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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Global mindless groupthink as UK and others swallow the illogical case for nuclear projects, whose sole real purpose is to sustain nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons.

After years’ long research, Phil Johnstone and Andy Stirling have produced a report    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24724718.2021.2012351 – it’s a seminal study of how tax-payers’ money goes secretly from ”beneficial” megaprojects to the nuclear weapons industry. In the UK, this means specifically- to nuclear submarines.

The money to the nuclear submarines cannot be measured, cannot be counted – it is so hidden in the world of energy projects, civil nuclear energy. But this explains why the governments persist doggedly with nuclear power projects that are clearly uneconomic, (and no use in combatting climate change – too late, even if they did work)

The sad and shocking thing about this – is the sort of groupthink that has pretty well everyone on the bandwagon – politicians, media, academia, business, education – and not just those who have been bribed by the nuclear industry. It’s a sort of groupthink treadmill, and they can’t seem to get off it, lest they look unpatriotic, or worse, – silly.

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

What is REALLY driving Britain’s seemingly illogical push for small nuclear reactors and nuclear megaprojects?

Beyond and beneath megaprojects: exploring submerged drivers of nuclear infrastructures, Taylor and francis Online, Phil Johnstone & Andy Stirling, Received 15 Mar 2021, Accepted 19 Oct 2021, Published online: 28 Apr 2022   

Bernard Levy of EDF said:

”we must continue to build nuclear power plants in France and in Europe – if I had to use one image to describe our situation, it would be that of a cyclist who, in order not to fall, must not stop pedalling.”

Ed. note. Sadly, I have mutilated this remarkable story – chopping so much out of it. The original is written at times in dense language, and with some sections that seem very technical.

I just feared that people might miss the huge significance of this story – the way that the nuclear weapons industry, in particular, nuclear submarines, is cunningly being developed and maintained -hidden through the confidence trick of the unnecessary ”commercial” nuclear power industry.

Abstract

Nuclear power has long offered an iconic context for addressing risk and controversy surrounding megaprojects – including trends towards cost overruns, management failures, governance challenges, and accountability breaches. Less attention has focused on reasons why countries continue new nuclear construction despite these well-documented problems.

Whilst other analysis tends to frame associated issues in terms of energy provision, this paper will explore how civil nuclear infrastructures subsist within wider ‘infrastructure ecologies’ – encompassing ostensibly discrete megaprojects across both civil and military nuclear sectors. Attending closely to the UK case, we show how understandings of megaprojects can move beyond bounded sectoral and time horizons to include infrastructure patterns and rhythms that transcend the usual academic and policy silos.

By illuminating strong military-related drivers modulating civil nuclear ‘infrastructure rhythms’ in the UK, key issues arise concerning bounded notions of a ‘megaproject’ in this context – for instance in how costs are calculated around what seems a far more deeply and broadly integrated ‘nuclear complex’. Major undeclared interdependencies between civilian and military nuclear activities raise significant implications for policymaking and wider democracy.

1. Introduction: nuclear megaprojects in a changing energy system

The global nuclear power industry is facing unprecedented challenges. Despite the clamour since the early 2000s, the long-promised UK and US ‘nuclear renaissance’ has not materialised in these or any other countries (Milne 2011). In the USA, only one new nuclear power station is being constructed – well behind schedule and over budget (Mycle 2020). At the time of writing, European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) construction faces delays of over ten years in Finland and France (Vakarelska 2020) – with significant delays also in the UK (World Nuclear News 2021). Between 2010-2020, global nuclear costs increased by 23% (Dunai and De Clercq 2019). Several major nuclear suppliers went bankrupt; or decided not to invest in the technology on grounds that it is not ‘economically rational’ (BBC News 2019).

why it is that nuclear enthusiasms remain so unabated in a few countries?……………………   In this paper we seek to build an understanding of the dynamics that give momentum to the UK’s persistent enthusiasm for nuclear technology.

……………………………    What emerges in practice from this unusual spanning of attention across infrastructure silos, are some novel empirical findings concerning previously under-researched interdependencies between nuclear energy and submarine-building megaprojects…………………….  In short, without a wider national ‘nuclear industrial base’ for maintaining and renewal of large scale nuclear energy infrastructures, it becomes effectively impossible to sustain national capacities to build and operate the nuclear-propelled submarines that lie at the heart of contemporary strategic military nuclear capabilities (Stirling and Johnstone 2018)………………  A clear picture emerges that something beyond energy policy commitments is driving UK nuclear enthusiasm.

………………………………This picture chimes with explicit high-level policy statements in France and the USA, where senior figures have recently begun to acknowledge very directly, how hitherto notionally separate civil and military sectors actually amount to a single complex…………………………………………..

2. Methods

……………………………….. Unlike other nuclear weapons states, UK military nuclear capabilities are entirely dependent on nuclear powered submarines (Ritchie 2012). The UK thus presents an ideal case for interrogating possible cross-sectoral interdependencies between these respectively largest forms of megaproject in the civil and military sectors. ……………….  at its core is the practical question: why is a country with such an internationally poor history of nuclear performance and such abundant alternatives, remaining so persistently committed to new nuclear construction?

………………………………This picture chimes with explicit high-level policy statements in France and the USA, where senior figures have recently begun to acknowledge very directly, how hitherto notionally separate civil and military sectors actually amount to a single complex…………………………………………..

2. Methods

……………………………….. Unlike other nuclear weapons states, UK military nuclear capabilities are entirely dependent on nuclear powered submarines (Ritchie 2012). The UK thus presents an ideal case for interrogating possible cross-sectoral interdependencies between these respectively largest forms of megaproject in the civil and military sectors. ……………….  at its core is the practical question: why is a country with such an internationally poor history of nuclear performance and such abundant alternatives, remaining so persistently committed to new nuclear construction?

………………………………   it is worth considering the ……… evidently deep and pervasive strategy of deliberate concealment on the part of the central actor in these policy dynamics: the UK Government………………….

3. Nuclear power in the UK: a history of disappointment

……………………………. The long history of internationally poor performance by the British nuclear industry (Birmingham Policy Comission 2012), is clear. …………………………… The British nuclear industry hit an especially low point at the turn of the 21st century, with the bankruptcy of British Energy and its subsequent bailing out by the tax payer in 2002 (Taylor 2016)………………………….  the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’ is performing arguably even worse than the 1979 programme…………..  The government’s aim to build several new reactors ‘significantly before 2025’ is simply not happening. This time there is no ‘public inquiry’ nor ‘public opposition’ to blame.

……………….the UK Government – as signalled by the recent Energy White Paper (HM Government 2020) – evidently remains desperate to construct new nuclear plant. In the absence of clear economic, technological, resource or policy rationales, there are big questions over what is driving this deep infrastructural entrenchment? Why does the UK remain so wedded to nuclear megaprojects?

4. Beyond energy megaprojects: civil-military nuclear interdependencies

4.1. Beyond energy policy: the UK ‘nuclear defence enterprise’ 

……………………………….   Relevant here, is that the UK’s leading independent scrutiny body, the National Audit Office (NAO) emphasised in a highly critical report on the Hinkley C project, that factors beyond the ‘energy trilemma’ were evidently influencing these decisions…………………….. With the Hinkley C deal seeing consumers paying higher energy bills for 35 years and transferring tens of billions of pounds from consumers to nuclear supply chains, the consumer rights organisation Citizens Advice Bureau likewise raised major questions over why the nuclear path is pursued at all (Hall 2017). The UK Government has yet to respond to these recommendations…………..  Sustaining extremely expensive military nuclear capabilities is one of the most cherished ambitions of successive British Governments.

Arguably itself comprising ballistic missile submarine, attack submarine and nuclear warhead renewal ‘megaprojects’, current renewal of UK nuclear military infrastructures may confidently be recognised as this nation’s largest megaproject. …………………………   The delays, mismanagement and cost overruns that are common in these submarine-building megaprojects are so severe as to jeopardise the entire national defence budget (Bond and Pfiefer 2019)…………………………………..

4.2. Interlinked civil and military nuclear pressures

……………………………….  this section will show that a crucial factor in driving these otherwise inexplicably persistent attachments are military pressures to sustain overlapping infrastructures, supply chains, skills, expertise and industrial capabilities around nuclear submarine propulsion.

…………………………..    detailed reports by the RAND Corporation highlighted the problem of sustaining the national ‘submarine industrial base’ at a time of civil nuclear contraction.

…………………………  Subsequent military policy documentation is replete with confirmations that civil nuclear power and naval nuclear propulsion are inseparably entangled …………  With declared submarine programme costs already on the edge of being insupportable, it was crucial to associated interests, that the bulk of this wider expense be covered by parallel commitment to new civil nuclear power.

With this civil nuclear megaproject more fundable in anticipation of decades of electricity revenues, the trickle-down to shared supply chains would allow associated costs to stay outside the defence budget, off the public books and entirely invisible to critical scrutiny.

………………………………   Permanent Secretary of the MoD confirmed the aim of ensuring that civil nuclear would benefit the nuclear submarine industry: ………….the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC), placed emphasis on ‘…increasing the opportunities for transferability between civil and defence industries’ (Nuclear Industry Council 2017, 37) with ‘greater alignment of the civil and defence sectors with increased proactive two-way transfer of people and knowledge’

…………..  maintaining and renewing UK military nuclear capabilities are underwritten by support for an otherwise untenable civil nuclear programme. This is directly conceded by the submarine nuclear reactor manufacturer, Rolls Royce who state clearly that support for notionally civil Small Modular Reactors will ‘…relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability.

…………..   Spending on new civil nuclear projects (at costs much higher than competing zero carbon options) channels funds into a combined civil/military nuclear supply chain that constitutes a de facto hidden subsidy for sustaining the UK’s submarine industrial base. 

5. From nuclear megaprojects to a nuclear infrastructure complex

5.1. The nuclear infrastructure complex beyond the UK

……………..   Around the world, it is the leading military powers who are generally and proportionally most committed to large scale new nuclear build. ……………..

The state-owned Russian company Rosatom is responsible for 76% of nuclear reactor exports (Astrasheuskaya 2021). So it is significant that this organisation openly declares that ‘[r]eliable provision of Russia’s defense capability is the main priority of the nuclear industry’ (Rosatom 2017). Another nuclear weapons state that is also vigorously pursuing a nuclear reactor export agenda, China, makes no attempt to conceal that leading firms involved are centrally positioned in the nations nuclear weapons programme (Hayunga 2020). 

…………………….  under-documented military motivations are responsible for more of the momentum in favour of civil nuclear power than is openly acknowledged. 

………………..    ‘without civilian nuclear, no military nuclear, without military nuclear, no civilian nuclear’ (French President Macron 2020).

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Bernard Levy of EDF said:

”we must continue to build nuclear power plants in France and in Europe – if I had to use one image to describe our situation, it would be that of a cyclist who, in order not to fall, must not stop pedalling.”

The same dynamics are even more clear in the USA. Here multiple high-level reports highlight that industrial capabilities necessary for a ‘nuclear navy’ are ‘tied to the fate of the commercial nuclear industryThe same dynamics are even more clear in the USA. Here multiple high-level reports highlight that industrial capabilities necessary for a ‘nuclear navy’ are ‘tied to the fate of the commercial nuclear industry……………………………..

5.2. The ‘drumbeats’ of the ‘nuclear infrastructure complex’

………………………………………  this distinctive terminology of the ‘drumbeat’ ….   oriiginated in this country ……….– around the intractable industrial challenges associated with constructing nuclear-powered submarines……………..  it seems to signal a policy intimacy that is otherwise effectively concealed. 

6. Discussion and conclusion

…………………………………… our findings – that nuclear military and energy policies (and so their associated megaprojects) are intimately entangled………………..

Interdependencies across civil and military nuclear megaprojects

Using extensive evidence from the UK, as well as France and the USA, we have highlighted tight industrial interdependencies between civil nuclear activities and political commitments and industrial capacities in the ostensibly disparate field of nuclear submarine propulsion……….

Economic and policy evaluation of megaprojects

……………. Hinkley Point C in particular has been identified as the most expensive power station on Earth, with leading insurers describing it as a ‘£25 billion waste of money’ (Cockburn 2021). The National Audit Office has pointed out that the subsidy from consumers to the nuclear industry over the next few decades will amount to tens of billions of pounds…………………….  nowhere either in UK energy or defence policy debates – let alone in wider political discourse – is there any focus whatsoever on the dynamic at the centre of these manifestly serious problems. ………  this absence of reasoned discussion constitutes a quite shocking failing in official processes, media institutions and academic disciplines alike.

Climate efficacy, policy rigour and democratic accountability

With the slow pace and high cost of power reactors undermining the stated climate policy rationale, it is clear that UK civil nuclear commitments are actually driven to a large extent by military nuclear interests that are almost entirely concealed in energy policy. …………………  The national industrial base is being steered away from the benefits of alternative (more export-viable and jobs-intensive) energy industries. Military-driven national lock-in to nuclear power also means excessive economic burdens are falling on taxpayers and – more regressively – on electricity consumers………. That such large scale political irreversibilities are unfolding with so little attention raises grave queries about the health of British democracy in the widest sense……………………   https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24724718.2021.2012351

May 5, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

Reducing Tensions, Building Trust, De-escalating

The public policy of readiness to initiate attack with nuclear weapons — not as a deterrent against being attacked with nuclear weapons, but its exact opposite — is at the heart of both U.S. and NATO “nuclear posture.”

CounterPunch, BY JOHN LAFORGE, 29 Apr 22,

The United States could immediately take direct actions that would de-escalate the over-arching nuclear threat that haunts Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. A few such actions would demonstrate good will and indicate a real intention to reduce tensions in the crisis which seems every day to grow more dangerous.

1. U.S. hydrogen bombs stationed in Europe could be withdrawn and their planned replacement cancelled.

The United States and Germany are formal states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Articles I and II of the NPT flatly prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons from one states party to another. Any fourth grader can understand that the NATO practice of “nuclear sharing” with Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Turkey — which together have over 100 U.S. nuclear weapons — is an open violation of the clear, unambiguous, unequivocal and binding prohibitions of the NPT.

The United States stations an estimated 20 of its B61-3 and B61-4 thermonuclear gravity bombs at the German Air Force Base Büchel, 80 miles southeast of Cologne. These B61 H-bombs at Büchel are identified as “intermediate-yield strategic and tactical thermonuclear” bombs, and “the primary thermonuclear gravity bomb in the U.S.” according to the NuclearWeaponArchive.org.

Calling these weapons “intermediate” or “tactical” is shocking disinformation. The maximum yield of the B61-3 is 170 kilotons, and the maximum B61-4 yield is 50 kilotons, as reported by the Bulletin of the atomic Scientists. These H-bombs respectively produce over 11 times and 3 times the explosive blast, mass fire, and radiation of the 15-kiloton Hiroshima bomb that killed 140,000 people. (For background, see Lynn Eden’s “Whole World on Fire,” or Howard Zinn’s “The Bomb.”

The effects of detonating B61-3 or B61-4 bombs would inevitably be catastrophic mass destruction involving disproportionate, indiscriminate and long-lasting devastation. Plans to replace the current B61 with a new “model 12” could be cancelled now, and constitute a real ratcheting down of tensions in Europe.

2. The U.S. can discontinue its nuclear attack courses underway at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The U.S. studies and plans nuclear weapon attacks at classrooms of its Defense Nuclear Weapons School (DNWS), and the one branch school outside the U.S. is at Ramstein in Germany, the largest U.S. military base outside the country, headquarters of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and NATO Allied Air Command. Outlines of nuclear attack coursework can be read on the DNWS website, which boldly declares the school: “is responsible for delivering, sustaining and supporting air-delivered nuclear weapon systems for our warfighters …every day.”

…………… Dispensing with this nuclear attack planning school would reduce tensions and help eliminate Russia’s dread of the U.S./NATO nuclear posture.

3. NATO can suspend its provocative military exercises.

Attacks with U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe are regularly simulated or “rehearsed,” as is often reported. Recent headlines noted: “German Air Force training for nuclear war as part of NATO” (Kazakh Telegraph Agency 2020), “Secret nuclear weapons exercise ‘Steadfast Noon” (German Armed Forces Journal 2019), “NATO nuclear weapons exercise unusually open” (2017), and “NATO nuclear weapons exercise Steadfast Noon in Büchel” (2015).

Giant NATO war games routinely zero in on Russia. In 2018, there was “Trident Juncture” with 50,000 troops in Norway, and “Atlantic Resolve” was conducted in Eastern Europe. In 2016, some 16,000 troops gathered in Norway for “Cold Response,” and in “Anaconda 2016” another 31,000 troops from 24 countries were again in motion across Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 2015, there was “Atlantic Resolve,” “Dragoon Ride,” and “Spring Storm,” all conducted across Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 2014, the routine “Cold Response” game in Norway involved 16,000 troops, and “Atlantic Resolve” took place in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

Beyond the annual “Steadfast Noon” simulations, complex, multinational NATO exercises in Eastern European countries just recently ballooned in number. In 2019, there was a single big exercise called “Atlantic Resolve.” In 2020 there were five. In 2021 the number leaped to eleven, and NATO that year made plans for a total of 95 exercises. Individual NATO states had plans for another 220 of their own war games. Nothing justifies Putin’s naked aggression, but the marked increase in NATO war practices would even make the Dali Lama defensive.

4. The U.S. and NATO could end their nuclear weapon “first-use” policy.

The public policy of readiness to initiate attack with nuclear weapons — not as a deterrent against being attacked with nuclear weapons, but its exact opposite — is at the heart of both U.S. and NATO “nuclear posture.” This perpetual threat to start nuclear attacks during a conventional conflict, especially in the context of routine NATO nuclear war exercises, is unnecessarily destabilizing and reckless. In view of the enormously overwhelming power of U.S. and NATO conventional military forces, the nuclear option is grossly redundant and militarily useless.

After he retired, Paul Nitze, a former Navy Secretary and personal advisor to President Ron Reagan, wrote “A Threat Mostly to Ourselves” where he observed: “In view of the fact that we can achieve our objectives with conventional weapons, there is no purpose to be gained through the use of our nuclear arsenal.”

Now that the U.S. public as a whole has been transformed into one big anti-war group, it should recognize that it can influence our own government but not Russia’s. Our demands for negotiation, cease-fire, de-escalation and a peace agreement need to be directed in a way that has some chance of success.  https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/04/29/reducing-tensions-building-trust-de-escalating/

May 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Russian Uranium NOT Sanctioned – Why?

Russian Uranium NOT Sanctioned – Why? Russia still ships uranium-filled
nuclear fuel rods to reactors around the world – no limits. If US has
sanctions against Russian oil, gas & coal, why do we not sanction their
uranium?

Why is the nuclear industry exempt? And who decided? Linda Pentz
Gunter founded Beyond Nuclear in 2007 and serves as its international
specialist, as well as its media and development director. Prior to her
work in anti-nuclear advocacy, she was a journalist for 20 years in print
and broadcast, working for USA Network, Reuters, The Times (UK) and other
US and international outlets. She brings a clarity and precision to all her
reporting, with specific insights into international angles on nuclear
issues. To find out more on one under-represented nuclear aspect of the
Russian war on Ukraine, I spoke with Linda Pentz Gunter on Thursday, April
2

1, 2022 Nuclear Hotseat 21st April 2022

May 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

Meltdown: Three Mile Island – powerful new Netflix documentary series

The partial meltdown at the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island in
Pennsylvania in 1979 was a perfect coalescing of factors in two senses.
First, a series of cascading mechanical and human errors brought the plant
close to a catastrophe that would have potentially made much of the East
Coast uninhabitable, we’re told in the new documentary “Meltdown: Three
Mile Island.”

Second, coming as it did both within memory of the height
of Cold War paranoia and days after the release of the film “The China
Syndrome,” the disaster was perfectly primed to set off anxieties about
the danger of atomic energy. “Meltdown: Three Mile Island,” a new
four-part documentary on Netflix, does an elegant job of braiding those two
truths — that Three Mile Island was a narrowly averted nightmare scenario
and that it lives on in the public imagination as an argument against
nuclear energy. It can default, especially in its early going, to tools of
the trade that feel underbaked — reenactments of, say, a phone ringing in
a school where children wait for news about the disaster, the camera
somewhat schlockily pushing in to amp up what’s already dramatic enough.

But the power of the story “Meltdown” tells, as well as the insight of
those on whom director Kief Davidson trains his camera, ultimately carries
the day.

 Variety 3rd May 2022

https://variety.com/2022/tv/reviews/meltdown-three-mile-island-netflix-1235256986/

May 5, 2022 Posted by | incidents, media, USA | Leave a comment

This black smoke rolling through the mulga’: almost 70 years on, it’s time to remember the British atomic tests at Emu Field, Australia

 https://theconversation.com/this-black-smoke-rolling-through-the-mulga-almost-70-years-on-its-time-to-remember-the-atomic-tests-at-emu-field-181061

The Convesation, Liz Tynan, Associate professor and co-ordinator of professional development GRS, James Cook University: May 4, 2022 

The name Emu Field does not have the same resonance as Maralinga in Australian history. It is usually a footnote to the much larger atomic test site in South Australia. However, the weapons testing that took place in October 1953 at Emu Field, part of SA’s Woomera Prohibited Area, was at least as damaging as what came three years later at Maralinga.

The Emu Field tests, known as Operation Totem, were an uncontrolled experiment on human populations unleashing a particularly mysterious and dangerous phenomenon – known as “black mist” – which is still being debated.

Operation Totem involved two “mushroom cloud” tests, held 12 days apart, which sought to compare the differences in performance between varying proportions of isotopes of plutonium. The tests were not safe, despite assurances given at the time.

Between 1952 and 1957, Britain used three Australian sites to test 12 “mushroom cloud” bombs: the uninhabited Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast and the two South Australian sites. (An associated program of tests of various weapons components and safety measures continued at Maralinga until 1963.)

The British government, with loyal but uncomprehending support from Australia under Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies, proceeded despite incomplete knowledge of atomic weapons effects or the sites’ meteorological and geographical conditions.

The British government, with loyal but uncomprehending support from Australia under Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies, proceeded despite incomplete knowledge of atomic weapons effects or the sites’ meteorological and geographical conditions.

The first British atomic test, Operation Hurricane, held in 1952, was a maritime test of a 25 kiloton atomic device detonated below the waterline in a ship anchored off part of the Monte Bello Islands.

Operation Totem was designed to test two much smaller devices – 9.1 and 7.1 kilotons respectively – by detonating them on steel towers in the desert.

At the time, Britain was in the process of commissioning a new reactor at Calder Hall in Cumbria (designed to make plutonium for both military and civilian uses) that would produce nuclear fuel containing more plutonium-240 than a previous reactor.

Totem was intended to test “austerity” weapons made from nuclear fuel eked out of this reactor. (Plutonium-240 can potentially make nuclear weapons unstable, in contrast to the fuel of choice for fission weapons, plutonium-239, which is more controllable.)

Totem was a “comparative” test. Its innermost technicalities are still kept secret by the British government.

A greasy black mist

The two tests at Emu Field were fired at 7am, on 15 October and 27 October.

The first test, Totem I, produced a mysterious, greasy “black mist” that rolled over Aboriginal communities around Wallatinna and Mintabie, 170 kilometres to the northeast of Emu Field. The black mist directly harmed Aṉangu people. Because no data was collected at the time, it is impossible to quantify precisely, however, the anecdotal evidence suggests death and sickness occured.

The British meteorologist, Ray Acaster, gave an account of the phenomenon, and its possible causes, in 2002:

The Black Mist was a process of mist or fog formation at or near the ground at various distances from the explosion point … Radioactive particles from the unusually high concentration in the explosion cloud falling into the mist or fog contributed to the condensation process … The radioactive particles in the mist or fog became moist and deposited as a black, sticky, and radioactive dust, particularly dangerous if taken into the body by ingestion or breathing.

The black mist was an horrific experience for all in its path. Survivors gathered at Wallatinna and Marla Bore in 1985 testified to the Royal Commission into the British Atomic Tests in Australia on its effect on individuals and communities.

Among those who testified was Lallie Lennon, who lived at Mintabie with her husband and children in 1953. After breakfast on 15 October they heard a deep rumble, followed by weird smoke that smelt of gunpowder and stuck to the trees. Lallie, her children and the others with her all got sick with diarrhoea, flu-like symptoms, rashes and sore eyes. Lallie’s skin problems were so severe, it looked like she had rolled in fire.

Another witness, the later tireless advocate for the survivors of the British atomic tests, Yami Lester, was a child at the time of Totem and lost his vision after the tests.

He recalled his experiences in testimony to the royal commission, and elsewhere. Interviewed by two London Observer journalists in a story republished in the Bulletin under the title “Forgotten victims of the ‘rolling black mist’”, he said:

I looked up south and saw this black smoke rolling through the mulga. It just came at us through the trees like a big, black mist. The old people started shouting ‘It’s a mamu’ (an evil spirit) … they dug holes in the sand dune and said ‘Get in here, you kids’. We got in and it rolled over and around us and went away.

Contaminated planes
The second test, Totem II, took place on October 27 in completely different meteorological conditions and did not produce a black mist. Its cloud rose quickly into the atmosphere and broke up soon after. However, radioactivity from both Totem I and Totem II travelled east across the continent, crossing the coast near Townsville.
Air force crews from both Britain and Australia flew into the atomic clouds. A British Canberra aircraft with three crew aboard entered the Totem I cloud just six minutes after detonation, far earlier than any of the other cloud sampling aircraft.

For a brief period the radioactivity to which they were exposed was off the scale. The aircraft was flown back to the UK, where it was found to carry extensive residual radioactive dust despite having been cleaned in Australia.

While air crew were exposed to contamination in flight, RAAF ground crew were worse affected, since they were largely unprotected and worked for hours on the contaminated planes. The risk to both air and ground crew was extensively examined by the Royal Commission.

One account by Group Captain David Colquhoun, head of RAAF operations at Emu Field, mentioned a gathering of crew in a hangar at Woomera, where a doctor ran a Geiger counter over those present.

As it reached the hip of one man, “the Geiger gave a very strong number of counts”. The young man then said he had a rag in his hip pocket he had used to wipe grease “off the union between the wing and the fuselage”. This rag was heavily contaminated.

Abrogating responsibility

After America’s McMahon Act of 1946 made it illegal for the US to work with other countries on atomic weaponry, a secret British Cabinet committee made the decision to conduct tests of a British bomb – but not on its own territory.

Britain explicitly abrogated all responsibility for those who lived near the Emu Fields site. Britain maintained through to the royal commission – and in years beyond – that it was not responsible for Aboriginal welfare in the face of atomic weapons tests.

The extent of the huge British atomic weapons testing program here is still largely unknown by Australians. The Australian government forced the British government to contribute to the cost of remediation of Maralinga in the mid-1990s, although Monte Bello and Emu Field were largely left untouched.

The story of Emu Field has been forgotten for nearly 70 years. Bringing it back into our national consciousness reminds us the costs of harmful political decisions are often not borne by the decision-makers but by the most powerless.

The author would like to thank Maralinga Tjarutja Council for allowing access to the Maralinga lands, including Emu Field.

The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia, by Elizabeth Tynan, has just been published by NewSouth

May 5, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ireland condemns Russian TV for showing simulated nuclear attack off Irish coast

 A Russian state TV report that simulated a nuclear attack launched off the
coast of County Donegal has caused consternation in Ireland. Dmitry
Kiselyov, a pro-Kremlin presenter on Channel One known as “Vladimir
Putin’s mouthpiece”, on Monday showed a video of an underwater missile
wreaking apocalypse on Ireland and the UK. Russia could “plunge Britain
into the depths of the sea” using an unmanned underwater vehicle called
Poseidon, he said. “The explosion of this thermonuclear torpedo by
Britain’s coastline will cause a gigantic tsunami wave up to 500 metres
high. Such a barrage alone also carries extreme doses of radiation. Having
passed over the British Isles, it will turn what might be left of them into
a radioactive desert.”

 Guardian 3rd May 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/03/ireland-condemns-russian-tv-for-nuclear-attack-simulation

May 5, 2022 Posted by | media, Russia | Leave a comment

Chernobyl radiation is not stable after Russian invasion

 Russian troop activity at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant since February
has led to an elevated risk of an accident or harmful radiation exposure.
Ukraine regained control of the site near Pripyat in March, but it still
presents a situation that is “not stable,” according to the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ atomic
watchdog.

Speaking at an event last month marking the 36th anniversary of
the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi
said the Russian occupation presented an abnormal situation for workers,
plus heightened radiation levels, which are still higher than normal,
although not at a level that is dangerous for one-time exposure; the
radiation level is concerning for continuous exposure, though.

 Popular Mechanics 3rd May 2022

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a39893836/chernobyl-radiation-not-stable-after-russian-invasion/

May 5, 2022 Posted by | environment, Ukraine | Leave a comment

A new propaganda film to jolly up the pro nuclear enthusiasts

‘Atomic Hope: Inside the Pro-Nuclear Movement’ Review: Uncritical Doc Empowers a Controversial Energy Solution

While intriguing, this Irish documentary’s boosterism doesn’t really provide a thorough argument for embracing the nuke.

Variety, by Dennis Harvey 4 May 22, ……………………….. in recent years, some voices have argued that nuclear power is in fact humanity’s best option to meet its energy requirements amid escalating environmental and resource crises.

It’s an intriguing if unpopular viewpoint that merits clear explanation and debate, things that “Atomic Hope” ultimately does not provide. 

Irish filmmaker Frankie Fenton’s second feature, following the much more intimately focused “It’s Not Yet Dark,” chooses to focus primarily on pro-nuke advocates and their uphill public campaigns — as opposed to the pro-nuke arguments themselves, which are never rigorously addressed. Nor are opponents heard from at all. The result is a slick globe-trotting documentary that holds attention, yet doesn’t really leave the viewer more enlightened on the subject at hand than they were before.

…………………………  Among those enthusiastic about nuclear being the safest, cleanest and most productive energy option going forward are leaders from disparate advocacy orgs Thorium Energy Alliance, Generation Atomic and Mothers for Nuclear.

……………..  A major figure in “Atomic Hope” is author and recurrent California political candidate Michael Shellenberger. He’s presented as a plucky, good-humored rebel for his more combative stances as an “ecomodernist,” notably raining on the parade of those championing “renewables,” i.e. wind and solar power. The film entirely sidesteps the controversy of his views among many environmental scientists and academics who’ve termed them misleading or inflammatory.

Indeed, even as it sprawls from San Francisco to Manila, “Atomic Hope” somehow eludes the harder questions that might have both challenged and ballasted the stances of proponents onscreen. We don’t doubt the genuineness of their concern or activism, but the full evidence isn’t here to win us over. While it finds some colorful personalities and situations to capture (notably some desperate ploys for public attention), the film errs in assuming activists themselves merit central focus when their cause itself remains so poorly understood.

At heart it’s a documentary for the converted, at a time when most viewers will still require converting. ………………….https://variety.com/2022/film/reviews/atomic-hope-inside-the-pro-nuclear-movement-review-1235257555/

May 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

$61 Million in refunds for customers in South Carolina’s V.C. Summer Nuclear Station debacle


$61 Million in Refunds for Customers in SC Nuclear Debacle  
https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2022-05-04/61-million-in-refunds-for-customers-in-sc-nuclear-debacle

A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power.

By Associated Press, May 4, 2022,   COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power.

About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia

Wednesday’s agreement will split the $61 million based on power use by residential, business and industrial customers during a decade of planning and construction for the nuclear station, media outlets reported.

The checks will be similar in amount to a first round of refunds made in the lawsuit in 2019, which was based on $60 million from Dominion Energy.

The nuclear project was run by South Carolina Electric & Gas. It was bought by Virginia-based Dominion in 2019 after the local utility ran out of money to finish the reactors two years earlier.

Four executives of the utility or the company that was building the reactors have been indicted or have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the failure.

One remaining question is how will the refunds be issued. The 2019 refunds were all checks, and more than 10% of the money went unclaimed as checks as small as 4 cents weren’t cashed or people who were supposed to get refunds couldn’t be found.

Lawyers suggested power bill credits for amounts under $50 and former South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal, who was put in charge of the settlement negotiations, said she would think about it.

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Why shoreline nuclear power plants pose problem for Great Lakes

 Carol Thompson, The Detroit News, 4 May 22, The dozens of nuclear power reactors situated along the Great Lakes shoreline have produced a sizeable amount of electricity for Canada’s Ontario province and the midwestern United States since they first came online in 1963.

But the reactors also will produce a sizeable problem for the region in the coming decades, as the majority of them are scheduled to shut down and be decommissioned without places to send their nuclear waste for permanent storage. ……….  (Subscribers only)  https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/environment/2022/05/04/why-shoreline-nuclear-power-plants-pose-problem-great-lakes/7445044001/?gnt-cfr=1

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Putin will soon have ‘no way back’ from nuclear war to show NATO that Russia is serious about ‘peace and harmony’, claims Kremlin TV propagandist


  • Propagandist Alexander Sladkov advocated dropping atomic bomb on Ukraine
  • He called for Putin to launch a strike in a ‘demonstrative way’ to intimidate NATO
  • Putin placed Russian nuclear forces on high alert shortly after invasion began
  • Russian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov warned on Tuesday that using nuclear weapons in Ukraine would signal ‘the end of humanity’

By WILL STEWART and CHRIS JEWERS FOR MAILONLINE and AFP

5 May 2022…………………….   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10781083/Putin-soon-no-way-nuclear-war-claims-Kremlin-TV-propagandist.html

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pope says NATO may have led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Francis says transatlantic military alliance was ‘barking’ at Russia’s door.  BY HANNAH ROBERTS Politico, May 3, 2022

ROME — Pope Francis said that NATO “barking” at Russia’s door may have led to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — and said he has offered to meet the Russian president in Moscow.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Francis reflected on Russia’s lethal aggression toward its neighbor and said while he might not go as far as saying NATO’s presence in nearby countries “provoked” Moscow, it “perhaps facilitated” the invasion.

Francis also condemned the “brutality” of the war and compared it to Rwanda’s civil war in the 1990s, which resulted in a genocide of the Tutsi minority.

The Holy See has been asking since mid-March for a meeting between Francis and Putin in Moscow, the pope said. “Of course we needed the leader of the Kremlin to allocate a window of time. We haven’t yet had any response, and we are still trying, even if I fear that Putin can’t and doesn’t want to have this meeting at this time.”

In the interview, Francis ruled out going to Kyiv for now: “First I have to go to Moscow, first I have to meet Putin.”……………. https://www.politico.eu/article/pope-francis-nato-cause-ukraine-invasion-russia/

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pope Francis reiterates complete opposition to the possession and use of nuclear weapons

Pope Francis: ‘Use and possession of nuclear weapons inconceivable’

In talks on Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Pope Francis says the use and possession of nuclear weapons is inconceivable.

Vatican News, By Linda Bordoni  4 May 22,   In a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister on Wednesday morning before the General Audience, Pope Francis reiterated his position of total opposition to the use and possession of nuclear armaments.

According to Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni, during their conversation that lasted about 25 minutes, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the Pope talked about nuclear weapons and about how their use and possession is inconceivable.

Long-standing opposition to nuclear arms

It is not the first time that Pope Francis has expressed this view……………………..   https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2022-05/pope-japan-prime-minister-nuclear-weapons-inconceivable.html

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea fires ballistic missile amid growing nuclear threat

By Thomas Maresca,  May 4 (UPI) — North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea off of its east coast Wednesday, the militaries of South Korea and Japan said, as concerns rise that a nuclear provocation is on the way.

The South Korean military said it detected the launch of a ballistic missile from the area of Pyongyang’s international airport on Wednesday at around noon. The missile traveled a distance of 292 miles and reached an altitude of 485 miles before splashing down in the sea between Korea and Japan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message sent to reporters………………..  https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2022/05/04/ballistic-missile-launch-nuclear-threat-South-Korea-Japan/1831651646781

May 5, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment