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Come Along – Radioactive Waste Trains Charity Open Day- Saturday 20th July —

This Saturday 10.30 till the afternoon – Join us in opposing the continued radioactive cargo on our railways. – The nuclear waste continues to arrive at Sellafield by the week -Enough is Enough We will be outside the Kingmoor depot, Carlisle on Saturday 20th July (times tbc) handing out leaflets and showing our opposition to this…

via Come Along – Radioactive Waste Trains Charity Open Day- Saturday 20th July —

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The dangers of Chernobyl nuclear site being turned into a tourism mecca

The grounds remain coated with plutonium, cesium, strontium and americium — radionuclides (atoms that emit radiation) that could pose potentially serious health risks to those who touch or ingest them. Some areas are more radioactive, and therefore more dangerous, than others.

“Even though the accident occurred over 33 years ago it remains one of the most radiologically contaminated places on earth.”

Chernobyl tourists should avoid plant life, and especially the depths of the forests.

Those areas were not cleaned in the aftermath of the disaster and remain highly contaminated by radiation. Research has showed that the fungus, moss and mushrooms growing there are radioactive. Eating or drinking from the area is not safe.

Those who stay on the paved pathways, which officials cleaned, are much less likely to absorb harmful toxins.

Ukraine wants Chernobyl to be a tourist trap. But scientists warn: Don’t kick up dust. https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2019/07/12/ukraine-wants-chernobyl-be-tourist-trap-scientists-warn-dont-kick-up-dust/?utm_term=.5e82b547ceaf  By Katie Mettler, July 12 2019

The tourists first started flocking to Chernobyl nearly 10 years ago, when fans of the video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. wanted to see firsthand the nuclear wasteland they’d visited in virtual reality.

Next came those whose curiosity piqued when in 2016 the giant steel dome known as the New Safe Confinement was slid over the sarcophagus encasing nuclear reactor number four, which exploded in April 1986, spewed radiation across Europe and forced hundreds of thousands to flee from their homes.

Then in May, HBO’s “Chernobyl” miniseries aired, and tourism companies reported a 30 to 40 percent uptick in visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, abandoned and eerily frozen in time.

Now the Ukrainian government — capitalizing on the macabre intrigue — has announced that Chernobyl will become an official tourist site, complete with routes, waterways, checkpoints and a “green corridor” that will place it on the map with other “dark tourism” destinations.

“We must give this territory of Ukraine a new life,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a visit to Chernobyl this week. “Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine’s brand. It’s time to change it.”

Zelensky, who was inaugurated in May, signed a decree July 10 to kickstart the Chernobyl Development Strategy, which the president hopes will bring order to the 19-mile Exclusion Zone that has become a hotbed for corruption, trespassing and theft. At the nuclear facility and in the nearby town of Pripyat, wildlife has returned and now roams freely. Flora and fauna grow up around decaying homes, playgrounds and an amusement park. Letters, dinner tables and baby dolls remain where their owners abandoned them 33 years ago.

Radioactive dust still coats it all.

“Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster, where there is a real ‘ghost town,’” Zelensky said during his visit. “We have to show this place to the world: scientists, ecologists, historians, tourists.”

Though exploiting a historical space like Chernobyl could infuse Ukraine’s economy with tourism dollars and motivate developers to revive the sleepy towns surrounding the “dead zone,” there are significant downsides, experts say.

[Thanks to HBO, more tourists are flocking to the eerie Chernobyl nuclear disaster site]

The grounds remain coated with plutonium, cesium, strontium and americium — radionuclides (atoms that emit radiation) that could pose potentially serious health risks to those who touch or ingest them. Some areas are more radioactive, and therefore more dangerous, than others.

“Chernobyl was the worst nuclear accident in human history,” said Jim Beasley, an associate professor at the University of Georgia who has been studying wildlife in the Exclusion Zone since 2012. “Even though the accident occurred over 33 years ago it remains one of the most radiologically contaminated places on earth.”

More than 30 people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, and officials are still debating the full extent of the longterm death toll in Ukraine and nearby countries where people grew sick with cancer and other illnesses.

The World Health Organization estimates total cancer deaths at 9,000, far less than a Belarusian study that put the death toll at 115,000, reported Reuters.

Today, radiation levels inside the Exclusion Zone vary widely from location to location, said Dr. T. Steen, who teaches microbiology and immunology at Georgetown’s School of Medicine and oversees radiation research in organisms at nuclear disaster sites. Because of that, she advises anyone visiting to be educated and cautious while inside the Exclusion Zone, and to limit time spent there.

“The longer you’re exposed, the more that future impact is,” she said.

She advises visitors to the Exclusion Zone to wear clothes and shoes they are comfortable throwing away. If they’re going to be touching or disturbing anything, she recommends a mask and gloves. Most importantly, Steen says, Chernobyl tourists should avoid plant life, and especially the depths of the forests.

Those areas were not cleaned in the aftermath of the disaster and remain highly contaminated by radiation. Research has showed that the fungus, moss and mushrooms growing there are radioactive. Eating or drinking from the area is not safe.

Those who stay on the paved pathways, which officials cleaned, are much less likely to absorb harmful toxins.

Generally speaking, Chernobyl can be safe, Steen said, “but it depends on how people behave.”

And so far, the accounts of tourists behaving badly are abundant.

Timothy Mousseau, a biologist and University of South Carolina professor, has been studying the ecological and evolutionary consequences of radioactive contaminants on wildlife and organisms at Chernobyl for 20 years. He just recently returned from his annual, month-long trip to the Exclusion Zone and said he was shocked to see 250 tourists in street clothes wandering Pripyat.

Some hopped in bumper cars at the abandoned amusement park there to take selfies.

“Part of the reason people don’t think twice about it is because there is this highly organized tourism operation,” Mousseau said. “A lot of people don’t give it a second thought.”

He is concerned that the government’s tourism campaign could only make that worse.

“The negative aspects that are being completely ignored are the health and safety issues of bringing this many people, exposing this many people to what is a small risk, albeit a significant risk, to this kind of contamination,” Mousseau said. “The more traffic there is, the most dust there is, and the dust here is contaminated.”

[We’re in the age of the overtourist. You can avoid being one of them.]

But Mousseau’s worries, and the anxieties of his colleagues, extend beyond health factors.

For decades, biologists, ecologists and medical researchers have been studying the mostly undisturbed expanse that is the Exclusion Zone. They’ve studied DNA mutations in plants and insects, birds and fish. As larger mammals, like moose, wolves and fox, have slowly re-occupied the surrounding forests, biologists have searched for clues about the ways short-term and long-term radiation exposure have altered their health.

Scientifically, there is no place on earth like Chernobyl. Beasley, who studies wolves there, calls it a “living laboratory.” An influx of humans — especially reckless ones — could destroy it.

“This is really the only accessible place on the planet where this kind of research can be conducted at a scale both spatial and temporal that allows for important scientific discovery,” Mousseau said. “Given increased use of radiation in technology and medicine, in going to Mars and space, we need to know more about radiation and its effects on biology and organisms.”

“And Chernobyl provides a unique laboratory to do this kind of research,” he said.

Tourism’s negative footprint in the Exclusion Zone is not theoretical, either.

They are leaving behind trash, rummaging through abandoned homes and buildings and, in Mousseau’s experience, stealing his research equipment. Cameras he has hidden in the depths of the most radioactive parts of the zone to capture the wildlife he studies have been vandalized or gone missing, he said.

It’s something that absolutely astounds me,” he said.

Theoretically, more government oversight at Chernobyl could help curb this kind of interference, especially if a financial investment in the zone will help preserve the ghost town there and bring in more guards and checkpoints to patrol who comes and goes.

None of that will prevent tourists from disturbing Chernobyl’s spirit.

“I think it is important to not lose sight of the fact that Chernobyl represents an area of tremendous human suffering,” Beasley said, “as hundreds of thousands of people were forever displaced from their homes or otherwise impacted by the accident.”

July 15, 2019 Posted by | culture and arts, environment, Reference, safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nuclear clean-up agreements broken for the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory (SSFL) site

60 Years Since the Largest U.S. Nuclear Accident and Captured Federal Agencies  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/13/60-years-largest-us-nuclear-accident-and-captured-federal-agencies

What is needed now is action, by Robert Dodge,   13 Jul 19,

 60 years ago today the largest nuclear accident in U.S. history occurred above the Southern California community of Simi Valley when the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory (SSFL) site suffered a partial nuclear meltdown. That accident, kept secret for two decades, has resulted in ongoing local health effects that persist to this day and has pitted the community health and wellbeing against corporate financial interests and captured government agencies.

SSFL, a 2850 acre site, currently owned by the Department of Energy, NASA and the largest owner being Boeing, is aformer nuclear reactor and rocket engine testing site. It is located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando Valleys, at the headwaters of the Los Angeles River. Located about 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, originally far from population areas, the area now has around 500,000 people within 10 miles of the site. Over its years of operation, there were 10 non-contained nuclear reactors that operated on the site as well as plutonium and uranium fuel fabrication facilities and a “hot lab” where highly irradiated fuel from around the U.S. nuclear complex was shipped for decladding and examination. In addition there were tens of thousands of rocket engine tests conducted over the many years of operation.

The Sodium Reactor Experiment or SRE was the first reactor to provide commercial nuclear power to a U.S. city in Moorpark. Then on July 13, 1959, a partial meltdown occurred in which a third of the fuel experienced melting. Dr. Arjun Makhijani estimated the incident released 260 times the amount of radioactive iodine as was released from the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

As a result of this partial meltdown and numerous other reactor accidents, radioactive fires, massive chemical contamination in handling of the radioactive and chemically contaminated toxic materials that were routinely burned in open pits through the years at the site, it remains one of the most highly contaminated sites in the country. It has widespread contamination with radionuclides such as cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-239 and toxic chemicals perchlorate, trichloroethylene (TCE), heavy metals and dioxins.

In 2012, the U.S. EPA released the results of an extensive radiological survey of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone at SSFL, and found 500 samples with radioactivity above background levels, in some cases, thousands of times over background.

These toxins are associated with a multitude of health risks. Many are cancer causing, others are neurotoxins causing a host of issues including learning disabilities, birth defects and many other health effects. The most vulnerable tend to be women and children.  Through the years, there have been many health studies performed. In 2006, a cluster of retinoblastoma cases, a rare eye cancer affecting young children, was identified within an area downwind of the site. The retinoblastoma mothers meeting at Los Angeles’s Children’s Hospital ultimately formed a chemo carpool.

The Public Health Institute’s 2012 California Breast Cancer Mapping Project found that the rate of breast cancer is higher in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Oak Park and Moorpark than in almost any other place in the state.

In addition, studies by cancer registries found elevated rates of bladder cancer associated with proximity to SSFL.

There have been numerous additional studies including one by the UCLA School of Public Health that found significantly elevated cancer death rates among both the nuclear and rocket workers at SSFL from exposures to these toxic materials. Another study by UCLA found offsite exposures to hazardous chemicals by the neighboring population at levels exceeding EPA levels of concern.

A study performed for the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found the incidence of key cancers, those types known to be associated with the contaminants on site, were 60% higher in the offsite population within 5 miles of the site compared to further away.

Unfortunately, these contaminants do not stay on site. When it rains, they wash off site to the Valleys below. When it blows, they become airborne and migrate offsite. The 2017 Woolsey fire is a most recent example. After initially denials, officials finally admitted the fire actually started on the field lab site burning across almost the entire site and potentially spreading toxic chemicals over the basin. Unfortunately, no adequate monitoring was performed and only began days after the flames had moved on.

Ultimately, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), has regulatory oversight of the cleanup and of the responsible parties which include NASA, the Department of Energy (DOE), and Boeing. In 2010, the Department of Energy and NASA signed historic agreements with DTSC that committed them to cleaning up all detectable contamination. The agreements, or Administrative Orders on Consent (AOC), specified that the cleanup was to be completed by 2017. Boeing, which owns most of the SSFL property, refused to sign the cleanup agreements. Nevertheless, DTSC said that its normal procedures require it to defer to local governments’ land use plans and zoning, which for SSFL allow agricultural and rural residential uses. DTSC said SSFL’s zoning would thus require Boeing to conduct a cleanup equivalent to the NASA/DOE requirements.

In response, Boeing, currently under scrutiny after the 737 MAX crashes, launched a massive “greenwashing” campaign in an attempt to convince the public that SSFL’s contamination was minimal, never hurt anyone, and that the site doesn’t need much of a cleanup because it is going to be an open space park. Boeing prefers a re-designation to recreational cleanup standards that are based on someone being on the site infrequently limited to a few hours per week . But people who live near SSFL don’t live in recreational areas, they live in residential areas and as long as the site isn’t fully cleaned up, they will still be at risk of exposure to SSFL contamination.

Recently, both the Dept. of Energy and NASA, following Boeing’s lead, have said that they too want to break out of their legal cleanup agreements and also cleanup to a weak recreational standard. So, all three responsible parties are completely disregarding the state of California’s regulatory authority. In effect they are asserting that they, the polluters, get to decide how much of their contamination gets cleaned up. That violates federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act laws as well as the AOC cleanup agreements. Now more than ever, we need our elected representatives to stand up and demand the existing cleanup agreements be upheld.

Melissa Bumstead, an adjacent West Hills resident whose daughter has twice survived a rare leukemia and who has mapped over 50 other rare pediatric cancers near SSFL, is bringing fresh energy and new voices into the cleanup fight. Her Change.org petition has now been signed by over 650,000 people and is helping to galvanize the community to fight for the full, promised cleanup.

Thus far, almost all local and federal elected officials have voiced concern that the cleanup agreements are being broken, especially in the wake of the Woolsey Fire. What is needed now is action. People ask how to protect themselves. The best thing people can do is fight for the full cleanup of SSFL. Each of has an opportunity to help this effort. We must contact all of our local officials and demand action today for a full cleanup of SSFL.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | environment, safety, USA | Leave a comment

General Mark Milley wants low-yield nuclear missile warheads, doctrine of a “winnable” nuclear war

Trump’s nominee for top US military commander calls for nuclear buildup to confront China, WSW, By Bill Van Auken 13 July 2019

In testimony before the US Senate Armed Service Committee Thursday, Gen. Mark Milley, Trump’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for a major buildup of the US nuclear arsenal, while identifying China as the main target of US imperialism’s war machine……..

“From East Asia to the Middle East to Eastern Europe, authoritarian actors are testing the limits of the international system and seeking regional dominance while challenging international norms and undermining US interests,” Milley said. “Our goal should be to sustain great power peace that has existed since World War II, and deal firmly with all those who might challenge us.”

Asked by the chairman of the Senate panel, Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe, what he was most concerned about in terms of the US confrontation with China and Russia, Milley responded: “I think the very No. 1 for me and No. 1 stated for the Department of Defense is the modernization, recapitalization of the nation’s nuclear triad. I think that’s critical. Secondly, I would say, is space. It’s a new domain of military operations.”

“I think China is the main challenge to the US national security over the next 50 to 100 years,” General Milley, said…….

He charged that China is “using trade as leverage to achieve their national security interests and the One Belt, One Road is part of that.” He said that China is “primarily in competition for resources to fund and improve their military and build and fuel their economy.”

The US response to these economic developments is largely military. Milley spelled out the US military buildup in what the Pentagon terms the “Indo-Pacific” region that is the main arena of confrontation with China. This consists, the general said, of 370,000 US troops, 2,000 warplanes and 200 ships.

Asked whether he thought it would be “helpful” to place conventionally armed, ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in the Indo-Pacific region to help deter Chinese interests in the region, Milley responded, “I do.”

These weapons had been banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the Trump administration abrogated earlier this year. Washington claims that it is acting in response to alleged Russian violations of the treaty—an allegation that Moscow denies.

The US has advanced the theory that Moscow has adopted a wildly adventurist strategy of utilizing a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon against US-NATO conventional forces encircling its territory on the assumption that Washington would not respond with an all-out thermonuclear attack. No evidence has been presented to support this claim.

In any case, the principal target in the abandonment of the INF treaty is China. Beijing is not a signatory to the accord and has developed its own missiles as a counterweight to the US military buildup in the region………

Milley also defended the development of low-yield nuclear missile warheads that are to be launched from submarines, describing the weapons as “an important capability to have in our arsenal in order to deal with any potential adversary.”

The weapons are ostensibly aimed at countering potential Russian use of similar warheads in a war in Europe. They significantly lower the threshold for nuclear war, while raising the likelihood that the country on the receiving end of such a missile—unable to know the size of its warhead—would deliver a full-scale nuclear response.

Milley’s testimony comes barely a month after the Pentagon briefly posted and then yanked off the internet a 60-page document titled “Joint Publication No. 3-72 Nuclear Operations.” The document, prepared at the request of the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, has since been classified as “for official use only.”

The document spells out the Pentagon’s shift from the Cold War era doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) to the concept of a limited use of nuclear weapons resulting in a winnable war.

The “joint doctrine” outlined in the document bluntly states that “nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win.”

It continues: “Employment of nuclear weapons can radically alter or accelerate the course of a campaign. A nuclear weapon could be brought into the campaign as a result of perceived failure in a conventional campaign … Integration of nuclear weapons employment with conventional and special operations forces is essential to the success of any mission or operation.”

This gung-ho attitude toward winning by going nuclear is somewhat tempered by the acknowledgement that “The greatest and least understood challenge confronting troops in a nuclear conflict is how to operate in a post-nuclear detonation radiological environment.”

The document counsels: “Knowledge of the special physical and physiological hazards, and psychological effects of the nuclear battlefield, along with guidance and training to counter these hazards and effects, greatly improves the ground forces ability to operate successfully.”

How US military commanders are supposed to prepare for the “special effects” of a battlefield in which the dead may number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, is not clarified.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency solicited proposals from the tech industry for the development of Virtual Reality “training and testing platforms for DoD combat forces operating in a battlefield nuclear warfare (BNW) environment.”

In an oddly worded passage, the document makes clear that any use of a tactical nuclear weapon can quickly provoke all-out nuclear war. “Whatever the scenario for employment of nuclear weapons, planning and operations must not assume use in isolation but must plan for strike integration into the overall scheme of fires,” it states.

The chilling testimony delivered by Milley on Thursday, spelling out US imperialism’s preparations for war with China and the increasing turn toward a doctrine of a “winnable” nuclear war, was accompanied by pledges from both Democratic and Republican senators that they would quickly confirm the general’s nomination. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/07/13/nuke-j13.html

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s new nuclear funding model would leave taxpayers liable for rising costs or delays.

New UK nuclear funding model could leave taxpayers liable, Guardian,  Jillian Ambrose, Energy correspondent 14 Jul 2019

Ministers are expected to announce plans to bolster nuclear industry this week,  The government will set out plans to resuscitate the UK’s struggling nuclear ambitions with a new scheme which would leave taxpayers liable for rising costs or delays.The funding model, expected this week, could help bankroll the multibillion pound plans for a follow-on to EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, which ministers aim to build at the Sizewell site in Suffolk.

It could also resurrect the dormant plans for a £16bn new nuclear reactor at the Wylfa project in North Wales, which fell apart last year due to the high costs of nuclear construction.

Government officials are expected to reveal a new financial framework based on the model being used to finance the £4.2bn Thames Tideway tunnel.

Under those plans, the government has allowed the super-sewer’s developers to charge customers upfront for the project, and agreed to cover cost overruns above 30% of the budget and step in as a lender if funding dries up.

The nuclear plans are expected to be unveiled before parliament’s summer recess at the end of this week, alongside a long-awaited energy white paper.

The policy roadmap will set out the government’s plans for the energy sector as the economy moves towards the UK’s target to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

The industry is expected to have three months to respond to an official consultation before ministers decide whether to move ahead with the scheme…..

The plans would hand developers an upfront regulated return on their investment at each new phase of the project. This could encourage more investment from infrastructure and pension funds and better borrowing terms for the developer.

Government officials are under pressure to find a new way to finance nuclear projects after the National Audit Office condemned the 35-year deal to support the Hinkley Point project through energy bills at a cost of £92.50 for every megawatt-hour of electricity it produces.

The average electricity price in the UK last year was between £55 and £65 per megawatt-hour.

The watchdog accused ministers of putting energy bill payers on the hook for a “risky and expensive” project which offers “uncertain strategic and economic benefits”.

The new financing plan has already raised concerns that applying the Tideway model to a nuclear project that costs £20bn and takes around a decade to build could leave taxpayers exposed to a far higher financial risk.

Nuclear projects have suffered high-profile delays and multibillion-pound cost overruns in recent years, making them almost impossible to finance without state intervention.

EDF said last month that its struggling French nuclear project at Flamanvillecould be delayed by another three years to repair eight faulty weldings discovered at the site.

The latest delay could push Flamanville’s start date, originally in 2012, to 2022. The project was expected to cost about €3bn when construction began but the latest estimates put its cost at almost €11bn……… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/14/new-uk-nuclear-funding-model-could-leave-taxpayers-liable-edf-sizewell

July 15, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Tahitians remember atomic bomb tests and withdraw from France’s propaganda memorial project

Marchers in Tahiti ‘mourn’ French nuclear weapons test legacy  https://asiapacificreport.nz/2019/07/05/marches-in-tahiti-mourn-french-nuclear-weapons-test-legacy/, By PMC Editor -July 5, 2019 , By RNZ Pacific

An estimated 2000 people have joined a march in French Polynesia this week to mark the 53rd anniversary of France’s first atomic weapons test in the Pacific.

The first test was on July 2, 1966, after nuclear testing was moved from Algeria to the Tuamotus.

Organisers of the Association 193 described it as a “sad date that plunged the Polynesia people into mourning forever”. The test on Moruroa atoll was the first of 193 which were carried out over three decades until 1996.

The march was to the Place Pouvanaa a Oopa honouring a Tahitian leader.

The march and rally were called by test veterans’ groups and the Maohi Protestant church to also highlight the test victims’ difficulties in getting compensation for ill health.

After changes to the French compensation law, the nuclear-free organisation Moruroa e Tatou wants it to be scrapped as it now compensates no-one. The Association 193 said it was withdrawing from the project of the French state and the French Polynesian government to build a memorial site in Papeete, saying it will only serve as propaganda.

Apart from reparations for the victims, the organisation wants studies to be carried out into the genetic impact of radiation exposure.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | France, Legal, OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India’s tigers and other endangered species now threatened by uranium mining n Amrabad Tiger Reserve

Digging for uranium in tiger country: Nuclear drive tests India’s commitment to protecting endangered species.  ‘If India’s largest tiger reserves are not sacrosanct then the future … is really bleak’, Independent Adam Withnall, Delhi @adamwithnall  14 July 19, The Amrabad Tiger Reserve, spanning more than 2,800sq km of verdant jungle in India’s southern state of Telangana, is a paradise of biodiversity.

One of the biggest nature reserves in the country, it hosts not just India’s national animal but a range of other endangered species including pangolins, panthers, sloth bears, wild dogs, jungle cats, and spotted and sambar deer.

The Chenchu, one of India’s few remaining protected hunter-gatherer tribes, also count the Amrabad reserve as their ancestral home……..

  • Local activists and forestry officials are now up in arms after the central government in late May gave initial clearance for an exploratory uranium mining project in Amrabad Tiger Reserve, saying the proposal was “of critical importance from a national perspective”. …….
  • At the annual budget presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week, it was announced that custom duties will be waved on all imports of parts for new nuclear power plants.
  • There are currently 22 nuclear reactors operating across India, of which 14 rely on imported uranium. Plans are in place to expand that capacity to 32 reactors, with the additional 10 located at four sites in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. All are targeting completion by 2025.

    At the same time, earlier this year the Indian foreign ministry announced an agreement with the US to establish six American-owned nuclear power plants in India…….

    A joint statement spelled out no further detail, but showed an intent to open up India’s nuclear energy market which, since it began its nuclear arms race with neighbouring Pakistan in 1998, has been cut off from international investment and trade.

  • Amrabad is one of 13 sites that have now received “in-principle” approval for uranium mining projects. The national Forest Advisory Committee gave its assent on 22 May for a proposal to carry out a survey and dig boreholes in areas that include the reserve’s “core” blocks for tiger protection.

    In documents supporting its proposal, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) noted that India’s existing discovered reserves of uranium were “either of low grade or low tonnage or both”, and that finding new sources of high-grade uranium was essential to meet the country’s growing demand…….

  • The department must now submit a detailed proposal that gives exact locations for digging to begin, but the granting of initial approval has alarmed local experts, many of whom submitted reports urging against the project.

    Telangana’s principal chief conservator of forests, PK Jha, told the Indian Express he would not allow anyone to drill inside Amrabad unless express permission was granted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). “We did not allow it till now though the proposal is two or three years old,” he said.

  • Imran Siddiqui, co-founder of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society, wrote in a blog post that he and other activists had been successfully fighting off various mining projects in Amrabad for decades.

    He said the combined effects of building roads to bring in mining equipment, the digging itself and the potential for water contamination “seem poised to destroy the ecology of the entire tiger reserve”.

    “If India’s largest tiger reserves are not sacrosanct then the future of the tiger is really bleak in the new India we are making,” he said…….. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-uranium-mining-amrabad-tiger-reserve-telangana-conservation-

July 15, 2019 Posted by | environment, India | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture Council election: both candidates campaign on anti-nuclear platforms

Fukushima Upper House candidates face cynical voters despite anti-nuclear platforms, Japan Times, 14 July 19, JIJI   Rival candidates, both women, from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition camp for next Sunday’s House of Councilors election in Fukushima Prefecture are campaigning on platforms to eliminate nuclear power from the prefecture.

But their calls are in conflict with the national energy policy of the LDP and the positions of some opposition supporters.

With campaigning in the single-seat prefectural constituency shaping up effectively as a one-on-one race, local voters who were affected by the March 2011 nuclear accident are casting a cynical eye at the race for the July 21 election.

“I’m determined to push ahead with reconstruction following your requests,” Masako Mori, the LDP’s candidate for Fukushima, said on July 4, the opening day of the official campaign period, in the prefectural capital of Fukushima.

“I’ll do my best to achieve the goal of decommissioning all nuclear reactors in the prefecture,” said Mori, 54, vice chair of the LDP’s Headquarters for Accelerating Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also president of the LDP, gave a speech in support of Mori.

Reflecting local voter concerns over nuclear power, the LDP’s Fukushima chapter has set goals of scrapping all reactors in the prefecture and building up knowledge and expertise related to decommissioning.

In contrast to the prefectural chapter’s position, however, the Abe government’s basic energy program regards nuclear power as an important base load electric power source, while the LDP’s policy pledges for the Upper House election include efforts to reactivate nuclear reactors.

The LDP suffered losses in recent national elections in Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the site of the nation’s worst-ever nuclear accident, which resulted from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami………

Hard to differentiate

Mori’s key opponent in the three-way race is Sachiko Mizuno, 57, who is running as the opposition camp’s unified candidate.

On June 30, standing in drizzling rain in front of a department store in the city of Fukushima, Mizuno told a small crowd, “Reconstruction of Fukushima is still only half done.”

Referring to the LDP’s policy pledge, she said the government “has not presented a road map for decommissioning all reactors (in the prefecture).”……..

With Mizuno calling for a society free of nuclear power, the policy differences with the LDP are blurred. “It’s difficult to differentiate ourselves (from the LDP) in the prefecture,” a senior official in Mizuno’s campaign office said.

Within her camp, there are differing levels of enthusiasm regarding the elimination of nuclear power…….

Unenthusiastic voters

After the triple meltdown accident, the government issued an evacuation advisory to 11 municipalities around the stricken nuclear plant. Since the advisory was lifted in the eastern part of the city of Tamura in April 2014, the size of the exclusion zone has been reduced in stages.

But the advisory remains in place in the town of Futaba, as well as in parts of six municipalities, including the towns of Okuma and Namie. More than 30,000 people still live as evacuees outside the prefecture…….

In Namie, more than two years after the evacuation advisory was lifted for most of the town in March 2017, just over 1,000 people have returned. Of people who are still registered as residents of areas for which the advisory was removed, only some 7 percent have returned. ……..https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/14/national/politics-diplomacy/fukushima-upper-house-candidates-face-cynical-voters-despite-anti-nuclear-platforms/#.XSucHD8zbGg

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Earthquakes and the danger of Southern Nevada as a nuclear waste dump site

Quakes Shake Up Nuclear Waste Storage Talk in Nevada, VOA, By Associated Press

July 13, 2019 LAS VEGAS — Recent California earthquakes that rattled Las Vegas have shaken up arguments on both sides of a stalled federal plan to entomb nuclear waste beneath a long-studied site in southern Nevada.

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said this week that his legislation to jump-start the process to open the Yucca Mountain project was based on studies that take seismic activity into account, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Spent nuclear reactor fuel is currently stored at 121 sites in 35 states, and Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the earthquakes showed the need to move spent radioactive waste from places where it is currently stored above ground to a more secure repository.

Still supportive

“This doesn’t change my view,” Barrasso said. “We need to find a permanent location for the storage of nuclear waste. I think it’s much safer in Yucca Mountain than in a hundred different locations.”

Nevada officials disagree, and the 6.4 magnitude and 7.1 magnitude tremors over the July Fourth holiday appeared to have bolstered arguments by opponents of the radioactive waste repository.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., a longtime Yucca Mountain storage foe, immediately labeled the second shake “yet another reminder of how dangerous it would be to make Nevada the dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste.”

U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said the temblors “highlight the very real dangers” the state would face with nuclear waste storage.

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat whose congressional district includes Yucca Mountain and North Las Vegas, cited a state tally of 621 seismic events greater than magnitude 2.5 within a 50-mile (81-kilometer) radius of Yucca Mountain during the past 43 years.

“Earthquakes can be dangerous enough in their own right. Adding the possibility of a nuclear waste spill in the aftermath is not a risk I am willing to take,” Horsford told the Review-Journal.

Yucca Mountain is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of the Las Vegas Strip and 108 miles (174 kilometers) east of Ridgecrest, Calif., where the Fourth of July earthquakes originated.

Fourth in seismic activity

A recent state-by-state ranking by the U.S. Geological Survey showed Nevada fourth in seismic activity, behind Alaska, Wyoming and Oklahoma, and just ahead of California. ………. https://www.voanews.com/usa/quakes-shake-nuclear-waste-storage-talk-nevada

July 15, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Ohio Senate not keen to subsidise FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power stations

Bailout of Ohio’s nuclear power plants may come too late for FirstEnergy Solutions, Crain’s Cleveland Business, DAN SHINGLER  14 July 19 AKRON’S FIRSTENERGY SOLUTIONS (FES) might not get the bailout it says it needs in time to save its Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants unless the company is able to change the deadline for refueling the plants a second time.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

CANADA: A generation of children were given radiation treatment without warning of cancer risks  

CANADA: A generation of children were given radiation treatment without warning of cancer risks  https://www.thoroldnews.com/local-news/canada-a-generation-of-children-were-given-radiation-treatment-without-warning-of-cancer-risks-1581753m 14 July 19

No systemic investigation into how many children underwent radiation treatment in Canada for benign conditions has been done thus far

This article, written by Itai BavliUniversity of British Columbia, originally appeared on The Conversation .

On February 9, 2001, the Vancouver Sun published an article about Nancy Riva who lost her two brothers and was diagnosed with cancer as a result of thymus radiation treatment they received as children — in the belief that this would prevent sudden infant death.

Riva and her brothers were born in Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in the late 1940s and underwent radiation treatment at the hospital as babies.

Radiation treatment for benign illnesses (that is not for treating cancer), like Riva’s inflamed thymus gland, was a standard medical practice worldwide during the 1940 and 1950s. The treatment was considered to be safe and effective for non-cancerous conditions such as acne and ringworm as well as deafness, birthmarks, infertility, enlargement of the thymus gland and more.

In the early 1970s, medical research confirmed the long-standing suspicion that children and young adults treated with radiation for benign diseases, during the 1940s and 1950s, showed an alarming tendency to develop thyroid cancer and other ailments as adults.

In our recent paper, published in the American Journal of Public Health, Shifra Shvarts and I have explored how health authorities in the United States responded to the discovery of the late health effects of radiation treatment.

Over two million people are estimated to have been treated with radiation in the U.S. for benign conditions. We show how an ethical decision at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago in 1973 to locate and examine former patients, who had been treated with radiation in childhood, led to a nationwide campaign launched in July 1977 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) — to warn the medical community and public about the late effects of radiation treatment in childhood for a variety of diseases.

U.S. campaign promotes thyroid checkups

Media coverage of the Chicago hospital’s campaign had a snowball effect that prompted more medical institutions to follow suit (first in the Chicago area and later in other parts of the U.S.), resulting in the NCI’s campaign.

Hundreds of thousands of pamphlets were distributed in shopping centres across the U.S., asking people who had undergone radiation treatment to go to their family doctor for a thyroid checkup. In addition, television presenters opened their programs with warnings; notices were published in newspapers.

Meanwhile in Canada, an unknown number of patients, like Riva and her brothers, were treated with radiation. Interviewed by the Vancouver Sun in 2001, Riva wanted to raise public awareness about this issue, encouraging people who might have been treated with radiation as children to have their thyroid checked.

According to VGH’s officials, quoted in the article, locating former patients was logistically impossible. Spokeswoman Tara Wilson told Vancouver Sun reporter Pamela Fayerman:

“Under the Hospital Act, records only have to be maintained for 10 years after a patient’s last hospital admission, so it’s unlikely we would have these birth records, although people can still phone the hospital to check.”

No systematic investigation in Canada

Riva’s story raises the question of why the Canadian health authorities did not launch a campaign to warn the public, as happened in the United States. Early detection of thyroid cancer saved lives.

The U.S. campaign was known in Canada. On July 14, 1977 a Globe and Mail article titled, “U.S. increasing efforts to warn million potential cancer victims,” described the national program to alert the public of the late health effects of radiation treatment.

Moreover, in an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine in February 1978, two University of Toronto professors of medicine, Paul Walfish and Robert Volpé, discussed the long-term risk of therapeutic radiation and described the efforts made by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare to educate the American public about the late effects of the treatment.

To date, there has been no known attempt to systematically investigate how many children underwent radiation treatment in Canada for benign conditions and what has been done to alert the public and the medical community of the risks. From Riva we learn that in 2001 patients were still looking for advice.

Had the Canadian health authorities effectively warned the public of the long-term risk of radiation treatment, illnesses and deaths may have been prevented.

Perhaps some still could?The Conversation

Itai Bavli, PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies (Public Health and Political Science), University of British Columbia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Canada, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Heat waves, rising seas, – climate change threatens France’s and UK’s nuclear plants

Guardian 12th July 2019 Rae Street: In Weatherwatch (9 July), Paul Brown highlighted the
risks to nuclear power stations with climate change. As he pointed out,
nuclear reactors are not a reliable source of base load power.
The increasing number of heatwaves threatens their supply of cooling water,
particularly in France, which exports electricity. In the UK, reactors use
sea water, but there are dangers ahead there, too, with the risk of
flooding from rising sea levels.
Add to that the whopping costs and the dangers of terrorist attacks, technical failures, human error and radioactive contamination, and it is difficult to understand why
politicians are supporting “new build” nuclear reactors. Why are they
not choosing to put money and resource into sustainable energy sources?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/12/dont-panic-were-doing-our-bit-on-climate-crisis

July 15, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Huge carbon footprint of Hinkley nuclear project, and itself threatened by climate change

Somerset County Gazette 14th July 2019 Jo Smolden: AT a time when climate change discussions are in everyone’s minds, and individuals are looking at what energy they are
using and the waste they are producing, the French company EDF is moving
thousands of HGVs full of aggregate across the county and making the
biggest pile of concrete this country has ever seen at Hinkley next to the
Severn Estuary.

Taking into account the carbon footprint of such large
infrastructure projects, remember this starts with uranium mining where
around 1% is usable, the rest is immediately radioactive waste for
indigenous people to deal with. The end of the nuclear process is high
level, dangerous, radioactive waste having to be looked after for hundreds
of thousands of years.

Should we not be questioning how something with such
a huge carbon footprint is being dumped on the next generations to somehow
deal with?

The biggest concern of all this having been planned using last
century technology so long ago, is the impact of global warming and sea
level rise predictions of today. Is the base of the structure high enough
to keep the nuclear reactor and waste stores safe for the next 160-plus
years? There is no flexibility with nuclear, do we want such a hazardous
fixed structure on our coastline? So many questions and EDF can’t
possibly reassure us with any of this as they have committed themselves, to
this white elephant.

https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/17755677.letter-39-no-flexibility-nuclear—want-coastline-39/

July 15, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Radioactive polonium in cigarette smoke 

Radioactive polonium in cigarette smoke  https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2008/08/29/radioactive-polonium-in-cigarette-smoke/

Category: Science blog August 29, 2008 Ed Yong  Cigarette smoke has been called many things – smelly, dangerous and cancer-causing for a start. But radioactive? Yes, that too. Tobacco smoke contains a radioactive chemical element called polonium-210. It’s the same substance that poisoned the Russian Alexander Litvinenko in London two years ago.

Now, a new study reported in the Independent and to be published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that tobacco companies have known about the danger of polonium in cigarette smoke for over 40 years. Monique Muggli, who led the review, examined over 1,500 internal documents from tobacco companies. Most of these have never been published and were made available through legal action.

Muggli wrote, “Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the companies suppressed publication of their own internal research to avoid heightening the public’s awareness of radioactivity in cigarettes.”

What happens when you inhale polonium?

Polonium-210 emits a type of radiation called alpha-radiation, which is very energetic and can seriously damage DNA. Thankfully, what alpha-radiation has in destructive ability, it lacks in penetrating power. Human skin is usually enough to stop it, but that’s of little consolation to people who inhale particles of polonium-210. That places the tissues of their lungs and airways in direct and close contact with these powerful sources of radiation.

Indeed, studies have detected polonium-210 in the airways of smokers, where they are concentrated in hot spots. They remain there because other chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the body’s cleaning systems, which would normally get rid of gunk in our airways.

As a result, polonium builds up and subjects nearby cells to higher doses of alpha-radiation. These localised build-ups lead to far greater and longer exposures to radiation than people would usually get from natural sources.

For example, one study found that a person smoking two packs a day is exposed to about 5 times as much polonium as a non-smoker but specific parts of their lungs could be exposed to hundreds of times more radiation. Another study estimated that smoking a pack-and-a-half every day exposes a smoker to a dose of radiation equivalent to 300 chest X-rays a year.

Do these doses lead to lung cancer? It’s hard to say, especially since the effects of polonium are only part of a wider range of damaging consequences caused by inhaling cigarette smoke. But animal studies certainly give us cause for concern.

Absorbed doses of radiation can be measured using units called rads, and experiments have shown that as little as 15 rads of polonium can induce lung cancers in mice. That’s only about a fifth of what a smoker would get if they averaged 2 packs a day for 25 years. Indeed, the lung tissues of smokers who have died of lung cancer have absorbed about 80-100 rads of radiation.

Where does polonium comes from?

Some tobacco plants are grown using fertilisers that contain a mineral called apatite. Apatite contains a radioactive element called radium, which can eventually decay into polonium-210.

But tobacco plants can also absorb radioactive elements directly from the air around them. These include both polonium, and other radioactive elements that eventually decay into it. Tobacco leaves are covered in sticky hairs, making them especially good at catching chemicals from the atmosphere around them. Studies in countries all over the world have found significant levels of polonium in local tobacco brands.

Is it possible to create a ‘safe’ cigarette by removing polonium? Simple answer – no. The newly retrieved documents reveal that the tobacco industry has tried in vain to remove the radioactive element by washing tobacco leaves, genetically modifying the plants or using filters. None of these methods appears to have worked, and indeed, an independent Polish study found that filters only absorb a very small amount of polonium-210.

Even if polonium could be removed, it would be a shallow victory, for the radioactive element is just one of at least 69 cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. They are 69 very good reasons to never touch a cigarette again.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Earthquake risk to Diablo Canyon’s two cracked, embrittled, under-maintained, unregulated, uninsured and un-inspected atomic reactors

Eco Watch 12th July 2019 Had last Friday’s 7.1 earthquake and other ongoing seismic shocks hit less than 200 miles northwest of Ridgecrest/China Lake, ten million people in
Los Angeles would now be under an apocalyptic cloud, their lives and those
of the state and nation in radioactive ruin.
The likely human death toll  would be in the millions. The likely property loss would be in the
trillions. The forever damage to our species’ food supply, ecological
support systems, and longterm economy would be very far beyond any
meaningful calculation.
The threat to the ability of the human race to
survive on this planet would be extremely significant. The two cracked,
embrittled, under-maintained, unregulated, uninsured and un-inspected
atomic reactors at Diablo Canyon, near San Luis Obispo, would be a seething
radioactive ruin.

https://www.ecowatch.com/the-quake-to-make-los-angeles-a-radioactive-dead-zone-2639173296.html

July 15, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment