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US formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile

US formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile


August 3, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation effects on the “downwinders” and others close to nuclear weapons tests

The fallout of uncertainty in nuclear test communities  

For downwinders of bomb testing, plans for compensation to redress past harms makes for tricky politics.   Aria Alamalhodaei Aug. 2, 2019,   The atomic bomb was born in the desert. In the early hours of July 16, 1945, after a spate of bad weather, a 20-kiloton plutonium-based nuke referred to as “the gadget” detonated near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Firsthand testimonies of the test, codenamed Trinity, converge on the uncanny axis of awe and dread. The Manhattan Project’s Chief of Field Operations, General Thomas Farrell, wrote that “the strong, sustained, awesome roar … warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous.”

The bomb produced a massive cloud column that drifted in several directions, dusting large swaths of the surrounding region with radioactive snow – fallout that settled on buildings, plants, and animals, and that continued to permeate the air as invisible particulate in the weeks and months that followed. Five years later, the Nevada Test Site was established to continue the work that Trinity set alight.
Although the mushroom cloud became the icon of American nuclear activity in the 20th century, the harms of these bombs did not fade with their dimming fireballs. No group in the U.S. understands this better than the downwinders, communities throughout the American Southwest and beyond who were exposed to the fallout of the military’s domestic nuclear test program.
In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which provided financial remuneration to downwinders who had contracted cancer or other illnesses linked to radiation exposure. (The law also provided compensation for certain on-site test participants and uranium miners.) As of April 2018, the program had awarded more than $2.2 billion to some 34,370 claimants.
As the law was written, however, only downwinders in specific counties in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada were eligible for compensation. Even residents of New Mexico, the site of the Trinity test, were excluded. Since the law was passed, studies and fallout reconstructions have suggested that the health impacts of the nuclear tests likely extend to areas as far away as Idaho, Montana and Guam. Residents in those far-flung locales have provided vivid testimonies of glowing duststrange maladies befalling livestock, and cancer clusters ravaging whole families.
For more than a decade, civic groups have lobbied lawmakers, unsuccessfully, to open RECA to a broader population of downwinders. That Congress has so far balked at those proposals is a testament to many factors; legislative decisions are informed not only by science but by moral and political calculus. But lawmakers’ inability to come to terms on who suffered, and on who deserves reparations for that suffering, points to a little discussed weak spot of modern politics: its uneasy relationship with uncertainty.
RECA’S COMPACT DELIMITATION OF “affected areas” was based on dose estimates produced by the Department of Energy’s Off-Site Radiation Exposure Review Project — a complicated calculation that drew from atmospheric transport models, reconstructions of fallout patterns, and reports of dosimeters and other radiation recorders. The bill was amended once, in 2000, to include a larger population of uranium workers and to expand the time frame, eligible diseases, and geographic locations covered. Two years later, in response to a congressional mandate, the Health Resources and Services Administration commissioned the National Research Council (NRC) to review the RECA program and determine if additional populations should be covered. Their final report was published in 2005. Based in part on mortality and disease-incidence data on atomic bomb survivors in Japan, uranium miners in the U.S., and Utah schoolchildren exposed to fallout from the Nevada Test Site, the committee concluded that in most cases involving downwinders who had been excluded from RECA, “it is unlikely that exposure to radiation from fallout was a substantial cause to developing cancer.”
But radiation epidemiology is a science of uncertainty, and tracing a person’s illness to a single exposure event can be challenging even in seemingly clear-cut cases. Although high doses of radiation are known to lead to disease and death, the effects of lower doses are far less predictable. Moreover, an individual’s radiation dose — the amount of radiation that he or she internalizes — depends on the person’s age, sex, diet, and pre-existing risk factors; weather conditions; and the characteristics of the nuclear event itself. Extrapolating results from one nuclear event to another, as the NRC study did, is bound to introduce some error.
Consider the Trinity test, which has been consistently ignored by lawmakers. According to the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment (LAHDRA), conducted in 2010 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previous efforts to determine exposures from Trinity ignored the specific characteristics that distinguished it from all other subsequent tests. Unlike tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site, the Trinity “gadget” detonated only 100 feet from the ground. At this height, more organic material would’ve been swept into the explosion and returned to the earth as fallout. Another compounding factor was the relative inefficiency of the device. Of the 13 pounds of fissile material contained in the device, only about 2.6 pounds exploded; the rest was dispersed into the environment, where it remained radioactive.
The LAHDRA report also faulted previous studies for failing to adequately account for internal exposure, caused by the inhalation or ingestion of radioactive material. Research shows that internal exposure is significantly more harmful to the human body than the external exposure that occurs, say, when X-rays or other high-energy radiation penetrate the skin. Internal dosages are influenced by occupation, diet, local environment, and other sociodemographic factors. Any assessment that does not account for those factors is incomplete. And, according to the LAHDRA report, no assessment has properly accounted for the internal radiation dosages experienced by residents near the Trinity site. 
In the case of the Trinity test, there’s reason to believe that sociodemographic factors would have been significant. During the 1940s, New Mexican communities were largely agrarian; most people were farmers or ranchers who grew their food, hunted and fished, and drank water collected from cisterns or holding ponds. If those sources were contaminated, residents would likely have been at an increased risk for radiation-linked illnesses.
LAST SUMMER, MEMBERS OF THE NEW MEXICO community organization Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), along with representatives from the Navajo Nation, argued in a Senate Judiciary hearing for amending RECA. Stated TBDC co-founder Tina Cordova, “The New Mexico downwinders are the collateral damage that resulted from the development and testing of the first atomic bomb.” 
Their appeals appear to have fallen on receptive ears. This March, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. Senators, including New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, reintroduced Senate Bill 947 (S. 947), “Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019.” It is the most recent in a long line of bills that attempt to expand the RECA’s coverage. Among other changes, it seeks coverage for downwinders in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Guam. A companion was introduced in the House in July.

Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is currently conducting a three-phase study on the diet and lifestyles of mid-century New Mexicans. The models generated in this study may help scientists draw firmer links between present day cancer cases and the Trinity test. In an email, NCI spokesperson Michael Levin confirmed that the results of the study are anticipated to be published in late 2019.

Like other epidemiological studies of its size, the NCI’s study has been expensive to run and frustratingly time-intensive. And time is precisely what many downwinders feel they don’t have. More than 70 years has passed since the Trinity test. Many downwinders have passed away or are battling cancers and other diseases. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to demonstrate that a disease was caused by nuclear fallout rather than, say, cigarettes or bad luck.

The government, meanwhile, plods along at its own pace, unconstrained by the length of a single lifetime or the distressing span between a diagnosis and its terminal conclusion. In response to a news article about S.947 posted to the Idaho Downwinders public Facebook page, one commenter wrote, “The government are just waiting for all of us to die off so they won’t have to be bothered with it.”
In its 2005 review of the RECA law, the National Research Council stated that, although scientific recommendations were meant to inform policy, the “attendant policy decisions must come from the larger body of citizenry” and “applying this new scientific knowledge may require additional societal value-based decisions.” This is particularly true of probability-based information on cancer epidemiology. When there is simply not enough data available to definitively estimate risk, the question of compensating the citizens who live in the long shadow of the nuclear testing era becomes a moral one: How much uncertainty can we stand?

August 3, 2019 Posted by | radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

“No First Use” of nuclear weapons

What Exactly Is Nuclear ‘No First Use’? Jalopnik, Kyle Mizokami  2 Aug 19, During the Democratic presidential debates this week, candidates wrestledwith a particularly thorny national security issue: whether they would forsake the use of nuclear weapons first in a conflict. This policy, known as No First Use, is the policy of just a handful of the declared nuclear powers.

Those arguing for the policy say it would make accidental or impulsive nuclear war less likely. Those against say that, despite overwhelming U.S. conventional military capabilities, certain dire situations might call for the use of nukes and that a stance of ambiguity is the best deterrent. Let’s explore this debate a bit……..

The inherently extreme nature of nuclear weapons means that, unlike a machine gun or fighter jet, a country may not necessarily use them right away in a conflict. It also means that, if both sides involved in a war have pledged not to use nuclear weapons first and actually hold to that pledge, a war could remain non-nuclear. This is the concept behind No First Use.

The first country to adopt it was China in 1964. Since then India has adopted NFU, with the stated exemption that the gloves come off if Delhi is attacked with chemical or biological weapons. Other nuclear powers, however, including the United States, Russia, the UK, and Pakistan, all maintain a level of ambiguity about when they might use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

These countries argue, somewhat reasonably, that “maybe we’ll nuke you or maybe we won’t” is a deterrent to potential adversaries, heading off both conventional and nuclear war.

No First Use is an appealing policy because it takes the pressure off to rapidly respond to nuclear attack. China, unlike the United States and Russia, does not maintain an active nuclear alert force of missiles ready to launch in minutes. China intends to absorb an attack, evaluate the attack, and then launch a devastating nuclear counterblow that would probably include incinerating the attacker’s cities. In the Chinese view this is plenty enough to deter a surprise nuclear attack.

NFU is also seen as beneficial as it would prevent a crazy, impulsive, unpredictable leader (in the view of candidate Elizabeth Warren and others, President Trump himself) from suddenly ordering up a nuclear strike. It would also eliminate possibility of nuclear weapons launched on false warnings, such as the 1983 incident in which Soviet defenses warned that American ICBMs were headed towards the USSR. No First Use would build a useful delay into an American nuclear response while still ensuring the other side gets clobbered.

A pledge not to use nuclear weapons does not, readiness aside, mean the U.S. would let its nuclear guard down. The Pentagon would have just as many nuclear weapons as it had before. It could even have less: China has a reported 290 nuclear weapons to the 1,500 deployed weapons in American and Chinese arsenals. …

The idea of No First Use is a popular one in the United States, the only country to ever use nuclear weapons in war. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 67 percent of the American people supported the adoption of NFU in 2016…….

August 3, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

TEPCO submits decommissioning plan for Onagawa 1

Another Japanese boiling water reactor calls its quits and moves to decommission. This the fifth Japanese boiling water reactor in a week pulled from even having hope of restart along with Fukushima Daini 1 through 4. Who says “operating experience” isn’t shrinking for boiling water reactors in USA and around the world?
02 August 2019
Tohoku Electric Power Company has applied to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for approval of its decommissioning plan for unit 1 of the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture. The company announced in October 2018 its decision to scrap the unit as it said required safety upgrades would be too expensive and time-consuming.
Unit 1 of the 524 MWe boiling water reactor (BWR) that began operations in 1984 is of a different design to the other two larger (825 MWe) BWR units there, which began operating in 1995 and 2002, respectively. Tohoku also operates a single 1100 MWe BWR at its Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture, which started operation in late 2005. Tohoku plans to restart units 2 and 3 at the Onagawa plant, as well as its Higashidori plant.
Last October, Tohoku said a problem unique to Onagawa 1 is the restricted space within its containment vessel in which to install additional safety equipment, such as fire extinguishing equipment, power supply equipment and alternative water injection pumps. It decided to decommission the unit after taking into account its generating capacity and the number of years it would be able to operate if it were restarted. Onagawa 1 became the tenth operable Japanese reactor to be declared for decommissioning since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Its decommissioning plan for the unit, which it submitted  to the NRA on 29 July, outlines the facilities and equipment to be dismantled and a timetable for completing the work. Decommissioning will take about 34 years and will be carried out in four stages. The first stage, lasting about eight years, will involve preparing the reactor for dismantling (including the removal of all fuel and surveying radioactive contamination), while the second, lasting seven years, will be to dismantle peripheral equipment from the reactor and other major equipment. The third stage, taking about nine years, will involve the demolition of the reactor itself, while the fourth stage, taking about ten years, will see the demolition of all remaining buildings and the release of land for other uses.
During the first stage, all fuel is to be removed from the operation of Onagawa 1. This includes 821 used fuel assemblies stored in unit 1’s storage pool, which will be transferred to unit 3’s storage pool. These assemblies will later be transported for reprocessing, together with 95 used fuel assemblies from unit 1 currently stored at unit 2 and 66 stored at unit 3. There are also 41 unused fuel assemblies stored at unit 1.
A total 60 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste is expected to be generated through the decommissioning of Onagawa 1, together with 740 tonnes of low-level waste and 5340 tonnes of very low-level waste. A further 12,400 tonnes of non-radioactive waste will also be generated through the clearance of the site.
Tohoku said it expects the decommissioning of the unit to cost a total of JPY41.9 billion (USD392 million), with dismantling activities costing JPY30.0 billion and waste disposal accounting for the remainder.
In March 2015, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy revised the accounting provisions in the Electricity Business Act, whereby electric power companies can now calculate decommissioning costs in instalments of up to 10 years, instead of one-time as previously. This enhanced cost recovery provision was to encourage the decommissioning of older and smaller units.
The Onagawa plant is on Japan’s northeastern coast and was the closest plant to the epicentre of the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011. Although the earthquake knocked out four of the five external power lines, the remaining line provided sufficient power for the plant’s three reactors to be brought to cold shutdown. Onagawa 1 briefly suffered a fire in the non-nuclear turbine building. A mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency in August 2012 concluded the plant had been largely unaffected by the tsunami as it sits on an elevated embankment more than 14 metres above sea level.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

The nuclear disasters that we don’t hear about – The Kyshtym Disaster

5 Unknown Nuclear Disasters: Chernobyl Is Far from the Only One, Chernobyl is not the world’s only nuclear disaster, there are plenty of others to keep you up at night., Interesting Engineering, By  

The Kyshtym Disaster

In September 1957, Ozyorsk, Russia was a closed city, built around the Mayak plant which produced plutonium for both nuclear weapons and fuel.

After scrambling to build the Mayak plant between 1945 and 1948, all six of its reactors initially dumped high-level radioactive waste directly into Lake Kyzyltash. When it became contaminated, they moved on to dumping into Lake Karachay, which also became contaminated.

In 1968, the Soviet government disguised the EURT area by creating East Ural Nature Reserve, with access allowed to only authorized personnel. Documents describing the disaster were only declassified in 1989.

On the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), Kyshtym is rated a 6, making it the third-most serious nuclear accident behind only the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the Chernobyl disaster, which are both Level 7

In 1953, workers built a storage facility for liquid nuclear waste, but that waste was being heated by residual decay heat from the nuclear reaction. The coolers around one of the tanks failed, and on September 29, 1957, that tank exploded with the force of between 70 to 100 tons of TNT.

While there were no immediate casualties, the explosion released an estimated 20 MCi (800 PBq) of radioactivity into the air. A plume containing 2 MCi (80 PBq) of radionuclides, primarily caesium-137 and strontium-90, moved toward the northeast and contaminated an area of more than 52,000 square kilometers (20,000 sq miles).

At least 270,000 people lived in that area, which is referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace (EURT).

In an attempt to maintain secrecy, no evacuation was ordered, but a week later, on October 6, 1957, 10,000 people were removed from their homes.

Estimates of the death toll caused by the accident go from 200 to more than 8,000, depending on the study. A 2001 work stated that the accident caused 66 diagnosed cases of chronic radiation syndrome.

Amazingly, it wasn’t until 18 years later, in 1976, that the full scope of the disaster was disclosed by Zhores Medvedev in the publication the New Scientist.

In 1968, the Soviet government disguised the EURT area by creating East Ural Nature Reserve, with access allowed to only authorized personnel. Documents describing the disaster were only declassified in 1989.

On the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), Kyshtym is rated a 6, making it the third-most serious nuclear accident behind only the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the Chernobyl disaster, which are both Level 7……

K-19: The Widowmaker   Trailer 

August 3, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

Scrapping of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant a chance to boost reconstruction

August 02, 2019
All the nuclear power plants that had operated in Fukushima Prefecture will be decommissioned. This should mark the end of one chapter and promote progress in the area’s reconstruction from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
At a board meeting, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. formally decided to scrap all four reactors at the utility’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant.
Although the power plant was damaged in the 2011 catastrophe, it escaped the kind of major accident that befell the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. After the disaster, the No. 2 plant served as a rear support base for the No. 1 plant.
TEPCO probably intended to restart operations at the No. 2 plant to help lift its profitability. However, the prefecture and local authorities passed a string of resolutions calling on TEPCO to retire the nuclear plant, so the decision to decommission the reactors can be described as unavoidable.
Decommissioning of the No. 2 plant will be done at the same time as the No. 1 plant is being scrapped. Nuclear fuel at the No. 1 plant melted, so decommissioning work there will be considerably more difficult than it would at undamaged reactors. People are unable to approach the reactor cores because of high radiation levels, so removing the melted fuel will be done by remote control. This is a special situation without precedent anywhere in the world.
Sophisticated technology will be needed to carry out decommissioning work under such extreme conditions. Perhaps this should be considered from the perspective of being an opportunity to make the surrounding area a central hub for decommissioning technologies.
Major domestic manufacturers have been developing technologies such as robots that can enter and inspect the reactor cores. Foreign companies keen to acquire knowledge about decommissioning technologies also are interested in this process.
Treated water still problem
A local plant construction company will be involved in some of the demolition work that has started at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The company plans to use special cutting equipment it developed to steadily dismantle a 120-meter-tall exhaust stack next to a reactor building.
If more orders for work like this were placed with local companies, it would create new industries and jobs and give impetus to the region’s recovery.
Decommissioning the reactors will take 40 years. Continually securing the required human resources also will be a challenging task.
For the time being, the biggest problem will be disposing of contaminated water that has been generated ever since the nuclear accident.
More than 1 million tons of treated water — contaminated water that has undergone purification — is being stored in more than 900 huge tanks. These tanks occupy much of the ground at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and are becoming an impediment to decommissioning work.
There is a limit to the storage space available for this water. Fishing cooperatives and other groups oppose the option of discharging into the sea treated water containing amounts of the radioactive substance tritium diluted to below the government’s standard. If the sea discharge is to go ahead, the government must carefully explain the situation to gain the understanding of local residents and groups.
The decision to scrap the Fukushima No. 2 plant brings the number of nuclear reactors locked in for decommissioning to 24 — almost half of the reactors in Japan. From the viewpoint of ensuring a stable supply of energy, it is necessary to seek the restart of the remaining nuclear plants after making sure they are safe to operate.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

The nuclear disasters we don’t hear about – The Windscale Fire

Windscale: Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster – Part 01

5 Unknown Nuclear Disasters: Chernobyl Is Far from the Only One, Chernobyl is not the world’s only nuclear disaster, there are plenty of others to keep you up at night., Interesting Engineering, By  

The Windscale Fire

Less than two weeks after Kyshtym, a fire broke out in Unit 1 of the two reactors at the Windscale facility located in what is now known as Sellafield, Cumbria UK.

The two reactors were created because of Britain’s need for an atomic weapon following World War II. Determining that a uranium enrichment plant would cost ten times as much to produce the same number of atomic bombs as a nuclear reactor, the decision was made to build a nuclear reactor that would produce plutonium.

The cores of the reactors were comprised of a large block of graphite, with horizontal channels drilled through it for the fuel cartridges. Each cartridge consisted of a 12-inch-long (30 centimeters) uranium rod encased in aluminum.

The reactor was cooled by convection through a 400-foot (120 m) tall chimney. When Winston Churchill committed the UK to create a hydrogen bomb, the fuel loads at Windscale were modified to produce tritium, but this also meant that the core became hotter.

On the morning of October 10, 1957, the core began to uncontrollably heat, eventually reaching 400 degrees C. Cooling fans were brought in to increase the airflow, but just worsened the problem. It was then that operators realized that the core was on fire.

Workers tried dousing the core first in carbon dioxide, then in water, but both proved ineffective. What finally worked was cutting off air to the reactor building, which starved the fire.

The fire caused the release of radioactive radionuclides across the UK and Europe, including an estimated 740 terabecquerels (20,000 curies) of iodine-131, 22 TBq (594 curies) of caesium-137 and 12,000 TBq (324,000 curies) of xenon-133.

By comparison, the 1986 Chernobyl explosion released far more, and the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 in the U.S. released 25 times more xenon-135 than Windscale, but less iodine, caesium, and strontium. The atmospheric release of xenon-133 by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was similar to that released at Chernobyl, and thus, high above what the Windscale fire released.

There were no evacuations of the surrounding area, but it has been estimated that the incident caused 240 additional cancer cases. For a month after the accident, milk coming from 500 square kilometers (190 sq mi) of the nearby countryside was destroyed.

The reactor tank has remained sealed since the accident and still contains about 15 tons of uranium fuel. The reactor core is still slightly warm due to continuing nuclear reactions. It is not scheduled for final decommissioning until 2037. On the International Nuclear Event Scale, Windscale ranks at level 5……….

August 3, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

Work begins to topple dangerous exhaust stack at Fukushima plant

Dismantling work begins Aug. 1 to slice a highly contaminated exhaust stack into parts at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant complex.
A crane hoists a dismantling mechanism to the top of an exhaust stack at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant site.
Work begins Aug. 1 to dismantle an exhaust stack at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant site.
A crane lifts a dismantling mechanism toward the top of an exhaust chimney on the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant site
August 2, 2019
Delicate work got under way Aug. 1 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to dismantle an unstable exhaust stack that is so highly contaminated by radiation the task must be done by remote control.
Initial plans had called for the work to start in March, but the project was delayed by a failure among other things to confirm design plans that led operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deploy a crane that was not up to the task.
The exhaust stack, which is 120 meters tall and 3.2 meters in diameter, was used for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors.
The work is regarded as a crucial phase in the decommissioning of the plant, a task that is projected to take decades and cost billions of yen.
When the nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011, vapor containing highly radioactive substances was released through the stack. Metal poles used to support the chimney were found to have been damaged following a hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor.
Radiation levels around the base of the stack are believed to be still too high for humans to work in, so the dismantling work must be done by remote control.
There are also concerns that the chimney could collapse. TEPCO plans to dismantle the upper half of the structure by the end of the current fiscal year.
A remote control room was set up in a large remodeled bus located about 200 meters from the site. Workers will operate the special cutting equipment while watching footage from 140 video cameras.
Immediately after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, radiation levels at the base of the chimney exceeded more than 10 sieverts per hour. In 2015, radiation levels still hovered at 2 sieverts per hour, the highest among all outdoor areas of the plant.
A 750-ton crane is being used to hoist the dismantling mechanism over the exhaust chimney.
The work was supposed to begin around 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 1 with the cutting of ladders and electric cables at the base of the chimney. But some of the equipment did not function properly because of problems with a telecommunications system.
Work finally started around noon.
From Aug. 2, the dismantling mechanism will be used to slice parts of the chimney from the top. The dismantled pieces will be stored in the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Although plans call for dismantling the upper part of the stack by the end of March 2020, strong winds and other weather conditions could cause delays.
The dismantling mechanism was developed and is being operated by construction company Able Co., based in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, where the Fukushima No. 1 plant is located.
It is unusual for a local company to be involved in such a key project on-site, but a company official said, “As a local company, we want to respond to the expectations of the local community by successfully completing the project without incident.”

August 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – Soviet Submarine K-19

5 Unknown Nuclear Disasters: Chernobyl Is Far from the Only One, Chernobyl is not the world’s only nuclear disaster, there are plenty of others to keep you up at night., Interesting Engineering, By  

Soviet Submarine K-19

K-19 was one of what the Soviets called their Project 658-class submarines, while NATO called them Hotel-class. They were the first generation of nuclear submarines equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles.

Commissioned on April 30, 1961, K-19 was snake bit from the start. On its initial voyage, on July 4, 1961, it was conducting exercises off the coast of Greenland when suddenly, pressure in the reactor’s cooling system dropped to zero due to a leak.

The emergency SCRAM system immediately inserted the control rods, but due to decay heat, the reactor’s temperature rose to 800 degrees C (1,470 degrees F). The accident released steam containing fission products throughout the ship through the ventilation system.

The captain ordered the ship’s engineering crew to fabricate a new cooling system, but this required them to work within the radioactive area. The jury-rigged cooling water system prevented a complete meltdown of the reactor core.

American warships nearby had picked up K-19’s distress call and offered to help, but K-19’s captain, fearful of giving away Soviet military secrets, refused. Instead, K-19 sailed to meet up with a diesel-powered Soviet submarine. The accident had irradiated K-19’s entire crew, as well as the ship and some of her ballistic missiles.

Within a month, all eight members of the ship’s engineering crew died of radiation exposure. They are Boris KorchilovBoris RyzhikovYuriy OrdochkinEvgeny KashenkovSemyon PenkovNicolai SavkinValery Charitonov, and Yuriy Povstyev.

Within the next two years, 15 other sailors died of radiation-related illnesses.

Towed into port, K-19 contaminated a 700 meter (2,300 feet) wide area, and the repair crews who worked on her. Eventually, the Soviet Navy dumped the damaged reactor into the Kara Sea.

The 2002 movie K-19: the Windowmaker, which starred Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, is based on the K-19 disaster…..

August 3, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

Atomic Refugee Moms


Documentary film

Eight years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, there are still high levels of poverty among mothers who fled the region with their children. Atomic Refugee Moms follows three mothers who struggle to give their children hope for their future.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – The Goiânia Accident

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Brazil, incidents, Reference | Leave a comment

Decision to Scrap Fukushima Daini 4 Reactors

TEPCO officially decides to abolish Fukushima Daini nuclear plant
This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on June 14, 2018, shows the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
July 31, 2019
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. officially decided Wednesday at a board meeting to abolish the Fukushima Daini nuclear complex near the Daiichi plant crippled by the March 2011 disaster.
It means that all 10 nuclear reactors in the northeastern prefecture, including the six at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, will be scrapped, though this will take decades. TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa met Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori and reported the decision.
The decommissioning work of the four nuclear reactors at the Daini plant will likely cost some 280 billion yen ($2.6 billion) and require more than 40 years. The power company plans to build an on-site facility to store spent nuclear fuel from the plant, though it has yet to pick a final disposal site for the fuel.
The Daini complex started the four reactors’ commercial operation from 1982 to 1987. The nuclear power plant was also hit by the tsunami in the 2011 disaster, temporarily losing key cooling functions, but managed to avoid meltdowns that occurred at the Daiichi plant.
The prefecture has called for scrapping the Daini plant, saying its existence has been hampering reconstruction efforts.
Fukushima gov. accepts TEPCO decision to scrap Daini nuclear plant
This photo taken on June 14, 2018, shows the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Fukushima
July 31, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday his prefecture will accept Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s recent decision to scrap the Fukushima Daini nuclear complex near the Daiichi plant crippled by the March 2011 disaster.
In a meeting with Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the president of the utility known as TEPCO, the governor also accepted its plan to build an on-site storage facility to store spent nuclear fuel.
The decision means all 10 nuclear reactors in the northeastern prefecture, including the six at the Fukushima Daiichi complex 12 kilometers from the Daini plant, will be scrapped, though the decommissioning work will take decades.
The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami did not cause serious structural damage to the Daini plant, while three of the reactors at the Daiichi complex experienced meltdowns.
TEPCO’s decision to scrap the Daini complex, expected to cost around 280 billion yen ($2.6 billion), will be formally approved at the company’s board meeting on Wednesday.
“I’m grateful that I received a certain degree of understanding. We will proceed (with the decommissioning) with a renewed sense of responsibility,” Kobayakawa said in the meeting with the governor.
Uchibori and Kobayakawa discussed TEPCO’s plan last week, with the governor saying that while he welcomed the scrapping of the reactors he needed to consult the towns hosting the complex about the storage facility.
TEPCO has not picked a final disposal site for the spent fuel from the Daini complex, raising concern among local residents that the radioactive nuclear waste may remain stored on-site for a long time.
“The premise is that the nuclear fuel will be transported out of the prefecture. Temporary storage for the time being is unavoidable,” Uchibori said.
He later told reporters TEPCO had assured him that the storage facility would not be permanent.
The Daini plant currently has around 10,000 assemblies of spent fuel cooling in pools.
The scrapping of the Daini plant also means that the central government’s annual subsidies of around 1 billion yen ($9.2 million) each for the towns of Naraha and Tomioka that host the facility will eventually be terminated.
Revenue linked to the nuclear plant, from property taxes and in other forms, accounted for 25 percent of Naraha’s total revenue and 40 percent of Tomioka’s.
Uchibori said he will ask the government to take into account “the financial situation of the two towns in view of the special circumstances relating to the decommissioning.”

August 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

“Oops”: Manipulated childhood cancer data hides radiation impact, harms public health protection

It is morally wrong to conceal or manipulate data! Doing so can and will “enshrine the withholding of life-enhancing or life-saving treatment for victims of radiation exposure.” It will also hinder current and future studies into the effects of radiation.


July 19, 2019

This article relies heavily on postings at Fukushima Voice version 2e. Revelations and analysis below would be impossible without the painstaking translations and thoughtful discussion Fukushima Voice provides.

As the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe unfolded in March 2011, experts began applying lessons (some poorly learned or incomplete) from other nuclear disasters, primarily Chernobyl. After Chernobyl, it took nearly a decade for official experts to admit what data were revealing: exposure to radioiodine, one of the nuclides released from nuclear power disasters, increases thyroid cancer. Those who were children at the time of their exposure were particularly vulnerable. As radioactive clouds blanketed the areas surrounding the melting Fukushima reactors, officials were conflicted about the application of stable potassium iodide (KI) to keep radioiodine from penetrating the thyroids of members of the public.

Shunichi Yamashita, a doctor who had studied thyroid cancers in the Chernobyl-contaminated areas, expected no impact from radioiodine exposure. Reports differ, however, with some saying that Yamashita was publicly claiming no danger, while secretly telling experts he had serious concern about child thyroid cancer. He encouraged those who may have been exposed to protect themselves against radiation by being in a good mood and laughing. FMU had taken the precautionary measure of distributing KI to its staff members and their children. FMU claimed this was to cajole nervous hospital staff into staying during the initial disaster, rather than to protect their health. The staff, however, was sworn to secrecy regarding this decision. Fukushima Prefecture failed to tell FMU to administer KI to the public. FMU waited for Yamashita to inform the issue and he said taking KI was unnecessary, so many in the public were left unprotected. “Yamashita admitted that he had given incorrect information shortly after the disaster when he advised FMU not to dispense potassium iodide tablets to children.” After he had made his decision, he reportedly looked at the fallout maps and said “Oops”.

In the wake of continuing contamination threat and public concern, the Fukushima Prefectural government tasked FMU with overseeing the Fukushima Health Management Survey (FHMS) of which thyroid ultrasound examinations (TUEs) were to be a part. Oversight committees were formed to issue reports on data collected through the FHMS. Yamashita was put in charge of the FHMS, making those who had claimed there was no danger from radioiodine exposure the ones in charge of researching the results of their mistake. In fact, Yamashita has “commented that the main aim of the Health Survey is to reassure people.”

Later, when Dr. Yamashita stepped down as head of the FHMS (he remains Vice President of FMU), some claimed he was leaving not because he ran the study poorly, but because he failed to communicate properly. (Yamashita is still involved with the study – his name appearing on much of the published research ostensibly based on FMU data.) Yet from the outset, FMU has provided incomplete and misleading thyroid data from the FHMS to the oversight committees, resulting in reports that are confusing, with conclusions that even by the committee’s reckoning are unreliable. Outside researchers have also noticed this poor quality. Despite obvious shortcomings, Fukushima thyroid data are being wielded to alter the way we study radiation’s impact on thyroid, and to downplay the world-wide increases current research is revealing.

Missing and misused data

FMU is keeping some primary clinical and demographic data hidden, even from the oversight committees, despite the committees’ repeated requests that these data be shared. FMU shares analytical results that are derived from this data but these results are often manipulated – such as with comparisons to data from Chernobyl data that have been misrepresented. At the most recent press conference, June 3, 2019, committee members were asked to grade the conclusions of their report based on the information provided by FMU. They graded the report reliability at under 60%, citing lack of dose information and missing cases.

FMU has failed to report all the thyroid surgeries conducted either by it or other facilities. Since childhood thyroid cancers are rare under normal circumstances, missing even one case can skew data results. Further, FMU has changed data presentation so that it is not comparable to previously collected data. This will probably curtail current, independent, ongoing research into any connection between thyroid cancers and radiation exposure.

FMU often uses methodologies for data analysis that are unclear, illogical, and therefore unable to be explained (Makino, in publication) much less replicated. Attempts to correct some of these shortcomings have not fully succeeded. Much of the data uncertainty is only discernible to those with Japanese language skills. The datasets have never been published in their entirety in Japanese and the fact that data are missing has never been officially disclosed in English.

For any health study, the most reliable data come from comparing disease outcomes among those who were exposed to the pollutant in question (in this case radioiodine), to those who were unexposed. Having an unexposed population is especially important when it is hard to know what level people were exposed to. The amount of disease in the unexposed population is considered a baseline, or the amount that would occur in a population naturally. If the amount of a disease, such as thyroid cancer, is increased in the exposed population compared to the unexposed, the pollutant in question may be responsible.

However, FMU is insisting that they can establish thyroid cancer baseline with data collected beginning in late 2011 using exposed populations. At first, researchers said that the number of thyroid cancers discovered between late 2011 through 2013 – dubbed the first round examinations, would determine baseline cases. Researchers are now claiming that true baseline may include cases that were discovered through 2016 when the second round examination was scheduled for completion. This shifting baseline imperils reliability of thyroid data and further calls into question the methodologies of the researchers tasked with assessing health impacts of radiation.

The minimum latency for thyroid cancer, according to the World Trade Center Health Program, is 1 year (in persons under 20 years old) to 2.5 years. These latencies are based, in part, on the National Academy of Sciences findings on low-dose radiation exposure. But FMU researchers are claiming that if any thyroid cancers were discovered between 2011 and 2013 (or now 2016) these cases would not be attributed to radiation. In fact, these cases could have developed or grown faster because of Fukushima radiation exposure according to accepted latency, but FMU would consider them “normal” or “baseline”, in effect hiding the true impacts of exposure.

FMU claims that the increased cases of thyroid cancer found through TUE are probably due to overdiagnosis, implying that these cancers were “quiet” and would have remained clinically hidden had monitoring not occurred. But enough of these cancers had metastasized to other areas of the body that surgical removal was indicated (slide 12) for the vast majority of them. In the absence of screening, these cancers would have been caught later, probably requiring more aggressive treatment, leading to a decreased quality of life.

Thyroid cancer data from pre-Fukushima Japan indicates some differences with the post-Fukushima thyroid cancers in the FHMS. For instance, tumor size at removal was smaller for FHMS cases, yet invasion to other tissues was higher, indicating not only that surgical removal was necessary, but that these post-Fukushima smaller tumors could be more aggressive. The pre-Fukushima data from Japan is a very small sample size, so further research should be done. It should be noted that tumor size and invasiveness from FMU cases most closely resemble not those of pre-Fukushima Japan, but those of Belarus post Chernobyl.

Despite misused and missing data, the committee made comparisons of these data to dose estimates from the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), which are based on deposition of radiocesium. But the deposition pattern of radiocesium does not necessarily mimic where radioiodine travelled, so doses using this method are full of “significant uncertainties” and should probably not be used. The irony is radioidine is a known exposure concern during the initial phase of a nuclear power catastrophe, so direct radioiodine measurements could and should have been taken. If they were taken, they should be used. This does not appear to be the case with radioiodine from Fukushima.

Mishandling of data misleads future research and jeopardizes public health

One FHMS committee member, Toru Takano, makes the highly controversial claim that thyroid cancer in children will eventually become “self-limiting” therefore, current screenings are leading to overdiagnosis and unnecessary surgery because these cancers will stop growing and not cause death. There is no scientific proof that childhood thyroid cancers will “self-limit” even after they start invading other organs. Nor is there scientific support for a subclinical pool of thyroid cancer in children, another claim made by FMU researchers. Following on the overdiagnosis trope, some are now questioning whether screening should also be curtailed because it is too psychologically damaging.

It is no surprise then, that the FHMS thyroid committees continue to debate the usefulness of screening, despite clinical indications that screenings have led to necessary surgical removal of invasive thyroid cancers. Yet international bodies like International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) are starting to recommend against systematic thyroid screening after a catastrophe like Fukushima, for fear of overdiagnosis and psychological impact. Additionally, IARC’s report, based on input from Fukushima researchers, recommends screening not begin at doses under 100-500 mGy. This despite studies showing increases of thyroid cancer as low as 25mGy for those exposed as children.

In short, Fukushima thyroid data collected and partially hidden from international researchers is being used to alter internationally accepted radiation exposure recommendations.  This is all the more ridiculous since the baseline for thyroid cancer after Fukushima uses people who were exposed to Fukushima radioiodine, rather than using unexposed children, even in the face of unknowable doses.

A revelation that pediatric thyroid cancer increased “in the US 4.43% annually from 1998 to 2013” exposes the need to screen people in the wake of nuclear catastrophes, not backpedal on that responsibility.  Researchers concluded that this was a “true increase” (not due to increased surveillance –a claim made by researchers using the Fukushima data as evidence). Such data necessitate recognition that we have been exposed to nuclear pollutants from bomb and power fallout since the 1940’s. Failing to research the impact radiation has already had on our current disease environment makes it impossible to fully understand the compounding damage caused by additional radiological catastrophes like Fukushima.

In truth, we are no longer starting from zero man-made radiation exposure, so the concept of “overdiagnosis” is skirting irrelevance since a portion of our current disease burden already comes from exposure to anthropogenic radiation exposure. Given independent data and research (which we currently lack), one could tease out what part of thyroid cancers Fukushima radioiodine is responsible for. Teasing out the role older radioiodine exposures play in background thyroid cancer levels throughout the decades is more difficult. Commenting on the pediatric thyroid study, Dr. David Goldenberg, an ENT-otolaryngologist, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine advocates for investigating “whether changes in environmental factors or lifestyle changes are driving part of this increase”. He continues: “it is our role as physicians to protect our patients from complacency and undertreatment. Explaining away thyroid cancers as being subclinical or clinically insignificant is reminiscent of days past when we told our patients: ‘don’t worry, it’s good cancer.’”

Manipulation and concealment of Fukushima thyroid data masks the true impact of radioidine exposure. But it is also beginning to influence the way we study thyroid disease overall, having implications beyond study of Fukushima or Chernobyl. Steps to curb screenings and monitoring are pernicious because they enshrine the withholding of life-enhancing or life-saving treatment for victims of radiation exposure. Further, withholding data from independent researchers will disallow any effort to replicate study conclusions made by FMU and the thyroid committees. This is politics masquerading as authoritative and independent decision-making based on science; in reality, it has no true scientific support and is an attempt to bury the story of radiation’s impact on survivors of Fukushima.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – Chalk River Ontario

5 Unknown Nuclear Disasters: Chernobyl Is Far from the Only One, Chernobyl is not the world’s only nuclear disaster, there are plenty of others to keep you up at night., Interesting Engineering, By  

Chalk River Ontario, Canada Incident

On December 12, 1952, there was a power excursion and partial loss of coolant in the NRX reactor at the Chalk River nuclear laboratories. Because of mechanical problems, the control rods couldn’t be lowered into the core, and the fuel rods overheated, resulting in a meltdown of the core.

Just like at Chernobyl, hydrogen gas caused an explosion that blew off the multi-ton reactor vessel seal. Also like at Chernobyl, 4,500 tons of radioactive water was found in the basement of the Chalk River reactor building.  During the accident, 10,000 curies or 370 TBq of radioactive material was released into the atmosphere.

Future U.S. president Jimmy Carter, then a U.S. Navy officer, led a team of 13 U.S. Navy volunteers who helped in the cleanup of this disaster.

On the International Nuclear Event Scale, Chalk River is a 5, along with Goiânia, Three Mile Island, and Windscale.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Canada, incidents, Reference | Leave a comment

Everything they ever wanted to learn about nuclear weapons — limitless life

Everything they ever wanted to learn about nuclear weapons Dear Osamu, ICAN and Hiroshima Prefecture are proud to announce the launch of the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy. On July 31st,14 students and young professionals from all over the world began an intensive 8-day program in Hiroshima designed to teach them everything they need to know to become the […]

via Everything they ever wanted to learn about nuclear weapons — limitless life

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment