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Doctors dispute media claim that fire at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Rocketdyne) poses no radiation danger

RESPONSE TO LA MAGAZINE ARTICLE: https://www.psr-la.org/woolsey-fire-burns-nuclear-meltdown-site-that-state-toxics-agency-failed-to-clean-up/

On November 10, Los Angeles Magazine ran an article claiming there was no risk related to SSFL contamination from the Woolsey fire that we now know actually began on the SSFL property itself. Below is our response.

Los Angeles Magazine must print a correction – this article is filled with errors and misinformation:

  1. There is no need to put quotes around “significantly contaminated” – SSFL is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, subject of a promised but long-delayed state and federal cleanup; it is heavily contaminated with well documented nuclear and chemical contamination, from, among other things, a partial nuclear meltdown.
  2. The claim in the first hours of the fire by DTSC, an agency that has no public confidence to the point that the state legislature commissioned an Independent Review Panel to investigate its failings (which include the Exide fiasco in Vernon,) that it didn’t “believe” there was a risk is cover for its failure to live up to its cleanup commitments (it had promised the site would be cleaned up by 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun). It is pure conjecture. DTSC does not have have any scientific data to back up the claim. It based the spurious assertion on its claim that the fire in its first hours was not in areas where contamination could be released, but the state fire department now shows almost all of the contaminated site as within the fire boundary.
  3. DTSC did not release it’s statement in response to the Forbes article, it released it the night before, when virtually nothing was known about the extent of the fire at SSFL
  4. SSFL is NEVER referred to as Area IV – that is simply one area in the site, the area where most of the nuclear activity occurred
  5. Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust, and ash.

The bottom line is it irresponsible to claim that SSFL contamination was not spread further by the fire. Los Angeles Magazine may wish to read its own cover story from 1998: HOT ZONE – Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory was on the front lines of the Cold War. Now some who lived near “The Hill” say they share two distinctions: chronic illness and the unswerving belief that the lab caused it.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors “are a bad bet for a climate strategy” – former NRC chairman

Nuclear watchdog group causes stir with call to financially support existing nuclear plants, “Hard choices” are needed in the face of dire climate projections, Union of Concerned Scientists says. Think Progress 

November 12, 2018 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Woolsey Fire Burns Nuclear Meltdown Site that State Toxics Agency Failed to Clean Up

THE SANTA SUSANA FIELD LABORATORY (ROCKETDYNE) BURNED IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE, THREATENING TOXIC EXPOSURES FROM CONTAMINATED DUST, SMOKE, ASH AND SOIL.   https://www.psr-la.org/woolsey-fire-burns-nuclear-meltdown-site-that-state-toxics-agency-failed-to-clean-up/

THE DEPARTMENT OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL DENIES RISK THAT IT CREATED BY DELAYING THE LONG PROMISED CLEANUP. November 9, 2018, Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.org, Melissa Bumstead 818-298-3182 or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net,    Nov 9, 2018Last night, the Woolsey fire burned the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), a former nuclear and rocket engine testing site. Footage from local television showed flames surrounding rocket test stands, and the fire’s progress through to Oak Park indicates that much of the toxic site burned.

statement released by the California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said that its staff, “do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.” The statement failed to assuage community concerns given DTSC’s longtime pattern of misinformation about SSFL’s contamination and its repeated broken promises to clean it up.

“We can’t trust anything that DTSC says,” said West Hills resident Melissa Bumstead, whose young daughter has twice survived leukemia that she blames on SSFL and who has mapped 50 other cases of rare pediatric cancers near the site. Bumstead organized a group called “Parents vs. SSFL” and launched a Change.org petition demanding full cleanup of SSFL that has been signed by over 410,000 people. “DTSC repeatedly minimizes risk from SSFL and has broken every promise it ever made about the SSFL cleanup. Communities throughout the state have also been failed by DTSC. The public has no confidence in this troubled agency,” said Bumstead.

Nuclear reactor accidents, including a famous partial meltdown, tens of thousands of rocket engine tests, and sloppy environmental practices have left SSFL polluted with widespread radioactive and chemical contamination. Government-funded studies indicate increased cancers for offsite populations associated with proximity to the site, and that contamination migrates offsite over EPA levels of concern. In 2010, DTSC signed agreements with the Department of Energy and NASA that committed them to clean up all detectable contamination in their operational areas by 2017. DTSC also in 2010 committed to require Boeing, which owns most of the site, to cleanup to comparable standards. But the cleanup has not yet begun, and DTSC is currently considering proposals that will leave much, if not all, of SSFL’s contamination on site permanently.

Dr. Robert Dodge, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, shares the community’s concerns. “We know what substances are on the site and how hazardous they are. We’re talking about incredibly dangerous radionuclides and toxic chemicals such a trichloroethylene, perchlorate, dioxins and heavy metals. These toxic materials are in SSFL’s soil and vegetation, and when it burns and becomes airborne in smoke and ash, there is real possibility of heightened exposure for area residents.”

Dodge said protective measures recommended during any fire, such as staying indoors and wearing protective face masks, are even more important given the risks associated with SSFL’s contamination. Community members are organizing a campaign on social media to demand that DTSC release a public statement revealing the potential risks of exposure to SSFL contamination related to the fire.

But for residents such as Bumstead, worries will remain until SSFL is fully cleaned up. “When I look at that fire, all I see is other parents’ future heartache,” said Bumstead, “And what I feel is anger that if the DTSC had kept its word, we wouldn’t have these concerns, because the site would be cleaned up by now.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) is the largest chapter of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility and has worked for the full cleanup of SSFL for over 30 years.. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

Parents vs. SSFL is a grassroots group of concerned parents and residents who demand compliance with cleanup agreements signed in 2010 that require a full cleanup of all radioactive and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Beyond Nuclear questions Union of Concerned Scientists’ support for bailouts for “top ranked” nuclear plants

Appalling safety culture should eliminate nuclear power from subsidies   https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/11/11/appalling-safety-culture-should-eliminate-nuclear-power-from-subsidies/ November 11, 2018 Union of Concerned Scientists ignores its earlier report by now endorsing “top ranked” nuclear plants for bailouts, By Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear

A controversial new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that closing aging US nuclear plants — and not subsidizing the cost of building new ones — will increase carbon emissions. The assumption is that nuclear plants that close will be replaced by coal or natural gas-fired plants.

An increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the US is of course unacceptable given the accelerating climate change crisis we now face. However, the evidence so far, that closed nuclear plants will largely be replaced by natural gas and coal, is not borne out by the actual evidence.

California, which has only one nuclear power plant still operating at Diablo Canyon, will replace it, and the already shuttered San Onofre reactors, entirely with renewable energy. When Nebraska closed its flooded Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant, it was wind energy, not fossil fuels, that stepped in to fill the new generation void.

The UCS report advocates for nuclear power to be included in a National Low-Carbon Electricity Standard (LCES) or any national carbon pricing. But its caveat is that any operating plant considered for this benefit must retain a position in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) highest safety rating category. This relies on a critical supposition, shown to be to unfounded, that the NRC exercises sufficient due diligence in actually assessing safety at US nuclear plants.

Following a major revision of its reactor safety oversight process in 2000, the NRC listed one nuclear plant— Davis-Besse in Ohio — as being maintained as one of the safest reactors in the country. In fact, while holding its newly top-rated position as a “Column 1” facility, Davis-Besse was in perilous condition. An undetected leak of corrosive reactor coolant had been allowed to eat through a 6 ¾ inch-thick carbon steel wall of the reactor pressure vessel head.

In February 2002, during a scheduled refueling outage, the extensive damage from corrosion was accidentally discovered to have eaten right down to the vessel’s corrosion-resistant stainless steel inner liner. The 3/16th-inch inner steel liner had stretched under the reactor’s operational pressure and was bulging into the throughwall cavity — ready to burst into a loss-of-coolant nuclear accident that by one scientific account could have occurred within two months.

All during the time of operation, FirstEnergy Nuclear, the operator of Davis-Besse, and the onsite NRC inspectors, ignored the thick accumulation of iron oxide particulate settling on catwalks inside the reactor building, and the daily replacement of containment air filters, without investigating where the cloud of rust was originating.

The NRC has since revised its oversight process once again. But neither the federal agency nor the nuclear industry have demonstrated an improvement in “safety culture” and continue to fall short in questioning and reporting the development of reactor hazards.

February 2017 report, also published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, contradicts the presumption of reliability on the NRC Reactor Oversight Process. It states, “The percentage of the NRC workforce that feared retaliation for raising concerns is comparable to, and sometimes higher than, the percentage of nuclear plant workers who feared retaliation” for questioning the safety of operating nuclear power stations.

In fact, the former UCS senior reactor safety engineer, David Lochbaum, also an author on the latest report, is quoted in the 2017 analysis, “the data suggest that the NRC’s management is just as dismissive of indications that it has a poor safety culture. When it comes to chilled work environments, the NRC may have the largest refrigerator in town.”

The November 2018 UCS report also makes the assertion that offering low-carbon incentives to both renewables and new and existing nuclear plants will raise all boats. However, this is not supported by the reality on the ground. For example, the decision by New York to prop up its aging and uneconomical upstate nuclear plants is costing the state nearly $500 million per year – 200 times as much as it is spending on developing renewables. Preventing the early closure of nuclear plants serves as a hindrance to renewable energy development, exacerbating, rather than ameliorating carbon emissions and the climate crisis.

Paul Gunter is the Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear.

AA

November 12, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

No nuclear bailouts for Pennsylvania and Ohio — Beyond Nuclear International

States can develop renewables without clinging on to dangerous old nuclear plants

via No nuclear bailouts for Pennsylvania and Ohio — Beyond Nuclear International

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NuGen’s failing Moorside nuclear project will cost Cumbrian residents a multimillion-pound bill for the preparatory work

Times 10th Nov 2018 Consumers face a multimillion-pound bill for work carried out in preparation for the proposed Cumbrian nuclear plant that may never be built.

National Grid said that it had spent tens of millions of pounds planning the 100-mile power line to connect Nugen’s Moorside plant to the electricity transmission network. Much of the cost is expected to be recovered from households and businesses via levies on their energy bills for decades to come. John Pettigrew, chief executive, said that work on the Moorside line had cost “tens of millions” of pounds and that there was a “regulatory process” to recover the costs.

Nugen is obliged to cover some of the cost, but one industry source said that it was on the hook for a little more than £10 million, while National Grid’s expenditure was thought to be in the high double digits. National Grid is expected to submit a claim to Ofgem, the energy regulator, to recoup the rest from consumers.

The regulator can refuse to allow expenditure it deems inefficient, but the rules are thought likely to allow the company to recover at least half of its costs. The eventual £2.8 billion proposal included £1.9 billion of “measures to reduce its impact on people, places and the environment”, including burying the lines through a 14-mile stretch of the Lake District and a 13-mile tunnel under MorecambeBay.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/f1630fa6-e458-11e8-9838-efa7e96cbe2b

November 12, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Within 50 years, ozone layer hole is predicted to be completely healed

Ozone layer hole will ‘totally heal within 50 years’ https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/06/health/ozone-healing-scli-intl/index.html  By Lianne Kolirin,  November 6, 2018 CNN) The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer is expected to fully heal within 50 years, climate change experts predict in a new UN report.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons – genocidal, xenophobic and racist

Hayley Ramsay-Jones

     

By definition nuclear weapons are genocidal, xenophobic and racist, 11.11.2018 – Madrid, Spain – Tony Robinson At the II World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace, in Madrid from the 5th to the 8th of November, Pressenza took the opportunity to cover activities carried out by the international team of activists from ICAN.

A combined presentation by Dr. Aurora Bilbao from IPPNW and Hayley Ramsay-Jones from Soka Gakkai International covered two very important topics: the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the intersectional aspects of gender and race discrimination in nuclear disarmament.

We were especially interested to find out more about the gender and race aspects to nuclear disarmament, so after the presentation we caught up with Hayley to ask her a few questions…https://www.pressenza.com/2018/11/by-definition-nuclear-weapons-are-genocidal-xenophobic-and-racist/

November 12, 2018 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

The collapse of Britain’s Moorside project shows that nuclear power has no real future

Moorside’s atomic dream was an illusion. Renewables are the future https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/11/moorside-atomic-dream-illusion-renewables-are-the-future

The collapse of Toshiba’s project underlines the fact that new nuclear is a more unreliable proposition than wind and solar  Toshiba’s decision to pull out of building a nuclear power station in Cumbria last week will cause shockwaves far beyond the north-west of England.The outcome is a disaster for the surrounding area, which is heavily reliant on the nuclear industry for jobs and prosperity. Local politicians admit it is a blow and a disappointment for Cumbrians hoping for roles at the proposed Moorside plant. They say they genuinely believe a new buyer for the site will come forward. But that looks like wishful thinking.

To an extent, the demise of Moorside can be attributed to problems with it as a specific project. It has looked doomed since Toshiba’s US nuclear unit, Westinghouse, declared bankruptcy in 2017 and the company ruled out new nuclear investments outside of Japan. Efforts to woo the South Korean energy company Kepco as a buyer then floundered. The executive leading the sale for Toshiba blamed the failure to find a buyer on being “caught between a series of unplanned and uncontrollable events”.

But the end of Moorside is also emblematic of the wider challenges that new nuclear faces. It took a decade from Tony Blair signalling the UK’s renewed interest in nuclear power in 2006 for France’s EDF Energy and the British government to sign a generous subsidy deal and green-light Hinkley Point C, the UK’s first new nuclear plant in a generation. In all likelihood, it will not be generating electricity until 2027.

Ministers insist new nuclear power stations are still an essential way of hitting the country’s greenhouse gas emission targets and providing energy security as old plants are switched off in the 2020s.

Losing Moorside means there are just five other new nuclear projects planned, including Hinkley Point C. Eyes will now turn to Hitachi’s proposed Wylfa Newydd plant on Anglesey. The project is the furthest along the line after Hinkley, but it’s far from a done deal.

The new nuclear drive was meant to be solely funded by the private sector, but the government has already made a striking exception in the case of Wylfa. Ministers have promised Hitachi they will use public money to take a £5bn stake in the scheme. Such a dramatic U-turn on policy is explained by the fact that Wylfa is about more than the UK’s desire for new nuclear: it is also about cooperation with Tokyo and bringing forth other investment from Japanese firms, such as carmakers, after Brexit.

There is a pattern here. The subsidy deal for Hinkley was declared exceptional because it was the first new nuclear plant and the risk was loaded on to the developer. Now the second one will be exceptional too. What’s to say that the third, fourth and fifth will be any different?

The collapse of Moorside should be cause for the government to look again at whether it is backing the right horse by doggedly pursuing new nuclear. Even the government’s own advisers, the National Infrastructure Commission, are urging a rethink. Renewables, they point out, are simply less risky.

Ministers will probably invoke the spectre of missed climate-change targets to argue for nuclear. But the statutory advisers on those targets recently saidthe 2030 goal could be achieved with Hinkley alone.

The momentum is with renewables. The technology is becoming cheaper, investors view it as an increasingly safe bet and the need for subsidies is diminishing. Next year we will find out how much cheaper offshore wind, which has already halved in cost, can become in a new round of government auctions.

Ditching new nuclear would require a huge increase in the amount of wind and solar power already expected in coming years. It would need dramatic progress on energy storage, smarter grids and even more efficient use of energy. All those things will be difficult. But pursuing an impossible atomic dream, as Moorside demonstrates, looks even harder.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

With Democrat majority in U.S. Congress, Trump’s plans for nuclear arsenal, space weapons, will meet opposition

Divided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal, The Hill, BY REBECCA KHEEL – 11/11/18

Democrats next year will control the gavels for the defense and foreign policy committees in the House for the first time since 2010.

The party has been itching to check President Trump on a host of issues, from his relationship with Saudi Arabia to the ballooning defense budget.

But to get legislation through Congress, House Democrats will need to work with the Senate, which is still in Republican hands. And the chairmen poised to lead the defense and foreign policy panels in the upper chamber are seen as staunch Trump allies.

Here are the top foreign policy and defense fights to watch in a divided Congress:

U.S.-Saudi relations

Lawmakers in both parties have been eyeing ways to punish Saudi Arabia over the killing of U.S.-based journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.

House Democrats have said responses should include an end to U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in neighboring Yemen’s civil war. Democratic lawmakers were already opposed to U.S. backing because of civilian casualties, but Khashoggi’s murder has given the issue new urgency……….

Space Force

The Trump administration has said it wants the establishment of a “Space Force” included in next year’s defense policy bill. That position has contributed to increasingly diverging opinions between House and Senate lawmakers……….

Defense budget

Smith [Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who’s poised to be chairman of the House Armed Services Committee] has said this year’s defense budget of $716 billion is “too high,” and in a Thursday letter announcing his run for chairman he vowed to target “inefficiency and waste” at the Pentagon……….

Nuclear weapons

One of Smith’s longtime concerns has been the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He opposed the Obama administration’s modernization plans, arguing they weren’t affordable.

With the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review calling for new capabilities, Smith has stepped up his criticism, vowing to scrutinize the nuclear budget to look for savings in the overall defense budget.

In his Thursday letter, Smith said Democrats must “take substantial steps to reduce America’s overreliance on nuclear weapons.”

Adding to Democrats’ nuclear anxiety is Trump’s intention to withdraw from a Cold War-era arms accord with Russia known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Smith and Engel wrote a letter to the administration last month warning they “will neither support, nor enable, a precipitous course of action that increases the risk of an unconstrained nuclear arms race.”

Congress is limited in its power to prevent Trump from withdrawing from the treaty, but it could block funding for any new missiles that would be out of compliance with the accord……… https://thehill.com/policy/defense/415935-divided-congress-to-clash-over-space-force-nuclear-arsenal

November 12, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

For Britain’s next nuclear boondoggle – Wylfa project, households might have to pay upfront for the construction.

Times 11th Nov 2018 The business secretary Greg Clark held a crunch meeting with Hitachi in Tokyo last week over its planned £15bn Welsh nuclear power station, as a rival Japanese project collapsed. Toshiba killed off its NuGen power station plan in Cumbria last week after the ailing industrial giant struggled to find a buyer – denting Britain and Japan’s nuclear ambitions.

Toshiba’s exit leaves Britain’s nuclear power renaissance reliant on France’s EDF and Japan’s Hitachi. Clark is understood to have attended a dinner with the Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi during a visit to Japan, where they discussed sealing a deal on Hitachi’s Horizon power station on Anglesey by Easter.

The British and Japanese governments are expected to take equal equity stakes in Horizon alongside Hitachi. Whitehall is also expected to provide all the debt for the 2.7 gigawatt project, which would be sold once it has started generating power. Clark agreed to help bankroll the Horizon project in June, marking a departure from previous policy.

Ministers want Horizon and Hinkley to replace a string of ageing coal and nuclear power plants that are due to close over the next decade. Under pressure from ministers, Hitachi is considering using a different form of financing – a regulated asset base – for future reactors on Anglesey and in Gloucestershire.

However, that risks further controversy as it would mean households fund the project before it has been completed. Clark’s latest visit also reflects growing tension between Tokyo and London over Brexit.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/97c7a1de-e514-11e8-aa8a-1a554b586cbd

November 12, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear meltdown at Santa Susana Lab and the government cover-up

L.A.’s Secret Meltdown; Simi Valley, CA(1959)Largest Nuclear Incident in U.S. history.

LA’s Nuclear Secret: Part 1  link https://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/LA-Nuclear-Secret-327896591.html–  Sep 22, 2015  Tucked away in the hills above the San Fernando and Simi valleys was a 2,800-acre laboratory with a mission that was a mystery to the thousands of people who lived in its shadow, By Joel Grover and Matthew Glasser  The U.S. government secretly allowed radiation from a damaged reactor to be released into air over the San Fernando and Simi valleys in the wake of a major nuclear meltdown in Southern California more than 50 years ago — fallout that nearby residents contend continues to cause serious health consequences and, in some cases, death. LA’s Nuclear Secret: Timelines, Documents, FAQ

Those are the findings of a yearlong NBC4 I-Team investigation into “Area Four,” which is part of the once-secret Santa Susana Field Lab. Founded in 1947 to test experimental nuclear reactors and rocket systems, the research facility was built in the hills above the two valleys. In 1959, Area Four was the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in U.S. history. But the federal government still hasn’t told the public that radiation was released into the atmosphere as a result of the partial nuclear meltdown.

Now, whistleblowers interviewed on camera by NBC4 have recounted how during and after that accident they were ordered to release dangerous radioactive gases into the air above Los Angeles and Ventura counties, often under cover of night, and how their bosses swore them to secrecy.

In addition, the I-Team reviewed over 15,000 pages of studies and government documents, and interviewed other insiders, uncovering that for years starting in 1959, workers at Area Four were routinely instructed to release radioactive materials into the air above neighboring communities, through the exhaust stacks of nuclear reactors, open doors, and by burning radioactive waste.

How It Began

On July 13, 1959, the day of the meltdown, John Pace was working as a reactor operator for Atomics International at Area Four’s largest reactor, under the watch of the U.S. government’s Atomic Energy Commission.

“Nobody knows the truth of what actually happened,” Pace told the I-Team.

In fact, Pace said, the meltdown was verging on a major radioactive explosion.

“The radiation in that building got so high, it went clear off the scale,” he said.

To prevent a potentially devastating explosion, one that in hindsight the 76-year-old Pace believes would have been “just like Chernobyl,” he and other workers were instructed to open the exhaust stacks and release massive amounts of radiation into the sky.

“This was very dangerous radioactive material,” he said. “It went straight out into the atmosphere and went straight to Simi Valley, to Chatsworth, to Canoga Park.”

Pace and his co-workers frantically tried to repair the damaged reactor. Instead, he said they realized, their efforts were only generating more radioactive gas. So for weeks, often in the dark of night, Pace and other workers were ordered to open the large door in the reactor building and vent the radiation into the air.

“It was getting out towards the public,” he said. “The public would be bombarded by it.”

Pace said he and his co-workers knew they were venting dangerous radiation over populated areas, but they were following orders.

“They felt terrible that it had to be done,” he said. “They had to let it out over their own families.”

Area Four workers “were sworn to secrecy that they would not tell anyone what they had done,” Pace explained.

He remembered his boss getting right in his face and saying, “You will not say a word. Not one word.”

That was more than five decades ago, but radioactive contamination didn’t just vanish. It remains in the soil and water of Area Four and in some areas off-site, according to state and federal records obtained by the I-Team. And, evidence suggests that the fallout could be linked to illnesses, including cancer, among residents living nearby.

Arline Mathews lived with her family in Chatsworth, downwind of Area Four during some of the radiation releases. Her middle son, Bobby, was a champion runner on the Chatsworth High School track team for three years, running to the Santa Susana Field Lab and back to school every day. Bobby died of glioblastoma, a rare brain cancer often linked to radiation exposure. Mathews said there is no known family history of cancer and she blames the radiation from Area Four for her son’s illness.

“He was exposed to the chemical hazardous waste and radioactivity up there,” Mathews said. “There’s no getting over the loss of son.”

The Government Cover-up

Six weeks after the meltdown, the Atomic Energy Commission issued a press release saying that there had been a minor “fuel element failure” at Area Four’s largest reactor in July. But they said there had been “no release of radioactive materials” to the environment.

“What they had written in that report is not even close to what actually happened,” Pace said. “To see our government talk that way and lie about those things that happened, it was very disappointing.”

In 1979, NBC4 first broke the story that there was a partial meltdown at Area Four’s largest reactor, called the Sodium Reactor Experiment. But at the time, the U.S. government was still saying no radiation was released into the air over LA.

But during its current yearlong investigation, the I-Team found a NASA report that confirmed “the 1959 meltdown… led to a release of radioactive contaminants.”

For years, NASA used part of the site for rocket testing and research.

More Radioactive Releases

After filing a Freedom of Information request, the I-Team obtained more than 200 pages of government interviews with former Santa Susana workers. One of those workers, Dan Parks, was a health physicist at Area Four in the 1960s.

In the early 60s, Parks said, he often witnessed workers releasing radiation into the sky through the exhaust stacks of at least three of Area Four’s ten nuclear reactors.

“They would vent it to the atmosphere,” he said. “The release was done with the flick of a switch.”

Radioactive Waste Up in Smoke

Parks said he often witnessed workers releasing radioactive smoke into the air when they disposed of barrels of radioactive waste from Area Four’s 10 nuclear reactors.

“We were all workers,” he said. “Just taking orders.”

Workers would often take those barrels of waste to a pond called “the burn pits” and proceed to shoot the barrels with a high-powered rifle causing an explosion. The radioactive smoke would drift into the air over nearby suburbs and toward a summer camp for children.

“It was a volatile explosion, beyond belief,” Parks said.

Whatever direction the wind was blowing, the radioactive smoke would travel that way.

“If the wind was blowing to the Valley, it would blow it in the Valley,” he said.

Ralph Powell, who worked as a security officer at Area Four in the mid-60s, recalled being blanketed by that radioactive smoke.

“I saw clouds of smoke that was engulfing my friends, that are dying now,” Powell said.

Powell believes it wasn’t just his friends who suffered the consequences. He fears he may have exposed his own family to radiation, tracking it home on his clothes and car.

While Powell was working at Area Four, his son Michael was diagnosed with leukemia — a cancer linked to radiation exposure — and died at age 11.

“I suspect it caused the death of my son,” he said. “I’ve never gotten that out of my mind.”

Toxic Chemical Contamination

In addition to the radiation, dozens of toxic chemicals, including TCE and Perchlorate, were also released into the air and dumped on the soil and into ground and surface water from thousands of rocket tests conducted at the Santa Susana Field lab from the 1950s to 80s. The tests were conducted by NASA, and by Rocketdyne, a government aerospace contractor.

According to a federally funded study obtained by the I-Team, “emissions associated with rocket engine testing” could have been inhaled by residents of “West Hills, Bell Canyon, Dayton Canyon, Simi Valley, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Woodland Hills, and Hidden Hills.”

Contamination Moves into Neighborhoods

Radiation released at Area Four continues to contaminate the soil and water of the Santa Susana Field Lab.

In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed a $40 million soil test of the site and found 423 hot spots — places contaminated with high levels of man-made radiation.

Other studies and government documents obtained by the I-Team show that radiation has moved off-site, and has been found in the ground and water in suburbs to the south, northeast and northwest of the Field Lab.

“Radiation doesn’t know any boundaries,” said Dr. Robert Dodge, a national board member of the Nobel Prize-winning nonprofit Physicians For Social Responsibility, which studies the health effects of radiation.

Dodge, who has reviewed numerous government and academic studies about the contamination at Santa Susana, said he believes the contamination has spread far beyond the facility’s borders.

“If the wind is blowing and carrying radiation from Santa Susana, it doesn’t stop because there’s a fence,” he said.

One of the places radiation has been found, in a 1995 study overseen by the U.S. EPA, was the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley. The Institute is a nationally-known center of Jewish learning, and the home to Camp Alonim, a beloved summer sleepaway camp that has hosted some 30,000 children.

In December 1995, The Brandeis-Bardin Institute filed a federal lawsuit against the present and past owners of the Santa Susana Field Lab, alleging that toxic chemicals and radiation from the field lab “have subsequently seeped into and come to be located in the soil and groundwater” of Brandeis “is injurious to the environment” and “will cause great and irreparable injury.”

Brandeis settled the lawsuit in a confidential agreement in 1997.

A spokesman for the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Rabbi Jay Strear, told NBC4 that the groundwater and soil is “tested routinely,” and the results have shown the “the site is safe.”

The I-Team asked Brandeis-Bardin to provide NBC4 with those test results showing the site is safe and free of hazardous substances. The Institute refused, and in an email said “we are not in a position to devote the required staff time to respond to your more detailed inquiries, nor do we see the necessity for doing so.”

A government scientist who has studied the contamination at Santa Susana told the I-Team he thinks there’s a continued threat of radiation and toxic chemicals flowing from the field lab to places like Brandeis-Bardin, via groundwater and airborne dust.

Clusters of Cancer

Researchers inside and out of government have contended that the radiation and toxic chemicals from Santa Susana might have caused many cancer cases.

“The radiation that was released in 1959 and thereafter from Santa Susana is still a danger today,” Dr.Dodge said. “There is absolutely a link between radiation and cancer.”

The I-Team tracked down dozens of people diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses who grew up in the shadow of Santa Susana — in Canoga Park, West Hills, Chatsworth, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley. Many of them believe their cancers were caused by radiation and chemicals from the field lab.

Kathryn Seltzer Carlson, 56, and her sisters, Judy and Jennifer, all grew up in Canoga Park around the time of the nuclear meltdown and for years after, and all have battled cancer.

“I played in the water, I swam in the water, I drank the water” that ran off the Santa Susana Field Lab, said Carlson, who finished treatment for ovarian cancer earlier this year and is now undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. “I’ve had, I don’t know how many cancers.”

Bonnie Klea, a former Santa Susana employee who has lived in West Hills since the 60s, also battled bladder cancer, which is frequently linked to radiation exposure.

“Every single house on my street had cancer,” Klea said.

A 2007 Centers for Disease Control study found that people living within two miles of the Santa Susana site had a 60 percent higher rate of some cancers.

“There’s some provocative evidence,” said Dr. Hal Morgenstern, an epidemiologist who oversaw the study. “It’s like circumstantial evidence, suggesting there’s a link” between the contamination from Santa Susana and the higher cancer rates.

Silence From the Government

For more than two months, the I-Team asked to speak with someone from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the federal agency that’s responsible for all nuclear testing, to ask why workers were ordered to release dangerous radiation over Los Angeles, why the DOE has never publicly admitted this happened, and what it plans to do to help get the site cleaned up.

The DOE emailed the I-Team, “We will not have anyone available for this segment.”

So the I-Team showed up at a public meeting this month about Santa Susana and asked the DOE’s project manager for the site, Jon Jones, to speak with us. He walked away and wouldn’t speak.

Will the Contamination Ever Be Cleaned Up?

Community residents, many stricken with cancer and other radiation-related illnesses, have been fighting for years to get the government and the private owners of the Santa Susana Field Lab to clean up the contamination that remains on the site.

But efforts in the state legislature and state agencies that oversee toxic sites have, so far, stalled.

But residents, with the support of some lawmakers, continue to fight for a full cleanup.

“People are continuing to breathe that (radiation) in and to die,” Chatsworth resident Arline Mathews said.

“See that this is done immediately, before more lives are lost.”

November 12, 2018 Posted by | history, incidents, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Democrat dominated Congress can put the brakes on Trump’s nuclear weapons folly

Dem-led House can return sanity to nuclear weapons debate https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/415923-dem-led-house-can-return-sanity-to-nuclear-weapons-debate, Since the election of President Donald Trump two years ago, advocates of sane nuclear policy have been faced with a serious deficit of enlightened political leadership in key positions of power.

President Trump has called for new and more “usable” nuclear weapons, is seeking to abandon key arms control agreements, and Congress has been plowing ahead with a $2 trillion shopping spree to rebuild the Cold War nuclear arsenal. There has been essentially no effective check on this excessive and dangerous spending.

As of Tuesday night, that will change in January when Democrats take over the House.

Without real oversight, pro-nuclear bomb enthusiasts have had a free hand to promote Trump’s new “low-yield” warhead for Trident missiles; to undermine crucial international agreements like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; and to push for high-cost missile, submarine and bomber programs that we do not need.

Once these programs get off the ground, they become too big to stop. If we don’t act soon, we will be locked in to an excessive Cold War-style arsenal for the next 50 years. As new U.S. weapons are built, and Russia responds in kind, we will find ourselves back in an arms race that only defense contractors can win.

But now there is hope on the horizon. The elections have brought new leaders into power who share the widespread conviction that the United States has more nuclear weapons than it needs to be secure and that spending less on nukes can actually make us safer.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) is poised to be the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Smith has been a leading voice calling for saner nuclear policies for years and shows no signs of letting up.

Speaking at a conference in September, Smith said that, if he gets the gavel, nuclear weapons policy would be at the top of his list of things that will change.

“I think the Republican party and the nuclear posture review contemplates a lot more nuclear weapons than I — and I think most Democrats — think we need. We also think the idea of low-yield nuclear weapons are extremely problematic going forward,” Smith said. “When we look at the larger budget picture, that’s not the best place to spend the money.”

Smith added that the expected price tag for building new nuclear weapons meant the U.S. “certainly can’t afford it.

When Smith becomes the committee’s next chairman in January, proponents of nuclear sanity can once again start to think big. In addition to cancelling the “low-yield” and dangerous Trident warhead, Smith may seek to cancel the destabilizing $30 billion nuclear air-launched cruise missile, which he has said would “siphon limited resources from preserving nuclear deterrence without adding to our national security.”

Next, he could take on the wasteful and dangerous $200 billion program to build new ground-based nuclear missiles. Cancelling this weapon would help to reduce the risk of the United States accidentally or mistakenly launching its nuclear missiles in response to a false warning of a nuclear attack.

Finally, there is greater public concern than ever that President Trump cannot be trusted with his absolute and sole authority to launch nuclear weapons.

Most Americans do not realize that the president has unlimited nuclear launch authority with no real checks or balances from anyone. But once informed, they are very concerned. President Trump could order a nuclear war as easily as he could send a tweet.

This situation is both dangerous and unnecessary. The risks of having nuclear weapons ready to launch within minutes outweigh any perceived benefits, especially if the sole decision-maker cannot be trusted.

Rep. Smith has introduced a bill to make it U.S. policy to never launch nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Other bills would prohibit the first use of nuclear weapons without congressional approval.

These fixes would put legal limits on the president’s ability to launch nuclear weapons unilaterally, without provocation, and would provide a tremendous safeguard to our democracy and our national security.

Congress has been a blank check for the forces of nuclear overkill and overspending for far too long. It is time to bring bold, principled leadership back to nuclear policy, before it is too late.

Tom Z. Collina is director of policy for Ploughshares Fund, a public grantmaking foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, and to prevent conflicts that could lead to their use.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

In 1966 USA lost a hydrogen nuclear bomb over Spain – environmental and health repercussions continue

When America lost a nuclear bomb,  Fosters.com,  By D. Allan Kerr news@seacoastonline.com 11 Nov 18, In January 1966, an American B-52 bomber collided mid-air with a refueling tanker off the coast of Spain. The resulting fiery crash claimed the lives of seven crew members.

While the loss of life was devastating, there was potential for even greater catastrophe – the B-52 was carrying four fully-loaded hydrogen bombs.

Three of the bombs were located within 24 hours, in the vicinity of a Spanish fishing village called Palomares. The fourth was nowhere to be found.

With the Cold War mired in a deep chill, the United States dispatched an entire Navy armada to try to locate the missing bomb, which was believed to have gone into the Atlantic Ocean. Among those involved in the search was a 23-year-old Navy officer named Donald Craig.

Craig was an ensign at the time, having graduated the previous year from Officer Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island. He was serving aboard his first vessel, the minesweeper USS Sagacity (MSO 469).

As it happened, Sagacity was near Barcelona, Spain, on a Mediterranean cruise when the tragedy occurred. The minesweeper was dispatched to the scene and over the next several weeks took part in the massive search for the missing nuke.

Craig is now 76 years old, retired, and a longtime resident of Kittery Point, Maine. He still recalls the hunt for the missing nuclear bomb, and the race to get to it before the Soviet Union.

He also remains frustrated on behalf of fellow veterans who say they are dealing with adverse health effects from radiation exposure during the incident – with no assistance from the government that sent them there.

“We knew nothing,” Craig said recently of the possible aftereffects. “We were just out there doing our job.”

A disaster begins

It should have been a routine operation…………

At one point the Navy lost the bomb again in the process of bringing it to the surface, and it sank even deeper into the ravine. Eventually, the bomb and an unmanned vehicle, which had become entangled in its parachute lines, were hauled onto the deck of the submarine rescue ship USS Petrel nearly three months after the initial tragedy.

But then the United States government had to deal with a whole separate controversy – the environmental repercussions of an unleashed hydrogen bomb.

Plutonium blowing in the wind

Members of the U.S. Air Force and residents of Palomares were all exposed to radioactivity from the two bombs that had broken apart on land. Craig recalls winds of about 30 knots at the time.

“Plutonium was blowing in the wind, it was all over the place there,” he said. “They (Air Force personnel) were sitting on the edge of the crater eating their lunches.”

An area of about one square mile was contaminated, including the village’s tomato crop. American servicemen removed this soil and brought it back to South Carolina for disposal.

But in a rather bizarre attempt to show there was no danger, the U.S. government fed the contaminated tomatoes to our troops for “breakfast, lunch and dinner,” according to a June 2016 New York Times article. The U.S. ambassador to Spain and the Spanish minister of tourism swam at a nearby beach in front of a crowd of reporters to prove the waters were safe.

“If this is radioactivity, I love it!” Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke told the media.

Somehow, no civilians on the ground were seriously harmed by falling debris from the aircraft collision. America pledged to the Spanish government the site would be cleared of contamination.

“The main objective here is to leave Spain as we found it,” Duke told LIFE magazine back in 1966.

But as recently as 2015, then-Secretary of State John Kerry and Spain’s foreign minister agreed to negotiate a binding agreement to resume cleanup efforts and further removal of contaminated soil from the site. While no substantive findings have verified serious health issues among the villagers, studies of wildlife such as snails have turned up high radioactive levels.

Craig, however, is particularly outraged by the treatment of Air Force veterans who took part in cleanup efforts at Palomares and now say they are suffering ill health effects as a result. The 2016 Times article featured several former servicemen now suffering from cancer and other ailments.

The Air Force has long insisted there were no serious adverse effects from the incident, so these conditions are not covered under Veterans Administration benefits. An estimated 1,600 veterans took part in the cleanup.

“That shouldn’t happen. They should absolutely be taken care of,” Craig said. ”(The government) did not look after their safety, and there are a lot of people suffering for it now.”

Last year, a number of veterans filed a lawsuit in Connecticut over disability benefits they were denied because the Pentagon refused to release records and reports related to the incident………….

D. Allan Kerr is the author of “Silent Strength,” a book about the 1963 loss of the nuclear Navy submarine USS Thresher. http://www.fosters.com/news/20181111/when-america-lost-nuclear-bomb

November 12, 2018 Posted by | history, incidents, Spain, USA | Leave a comment

Putin claims that Russia is developing an “invincible” nuclear weapon

World War 3: Russia to arm an ‘INVINCIBLE’ nuclear weapon by 2019 says Putin https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1043374/world-war-3-vladimir-putin-latest-nuclear-weapon-ww3-russia

RUSSIA is finalising a nuclear weapon capable of wiping out an entire city by descending on Earth “like a meteorite” at 20 times the speed of sound, Vladimir Putin has claimed, sparking World War 3 fears. By ALICE SCARSI, Nov 9, 2018 Tensions between Washington and Moscow reached a new high as the Russian President claimed he has a weapon that can resist any anti-missile systems, making it almost invincible. Mr Putin said: “We know for certain, it’s an obvious fact and our colleagues realise it, that we surpassed all our competitors in this area. “Nobody has precise hypersonic weapons. Some plan to test theirs in 18 to 24 months. We have them in service already.”

Called Avangard, the weapon will go into active service by next year with the Red Banner Missile Division, based in the Urals, according to a Russian defence industry source.

Speaking to Russian news agency TASS, they said: “The scheduled period for placing the lead regiment on combat duty is the end of 2019.

Initially, the regiment will comprise at least two systems but eventually their number will rise to their organic quantity of six units.”

According to the claims made by Russia, the Avangard is an hypersonic glide vehicle, a spacecraft which is lofted into the atmosphere atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as the Satan II, to then glide down at hypersonic speed.

Being 20 times faster than the speed of sound means the Avangard could travel as fast as at 6860 m/s.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment