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

NATO Chief Voices Fear Of War With Russia While US Greenlights Drone Strikes On Russian Territory

Ukraine launched its most brazen attack into Russian territory yet, with drone strikes on bases which killed multiple Russian soldiers and damaged two nuclear-capable bombers. Not too long ago the US waging a proxy war that features direct attacks on Russia’s nuclear forces would have been an unthinkably terrifying prospect, yet that’s where we’re at now, and it only seems to be escalating.

The real issue is the danger of provoking a hot war between nuclear superpowers, which even the NATO Secretary-General is becoming increasingly nervous about.

Caitlin Johnstone 12 Dec 22

In what Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp describes as “a rare acknowledgment of the dangers of backing Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged a fear of something going “horribly wrong” and leading to a hot war between the nuclear-armed alliance and Russia.

In an article titled “‘I fear a full-blown war between the West and Russia’, Nato chief warns,” The Telegraph writes the following:

“I fear that the war in Ukraine will get out of control, and spread into a major war between Nato and Russia,” said Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, responding to a question about his greatest fears for the winter in an interview.

He told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Friday that he was confident such a scenario could be avoided but that the threat was there.

“If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong,” he added.

We got a taste of this horror once again last month in the long minutes following erroneous reports that Russia had launched missiles at NATO member Poland. The fact that cooler heads have prevailed up until this point does not mean that nuclear brinkmanship is safe, anymore than a game of Russian roulette not ending after the first couple of trigger pulls would mean that Russian roulette is safe to play.

So Stoltenberg is correct to be afraid. There absolutely are too many things that can go horribly wrong in such a standoff, and there are simply too many unpredictable moving parts for anyone to feel confident that this will not happen.

And it’s pretty crazy to hear Stoltenberg voice these concerns even while the Pentagon gives the go-ahead for Ukraine to begin launching long-range attacks on targets inside Russia in its war that is being backed by the United States, because those two positions would seem to be pretty strongly at odds with each other.

In an article titled “Pentagon gives Ukraine green light for drone strikes inside Russia,” The Times reports as follows:

The Pentagon has given a tacit endorsement of Ukraine’s long-range attacks on targets inside Russia after President Putin’s multiple missile strikes against Kyiv’s critical infrastructure.

Since daily assaults on civilians began in October, the Pentagon has revised its threat assessment of the war in Ukraine. Crucially, this includes new judgments about whether arms shipments to Kyiv might lead to a military confrontation between Russia and Nato.

This represents a significant development in the nine-month war between Ukraine and Russia, with Washington now likelier to supply Kyiv with longer-range weapons.

The Times quotes a “US defence source” as saying the following: “We’re not saying to Kyiv, ‘Don’t strike the Russians [in Russia or Crimea]’. We can’t tell them what to do. It’s up to them how they use their weapons. But when they use the weapons we have supplied, the only thing we insist on is that the Ukrainian military conform to the international laws of war and to the Geneva conventions.”

“They are the only limitations but that includes no targeting of Russian families and no assassinations. As far as we’re concerned, Ukraine has been in compliance,” the source says, which is a strange assertion given that US intelligence has reportedly concluded Ukraine was behind the assassination of the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin.

“Ukraine has been careful to use its own drones, not US-supplied weapons, to carry out the strikes,” The Times reports, while also noting that “Pentagon officials have made it clear that requests from Kyiv for longer-range US weapons, including rockets and fighter bombers which could be used for even more effective strikes inside Russia or occupied Crimea, are being seriously considered.”

This revelation comes days after Ukraine launched its most brazen attack into Russian territory yet, with drone strikes on bases which killed multiple Russian soldiers and damaged two nuclear-capable bombers. Not too long ago the US waging a proxy war that features direct attacks on Russia’s nuclear forces would have been an unthinkably terrifying prospect, yet that’s where we’re at now, and it only seems to be escalating.

Empire apologists will try to make this a conversation about whether Ukraine has a “right” to attack Russian territory, which is a red herring from the real issue at hand. Obviously Ukraine has a right to attack a nation that is attacking it; that’s not the point. The real issue is the danger of provoking a hot war between nuclear superpowers, which even the NATO Secretary-General is becoming increasingly nervous about.

The western power alliance continually ramping up aggressions to test how far it could provoke Russia is what led to this conflict in the first place. Now we’re at a point where there isn’t much space for Russia to back up before it’s against the ropes and potentially pressed to do something nobody wants. These people should not be talking about escalation, they should be talking about de-escalation. We need diplomacy, de-escalation and detente, and we need them yesterday.



December 12, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The ‘Demon Core,’ The 14-Pound Plutonium Sphere That Killed Two Scientists

By Kaleena Fraga | Checked By Erik Hawkins December 10, 2022

Physicists Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin both suffered agonizing deaths after making minor slips of the hand while working on the plutonium orb known as the “demon core” at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico.

To survivors of the nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the nuclear explosions seemed like hell on earth. And though a third plutonium core — meant for use if Japan didn’t surrender — was never dropped, it still managed to kill two scientists. The odd circumstances of their deaths led the core to be nicknamed “demon core.”

Retired to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski, demon core killed two scientists exactly nine months apart. Both were conducting similar experiments on the core, and both made eerily similar mistakes that proved fatal.

Before the experiments, scientists had called the core “Rufus.” After the deaths of their colleagues, the core was nicknamed “demon core.” So what exactly happened to the two scientists who died while handling it?

The Heart Of A Nuclear Bomb

In the waning days of World War II, the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan. One fell on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and one fell on Nagasaki on August 9. In case Japan didn’t surrender, the U.S. was prepared to drop a third bomb, powered by the plutonium core later called “demon core.”

The core was codenamed “Rufus.” It weighed almost 14 pounds and stretched about 3.5 inches in diameter. And when Japan announced its intention to surrender on August 15, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were allowed to keep the core for experiments.

As Atlas Obscura explains, the scientists wanted to test the limits of nuclear material. They knew that a nuclear bomb’s core went critical during a nuclear explosion, and wanted to better understand the limit between subcritical material and the much more dangerous radioactive critical state.

But such criticality experiments were dangerous — so dangerous that a physicist named Richard Feynman compared them to provoking a dangerous beast. He quipped in 1944 that the experiments were “like tickling the tail of a sleeping dragon.”

And like an angry dragon roused from slumber, demon core would soon kill two scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory when they got too close.

How Demon Core Killed Two Scientists

On Aug. 21, 1945, about a week after Japan expressed its intention to surrender, Los Alamos physicist Harry Daghlian conducted a criticality experiment on demon core that would cost him his life. According to Science Alert, he ignored safety protocols and entered the lab alone — accompanied only by a security guard — and got to work.

Daghlian’s experiment involved surrounding the demon core with bricks made of tungsten carbide, which created a sort of boomerang effect for the neutrons shed by the core itself. Daghlian brought the demon core right to the edge of supercriticality but as he tried to remove one of the bricks, he accidentally dropped it on the plutonium sphere. It went supercritical and blasted him with neutron radiation.

Daghlian died 25 days later. Before his death, the physicist suffered from a burnt and blistered hand, nausea, and pain. He eventually fell into a coma and passed away at the age of 24.

Exactly nine months later, on May 21, 1946, demon core struck again. This time, Canadian physicist Louis Slotin was conducting a similar experiment in which he lowered a beryllium dome over the core to push it toward supercriticality. To ensure that the dome never entirely covered the core, Slotin used a screwdriver to maintain a small opening though, Slotin had been warned about his method before.

But just like the tungsten carbide brick that had slipped out of Daghlian’s hand, Slotin’s screwdriver slipped out of his grip. The dome dropped and as the neutrons bounced back and forth, demon core went supercritical. Blue light and heat consumed Slotin and the seven other people in the lab.

“The blue flash was clearly visible in the room although it (the room) was well illuminated from the windows and possibly the overhead lights,” one of Slotin colleagues, Raemer Schreiber, recalled to the New Yorker. “The total duration of the flash could not have been more than a few tenths of a second. Slotin reacted very quickly in flipping the tamper piece off.”

Slotin may have reacted quickly, but he’d seen what happened to Daghlian. “Well,” he said, according to Schreiber, “that does it.”

Though the other people in the lab survived, Slotin had been doused with a fatal dose of radiation. The physicist’s hand turned blue and blistered, his white blood count plummeted, he suffered from nausea and abdominal pain, and internal radiation burns, and gradually become mentally confused. Nine days later, Slotin died at the age of 35.

Eerily, the core had killed both Daghlian and Slotin in similar ways. Both fatal incidences took place on a Tuesday, on the 21st of a month. Daghlian and Slotin even died in the same hospital room. Thus the core, previously codenamed “Rufus,” was nicknamed “demon core.”

What Happened To Demon Core?

Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin’s deaths would forever change how scientists interacted with radioactive material. “Hands-on” experiments like the physicists had conducted were promptly banned. From that point on, researchers would handle radioactive material from a distance with remote controls.

So what happened to demon core, the unused heart of the third atomic bomb?

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory had planned to send it to Bikini Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, where it would have been publicly detonated. But the core needed time to cool off after Slotin’s experiment, and when the third test at Bikini Atoll was canceled, plans for demon core changed.

After that, in the summer of 1946, the plutonium core was melted down to be used in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. Since the United States hasn’t, to date, dropped any more nuclear weapons, demon core remains unused.

But it retains a harrowing legacy. Not only was demon core meant to power a third nuclear weapon — a weapon destined to rain destruction and death on Japan — but it also killed two scientists who handled it in similar ways.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, radiation, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Are the bombs are back in town? US atomic weapons in Britain would make nuclear war more likely

Are the bombs are back in town? — Beyond Nuclear International

Is the US about to station nuclear weapons in Britain again or are they already here?

From Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND UK) h

Editor’s Note:  A mass demonstration organized by CND was held at Lakenheath, Suffolk, United Kingdom on November 19. “It’s extraordinary that a foreign power can place weapons of mass destruction on our soil with no oversight from our elected representatives,” said Sue Wright from Norwich CND (Norwich is 40 miles from the base). For more background, see our May 15, 2022 article by CND General Secretary, Kate Hudson, CND’s special page on the Lakenheath campaign, and this article by Hans Kristensen for Federation of American Scientists.

Beyond Nuclear, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Peace Action and Nuclear Resister, sent a joint statement of solidarity that was read out at the November 19 protest.

CND condemns any return of United States nuclear weapons to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. 110 nuclear bombs were stored at the airbase until they were removed in 2008 following persistent popular protest, and they must not be allowed back.

Response to war

Tensions are rising across Europe amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine. In response to the Russian invasion, reports are circulating that the US is preparing to store some of its nuclear weapons in the UK. This originated with the fact that the US Department of Defense has added the UK to a list of NATO nuclear weapons storage locations in Europe being upgraded under a multimillion-dollar infrastructure programme. The UK was not on the comparable list for the previous year, so this looks like a very recent decision.

Experts now believe the base in question is RAF Lakenheath, located just 100 km from London.

History repeats itself

While it is not yet known if nuclear weapons have already been returned to the base, or if NATO is in the process of preparing the base to be ready to receive them, this development marks a change in the nuclear status of RAF Lakenheath.

RAF Lakenheath hosted US nuclear weapons for more than five decades, first arriving in September 1954. CND arranged protests at the base alongside the Lakenheath Action Group, including days of action where hundreds of people descended on the base. Direct action activists broke into the base and locked on to the gates of the ammunition depot, preventing access for hours. 

Messages of support were shared between campaigners at other US bases in Europe, and from Faslane, where Britain’s nuclear weapons are stationed. Plays were presented outside the base, and letters handed in to the Commander.

Following years of protesting, the nuclear weapons were eventually removed in 2008, but not before nuclear accidents endangered the safety of the local community.

Nuclear accidents

At least two major incidents involving nuclear weapons are known to have occurred at RAF Lakenheath.

In 1956 a B-47 bomber on a routine training mission crashed into a storage unit containing nuclear weapons, killing four servicemen. Official US documents declared it was a ‘miracle’ that none of the bombs detonated, and that ‘it is possible that a part of Eastern England would have become a desert’. Five years later, an airplane loaded with a nuclear bomb caught fire following pilot error. 

The bomb was ‘scorched and blistered’, and scientists later discovered it could have detonated in slightly different circumstances.

Both incidents were covered up by the US and British governments, only being admitted in 1979 and 2003 respectively.


By the time of the weapons’ removal in 2008, the Lakenheath site had 33 underground storage vaults and stored around 110 B-61 gravity bombs that could be dropped from F-15E warplanes based there.

Lakenheath received the latest nuclear-capable fighter – the F-35A – in 2021 and a total of 24 F-35As are expected to be based there eventually. Training with the latest B61-12 guided nuclear bomb will commence within the year.

Despite being called an RAF station, Lakenheath is run by the United States Air Force (USAF) and currently only hosts USAF units and personnel, leading many campaigners to describe it as USAF Lakenheath. The host wing is the 48th Fighter Wing (48 FW), also known as the Liberty Wing, assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA). The wing operates the F-15C/D Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle and F-35A Lightning II. With around 6,000 personnel on the base, it is the largest deployment of USAF personnel in Britain.

US nuclear weapons based here would make the UK once again a forward nuclear base for the US. Approximately 150 American B-61 nuclear gravity bombs are already currently stationed in five countries in Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey.

The nuclear sharing arrangement is part of NATO defence policy. In peace time, the nuclear weapons stored in non-nuclear countries are guarded by US forces, with a dual code system activated in a time of war. Both host country and the US would then need to approve the use of the weapons, which would be launched on the former’s airplanes.

There is strong opposition to these weapons being sited in Europe, including from some of the host nation governments. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have all, unsuccessfully, called for the removal of US nuclear weapons from their countries.

Dangerous and destabilising

Should the UK be hosting or preparing to host US nuclear weapons, this would constitute a further undermining of our safety, and prospects for global peace. The US is the only country to locate its nuclear weapons outside its own borders and this major increase in NATO’s capacity to wage nuclear war in Europe is dangerously destabilising. Their return will increase global tensions and put Britain on the front line in a NATO/Russia war.


The big question is whether the nuclear bombs have already been returned to Britain, or if their delivery is still in preparation. Either way this is a huge challenge for the peace movement and CND will do everything we can to prevent these weapons being sited here. Millions mobilised across Europe against the imposition of cruise and Pershing missiles in the 1980s. We got rid of all those weapons then, and we have to have the energy, the commitment and the confidence to do that again.

The US should scrap plans to base nuclear weapons in the UK, and withdraw all their other nuclear weapons from Europe at the same time. A withdrawal of all US/NATO nuclear weapons from Europe would help reduce tensions at this very dangerous time, and would ultimately help advance international disarmament.

For more information, visit the CND website

December 12, 2022 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Past time for action — France should clean up atomic mess in Algeria

Past time for action — Beyond Nuclear International Algerian victims of French atomic tests should be recognized and compensated
By Jean-Marie Collin, Patrice Bouveret and Merzak Remki
Editor’s note: This article (originally in French) was written before the October 9-10 meeting described below, but unfortunately there were no new developments made there. The article explores what needs to happen to deliver restitution and justice to the Algerian victims of French atomic tests.

Last August 27, Presidents Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Emmanuel Macron renewed the partnership between Algeria and France to “embark on a future in the spirit of appeasement and mutual respect.” With the holding of the High Level Intergovernmental Committee in Algiers on October 9 and 10, this intention should translate into new commitments which will reunite the governments of the two states. 

Not having been discussed during the meeting of the two presidents, this new encounter must mark a decisive turning point for resolving the issue of the consequences of the nuclear tests that France carried out in Algeria and which still impact the local population today.

Between 1960 and 1966, France carried out a total of 17 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests in the south of Algeria, at Reggane and In Ekker.

Among the 13 underground tests conducted at In-Ekker, two of them (Béryl and Améthyste) resulted in a very large release of rocks and lava from the mountain, which has left the area highly contaminated. In addition to the nuclear tests, there were also approximately 40 explosions conducted at Reggane (Adrar) and at Tan Ataram (Tamanrasset), using small quantities of plutonium, but which did not release nuclear energy (these were subcritical tests).

It is clear that the health and environmental conditions in these areas remain a cause for great concern still today.

As the result of major mobilization, France has, with the law of January 5, 2010, accepted that, in recognizing and compensating the victims of the nuclear tests that these tests, both in Algeria and then in Polynesia, were not “clean”. It has even been admitted that the people present during these tests in South Algeria (civilians, workers, members of the military, scientists) have been affected by radiation-induced illnesses. 

The French law requires the applicant seeking compensation to meet very difficult criteria in order to have their status as a victim recognized. Most notably, the person must demonstrate that they were in the geographical area of the test fallout, at the time the tests took place, and must suffer from one of the 23 diseases listed in the decree.

Unfortunately, since 2010, only one single Algerian national has been compensated out of 723 people recognized as victims by the Committee for Compensation of the Victims of Nuclear Tests. The situation points to a serious problem. Moreover, this law has never been translated into Arabic (even though it has been available since 2019 in Polynesian), thus restricting its access to a large population.

Furthermore, we know that present generations — and future ones if no remediation measures are put in place — continue to be impacted by the consequences of these tests. In effect, after numerous testimonials and much research (notably the study by ICAN France and l’Observatoire des armements — “Radioactivity under the sand! The French nuclear tests in Algeria: an analysis regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, published in 2020 by the Heinrich Böll Foundation), it is recognized that France knowingly buried various wastes contaminated with radioactivity at the test sites. 

To these wastes must be added radioactive materials (vitrified sand, contaminated rocks and lava), resulting from the atmospheric nuclear explosions that took place on the site of the “Gerboise” shots and on a large area on the side of the Taourirt Tan Afella mountain at In Ekker.

Algeria, for its part, has taken another step in the process of taking charge of this issue at the national level, in creating, on May 31, 2021, the National Agency for the Remediation of former French Testing and Nuclear Explosion Sites in southern Algeria.

But if the two states have been well aware of the existence of this “radioactive heritage” for a number of years, we note, unfortunately, an absence of tangible progress in advancing this important case. The time has come to act quickly, in full cooperation and without taboo, just as Presidents Tebboune and Macron underlined.

Will the fifth session of the High-Level Intergovernmental Committee (HLIC), which is to take place October 9 and 10, be the occasion on which concrete announcements will be made?

In effect, this committee, launched in 2013, has, from the beginning, included a section related to nuclear tests, but the pace it notably slow. The first meeting of the mixed working group on compensation for the Algerian victims of French nuclear tests, on February 3, 2016, came up only with the prospect of “establishing a focused dialogue as soon as possible.”

During the HLIC, a plan of action should be drawn up, made public, and, most importantly for France, must include easy access to the Morin law* for Algerians, and the handing over to the Algerian authorities of all the archives on the consequences of the tests and on the wastes buried on site.

Algeria can realize its desire to act by establishing a cancer registry for the inhabitants of southern Algeria through its ministry of health and by launching an official study on cleanup of the radioactive zones via its remediation agency.

It is left to Algeria, one of the first countries to have signed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to begin the process of ratifying it. That would allow it to get international cooperation for environmental cleanup of the contaminated areas.

Algeria can realize its desire to act by establishing a cancer registry for the inhabitants of southern Algeria through its ministry of health and by launching an official study on cleanup of the radioactive zones via its remediation agency.

It is left to Algeria, one of the first countries to have signed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to begin the process of ratifying it. That would allow it to get international cooperation for environmental cleanup of the contaminated areas.

The parliamentarians of the two countries also have a role to play in establishing a mixed working group to monitor the timetable of work carried out as close as possible to the field and the populations. NGOs, academics, journalists and local actors must also be involved with this plan of global action, to ensure its implementation for the benefit of affected populations.

A compensation law for French nuclear test victims, or the Morin Law, was enacted on January 5, 2010. Hervé Morin, who was defense minister at the time, promised compensation for the people suffering health problems resulting from exposure to French nuclear tests conducted in Algeria and in French Polynesia. However, the law judges cases individually and places strict limits on how, when and for what health complications compensation is paid.

This article first appeared in Le Journal de Dimanche, just prior to the October meeting, and is republished in translation with permission of the authors. Translation by Linda Pentz Gunter.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | AFRICA, environment | Leave a comment

PETER HITCHENS: The arrogance and folly in Ukraine that could yet send us hurtling towards nuclear catastrophe

Daily Mail, By PETER HITCHENS FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY, 12 December 2022

“………………………………………………………………….. let me quote the opening words of a frightening new book by Ben Abelow, How The West Brought War To Ukraine.

He says: ‘For almost 200 years, starting with the framing of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States has asserted security claims over virtually the whole Western hemisphere. Any foreign power that places military forces near US territory knows it is crossing a red line. US policy thus embodies a conviction that where a potential opponent places its forces is crucially important.

‘In fact, this conviction is the cornerstone of American foreign and military policy, and its violation is considered reason for war.’

Because, you see, what I have described in my thriller is pretty much the mirror image of what the USA and Nato have been doing in Europe for some years. For Canada and the USA, read Russia. For Quebec, read Ukraine and the Baltic states. There are, in fact, Nato troops stationed now in Estonia.

They have been known to hold tank parades just yards from the border with Russia. That puts them 81 miles (about the distance from London to Coventry) from St Petersburg, Russia’s second city. Ben Abelow notes that ‘in 2020, Nato conducted a live-fire training exercise inside Estonia, 70 miles from Russia’s border, using tactical missiles with ranges up to 185 miles. These weapons can strike Russian territory with minimal warning. In 2021, again in Estonia, Nato fired 24 rockets to simulate an attack on air defence targets inside Russia’.

Again, can you begin to imagine the USA’s response to such action close to its borders, or Britain’s if (say) Ireland decided to join and host a foreign military alliance, hostile to us?

All kinds of slime will now be hurled at me, saying I am trying to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I’m not. I continue to think it stupid, barbaric and wrong.

I think the best response to provocation is not to react in such ways. But not everyone is like me. And if nobody in the White House, the Pentagon or Nato thought that their policy towards Russia might be risking such an outcome, then I’d be amazed. As I’ve noted before, even the American anti-Russian superhawk Robert Kagan has said publicly that Russia was provoked. The worst bit of this is the nuclear element. In December 1987, I travelled to Washington to witness one of the most momentous and happy events of the age. This was the summit between Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan, which culminated in the signing of a treaty banning medium-range nuclear missiles.

The danger from such weapons was that they were far more likely to be launched than long-range rockets. Experts calculated that using them might possibly not result in a total nuclear wipeout. Hence the need to get rid of them.

Well, Donald Trump repudiated that treaty in 2018, blaming Russia, not very convincingly, for his decision. This was the second major nuclear arms treaty the USA has torn up. Gorbachev snapped that this was ‘not the work of a great mind’. More frighteningly, he warned that ‘a new arms race has been announced’.

And now we have actual war in Ukraine, which no powerful person seems to want to end. In fact, anyone who urges serious peace talks is denounced as a traitor and appeaser. That filthy, cruel war is now slowly spreading into Russia itself, with consequences I daren’t guess at.

During the whole Cold War I never really believed we were in danger. The Cuban crisis, which slightly overshadowed preparations for my 11th birthday, persuaded me that everyone would have more sense. I thought and think that TV dramas about a nuclear Armageddon, such as the BBC’s The War Game and the American The Day After, were unconvincing. They couldn’t come up with a believable reason for a war to start.

But now it seems entirely plausible. And I’ve been watching the American TV series Jericho with grim fascination – not because its explanation of nuclear disaster is likely, but because its portrayal of a small, friendly town in a post-nuclear world slowly descending into savagery is convincing. Thanks to arrogance and folly, this could happen, and this is what it would be like if it did.

So I shall carry on saying that we need peace in Ukraine, and soon.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US military atomic cleanup crews were sent out in the wake of American nuclear testing, and many paid a heavy price, veterans say

“We’re still fighting. We’re not gonna give up, and we’re just gonna keep going and keep fighting,” Brownell said. “The world needs to know. They need to know how dangerous the radiation is — how dangerous nuclear testing is.” Jake Epstein , Dec 11, 2022

  • Over a period of more than a decade, the US military conducted dozens of nuclear tests in the Pacific.
  • Years later, soldiers were sent to the Marshall Islands to try and clean up the fallout from the testing.
  • But many were exposed to contaminated food and dust, leaving them with severe and lasting health issues. 

For over a decade beginning not long after World War II, the US carried out dozens of nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands — a chain of islands and atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The largest of the 67 tests that were conducted between 1946 and 1958 was Castle Bravo. On March 1, 1954, the US military detonated a thermonuclear weapon at Bikini Atoll, producing an explosive yield 1,000 times greater than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan.

Nuclear tests like Castle Bravo produced a substantial amount of nuclear fallout that negatively affected the people of the Marshall Islands, according to the Brookings Institution think tank. Radioactive material was even found in communities thousands of miles away.2

‘There’s no way possibly to clean that up’

Ken Brownell, who was a carpenter when he served in the military in the late 1970s, was sent to the Marshall Islands in 1977 to build a base camp for hundreds of soldiers assigned to cleanup operations. These cleanup efforts involved a concrete dome that was built on Runit Island, one of 40 islands that make up Enewetak Atoll, which was used to deposit soil and debris contaminated by radiation. 

The goal, Brownell said, was supposedly to make the area habitable again for the Marshallese people after all the nuclear testing that happened during the US occupation, which began during World War II (the Marshall Islands eventually became independent in 1979). 

Brownell, 66, said he worked 12-hour work days, six days a week, while living on Lojwa — an island “deemed safe” at the time because it didn’t host any nuclear tests, even though it was located near islands that did. His job included excavations and pouring concrete. 

But despite the US military’s efforts to clean up the islands, Brownell said there was one, massive problem — it just couldn’t be done.

“There’s no way possibly to clean that up. Once that soil was contaminated, the animals that lived on the islands, the birds, the rats, the coconut crabs, all the — whatever wildlife was there — they consumed all that,” Brownell said. “So all this — the radioactive material goes into the ocean, gets into the coral. Now you’ve got it into the fish life. You’ve got it into the lobsters.”

Brownell said exposure to radioactive material could come from “any place on those islands,” whether it was eating contaminated seafood, or just walking around in the dirt and breathing in contaminated dust. 

“On our end of it, most of our guys are dead because of the cancers and all the ailments that come along with the radioactive materials that we ingested,” Brownell said, adding that he had nothing in the way of protective gear. On a typical day, he said he would wear an outfit consisting of just combat boots, shorts, and a hat.  

Coming from a farming community in New York, Brownell said he had no knowledge of radioactive materials before getting sent to the Marshall Islands. He also said he didn’t receive any prior training in radiological cleanups and that the potential dangers of the mission were never properly addressed beforehand.   

“There was no running water … you couldn’t actually wash up. So you’re eating a baloney sandwich with dirty, contaminated hands, sitting in contaminated soil,” Brownell said. “The government said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it … be careful swimming because there’s sharks out there.'”

Atomic veteran Francis Lincoln Grahlfs echoed Brownell’s remarks about a lack of knowledge on the dangers of nuclear cleanups, writing in a Military Times op-ed last year that “little was known by the public about the long-term effects of radiation exposure.”

Impact of radiation contamination 

Nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands had “devastating effects” on the country’s environment that “remain unresolved,” according to a 2019 report by the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission. Some individuals still “live with a daily fear of how their health might be affected by long-term exposure to radiation.”

Several of Brownell’s friends dealt with health complications that he believed to be related to their service in the Marshall Islands — and he was not immune. In 2001, he was diagnosed with stage-four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given only six months to live. That wasn’t the end though.

That six months has turned into 20 years — 21 years,” Brownell said. “So I’m grateful every day that I’m still here.”

Like Brownell, Grahlfs — who was sent to the Marshal Islands in 1946 — wrote in his December 2021 op-ed that he has suffered from health complications, including cancer, believed to be a result of his service.

Brownell and other veterans have been fighting to be covered by government services that could provide compensation and other care. He is currently covered by the PACT Act, which is legislation aimed at improving funding and healthcare access for veterans who were exposed to toxins during their service that was signed by President Joe Biden in August.

However, he, like thousands of others, are excluded from the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which only covers veterans present for atmospheric nuclear tests. RECA has had faster response times for claims than those submitted through the VA.

“We’re still fighting. We’re not gonna give up, and we’re just gonna keep going and keep fighting,” Brownell said. “The world needs to know. They need to know how dangerous the radiation is — how dangerous nuclear testing is.”

December 12, 2022 Posted by | environment, health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste permit ‘more stringent’ New Mexico says as feds look to renew for 10 years

Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus, 12 Dec 22

Tougher rules for a nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad could be on the way as New Mexico officials sought “more stringent” regulations as the federal government sought to renew its permit with the state for the facility.  

The State sought new requirements to prioritize nuclear waste from within New Mexico for disposal, called for an accounting of all of the waste planned for disposal in the next decade and regular updates on federal efforts to find the location for a new repository as conditions of the permit.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy which holds a permit with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) that must be updated every 10 years.

The facility sees transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste from DOE facilities around the country disposed of via burial in an underground salt formation about 2,000 feet beneath the surface.

The upcoming renewal, expected by the end of next year, involved negotiations between NMED and the DOE, months of public comments and hearings and multiple expected revisions.

A draft permit was scheduled for public release Dec. 20, and the NMED released on Dec. 8 several conditions it proposed to add to the permit.

The release of the draft will be followed by a 60-day period when NMED will accept comments from the public, and the agency intended to hold a public hearing next summer.

NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said the State wanted a permit with stronger regulations moving forward, to better protect people and the environment from the impacts of nuclear waste disposal.

“It will be more stringent, full stop,” Kenney said. “The conditions were adding to it are designed to add more accountability to the whole complex that are sending waste to WIPP.”………………………………..

State of New Mexico says priority should go to New Mexico nuclear waste

Key among the revisions was prioritizing nuclear waste held at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico, where the DOE develops nuclear weapons.

More:Nuclear waste from Tennessee filling new disposal area at repository near Carlsbad

The facility was recently planned by the DOE to increase production of plutonium pits, used as the triggers for nuclear bombs, as part of efforts to modernize the U.S.’ weapons arsenal.

Kenney said space should be saved at WIPP for New Mexico waste, as the state hosts the repository and he said should receive the most benefit. He said agreements between the DOE and the State of Idaho to prioritize waste from Idaho National Laboratory and another prioritizing waste from Savannah River Site in South Carolina – a facility also set to ramp up pit production – unfairly “leap-frogged” New Mexico for waste disposal.

More:Gov. Lujan Grisham demands President Biden block nuclear waste site in southeast New Mexico

The waste Kenney hoped to target in this provision, he said, was “legacy waste” held at Los Alamos for decades, posing environmental risks in the area and in need of permanent disposal at WIPP.

“We want to make sure we preserve enough space at WIPP for the entirety of New Mexico’s legacy waste,” Kenney said. “I’m significantly concerned that the notion of cap and cover and leaving things around Los Alamos while continuing to emplace waste at WIPP around the country will squeeze out and leave behind waste that should have been there from legacy issues.”

New Mexico aims to hold feds ‘accountable’ for nuclear waste disposal

Another significant change proposed by NMED in the permit would require a full accounting of waste planned to be disposed of at WIPP for the decade following the permit to justify keeping the facility open after the permit expires.

This would better hold the federal government accountable, Kenney said, for future planning at WIPP.

In past proposal for the upcoming permit renewal, the DOE removed a 2024 closure date, opting to leave WIPP’s lifetime open-ended as worked to its statutorily maximum capacity of 6.2 million cubic feet of nuclear waste specified by the federal Land Withdrawal Act (LWA).

The DOE estimated the site could be open until 2085 based on the potential future availability of nuclear waste.

That ambiguity was unacceptable, Kenney said in proposing the added condition.

“We’re not satisfied. That is a completely unacceptable answer. There’s a presumption that if they’re going to continue to operate the underground in New Mexico, they’re going to have to inventory all of the waste that could come to WIPP,” he said.

“They are going to be accountable to every state where they do business including ours. Full accounting, no switching numbers.”

He said he believed WIPP will stay open past the next 10-year permit term, but that the DOE must do a better job at planning future waste streams.

“We know there’s going to be a need for this kind of facility. I don’t think WIPP will reach the LWA limits in 10 years,” Kenney said. “We can’t blindly go down the path of not knowing what they’re doing in every state regarding clean up.”

Nuclear waste facility will ‘run out of volume one day’ state says

As for finding a location for a new nuclear repository to continue disposal of the nation’s nuclear waste, Kenney said he has not seen “anything substantive” from the DOE, but that he did not believe WIPP could be the only repository in the nation for an unlimited amount of time.

But to do that, or to increase WIPP’s capacity, would take an act of Congress, and Kenney said the State of New Mexico should be kept updated on such activities as it held the only deep geological repository for nuclear waste in the U.S.

“There’s an irony with it being called a pilot plant and extending it out to 2080,” Kenney said. “We believe there is a need for this kind of facility. We have legacy waste and we have pit production that has waste that needs a place to go.

“(WIPP) will run out of volume one day. Someone, somewhere in (Washington), D.C. needs to be thinking about where that repository will be.”

Should Congress choose to increase the capacity at WIPP beyond the LWA limit, NMED’s proposal would automatically revoke WIPP’s permit.

This would protect New Mexico, Kenney said, from the being the sole resting place for U.S. nuclear waste.

“That’s a deal breaker for us,” he said. “We’re reclaiming our authority to not let the federal government pull the rug out from under New Mexicans.”

Ricardo Maestas, WIPP program manager at NMED’s Hazardous Waste Bureau also pointed out that the WIPP facility’s proximity to nearby oil and gas operations in the growing Permian Basin region, was so far unaddressed in the permit, and the state should be kept update on fossil fuel operations as they grow around the site.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Objections to nuclear power in Taiwan By Chen Yi-nan 陳逸南 12 Dec 22

An article published by the Liberty Times on Thursday reported that Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate in the legislative by-election in Taipei’s third electoral district, has proposed that the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County not be decommissioned.

Environmental organizations criticized Wang’s proposal as being “legally baseless and practically infeasible,” to which she has yet to respond.

Instead, she asked her rival in the by-election, the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Enoch Wu (吳怡農), to answer the question, and invited him to a public policy debate.

Wu said that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) had already deemed Wang’s proposal unrealistic and it is “highly irresponsible” to discuss national energy plans by striking a bargain.

Wu added that the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union had also released a statement opposing Wang’s proposal.

While Wang advocates keeping the nation’s nuclear power plants operational, the union believes that the goal should be to achieve a nuclear-free homeland.

Without responding to the union, Wang wished to hear Wu’s opinions on public policy.

Spent nuclear fuel rods at the Guosheng and the Ma-anshan plants are high-level radioactive waste that cannot be processed or safely disposed of in Taiwan.

The spent fuel rods are kept in the power plants’ spent fuel pools.

The dry-cask storage method was once employed in an attempt to dispose of the radioactive waste, but a long-term solution to the issue has never been developed.

If the Guosheng and the Ma-anshan plants continue to operate, how can the nation take care of high-level radioactive waste?

Where would the used fuel rods be stored?

This is an extremely serious problem, and all parties involved should think about it seriously.

Politicians should not appropriate the issue to win votes. If radioactive waste is not handled carefully, future generations would pay the price.

Former US president Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

People in Taiwan should take heed of and reflect upon Lincoln’s words, especially Taiwanese politicians.

Whether the Guosheng and the Ma-anshan plants should be decommissioned is a highly technical issue requiring scientific expertise.

It is not necessarily a problem concerning laws and politics, nor is it public policy open to debate. The candidates for a legislative by-election need not concern themselves with it.

A candidate’s irresponsible proposal is likely a trick to win votes, which is nothing more than fraud.

Candidates should not toy with the issue of nuclear power plants and radioactive waste, while voters should be sensible, smart and alert.

Chen Yi-nan is an arbitrator.

Translated by Yi-hung Liu

December 12, 2022 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

From our blog in 2020 – we revealed the Cayman Islands link even earlier – the mainstream press conspiracy of silence on the main reasons why this is a coal mine like no other. Our Govnt must be delighted in the narrow “debate” fostered by NGOs and media around this fiendish coal mine and their nuclear dump advisor. — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

Originally posted on Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole: Ghost of Christmas?Future? ON 16 DEC 2020 BY MARIANNEWILDART IN COAL, GDF, WEST CUMBRIAN MINING, WOODHOUSE COLLIERY Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? While West Cumbria Mining has bigged up its business credentials to the general public and starry eyed politicians, creative accounting means that the“generational opportunity” that will help the area…

From our blog in 2020 – we revealed the Cayman Islands link even earlier – the mainstream press conspiracy of silence on the main reasons why this is a coal mine like no other. Our Govnt must be delighted in the narrow “debate” fostered by NGOs and media around this fiendish coal mine and their nuclear dump advisor. — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

December 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japanese prime minister may seek in-depth nuclear abolition talks at Hiroshima G7 summit

Japan Times, 11 Dec 22, HIROSHIMA – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday expressed hope to hold thorough debates for a world without nuclear weapons at next year’s Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May.

“I want to deepen discussions (at the G7 summit) so that we can release a strong message toward realizing a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said at a closing ceremony for the first meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons, or IGEP, held in Hiroshima for two days from Saturday.

“We are facing tough barriers over nuclear disarmament, such as growing threats to use nuclear weapons,” Kishida said, asking IGEP member experts to “produce meaningful outcomes regarding specific ways to bring the tough reality closer to the ideal.”………………… more

December 12, 2022 Posted by | Japan, politics international | Leave a comment

UK policy changes: windfalls and renewables

The government is getting side-tracked by its nuclear obsession, with its newly created development outfit ‘Great British Nuclear’ expected to triple UK nuclear capacity by 2050 – getting to 24GW, with 20-30 SMRs and 4-6 new large reactors. Hard to believe. But so is backing a new coal mine. Let’s hope 2023 makes more sense

It’s been a wild year politically in the UK. After a period when
windfall taxes were resisted, we ended up with a government which bowed to
them- as did most of the EU. And they even got extended to cover power.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hit electricity generation companies with a 45%
Energy Electricity Generator Levy, on their ‘excess returns’ as he
attempted to fund measures to ease the cost of living crisis.

That was in addition to the existing windfall tax on North Sea oil & gas operators
which is to be raised from 25% to 35% and extended by 2 years until 2028.

Renewable energy suppliers that operate under the Contracts for Difference
system are exempted from the new electricity tax, but not those who are
operating under the Renewables Obligation (RO). So they will be hit quite
hard- they had after all enjoyed a significant wind fall since the RO
subsidy level was high, based on the assumption that gas was cheap. It no
longer is.

There will now be an incentive to shift from RO support to CfDs,
but this may not be easy for some companies. Chris Hewett, Chief Executive
of Solar Energy UK, said: ‘The Chancellor should be taking every
opportunity to encourage investment in clean energy.

Yet, there will be no tax relief for companies investing in meeting the government’s target of
70GW of solar capacity by 2035 – unlike investments in oil and gas
production, which will be taxed less than fossil-free generators.’ A
swifter move to decarbonised energy would have avoided the dire
consequences we are seeing now.’ Fair enough.

But that doesn’t mean opting for costly and slow to deploy nuclear decarbonisation. It means
getting on with lower cost renewables fast and adjusting the wind fall
taxes and CfD system to that end. And of course cutting back on energy
wastage where ever possible.

The government is getting side-tracked by its
nuclear obsession, with its newly created development outfit ‘Great
British Nuclear’ expected to triple UK nuclear capacity by 2050 – getting
to 24GW, with 20-30 SMRs and 4-6 new large reactors. Hard to believe. But
so is backing a new coal mine. Let’s hope 2023 makes more sense

 Renew Extra 10th Dec 2022

December 12, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

What could possibly go wrong?

Star Tribune, 11 Dec 22, As I read through the main section of last Sunday’s paper, I was appalled to come to “Raider reveal,” the photo of “America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber” celebrated as the first new model in 30 years. What the heck?! We are inundated daily with news of the slaughter of thousands of innocents, the starvation of millions all over the globe, and the U.S. has built a sleek new weapon of mass destruction? Who authorized this and at what cost? Then in the Science and Health section, I found the excellent and also appalling account of the mounting stockpile of nuclear parts for which there is no realistic safety plan. This madness must stop.

Ellen Lowery, St. Paul.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment