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Japan Plans to Dump Fukushima Wastewater Into a Pacific With a Toxic Nuclear History

In December, the U.S.-based National Association of Marine Laboratories also announced its opposition to TEPCO’s plans, publishing a position paper that says “there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety” while “there is an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.”


Pacific Island nations have for decades been grappling with the environmental and health consequences of Cold War-era nuclear testing in the region by the likes of the U.S. and France. Now, they worry about another kind of nuclear danger from neighbors much closer to home.

As concerns over energy security and the desire to transition away from fossil fuels pushes several Asian nations to reconsider once-scrapped nuclear power programs, there is increasing anxiety over how the waste from those facilities—depending on the methods of disposal—might impact the lives of Pacific Islanders.

Notably, in the region, Philippines President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos said in his first address to Congress in mid-2022 that he was open to adding nuclear energy to the country’s energy mix, the Indonesian government said in December it plans to build a nuclear power plant by 2039, and weeks later Japan announced that it plans to ramp up the use of nuclear energy.

Nuclear plants have long been touted as a reliable source of carbon-free energy, though many plants across the world had been shuttered in past decades over worries about the safety of nuclear waste disposal. In this new era of nuclear revival, similar uncertainties abound.

In Japan, one plant that isn’t even operational has become the frontline for the fight between activists seeking safety assurances for waste disposal and operators who are running out of space in on-site tanks to store the wastewater accumulating from keeping damaged reactors cool. Currently, Japan plans to release wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean later this year.

“It’s just horrendous to think what it might mean,” says Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), a regional intergovernmental organization that has more than a dozen member countries, including, for example, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu. “The people of the Pacific are people of the ocean. The ocean is very much central to our lives, to our culture, to our livelihoods. Anything that prejudices the health of the ocean is a matter of serious concern.”

When a magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami hit off the coast of Japan in 2011, it caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Since then, water is being used to cool the damaged reactors and prevent further catastrophe. Now, more than 1.3 million metric tons of radionuclide-contaminated water has been collected on site, and it continues to accumulate, as rain and groundwater seep in. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, says that the storage tanks take up too much space and hinder decommissioning the plant.  Japan initially said that it would begin releasing the water into the ocean in the spring of 2023. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told the media in January that the release target date is now around spring or summer, which appears to be a postponement, according to the Associated Press, due to construction delays on a pipeline and the apparent need to gain greater public support.

The plan has faced widespread opposition. Japanese fishermen, international environmentalists, and other governments in the region, including ChinaSouth Korea, and Taiwan, have all expressed concern. Some of the strongest pushback has come from Pacific Island countries, including from lawmakersformer leaders, regional fisheries management groups, and other organizations. Among those voices is the PIF, which is advocating for more time to deal with questions and concerns. Earlier this year, the PIF appointed a panel of independent global nuclear experts to help inform its members in their consultations with Japan and TEPCO. The experts have stressed that more data are needed to determine the safety of the water for disposal.

“We think that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that the release is safe, environmentally, healthwise, and also for our economy in the Pacific,” says Puna, who is also the former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands. Until more information is shared and evaluated, he asks that Japan “please defer the discharge of the water.”

…………………………….  there appears to be a major disconnect between TEPCO and others, including the PIF panel of experts—who say that they’re concerned with the adequacy, accuracy, and reliability of the data backing up the decision to release the water.

Robert H. Richmond, a research professor and the director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who is one of the panel experts, tells TIME that “the critical, foundational data upon which a sound decision could be made was either absent or, when we started getting more data,” he says, “extremely concerning.” He also casts doubt on if the IAEA is in the best position to assess the risks. “They’re an agency that has a mandate to promote the use of nuclear energy,” says Richmond, “and our mandate is to look after the people, the ocean, and the people who depend on the ocean. And our unanimous conclusion … is that this is a  bad idea that is not defended properly at this point, and that there are alternatives that Japan should really be looking at.”

“One of the biggest surprises to me was the fact that the data was so sparse,” says Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, scientist-in-residence and adjunct professor at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, who is also on the PIF panel of experts. “There were prolonged gaps in data collection, which suggests that the matter may not have been given the level of attention and importance it deserved.” He adds that only a fraction of the tanks had been sampled, and only a handful of some 60 isotopes were typically measured in the samples—fewer than he would expect for this kind of assessment. (TEPCO says that the analysis done on a sample of tanks so far is just to assess the water’s condition in storage but that, after the purification process, further measurements will be taken on all the treated water before discharge to ensure that only that which meets sufficient standards of safety is released into the ocean).

Some still fear the safety of the treated water, and the far-reaching implications if it’s dumped into the ocean. Puna points out, for example, that the waters of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean produce much of the world’s tuna. If the tuna were to be impacted, it would cause major problems for Pacific nations, for which fisheries are a significant source of income, as well as for consumers globally.

In December, the U.S.-based National Association of Marine Laboratories also announced its opposition to TEPCO’s plans, publishing a position paper that says “there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety” while “there is an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.”

……………………………………. A scarring past and a new path forward

Other nuclear plants across the globe have released treated wastewater containing tritium. Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA’s director general, said in 2021 that Japan’s plan is “in line with practice globally, even though the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.”

But Pacific Island nations have particular reason to be anxious. There is a noxious legacy of nuclear testing in the region, and other countries have historically treated the Pacific as a dumping ground for their waste. The U.S. conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1957—and disposed of atomic waste in Runit Dome, where it’s still stored. That testing led not only to forced relocations, but also to increased rates of cancers. Today there is concern that the dome is leaking and that rising sea levels might impact its structural integrity. France also conducted 193 nuclear tests from 1966 to 1996 at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls in French Polynesia.

…………………….. Rather than let dumping wastewater into the ocean become the norm, at this juncture for nuclear energy, some say it’s an opportunity to explore different ways of doing things. The panel of PIF experts has proposed several alternative solutions, including treating the water and storing it in more secure tanks to allow the tritium time to decay, or using the treated water to make concrete for use in projects that won’t have high contact with humans.

“This is not the first nuclear disaster and by no means is it going to be the last,” says Richmond. “This is an opportunity for Japan,” he says, “to do the right thing and to invest time, effort, and money into determining and coming up with new ways of handling radioactive waste and setting a new trajectory.”


February 6, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans, wastes | 1 Comment

Campaigners claim permit change at Hinkley Point would kill billions of fish.

West Somerset Free Press,  6th February 2023 

ANTI-nuclear campaigners have estimated 11 billion fish off the West Somerset coastline could be killed during the operating life of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

The Stop Hinkley group said the slaughter would arise if EDF was allowed to ‘wriggle out’ of planning conditions which required acoustic fish deterrents (AFDs) to be fitted to water intake heads.

EDF has to date refused to fit the AFDs and is consulting the Environment Agency (EA) with a view to trying to have the condition dropped.

Stop Hinkley spokeswoman Katy Attwater said the 11 billion figure was calculated over the 60-year lifespan of Hinkley C.

She said affected common fish species would include river lamprey, twaite shad, sprat, herring and the common goby, while rarer species which would be killed included salmon, cod, anchovy, John dory, crucian carp, silver bream, and sea lamprey.

Ms Attwater said the fish migrated from the Bristol Channel to nine main rivers, the Ely, Taff, Rhymney, Ebbw, Usk, Wye, Severn, Avon, and Parrett.

She said particularly hard hit would be the elver migration from the Atlantic, with eels being sucked into the Hinkley intakes and only comparatively few making it to the Somerset Levels and other rivers, which would be their homes for the next 20 years before their return journey past the intake heads to travel back to their Sargasso Sea breeding grounds.

Ms Attwater said EDF’s request three years ago to not have to install the AFDs was rejected by the Environment Agency, a public inquiry, and DEFRA Secretary George Eustice.

“Yet, EDF are still trying to wriggle out of it and waste all the time, money, and effort spent by the EA, the Severn Estuary interest groups, and DEFRA to defend one of the most important breeding grounds for British fish,” she said.

The estuary is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation(SAC) and has been given an internationally important Ramsar site designation………………………………………….

The Environment Agency has launched a five-week consultation on the proposed change to the Water Discharge Activity permit.

February 6, 2023 Posted by | oceans, UK | Leave a comment

International group of scientists warns nuclear radiation has devastating impacts on ecosystems

03Feb, 2023, By Jayme DeLoss

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine, but nuclear weapons of any kind would cause widespread devastation, according to a new position paper by a group of renowned scientists from around the world. They want to make policymakers and the public aware of the ecosystem impacts and long-lasting consequences of nuclear radiation. 

The authors are members of the International Biodiversity Network, an organization of globally recognized experts in biodiversity, climate change, ecosystem health and ecosystem services, including A. Alonso Aguirre, dean of Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources.   

Any release of nuclear radiation – including accidental leaks – would be detrimental to all life on Earth, the authors representing 10 countries conclude.  

“Even a ‘tactical nuclear war’ could alter all life on planet Earth,” said Cristian Bonacic, lead author and a professor of ecosystems and the environment at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. “Food production and chain effects with migratory movements would be on a scale never before seen, ending the current Anthropocene era. As scientists, we want to call the attention of all decision-makers to the risks associated with radiation.” 

Radiation doesn’t stay where it’s released and triggers cascading effects as it spreads through air and water. Contamination can last hundreds or even thousands of years and could alter how the biosphere functions. 

High levels of radiation cause death and disease and could lead to extinction of local animals and plants that are already endangered. Some ecosystems might be pushed beyond their limits for mitigation or adaptation, the scientists warn. 

“We have to be very careful about what’s going to happen to our ecosystems and ecosystem services that provide basic, essential needs for human life,” Aguirre said. “Nuclear war would cross these boundaries beyond what the planet can sustain.” 

Accidental radioactive leaks have caused widespread environmental impacts. Following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in 1986, radioactive dust was found throughout most of Europe. Fish with high levels of radiation have been caught off the coast of California since the Fukushima nuclear disaster spilled radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean in 2011. 

The paper states that the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine represents a particular risk for radioactive leaks. 

The authors warn that a nuclear explosion would cause widespread hunger by disrupting the global food web; toxic air, water and soil; habitat destruction; and death. They urge all scientists to speak out about the hazards of nuclear radiation for the preservation of humanity and ecosystems. 

Scientists warning on the ecological effects of radioactive leaks on ecosystems” is published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

February 6, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Japan’s Plan To Discharge Water From Fukushima Nuclear Plant Faces Pacific Opposition

  By BenarNews, By Stephen Wright

Officials from Pacific island nations will meet Japan’s prime minister in March in an effort to halt the planned release of water from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, a regional leader said.

Plans to dispose of Fukushima water over four decades are a source of tension between Japan and Pacific island nations and a possible complication for the efforts of the United States and its allies to show a renewed commitment to the Pacific region as China’s influence grows.

The planned discharges “are a very serious issue that our leaders have accepted must be stopped at all costs,” Henry Puna, secretary-general of the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, said Thursday at a press conference in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara.

The Japanese government’s timetable for disposal of Fukushima water indicates that releases could begin as soon as April this year – part of an effort to decommission the stricken power station over several decades. Water contaminated by the nuclear reactors damaged in a 2011 tsunami is stored in dozens of large tanks at the coastal Fukushima plant.  

Japan’s method involves putting the contaminated water through a purification process known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, which it says will reduce all radioactive elements except tritium to below regulatory levels. The treated water would then be diluted by more than 100 times to reduce the level of tritium – radioactive hydrogen used to create glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs……………………………

Data doubts

Five scientists working with the Pacific Islands Forum last week criticized the quality of data they had received from Tokyo Electric on the treated water in the tanks and expressed doubts about how well the purification process works.

Over more than four years, only a quarter of tanks had been tested for radiation, and testing rarely covered more than nine types of radiation out of 64 types that should be tested for, said the five scientists, who include Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s senior scientist Ken Buesseler.

“The accident is not over; this is not normal operations for a reactor. Therefore, extraordinary efforts should be made to prove operations are safe and will not cause harm to the environment,” the scientists’ presentation said.

The Pacific Islands Forum has described the scientists as independent nuclear experts. The forum’s secretariat didn’t respond to a question about whether the scientists are compensated for their work with the forum. 

Nigel Marks, a materials scientist at Australia’s Curtin University and former nuclear reactor engineer, who is not advising the forum, said he is sympathetic to concerns that Tokyo Electric’s data could be more complete.

“But at the same time some recognition for Japan’s unique situation must be acknowledged,” he said. “The authorities have done their very best that technology allows. Eventually they reach a point where there is too much water to store.”

Puna said the Pacific islands delegation would meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida around March 7. They want a delay in water releases, at the very least, while more research is carried out, he said.

“There are serious gaps in the scientific evidence on the safety or otherwise of the proposed release,” Puna said. “I am pleased that the Japanese prime minister has finally agreed to meet with a high-level delegation from our region.” 

Decades of Fukushima water discharges, Puna said, could “damage our livelihoods, our fisheries livelihoods, our livelihood as people who are dependent very much and connected to the ocean in our culture and identity.” 

Mihai Sora, a Pacific analyst at Australia’s Lowy Institute, said it’s hard to imagine a more alarming proposition for Pacific island nations given the “toxic legacy” of nuclear weapons testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. 

The timing, amidst regional geopolitical competition that has traditional powers falling over themselves to demonstrate who’s a better partner to the Pacific, could scarcely be worse,” Sora said. 

The United States, United Kingdom and France carried out more than 300 nuclear detonations in the Pacific from 1946 to 1966, according to the International Disarmament Institute at Pace University in New York, which exposed thousands of military personnel and civilians to radiation and made some atolls uninhabitable. 

“Decades of hard-won regional goodwill towards Japanese Pacific engagement are at risk with this single policy initiative,” Sora said……………….

Japan’s embassy in Suva, Fiji didn’t respond to a request for comment.

January 29, 2023 Posted by | Japan, OCEANIA, oceans, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Campaigners fear changes at Hinkley Point C ‘could kill millions of fish every day’

By, January 27, 2023

Campaigners fear millions of fish could be killed every day by the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station near Burnham-On-Sea if owner EDF is allowed to back out of a planning condition.

The Stop Hinkley anti-nuclear group has said this week that EDF Energy had refused to fit acoustic fish deterrents on its two off-shore massive cooling water intake heads.

Stop Hinkley spokeswoman Katy Attwater said EDF now looked to be pressuring the Environment Agency to drop the planning condition which required the acoustic fish deterrent measures.

It comes as the Environment Agency launches a four-week consultation on whether the Hinkley C site’s operational water discharge activity permit should be varied.

Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Katy Attwater adds: “It looks to us very much like the Environment Agency is being forced to make a decision which conservation groups fear will result in the death of millions of fish every day.”

“The Severn Estuary supports some of the most important and protected habitats in the UK, EDF appears to be absolutely determined not to spend the money to install AFD’s and is pressurising the Agency into backing down.”

“This change would be disastrous for the Severn estuary and all the fish species it supports, to breed and travel into its tributaries, nine of the greatest rivers of England and Wales.”

However, Chris Fayers, Head of Environment for Hinkley Point C, told “EDF has decades of experience and data gained from taking cooling water from the Bristol Channel, which shows the activity has an insignificant impact on protected species…………

January 28, 2023 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Don’t dump on us

Japan has also benefited from the (inevitable) support of the (nuclear power-promoting) International Atomic Energy Agency, an organization that never met a nuclear danger it couldn’t downplay. The agency has described the proposed discharges as “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” in a statement last April.

Pacific Islanders, marine scientists, urge Japan not to dump Fukushima radioactive water into ocean

By Linda Pentz Gunter, Beyond Nuclear International, 24 Jan 23,

The nuclear power industry has a long history of disproportionately impacting people of color, Indigenous communities and those living in the Global South. As Japan prepares to dump more than 1 million tonnes of radioactive water from its stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant site into the Pacific Ocean some time this year, history is about to repeat itself.

To remind us of that — and to warn against this reckless and entirely unnecessary action (Japan could and should expand the cask storage pad on site and keep storing the radioactive water there) — the leader of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) has spoken out.

In a recent column in the UK daily newspaper, The Guardian, Henry Puna wrote that “continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable”, given how directly it once again discriminates against — and will likely seriously harm the health of — the peoples of the Pacific. Puna took care to remind readers “that the majority of our Pacific peoples are coastal peoples, and that the ocean continues to be an integral part of their subsistence living.”

Going forward with the dump without further study and serious consideration of viable alternatives, would, Puna said, mean that “the region will once again be headed towards a major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others.” Victims of years of atomic testing, Pacific Islanders are rightly not ready to be dumped on yet again.

Tepco and the lapdog Japanese government announced last May that they would release around 1.3 million tonnes of radioactive waste water from the Fukushima site next spring. Recently, authorities suggested the dump could be delayed until the summer but seem undeterred by the loud chorus of opposition from multiple quarters.

The plant produces 100 cubic metres of contaminated water daily, a combination of groundwater, seawater and water used to keep the reactors cool. The water is theoretically filtered to remove most harmful isotopes, other than tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and cannot be separated from water. It is then stored in casks on site where authorities claim they are running out of space. However, independent watchdogs are not convinced that the filter system has successfully removed other dangerous radioactive isotopes from the waste water.

Most recently, the 100-member American group, the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML), expressed its fervent opposition in a strongly worded position paper released last month. Their opposition, they wrote, “is based on the fact that there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety. Furthermore, there is an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.”

The report went on: “The proposed release of this contaminated water is a transboundary and transgenerational issue of concern for the health of marine ecosystems and those whose lives and livelihoods depend on them. We are concerned about the absence of critical data on the radionuclide content of each tank, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which is used to remove radionuclides, and the assumption that upon the release of the contaminated wastewater, ‘dilution is the solution to pollution.’”

The scientists accused Japan of ignoring the inevitable processes of bioaccumulation and bioconcentration, which contradict the dilution contention. The Association also called out what it saw as shoddy or incorrect science conducted by Tepco and the Japanese government, including “flaws in sampling protocols, statistical design, sample analyses, and assumptions, which in turn lead to flaws in the conclusion of safety and prevent a more thorough evaluation of better alternative approaches to disposal.”

Japan has consistently rejected on-going onsite storage — presumably due to the expense, given the land space is there and more casks could be provided. In the view of some, the eagerness to dump the water— largely contaminated with tritium (a form of radioactive hydrogen that cannot be separated from water) and likely other undeclared radionuclides — is a public relations exercise to make the problem “go away” and restore normal optics to the site. The site cannot also be fully decommissioned so long as the tanks are there.

Japan has also benefited from the (inevitable) support of the (nuclear power-promoting) International Atomic Energy Agency, an organization that never met a nuclear danger it couldn’t downplay. The agency has described the proposed discharges as “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” in a statement last April.

After sending in a task force and several earlier reports, the IAEA released a new report in December in which it said “the IAEA will conduct its own independent checks of the radiological contents of the water stored in the tanks and how it will analyse environmental samples (for example seawater and fish) from the surrounding environment.” However, the IAEA has not expressed opposition to the dumping of the radioactive water even now and instead indicates that its safety reviews will continue “before, during, and after the discharges of ALPS treated water.”

Japan has faced down opposition from fishermen and environmentalists, particularly from those in the Marshall Islands who have suffered decades of horrific health issues, especially birth defects, after enduring 67 US atomic tests there. A Pacific region collective advocacy group, Youngsolwara Pacific, expressed dismay that the Japanese, of all people, would not empathize with them and condemn the Fukushima water dump…………………………..

January 27, 2023 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, wastes | Leave a comment

Namibia orders Russian uranium exploration to stop due to environmental concerns

 North Africa Post January 2, 2023

Namibian authorities have ordered Russia’s state atomic energy agency to stop uranium exploration over concerns about potential contamination of underground water.

Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform refused to grant Russia’s Rosatom subsidiary, One Uranium, a water use permit required for mining, saying the company failed to prove its uranium extraction method would not cause pollution. Namibia — the world’s second and Africa’s no. 1 producer of the nuclear fuel — granted Russia’s state atomic energy agency exploration rights in 2019.

The Namibian official Calle Schlettwein said Namibia could not grant One Uranium a permit for uranium mining. The Russian entity still needs a water use permit to begin mining.

Schlettwein said no further permit would be granted because the mining method the company proposed, known as the in-situ leaching, was raising environmental concerns. In situ mining involves recovering minerals by dissolving them in an acid pumped into the ground and then pumping the solution back to the surface.

Schlettwein said farmers in Namibia’s eastern Omaheke region had petitioned against the technique. Although One Uranium’s spokesperson, Riaan Van Rooyen, dismissed the concerns, Namibian activists maintain the mining project is not worth the risk. Rosatom’s subsidiary is expected to appeal Namibia’s decision against the water permit for uranium mining.

January 4, 2023 Posted by | environment, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Hot water — radiation in drinking water

Tighter controls called for as radiation contaminates US drinking water

Hot water — Beyond Nuclear International

Radioactive contamination is creeping into drinking water around the U.S. By Lynne Peeples, Ensia 1 Jan 2023

When Jeni Knack moved to Simi Valley, California, in 2018, she had no idea that her family’s new home was within 5 miles of a former nuclear and rocket testing laboratory, perched atop a plateau and rife with contamination. Radioactive cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-239 and tritium, along with a mix of other toxic chemicals and heavy metals, are known to have been released at the industrial site through various spills, leaks, the use of open-air burn pits and a partial nuclear meltdown.

Once Knack learned about the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and the unusual number of childhood cancer cases in the surrounding community, she couldn’t ignore it. Her family now only drinks water from a 5-gallon (19-liter) jug delivered by Sparkletts water service. In August of 2021, she began sending her then 6-year-old daughter to kindergarten with two bottles of the water and instructions to not refill them at school, which is connected to the same Golden State Water Company that serves her home.

A federal report in 2007 acknowledged that two wells sourced by the water company were at risk of contamination from the site. “The EPA has said we’re at risk,” says Knack. And Golden State, she says, has at times used “possibly a very hefty portion of that well water.” To date, radioactivity above the natural level has not been detected in Golden State’s water.

Concerns across the country

All water contains some level of radiation; the amount and type can vary significantly. Production of nuclear weapons and energy from fissionable material is one potential source. Mining for uranium is another. Radioactive elements can be introduced into water via medical treatments, including radioactive iodine used to treat thyroid disorders. And it can be unearthed during oil and gas drilling, or any industrial activities that involve cracking into bedrock where radioactive elements naturally exist. What’s more, because of their natural presence, these elements can occasionally seep into aquifers even without being provoked.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG, a partner in this reporting project) estimates that drinking water for more than 170 million Americans in all 50 states “contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer.” In their analysis of public water system data collected between 2010 and 2015, EWG focused on six radioactive contaminants, including radium, radon and uranium. They found that California has more residents affected by radiation in their drinking water than anywhere else in the U.S. Yet the state is far from alone. About 80% of Texans are served by water utilities reporting detectable levels of radium. And concerns have echoed across the country — from abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation lands, to lingering nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project in Missouri, to contaminants leaching from phosphate mines in Florida.

While ingesting radioactive elements through drinking contaminated water is not the only route of human exposure, it is a major risk pathway, says Daniel Hirsch, a retired University of California, Santa Cruz, professor who has studied the Santa Susana Field Laboratory contamination. “One thing you don’t want to do is to mix radioactivity with water. It’s an easy mechanism to get it inside people,” he says. “When you drink water, you think you excrete it. But the body is made to extract things from what you ingest.”

Strontium-90, for example, is among elements that mimic calcium. So the body is apt to concentrate the contaminant in bones, raising the risk of leukemia. Pregnant women and young kids are especially vulnerable because greater amounts of radiation are deposited in rapidly growing tissue and bones. “This is why pregnant women are never x-rayed,” says Catherine Thomasson, an independent environmental policy consultant based in Portland, Oregon. Cesium can deposit in the pancreas, heart and other tissues, she notes. There, it may continue to emit radioactivity over time, causing disease and damage.

Scientists believe that no amount of radiation is safe. At high levels, the radiation produced by radioactive elements can trigger birth defects, impair development and cause cancer in almost any part of the body. And early life exposure means a long period of time for damage to develop.

Health advocates express concern that the government is not doing enough to protect the public from these and other risks associated with exposure to radioactive contamination in drinking water. The legal limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for several types of radioactive elements in community water systems have not been updated since 1976. Further, many elements are regulated as a group rather than individually, such as radium-226 plus radium-228. And water system operators, if they are required to monitor for radioactive elements, only need to do so infrequently — say, every six or nine years for certain contaminants.

Meanwhile, private wells generally remain unregulated with regard to the elements, which is particularly concerning because some nuclear power plants are located in rural areas where people depend on private wells. More than one out of every 10 Americans use private wells or tiny water systems that serve fewer than 15 residences.

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory was rural when it was first put to use about 70 years ago. Today, more than 700,000 people live within 10 miles (16 kilometers). Recent wildfires have exacerbated these residents’ concerns. The 2018 Woolsey fire started on the property and burned 80% of its 2,850 acres (1,153 hectares). Over the following three months, the levels of chemical and radioactive contamination running off the site exceeded state safety standards 57 times.

Hirsch highlights several potential avenues for drinking water contamination related to nuclear weapons or energy development. Wind can send contamination off site and deposit it into the soil, for example. Gravity can carry contaminants downhill. And rains can carry contamination via streams and rivers to infiltrate groundwater aquifers. While vegetation absorbs radioactive and chemical contaminants from the soil in which it grows, those pollutants are readily released into the environment during a fire.

While no tests have detected concerning levels of radioactivity in Golden State’s water, advocates and scientists argue that testing for radioactive elements remains inconsistent and incomplete across the country. Federal and state regulations do not require monitoring for all potential radioactive contaminants associated with the known industrial activity on the site. For some of the regulated contaminants, water companies need only test once every several years.

“This is not an isolated matter,” says Hirsch. “We’re sloppy with radioactive materials.”

“We need stricter regulations”

In 2018, around the same time that fires stirred up radioactive elements in and around the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, drinking water concerns arose just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Guy Kruppa, superintendent of the Belle Vernon Municipal Authority, had been noticing major die-offs of the bacteria in his sewage treatment plant. The bugs are critical for breaking down contaminants in the sewage before it is discharged into the Monongahela River. About 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) downstream is a drinking water plant.

Kruppa and his colleagues eventually linked the low bacteria numbers to leachate they accepted from the Westmoreland landfill. The landfill had begun taking waste from nearby fracking sites — material that included bacteria-killing salts and radioactive elements such as radium.

The Belle Vernon Municipal Authority subsequently got a court order to force the landfill to stop sending its leachate — the liquid stuff that flows off a landfill after it rains. “We sealed off the pipe,” Kruppa says. 

Today, radiation is no longer discharging from his plant. Yet he remains concerned about where the leachate might now be going and, more broadly, about the weak regulation regarding radioactive waste that could end up in drinking water. The quarterly tests required of his sewage treatment plant, for example, do not include radium. “The old adage is, if you don’t test for it, you’re not going to find it,” adds Kruppa.

Concerns that radioactive elements from fracking could travel into community drinking water sources have been on the rise for at least a decade. A study led by Duke University researchers and published in 2013 found “potential environmental risks of radium bioaccumulation in localized areas of shale gas wastewater disposal.” Kruppa’s actions in 2018 drove widespread media attention to the issue.

In late July 2021, the state of Pennsylvania announced it would begin ordering landfills that accept waste from oil or gas drilling sites to test their leachate for certain radioactive materials associated with fracking. The state’s move was a “good step in the right direction,” says Amy Mall, a senior advocate with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, which published a report on radioactive waste from oil and gas production in July. “We do need more data. But we don’t think monitoring alone is adequate. We need stricter regulations as well.”

The EPA drinking water standard for radium-226 plus radium-228, the two most widespread isotopes of radium, is 5 picocuries per liter (0.26 gallon). The California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment’s public health goal, set in 2006 and the basis of EWG’s study, is far more stringent: 0.05 picocuries per liter for radium-226 and just 0.019 picocuries per liter for radium-228. “There is a legal limit for some of these contaminants, like radium and uranium,” says Sydney Evans, a science analyst with EWG. “But, of course, that’s not necessarily what’s considered safe based on the latest research.”

“We don’t regulate for the most vulnerable,” says Arjun Makhijani, president of the nonprofit Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He points to the first trimester in a pregnancy as among the riskiest windows of development.

The known toxicities of radioactive contaminants, as well as technology available to test for them, have evolved significantly since standards were established in the 1970s. “We have a rule limited by the technology available 40 years ago or more. It’s just a little crazy to me,” says Evans. Hirsch points to a series of reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on health risks from ionizing radiation. “They just keep finding that the same unit of exposure produces more cancers than had been presumed,” he says. The most recent version, published in 2006, found the risk of cancer due to radiation exposure for some elements to be about 35% higher per unit dose than the 1990 version.

The EPA has begun its fourth review of national primary drinking water regulations, in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The results are anticipated in 2023. While advocates hope for stricter standards, such changes would add to the difficulties many drinking water providers already face in finding the finances and technology necessary to meet those regulations.

Seeking solutions

The aquifer beneath Winona, Minnesota — which supplies drinking water to residents — naturally contains radium, resulting in challenges for the city water department to minimize levels of the radioactive element.

Tests of Winona’s drinking water have found levels of radium above federal standards. In response to results, in April 2021 city officials cautioned residents that low-dose exposure over many years can raise the risk of cancer. However, they did not advise people to avoid drinking the water.

The city is now looking to ramp up their use of a product called TonkaZorb, which has proven effective in removing radium at other drinking water plants, notes Brent Bunke, who served as the city’s water superintendent during the time of the testing. The product’s active ingredient is manganese, which binds to radium. The resulting clumps are easy to sift out by the sand filter. Local coverage aptly likened it to kitty litter. Bunke notes that the city also plans to replace the filter media in their aging sand filters. Of course, all these efforts are not cheap for the city. “It’s the cost of doing business,” says Bunke.

Winona is far from alone in their battle against ubiquitous radium. And they are unlikely to be the hardest hit. “Communities that are being impacted don’t necessarily have the means to fix it,” says Evans. “And it’s going to be a long-term, ongoing issue.” Over time, municipalities often have to drill deeper into the ground to find adequate water supply — where there tends to be even larger concentrations of radium.

Some are looking upstream for more equitable solutions. Stanford University researchers, for example, have identified a way to predict when and where uranium is released into groundwater aquifers. Dissolved calcium and alkalinity can boost water’s ability to pick up uranium, they found. Because this tends to happen in the top six feet of soil, drinking water managers can make sure that water bypasses that area as it seeps into or is pumped out of the ground.

The focus of this research has been on California’s Central Valley — an agricultural area rich in uranium. “When you start thinking about rural water systems, or you think about water that’s going to be used in agriculture, then your economic constraints become really, really great,” says Scott Fendorf, a professor of earth systems science at Stanford and coauthor on the study. “You can’t afford to do things like reverse osmosis” — a spendy form of filtration technology.

In general, radiation can be very difficult to remove from water. Reverse osmosis can be effective for uranium. Activated carbon can cut concentrations of radon and strontium. Yet standard home or water treatment plant filters are not necessarily going to remove all radioactive contaminants. Scientists and advocates underscore the need for further prevention strategies in the form of greater monitoring and stronger regulations. The push continues across the country, as the issue plagues nearly everywhere — an unfortunate truth that Knack now knows.

Why doesn’t her family simply move? “I’m not saying we won’t. I’m not saying we shouldn’t,” she says. “But I don’t even know where we’d go. It really looks like contaminated sites are not few, but all over the country.”

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Reference, USA, water | Leave a comment

In the Pacific, Outcry Over Japan’s Plan to Release FukushimaWastewater.

The proposal has angered many of Japan’s neighbors,
particularly those with the most direct experience of unexpected exposure
to dangerous levels of radiation. Tanks are storing radioactive water at the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

The government plans to
release the water, treated, but still slightly radioactive, into the
Pacific starting in spring 2023. Every day at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant in Japan, officials flush over a hundred tons of water through its
corroded reactors to keep them cool after the calamitous meltdown of 2011.
Then the highly radioactive water is pumped into hundreds of white and blue
storage tanks that form a mazelike array around the plant. For the last
decade, that’s where the water has stayed.

But with more than 1.3 million
tons in the tanks, Japan is running out of room. So next year in spring, it
plans to begin releasing the water into the Pacific after treatment for
most radioactive particles, as has been done elsewhere.

 New York Times 30th Dec 2022

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Japan, oceans, wastes | Leave a comment

Highland campaigners ‘disturbed and disappointed’ to learn 15 radioactive particles discovered near Dounreay

Campaigners have expressed their disappointment in learning that 15
radioactive particles were discovered near Dounreay earlier this year. The
particles were found between February and March on the Dounreay shoreline
and Sandside beach, with 73% of them being described as “significant”.

Highlands Against Nuclear Transport (HANT) and the Scottish Nuclear Free
Local Authorities (NFLA) claim this information was spread through the
press rather than properly shared at a meeting of the Dounreay Stakeholder
Group. Both groups have joined forces to seek answers from Dounreay bosses
and to dispel “sketchy” and “incomplete” information.

Press & Journal 20th Dec 2022

December 25, 2022 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Canada’s Feds forgo environmental assessment for controversial nuclear project

By Cloe Logan | News | December 23rd 2022

The federal government has decided not to require a controversial nuclear project to undergo an environmental assessment, prompting criticism from experts opposed to the technology who fear the rejection sets an “unfortunate precedent.”

New Brunswick’s primary energy provider, Énergie NB Power, has proposed the project, which relies on a small modular reactor (SMR) — a portable nuclear technology still in the development stage. The federal government and some provincial governments are betting on SMRs, which don’t produce greenhouse gas emissions, to replace coal and other fossil fuels as an energy source. However, many experts say the risks heavily outweigh the benefits: SMRs are expensive, experimental, produce toxic nuclear waste and are unlikely to be financially viable.

NB Power has plans to operate two SMRs and a spent fuel reprocessing facility at its current site on the Bay of Fundy, the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. The Moltex SMR and spent fuel reprocessing unit are expected to be in operation by the early 2030s, while the ARC SMR will be up and running by 2029, according to the company. The latter project was being considered for federal assessment after a request from the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) since it does not automatically fall under the federal assessment process. The Moltex project does because it will require recycling nuclear waste, according to CBC News.

The federal government is currently pushing the new technology through its SMR Action Plan, touting its ability to play an essential role in the pathway to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have signed a memorandum of understanding expressing support for SMR technology.

However, because SMRs are still in the development stage, any potential benefits they might have in slashing greenhouse gas emissions wouldn’t happen soon enough to contribute to Canada’s goal of cutting emissions 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, CRED-NB told Canada’s National Observer in March.

CRED-NB, comprised of 20 citizen groups and businesses and more than 100 individuals across the province, asked federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault in July to consider the importance of evaluating the SMR project under the Impact Assessment Act, a federal process that examines the environmental impacts of major projects, including all oil and gas, refineries, pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. The group raised concerns about its potential impacts to the surrounding environment, nuclear waste and Indigenous treaty rights.

The Passamaquoddy Recognition Group, representing the Peskotomuhkati Nation and the Wolastoq Grand Council, which has spoken out about how the storage of nuclear waste and continued funding for nuclear goes against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), also sent letters of support.

In the initial request, CRED-NB notes concerns with “project splitting,” which is the “intentional breaking up of the project in its components parts” in order to get around the need for an impact assessment. In 2019, the federal government exempted nuclear reactors with fewer than 200 megawatts of thermal power and SMRs on pre-existing nuclear sites with fewer than 900 megawatts from the Impact Assessment Act. This came after lobbying from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal-level independent regulator of nuclear power, which raised concerns the assessment process would hurt the SMR industry in briefing notes obtained by Greenpeace.

Since there are two SMRs slated for the Point Lepreau site, the coalition argues they are essentially one project with different operators. However, assessing the ARC SMR individually means it falls under the megawatt limit.

In Guilbeault’s decision, he said an impact assessment for the SMR project was “unwarranted” because current legislative processes will address the issues raised by CRED-NB and that his decision was based on analysis from the Impact Assessment Agency. The project is set to undergo provincial assessment and will need to be licensed by the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, he noted.

In a submission to the Impact Assessment Agency, New Brunswick’s environmental assessment branch said concerns raised “would be expected to be addressed as part of the provincial [environmental impact assessment] review.”

However, CRED-NB stressed the federal government process is more thorough than a provincial assessment, which will come in 2023.

“The mechanism we had to uphold environmental justice has been denied,” said Kerrie Blaise, an environmental lawyer who assisted CRED-NB with the impact assessment request.

“The many unknowns and the potential for not only severe but irreversible impacts to the health of communities and the environment will not be subject to a rigorous public and cumulative effects assessment that an IA (impact assessment) provides. This is quite simply something that cannot be achieved by the nuclear regulator in their licence-specific assessment.”

December 25, 2022 Posted by | Canada, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Greenland’s glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated

Greenland’s glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated according
to a new model that takes into account the unique interaction between ice
and water at the island’s fjords.

Live Science 19th Dec 2022

December 25, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Past time for action — France should clean up atomic mess in Algeria

Past time for action — Beyond Nuclear International Algerian victims of French atomic tests should be recognized and compensated
By Jean-Marie Collin, Patrice Bouveret and Merzak Remki
Editor’s note: This article (originally in French) was written before the October 9-10 meeting described below, but unfortunately there were no new developments made there. The article explores what needs to happen to deliver restitution and justice to the Algerian victims of French atomic tests.

Last August 27, Presidents Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Emmanuel Macron renewed the partnership between Algeria and France to “embark on a future in the spirit of appeasement and mutual respect.” With the holding of the High Level Intergovernmental Committee in Algiers on October 9 and 10, this intention should translate into new commitments which will reunite the governments of the two states. 

Not having been discussed during the meeting of the two presidents, this new encounter must mark a decisive turning point for resolving the issue of the consequences of the nuclear tests that France carried out in Algeria and which still impact the local population today.

Between 1960 and 1966, France carried out a total of 17 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests in the south of Algeria, at Reggane and In Ekker.

Among the 13 underground tests conducted at In-Ekker, two of them (Béryl and Améthyste) resulted in a very large release of rocks and lava from the mountain, which has left the area highly contaminated. In addition to the nuclear tests, there were also approximately 40 explosions conducted at Reggane (Adrar) and at Tan Ataram (Tamanrasset), using small quantities of plutonium, but which did not release nuclear energy (these were subcritical tests).

It is clear that the health and environmental conditions in these areas remain a cause for great concern still today.

As the result of major mobilization, France has, with the law of January 5, 2010, accepted that, in recognizing and compensating the victims of the nuclear tests that these tests, both in Algeria and then in Polynesia, were not “clean”. It has even been admitted that the people present during these tests in South Algeria (civilians, workers, members of the military, scientists) have been affected by radiation-induced illnesses. 

The French law requires the applicant seeking compensation to meet very difficult criteria in order to have their status as a victim recognized. Most notably, the person must demonstrate that they were in the geographical area of the test fallout, at the time the tests took place, and must suffer from one of the 23 diseases listed in the decree.

Unfortunately, since 2010, only one single Algerian national has been compensated out of 723 people recognized as victims by the Committee for Compensation of the Victims of Nuclear Tests. The situation points to a serious problem. Moreover, this law has never been translated into Arabic (even though it has been available since 2019 in Polynesian), thus restricting its access to a large population.

Furthermore, we know that present generations — and future ones if no remediation measures are put in place — continue to be impacted by the consequences of these tests. In effect, after numerous testimonials and much research (notably the study by ICAN France and l’Observatoire des armements — “Radioactivity under the sand! The French nuclear tests in Algeria: an analysis regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, published in 2020 by the Heinrich Böll Foundation), it is recognized that France knowingly buried various wastes contaminated with radioactivity at the test sites. 

To these wastes must be added radioactive materials (vitrified sand, contaminated rocks and lava), resulting from the atmospheric nuclear explosions that took place on the site of the “Gerboise” shots and on a large area on the side of the Taourirt Tan Afella mountain at In Ekker.

Algeria, for its part, has taken another step in the process of taking charge of this issue at the national level, in creating, on May 31, 2021, the National Agency for the Remediation of former French Testing and Nuclear Explosion Sites in southern Algeria.

But if the two states have been well aware of the existence of this “radioactive heritage” for a number of years, we note, unfortunately, an absence of tangible progress in advancing this important case. The time has come to act quickly, in full cooperation and without taboo, just as Presidents Tebboune and Macron underlined.

Will the fifth session of the High-Level Intergovernmental Committee (HLIC), which is to take place October 9 and 10, be the occasion on which concrete announcements will be made?

In effect, this committee, launched in 2013, has, from the beginning, included a section related to nuclear tests, but the pace it notably slow. The first meeting of the mixed working group on compensation for the Algerian victims of French nuclear tests, on February 3, 2016, came up only with the prospect of “establishing a focused dialogue as soon as possible.”

During the HLIC, a plan of action should be drawn up, made public, and, most importantly for France, must include easy access to the Morin law* for Algerians, and the handing over to the Algerian authorities of all the archives on the consequences of the tests and on the wastes buried on site.

Algeria can realize its desire to act by establishing a cancer registry for the inhabitants of southern Algeria through its ministry of health and by launching an official study on cleanup of the radioactive zones via its remediation agency.

It is left to Algeria, one of the first countries to have signed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to begin the process of ratifying it. That would allow it to get international cooperation for environmental cleanup of the contaminated areas.

Algeria can realize its desire to act by establishing a cancer registry for the inhabitants of southern Algeria through its ministry of health and by launching an official study on cleanup of the radioactive zones via its remediation agency.

It is left to Algeria, one of the first countries to have signed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to begin the process of ratifying it. That would allow it to get international cooperation for environmental cleanup of the contaminated areas.

The parliamentarians of the two countries also have a role to play in establishing a mixed working group to monitor the timetable of work carried out as close as possible to the field and the populations. NGOs, academics, journalists and local actors must also be involved with this plan of global action, to ensure its implementation for the benefit of affected populations.

A compensation law for French nuclear test victims, or the Morin Law, was enacted on January 5, 2010. Hervé Morin, who was defense minister at the time, promised compensation for the people suffering health problems resulting from exposure to French nuclear tests conducted in Algeria and in French Polynesia. However, the law judges cases individually and places strict limits on how, when and for what health complications compensation is paid.

This article first appeared in Le Journal de Dimanche, just prior to the October meeting, and is republished in translation with permission of the authors. Translation by Linda Pentz Gunter.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | AFRICA, environment | Leave a comment

US military atomic cleanup crews were sent out in the wake of American nuclear testing, and many paid a heavy price, veterans say

“We’re still fighting. We’re not gonna give up, and we’re just gonna keep going and keep fighting,” Brownell said. “The world needs to know. They need to know how dangerous the radiation is — how dangerous nuclear testing is.” Jake Epstein , Dec 11, 2022

  • Over a period of more than a decade, the US military conducted dozens of nuclear tests in the Pacific.
  • Years later, soldiers were sent to the Marshall Islands to try and clean up the fallout from the testing.
  • But many were exposed to contaminated food and dust, leaving them with severe and lasting health issues. 

For over a decade beginning not long after World War II, the US carried out dozens of nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands — a chain of islands and atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The largest of the 67 tests that were conducted between 1946 and 1958 was Castle Bravo. On March 1, 1954, the US military detonated a thermonuclear weapon at Bikini Atoll, producing an explosive yield 1,000 times greater than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan.

Nuclear tests like Castle Bravo produced a substantial amount of nuclear fallout that negatively affected the people of the Marshall Islands, according to the Brookings Institution think tank. Radioactive material was even found in communities thousands of miles away.2

‘There’s no way possibly to clean that up’

Ken Brownell, who was a carpenter when he served in the military in the late 1970s, was sent to the Marshall Islands in 1977 to build a base camp for hundreds of soldiers assigned to cleanup operations. These cleanup efforts involved a concrete dome that was built on Runit Island, one of 40 islands that make up Enewetak Atoll, which was used to deposit soil and debris contaminated by radiation. 

The goal, Brownell said, was supposedly to make the area habitable again for the Marshallese people after all the nuclear testing that happened during the US occupation, which began during World War II (the Marshall Islands eventually became independent in 1979). 

Brownell, 66, said he worked 12-hour work days, six days a week, while living on Lojwa — an island “deemed safe” at the time because it didn’t host any nuclear tests, even though it was located near islands that did. His job included excavations and pouring concrete. 

But despite the US military’s efforts to clean up the islands, Brownell said there was one, massive problem — it just couldn’t be done.

“There’s no way possibly to clean that up. Once that soil was contaminated, the animals that lived on the islands, the birds, the rats, the coconut crabs, all the — whatever wildlife was there — they consumed all that,” Brownell said. “So all this — the radioactive material goes into the ocean, gets into the coral. Now you’ve got it into the fish life. You’ve got it into the lobsters.”

Brownell said exposure to radioactive material could come from “any place on those islands,” whether it was eating contaminated seafood, or just walking around in the dirt and breathing in contaminated dust. 

“On our end of it, most of our guys are dead because of the cancers and all the ailments that come along with the radioactive materials that we ingested,” Brownell said, adding that he had nothing in the way of protective gear. On a typical day, he said he would wear an outfit consisting of just combat boots, shorts, and a hat.  

Coming from a farming community in New York, Brownell said he had no knowledge of radioactive materials before getting sent to the Marshall Islands. He also said he didn’t receive any prior training in radiological cleanups and that the potential dangers of the mission were never properly addressed beforehand.   

“There was no running water … you couldn’t actually wash up. So you’re eating a baloney sandwich with dirty, contaminated hands, sitting in contaminated soil,” Brownell said. “The government said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it … be careful swimming because there’s sharks out there.'”

Atomic veteran Francis Lincoln Grahlfs echoed Brownell’s remarks about a lack of knowledge on the dangers of nuclear cleanups, writing in a Military Times op-ed last year that “little was known by the public about the long-term effects of radiation exposure.”

Impact of radiation contamination 

Nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands had “devastating effects” on the country’s environment that “remain unresolved,” according to a 2019 report by the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission. Some individuals still “live with a daily fear of how their health might be affected by long-term exposure to radiation.”

Several of Brownell’s friends dealt with health complications that he believed to be related to their service in the Marshall Islands — and he was not immune. In 2001, he was diagnosed with stage-four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given only six months to live. That wasn’t the end though.

That six months has turned into 20 years — 21 years,” Brownell said. “So I’m grateful every day that I’m still here.”

Like Brownell, Grahlfs — who was sent to the Marshal Islands in 1946 — wrote in his December 2021 op-ed that he has suffered from health complications, including cancer, believed to be a result of his service.

Brownell and other veterans have been fighting to be covered by government services that could provide compensation and other care. He is currently covered by the PACT Act, which is legislation aimed at improving funding and healthcare access for veterans who were exposed to toxins during their service that was signed by President Joe Biden in August.

However, he, like thousands of others, are excluded from the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which only covers veterans present for atmospheric nuclear tests. RECA has had faster response times for claims than those submitted through the VA.

“We’re still fighting. We’re not gonna give up, and we’re just gonna keep going and keep fighting,” Brownell said. “The world needs to know. They need to know how dangerous the radiation is — how dangerous nuclear testing is.”

December 12, 2022 Posted by | environment, health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK govt goes ahead, seeks financial backing for Sizewell nuclear project, despite strong objections on environmental grounds, especially about water use.

It bears noting that EDF was refused planning consent from Suffolk County Council and the Planning
Inspectorate in 2020 on the grounds that insufficient information was provided about the project’s impacts on local communities and nature.

Particular concerns included procuring water and potential impacts on the local nature reserve.

The UK Government has confirmed approval for the Sizewell C nuclear power
plant after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt moved to back proceeding with the
development at this month’s Autumn Statement. The Department for Business,
Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has stated that the Government will
take a £679m stake in the 3.2GW project and will urge China General Nuclear
to end its involvement.

It will allocate a multi-million-pound package to
cover buy-out costs, commercial arrangements and tax. This is a significant
increase from the £100m option fee contribution for Sizewell C which the
Government confirmed back in January. It will see the Government becoming a
50% shareholder in the project’s development phase. BEIS has stated that
EDF, which is developing the power plant, will “provide additional
investment to match the Government’s stake”.

But with the total project
cost sitting around £20bn, it is clear that additional backers will need to
be found. Sizewell C will be the UK’s first project to use a new funding
model for nuclear, the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model. This model
provides investors with regular returns before a plant begins generating
power. It has replaced the previous Contracts for Difference (CfD) approach
to nuclear funding due to the passage of the Nuclear Energy (Financing)
Bill earlier this year, when Kwasi Kwarteng was in the top job at BEIS.

Some local community groups and major environmental groups have argued that
BEIS rushed the decision on Sizewell C without accounting for key
information on impacts such as water extraction and disrupting wildlife.

On the former point, Sizewell B uses about 800,000 litres of potable water
each day. Friends of the Earth moved in August to launch a legal challenge
to BEIS over the Sizewell C approval decision. It bears noting that EDF was
refused planning consent from Suffolk County Council and the Planning
Inspectorate in 2020 on the grounds that insufficient information was
provided about the project’s impacts on local communities and nature.
Particular concerns included procuring water and potential impacts on the
local nature reserve.

The Planning Inspectorate stated that “unless the
outstanding water supply strategy can be resolved and sufficient
information provided to enable the secretary of state to carry out his
obligations under the Habitats Regulations, the case for an order granting
development consent for the application is not made out”.

Friends of the Earth argued that, when it launched its challenge, no more information had
been provided or considered about Sizewell C’s nature and water footprint.

Edie 29th Nov 2022

November 30, 2022 Posted by | UK, water | Leave a comment