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Nuclear deregulation threatens workers at Pennsylvania plants and nationwide

May 28, 2020 Posted by | health, safety, USA | Leave a comment

During pandemic, U.S. military runs the largest maritime war games in the world

COVID-19: US Military Pursues War Games Amid Contagion, Consortium News, May 26, 2020  A robust schedule of military maneuvers and exercises is either underway or planned for Europe and the Pacific this year, with more in store for 2021, Ann Wright reports.   During the pandemic the U.S. military is running the largest maritime military maneuvers in the world, with Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) coming to the waters off Hawaii Aug. 17-31, bringing 26 nations, 25,000 military personnel, up to 50 ships and submarines and hundreds of aircraft.Hawaii hasstringent measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving in the state; returning residents as well as visitors. This quarantine is required until at least June 30, 2020.

The U.S. Army is also pursuing a 6,000-person war game in Poland, June 5-19, with a Polish airborne operation and a U.S.-Polish division-size river crossing.

If these weren’t too many military operations during an epidemic in which personnel on 40 U.S. Navy ships have come down with the hyper-contagious virus and during which military personnel and their families have been told not to travel, plans are also underway  for a U.S. Army division-sized exercise in the Indo-Pacific region  in less than a year.  Known as Defender 2021, the U.S. Army has requested $364 million to conduct the war exercises throughout Asian and Pacific countries.

The pivot to the Pacific, begun under the Obama administration, and maintained by the Trump administration, is reflected in a U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) that sees the world as “a great power competition rather than counterterrorism and has formulated its strategy to confront China as a long-term, strategic competitor.”

Earlier in May, the U.S. Navy sent at least seven submarines, including all four Guam-based attack submarines, several Hawaii-based ships and the San Diego-based USS Alexandria to the western Pacific in what the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force announced as simultaneous “contingency response operations” for all of its forward-deployed subs. This was all in support of the Pentagon’s “free and open Indo-Pacific ” policy — aimed at countering China’s expansionism in the South China Sea — and as a show of force to counter ideas that the capabilities of U.S. Navy forces have been reduced by Covid-19…….

In May, 2020, the Australian government announced that a delayed six-month rotation of 2,500 U.S. Marines to a military base in Australia’s northern city of Darwin will go ahead based on strict adherence to Covid-19 measures including a 14-day quarantine. The Marines had been scheduled to arrive in April but their arrival was postponed in March because of the pandemic.

The remote Northern Territory, which had recorded just 30 Covid-19 cases, closed its borders to international and interstate visitors in March, and any arrivals must now undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days.  U.S. Marine deployments to Australia began in 2012 with 250 personnel and have grown to 2,500.    The Joint U.S. Defense facility Pine Gap— the U.S. Department of Defense, Five Eyes and CIA surveillance facility that pinpoints airstrikes around the world and targets nuclear weapons, among other military and intelligence tasks — was also adapting its policy and procedures to comply with Australian government COVID restrictions.

As the U.S. military expands its presence in Asia and the Pacific, one place it will NOT be returning to is Wuhan, China.  In October 2019, the Pentagon sent 17 teams with more than 280 athletes and other staff members to the Military World Games in Wuhan. Over 100 nations sent a total of 10,000 military personnel to the games in Wuhan last October.

The presence of a large U.S. military contingent in Wuhan just months before the outbreak of the Covid-19 in Wuhan in December 2019, fueled a theory by some Chinese officials that the U.S. military was somehow involved in the outbreak, which now has been used by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress and the media that the Chinese deliberately used the virus to infect the world and adding justification for the U.S. military build-up in the Pacific region.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel.   She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. She is co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/26/covid-19-military-pursues-war-exercises-amid-contagion/

May 28, 2020 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The danger to children of low level nuclear radiation has been underestimated

May 25, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, children | 2 Comments

Michigan flooding: a warning on potential triple disaster – climate, pandemic, and nuclear radiation

Michigan floods expose impossible challenges of mass evacuations during Covid-19 https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/2720846982 By Paul Gunter 24 May, 20  Two dam failures and major flooding in central Michigan, which also prompted a low-level emergency notification (scroll to NCR event #54719) at a nearby nuclear research reactor in Midland, have exposed the almost impossible challenge of evacuating people to safety during simultaneous catastrophic events.The sudden need to evacuate large numbers of people from severe flooding — also threatening to compromise a Dow chemical facility that uses a research reactor — during a time of national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, raises serious questions and concerns about the emergency response readiness and the viability of evacuation that might simultaneously include a radiological accident.

Michigan authorities were forced to face a “no-win compromise” between protecting the public from exposure to Covid-19 while at the same time moving people out of harm’s way after heavy rains caused failures at the Edenville and Sanford dams, leading to devastating floods.

The Dow plant insists there have been no chemical or radiological releases, but the situation will be evaluated once floodwaters recede. Fortunately, no full-scale commercial nuclear power plant was in the path of the Michigan floods.

Operating nuclear power stations are required by federal and state laws to maintain radiological emergency preparedness to protect populations within a ten-mile radius from the release of radioactivity following a serious nuclear accident. These measures include mass evacuations.

However, many communities around the nation’s 95 commercial reactors are presently sheltering-in-place at home as a protective action during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Michigan flooding has forced the relocation of thousands of citizens from their stay-at-home lockdown into the social distancing challenges of mass shelters. Evacuating tens of thousands from a likely more far-reaching radioactive cloud to mass shelters, as is presently planned during a nuclear emergency, raises difficult if not impossible choices under pandemic conditions.

In fact, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (Sect.03.02 p.2) between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) already obligates the federal government to re-exam radiological emergency plans around nuclear facilities specifically in response to a pandemic, and to identify any shortcomings, deficiencies and enhancements that might be needed under such conditions.

But to date, neither agency has taken the initiative to do so. In fact, the NRC actions are focused on relaxing safety measures required by operating licenses, resulting in extended work hours for reactor operators and security guards, and deferred safety inspections and repairs for as much as another 18 months. This makes an accident more likely.

Given what we are now seeing in Michigan, the NRC and FEMA should lose no time in reviewing their MOU and the viability of their radiological emergency plans, and take action to make any necessary enhancements or shut these nuclear facilities down.

Beyond Nuclear has identified two such actions under the MOU as vital to public health:

  • The NRC and FEMA must conduct a “Disaster Initiated Report”, as mandated by the MOU, on the adequacy of offsite radiological emergency response plans during the pandemic, and;
  • Federal and state response plans need to be bolstered by the immediate pre-distribution of potassium iodide (KI) tablets by direct delivery to every resident within the ten-mile radius of U.S. nuclear power stations, now, before any accident occurs. This is in accordance with disaster medicine expert recommendations including from the American Thyroid Association (ATA).
  • KI, if taken promptly in advance or shortly after exposure to radioactive iodine, is recognized by the US Food and Drug administration as a safe, inexpensive and effective prophylactic prevention for thyroid cancer and other developmental disorders caused by exposure to highly mobile iodine-131. Radioactive iodine is a gas released early in a serious nuclear accident.
  • KI is particularly important for the protection of infants, young children and pregnant women and should be readily on hand, according to the ATA and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    The ATA further recommends stockpiling KI tablets in schools, hospitals, police and fire stations from 10 miles out to 50 miles from every nuclear power plant. These institutions could then serve to pre-distribute KI free through the mail upon request to every home and business within 50 miles of an operating nuclear plant.

    KI is commonly used to iodize table salt in concentrations. When taken in tablet form, it saturates the thyroid with stable iodine and blocks the absorption of radioactive iodine into the thyroid gland.

  • KI only protects the thyroid. It does not protect other parts of the body, or prevent damage from other radioactive isotopes released during a nuclear power plant accident, such as cesium-137 or krypton or xenon gases. Ideally, it is used to provide protection to the thyroid — because iodine-131 can be the large and early radioactive exposure first to arrive — while people are still evacuating out of the oncoming radioactive fallout pathway.

    KI is a critical adjunct to evacuation, but it should not replace evacuation from a nuclear accident, even during a viral pandemic. If faced with an immediate threat to life, perhaps even a triple threat such as an extreme flood, a nuclear accident and Covid-19 exposure, evacuation must be the immediate decision.

    However, at least having KI tablets on hand provides for a reasonable protection from the radioactive iodine, a fundamental human right while seeking to shelter farther away from a nuclear accident.

    The prospect of a nuclear disaster prompting a mass evacuation during a viral pandemic reinforces the need for an energy policy focused on safe, clean and affordable renewable energy. It’s time to remove the added and unnecessary danger presented by the 95 nuclear reactors still operating in the US today and transition to a rapid phaseout before a nuclear emergency during a pandemic becomes a nightmarish reality.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | climate change, health, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Unprepared for Nuclear Accident During Pandemic

U.S. Unprepared for Nuclear Accident During Pandemic Common Dreams, 22 May 20

Michigan floods expose impossible challenges of mass evacuation during Covid-19

Emergency preparedness must include direct delivery of potassium iodide to all residents around nuclear plants

TAKOMA PARK, MD – Two dam failures and catastrophic flooding in central Michigan, which also prompted a low-level emergency notification (NRC event #54719) at a nearby nuclear research reactor in Midland, have exposed the almost impossible challenge of evacuating people to safety during simultaneous catastrophic events.

The sudden need to evacuate large numbers of people from severe flooding — also threatening to compromise a Dow chemical facility that uses a research reactor — during a time of national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, raises “serious questions and concerns about the emergency response readiness and the viability of evacuation that might simultaneously include a radiological accident,” said Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear, a national anti-nuclear advocacy organization.

Michigan authorities were forced to face a “no-win compromise” between protecting the public from exposure to Covid-19 while at the same time moving people out of harm’s way, after heavy rains caused failures at the Edenville and Sanford dams, leading to devastating floods. The Dow plant insists there have been no chemical or radiological releases, but the situation will be evaluated once floodwaters recede. Fortunately, no full-scale commercial nuclear power plant was in the path of the Michigan floods.

Operating nuclear power stations are required by federal and state laws to maintain radiological emergency preparedness to protect populations within a ten-mile radius from the release of radioactivity following a serious nuclear accident. These measures include mass evacuations.

However, many communities around the nation’s 95 commercial reactors are presently sheltering-in-place at home as a protective action during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Michigan flooding has forced the relocation of thousands of citizens from their stay-at-home shelters into the social distancing challenges of mass shelters,” Gunter said. “Evacuating tens of thousands from a radioactive cloud to mass shelters, as is presently planned during a nuclear emergency, raises difficult if not impossible choices under pandemic conditions.”

In fact, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Sect.03.02, p.2, between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) already obligates the federal government to re-exam radiological emergency plans around nuclear facilities specifically in response to a pandemic, and to identify any shortcomings, deficiencies and enhancements that might be needed under such conditions.

But to date, neither agency has publicly taken the initiative to do so. In fact, the NRC actions are focused on relaxing safety measures required by operating licenses, resulting in extended work hours for reactor operators and security guards, and deferred safety inspections and repairs for as much as another 18 months. This makes an accident more likely.

“Given what we see in Michigan, the NRC and FEMA should lose no time in reviewing the viability of their radiological emergency plans, and publicly take action to make any necessary enhancements or shut these nuclear facilities down,” Gunter said.

Beyond Nuclear has identified two such actions under the MOU as vital to public health:

  • NRC and FEMA must conduct a “Disaster Initiated Report”, as mandated by the MOU, on the adequacy of offsite radiological emergency response plans during the pandemic, and;
  • Federal and state response plans need to be bolstered by the immediate pre-distribution of potassium iodide (KI) tablets by direct delivery to every resident within the ten-mile radius of U.S. nuclear power stations, now, before any accident occurs. This is in accordance with disaster medicine expert recommendations including from the American Thyroid Association (ATA)……..“The prospect of a nuclear disaster prompting a mass evacuation during a viral pandemic reinforces the need for an energy policy focused on safe, clean and affordable renewable energy,” said Gunter. “It’s time to remove the added and unnecessary danger presented by the 95 nuclear reactors still operating in the US today, and transition to a rapid phaseout before a nuclear emergency during a pandemic becomes a nightmarish reality.” https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2020/05/22/us-unprepared-nuclear-accident-during-pandemic

May 22, 2020 Posted by | health, safety | 1 Comment

COVID-19 in worker at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant

TVA confirms Sequoyah Nuclear Plant employee tests positive for COVID-19, by WTVC

Friday, May 22nd 2020   HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. — Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has confirmed an employee at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant has tested positive for the coronavirus.

 has tested positive for the coronavirus.

TVA spokeswoman Malinda Hunter said in a statement that the case was reported Wednesday, May 20, and the employee’s last day on site had been May 10, as they were staying home to care for a family member who was sick. Hunter says the employee had not been in close contact with anyone on site for two weeks before that point.

Hunter says the employee told the plant’s leadership on May 13 that a family member was showing symptoms associated with COVID-19………

Hamilton County has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, with 43 reported Wednesday, and another 40 reported today. There have been 111 new cases in the past three days. That makes up 23% of the county’s total positive cases. ……https://newschannel9.com/news/local/tva-confirms-sequoyah-nuclear-plant-employee-tests-positive-for-covid-19

May 22, 2020 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Brazil’s nuclear reactor build delayed, completion now due in 2027, Covid-19 effect

May 22, 2020 Posted by | Brazil, health, politics | Leave a comment

Sellafield’s safety dilemma- risk of coronavirus versus risk of nuclear accident

May 19, 2020 Posted by | employment, health, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Over 120 local and national organizations urge U.S. Congress to help nuclear frontline communities.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA | Leave a comment

3600 working in Nuclear power plants in Japan – concerns raised over coronavirus

N-reactor inspection cannot abide by physical distancing rules, causing coronavirus fear in locals

 http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=12907, April 29 & May 3, 2020

The No.3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO)’s Oi nuclear power plant (Oi Town, Fukui Pref.) will soon undergo its regular inspection. During this overhaul, about 900 utility workers will come from other prefectures amid a nationwide voluntary ban on leaving home in the fight against COVID-19.
Local citizens are concerned that this will run counter to the government instructions to refrain from crossing prefectural borders and to avoid the “three Cs”- closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, close-contact settings.

Seven civil organizations in Fukui on April 28 jointly demanded that KEPCO suspend operations of reactors at all NPPs in the prefecture and cancel all work to bring offline reactors back online or decommission them in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.

According to KEPCO, the number of workers will increase by about 1,800 to check on the No.3 reactor at the Oi NPP. Of them, about 900 will come from outside Fukui. At the Oi NPP, the Nos.1 and 2 reactors are currently under the process of decommissioning with about 1,800 workers working daily. Thus, the number of workers in three reactors combined will reach 3,600.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Oi Town Assembly, Saruhashi Takumi pointed out, “The reactor buildings are hermetically closed. Many workers work close together in a confined space. So, the ‘three Cs are unavoidable, but our town has a limited number of hospital beds to treat patients with coronavirus infection. If a mass infection occurs, medical facilities in the town will soon be overwhelmed.”

JCP member of the Fukui Prefectural Assembly Sato Masao criticized KEPCO by saying, “The utility places priority on the resumption of operations of reactors at its NPPs over preventive measures against the coronavirus.”

Apart from the Oi NPP, KEPCO has the Takahama NPP and the Mihama NPP in Fukui Prefecture, and about 4,500 workers and 3,000 workers work at those plants every day, respectively.

* * *

KEPCO postpones regular inspection of No.3 reactor

KEOCO on May 2 announced that it will postpone a regular inspection of the No.3 reactor at its Oi NPP for a few months.

Fearing a possible increase of coronavirus infections caused by the inflow of many workers from outside Fukui Prefecture, local residents successfully pressed the power company to delay the inspection which was planned to start on May 8.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | health, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Fermi 2 nuclear station struggles with large COVID-19 outbreak among workers.

Beyond Nuclear 14th May 2020, Fermi 2 struggles with large COVID-19 outbreak among workers. The large numbers of coronavirus test positives at Fermi nuclear power plant (the article reports more than 200 cases, but May 13 Facebook postings by Fermi employees have put the number as already grown worse, now at more than 300) is likely among the worst known (yet unreported, in the Michigan or U.S. national news media) at any single institution or workplace in Michigan.
It also is perhaps the most known (yet unreported, in the Michigan or U.S. national news media) number of cases at any U.S. nuclear facility, whether nuclear power plant or weapons complex site (although the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia is also reporting more than 200 cases).

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2020/5/14/fermi-2-struggles-with-large-covid-19-outbreak-among-workers.html

May 18, 2020 Posted by | health, media, USA | Leave a comment

Pacific nuclear bomb tests interfered with rain patterns in UK

Pacific nuclear bomb tests made it rain 1,000s of miles away in UK, Reading University scientists find, Berkshire Live 

During the Cold War, detonations in locations as remote as the Nevada Desert or Pacific islands had unforeseen consequences elsewhere in the world  By Ian Hughes 17 MAY 2020  

Nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War changed rainfall patterns thousands of miles from the detonation sites, according to scientists at the University of Reading.

They found electric charge released by radiation from detonations – carried out predominantly by the US and Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s – affected rain clouds at the time.

It means tests in remote locations such as the Nevada Desert or Pacific islands, had an effect on precipitation as far away as the Shetlands – 300 miles off the coast of Scotland.

A study used historic records between 1962-64 from a research station on the Scottish island.

Scientists compared days with high and low radioactively-generated charge, finding that clouds were visibly thicker, and there was 24 per cent more rain on average on the days with more radioactivity…………

It is thought researchers will now have a better understanding of important weather processes.

Although detonations were carried out in remote parts of the world during the Cold War, radioactive pollution spread widely throughout the atmosphere.

Radioactivity ionises the air, releasing electric charge.

The researchers, from the Universities of Reading, Bath and Bristol, studied records from well-equipped Met Office research weather stations at Kew near London and Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.

Shetland, in particular, was relatively unaffected by other sources of anthropogenic pollution.  This made it well suited as a test site to observe rainfall effects which, although likely to have occurred elsewhere too, would be much more difficult to detect.

The Shetland rainfall on more than 150 days showed differences which vanished after the major radioactivity episodes were over.

The study was published in Physical Review Letters.  https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/pacific-nuclear-bomb-tests-made-18248407

 

May 17, 2020 Posted by | radiation, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Covid-19 highlights risks of doing nothing on global heating

‘Green Swan’ Virus Shock Proves Need for Joint Climate Action, Bloomberg Law

May 14, 2020  
  • Covid-19 highlights risks of doing nothing on global warming
  • BIS urges global cooperation in rethinking old routines

The coronavirus pandemic that’s sent the global economy into a tailspin highlights the need for international collaboration to tackle crises posing severe threats to human lives, chief among them climate change, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

Much like global warming, the disease outbreak meets the criteria for being a “Green Swan,” according to the Basel, Switzerland-based institution, which adapted Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “Black Swan” concept for high-impact adverse events outside the scope of regular expectations to describe risks that are highly likely to materialize but too complex to fully understand…….

Central banks have already begun to consider climate change as a factor in their assessment of financial and economic risks, and the BIS highlighted the possibility of further multidisciplinary efforts to absorb large shocks. …..

With the global economy in the throes of its deepest dive since the 1930s, the pandemic may jolt decision makers into action to address global warming, according to the BIS.

“Covid-19 might have presented a vivid image of what the future might look like if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases, inflicting similar stoppages worldwide after some tipping-point is reached,” it said. “It may also have raised awareness of the fragility of some of our systems and therefore of the need for improved efficiency and greater resilience.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Catherine Bosley in Zurich at cbosley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:

Fergal O’Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net    https://news.bloomberglaw.com/banking-law/green-swan-virus-shock-proves-need-for-joint-climate-action

May 16, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change, health | Leave a comment

Worker infection halts anti-terror project at Genkai nuclear plant

Worker infection halts anti-terror project at Genkai nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun, By YASUYUKI ONAYA/ Staff Writer, April 16, 2020 Kyushu Electric Power Co. suspended work to build an anti-terrorism facility at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture after a worker there tested positive for the novel coronavirus on April 14.The infected construction worker was involved in the project, which is required under stricter safety standards for nuclear power plant operations, the company said April 15.

All civil engineering work at the nuclear plant was halted on the night of April 14, and the company said it does not know when it can restart the project……. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13302790

May 16, 2020 Posted by | health, safety | Leave a comment

Corona and nuclear power

May 14, 2020 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment