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12 Fukushima decontamination locations likely to leak radiation, in heavy rain

Heavy rain could cause decontamination waste leak http://www.newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/126578.php

NHK — MAR 18  Japan’s Environment Ministry says waste produced by decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident could leak at 12 locations in case of torrential rain.

The ministry checked all the sites where the waste is kept after 91 bags were swept into rivers in Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures last year due to downpours caused by Typhoon Hagibis.

Of the 322 locations that are near rivers or in flood-prone areas, 12 sites in Fukushima Prefecture were found to be at risk of having bags of waste swept away or ruptured by mud flows.

The ministry plans to set up fences or move the waste to intermediate storage facilities to reduce the risk by the end of May this year.

Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi told reporters on Tuesday his ministry hopes to do the work as soon as possible because of the growing risk of sudden downpours in recent years.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

LANL Plans to Release Twice the Amount of Tritium Allowed 

March 28, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Plutonium contamination at Rocky Flats

How Colorado’s nuclear past is affecting its future, Colorado Springs INDY, GONE FISSION, by Heidi Beedle  25 Mar 20, IT WAS FEB. 25 AND BROOMFIELD City Council was done. It unanimously voted last month to withdraw from the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA), a proposed north-south toll road that would ostensibly help mitigate traffic congestion in the Northwest Metro Denver area. The route would have taken the road through the eastern edge of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, just south of the Boulder County line, bordering Arvada and Broomfield. The council vote was influenced by preliminary soil samples taken by the JPPHA in July 2019, specifically one sample that showed plutonium levels more than five times higher than the acceptable standard (the rest of the samples taken at that time were within acceptable standards). Before its current existence as a wildlife refuge, Rocky Flats was the site of a nuclear weapons plant, which has caused concern about plutonium contamination in the area. Forty-eight subsequent samples taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, showed levels well below cleanup standards of 50 picocuries per gram.

The city council vote is the latest installment in the ongoing conflict between concerned residents and public officials, and Rocky Flats and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). For decades, residents and at least two directors of Jefferson County Public Health, have claimed that plutonium released from the plant is responsible for the high rate of cancers in the area. These claims have been consistently disputed by CDPHE and the Department of Energy (DOE). ……..

Johnson was concerned about the instances of cancers in Jefferson County and questioned the official measurements of plutonium in the soils around Rocky Flats, finding in his own testing that plutonium levels in the soil were 44 times higher than reported by the Department of Public Health. Johnson grew increasingly concerned about an increase in cancer deaths in Jefferson County, and in a paper published in 1981, noted that a rise in certain kinds of cancers Johnson was seeing in Jefferson County, such as leukemia, “supports the hypothesis that exposure of general populations to small concentrations of plutonium and other radionuclides may have an effect on cancer incidence.” Johnson noted that “plutonium concentrations in the air at the Rocky Flats plant are consistently the highest (1970-1977) in the US DOE monitoring network,” based on his studies of the DOE’s own data. He also asserted that the DOE’s measurements were likely an underestimation.

Almost 40 years later, and the current head of the Jefferson County Public Health Department, Dr. Mark Johnson (no relation) has come to the same conclusion. In 2018 he spoke outagainst opening the wildlife refuge to the public, and he thinks the recent discovery of plutonium near the proposed parkway site should give people reason to reconsider. “

“There are clear studies that have shown there is an increased risk or rate of plutonium in the dirt there,” agrees Mark Johnson. “I have concerns already about the digging around with the subdivisions and the commercial enterprises that have gone into that area that were basically kicking up a lot of stuff — and we don’t know what is there.”

Carl Johnson was fired in 1981 for his persistent, outspoken criticism of the plant, but won a subsequent whistleblower lawsuit. Partly due to Johnson’s criticism, the FBI and the EPA began looking into operations at the Rocky Flats Plant starting in 1987. The investigation was aided by Jim Stone, an employee at the plant who also became a whistleblower over what he saw as grave safety violations……..


THOUGH EXHAUSTIVE DOCUMENTATION
 of waste sites and deposits exists, questions remain as to the effectiveness of the now-completed cleanup. Jon Lipsky, a former FBI agent who led the raid on Rocky Flats in 1989, criticized the decision to open the refuge to the public in 2016, and has claimed there is still work to be done. Originally, the DOE estimated it would take 65 years and $37 billion to clean up the site. It was completed in 2005 for $7 billion.

During the process, there were still surprises to be found. ……..

The questions of the lasting effects from the operations at Rocky Flats may never be answered to the satisfaction of residents like Hansen, who are dealing with serious health issues. Jeff Gipe, the artist behind the Cold War Horse memorial that was erected in 2015, is currently working on a documentary about the plant, Half-Life of Memory, which may draw more attention to the issue.

President Donald Trump, who has a good shot at re-election, has reduced the effectiveness of agencies like the EPA while also advocating for an increase in nuclear arms development.

In 2019, the federal government proposed a new plutonium pit production facility near Aiken, South Carolina. But that is presumably not our problem.  https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/how-colorados-nuclear-past-is-affecting-its-future/Content?oid=21526239

March 26, 2020 Posted by | - plutonium, environment, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

The lingering horror of the nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga, South Australia

March 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, health, history, indigenous issues, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Sizewell C project would tear through preciously fragile nature preserve

Nuclear lessons from the corona virus, No place for atomic power amidst climate chaos and pandemics   By Linda Pentz Gunter March 22, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational……….I recently sat in a room of 75 people — just before you couldn’t anymore — in Suffolk, England, listening to a series of eloquent presentations advocating for a halt to the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant there. The occasion was an event hosted by the Nuclear Free Local Authorities. The Sizewell C project, which would add two EPRs to the still operating Sizewell B reactor site, would tear through one of the richest, most preciously fragile and most diverse nature preserves in the country — Minsmere. And be built on a beach.

EDF, the French government-owned utility planning to carry out this project, insists on its website that “The proposed design of the Sizewell C buildings takes into account the sensitive nature of the surrounding environment while providing enough space to build and operate the power station safely and efficiently.” It doesn’t.

The first three speakers reminded us of the breathtaking beauty of Minsmere and the animals, insects, birds, and reptiles whose lives would be disrupted, if not ended, by the construction activities alone (my talk and the two others addressed the radiological and climate risks if Sizewell C ever became operational.) We saw slides not only of these animals, but of an exotic array of spectacular plant life that would also be lost. Site construction would dissect and disconnect habitats and frighten species away, with 24-hour lights, noise, heavy machinery, traffic and the bulldozing of their landscape. Wildness, already disappearing fast enough, would be lost.

After listening to the eloquent opening presentations from nature and sports journalist, Simon Barnes, Ben McFarland, head of conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and Rachel Fulcher of Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth, there was only one question to be asked: Why on earth would anyone allow this to happen? But so far, Suffolk County Council has gone alone with the plan, albeit with some caveats and ongoing questions for EDF. They may yet be dissuaded.

A video from Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth, narrated by Fulcher, is a quietly passionate reminder, somewhat in the style of her namesake, Rachel Carson, not to pave paradise, as Joni Mitchell once warned.

The first thing that is likely to happen is that EDF will raze Coronation Wood. It will do this, not because it needs to now. It is not even certain that Sizewell C will go ahead. It will do this for show. The show in question is to prove to the world that the French nuclear industry is alive and well. It is moving forward.

Not content with the ghastly building site which is the Hinkley C two-reactor project in Somerset, EDF must impress upon the world that it is moving forward with Sizewell as well, which, the company boasts, it can complete even cheaper and faster.

At the Suffolk meeting, Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell screened a particularly brilliant piece of video, shot from a drone, showing the spectacular Suffolk countryside today and what the hapless Somerset countryside at the Hinkley site now looks like. You can view it below.

The French government is on record as saying that without Hinkley and Sizewell, the French nuclear brand will be finished. It sees the UK projects as an essential redemptive step, given the EPR, its supposed flagship, has so far been a financial and technical shipwreck.

As the Financial Times pointed out in May 2018, “Avoiding delays in the UK will be crucial if EDF is to persuade international buyers — and its own shareholders, not least the French government — that the EPR’s teething problems are over.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which owns the Minsmere reserve, has said it has concerns that “EDF energy may not be able to keep its environmental promises.”

But the organization should instead be 100 per cent certain that EDF will not keep its environmental promises or any other kind for that matter. You just have to look at the company’s track record, along with the systemic disregard by all nuclear companies anywhere in the world, for the well-being and survival of animals and their habitats, both wild and domestic. (This latter is all documented in our newest booklet — Nuclear power and harm to animals, wild and domestic.)

There is particular reason to mistrust EDF because the company has experienced an endless series of technical, safety and transparency problems at the EPR construction sites still plodding their way to incompletion at Flamanville 3 in France and Olkiluoto 3 in Finland. Even such fundamentals as the concrete pour of the reactor foundation at Flamanville 3 had to be redone. The Flamanville 3 containment came from a forge which falsified quality control data and installed counterfeit parts; the vessel head is defective. And, amidst the corona virus, part of the workforce at Flamanville 1 and 2, both fortunately offline for maintenance, has now been called home. (An outbreak of covid-19 among its staff has also now forced the closure of the reprocessing plant at Sellafield in the UK.)

One can only hope that the decision-makers of Suffolk will wake up and smell the marsh-marigolds (I am no botanist so I can’t vouch for their actual aroma.) Or maybe amidst the silence of their now corona-forced sequestration, they will listen to the song of reed buntings, or sedge warblers and decide they are worth saving. Perhaps they will marvel at the aerobatics of the marsh harrier, or wander out at night and glimpse a rare barbastelle bat, “serrated wings against the sky, Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,” as D.H. Lawrence so vividly described the animals in his poem, Bats (although Lawrence did not care for bats.)…….https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/03/22/nuclear-lessons-from-the-corona-virus/

March 23, 2020 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

Coronavirus and the growthmania that drives environmental destruction.

Paul R. Ehrlich: A pandemic, planetary reckoning, and a path forward,  Environmental Health News, Mar 20, 2020 Bolster basic medical care

“………..It is convenient for progressives to blame the COVID-19 disaster in the United States on the spectacular incompetence and corruption of the current Republican national leadership. Yes, it has turned away from science, and worked hard to speed the demise of civilization.

One of the Republicans’ many steps in that direction was to destroy the global health security and biodefense directorate that the Obama Administration created to help prepare for emergent diseases. Americans are now likely paying with their lives for Trump’s move there.

But the basic problem dates much further back and is bipartisan. After all both parties have been supportive and remain supportive of the growthmania that has been the basic driver of environmental destruction.

Rather than dwell on the past, however, let’s look at what the U.S. should be doing about the epidemiological environment starting right now. The U.S. has long stood alone in failing to supply all its citizens with health care, an error COVID-19 has highlighted. Changing that, however it is done, should be top priority.

Besides the obvious ethics and justice reasons, people without basic medical care exacerbate public health problems, especially pandemics, in ways that threaten even senators and presidents.

A comprehensive national health program should also remove incentives for infected people to go to work sick and for keeping businesses and other entities that provide essential services functioning.

Plans and equipment should be put in place to greatly increase the capacity of the medical system to deal with large surges of victims of epidemics.

Programs are needed to keep both the plans and essential supplies up to date. A provision for quickly establishing unified leadership in disasters is essential.

  Climate change and biodiversity

U.S. security in a globalized world demands leadership in dealing with all aspects of the world’s epidemiological environment.

In addition to rejoining the Paris agreement, America should demand greatly increased ambition in replacing fossil fuels in energy systems so it will have a better chance of ameliorating the building climatic catastrophe and reduce the likely huge refugee flows that will transform the entire global epidemiological environment.

The U.S. should aid China to reduce that nation’s huge pig-duck-pond-wildlife market, which is a lethal virus manufacturing machine. Putting pigs and ducks together with ponds is bad in itself, but adding wildlife markets to the mix makes it worse – and it’s an important factor in the global epidemiological environment.

America and China could lead a civilization-wide program to halt the destruction of biodiversity – another factor which negatively impacts that environment.

What I’m basically saying is that the U.S. should fix the epidemiological environment by taking the obvious steps to solve the human predicament – to avoid the collapse of civilization now entrained…….. https://www.ehn.org/pandemic-population-covid-19-2645518249.html

March 21, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Paul Ehrlich on the pandemic and the challenge to civilisation

Paul R. Ehrlich: A pandemic, planetary reckoning, and a path forward,  Environmental Health News, Mar 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing environmental destruction and the deterioration of social and cultural systems into sharp focus. But we can learn from this.

Paul R Ehrlich    In addition to great concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m also disappointed.

For more than half a century, scientists have been expressing concern over the deterioration of what I like to call the “epidemiological environment.” That environment consists of the constellation of circumstances that influence patterns of disease and factors related to health.

It includes such things as population sizes and densities, diets, speed and type of transportation systems, toxics, climate disruption, frequency of human-animal contacts, availability of medical isolation facilities, stockpiles of medicines, vaccines, and medical equipment.

The epidemiological environment also includes cultural norms: levels of education, equity in societies, competence of leadership. Few aspects of the human predicament do not impinge on our epidemiological environment.

My own interest in one part of that environment, transmissible diseases, started as a grad student working on the evolution of DDT resistance in fruit flies. The results of that research had obvious implications for the evolution of antibiotic resistance, a key element in the epidemiological environment.

It clearly influenced my wife Anne and my scenarios in our 1968 book, The Population Bomb and a section on the epidemiological environment in The Population Explosion, the 1990 sequel book. We were responding not just to our own fears, but the fears of colleagues much more knowledgeable in areas like virology and epidemiology.

Of course, the utter failure of global society to deal appropriately with high probability threats to civilization warned of by the scientific community is hardly limited to pandemics.

Climate disruption is the best recognized of contemporary health threats, but the decay of biodiversity, and “updating” the American nuclear triad as part of the Russian-United States’ “mutually assured imbecility” are among the most critical.

Those, at least, are not obvious to the average citizen or decision-maker, but what about others such as increased flows of plastics and toxics (especially synthetic hormone mimicking compounds) into the global environment?

Everyone knows about volumes of plastics in waste streams and oceans and has personal experience with the thermal paper receipts coated with bisphenol-A (BPA), yet little to no remedies have been undertaken.

Indeed, why are there so few effective responses to the epidemics and the maladies of industrial civilization?……….

March 21, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health | Leave a comment

Destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, bring pandemics

 

March 19, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health | 1 Comment

Moscow: roadworks commence on top of radioactive waste dump: protestors enraged

Protests as Moscow moves to build road on radioactive dump,  https://www.france24.com/en/20200318-protests-as-moscow-moves-to-build-road-on-radioactive-dump  Moscow (AFP)Moscow authorities on Wednesday began work on building a highway over a Soviet-era dump of radioactive materials, despite months of public protests and warnings from environmental campaigners.

Greenpeace and other activists have long campaigned against the project to build an eight-lane motorway over the top of a tree-lined slope in southern Moscow that contains radioactive waste buried in the Soviet era.

“Works are beginning next to the Moscow Polymetals Plant,” Greenpeace Russia said in a statement, referring to the plant that originally dumped the waste.

The former top-secret facility produced the radioactive element thorium for nuclear reactors until the 1970s.

Greenpeace and other activists have long campaigned against the project to build an eight-lane motorway over the top of a tree-lined slope in southern Moscow that contains radioactive waste buried in the Soviet era.

“Works are beginning next to the Moscow Polymetals Plant,” Greenpeace Russia said in a statement, referring to the plant that originally dumped the waste.

The former top-secret facility produced the radioactive element thorium for nuclear reactors until the 1970s.

“We have registered 0.4 microsieverts,” while the permitted level in Moscow is 0.3,” Vlasov told AFP, adding that he expected those levels to increase in the future.

“When large-scale work begins, all this crap will be in the air,” he said.

Galina Rozvadovskaya, who lives near the site, said she came as soon as she learnt of the start of the construction work.

“Our task is to stop this lawlessness,” Rozvadovskaya told AFP. “What do we want? For them to conduct a proper survey of this burial site.”

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is keen to redevelop post-industrial wasteland and insists there are only “insignificant traces of contamination” on the road’s route.

Activists say, however, dangerous radioactive particles could be spread around and end up in people’s lungs. Citing a state report, Greenpeace says the site contains at least 60,000 tonnes of radioactive waste.

ma-video-as/am/cdw

March 19, 2020 Posted by | environment, Russia | Leave a comment

New research on the global climate impacts of a small nuclear war

How a small nuclear war would transform the entire planet  

As geopolitical tensions rise in nuclear-armed states, scientists are modelling the global impact of nuclear war.  https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00794-y, Nature,     Alexandra Witze,  18 Mar, 20, 

It all starts in 2025, as tensions between India and Pakistan escalate over the contested region of Kashmir. When a terrorist attacks a site in India, that country sends tanks rolling across the border with Pakistan. As a show of force against the invading army, Pakistan decides to detonate several small nuclear bombs.

The next day, India sets off its own atomic explosions and within days, the nations begin bombing dozens of military targets and then hundreds of cities. Tens of millions of people die in the blasts.

That horrifying scenario is just the beginning. Smoke from the incinerated cities rises high into the atmosphere, wrapping the planet in a blanket of soot that blocks the Sun’s rays. The planet plunges into a deep chill. For years, crops wither from California to China. Famine sets in around the globe.

This grim vision of a possible future comes from the latest studies about how nuclear war could alter world climate. They build on long-standing work about a ‘nuclear winter’ — severe global cooling that researchers predict would follow a major nuclear war, such as thousands of bombs flying between the United States and Russia. But much smaller nuclear conflicts, which are more likely to occur, could also have devastating effects around the world.

This week, researchers report that an India–Pakistan nuclear war could lead to crops failing in dozens of countries — devastating food supplies for more than one billion people1. Other research reveals that a nuclear winter would dramatically alter the chemistry of the oceans, and probably decimate coral reefs and other marine ecosystems2. These results spring from the most comprehensive effort yet to understand how a nuclear conflict would affect the entire Earth system, from the oceans to the atmosphere, to creatures on land and in the sea. ……….

Both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, highlighting growing geopolitical tensions. By the mid-2000s, Toon was exploring a scenario in which the countries set off 100 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs, killing around 21 million people. He also connected with Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who studies how volcanic eruptions cool the climate in much the same way that a nuclear winter would. Using an advanced NASA climate model, the scientists calculated how soot rising from the incinerated cities would circle the planet. All around the dark, cold globe, agricultural crops would dwindle.

But after a burst of publications on the topic, Robock, Toon and their colleagues struggled to find funding to continue their research. Finally, in 2017, they landed a grant worth nearly US$3-million from the Open Philanthropy Project, a privately funded group in San Francisco that supports research into global catastrophic risks.

The goal was to analyse every step of nuclear winter — from the initial firestorm and the spread of its smoke, to agricultural and economic impacts. “We put all those pieces together for the first time,” says Robock.

The group looked at several scenarios. Those range from a US–Russia war involving much of the world’s nuclear arsenal, which

would loft 150 million tonnes of soot into the atmosphere, down to the 100-warhead India–Pakistan conflict, which would generate 5 million tonnes of soot6. The soot turns out to be a key factor in how bad a nuclear winter would get; three years after the bombs explode, global temperatures would have plummeted by more than 10 °C in the first scenario — more than the cooling during the last ice age — but by a little more than 1 °C in the second.

Toon, Robock and their colleagues have used observations from major wildfires in British Columbia, Canada, in 2017 to estimate how high smoke from burning cities would rise into the atmosphere7. During the wildfires, sunlight heated the smoke and caused it to soar higher, and persist in the atmosphere longer, than scientists might otherwise expect. The same phenomenon might happen after a nuclear war, Robock says.Raymond Jeanloz, a geophysicist and nuclear-weapons policy expert at the University of California, Berkeley, says that incorporating such estimates is a crucial step to understanding what would happen during a nuclear winter. “This is a great way of cross-checking the models,” he says.

Comparisons with giant wildfires could also help in resolving a controversy about the scale of the potential impacts. A team at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico argues that Robock’s group has overestimated how much soot burning cities would produce and how high the smoke would go8.

The Los Alamos group used its own models to simulate the climate impact of India and Pakistan setting off 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs. The scientists found that much less smoke would get into the upper atmosphere than Toon and Robock reported. With less soot to darken the skies, the Los Alamos team calculated a much milder change to the climate — and no nuclear winter.

The difference between the groups boils down to how they simulate the amount of fuel a firestorm consumes and how that fuel is converted into smoke. “After a nuclear weapon goes off, things are extremely complex,” says Jon Reisner, a physicist who leads the Los Alamos team. “We have the ability to model the source and we also understand the combustion process. I think we have a better feel about how much soot can potentially get produced.” Reisner is now also studying the Canadian wildfires, to see how well his models reproduce how much smoke gets into the atmosphere from an incinerating forest.

Robock and his colleagues have fired back in tit-for-tat journal responses9. Among other things, they say the Los Alamos team simulated burning of greener spaces rather than a densely populated city.

Dark seas

While that debate rages, Robock’s group has published results showing a wide variety of impacts from nuclear blasts.

That includes looking at ocean impacts, the first time this has been done, says team member Nicole Lovenduski, an oceanographer at the University of Colorado Boulder. When Toon first approached her to work on the project, she says, “I thought, ‘this sure seems like a bleak topic’.” But she was intrigued by how the research might unfold. She usually studies how oceans change in a gradually warming world, not the rapid cooling in a nuclear winter.

Lovenduski and her colleagues used a leading climate model to test the US–Russia war scenario. “It’s the hammer case, in which you hammer the entire Earth system,” she says. In one to two years after the nuclear war, she found, global cooling would affect the oceans’ ability to absorb carbon, causing their pH to skyrocket. That’s the opposite to what is happening today, as the oceans soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide and waters become more acidic.

She also studied what would happen to aragonite, a mineral in seawater that marine organisms need to build shells around themselves. In two to five years after the nuclear conflict, the cold dark oceans would start to contain less aragonite, putting the organisms at risk, the team has reported2.

In the simulations, some of the biggest changes in aragonite happened in regions that are home to coral reefs, such as the southwestern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. That suggests that coral-reef ecosystems, which are already under stress from warming and acidifying waters, could be particularly hard-hit during a nuclear winter. “These are changes in the ocean system that nobody really considered before,” says Lovenduski.

And those aren’t the only ocean effects. Within a few years of a nuclear war, a “Nuclear Niño” would roil the Pacific Ocean, says Joshua Coupe, a graduate student at Rutgers. This is a turbo-charged version of the phenomenon known as El Niño. In the case of a US–Russia nuclear war, the dark skies would cause the trade winds to reverse direction and water to pool in the eastern Pacific Ocean. As during an El Niño, droughts and heavy rains could plague many parts of the world for as long as seven years, Coupe reported last December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Beyond the oceans, the research team has found big impacts on land crops and food supplies. Jonas Jägermeyr, a food-security researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, used six leading crop models to assess how agriculture would respond to nuclear winter. Even the relatively small India–Pakistan war would have catastrophic effects on the rest of the world, he and his colleagues report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1. Over the course of five years, maize (corn) production would drop by 13%, wheat production by 11% and soya-bean production by 17% .

The worst impact would come in the mid-latitudes, including breadbasket areas such as the US Midwest and Ukraine. Grain reserves would be gone in a year or two. Most countries would be unable to import food from other regions because they, too, would be experiencing crop failures, Jägermeyr says. It is the most detailed look ever at how the aftermath of a nuclear war would affect food supplies, he says. The researchers did not explicitly calculate how many people would starve, but say that the ensuing famine would be worse than any in documented history.

Farmers might respond by planting maize, wheat and soya beans in parts of the globe likely to be less affected by a nuclear winter, says Deepak Ray, a food-security researcher at the University of Minnesota in St Paul. Such changes might help to buffer the food shock — but only partly. The bottom line remains that a war involving less than 1% of the world’s nuclear arsenal could shatter the planet’s food supplies.

“The surprising finding”, says Jägermeyr, “is that even a small-war scenario has devastating global repercussions”.

Nature 579, 485-487 (2020)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00794-y

 

March 19, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The planet’s largest ecosystems could collapse faster than we thought

The planet’s largest ecosystems could collapse faster than we thought  https://www.ehn.org/ecosystems-collapse-2645447028.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1  

Massive, vital ecosystems that have existed for thousands of years could breakdown in just a few decades, according to a new study, Brian Bienkowski 11 Mar, 20

If put under the kind of environmental stress increasingly seen on our planet, large ecosystems —such as the Amazon rainforest or the Caribbean coral reefs—could collapse in just a few decades, according to a study released today in Nature Communications.

In the case of Amazon forests, stressors could cause collapse in just 49 years. In Caribbean coral reefs, it could take as little as 15 years.

“The messages here are stark,” said lead researcher John Dearing, a professor in physical geography at the University of Southampton, in a statement.

Those estimates come from Dearing and colleagues who examined data on how 42 natural environments—small and large, and on both land and water—have transformed. They found that larger ecosystems may take longer than small ones to collapse, but the rate of their decline is much more rapid.

Ecosystem stress can come in many forms such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification.

Humanity now needs to prepare for changes in ecosystems that are faster than we previously envisaged through our traditional linear view of the world, including across Earth ‘s largest and most iconic ecosystems, and the social–ecological systems that they support,” the authors wrote.

Larger ecosystems are made up of smaller “sub-systems” of species and habitats, which provide some resilience against rapid change. However, once these smaller systems start to collapse, the new study finds the large ecosystems as a whole fall apart much faster than previously expected.

Researchers pointed to the destructive Australian and Amazon rainforest wildfires as recent examples of this dangerous fast rate of collapse.

“These findings are yet another call for halting the current damage being imposed on our natural environments that pushes ecosystems to their limits,” Dearing added.

See the full study in Nature Communications.

March 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Negative reputation for Fukushima fishing industry – recovery is a long way away

Fukushima Fishing Industry Still Far from Recovery   https://www.nippon.com/en/japan-data/h00664/fukushima-fishing-industry-still-far-from-recovery.html   Mar 9, 2020   [excellent graphs]  While fishing ports and other infrastructure in Fukushima Prefecture have made progress toward recovery, the area still suffers from a negative reputation.

The coastal area off Ibaraki and Fukushima Prefectures, where the Oyashio and Kuroshio Currents meet in the Pacific Ocean, is an excellent fishing ground. The seafood caught in this area became known as Jōban-mono and was prized by professional chefs and Tsukiji Market connoisseurs. However, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake had a profound effect on the local fishing industry, when it caused a tsunami that destroyed all the fishing ports and led to an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that damaged the reputation of the waters.

According to Fukushima Prefecture sea-fishing industry statistics, the total catch in 2010 stood at 38,600 tons, before plummeting in 2011. While fishing ports and other infrastructure have steadily recovered since, catches remain low. In 2018, 5,900 tons of fish were caught, equivalent to only 15% of the volume prior to the earthquake. This was worth ¥796 million, or only 7.3% of the ¥11.0 billion generated in 2010. (Aggregated data for 2019 is due to be released later in March 2020.)

After the nuclear accident, the fishing industry in Fukushima came to a standstill for approximately one year. Then, in June 2012, trial fishing operations began. Currently, there are still no catches within a 10-kilometer radius of the Daiichi plant and any made outside that area are subject to prefectural inspections for radioactive materials, alongside inspections by the fishing cooperatives themselves, in order to ensure safety. Although there have been zero cases of results for prefectural inspections outside acceptable levels for more than four years, the area’s negative reputation remains, so full recovery in the fishing industry is yet to be seen  .

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

Big Oil Big Soda and plastically polluted Planet Earth

They really sold people on the idea that plastics can be recycled because there’s a fraction of them that are,”..“It’s fraudulent. When you drill down into plastics recycling, you realize it’s a myth.” …… “Recycling delays, rather than avoids, final disposal,” the Science authors write. And most plastics persist for centuries. …….

We are all guinea pigs in this experiment, as plastics accumulate in the food web, appearing in seafood, table salt, and ironically even in bottled water. Many plastics are mixed with a toxic brew of colorants, flame retardants, and plasticizers. 

PLANET PLASTIC, How Big Oil and Big Soda kept a global environmental calamity a secret for decades, Rolling Stone, By TIM DICKINSONMARCH 3, 2020   

Every human on Earth is ingesting nearly 2,000 particles of plastic a week. These tiny pieces enter our unwitting bodies from tap water, food, and even the air, according to an alarming academic study sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, dosing us with five grams of plastics, many cut with chemicals linked to cancers, hormone disruption, and developmental delays. Since the paper’s publication last year, Sen. Tom Udall, a plain-spoken New Mexico Democrat with a fondness for white cowboy hats and turquoise bolo ties, has been trumpeting the risk: “We are consuming a credit card’s worth of plastic each week,” Udall says. At events with constituents, he will brandish a Visa from his wallet and declare, “You’re eating this, folks!”

With new legislation, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020, Udall is attempting to marshal Washington into a confrontation with the plastics industry, and to force companies that profit from plastics to take accountability for the waste they create. …….

The battle pits Udall and his allies in Congress against some of the most powerful corporate interests on the planet, including the oil majors and chemical giants that produce the building blocks for our modern plastic world — think Exxon, Dow, and Shell — and consumer giants like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Unilever that package their products in the stuff. Big Plastic isn’t a single entity. It’s more like a corporate supergroup: Big Oil meets Big Soda — with a puff of Big Tobacco, responsible for trillions of plastic cigarette butts in the environment every year. And it combines the lobbying and public-relations might of all three………

Massive quantities of this forever material are spilling into the oceans — the equivalent of a dump-truck load every minute. Plastic is also fouling our mountains, our farmland, and spiraling into an unmitigatable environmental disaster. John Hocevar is a marine biologist who leads the Oceans Campaign for Greenpeace, and spearheaded the group’s response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Increasingly, his work has centered on plastics. “This is a much bigger problem than ‘just’ an ocean issue, or even a pollution issue,” he says. “We’ve found plastic everywhere we’ve ever looked. It’s in the Arctic and the Antarctic and in the middle of the Pacific. It’s in the Pyrenees and in the Rockies. It’s settling out of the air. It’s raining down on us.”

More than half the plastic now on Earth has been created since 2002, and plastic pollution is on pace to double by 2030. At its root, the global plastics crisis is a product of our addiction to fossil fuels. The private profit and public harm of the oil industry is well understood: Oil is refined and distributed to consumers, who benefit from gasoline’s short, useful lifespan in a combustion engine, leaving behind atmospheric pollution for generations. But this same pattern — and this same tragedy of the commons — is playing out with another gift of the oil-and-gas giants, whose drilling draws up the petroleum precursors for plastics. These are refined in industrial complexes and manufactured into bottles, bags, containers, textiles, and toys for consumers who benefit from their transient use — before throwing them away. Continue reading

March 7, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear testing left a signature of radioactive carbon all around the world

When Linus Pauling accepted the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning against hydrogen bombs, he said that carbon 14 “deserves our special concern” because it “shows the extent to which the earth is being changed by the tests of nuclear weapons.”
If people’s teeth have a very low level of radiocarbon, it means that they were born well before Castle Bravo. [thermonuclear atom bomb test] People born in the early 1960s have high levels of radiocarbon in their molars, which develop early, and lower levels in their wisdom teeth, which grow years later. By matching each tooth in a jaw to the bomb curve, forensic scientists can estimate the age of a skeleton to within one or two years.

Even after childhood, bomb radiocarbon chronicles the history of our body.

Your Inner H-Bomb  Nuclear testing left a signature of radioactive carbon all around the world—in trees and sharks, in oceans and human bodies. Even as that signal disappears, it’s revealing new secrets to scientists. The Atlantic, Story by Carl Zimmer, 2 Mar 20, 
“…… Among the isotopes created by a thermonuclear blast is a rare, radioactive version of carbon, called carbon 14. Castle Bravo and the hydrogen-bomb tests that followed it created vast amounts of carbon 14, which have endured ever since. A little of this carbon 14 made its way into Clark’s body, into his blood, his fat, his gut, and his muscles. Clark carried a signature of the nuclear weapons he tested to his grave.
I can state this with confidence, even though I did not carry out an autopsy on Clark. I know this because the carbon 14 produced by hydrogen bombs spread over the entire world. It worked itself into the atmosphere, the oceans, and practically every living thing. As it spread, it exposed secrets. It can reveal when we were born. It tracks hidden changes to our hearts and brains. It lights up the cryptic channels that join the entire biosphere into a single network of chemical flux. This man-made burst of carbon 14 has been such a revelation that scientists refer to it as “the bomb spike.” Only now is the bomb spike close to disappearing, but as it vanishes, scientists have found a new use for it: to track global warming, the next self-inflicted threat to our survival. ……. Continue reading

March 3, 2020 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, environment, radiation, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby attacks Australia’s Nuclear Prohibition laws

Jim Green, Online Opinion, 27 Feb 2020https://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20758&page=0  

Nuclear power in Australia is prohibited under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. A review of the EPBC Act is underway and there is a strong push from the nuclear industry to remove the bans. However, federal and state laws banning nuclear power have served Australia well and should be retained.

Too cheap to meter or too expensive to matter? Laws banning nuclear power has saved Australia from the huge costs associated with failed and failing reactor projects in Europe and North America, such as the Westinghouse project in South Carolina that was abandoned after the expenditure of at least A$13.4 billion. The Westinghouse / South Carolina fiasco could so easily have been replicated in any of Australia’s states or territories if not for the legal bans.

There are many other examples of shocking nuclear costs and cost overruns, including:

* The cost of the two reactors under construction in the US state of Georgia has doubled and now stands at A$20.4‒22.6 billion per reactor.

* The cost of the only reactor under construction in France has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$20.0 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

* The cost of the only reactor under construction in Finland has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$17.7 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

* The cost of the four reactors under construction in the United Arab Emirates has increased from A$7.5 billion per reactor to A$10‒12 billion per reactor.

* In the UK, the estimated cost of the only two reactors under construction is A$25.9 billion per reactor. A decade ago, the estimated cost was almost seven times lower. The UK National Audit Office estimates that taxpayer subsidies for the project will amount to A$58 billion, despite earlier government promises that no taxpayer subsidies would be made available.

Nuclear power has clearly priced itself out of the market and will certainly decline over the coming decades. Indeed the nuclear industry is in crisis ‒ as industry insiders and lobbyists freely acknowledge. Westinghouse ‒ the most experienced reactor builder in the world ‒ filed for bankruptcy in 2017 as a result of catastrophic cost overruns on reactor projects. A growing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power, including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea.

Rising power bills: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because nuclear power could not possibly pass any reasonable economic test. Nuclear power clearly fails the two economic tests set by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Firstly, nuclear power could not possibly be introduced or maintained without huge taxpayer subsidies. Secondly, nuclear power would undoubtedly result in higher electricity prices.

Nuclear waste streams: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because no solution exists to for the safe, long-term management of streams of low-, intermediate- and high-level nuclear wastes. No country has an operating repository for high-level nuclear waste. The United States has a deep underground repository for long-lived intermediate-level waste ‒ the only operating deep underground repository worldwide ‒ but it was closed from 2014‒17 following a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel. Safety standards and regulatory oversight fell away sharply within the first decade of operation of the U.S. repository ‒ a sobering reminder of the challenge of safely managing dangerous nuclear wastes for tens of thousands of years.

Too dangerous: The Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters results in the evacuation of over half a million people and economic costs in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In addition to the danger of nuclear reactor meltdowns and fires and chemical explosions, there are other dangers. Doubling nuclear output by the middle of the century would require the construction of 800−900 reactors. These reactors not only become military targets but they would produce over one million tonnes of high-level nuclear waste containing enough plutonium to build over one million nuclear weapons.

Pre-deployed terrorist targets: Nuclear power plants have been described as pre-deployed terrorist targets and pose a major security threat. This in turn would likely see an increase in policing and security operations and costs and a commensurate impact on civil liberties and public access to information. Other nations in our region may view Australian nuclear aspirations with suspicion and concern given that many aspects of the technology and knowledge-base are the same as those required for nuclear weapons.

Former US Vice President Al Gore summarised the proliferation problem: “For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program. And if we ever got to the point where we wanted to use nuclear reactors to back out a lot of coal … then we’d have to put them in so many places we’d run that proliferation risk right off the reasonability scale.”

Too slow: Expanding nuclear power is impractical as a short-term response to climate change. An analysis by Australian economist Prof. John Quiggin concludes that it would be “virtually impossible” to get a nuclear power reactor operating in Australia before 2040. More time would elapse before nuclear power has generated as much as energy as was expended in the construction of the reactor: a University of Sydney report concluded that the energy payback time for nuclear reactors is 6.5‒7 years. Taking into account planning and approvals, construction, and the energy payback time, it would be a quarter of a century or more before nuclear power could even begin to reduce greenhouse emissions in Australia (and then only assuming that nuclear power displaced fossil fuels).

Too thirsty: Nuclear power is extraordinarily thirsty. A single nuclear power reactor consumes 35‒65 million litres of water per day for cooling.

Water consumption of different energy sources (litres / kWh):

* Nuclear 2.5

* Coal 1.9

* Combined Cycle Gas 0.95

* Solar PV 0.11

* Wind 0.004

Climate change and nuclear hazards: Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to threats which are being exacerbated by climate change. These include dwindling and warming water sources, sea-level rise, storm damage, drought, and jelly-fish swarms. Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum states. “I’ve heard many nuclear proponents say that nuclear power is part of the solution to global warming. It needs to be reversed: You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.”

In January 2019, the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts, issued a policy statement concluding that nuclear power plants “are not appropriate for Australia – and probably never will be”.

By contrast, the REN21 Renewables 2015: Global Status Report states that renewable energy systems “have unique qualities that make them suitable both for reinforcing the resilience of the wider energy infrastructure and for ensuring the provision of energy services under changing climatic conditions.”

First Nations: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because the pursuit of a nuclear power industry would almost certainly worsen patterns of disempowerment and dispossession that Australia’s First Nations have experienced ‒ and continue to experience ‒ as a result of nuclear and uranium projects.

To give one example (among many), the National Radioactive Waste Management Act dispossesses and disempowers Traditional Owners in many respects: the nomination of a site for a radioactive waste dump is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent; the Act has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect archaeological or heritage values, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions; the Act curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage; and the Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste dump.

No social license: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because there is no social license to introduce nuclear power to Australia. Opinion polls find that Australians are overwhelmingly opposed to a nuclear power reactor being built in their local vicinity (10‒28% support, 55‒73% opposition); and opinion polls find that support for renewable energy sources far exceeds support for nuclear power (for example a 2015 IPSOS poll found 72‒87% support for solar and wind power but just 26% support for nuclear power). As the Clean Energy Council noted in its submission to the 2019 federal nuclear inquiry, it would require “a minor miracle” to win community support for nuclear power in Australia.

The pursuit of nuclear power would also require bipartisan political consensus at state and federal levels for several decades. Good luck with that. Currently, there is a bipartisan consensus at the federal level to retain the legal ban. The noisy, ultra-conservative rump of the Coalition is lobbying for nuclear power but their push has been rejected by, amongst others, the federal Liberal Party leadership, the Queensland Liberal-National Party, the SA Liberal government, the Tasmanian Liberal government, the NSW Liberal Premier and environment minister, and even ultra-conservatives such as Nationals Senator Matt Canavan.

The future is renewable, not radioactive: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because the introduction of nuclear power would delay and undermine the development of effective, economic energy and climate policies based on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. A December 2019 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator finds that construction costs for nuclear reactors are 2‒8 times higher than costs for wind or solar. Levelised costs for nuclear are 2‒3 times greater per unit of energy produced compared to wind or solar including either 2 hours of battery storage or 6 hours of pumped hydro energy storage.

Australia can do better than fuel higher carbon emissions and unnecessary radioactive risk. We need to embrace the fastest growing global energy sector and become a driver of clean energy thinking and technology and a world leader in renewable energy technology. We can grow the jobs of the future here today. This will provide a just transition for energy sector workers, their families and communities and the certainty to ensure vibrant regional economies and secure sustainable and skilled jobs into the future. Renewable energy is affordable, low risk, clean and popular. Nuclear is not. Our shared energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

More Information

* Don’t Nuke the Climate Australia, www.dont-nuke-the-climate.org.au

* Climate Council, 2019, ‘Nuclear Power Stations are Not Appropriate for Australia – and Probably Never Will Be’, https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/nuclear-power-stations-are-not-appropriate-for-australia-and-probably-never-will-be/

* WISE Nuclear Monitor, 25 June 2016, ‘Nuclear power: No solution to climate change’, https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/806/nuclear-power-no-solution-climate-change

Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia.

February 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, climate change, indigenous issues, water | Leave a comment