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UN and Western countries covered up the facts on the huge health toll of Chernobyl radiation

Soviet doctors treating Chernobyl-exposed suddenly had an unwelcome crash course in this medical problem. They found that radioactive contaminants, even at relatively low levels, infiltrated the bodies of their patients, who grew sicker each year. Gradually, health officials understood they had a public health disaster on their hands. Thousands of archival records document the catastrophe. Ukrainian doctors registered in the most contaminated regions of Kiev province an increase between 1985 and 1988 in thyroid and heart disease, endocrine and GI tract disorders, anaemia and other maladies of the blood-forming system.

In two closely watched regions of the province, infants born with congenital malformations grew from 10% to 23% between 1986 and 1988. And 46% of newborns in some fallout regions died within 28 days of life. Half of these deaths were stillborn, the other half had congenital malformations “that were not compatible with life”. 

Consultants from UN agencies dismissed the findings of scientists in Ukraine and Belarus…

Why would UN officials whitewash evidence of Chernobyl health damage? At the time the US, Russia, France and the UK faced huge lawsuits from their own exposures of people to radioactive contamination during four decades of reckless bomb production. If they could assert that Chernobyl was “the worst disaster in human history” and only 54 people died, then those lawsuits could go away. And that is indeed what happened.

Chernobyl horror has nuclear lessons for SA  https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/life/2019-06-04-chernobyl-horror-has-nuclear-lessons-for-sa/  

As we consider this energy option it is key to bear in mind that the manipulation following this disaster means the full scale of damage can only be guessed at, 04 JUNE 2019 – 05:10 KATE BROWN  Powerful storms, record-breaking temperatures and rising water levels remind us daily of the impact of climate change and our need to address it. Policymakers are debating what shape the post-carbon future will take and SA is one country where that conversation is taking place.

Proponents of nuclear power argue that nuclear energy is the most viable and powerful alternative to fossil fuels. Opponents point to waste storage problems, plus the slow pace and high cost of building new reactors. And, they ask, what about when something goes wrong?

I recently published a book called Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, about the 1986 explosion of reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which was at the time a republic in the Soviet Union. I found as I worked through 27 archives that much of what we are told about the Chernobyl accident is incomplete or incorrect. People were far sicker and far more people died than we are led to believe. Chernobyl contaminants were not safely enclosed within the Chernobyl Zone. Nor has the chapter been closed. We are still ingesting Chernobyl fallout from 33 years ago. 

The official tally records 300 people hospitalised after the accident. These were mostly firemen and plant operators, but I found that Soviet leaders gave orders to release information on Chernobyl patients from only one Moscow hospital. In the months after the accident, villagers in contaminated regions streamed into many other hospitals. Archival records show that not 300 but 40,000 people were hospitalised for Chernobyl exposures in the summer after the accident. Many of them were children.

Journalists tend to focus on the Chernobyl Zone, a 30km circle around the plant that was depopulated in the weeks after the 1986 accident. Many correspondents report that nature in the zone is “thriving”, teeming with animals and plants that prefer radioactivity to human habitation. That story is wrong on two counts.

First, shortly after the accident, pilots chased clouds of radioactive fallout flowing northeast from the burning reactor. They manipulated the weather to make radioactive rain land on rural Belarus in order to save several Russian cities, including Moscow. That triage operation saved the contamination of millions of people but created a second Chernobyl Zone that few know about today.

At the time, Moscow officials told no one in Belarus about the weather manipulation operation. The head of the Belarusian communist party, Nikolai Sliunkov, only found out about the accident, about 5km over the Belarusian border, by phoning the head of the Ukrainian communist party several days later. The 200,000 people who lived in the Mogilev province under the seeded clouds of fallout were mostly farmers. They ate what they grew and lived with high levels of radioactivity for up to 15 years until the territory was finally evacuated in 1999.

Nor is nature in the zone thriving. I observed the work of two biologists, Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, who have since 2000 conducted twice-yearly experiments in the Chernobyl Zone and published hundreds of papers on their findings. Their studies show cascades of extinction in the most contaminated areas. “Every rock we turn over,” Mousseau commented, “we see damage.”

The records of the Soviet state committee for industrial agriculture reveal how radioactive contaminants concentrated in the food chain and in places of human habitation. A few weeks after the accident, Soviet shepherds corralled 100,000 head of livestock from a 60km radius around the Chernobyl plant. While teamsters drove the bleating animals to slaughterhouses, Moscow agronomists issued a special manual for meat packers with instructions to mix low- and medium-level radioactive flesh with appropriate proportions of clean meat to make sausage.

The sausage was to be labelled as it normally would and to be shipped across the great Soviet Union, everywhere but Moscow. Meat with high levels of radiation was to be stored in freezers until the radioactivity decayed. Soon managers in Belarus were asking for more freezers. They asked again and again, but no freezers arrived, so they located a refrigerated train car and packed in 317 tons of highly radioactive meat and sent the dubious gift to the Georgian Republic, where it was rejected and passed on.

For the next three years, the radioactive ghost train circled the western half of the Soviet Union; no-one wanted it. Finally, four years later, KGB agents buried the train and its radioactive meat inside the Chernobyl Zone, where it should have gone in the first place.

I found that over 200 Chernobyl clean-up workers were awarded damages at a wool factory in Chernihiv, Ukraine. That was strange. We are used to thinking of clean-up workers as the firemen who fought radioactive flames after the accident, not female wool workers 80km away in a relatively unscathed city. Curious, I drove to Chernihiv and found only 10 of 200 women on the list still at their jobs.

The rest had died or retired as invalids. What had the women been doing to get such high doses? They were simply picking up bales of wool to sort at their tables. Each bale measured up to 3.2 milliroentgens an hour. That is a lot of radioactivity, like hugging an X-ray machine while it is turned on. “Oh we were full of radiation. Ping, ping, ping,” the sorters remembered. “We took off our smocks and they balled them up and threw them away.”

I wish I could say that other branches of the Soviet agricultural industry better managed the catastrophe. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Sanitation inspectors quickly learned that almost everything was contaminated over permissible levels: milk, berries, eggs, grain, spinach, mushrooms, honey, even mothers’ breast milk.

As with meat and wool, Soviet officials were unwilling to toss out contaminated agricultural goods, so they issued more manuals about how to process these radioactive provisions. Contaminated milk was to be dried or turned into butter or candy. Irradiated sugar beets repurposed into animal feed, contaminated potatoes into starch, dirty berries became preserves, and vegetables transformed into pate. The processed food was to be stored for months or years until the most pernicious isotopes decayed.

The insistence on selling radioactive food was not uniquely Soviet. Chernobyl fallout also landed in Greece and contaminated fields of grain. The Greeks harvested the grain and exported 300,000 tons to Italy. The Italians didn’t want the wheat. The Greeks refused to take it back because, they said, they were “afraid of the reaction from Greek wholesalers”. The two Mediterranean neighbours started fighting. Finally, the European Economic Community agreed to buy the contaminated wheat. They mixed it with clean grain and shipped it to Africa and East Germany as “aid”.

What were the effects of ingesting radioactive contaminants in food? Some Moscow experts in radiation medicine concurred with the UN and international experts in asserting that the doses villagers were taking in were too low to cause any detectable health problems.

The specialists made this prediction extrapolating from the Japanese bomb survivor Life Span Study.⁠ The study has a troubled political history. After the war, American officials were anxious that nuclear bombs would be banned like chemical and biological weapons. So they censored information about Japanese exposures to radioactivity and seized measurements of fallout which Japanese physicists had collected.

After tossing out Japanese scientists’ real-time measurements, American scientists had five years later to reconstruct doses survivors received. They included in their dose estimates only exposures from the bomb blast, one very large x-ray, and denied the fact of radioactive fallout. As calculated, a dose in the form of a large external x-ray differed greatly from the chronic low doses of radioactivity that residents of Chernobyl-contaminated territories ingested daily in their food, water and air.

Soviet doctors treating Chernobyl-exposed suddenly had an unwelcome crash course in this medical problem. They found that radioactive contaminants, even at relatively low levels, infiltrated the bodies of their patients, who grew sicker each year. Gradually, health officials understood they had a public health disaster on their hands. Thousands of archival records document the catastrophe. Ukrainian doctors registered in the most contaminated regions of Kiev province an increase between 1985 and 1988 in thyroid and heart disease, endocrine and GI tract disorders, anaemia and other maladies of the blood-forming system.

In two closely watched regions of the province, infants born with congenital malformations grew from 10% to 23% between 1986 and 1988. And 46% of newborns in some fallout regions died within 28 days of life. Half of these deaths were stillborn, the other half had congenital malformations “that were not compatible with life”.

With these prospects, many women did not have the courage to reproduce. An uncommonly high percentage of women, up to 75%, chose to terminate their pregnancies. By 1989, doctors were noticing a dramatic rise in thyroid cancers and leukaemia among exposed children, normally very rare occurrences.

For three years, Soviet physicians had to sit on this information, telling no one but their bosses. Finally, in the spring of 1989, censors lifted the ban on Chernobyl topics. Residents made alliances with doctors and radiation monitors. They organised, petitioned, broke laws and carried on when dismissed as ignorant provincials in order to get the world to understand the new precarious life they led. Soviet officials found crowds on the streets more threatening than radioactivity. They called in UN agencies to send foreign experts to do an “independent assessment”.

Consultants from UN agencies dismissed the findings of scientists in Ukraine and Belarus. Again extrapolating from the Japanese Life Span Study, the UN experts stated in 1991 that radioactivity at Chernobyl levels would cause no major damage to human health except for the risk of a small number of future cancers among children. They reiterated this statement despite evidence they possessed and failed to publicly acknowledge of an alarming childhood cancer epidemic under way.

The denials came at a critical time. Just after UN consultants declared they found no Chernobyl health effects, the UN General Assembly held a pledge drive to raise $346m to help pay for resettling people living in highly contaminated regions and for a long-term epidemiological study on chronic low doses of radioactivity, something scientists around the world had called for since the Chernobyl plant blew. Unfortunately, the big donors begged off, pointing to UN experts’ assessment that there had been no Chernobyl health effects. As a consequence, the pledge drive raised less than $6m.

Why would UN officials whitewash evidence of Chernobyl health damage? At the time the US, Russia, France and the UK faced huge lawsuits from their own exposures of people to radioactive contamination during four decades of reckless bomb production. If they could assert that Chernobyl was “the worst disaster in human history” and only 54 people died, then those lawsuits could go away. And that is indeed what happened.

Today, the low Chernobyl death toll is used as a rationale to continue building nuclear power plants; it’s said to be far safer than the thousands who die annually from burning coal. But that number — 54 dead — is incorrect. The Ukrainian state currently pays compensation not to 54 but to 35,000 people whose spouses died from Chernobyl-related health problems. This number only reckons the deaths of people old enough to marry. It does not include the mortality of young people, infants or people who did not have exposure records to qualify for compensation. Off the record, Ukrainian officials give a death toll of 150,000. That figure is only for Ukraine, not Russia or Belarus, where 70% of Chernobyl fallout landed.

Underestimating Chernobyl damage has left humans unprepared for the next disaster. When a tsunami crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, Japanese leaders responded in ways eerily similar to Soviet leaders: with denials, obfuscation and a declaration of bankruptcy. Today, 33 years after the Chernobyl accident, we are still short on answers and long on uncertainties. We understand little about low-dose exposure because no large-scale studies have been conducted.

Ignorance about low-dose exposures is tragic and not entirely accidental. Before SA leaders invest in a new generation of power reactors to stem global warming and solve SA’s energy crises, it would be smart to ask a new set of questions that is, finally, useful to people exposed over lifetimes to chronic doses of man-made radiation. Unfortunately, few people on earth have escaped those exposures.

How it happened

On 26 April 1986, 17 employees of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant turned off Reactor No 4’s emergency system to carry out a routine experiment. When the operators finished the test, they planned to take the reactor offline for several weeks of routine maintenance. After shutting down the reactor, the chain reaction in the reactor core went critical, meaning operators no longer controlled it. The reactor’s power surged, causing two explosions that blasted open the concrete lid of the reactor and sent a blast of radioactive gases into the atmosphere.

Plant worker Sasha Yuvchenko felt the thudding concussions and looked up from the machine hall to see nothing but sky. He watched a blue stream of ionising radiation careening toward the heavens. “I remember,” he later reflected, “thinking how beautiful it was”.

By the numbers

  • Archival records show that not 300, but 40,000 people were hospitalised for Chernobyl exposures in the summer after the accident.
    • Off the record, Ukrainian officials give a death toll of 150,000. That figure is only for Ukraine, not Russia or Belarus where 70% of Chernobyl fallout landed.
    • Official UN figures predict 9,000 people will die due to Chernobyl-related cancer and leukaemia in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Greenpeace believes the death toll could be over 90,000.
    • The Chernobyl explosion released 400 times more radioactive material into the earth’s atmosphere than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
    • The region surrounding the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant will not be safe for human habitation for at least 20,000 years.

    • Kate Brown is an historian of environmental and nuclear history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her latest book is Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future.

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June 11, 2019 Posted by | health, Reference, Ukraine | 4 Comments

Violence of nuclear power – from start to finish in the very very long future

Born Violent: The Origins of Nuclear Power, Asian Journal of Peacebuildling, 2019, Robert (Bo) Jacob

Please excuse the “t”s and “f”s which have somehow turned into squares my copying problems.

(Copious references are provided on the original) “…his article traces the origins o nuclear power technology as it was speciically developed to produce nuclear weapons or use against a civilian population in war……

It will trace numerous radiological disasters during the production history o the Hanord reactor fleet and at other military plutonium production reactor sites during the early Cold War.It will describe the later emergence o the nuclear power production industry which used nuclear reactors to also produce energy or civilian use and the history o partial and ull nuclearuel meltdowns that accompanied that industry……..

Hanford during the Cold War…..During the Cold War, the United States produced over 60,000 nuclear weapons, most o them with the plutonium produced at Hanord. This includes both ission weapons like the one used in the nuclear attack on Nagasaki, and also in thermonuclear weapons. While nuclear weapons were not used in wararea ater 1945, over 2,000 weapons have been detonated in nuclear tests, roughly hal o those (1,054) by the United States. The United States tested 928 nuclear weapons at the Nevada est Site, and another 67 at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands.  wo hundred and sixteen o those tests were in the atmosphere, which distributed vast quantities o radioactive allout in heavy quantities close to the test sites, and also globally when the atmospheric clouds reached the upper atmosphere.

A 2015 article in The Lancet   describes how “risk modelling studies o exposure to ionising radiation rom the Nevada est Site in the United States suggest that an extra 49,000 (95 percent CI 11 300–212 000)cases o thyroid cancer would be expected to occur among U.S. residents alive at the time o the testing—an excess o about 12 percent over the 400,000 cases othyroid cancer expected to develop in the absence o allout” (Simon and Bouville 2015, 407-408).

The Marshall Islands had ar ewer tests than the Nevada test site, however the United States tested its thermonuclear weapons exclusively at the Pacific Proving Ground which resulted in massive amounts o radioactive allout aecting the local population and also entering into the Paciic Ocean rom which the radionuclides could disperse throughout the Pacific Rim.

One test, the Bravo test o 1954, which was the largest weapon ever tested by the United States, created a vast and lethal allout cloud that enguled numerous Marshallese atolls. he entire population o Rongelap Atoll suered rom radiation sickness after the Bravo test.  The Japanese tuna fishing boat the DaigoFukuryu Maru , among many others, was also exposed to the allout cloud. When it came to port in Yaizu, Japan two weeks after the test, its crew was hospitalized or radiation sickness. One crew member, radioman Aikichi Kuboyama, died ocomplications rom his exposure six months later,even though he was physically located about 100km rom the actual detonation point. All of these illnesses and deaths can be traced back to the nuclear reactors at Hanford.

During its years o production, Hanord was the site o numerous substantial radiological releases that endangered the local population as well as those downwind. ……..  Large releases o radiation into the nearby ecosystem would be routine during the operation o the Hanord reactors and especially the plutonium extraction procedures.  hese activities would leave a disastrous legacy once the plants were closed……

Historical Disasters at Plutonium Production Sites

Hanord did not suffer a major uel meltdown or catastrophic fire. However, all other nuclear weapon states have also operated multiple plutonium production reactors and the first two large-scale nuclear disasters occurred in such reactor complexes, happening within two weeks o each other.

On September 29, 1957, writes Kate Brown, as a soccer game was beingplayed in a stadium in Ozersk, in the Chelyabinsk Oblast near the Ural Mountainsin Central Russia, where the Mayak Production Association was located, a loudexplosion was heard nearby.Te source o the blast was an underground storage tank holding highly radioactivewaste that overheated and blew, belching up a 160-ton cement cap buried twenty-oureet below the ground and tossing it seventy-five eet in the air. Te blast smashedwindows in the nearby barracks and tore the metal gates off the perimeter ence.

The explosion and subsequent radiological disaster, known as the KyshtymDisaster, occurred just eight years and one month after the detonation o the firstnSoviet nuclear weapon made with plutonium produced at Mayak, the plutonium production that was the target o surveillance motivating the Green Run at Hanord.

he radioactive cloud rom the explosion, “settled over an area o 20,000square kilometers, home to 270,000 people” (Rabl 2012). Te Soviet authorities were slow to react to the crisis. “A week after the explosion,” writes Brown, who did extensive fieldwork in the region as well as at Hanord, “radiologists ollowed the cloud to the downwind villages, where they ound people living normally,children playing bareoot.  hey measured the ground, arm tools, animals and people. he levels o radioactivity were astonishingly high” (Brown 2013, 239-240). he contaminated area would eventually be known as the East Urals Radioactive race (Ichikawa 2015).

Eleven days later a fire ignited in one o the reactors at the Windscale Works, the plutonium production site o the United Kingdom located in Cumbria in Northwest England. he ire burned inside o the reactor or three days and released massive amounts o radiation blanketing surrounding communities and downwind areas.  “While the authorities denied large releases o radioactivity at the time, this was not a correct portrayal o the situation…On 12 October, authorities stopped the distribution o milk originating rom seventeen areaarms. However, just three days later, milk rom a ar wider area (200 square miles compared to the previous 80) was restricted” (Makhijani et al. 1995, 418). Falloutrom the accident was detected in Ireland, and the confiscated milk was dumped into the Irish Sea (Bertell 1985)

The Establishment of Commercial Nuclear Power…….  Many o these plants would experience occasional leaks or releases oradiation into their local ecosystems. Several would have catastrophic nuclear accidents.  In addition to the accidents at plutonium production reactors citedabove, partial core meltdowns would occur at Santa Susana in Simi Valley,Caliornia (1957), Fermi-1 in Detroit, Michigan (1966), the Lucens reactor inVaud, Switzerland (1969), Leningrad-1 in Leningrad, USSR (1975), and hreeMile Island-2 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1979).  A ull, catastrophic nuclearmeltdown occurred at Chernobyl-4 (1986) and three ull meltdowns occurred at Fukushima 1-2-3 in 2011.

In addition to these dire nuclear accidents, the spent uel rom normal operations at nuclear power plants pose a vexing problem or tens o thousands o generations.  hese spent uel rods will need to be eectively contained or millennia as they will remain highly dangerous or over 10,000 years, and seriously dangerous or over 100,000 years. Almost all o this spent uel, millions o tons, sit in temporary or intermediate storage on the grounds o the reactors where the uel was burned. Finland will be the very irst nation to attempt to permanently store the spent uel rom its very limited nuclear power program in deep geological storage at the Onkalo site on the Baltic Sea, beginning in the2020s. All o the spent nuclear uel rom the long history o operation at Hanord still sits in temporary storage, some o it or over seventy years now (Deense Nuclear Facilities Saety Board 1997).

he challenges o containing this highly toxic waste or millennia and insuring that the sites are not damaged by geologicalorces or breached by uture human societies is speculative at best. The ongoing capacity o nuclear power to damage the health o human beings and other creatures or millennia, through the risks posed by this waste, means that we can never adequately grasp the ull violence that will result rom its production (Jacobs2018).  o date, over seventy years after the successul operation o CP-1, not one spent uel rod has been placed in “permanent” storage anywhere on the planet………

Beyond the visible, nuclear waste may kill and harm for tens of thousands of years to come. Hundreds of thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel rods will remain deadly for over 100,000 years and must be successfully contained for that entire period of time to protect the health of thousands of generations of humans and other creatures yet unborn.   Nuclear power will remain violent long past the generation of any electricity that will benefit any being. The legacy waste of operating nuclear power plants—for weapons or for electricity—will remain dangerous for longer than human civilization has so far existed.

June 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Governor of New Mexico: Holtec Nuclear Waste Storage Bad for the Economy & Environment; Unacceptable Risk to Agriculture and Oil & Gas Industry — Mining Awareness +

“The interim storage of high-level radioactive waste poses significant and unacceptable risks to New Mexicans, our environment and our economy… New Mexico’s agricultural industry contributes approximately $3 billion per year to the state’s economy… New Mexico’s oil and natural gas industry contributed $2 billion to the state last year.” (New Mexico Governor Michelle Grisham) Notice […]

via Governor of New Mexico: Holtec Nuclear Waste Storage Bad for the Economy & Environment; Unacceptable Risk to Agriculture and Oil & Gas Industry — Mining Awareness +

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Cool $20 million Bailout to Ohio’s Seven Utility Scammers

June 11, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

A rogue regulator worth reading — Beyond Nuclear International

Book blows the whistle on industry shot-calling inside NRC

via A rogue regulator worth reading — Beyond Nuclear International

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global extinctions of plant species – going at a frightening rate

June 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pretending that all is well at Fukushima, using this lie to promote Olympics

Abe pushing idea that Fukushima nuclear disaster is ‘under control’,  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201906110001.html   THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, 10 June 19 Without special protection against radiation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood on elevated ground about 100 meters from the three melted-down reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“I was finally able to see the view just wearing a normal suit without having to wear protective clothing and a mask (for radiation),” he said on April 14 after hearing explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials. “The decommissioning work has been making progress in earnest.”

An act of bravado, perhaps. But it was more likely one of the ways Abe and his government want to show that the Fukushima disaster is, as he famously said, “under control.”

Progress has been made, albeit slowly, for the monumental task of decommissioning TEPCO’s crippled nuclear plant.

But radiation levels in certain areas of the plant are still lethal with extended exposure. The problem of storing water contaminated in the reactors continues.

And only recently was TEPCO able to make contact with melted nuclear fuel in the reactors through a robot. The means to extract the fuel has yet to be decided.

However, the government keeps touting progress in the reconstruction effort, using evacuee statistics, which critics say are misleading, to underscore its message.

Abe’s previous visit to the nuclear plant was in September 2013.

“When I conducted an inspection five years ago, I was completely covered in protective gear,” he said at a meeting with decommissioning workers in April. “This time I was able to inspect wearing a normal suit.”

Officials in Abe’s circle acknowledged that they wanted to “appeal the progress of reconstruction” by letting the media cover the prime minister’s “unprotected” visit to the site.

His visit in a business suit was possible largely because the ground was covered in mortar and other materials that prevent the spread of radioactive substances, not because decommissioning work has lowered radiation levels as a whole.

The radiation level at the elevated inspection ground still exceeds 100 microsieverts per hour, making it dangerous for people who remain there for extended periods.

Abe’s inspection ended in six minutes.

The prime minister raised eyebrows, particularly in Fukushima Prefecture, in 2013 when he gave a speech to promote Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Concerning the Fukushima nuclear plant, he told International Olympic Committee members, “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

An hour before he inspected the plant in April, Abe attended the opening ceremony of the new government building of Okuma, one of the two towns that host the nuclear plant.

The ceremony followed the lifting of an evacuation order for part of the town on April 10.

“We were able to take a step forward in reconstruction,” Abe said.

The central government uses the number of evacuees to show the degree of progress in reconstruction work.

In April 2018, Abe said in the Diet that the lifting of evacuation orders has reduced the number of evacuees to one-third of the peak.

According to the Reconstruction Agency, the number of people who evacuated in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, including those who were under no orders to leave, peaked at about 160,000. But the initial evacuation orders for 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have been gradually lifted, and the agency now puts the total number at about 40,000.

About 71,000 people were officially registered as residents of areas that were ordered to evacuate. Now, only about 11,000 people live in those zones.

This means that about 60,000 people have not returned to the homes where they were living before the nuclear accident unfolded in March 2011.

The gap of 20,000 can be attributed to how the agency classifies or declassifies evacuees.

NOT COUNTED AS EVACUEES

The Reconstruction Agency sent a notice in August 2014 to all prefectures that have counted the number of evacuees.

It defined “evacuees” as people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes.

The notice also said that if it is difficult to perceive their “will,” they can be regarded as people who have ended their evacuation if they bought new homes or made arrangements for new accommodations.

Based on the notice, people in Fukushima Prefecture who have bought new homes during their evacuation or settled down in public restoration housing or disaster public housing are regarded as living “stable” lives and are not counted as evacuees.

“It is not a problem because we continue supporting them even if they are removed from the evacuee statistics,” a prefectural government official said.

An official of the Reconstruction Agency said, “The judgment is made by each prefecture, so we are not in a position to say much.”

However, the prefecture has not confirmed all evacuees’ will to return to their homes. In addition, those who are removed from the list of evacuees are not informed of their new status.

Many people bought homes in new locations during their prolonged evacuations although they still hope to return to their hometowns in the disaster area.

Yumiko Yamazaki, 52, has a house in Okuma in a “difficult-to-return” zone.

But because she moved to public restoration housing outside of the town, she is not considered an evacuee by the agency and the prefecture.

“I had to leave my town although I didn’t want to,” Yamazaki said. “It is so obvious that the government wants to make the surface appearance look good by reducing the number of evacuees.”

“I can’t allow them to try to pretend the evacuation never happened,” Yamazaki said.

Critics say the central government’s emphasis of positive aspects and the downplaying of inconvenient truths in the evacuee statistics have much in common with its response to the suspected nepotism scandals involving school operator Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution.

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Dispute over Ottawa River nuclear waste dump: more transparency needed

Fight over Ottawa River nuclear waste dump getting political, but Liberals downriver standing behind the project—or staying quiet, The HillTimes, By PETER MAZEREEUW, BEATRICE PAEZ      Aplan to bury low-level nuclear waste at a site near the Ottawa River is raising opposition from municipalities and environmentalists. The company behind the project, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, says it’s safe. The Near Surface Disposal Facility proposal is in year three of an environmental assessment handled by a regulator the Liberal government is on the verge of stripping of that responsibility.

A proposed dump for low-level nuclear waste near the Ottawa River has stirred up opposition from community groups, environmentalists, and municipalities worried the waste could leach into the river that flows past about 50 federal ridings, including Ottawa Centre, the home of Parliament Hill and Canada’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna.

Members of Parliament from riverside ridings closest to the site of the proposed dump at thesprawling nuclear laboratories at Chalk River, Ont., are largely staying out of the fray. That includes Ms. McKenna, who has the final say over an environmental assessment for the project that is being conducted through a Harper-era assessment process, which she and an independent review panel have discredited………

Several Liberal MPs from ridings just downstream of the site declined to comment on or be interviewed about the proposed project, as did Natural Resource Minister Amarjeet Sohi (Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta.), , while two others organized or held information sessions on the subject for their constituents.

Ms. McKenna told The Hill Times during a press conference that she “heard” concerns from her constituents about the project, but didn’t say whether she shared them. Her office did not respond to numerous interview requests on the subject.

The Ottawa Riverkeeper environmental group and the NDP candidate in Ottawa Centre, Emilie Taman, are among those who say they will raise the issue during the upcoming election campaign. Municipal politicians in Montreal and Gatineau have already expressed their opposition. CNL staff, meanwhile, are trying to spread the word about the safety and safeguards planned to keep the proposed dump, which is located less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River, from harming the environment, or people around and downstream from Chalk River.

No ‘public trust’ in assessment system

The Near Surface Disposal Facility to hold the low-level nuclear waste is being proposed by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). It is part of a complicated arrangement of private and public organizations created under the previous Conservative federal government, which privatized the operation of the Chalk River nuclear facilities that had been run by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), a Crown corporation, in 2013.

Under the new model, the part of AECL that ran the labs was shrunk down to a shell of its former self, with most of its employees transferred to CNL. The government pays CNL to run the Chalk River facilities, and AECL—and by extension, the federal government—keeps both the assets and liabilities tied to the site.

CNL is owned by a consortium of companies that mounted a bid for the right to run Chalk River. It includes Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin and U.S. engineering firms Fluor and Jacobs, which call themselves the Canadian National Energy Alliance.

The Near Surface Disposal Facility, commonly abbreviated as NSDF, is three years into an environmental impact assessment overseen by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, a regulator for the nuclear industry.

It started the assessment in 2016, months after Ms. McKenna was given a mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) that tasked her with reviewing the process immediately “to regain public trust and help get resources to market.”

Ms. McKenna struck an expert review panel that same year, which spent seven months surveying environmental groups, project proponents, academics, government officials, and other stakeholders about the environmental assessment process established by the previous Conservative government in 2012. Some said that CNSC should continue to be responsible for conducting assessments, given the technical expertise of its staff, but others said it was too close to industry, creating an “erosion of public trust” in the process and its outcomes. The panel recommended that CNSC be stripped of its role conducting assessments on nuclear projects.

Ms. McKenna tabled a bill in Parliament, C-69, which did just that. An omnibus bill that has been subject to criticism by Conservative politicians, industry, and some environmentalists, C-69 would put the power over assessments into the hands of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which it would rename to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. CNSC officials would still play a role, occupying some of the seats on review panels struck to guide assessments of nuclear projects. The Senate sent Bill C-69 back to the House last week with nearly 200 amendments, including those that would put more power over reviews back into the hands of CNSC officials.

In the meantime, however, the NSDF nuclear dump proposal is being evaluated under the old assessment system. Isabelle Roy, a spokesperson for CNSC, said in an email statement that the projects currently being examined “would not be subject to Bill C-69 if it passes,” and that the decision will ultimately be made by its independent commission. Ms. Roy said CNSC is awaiting CNL’s response to public comments regarding concerns about the project. ………

More transparency needed on what CNL considers low-level waste, experts say

In the face of public concerns that one per cent of the waste in the engineered mound would be intermediate-level waste, Ms. Vickerd said, CNL has since tweaked its proposal, limiting it to low-level waste.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a near-surface disposal facility doesn’t have the capacity to safely contain and isolate intermediate-level waste, which, by its definition, has long-lived radionuclides. Such waste, it says, has to be buried underground, by up to a few hundred metres.

Michael Stephens is a former AECL employee whose career in the nuclear industry spanned 25 years, including 16 years at the Chalk River labs, where he helped oversee the decommissioning of nuclear waste. He is one among several retired AECL employees who have decried the project as environmentally unsound.

Mr. Stephens said his main contention with NSDF is the criteria CNL is using to determine what the mound can hold. “What bothered me from the outset was originally the proposal [called] for intermediate-level waste [to be dumped],” he said. “That, by definition, is a non-starter.”

Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, a non-profit organization that aims to educate the public on nuclear-energy issues, said the lab seems to be trying to push the limits of what it can reasonably get away with. “If you put forward an outrageous, totally unacceptable proposal, you can trim it and see how far you can go,” Mr. Edwards said. “CNL [was urged by the Harper government] to act quickly, to find a timely remediation to reduce Canada’s nuclear liability, in a … cost-effective manner. That’s code for relatively quickly, cheaply.”

Mr. Edwards has worked as a nuclear consultant; in 2017, he was hired by the federal auditor general’s office to consult for its performance audit of CNSC.

He said scrapping the idea of adding intermediate-level waste only goes “a little way” to addressing the larger issue. “What we’re talking about is a mound of literally hundreds of radioactive materials. All have different chemistries, and have different pathways to the environment, to the food chain,” he said………

Another concern for him is the plan to transport and dump the waste of other decommissioned plants, including from Whiteshell Laboratories in Pinawa, Man. “How do they know what’s in those containers? As far as we know, if they get the go-ahead to drive those containers right into where the mound will be, they’ll simply put them there, bury them … without having properly identified what’s in there,” he said.

Mr. Stephens echoed Mr. Edwards’ concerns about what, he said, could conceivably wind up in the dump. CNL, he argued, hasn’t been transparent about whether, for example, it would dump packaged solid waste, which could have varying degrees of toxicity, or building rubble that’s just been slightly contaminated…………

https://www.hilltimes.com/2019/06/10/fight-over-nuclear-waste-dump-getting-political-but-liberals-downriver-standing-behind-the-project-or-staying-quiet/203454

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

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June 11, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment