alamos reporting,” relaying instances in which the lab certified an area free of radiation only to discover contamination later while he was working on a maintenance job. Chad began to talk about something he witnessed at the liquid radioactive waste plant but trailed off, saying, “I don’t know if I am allowed to say any of this stuff — never mind.”

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Chad Walde’s radiation shells hang in the garage of his family’s home. The shells help keep the head still while a patient receives radiotherapy. (Adria Malcolm, special to ProPublica)

Stu Hinnefeld, director of the divis  Stu Hinnefeld, director of the division of compensation analysis and support for NIOSH, said in an interview that those exposed to radiation have a “relatively low” likelihood of developing brain cancer compared with lung and thyroid cancers. He said the institute’s risk models, as a result, require a worker to have a much higher documented exposure to radiation than many of the other cancers in order to get compensation.

The Department of Labor concluded there was just a 2.67 percent chance his cancer was related to his radiation exposure history. His claim was denied on Jan. 14, 2016.

Chad’s dates of employment made him more likely to be rejected than if he had worked at the lab in a prior era. Overall, the Department of Labor has approved nearly 60 percent of claims filed by Los Alamos workers for cancer and beryllium disease. But for workers who started working at the lab after 1996, that figure falls to 45 percent, according to data requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor said, “While gaps in past records have existed at some sites, workers in the modern era have more extensive monitoring records. There are no unexplained gaps or readings in this employee’s radiation dose records.”

Still, Chad wanted to appeal. Over the next year, he would undergo another surgery and start experiencing frequent seizures, at one point spending two days in a coma in Texas, where the family had traveled for the twins’ volleyball tournament, when the spasms refused to subside. The family held “Gray Be Gone” fundraisers, referring to the color of the tumor tissue, to raise money to send Chad to MD Anderson for treatment. He also started clinical trials with a doctor in New Mexico.

During that time, Chad learned that he was not the only person at Los Alamos who thought missing records had led the Department of Labor to deny a claim.

For more than a decade, workers at Los Alamos have been telling federal officials that similar data and records problems have prevented them from getting compensation. In June 2005, at a NIOSH forum for the lab’s technical workers’ union, one worker said the lab “had lied and falsified documents right and left … the monitors were turned off, people weren’t qualified to be doing the monitoring, the equipment was never calibrated,” according to meeting minutes.

Another man, an X-ray technician, said his personal radiation badge always showed up with zero contamination.

Falsified radiation data or medical records have been documented at other labs, including in 2003 at Savannah River Site in South Carolina and Hanford Site in Washington state. Radiation records also were falsified at an Ohio nuclear facility in 2013. The Department of Energy fined lab managers in South Carolina and Ohio more than $200,000 each for “willful falsification.”

Los Alamos has not been fined for willful falsification of health records, but it has been cited within the past year for serious safety violations and for failing to check laboratory rooms for toxic chemicals before allowing workers to enter. Internal incident reports from the early 2000s, obtained by NIOSH, described how records had been removed from radiation log books, “deliberate tampering” with nasal swipe samples (used to test if a worker inhaled radioactive particles) and problems with workers not wearing their radiation badges.

Soon after Chad’s diagnosis, another electrician on his crew, Cesario Lopez, told Chad he’d recently had part of his kidney taken out after being diagnosed with cancer. Both Lopez’s mother and uncle, who worked at the lab before him, had been diagnosed with cancer, too. Lopez applied for and was denied compensation by the Department of Labor but has appealed.

Then Chad learned about his friend Gilbert Mondragon. Mondragon started working as an electrician on the fire protection crew in August 1999, three months before Chad. Mondragon was just 19 and from the beginning saw Chad as a mentor. Chad, he said, taught him how to have a good attitude at work and find value in it. That became harder after Mondragon was diagnosed with kidney cancer in the spring of 2014 at the age of 34.

Like Chad, Mondragon’s radiation report showed 14 straight years of zeroes, and only two years, 2006 and 2007, in which his badge took any hits, totaling 67 millirems of radiation over 16 years.

“It’s not like people think it is,” Mondragon said about lab safety. He, like Chad, recalled several times he’d been decontaminated and given new work clothes or boots.

Mondragon believes some of the zeroes are also the result of being told, by his supervisors, to take his badge off when he was doing work in contaminated places. “Now I know better,” he said, “but it’s too late.”

Roark, the lab spokesman, denies workers were ever told to remove their badges, saying its “Radiation Protection Program would never allow, endorse or recommend removing dosimeters to avoid contamination.”

Ken Silver, who sits on a Department of Labor advisory board and is a professor of environmental health at East Tennessee State University, testified before Congressin 2007 that instructing workers to remove their radiation badges was a common practice for “cleanup crews” at Los Alamos in the past. Silver said this practice was based on the belief that if a badge was contaminated, workers would go on to spread radiation throughout the laboratory, which he called a “flimsy assumption.”

Los Alamos officials did not testify at the hearing. But the lab says its rate of injuries has dropped significantly since 2006 and is well below the industry average. The laboratory says it does not track the cause of death for its employees.

Hinnefeld said NIOSH has looked into allegations that workers were told to remove their badges and, “We hear that on occasion.” But he said, in the past, officials have concluded that this wouldn’t affect how the agency reconstructs a worker’s radiation exposure because a single missed reading is unlikely to hold much weight in the overall career of a worker.

Diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, which his physician has linked to chemical exposure, Mondragon resigned from the lab this winter. The doctors’ visits have consumed his life. His cancer claim, like Chad’s, also was rejected by the Department of Labor, but he was told he would likely be accepted if he were to develop another cancer.

For the last six months, he has relied on the help of an oxygen tank to breathe, trailing a long, green plastic tube wherever he goes…..more https://features.propublica.org/los-alamos/chad-walde-nuclear-facility-radiation-cancer/

October 27, 2018 Posted by | health, investigative journalism, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, USA | Leave a comment