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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

The link between nuclear power stations and cancer rates

radiation-causing-cancerA link between cancer rates and nuclear plants? http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/MP/20170221/NEWS/170229937  Joseph Mangano Executive Director Radiation and Public Health Project 02/21/17,SINCE THE TWO NUCLEAR REACTORS AT LIMERICK Began operating in the 1980s, the question of whether toxic radiation releases affected local cancer rates has persisted.

February 24, 2017 Posted by | health, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Pressure on Hanford doctor to disregard worker safety

see-no-evilFlag-USAFormer Hanford doctor ‘under duress’ to disregard worker safety http://www.king5.com/news/local/hanford/former-hanford-doctor-under-duress-to-disregard-worker-safety/405358477  Susannah Frame, KING  February 09, 2017          In 30 years of medical practice, Dr. Loren Lewis of Spokane said he’s never seen tactics like those used at Hanford.

Instead of putting worker safety as priority number one at the former nuclear weapons complex, the occupational medicine expert said he felt “forced and under duress to…manipulate a medical policy” he wasn’t comfortable with.

From 2004 to 2006, Lewis was the top medical professional at the site, the Site Occupational Medical Director (SOMD). As per federal regulation, he was legally and ethically responsible for overseeing medical policy and programs for the 11,000 workers at the site. As SOMD, he was an employee of a federal government contractor, AdvanceMed Hanford.

Lewis said his supervisors at AdvanceMed Hanford and officials they reported to at the U.S. Department of Energy pressured him to abandon his adherence to the federal regulations and loosen medical policy as it related to keeping workers safe from a highly toxic metal at the site called beryllium.

“That was really a violation of their own regulations. They should have been aware that (the regulation) gives strict authority to the SOMD (to direct medical policy),” said Lewis. “To me, it is unthinkable that a medical professional would be forced to do things that are politically or have some other motivation besides the health of the person. That’s what we are trained to do and what the Hippocratic oath is about – the health of the person.”

In the mid-2000s, the subject of keeping workers safe from beryllium was a hot topic. The metal was used at Hanford in non-sparking tools and processes used to produce plutonium. It is one of the most hazardous metals on the planet, and some workers become allergic to it or contract a life-threatening disease called Chronic Beryllium Disease. The condition is an incurable lung disease that can cause a person’s health to decline over several years. It can affect not only a person’s lungs, but can also damage a person’s heart, nervous system, and mental health, as well as liver and kidney function.

After a worker would be diagnosed with an allergic reaction to beryllium, a condition called beryllium sensitivity, experts say best practice is to keep them away from beryllium to the greatest extent possible.

“It takes a seemingly trivial amount of beryllium to cause this disease,” said Dr. Lee Newman of the University of Colorado Denver. “So if you’re not being as strict as possible in controlling the exposures, it’s, unfortunately, easy for someone to be overexposed.”

Newman is considered the world’s leading expert on beryllium.

“There is no known safe level for someone who is sensitized,” said Newman.

But Lewis said his supervisors and a top U.S. Department of Energy official were pressuring him to come up with a safe level of beryllium and to put that measurement in Hanford medical policy for those who had become sensitized.

Hundreds of internal emails obtained by KING 5 show the bitter dispute over this issue between Lewis and his superiors.

“We received specific guidance from (U.S. Department of Energy administrator) Doug Shoop to reword the policy,” wrote Lewis’ boss on Oct. 8, 2006. “He (Shoop) specifically requested that the wording in the medical restriction document contain a reference to the maximum exposure limit…(but) you began questioning this direction…Such behavior is inexcusable.”

Lewis pushed back in dozens of emails.

“I cannot stress enough that it is very inappropriate for…DOE to exert duress and compulsion on the way that we practice medicine, on medical decision making,” wrote Lewis on Oct. 4, 2006.

“I cannot provide a ‘safe level’ of exposure because there is no medical support of such,” wrote Lewis. “(I’m being) forced and under duress to manipulate a medical policy (by people who do not have) a license to practice medicine in the State of Washington. (Going along) would put Hanford workers at increased risk.”

Shoop said he could barely remember Lewis and that he “didn’t believe” he had put pressure on the SOMD.

“My interest was the health of the worker and keeping them safe and not letting them go back into a situation where they could be harmed further,” said Lewis.

Lewis said making deadlines and getting the work done seemed to eclipse worker safety at the site.

“It was in the best interest of the employer and their profitability and getting people to do the work regardless of what the health consequences were,” said Lewis.

Lewis refused to cave under pressure. Nineteen days after he put his foot down once and for all, he was fired. “My supervisor gave me a note and said the Department of Energy had lost confidence in my leadership and fired me on the spot,” said Lewis.

Lewis said on behalf of the sick and forgotten at Hanford, the fight, the stress, the loss of a job was all worth it.

“It was very difficult to stand up against that,” Lewis said. “There was a lot of force…I was proud of myself that I was willing to stand my ground and stick up for my principals and the ethics I felt were important, and if I did it again, I would do the same thing.”

Lewis now works for the U.S. Department of Labor, helping sick nuclear workers.

During that time in the mid-2000s, he tried to get the word out about what was going on. He filed complaints with the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. Teams came out and investigated, but nothing ever came of it.

That’s why he’s speaking out now, to bring attention to what he thinks is most likely still going on at Hanford.

“The workers are not safe and protected by the system,” said Newman.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear weapons made workers very ill

body-radThe perils of Pantex: Hundreds of workers sickened at Texas nuclear weapons plant http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article49500030.html

Panhandle nuclear weapons assembly plant a hazardous workplace

Workers used to joke that they made soap at the facility

More than 1,300 workers and families have been awarded compensation since 2000

Bob Ruzich, a 31-year worker at the nuclear assembly plant here, rarely got sick. He had to cash out his sick hours every year because he was so healthy.

But in a matter of months, the Pantex Plant worker became so fragile that he had to be rushed by helicopter to the hospital. Ruzich’s 18-year-old son watched from the front yard of their Panhandle home as his father’s motionless body was lifted into the air, said his wife, Barbara Ruzich.

“You do what you have to do,” Barbara Ruzich said. “You don’t sit back and cry.”

Years ago, it was popular for plant workers to tell spouses and other loved ones that they made soap at the nuclear weapons assembly facility on a 16,000-acre parcel. But Pantex now conjures up a different image, as hundreds have suddenly fallen ill or died at the plant, a vital component in the nation’s nuclear weapons program since the 1950s.

The federal government has made concessions to a growing number of workers, like Ruzich, whose Pantex jobs made them sick. Many hundreds have been provided with medical coverage and lump sum payments, under the energy employees’ compensation program, according to records provided to the Star-Telegram by the Labor Department.

Bob Ruzich, now 64, said he never thought the chemicals in the maintenance warehouse and the toxins on the production line would give him throat and tongue cancer.

“I didn’t think much about it, but I do now believe that’s what caused my cancer,’’ said Ruzich, who worked dismantling warheads and in the maintenance department since 1982.

Several years ago, less than 1 in 5 claims were decided in favor of workers and their families, according to records provided to the Star-Telegram. Now, more than half are typically handed compensation and medical care because of a prevalence of scientific evidence that their illness was caused by an exposure to plant hazards, records say.

All told, $171 million in compensation and medical bills has been disbursed to more than 1,300 workers and families since the energy employees’ compensation program began in 2000, the program’s numbers say.

“The number of claimaints or sick workers was beyond the expectations of those who originally created the program,” said Sarah Ray, a former Pantex critical safety systems training specialist, who has filed thousands of claims on behalf of Pantex workers and their families since the program started.

“Overall, there just has not been a real grasp of the true situations faced by nuclear weapons workers,” said Ray, who believes that thousands more aren’t aware that they are sick because they have not developed symptoms. “They are different than workers who insert a bolt in a car door.”

Until they hear about the deteriorating health of co-workers and friends, most people seldom realize the harm that has been done, said Clarence Rashada, an instrument technician at the plant for 21 years.

And then it’s too late, Rashada said.

“People are just coming to grips with this — that the plant made them sick — and they are angry,” he said. “The problem that you have was, for example, the secrecy that we had for so many years.”

 ‘Heartbreaking’

If anyone understands the devastation of Pantex workers and their families, it’s David Pompa, now a Pantex safety and industrial hygiene officer who worked as a production line technician years ago.

Since 2000, Pompa has documented each sick case in a running log that includes more than several hundred employees. Over the years, Pompa has gone with the sick to see doctors, to meet with supervisors and staff members and to special hearings with government claims examiners, employees said.

“These are my friends,’’ Pompa said. “I’ve always been concerned with the health of the workers.”

In the last 1  1/2 years, five current or former employees have died suddenly, Pompa said. When one worker, in his early 60s, was diagnosed with lung cancer early this year, his organs were covered in granulomas, a tissue inflammation that occurs when the body is trying to fight off infection.

“Another worker called me in November that she had some health issues and, in March, she’s gone,” Pompa said. “… Another worker went from the doctor’s office to the hospital to hospice. It was that quick.”

The sick include physical education trainers, auditors, instrument technicians and firefighters, Pompa said. They are production technicians, laboratory workers and janitors. They are security guards and warehouse clerks, Pompa said.

“What I hear is heartbreaking,” Pompa said. “It’s plantwide.”

Ray, the former Pantex training specialist, said she now hears of more families burying their dead.

“Workers at Pantex are walking time bombs,’’ Ray said. “They have this false bravado — especially the guys. Then all of a sudden, they are really, really sick and they learn they are deathly ill from some lung problem. Then they’ve got something else and they die, just because they’re not paying attention to the minor signs.”

Ray’s own husband, a former Pantex engineer, died within three months of a lung cancer diagnosis. He was 54, Ray said.

“He went from being a very active, very healthy man and then he was gone,” Ray said.

Lisa Trevino, a 22-year Pantex employee, now works with Pompa in the safety and industrial hygiene department, which issues to workers safety-protective gear, such as safety glasses, shoes, respirators, radiation dosimeters and other air sampling devices.

“I hear all the people calling David telling him that they are sick, that they have cancer, the respiratory problems, the beryllium,” Trevino said. “It makes me sick just hearing about it.”

Family frustrations

The government had agreed to compensate Eddie Gray, a security guard at the Pantex Plant, for indirectly causing the condition that ultimately led to his death.

But on the July 2014 morning that her 60-year-old husband died, Linda Gray was told that his promised federal benefits would stop.

“I cannot fault Eddie for working there,” Linda Gray said. “It provided for us a very good living, but I hate that the industry was ever established.”

Rachel P. Leiton, director of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program under the Labor Department, says the agency over the years has implemented shortcuts to ease access to the program for families.

‘We try to the best we can to compensate them based on our statutory authority that we’re given. … It’s a nonadversarial system; the money is there to provide benefits to these employees. … We do whatever we can to try to assist them,” Leiton said.

But families like the Grays often become frustrated when trying to tap claims. Many are elderly and have a work-related impairment, such as heart disease or diabetes. Many feel that the government makes the process more difficult for them so as to deter claims.

“Have you ever used any kind of health insurance? You get a whole sense from the insurance companies that they don’t want to pay out the money in the hopes you go away. Here, it is in spades,” said Dr. Arthur Frank, professor of environmental and occupational health in the public health department at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

“The workers are given an extraordinarily hard time,” said Frank, who was at Pantex in the early 2000s to help identify workers who had been exposed to toxins.

Bob Ruzich waited more than three years for a claim to be decided in his favor and was initially denied while in the heat of battle with cancer. Linda Gray submitted her husband’s death certificate last October to try to get a final payment of benefits. It was included in a 15-page fax.

“It will be January before I can get to you,” she was told by the new case examiner assigned to her claim.

The last compensation check arrived more than a year after Eddie Gray’s death.

‘We’re going to help’

When the program began 15 years ago, Ray said, the Labor Department made promises: “We’re going to help you. It’s going to be easy.”

Ray, who has filed thousands of claims on behalf of Pantex workers and their families, said it can take years for claimants to receive money or get healthcare assistance. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in instructional technology.

She’s seen widespread examples of payouts that occur only after a worker dies. She handled the claim of one widow who just this year received a payout on a claim that her husband filed in 2005. The husband died of cancer in 2011.

“Many claimants have commented that they think the claims are drug out so that the claimants die,” Ray said. “It truly is less costly to pay a survivor than it is to pay compensation and provide long-term healthcare for a living worker.”

Half of all claims are settled on behalf of survivors, including workers’ spouses, children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents, Leiton indicated.

Leiton’s office has made some changes in response to similar complaints of delays.

For example, once it secures a statement from a doctor, the Labor Department can grant waivers so that fiscal officers can retrieve bank information and secure lump sum checks into the checking accounts of terminal workers “within a matter of days,” Leiton said.

“I personally believe that the program is very important,” Leiton said.

Dr. Laurence J. Fuortes, professor of occupational and environmental health at the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, said the program has done a lot of good.

“This is not the work of the devil,” said Fuortes, who wrote a health petition that led to more than doubling the number of application claims at Pantex. “These are saints in government who tried to enact a program to address historic wrongs.”

‘They killed him’

It was a typical afternoon drive home for Charlie Somerville, a production line technician at the Pantex Plant.

But as he drove, he began to feel an itching sensation that rose through his body. By the time he got home, he couldn’t bear the discomfort. He tore off his shirt to expose large welts on his back.

“I got it checked out and the doctor told me it was probably hives,” Somerville said.

In 2002, Somerville, now 66, was found to have developed an allergic response to beryllium, a cancer-causing metal used in the production of nuclear warheads. He has since developed chronic beryllium disease, a potentially fatal respiratory disease that can also affect the liver, kidneys, heart and nervous system.

In the early years of the energy employees’ compensation program, more than a dozen workers, like Somerville, tested positive for beryllium sensitization and later developed the full-blown disease and radiogenic cancers, Pompa said.

Eddie Gray, Linda Gray’s husband who was a security guard at Pantex, had chronic beryllium disease before he developed three other cancers, she said.

And Ray suspects that her husband, the former Pantex engineer who died of lung cancer, had a beryllium sensitivity. He died March 6, 1998.

“They killed him, in my estimation,” Ray said.

Workers at Pantex are required to undergo annual physicals in which they submit blood samples sent for analysis to National Jewish Health, a Denver-based medical research facility that specializes in respiratory and allergic disorders.

A local doctor won’t be able to diagnose the condition, said Pete Lopez, a 43-year plant employee who has chronic beryllium disease.

“It’s something doctors don’t deal with daily,” Lopez said. “You say beryllium and they’re like what’s beryllium and how did you get involved with beryllium.”

To treat his condition, Lopez must take heavy steroids and codeine for a cough that would be incessant if left untreated, he said. He has had kidney failure.

“You can’t live dying,” Lopez said. “You got to die living.”

Somerville said he has not been to a doctor since he retired more than five years ago. He has trouble breathing, and he wheezes and has an intermittent cough. He knows he needs immediate medical attention, but he’s not eager to do battle with a government claims examiner to get the proper medical care.

“I don’t understand why you have to do that so often when all you should have to do is make one phone call, but anyway that’s just the way it is,” Somerville said.

“I just got tired of messing with it. But I’m going to have to go because it’s been so long.”

Yamil Berard: 817-390-7705@yberard

February 20, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

‘The cancer rates have surged enormously due to high levels of radiation’

 

By Christopher Busby

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has killed a study aimed at finding out whether nuclear reactors pose cancer risks to nearby residents. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the decision was made due to the high cost of the probe and doubts that it would prove effective. The project in question, which is worth eight million dollars, would have examined seven nuclear facilities all across the country. The new investigation was supposed to have reassured Americans that it was not dangerous healthwise to reside near a nuclear power plant. A similar study, coming to the same conclusion, was last conducted almost 30 years ago. Several recent European tests revealed rather disturbing links between cancer and minors living close to nuclear facilities. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Christopher Busby, British scientist known for his theories about the negative health effects of very low-dose ionising radiation. Mr. Busby is a director of Green Audit Limited and scientific advisor to the Low Level Radiation Campaign.

https://soundcloud.com/radiosputnik/the-cancer-rates-have-surged-enormously-due-to-high-levels-of-radiation-christopher-busby

February 9, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

A personal story of nuclear radiation, cancer and death

radiation-emanatingJames Knieling  no high level international nuclear waste dump in south australia, 30 Jan 17 

 Funny thing about Radiation debris, once it drops into your house, its like the “Relatives Visiting From Hell!” I watched the biggest ever above ground Nuke go off from 75-miles away, while my dad hoisted it into position at the Mercury’s Nevada Test Site. *It was dark with only the lights of Fremont Street’s Casinos at 0530 and then the brightest light you ever did not look at went on. Then a 50mph wind struck us, and it felt like a hundred little bee stings on my bare arms, legs, and face

Then it was gone. About 20-years later they found Nuclear Hot Particles in the attics of our street. My dad built and operated 67-above ground nuclear bomb hoists in 1956-7. He died of his exposure, never being warned that his badge had gone red hot, with Small Cell Lung & Bone Cancer.

My field was Radiation Health Technology to work at the Nevada Test Site so when I had the chance to go to Bikini Atoll and see all the on-site data and films I went. I went on the 60-yr post-blast and we took reading for a week. The coconuts were lethal, the coconut crabs were lethal, the ground was, even with 17″ of protection fill, still off gassing lethal hot particles.

We were billeted in structures built several feet off the ground with blowers underneath to vent the radiation. We were told not to walk bare foot, and not sit, or linger on the ground. We were told to “Never, Ever turn off the A/C and Never, Ever to shut the fresh air vent!” Funny thing about being safe to visit. Only a 150+ people had a problem with the “OK to Visit” notice, and they dropped dead. See the sign below from the Bikinian Cemetery? Guess who’s in it? Answer~!The Bikinians the US Govt suckered as “Its safe to come home!” Not, they started dropping like flies! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1314655315214929/

February 1, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Genetic radiation risks: a neglected topic in the low dose debate.

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate the accuracy and scientific validity of the current very low risk factor for hereditary diseases in humans following exposures to ionizing radiation adopted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The value is based on experiments on mice due to reportedly absent effects in the Japanese atomic bomb (Abomb) survivors.

Methods

To review the published evidence for heritable effects after ionising radiation exposures particularly, but not restricted to, populations exposed to contamination from the Chernobyl accident and from atmospheric nuclear test fallout. To make a compilation of findings about early deaths, congenital malformations, Down’s syndrome, cancer and other genetic effects observed in humans after the exposure of the parents. To also examine more closely the evidence from the Japanese A-bomb epidemiology and discuss its scientific validity.

Results

Nearly all types of hereditary defects were found at doses as low as one to 10 mSv. We discuss the clash between the current risk model and these observations on the basis of biological mechanism and assumptions about linear relationships between dose and effect in neonatal and foetal epidemiology. The evidence supports a dose response relationship which is non-linear and is either biphasic or supralinear (hogs-back) and largely either saturates or falls above 10 mSv.

Conclusions

We conclude that the current risk model for heritable effects of radiation is unsafe. The dose response relationship is non-linear with the greatest effects at the lowest doses. Using Chernobyl data we derive an excess relative risk for all malformations of 1.0 per 10 mSv cumulative dose. The safety of the Japanese A-bomb epidemiology is argued to be both scientifically and philosophically questionable owing to errors in the choice of control groups, omission of internal exposure effects and assumptions about linear dose response.

Keywords: Congenital malformation, Down´s syndrome, Environmental radioactivity, Internal radiation, Low level effects, Sex-ratio, Still birth

Introduction

The most serious effects of ionizing radiation–hereditary defects in the descendants of exposed parents–had been already detected in the 1920s by Herman Joseph Muller. He exposed fruit flies–drosophila–to X-rays and found malformations and other disorders in the following generations. He concluded from his investigations that low dose exposure, and therefore even natural background radiation, is mutagenic and there is no harmless dose range for heritable effects or for cancer induction. His work was honoured by the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1946. In the 1950s Muller warned about the effects on the human genetic pool caused by the production of low level radioactive contamination from atmospheric tests [1].

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recently decreased its risk estimate for heritable damage in 2007 [2,3]. Its Detriment Adjusted Nominal Risk Coefficient for radiation heritable effects in an exposed population was reduced from the previous 1990 value of 1.3% Sv-1 to 0.2% Sv-1 a greater than 6-fold reduction. The ICRP approach is based on a linear relation between dose and end-point, measured as heritable disease at or before birth. Evidence and arguments which we will present suggest that this linear assumption is invalid and that the ICRP value is unsafe when applied to the chronic low dose internal exposure range.

The belief that heritable consequences of radiation were negligible followed from studies of the Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb (A-bomb) explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The American-Japanese Institute in Hiroshima, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), did not apparently find mutations in the descendants of the survivors. Therefore the ICRP derive its current risk figure from experiments in mice. The result corresponds to the evaluation by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR committee) [4].

We will show that the current model for genetic effects of exposure is unsound and we present a more realistic one based on data. We will begin by pointing to some serious problems with the ABCC studies of genetic effects in the A-bomb survivors. These may be classed under four Error Types.

Type 1. The dose response problem. For genetic damage, increasing dose will not linearly increase effects since at high doses there will be sterility or fetal loss [5].

Type 2. The external/internal problem. The dose of interest is the energy delivered to the germ cells and their precursors. This may be much higher for internal radionuclides with affinity for DNA (strontium-90 [Sr-90], barium-140, uranium) [6].

Type 3. The philosophical method problem. If data is interpreted though a particular scientific model, evidence which cannot fit the model will be ignored, dismissed or invisible [7,8].

Type 4. Bias in the analysis of or presentation of data from the ABCC results. There have been a number of serious criticisms of the ABCC and later studies of cancer effects. The genetic studies were criticised by De Bellefeuille [9] who demonstrated the existence of significant genetic effects including sex-ratio and malformations which had been “lost” through the choice of analysis. However, De Bellefeuille’s observations were ignored by the risk agencies. The issue will be returned to in the discussion section.

Together these raise major doubts over the belief, expressed in ICRP103, Appendix B.2.01 [2], that “Radiation induced heritable disease has not been demonstrated in human populations.”

Effects in populations exposed to Chernobyl fallout are excluded by the official committees, which claim that doses are too low to generate statistically observable increases (the philosophical method problem: Error Type 3). This, however, is certainly wrong, because we know from many studies of chromosome aberrations, either that the doses calculated by UNSCEAR are much too low or that there is an enhanced radiobiological effectiveness (RBE) in the type of internal exposures or chronic delivery received by the Chernobyl groups. In other words, the biological or genetic damage from unit internal dose e.g., from a radioactive atom bound to DNA is far greater than for the same dose delivered externally. This is Error Type 2: internal/external problem. The doses upon which the ICRP risks are based, either from humans or mice, are external doses. There are significant issues regarding the equivalence for causing genetic damage of internal and external dose calculations [6]. Internal exposure to uranium by inhalation, for example, has been associated with significantly high genotoxicity resulting in anomalously high excess levels of chromosome damage and birth defects in a number of different groups [10]. Uranium binds to DNA, a fact that has been known since the 1960s [1113]. Other group II calcium mimics and DNA seekers include the nuclide Sr-90 which causes significant genetic effects [1417]. All epidemiological studies of radiation and health which define risk factors have been subject of this Error Type 2: external/internal problem, and have generally also defined risk in terms of cumulative integrated equivalent dose, and so real effects have been ignored or dismissed, the Error Type 3: philosophical problem.

Findings in Children Born After the Chernobyl Accident and in Kazakhstan

We previously published findings about fetal deaths, perinatal mortality and congenital malformations (CM) after Chernobyl [18]. Table 1 shows results for CM after Chernobyl. These appeared not only in the area of the exploded reactor but also in Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Germany. Our criteria for inclusion of this evidence was originally to present only observations which disagreed with the current ICRP/UNSCEAR paradigm but following questions by a reviewer we include discussion of one of the few studies with contemporary data which claims to have shown that there were no measurable heritable effects [19].

Table 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t1-eht-31-e2016001/

Increase of congenital malformations after exposure by the Chernobyl accident

The EUROCAT Europe-wide Study

The study of Dolk and Nichols [19] is widely cited as evidence for no effect. The authors examined Down’s syndrome, neural tube defects (NTD), microcephaly, hydrocephaly, anopthalmos and congenital cataract in 16 EUROCAT registers. There were 231401 births in the areas in 1986. The 16 registries were divided into three groups of high (200 to 800 μSv), medium (97 to 190 μSv) and low (29 to 55 μSv). Three comparison cohort periods were defined as E (conception May 1986), T (conception May 1986 to April 1987 contains E), and C (control: conception May 1987 to April 1989). Authors concluded “no evidence of a generalised detectable increase in the prevalence of congenital anomalies in the first month or first year following Chernobyl.” But the choice of the cohort periods for a study of “heritable effects” is interesting. On the basis of whole body monitoring results, genetic damage to the germ cells from internal exposures will have continued well into the control period C and damage will have been cumulative [44]. We have reanalysed their data for combined NTD hydrocephaly, microcephaly and anopthalmia in all their exposure groups using their periods. A test of T vs. C cohorts showed a significant effect with odds ratio (OR) of 1.20 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 1.4; p=0.014). This was apparent in the test of E vs. C though the numbers were smaller. However, there was no increasing monotonic relation between assumed “dose” category and effect and this clearly influenced the authors’ conclusions. This is the common response to the finding of high risks at low doses and represents a good example of the Error Type 1 referred to above. It appears that the results actually show an increased risk if we combine all the exposure levels.

Chernobyl Effects in Belarus

Belarus received most contamination from Chernobyl. A central registry for CM existed from 1979 and rates of CM before and after the Chernobyl accident could thus be compared. A number of studies are listed in Table 1. Comparison of legal abortuses in 1982 to 1985 and 1987 to 1994 showed combined CM increases of 81%, 49%, and 43% in regions of high (>555 kBq/m2), medium (>37 kBq/m2), and low (<37 kBq/m2) contamination, the effect being significant at the 0.05 level in all three [22]. The genetic origin is confirmed in those anomalies which are combined with a recognized mutation that is not present in either of the parents [18].

A study [23] confirmed the CM excess in the Strict Registration of Malformations System finding 86% increase in 1987 to 1996 vs. 1982 to 1985 (high contamination) and 59% (control regions) (p<0.05). The same authors reported significant excess chromosome aberrations of dicentric and centric rings rates of 0.39±0.09% (n=91) in Gomel and Mogilev (>555 kBq/m2) compared with a control region of Minsk, Grodno and Novopolotsk (<37 kBq/m2) (n=118; CM=0.09±0.04) [23].

To 2004 there was no decrease in these rates [45]. The authors think these effects are genetically induced because it is not plausible that doses in pregnant females rose in the period of decreasing environmental contamination and decreasing food contamination after the accident. A Belarussian-Israeli group [46] found the following increased polygenetic disease rates in children of Chernobyl- exposed parents: hematological diseases (6-fold), endocrine diseases (2-fold), diseases of digestive organs (1.7-fold).

A 1994 study compared Gomel (high exposure) with Vitebsk (presumed low exposure) for mortality in children zero to four finding absolute CM rates of 4.1% vs. 3%, respectively [24]. Savchenko [25] writing for the United Nations reported frequency of CM in regions of Gomel between 1982 to 1985 and 1987 to 1989 ranging from 170% in Dobrush to 680% in Chechersk.

Petrova et al. [27] compared two high and two low contaminated regions of Belarus for a number of indicators of pregnancy outcome and child health. For CM, before and after Chernobyl increases for all CM were: Gomel 150%>Mogilev 130%>Brest 120%>Vitebsk 110%, the rank of their contamination levels. Kulakov et al. [26] examined 688 pregnancies and 7000 births in Chechersky (Gomel, Belarus) and Polessky (Kiev, Ukraine). Sharp reductions in birth rates in both regions after Chernobyl were ascribed partly to abortions. High perinatal mortality was ascribed partly to congenital malformations. Incidence increased by a factor of two following the accident for congenital heart disease, esophageal atresia, anencephaly, hydrocephaly and multiple malformations. Total number of neonatal disorders increased in Polessky (Ukraine) from 1983 to 1985 to 1986 to 1990 from 6.81 to 21.32 (313%) and in Chechersky from 5.15 to 10.49 [26].

Chernobyl Effects in Ukraine

The studies by Wertelecki and colleagues [29,30] were valuable for quantifying the effects. The Pripyat region of Ukraine on the border of Belarus was significantly contaminated. Populations are dependent on local produce. Internal contamination was quantified for two groups, a high and lower dose group by whole body monitoring for caesium-137 (Cs-137). In addition, local produce was analysed for both Cs-137 and the DNA seeking Sr-90. The Sr-90/Cs-137 ratio was between 0.5 and two, so Sr-90 (with its DNA affinity and anomalous RBE) represented a significant internal exposure.

Other Reports of Chernobyl Effects on Birth Defects; Soviet Nuclear Test Site

Down´s syndrome as a certain genetic effect increased in several contaminated European countries [18,48]. An example is shown in Figure 1. In West Berlin, which was a kind of closed island at that time, the geneticist Sperling registered a sharp and significant increase in cases exactly nine months after the accident, also in Belarus [49]. UNSCEAR [4,20] dismissed these findings (and similar reports from Scotland and Sweden) on the basis that the doses were “below background.” The EUROCAT combined registry study [19] did not find an increase in Down’s syndrome, neither in the authors’ analysis nor in our reanalysis. Other evidence is presented in Table 1 of increased CM rates after Chernobyl in Germany, Turkey, Croatia and Bulgaria [21,3237,50].

 

eht-31-e2016001f1.jpg

Figure 1.

Down’s syndrome before and after the Chernobyl accident (A) West Berlin and (B) Belarus. From Scherb H, et al. Naturwiss Rundsch 2011;64(5):229-239, with permission from Stuttgart [47].

Congenital effects were found near the former Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan near Semipalatinsk. Sviatova et al. [51] studied CM in three generations of inhabitants, investigating births between 1967 and 1997. They found significantly increased rates of CM combined, including Down’s syndrome, microcephaly and multiple malformations in the same individual.

 

Hereditary Effects in Children of Exposed Mothers

If a population is exposed, genetic effects will occur in the gonads of mothers as well as of fathers. A German investigation of occupationally exposed females showed a 3.2-fold significant increase in congenital abnormalities, including malformations, in offspring [52]. The authors interpret the effect as generated in utero but do not prove such a connection. In our opinion, this appears to be improbable given the short sensitive phase in pregnancy and the ban on pregnant females working in high risk environments.

The findings confirm early results in the Department of Medical Genetics of Montreal Children’s Hospital where the genetic effects of diagnostic X-rays were investigated [53]. The author observed the offspring of mothers who had been treated in childhood for congenital hip dysplasia since 1925 and were X-rayed for several times in the pelvic region. The ovarian dose was estimated to lie between 60 mSv to 200 mSv. In 201 living births of these females there were 15 individuals with severe malformations and other congenital distortions or Down’s syndrome and 11 cases with other abnormalities (all congenital abnormalities 12.9%) while the control group showed less than half of this rate. The latter was chosen from a large group of descendants where the parents were unexposed siblings of the study group.

Taken together with other evidence from sex-ratio (discussed below) these studies indicate that hereditary effects exist in the children of exposed mothers.

Findings in the Descendants of Occupationally Exposed Men Including Nuclear Test Veterans

Congenital Malformations

Studies in children of exposed men where the mothers were not exposed will show definite hereditary effects. A compilation of results for CM in offspring of exposed fathers is given in Table 2.

Table 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t2-eht-31-e2016001/

Congenital anomalies, especially malformations, in descendants (1st generationa) of occupationally exposed men

The anomalies seen in the descendants of Chernobyl liquidators (Nos. 5-7) also indicate unexpectedly high radiation sensitivity.

Three studies of nuclear test veterans have shown large increases in congenital effects in children and one study has found similar levels of congenital conditions in the grandchildren (Nos. 8-10). The British carried out nuclear weapon tests and activities in Australia (Maralinga) and Christmas Island in the Pacific between 1952 and 1967. More than 20000 young national servicemen and other military personnel were stationed at the test sites. The sites were contaminated with fission fallout and nanoparticles of uranium and plutonium from the weapons, tritium and carbon-14. Urquhart [61] analysed data in children from 1147 veteran families. Two hundred and thirty-three out of them had illnesses or defects (cancer, malformations, mental retardation) that could have a genetic origin: one in five families. They registered a 7:1 rate of abnormal children conceived before the tests vs. those conceived after the tests.

Two further studies of the offspring of a group of veterans have been published. Roff [62] carried out a questionnaire study of members of the British Nuclear Test Veteran Association (BNTVA) and reported excess rates of cardiovascular disorders, spina bifida, hydrocephalus and hip deformities. Busby and de Messieres [63] examined a different sample of the BNTVA, employed controls and compared with the European EUROCAT rates. Based on 605 veteran children and 749 grandchildren compared with 311 control children and 408 control grandchildren there were significant excess levels of miscarriages, stillbirths, infant mortality and congenital illnesses in the veterans’ children relative both to control children and expected numbers. There were 105 miscarriages in veteran’s wives compared with 18 in controls (OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 1.56 to 4.91; p<0.001). There were 16 stillbirths; three in controls (OR, 2.70; 95% CI, 0.73 to 11.72; p=0.13). Perinatal mortality OR was 4.3 (95% CI, 1.22 to 17.9; p=0.01) on 25 deaths in veteran children. Fifty-seven veteran children had congenital conditions vs. three control children (OR, 9.77; 95% CI, 2.92 to 39.3; p<0.001) these rates being also about eight times those expected on the basis of UK EUROCAT data for 1980 to 2000. For grandchildren similar levels of congenital illness were reported with 46 veteran grandchildren compared with three controls (OR, 8.35; 95% CI, 2.48 to 33.8; p<0.001).

Cancer and Leukemia

In 1984, an exceptionally high level of leukaemia cases in children and juveniles was reported in Seascale, near the nuclear reprocessing plant in Sellafield in Cumbria, UK. The authors explained this as a hereditary effect, because the fathers of the patients had worked in the plant [64]. The authorities argued that the doses were too low. The effect, however, had been described in principle already in experimental studies [65], and also after X-ray diagnostic exposures (Table 3). A significant number of other child leukemia and cancer studies have been carried out and are listed in Table 3.

Table 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870760/table/t3-eht-31-e2016001/

Cancer in children after preconceptional low-dose exposure of parents

The research of Hicks et al. [66] concerned exposed servicemen (Table 3). McKinney et al. [67] found a 3.2-fold increase in leukaemia and lymphomas in children of occupationally exposed men in three British regions in a case-control study.

Sex-ratio and X-linked Lethal Factors

Normally, it is not possible to study how many inseminated oocytes (zygotes) will be aborted after irradiation of the gonadal cells in humans. But it is observed that males who were exposed have fewer daughters than sons i.e., the male/female sex-ratio increases with dose.

Gene mutations may be responsible for the death of the zygote and will also occur in the sex chromosomes where they will predominantly affect the greater X-chromosome which can only be transmitted to a daughter. A dominant lethal factor will then lead to the death of the female zygote. Recessive lethal factors in the X-chromosome are much more frequent than dominant ones [74]. They affect only female births.

An impressive result was obtained in workers of the British nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield in West Cumbria [75]. The county sex-ratio was 1055 boys/1000 girls, the normal value. For the children of fathers employed at Sellafield the ratio was 1094. For those with recorded doses greater than 10 mSv in the 90 days preconception period it was 1396, significant at the p<0.01 level. A similar effect was detected in cardiologists, who undertook interventional angiographic procedures involving X-ray exposures [76].

Scherb and Voigt studied different groups of inhabitants in a variety of countries after the Chernobyl accident for hereditary effects and found radiation-induced foetal deaths and early mortality, Down’s syndrome and alterations of the birth sex-ratio. They examined nuclear tests above ground which affected US inhabitants, Chernobyl emissions in Europe, and those living near German and Swiss nuclear plants. Results showed significant reduction in the female birth rate in all these [77,78].

The ABCC studies overall involve all the types of research error listed in the introduction, which we believe is the explanation for the failure to see excess heritable damage. The main problem was choice of controls. The sex-ratio studies were abandoned due to seemingly anomalous effects. De Bellefeuille [9] re-examined the issue in 1961 and found that results were biased by employing sex-ratios of children of parents who had both been exposed. Any effects, being in opposite directions, would therefore cancel out; his re-analysis based on children with only one exposed parent showed a clear effect in the expected direction. Padmanabhan [79] recently re-examined the issue using the original controls (abandoned by ABCC). Using the two not in city (NIC) groups Padmanabhan showed significant sex-ratio effects in the expected directions.

Sex-ratio is a very relevant parameter. It shows that genetic alterations are induced in the germ cells of males by very low doses, and it proves to be a sensitive indicator for exposures of the population.

Atmospheric Weapons test Fallout

The most significant global incident in terms of human exposure has been the atmospheric nuclear testing fallout which peaked between 1959 and 1963. It was this testing which worried Muller [1]. The tests increased the rates of neonatal and infant mortality in the US and the UK [80,81]. An interesting insight comes from a Canadian study of CM during the fallout period. le Vann [82] was concerned to examine the link between congenital malformation and the use of the drug thalidomide. He found that in Alberta there was no relation between the use of thalidomide and congenital birth outcomes but noted a strong association with precipitation; areas with high radioactive fallout had high levels of birth defects. Whilst we are not alleging that thalidomide does not have teratogenic effects, since many females in the le Vann study who never took any drugs gave birth to the typical “thalidomide spectrum” babies it seems that exposure to the fallout may have, as Muller [1] feared, have caused an effect. Ignoring this and the infant mortality findings involved a Error Type 3.

Genetic vs. Genomic, Mendelian vs. In Utero

We have not distinguished between Mendelian genetic effects involving the transfer of specific gene mutations to the offspring and effects consequent upon the operation of genomic instability, whereby the offspring inherit a tendency to apparently increase rates of all mutation above the normal rate for that population [83]. For the purposes of the arguments relating to radiation risk of harmful heritable conditions in the first generation such a discussion is unnecessary but needs to be revisited if multi-generational effects are being discussed. The question of germ cell damage in parents vs. in utero damage to development, though important, seems to us to be beside the point. All these CM effects are caused by mutation of DNA whether in the parental germ cells and precursors or from implantation to birth. Our aim is to assess the genetic risk based on observations. However, from the sex-ratio results it would seem that parental exposure is a dominant cause of radiation induced CM.

How Is It That the ICRP Risk Coefficient Is Wrong?

A reviewer asked us to address this question and to provide a brief account of biological mechanism. We begin with mechanism. The ICRP risk model is based on two big ideas: absorbeddose, which is average energy per unit mass of tissue, and the linear no threshold (LNT) response. For internal exposure to substances like Sr-90 and uranium, which both have high affinity for DNA, the concept of dose is meaningless [loc.cit. 6,10]. For CM as an outcome, it is also clear that the LNT model is unsustainable [5], because as the “dose” is increased from zero there are many blocks to the successful journey from germ cell to infant, the CM end point. Biological plausibility would predict an increase in damage and thus CM at very low dose, followed by a drop in CM due to failure to implant, early miscarriage, abortion. This would result in a saturation or “hogs-back” dose response in the lowest dose region. Only the survivors would make it to be registered as CM. The dose response would look like that in Figure 2 where A is the initial outcome and B is where the foetus dies or there is no implantation. The region C would relate to in utero effects later in gestation. There would be a fall in birth rate associated with region B and C; there usually is. You can see this effect most clearly in the EUROCAT studies where relative risk rises and then falls as dose increases [19]. It is perfectly clear in many other studies. It is clear in in analysis of infant leukemia after Chernobyl in 5 countries shown in Figure 3 [84] and the study of cleft palate in Bavaria [38,39] analysed by Korblein [40].

 

eht-31-e2016001f2

Figure 2.

Regions of interest in a theoretically predicted dose response relation (see text and ECRR 2010). Exactly this dose response is seen in infant leukemia rates after Chernobyl in Greece, Germany (three dose regions) Wales, Scotland and Belarus [84]. From

 

3.jpg

Figure 3.

Dose response for infant leukemia in the countries examined in meta-analysis of five reports in Busby 2009 [84] (UK data from Childhood Cancer Research Group Oxford). Effect is fractional excess relative risk, and dose is given by UK National Radiological

 

What Is the Correct Risk Coefficient?

The Chernobyl studies presented in Table 1 may be used to obtain an approximate risk factor for all CM in those exposed to fission spectrum radionuclides as assessed by Cs-137 area contamination. We can employ the data from Wertelecki et al. [30] on internal contamination to assess doses from Cs-137 and Sr- 90. The excess relative risk (ERR) for all CM follows a “hogsback” shaped response and is about 0.5 per mSv at 1 mSv saturating at between 0.1 to 0.2 per mSv at 10 mSv based on cumulative dose as assessed by ICRP models using Cs-137 area contamination as a basis of calculations. This means that the background rate will double or treble up to 10 mSv exposure and thereafter flatten out or fall. But it also results in a 50% excess risk at doses as low as 1 mSv. This ERR and dose response model accommodates all the observational data from Chernobyl and also elsewhere. We must make it clear that this model is for mixed internal and external exposure to fission product contamination doses as employed by UN agencies and may not necessarily apply to pure external exposures (e.g., X-rays, gamma- rays). However, it should be noted that Stewart’s finding of a 40% excess risk of childhood leukemia after a 10 mSv obstetric X-ray dose [71] is comparable with what is found at these higher doses in this review.

Conclusion

Genetically induced malformations, cancers, and numerous other health effects in the children of populations who were exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation have been unequivocally demonstrated in scientific investigations. Using data from Chernobyl effects we find a new ERR for CM of 0.5 per mSv at 1 mSv falling to 0.1 per mSv at 10 mSv exposure and thereafter remaining roughly constant. This is for mixed fission products as defined though external exposure to Cs-137. Results show that current radiation risk models fail to predict or explain the many observations and should be abandoned. Further research and analysis of previous data is suggested, but prior assumptions of linear dose response, assumptions that internal exposures can be modelled using external risk factors, that chronic and acute exposures give comparable risks and finally dependence on interpretations of the high dose ABCC studies are all seen to be unsafe procedures.

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Marvin Resnikoff and Rick Haaker for running the Microshield program for dose rates over contaminated areas.

Footnotes

The authors have no conflicts of interest associated with material presented in this paper.

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79. Padmanabhan VT. Sex ratio in A-bomb survivors. Evidence of radiation induced X-linked lethal mutations. In: Busby C, Busby J, Rietuma D, de Messieres M, editors. Fukushima and health: what to expect. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference for the European Committee on Radiation Risk; 2009 May 5-6; Lesvos, Greece. Aberystwyth: Green Audit; 2012. pp. 273–304.

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26791091

January 31, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

The Small Plutonium Dust in the Lung

https://blogs.mediapart.fr/ano/blog/221216/la-petite-poussiere-de-plutonium-melox-astrid

Translation from french by Hervé Courtois (Dun Renard)

1, What does a small grain of invisible dust of plutonium arrived in a lung?

2) Why are the lungs of French people at risk?

3) and their wallets?

The small grain of plutonium in a lung

The following text * was written by Maurice Eugène ANDRÉ, commandant, honorary instructor in NBCR, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological, of the Royal Air Force of Belgium.

He made a great effort of pedagogy:

“The technical aspect developed below shows that a plutonium dust with a diameter of the order of a micron (millionth of a meter) kills by simply lodging in a lung: this dust in fact delivers more than 100 000 rad [see at the end the notes about units] in one year to a lung area surrounding the dust, a very small area delimited by a sphere with a diameter of the order of one tenth of a millimeter having radioactive dust as the center.

I believe that I must reveal the artifice of calculation used by pronuclear scientists to deceive scientists from other disciplines and the public. Before exposing the calculations themselves, I would give an example of this artifice of calculation by applying it to a domain where the vice of reasoning is more apparent.

Here is the example: one can argue that a rifle bullet is not dangerous. It is sufficient to disregard the point of impact (which, of course, absorbs all the kinetic energy of the projectile) and to assume that all the kinetic energy of the ball will be absorbed by a larger area, as for example the whole surface of the body, in which case it is demonstrable that no point of rupture of the flesh will be found. In this example, you will immediately understand the flaw of reasoning which is to disregard the actual fact that the bullet attacks a specific location and not the whole body or a whole organ. It forces rupture at a point because it concentrates all its energy on a small surface or area, and, with equal energy, the smaller this zone, the more certain is the rupture.

Thus, in the case studied for plutonium dust, they seriously deceive the public if they suppose, in the calculations, that the energy released in a determined time by the radioactive dust is diffused throughout the lung, when in reality, it attacks with great precision a well-defined zone of the lung and is therefore very dangerous because it can cause death.

Lus add for non-scientists that, in the case of Pu 239 dust with a diameter of the order of one micron, lodged in a lung, the area to be considered (the small sphere of flesh surrounding the dust) is injured at the rate of one particle shot (ejection of a nucleus of helium projected into the flesh at about 20,000 km per second) every minute (more exactly 1414 shots per one thousand minutes).

Under these repeated conditions of aggression, the body is unable to restore the area, however small it may be, constantly destroyed. Everything happens, in fact, as if they were asking masons to build a house around a submachine gun that would shoot in any direction, and without warning, about a shot every minute.

In this example, it will be understood that the “masons” are the biological materials drained by the body towards the destroyed zone in order to carry out repairs, while the “house to build” is the area of the lung to be restored. Finally, it will be understood that the role of the “submachine gun” is brilliantly held by the radioactive dust of plutonium which can shoot, without interruption, at the same rate, many years (a plutonium dust only decreases its rate of fire very slowly reaching half that rate only after the enormous period of twenty-four thousand years, a very long period in relation to the duration of a man’s life). […] The phenomenon of the considered intensive and uninterrupted shooting is played on a very small scale, but this does not change the reality, which leads, no more and no less, to the onset of lung cancer.

It is the finding that a local and repeated irradiation is harmful and presents necrosing effects: The cancer will proliferate throughout the body from the area, however small it may be, subjected to intense ionization for a sufficient time. In fact, it is a question, on the part of the body, of a reaction to the exhaustion of the faculty of reparation in a very precise place which has been destroyed a very large number of times. “

* It was published in “Studies and expansion”, Quarterly, No. 276, May-June 1978, and reproduced in the book of Wladimir Tchertkoff, “The Crime of Chernobyl-The Nuclear Gulag”, Actes Sud, 2006, p. 83-5.

Illustration

An autoradiographic study (auto because it is the sample that produces the radiation itself) was done on alveolar macrophages extracted by pulmonary lavage of rats exposed to MOX Massiot et al., 1997, “Physico-chemical characterization of inhalable powders of mixed oxides U, Pu)O2 from the COCA and MIMAS processes “ , Radiation protection vol. 32, No. 5: 617-24; https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/radioprotection/article/div-classtitlecaracterisation-physico-chimiques-des-poudres-inhalables-dandaposoxydes-mixtes-u-puospan-classsub2span-issues-des-procedes-coca-et-mimasdiv/8FFB37C9DCB12F360802D9099C0E3761). To ± save La Hague and Areva, this powder consisting of 3 to 12% plutonium is used in the atomic reactors ~ 900 Megawatt of EDF.

It was found that “a great heterogeneity of the dose distribution within the pulmonary tissues after inhalation” (Figure 1)

pu-mox-poumon.jpg

Stars Traces alpha Pu emissions, lung cells © Massiot et al 1997, ffig. 3

 Fig. 1. Autoradiography of rat alveolar macrophages extracted by pulmonary lavage after MOX powder inhalation; exposure time 24h; (Massiot et al 1997, figure 3).The small lines starting from the particles are the traces of alpha disintegrations which destroy the biological tissue on their route.

The authors write: “Autoradiographic analysis confirms the presence of hot spots (Figure 3) whose activity is compatible with the presence of pure PuO2 particles and shows the presence of numerous particles with Low specific activity (1 to 2 traces per day). ” (…) Thus, in terms of radiotoxicology, the problem posed is not limited to the presence of hot spots, but to their association with a much more homogeneous irradiation due to particles of low specific activity. It should be emphasized here that no experimental data are currently available to assess the risks associated with such exposure.” (Massiot et al., 1997, pp. 622-23). This remark was made two years after the opening of MELOX. The future may leave us some funny surprises …

Melox, tons of fine plutonium powder

MELOX, a project carried out since 1986 by the powerful member of the “corps des mines” Jean Syrota, started in 1994-95 and has the right to produce 115 tons of MOX oxide per year (about 100 tons of heavy metal) for France, for Germany (1/3 of the production of MELOX in 2001), Switzerland and before Fukushima for Japan … which also store plutonium at La Hague.
Indeed, plutonium, which is produced in all reactors, can only come from a chemical reprocessing plant of the La Hague type. It must be extracted: fuming nitric acid, massive discharges of krypton-85 etc. MELOX is in some ways the obligatory after-sales service of such a factory. It takes the two or nothing.

melox-billet.jpg

MELOX chimney© Areva

Fig. 2. One of the two chimneys of MELOX in Marcoule. The air extracted from the depressurized workshops handling the ultra-fine Uranium and the plutonium powder, is expelled through cascade filters by these chimneys

The plutonium powder (80 μm, mass area 3.5-5 m2 / g) comes from La Hague and the uranium powder from Pierrelatte. There are on-site buffer storages. A primary mixture of 30% PuO2 is put into ball mills for 90 minutes and go thru a 15 μm granolumetry. Posterior fit with uranium powder. The powder is therefore very thin and fluid to be able to be poured like a liquid in tiny dices of one centimeter. It is eminently dispersible by any breath. There were echoes during the dismantling of the Marcoule AT-Pu which preceded MELOX: “The entire internal surface of the machine is covered with a thin black film,uranium and plutonium powder. with grains of a few microns, the highly volatile plutonium and uranium powder was deposited everywhere. On the surfaces of the boxes, on, under and inside the equipments, in all interstices. “ (Libération 28/10/09, S. Huet). In October 2009, after hiding it for several months,The CEA announced that the plutonium fuel dust that had slipped through the interstices over the years was not about 8 kg As they had “estimated” but “about” 39 kg.There was a theoretical risk, that the CEA was unaware, of a criticity accident (the “critical mass” announced being about 16 kg) for its staff.

Such plants must be completely sealed and it is imperative that the expelled air (air drawn from the workshops to be depressurized) to be filtered with great finesse. The cascading filters presented in the flyers like the top of the top, are an absolute, the least, of necessity. That said if (or when) it flees nobody knows it if the operator does not say it. It is completely impossible for an individual, and even many laboratories, to identify plutonium.

MELOX uses about 7 tons of plutonium per year that passes in powder form and therefore any situation of non-containment represents an enormous risk on the Cotes du Rhône and the Valley (Aircraft, explosion, earthquakes with very probable liquefaction on such a site with sandbanks, breaking the waterproofing, etc.). This would require the evacuation of very large areas (Wise-Paris : http://www.wise-paris.org/francais/rapports/030305MeloxEP-Resume-fin.pdf p.6)..

The CEA-Astrid project, three handfuls of billions

While Phenix in Marcoule still has a part of its irradiated fuel in the belly under its storage shed, its sodium heated by electrical resistances (until 2030), The CEA wants to build another Superphenix (with the same metallic sodium), project which it renamed Astrid.

This one, they want it with a fuel more and more “hot”: 25% of plutonium.

Unfortunately Areva-MELOX being very automated can not do that … So they need another MELOX. The National Commission of Evaluation, CNE, set up by the Bataille-Revol-Birraux laws of 1991 and 2006 was tasked to help with the task. In its 2010 report (Appendix p.28) the CNE wrote: “The construction of the Astrid reactor must be accompanied by the commissioning of a Mox fuel fabrication plant (AFC) in La Hague …” And the first page of the summary of its 2013 report for decision-makers: “In a tense economic context, the Commission considers a top priority … Astrid as well as the fabrication plant for the manufacture of its fuel”.

Then after that ? What should be done with this very “very hot” irradiated fuel from an Astrid? Areva-La Hague, UP2-800 and UP3 can not handle it.

The 2011 CNE Report (p.14): “… Astrid reactor and a reprocessing pilot that allow to test the different operations related to the recycling of plutonium and americium … Demonstrate that the dissolution of irradiated fuel … with much higher levels of actinides than in PWR fuel is controlled “And in its 2012 report, chapter on Astrid p.13: “Passage to the realization of the project … it is essential to conduct the following actions: – Construction of a reprocessing pilot … “; And CNE 1st page of last report (Nov 2013): “In a tense economic context … In a second stage a reprocessing plant for the fuel Mox irradiated in Astrid”. Yes, what could not go wrong…

In fact the “Astrid project of the CEA” is simply that it wants to reconstructs its entire cycle in brand new.

It would not in any way of any use for the wastes that the nuclear industry of the moment manufactures which are glasses, bitumens and concretes. For proof, for those the government sends to Bure the mobile gendarmes. The CEA needs for its triple project, three handfuls of billions of euros: one for the Melox-Astrid, one for the Astrid reactor and one for the reprocessing-Astrid. The CEA eagerly seeks, and thanks to one of their own, they may have already found a part of it via the “CO2 tax of the IPCC” on the households (Astrid would be “non-carbon”, so “clean”, he-he …https://blogs.mediapart.fr/ano/blog/151116/jean-jouzel-iii-le-collecteur-de-fonds-le-fioul-lourd-et-les-employe-e-s-jetables) But a bundle of billions is needed, And they are also looking for the japanese taxpayers of Fukushima (France wants Japan to share 570 billion yen ASTRID reactor development cost http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161022/p2a/00m/0na/005000c).
Reminders :

1, A plutonium 239 dust with a diameter of 1 μm weighs 0.000 000 000 015 gram or 15 picograms. Invisible but quite destructive …

2, Units: Gray (rad) Sievert

The rad (which is mentioned once in the small text of Maurice Eugene ANDRÉ at the head of this post) is an energy unit that has been replaced by a larger unit, the gray, Gy (100 rad = 1 Gy).

Often one speaks in Sievert, Sv, or in milliSievert (mSv, thousandths of Sv). The Sievert is a measure of “damage” (gross translation of the gray on the living). We pass from one to the other by a factor Wr:

Dose in Gy × Wr = dose in Sv

The factor Wr is 1 for the X and gamma radiations. For the alpha radiation (Pu, U, Am …) it was 10, I think it became 20 at least for some. It is also increasing for beta (was 1, an English institute switches to 2 for tritium for example). This means that their deleterious effects were underestimated.

3, Another reminder: For the public the current standard, it is by its definition of a limit between the admissible and the inadmissible, of an added artificial dose (total of all the anthropic exposures, except medical) of 1 mSv / year. It is an arbitrary choice based on the principle that all human activity has consequences.

This value indicates from the official factors that this dose received by 1 million people must produce 50 fatal cancers, 13 serious genetic abnormalities and 10 curable cancers. It is not as one sometimes reads a dose of safety.

 

January 10, 2017 Posted by | radiation | | Leave a comment

Radiation Public Health Project (RPHP) finds increased cancer rates near Salem/Hope Creek nuclear reactor complex

Flag-USATAURO: Step up oversight at Salem nuclear complex http://www.app.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/01/05/salem-hope-creek-nuclear-cancer/96199102/ Janet Tauro Jan. 5, 2017 Cancer rates are rising in communities around the Salem/Hope Creek nuclear reactor complex in South Jersey, according to a recently released study by an independent research group.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Film: Chernobyl disaster’s continuing impact on the children

 

Full Documentary Films – Children of Chernobyl – Discovery Channel Documentaries

It’s Been 30 Years And Chernobyl Is Still Having An Impact – Especially On The Children http://goodstuffbuzz.com/30-years-chernobyl/   [excellent photos] On that fateful day in April of 1986, many already knew what the future would hold. While nuclear power we being sold as the “safe” alternative to our addiction to fossil fuels, we had already dodged a bullet with Three Mile Island. In fact, a meltdown was a more frightening (and possible) prospect than an all out global exchange of bombs with our enemies.
 
These Are The Faces Of Chernobyl, Both Good 

And Not So

Still, when it happened, when Russia finally had to come clean and explain what had happened at Chernobyl, the writing was all over the wall. Nuclear power would become a pariah. An entire industry and science would have to answer for what happened halfway across the planet, and watchful eyes would be set on the city surrounding the power plant. How would this accident affect the population, and what lessons could we learn about the release of so much radiation into the atmosphere?
Many Feel The Russian Government Has Abandoned Them
Part of the answer comes in a terrifying documentary – included here – called The Children of Chernobyl. Both literal and figurative, the film follows the decades since a main reactor went down and sent fatal fallout throughout the countryside. It addresses both the international concerns and the local lies. Even now, in a more open society, Russia is still secret about the consequences of the leak. This movie makes it clear about what really happened.
Especially, The Children

Particularly, The Children

The high levels of radiation had random effects on the people of Chernobyl as well as those in the outlying areas. Animals died. Land became barren. And in one of the most heartbreaking consequences, children were born with various genetic and biological aberrations. These “mutants” became an embarrassment for the government and their treatment will anger you. Thirty years ago, the world got as close to a full blown nuclear meltdown as we are likely to ever see. The aftermath continues to linger, and anger.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | children, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment

World Health Organisation confirmed that low dose radiation increases cancer risk

 http://fukushimawatch.com/2015-11-05-multiple-studies-confirm-exposure-to-low-levels-of-radiation-can-cause-cancer.html The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed what Fukushima Watch has been reporting for quite some time now — namely, that exposure to low doses of radiation overtime increases the risk of cancer.

The results of the study, published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMI), provide “direct evidence about cancer risks after protracted exposures to low-dose ionizing radiation,” said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

The findings demonstrate “a significant association between increasing radiation dose and risk of all solid cancers,” the study’s co-author, Dr. Ausrele Kesminiene, told sources.

“No matter whether people are exposed to protracted low doses or to high and acute doses, the observed association between dose and solid cancer risk is similar per unit of radiation dose,” he added.

radiation-causing-cancer

Nuclear workers around globe at heightened cancer risk Continue reading

January 2, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Cry from soldier, unrecognised victim of depleted uranium radiation

Depleted uranium, used in some types of ammunition and military armour, is the dense, low-cost leftover once uranium has been processed….

A high-ranking official from Veterans Affairs says a handful of vets mistakenly believe their bodies have been damaged by depleted uranium…..

the Federal Court of Canada has found depleted uranium to be an issue.  The court ruled the Veterans Affairs Department must compensate retired serviceman Steve Dornan for a cancer his doctors say resulted from exposure to depleted uranium residue.

text-from-the-archivesPoisoned soldier plans hunger strike at minister’s office in exchange for care, Montreal CTV.ca Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press, 30 Oct 11,  MONTREAL — An ex-soldier who says he was poisoned while serving overseas is planning to go on a hunger strike outside the office of Canada’s veterans affairs minister until he gets medical treatment.

Or until he dies.

Continue reading

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Canada, depleted uranium, health, PERSONAL STORIES, Uranium | Leave a comment

Women face up to climate change threat, some choosing not to have children

climate-doomsdayWomen are breaking the climate taboo and questioning whether to have kids in such a world, Fusion, By Renee Lewis, 20 Dec 16, Climate change has caused a reproductive justice crisis, activists say, as its projected impacts lead some to question how they could have a baby with such an uncertain future.

Nearly 200 nations came together to sign a climate treaty in Paris last year, but even their collective efforts to reduce emissions will not be enough to keep the planet at a safe level of temperature rise.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to expand fossil fueldevelopment, meanwhile, scientists say the world may have entered its sixth mass extinction event.

 All of these things point to a precarious future for our species—a business-as-usual scenario will mean some six feet of sea level rise and some regions of the world becoming uninhabitable or disappearing under rising seas by the end of the century.

With little time to spare, many are trying to take matters into their own hands and consider their options. A group of 21 youth recently sued the federal government for its role in creating the climate crisis and for leaving them to inherit a polluted planet—calling it generational injustice.

Others worry more about future generations.

“Decision makers have repeatedly put big business and fossil fuels over a future for our children,” said Meghan Kallman, co-founder of Conceivable Future. The women-led network hopes to bring awareness to the threat climate change poses to reproductive justice, and to end U.S. subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Kallman and co-founder Josephine Ferorelli brought up a taboo question—how this affects a person’s decision on whether or not to have kids.

“How does this affect people of childbearing age?” Kallman asked.

The response they’ve received has been overwhelming, with many people commenting on articles written about the group: ‘That’s my reason!’

Women as well as men are consciously deciding not to have children, knowing that their kids could inherit a future that is unlivable.

“People are still shocked when they ask why I don’t have children, and I tell them ‘for environmental reasons,’” Shannon O., 38 years old,said in a testimonial for Conceivable Future. Having a child, especially in America where consumption levels are so high, adds another carbon footprint. For example, an American woman who makes lifestyle changes such as recycling and driving a fuel-efficient car saves almost 500 tons of CO2 emissions in her lifetime. But choosing to not have a child would dwarf that, preventing almost 10,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere………

The testimonies are part of Conceivable Future’s strategy to build a conversation—and a movement—around this question. Ferorelli said they hope the movement will become powerful enough to enact change at the local level—especially with Trump’s statements on expanding the fossil fuel industry.

“Now more than ever, we need to organize at the grassroots level, because the possibility of federal action is pretty severely limited,” Ferorelli said.

The group encourages anyone who’s interested in talking about these issues to host a house party. There, they can discuss these often taboo topics openly in a comfortable environment.

Across the country, people have hosted house parties and sent in nearly 70 testimonies…….. http://fusion.net/story/376997/climate-change-causes-people-to-reconsider-having-kids/

December 24, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA, women | Leave a comment

The continuing radiation horror of Russia’s Mayak nuclear plant

Many people we spoke to say they are being used as human guinea pigs. They talk of a secret government experiment looking at the effects of radiation exposure on humans.

They say they have to go to a hospital in Chelyabinsk, the regional capital around 50km away, for treatment of the various radiation related illnesses they suffer.

text-from-the-archivesLiving in a nuclear hell, Aljazeera, By Charles Stratford in Europe , 2012-04-04 The town of Muslymovo has to be one of the saddest places on earth. The thousands of people who have little choice but to live here, on the banks of the Techa river not far from Russia’s
southern border with Kazakhstan, are the victims of a nuclear disaster that began more than six decades ago.

They are still suffering with the consequences of life next door to the Mayak nuclear plant – still dying from the radiation-related illnesses that have claimed the lives of so many before them.

Mayak was constructed in the 1940s. Our driver knew how to avoid checkpoints. We stuck a small camera on our windscreen and drove to within a hundred metres of the plant gates.

It’s like a city. Families work and live here. Teenagers chased eachother in the snow just beyond the fence.

Mayak is surrounded by silver birch forests. Signs by the road warn people not to enter the woodland or pick the wild mushrooms. Mayak once provided the Soviet Union with around 40 per cent of the world’s
weapons-grade plutonium.

The country’s first atomic bomb was built here. Between 1949 and 1951, the plant dumped hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive waste into the nearby Techa.

Hundreds of villages were resettled but incredibly, four remain in the contaminated area. Residents don’t know why they were never moved.

Many people we spoke to say they are being used as human guinea pigs. They talk of a secret government experiment looking at the effects of radiation exposure on humans.

They say they have to go to a hospital in Chelyabinsk, the regional capital around 50km away, for treatment of the various radiation related illnesses they suffer.

One woman described her visits.

“They must have tested new drugs on us. You come from the hospital where you spend a month then get sick for a month at home. They don’t treat you. They hurt you. They don’t say anything.”

Some of the old Muslymovo village has been moved in recent years but to a place which is only a less than a half hour walk from the highly radiation polluted river. The Geiger counter readings we took by the river showed radiation levels 50 times higher than the level experts say is safe for humans.

Mayak disaster

Our driver, who himself suffers chronic radiation illness pointed to a car tyre frozen solid in icy marsh. He said if we tested our Geiger counter there we would get a reading at least three times higher than
the one we had.

There were no barriers or fences to keep people out. And there were footprints in the snow everywhere. A rusty sign warned people not to enter or pick the berries. But fishermen still come here. In the summer children still swim…….

Most of the children in this area suffer some form or other of radiation related illness.   Symptoms of Chronic radiation sickness include recurrent infections, swellings, anemia, unhealed wounds, hair
loss and bruises. Long term exposure to high rates of radiation causes birth defects and cancer.

Locals call it the “river sickness”.

The boy in our report with the growth on his neck is 17 years old. He has eight brothers and sisters. They all suffer from radiation related illness. His mother says she took him to the local doctor to get his neck checked.

She says the doctor told her the lump would disappear. She says her son was never even offered a biopsy.

This, in a place where people have died of cancer for decades. An area that has some of the highest levels of radiation pollution in the world.

“We are afraid, the consequences are terrifying. But where can we move
to?” she said… .. http://blogs.aljazeera.com/europe/2012/04/04/living-nuclear-hell

December 21, 2016 Posted by | health, Russia | Leave a comment

Ionizing radiation from Chernobyl affects development of wild carrot plants. Abstract

Latest Chernobyl paper shows radiation effects of wild carrots!

srep39282-f1.jpg

 

Abstract
“Radioactivity released from disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima is a global hazard and a threat to exposed biota. To minimize the deleterious effects of stressors organisms adopt various strategies. Plants, for example, may delay germination or stay dormant during stressful periods. However, an intense stress may halt germination or heavily affect various developmental stages and select for life history changes. Here, we test for the consequence of exposure to ionizing radiation on plant development. We conducted a common garden experiment in an uncontaminated greenhouse using 660 seeds originating from 33 wild carrots (Daucus carota) collected near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. These maternal plants had been exposed to radiation levels that varied by three orders of magnitude. We found strong negative effects of elevated radiation on the timing and rates of seed germination. In addition, later stages of development and the timing of emergence of consecutive leaves were delayed by exposure to radiation. We hypothesize that low quality of resources stored in seeds, damaged DNA, or both, delayed development and halted germination of seeds from plants exposed to elevated levels of ionizing radiation. We propose that high levels of spatial heterogeneity in background radiation may hamper adaptive life history responses.”

Zbyszek Boratyński, Javi Miranda Arias, Cristina Garcia, Tapio Mappes, Timothy A. Mousseau, Anders P. Møller, Antonio Jesús Muñoz Pajares, Marcin Piwczyński & Eugene Tukalenko

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39282

December 19, 2016 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear worker at Fukushima gets compensation for thyroid cancer

thyroid-cancer-papillaryThyroid cancer compensation for Fukushima plant worker http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612170027.htmlBy YURI OIWA/ Staff Writer December 17, 2016 A man who developed thyroid gland cancer after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has for the first time won the right to work-related compensation.

While the case ranks as the third time a worker at the Fukushima plant has been recognized as eligible for work-related compensation because of cancer caused by radiation exposure, it is the first instance involving thyroid gland cancer.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced its decision Dec. 16.

The man in his 40s, an employee of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., worked at the Fukushima plant after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. He was diagnosed with thyroid gland cancer in April 2014.

The man worked at various nuclear plants, including the Fukushima facility, between 1992 and 2012. He was mainly involved in operating and overseeing reactor operations.

After the March 2011 nuclear accident, the man was in the plant complex when hydrogen explosions rocked the No. 1 and No. 3 reactor buildings. His duties included confirming water and pressure meter levels as well as providing fuel to water pumps.

The amount of his accumulated whole body radiation exposure was 150 millisieverts, with about 140 millisieverts resulting from the period after the nuclear accident. Of that amount, about 40 millisieverts was through internal exposure caused by inhaling or other ways of absorbing radioactive materials.

Along with recognizing the first work-related compensation involving thyroid gland cancer, the labor ministry also released for the first time its overall position on dealing with compensation issues for workers who were at the Fukushima plant after the accident.

The ministry said it would recognize compensation for workers whose accumulated whole body dose exceeded 100 millisieverts and for whom at least five years have passed since the start of work involving radiation exposure and the diagnosis of cancer.

Ministry officials said the dose level was not a strict standard but one yardstick for recognizing compensation.

According to a study by TEPCO and a U.N. scientific committee looking into the effects of radiation, 174 people who worked at the plant had accumulated whole body doses exceeding 100 millisieverts as of this past March.

There is also an estimate that more than 2,000 workers have radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts just in their thyroid gland.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, health, Japan | Leave a comment