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Particles from Fukushima meltdown contained plutonium

fukushima-nuclear-disaster-plutonium_1600Local residents who live around the 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant undergo a screening test for possible radiation at screening center on September 13, 2011 in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

 

August 6th, 2020 Posted by Stanford

Microscopic particles emitted during the Fukushima nuclear disaster contained plutonium, according to a new study.

The microscopic radioactive particles formed inside the Fukushima reactors when the melting nuclear fuel interacted with the reactor’s structural concrete.

Nearly ten years after meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a nuclear disaster, the new information about the extent and severity of the meltdown and the distribution patterns of the plutonium have broad implications for understanding the mobility of plutonium during a nuclear accident.

The study used an extraordinary array of analytical techniques in order to complete the description of the particles at the atomic-scale,” says coauthor Rod Ewing, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University.

The researchers found that, due to loss of containment in the reactors, the particles were released into the atmosphere and many were then deposited many miles from the reactor sites.

Studies have shown that the cesium-rich microparticles, or CsMPs, are highly radioactive and primarily composed of glass (with silica from concrete) and radio-cesium (a volatile fission product formed in the reactors). But the environmental impact and their distribution is still an active subject of research and debate. The new work offers a much-needed insight into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) meltdowns.

The study used an extraordinary array of analytical techniques in order to complete the description of the particles at the atomic-scale.

The researchers used a combination of advanced analytical techniques, including synchrotron-based micro-X-ray analysis, secondary ion mass spectrometry, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, to find and characterize the plutonium that was present in the CsMP samples. They initially discovered incredibly small uranium-dioxide inclusions, of less than 10 nanometers in diameter, inside the CsMPs; this indicated possible inclusion of nuclear fuel inside the particles.

Detailed analysis revealed, for the first-time, that plutonium-oxide concentrates were associated with the uranium, and that the isotopic composition of the uranium and plutonium matched that calculated for the FDNPP irradiated fuel inventory.

These results strongly suggest that the nano-scale heterogeneity that is common in normal nuclear fuels is still present in the fuel debris that remains inside the site’s damaged reactors,” says geochemist Satoshi Utsunomiya of Kyushu University, who led the team.

This is important information as it tells us about the extent [and] severity of the meltdown. Further, this is important information for the eventual decommissioning of the damaged reactors and the long-term management of their wastes.”

With regards to environmental impact, Utsunomiya says, “as we already know that the CsMPs were distributed over a wide region in Japan, small amounts of plutonium were likely dispersed in the same way.”

This is important information for the eventual decommissioning of the damaged reactors and the long-term management of their wastes.

The team “will continue to experiment with the CsMPs, in an effort to better understand their long-term behavior and environmental impact,” says Gareth T. W. Law, a coauthor on the paper from the University of Helsinki. It is now clear that CsMPs are an important vector of radioactive contamination from nuclear accidents.”

While the plutonium released from the damaged reactors is low compared to that of cesium; the investigation provides crucial information for studying the associated health impact,” says coauthor Bernd Grambow of Nantes/France.

Utsunomiya emphasizes that this is a great achievement of international collaboration. “It’s been almost ten years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima,” he says, “but research on Fukushima’s environmental impact and its decommissioning are a long way from being over.”

The paper appears in Science of the Total Environment.

Additional researchers from Kyushu University, University of Tsukuba, Tokyo Institute of Technology, National Institute of Polar Research, University of Helsinki, Paul Scherrer Institute, Diamond Light Source, and SUBATECH (IMT Atlantique, CNRS, University of Nantes) contributed to the work.

Source: Stanford University via Kyushu University

Original Study DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140539

https://www.futurity.org/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-plutonium-2417332-2/

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Billing Olympics as ‘pandemic recovery games’ unfeasible: ex-Fukushima mayor

jkjFormer Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai is seen talking to the Mainichi Shimbun in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 3, 2020

 

August 5, 2020

MINAMISOMA, Fukushima — Katsunobu Sakurai, former mayor of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, who was in office during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, firmly stated during a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun that it is unfeasible to dub the Tokyo Olympics a “sign of humanity’s triumph over the novel coronavirus,” as suggested by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Sakurai, who was born in the city of Minamisoma himself, served two terms as mayor for his hometown between 2010 and 2018. Sakurai was picked as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2011 following the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

The following is an excerpt of Sakurai’s remarks to the Mainichi Shimbun on July 3.

* * * * *

Following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of holding next year’s Olympics as a “sign of humanity’s triumph over the novel coronavirus.” Up until now, the prime minister may have thought that presenting the event with the title “disaster recovery” from the Great East Japan Earthquake would gather worldwide attention, but now he is trying to replace this slogan amid the global spread of the novel coronavirus. However, the concept of a “recovery Olympics,” let alone a “coronavirus Olympics” has no chance of success.

jllkmkFormer Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai is seen talking to the Mainichi Shimbun in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 3, 2020.

 

The torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was eventually canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, was just a performance put on for show. The relay was set to start at the J-Village national soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture, which was used as a base to handle the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (after the Great East Japan Earthquake). However, the relay route was limited to areas that have been tidied up, and did not show the real nature of the disaster-hit areas. “Recovery” means restoring an environment to a state where people can return. At the very least, if residents have returned and can once again live in a state similar to before the disaster, this may be called a recovery. But the government is trying to show how far the recovery has progressed, when in fact there is much left to be achieved.

There is also talk that flowers grown in the disaster-stricken areas will be used for victory bouquets awarded to Olympic medalists, but would this actually help boost the recovery overall? In Fukushima Prefecture, baseball and softball matches for the Olympic Games are to be held in the prefectural Azuma ballpark in the suburbs of the city of Fukushima, but this site has almost no connection to the coastal areas of the prefecture (that were damaged in the tsunami following the magnitude-9.0 temblor). It appears that it is nothing more than a performance (by the Japanese government).

No matter how much you tout the games as a sign of recovery, the overall picture of only Tokyo prospering while the recovery of the disaster-hit areas in the Tohoku region remains undone will not change. I’ve been to Tokyo many times, and saw that there were more crane trucks at the construction site of the athletes’ village than in the disaster-hit areas. It was obvious at a glance where the national government was placing its resources.

It’s not that I am disapproving of the Olympics itself. It is a festivity celebrating peace, and I am aware that Japan had been long active in its bid to host the games. However, it doesn’t make sense when you start calling it a “recovery Olympics.” The inconsistency becomes clear when labeling the games an event “contributing to the recovery of the disaster-hit areas.”

During the Japan’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics, Prime Minister Abe described the polluted water generated by the nuclear disaster as being “under control,” and then Tokyo Games bid committee chairman Tsunekazu Takeda called Tokyo “safe,” as it is 250 kilometers away from Fukushima. Don’t these very statements run counter to a “recovery Olympics”?

At the time, I was confronted by an elderly resident of my city who asked, “It’s a dangerous place here, isn’t it? Why don’t you let us live in Tokyo?” A “recovery Olympics” should by nature be something that residents of the disaster-stricken areas can feel good about holding, but the authorities’ perceptions are inconsistent with those in such areas.

If a “recovery Olympics” in the true sense of the term is to be held, it will by restoring the coastal regions of disaster-hit areas to a state capable of hosting the events, such as marathons.

During the 2019 Rugby World Cup, matches were held in the city of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, (an area also hit hard by the tsunami) as a way to underscore the recovery. This must have been a large source of emotional strength for local residents. However, Fukushima Prefecture still has zones that people cannot even enter. It just doesn’t seem like it is in any condition to hold the Olympics. I can only presume that the large impact of the nuclear disaster is still being underestimated.

The Japanese government has prepared for the Olympics while upholding the “disaster recovery” label, even though a recovery is far from reality. It is superficial to declare a recovery with no actual progress. The government is now talking of an Olympics that could be a sign of humanity’s triumph over the pandemic, but vaccines have not yet been put into practical use, and the world has not yet been freed from the risk of infection. There is no chance of success by trying to box in reality to meet the labels the government upholds. The idea of a “coronavirus Olympics” may also likely end as a mere fantasy.

(Original Japanese interview by Jun Kaneko, City News Department)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200805/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fallout over Fukushima fallout papers continues as two are retracted

August 4, 2020

A radiology journal has retracted two papers about the fallout from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan over concerns that the researchers used “ethically inappropriate data” from the people they studied.

The articles, which appeared in the Journal of Radiological Protection in 2017, were written by  Makoto Miyazaki, of the Department of Radiation Health Management at Fukushima Medical University, and Ryugo Hayano, a professor of physics emeritus at the University of Tokyo. As we reported, both papers were initially subject to expressions of concern last year.

The papers have been cited a total of 26 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

The retraction notice for “Individual external dose monitoring of all citizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5 to 51 months after the Fukushima NPP accident (series): 1. Comparison of individual dose with ambient dose rate monitored by aircraft surveys” reads:

Following the Expression of Concern issued on this article on 11 January 2019, IOP Publishing is now retracting this article. On 4 June 2020, IOP Publishing received confirmation from the authors of 2017 J. Radiol. Prot. 37 1 (the first in a series of two research articles) that ethically inappropriate data were used in the study reported in this article. This confirmation follows an investigation into the matter by Date City Citizen’s Exposure Data Provision Investigation Committee, which finds that some subjects within the study did not consent to their data being used for research, and it is unclear whether the unconsented data was provided to the author. IOP Publishing believes that the authors were unaware of the ethical problems with this data, which was supplied by a third party. The results of this investigation are available (in Japanese) at https://www.city.fukushima-date.lg.jp/soshiki/3/41833.html (IOP Publishing and the Society for Radiological Protection take no responsibility for the content at this link).

The readers are asked to note that, as part of the article submission process, the authors of the above referenced article confirmed that the research reported in the article adhered to the Ethical Policy of IOP Publishing and the Society for Radiological Protection.

As a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), this matter has been investigated by IOP Publishing in accordance with COPE guidelines and it was decided that the article should be retracted. The authors agree with this retraction and have fully complied with all investigations.

More details are expected to be forthcoming. However, in line with COPE guidelines, we are retracting this article promptly and will update this retraction notice with more information, as necessary and as it is released.

Based on the investigation report it has also been found that there is an error in table 1 of this article. The figure relating to glass badge holders in 2014 3Q is incorrect and should be close to N = 12 011. These data were also provided to the authors by the same third party and the authors were not aware of this mistake in advance of publication of the article.

The second paper, Individual external dose monitoring of all citizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5 to 51 months after the Fukushima NPP accident (series): II. Prediction of lifetime additional effective dose and evaluating the effect of decontamination on individual dose,” carries an identical notice (minus the error).

Miyazaki, the corresponding author of the papers, has not responded to a request for comment.

Fallout over Fukushima fallout papers continues as two are retracted

A pair of radiation exposure studies on the people of Date City have been retracted. Authors Hayano and Miyazaki retracted the 2017 papers this week after years of dispute.

By early 2019 this issue had become too big to ignore. Hayano and Miyazaki attempted to claim unintentional mistakes and later tried to blame the city. An investigation into scientific misconduct at the University of Tokyo went nowhere as the statues required intent. Both researchers continued to claim the data manipulation that took months worth of data and applied it over years, making radiation exposures look less severe, was merely a spreadsheet accident.

Some of Hayano’s other Fukushima related studies raised questions about the methodology and potential biases. A 2014 study used a whole body counter scanning machine in small children but used an unusually short scan duration that may have grossly under counted their radiation exposures.

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s plans for radioactive discharges violates principles of environmental protection and defies international maritime law

Aug.4,2020

The threat of a million tonnes of highly contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi being discharged into the Pacific Ocean includes the potential environmental and human impacts, but also how a decision by the Japanese government relates to international law. What we conclude is that such a decision poses a direct threat to the marine environment, including that of the jurisdictional waters of the Korean peninsula. As such, Japan would be in breach of its obligations as defined under international environmental law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that Korea government has rights to oppose the discharging in the legal perspective.

The discharge of radioactivity into the marine environment from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will inevitably increase exposure to marine species. The level of exposure depends on multiple variables. The concentrations are of direct relevance to those who may consume them, including marine species, ultimately, humans. The 1.2 million tons of highly contaminated water in nearly 1000 storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant currently has concentrations of radioactive tritium much higher than is permitted under Japanese regulation permissible for discharge into the ocean. Concerns are that the high relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of tritium’s beta radiation, its ability to bind with cell constituents to form organically-bound tritium (OBT) and its short-range beta particle, meaning it can damage DNA.

It is more important to remember that 800,000 tons of this water contains not only tritium but also contains other hazardous radioactive materials, including strontium-90, as a result of the failure of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) technology operating during the last 9 years. There are 30,000 megaBecquerels of strontium-90 in the storage now which is absorbed by the body in a similar manner to calcium where it increases the risk of developing leukemia cancer. To give some perspective on this amount of strontium-90, it is what an average Pressurized Water Reactor would discharge in its liquid waste every year if it were to operate for 120,000 years, more than half the number of years humans have inhabited the earth. Even more threatening is that these discharges are only a small fraction of the radioactive inventory of what remains at the site. Most strontium-90 still remains in the molten cores at the site, an amount 17.3 million times more than would be released under the Japanese government’s plans for the contaminated water. And there are many other radionuclides present in the contaminated water with even longer half lives – iodine-129 for example is 13 million years.

For South Korea, the impacts of this radiation exposure is of great importance to the fishing communities, the wider population and the Government. The toxic cocktail of radionuclides from Fukushima Daiichi will rapidly disperse through the strong coastal currents along Japan’s Pacific coast, and would enter the East Sea via the East China Sea, including the waters of the Korean peninsula. We know this as a result of sea water sampling following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

The South Korean government has rightly challenged the Japanese government over its plans for the Fukushima contaminated water, including at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO). In November 2019 at the IMO they were joined in their opposition by the People’s Republic of China. While the Japanese government is looking to make a decision later this year the actual discharges would not take place for several more years. It is vitally important that the Korean government continue its efforts to protect the marine environment and the health and livelihoods of its citizens, including fishing communities, by challenging in every way possible the plans of the Japanese government.

 

15965317898548_9815965315211388Shaun Burnie

 

In addition to the requirements under the IMO, Japan is required to comply with international law that prohibits significant transboundary environmental harm, both to the territory of other States and to areas beyond national jurisdiction. Before any discharge into the Pacific Ocean, Japan is required to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment under Article 206 of UNCLOS. International radio-protection principles require that a decision to increase radioactivity in the environment must be justified, and if there is a viable alternative – in this case long term storage – it cannot be justified.

 

There is a clear alternative to discharging over 1.2 million tons of highly contaminated into the environment. There never was a justification for further deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment from Fukushima Daiichi; and, in the interests of protection of that environment as well as public safety, as well a compliance with its international legal obligations, the only acceptable way forward for the Japanese government is to terminate its discharge plans, commit to long term storage and processing.

 

9515965315210751Duncan E. J. Currie

 

By  Duncan E. J. Currie and Shaun Burnie

Duncan Currie is a practicing international and environmental lawyer. He has practiced international law and environmental law for nearly thirty years, and over that time has advised NGOs, corporations and governments on a wide range of environmental issues including the law of the sea, nuclear and waste issues.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, with much of his time based in Japan. He has worked on nuclear issues in Asia, the former Soviet Union, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East for 35 years. He has worked against the operation of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi reactors since 1997.

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/english_editorials/956456.html

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan needs to halt its plan to dump contaminated water from Fukushima immediately

8215965299187326A TEPCO employee tells reporters about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in June 2017.

Aug.4,2020

With the world’s attention focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese government has been pushing forward with its preparations to dump contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. After first announcing an initial plan last March for discharging the water into the sea over a period of 30 years, the Shinzo Abe administration held five hearings between April and July, with a final decision on the dump reportedly likely to come within the month of October. The Abe administration has disregarded the concerns and opposition of local residents and the international community while pursuing a measure that will cause irreversible contamination to our oceans. It must stop immediately.

In a recent hearing, Fukushima residents and fishermen voiced strong opposition to dumping radioactive water into the ocean, a plan that they labeled “unacceptable.” The position of the Japanese government is that the storage tanks that have held contaminated rainwater and groundwater since the nuclear accident will run out of room in the summer of 2022, forcing an ocean dump. But civic groups have criticized the government for attempting to ram through its dumping plan as the cheapest option, even though more tanks could be safely installed after re-zoning large tracts of land around the Fukushima reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the reactor, argues that all radioactive matter but tritium has been removed from the contaminated water in the tanks through purification based on the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). TEPCO argues that the tritium that would be released along with the contaminated water is no worse than the tritium that’s already released into the ocean and atmosphere during the operation of nuclear reactors around the world. But the 1.2 million tons of contaminated water that TEPCO claims has been “processed” still contains between 100 and 20,000 times the permitted amount of cancer- and mutation-causing matter, according to international environmental group Greenpeace.

According to Greenpeace’s analysis, contaminated water from the reactor, once released into the ocean, would be carried by ocean currents to South Korea’s east coast within a year. Exposing the east coast to water contaminated with deadly radioactivity for 30 years would present a serious threat to the maritime ecosystem and to public health. The UN Human Rights Council released a statement in June expressing grave concern about reports indicating that the Japanese government is accelerating plans to dump radioactive water from Fukushima.

The Korean government has set up a task force under the Office of the Prime Minister to track the steps taken by the Japanese government, but it needs to ask for more information and work even harder to sound the alarm in the international community. As a neighbor, Korea has every right to raise the issue with the Japanese government. Seoul needs to press the issue, both in Tokyo and in other countries, for the sake of Koreans’ health and the future of East Asia.

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/english_editorials/956441.html

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now 

Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan …. Huawei. How confusing it is when “our” most reviled leader says so.

The target is China. Today, more than 400 American military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one US strategist told me, “the perfect noose”.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, tireless China-basher Peter Hartcher described those who spread Chinese influence in Australia as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows”. Hartcher, who favourably quotes the American demagogue Steve Bannon, likes to interpret the “dreams” of the current Chinese elite, to which he is apparently privy. These are inspired by yearnings for the “Mandate of Heaven” of 2,000 years ago. Ad nausea.

To combat this “mandate”, the Australian government of Scott Morrison has committed one of the most secure countries on earth, whose major trading partner is China, to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American missiles that can be fired at China.

Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now    https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/5856084/posts/416010
by JOHN PILGER   6 Aug 20, When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite.

I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then I walked down to the river where the survivors still lived in shanties.

I met a man called Yukio, whose chest was etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He described a huge flash over the city, “a bluish light, something like an electrical short”, after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. “I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead.”

Nine years later, I returned to look for him and he was dead from leukaemia.

“No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin” said The New York Times front page on 13 September, 1945, a classic of planted disinformation. “General Farrell,” reported William H. Lawrence, “denied categorically that [the atomic bomb] produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity.”

Only one reporter, Wilfred Burchett, an Australian, had braved the perilous journey to Hiroshima in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing, in defiance of the Allied occupation authorities, which controlled the “press pack”.

“I write this as a warning to the world,” reported Burchett in the London Daily Express  of September 5,1945. Sitting in the rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter, he described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague”.

For this, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared. His witness to the truth was never forgiven.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of America’s war propaganda in the 21st century, casting a new enemy, and target – China.

During the 75 years since Hiroshima, the most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and to save lives.

“Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war [against Japan] and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The National Archives in Washington contains documented Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US made clear the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Nothing was done.

The US Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US Air Force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. Stimson later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the [atomic] bomb”.

Stimson’s foreign policy colleagues — looking ahead to the post-war era they were then shaping “in our image”, as Cold War planner George Kennan famously put it — made clear they were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the [atomic] bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the atomic bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.”

The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Harry Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

The “experiment” continued long after the war was over. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years. Continue reading

August 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NuScam’s (sort of) small nuclear reactors rejected by Utah Taxpayers Association

Critics of planned nuclear power project urge Utah cities to pull out before it’s too late, Utah Taxpayers Association warns it believes proposal is too costly, not transparent   DeseretNews, By Amy Joi O’Donoghue@Amyjoi16  Aug 4, 2020   SALT LAKE CITY The Utah Taxpayers Association and a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are urging cities that have signed on to a planned nuclear power plant in Idaho to get out while they can before costs become too great.

NuScale’s Small Modular Reactor is planned for construction at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls and would provide 720 megawatts of power, or enough energy for 720,000 homes.

The Carbon Free Power Project is promoted as the next generation design for nuclear power, featuring 12 distinct modules, with the first scheduled to come online in 2029 with the 11 others following the next year.

The project is a collaborative effort involving the U.S. Department of Energy, NuScale and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a political subdivision of the state of Utah. ……

there are several off-ramps in those phases for cities to exit, one of which is coming up Sept. 14. That deadline prompted the taxpayers association to urge cities to get out now before they get trapped into paying millions for a technology it says is unproven.

“Small modular reactor power is just not cost competitive,” said Rusty Cannon, vice president of the taxpayer group, adding participating cities and districts should hold a public vote to withdraw from the project……..

Peter Bradford, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said enthusiasm over new developments in nuclear technology that turned out to be flawed have cost ratepayers and taxpayers in multiple states billions of dollars.

He said that of 31 projects pending before the commission in 2009, only two remain — with the rest canceled or indefinitely postponed.

“The stranded costs of nuclear plants paid off by customers in the 1990s exceeded $50 billion nationwide,” he said. “Each period of abject failure is followed by an array of new proposals.”…….

The project is backed heavily by the U.S. Department of Energy, which gave NuScale a competitive award of $226 million in 2013 to develop the technology. Two years later, the federal agency gave NuScale $16.7 million for licensing preparation……..

Cannon and Bradford also criticized the municipal power association for not being transparent enough because its briefing meetings are exempt from the Utah open meetings law and are closed………   https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/8/4/21354171/critics-nuclear-power-project-urge-utah-cities-pull-out-nuscale-small-modular-reactor-idaho

August 6, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Hiroshima survivor Koko Kondo met the man who dropped that atomic bomb

Hiroshima’s atomic bomb changed Koko Kondo’s life, but so did meeting the man who dropped it, ABC News,By Tracey Shelton, 6 August, 20,  Eight-month-old Koko was in her mother’s arms the day the world’s first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima, bringing their family home crashing down on them on this day 75 years ago.

Key points:

Between 90,000 and 166,000 victims died within months of the Hiroshima bombing
Koko Kondo met pilot Robert Lewis on the set of This is Your Life
More than 150 denshosha volunteers are carrying on the memories of survivors

She was almost 40 years old before her mother finally sat her down and told her the full story of how she had inched through the rubble in darkness, with little Koko wrapped in her arms, towards a small pocket of dusty sunlight.

“She first pushed me out [through the opening], then next, she was able to get out … but the fire was all over the place according to my mother,” said Koko Kondo, who is now 75.

Ms Kondo’s father — Methodist minister Kiyoshi Tanimoto, who was visiting a parishioner across town — said in a US television interview “the whole city was on fire” as he ran through the streets to find his family.

He described people running in silence with skin hanging from their bodies “like a procession of ghosts”

In the sky above, pilot Robert Lewis was part of the United States Air Force crew who dropped the atomic bomb known as Little Boy that day, unleashing around 13 kilotons of force on the city below, where Ms Kondo’s family and about 290,000 other civilians lived, according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.

Estimates on how many people died from the bomb either instantly or in the following months range between 90,000 and 166,000, but the Little Boy would go on to claim the lives of thousands more as the effects of radiation took their toll.

After looking back to see the once-flourishing city “disappear”, Captain Lewis wrote in his log book “My God, what have we done?”…….

While Ms Kondo said most people avoided speaking of the bombing in the decades that followed, her father made it his mission to help the injured, rebuild the city and ensure the world never forgot.

Her family had suffered from radiation sickness and Ms Kondo was subjected to years of tests and examinations to study the effects of radiation exposure.

One of Ms Kondo’s earliest memories — at around two or three years old — was of a group of teenage girls attending a sermon at her father’s church.

“Some girls could not close their eyes. Some girls — their lips were all melted with their chins so they could not close [their mouths],” she told the ABC.

While her manners did not permit her to ask questions, she would listen to her parents’ conversations and learned that the destruction and pain that surrounded her was caused by a single US B-29 bomber.

Ms Kondo said her childhood became consumed by hatred and thoughts of revenge.

“Someday when I grow up, I am definitely going to find the people who were on that B-29 bomber to do the revenge,” she said.

“That was my plan, that was my thinking. But life is interesting.”

When Koko was 10, her mother and siblings received a phone call from the then popular US television program This is Your Life.

They were immediately flown to the United States for an episode featuring the work of her father, who had taken a group of young survivors to the US for plastic surgery……

As Hiroshima mission pilot Robert Lewis was introduced, Koko glared at him with all the hatred a 10-year-old could muster.

“I was so shocked!” she recalled.

“What could I do? I wanted to run to the middle of the stage and give him a punch, a bite or a kick.”

But as he recalled his memories of that day, she saw tears begin to well in his eyes.

“I thought he was a monster, but monsters don’t have tears.”

Ms Kondo said she realised she had lived her short life full of hate for a man she knew nothing about……..

the life of this man was not easy, she said, and he “suffered greatly” not only with the weight of his involvement in the bombing, but he was also “harassed” for speaking about it publicly.at 75, she is among the youngest of a dwindling number of survivors who can tell the world first hand of the horrors these weapons unleashed……….

“My concern is today nuclear weapons are much, much stronger. We have to abolish them now,” urged Ms Kondo. ….

If these stories were lost, “probably our planet would be gone”, she said.

Doctoral candidate Tomoko Kubota is one of more than 150 denshosha — a designated keeper of the memories of a Hiroshima or Nagasaki survivor.

As a denshosha volunteer, she spent three years training and learning from survivor Sadae Kasaoka, so in the future she can “give testimony” on her behalf by sharing her “experiences, the reality of the atomic bombing, and desires for peace”.

That story includes how, at 12 years of age, Ms Kasaoka lost her mother and watched her father die — within days of the blast — in agony from horrific burns and wounds that became infested with maggots.

For other survivors, the memories were too painful to talk about, Ms Kasaoka said, while discrimination against those who did speak out had silenced many over the years…………. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-06/atomic-bomb-survivors-75-years-after-hiroshima-nuclear-attack/12501636

August 6, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia plans removal of its nuclear trash from Arctic waters

Russia to Remove Hazardous Nuclear Objects Dumped in Its Arctic Waters, 

The country’s nuclear energy company will over the next eight years lift two submarines and four reactor compartments from the bottom of the Barents and Kara Seas.  By The Barents Observer  5 Aug 20,   Russia’s state nuclear agency plans to remove several nuclear objects from the depths of Russia’s Arctic waters in an effort to reduce environmental hazards, Rosatom said this week as it presented a clean-up plan for the region.

Russia’s state nuclear agency plans to remove several nuclear objects from the depths of Russia’s Arctic waters in an effort to reduce environmental hazards, Rosatom said this week as it presented a clean-up plan for the region.

From the late 1960s to the late 1980s, about 18,000 radioactive objects were dumped into Russia’s remote northern waters. Most of them present little environmental risk. But some are increasingly seen as a hazard to Arctic ecosystems.

“Rosatom over the next eight years intends to lift from the bottom of Russia’s Arctic waters six objects that are most dangerous in terms of radioactive pollution,” the company’s spokesperson told the state-run TASS news agency.

The company plans to lift the reactors from the K-11, K-19 and K-140 submarines as well as spent nuclear fuel from the reactor that served the Lenin icebreaker.

In addition, two entire submarines will be lifted: the K-27 from the Kara Sea and K-159 from the Barents Sea. While the former was deliberately dumped by Soviet authorities in 1982, the latter sank during a towing operation in 2003.

The K-27 is located in 33-meter depths east of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. It has been described by experts as a potential radioactive “time bomb.” The K-159 is located in 200-meter depths off the coast of the Kola Peninsula.

These six objects represent more than 90% of radioactive sources dumped at sea, Rosatom said………

Lifting the six hazardous nuclear objects will not only be technically difficult, but also very expensive.

A recent report made for Rosatom and the European Commission estimated the costs of lifting these six objects at 278 million euros. That includes the cost of bringing them safely to a yard for decommissioning and long-term storage.

Lifting the K-159 alone is estimated to cost 57.5 million euros. Lifting the K-27 and transporting it to a shipyard for decommissioning and long-term storage in Saida Bay will carry a price tag of 47.7 million euros, the report said.

It’s unlikely that Russia’s increasingly cash-strapped treasury will have the 278 million euros needed for the cleanup.

Several countries have previously allocated billions to assist Russia’s post-Soviet efforts to cope with nuclear waste.

Norway has since the mid-90s granted about 1.5 billion kroner (140 million euros) to nuclear safety projects in the Russian part of the Barents region.  https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/08/05/russia-to-remove-hazardous-nuclear-objects-dumped-in-its-arctic-waters-a71060

August 6, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Untrue: claims that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War 2

Did the Atomic Bomb End the Pacific War?
The use of the atomic weapon must be seen as a continuation and a start: the nuclear continuation of the conventional terror bombing of Japanese civilians, and the start of a new “cold war.” Portside, August 2, 2020 Paul Ham

Many historians and most lay people still

believe the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Pacific War.

They claim with varying intensity that the Japanese regime surrendered unconditionally in response to the nuclear attack; that the bomb saved a million or more Amercian servicemen; that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen chiefly for their value as military targets; and that the use of the weapon was, according to a post-war propaganda campaign aimed at soothing American consciences, ‘our least abhorrent   choice’.

The trouble is, not one of these claims is true.

That such denial of the facts has been allowed to persist for 75 years, that so many people believe this ‘revisionist’ line – revisionist because it was concocted after the war as a post-facto justification for the bomb – demonstrates the power of a government-sponsored rewrite of history over the minds of academics, journalists, citizens and presidents.

The uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima, code-named ‘Little Boy’, landed on the city center, exploding above the main hospital and wiping out dozens of schools, killing 75,000 people, including tens of thousands of school children.

‘Fat Man’, the plutonium bomb used on Nagasaki, incinerated the largest Catholic community in Japan, obliterating the country’s biggest cathedral along with a residential district packed with schools and hospitals. Its missed its original target, the city center.

Zealous apologists for the bomb will have started picking holes: Hiroshima held troops? Yes, a few enfeebled battalions. Hiroshima had military factories? Most were on the outskirts of town, well clear of the bomb. Continue reading

August 6, 2020 Posted by | history, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Beirut explosion was not an atomic bomb

The Beirut explosion created a huge mushroom cloud and visible blast wave, but nuclear-weapons experts say it wasn’t an atomic bomb. Here’s why. Business Insider , DAVE MOSHER, AUG 5, 2020, 

  • An explosion at a port rocked the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least dozens of people.
  • As videos of the explosion spread across social-media sites, some observers likened the appearance of a mushroom cloud to that of an atomic bomb.
  • The Lebanese prime minister has said the blast came from a stockpile of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse.
  • Nuclear-weapons experts say the detonation was definitely not triggered by an atomic bomb.
  • Atomic explosions are characterised by a blinding flash of light, a pulse of searing heat, and radioactive fallout, none of which were detected………….   https://www.businessinsider.com.au/beirut-explosion-not-nuclear-bomb-despite-mushroom-cloud-no-flash-2020-8?r=US&IR=T

August 6, 2020 Posted by | incidents, MIDDLE EAST | Leave a comment

It’s not the energy salvation for the world – nuclear fusion

Nuclear Fusion Will Not Save Us, https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/08/nuclear-fusion-will-not-save-us/  Yessenia Funes, August 6, 2020  Last week, construction kicked off on the world’s largest experimental nuclear fusion reactor. It marked the start of a new era in the energy sector: The fossil fuel industry has historically dominated this arena, but renewable energy is quickly taking over. Now, nuclear scientists are hoping that the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, the experimental power plant under construction in southern France, can play a role alongside already-established technologies like solar and wind.

All the nuclear power plants that exist today rely on nuclear fission. ITER, however, will rely on nuclear fusion. The two are dramatically different, and scientists have struggled to recreate nuclear fusion — the process that makes stars shine — in a lab setting. ITER is the world’s first true attempt at this on a large scale.

“The difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion is the reason why we’ve developed a nuclear fission reactor in a matter of years, and still after more than six decades, we still don’t have a nuclear fusion reactor,” said Eugenio Schuster, a mechanical engineering and mechanics professor at Lehigh University who is working on ITER.

Around the world, 450 nuclear reactors were operating last year, all using nuclear fission, which involves splitting heavy atoms of elements such as uranium and plutonium. The process produces tons of highly radioactive waste, the ingredients to create nuclear weapons, potential instability that could lead to a destructive nuclear meltdown, and other concerning issues.

This process also requires uranium. In the U.S., the mining of this resource has contaminated the waters of the Navajo Nation and left countless individuals sick. President Donald Trump wants to see more uranium mining, and he doesn’t care where. The Grand Canyon? It can be mined. Bears Ears National Monument? That, too. Nuclear fission has proven destructive to both human health and the environment. There’s a reason many environmental advocates are highly opposed.

“We have a horrible legacy of uranium contamination in our communities,” said Carol Davis, the executive director of Diné C.A.R.E., an environmental organisation that supports the Navajo people. “Water was contaminated with uranium, and it’s never been cleaned, and people are using that and drinking that.”

Davis and other advocates worry nuclear power is just another false promise that creates radioactive waste while taking time and money away from developing renewable energy technologies. The United States alone has 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste with nowhere to go. Nuclear fusion doesn’t create the same level of long-lived radioactive waste as the more popular process of nuclear fission, but it isn’t waste-free, either.

The process begins with the breaking down of lighter atoms into a state of matter called plasma. It requires more than 150 million degrees Celsius of heat to get going, though. When you’re comparing it to fission, of course, fusion is better. It can’t cause the nuclear meltdowns that we’ve seen at other sites. It doesn’t need any uranium; all it needs is lithium and water. If greenhouse gas emissions are the concern, fusion doesn’t have any evidence of contributing there. But the process does still produce some waste, and advocates are worried that their communities will be forced to deal with that waste for the greater good.

“This whole notion of endless power with little to no waste, it just sounds too good to be true. We really need to examine what are the true costs and who are the people who will be impacted,” said Leona Morgan, a Diné activist and coordinator of the Nuclear Issues Study Group, a New Mexico-based volunteer organisation against nuclear power. “It seems like we should really learn from what we have already experienced with the loss of human rights and loss of water resources from contamination.”

If scientists want communities to fully embrace nuclear energy, they need to figure out what the hell to do with this toxic trash. In the U.S., decision-makers have historically dumped this stuff near tribal or low-income rural communities. History is bound to repeat itself if leaders don’t take proper action to prevent these injustices.

“The reason we’re investing in fusion is because the promise is big,” Schuster said. “We’re going to have the benefits of renewables in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but at the same time, we’re going to reduce the area we need to produce the same amount of energy while eliminating the risk of nuclear accidents and the generation of long-lived radioactive waste.”

That’s the thing, though. Intense attention on the climate crisis allows other ecological crises to happen alongside it. No one wants to see the world burn from rising temperatures, but disenfranchised communities don’t want to keep being sacrificed for the sake of human progress, either. Lithium extraction primarily happens in Argentina and Chile, where Indigenous advocates worry about the amount of water the mining requires, as well as the potential for contamination of their lands. Water is going to become even more valuable as we see droughts dry out lakes, rivers, and streams. Fusion simply doesn’t come without a cost.

“This whole notion of endless power with little to no waste, it just sounds too good to be true.”

Proponents of ITER note that the amount of lithium and water needed is minimal, especially compared to the extractive industries that exist today. The plant is expected to need only 550 pounds of fuel a year, half from the isotopes they need from water and half from the isotopes they need from lithium. Schuster notes that most of the water needed for this process would be returned to its source. That’s because researchers need only a specific molecule from the water. These materials won’t be the main issue with nuclear fusion, said Egemen Kolemen, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University who is also working on the plant.

“The real issue is going to be the nuclear safety issues,” Kolemen said. “Even though it doesn’t have this runaway type of [reaction], there is still going to be some sort of nuclear reactions… that are going to have low levels, but still some, nuclear waste of sorts.”

The construction of ITER certainly does mark a new chapter in the world’s energy sector. It marks a moment of technological breakthrough and scientific accomplishment, but it won’t save us by itself. No new energy source can. At the heart of the climate crisis is human behaviour. If we’re to survive it — and, more importantly, solve it — we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Reducing emissions will require more than finding the perfect clean energy source; it will need a massive shift in human behaviour, lowering our emissions through energy efficiency and less consumption.

Then again, emissions aren’t everything. If we’re lowering our carbon footprint without protecting the health of vulnerable communities, what good is it after all? A nuclear future needs a justice and equity lens if it’s to actually be successful. Otherwise, it’ll be another damaging industry. The world already has enough of those.  The construction of ITER certainly does mark a new chapter in the world’s energy sector. It marks a moment of technological breakthrough and scientific accomplishment, but it won’t save us by itself. No new energy source can. At the heart of the climate crisis is human behaviour. If we’re to survive it — and, more importantly, solve it — we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Reducing emissions will require more than finding the perfect clean energy source; it will need a massive shift in human behaviour, lowering our emissions through energy efficiency and less consumption.

Then again, emissions aren’t everything. If we’re lowering our carbon footprint without protecting the health of vulnerable communities, what good is it after all? A nuclear future needs a justice and equity lens if it’s to actually be successful. Otherwise, it’ll be another damaging industry. The world already has enough of those.

August 6, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Vatican signed up to the U.N. Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, provides moral guidance

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Vatican is providing moral guidance on nuclear weapons   The Conversation, Drew Christiansen,Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development, Georgetown University, Carole Sargent 

Carole Sargent is a Friend of The Conversation., Faculty Director, Office of Scholarly Publications, Georgetown University   August, 4, 2020 
Ahead  of the 75th anniversary year of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pope Francis visited both cities.

At a solemn event at the Hiroshima Peace Park in November 2019, Francis declared the use of atomic energy for war to be “a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home.” “How,” he asked, “can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?”

His comments came nearly 40 years after John Paul II became the first pope to visit the site of the atomic bomb attacks, which pulverized the two cities on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945 and killed in excess of 200,000 in the process.

Deterrence to abolition

During his visit, Francis reiterated what he previously told assembled Nobel Peace Prize laureates, diplomats and civil society representatives at a Vatican symposium in 2017, that nuclear weapons, along with chemical weapons and landmines, were impermissible. “The threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned,” he said…………

In 2017, the Holy See became one of the first signers of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Article 1 prohibits signers to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons…” This was the backdrop for Pope Francis’ historic condemnation of deterrence and call for disarmament later that fall. 

One hundred and twenty-two nations voted for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For its labors on behalf of the treaty, ICAN, the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, an umbrella group of civil society opponents of nuclear weapons, won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Beyond the hierarchy

But the guidance provided by the Catholic Church is not simply through official statements and positions from the top.

Across the church, various groups have long campaigned for abolition of nuclear weapons. Catholic nuns have often been at the forefront of this work. In Japan, several activist hibakusha – survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – are sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Society of the Helper of Holy Souls, among other congregations.

In the U.S., Sister Jennifer Kane was a nuclear engineer before realizing, in the words of her congregation in 2019, “that God was calling her to a more spiritual combat” as an antinuclear activist.

And Dominicans, Religious of the Sacred Heart, and Society of the Holy Child Jesus have participated in the grassroots anti-nuclear direct-action movement Plowshares, at times resulting in prison time for activist nuns……….

Courage of conscience

Church teaching demands that conscientious officials and nuclear workers resist orders they deem to be immoral.

The Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s taught that obeying orders is no excuse for participating in atrocities, and urged anyone, whether top military leader or rank-and-file citizen, to display “the courage of those who openly and fearlessly resist.”

Indeed, in 2018 two chiefs of the U.S. Strategic Air Command testified in a Senate hearing that they would not comply with illegal orders to deploy nuclear weapons, and that they would offer civilian authorities alternative courses of action to pursue. …….https://theconversation.com/75-years-after-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-the-vatican-is-providing-moral-guidance-on-nuclear-weapons-140615

August 6, 2020 Posted by | Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA could save millions of lives, by combating global heating

US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/510726-us-could-avoid-45m-early-deaths-by-fighting-climate-change-study    BY REBECCA BEITSCH – 08/05/20

The U.S. stands to avoid 4.5 million premature deaths if it works to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degree Celsius, according to new research from Duke University.

The same study found working to limit climate change could prevent about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits and approximately 300 million lost workdays in America.

“The avoided deaths are valued at more than $37 trillion. The avoided health care spending due to reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits exceeds $37 billion, and the increased labor productivity is valued at more than $75 billion,” Drew Shindell, a professor at Duke University, told lawmakers Wednesday.

On average, this amounts to over $700 billion per year in benefits to the U.S. from improved health and labor alone, far more than the cost of the energy transition.”

Shindell, who conducted the study alongside researchers at NASA, unveiled the findings during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the economic and health consequences of climate change.

The study aimed to show the benefits to the U.S. if the nation sticks with the goal of the Paris Climate Accord, which President Trump has formally moved to leave. The U.S. cannot officially exit the agreement until Nov. 4 — the day after the presidential election.

Shindell encouraged committee members to transition away from fossil fuels, a move that would help ease climate change while also spurring health benefits from reduced air pollution.

The benefits could be seen in the relatively short term.

“Roughly 1.4 million lives could be saved from improved air quality during the next 20 years. As we’ve seen with the coronavirus lockdowns in many places, air pollution responds immediately to emissions reductions,” he said.

“Our work shows that action now means benefits now.”

Democrats have introduced a number of bills to combat climate change, but they’ve failed to get much traction.

The House passed a $1.5 trillion green infrastructure package in July, but the Republican-led Senate isn’t expected to take it up.

Just one day earlier, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled its road map for solving the climate crisis.

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said lawmakers need to focus on tackling the problem despite the current coronavirus pandemic.

“Handling one crisis does not negate our responsibility to face another.”

August 6, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

The illusion that nuclear weapons are under control

 

Taking nuclear vulnerabilities seriously, The Hindu, M.V. Ramana,  Benoît Pelopidas, 5 Aug 20, 

All nuclear weapon states have admitted to the possibility that deterrence could fail

Seventy-five years ago, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was destroyed by one single atomic bomb. Three days later, a second bomb destroyed Nagasaki. Those two bombs killed over 2,00,000 people, some of them instantaneously, and others within five months. Another 2,00,000 people or more who survived the bombings of these two cities, most of them injured, have been called the hibakusha. Because of the long-lasting effects of radiation exposure as well as the mental trauma they underwent, the plight of these survivors has been difficult. As Akihiro Takahashi, a hibakusha, testified: “I’ve been living on dragging my body full of sickness and from time to time I question myself. I wonder if it is worth living in such hardship and pain.” But Takahashi and other hibakusha lived on and talked about their experiences in the hope that their plight would never befall       anyone…else

Damage and vulnerability

Over 1,26,000 nuclear weapons have been built since the beginning of the atomic age. Over 2,000 of them have been used in nuclear tests, above and below the ground, to demonstrate their explosive power, causing grave and long-lasting damage to the environment and public health. But this damage is nothing compared to what might happen if some of the existing weapons are used against civilian populations……..

To appreciate why we are vulnerable, we should start by realising that there is no realistic way to protect ourselves against nuclear weapons, whether they are used deliberately, inadvertently, or accidentally. The invention of ballistic missiles at the end of the 1950s, with their great speed of delivery, has made it impossible to intercept nuclear weapons once they are launched. Neither fallout shelters nor ballistic missile defence systems have succeeded in negating this vulnerability. Nuclear weapon states are targets of other nuclear weapon states, of course, but non-nuclear weapon states are vulnerable as well.

The problems of deterrence
……. Deterrence enthusiasts claim that nuclear weapons do not just protect countries against use of nuclear weapons by others, but even prevent war and promote stability. These claims do not hold up to evidence. Nuclear threats have not always produced fear and, in turn, fear has not always induced caution. To the contrary, nuclear threats in some cases have produced anger, and anger can trigger a drive to escalate, as was the case with Fidel Castro during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

…… Nor should nuclear deterrence be considered stable. Strategic planners routinely use worst-case assumptions about the intentions and capabilities of other countries to argue for the acquisition of greater destructive capabilities, driving endless upgrades of nuclear arsenals, and offering a rationale for new countries to acquire nuclear weapons……..

After years of having the top operational responsibility for all U.S. strategic nuclear forces, General Lee Butler, former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Strategic Command.  observed: “The goal — the wish, really — might be to prevent nuclear war, but the operational plan had to be to wage war.” It is thus an illusion to think that nuclear war is impossible.

The illusion of control

A related illusion concerns the controllability of nuclear weapons. In the real world, it is not possible for planners to have complete control. However, the desire to believe in the perfect controllability and safety of nuclear weapons creates overconfidence, which is dangerous. Overconfidence, as many scholars studying safety will testify, is more likely to lead to accidents and possibly to the use of nuclear weapons.

In several historical instances, what prevented the use of nuclear weapons was not control practices but either their failure or factors outside institutional control. The most famous of these cases is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. There are likely many more cases during which the world came close to nuclear war but because of the secrecy that surrounds nuclear weapons, we might never know.

If deterrence has not prevented nuclear war so far, what has? While a comprehensive answer to this question will necessarily involve diverse and contingent factors, one essential element in key episodes is just plain luck. This is, again, best illustrated by the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where nearly four decades of scholarship attest to the crucial role of luck. The consequences of bad luck, then or later, could make the COVID-19 pandemic seem benign by comparison.

While humanity has luckily survived 75 years without experiencing nuclear war, can one expect luck to last indefinitely?

Benoît Pelopidas is the founder of the Nuclear Knowledges program at the Center for International Studies, Sciences Po, Paris. M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia    https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/taking-nuclear-vulnerabilities-seriously/article32279584.ece

August 6, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment