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French Prime Minister visiting Algeria. The question of radioactive dust from nuclear tests will be on the agenda.

*Algeria – French Nuclear Testing**

French atomic tests in Algeria: so much brings the wind. The wind regularly
blows radioactive particles from the Sahara over Europe, a memory of the
atomic tests carried out in Algeria in the 1960s. Will the responsibility
of Paris be on the menu of Jean Castex’s visit to Algiers this weekend.

Liberation 7th April 2021

On April 10 and 11, French Prime Minister Jean Castex will travel to
Algiers, accompanied by eight ministers – including the ministers of
foreign affairs and the armed forces to participate in the 5th session of
the France-Algeria High Level Intergovernmental Committee (CIHN). The
question of the health and environmental consequences of the 17 nuclear
tests carried out by France in the Sahara between 1960 and 1966, as well as
that of nuclear and non-nuclear waste left by France, will be on the menu
of discussions.

ICAN France 7th April 2021

April 10, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, environment, France, politics international, radiation, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Space radiation – harmful to astronauts, not only with cancers, but also with heart and blood vessel effects

From Vitamin C to Spinach: Researching Ways to Protect Astronaut Cardiovascular Health From Space Radiation.   Review explores ways that space radiation can damage cardiovascular health, and discusses how we can protect astronauts, from vitamin C to spinach. SciTech Daily 14 Mar 21, Space: the final frontier. What’s stopping us from exploring it? Well, lots of things, but one of the major issues is space radiation, and the effects it can have on astronaut health during long voyages. A new review in the open-access journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine explores what we know about the ways that space radiation can negatively affect cardiovascular health, and discusses methods to protect astronauts. These include radioprotective drugs, and antioxidant treatments, some of which are more common than you might think.

Space is incredibly inhospitable. Outside of low earth orbit, astronauts are bombarded with radiation, including galactic cosmic rays, and ‘proton storms’ released by the sun. This radiation is harmful for the human body, damaging proteins and DNA, and is one of the major reasons that we haven’t yet been able to send anyone to Mars, or beyond.

These issues inspired Dr Jesper Hjortnaes of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands to investigate what we know about the harmful effects of space radiation. “If we want to see human long distance space travel, we need to understand the impact of space-induced disease and how to protect our bodies from it,” said Hjortnaes. However, Hjortnaes has an interest in a specific aspect of space radiation: its cardiovascular effects.

You may be surprised to learn that aside from the illnesses we typically associate with radiation, such as cancer, it can also have serious effects on the cardiovascular system. Suffering from cardiovascular illness would be catastrophic for crew members on long-haul space missions, and so it’s important to identify what the risks are, and how to reduce them.

Hjortnaes and colleagues reviewed the evidence to establish what we know about the cardiovascular risks of space radiation. Much of what we know comes from studying people who have received radiation therapy for cancer, where cardiovascular disease is a common side-effect, or from mouse studies of radiation exposure.

So, what are the effects? Radiation can cause myocardial remodeling, where the structure of the heart begins to change, and tough, fibrous tissue grows to replace healthy muscle, potentially leading to heart failure. Other effects include atherosclerosis in blood vessels, which can cause stroke or heart attack. Radiation exerts its effects by causing inflammation, oxidative stress, cell death and DNA damage.

Researchers have also investigated potential ways to protect astronauts. These include drugs that an astronaut could take to protect themselves from space radiation, and antioxidants. Interestingly, an antioxidant diet, including dairy products, green vegetables such as spinach, and antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C, has potential in protecting astronauts from the damaging reactive oxygen molecules produced during radiation exposure.

Overall, the review revealed that so far, research has only scratched the surface of space radiation and the best methods to protect astronauts from it. There is little conclusive evidence of radiation-induced cardiovascular disease in astronauts themselves, as so few of them have ever gone further than low earth orbit, and mouse studies aren’t an exact match for humans……..

March 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Low doses of radiation used in medical imaging lead to mutations in cell cultures

March 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment

Harm done to people by the Fukushima evacuation, but radiation was still the root cause of all this

The Lancet 6th March 2021, “The evacuation was the biggest risk factor in impacting health”, said Masaharu Tsubokura, an expert in radiation health management at Fukushima Medical University. “But [the evacuation] was inevitable, so I’m not saying that it was the wrong choice”, he added. He describes the tsunami-hit region of northeast Japan as a case study in the myriad health issues arising from natural disasters—an interplay between non-communicable diseases, the effect on mental and physical health of sudden upheaval, family separation, and the struggle to provide nursing care in ageing communities that hold little appeal for younger people, including health-care staff, who are worried about radiation and lack of job opportunities.
The evacuation was the most effective way to reduce exposure, Tsubokura said, but added that it had also had the biggest effect on mid-term and long-term health outcomes by exacerbating chronic and non-communicable diseases, notably diabetes, obesity, and impaired bone health and motor function. “Some might say that medically, these are not related to radiation”, he said, “but I would say that in the secondary sense, everything has a connection to radiation”.
Evacuees with the financial means fanned out across Japan, with some seeking refuge as far away as Okinawa, more than 1000 miles to the south. Many others moved to temporary housing or found rented accommodation in parts of Fukushima that were considered a safe distance from the stricken plant.
Following a ¥2·9 trillion (£19 billion) operation to remove millions of cubic metres of contaminated topsoil from areas near private homes, schools, and other essential public buildings, the government began lifting evacuation orders in 2015. Yet even now, several neighbourhoods located near Fukushima Daiichi remain no-go zones because of radiation levels above 20 mSv a year—the maximum exposure recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
Japan raised acceptable levels of radiation for Fukushima residents to 20 mSv per year from 1 mSv per year, although the country insists that 1 mSv remains the long-term goal. Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, and Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, are among those who have challenged the IAEA’s conclusion, pointing to the lack of comprehensive exposure data from the initial days of the crisis.
Burnie and Fairlie cite a 2019 study led by Hidehiko Yamamoto of Osaka Red Cross Hospital that concludes “the radiation contamination due to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accidents is positively associated with the thyroidcancer detection rate in children and adolescents. This corroborates previous studies providing evidence for a causal relation between nuclear
accidents and the subsequent occurrence of thyroid cancer”. Burnie said, “The extent to which the current thyroid rates are due to radiation exposure is not proven. However, given the uncertainties, including dose data, it is not credible to dismiss an association between iodine exposure and the higher incidence of thyroid cancer. The authorities need to continue screening and prioritise other physical and mental health issuesarising from displacement and evacuation, as well as monitor people who have returned”.

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Reference, social effects | Leave a comment

Every hour, Fukushima reactor 2 emits more than 10,000 times the yearly allowable dose for radiation workers

March 13, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Radiation from Fukushima meltdown collects in timber in affected region

Telegraph 11th March 2021 Even inside his log-cabin home, in an idyllic valley in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, the geigercounter clipped to Nobuyoshi Ito’s jacket gives off a near-constant crackle. But every time he goes to put another log on the wood burner in a corner of his living room, it intensifies into a single, drawn-out cacophony.
The locally felled timber was exposed to the radiation that escaped from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, less than 40 miles to the south-east, when three of the plant’s reactors suffered melt-downs after the March 2011 earthquake and the tsunami that it unleashed on coastal regions of north-east Japan.
The plume of radiation passed directly over Mr Ito’s home, on the outskirts of the town of Iitate, leaving an invisible but very dangerous dusting on everything that it came in contact with. A decade on from the second-worst nuclear accident in history, he says the radioactivity collects in the ashes from his wood-fired stove, as well as in the metal of the burner and the silvered flue that rises through the roof. He shrugs.

March 13, 2021 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing, radiation | Leave a comment

The radiation danger to astronauts- cancer, heart disease -an ethical problem

“These are all crucial studies to be conducted in order to really understand the risks we’re exposing astronauts to,” says Meerman. “Therefore, we believe we are not there yet and we should debate whether it is safe to expand human space travel significantly

March 9, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference, Religion and ethics, space travel | Leave a comment

Dust with French nuclear test residue threatens Turkey

March 4, 2021 Posted by | environment, France, radiation, Turkey | Leave a comment

Washington State and others want to overturn Trump rule that weakens Hanford nuclear waste rule

March 2, 2021 Posted by | radiation, USA, wastes | 2 Comments

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

December 2020 Canadian taxpayers are paying a consortium (Canadian National Energy Alliance) contracted by the federal government in 2015, billions of dollars to reduce Canada’s $16 billion nuclear liabilities quickly and cheaply. The consortium is proposing to construct a giant mound for one million tons of radioactive waste beside the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau. […]

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
There is considerable secrecy about what would go into the mound; the information that follows has been  derived from the proponent’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) (December 2020) which lists a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”). The EIS and supporting documents also contain inventories of non-radioactive hazardous materials that would go into the dump.

Here is what the consortium says it is planning to put into the Chalk River mound (according to the final EIS and supporting documents)

1)  Long-lived radioactive materials

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in Table 3.3.1-2: NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory are long-lived, with half-lives ranging from four centuries to more than four billion years.

To take just one example, the man-made radionuclide, Neptunium-237, has a half-life of 2 million years such that, after 2 million years have elapsed, half of the material will still be radioactive. At the time of emplacement in the mound, the neptunium-237 will be giving off 17 million ( check, 1.74 x 10 to the 7th) radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

The mound would contain 80 tonnes of Uranium and 6.6 tonnes of thorium-232.

2) Four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

John Gofman MD, PhD, a Manhattan Project scientist and former director of biomedical research at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, stated that even one-millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into the lung, will cause lung cancer within 20 years. Sir Brian Flowers, author of the UK Royal Commission Report on Nuclear Energy and the Environment, wrote that a few thousands of a gram, inhaled into the lungs, will cause death within a few years because of massive fibrosis of the lungs, and that a few millionths of a gram will cause lung cancer with almost 100% certainty.

The four isotopes of plutonium listed in the NSDF reference inventory are Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Plutonium-2441 and Plutonium-242. According to Table 3.3.1-2 (NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory) from the EIS, The two isotopes 239 and 240 combined will have an activity of 87 billion Bq when they are emplaced in the dump. This means that they will be giving off 87 billion radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

3) Fissionable materials 

Fissionable materials can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The mound would contain “special fissionable materials” listed in this table (avove) extracted from an EIS supporting document, Waste Acceptance Criteria, Version 4, (November 2020)

4) Large quantities of Cobalt-60 

The CNL inventory also includes a very large quantity of cobalt-60 (990 quintillion becquerels), a material that gives off so much strong gamma radiation that lead shielding must be used by workers who handle it in order to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers high-activity cobalt-60 sources to be “intermediate-level waste” and specifies that they must be stored underground. Addition of high-activity cobalt-60 sources means that hundreds of tons of lead shielding would be disposed of in the mound.

5) Very Large quantities of tritium

The mound would contain 890 billion becquerels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium readily combines with oxygen to form radioactive water. It moves readily through the environment and easily enters all cells of the human body where it can cause damage to cell structures including genetic material such as DNA and RNA.

Because it is part of the water molecule, removal of tritium from water is very difficult and expensive. There are no plans to remove tritium from the mound leachate. Instead the consortium plans to pipe the contaminated water directly into Perch Lake which drains into the Ottawa River.

6) Carbon-14

The mound would contain close to two billion becquerels of Carbon-14, an internal emitter that is hazardous in similar ways to tritium. Carbon is a key element in all organic molecules. When it is inhaled or ingested it can become incorporated into all manner of organic molecules and cellular components including genetic material.

7) Many other man-made radionuclides 

Radionuclides such as caesium-137, strontium-90, radium, technetium, nickel-59, americium-243 are listed in the partial inventory of materials that would go into the dump. See the partial inventory here:

8) Non-radioactive hazardous materials

Hazardous materials destined for the dump according to the final EIS and Waste Acceptance Criteria include asbestos, PCBs, dioxins, mercury, up to 13 tonnes of arsenic and hundreds of tonnes of lead. (Reference)


9) Large quantities of valuable metals that could attract scavengers

According the the final EIS, the mound would contain 33 tonnes of aluminum, 3,520 tonnes of copper, and 10,000 tonnes of iron. It is well known that scavenging of materials  occurs after closure of facilities. Scavengers who would be exposed to high radiation doses as they sought to extract these valuable materials from the dump.

10) Organic Materials

80,339 tonnes of wood and other organic material are destined for the mound. These materials would decompose and cause slumping in the mound, therefore potentially compromising the integrity of the cap.

Most of the radioactive and hazardous material would get into the air and water, some sooner, some later. Some would get into ground and surface water during creation of the mound, such as tritium which is very mobile and cannot be removed by the proposed water treatment plant. Others would get into the air, during construction and could be breathed by workers. Some materials would leach slowly into groundwater. Still others would be released when the mounds deteriorates over time and eventually disintegrates several hundreds of years into the future. For details on the expected disintegration of the mound in a process described as “normal evolution” see this po

The mound would actually get more radioactive over time

See the submission entitled “A Heap of Trouble” by Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility for a chilling description of this process. Here is a quote from the submission:

The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project is presented not as a temporary, interim
storage facility but as a permanent repository that will ultimately be abandoned. We are
dealing with a potentially infinite time horizon. The proponent seeks approval not just for a
few decades, but forever. Such permission has never before been granted for post-fission
radioactive wastes in Canada, nor should it be granted. Long-lived radioactive waste
should not be abandoned, especially not on the surface beside a major body of water.

The facility will remain a significant hazard for in excess of 100,000 years.

This point was raised by Dr. J.R. Walker, a retired AECL radioactive waste expert in his submission on the draft environmental impact statement. You can read his full submission here:

This dump would not not meet international safety standards for radioactive waste management.

The dump would not meet provincial standards for hazardous waste disposal.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material. All discharges, no matter how small,  into our air and water can cause cancer and many other diseases as well as genetic damage and birth defects.”

~ Dr. Eric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.


February 23, 2021 Posted by | Canada, radiation, wastes | Leave a comment

The Children with Cancer UK conference: nuclear power and nuclear weapons are two sides of the same coin

Low level radiation – a game changer for the nuclear power and weapons industries?  Pete Wilkinson, 21 February 2021
  “If you placed a teacup sized piece of high level waste (what’s left of used or ‘spent’ nuclear fuel after it has been treated) in the middle of football pitch, you and everyone in the stadium would be dead before you left the centre circle.”

Phil Hallington, head of operations and development, Sellafield. BBC Radio 4, 7/1/15 ‘How to dismantle a nuclear power station’

In order to gain public acceptance of atmospheric bomb testing in Nevada, President Dwight E. Eisenhower declared the policy of the US government to be “keep the public confused”…

(Extracts from ‘The Dangers of Low Level Radiation’, Charles Sutcliffe, Avebury Press, 1987 ISBN 0 566 05482 5)
These two quotations sum up the murky world of deceit, lies and deliberate withholding of information that characterised the race to develop the A and H-bombs in the immediate aftermath of WW2 as former allies became cold war enemies. The greater ‘good’ of possessing weapons of mass destruction to deter an aggressor outweighed the need to inform people of the unknowns surrounding the long-term effects of exposure to radiation. “Keeping the public confused” made it possible to develop those weapons without the encumbrance of protests.

The raw materials for weapons of mass destruction – plutonium and enriched uranium – come from the nuclear reactors developed under the guise of generating electricity ‘too cheap to meter’. The policies of secrecy and obfuscation have likewise haunted the nascent civil nuclear power industry. Nuclear power stations have been essential for producing the materials that have incinerated and liquidised tens of thousands of innocents, and left thousands more with crippling genetic malformations all in the name of defence through the threat of mass murder.

The Windscale Calder Hall reactors, opened by HM the Queen in 1956 and heralded as the first power station to provide nuclear-generated electricity to the UK grid, concealed the true impetus for their construction: to produce plutonium for domestic and American nuclear weapons. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are two sides of the same coin, despite minister after minister, decade after decade, telling parliament and the public the opposite.

It is thought that around 200,000 people – mostly civilians – died as a result of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. The US sent teams of officials into the fallout zones soon after the attacks to catalogue the effects on people as well as to evaluate their destructive capability. The US authorities developed a measure of radioactivity’s effect on human health which assumed that the greater the exposure to radiation, the greater the effect on the individual, leading to the ‘linear no threshold’ or LNT principle which has underpinned the relationship between dose and risk ever since.

With little concern for detail, the authorities assumed that the LNT model was good for calculating the effects of both whole body exposure as well as internal exposure through nuclear particulate inhalation or ingestion and that the relationship between dose and risk remained constant. But in fact, in case after case of exposure to ionising radiation, the observed effect on health outstrips the theoretical effect LNT would suggest.

Decades of grudging engagement from the authorities with its critics has still not delivered open and transparent examination of the uncertainties around the issue. The government, the nuclear industry itself, the regulators, nuclear industry trades unions, the supply chain companies, cheerleading university research and science departments all support and defend an industry which is well aware of these uncertainties. Yet still we commit to new nuclear build while wringing our hands about the rising cancer rate now affecting every second person in the country.

Particulates of plutonium and uranium, invisible to the naked eye, produce energetic and highly interactive emissions that, while presenting little danger when outside the body, can present a serious internal hazard when inhaled or ingested. They represent a small ‘dose’ but can have a disproportionate effect on health if the body doesn’t manage to rid itself of the particle. The reality is actually ‘small dose, large risk’, the opposite of the LNT principle. It is perhaps no surprise that neither government nor its agencies wish to engage in fact-based debate on the issues: any recognition that critics of LNT have a case would require a fundamental review of nuclear discharges, their safety and the number of people qualifying for compensation.

Nuclear weapons were routinely tested until the practice was banned, sometimes requiring the enforced removal of the inhabitants over whose remote atolls and islands the bombs were tested. Of the 2,000+ tests since the 1950s, more than 200 took place in the atmosphere, releasing unknown quantities of uranium and plutonium. Accidents at nuclear power stations – notably Chernobyl, Fukushima and the accident in 1957 at our own plutonium production plant in Cumbria, then known as Windscale – have also released unknown amounts of plutonium into the environment.

Nuclear power plants routinely discharge small amounts of radioactive material into sea, land and air. Plutonium has been deliberately and routinely discharged into the Irish Sea since the 1950s from the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. These materials circle the earth in the jet stream and wash around our oceans. And the authorities, particularly the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (CoMARE), refuse to debate key issues with their critics.

In 1983, a ten-fold excess of childhood leukaemia was identified in the small village of Seascale, a few miles south of Sellafield. At the end of a Yorkshire TV documentary film screened in the November of that year, nuclear bosses refused to concede that the plutonium discharges from the plant to the Irish Sea which were shown to be returning to shore and even turning up in household dust, could possibly have anything to do with the children’s illnesses. In December 1984, Hansard recorded the following speech from Lord Skelmersdale (extract):

“As from next year, discharges of caesium to the sea will be reduced to one-tenth of the maximum released in recent years. The revised authorisation sent to the company in draft will, when implemented, reduce discharges of plutonium and other alpha emitters to 200 curies a year, which is also a very sharp reduction from previous levels.”

In 2008, the German government financed a report known by the acronym KiKK. It showed that children under five years of age living within five kilometres of every German nuclear power station ran a risk of contracting leukaemia that was twice the national average in the country.

Following a Children with Cancer UK international conference in 2018, a modest grant was awarded to the Low Level Radiation Campaign to write a report, compiling the evidence that supported the view that the health effects of exposure to low doses of alpha emitting radioactive materials are woefully underestimated.

The report has been sent to every major government department, to MPs and to regulators. The response has been totally underwhelming. The government is unable even to consider that the industry on which it has relied since the 1940s to provide its plutonium, its nuclear engineers, its nuclear research facilities, much of its electricity and its medical isotopes, might be contributing to disease and death in the population. And it refuses to instruct its publicly funded expert body, CoMARE, to do so on its behalf.

The Children with Cancer UK conference was addressed by one contributor who spoke movingly about the conditions required for a healthy and contented population – a sustainable and peaceful planet. Instead, we have created a soup of chemical, radioactive and other toxic materials casually tossed into the air while we have little or no idea as to their health effects. This, along with the 500,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste, is our legacy to our descendants. How on earth are we going to acknowledge this and begin the process of reconciliation and redress?

February 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Mary Olson pays tribute to Rosalie Bertell, the great explainer of radiation impacts on health

My Six Mentors,   by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121 

“……………. Rosalie Bertell, PhD

It was Rosalie who most let me know that I am able to contribute original work towards the day that People, to decide not to split atoms any more. Human beings began splitting atoms in Chicago, in 1942. Rosalie, a PhD in mathematics and member of the Order of Gray Nuns, knew more than anyone else I have worked with, that all of it—every last nuclear license, and radioactive emission, all the waste and all the bombs and all the money congress gives to nuclear activities are choices. People made, and continue to make these decisions…and we can change our mind.

Rosalie studied radiation impacts and was committed to service on behalf of future generations. She won the Right Livelihood award for her work with communities impacted by nuclear industry. Often called the “alternative Peace Prize” – she was one of the first women to be honored. As a laureate, she was encouraged to find and mentor students. Rosalie hoped that I, and my coworker Diane D’Arrigo would go to graduate school and she could be our mentor. We decided since we were already in our 50’s to simply study with her, informally. We traveled, 5 or 6 times to the Mother House where she resided and she generously met with us in the last two years of her life. She was always small in stature, but at that point her back was bent and she barely came up to my chest, but still had the intensity of a wolverine!

It was Rosalie Bertell who helped me tackle one of the biggest challenges I have faced. After a public talk on radioactive waste policy that I gave during this time, a woman asked me if radiation was more harmful to women, to her, compared to a man. Even though I had studied and known many of the top independent radiation researchers, including Bertell, I had never heard that biological sex could be a factor for harm—other than in reproduction (pregnancy)—but that is more about the embryo and fetus than the woman. I told her that I was sorry, I did not know and would get back to her. In fact, I forgot.

Two years later, when nuclear reactors exploded in Japan at a site called Fukushima Daiichi, I remembered that question and knew it urgently needed an answer. I was unaware that Dr Arjun Makhijani and a team had written on sex differences in radiation harm in 2006 (see ) and also did not turn that up as I searched for any information on differences between males and females. My findings, five years later are an independent confirmation of the IEER work.

Since I found nothing on a basic google dive, I called Rosalie, who was at that point nearing the end of her life, to ask if she had studied biological sex. She had not, and the one report she pointed me to was out of print. It was my second call, a week later, that prompted her to tell me that I would have to look at the data myself.

I had no idea that the National Academy of Science (NAS) had published tables with 60 years of data on cancers and cancer deaths among the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rosalie told me to find out for myself. I was shocked. I had stopped any formal study of math in the 6th grade…she was a mathematician—I asked her to do it, and she reminded me that she was dying. I protested again. It was her next words that pushed me. Rosalie said, “The data is divided by males and females so you can look at this question—and if there is a difference, it will be a simple pattern. It is good you do not have more math because if there is a difference, you will find it and not make it more complicated than it is.” She said to get a few pencils, a sharpener, an eraser and lots of paper, and go to it. I did.

The result was my first paper on the topic, “Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women,” (October 2011) published to the web in time for Rosalie to congratulate me. Three years later the paper was the basis for my invitation to speak at the global Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. Three years later as the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was in the work, I founded the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. Rosalie is the one who put rocket fuel in my determination to help. If the world decides to base radiation protection on Refence Little Girl—make every regulation in terms of protecting females who are infants—five years old, future generations have a chance. Rosalie is the one who modeled for me that it is possible to reach for the best possible outcome, and, indeed, we have an obligation to do so………..……


January 2, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, PERSONAL STORIES, radiation, Reference, women, Women | Leave a comment

How the USA and Soviet Union planned to use nuclear radiation as a weapon.

 This was initially seen as a great idea –  you could kill all the people while leaving the omfrastructure intact for your own use.
Death Dust: The Little-Known Story of U.S. and Soviet Pursuit of Radiological Weapons,  Three international security experts chart the rise and fall of radiological weapons programs in the United States and the Soviet Union. The MIT Press Reader

By: Morgan L. Kaplan, 31 Jan 20, 

For decades, the thought of radiological weapons has conjured terrifying images of cities covered in “death dust.” Classified as a weapon of mass destruction — alongside chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons — it has remained a point of mystery as to why these devastatingly indiscriminate weapons were not pursued in earnest by more state and non-state actors alike.

What did early radiological weapons (RW) programs look like? How and why did they arise, and what accounts for their ultimate demise? Aside from a handful of known cases, why have RW programs not proliferated with the same alacrity as other weapons programs?

Thanks to the rigorous and rich historical work of Samuel Meyer, Sarah Bidgood, and William Potter of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, we now have more answers. Focusing on the United States and Soviet Union in the 1940s and 1950s, the authors, in a recent study published in the journal International Security, trace the unique origins of these RW programs, as well as explain why they were subsequently abandoned. Their study, “Death Dust: The Little-Known Story of U.S. and Soviet Pursuit of Radiological Weapons,” reveals a fascinating web of causes, including organizational and bureaucratic politics, international competition, economic and technological constraints, and even the powerful initiatives of well-placed individuals.

While the authors’ work examines the past, it speaks directly to the present and future trajectory of RW programs. If you are interested in military innovation, the history of weapons of mass destruction, the sociology of technology, and science fiction (yes, science fiction!), the exchange featured below is for you.

Morgan Kaplan: First things first, what are radiological weapons? Do any countries or non-state actors have them today?

Samuel Meyer, Sarah Bidgood, and William C. Potter: We define a radiological weapon as one intended to disperse radioactive material in the absence of a nuclear detonation. ……..

……….. May 1941 — the first reference to RW appeared in a U.S. government document: the Report of the Uranium Committee. The report identified three possible military aspects of atomic fission, the first of which was “production of violently radioactive materials … carried by airplanes to be scattered as bombs over enemy territory.” (The other two possible applications noted in the report were “a power source on submarines and other ships” and “violently explosive bombs.”) ………

Technological advances were among the major drivers of RW programs in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and RW were initially pursued in tandem with nuclear weapons and chemical weapons (CW) programs. The anticipated promise of RW as a weapons innovation, however, never materialized in either country due to a combination of factors, including technical difficulties in the production and maintenance of the weapons, diminution in the perceived military utility of RW relative to both CW and nuclear weapons, and low threat perceptions about adversary RW capabilities. ……..

the parallelism in many respects between the rise and demise of the U.S. and Soviet RW programs; and (5) the serious but ultimately unsuccessful effort by the United States and the Soviet Union to secure a draft convention at the Conference on Disarmament prohibiting radiological weapons.

MK: Are radiological weapons a thing of the past or do they remain an attractive option for some countries and non-state actors today?

The authors: We are encouraged that no country has either used RW in war or has incorporated them into a national military arsenal. We are concerned, however, that the Russian Federation, despite its own unsuccessful history with RW, has shown renewed interest in advanced nuclear weapons that seek to maximize radioactive contamination. We also worry that some countries may conclude that RW serve their perceived national interests, especially in the absence of international legal restraints. It therefore is important, we believe, to revive U.S.-Russian cooperation to ban radiological weapons and strengthen the norm against their use.

Morgan L. Kaplan is the Executive Editor of International Security and Series Editor of the Belfer Center Studies in International Security book series at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

January 2, 2021 Posted by | history, radiation, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

34 years later, food crops near Chernobyl still contain ionising radiation

Unsafe levels of radiation found in Chernobyl crops, By Harry Baker – Staff Writer December 20, The effects of the explosive 1986 disaster can still be seen in nearby crops.

Crops grown near the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine are still contaminated with radiation from the explosive 1986 disaster.

In a new study, researchers found that wheat, rye, oats and barley grown in this area contained two radioactive isotopes — strontium 90 and cesium 137 — that were above safe consumption limits. Radioactive isotopes are elements that have increased masses and release excess energy as a result.

“Our findings point to ongoing contamination and human exposure, compounded by lack of official routine monitoring,” study author David Santillo, an environmental forensic scientist at Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter, said in a statement, referring to the fact that the government suspended its radioactive goods monitoring program in 2013.

Santillo and his colleagues, in collaboration with researchers from the Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology, analyzed 116 grain samples, collected between 2011 and 2019, from the Ivankiv district of Ukraine — about 31 miles (50 kilometers) south of the nuclear plant.

This area is outside of Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone,” which is a 30 mile (48 km) radius around the plant that was evacuated in 1986 and has remained unoccupied. They found radioactive isotopes, predominantly strontium 90, were above safe consumption level in 48% of samples. They also found that wood samples collected from the same region between 2015 and 2019, had strontium 90 levels above the safe limit for firewood.

The researchers believe that the lingering radiation in the wood, in particular, may be the reason for the continued contamination of crops, almost 35 years after the disaster. When analyzing the wood ash from domestic wood-burning ovens, they found strontium 90 levels that were 25 times higher than the safe limit. Locals use this ash, as well as ash from the local thermal power plant (TPP), to fertilize their crops, which continues to cycle the radiation through their soil.

However, computer simulations suggest that it could be possible to grow crops in the region at “safe” levels if this process of repeated contamination ceased. The researchers are now calling for the Ukrainian government to reinstate its monitoring program and create a system for properly disposing of radioactive ash.

“Contamination of grain and wood grown in the Ivankiv district remains of major concern and deserves further urgent investigation,” study author Valery Kashparov, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology, said in the statement. “Similarly, further research is urgently needed to assess the effects of the Ivankiv TPP on the environment and local residents, which still remain mostly unknown.”

The findings were published on Dec. 17 in the journal Environment International.

Originally published on Live Science.

December 19, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

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