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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Old nuclear waste from Manhattan Project contaminating Niagara County

text-radiationRadioactive hot spots pepper Niagara County, Investigative Post, July 05 By  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/

July 10, 2016 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

Antarctic is being polluted by uranium mining in Australia

Climate scientists: Australian uranium mining pollutes Antarctic http://phys.org/news/2016-06-climate-uranium-orescientists-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 data reveal a significant increase in  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  websiteProvided by: University of Maine

July 4, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, AUSTRALIA, environment | Leave a comment

Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research reports on Fukushima and the oceans

Fukushima and the oceans: What do we know, five years on?, Science Daily  June 30, 2016

Source:
Goldschmidt Conference
Summary:
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:…….

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160630214454.htm

 

July 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans | Leave a comment

Mainstream media stays silent about about nuclear hazards, and rising cancer rates

media-propagandaAs 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

July 1, 2016 Posted by | environment, health, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Plant Closure will be a boon for marine life

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

June 27, 2016 Posted by | oceans, USA | Leave a comment

Spanish village scarred by American air crash, with 4 hydrogen nuclear bombs on board

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

June 22, 2016 Posted by | environment, Spain, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive material at popular UK beach near Sizewell nuclear station

text-radiationNUCLEAR 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/

June 17, 2016 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Parts of Philippines May Submerge Due to Global Warming

climate-changeMore 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

June 15, 2016 Posted by | climate change, oceans, Philippines | 1 Comment

Radionuclides from Fukushima reach Hawaiian Islands

Fukushima toiletElement 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 mdible@westhawaiitoday.com.

June 10, 2016 Posted by | environment, oceans, USA | Leave a comment

New Jersey nuclear reactors can continue guzzling water from Delaware River

nuke-tapPower 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 bgallo@njadvancemedia.com.    http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2016/06/power_stays_on_permit_allows_2_nj_nuclear_reactors.html

June 10, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Alarmingly high levels of radiation remain at Bikini Atoll

Bikini-Atoll-bombBikini 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.

June 10, 2016 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

EPA PROPOSES SHOCKING THOUSAND-FOLD INCREASE IN RADIOACTIVITY ALLOWED IN DRINKING WATER

water-radiationFlag-USAFrom Diane D’Arrigo at NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service)
Note that the public has 45 days from when it is published in the Federal Register to comment to the EPA on the PAG-Protective Action Guides. I’ll post an alert tomorrow. This is a media release below. Feel free to send it to interested reporters. Direct them to the press contacts listed at the top of the release. Thanks! – Kay C.  

 

 

Proposal Would Permit Radiation Exposures Equivalent to 250 Chest X-Rays a Year

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. EPA quietly issued proposals to allow radioactive contamination in drinking water at concentrations vastly greater than allowed under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The new guidance would permit radiation exposures equivalent to 250 chest X-rays a year. Today, environmental groups called the proposal “shocking” and “egregious.”

The EPA proposed Protective Action Guides (PAGs) would allow the general population to drink water hundreds to thousands of times more radioactive than is now legal. For example, radioactive iodine-131 has a current limit of 3 pico-curies per liter (pCi/L), in water but the new guidance would allow 10,350 (pCi/L), 3,450 times higher. For strontium-90, which causes leukemia, the current limit is 8 pCi/L; the new proposed value is 7,400 pCi/L, a 925-fold increase.

“Clean Water is essential for health. Just like lead, radiation when ingested in small amounts is very hazardous to our health. It is inconceivable that EPA could now quietly propose allowing enormous increases in radioactive contamination with no action to protect the public, even if concentrations are a thousand times higher than under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The Bush Administration in its last days unsuccessfully tried to put forward similar proposals, which the incoming Obama Administration pulled back. Now, in the waning months of the Obama Administration, EPA’s radiation office is trying again.

“These levels are even higher than those proposed by the Bush Administration—really unprecedented and shocking,” said Diane D’Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service. Continue reading

June 8, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, water | Leave a comment

America’s EPA lifting the level of radioactivity permitted in drinking water

water-radiationFlag-USAEPA Pushing Hike in Radioactive Contamination in Drinking Water http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/epa-pushing-hike-in-drinking-water-radioactivity/ By Editor  June 7th, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled a plan allowing radioactive contamination in drinking water at concentrations vastly greater than the levels permitted by the Safe Drinking Water Act for long periods following release of nuclear materials.

The new guidance would permit radiation exposures equivalent to 250 chest X-rays a year for the general population for an unlimited time period.

EPA’s “Protective Action Guides” (or PAGs) dramatically relax allowable doses of radioactive material in public drinking water following a Fukushima-type meltdown or “dirty bomb” attack.

They cover the “intermediate phase” after “releases have been brought under control” – an unspecified period that may last for weeks, months or even years.

The agency has declared that the strict limits for chemical exposure in the Safe Drinking Water Act “may not be appropriate…during a radiation incident.”

EPA states that it “expects that the responsible party…will take action to return to compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant levels as soon as practicable” but during the indefinite meantime –

The general population may be exposed to radioactive iodine-131 at 10,350 pico-curies per liter of water.

By contrast, the current limit is 3, resulting in a 3,450-times increase; The current strontium-90 limit of 8 pico-curies per liter would be allowed a 925-fold increase; and

In an attempt to shield “sensitive populations,” the plan proposes 500 millirem per year for the general population but only 100 millirem for children under 15, pregnant or nursing mothers without explaining how these latter groups will get access to less contaminated water.

“Given this monstrous proposal, it unclear what lessons EPA learned from the contaminated water calamity of Flint, Michigan,” said. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) executive director Jeff Ruch. “It is unfathomable that a public health agency would prescribe subjecting people to radioactive concentrations a thousand times above Safe Drinking Water Act limits as a ‘protective’ measure.”

Internal EPA documents obtained under Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by PEER show that EPA itself concluded that proposed concentrations “would exceed MCLs [Maximum Contaminant Limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act] by a factor of 100, 1000, and in two instances, 7 million.”

The internal analysis estimated for one radionuclide that drinking only one small glass of water “would result in an exposure that corresponds to a lifetime of drinking liters of water per day at the MCL level.”

The Bush Administration in its last days unsuccessfully tried to put forward similar proposals, which the incoming Obama Administration pulled back.

Now, in the waning months of the Obama Administration, those plans are moving forward with new exposure limits higher than the Bush plan it had rejected.

“President Obama goes to Hiroshima to urge a nuclear-free world while his EPA facilitates a nuclear-ridden water supply,” added Ruch. “It speaks volumes that the current Obama drinking water plan is less protective than his predecessor’s.”

June 8, 2016 Posted by | politics, radiation, USA, water | Leave a comment

Asking how to prepare for a nuclear disaster is asking the wrong question

Nuclear power: Asking the wrong questions http://thebulletin.org/chernobyl-fukushima-and-preparedness-next-one/nuclear-power-asking-wrong-questions  Steven Starr, 1 June 16 

This is a discussion in which, as Manpreet Sethi has noted, all the participants “either argue in favor of nuclear power or decline to argue against it. … [T]hey see no need to eliminate nuclear energy.” That is, the Bulletin has selected experts who may suggest new policies or technological fixes for the nuclear industry, but will not call for the industry’s abolition.

I am a senior scientist with Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group that does call for abolition. Physicians for Social Responsibility is deeply concerned about the medical and ethical consequences of the ongoing production of enormous amounts of high-level nuclear waste. Such waste, hundreds of thousands of tons of it, sits in “cooling pools” next to nuclear power reactors; many individual pools contain more cesium-137 than was released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests combined. These utterly lethal radionuclides will require some form of supervision for hundreds of thousands of years if they are to be prevented from entering the biosphere. Thousands of generations of human beings will have to perform the supervision.

Only one country, Finland, has begun work on a permanent repository for high-level waste, but it is not yet operational. The only permanent site for low-level waste in the United States, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, is currently closed due to mishaps including a 2014 radiation release. Hence the entire world provides no good examples of safe permanent storage.

But the problem, of course, extends beyond waste—it includes catastrophic releases of radiation, something that the nuclear industry has not managed to prevent in the first 70 years of its existence. And even Sethi admits that “[t]here can never be a perfect strategy for disaster prevention and preparedness.” So there is little reason to think such releases will be prevented in the future.

When they aren’t prevented, as at Chernobyl, the consequences are devastating, as study after study demonstrates.

  • The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, in a 2011 report called “Health Effects of Chernobyl,” found that 25 years after the disaster, more than 90 percent of “liquidators”—the soldiers and civilians, numbering at least 740,000, who fought to contain the reactor fire and clean up afterwards—were severely ill or had become invalids.
  • According to the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, between 12,000 and 83,000 genetically damaged children will eventually be born in “affected countries of the Chernobyl region,” while 30,000 to 207,000 such children will be born worldwide due to the disaster. These cases will take time to appear—only 10 percent of the overall expected damage can be seen in the first generation after exposure.
  • The “TORCH-2016” report, an independent scientific evaluation of Chernobyl’s health effects based entirely upon peer-reviewed sources, finds that about 5 million people in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia live in areas still highly contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster (with more than 40 kilobecquerels of cesium-137 per square meter). These areas include 18,000 square kilometers in Belarus, 12,000 square kilometers in Ukraine, and 16,000 square kilometers in Russia. About 400 million people live in less contaminated areas (with between 4 and 40 kilobecquerels of cesium-137 per square meter).
  • The unfortunate people who must live on these contaminated lands—especially infants and children—suffer greatly from the effects of the long-lived radionuclides (primarily cesium-137) that have contaminated the forests, soils, and foodstuffs to which they are constantly exposed. In 2011, the National Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine issued a national report entitled “Twenty-five Years after Chernobyl Accident: Safety for the Future.” The report found that by 2001, no more than 10 percent of the children living in the seriously contaminated zones of Ukraine were considered healthy. Prior to the dispersal of radionuclides from the Chernobyl explosion, 90 percent had been healthy.

These are some of the consequences of a single catastrophic nuclear accident. Fukushima, meanwhile, is an example of the ongoing irradiation of the biosphere. There will be more accidents. The nuclear industry will continue to claim that such accidents pose “no significant danger to human health.” The evidence indicates otherwise.

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions,” Thomas Pynchon wrote in Gravity’s Rainbow, “they don’t have to worry about answers.” Asking how to prepare for a nuclear disaster is asking the wrong question. It steers the conversation away from the real issue, which is why nuclear power reactors should be allowed to continue producing mass quantities of nuclear poison that must be isolated from the biosphere for more than 100,000 years—forever, in human terms. The Chernobyl disaster released only a tiny fraction of the radioactive poison that nuclear power has produced. The overwhelming majority that remains is a grave danger, and to ignore it is willful blindness.

June 6, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

China readies nuclear armed submarines for the Pacific

submarine-missileflag-ChinaChina to send nuclear-armed submarines into Pacific amid tensions with US
Beijing risks stoking new arms race with move although military says expansion of the US missile defence has left it with no choice
, Guardian,  , 26 May 16  [ video, excellent graphics] The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative.

Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a maiden patrol, but insist the move is inevitable.

They point to plans unveiled in March to station the US Thaad anti-ballistic system in South Korea, and the development of hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less than an hour after launch, as huge threats to the effectiveness of its land-based deterrent force.

A recent Pentagon report to Congress predicted that “China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016”, though top US officers have made such predictions before…….

Last Tuesday, a US spy plane and two Chinese fighter jets came close to colliding 50 miles of Hainan island, where China’s four Jin-Class ballistic missile submarines are based. A fifth is under construction.

The two countries’ navies have also come uncomfortably close around disputed islands in the same region, and the chance of a clash will be heightened by cat-and-mouse submarine operations, according to Wu Riqiang, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at the Renmin University in Beijing.

“Because China’s SSBNs [nuclear missile submarines] are in the South China Sea, the US navy will try to send spy ships in there and get close to the SSBNs. China’s navy hates that and will try to push them away,” Wu said.

The primary reason Chinese military officials give for the move towards a sea-based deterrent is the expansion of US missile defence, which Moscow also claims is disturbing the global strategic balance and potentially stoking a new arms race.

The decision to deploy Thaad anti-ballistic interceptors in South Korea was taken after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, and the stated mission of the truck-launched interceptors is to shield the south from missile attack.

But Beijing says the Thaad system’s range extends across much of China and contributes to the undermining of its nuclear deterrent. It has warned Seoul that relations between the two countries could be “destroyed in an instant” if the Thaad deployment goes ahead……

Under Xi’s assertive leadership, China seems determined that the Chinese nuclear deterrent will take finally to the ocean, and it has already taken thestep of putting multiple warheads on its missiles. Those steps are mostly in response to US measures, which in turn were triggered by unrelated actions by the North Koreans.

The law of unintended consequences is in danger of taking the upper hand. “The two sides may thus be stumbling blindly into severe crisis instability and growing competition by China with respect to strategic forces,” Lewis argues. “A competition between unevenly matched forces is inherently unstable.”http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/26/china-send-nuclear-armed-submarines-into-pacific-us

May 27, 2016 Posted by | China, oceans, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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