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Cover-up? Unreported event of Hanford nuclear workers’sickness

Unreported event at Hanford nuclear site that sickened workers ‘smells like a cover-up,’ advocates say,  Workers reported smelling odors, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness and shortness of breath. The contractor denied a chronic problem, toxic vapors, is to blame.  https://www.king5.com/article/news/investigations/hanford-nuclear-site-washington-state-tank-farms-workers-sickened-investigation/281-48a540ea-1fa5-4de9-8ab7-b1dc9db6e5c8  Susannah Frame August 27, 2021

RICHLAND, Wash. — On June 18 of this year, 10 workers at the Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington digging in what are known as the “tank farms,” were overcome by strange odors. Nine of the workers sought medical treatment, including three who were transported to the hospital for an overnight stay and were given oxygen.

The KING 5 Investigators have found the event went unreported by the contractor involved – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS).

According to WRPS documents obtained by KING 5, symptoms reported by workers included dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, nausea, a metallic taste in the mouth, stomach issues, light headedness and cough.

Smelling unusual odors, followed by adverse medical conditions are hallmark signs of a chronic problem at the nuclear reservation: exposure to toxic vapors that vent from underground nuclear waste holding tanks.  

WRPS is under a legal obligation to report vapor events on a publicly available website.

“I’m still amazed that not one piece of paper has been put out about this exposure, there’s been no announcement,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director of the advocacy group Hanford Challenge. “It’s getting to the point where this silence is very suspicious. It’s like: ‘What are you hiding?’”

The contractor said they did not post the event on their website because they’ve determined the worker’s symptoms were not caused by vapors, but “most likely” by a malfunctioning gas-powered wheelbarrow.

“WRPS collected air samples from the small pieces of fuel-powered equipment used in the soil work. One piece of equipment, a small gasoline-powered wheelbarrow that was difficult to start and used during the June 18 event, was smoking when it started and high levels of volatile organic compound emissions were noted,” a WRPS spokesperson said.

Toxic vapor exposures have been a significant problem at Hanford since the 1980s when the operational mission went from producing plutonium, to clean up only.

Several government reports have identified that poisonous vapors, without warning, will vent from underground tanks. Hanford has 177 underground holding tanks that store the deadliest waste at the site.

Tanks in the tank farm near where the workers got ill in June contain contents including plutonium, the radioactive isotopes of americium and strontium 90, mercury, nickel, lead and cyanide.

In 2014 the KING 5 Investigators revealed a record number of vapor exposures in the tank farms. Approximately 56 workers fell ill with symptoms in the rash of exposures. After each incident, WRPS said their testing didn’t show chemicals of concern over regulatory limits. WRPS officials denied chemical vapors were to blame for the events.

That pattern wasn’t new. Expert reports detailed the same cycle happened at Hanford in the 80s and in the 90s: a slew of exposures, followed by denials by the tank farm contractor, and workers left sick and unable to work.

Many workers said they felt betrayed by the contractors over the years for not being honest about the dangers of vapors.

“Until they are in the field and until they smell what we smell and until they feel like we feel and until they get injured like we get injured, they don’t care,” said Mike Cain, a 47-year current Hanford employee who spent 25 of those years in the tank farms. “Everything that we described 30 years ago, 40 years ago, is still there. Yet they keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.”

After the string of exposures in 2014, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Hanford Challenge and Local 598 all filed lawsuits against WRPS and Hanford’s owner, the U.S. Department of Energy. The complaint accused the contractor and federal government of failing to protect workers from vapor exposures, that can cause adverse health effects including lung disease, nervous system damage and cancers of the liver, lung, blood and other organs. The lawsuit also alleged the Department of Energy had been well aware of the dangers for 25 years, yet “Energy did not fix the problem.”

settlement agreement was reached in September 2018. Hanford officials agreed to improve health and safety conditions, install engineering to keep vapors out of the breathing space of workers. They also agreed to provide respiratory protections including supplied (fresh) air that is worn in tanks on the backs of workers, if needed.

In the June event, workers were not using supplied air. According to workers, the contractor had downgraded respiratory protection to respirators with cartridges. Respirators are lighter and more cost effective than supplied air.

“(That) never should have happened if they were wearing fresh air. Never should have happened,” Cain said.

“They’re not protecting workers. They have a long history of not doing so, of putting money and profits before workers health and safety which is ironic because they’re all about saying they want to protect health and safety. They’re not doing it,” Carpenter said.

A WRPS spokesperson said the company did not skimp on safety protocols in the June event.

“Respiratory controls at the TX Farm during the June 18, 2021 event complied with the tank farms vapors settlement agreement requirements… workers were wearing air-purifying respirators consistent with interim mandatory respiratory protections consistent with cartridge testing results,” the spokesperson said.

What is Hanford?

Hanford is the most contaminated worksite in America. Located near Richland in eastern, Wash., workers at the site produced plutonium for the country’s nuclear weapons program for approximately four decades. Plutonium produced at Hanford fueled the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, that led to the end of WWII. Since the late 80s, Hanford has been a clean up site only.

The settlement agreement also makes it mandatory for WRPS to report events on its website that fall into the category of an “AOP-15.” On the WRPS website, an AOP 15 is described as an unidentified odor event: “When a worker reports an unexpected and unidentified odor in the tank farms, and reports medical symptoms potentially related to that smell.”

In the June event, WRPS did not characterize it as an AOP-15, therefore, company executives said they had no obligation to report it.

“Smells like a cover-up”

“This lack of information sharing and reporting smells like a cover-up. We do not want to see a return to downgraded worker protections that result in routine vapor exposures. The cycle of exposures must end at Hanford, and meaningful and long-lasting regulations should be enacted to assure that Hanford tank farm workers can conduct a cleanup without risking their own health and safety,” said Carpenter of Hanford Challenge in a press statement sent on Friday.

On Thursday, a WRPS executive told KING 5 that the company’s definition of an AOP-15 had changed in 2020. In an email to employees on Dec. 1, 2020, WRPS Executive Jeremy Hartley said that moving forward, an AOP-15 will occur when personal ammonia monitors worn by workers set off an alarm.

“Ammonia has been verified as a sentinel indicator of changing levels of other chemicals of potential concern. The procedure changes clarify and reinforce a disciplined conduct of operations by recognizing the administrative and engineering controls in place, relying on the ammonia monitors and verifying the conditions when an alarm set point is reached,” Hartley wrote.

Given this change, the WRPS spokesperson said they followed protocol by not reporting the event on the website.

As this event did not involve an ammonia alarm, it is not classified as an AOP-15,” the spokesperson said.

Government scientists have concluded that ammonia does not have to be present for other chemicals of concern to release in concentrations that could harm human health. In 2004 the Department of Energy released a Hanford report concluding the potentially harmful gas, nitrous oxide, can be present without the presence of ammonia.

“Based on…characterization data (the contractor) CH2M HILL has incorrectly assumed that nitrous oxides are present only when ammonia is present,” report authors wrote. “…nitrous oxide vapors in tank headspaces can be present in (dangerous) concentrations, even in the absence of ammonia.”

Stakeholders such as Hanford Challenge and union safety representatives said they were unaware that WRPS had changed its AOP-15 definition.

A WRPS communications specialist said they are committed to the safety of workers.

“The health and safety of the workforce is always paramount,” the company official said.8

August 30, 2021 Posted by | employment, health, legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

A Day in the Death of British Justice – the case of Julian Assange

 WikiLeaks has given us real news about those who govern us and take us to war, not the preordained, repetitive spin that fills newspapers and television screens. This is real journalism; and for the crime of real journalism, Assange has spent most of the past decade in one form of incarceration or another, including Belmarsh prison, a horrific place.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he is a gentle, intellectual visionary driven by his belief that a democracy is not a democracy unless it is transparent, and accountable.

JOHN PILGER: A Day in the Death of British Justice, Consortium News, August 12, 2021 The reputation of British justice now rests on the shoulders of the High Court in the life or death case of Julian Assange.

I sat in Court 4 in the Royal Courts of Justice in London Wednesday with Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner. I have known Stella for as long as I have known Julian. She, too, is a voice of freedom, coming from a family that fought the fascism of Apartheid. Today, her name was uttered in court by a barrister and a judge, forgettable people were it not for the power of their endowed privilege.

The barrister, Clair Dobbin, is in the pay of the regime in Washington, first Trump’s then Biden’s. She is America’s hired gun, or “silk”, as she would prefer. Her target is Julian Assange, who has committed no crime and has performed an historic public service by exposing the criminal actions and secrets on which governments, especially those claiming to be democracies, base their authority. 

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela’s, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA’s Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the U.S. against its own citizen, Assange. It named those Australian politicians who have “informed” for the U.S. It made the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the rise of jihadism in American-armed states in the Gulf.

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August 14, 2021 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

UK High Court sides with US against Assange


UK High Court sides with US against Assange, WSW,Thomas Scripps11 August 2021 ,  The UK’s High Court has allowed the United States to appeal on two additional grounds the refusal of Julian Assange’s extradition by a lower court.Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks still held in Belmarsh maximum security prison, is threatened with extradition on charges under the Espionage Act with a potential life sentence for revealing state war crimes, torture, surveillance, corruption and coup plots.

On January 4, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocked extradition, ruling that it would be oppressive by virtue of his mental health and put him at substantial risk of suicide.Lawyers for the US government sought to appeal the decision on the five grounds:
  1. That Baraitser made errors of law in her application of the test under section 91 of the 2003 Extradition Act, which bars extradition if the person’s mental or physical condition would render it unjust or oppressive.
  2. That she ought to have notified the US ahead of time, to give the government the opportunity to provide assurances to the court that Assange’s health would be looked after.
  3. That the judge should not have accepted or at least given less weight to the evidence of the defence’s principal psychiatric expert, Professor Kopelman.
  4. That Baraitser erred in her overall assessment of the evidence on suicide risk.
  5. That the US has since provided the UK with a package of assurances about the conditions in which Assange would be held.

The US was initially granted leave to appeal on grounds one, two and five, but denied three and four. At a preliminary hearing yesterday in front of Lord Justice Holroyde and Mrs Justice Farbey, that decision was overturned and grounds three and four were granted as well.

Their decision confirms that the January 4 ruling against extradition was only a tactical pause in an ongoing pseudo-legal manhunt, which is again proceeding apace.

Baraitser’s original decision accepted every one of the prosecution’s anti-democratic, factually unsustainable arguments except on the single point of Assange’s mental health, leaving his fate hanging by a thread. Now the US is being given the opportunity to bulldoze this last remaining obstacle.As Assange’s legal team argue in their Notice of Objection, none of the points made in the appeal by the US stand up to scrutiny……………… 
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/08/11/assa-a11.html?fbclid=IwAR1KNVz7_kATvh53WeOYZ5iKOlCrE3-4Q9jGh9dv79DUkXxeezC91VXjmbU

August 14, 2021 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | 1 Comment

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law

“Lliving in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance. This truth terrifies those in power.”

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law — Rise Up Times Julian exposed the truth.  He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite.
Chris Hedges gave this talk at a rally Thursday night in New York City in support of Julian Assange. John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s father and brother, also spoke at the event, which was held at The People’s Forum.  By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

BY MODERATOR  June 11, 2021  This why we are here tonight.  Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family.  Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended.  Yes, we honor him up for his courage and his integrity. But the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher.  It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era.  And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law.  They turn the law into an instrument of injustice.  They cloak their crimes in a faux legality.  They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality.  Those, such as Julian, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

I was in the London courtroom when Julian was being tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an updated version of the Queen of Hearts in Alice-in Wonderland demanding the sentence before pronouncing the verdict. It was judicial farce. There was no legal basis to hold Julian in prison.  There was no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Julian in the embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Julian and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Julian is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration.

The U.S. government directed, as Craig Murray so eloquently documented, the London prosecutor James Lewis.  Lewis presented these directives to Baraitser.  Baraitser adopted them as her legal decision.  It was judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted they were not attempting to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press while they busily set up the legal framework to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press. And that is why the court worked so hard to mask the proceedings from the public, limiting access to the courtroom to a handful of observers and making it hard and at times impossible to access the trial online.  It was a tawdry show trial, not an example of the best of English jurisprudence but the Lubyanka.

Now, I know many of us here tonight would like to think of ourselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries.  But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is in fact conservative, it is the restoration of the rule of law.  It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning democracy, be incendiary.  But living in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance.  This truth terrifies those in power………..https://riseuptimes.org/2021/06/14/chris-hedges-julian-assange-and-the-collapse-of-the-rule-of-law/

June 15, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, UK | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson’s plan for more nuclear weapons in Scotland ‘breaks international law’

Boris Johnson’s plan for more nuclear weapons in Scotland ‘breaks international law’,The National, By Gregor Young  19 May, 21  BORIS Johnson’s plan to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads would breach international law, experts have warned.

The Tory government announced in March that it wants to raise the legal limit on the number of the weapons of mass destruction, which would be available to its submarine fleet at Faslane. Currently, the cap is set at 180, but the new defence review revised that up to 260.

Downing Street will also send more troops abroad “more often and for longer” as part of the £24 billion hike in defence spending.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary previously described the proposals as “utterly unacceptable”, while Washington think tank, the Arms Control Association (ACA), said they were inconsistent with the UK Government’s prior pledges under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

That conclusion has now been backed by two academics at the London School of Economics who were commissioned to examine Johnson’s pledge by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Record has reported.

Led by Professor Christine Chinkin, a long-time consultant for the UN, and Dr Louise Arimatsu, a former fellow at the NATO Cyber Defense Centre, the legal report finds the increase constitutes a breach of article six of the NPT treaty.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson told the Record: “The increase in the UK’s nuclear arsenal has been exposed to intense criticism nationally and internationally, including from the United Nations. Thanks to the work of highly respected academic experts, we now know it is illegal under international law.

“Everything points to the decision costing tens of billions of pounds. During this pandemic, there are other urgent uses for public money.

“The decision breaks with the gradual nuclear reductions implemented by successive governments going back nearly 30 years and is at odds with the decision by Presidents Biden and Putin to continue bilateral nuclear reductions.”……………https://www.thenational.scot/news/19309984.boris-johnsons-plan-nuclear-weapons-scotland-breaks-international-law/

May 20, 2021 Posted by | legal, UK, weapons and war | 3 Comments

Ratepayer advocate calls on New Jersey Supreme Court to reverse decision allowing subsidy to nuclear power

Nuclear subsidy gets new challenge, NJ Spotlight TOM JOHNSON, ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT WRITER | APRIL 14, 2021 | ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT, NJ ratepayer advocate asks Supreme Court to consider decision on $300 million subsidy. Regulators are poised to add more,

New Jersey Rate Counsel Director Stefanie Brand is asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to reverse last month’s appellate court decision upholding the award of hundreds of millions in ratepayer subsidies to the state’s nuclear power plants.

In a notice of a petition for certification, the Division of Rate Counsel argued the lower court erred when it upheld the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ decision in 2019 to approve $300 million in new surcharges on customers’ gas and electric bills. Without the subsidies, Public Service Enterprise Group, whose subsidiary operates three nuclear units in South Jersey, has threatened to close the plants because they are no longer profitable.

If the high court decides to review the case, it could result in the justices taking up the case at roughly the same time as the BPU, which is scheduled to decide whether the plants — Hope Creek, Salem I and Salem II — qualify for additional subsidies from ratepayers for another three years. The BPU is expected to rule on those applications on April 27. The first subsidy added about $70 a year to what residential customers pay for electricity………   https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/04/nj-rate-counsel-director-stefanie-brand-seeks-supreme-court-reversal-300-million-nuclear-subsidy-pseg/

April 15, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, legal, USA | Leave a comment

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment 

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment    InsideClimateNews,   7 Apr 21, International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.By Nicholas Kusnetz, Katie Surma and Yuliya TalmazanApril 7, 2021  The Fifth Crime: First in a continuing series with NBC News about the campaign to make “ecocide” an international crime.

In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II, the United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action. Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. 

Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of existing legal conventions: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.

The Pope describes ecocide as “the massive contamination of air, land and water,” or “any action capable of producing an ecological disaster,” and has proposed making it a sin for Catholics. 

The Pontiff has also endorsed a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to make ecocide the fifth crime before the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a legal deterrent to the kinds of far-reaching environmental damage that are driving mass extinction, ecological collapse and climate change. The monumental step, which faces a long road of global debate, would mean political leaders and corporate executives could face charges and imprisonment for “ecocidal” acts. 

To make their case, advocates point to the Amazon, where fires raged out of control in 2019, and where the rainforest may now be so degraded it is spewing more climate-warming gases than it draws in. At the poles, human activity is thawing a frozen Arctic and destabilizing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. 

Across the globe, climate change is disrupting the reliable seasonal rhythms that have sustained human life for millenia, while hurricanes, floods and other climate-driven disasters have forced more than 10 million people from their homes in the last six months. Fossil fuel pollution has killed 9 million people annually in recent years, according to a study in Environmental Research, more than tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined. 

One in four mammals are threatened with extinction. For amphibians, it’s four in 10.

Damage to nature has become so extensive and widespread around the world that many environmentalists speak of ecocide to describe numerous environmentally devastated hot spots: 

  • Chernobyl, the Ukrainian nuclear plant that exploded in 1986 and left the now-deserted area dangerously radioactive;
  • The tar sands of northern Canada, where toxic waste pits and strip mines have replaced 400 square miles of boreal forest and boglands;
  • The Gulf of Mexico, site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people, spilled at least 168 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean over 87 days and killed countless marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and migratory birds; 
  • The Amazon, where rapid deforestation encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prompted Joe Biden, during his presidential campaign, to propose a $20 billion rescue plan and threaten the Brazilian leader with economic sanctions.

The campaign to criminalize ecocide is now moving from the fringe of advocacy into global diplomacy, pushed by a growing recognition among advocates and many political leaders that climate change and environmental causes are tied inherently to human rights and social justice.

The effort remains a long shot and is at least years from fruition, international and environmental law experts say. Advocates will have to navigate political tensions over whether national governments or the international community have ultimate control over natural resources. And they’ll likely face opposition from countries with high carbon emissions and deep ties to industrial development. …………………

Into the Mainstream

While the campaign for an ecocide law could take years—if it is successful at all—advocates say the effort could bear fruit much sooner: The ecocide campaign has thrust the concept into public discussion. 

Mehta doesn’t expect the campaign to catch fire in the United States, but after four years of President Donald Trump, she’s heartened by the arrival of John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy. “We don’t expect the U.S. to join the ICC any time soon, but that said, the conversation around ecocide itself, we don’t see any reason why it can’t start happening in the U.S.,” she said.  

The State Department released a statement saying that the U.S. “regularly engages with other countries” on “the importance of preventing environmental destruction during armed conflict,” but added, “We do not comment on the details of our communications with foreign governments.”

Mehta’s campaign is also part of a wider effort by activists who have been looking to the courts to force more aggressive action on climate change.

As of July 1, 2020, at least 1,550 climate change cases have been filed in 38 countries, according to a U.N. report.

In the landmark Urgenda case, a Dutch court ruled in 2015 that the government had acted negligently by failing to take aggressive enough action to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. The decision, upheld by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in 2019, ordered the government to hit specific emissions reductions targets and sparked a series of similar lawsuits in other countries………….. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07042021/climate-crisis-ecocide-vanuatu-the-fifth-crime/

April 8, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, legal | Leave a comment

A view from the law: The Danger Of Sole Presidential Authority Over Nuclear Weapons

Without being removed from office, in the absence of a Senate trial, could a leader described as “increasingly isolated, sullen and vengeful” be a dangerous decision-maker with the world’s deadliest arsenal, and what is US policy and law with respect to the limits on such authority?
The Congressional Research Service notes that Presidents have sole authority to authorize U.S. nuclear weapons use, inherent in their constitutional role as Commander in Chief.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | legal, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Amid ongoing lawsuits about nuclear corruption, Ohio regulators will stall the nuclear bailout law

January 14, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

According to experts, the U.S. military cannot legally prevent Trump’s accessto nuclear codes

January 11, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Seven regions in Italy to take legal action against plan for nuclear waste dumping

January 7, 2021 Posted by | Italy, legal, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

High court drops TEPCO’s appeal against order for compensation to affected Fukushima worker

High court drops TEPCO’s appeal against order for compensation to affected Fukushima worker

http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=13357, December 17, 2020

In a lawsuit filed by a worker who was engaged in emergency work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, the Sendai High Court on December 16 issued a ruling upholding a lower court decision, ordering Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay 300,000 yen in damage to the plaintiff.

In the court battle, the man, who worked for the TEPCO subsidiary Kandenko at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, stated that he experienced anxiety over health problems due to radiation exposure during emergency work he was assigned to do at the crippled nuclear power plant. According to the worker, he was assigned to emergency work that included connecting cables to a power panel in the basement of the No. 3 reactor’s turbine building. He suffered external exposure to radiation of up to 10.81 mSv and internal exposure of 5.8 mSv. The worker demanded a total of 1.1 million yen in damage from his company and TEPCO on the grounds that they failed to fulfill their responsibility to ensure workers’ safety.

At the appeal hearing, TEPCO demanded that the district court decision be reviewed because the amount of radiation which the worker received was less than that needed to be compensated.

The high court ruling pointed out that it is generally accepted that exposure to some levels of radiation may increase the risk of health problems such as getting cancer. Stating that the plaintiff’s health anxiety is understandable, the court turned down the utility’s demand.

At a press conference after the ruling, lawyer Hirota Tsuguo on behalf of the plaintiff’s legal team said, “It is significant that the court ordered TEPCO, which has dominant power in the nuclear power-related industry, to compensate the worker. The company should abide by the court judgement.”

Past related article:
> Radiation-exposed worker sues TEPCO [May 8, 2014]

January 7, 2021 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Legal case on extradition of Julian Assange an alarming precedent for freedom of speech

January 4, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, UK | 1 Comment

Glenn Greenwald: Julian Assange’s Imprisonment Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom

January 4, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Kingston Fossil Plant and Oakridge Nuclear Facility – an unholy alliance of radioactive pollution

While no one was killed by the 2008 coal ash spill itself, dozens of workers have died from illnesses that emerged during or after the cleanup. Hundreds of other workers are sick from respiratory, cardiac, neurological, and blood disorders, as well as cancers.

The apparent mixing of fossil fuel and nuclear waste streams underscores the long relationship between the Kingston and Oak Ridge facilities.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, so much cesium-137 and mercury was released into the Clinch from Oak Ridge that the Department of Energy, or DOE, said that the river and its feeder stream “served as pipelines for contaminants.” Yet TVA and its contractors, with the blessing of both state and federal regulators, classified all 4 million tons of material they recovered from the Emory as “non-hazardous.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis confirms that the ash that was left in the river was “found to be commingled with contamination from the Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation site.

For nearly a century, both Oak Ridge and TVA treated their waste with less care than most families treat household garbage. It was often dumped into unlined, and sometimes unmarked, pits that continue to leak into waterways. For decades, Oak Ridge served as the Southeast’s burial ground for nuclear waste. It was stored within watersheds and floodplains that fed the Clinch River. But exactly where and how this waste was buried has been notoriously hard to track.

A Legacy of Contamination, How the Kingston coal ash spill unearthed a nuclear nightmare, Grist By Austyn Gaffney on Dec 15, 2020  This story was published in partnership with the Daily Yonder.

In 2009, App Thacker was hired to run a dredge along the Emory River in eastern Tennessee. Picture anindustrialized fleet modeled after Huck Finn’s raft: Nicknamed Adelyn, Kylee, and Shirley, the blue, flat-bottomed boats used mechanical arms called cutterheads to dig up riverbeds and siphon the excavated sediment into shoreline canals. The largest dredge, a two-story behemoth called the Sandpiper, had pipes wide enough to swallow a push lawnmower. Smaller dredges like Thacker’s scuttled behind it, scooping up excess muck like fish skimming a whale’s corpse. They all had the same directive: Remove the thick grey sludge that clogged the Emory.

The sludge was coal ash, the waste leftover when coal is burned to generate electricity. Twelve years ago this month, more than a billion gallons of wet ash burst from a holding pond monitored by the region’s major utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA. Thacker, a heavy machinery operator with Knoxville’s 917 union, became one of hundreds of people that TVA contractors hired to clean up the spill. For about four years, Thacker spent every afternoon driving 35 miles from his home to arrive in time for his 5 p.m. shift, just as the makeshift overhead lights illuminating the canals of ash flicked on.

Dredging at night was hard work. The pump inside the dredge clogged repeatedly, so Thacker took off his shirt and entered water up to his armpits to remove rocks, tree limbs, tires, and other debris, sometimes in below-freezing temperatures. Soon, ringworm-like sores crested along his arms, interwoven with his fading red and blue tattoos. Thacker’s supervisors gave him a cream for the skin lesions, and he began wearing long black cow-birthing gloves while he unclogged pumps. While Thacker knew that the water was contaminated — that was the point of the dredging — he felt relatively safe. After all, TVA was one of the oldest and most respected employers in the state, with a sterling reputation for worker safety.

Then, one night, the dredging stopped.

Sometime between December 2009 and January 2010, roughly halfway through the final, 500-foot-wide section of the Emory designated for cleanup, operators turned off the pumps that sucked the ash from the river. For a multi-billion dollar remediation project, this order was unprecedented. The dredges had been operating 24/7 in an effort to clean up the disaster area as quickly as possible, removing roughly 3,000 cubic yards of material — almost enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool — each day. But official reports from TVA show that the dredging of the Emory encountered unusually high levels of contamination: Sediment samples showed that mercury levels were three times higher in the river than they were in coal ash from the holding pond that caused the disaster.

Then there was the nuclear waste. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | employment, environment, history, legal, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, Reference, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment