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

BHP betrays international safety efforts

Above – uranium  tailings dam – Olympic Dam, South Australia

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Brazil, environment, Legal | Leave a comment

What Frogs Can Teach Us about the State of the World

We currently find ourselves on the other side of a stark but intangible line created by the climate tipping points we’ve blown past for and at our leisure, the virulent diseases we’ve helped spread, and the habitats we’ve destroyed in the name of peace and quiet. Being on this side of the line is a lot like grieving: we are in an “after” time.

And, as with other forms of grieving, in times defined by disease and mass extinction, we need to bear witness. We can be quiet and press record to capture what is still there. We can cup our hands around our ears and listen.

What Frogs Can Teach Us about the State of the World, By tracking amphibian songs, citizen scientists are helping us understand what’s happening to our environment, The Walrus , BY CAITLIN STALL-PAQUET 18 Sept 20, 

T’S AN HOUR after sunset, one night in early April, and I’m standing on the side of a dirt road in my hometown of Frelighsburg, Quebec, with my hands cupped around my ears. I’m listening for the calls of anurans—amphibians without a tail, so frogs and toads. I am here, more specifically, to hear the croaks of wood frogs, which are one of the first species to peek their little brown heads out after a long winter of hibernation.

This isn’t just recreational listening, mind you—this is also for science. I am a volunteer observer, one of several who are gathering data about dwindling amphibian populations in this region. Continue reading

September 19, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Plutonium in Hinkley nuclear mud dumping, but National Resources Wales’ call for full testing is ignored

September 19, 2020 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

The persistence of plastic

The persistence of plastic

The amount of synthetic microfiber we shed into our waterways has been of great concern over the last few years, and for good reason: Every laundry cycle releases in its wastewater tens of thousands of tiny, near-invisible plastic fibers whose persistence and accumulation can affect aquatic habitats and food systems, and ultimately our own bodies in ways we have yet to discover.    ….–tpo091620.php

September 17, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Arctic sea ice becomes a sea of slush

September 15, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Importance of the ocean’s biological carbon pump

September 14, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Climate change and the loss of sea otters

Loss of sea otters accelerating the effects of climate change, New research published in Science reveals that the influence of a key predator governs the pace of climate impacts on Alaskan reefs  EurekAlert, BIGELOW LABORATORY FOR OCEAN SCIENCES , 13 Sept 20,  The impacts of predator loss and climate change are combining to devastate living reefs that have defined Alaskan kelp forests for centuries, according to new research published in Science.

“We discovered that massive limestone reefs built by algae underpin the Aleutian Islands’ kelp forest ecosystem,” said Douglas Rasher, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the lead author of the study. “However, these long-lived reefs are now disappearing before our eyes, and we’re looking at a collapse likely on the order of decades rather than centuries.”

The coral-like reefs, built by the red alga Clathromorphum nereostratum, are being ground down by sea urchins. Sea urchins exploded in number after their predator, the Aleutian sea otter, became functionally extinct in the 1990’s. Without the urchins’ natural predator to keep them in check, urchins have transformed the seascape – first by mowing down the dense kelp forests, and now by turning their attention to the coralline algae that form the reef.

Clathromorphum produces a limestone skeleton that protects the organism from grazers and, over hundreds of years, forms a complex reef that nurtures a rich diversity of sea life. With kelp gone from the menu, urchins are now boring through the alga’s tough protective layer to eat the alga – a process that has become much easier due to climate change.

“Ocean warming and acidification are making it difficult for calcifying organisms to produce their shells, or in this case, the alga’s protective skeleton,” said Rasher, who led the international team of researchers that included coauthors Jim Estes from UC Santa Cruz and Bob Steneck from University of Maine. “This critical species has now become highly vulnerable to urchin grazing – right as urchin abundance is peaking. It’s a devasting combination.”………..

The results of the experiment confirmed that climate change has recently allowed urchins to breach the alga’s defenses, pushing this system beyond a critical tipping point.

“It’s well documented that humans are changing Earth’s ecosystems by altering the climate and by removing large predators, but scientists rarely study those processes together,” Rasher said. “If we had only studied the effects of climate change on Clathromorphum in the laboratory, we would have arrived at very different conclusions about the vulnerability and future of this species. Our study shows that we must view climate change through an ecological lens, or we’re likely to face many surprises in the coming years.”……..

September 14, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, environment, Reference | Leave a comment

Global population slowdown – good news for the planet’s ecology

The best news of 2020? Humanity may never hit the 10 billion mark

MongaBay by Jeremy Hance on 10 September 2020 
  • A new study in the Lancet finds our global population may never reach 10 billion.
  • A population slowdown will pose challenges, but it could also give us a better chance of avoiding ecological collapse.
  • Population slowdown is not a reason for concern, but rather for celebration. Thank birth control and women’s education.

While watching 2020 unfold has been like watching someone set themself on fire with a bucket of bacon grease and a firecracker, one morning I stumbled on something that made me smile, and then jump for joy: A new study found that the global human population might peak at just under 10 billion people in the 2060s before tapering off to 8.8 billion by 2100.

What miracle could achieve such a slowdown in human reproduction after a century of smack-yourself-in-the-face runaway growth? It’s not war, or nuclear holocaust, or plague (COVID-19, as tragic as its mishandling has been by certain governments, will do little to slow down population growth). It’s two things, both wonderfully non-violent: women’s education, and access to birth control.

The new findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, differ from other population forecasts, most importantly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Wittgenstein Centre, by predicting that the global population will peak sooner than expected and fall quicker than anticipated (though still, by 2100, the Earth would house more humans than the 7.8 billion of us here today).

This was good news. No, no, this was freaking great news. Because if this research — which made some clever shifts in how it analyzed the data and predicted the future — could be believed, it could mean that Planet Earth, in all its ecological glory, might just survive our current devastating onslaught and begin to recover in the coming centuries. Assuming we, of course, actually deal with climate change. A big assumption.

However, no one else seemed to see it that way. Coverage of the paper’s findings looked more like Munch’s “The Scream.”

Perhaps the most ridiculous of these articles came from the BBC, which spent about 1,000 words freaking out over the idea that the human population won’t go on growing forever and societies might have to … adapt. Oh, no! Humans have never had to do that.

There is only a single mention of the environment in the BBC article……….

Will there be economic challenges? Sure. But I’d hazard the challenges posed by an aging population are going to be far easier to solve than those posed by a total breakdown of Earth’s ecological limits, something we’re already dangerously close to. When it comes to an older population, we already have potential solutions and examples to soften the impact, such as automation, robotics, policy shifts, new ideas like universal basic income, and evolving views around economics.

Maybe we don’t have to play the neoliberal capitalism game forever? Maybe we could increase funding for the care of the elderly instead of giving billionaires tax cuts or spending trillions on the military?……

While the research clearly bemoans the challenges of a world where women have fewer children, the alternative is quite simply ludicrous. Is the human population — already tearing the seams of our planetary ecological limits — supposed to just go on growing forever? Perhaps 10 billion humans just isn’t enough and we should aim for 20, 40, why not 100 billion people?

How to feed, house and clothe us all? Oh, no worries, by then I’m sure we’ll have terraformed Mars — easily done on a planet we have never set foot on — and invented light-speed travel to bounce around the galaxy. Ha! Let’s get back to reality: if we can’t even take care of the planet that cradles us, what chance do we have of making good on others?

The only alternative to endless population growth is population decline. And the only alternative to wrecking our Earth is treating it differently. And this, of course, highlights the problem with our obsession with GDP and never-ending economic growth. As has been pointed out by many conservationists (originally by the economist Kenneth Boulding in the 1960s), “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth…on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.” …….

humans will be fine — if we avoid ecological catastrophe and total climate breakdown. And a slowing population allows us to have a bit of a better chance on both of those. I say “a bit” because human population is just one part of the equation. The other is consumption. We might miss the worst of the predicted population growth, but we still have to rein in our material consumption.

Just don’t tell the economists that.

Meanwhile, I’ll celebrate a little. Our incredible, nonviolent revolution of contraceptives, birth control, women’s rights, and education for girls might just prevent our species from destroying the world.

Citation: Vollset, S. E., Goren, E., Yuan, C., Cao, J., Smith, A. E., Hsiao, T., … Murray, C. J. (2020). Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: A forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease study. The Lancet. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(20)30677-2


September 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | 3 Comments

Big Oil is cheating the public on “recycling” of plastic

These commercials carried a distinct message: Plastic is special, and the consumer should recycle it.

It may have sounded like an environmentalist’s message, but the ads were paid for by the plastics industry, made up of companies like Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and their lobbying and trade organizations in Washington.

The oil industry makes more than $400 billion a year making plastic, and as demand for oil for cars and trucks declines, the industry is telling shareholders that future profits will increasinglycome from plastic.

an industry that didn’t want recycling to work. Because if the job is to sell as much oil as you possibly can, any amount of recycled plastic is competition.

Analysts now expect plastic production to triple by 2050.

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled, NPR, LAURA SULLIVAN,– 11 Sept 20 Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups.

None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried.

“To me that felt like it was a betrayal of the public trust,” she said. “I had been lying to people … unwittingly.”

Rogue, like most recycling companies, had been sending plastic trash to China, but when China shut its doors two years ago, Leebrick scoured the U.S. for buyers. She could find only someone who wanted white milk jugs. She sends the soda bottles to the state.

But when Leebrick tried to tell people the truth about burying all the other plastic, she says people didn’t want to hear it.

“I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.”

But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite.

“If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, known today as the Plastics Industry Association and one of the industry’s most powerful trade groups in Washington, D.C., told NPR………. Continue reading

September 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 2 Comments

Central Asia’s toxic nuclear legacy


According to Kyrgyz official data, the gamma radiation on tailings pit surfaces are within 17-60 mR/hr; however, in the damaged areas, radiation levels reach 400-500 mR/hr. An exposure to 100 mSv a year (a millisievert, mSv, is equal to 100 milliroentgens, mR) or 10,000 mR is the point where an increase in cancer is clearly evident. At 400-500 mR/hr this would be achieved in 20-25 hours, or just one day. Radionuclides and heavy metals from these tailing pits and dumps are seeping into the surface and groundwater, polluting water and farmland and increasing the risk of cancer for local people.

Birth anomalies are an additional indicator of environmental radioactive contamination. A study by the Institute of Medical Problems showed that the incidence of birth defects in Mailuu-Suu was three times higher than in the country’s second largest city of Osh. Studies have correlated birth defects to the distance of the parents’ residences from radioactive waste sites. Polluted water is the major factor causing the development of congenital malformations, according to research by the Institute of Medical Problems.

Mailuu-Suu: Cleaning up Central Asia’s toxic uranium legacy

Countries must set aside territorial disputes and work together to clean up radioactive waste seeping into rivers and farmland in the Ferghana Valley – causing an environmental and health catastrophe for people living in the region   Janyl Madykova, September 2, 2020   Political tensions between countries in Central Asia have intensified since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Along with border conflicts and water disputes, problems have arisen from residual radioactive waste located in the Kyrgyz town of Mailuu-Suu in the Ferghana Valley, which has caused widespread pollution of river and farmland, and led to major impacts on the health and economy of people in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Industrial-scale uranium mining began in Mailuu-Suu during the Soviet era in 1946 and lasted until 1968. Uranium ore from Europe and China was also processed in Mailuu-Suu during this time.

As a result, the small town of 24,000 people is now surrounded by about 3 million cubic metres of uranium waste left in 23 tailings pits and 13 dumps. These sites have contaminated the Mailuu-Suu river, a major tributary of the Syr Darya which flows through Kyrgyzstan and into Uzbekistan, carrying radioactive waste into the densely populated Ferghana Valley.

The biggest problem is that earthquakes, landslides and heavy rainfall events have intensified in recent years, destroying uranium tailing storage sites along the river and mountain slopes, contaminating surrounding areas. A number of international organisations have worked to prevent further disasters in Mailuu-Suu. The World Bank has allocated more than USD 11 million to clean up uranium tailings. The European Commission launched an initiative in 2015 to remediate the most dangerous sites in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

However, the pollution remains, and Central Asian countries must cooperate to prevent further environmental disasters in the Ferghana Valley, as well as mitigate economic damage and resolve political issues.

A town built on radioactive waste

According to the state surveys there are 92 radioactive and toxic storage facilities across Kyrgyzstan today. The most dangerous of these are the Mailuu-Suu uranium sites, because of numerous hazards threatening the tailing pits. Were these tailing pits destabilised, they would have potentially catastrophic environmental consequences for Kyrgyzstan and the neighbouring countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, with the radioactive waste contaminating the river as well as the soil and irrigated farmland surrounding it.

Uranium was first discovered in the region in 1933, and within 20 years 10,000 tonnes of uranium oxide was extracted in Mailuu-Suu. Residual radioactive waste in southern Kyrgyzstan currently poses a major environmental threat to the densely populated parts of the Ferghana Valley, home to about 14 million people.

Landslides are the major risk. There are more than 200 landslide-prone locations around Mailuu-Suu. There was little such threat in the 1940s, but landslide activity has intensified since 1954 due to increased rainfall. Landslides in Mailuu-Suu occurred several times in 1988, 1992 and 2002, damaging infrastructure and altering water flow. The most dangerous landslide is Koi-Tash, which happened in 2017 and could block the riverbed and spread radioactive contamination down the river.

The 1950s saw one of the most salient examples of the danger posed by vulnerable waste dumps. In April 1958, as a result of rainfall and high seismic activity, an alluvial dam collapsed into tailings pit #7 in Mailuu-Suu, pushing more than 400,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste into the Mailuu-Suu river, which then spread 30-40 km downstream in irrigated farmland in Uzbekistan. The effects of this disaster have lasted to this day, with the radioactive contamination of the river and surrounding soil and vegetation causing major health problems and fatalitiesSuch disasters also heighten tensions between the regional states. Continue reading

September 7, 2020 Posted by | ASIA, children, environment, history, Reference, women | Leave a comment

The threatening presence of highly radioactive material in Russia’s sunken nuclear submarines

Do Russia’s Sunken Nuclear Submarines Pose Environmental Danger?  There’s radioactive fuel hanging at the bottom of the sea   BY KYLE MIZOKAMI, SEP 4, 2020   

  • Two ex-Soviet nuclear submarinesK-27 and K-159, lie at the bottom of the Barents Sea.
  • The wrecked ships still have their radioactive fuel sources aboard, which experts worry could leak into the environment.
  • The Russian government has vowed to clean up the wrecks, but the work is not a priority.

Governments and environmental groups are worried a rupture of nuclear fuel supplies could cause a nuclear catastrophe, impacting local fishing areas. The Russian government is working to solve the problem, which some experts are calling a potential “Chernobyl in slow motion on the seabed.

A legacy of the Cold War threatens Russia’s people and environment, potentially irradiating a large portion of the Barents Sea and closing it to commercial fishing. Two Soviet nuclear-powered submarines are sitting on the bottom of the ocean and could unleash their radioactive fuels into the surrounding waters.

The Soviet Union built four hundred nuclear-powered submarines during the Cold War. The vast majority were either scrapped, or still serve with the Russian Navy today. A few subs, however, are trapped in precarious circumstances, lying on the seabed floor with their uranium fuel supplies still intact. The BBC reports on efforts to render two such ships, K-27 and K-159, safe.

The first ship, K-27, was a Soviet Navy submarine prototype equipped with a new liquid metal reactor. In 1968, the six-year-old sub suffered a reactor accident so serious, nine Soviet sailors received fatal doses of radiation. The submarine was scuttled off the Russian island of Novaya Zemlya in 1982 with its reactor still on board.

The second ship, K-159 (shown above before sinking, on original), was a November-class submarine that served a fairly typical career with the Soviet Northern Fleet before retirement in 1989. In 2003, however, the K-159 sank while in the process of being dismantled, killing nine sailors. The ship still resides where it was lost, again with its reactor on board.

Environmentalists in Norway and Russia are concerned that eventually the reactors on both submarines will break down, releasing huge amounts of radiation.

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The effects of these leaks could range from increasing local background radiation to declaring local fish and animals off limits, particularly Barents Sea fishing stocks of cod and haddock, costing local fishermen an estimated $1.5 billion a year.

While Russia’s state nuclear agency, Rosatom, has been tasked with cleaning up the ships, the effort is underfunded, resulting in a race against time (and saltwater corrosion).

September 5, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Radiation from Chernobyl spreads far away, as global heating exacerbates widfires

Climate change is spreading radiation from Chernobyl over 2,000 miles away, Boing Boing, 3 Sep 20,  One of the more difficult parts of trying to convince people about the seriousness of climate change is explaining how so many disparate elements and factors can collude and compound* and make everything worse. And it’s even harder to predict how long those complications will take to manifest, whenever they do what they do…….

. As The Atlantic reports:

Monitors in Norway, 2,000 miles away, detected increased levels of cesium in the atmosphere. Kyiv was smothered in smoke [from forest fires]. Press reports estimated that the level of radiation near the fires was 16 times higher than normal, but we may never know how much was actually released: Yoschenko, Zibtsev, and others impatient to take on-the-ground measurements were confined to their homes by the coronavirus pandemic. August is typically the worst month of the Chernobyl fire season, and this year, public anxiety is mounting. The devastation left by the world’s worst nuclear disaster is colliding with the disaster of climate change, and the consequences reach far and deep.

The unexpected result is an immense, long-term ecological laboratory. Within the exclusion zone, scientists are analyzing everything, including the health of the wolves and moose that have wandered back and the effects of radiation on barn swallows, voles, and the microorganisms that decompose forest litter. Now, as wildfires worsen, scientists are trying to determine how these hard-hit ecosystems will respond to yet another unparalleled disruption. ……

when something nuclear does go wrong — which is still likely, because nothing’s perfect — more nuclear power production will result in more radiation damage. And, if this situation with Chernobyl’s forest fires is any indication, then the ultimate fallout of that combined with our existing climate change problems could be even more insurmountably devastating…….

September 5, 2020 Posted by | climate change, environment, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Despite the undoubted danger of USA’s gigantic new plutoniu pit production, USA safety officials won’t bother with a new environment study

Officials Dismiss New Environmental Study for Nuclear Lab

Watchdog groups say the plutonium pit production work will amount to a vast expansion of the lab’s mission. Manufacturing Business Technology , Sep 3rd, 2020  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The National Nuclear Security Administration says it doesn’t need to do an additional environmental review for Los Alamos National Laboratory before it begins producing key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal because it has enough information.

Watchdog groups are concerned about Tuesday’s announcement, saying the plutonium pit production work will amount to a vast expansion of the lab’s nuclear mission and that more analysis should be done.

Los Alamos is preparing to resume and ramp up production of the plutonium cores used to trigger nuclear weapons. It’s facing a 2026 deadline to begin producing at least 30 cores a year — a mission that has support from the most senior Democratic members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation. The work is expected to bring jobs and billions of federal dollars to update buildings or construct new factories.

The work will be shared by the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which has been tasked with producing at least 50 plutonium cores a year.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday released its final supplemental analysis of a site-wide environmental impact statement done for the lab more than a decade ago. The agency concluded that no further analysis is required.

Critics have pushed for a new environmental impact statement, saying the previous 2008 analysis didn’t consider a number of effects related to increased production, such as the pressure it puts on infrastructure, roads and the housing market.

“The notion that comprehensive environmental analysis is not needed for this gigantic program is a staggering insult to New Mexicans and an affront to any notion of environmental law and science,” Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group said in a statement.

Lab officials last year detailed plans for $13 billion worth of construction projects over the next decade at the northern New Mexico complex as it prepares for plutonium pit production. About $3 billion of that would be spent on improvements to existing plutonium facilities for the pit work, the Albuquerque Journal reported.  AT TOP  Lab officials last year detailed plans for $13 billion worth of construction projects over the next decade at the northern New Mexico complex as it prepares for plutonium pit production. About $3 billion of that would be spent on improvements to existing plutonium facilities for the pit work, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

September 5, 2020 Posted by | - plutonium, environment, safety, USA | Leave a comment

THe Arctic’s slow-moving underwater nuclear disaster – Russia’s radioactive trash

September 3, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Sea ice at its lowest state in 5,500 years in Bering sea

Bering Sea ice extent is at most reduced state in last 5,500 years, Eurekalert UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS, Research News   2 Sept 20, Through the analysis of vegetation from a Bering Sea island, researchers have determined that the extent of sea ice in the region is lower than it’s been for thousands of years.A newly published paper in the journal Science Advances describes how a peat core from St. Matthew Island is providing a look back in time. By analyzing the chemical composition of the core, which includes plant remains from 5,500 years ago to the present, scientists can estimate how sea ice in the region has changed during that time period.

“It’s a small island in the middle of the Bering Sea, and it’s essentially been recording what’s happening in the ocean and atmosphere around it,” said lead author Miriam Jones, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Jones worked as a faculty researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks when the project began in 2012.

………. UAF’s Alaska Stable Isotope Facility analyzed isotope ratios throughout the peat layers, providing a time stamp for ice conditions that existed through the millennia.

After reviewing the isotopic history, researchers determined that modern ice conditions are at remarkably low levels.

“What we’ve seen most recently is unprecedented in the last 5,500 years,” said Matthew Wooller, director of the Alaska Stable Isotope Facility and a contributor to the paper. “We haven’t seen anything like this in terms of sea ice in the Bering Sea.”

Jones said the long-term findings also affirm that reductions in Bering Sea ice are due to more than recent higher temperatures associated with global warming. Atmospheric and ocean currents, which are also affected by climate change, play a larger role in the presence of sea ice.

“There’s a lot more going on than simply warming temperatures,” Jones said. “We’re seeing a shift in circulation patterns both in the ocean and the atmosphere.”

September 3, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment