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British soldiers the guinea pigs for testing effects of nuclear radiation

  “My task was to go in and pick up all the radioactive debris, load them into my truck and take them to the decontamination centre. “I had no protection whatsoever. The only people who had protection on Christmas Island were civilian AWREs – Atomic Weapons Research Establishment people.”  A study undertaken by Sue Rabbitt Roff, a social scientist at Dundee University in 1999, found that of 2,261 children born to veterans, 39% were born with serious medical conditions. By contrast, the national incidence figure in Britain is around 2.5%. “I want them to apologise to all the nuclear veterans for using us as experiments,” he said.    I still maintain that they wanted to find out the level of radiation that a person could survive the nuclear bombs with. I want them to apologise to all the nuclear veterans for using us as experiments’, says Fife Christmas Island veteran,   https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/1377815/i-want-them-to-apologise-to-all-the-nuclear-veterans-for-using-us-as-experiments-says-fife-christmas-island-veteran/ July 4 2020  Michael Alexander. Here’s why nuclear test veteran Dave Whyte from Fife intends to campaign for justice “until the end” In the 18 years that Christmas Island veteran Dave Whyte from Fife has been campaigning for “justice” for Britain’s nuclear test veterans, he has never held back with the language he has used to describe the Ministry of Defence’s treatment of British soldiers during the nuclear tests of the 1950s. He has compared the nuclear tests with the “experiments of Nazi Doctor Joseph Mengele”, accused the MoD of treating soldiers as “guinea pigs” and made comparisons with the aftermath of “Chernobyl”. He blames his exposure to the fallout from five atomic and hydrogen bomb blasts in 1958 for a catalogue of health problems he’s experienced over the years including the loss of all his teeth at 25 and the discovery in his mid-30s that he was sterile. The Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, has said there is no valid evidence linking the nuclear tests to ill health. But despite numerous attempts at legal action against the MoD over the years, which, he admits have “hit every brick wall available”, the now 83-year-old, of Kirkcaldy, is refusing to give up as he continues searching for an admission that he, and thousands of other servicemen – now dwindling in numbers – were exposed to more radiation than the authorities have ever admitted. Born and raised in Montrose before a spell living in Edinburgh and Germany where his sergeant major father served with the Royal Artillery, Mr Whyte was 22-years-old and serving with the Royal Engineers when he was sent to Christmas Island in the South Pacific in 1958. The Cold War was at its height and Mr Whyte was stationed there, off the north-eastern coast of Australia, to assist with British nuclear tests. His job was to collect samples afterwards. At the time the stakes were high. Amid real fears that the Cold War could escalate into open warfare with the USSR, Britain was determined that it should have its own nuclear deterrent. In all, Britain and the USA caused some 40 nuclear test explosions in the Pacific region between 1952 and 1962. Something like 21,000 British servicemen were exposed to these explosions. But little did Mr Whyte and his colleagues realise that in years to come, some would suffer ill health and in some cases premature death. Some would suffer from rare forms of leukaemia. Others reported congenital deformities in their children with a disproportionate number of stillbirths. “I was at Grapple Y – the largest hydrogen bomb exploded by Britain,” said Mr Whyte. Continue reading

July 6, 2020 Posted by | health, history, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Anthropocene, begun in 16th Century colonialism, slavery -? for repair in 21st Century post-Covid-19 recovery

Why the Anthropocene began with European colonisation, mass slavery and the ‘great dying’ of the 16th century, The Conversation, Mark Maslin, Professor of Earth System Science, UCL, Simon Lewis, Professor of Global Change Science at University of Leeds and, UCL June 25, 2020 The toppling of statues at Black Lives Matter protests has powerfully articulated that the roots of modern racism lie in European colonisation and slavery. Racism will be more forcefully opposed once we acknowledge this history and learn from it. Geographers and geologists can help contribute to this new understanding of our past, by defining the new human-dominated period of Earth’s history as beginning with European colonialism.Today our impacts on the environment are immense: humans move more soil, rock and sediment each year than is transported by all other natural processes combined. We may have kicked off the sixth “mass extinction” in Earth’s history, and the global climate is warming so fast we have delayed the next ice age.

We’ve made enough concrete to cover the entire surface of the Earth in a layer two millimetres thick. Enough plastic has been manufactured to clingfilm it as well. We annually produce 4.8 billion tonnes of our top five crops and 4.8 billion livestock animals. There are 1.4 billion motor vehicles, 2 billion personal computers, and more mobile phones than the 7.8 billion people on Earth.

All this suggests humans have become a geological superpower and evidence of our impact will be visible in rocks millions of years from now. This is a new geological epoch that scientists are calling the Anthropocene, combining the words for “human” and “recent-time”. But debate still continues as to when we should define the beginning of this period. When exactly did we leave behind the Holocene – the 10,000 years of stability that allowed farming and complex civilisations to develop – and move into the new epoch?

Five years ago we published evidence that the start of capitalism and European colonisation meet the formal scientific criteria for the start of the Anthropocene.

Our planetary impacts have increased since our earliest ancestors stepped down from the trees, at first by hunting some animal species to extinction. Much later, following the development of farming and agricultural societies, we started to change the climate. Yet Earth only truly became a “human planet” with the emergence of something quite different. This was capitalism, which itself grew out of European expansion in the 15th and 16th century and the era of colonisation and subjugation of indigenous peoples all around the world.

In the Americas, just 100 years after Christopher Columbus first set foot on the Bahamas in 1492, 56 million indigenous Americans were dead, mainly in South and Central America. This was 90% of the population. Most were killed by diseases brought across the Atlantic by Europeans, which had never been seen before in the Americas: measles, smallpox, influenza, the bubonic plague. War, slavery and wave after wave of disease combined to cause this “great dying”, something the world had never seen before, or since.

In North America the population decline was slower but no less dramatic due to slower colonisation by Europeans. US census data suggest the Native American population may have been as low as 250,000 people by 1900 from a pre-Columbus level of 5 million, a 95% decline.

This depopulation left the continents dominated by Europeans, who set up plantations and filled a labour shortage with enslaved workers. In total, more than 12 million people were forced to leave Africa and work for Europeans as slaves. ……….

In addition to the critical task of highlighting and tackling the racism within science, perhaps geologists and geographers can also make a small contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement by unflinchingly compiling the evidence showing that when humans started to exert a huge influence on the Earth’s environment was also the start of the brutal European colonisation of the world.

In her insightful book, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, the geography professor Kathryn Yusoff makes it very clear that predominantly white geologists and geographers need to acknowledge that Europeans decimated indigenous and minority populations whenever so-called progress occurred.

Defining the start of the human planet as the period of colonisation, the spread of deadly diseases and transatlantic slavery, means we can face the past and ensure we deal with its toxic legacy. If 1610 marks both a turning point in human relations with the Earth and our treatment of each other, then maybe, just maybe, 2020 could mark the start of a new chapter of equality, environmental justice and stewardship of the only planet in the universe known to harbour any life. It’s a struggle nobody can afford to lose. https://theconversation.com/why-the-anthropocene-began-with-european-colonisation-mass-slavery-and-the-great-dying-of-the-16th-century-140661

June 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, climate change, environment, history | Leave a comment

USA’s secret plan for “dominance”by exploding a nuclear bomb on the moon

REVEALED: The US wanted to detonate a nuclear bomb on the MOON in 1959 to counter the Soviet lead in the space race and show dominance  

  • New details of an astonishing scheme, first detailed in 1999, have been revealed
  • John Greenewald, Jr writes in Secrets from the Vault about numerous plans
  • He says a nuclear bomb on the moon was ‘one of the stupider things’ considered
  • The US government also wanted to build a military base on the moon by 1966 

By HARRIET ALEXANDER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

PUBLISHED: 10:28 AEST, 21 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:01 AEST, 21 June 2020

New details about a U.S. plan to blow up a nuclear bomb on the moon as a Cold War ‘show of dominance’ have been revealed in a recently-published book.

The secret mission, code-named Project A119, was conceived at the dawn of the space race by an Air Force division located at New Mexico‘s Kirtland Air Force Base.

A report authored in June 1959 entitled ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ explained plans to explode the bomb on the moon’s ‘terminator’ – the area between the part of the surface that is illuminated by the sun, and the part that’s dark.

The explosion would have likely been visible with the naked eye from Earth because the military had planned to add sodium to the bomb, which would glow when it exploded  

A nuclear bomb on the surface of the moon was definitely one of the stupider things the government could do,’ said John Greenewald, Jr., author of Secrets from the Vault. 

The book, published in April, details some of the more surreal suggestions made in history.

Greenewald, 39, has been interested in U.S. government secrets since he was 15 and has filed more than 3,000 Freedom of Information Requests……… https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8443569/US-wanted-detonate-nuclear-bomb-moon-1959-dominance.html 

June 21, 2020 Posted by | history, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty- its promise and its failure

Now, nuclear disarmament is at a standstill, existing treaties have either been dismantled or at risk, development in underway of new types of nuclear weapons with new missions and lowered threshold of use, and threats of use of nuclear weapons have been sounded.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, politics international, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Looking back to May 1986 – the exodus from Kiev, after the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe

May 7, 2020 Posted by | history, safety | Leave a comment

Ordinary people can beat the nuclear establishment: it’s been done before

Housewives and Fishmongers Defeat the U.S. Nuclear Establishment  https://allthingsnuclear.org/gkulacki/housewives-and-fishmongers-defeat-the-u-s-nuclear-establishment

GREGORY KULACKI, CHINA PROJECT MANAGER AND SENIOR ANALYST | APRIL 8, 2020  One of the enduring lessons from the COVID-19 crisis may be that simple acts from enough ordinary people can make an enormous difference. We can apply it to other large and seemingly intractable problems. Sixty years ago concerned citizens got together to protect their health by demanding an end to nuclear testing.

It was the height of the McCarthy era. The nuclear arms race was just beginning and opposing it was called un-American. But a crew of Japanese fishermen and a small group of Japanese housewives would change the debate. Their signature campaigns set off a chain reaction of global awareness that eventually led the United States to sign an international agreement banning nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, under water, and in outer space.

Castle Bravo

On March 1, 1954 the United States tested a nuclear weapon 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The blast over the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands left a crater on the ocean floor 6,500 feet wide and 250 feet deep. Radioactive debris from the blast rained down over a 7,000 square mile area.

This wasn’t the first U.S. nuclear weapon tested in the Marshall Islands—an impoverished nation of scattered coral atolls close to the equator in the central Pacific Ocean—nor would it be the last. Between 1946 and 1958 the United States conducted 67 explosive nuclear weapons tests there.. The United States took control of the islands from Japan during WWII and administered them as part of a Trust Territory of the Pacific under a mandate from the United Nations until 1986.

It’s hard to imagine a more egregious betrayal of that trust. Several hours after the test—code named Castle Bravo—radioactive debris began falling on the unsuspecting inhabitants of the Rongelap atoll 150 km to the east of the crater. Children ran out to play in the snow-like powder that covered the island. Some ate it. The United States waited two days before evacuating the endangered islanders to a safer atoll more than 650km to the southeast.

Lucky dragon

A Japanese fishing boat called the Daigo Fukuryū Maruthe Lucky Dragon No. 5—got caught in a dirty rain of radioactive fallout from the Castle Bravo test. It pelted the fisherman for hours, stuck to their exposed skin and got into their eyes, noses and mouths. By the time they returned to Japan two weeks later their skin was burned, their hair was falling out, and their gums were bleeding. Six months after returning home, Aikichi Kuboyama, the ship’s radio operator, died from his exposure.

The Japanese media was fascinated and appalled by their story, which was reported around the world. Memories of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were revived and amplified. But this time the Japanese public, and people throughout Asia, began to realize the potential danger was not confined to the site of the explosion. They could all become victims of the atomic bomb. Indonesia’s President Suharto put it this way in his opening address to the first ever international conference of the newly independent nations of Africa and Asia in the city of Bandung in April 1955:

The food that we eat, the water that we drink, yes, even the very air that we breathe can be contaminated by poisons originating from thousands of miles away. And it could be that, even if we ourselves escaped lightly, the unborn generations of our children would bear on their distorted bodies the marks of our failure to control the forces which have been released on the world.”

The Suganami appeal

Japanese fishmongers saw their businesses crippled by widespread public fear of eating “A-bombed tuna.” Five-hundred of them met in Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market and decided to launch a signature campaign against atomic and hydrogen bombs. Their efforts inspired the Suganami City Assembly to pass a supportive resolution.

Six months earlier a group of housewives had begun meeting in the newly opened Suganami Community Center to read books and discuss social issues, including the causes of war, with the center’s part-time director, Kaoru Yasui. After the Castle Bravo test, they joined with neighbors to form the Suganami Council and launched an appeal to the people of Japan, and the world, to ban hydrogen bombs.

The housewives, fishmongers and many other groups who collected signatures were not part of an organized movement. They were ordinary people. Within a month, 250,000 had signed. By the end of 1955 it was 20 million. According to some accounts, nearly a third of the population of Japan eventually signed the appeal.

The notoriety of the Japanese campaign, along with increased scientific investigation of the distribution and consequences of radioactive fallout, created global public health concerns and inspired people to press the nuclear weapons states to stop testing. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories were strongly opposed to any agreement on testing. But President Eisenhower joined the Soviets in a testing moratorium in 1958 and negotiations on a treaty began in Geneva. This eventually led to the entry into force the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere as well as underwater and in space.

This year the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago have launched an appeal to ban nuclear weapons. You can do your part to advance the process of nuclear disarmament by lending your signature to the cause.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

The lingering horror of the nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga, South Australia

March 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, health, history, indigenous issues, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Studies on Chernobyl nuclear disaster show that it’s relevant today, and for the future

DOES CHERNOBYL STILL MATTER? https://www.publicbooks.org/does-chernobyl-still-matter/ 11.22.2019 BY GABRIELLE HECHT  Since it first announced electricity “too cheap to meter,” in the 1950s, the nuclear industry has promised bountiful futures powered by a peaceful—and safe—atom. Design principles, the industry claims, limit the chances of core damage to one incident every 50,000 reactor-years of operation. History, however, has delivered a different verdict: together, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the three Fukushima reactors represent five meltdowns in only 100 reactor-years. What lessons do these accidents hold for the future of nuclear power?

Each meltdown has impelled design, operational, and regulatory changes, increasing the cost of nuclear power. Today, says the industry, the technology is safer and more vital than ever. No other source of electricity can offer so much baseload power with so few carbon emissions. But who can make money when a single US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection costs $360,000?

For the current US administration, the remedy for waning profits lies in cutting inspection hours. In a July 2019 proposal, which drew heavily on nuclear industry recommendations, the NRC also suggested crediting utility self-assessments as “inspections” and discontinuing press releases about problems of “low to moderate safety or security significance.” Translation: fewer inspections, less transparency, and weaker environmental and health oversight at the nation’s nuclear power plants.

The cause, costs, and consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl accident loom large in these battles. Was Chernobyl a fluke, the result of faulty technology and a corrupt political system? Or did it signal a fundamentally flawed technological system, one that would never live up to expectations?

Even simple questions are subject to debate. How long did the disaster last? Who were the victims, and how many were there? What did they experience? Which branches of science help us understand the damage? Whom should we trust? Such questions are tackled, with markedly different results, in Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl, Kate Brown’s Manual for Survival, and HBO’s Chernobyl (created by Craig Mazin).

Serhii Plokhy’s book and Craig Mazin’s miniseries, both entitled Chernobyl, focus primarily on the accident and its immediate aftermath. Both build on the standard plotline embraced by nuclear advocates.

In this narrative, Soviet love of monumental grandeur—or “gigantomania”—led to the selection and construction of Chernobyl’s RBMK1 design: an enormous 1000-megawatt reactor, powered by low-enriched uranium fuel, moderated by graphite, and cooled by water. The utterly unique RBMK had fundamental design flaws, hidden by corrupt state apparatchiks obsessed with secrecy, prestige, and productivism. Operators made inexcusable errors. The accident was inevitable. But the inevitability, Plokhy and Mazin affirm, was purely Soviet.

Plokhy gives more backstory. The enormous scale of Soviet industrialization put huge strains on supply chains, resulting in shoddy construction. Some of the men in charge had no nuclear background. The pressure to meet production quotas—and the dire consequences of failure—led bureaucrats and engineers to cut corners.

For both Plokhy and Mazin, these conditions at Chernobyl came to a head during a long-delayed safety test.   When the moment to launch the test finally arrived, shortly before midnight on April 25, 1986, there was confusion about how to proceed. The plant’s deputy chief engineer, Anatolii Diatlov, who did have extensive nuclear experience, believed he knew better than the woefully incomplete manuals. He pushed operators to violate the poorly written test protocol. (Disappointingly, Mazin’s miniseries portrays Diatlov more as a deranged bully than as someone with meaningful operational knowledge.)

The reactor did not cooperate: its power plummeted, then shot back up. Operators tried to reinsert the control rods. The manual didn’t mention that the RBMK could behave counterintuitively: in other reactor models, inserting control rods would slow down the fission reaction, but in the RBMK—especially under that night’s operating conditions—inserting the rods actually increased the reactivity. Steam pressure and temperature skyrocketed. The reactor exploded, shearing off its 2000-ton lid. Uranium, graphite, and a suite of radionuclides flew out of the core and splattered around the site. The remaining graphite in the core caught fire.

At first, plant managers didn’t believe that the core had actually exploded. In the USSR—as elsewhere—the impossibility of a reactor explosion underwrote visions of atomic bounty. Nor did managers believe the initial radiation readings, which exceeded their dosimeters’ detection limits. Their disbelief exacerbated and prolonged the harm, exposing many more people to much more radiation than they might have otherwise received. Firefighters lacked protection against radiation; the evacuation of the neighboring town of Pripyat was dangerously delayed; May Day parades proceeded as planned. Anxious to blame human operators—instead of faulty technology or (Lenin forbid!) a broken political system—the state put the plant’s three top managers on trial, in June 1987, their guilt predetermined.

Mazin’s miniseries follows a few central characters. Most really existed, though the script takes considerable liberties. The actions of the one made-up character, a Belarusian nuclear physicist, completely defy credibility. But hey, it’s TV. Dramatic convention dictates that viewers must care about the characters to care about the story. Familiar Cold War tropes are on full display: defective design, craven bureaucrats, and a corrupt, secrecy-obsessed political system. A few anonymous heroes also appear: firefighters, divers, miners, and others who risked their lives to limit the damage.

Nuclear advocates—many of whom believe that Chernobyl was a fluke, one whose lessons actually improved the industry’s long-term viability—object to the unrealistically gory hospital scenes portraying acute radiation sickness. But these advocates should feel appeased by the closing frames, which ignore the long-term damage caused by the accident.

Instead, the miniseries skates over post-1987 events in a few quick captions. The managers went to prison, a scientist committed suicide, people were evacuated. Yes, controversy persists over the number of casualties (31? That was the official Soviet number. How about 4,000? That’s the number issued by the Chernobyl Forum, an entity that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations. As for the 41,000 cancers suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—that number isn’t even mentioned). But all is under control now, thanks to the new confinement structure that will keep the area “safe” for a hundred years. Mazin himself insists that the show isn’t antinuclear.

Instead, the miniseries skates over post-1987 events in a few quick captions. The managers went to prison, a scientist committed suicide, people were evacuated. Yes, controversy persists over the number of casualties (31? That was the official Soviet number. How about 4,000? That’s the number issued by the Chernobyl Forum, an entity that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations. As for the 41,000 cancers suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—that number isn’t even mentioned). But all is under control now, thanks to the new confinement structure that will keep the area “safe” for a hundred years. Mazin himself insists that the show isn’t antinuclear.

Plokhy also addresses the accident’s role in the breakup of the USSR. In 2006, Mikhail Gorbachev famously speculated that “the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.” Plokhy delivers details. Ukrainian dissidents trained their writerly gaze on Chernobyl, vividly describing the damage. Street demonstrations depicted the accident and its coverup as “embodiments of Moscow’s eco-imperialism.” This vision spread and morphed, animating protests in Belarus—also severely contaminated by the accident—and elsewhere. Chernobyl served as Exhibit A for why the republics should shed the Soviet yoke.

If you’re hoping for clear technical explanations, however, you’ll be disappointed. A stunning error mars the first few pages: Plokhy declares that each RBMK produced 1 million megawatts of electricity. This is off by a factor of 1,000. Typo? No, because he doubles down in the next sentence, affirming that the station produced 29 billion megawatts of electricity in 1985. He gets the orders of magnitude right later on, but these early missteps undermine reader confidence. Muddled technical descriptions and uninformative diagrams add to the confusion.

Readers seeking to understand the technology should turn instead to journalist Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. He uses global nuclear history to illuminate Soviet efforts to manage the Chernobyl crisis. By comparing the crisis to reactor accidents elsewhere, Higginbotham shows that deep vulnerabilities are widespread. Plokhy’s engineers and managers seem bumbling, verging on incompetent. Higginbotham’s more nuanced portrayal reflects how complex engineering projects of all types necessitate informed improvisation. The three-dimensional world doesn’t faithfully obey manuals. Adjustments are always required.

Higginbotham and Plokhy differ most starkly in their treatment of Soviet reactor choice. In the1960s, technocrats weighed the RBMK design against the VVER,2 the Soviet version of a pressurized light water reactor similar to those sold by Westinghouse and used in the United States. For Plokhy, it’s simple. The VVER was “safe.” The RBMK was not, but its size and cost appealed to Soviet productivism.

Higginbotham, however, wisely relies on Sonja Schmid’s pathbreaking Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry (2015) to show that reactor safety isn’t a yes-no proposition. Plutonium-producing reactors similar to the Soviet RBMK (albeit half its size) existed in North America and Western Europe. Like nine of its French cousins, the RBMK could be refueled while continuing to operate. This presented significant advantages: light water reactors had to shut down for refueling, which entailed several weeks of outage. Even the risks presented by RBMK design vulnerabilities seemed manageable. “Nuclear experts elsewhere considered the RBMK design neither technologically novel nor particularly worrisome,” Schmid writes, noting that “what we consider good and safe always depends on context.” In the Soviet context, “selecting the RBMK made very good sense.”

Neither Schmid nor Higginbotham absolves the Soviet technopolitical system. The specific circumstances that led to Chernobyl’s explosions might not recur. But, as sociologist Charles Perrow has been arguing since his 1983 book Normal Accidents, highly complex technological systems create unpredictable situations, which inevitably lead to system failures. The question is not whether an accident of Chernobyl’s gravity can happen elsewhere, but how to prepare for the consequences when it does. 

That’s one of the questions Kate Brown considers in Manual for Survival. Offering a wealth of new information and analysis, Brown speeds past the reactor explosion. Instead, she focuses on dozens of previously untold stories about how people coped with their newly radioactive lives.

Brown’s protagonists include women who worked at a wool factory fed by contaminated sheep and butchers ordered to grade meat according to radioactivity. Ukraine, we learn, kept serving as the Soviet breadbasket, despite food radiation levels that exceeded norms. The concentrations of radionuclides were biomagnified by receptive organisms and ecologies, such as mushrooms, wild boar, and the Pripyat Marshes. Defying expectations, some foods, over time, have even become more contaminated.

Brown’s descriptions add historical flesh to arguments first developed by Olga Kuchinskaya, in her 2014 book on Belarus’s Chernobyl experience, The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl.

Since the first studies of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science on the biological effects of radiation exposure has been subject to controversy. Like all scientific work, these early survivor studies had limitations. Exposure estimates were unreliable.

The largest study began data collection five years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, so it didn’t include people who died or moved between 1945 and 1950. Another problem lies in the applicability of these studies. Bomb exposures, such as those in Japan, mostly consist of high, external doses from one big blast. Yet postwar exposures have mainly consisted of low doses, delivered steadily over a long period. They often involve internal exposures—such as inhalation of radioactive particles or consumption of irradiated food—which can be deadlier.

Irrespective of their limitations, however, the findings of these survivor studies have served as the basis for establishing regulatory limits for all types of radiation exposures. Critics argue that extrapolating from the Japan data underestimates low-dose effects: If you’ve already decided that the only possible health effects are the ones you’ve already found, surely you’re missing something? Among other limitations, studies of external gamma radiation exposures cannot illuminate the long-term health effects of inhaling radioactive alpha particles.

Brown injects the work of Dr. Angelina Gus’kova into this story. Gus’kova started treating radiation-induced illnesses in the 1950s, while working at the top-secret Mayak plutonium plant (where the radioactive spills from a 1957 accident continue to contaminate people, land, and water). A neurologist, Gus’kova made observations that extended beyond the narrow cancer focus of most Western practitioners who studied the health effects of radiation exposure. Her patients displayed a wide range of symptoms, which Gus’kova and her colleagues dubbed “chronic radiation syndrome.” Not that they neglected cancer: a 40-year study of 1.5 million people who lived near Mayak found significantly higher cancer and death rates than those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Soviet rubric of “chronic radiation syndrome” did not exist in the West. Yet Gus’kova’s findings did align with those of dissident scientists in the US and the UK. Thomas Mancuso, for example, was pushed out of the US Atomic Energy Commission because he refused to give the Hanford plutonium plant a clean bill of health after finding that workers there sustained high rates of cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, and other illnesses.

Alice Stewart, meanwhile, was shunned by the British establishment after her 1956 research showed that x-raying pregnant women increased the risk of cancer and leukemia in their children by 50 percent. Over the years, these and other scientists whose data challenged the findings of American and European nuclear establishments found themselves sidelined and defunded.

In tandem with perestroika, Chernobyl opened communication between Soviet and Western nuclear experts, engendering what Brown calls an “unholy alliance.” In 1990, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a mission to Belarus and Ukraine to assess radiation damage. Belarusian scientists reported rising rates of many diseases in contaminated areas. Nevertheless, the IAEA team rejected radiation as a possible cause. Such correlations didn’t appear in Western data.

Instead, the IAEA teams used dose estimates provided by distant Moscow colleagues and ignored local Belarusian and Ukrainian descriptions of people’s actual consumption habits, which included significant amounts of contaminated food and milk. The IAEA assessments neglected the internal exposures resulting from this consumption. Yet these assessments now serve as international reference points. “Underestimating Chernobyl damage,” Brown warns, “has left humans unprepared for the next disaster.”

For some, hope springs eternal. In 2017, Chernobyl’s “New Safe Confinement” finally became operational, after two decades of design and construction. This $1.7 billion structure aims to contain the spread of radioactive rubble while workers inside dismantle the reactor and its crumbling sarcophagus. Ownership was transferred from the builders of the structure to the Ukrainian government in July 2019.

At the transfer ceremony, newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a tourism development plan for the radioactive exclusion zone, including a “green corridor” through which tourists could travel to gawk at the remains of Soviet hubris. “Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” declared Zelensky, who was nine years old when the reactor exploded. “It’s time to change.” (Zelensky further demonstrated his dedication to “branding” two weeks after this ceremony, when he emphasized his recent stay in a Trump hotel during his now-infamous phone conversation with the US president.)

Change also seems possible to Plokhy, who optimistically predicts that new reactor designs will be “cheaper, safer, and ecologically cleaner.” But Allison Macfarlane, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Obama, recently noted that these “new” options are actually “repackaged designs from 70 years ago.” They still produce significant quantities of highly radioactive, long-lived waste.

Meanwhile, regulators in France—the world’s most nuclear nation—are taking the opposite approach from the United States’ NRC. Rather than rolling back oversight, France is intensifying inspections of their aging reactor fleet. After four decades of operation, many French reactors have begun to leak and crack. Keeping them operational will cost at least $61 billion. Despite the phenomenal cost, there are many who believe such an investment in the nuclear future is worthwhile.

Brown is far less sanguine about our nuclear future. Predictably, she has been denounced for believing marginal scientists and relying too heavily on anecdotal evidence. She does occasionally go overboard in suggesting conspiracy. Cover-ups clearly occurred on many occasions, but sometimes people were just sticking to their beliefs, trapped by their institutional and disciplinary lenses. Brown’s absence of nuance on this point matters, because the banality of ignorance—its complicity in all forms of knowledge production—can be more dangerous than deliberate lies: more systemic, harder to detect and combat.

Overall, though, Brown is on the right track. Many modes of scientific inquiry aren’t equipped to address our most urgent questions. Clear causal chains are a laboratory ideal. The real world brims with confounding variables. Some scientists studying Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone”—the region officially declared uninhabitable due to contamination—are trying new techniques to grapple with this reality. Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, for example, collect data on the zone in its ecological entirety, rather than focusing on single organisms. Their findings belie romantic tales of wildlife resurgence (such as the one offered up by a 2011 PBS special on the radioactive wolves of Chernobyl). They too have met resistance.

How, then, can we harness the immense power of scientific analysis while also acknowledging its limitations? The nuclear establishment is quick to lump its opponents together with climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers. Some may deserve that. But much dissident science is well executed. So how do we, the lay public, tell the difference? How can dissent and uncertainty serve, not as a block to action, but as a call?

One way: we can refuse to see Chernobyl and its kin as discrete events of limited duration. Brown, for example, treats Chernobyl as an acceleration of planetary-scale contamination that began with the atomic arms race.

Let’s be clear: the contamination continues. After the triple meltdown at Fukushima, scientists found highly radioactive, cesium-rich microparticles in Tokyo, 150 miles south of the accident site. When inhaled, such particles remain in human lungs, where their decay continues to release radioactivity for decades. Contaminants from future accidents will, in turn, accrete on the radioactive residues of their predecessors.

And, we might add, on the ocean floor. The Russian state-run firm Rosatom recently announced the inauguration of its first floating reactor, towed across the melting Arctic to serve a community in Siberia: yet another manifestation of how climate change favors nuclear development. Rosatom is currently negotiating contracts for reactors (floating and otherwise) in some 30 countries, from Belarus to Bangladesh, Egypt to South Africa.

Threatened, the US nuclear industry sees Russian expansion as “another reason that the United States should maintain global leadership in nuclear technology exports.” And so we hurtle forward: rolling back oversight, acceleration unchecked.

This article was commissioned by Caitlin Zaloom.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | history, investigative journalism, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

As the Runit nuclear waste dome crumbles, Marshall Islanders want honesty and justice

‘People want justice’: Marshalls’ fury over nuclear information US withheld–  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2018723289/people-want-justice-marshalls-fury-over-nuclear-information-us-withheld  From Dateline Pacific,  21 November 2019

November 25, 2019 Posted by | history, Legal, OCEANIA, oceans, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Why is the UK government now hiding its nuclear history files?

November 25, 2019 Posted by | history, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

China’s huge unfinished underground nuclear facility

816 Underground Nuclear Plant  This top secret Chinese military megaproject is the world’s largest human-made tunnel structure.   Atlas  Obscura, Outside a remote village in the Chinese countryside, a cold wind blows from the mouth of a cavernous military nuclear facility drilled deep into the roots of an ancient Chinese mountain.

In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War and amid rising tension between the Soviet and Chinese governments, the Chinese Communist Party began relocating its military installations inland, away from major targets in the large coastal cities. The 816 Nuclear Reactor was Communist China’s first foray into building its own nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium without Soviet assistance.

To further protect against a nuclear attack, Premier Zhou Enlai approved a project that called for building the reactor underground, adding an extra layer of complexity to an already difficult engineering process. For the following 18 years, more than 60,000 workers were dispatched to an isolated base in the remote Sichuan mountains, at that time only reachable by boat. The tunnels were dug using only small drills, shovels, and dynamite, and official figures state that at least 100 workers died due to the harsh and dangerous working conditions, although it is suspected that the actual number is much higher.

Due largely to the changing circumstances of the Cold War, the project was abruptly called off in 1984, with construction of the doomed project only 85 percent completed. For 26 years, the site lay mostly abandoned, used for storage and as a fertilizer factory, before opening its doors to Chinese tourists in 2010………https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/816-underground-nuclear-plant

October 17, 2019 Posted by | China, history, technology | Leave a comment

The woman who was first to scientifically show, in 1856, how atmospheric C02 caused global warming

Climate-science sexism reheated, Canberra Times, Ian Warden  11 Oct 19
  The climate crusading Greta Thunberg, a famous contemporary target of sexist criticism and misogyny, may be interested to learn of the struggles of Eunice Foote who in 1856 published the first scientific paper to link CO2 and global warming.

One of my favourite obscure journals, The Public Domain Review, in touch with our climate-debating times, has just dusted off Eunice Foote’s paper Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun’s Rays. It was published in the November 1856 American Journal of Art and Science.

The Review explains that In a series of experiments conducted in 1856, Eunice Newton Foote – a scientist and women’s rights campaigner from Seneca Falls, New York – became the first person to discover that altering the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would change its temperature.

“Foote’s seminal experiment was ingeniously homemade. Using four thermometers, two glass cylinders, and an air pump, she isolated the component gases that make up the atmosphere and exposed them to the sun’s rays … Measuring the change in their temperatures, she discovered that carbon dioxide and water vapour absorbed enough heat that this absorption could affect climate.”

“[Foote’s] discovery of the relationship between carbon dioxide and the Earth’s climate has since become one of the key principles of modern meteorology, the greenhouse effect, and climate science. However, no one acknowledged Foote was the first to make this discovery for more than a century, in large part because she was a woman.

Entirely because she was a woman, Foote was barred from reading the paper describing her findings at the 1856 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Albany, New York. Instead, Professor Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian had the honour of introducing her, announcing that science was ‘of no country and of no sex. The sphere of woman embraces not only the beautiful and the useful, but the true.’ Perhaps this was Henry’s attempt to shield Foote and her findings from sexist criticism .”

It would not surprise if, just as Greta Thunberg is so often accused of only reading speeches written for her by some grown-up Green Svengali (for she is surely too much of a girly flibbertigibbet to really be as knowledgeable and articulate as she pretends) Eunice Foote was suspected of having lots of (unacknowledged by her) cerebral male help with her paper.

Likell thinking Australian atheists/agnostics I am both appalled and fascinated by our prime minister’s extreme religiosity……https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6430152/climate-science-sexism-reheated/?cs=14246

October 12, 2019 Posted by | climate change, history, Women | Leave a comment

Massive Nuclear Explosion similar to Kyrshtym by Mayak Can Happen Happen at Hanford if the site is not Monitored and tanks not taken care of

 Lane, 6 Oct 19  Mayak Explosion
Ten Thousand Gallon Tank at Mayak Exploded from Heat Decay. The Heat Deacy was from Strontium 90, Cesium 137, Cobalt 60 and Plutonium Stored in the Underground Tank. The explosion was equivalent to 100 tons of TNT. There are55 million gallons of the same Radionuclide Mix stored at Hanford, in UnderGround Tanks. If they become too concentrated and hot, the same thing will Happen there, contaminating a Great Portion of the Pacific NW USA and southe western Canada.

Medvedev, Zhores A. (4 November 1976). “Two Decades of Dissidence”. New Scientist.
Medvedev, Zhores A. (1980). Nuclear disaster in the Urals translated by George Saunders. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-74445-2. (c1979)

In 1957 the cooling system in one of the tanks containing about 70–80 tons of liquid radioactive waste failed and was not repaired. The temperature in it started to rise, resulting in evaporation and a chemical explosion of the dried waste, consisting mainly of ammonium nitrate and acetates (see ammonium nitrate/fuel oil bomb). The explosion, on 29 September 1957, estimated to have a force of about 70–100 tons of TNT,[10] threw the 160-ton concrete lid into the air.[8] There were no immediate casualties as a result of the explosion, but it released an estimated 20 MCi (800 PBq) of radioactivity. Most of this contamination settled out near the site of the accident and contributed to the pollution of the Techa River, but a plume containing 2 MCi (80 PBq) of radionuclides spread out over hundreds of kilometers.[11] Previously contaminated areas within the affected area include the Techa river, which had previously received 2.75 MCi (100 PBq) of deliberately dumped waste, and Lake Karachay, which had received 120 MCi (4,000 PBq).[7]

In the next 10 to 11 hours, the radioactive cloud moved towards the north-east, reaching 300–350 km (190–220 mi) from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 to 20,000 km2 (310 to 7,720 sq mi), depending on what contamination level is considered significant, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90.[7] This area is usually referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace EURT

October 6, 2019 Posted by | history, incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

USA lost unexploded nuclear bomb in Japanese waters

World War 3: Unexploded US nuclear weapon hiding beneath Japanese waters ‘covered up’  https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1166479/world-war-3-nuclear-bomb-japan-philippine-sea-us-soviet-union-cold-war-sptWORLD WAR 3 could have erupted after the United States Navy accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb in Japanese waters – and it is still there today. by CALLUM HOARE, Aug 18, 2019. On December 5, 1965, just three years after the Cuban Missile Crisis pushed Cold War tensions to the limits, the US made a monumental mistake during a training exercise. A United States Navy Douglas A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft fell off the side of aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga while sailing through the Philippine Sea. The pilot, Lieutenant Douglas M Webster, the plane, and the B43 nuclear bomb on board all fell into the water, 68 miles from the coast of Kikai Island, Japan.

However, it was not until 1989 that the Pentagon admitted the loss of a one-megaton hydrogen bomb.

The revelation inspired a diplomatic inquiry from Japan, however, neither the weapon, or the pilot, was ever recovered.The incident, the most serious involving nuclear weapons in the Navy’s history, showed that US warships carried atomic weapons into Japanese ports in violation of policy, according to researchers.

Japanese law banned ships carrying nuclear weapons from sailing in its territorial waters or calling on its ports following the terrible Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents.

However, the US warship routinely docked in Japan.

William M. Arkin of the liberal Institute for Policy Studies claimed in 1989: “For 24 years, the US Navy has covered up the most politically sensitive accident that has ever taken place.

“The Navy kept the true details of this accident a secret not only because it demonstrates their disregard for the treaty stipulations of foreign governments but because of the questions it raises about nuclear weapons aboard ships in Vietnam.”

The event was highly sensitive, with Japan being the only country to ever be attacked with nuclear weapons at the end of World War 2.

On September 8, 1951, 49 nations drew a line under the devastating event and signed the Treaty of San Francisco – also known as the Treaty of Peace with Japan.

The document officially ended US-led occupation of Japan and marked the start of re-establishing relations with the allied powers.

Meanwhile, In 1965, the US was arguably at the height of tensions with the Soviet Union.

Not only did the accident threaten to spoil already tenuous relations with Japan, but it would have also have given the USSR an excuse to start a nuclear war.

Despite the worrying claims, the US Navy confirmed inn 1989 that the waters were too deep for the weapon to pose a threat.

Worryingly though, it would not be the last of the nuclear gaffes for America. On January 17, 1966, a B-52G USAF bomber collided with a KC-135 tanker during a refuelling mission at 31,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea.

During the crash, three MK28-type hydrogen bombs headed for land in the small fishing village of Palomares in Almeria, Spain.

Worse still, the explosives in two of the weapons detonated on impact, contaminating the surrounding area of almost one square mile with plutonium.

The fourth sunk off the coast of Spain and was recovered three months later.

August 19, 2019 Posted by | general, history, incidents, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the viewing public was ‘protected’ from seeing what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing did to people

Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the cutting room floor  https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/hiroshima-and-nagasaki-on-the-cutting-room-floor/ By Thomas Gaulkin, August 5, 2019 Seventy-four years after nuclear weapons were first and last used in war, it can be challenging to conceive of the devastation they cause. But even in the immediate months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, news accounts offered a view of ingenuity and destruction that often elided the human cost.

The newsreels below [on original] were mainly screened to audiences in 1946 and 1947 and detail the destructive force of the explosions almost entirely through excited accounts of the structural damage to the cities.  There’s occasional mention of the lost city populations and the scientific knowledge to be gained from studying their casualties, but hardly any description of what people actually suffered, let alone personal accounts. It’s instructive to look at and listen to these reports today, and contemplate what is missing.

The 12-minute reel below was produced by the US War Department in 1946. “Tale of Two Cities” makes selective use of film that was confiscated from a Japanese filmmaker, Akira Iwasaki—though you wouldn’t know that from the narration, which boasts that “army cameramen have found and filmed pictorial evidence that tells in twisted steel and stone the effect of death-dealing atomic power.” (Some twenty years later, historian Eric Barnouw obtained more of Iwasaki’s footage and produced a remarkably different narrative that documented the horrible physical impact of the attacks on Hiroshima’s citizens.)

Contrasted with the triumphant tone of the news/propaganda made for 1940s audiences, silence changes everything. Made public only decades later, the two films below —one beginning with footage of wounded victims, the other, a full-color glimpse of survivors picking up the pieces of the ruined city—report what those above do not, without a single word.

Nagasaki And Hiroshima (1945)

Harrowing Accounts from Hiroshima Survivors

August 8, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, history, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment