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MEDIA MATTERS finds that mainstream news is practically ignoring Amazon fires

 

The Notre Dame fire garnered wall-to-wall cable news coverage. The Amazon fires are barely breaking through.  https://www.mediamatters.org/msnbc/notre-dame-fire-garnered-wall-wall-cable-news-coverage-amazon-fires-are-barely-breaking   LIS POWER 23 Aug 19

When a fire broke out at the Notre Dame Cathedral earlier this year, the tragic event garnered wall-to-wall coverage on cable news outlets. But as a record number of wildfires burn through Brazil’s Amazon rainforest — an event that will have dire consequences for the global environment — the story is receiving significantly less attention and struggling to break through the media cycle. None of the Sunday shows substantially mentioned it at all.

The current fires raging in the Amazon aren’t garnering anywhere near the same level of coverage on cable news, despite the effects the wildfires will have on the global environment.

As noted in The Washington Post, the Amazon “serves as the lungs of the planet by taking in carbon dioxide,” and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service is warning that “the fires have led to a clear spike in carbon monoxide emissions as well as planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, posing a threat to human health and aggravating global warming.”

Despite the serious implications, the Amazon fires haven’t gotten even close to the amount of coverage Notre Dame’s fire received. So far, coverage has peaked at 11 segments that mention the fires per day on cable news networks combined — as opposed to around 150 segments a day that mentioned the cathedral fire during the peak of Notre Dame coverage — according to Media Matters’ internal database. Additionally, the coverage has often come via short headline reads or passing mentions rather than thorough, in-depth analysis about the events and global consequences.

The disparity in coverage is glaring and raises serious questions about cable news priorities when it comes to covering our environment.

Media Matters’ internal database includes weekday cable news programming on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight. Segments are coded in near-real time by analysts for pertinent information. We searched our database for segments during the week of April 15 that included “Notre Dame” in the segment notes and segments during the week of August 18 that included “Amazon” in the segment notes. 

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August 26, 2019 Posted by | climate change, environment, media, USA | Leave a comment

International concern growing over Fukushima’s radioactive contamination of surface-level soil

The danger of sourcing food and material from the Fukushima region   Ground-level nuclear disasters leave much more radioactive fallout than Tokyo is willing to admit   Hankyoreh  By Seok Kwang-hoon, energy policy consultant of Green Korea   Aug.25,2019 International concerns are growing over the Japanese government’s plans to provide meals from the Fukushima area to squads participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The starting point for the Olympic torch relay, and even the baseball stadium, were placed near the site of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. It seems to be following the model of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, where Japan’s rise from the ashes of the atomic bombs was underscored by having a young man born the day of the Hiroshima bombing act serve as the relay’s last runner. Here we can see the Shinzo Abe administration’s fixation on staging a strained Olympic reenactment of the stirring Hiroshima comeback – only this time from Fukushima.

But in terms of radiation damages, there is a world of difference between Hiroshima and Fukushima. Beyond the initial mass casualties and the aftereffects suffered by the survivors, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima resulted in little additional radiation exposure. Nuclear technology being as crude as it was back then, only around one kilogram of the Hiroshima bomb’s 64kg of highly enriched uranium actually underwent any reaction, resulting in a relatively small generation of nuclear fission material.
Whereas ground-based nuclear testing results in large quantities of radioactive fallout through combining with surface-level soil, the Hiroshima bomb exploded at an altitude of 580m, and the superheated nuclear fission material rose up toward the stratosphere to spread out around the planet, so that the amount of fallout over Japan was minimal. Even there, most of the nuclides had a short half-life (the amount of time it takes for half the total atoms in radioactive material to decay); manganese-56, which has a half-life of three hours, was the main cause of the additional radiation damages, which were concentrated during the day or so just after the bomb was dropped. The experience of Nagasaki was similar. As a result, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were able to fully resume as functioning cities by the mid-1950s without additional decontamination efforts.
Ground-level nuclear disasters leave much more radioactive fallout than Tokyo is willing to admit
nternational concerns are growing over the Japanese government’s plans to provide meals from the Fukushima area to squads participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The starting point for the Olympic torch relay, and even the baseball stadium, were placed near the site of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. It seems to be following the model of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, where Japan’s rise from the ashes of the atomic bombs was underscored by having a young man born the day of the Hiroshima bombing act serve as the relay’s last runner. Here we can see the Shinzo Abe administration’s fixation on staging a strained Olympic reenactment of the stirring Hiroshima comeback – only this time from Fukushima.But in terms of radiation damages, there is a world of difference between Hiroshima and Fukushima.
Beyond the initial mass casualties and the aftereffects suffered by the survivors, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima resulted in little additional radiation exposure. Nuclear technology being as crude as it was back then, only around one kilogram of the Hiroshima bomb’s 64kg of highly enriched uranium actually underwent any reaction, resulting in a relatively small generation of nuclear fission material. Whereas ground-based nuclear testing results in large quantities of radioactive fallout through combining with surface-level soil, the Hiroshima bomb exploded at an altitude of 580m, and the superheated nuclear fission material rose up toward the stratosphere to spread out around the planet, so that the amount of fallout over Japan was minimal. Even there, most of the nuclides had a short half-life (the amount of time it takes for half the total atoms in radioactive material to decay); manganese-56, which has a half-life of three hours, was the main cause of the additional radiation damages, which were concentrated during the day or so just after the bomb was dropped. The experience of Nagasaki was similar. As a result, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were able to fully resume as functioning cities by the mid-1950s without additional decontamination efforts…… http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/907055.html

August 26, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

Life on Earth threatened by climate change – loss of Amazon Forests

ONE OF the easiest ways to combat climate change is to stop tearing down old trees. This is why it is everyone’s problem that new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro seems determined to chop away at the Amazon rainforest, the world’s greatest reserve of old-growth forest.

According to a recent analysis in the New York Times, “enforcement actions by Brazil’s main environmental agency fell by 20 percent during the first six months of the year, compared with the same period in 2018.” Fines, warnings and the elimination of illegal equipment from preservation zones are among the measures Brazil’s authorities are doing less often. “The drop means that vast stretches of the rain forest can be torn down with less resistance from the nation’s authorities.” The result has been a loss of 1,330 square miles of rainforest since January, a loss rate that is some 40 percent higher than a year previous, according to Brazilian government records.

Mr. Bolsonaro has called his own government’s information “lies,” stripped the environment ministry of authorities and slashed the environmental budget. When eight former environment ministers protested in May, current environment minister Ricardo Salles allegedthat there is a “permanent and well-orchestrated defamation campaign by [nongovernmental organizations] and supposed experts, within and outside of Brazil.”

In its reality denial, Mr. Bolsonaro’s brand of right-wing populism closely resembles that of President Trump. Both leaders stoke unfounded suspicions that environmental concerns represent foreign plots to undermine the domestic economy. Both are committed to breakneck resource extraction while dismissing expert warnings. And both lead nations with special responsibilities in the global fight against climate change. Global warming cannot be successfully addressed without the engagement of the United States, the world’s largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases and erstwhile leader. The Brazilian Amazon, meanwhile, is a unique natural treasure, its abundance of plant life inhaling and storing loads of planet-warming carbon dioxide day and night. Without “the world’s lungs,” life on the planet is doomed.

Earlier this month, the journal Science published a paper finding that, if world leaders made reforestation a priority, the planet’s ecosystems could accommodate massive numbers of new trees — perhaps hundreds of billions more. True, reforestation advocates would no doubt have to compete with those who would use land for other purposes, particularly as the world population increases. Even so, the paper’s authors note, their work “highlights global tree restoration as our most effective climate change solution to date.”

This is not to say that the fight against global warming is as easy as planting a few, or even billions, of trees, if such a thing were politically or logistically feasible. As long as humans depend on carbon-emitting sources of fuel for energy, the atmosphere’s chemistry will continue to change and the climate will be in peril. But it does suggest that leaders such as Mr. Bolsonaro, who are leading in the opposite direction, can do particularly extreme damage to the effort to restrain climate change.

August 26, 2019 Posted by | Brazil, climate change, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s radiation increases over time

August 26, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

Warning on radiation risks at some parts of Fukushima, for Olympic Games 2020

[Herald Interview] Sports bodies need to make own assessments of Fukushima: Greenpeace nuclear specialist,    http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190821000749 By Kim Bo-gyung  (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)    Nuclear specialist warns of unknown long-term health, environmental risks from Japan’s radioactive water disposal plan  Aug 21, 2019  With less than a year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, concerns are growing over the safety of the baseball and softball venues in disaster-hit Fukushima.

Seeking to break away from Japan’s association with high levels of radioactivity, the Abe government has branded the 2020 Olympics the “Recovery Games.”

But health and environmental risks from high levels of radiation persist in parts of Fukushima after the 2011 nuclear meltdown.

According to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, those visiting Fukushima for the Summer Games next year should take a proactive approach to educating themselves on which areas of Fukushima are affected by radiation and on the impact of exposure to radiation.

  • “In terms of safety, there are certain areas of Fukushima where we would certainly not advise athletes or spectators to spend any time. Those are areas particularly close to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, including where the torch processions will be taking place,” Burnie said in an interview with The Korea Herald at Greenpeace Korea’s office in central Seoul last week.

    “They are areas that are not safe for people to live. If you visit, you need to follow a radiation protocol. It is a bizarre situation that you are having Olympic events where people are concerned about radiation,” he added.

    While noting that not all parts of Fukushima should be off limits, Burnie said athletes and sports bodies need to seek independent assessments on Fukushima, rather than relying on information provided by the Japanese government.
    “It’s dangerous to just dismiss the whole of Fukushima as a radioactive disaster zone. It’s much more complex than that. The first thing is … don’t trust the Japanese government, educate yourself. If you’re an organizing body, get independent verification and independent information about what the relative radiation levels are, what the risks are,” Burnie said.

    As the senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, Burnie has followed the Japanese government’s handling of the tsunami and earthquake in March 2011 that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.

    In a report published in January, Burnie alleged that Tokyo plans to dispose of some 1 million metric tons of contaminated water by discharging it into the Pacific Ocean after the Summer Olympics.

    If Japan follows through with the move, radioactive water is expected to be present in Korea’s East Sea a year later.

    “For the past five years we’ve been accessing the process, the discussions, the documents submitted by Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) … we were reviewing some of Tepco’s data (last year) and we looked at it and went ‘there is something wrong here with Tepco’s processing,’” Burnie said.

    “It became very clear there has been bad decisions made, not really surprising, by Tepco, by the (Japanese) government over the last five or six years and how to manage the water crisis.”

    Last year Tepco acknowledged its Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, had failed to purify contaminated water stored in tanks at the Dai-ichi power plant.

    A committee under Japan’s Ministry of Economy in 2016 put together five scenarios for the Japanese government to deal with the massive volume of pollutants stored at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

    The amount of water stored at the plant is to reach its full capacity of 1.3 million tons by the end of 2020, with about 170 tons accumulating daily.

    According to Burnie, Tokyo has chosen to discharge the radioactive water instead of acting on any of the other four suggestions because “it is the most cheap and fast.”

    Besides increased levels of radioactive cesium found in Fukushima and in the East Sea, Burnie warned of “cesium-rich micro particles” extremely small in size and inhaled through breathing.

    Cesium is one of the largest sources of radioactivity from the 2011 disaster and has a half-life of 30 years.

    “There is evidence from samples … some scientific literature has published the results and they found concentrations of these particles in areas 20-30 kilometers from the plant. … The problem is these particles can be inhaled. Then some of them lodge inside your lung at which point you are getting an internal dose, a very focused, very localized, relatively high-exposure dose to individual cells,” Burnie said.

    “That’s a real problem because there is very little known about how cesium in that form will affect your long-term health. … Again, the people most at risk are those returning to live in areas of Fukushima affected by these particles. But the Japanese government has not taken into account in any of its assessments what those risks are,” he added.

    Stressing that the risks of exposure to radiation should not be exaggerated, Burnie noted there is no safe level of radiation exposure and the long-term effects are unknown.

    “The effects you will only see over decades. It won’t be instant, it’s not an acute radiation exposure, it’s low-level radiation,” Burnie said.

    “The country that will be next impacted will be Korea, because it’s the geographically closest. … There is no safe threshold for radiation exposure. … Why should you be exposed when there is a clear alternative, which is you store?”

August 22, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Sea level rise only half the story – climate change is altering ocean waves

Climate change may change the way ocean waves impact 50% of the world’s coastlines  The Conversation, Mark Hemer, Principal Research Scientist, Oceans and Atmosphere, CSIRO, Ian Young. Kernot Professor of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Joao Morim Nascimento, PhD Candidate, Griffith University, Nobuhito Mori, Professor, Kyoto University, August 20, 2019    The rise in sea levels is not the only way climate change will affect the coasts. Our research, published today in Nature Climate Change, found a warming planet will also alter ocean waves along more than 50% of the world’s coastlines.

If the climate warms by more than 2℃ beyond pre-industrial levels, southern Australia is likely to see longer, more southerly waves that could alter the stability of the coastline.

Scientists look at the way waves have shaped our coasts – forming beaches, spits, lagoons and sea caves – to work out how the coast looked in the past. This is our guide to understanding past sea levels.

But often this research assumes that while sea levels might change, wave conditions have stayed the same. This same assumption is used when considering how climate change will influence future coastlines – future sea-level rise is considered, but the effect of future change on waves, which shape the coastline, is overlooked.

Changing waves

Waves are generated by surface winds. Our changing climate will drive changes in wind patterns around the globe (and in turn alter rain patterns, for example by changing El Niño and La Niña patterns). Similarly, these changes in winds will alter global ocean wave conditions.

Further to these “weather-driven” changes in waves, sea level rise can change how waves travel from deep to shallow water, as can other changes in coastal depths, such as affected reef systems.

Recent research analysed 33 years of wind and wave records from satellite measurements, and found average wind speeds have risen by 1.5 metres per second, and wave heights are up by 30cm – an 8% and 5% increase, respectively, over this relatively short historical record.

These changes were most pronounced in the Southern Ocean, which is important as waves generated in the Southern Ocean travel into all ocean basins as long swells, as far north as the latitude of San Francisco.

Sea level rise is only half the story.…. https://theconversation.com/climate-change-may-change-the-way-ocean-waves-impact-50-of-the-worlds-coastlines-121239

August 20, 2019 Posted by | climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

South Korean call for import ban on processed foods from Fukushima

Lawmaker calls for import ban on processed foods from Fukushima  http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/08/356_274166.html    South Korea should restrict imports of processed foods from Japan’s Fukushima region as radiation has been found in shipments, an opposition lawmaker said Monday.

South Korea banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima in 2013 on concerns over their radiation levels in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. But no import restrictions have been put on processed foods from the areas.
Citing data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Rep. Kim Kwang-soo of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace said radiation has been discovered in 16.8 tons of processed foods imported from the eight prefectures, or 35 shipments, over the past five years.

The figures were 10 tons (11 shipments) in 2014, 0.1 ton (six) in 2015, one ton (six) in 2016, 0.3 ton (four) in 2017, 0.4 ton (six) in 2018 and 5 tons (two) for the first half of this year.

South Korea imported 29,985 tons of processed foods from the Japanese prefectures between 2014 and June this year. Imports, which came to 3,803 tons in 2014, increased to 7,259 tons last year. In the January-June period of this year, imports reached 3,338 tons.

“It is urgent for the government to take necessary action against processed foods from the eight Japanese areas since they pose a serious risk to public health,” the lawmaker said.

No import restrictions have been imposed on the processed foods, though a recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has allowed Seoul to retain the import ban on 28 kinds of fish caught in the eight prefectures, he said.

In response to a complaint from Tokyo, the WTO ruled in April this year that Seoul’s measures do not amount to unfair trade restrictions or arbitrary discrimination.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it sees no problem with imports of processed foods from the eight Japanese prefectures because the Japanese government submits inspection certificates and thorough checks are conducted at local quarantine offices. (Yonhap)

August 20, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Korea | Leave a comment

Radiation from a missile explosion has not spread beyond Russia

No sign radiation from a missile explosion has spread beyond Russia, New Scientist :   12 August 2019, By Adam VaughanAn explosion at a missile testing range in north-western Russia killed five people working for the state nuclear energy agency and saw radiation levels spike locally, but there is no sign the radiation has spread to other countries……
Radiation levels in Severodvinsk, 25 miles away, jumped for nearly an hour, at levels of up to 2 microsieverts per hour, which is below levels considered dangerous. A statement on the city’s website reported a “short-term” spike on Thursday, but the statement had been removed by Friday…….

no radiation from the recent incident appears to have reached Europe. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority says it has detected nothing unusual yet, and the UK’s radiation monitoring network, RIMNET, told New Scientist it has had no reports of other countries recording increases in radiation levels.

“Lack of detection by Norway and Finland so far makes us assume only trace concentrations may reach Europe,” says Rashid Alimov at Greenpeace Russia. Modelling by Ivan Kovalyets at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine suggests only small concentrations might reach into Ukraine.  https://www.newscientist.com/article/2213200-no-sign-radiation-from-a-missile-explosion-has-spread-beyond-russia/

August 19, 2019 Posted by | environment, Russia | Leave a comment

The Anthropocene is not an epoch. It’s a passing blink in geological time

The Anthropocene Is a Joke, On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch.  The Atlantic,  PETER BRANNEN   AUG 13, 2019
Humans are now living in a new geological epoch of our own making: the Anthropocene. Or so we’re told. Whereas some epochs in Earth history stretch more than 40 million years, this new chapter started maybe 400 years ago, when carbon dioxide dipped by a few parts per million in the atmosphere. Or perhaps, as a panel of scientists voted earlier this year, the epoch started as recently as 75 years ago, when atomic weapons began to dust the planet with an evanescence of strange radioisotopes.These are unusual claims about geology, a field that typically deals with mile-thick packages of rock stacked up over tens of millions of years, wherein entire mountain ranges are born and weather away to nothing within a single unit of time, in which extremely precise rock dates—single-frame snapshots from deep time—can come with 50,000-year error bars, a span almost 10 times as long as all of recorded human history. If having an epoch shorter than an error bar seems strange, well, so is the Anthropocene.

So what to make of this new “epoch” of geological time? Do we deserve it? Sure, humans move around an unbelievable amount of rock every year, profoundly reshaping the world in our own image. And, yes, we’re currently warping the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans violently, and in ways that have analogues in only a few terrifying chapters buried deep in Earth’s history. Each year we spew more than 100 times as much CO2 into the air as volcanoes do, and we’re currently overseeing the biggest disruption to the planet’s nitrogen cycle in 2.5 billion years. But despite this incredible effort, all is vanity. Very little of our handiwork will survive the obliteration of the ages. If 100 million years can easily wear the Himalayas flat, what chance will San Francisco or New York have?

The idea of the Anthropocene is an interesting thought experiment. For those invested in the stratigraphic arcana of this infinitesimal moment in time, it serves as a useful catalog of our junk. But it can also serve to inflate humanity’s legacy on an ever-churning planet that will quickly destroy—or conceal forever—even our most awesome creations.

What paltry smudge of artifacts we do leave behind, in those rare corners of the continents where sediment accumulates and is quickly buried—safe from erosion’s continuous defacing—will be extremely unlikely to be exposed at the surface, at any given time, at any given place, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of years in the geological future. Sic transit gloria mundi……..

Unless we fast learn how to endure on this planet, and on a scale far beyond anything we’ve yet proved ourselves capable of, the detritus of civilization will be quickly devoured by the maw of deep time.

Geological time is deep beyond all comprehension……..

For context, let’s compare the eventual geological legacy of humanity (somewhat unfairly) to that of the dinosaurs, whose reign spanned many epochs and lasted a functionally eternal 180 million years—36,000 times as long as recorded human history so far. But you would never know this near-endless age was so thoroughly dominated by the terrible reptiles by looking to the rock record of the entire eastern half of North America. Here, dinosaurs scarcely left behind a record at all. And not because they weren’t here the entire time—with millions of generations of untold dinosaurs living, hunting, mating, dying, foraging, migrating, evolving, and enduring throughout, up and down the continent, in great herds and in solitary ambushes. ……

What, then, will a few decades of industrial civilization get us? This is the central question of the Anthropocene—an epoch that supposedly started, not tens of millions of years ago, but perhaps during the Truman administration…….

The most enduring geological legacy, instead, will be the extinctions we cause. The first wave of human-driven extinctions, and the largest hit to terrestrial megafauna since the extinction of the dinosaurs, began tens of thousands of years ago, as people began to spread out into new continents and islands, wiping out everything we tend to think of as “Ice Age” fauna—mammoths, mastodons, giant wombats, giant ground sloths, giant armadillos, woolly rhinoceroses, giant beavers, etc. This early, staggered, human-driven extinction event is as reasonable a starting date as any for the Anthropocene and one that has, in fact, been proposed. However, a few thousand years—or even a few tens of thousands of years—will be virtually indistinguishable in the rocks a hundred million years hence. That is, it would not be obvious to the geologists of the far future that these prehistoric human-caused extinctions were not simultaneous with our own modern-day depredations on the environment. …… To future geologists, the modern debate about whether the Anthropocene started 10 minutes ago or 10,000 years ago will be a bit like arguing with your spouse on your 50th wedding anniversary about which nanosecond you got married.

What humans are doing on the planet, then, unless we endure for millions to tens of millions of years, is extremely transient. In fact, there exists a better word in geology than epoch to describe our moment in the sun thus far: event. ….

The idea that we’re in a new epoch is a profoundly optimistic one, for it implies that we’ll persist into the future as an industrial technological civilization on something like a geological timescale…….

The idea of the Anthropocene inflates our own importance by promising eternal geological life to our creations. It is of a thread with our species’ peculiar, self-styled exceptionalism—from the animal kingdom, from nature, from the systems that govern it, and from time itself. This illusion may, in the long run, get us all killed. ……https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/08/arrogance-anthropocene/595795/

August 15, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment | Leave a comment

Anxiety over Russian nuclear power plant afloat in Arctic

August 10, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, politics international | Leave a comment

The saga of Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant AND what happened to the Grand Jury documents??

Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant Closed Long Ago, but Is Still a Hot Topic  https://www.westword.com/news/rocky-flats-nuclear-plant-shut-down-thirty-years-ago-but-is-still-a-hot-topic-11437949,  | AUGUST 7, 2019

Colorado almost had its own Chernobyl.

That’s what then-congressman Jared Polis told the U.S. House of Representatives on May 12, 2009, the fortieth anniversary of a fire at what was then called the Rocky Flats National Munitions Plant, sixteen miles upwind of Denver.

“I rise today to commemorate one of the most fateful days in the history of the State of Colorado, the day the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant outside of Boulder nearly became America’s own Chernobyl, some thirty years before that terrible accident in the Ukraine,” Polis told his colleagues. “On Mother’s Day of that year, a fire broke out amid the glove boxes in Building 776, where plutonium spheres were being manufactured for use as cores for some of the most powerful weapons in human history. The fire quickly spread throughout the facility, as many of the fire alarms had been removed to make room for more production. It is estimated that between 0.14 and 0.9 grams of plutonium 239 and 240 were released before a heroic band of perhaps forty firefighters were able to control and eventually douse the fire. Those firefighters faced the immense decision of whether to battle the blaze with water, which could have set off a chain reaction, with the resulting explosion literally contaminating the entire Denver metropolitan area. Luckily for us all, they chose correctly.

“Still, plutonium was released into the environment from that accident, through the air vents in the roof of the building and via firefighters extinguishing it. Thousands of Coloradans were exposed, although how many we’ll never know. The firefighters, of course, were exposed most severely, and everyone nearby faced greatly increased risks of serious disease. Indeed, many of those involved have since contracted and died from cancers and other conditions tied to radiation exposure.”

Unlike Chernobyl, the site of a massive nuclear explosion on April 26, 1986, that exposed at least half a million Russians to radiation, decimated the land for miles around and inspired HBO’s Chernobyl that educated a new generation to collateral damages of the nuclear age, Rocky Flats was not a nuclear power plant. In fact, Colorado’s only nuclear-generating facility, Fort St. Vrain near Platteville, had its own problems from when it  began generating electricity in 1976 and was shut down entirely in 1989.

By then, what became known as the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant had been in operation for almost three decades; it was a manufacturing facility that created plutonium triggers for this country’s nuclear arsenal. But it still dealt with one of the most toxic elements on the planet, one with a half-life of 24,000 years, as well as many deadly chemicals. By the time of the 1969 Rocky Flats fire, the plant had been manufacturing those triggers for sixteen years, largely in secret.

Rocky Flats was not Chernobyl. But what happened there was bad enough — though just how bad may never be known. Documents about the plant, like some of the plutonium that was processed there, have a way of disappearing.\

PROJECT APPLE

“Good News Today,” the Rocky Mountain News trumpeted on March 23, 1951, when the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Department of Energy) announced that it had chosen a site near Denver for a $45 million federal facility that had gone by the code name Project Apple. The 6,500-acre-plus spot was on a high plateau near the foothills, with stunning views, some ranching, creeks running through the land, and not much else. The announcement didn’t get into many details — the site-location team had warned the AEC that there might be an “undesirable reaction of the public” if it learned of the project’s secret mission — but it was bringing jobs to the area, and those jobs paid well. It wasn’t until June 1957 that the Denver Post dropped the bombshell that handling plutonium was a routine part of the job, a detail shared by the plant after two employees were injured in an explosion and fire at the facility; they’d been handling radioactive materials in building 771. Three months later, there was another fire at the plant, when filters over the glove boxes designed to keep plutonium from escaping caught fire. Firefighters turned on the ventilation fans, which spread the flames; seven days later, monitors showed that smokestack emissions still contained levels of radioactive elements 16,000 times greater than the standards of the day.

By then, scientists had realized that they’d misread the wind patterns when siting Rocky Flats; they’d relied on measurements taken at Stapleton Airport northeast of Denver, without accounting for how winds shifted as they came over the mountains and through the canyons. Rather than being safely out of the path of any plutonium release, Denver was at ground zero, sixteen miles downwind. Even so, residents were not warned of potential dangers after the fires.

Then came another fire, in 1969, which again started in glove boxes in buildings 775 and 776; it triggered the costliest industrial accident in the United States up until that time. Firefighters managed to contain the fire, and the government and plant operator Dow Chemical contained the fallout from more revelations of the work being done at Rocky Flats.
But word did slowly leak out. In 1975, the year that Rockwell International took over operations at Rocky Flats, nearby landowners sued the government for contamination problems they were finding on their property. Workers at the plant were also complaining about significant health problems. And demonstrators regularly gathered outside the gates, though they were usually protesting against nuclear weapons in general, not the environmental problems that the manufacturing of those weapons might create.
By 1978, Rocky Flats was regularly exploding in the headlines as those demonstrations grew larger. That fall, Daniel Ellsberg — yes, the Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame — went on trial in Jefferson County, along with nine other members of a group that had been accused of trespassing and obstruction outside the plant seven months earlier. Using Colorado’s choice-of-evils statute, which suggested they could break the law if they were pushing for a greater public good, the defendants decided to put Rocky Flats itself on trial, arguing that it was a public health hazard to nearby residents and also threatened world security by increasing nuclear stockpiles. But on November 20, 1978, Judge Kim Goldberger ruled that the defendants could not use the choice-of-evils defense. While the dangers at Rocky Flats were “real and continuing,” the judge said, “the courts may not be used as political or legislative forums.” After an eleven-day trial, the protesters were found guilty.

At the time, Dr. Carl Johnson, head of the Jefferson County health department, was revealing his own concerns about the evils of Rocky Flats. He released studies suggesting that Denver’s overall cancer rates were higher than expected, and the rates around Rocky Flats higher still. Property near the plant set for the development of 10,000 homes exceeded the state’s plutonium soil contamination standard by a factor of seven, he reported. As a result, federal housing officials directed realtors to warn prospective homebuyers who wanted government loans in order to purchase houses in the area that there could be potential liabilities.

In 1981, Johnson was fired by Jefferson County. The feds soon removed its directive to realtors.

The protests continued. So did the production of nuclear triggers at Rocky Flats.

SPILLED SECRETS

On June 6, 1989, more than seventy FBI agents raided Rocky Flats, the first-ever raid of one federal agency by another. Led by FBI agent Jon Lipsky, the raid was based on more than two years of investigations inspired by information leaked by whistleblowers, including Jim Stone, an engineer laid off from the plant in 1986 whose case against Rockwell eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stone had given a 1986 DOE memo to Lipsky noting that some of the hazardous waste treatment facilities at Rocky Flats were “patently illegal,” and that the plant was “in poor condition generally in terms of environmental compliance.” Stone warned that proper permitting measures weren’t being filed, waste was being improperly stored, and some plutonium was even missing. Along with an investigator from the criminal enforcement division of the EPA, Lipsky looked into all of the allegations, then prepared an affidavit that guided the raid. Agents took such a staggering amount of material during their three weeks at the plant that U.S. District Court Judge Sherman Finesilver decided to impanel the state’s first-ever special grand jury to focus on this single case.

In the first week of August 1989, two dozen citizens from across Colorado were sworn in as members of Special Grand Jury 89-2. The grand jurors met for a week every month for over two years, and after hearing from dozens of witnesses and going through hundreds of boxes of documents, they were prepared to consider charges not just for workers at the plant, but for their federal overseers. “We didn’t care who they were or how high up the chain of command they were,” one grand juror later told Westword.

Ultimately, they decided that eight individuals should be indicted for environmental crimes — five from Rockwell and three from the DOE. But in November 1991,then-U.S. Attorney for Colorado Mike Norton told the jurors that he wouldn’t sign any indictment naming a DOE or Rockwell employee. A month later, prosecutors told the grand jurors that they were done presenting evidence, and that the grand jury’s work was essentially over.  On December 30, 1991, grand jury foreman Wes McKinley, a rancher from the very southeastern corner of Colorado, sent a note to Finesilver’s clerk, asking for a final session so that the grand jurors could do their duty, fulfilling the obligation that Finesilver had charged them with more than two years before, “to look out for the best interests of the people of Colorado and the national interest.”
That winter, the grand jurors had one last official meeting in Denver, when they drafted three documents: an indictment charging DOE and Rockwell officials with specific crimes (the document Norton had said he wouldn’t sign); a “presentiment” outlining the proposed indictments, which they hoped Finesilver would release even if the indictment itself never saw the light of day; and a report outlining their investigation and their findings of non-criminal conduct that they felt the public had a right to know. Nineteen of the grand jurors gathered to sign these documents, which they placed in a vault. And then they were sent home, with reminders that all grand jury work is done in secrecy; if they broke confidentiality, they could be charged with contempt of court, fined and even jailed.
There was hot stuff in that report, including this: “The Department of Energy, its contractors — Rockwell International, Inc., EG&G, Inc. — and many of their respective employees have engaged in an on-going criminal enterprise at the Rocky Flats Plant, which has violated federal environmental laws. This criminal enterprise continues to operate today…and it promises to continue operating into the future unless our government, its contractors and their respective employees are made subject to the law… .” Instead, in March 1992, Norton announced a deal with Rockwell, in which the company pleaded guilty to assorted environmental crimes and was fined $18.5 million. Norton noted that it was the largest fine ever collected by the federal government for violations of hazardous waste disposal laws, but it was about $3.8 million less than the bonuses Rockwell had been paid to operate the plant during the time it was, by its own admission, knowingly breaking those laws. No individuals were named in the settlement. In fact, the deal assured that none would be charged later, and the company was protected from future legal fees.
That June, Finesilver signed off on the settlement after rejecting a request to release the report the grand jury had written. But the grand jurors concerns didn’t stay secret. The result was Bryan Abas’s “The Secret Story of the Rocky Flats Grand Jury,” published September 30, 1992, in Westword.

It wasn’t Chernobyl, but the story about Rocky Flats exploded just the same.

CLEANING UP

After the raid, Rocky Flats never made another nuclear trigger. The feds and Rockwell agreed to an early termination of the Rockwell management contract in September 1989, the day after the company filed a civil suit against the DOE, the EPA and the Department of Justice, arguing that the feds had failed to provide proper waste-disposal sites for radioactive materials. A week later, Rocky Flats was named a Superfund site, and EG&G signed a contract to operate the facility starting January 1, 1990.  By then, the focus had been changed from nuclear-materials production to cleanup, and most of the 5,000-plus employees stayed on to do the job. Among other things, nearly 3,600 containers of pondcrete and saltcrete — 4.3 million pounds of low-level solidified waste that had been packaged like barrels, until they started to crumble and leak (the grand jurors had heard considerable testimony about that failed system) — were moved, and the solar ponds where waste had been stored were drained. Plutonium located in the ducts, which Stone had warned about, was removed.

As the story of the Rocky Flats grand jury became national news, Congress held hearings to determine whether justice had been denied. The hearings made headlines, but secured nothing more than a promise of more transparency from the DOE. Foreman McKinley even ran for Congress, in hopes that he’d be able to tell the full story from the floor of the House of Representatives. (Although that attempt failed, he ultimately served in the Colorado Legislature and co-authored a book titled The Ambushed Grand Jury…and thus far has avoided any contempt-of-court charges.)

In 1995, EG&G staff and the DOE held a Rocky Flats Summit with 150 community activists, regulators, state officials and members of citizen oversight committees to discuss cleanup plans, including reducing the risk of plutonium to site workers and the public, and deferring some environmental restoration and cleanup in order to reduce that risk. When EG&G declined to sign up for a second round, Kaiser-Hill took over the project. The draft Rocky Flats Vision and Rocky Flats Cleanup Agreement were released in March 1996, four years after the Justice Department had made its deal with Rockwell; Governor Roy Romer signed them that June. What had been predicted to be a cleanup project that would take decades and tens of billions of dollars was put on the fast track.

After nearly ten years and $7.7 billion, the remediation job was declared complete in 2005. More than 800 structures had been decontaminated and demolished, including five major plutonium facilities and two major uranium facilities. While much of the low-level radioactive waste was shipped to other disposal sites, the most contaminated rubble was buried far below the ground in the Central Operable Unit: 1,308 acres at the center of the facility, where most of the manufacturing had been done, which would be declared off-limits forever. The 5,000-plus acres around the COU, in the Peripheral Operable Unit, were turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007 to revamp into a wildlife refuge, much as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had been two decades earlier.

Even though the grand jurors were still silenced, the secrets of Rocky Flats seeped out in other ways. Workers who’d become sick sued the government, and public officials took up their cause. Nearby homeowners who’d suffered bad health and other losses filed a class-action suit against Rockwell and Dow; their case was finally heard in U.S. District Court Judge John Kane’s courtroom, where former FBI agent Lipsky testified as to what he’d found at the plant. Despite the testimony about problems on those properties, houses were popping up along the southern border of Rocky Flats, and some new homeowners started to wonder if they’d bought more than they bargained for. And as plans to finally complete the northwest segment of the beltway around Denver progressed, municipalities began questioning whether construction of the Jefferson Parkway, set to go along the east side of Rocky Flats, would really be safe.

As the date of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge’s opening neared, activist groups filed suit to keep the gates closed. Last September, Congressman Polis made a last-second request to Ryan Zinke, then-secretary of the Department of the Interior, which oversees Fish and Wildlife, to consider “my constituents’ request that the DOI complete further testing of air, water, and soil at the Refuge site by March 2019, and that until further testing has been completed, the Refuge site remain unopened to the public.”

Although Polis never heard from Zinke, he got his answer: The refuge opened to the public on September 15, 2018 (the suits filed to prevent its opening are still pending). But even those who have no concerns about the refuge’s safety were taken aback last November when a British company proposed fracking alongside Rocky Flats: While cleanup experts had considered the effects of water runoff, and burrowing animals, and even prairie fires, they’d never considered that drilling operations would bore down and then up into the property from the sides. The proposal was pulled, and last month Representative Joe Neguse, who took over the first congressional seat when Polis was elected governor, introduced legislation that would prohibit oil, gas and mineral drilling beneath federally owned Superfund sites, such as Rocky Flats.

Meanwhile, the debate over whether the surface is really safe continues.

In January, attorney Pat Mellen decided to try a different tack. On behalf of seven groups — the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, Rocky Flats Downwinders, Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows, Environmental Information Network, Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association, Rocky Flats Right to Know and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center — she filed a motion asking that materials considered by Colorado’s first-ever special grand jury be released. “The documents gathered by the Grand Jury and now under seal are a unique resource that provides the detailed evidence of whether specific locations or hot spots of unremediated or undiscovered hazardous substances must outweigh a site-wide ‘safe’ determination made for other purposes,” she argued.

MISSING IN ACTION

And then on July 24, Mellen received an email from Kyle Brenton, assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s office where Mike Norton had negotiated the Rockwell deal thirty years before, that the grand jury documents were missing.  “Can you imagine that?” says McKinley. “The Justice Department has a long history of losing stuff. They lost all kinds of stuff…plutonium, reports.”

And some things never change, he notes. When the grand jury was sent home back in 1992 and its files first sealed, the head of the Department of Justice was William Barr. Today, Barr is again the attorney general.

Lipsky, who was transferred to the FBI’s Los Angeles gang unit not long after his investigation of Rocky Flats, is now a private investigator who continues to push for the release of the real story about Rocky Flats. When he heard that the documents were missing, “the only thing I could do was laugh,” he says. Brenton’s email estimates that “60-some boxes are not physically in our office space now.” Lipsky’s agents filled many times that many boxes with documents seized during the raid at Rocky Flats.

According to Brenton, his office had custody of the requested documents until at least 2004. He’s now going through boxes of documents from linked cases, such as whistleblower Stone’s suit against Rockwell, and the Cook class-action litigation that finally found victory and a $375 million settlement in Kane’s courtroom, to see if they were misfiled.

“It is incidents like this that continue to foster uncertainty and fear within the communities that are the most impacted,” Polis’s office says of the missing grand-jury documents. “Our administration is committed to government transparency and public access to information. That’s why our Department of Public Health and Environment recently requested that these records be unsealed for the public.”

For a time, there was a stash of grand jury documents at U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch’s courtroom. At one point, the grand jurors had petitioned Matsch to allow them to tell their story; that request was denied, and Matsch passed away this spring. Judge Finesilver had relevant documents, too; before he died in 2006, he gave 180 boxes of records to the Denver Public Library, with the stipulation that they be kept closed until 2009.
That August, a librarian began cataloguing the contents, then ran across two boxes holding various forms of the grand jury report marked “Not for public release.” He called the clerk of the U.S. District Court to ask if the documents could be made public. Instead, the clerk picked up the boxes and demanded that anything else that surfaced involving Rocky Flats be sent to the court. The missing grand jury materials are not the only documents devoted to Rocky Flats, of course. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment still has voluminous files, including a giant binder detailing all the different chemicals once used at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. For a time, Front Range Community College hosted a Rocky Flats Reading Room, though much of the materials are now in the University of Colorado archives, which has a “wealth of information,” according to David Abelson, executive director of the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council. “Walling off these documents from public view creates an impression that there’s a lack of information regarding management of the site.”

That impression is misguided, he thinks: His group includes representatives from most of the local governments around Rocky Flats, all but one of which supports recreation at the refuge. Still, in June the council passed a resolution against allowing fracking near the plant, and it’s keeping an eye on three studies being done of environmental conditions at the refuge, the results of which are due this fall. The current samples will be compared to historic samples…if those can be found.

For now, Mellen is drilling down into the case of the missing documents. On July 31, she filed a motion asking the judge to give the U.S. Attorney’s Office thirty days to find them. “I actually believe it’s a bigger number of boxes than that,” she says of Brenton’s estimate. “But right now, I’d be happy with that.”

Rocky Flats isn’t Chernobyl, but this could still blow up.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation Levels Higher in Marshall Islands Than in Chernobyl

Radiation Levels Higher in Marshall Islands Than in Chernobyl   https://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/veteran.html

Aug 5, 2019 George Winston  The Marshall Islands are a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean that lie between Hawaii and the Philippines. They contain the Bikini and Enewetak atolls which you may have heard of if you’ve studied your history lessons.

This is where the United States tested atomic weapons in the 1940s and 1950s. Though it has been over sixty years since testing ended there, the islands are still more radioactive than Chernobyl and Fukushima, sites of two of the worst nuclear reactor disasters.

In a recent study, researchers tested the soil of these sites for plutonium-239 and plutonium-240. In some places, the islands had levels that were ten times higher than soil in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

While the study was limited, the results indicate that a more thorough test is warranted. The surprising thing to the researchers was that they could not find any guidance from governments or from international organizations which indicated what a permissible level of plutonium would be.

The US tested radioactive weapons in the Marshall Islands even after dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. At the time, the islands were a district of the Trus Territory of the Pacific Islands. The US ran this district on behalf of the United Nations.

The first tests were carried out on Bikini Atoll in 1946 and involved two bombs names Able and Baker. Over the next twelve years, the US tested 67 weapons on the Bikini and Enewetak atolls.

Those tests included one in 1951 code-named Ivy Mike – the first hydrogen bomb test. The largest hydrogen bomb test occurred in 1954 with the Castle Bravo test. Castle Bomb was over 1,000 times more powerful than Little Boy. Little Boy was the bomb that completely destroyed Hiroshima.

The radioactive damage from the tests was not contained to Bikini and Enewetak, though. Fallout from the test contaminated the Rongelap and Utirik atolls which are also part of the Marshall Islands. People on those islands became sick from the radiation levels.

In 2016, a study of background gamma radiation on the three northern atolls in the Marshall Islands, Bikini, Enewetak, and Rongelap, found elevated levels of the radiation. The study found that Bikini even had a higher level than had previously been reported.

That team returned to do more testing. They recently released the results of those studies in the PNAS journal. The studies focused on the Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utirik Atolls in the northern part of the islands.

The studies found levels of gamma radiation that were significantly higher than the levels of a southern Marshall Island that the researchers used as a control.

Especially bad were the levels on Bikini and Naen islands. Those levels were found to be higher than the maximum exposure limit that the US and the Republic of the Marshall Islands had agreed to in the 1990s.

Along with Runi and Enjebi islands in the Enewetak Atoll, the islands were found to have radioactive plutonium levels in the soil that were higher than what has been found at Chernobyland Fukushima.

Ivana Nikolic-Hughes, director of the K1 Project at the Center for Nuclear Studies, stated that the researchers were surprised at the levels of external gamma radiation on Naen Island.

This island is on the outer edge of the Rongelap Atoll and was populated at the time of the Bravo test. The people were moved from the island, moved back and then moved away again, Nikolic-Hughes called it a “dreadful history” of treatment for the Rongelapese people.

A second study by the group used professional divers to collect 130 samples from the Castle Bravo Crater on the Bikini Atoll. Here, isotopes such as plutonium-239 and 240, americium-241 and bismuth-207 were much higher than they were on other Marshall Islands.

The researchers were interested in testing the crater because they feel it is a first step in determining how the testing of nuclear weapons has affected the ocean.

The third study tested over 200 fruits from the islands. They found many of the fruits contained higher levels of cesium-137 which would be deemed unsafe by several countries and international organizations.

The researchers hope the data gathered can be used to educate the residents of the Marshall Islands about the dangers there and inform them of whether it is safe to live on these islands or gather food from them.

August 6, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Sunken Soviet Sub leaking high levels of radiation, Norwegian researchers say

August 6, 2019 Posted by | environment, radiation, Russia | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands to survey leaking nuclear dome,

August 6, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

The often forgotten nuclear disaster in Russia’s Ural Mountains

River of radiation: Life in the area of the world’s 3rd-worst nuclear disaster  Rt.com  28 Jul, 2019 Before Fukushima and Chernobyl, the worst-ever nuclear disaster was a massive leak from a plant in the eastern Urals. RT went to see how people live in areas affected by the fallout from the USSR’s risky rush to the nuclear bomb.

Chernobyl and Fukushima are the two names that are most likely to come to mind when one thinks about nuclear disaster, and rightfully so. People in the US will likely recall the Three Mile Island accident, while Britons may say the “Windscale fire.”

The name “Kyshtym” will probably mean nothing to the wider public, despite it belonging to the third-worst nuclear accident in history. An RT Russian correspondent traveled to the area to speak with locals, some of whom personally witnessed the 1957 disaster, to find out what living in such a place feels like.

Bomb at any cost

Kyshtym is the name of a small town in what is now Chelyabinsk Region in Russia, located in an area dotted by dozens of small lakes. A 15-minute car ride east will bring you to another town called Ozyorsk. Six decades ago, you wouldn’t find it on any publicly available map because it hosted a crucial element of the Soviet Union’s nascent nuclear weapons program, the Mayak plant.

The Soviet leadership considered building up a stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium to be a high priority, while environmental and safety concerns came as an afterthought. Some of the less-dangerous radioactive waste from Mayak was simply dumped into the Techa River, while the more-dangerous materials were stored in massive underground tanks.

The sealed steel containers, reinforced with meter-thick concrete outer walls, were considered strong enough to withstand pretty much anything. In September 1957 this assumption was proven wrong, when one of the tanks exploded with an estimated power of 70-100 tons of TNT. This happened due to an unrepaired cooling system, which allowed radioactive waste to build heat and partially dry up, forming a layer of explosives, an investigation later found. An accidental spark was then enough to blow off the 160-ton lid of the tank, damage nearby waste storages, and shatter every window pane within a 3km radius.

A plume of radioactive waste was ejected high into the air. Some 90 percent of the material fell right back, contaminating the area and adding to the pollution in the Techa River, but some was atomized and traveled northeast with the wind. A 300km long, 10km wide stretch of land running through three Russian regions is what’s left by the fallout. The worst-affected part of it was designated a natural reserve a few years after the disaster.

Cover up

The disaster was covered up in the Soviet media, which reported that the strange lights in the night sky – actually a glow caused by ionization from radioactive waste – was a rare event related to the aurora. The locals knew something was wrong, of course, due to the evacuation of two dozen nearby villages and the large-scale decontamination work that was to be carried out over the next several years.

Later, the military came to get radiation readings in it. Afterwards, soldiers demolished the banya and took away not only the house but even the layer of soil on which it was built.

Officially, the scale of the disaster remained a state secret until the late 1980s.

Poisoned river

The Techa River remains contaminated now, long after Mayak stopped dumping waste in it. The radiation is relatively low, however: standing next to it is no worse than traveling on an airplane. Thousands of people cross it every day via a bridge road that connects Chelyabinsk and Ekaterinburg – the two nearest provincial capitals.

The only inhabited village down the river is called Brodokalmak and is about 85km downstream from Ozyorsk, and 50km away from the bridge crossing  …….

Ghost village

Halfway between the bridge and Brodokalmak is another village, Muslyumovo. It was inhabited until about a decade ago, when Rostatom, the Russian nuclear monopoly, offered to relocate its 2,500 residents. Now it’s a ghost village………

Triple exposure

Another place that had a close brush with Mayak’s waste is Metlino, a town about 25 minutes east from Ozyorsk. Some residents were unfortunate enough to have been exposed to radiation three times in their lives, according to Lyudmila Krestinina, who heads a lab at a local radiation research medical center.

First, they lived on the Techa River when it was used to dump waste. Then the disaster happened, and the cloud went past, close enough for some fallout but not close enough for it to become a major risk. The third time happened in 1967.

“There was drought and the Karachay bog, where waste was dumped from the Mayak, caught fire. The wind brought radioactive smoke over Metlino,” she said. “Now the contamination level has decreased several times, but it’s still higher than background radiation.”

The bog used to be a lake in the early days of Mayak, which started to dry up in the 1960s. The 1967 incident prompted major landscaping work to cover its shallow parts with earth and provide greater water supply. This solution was ultimately deemed unfeasible, so the rest of the lake was covered as well. The work ended just four years ago. ……. https://www.rt.com/russia/465243-kyshtym-nuclear-disaster-mayak/

July 29, 2019 Posted by | environment, incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment