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Resuming Nuclear Testing a Slap in the Face to Survivors

Resuming Nuclear Testing a Slap in the Face to Survivors  HTTPS://ALLTHINGSNUCLEAR.ORG/GUEST-COMMENTARY/RESUMING-NUCLEAR-TESTING-A-SLAP-IN-THE-FACE-TO-SURVIVORS  LILLY ADAMS , UCS | MAY 26, 2020, The news that the Trump administration is considering resuming nuclear weapons testing is morally abhorrent. The current US moratorium on nuclear testing was put in place for many reasons, but we must not forget one crucial reason: In conducting explosive nuclear tests, the US government killed thousands of innocent people and sickened untold thousands more.

The very suggestion of resuming nuclear testing is shocking and a slap in the face to testing survivors who have spent decades watching their loved ones pass away—survivors like Sandra Walsh, of Salt Lake City, who grew up in Parowan in southern Utah, which received high levels of fallout from the Nevada Test Site.

“My family and I are Downwinders,” said Walsh. “I have had thyroid cancer and I have lost three of my children, three little girls, a mother should die before her children. My family, three sisters and my mom and dad all have had cancer. I have helped over 5000 downwinders get the help they need from the government. That is just a small amount of the people that have been affected by the bomb testing. My hope is that it will never happen again.”

Millions of Americans exposed to radioactive fallout

By treaty, the United States is barred from conducting above-ground nuclear tests, the type that created the mushroom clouds that regularly spread radiation across much of the country in the 1950s and 1960s. But underground testing has its own deadly risks, as well as  severe environmental and health consequences. In fact the second most fallout-intensive nuclear weapons test in the continental US was an underground test in Nevada, exposing millions of Americans to radioactive fallout as far away as Iowa and Illinois. Another test—one that was intended to be fully contained underground—accidentally released 80,000 curies of radioactive iodine-131 into the atmosphere.

In addition, any resumption of explosive testing could quickly lead other nuclear weapons states to resume testing as well, further accelerating the arms race that is already building around the world. The kind of nuclear posturing we are seeing today led to massive above-ground testing and resulting deaths during the Cold War. We should do everything possible to avoid heading down this path again.

To do this, we must understand the history and the consequences of testing. The United States conducted over 1,000 nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1992, and 216 of them were above ground. The US conducted far more tests than any other country, with Russia conducting just over 700 tests and China only 45.

The scope of death and illnesses that resulted from this testing is hard to quantify, but it was devastating no matter how you look at it. A 1997 study from National Cancer Institute, which only examined thyroid cancers that may have resulted from exposure to I-131 estimated that up to 75,000 cancers could be connected to the testing. That study did not look at other illnesses that might have resulted from exposure to additional radioactive contaminants.

Meanwhile, in 2008, Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, estimated deaths from nuclear testing at around 200,000. A recent study from the University of Arizona put the number higher, at 340,000 to 460,000 likely deaths. A study from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War estimated that ultimately, global cancer deaths from nuclear testing could reach 2.4 million.

Radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing spread across the United States, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Guam. In 1953, radiochemistry students in Troy, New York, 2,500 miles from the Nevada Test Site, measured radiation levels many times above normal, which were later connected to a nuclear weapons test in Nevada two days earlier. In the Marshall Islands, the US tested 67 nuclear weapons. The total explosive yield of those tests is equal to one Hiroshima-sized bomb detonated every single day for 20 years. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency admits that in the course of nuclear weapons testing, 550,000 military service members were exposed to radiation.

Seventy-five years after the first above-ground nuclear weapons test, the victims of nuclear weapons testing are in many cases still fighting for basic recognition of harm, as well as compensation for their often staggering health concerns. Downwinders of tests and uranium workers are fighting for equitable compensation through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which currently has gaping holes in coverage and is set to expire in 2022.

Nuclear test survivors still owed billions

Tona Henderson, head of Idaho Downwinders, which has been fighting since 2004 for compensation for downwinders in Idaho, stated:

“It is unbelievable that anyone would think it was alright to start nuclear testing again! The government has not even compensated the Downwinders from the first 100 tests. We don’t need to kill and maim our own citizens again. On Memorial weekend we honored our fallen soldiers. Downwinders have suffered losses through no fault of their own, yet there will be no parades or flag draped coffins for us. Would you do these tests if your children or grandchildren were in the fallout path?”

Largely because of the impact of nuclear testing, Marshallese people living in the United States were promised Medicaid under an agreement called the Compact of Free Association, but this was stripped from them in 1996. In addition, the US owes billions of dollars to the Marshall Islands for unpaid health and environmental claims due to testing.

Shamanda Hanerg, Lani Kramer, Desmond Doulatram with REACH-MI, a non-profit in the Marshall Islands focused on their nuclear legacy, shared the following statement in response to the news:

“With outstanding human rights claims, one should pay no surprise as to why the Marshall Islands has been aggressive in the international scene in climate change and nuclear disarmament.

Our grandparents and parents suffered tremendously from the horrific effects of the nuclear testing (by the U.S. Government) on our beautiful islands. That was 74 years ago. We haven’t returned to our home, our ancestral heritage, because our land is contaminated by the many toxins and poisons we can’t even pronounce. Some of our islands were vaporized instantly from the nuclear testing.

We suffered severe burns from being in the direct fallout of the bombs. We continue to have miscarriages, still births, birth defects, various cancers, genetic disorders, and many more illnesses.

The enormity of the devastation of damages done by the nuclear testing is unfathomable, unthinkable, and inhumane. The mass destruction of the bombs on our islands have left us nuclear nomads…emotionally, mentally, and physically scarred forever.

More than ever we need to be emboldened and united in our quest to fight for justice and nuclear disarmament. For the U.S. Government to even consider continuing with nuclear testing would be an injustice to the People of the Marshall Islands.”

As a country, we have so much work left to do to right the wrongs of nuclear testing. It is unconscionable that the Trump administration is now considering resuming testing while these people are still fighting for justice.



May 28, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Heavy problems in transporting dead nuclear reactor, especially in hot weather

Decommissioned nuclear reactor will be heavy load for Nevada roads, By Marvin Clemons Las Vegas Review-Journal May 26, 2020 The nuclear reactor vessel from Southern California’s decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has started to make its way toward Las Vegas by rail. At more than 1.5 million pounds, it will be the largest and heaviest object ever moved on a Nevada road.The vessel is bound for a burial ground in Utah but may sit in California for an undetermined period while experts at the Nevada Department of Transportation work to ensure that it won’t damage the state’s roads as it passes through.

When it does arrive, the 770-ton nuclear reactor vessel will be unloaded from the world’s largest rail car at Apex Industrial Park to be trucked north on eastern Nevada roads before eventually being buried at Clive, Utah, about 75 miles west of Salt Lake City.

But before that leg of the journey, Nevada needs to shore up some drainage structures along the undisclosed route to Wendover, Utah.

“We anticipate that the vessel will get shipped to Apex sometime in early June,” Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia said in an email Tuesday. “However, the drainage structures along the transport route through Southern Nevada need reinforcing in order to handle the load. The structures would get crushed like a soda can because the load is so heavy.”

The company hired to deliver the reactor to Utah is Emmert International, which is among the world’s biggest movers of heavy equipment. Workers plan to use heavy-duty hydraulic jacks to support the culverts when the vehicle hauling the reactor passes over, Illia said.

“It would be, by far, the biggest object ever moved on a road in the state,” he said. “Our people have been scratching their heads for months to figure out a route that could work.”………

Security will be making the trip as well.

Any asphalt or road surface could buckle under the 1.5 million-plus pounds of the reactor, plus a shipping skid that adds 7 tons to the total. Making such a shipment during warmer months is a bigger issue than it would be in colder  weather……..

May 28, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | 1 Comment

Nuclear deregulation threatens workers at Pennsylvania plants and nationwide

May 28, 2020 Posted by | health, safety, USA | Leave a comment

During pandemic, U.S. military runs the largest maritime war games in the world

COVID-19: US Military Pursues War Games Amid Contagion, Consortium News, May 26, 2020  A robust schedule of military maneuvers and exercises is either underway or planned for Europe and the Pacific this year, with more in store for 2021, Ann Wright reports.   During the pandemic the U.S. military is running the largest maritime military maneuvers in the world, with Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) coming to the waters off Hawaii Aug. 17-31, bringing 26 nations, 25,000 military personnel, up to 50 ships and submarines and hundreds of aircraft.Hawaii hasstringent measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving in the state; returning residents as well as visitors. This quarantine is required until at least June 30, 2020.

The U.S. Army is also pursuing a 6,000-person war game in Poland, June 5-19, with a Polish airborne operation and a U.S.-Polish division-size river crossing.

If these weren’t too many military operations during an epidemic in which personnel on 40 U.S. Navy ships have come down with the hyper-contagious virus and during which military personnel and their families have been told not to travel, plans are also underway  for a U.S. Army division-sized exercise in the Indo-Pacific region  in less than a year.  Known as Defender 2021, the U.S. Army has requested $364 million to conduct the war exercises throughout Asian and Pacific countries.

The pivot to the Pacific, begun under the Obama administration, and maintained by the Trump administration, is reflected in a U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) that sees the world as “a great power competition rather than counterterrorism and has formulated its strategy to confront China as a long-term, strategic competitor.”

Earlier in May, the U.S. Navy sent at least seven submarines, including all four Guam-based attack submarines, several Hawaii-based ships and the San Diego-based USS Alexandria to the western Pacific in what the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force announced as simultaneous “contingency response operations” for all of its forward-deployed subs. This was all in support of the Pentagon’s “free and open Indo-Pacific ” policy — aimed at countering China’s expansionism in the South China Sea — and as a show of force to counter ideas that the capabilities of U.S. Navy forces have been reduced by Covid-19…….

In May, 2020, the Australian government announced that a delayed six-month rotation of 2,500 U.S. Marines to a military base in Australia’s northern city of Darwin will go ahead based on strict adherence to Covid-19 measures including a 14-day quarantine. The Marines had been scheduled to arrive in April but their arrival was postponed in March because of the pandemic.

The remote Northern Territory, which had recorded just 30 Covid-19 cases, closed its borders to international and interstate visitors in March, and any arrivals must now undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days.  U.S. Marine deployments to Australia began in 2012 with 250 personnel and have grown to 2,500.    The Joint U.S. Defense facility Pine Gap— the U.S. Department of Defense, Five Eyes and CIA surveillance facility that pinpoints airstrikes around the world and targets nuclear weapons, among other military and intelligence tasks — was also adapting its policy and procedures to comply with Australian government COVID restrictions.

As the U.S. military expands its presence in Asia and the Pacific, one place it will NOT be returning to is Wuhan, China.  In October 2019, the Pentagon sent 17 teams with more than 280 athletes and other staff members to the Military World Games in Wuhan. Over 100 nations sent a total of 10,000 military personnel to the games in Wuhan last October.

The presence of a large U.S. military contingent in Wuhan just months before the outbreak of the Covid-19 in Wuhan in December 2019, fueled a theory by some Chinese officials that the U.S. military was somehow involved in the outbreak, which now has been used by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress and the media that the Chinese deliberately used the virus to infect the world and adding justification for the U.S. military build-up in the Pacific region.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel.   She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. She is co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

May 28, 2020 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The way that China plans its nuclear weapons strategy

May 28, 2020 Posted by | China | Leave a comment

Government-owned Chinese company wants to build Sizewell nuclear plant

May 28, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics, UK | Leave a comment