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Chernobyl disaster and the U.N. response – a global matter

‘Disasters know no borders’ says Guterres, 35 years on from Chernobyl nuclear accident, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1090602In his message for Chernobyl International Remembrance Day on Monday, the UN chief reminded that “disasters know no borders”. 

A 20-second shut down of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986, created a surge that led to a chemical explosion, which released nearly 520 dangerous radionuclides into the atmosphere. As a result, large parts of the former Soviet Union were contaminated; territory which now lies within the borders of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, according to the UN. 

Marking the 35th anniversary of the accident, Secretary-General António Guterres said that together, “we can work to prevent and contain [disasters]… support all those in need, and build a strong recovery”

Never forget 

As one of the most serious nuclear accidents in history, nearly 8.4 million people in the three countries were exposed to radiation, according to the UN. 

Some 350,000 were forced to leave their homes in severely contaminated areas, which left a deeply traumatic and lasting impact on their lives: “Their suffering must not be forgotten”, said the top UN official. 

He also pointed to the anniversary as an occasion to recognize the recovery efforts led by the three governments  as well as the work of “scientists who sifted through the evidence” to provide important analysis that has informed emergency planning and reduced risks. 

A legacy of assistance 

While the Organization had helped the people in the areas surrounding Chernobyl at the onset, four years after the accident the Soviet Government acknowledged the need for international assistance.  

That same year, 1990, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for “international cooperation to address and mitigate the consequences at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant”. This began the UN’s participation in the recovery effort. 

And in 2019, a new safety casing over the old shelter was completed and given to the Government of Ukraine. It was achieved with €2.2 billion in donations from over 45 nations.  

The UN said the milestone one of the largest ever seen projects in terms of international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety. 

Working for ‘the common good’ 

UN country teams – working with civil society, international partners and donors – first supported emergency and humanitarian aid, then recovery and finally social and economic development, Mr. Guterres noted, adding that “our joint efforts have enjoyed some success”. 

He cited that the number of small and medium-sized businesses operating in areas directly affected by the disaster has risen from 2,000 in 2002 to 37,000 today.  

And thousands of residents, community leaders and doctors have been trained on health risks and promoting healthy lifestyles. 

The Chernobyl disaster was contained by governments working with academics, civil society and others, “for the common good”, the UN chief said.  

“It holds important lessons for today’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”, he concluded.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, incidents | Leave a comment

Nuclear fallout from the Cold War might be killing our bees

Nuclear fallout from the Cold War might be killing our bees,  The Takeout, 26 Apr 21    It’s no secret that humankind has been a massive dick to bees, even though they’re responsible for the pollination and survival of 80% of the world’s plants and are directly linked to more than one third of the world’s food supply…………

we’ve been killing billions of them every year with pesticides, chemicals, and god knows what else. Over the past few decades, the world’s bee population has been decreasing thanks to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder;; fingers have been pointed at the aforementioned pesticides, malnutrition, starvation, and a whole slew of other things, but science still does not have a definitive answer as to what is killing the bees. Now, according to a study published last month in the scientific journal Nature Communicationsthere’s another potential culprit in the mix: Cesium-137.

What is Cesium-137, you ask? Well, it’s an isotope produced when radioactive elements like uranium and plutonium become bombarded by neutrons, which split apart their unstable atoms and releases an absolute ungodly amount of energy. In other words: it’s a radioactive byproduct of atomic bombs. Though the atomic bomb has only been used as a weapon twice, during the Cold War more than 2,000 were detonated in military technology tests around the world. Though most of these tests were conducted in New Mexico and Russia, lots of that sweet, radioactive cesium-137 got into the stratosphere where it was blown eastward, ended up in rain clouds, then came pouring down on the east coast of the U.S., where it was greedily sucked up by plants, which transformed it into nectar. Since nectar makes up 100% of bees’ food supply, they’ve been feasting on cesium-137 for decades and have been passing trace amounts into their honey. Of the 122 honey samples gathered from hives up and down the East Coast, cesium-137 was found in 68 of them.

Before you run frantically into the kitchen to grab all your honey and bury it deep underground, Jim Kaste, an associate professor at the College of William & Mary and one of the study’s co-authors, said in a statement that the levels of cesium-137 he’s found in honey are not high enough for humans to start freaking out about. Bees, however, should totally be freaking out, and they have every right to.

“What we see today is a small fraction of the radiation that was present during the 1960s and 1970s,” said Keste. “And we can’t say for sure if cesium-137 has anything to do with bee colony collapse or the decline of population.”   https://thetakeout.com/radioactive-honey-bees-cesium-137-atomic-bomb-colony-co-1846749211  

April 27, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear disaster: ‘Three-day evacuation lasted 35 years’.

BBC 26th April 2021, Chernobyl nuclear disaster: ‘Three-day evacuation lasted 35 years’.
Thirty-five years ago an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine released lethal radiation into the atmosphere. The nearest city, Pripyat, home to around 50,000 people, was evacuated along with other communities in a 4,000 sq km zone.

Lyudmila Honchar was four years old at the time and lived in Pripyat with her parents. We joined her as she
returned to try and find her family home, 35 years on.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-56864709–

April 27, 2021 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Ukraine | Leave a comment

No future for new nuclear

 ‘the claim that any nuclear reactor system can “burn” or “consume” nuclear waste is a misleading oversimplification. Reactors can actually use only a fraction of spent nuclear fuel as new fuel, and separating that fraction increases the risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.’ 

mini-PWR designs, like NuScale’s Small Modular Reactor. – the UCS is none too keen on SMRs, as witness its earlier report on them –it says ‘small isn’t always beautiful’. A more recent review of SMRs by Prof. M.V. Ravana, from the University of British Columbia, looking more at the economics, came to similar conclusions: ‘Pursuing SMRs will only worsen the problem of poor economics that has plagued nuclear power and make it harder for nuclear power to compete with renewable sources of electricity.’ 

No future for new nuclear— https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/04/no-future-for-new-nuclear.htmlAn arguably definitive study 25 Apr 21, of new advanced non-water cooled nuclear options, including molten salt reactors and liquid sodium cooled fast reactors, from the US Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that none can be ready for at least a decade, more like two, and there are none that meet safety, security, sustainability criteria, apart possibly from once-through breed and burn reactors. If we want nuclear it says it would more sensible just to upgrade the standard, more familiar, water cooled reactors.

It sets the scene by noting that, in the United States, so-called Light Water Reactors (PWRs and BWRs) have dominated, these using ordinary water to cool their hot, highly radioactive cores, as opposed to reactors like the Canadian CANDU that use ‘heavy water’, with a double neutron hydrogen isotope, as a moderator. Support for LWRs has continued, despite some economic problems, which have bedevilled expansion in the US and elsewhere: ‘new nuclear plants have proven prohibitively expensive and slow to build, discouraging private investment and contributing to public skepticism’. 

Continue reading

April 27, 2021 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children

IPPNW 26th April 2021, Dr Alex Rosen: Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children. In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout in many places. Some still live in irradiated regions where they are confronted with increased amounts of radiation every day: radioactive hot spots on the roadside, in rice fields or in sandboxes, contaminated fungi or algae, irradiated groundwater and recontamination from forest fires or floods.

One of the most dreaded long-term effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancers through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous, but it is the easiest to detect form of radiation-related cancer. On the one hand, the latency periods until the development of a cancerous ulcer are relatively short,only a few years; on the other hand, thyroid cancer in children is anextremely rare disease, so that even a slight increase can be statistically significant. In 2011, the pressure on the Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima was correspondingly great.

https://www.ippnw.de/atomenergie/gesundheit/artikel/de/schilddruesenkrebs-bei-fukushima-kind.html

April 27, 2021 Posted by | children, Japan | Leave a comment

The health effects of Chernobyl nuclear disaster as far away as Scotland

SCND 23rd April 2021. Ian Fairlie: April 26, 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the world’s largest nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Several days later, clouds containing the radioactive caesium-137 released by the reactor passed over Scotland about 1,400 miles or 2,500 kilometres away.

Although we got off lightly in comparison to nearer neighbors, rain brought radioactivity to the ground contaminating parts of southern and central Scotland. Understandings of the impact of radioactivity on human health are constantly being revised but scientists generally agree that any additional radiation over natural levels in the environment can have negative effects particularly on women and children. Even here, it is likely that some cancers will have been caused by Chernobyl.

https://www.banthebomb.org/index.php/news/2138-chernobyl-at-35

April 27, 2021 Posted by | health, UK | Leave a comment

France tested 41 nuclear weapons in the Pacific, and grossly underestimated the radioactive fallout

Science 11th March 2021, From 1966 to 1974, France blew up 41 nuclear weapons in above-ground tests
in French Polynesia, the collection of 118 islands and atolls that is part of France. The French government has long contended that the testing was done safely.

But a new analysis of hundreds of documents declassified in 2013 suggests the tests exposed 90% of the 125,000 people living in French Polynesia to radioactive fallout—roughly 10 times as many people as theFrench government has estimated.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/03/france-grossly-underestimated-radioactive-fallout-atom-bomb-tests-study-finds

April 27, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, radiation | Leave a comment

Be aware – Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) for space rockets has everything to do with the mkilitary, and funding for weapons makers

US Military Seeks Nuclear Space Flight Test by 2025, VOA 26 Apr 21,

The U.S. military has chosen three companies to develop nuclear thermal propulsion, or NTP systems to be tested in space by 2025. The goal is to test the space travel technology in cislunar space – the area between Earth and the moon.

What is NTP?  What is NTP?

The U.S. Department of Energy describes on its website how an NTP system works. It needs a radioactive material such as uranium and another element, such as hydrogen, in liquid form. The liquid propellant is pumped through a reactor core. This causes uranium atoms to break apart inside the core and release heat. The heat turns the propellant into gas, which expands through an opening to produce thrust.

The contracts to produce a flight demonstration of NTP technology were awarded by the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The winning contractors were General Atomics, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin. DARPA did not announce how much the contracts were worth.

In a recent announcement about the project, DARPA said the area of space, or “space domain,” will be very important to business, scientific discovery and national defense. Establishing “space domain awareness in cislunar space…will require a leap-ahead in propulsion technology,” the agency said……..

NTP and NASA

The U.S. space agency NASA has long been interested in nuclear propulsion systems to power its spacecraft of the future. But the technology has not yet been demonstrated…….. https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/us-military-seeks-nuclear-space-flight-test-by-2025/5864011.html

April 27, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran’s foreign minister criticises influence of Revolutionary Guards and speaks of nuclear deal in leaked audio

Iran’s foreign minister criticises influence of Revolutionary Guards and speaks of nuclear deal in leaked audio, ABC, 26 Apr 21, A leaked recording of Iran’s foreign minister offering a blunt appraisal of diplomacy, the limits of power within the Islamic Republic, and a key nuclear deal with the US has set off a firestorm within the country.

Key points:

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister is heard saying Russia wants the 2015 nuclear deal between the US and Iran to fail, despite publicly supporting it
  • Mr Zarif also criticised famed Iranian Guard General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the US
  • The leak could affect US-Iran talks in Vienna, aimed at renewing the nuclear deal

The release of the comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif drew ire from Iranian officials, who usually mind their words amid a cut-throat political environment that includes the powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, ultimately overseen by the country’s supreme leader.

Mr Zarif had been suggested as a possible candidate for Iran’s June 18 presidential election.

When the leak became public, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh did not dispute the tape’s authenticity…… ……….https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-27/iran-foreign-minister-leaked-recording-revolutionary-guards/100096938

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

Do the New Jersey nuclear power plants really need a handout?

N.J. nuclear plants may get $300M bailout renewed. If they do, you’ll keep footing the bill.
nj.com Apr 26, 2021By Amanda Hoover | NJ Advance Media For NJ.com,

The Board of Public Utilities will decide Tuesday if it will continue to award hundreds of millions in subsidies to PSE&G, the operator of New Jersey’s three nuclear power plants.

And if it does, you’ll see the money come out of your pocket — even if you’re not a PSE&G customer.

The question before the board is whether or not the power company needs the money as nuclear plants become increasingly less profitable. Critics and consumer advocates say the company should take the financial hit itself, but PSE&G insists the plants present a situation so dire it will be forced to shutter them without assistance.

This won’t be new money on your bill, but a continued rate hike. PSE&G first won about $300 million in annual subsidies in a controversial 2019 BPU decision. The subsidies are zero emissions credits, known as ZECs for short. They became available under a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018 to promote clean energy.

But things have changed, critics say. The coronavirus shutdowns have put many out of work and hampered local businesses. The extra charge tacked on to each bill means more to consumers.

And electric usage is likely up now as many people work and spend more time at home. With more people struggling financially, the estimated $41 a year per customer takes new significance. There’s already a moratorium on energy shutoffs through the end of June to help those who are struggling.

“These are profitable plants, we didn’t think they deserved this handout from the beginning,” said Stefanie Brand, director of the Rate Counsel, the body that advocates for utility customers. “We now have about a million households in this state that are struggling to pay their bills. Their plants may not be as profitable as PSE&G would like, they’re still — as far as we’re concerned — profitable.”

Because the companies are unregulated, much of the financial information is private. That leaves outsiders guessing how much the energy company really needs a handout. The plants include Salem 1 and 2 reactors owned by PSE&G and Exelon, as well as the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station owned solely by PSE&G. All are in Lower Alloways Creek in Salem County……..

Keeping the plants in place until 2050 also assumes they will function past their expected lifespan. That means costly repairs that will continue to threaten their profitability…….

PSE&G has spent millions in lobbying and threatened to shutter the plants or neglect repairs without the subsidies…….. https://www.nj.com/business/2021/04/nj-nuclear-plants-may-get-300m-bailout-renewed-if-they-do-youll-keep-footing-the-bill.html

April 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Soviet Documents Reveal Cover-Ups At Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Before 1986 Disaster

Soviet Documents Reveal Cover-Ups At Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Before 1986 Disaster https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/soviet-documents-reveal-cover-ups-at-chernobyl-nuclear-plant-before-1986-disaster-2422532 26 Apr 21, After a botched safety test in the fourth reactor of the plant, located in what was then Soviet Ukraine, clouds of radioactive material from Chernobyl spread across much of Europe in what remains the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

The Soviet Union knew the Chernobyl nuclear plant was dangerous and covered up emergencies there before the 1986 disaster, the Ukrainian authorities said as they released documents to mark the 35th anniversary of the accident on Monday.

After a botched safety test in the fourth reactor of the plant, located in what was then Soviet Ukraine, clouds of radioactive material from Chernobyl spread across much of Europe in what remains the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

The archives show there was a radiation release at the plant in 1982 that was covered up using what a KGB report at the time called measures “to prevent panic and provocative rumours”, Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said in a statement on Monday.

There were separate “emergencies” at the plant in 1984, it added.

“In 1983, the Moscow leadership received information that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was one of the most dangerous nuclear power plants in the USSR due to lack of safety equipment,” the SBU said.

When a French journalist collected water and soil samples from the Chernobyl area after the accident in 1987, the KGB swapped the samples for fake ones in a special operation, the SBU cited another KGB report as saying.

Thirty-one plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the 1986 disaster, mostly from acute radiation sickness.

Thousands more later succumbed to radiation-related illnesses such as cancer, although the total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate.

The present day government in Kyiv has highlighted the Soviet authorities’ bungled handling of the accident and attempts to cover up the disaster in the aftermath. The order to evacuate the area came only 36 hours after the accident.

“The 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy is a reminder of how state-sponsored disinformation, as propagated by the totalitarian Soviet regime, led to the greatest man-made disaster in human history,” the foreign ministry said.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | history, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Canadian government rejects Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, but majority of Canadians support it.


Government out of step with Canadians on nuclear weapons, Policy Options, 26 Apr 21,
Ottawa refuses to support a UN nuclear weapons ban treaty. Why is there such a disconnect between government policy and public preference? Policy Options, 

While most Canadians are aware of the massive destructive power of nuclear weapons, they are rarely asked their opinion about them. Earlier this month, a Nanos poll provided the responses of 1,000 Canadians to a set of nine questions on the theme of nuclear disarmament. The clear preference of 80 per cent of those surveyed was that the world should work to eliminate nuclear weapons.

This sentiment could be seen as merely an abstract aspirational goal, but the poll also addressed levels of support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force this January. Overall, 74 per cent of those polled expressed support for Canada adhering to this treaty. This support is at odds with the Canadian government’s current rejection of the TPNW, which it has argued is ineffective and contrary to NATO policies. Still, the polling numbers suggest the public is supportive of a nuclear weapons ban of some sort, regardless of the government’s concerns.

Popular support for the TPNW didn’t fade even when respondents were presented with a scenario of U.S. opposition to Canada embracing the treaty……… https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2021/government-out-of-step-with-canadians-on-nuclear-weapons/

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Subsidies for New Jersey’s nuclear power stations

What ratepayers will pay in subsidies for NJ’s nuclear power plants, nj spotlight, TOM JOHNSON, APRIL 26, 2021 PSEG pushing state regulators to move forward on a yearly subsidy of about $300 million. The state is poised once again to decide whether to subsidize New Jersey’s three remaining nuclear power plants, but unlike two years ago, the question is not so much about whether ratepayers should fund the program, but how much they should pay.

PSEG pushing state regulators to move forward on a yearly subsidy of about $300 million. The state is poised once again to decide whether to subsidize New Jersey’s three remaining nuclear power plants, but unlike two years ago, the question is not so much about whether ratepayers should fund the program, but how much they should pay.

Public Service Enterprise Group, the operator of the three plants in South Jersey, is urging state regulators to approve another yearly subsidy at the same level of roughly $300 million, awarded in April 2019. This time, however, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities can reduce the level of subsidy, an option not available previously to the annoyance of a couple of BPU commissioners, who nevertheless went along with approving the subsidy anyway………

How other states have dealt with nuclear subsidies

In Illinois, Exelon Generation has threatened to shutter two of its power plants. The governor of Illinois released an analysis earlier this month that recommends $350 million in ratepayer subsidies over five years be approved to keep them open.

Meanwhile in Ohio, nuclear plants were originally awarded ratepayer subsidies of $150 million annually, but they were repealed this spring. That happened after a scandal concerning the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and others over bribery allegations involving subsidies intended for FirstEnergy Solutions, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy, to be approved.

For some critics, all of that raises the question of how long states will have to subsidize these plants.

“This is a habit that won’t go away and only increase over time,’’ said Steven Goldenberg, an attorney for the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition, and a participant in the last two zero-emissions credits (ZEC) cases. As the nuclear plants age, the companies will keep asking ratepayers to fund huge capital investments, he said…….

Opponents of the subsidy dispute the company’s claims. The Division of Rate Counsel’s review of PSEG’s applications claims the company overstates its projected costs and underestimates projected revenues……..https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/04/what-ratepayers-will-pay-in-subsidies-for-njs-nuclear-power-plants/

April 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Ukraine opens new nuclear waste site

On 35th anniversary of Chornobyl disaster, Ukraine opens new nuclear waste site, 

Ukraine president vows to transform Chornobyl exclusion zone into a revival zone. Ukraine’s president on Monday unveiled a new nuclear waste repository at Chornobyl, the site of the world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster that unfolded exactly 35 years ago…….

Moving forward, the Ukrainian authorities announced they will use the deserted exclusion zone around the Chornobyl power plant to build a storage facility for Ukraine’s nuclear waste for the next 100 years.

The ex-Soviet nation currently has four nuclear power plants operating and has to transport its nuclear waste to Russia. The new repository will allow the government to save up to $200 million US a year…… https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/chornobyl-35th-anniversary-1.6002314

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

South Africa – Cabinet appoints critic as member of nuclear regulator board

Cabinet appoints critic as member of nuclear regulator board, IOL, By Mwangi Githahu    26 Apr 21, Cape Town – The government has responded to civil society demands for a public representative on the National Nuclear Regulator’s (NNR) board by appointing one of its most vocal critics, Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) spokesperson Peter Becker.

Spokesperson Phumla Williams said the Cabinet approval of the appointment of Becker and three others would be subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance……

Last year in response to concerns raised by the KAA, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and other groups, department spokesperson Thandiwe Maimane said Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had initiated a comprehensive consultative process with Nedlac and Sanco to identify suitable candidates.

Becker said: “The NNR board has been without a representative since August last year and while this announcement is welcome, it is long overdue……….. https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/cabinet-appoints-critic-as-member-of-nuclear-regulator-board-31357be2-1d75-406b-928a-79bf389c97ba

April 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment