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Radioactive poisoning by the world’s military – the scandalous case of Sardinia

How paradise island Sardinia was poisoned by the world’s military | Foreign Correspondent  

 

Italian military officials’ trial ignites suspicions of links between weapon testing and birth defects in Sardinia https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-29/sardinia-military-weapons-testing-birth-defects/10759614

Key points:

  • Eight former commanders of a bombing range are before Italian courts
  • Locals living near Quirra firing range describe multiple cases of deformities and cancer as “Quirra syndrome”
  • Italy’s army has dismissed a report linking exposure to Depleted Uranium to disease suffered by the military
  • Watch the full episode on ABC iview

“She died in my arms. My whole world collapsed. I knew she was sick, but I wasn’t ready.”

Her daughter, Maria Grazia, was born on the Italian island of Sardinia with part of her brain exposed and a spine so disfigured her mother has never allowed her photo to be published.

This was only one of many mysterious cases of deformity, cancer and environmental destruction that have come to be called the “Quirra syndrome”.

Eight Italian military officers — all former commanders of the bombing range at Quirra in Sardinia — have been hauled before the courts.

It’s unprecedented to see Italian military brass held to account for what many Sardinians say is a scandalous coverup of a major public health disaster with international consequences.

Bombs and birth defects — is there a link?

In the year baby Maria Grazia was born, one in four of the children born in the same town, on the edge of the Quirra firing range, also suffered disabilities.

Some mothers chose to abort rather than give birth to a deformed child.

In her first television interview, Maria Teresa told Foreign Correspondent of hearing bombs exploding at the Quirra firing range when she was pregnant.

Enormous clouds of red dust enveloped her village.

Later, health authorities were called in to study an alarming number of sheep and goats being born with deformities.

Shepherds in the area had routinely grazed their animals on the firing range.

“Lambs were born with eyes in the back of their heads,” said veterinary scientist Giorgio Mellis, one of the research team.

“I had never seen anything like it.”

One farmer told him of his horror: “I was too scared to enter the barn in the mornings … they were monstrosities you didn’t want to see.”

Researchers also found an alarming 65 per cent of the shepherds of Quirra had cancer.

The news hit Sardinia hard. It reinforced their worst fears while also challenging their proud international reputation as a place of unrivalled natural beauty.

The military hit back, with one former commander of the Quirra base saying on Swiss TV that birth defects in animals and children came from inbreeding.

“They marry between cousins, brothers, one another,” General Fabio Molteni claimed, without evidence.

“But you cannot say it or you will offend the Sardinians.”

General Molteni is one of the former commanders now on trial.

Years of investigation and legal inquiry led to the six generals and two colonels being charged with breaching their duty of care for the health and safety of soldiers and civilians.

After repeated attempts, Foreign Correspondent was refused interviews with senior Italian military officials and the Defence Minister.

Governments earning money by renting out ranges

Sardinia has hosted the war games of armed forces from the west and other countries since sizable areas of its territory were sectioned off after World War II.

Rome is reported to make around $64,000 an hour from renting out the ranges to NATO countries and others including Israel.

Getting precise information about what has been blown up, tested or fired at the military sites and by which countries is almost impossible, according to Gianpiero Scanu, the head of a parliamentary inquiry that reported last year.

Many, including current Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta, have previously accused the Italian military of maintaining a “veil of silence”.

Speaking exclusively to the ABC, chief prosecutor for the region, Biagio Mazzeo, said he is “convinced” of a direct link between the cancer clusters at Quirra and the toxicity of the elements being blown up at the defence base.

But prosecuting the case against the military comes up against a major hurdle.

“Unfortunately, proving what we call a causality link — that is, a link between a specific incident and specific consequences — is extremely difficult,” Mr Mazzeo said.

What is being used on the bases?

A recent parliamentary inquiry revealed that 1,187 French-made MILAN missiles had been fired at Quirra.

This has focussed attention on radioactive thorium as a suspect in the health crisis.

It’s used in the anti-tank missiles’ guidance systems. Inhaling thorium dust is known to increase the risk of lung and pancreatic cancer.

Another suspect is depleted uranium. The Italian military has denied using this controversial material, which increases the armour-piercing capability of weapons.

But that’s a fudge, according to Osservatorio Militare, which campaigns for the wellbeing of Italian soldiers.

“The firing ranges of Sardinia are international,” said Domenico Leggiero, the research centre’s head and former air force pilot.

Whatever is blown up on the island’s firing ranges, it’s the fine particles a thousand times smaller than a red blood cell that are being blamed for making people sick.

These so-called “nanoparticles” are a new frontier in scientific research.

They’ve been shown to penetrate through the lung and into a human body with ease.

Italian biomedical engineer Dr Antonietta Gatti gave evidence to four parliamentary inquiries.

She has suggested a possible link between disease and industrial exposure to nanoparticles of certain heavy metals.

The World Health Organisation says a causal link is yet to be conclusively established and more scientific research needs to be done.

Dr Gatti said armaments had the potential to generate dangerous nanoparticles in fine dust because they are routinely exploded or fired at more than 3,000 degrees Celsius.

Inquiry confirms causal links

In what was labelled a “milestone”, a two-year parliamentary investigation into the health of the armed forces overseas and at the firing ranges made a breakthrough finding.

“We have confirmed the causal link between the unequivocal exposure to depleted uranium and diseases suffered by the military,” the inquiry’s head, then centre-left government MP Gianpiero Scanu, announced.

The Italian military brass dismissed the report but are now fighting for their international reputation in the court at Quirra where the eight senior officers are now on trial.

The ABC understands commanders responsible for another firing range in Sardinia’s south at Teulada could soon also face charges of negligence as police conclude a two-year investigation.

Until now the military has been accused of acting with impunity.

Perhaps their reckoning has come.

 

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February 4, 2019 Posted by | children, depleted uranium, Italy, Reference, thorium | 1 Comment

Propaganda for 2020 Olympics, and for the nuclear industry is behind lifting evacuation order for irradiated town of Namie

‘We were driven out’: Fukushima’s radioactive legacy, SMH, By Simon Denyer, 4 February 2019 Namie:  Noboru Honda lost 12 members of his extended family when a tsunami struck the Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan nearly eight years ago. Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer and initially given a few months to live.

Today, he is facing a third sorrow: watching what may be the last gasps of his home town.

For six years, Namie was deemed unsafe after a multiple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In March 2017, the government lifted its evacuation order for the centre of Namie. But so far, hardly anyone has ventured back.

Its people are scattered and divided. Families are split. The sense of community is coming apart.

“It has been eight years; we were hoping things would be settled now,” the 66-year-old Honda said. “This is the worst time, the most painful period.”

For the people of Namie and other towns near the Fukushima plant, the pain is sharpened by the way the Japanese government is trying to move beyond the tragedy, to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a symbol of hope and recovery, a sign that life can return to normal after a disaster of this magnitude.

Its charm offensive is also tied up with efforts to restart the country’s nuclear-power industry, one of the world’s most extensive networks of atomic power generation.

Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be staged in Fukushima, the prefecture’s bustling and radiation-free capital city, and the Olympic torch relay will start from here.

But in Namie, much closer to the ill-fated nuclear plant, the celebration rings hollow……….

Just 873 people, or under 5 per cent, of an original population of 17,613 have returned. Many are scared – with some obvious justification – that their homes and surroundings are still unsafe. Most of the returnees are elderly. Only six children are enrolled at the gleaming new primary school. This is not a place for young families.

Four-fifths of Namie’s geographical area is mountain and forest, impossible to decontaminate, still deemed unsafe to return. When it rains, the radioactive cesium in the mountains flows into rivers and underground water sources close to the town.

Greenpeace has been taking thousands of radiation readings for years in the towns around the Fukushima nuclear plant. It says radiation levels in parts of Namie where evacuation orders have been lifted will remain well above international maximum safety recommendations for many decades, raising the risks of leukaemia and other cancers to “unjustifiable levels”, especially for children.

In the rural areas around the town, radiation levels are much higher and could remain unsafe for people to live beyond the end of this century, Greenpeace concluded in a 2018 report.

“The scale of the problem is clearly not something the government wants to communicate to the Japanese people, and that’s driving the whole issue of the return of evacuees,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace.

“The idea that an industrial accident closes off an area of Japan, with its limited habitable land, for generations and longer – that would just remind the public why they are right to be opposed to nuclear power.”

………..many residents say the central government is being heavy handed in its attempts to convince people to return, failing to support residents’ efforts to build new communities in places like Nihonmatsu, and then ending compensation payments within a year of evacuation orders being lifted…….. https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/we-were-driven-out-fukushima-s-radioactive-legacy-20190204-p50vgd.html

February 4, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New radiation panel leader appointed by EPA in the interests of nuclear corporations, not of the public

Guy Who Wants to Eliminate Radiation Limits Will Lead EPA on Radiation, https://www.care2.com/causes/guy-who-wants-to-eliminate-radiation-limits-will-lead-epa-on-radiation.html By: Kevin Mathews, February 3, 2019, About Kevin, Follow Kevin at @care2

When Trump supporters chant “make America great again,” I have difficulty imagining that any of them are longing for the days when radiation exposure went unregulated. Nevertheless, that’s precisely the direction the EPA is headed with its latest appointment.

Brant Ulsh, a health physicist working for a consulting firm, will serve as both a scientific advisor to the EPA and as the new leader of the Radiation Advisory Committee. Ulsh is a controversial choice because he is considered the nation’s most outspoken critic of radiation levels.

His papers and positions put him at odds with the overwhelming majority of the scientific community that believes coming into contact with even low levels of ionizing radiation poses a significant cancer risk. He claims the science is too outdated and insufficient to warrant the existing government standards.

“Once again the Trump administration is moving to the fringe for its scientific advice, choosing someone who could undercut foundational protections from radiation,” wrote the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement regarding Ulsh’s appointment.  “We need sound science to dictate health protections, not dangerous theories.”

If you’re wondering what angle Ulsh is working, he admits to it in his own papers. Evidently, he’s concerned that our radiation regulations put “unnecessary burdens” on corporations. Funny how the conservatives in power always seem more concerned with the extra money rich companies pay to keep people safe than actual public safety.

For what it’s worth – and it should be worth a lot, EPA head Andrew Wheeler – just last year the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reviewed 29 studies that reconfirmed a correlation between low level radiation exposure and an increased risk of cancer.

As a scientific advisor to the EPA and the head of the Radiation Advisory Committee, Ulsh could play a pivotal role in rolling back the standards that dictate acceptable amounts of radiation. Since humans can’t detect when they’re exposed to radiation, we rely on enforcement of these limits to keep us safe.

Make no mistake – this appointment isn’t accidental. There are countless scientists who could have led the Radiation Advisory Committee that accept the existing scientific consensus on radiation levels. To choose an outlier like Ulsh is to look for someone to deliberately take the agency in a different direction.

In fact, thanks to an Associated Press story from last year, we know that the EPA was already making plans to throw out regulations on radiation, so having a scientist like Ulsh bring his own opinions could be the ideal vehicle in order to accomplish that agenda.

At the risk of being hyperbolic, at this point, I think we’ve got to ask ourselves: is the Trump administration just trying to kill us? They’re appointing fossil fuel lobbyists to oversee climate change, corporate polluters to worry about clean water, chemical bigwigs to regulate pesticides and now a pro-radiation guy to set radiation standards.

Is nothing sacred? Does the Trump administration feel no obligation to keep the American people safe? If the EPA is so confident that scientists are wrong and radiation isn’t actually harmful, maybe it should start by experimenting at the White House before unleashing it on the public at large.

February 4, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, USA | 2 Comments

2 billion people at risk, as Himalaya’s glaciers melt

A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report, Guardian, Damian Carrington, Environment edito @dpcarrington ,  4 Feb 2019 


Even radical climate change action won’t save glaciers, endangering 2 billion people 
At least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain are doomed to melt due to climate change, according to a landmark report, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people.

Even if carbon emissions are dramatically and rapidly cut and succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5C, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range will have gone by 2100. If emissions are not cut, the loss soars to two-thirds, the report found.

The glaciers are a critical water store for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, and 1.65 billion people rely on the great rivers that flow from the peaks into India, Pakistan, China and other nations.

“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” said Philippus Wester of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod), who led the report. “In the best of possible worlds, if we get really ambitious [in tackling climate change], even then we will lose one-third of the glaciers and be in trouble. That for us was the shocking finding.”

Wester said that, despite being far more populous, the HKH region had received less attention than other places, such as low-lying island states and the Arctic, that are also highly vulnerable to global warming.

Prof Jemma Wadham, at the University of Bristol, said: “This is a landmark piece of work focused on a region that is a hotspot for climate change impacts.”

The new report, requested by the eight nations the mountains span, is intended to change that. More than 200 scientists worked on the report over five years, with another 125 experts peer reviewing their work. Until recently the impact of climate change on the ice in the HKH region was uncertain, said Wester. “But we really do know enough now to take action, and action is urgently needed,” he added.

The HKH region runs from Afghanistan to Myanmar and is the planet’s “third pole”, harbouring more ice than anywhere outside Arctic and Antarctica. Limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels requires cutting emissions to zero by 2050. This is felt to be extremely optimistic by many but still sees a third of the ice lost, according to the report. If the global rise is 2C, half of the glaciers are projected to melt away by 2100.

Since the 1970s, about 15% of the ice in the HKH region has disappeared as temperatures have risen. But the HKH range is 3,500km long and the impact of warming is variable. Some glaciers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are stable and a few are even gaining ice, most probably due to increased cloud cover that shields the sun and changed winds that bring more snow. But even these will start melting with future warming, Wester said…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/04/a-third-of-himalayan-ice-cap-doomed-finds-shocking-report

February 4, 2019 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

How the utilities financial system is rigged to give the nuclear industry the advantage

February 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

As the Climate Collapses, We Ask: “How Then Shall We Live?” 

BY Dahr Jamail & Barbara Cecil, Truthout, February 4, 2019  

PART OF THE TRUTHOUT SERIES   How Then Shall We Live?

This is the first installment of a monthly series by Dahr Jamail and Barbara Cecil, entitled, “How, Then, Shall We Live? Finding Our Way and Peace of Heart Amidst Global Collapse.

”Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
—Izumi Shikibu

………..Our intent with this series is not to rehash data, but to share the ways we are digesting the global decline and finding solid ground in ourselves and within our day-to-day lives. We hope that our thinking and choices will inspire readers to ponder what is uniquely theirs to do. The depth of our global crisis requires a new understanding of what hope means. At the end of each piece, we will include annotated reference material that informs our own perception in reliable and expansive ways.  ……..https://truthout.org/articles/as-the-climate-collapses-we-ask-how-then-shall-we-live/

February 4, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pump malfunction causes shutdown at Flamanville nuclear reactor

EDF said the reactor was disconnected safely in order to allow technical teams to carry out repair works on one of the two pumps supplying water to the secondary circuit.

“Both pumps must be available for full power operation of the unit,” EDF said.

The reactor in the north of France restarted production on Jan. 27 after a prolonged outage for its third 10-year overhaul since April 2018.

EDF said it informed nuclear safety authority ASN about the incident which had no impact on other facilities.

The reactor is expected to resume electricity production on Feb. 8

Power production was halted at the Flamanville 2 reactor, which has a similar capacity, on January 10 for its third decennial upgrade. The reactor is expected back online on July 10.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

February 4, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Extreme cold shuts down N.J. Nuclear Reactor, due to an unusual ice phenomenon

Rare Ice Phenomenon Forced a Shutdown at a N.J. Nuclear Reactor, Fortune, By JIM EFSTATHIOU JR. and BLOOMBERG ,February 1, 2019

The arctic blast wreaking havoc across much of the U.S. was cold enough to shut down a nuclear reactor, thanks to a rare phenomenon called frazil ice.

Public Service Enterprise Group shut one unit at its Salem nuclear plant in southern New Jersey early Thursday after intake screens froze over, restricting the flow of water needed to cool the reactor, according to spokesman Joe Delmar. A second unit at the station on the Delaware river was powered down because of the same problem.

The 60-foot (18-meter) tall intake screens rotate in and out of the water, preventing debris like floating wood from entering the plant. Under extreme conditions like this week—overnight low temperatures at the station fell into the single digits—the frazil ice can accumulate on the screens, blocking the flow. That caused water circulators to shut down and prompted Newark-based Public Service to take the plant offline………http://fortune.com/2019/01/31/ice-shutdown-new-jersey-nuclear-reactor/

February 4, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Tax-payer costs for weaponry – US Navy awards $15.2bn to build two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers

US Navy awards $15.2bn to build two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers Naval Technology, 4 Feb 19,  The US Navy has awarded a $15.2bn contract modification to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division to build two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

The multi-ship contract comes after the US Navy expressed its intention to pursue a block-purchase of two Ford-class aircraft carriers in a bid to save money.

According to the Navy, the deal is expected to deliver savings of more than $4bn to the government.

Under the contract, HII will provide the detail design and construct the Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers Enterprise (CVN 80) and CVN 81.

Newport News Shipbuilding president Jennifer Boykin said: “Today’s announcement is a triumphant step toward returning to a 12-ship aircraft carrier fleet and building the 355-ship Navy our nation needs.

“Most importantly for us, it provides stability into the year 2032 for our workforce and for our supplier businesses across the US.”………https://www.naval-technology.com/news/us-navy-nuclear-powered-aircraft-carriers/

February 4, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sending dummies into space, to test effects of radiation on women

Radiation for dummies, Space Daily, by Staff Writers, Paris (ESA) Jan 28, 2019  Meet Helga and Zohar, the dummies destined for a pioneering lunar flyby to help protect space travelers from cosmic rays and energetic solar storms.

These two female phantoms will occupy the passenger seats during Orion’s first mission around the Moon, going further than any human has flown before.

Fitted with more than 5600 sensors, the pair will measure the amount of radiation astronauts could be exposed to in future missions with unprecedented precision.

The flight test will take place during NASA’s Exploration Mission-1, an uncrewed trip to the vicinity of the Moon and back to Earth.

Radiation poses a major health risk to people in space. Astronauts on the International Space Station receive doses 250 higher than on Earth. Away from Earth’s magnetic field and into interplanetary space, the impact on the human body could be much higher – up to 700 times more.

Two sources of radiation are of concern: galactic cosmic radiation and virulent solar particle events. This radiation could increase the crew’s risk of cancer and become a limiting factor in missions to the Moon and Mars.

Helga and Zohar
The two phantoms simulate adult female torsos. Both Helga and Zohar are made up of 38 slices of tissue-equivalent plastics that mimic the varying density of bones, soft tissue and lungs. Similar dummies are used in hospitals to quantify the right dose of radiation for cancer therapies.

“We chose female phantoms because the number of women astronauts is increasing, and also because the female body is typically more vulnerable to radiation,” explains Thomas Berger, lead scientist of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE) at the German Aerospace Center, DLR.

Sensors have been fitted in the most radiation-sensitive areas of the body – lungs, stomach, uterus and bone marrow. While thousands of passive dosimeters will record the radiation dose from launch until return to Earth, a set of 16 active detectors will map the radiation dose both on the phantoms’ skin and internal organs during flight.

An astronaut’s shield

The only difference between the twin dummies is that Zohar will be wearing a radiation protection vest, while Helga will travel unprotected from spaceborne radiation…….. http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Radiation_for_dummies_999.html

 

February 4, 2019 Posted by | radiation, technology, women | Leave a comment

Commissioners Disagree on Final Rulemaking in Response to Fukushima Accident

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ad53e9d3-58ca-4bae-bb07-066ea9255afa, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP,  1 Feb  2019

A divided Commission at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on January 24 approved the Mitigation of Beyond-Design-Basis Events rulemaking (Final Rule). The NRC began the rulemaking in December 2016 as part of its efforts to evaluate and implement, if necessary, regulatory changes in response to the Fukushima Daichi event in March 2011. In somewhat of a surprise, the majority of Commissioners last week rejected large portions of the proposed rule submitted by the NRC staff over two years ago. The rationale for changing the Final Rule demonstrates a renewed emphasis on applying backfit analyses. Continue reading

February 4, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s propaganda about Fukushima’s ‘recovery’- getting people back to nuclear irradiated areas

The returning residents of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster

Near site of Fukushima nuclear disaster, a shattered town and scattered lives, WP, By Simon Denyer, February 3 2019 NAMIE, Japan —  Noboru Honda lost 12 members of his extended family when a tsunami struck the Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan nearly eight years ago. Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer and initially given a few months to live.

Today, he is facing a third sorrow: Watching what may be the last gasps of his hometown.

For six years, Namie was deemed unsafe after a multiple-reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In March 2017, the government lifted its evacuation order for the center of Namie. But so far, hardly anyone has ventured back.

Its people are scattered and divided. Families are split. The sense of community is coming apart.

“It has been eight years; we were hoping things would be settled now,” the 66-year-old Honda said. “This is the worst time, the most painful period.”

For the people of Namie and other towns near the Fukushima plant, the pain is sharpened by the way the Japanese government is trying to move beyond the tragedy, to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a symbol of hope and recovery, a sign that life can return to normal after a disaster of this magnitude.

Its charm offensive is also tied up with efforts to restart the country’s nuclear-power industry, one of the world’s most extensive networks of atomic power generation.

Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be staged in Fukushima, the prefecture’s bustling and radiation-free capital city, and the Olympic torch relay will start from here.

But in Namie, much closer to the ill-fated nuclear plant, that celebration rings hollow, residents say.

This was a close-knit community of farmers, fishermen and potters — of orchards, rice paddies and cattle sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. It was a place where people celebrated and mourned as a community, and families lived together across generations.

That’s all gone. On the main street, a small new shopping arcade has opened. But a short walk away, a barber shop stands abandoned, its empty chairs gathering years of dust. A sign telling customers to make themselves at home is still displayed in a bar, but inside debris litters the floor. A karaoke parlor is boarded up. Wild boars, monkeys and palm civets still roam the streets, residents say.

Just 873 people, or under 5 percent, of an original population of 17,613 have returned. Many are scared — with some obvious justification — that their homes and surroundings are still unsafe. Most of the returnees are elderly. Only six children are enrolled at the gleaming new elementary school. This is not a place for young families.

Four-fifths of Namie’s geographical area is mountain and forest, impossible to decontaminate, still deemed unsafe to return. When it rains, the radioactive cesium in the mountains flows into rivers and underground water sources close to the town.

Greenpeace has been taking thousands of radiation readings for years in the towns around the Fukushima nuclear plant. It says radiation levels in parts of Namie where evacuation orders have been lifted will remain well above international maximum safety recommendations for many decades, raising the risks of leukemia and other cancers to “unjustifiable levels,” especially for children.

In the rural areas around the town, radiation levels are much higher and could remain unsafe for people to live beyond the end of this century, Greenpeace concluded in a 2018 report.

“The scale of the problem is clearly not something the government wants to communicate to the Japanese people, and that’s driving the whole issue of the return of evacuees,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace. “The idea that an industrial accident closes off an area of Japan, with its limited habitable land, for generations and longer — that would just remind the public why they are right to be opposed to nuclear power.”

Today, Namie’s former residents are scattered across all but one of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Many live in the nearby town of Nihonmatsu, in comfortable but isolating apartment blocks where communal space and interaction are limited. With young people moving away, the elderly, who already feel the loss of Namie most acutely, find themselves even more alone.

………. many residents say the central government is being heavy handed in its attempts to convince people to return, failing to support residents’ efforts to build new communities in places like Nihonmatsu, and then ending compensation payments within a year of evacuation orders being lifted. …….https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/near-site-of-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-a-shattered-town-and-scattere

February 4, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Climate change exacerbates extreme weather, in North and South hemispheres

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, EUROPE, NORTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

America’s Environmental Protection Agency appoints a radiation sceptic to head radiation panel

Brant Ulsh, skeptic on radiation limits, to head EPA radiation panel, Japan Times, 2 Feb 19,  The Environmental Protection Agency has appointed a scientist who argues for easing regulations on lower-level radiation exposures to lead the agency’s radiation advisory committee.

Acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler on Thursday announced the appointment of Brant Ulsh, a health physicist, as one of the EPA’s science advisers and the panel’s chairman. Ulsh has been a leading critic of the EPA’s decades-old position that exposure to any amount of ionizing radiation is a cancer risk.

In a paper he co-wrote last year, Ulsh and a colleague argued that the position was based on outdated scientific information and forced the “unnecessary burdens of costly clean-ups” on facilities working with radiation.

The EPA under President Donald Trump has targeted a range of environmental protections, in line with Trump’s arguments that overly strict environmental rules have hurt U.S. businesses. Environmental and public health advocates say the rollbacks threaten the health and safety of Americans.

Some environmental groups and scientists have criticized what they say is the administration’s openness to an outlier position on radiation risks.

“Once again the Trump administration is moving to the fringe for its scientific advice, choosing someone who could undercut foundational protections from radiation,” Bemnet Alemayehu, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental advocacy group, said in a statement Friday. “We need sound science to dictate health protections, not dangerous theories.”

EPA spokesman John Konkus declined comment Friday, referring a reporter to a news release announcing the appointment.

Ulsh did not immediately respond to an email Friday asking for comment, including whether he intended to use the advisory position to encourage reconsideration of the EPA’s no-tolerance policy on lower doses of radiation exposure……… https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/02/world/science-health-world/brant-ulsh-skeptic-radiation-limits-head-epa-radiation-panel/#.XFdRStIzbGg

February 4, 2019 Posted by | politics, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Countries going into deep nuclear debt to Russia; Hungary the latest victim of this political blackmail

Hungary seeks to postpone loan payback to Russia for Nuclear power plant: What will the final cost be?Bellona  February 1, 2019 by Charles Digges Budapest is seeking to modify the terms of a loan it must repay to Russia for building two new VVER-1200 type reactors that will eventually replace Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant, according to a report from Reuters.

The reactors, which will constitute a plant called Paks II, will be built by Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear power company, at a cost of 10 billion euro ($12 billion), and will replace the older Soviet-built nuclear plant that supplies half of the country’s electricity.

Rosatom’s construction contract, which includes the loan for Paks II, was the subject of a hotly-debated probe by the EU’s Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which investigated whether the Russian bid violated European competition statutes.

At the time, EU officials and commentators viewed the deal as a Trojan Horse to help cement Moscow’s influence over the right-leaning, rabidly anti-globalist government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The EU eventually dropped its investigation in 2017 and granted Hungary permission to build the reactors – partly in an effort to entice Orban, who was insistent about contracting Rosatom, back into the democratic fold. Now Budapest is citing the delay caused by the competition review as reason to renegotiate when it begins paying Rosatom back.

Hungarian financial authorities plan to ask Moscow to postpone collecting on the debt until after the new reactors begin to generate electricity – but it is as yet unclear whether Rosatom will accept new terms. The plant’s construction, meanwhile, is running late. The build was supposed to begin last year………

While the terms of the Paks II loan remain in the shadows, other financing arrangements Moscow has made for building nuclear reactors in other countries suggest that the interest alone could prove to be very expensive for Budapest.

An $11.4 billion, 30-year agreement Rosatom signed with Bangladesh to build the Roopur nuclear plant will net Moscow $8 billion in interest. A $25 billion deal Rosatom is pursuing with Egypt to build that country’s Dabaa plant could, over the 35-year term of that loan, swell to $71 billion.

Another enormous $76 billion deal between Rosatom and South Africa was eventually thwarted by environmentalists when it was revealed the project had been secretly negotiated. Had the deal held it would have siphoned off a quarter of South Africa’s gross domestic product before the reactors even began operation.

Terms like this could spell trouble for Hungary in light of Moscow’s tendency to be a kneecapping creditor when it comes to energy projects ­– especially when Russia sours on the politics of its debtors.

In 2014, at the height of East-West tensions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Kremlin officials threatened to cut nuclear fuel supplies to Ukraine’s Soviet built reactors – which would have interrupted their chain reactions and likely caused a catastrophic accident.

Rosatom eventually walked the threat back. But the lurid message in Moscow’s head-fake toward igniting a second Chernobyl was clear: Russian-built reactors are a useful new tool for political blackmail………..

Many in Europe – Hungary included – subsequently sought to diversify their energy supply in favor of nuclear. Yet, in a devious twist, Rosatom has emerged as the most stable and eager nuclear builder on the international market.

For now, Rosatom can afford to offer risky loans thanks to the enormous state subsidies it receives. These subsidies can be funneled into more loans, and the loans then boost the company’s profits on paper. But for the past several years, it has become clear that these subsidies to the company will likely decrease or dry up altogether in 2020.

As a result, Rosatom is amassing so-called memorandums of understanding from any country vaguely interested in nuclear power. The company says is currently has dozens of these MOUs amounting to more than $130 billion in incoming business.

But that claim should be viewed skeptically, as many of the countries for which Rosatom is promising to build reactors – countries like Jordan, Algeria, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Bolivia – won’t have the infrastructure to support nuclear power for decades.

For now, it’s not difficult to imagine Moscow extending the terms of its loan to Hungary for as long as Budapest likes. It will, after all, remain profitable on paper. But in the end, Budapest will be left holding the bag for Rosatom’s over extended balance sheet. But so long as Orban’s government continues it rightward lurch, Moscow is unlikely to call in its marker. http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2019-02-hungary-seeks-to-postpone-loan-payback-to-russia-for-nuclear-power-plant-what-will-the-final-cost-be

 

February 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, marketing, politics, politics international, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment