The concerns are not limited to the refuge itself. There is plenty of plutonium offsite, thanks to a combination of sloppy practices onsite and the high winds for which the area is notorious. In 2010, one researcher discovered high concentrations of plutonium in dust in the crawl space under a local home. Researchers have concluded that smoke from a series of fires and plutonium blown from waste holding areas were probably the main sources. Peer-reviewed studies have found high rates of lung and brain cancers, leukemia, and other diseases among workers at the plant.
We are left with a conundrum: Is Rocky Flats a brilliant urban wildlife resource, or a dangerous radioactive legacy? The weird but inescapable truth is that it is both.
Rocky Flats: A Wildlife Refuge Confronts Its Radioactive Past, Environment 36016 AUG 2016: REPORT
The Rocky Flats Plant outside Denver was a key U.S. nuclear facility during the Cold War. Now, following a $7 billion cleanup, the government is preparing to open a wildlife refuge on the site to the public, amid warnings from some scientists that residual plutonium may still pose serious health risks.by fred pearce “…….In a previous life, Rocky Flats was a secret place, where over almost four decades Dow Chemical and Rockwell International, as contractors working for the U.S. government, turned plutonium from military reactors into an estimated 70,000 grapefruit-sized triggers at the heart of hydrogen bombs. Few installations were as important during the Cold War as the Rocky Flats Plant, which operated from 1952 to 1989. And by all accounts, preventing plutonium pollution of the surrounding environment, including that of the people of Denver, was low on the list of priorities…… Continue reading
WHAT LEGACY DO WE WANT FOR SOUTH AFRICA? http://safcei.org/what-legacy-do-we-want-for-south-africa/
On 6 July they announced that they would withdraw their current uranium mining application and reapply for a much smaller area – in essence only 12% of the original application – and start the process at the beginning again. This we celebrated as an important step towards stopping uranium mining in its tracks, as well as nuclear down the line.
For, as Dr Stefan Cramer, who was instrumental in lifting the veil of silence on this new threat to the Karoo, points out, uranium mining is the dirty underbelly of the nuclear industry and where it all begins.
One must stop nuclear industries in (their) tracks because it leaves future generations with an immeasurable task and legacy. The best point to start is at the source, where the whole cycle of nuclear technology begins, and that is at uranium mining. Uranium mining is very much the dirtiest part of the entire industry,” he says.
Kim Kruyshaar writes on Green Audits that choosing between renewable energy and nuclear is about much more than just an energy option. Instead it is “a choice between two divergent socio-economic opportunities and the consequent legacies.” This rings even more true when one looks at the building blocks of nuclear energy.
Uranium mining will leave us with our iconic Karoo damaged for centuries to come and many people without a future or income as the jobs gained through uranium mining would in no way compensate for those lost in the agricultural, tourism and renewable industry businesses.
Mining will also deplete the already scarce water reserves of the Karoo and present serious health problems to all living beings there, as the radioactive dust can be carried for kilometres by winds.
Renewable energy in contrast presents us with a far brighter future that, very importantly, doesn’t contain a radioactive legacy. Far more jobs are created in the renewable energy industry than the nuclear industry ever can.
The speed in which renewable energy projects can be installed and the lower investment costs also make it highly attractive to a country like South Africa, where many people need access to energy now, not in 15 years time when a nuclear reactor would only come online.
Decentralising the power from Eskom and putting it into the hands of individuals and local companies would also only serve to empower South Africans and the economy. Nuclear energy would instead indebt us and future generations to a foreign company and leave us with the further enormous cost of decommissioning.
So it’s not simply a choice between two energy options, as Kim sums it up, it is a choice about what path we would like to take South Africa down.
What is needed to stop uranium mining and nuclear for good?
Carteret climate refugees seek home A grassroots group in Bougainville is scrambling to relocate the Carteret Islanders before rising sea levels swallow their land forever. ABC News 7 Aug 16 By Lauren Beldi for Pacific Beat At only 1.5 metres above sea level at their highest point, the Carteret Islands are some of the first to succumb to the rising ocean tides.
The grassroots Tulele Peisa group, which means “sailing the waves on our own” in the local Halia language, is hoping to relocate more than half of the population by 2020. They have secured land for new homes on the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, to the east of mainland Papua New Guinea.Tulele Peisa formed in late 2006 after the Council of Elders on the islands decided to establish their own relocation program. The group’s chief executive, Ursula Rakova, says the encroaching tides on the islands have a major impact on people’s health. “We’re beginning to get more requests for people wanting to move because of the situation and the dire need for food,” she says.
The storm surges not only wash away houses, but also vegetable gardens, which are critical for the islanders’ survival.
With no cash economy on the Carterets, the only source of food is what people are able to grow for themselves……
Tulele Peisa has also provided thousands of mangrove seedlings to prevent the erosion of the coastline, and helped to build raised garden beds. But this will only stave off the inevitable for so long.
“Those are adaptation strategies, they aren’t really long-term solutions to containing the islands, because we know the islands are going, but we are looking at supporting our families,” Ms Rakova says.
She says the islanders want to maintain their independent way of living but that the international community should provide more support.
“The islanders on the Carterets are victims of what other people have caused and the international community needs to aid and support the work that we are doing,” she says.
“We have found our way forward [and] we would like to share the way forward with other people, but we need this process to be funded financially so that we can continue to sustain ourselves.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-07/carteret-climate-refugees-new-home/7693950?section=environment
Uranium from Russia, with love, Ecologist, Nick Meynen 4th August, 2016
“………..the bigger issue should be that uranium mining is just a very dirty business that we didn’t clean up but source out. France used to have 200+ uranium mines but thanks to better care for environment and workers the last one closed in 2001. Instead, new ones were opened in places like Niger, Namibia and Malawi. In short: places where we can shift the real costs from uranium mining to the people and environment. As a matter of fact, CEOs in the business are quite frank about that. The former CEO of Paladin, John Borshoff, an Australian uranium producer who opened mines in Namibia, said that Canadian and Australian environmental norms are “over-sophisticated“. What he actually means is that in African countries you don’t need to pay much or anything at all to “protect” either your workers or the people living in the vicinity from dying from cancer due to exposure to uranium.
He’s just implementing the Lawrence Summers Principle. This ‘principle’ originates from a 1991 memo written or dictated by Summers whilst he was the World Bank’s chief economist. In this memo, he promoted dumping toxic waste in the Third World for economic reasons: “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? […] A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”
The uranium sector squared up to that. But for how much longer will it get away with that?
Last time rebels in Mali came too close to the AREVA mines in Niger for comfort, France suddenly sent in their army. Under some humanitarian pretext. And if rebels don’t succeed in capturing these remote mines, the global environmental justice movement might just succeed in closing a couple of them down.
The legacy from uranium mining
Being part of that movement, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of making a toxic tour around a now closed uranium mine in Bulgaria. Massive amounts of toxic sludge were stored behind a weak dam that showed signs of distress after heavy rains caused a spill in 2009. Old EU money was still keeping the dam up but as we’re talking about radioactive waste, money will need to keep flowing to dam repairs for millennia to come.
Since 1992, when the mines closed, and for time immemorial, that will be public money. And that’s how it goes with uranium mines in places with weak or no legislation: short-term private profits followed by perpetual public losses. In Bulgaria the people are still lucky enough to be in the EU with at least some environmental regulations and EU money for environmental protections. The same goes for other EU countries like France, which has dozens of zombie mines: dead but still active. The US also has plenty more zombie mines. The lands of the Navajo Nation include over 500 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) as well as homes and drinking water sources with elevated levels of radiation. Despite the fact that they stopped operating in 1986, new and related lung cancers, bone cancers and impaired kidney functions keep appearing.
But while EU and US now have enough safeguards to keep their own uranium safe under the ground, there’s nothing of that in Namibia or Niger. These two countries are rising players on the uranium market, both exporting their uranium to the EU. Niger has now produced more uranium than France ever did in it’s whole history. It’s here that UK-Australian and French companies are doing the dirty digging that destroys local environment and populace.
Three reports from the EU-funded EJOLT project deal with the environmental and social issues related to uranium mining. One deals with the impacts, one concentrates on a mine in Malawi and the third dwells on the examples of successful resistance to big mining in general.
Bruno Chareyron, a French nuclear engineer who authored most of these reports, has been carrying out toxic tours along uranium mines for the last two decades. That’s not always an easy job, with for example the police confiscating most of your measuring equipment upon arrival in Niger. Nevertheless, Bruno was able to measure that radioactive scrap metal from the mines and mills is sold on the market. Waste rocks from the mines were used to pave roads, build homes and even at the local hospital where the radiation was 100 times above normal. Piles of radioactive waste were left in open air, unprotected, next to two cities with a total population of 120.000.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Where is uranium in the whole debate about nuclear energy? It’s usually only mentioned when the industry says: uranium is only a tiny part of the total cost of our energy model, unlike the situation in the gas and oil industry.
Well, there’s a reason why it’s only a tiny part of the total cost and it’s called cost shifting.
Ecological economists have given names to processes witnessed in the uranium sector:accumulation by contamination, ecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. More and more, people all over the world are coming together to resist against environmental justice.
Our EU and US based nuclear power is currently coming at the cost of poisoning people in Africa. But it begs the question: are we ready to face that reality?
Nick Meynen is one of The Ecologist New Voices contributors. He writes blogs and bookshttp://www.epo.be/uitgeverij/boekinfo_auteur.php?isbn=9789064455803 on topics like environmental justice, globalization and human-nature relationships.
When not wandering in the activist universe or his Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/nick.meynen
is dead, he’s probably walking in nature.
Radioactive hot spots pepper Niagara County, Investigative Post, July 05 By Dan Telvock The first hint of radioactive waste near John Grace’s home in Lewiston came from his son who carried a radiation meter for his government job. The meter would beep every time his son drove over the gravel driveway.
“He said ‘something’s not right here,’ ” said Grace, who lives at 738 Upper Mountain Road.
Turns out, he was right.
Gravel in the driveway was first tested some 40 years ago by the federal Department of Energy and found to have radiation levels some 70 times greater than what’s found in the local natural environment. The driveway was still hot when tested again three years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I just said ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’” Grace said. “They said it was all around Niagara County.”
Indeed, this radioactive material is prevalent throughout the region.
Government documents show that state health and environmental officials have known for almost four decades that at least 60 properties throughout Niagara County and Grand Island, including the driveway near Grace’s home, are contaminated with radioactive material that resembles gravel. The radioactivity at these properties ranges from three to more than 70 times what people are naturally exposed to in the local environment, according to state and federal documents……..
Although the exposure to the radioactive waste does not pose an immediate health risk, the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences have concluded there is no safe level of radiation.
Furthermore, the group of attorneys and environmental engineers investigating some of the contaminated properties in Niagara County disagree with the state’s position that the waste does not pose a significant risk………
Radioactive hotspots identified
This story is based on a review of more than 8,000 pages of government documents requested under the Freedom of Information Law, property inspections with a radiation detector, and interviews with more than a dozen experts, attorneys, residents and government officials.
The federal Department of Energy and state Department of Health identified 100 hot-spots in Niagara County and Grand Island almost four decades ago. The federal government cleaned up about a third of the properties after determining the radioactive waste was linked to nuclear weapons development through the Manhattan Project. The remaining contaminated properties were left untouched at the time because the federal government believed the material was linked to commercial metallurgical companies, which have since closed……….http://www.investigativepost.org/2016/07/05/radioactive-hot-spots-pepper-niagara-county/
Climate scientists: Australian uranium mining pollutes Antarctic http://phys.org/news/2016-06-climate-scientists-australian-
uranium-pollutes.html June 30, 2016 by Beth Staples Uranium mining in Australia is polluting the Antarctic, about 6,000 nautical miles away. University of Maine climate scientists made the discovery during the first high-resolution continuous examination of a northern Antarctic Peninsula ice core.
Ice core data reveal a significant increase in uranium concentration that coincides with open pit mining in the Southern Hemisphere, most notably Australia, says lead researcher Mariusz Potocki, a doctoral candidate and research assistant with the Climate Change Institute.
“The Southern Hemisphere is impacted by human activities more than we thought,” says Potocki.
Understanding airborne distribution of uranium is important because exposure to the radioactive element can result in kidney toxicity, genetic mutations, mental development challenges and cancer.
Uranium concentrations in the ice core increased by as much as 102 between the 1980s and 2000s, accompanied by increased variability in recent years, says Potocki, a glaciochemist.
Until World War II, most of the uranium input to the atmosphere was from natural sources, says the research team.
But since 1945, increases in Southern Hemisphere uranium levels have been attributed to industrial sources, including uranium mining in Australia, South Africa and Namibia. Since other land-source dust elements don’t show similar large increases in the ice core, and since the increased uranium concentrations are enriched above levels in the Earth’s crust, the source of uranium is attributed to human activities rather atmospheric circulation changes.
In 2007, a Brazilian-Chilean-U.S. team retrieved the ice core from the Detroit Plateau on the northern Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth.
More information: Mariusz Potocki et al. Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations, Atmospheric Environment (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.010 Journal reference:Atmospheric Environment Provided by: University of Maine
Fukushima and the oceans: What do we know, five years on?, Science Daily June 30, 2016
- Goldschmidt Conference
- A major international review of the state of the oceans five years after the Fukushima disaster shows that radiation levels are decreasing rapidly except in the harbor area close to the nuclear plant itself where ongoing releases remain a concern. At the same time, the review’s lead author expresses concern at the lack of ongoing support to continue the radiation assessment, which he says is vital to understand how the risks are changing.
- These are the conclusions of a major 5 year review, with multi-international authors who are all working together as part of a Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Working Group. The report is being presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Japan. The review paper is also published in Annual Review of Marine Science*. The main points made by the report are:…….
As the utility companies and government agencies continue to downplay the severity of these situations, the residents who live the closest to these spots are already feeling the effects.
According to a recent report, Radiation and Public Health Project researchers compared the state and national cancer data from 1988-92 with three other five-year periods (1993-97, 1998-02, and 2003-07). The results, published in 2009, show the cancer rates going from 11 percent below the national average to 7 percent above in that time span. Unexpected increases were detected in 19 out of 20 major types of cancer. Thyroid cancer registered the biggest increase, going from 13 percent below the national average to 51 percent above.
While the U.S. war machine spends hundreds of billions of dollars per year waging war against humanity, Americans at home are dying from a crumbling nuclear infrastructure. The realization that multiple nuclear disasters are currently unfolding across the country, while the mainstream media remains silent, speaks to the fact that most media is owned by the same benefactors that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
There’s No Covering Up This One — Visible Pollution Leaking From NY Nuclear Plant, Activist Post, By Matt Agorist, 1 July 16 US Coast Guard officials have cordoned off a portion of Lake Ontario this week, after aerial spotters found a visible “sheen” that is coming from a nuclear power plant in upstate New York.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew first noticed the sheen on Sunday. Shortly after, a boat crew from the Oswego station tested the sheen and a “temporary safety zone” was put in place.
The Free Thought Project spoke to the Coast Guard Sector Buffalo Command Center on Tuesday and confirmed that the zone was still closed off, and there is no information as to when it will reopen.
The oil sheen is said to be coming from the vent for the hydrogen seal system of the Fitzpatrick plant is in Scriba, New York, approximately 10 miles northeast of Oswego……..
It appears that this Fitzpatrick leak is likely the least worrisome of current leaks popping up around the country.
Although the media spotlight is rarely shined upon America’s aging nuclear infrastructure, U.S. nuclear power plants are decaying rapidly, precipitating numerous nuclear environmental disasters across the country.
To give you an idea of the scope of the crisis facing America’s aging nuclear infrastructure, a startling investigation by the Associated Press found radioactive tritium leaking from three-quarters of all commercial nuclear power sites in the United States.
As The Free Thought Project reported last month, a major nuclear disaster is unfolding in Washington state at what is known as the Hanford nuclear site. There have been reports that the Hanford has been leaking massive amounts of radioactive material for over two weeks. Continue reading
Nuclear Plant Closure Will Benefit California Marine Species NRDC.org June 23, 2016 Elizabeth Murdock “…….Closing the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility would finally end decades of harm to marine life in the region where the plant operates. The plant’s intake pipes draw in more than 2.5 billion gallons of water per day, or 2.8 million acre-feet annually. This large and continuous seawater withdrawal is estimated to kill roughly 1.5 billion fish in early life stages each year, as creatures are sucked into the cooling systems or become impinged against the screens on the open-water pipes. The cooling water is also discharged back into the ocean water at a warmer temperature, which can cause additional harm to fish and other marine life in the area.
Moreover, Diablo Canyon’s open-ocean intake is located less than one mile from the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve and the adjacent Point Buchon State Marine Conservation Area, which together protect an ecologically diverse seascape and provide a home to more than 700 species of invertebrates, as well as 120 fish species, marine plants, seabirds, and marine mammals. This “MPA (marine protected area) cluster” is important in its own right, as well as being an important part of an ecologically connected network that runs along the coast of California. While Diablo Canyon’s intake is not directly within the MPA cluster, the area of source water being drawn into the plant likely overlaps with the MPA boundaries and has the potential to withdraw marine life out of the protected area. NRDC was a leader in the effort to design and secure California’s landmark system of marine protected areas, and we remain deeply committed to ensuring the integrity of the network the marine species and habitats it shelters.
Other power plants in California that use “once-through-cooling” (OTC) technology have similar impacts on the ocean, although Diablo Canyon and the recently closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Diego have been responsible for the largest ocean water withdrawals in the state. The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is now the largest of the remaining once-through-cooling facilities, accounting for nearly 80 percent of all OTC ocean withdrawals in California.
Because of the significant impacts of OTC, NRDC has played a central role in advocating that California phase out the destructive practice altogether. Most notably, we have been deeply involved in the drafting, passage, and implementation of the State Water Board’s 2010 Once-Through-Cooling (OTC) Policy, which seeks to reduce the extreme impacts of power plant OTC systems on marine life and habitats. The policy directs plants to reduce their ocean intake flow rates by roughly 93 percent. For the Diablo Canyon facility to come into compliance, PG&E would have had to build close-cycle cooling towers by the end of 2024, which would have cost billions. But under the Joint Proposal, once PG&E begins decommissioning the Diablo Canyon facility, it will reduce its water intake rates—and thus its impacts on marine life—even more than it would be required to do under the OTC Policy. And ultimately, upon complete shutdown, it will cease its ocean water intakes and the associated impacts altogether.
California’s iconic ocean habitats and their marine species are of immense ecological, economic, and cultural value, within California and beyond. For three decades, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant has had a significant impact on the marine life in the region of the plant and the once-pristine bay where it is located. Removing this impact to California’s treasured marine wildlife and coastal habitats—and replacing it with clean energy—is something all Californians can celebrate. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/elizabeth-murdock/nuclear-plant-closure-will-benefit-california-marine-species
Even Without Detonation, 4 Hydrogen Bombs From ’66 Scar Spanish Village NYT, By RAPHAEL MINDER JUNE 20, 2016 PALOMARES, Spain — José Manuel González Navarro, a mechanic, headed out of this seaside village on his motorbike one morning 50 years ago when he heard explosions overhead and looked up to see a ball of fire in the sky. Debris started to shower down, some “falling very slowly, like if a giant tree was shedding shiny metal leaves,” he recalled in an interview.
Mr. González Navarro turned around and sped home to check that his house was not hit. He later drove back to where he had seen debris land and found an undetonated bomb attached to a parachute. He cut off the straps of the parachute and took them home, along with some work tools and bolts that he found scattered on the ground.
“I was just thinking about what objects might prove useful,” he said. “I liked fishing, and those parachute straps, thin but very solid, were clearly perfect to be turned into a weight belt for diving.”
Like many in Palomares, Mr. González Navarro, now 71, figured he had witnessed a military air crash. But he was unaware that a United States Air Force bomber and a refueling jet collided, accidentally sending four hydrogen bombs hurtling toward Palomares. Although no warheads detonated, two of the bombs shattered, spreading plutonium over the village.
Whereas American service members are complaining that the hurried cleanup effort carried out by the military jeopardized their health, many in Palomares lament the damage the accident has done to their community.
“Living in a radioactive site that nobody really has wanted to clean has brought us a lot of bad publicity and has been something hanging over our head like a sword of Damocles,” said Juan José Pérez Celdrán, a former mayor of Palomares. For years after the crash, local tomatoes, lettuce and watermelons did not carry any Palomares label because of the stigma associated with the place.
And the cleanup effort continues half a century later.
In 1966, American troops removed about 5,000 barrels of contaminated soil after the accident and called the cleanup complete. But about a decade ago, the Spanish authorities found elevated levels of plutonium over 99 acres. Some of the areas of elevated radioactivity almost touched private homes, as well as fields and greenhouses. Scientists from Ciemat, the Spanish nuclear agency, fenced off the most hazardous sections and began pressuring the United States to remove about 65,000 cubic yards of radioactive soil — far more than was removed right after the accident……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/world/europe/spain-palomares-hydrogen-bombs.html?_r=1
NUCLEAR LEAK ALERT Traces of radioactive material found at seaside beauty spot near decommissioned nuclear site Suffolk’s Southwold beach is the second to be hit by contamination in two months, The Sun UK BY CHARLIE PARKER 17th June 2016
A SEASIDE paradise in Suffolk is now the centre of a nuclear leak scare after traces of deadly radioactive materials were found on the beach.
The contamination on the idyllic Southwold beach is feared to be linked to the Sizewell A nuclear plant, which is located on coast not far from the popular seaside spot.
The nuclear factory is in the process of being decommissioned at a cost of £1.2 billion after shutting down ten years ago.
The coastal spot is nicknamed Hampstead-on-Sea because of the all the celebrities who flock there for the holidays.
Chris Evans, Dame Judi Dench and Stephen Fry and other big names regularly visit the beach spot.
Alarmingly, Southwold is the second Suffolk beach to be hit by the contamination in just two months.
In April, scientists monitoring the area around Sizewell revealed that a ‘small amount’ of an particularly dangerous and ‘unusual’ radioactive isotope had been found at Aldeburgh, eighteen miles from Southwold.
The Sizewell plant, which houses two outdated magnox nuclear reactors, is on the coast between the two resorts.
The Environment Agency insisted today that there are ‘no safety or environmental concerns and no risk to members of the public’……
Sizewell A is in the midst of its own investigations over the discovery of Strontium-90, produced by nuclear fission, at Aldeburgh beach – one of five coastal areas monitored by the site…….
Sizewell A power station was shut down on 31 December 2006, with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority placing the contracts at a budgeted cost of £1.2 billion.
On 7 January 2007 a contractor working on the decommissioning of the station noticed water leaking on to the floor of the laundry where he was washing his clothes……..
The water was found to be cooling water from the pond that holds the reactor’s spent nuclear fuel which had dropped more than 1 foot (0.30 m) without activating any of the alarms.
It was feared that up to 40,000 gallons (151,500 litres) of radioactive water had leaked from a 15ft (4.6 m) split in a pipe, with some spilling into the North Sea where it could wash along the Suffolk coast.
Had the exposed irradiated fuel had caught fire, it would have resulted in the release of radiation into the air.
Southwold is popular with holidaymakers – the town’s populations is typically less than 2,000 but this figure swells to almost 10,000 in summer………https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1298270/traces-of-radioactive-material-found-at-seaside-beauty-spot-near-decommissioned-nuclear-site/
More than 167,000 hectares of coastland – about 0.6% of the country’s total area – are projected to go underwater in the Philippines, especially in low-lying island communities. …
The Philippines government has been forced to take this into consideration. The Department of Environment and National Resources has its own climate change office, which has set up various programs to educate communities in high-risk areas. …
But soon, adaptation on a local level won’t be enough. Policy makers need to convince governments to curb their emissions on a global level. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160606101406.htm
Element from Fukushima plant reaches island cattle; But research finds levels are nothing to be alarmed about http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/element-fukushima-plant-reaches-island-cattle-research-finds-levels-are-nothing-be June 10, 2016 By MAX DIBLE West Hawaii Today KAILUA-KONA — It took only one week for radionuclides to infiltrate the atmosphere above the Hawaiian Islands after they were released from damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami March 11, 2011.
By early April of that year, researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa began collecting ocean water and sediments to provide a baseline for cesium levels. Cesium is an alkaline earth element and a beta radiation emitter, meaning as it decays it emits electrons that can damage cell structures within the human body.
Establishing a baseline was critical, as data from government-monitored cesium tests from the 1960s through the early 1980s were the most recent available. That monitoring was administered to measure the effects of nuclear weapons testing by the United States in the Pacific following World War II.
Tests by the UH-Manoa research team continued every month through 2011 and were administered every three to six months in subsequent years. They were expanded to include tests on algae, lichen, coconuts, fish and mushrooms. An update on the research was posted on the university’s news website last Friday.
“The conclusion is pretty much that all is safe,” said Henrietta Dulai, associate professor in the Marine and Environmental Geology Division of the UH-Manoa Department of Geology and Geophysics. Dulai oversaw a small research team that included graduate students Hannah Azouz and Trista McKenzie. “Tests are still ongoing, but we do not expect any significant levels at all.”
Ocean currents that might have carried radioactive materials from Japan to Hawaiian shores never made direct contact with the near-shore environment of the Hawaiian Islands, and so ocean water and sediment samples collected by the researchers off Oahu never showed a spike in cesium levels.
However, Dulai said elevated levels were found in ocean water farther north around the Midway Islands and have been detected off the West Coast of the United States and Canada, reaching as far north as Alaska.
While the immediate surrounding oceans were spared, the Hawaiian Islands didn’t escape the disaster totally unscathed.
“The Department of Health monitored precipitation and the atmosphere and also milk,” Dulai said. “They found positive (cesium) hits in all of these.”
Dulai and her team were curious as to why they found nothing in their samples despite the state DOH detecting elevated cesium levels in the atmosphere. The team began collecting samples on precipitation gradients on Oahu and Hawaii Island, where it did locate elevated cesium levels.
A correlation was established between areas of higher rainfall and higher cesium levels in the soil. At higher elevations, more rainfall occurred and more cesium was absorbed by the soil. This is what led to elevated cesium levels detected in milk from grazing cattle.
It turned out that the topography of the islands captured the clouds and to a large extent spared the oceans from excess radioactivity, as cesium deposits from rainfall tended to accumulate on land. While this news might sound concerning, Dulai said residents of the Hawaiian Islands need not be alarmed.
“The natural radioactivity in the soil is orders of magnitude higher than this added cesium level,” Dulai explained. “The added cesium is a tiny fraction of what is there naturally or what was deposited during the nuclear weapons testing.”
Contamination in seafood and mushrooms also was found to be “orders of magnitude below” any health limits set by the FDA. Fish were a primary concern because they migrate, so while they wouldn’t have picked up extra cesium in Hawaiian waters, they might have been contaminated in waters from where they migrated.
Dulai and her team’s research will continue, as will monitoring done by the DOH, according to its website. The website states surveys since May 2011 conducting shoreline surveillance “remain consistent with normal background levels.”
The department also continues to monitor air, precipitation and drinking water using the Environmental Protection Agency’s RadNet system.
Email Max Dible at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Power stays on: Permit allows 2 N.J. nuclear reactors to keep operating By Bill Gallo Jr. | For NJ.com June 10, 2016 LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. — New Jersey Friday granted a five-year permit that will allow PSEG Nuclear to continue to draw billions of gallons of water from the Delaware River to cool two of its nuclear reactors in Salem County.
The Department of Environmental Protection’s permit does not require the plant’s operator, PSEG Nuclear, to build cooling towers at its Artificial Island generating site in Lower Alloways Creek Township, something environmental groups have long urged.
Without this permit, officially known as the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, the two plants, Salem 1 and 2, might have been forced to shut down…….
Salem 1 and 2, when operating at full power, use 3 billion gallons of water a day from the Delaware River. The water is drawn in, circulated through the plants’ “open loop”cooling systems and discharged back into the river………
Environmentalists have long criticized the plants saying they are causing the death of marine life which is being caught on screens at the point of water intake or by actually being sucked into and through the cooling system…….
Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at email@example.com. http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2016/06/power_stays_on_permit_allows_2_nj_nuclear_reactors.html
Bikini Atoll radiation levels remain alarmingly high https://www.sciencenews.org/article/bikini-atoll-radiation-levels-remain-alarmingly-high New measurements made decades after Pacific island used to test nuclear bombs BY THOMAS SUMNER , JUNE 6, 2016
Radiation from the 23 nuclear tests conducted near Bikini Atoll in the 1940s and ’50s has lingered far longer than previously predicted.
Radioactive material such as cesium-137 currently produces, on average, 184 miLLIREMS OF RADIATION PER YEAR ON BIKINI ATOLL. AND SOME PARTS OF THE ISLAND HIT 639 MILLIREMS PER YEAR, RESEARCHERS REPORT ONLINE THE WEEK OF JUNE 6 IN THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. THOSE MEASUREMENTS, MADE LAST YEAR, SURPASS THE 100 MILLIREMS PER YEAR SAFETY STANDARD SET BY THE UNITED STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS, WHICH CONTROLS THE ISLAND.
Scientists had predicted that, by now, radiation levels would have dropped to 16 to 24 millirems per year. But those estimates came from extrapolating from measurements made in the 1970s. The mismatch probably stems from incorrect assumptions about how rapidly radioactive material washes off the island, proposes study coauthor Emlyn Hughes, a physicist at Columbia University.
Whether the higher radiation levels pose a serious health risk to caretakers who live on the island for part of the year depends on how long they stay on the island and whether the local fruit they eat is safe, Hughes says.