The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Yoshida – a hero of the Fukushima nuclear calamity

The Man Who Saved Japan,Yoshida’s Dilemma, One Man’s Struggle to Avert a Nuclear Catastrophe Asia Times, 25 June 17 “…….Almost nobody associated with the Fukushima disaster came out of it looking good, not Kan, not the regulators (such as they were), and certainly not the executives at Tepco’s downtown headquarters.

The exception was Yoshida, often touted as the “hero” of the Fukushima disaster, although he was too modest to claim the title for himself.

Yoshida is the central figure in a new book on the nuclear meltdowns called Yoshida’s Dilemma, One Man’s Struggle to Avert a Nuclear Catastrophe by Rob Gilhooly, a Japan-based journalist and photographer.

Gilhooly’s book is the best and most comprehensive account of the nuclear disaster in English so far (a Japanese translation is under discussion). Much of the subject matter is technical, but the author is skillful enough to make it readable and accessible to the general reader……

Yoshida explained to a government investigation committee that he had ordered the evacuation of nonessential personnel from the plant, but kept back 50 to 60 engineering staff to tackle the cascading disaster and at no time contemplated abandoning the plant on Japan’s Pacific coast.

He and his group of engineers became known as the “Fukushima 50” that risked their own lives to contain the calamity.

By most accounts, Yoshida, who had worked for Tepco for 32 years, was a typical Japanese company man, but he surmounted the stereotype in the way he handled the accident.

For example, massive amounts of water were being pumped into the damaged reactors for cooling and as all sources of fresh water were depleted at the site, Tepco executives ordered him not to use sea water as a replacement.

The executives, still apparently under the delusion that the reactors could be brought back into service some day, opposed salt water as it would have contaminated the reactors beyond all repair.

Yoshida ignored these orders from head office and ordered his plant workers to pump seawater into the damaged reactors. This was a critical decision at a critical moment in the disaster.

Just keep pumping,” he told subordinates. “Pretend you didn’t hear me [tell Tepco executives he was pumping fresh water] and just keep pumping.”

The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission established by the parliament later concluded that (Yoshida’s) disregard for corporate headquarters instructions was possibly the only reason that the reactor cores did not explode.

It was Masao Yoshida’s finest hour.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

The timely message of a hibakusha

Hibakusha remind us of the power of love in unstable nuclear climate  By Hiroshi Fuse, Editorial Writer and Expert Senior Writer June 17, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) J“I have so many children and grandchildren that I could be put in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records!’” — That was the favorite joke of A-bomb survivor, or “hibakusha,” Kazue “Kaz” Suyeishi, who passed away on June 12 at the age of 90.

Photo above is not  of Kazue Suyeishi, but of an unknown Hibakusha The Hiroshima-native moved to the United States, married and then became the president of the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors. She became known as “Kaz Mama” because of her unique style of talking about her experiences as a survivor. Not being one for lecture-style speaking, she spoke as though she was telling her story to her children or grandchildren.

When Suyeishi came to the U.S., health insurance wouldn’t cover hibakusha living there who suffered from conditions relating to the bombing. Some members of Congress even claimed that states shouldn’t give money to support “the enemy.” On top of all of that, Suyeishi’s husband had experienced the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. However, Kaz herself never once held any ill will toward the country that had become her home.

“They say that today’s enemies are tomorrow’s friends. If people all over the world could all feel love for one another, there would be no more war,” Suyeishi would say. “That’s what I keep telling the children. Even if they think it’s ridiculous, that is my life’s work.”

When I came across the news of her death, indescribable bitter feelings rose up inside of me. The feelings weren’t merely the pain of her loss, but also of being confronted by the reality that the hope for “a world without nuclear weapons” was dying out as well.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s abstract but moving speech and attitude of reaching out to the hibakusha on a calm evening in Hiroshima in May last year will forever be burned into my memory. Not much more than a year has passed, and the world has changed drastically. While the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has vowed to expand its arsenal of nuclear weaponry, North Korea conducts continuous missile tests, leading the world on a path toward the outbreak of nuclear war.

However, when I think about all of that, I feel this was inevitable. While President Obama looked at the Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome from a distance, he did not approach it and hastily made his exit. While the president moved the hearts of the Japanese people by presenting flowers and wreaths of folded paper cranes to the hibakusha, he moved forward with plans to modernize his country’s nuclear weapons at great expense. The cold truth remains unchanged.

It was Suyeishi who said, “Obama’s pleas will largely go unheard, and even the reach of my words are probably limited by time and place, but the only thing we can do is hold onto love and continue conveying our message.” Still, it makes me wonder just how sincere Obama really was about the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Some say it is Japan that has changed. Although it appeared the U.N. would adopt the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Japan stated that it would be “difficult to participate” in it, perhaps because of its ties to the U.S., and has opposed the negotiation of the treaty.

That’s why I sometimes can’t think of that evening in Hiroshima as anything other than some kind of Japan-America collaboration movie. Or was it a beautiful dream seen for a fleeting moment by a world heading for oblivion? To save this world in crisis, we need new efforts and, of course, what Suyeishi always taught — love.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chang Hsien-yi, the Taiwanese scientist who tried to save his country from nuclear war

The man who helped prevent a nuclear crisis, 18 May 2017  In 1988 Taiwan was racing to build its first nuclear bomb, but one military scientist put a stop to that when he defected to the United States and exposed those plans. This is the story of a man who insists he had to betray his country in order to save it.

To this day, critics consider Chang Hsien-yi a traitor – but he has no regrets. “If I can ever do it all over again, I will do it,” says the calmly defiant 73-year-old, speaking from his home in the US state of Idaho.

The former military colonel has been living there since 1988 when he fled to the US, a close ally of the island, and this is his first substantial interview about that time.

It might seem a perplexing turn of events given the close relationship the US has with Taiwan, but Washington had found out that Taiwan’s government had secretly ordered scientists to develop nuclear weapons.

Taiwan’s enemy, the Communist government of China, had been building up its nuclear arsenal since the 1960s, and the Taiwanese were terrified this would be unleashed on the island.

Taiwan separated from China after the Chinese Civil War in 1949. To this day China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to reunify with the island, by force if necessary.

The leadership of the island was also in an uncertain phase – its president, Chiang Ching-kuo, was dying, and the US thought that General Hau Pei-tsun, whom they saw as a hawkish figure, would become his successor.

They were worried about a nuclearisation of the Taiwan Strait and bent on stopping Taiwan’s nuclear ambition in its tracks and preventing a regional arms race.

So they secretly enlisted Mr Chang to halt Taiwan’s programme.  When Mr Chang was recruited by the CIA in the early 1980s, he was the deputy director at Taiwan’s Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, which was responsible for the nuclear weapons programme.  As one of Taiwan’s key nuclear scientists, he enjoyed a life of privilege and a lucrative salary.

But he says he began questioning whether the island should have nuclear weapons after the catastrophic Chernobyl accident in 1986 in the former Soviet Union. He was convinced by the Americans’ argument that stopping the programme would be “good for peace, and was for the benefit of mainland China and Taiwan”……..

Setting the record straight Mr Chang has remained silent for decades. But with his recent retirement he now wants to set the record straight with a memoir, titled Nuclear! Spy? CIA: Record of an Interview with Chang Hsien-yi.

The book, written with academic Chen Yi-shen and published in December, has reignited a debate about whether Mr Chang did the right thing for Taiwan……..

Mr Chang insists he feared then that ambitious Taiwanese politicians would use nuclear weapons to try to take back mainland China.

He claims Madame Chiang Kai Shek, the stepmother of dying President Chiang Ching-kuo, and a group of generals loyal to her had even gone so far as to set up a separate chain of command to expedite the development of nuclear weapons……

“You don’t have to be in Taiwan to love Taiwan; I love Taiwan,” says Mr Chang.

“I am Taiwanese, I am Chinese. I don’t want to see Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait killing each other.”

May 19, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Taiwan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Afric a’s formidable anti nuclear women ready to take on the government again

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock
A chat with the ladies who said no to nuclear
Meet the women who stopped the nuclear deal Alet Janse van Rensburg, Kate Davies. Liz McDaid. Vainola Makan. Siphokazi Pangalele. Lydia Mogane. Makoma Lekalakala. Natasha Adonis.

These are some of the women whose names will go down in history for saving South Africa (for now, at least) from a disastrous nuclear deal with Russia that would’ve cost us trillions and most likely bankrupted the country.

For more than two years they lived and breathed the nuclear deal, getting up while it’s still dark to attend meetings, and going to bed after midnight to organise pickets, protests, public meetings and petitions. None of them would even attempt to calculate how much time went into the effort.

Yet, true to form, none of them wants the credit for the court victory that nullified the nuclear deal. “It was easy. It was easy to identify with because it was about our children’s future and our children’s children’s future,” says Makan (50), an activist from Right to Know (R2K) in Cape Town.

“You want to see your grandchildren live in a world free from these bad things. The legacy you leave for the next generation is what drives you. Maybe women are closer to that, bearing the burden of child birth,” says McDaid (55), spokesperson for the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei).

Davies (65), founder of Safcei, agrees that although the campaign against the nuclear deal was never meant to be a women’s effort, it certainly was driven by a group of very dedicated women.

“I come from a generation that had a lot of women who were involved in the Black Sash in our lives,” she says. “I myself was a young member of the Black Sash and so that kind of silent protest came naturally to me – something I fear the younger generations don’t know.”

It all started in 2014 when Earthlife Africa uncovered that South Africa signed a deal with Russia that nobody knew about to procure nuclear energy. Earthlife Africa started a legal process with Safcei. Kate started a vigil outside Parliament every Wednesday for when the ministers would arrive.

This vigil only ended last week after the Cape High Court ruled that all nuclear agreements made so far were unlawful and should be set aside.

“For more than two years we stood there every week to speak truth to power. Sometimes there were two people in the wind and rain. Sometimes there were 20 or 50 people. Sometimes it was only Kate. That was about knowing we could win, but that it’s a long haul and that we just had to keep going step by step,” says McDaid.

Initially the focus was on nuclear energy as an environmental issue.

“We were worried about the footprint of different energy types and the impact of high energy prices on the poor. That’s why we started asking how government makes decisions about our energy needs and that’s when we started realising that the decision making processes weren’t happening as they were supposed to,” says McDaid.

“When you look at the CSIR and the research that has been done, it’s very clear that nuclear is not needed for our energy future. So then the question becomes, why are we pushing for it? The obvious answer is that there are corrupt forces at play. From there it was a case of following the money.”

As they prepared for the court case, they started working with other organisations such as R2K, Open Democracy, Section27 and the trade unions. They held a coalition meeting at Community House in Cape Town and more than 20 organisations showed up to find out how they could help. R2K came on board, and started to roll out mass actions, attending parliamentary meetings, organising marches to Parliament and distributing pamphlets and petitions.

“They say when you have faith in little you can be trusted with much. It was only a few of us who stood in Parliament to fight for the cause, but when the 60 000 came, we were confident that we could handle it and we had faith in our message,” says Makan.

They also realised early on that they would need the public to buy into the process and needed a media expert, so they roped in the expertise of Adonis (41), who runs her own PR firm in Cape Town.

“I wasn’t interested in the nuclear deal or anything before I came on board,” she says. “I think one of the core problems was that it was out there, but people weren’t paying attention. So we had to get the average South African – who was me – to notice the campaign.”

When they heard they won the case last Friday (with costs!), they were ecstatic.

“The process was vindicated. The legal process was won and we had the hearts and the minds of the people behind us. In the lead up with the firing of Pravin Gordhan we had people in the streets and with Ahmed Kathrada’s memorial nuclear was a central theme. So legally, politically and in terms of the minds of people we were vindicated,” says Makan.

“We know that they’re still not going to do things on a moral basis. But politically, because of the balance of forces, and because we are going to continue to work against any deal, it will be much harder for them to do a deal with Russia.”

What is clear is that going forward any attempt to go through with the nuclear deal will have to include a public participation process and now that the public is thoroughly informed, it will be much harder for them to push the deal through.

According to Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala, while the court victory was expected, it only ruled on the unlawful procedure followed to procure nuclear and not the actual issue of nuclear energy. That is something that will have to be addressed going forward.

“We are for a greater investment in renewable energy, as it’s much cheaper and cleaner for the environment,” she says.

The others agree.

“We will have to educate the public. Going forward we will continue to encourage South Africans to be active citizens. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cleaner at a factory, or a street sweeper or a CEO, you have the right to say something about how things are being done in your country. The Constitution gives you that right,” says Adonis.

And while the victory in court was a major achievement for the team, it was a victory for every South African citizen.

“This judgement shows you that you can win and that you can make a difference and that the country will not be sold to the highest bidder. The people can govern,” says McDaid.

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock

May 15, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

America neglects Guam atomic test victims – hopes they all die?

January 12, 2014 Aloha, It is now 01/2014 (24 years) since RECA was enacted. We are still waiting for justice. Our country denied, deceived, has no integrity or values by denying victims of radiation they caused. The justice system denied and dismissed most litigation cases claiming the Congress had to enact better laws to address radiation.

They claimed radiation does not cause cancer, of course we know better in the PACIFIC, Micronesia, Guam, Johnston
Island and many other location. The unfortunate thing is 70 years have passed and many have already died which is our countries hope.

May 13, 2017  It is now May 2017, yes Terry is still alive and still seeking equity, HA. Our delegates never heard such a word, denial is more like it. I will advocate for loyalty till I die. Hard to believe our nation does things I thought only others did.

I was a range rat, many friends on Midway, Eniwetok, Wake, French Frigate Shoals, Christmas, Johnston, Jarvis, Canton damn so many.


Way back in 2010, we made a small post about the the plight of residents of Guam, who were suffering from illnesses resulting from radiation exposure. Research presented to the National Academy of Science and National Research Council described the effects on this community, of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.  The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors, a nonprofit organization, was lobbying U.S. Congress to include Guam in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Program, so that they could receive help and compensation for their radiation-induced illnesses.

Well, what happened about this?

Thanks to one reader of this website, we have been kept up to date over the years:


April 23, 2011 Do our representatives really care? Why have both HR5119/S3224 both died in committee. Our government does not live up to responsibility. They cause us harm than ignore us as if we do not exist. Aloha.

April 26, 2011 I am a 1962 ground zero victim of the Johnston Island PPG. Senators Pangelinan, Udalls and Rep Lujan have done nothing. All legislation died in committee. They turned their backs on us again. Shame.

June 25, 2012 Continue reading

May 14, 2017 Posted by | health, Legal, OCEANIA, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Radiation Exposure Compensation Act should include families affected by Los Alamos nuclear testing

Families seeking aid through Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Chris Ramirez, May 05, 2017 , ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Los Alamos of the 1950s was far different than the city on the mesa of today. And the precautions and safety measures of the ’50s were far different than any modern work site.

Lynne Loss was a little girl during that era living in Los Alamos when her father worked as an engineer in the lab and mother worked on site buying nuclear supplies.

“My brother used to go down into the canyon with his friends behind our house on Walnut Street and he would come home and tell mama that the deer had tumors on them,” Loss said.

In 1957, her family moved to Colorado, but she fears the damage was already done by then. Her father Henry Davis was frequently exposed to radiation and beryllium, a lightweight metal used in weapons.

 “And then he would come home with it on his clothes and we would have to wash his clothes with ours and sit on the furniture, eat dinner, and whatever you do when you’re a family,” Loss said.

Davis suffered for 40 years from beryllium disease and radiation exposure, finally dying in 1994.  Soon after, Loss learned she had colon cancer.

“‘God’, I said, ‘don’t put my family through all of this,’” she said. “I have two beautiful sons and five grandkids. I said I don’t want them to go through this with me. I said, ‘I want you to take me now or heal me’ and God I guess so far has wanted me to stay here and do this interview and help others.”

Loss is helping by pleading with Congress to add family members to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. It’s a law that allows the federal government to pay out employees whose jobs exposed them to radiation while helping to build America’s nuclear arsenal.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is sponsoring amendments to the act.

“That’s an issue that we’ve been working on a lot over time,” Udall said. “And I think if a family member can show they have significant exposure, then there is a good argument they should be included.”

Udall admits at this point, family members of employees aren’t covered under the act, but it may be in the works.

“I think what we’ve done with the family members specifically is to try to do all of the studies, to include money to do research, to find out what the impact specifically has been on the families,” he said. “I believe there is probably an impact on families, especially if a miners, millers or others were working in the industry to produce the material for atomic bombs, national security work — I believe if they brought that material on their clothes and into their house, if they didn’t leave it at work, if they brought souvenirs and pieces of rock that would leak radon, all of those things could make a real difference.”

It would help children of lab employees like Loss. Her cancer has hurt her physically and financially.

“Oh my god, David and I lost all of our retirement money, $300,000 paying my medical,” she said. “My deductibles went up. My premiums went up. Everything went up sky high.”

Thousands of men and women helped to make the country safer and stronger by lending their brains and hands to research that could eventually cost them their lives and now the lives of their children. Lynne Loss hopes her country won’t forget about her.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

2,397,863 registered Chernobyl-related health victims. 453,391 ARE CHILDREN  THERE ARE 2,397,863 PEOPLE REGISTERED WITH UKRAINE’S HEALTH MINISTRY TO RECEIVE ONGOING CHERNOBYL-RELATED HEALTH TREATMENT. OF THESE, 453,391 ARE CHILDREN.  Kim Hjelmgaard , USA TODAY There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma. 

KIEV, Ukraine — Daryna Bizilya, 10, wants to be a singer. During a visit with her and about a dozen other children at Ukraine’s largest medical clinic for people living with the consequences of Chernobyl, that’s what she did: She sang.

Bizilya walked directly into the middle of the room, signaled to her friend in the corner holding a cellphone to crank up its digital beatbox, and just went for it. She sang with feeling, dramatic facial expressions and large, sweeping arm gestures that occasionally ended with a clenched fist.

This clinic had an elaborate name, even by former Communist-bloc standards — the Institute of Specialized Radiation Protection of the Ukraine Population. It was full of sick children whose entire lives had only known illness.

The halls were long and dark and seemed, however improbably, to be lit chiefly by fading avocado-colored paint. The children’s bedrooms were neat but gloomy. Textbook orphanage-interior. Not every room was heated, and it was cold outside.

The number she performed was by Ukrainian artist Ani Lorak, a hero of Bizilya’s. On her website, Lorak describes herself as the “singer who became the idol of Ukrainians.”

Bizilya, whose favorite subjects are math and English, said she admired Lorak mostly because she “sings from her heart, and she feels her songs with her heart.”

Bizilya has a heart condition brought on by eating contaminated food, her doctors said. Too much physical exercise makes her condition worse.

“They told us at school that some children were left without a home, and that they were very ill,” she said when asked to explain what she knew about Chernobyl. “I would like to help those children who are without parents. There are children in our village like this,” she added.

Daryna does not think of herself as especially ill.

Artemchuk also has ambitions to be a singer.

“Probably a pop singer, like Michael Jackson,” he said.

He had some other things to say: Favorite food (meatballs), soccer team (Dynamo Kiev) and player (Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo).

“The doctor says I have very bad blood circulation,” he suddenly volunteered. “My parents say that Chernobyl was a big disaster and many people perished because of it.”

A girl named Alina Aponchuk, also 14, was too nervous to speak and fiddled with the sleeves of her dress. There was something on her mind. After a few minutes, she said she was going home the next day.

Aponchuk’s doctor said she had two left kidneys, both twice the normal size. She had chronic gastroduodenitis, which produces sharp stomach pains, lethargy and headaches. She also had “vegetative dysfunction,” a nervous system syndrome that causes anxiety, depression and other emotional stresses.

Vadim Bozhenko, the doctor who runs the clinic, said children stay at the institute from a few days to several weeks and all come from areas located on radioactive land.

“The (children) eat and drink contaminated milk products because cattle that live there eat that grass,” he said, adding that the clinic was underfunded by at least 30%.

Looking around the grounds that evoked a disheveled college campus, it was hard to believe the shortfall was that modest.

“Tell them we need beds and blankets,” Bozhenko said. “Tell them the Institute of Specialized Radiation Protection of the Ukraine Population needs this and a lot more.”

May 5, 2017 Posted by | children, PERSONAL STORIES, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Dave Freeman, the nuclear giant-killer

He seems an unlikely giant killer. He’s five foot seven, one sixty-five pounds, has a distinct southern accent and is not an Olympic athlete. And yet, by any count, he has stopped the construction or shut down the operations of more nuclear plants in the United States than any other person, living or dead.

S. David Freeman’s ninetieth birthday party was held in February of last year. For some years, Dave (as he is known to friends and detractors both) has effected a gray cowboy hat, and his address includes the term “green cowboy.” Each guest upon arrival at the Ritz Carlton ballroom in Marina Del Rey was given a party cowboy hat to wear. It has been quite some time since Los Angeles was a ranch, maybe 200 years, so everyone looked a little silly in their cocktail dresses or suits and ties and cowboy hats. Not Dave, who was busy dancing with the prettiest girls and grilling the attending politicos, including a PUC Chairman, on what the hell they were doing about global warming……..

He went off to the Georgia Institute of Technology where he showed much intellectual promise, but went home to go to law school at the University of Tennessee. Eventually he came to Washington to work as an assistant to Chairman Joe Swidler at what was then called the Federal Power Commission. The FPC had some interesting regulatory responsibilities related to the electric utility industry, but you had to be a real energy geek even to know it existed or did anything that mattered much. Dave labored diligently there, and even found time to write the first of his many books, this one called Energy Future. He moved on, as people do in Washington, to work for the House Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill. And then the times found the man.

It is difficult to remember now how little anyone, including just about the entire US government, knew about energy, or cared. There was the FPC, there was the Atomic Energy Commission (“AEC”, now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) which both promoted and regulated nuclear plants, and there was a small office in the Department of the Interior that, with a mighty staff of ten, fiddled with some ideas about energy conservation. There was no Department of Energy……

Ultimately the system produced the National Energy Act of 1978, which did useful things like freeing the price controls on natural gas, setting up a number of energy conservation programs, and almost inadvertently deregulating the generation of electricity. Nobody really knew that the legislation would do that, the focus was on promoting a technology called “cogeneration.” But it was promoted by allowing third parties to make and sell “cogenerated” electricity without being regulated as the utilities were. And the genie was out of the bottle—. competition came to the electric business. And that was bad news for costly technologies like nuclear plants.

Dave was rewarded by President Carter by being appointed the Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The creation of TVA was one of the most successful of the many government actions taken during the depression in the 1930’s. ….

[in the 50s and 60s the energy] industry fell in love with the promise of nuclear power, and TVA fell the hardest. The first unit, Brown’s Ferry, and went into service in 1974. But after that things got more complicated…….

People began to notice how much money was being spent. In a budget meeting of top TVA officials there was a line item of a billion dollars, just for interest on the debt that had already been spent on building the nuclear plants…….

over his three year period as Chairman, Dave slowly and painfully started to pare away the inventory, stopping procurement, cutting construction employment, mothballing sites. Two units at Phipps Bend near Knoxville, gone. Two units at Bellefonte near Huntsville, Alabama, gone; two units at Yellow Creek near Corinth, MS, gone. And four units at Hartsville near Nashville, gone. By the time Dave’s term was up, Ronald Reagan was president and the handwriting on the wall was clear; his time at TVA was over. He left having stopped the construction of twelve nuclearunits at five plant sites. And if he hadn’t done that, it is likely that the federal government would have had to bail out the utility and repay all the debt that would have been required to finish the plants.

In 1990 Dave was hired to run one of the largest municipal utilities in California, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, with the unfortunate acronym of SMUD, pronounced as you would expect. It also had a badly running nuclear plant, Rancho Seco. This plant had suffered, according to the NRC, the third worst nuclear accident in the US. This was before Chernobyl and Fukushima. Dave spearheaded the shutdown of this exceptionally poorly run plant, whose lifetime availability of 39% had contributed to a three-year period during which rates increased 92%. Both of these may be utility industry records, not of a good kind.

After leaving SMUD in spectacularly better shape than he found it, Dave ran the New York Public Power Authority, and then the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Neither of these had any nuclear plants or plans, and Dave kept it that way.

He retired from the Department of Water and Power at age 80. But he didn’t fade away. Instead the crisis at San Onofre called to him……..

 Dave and Friends of the Earth intervened, as did many other environmental groups. Dave was quoted as saying the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are both “disasters waiting to happen: ageing, unreliable reactors sitting near earthquake fault zones on the fragile Pacific Coast, with millions or hundreds of thousands of Californians living nearby”. PGE read the tea leaves, and in June of 2016 agreed to cease pursuing a re-licensing, close Diablo Canyon’s two units in 2024 and 2025, and replace its output with renewable power and storage. Dave was 90 years and 4 months old.

The “nuclear renaissance,” announced with fanfare sixteen years ago, has resulted in the troubled and still incomplete construction of a grand total of two new US plants, both being built by Toshiba. Dave hasn’t announced any new campaigns with regard to nukes as of this writing. But if one saw him heading for the Vogtle plant of Georgia Power, or the Summer plant in South Carolina, the only two construction locations, one should think about shorting Toshiba’s stock. And if he could stop these construction projects—both way over budget and way behind schedule— it just might be the best thing that ever happened to the two utilities paying for all this expensive hardware. And it would certainly be good for their customers who will ultimately pay for this expensive electricity…….

The Green Cowboy put on his spurs, linked up with Friends of the Earth, and together they and others mounted a successful campaign to shut down San Onofre permanently. Dave was a key leadership voice in the opposition to restarting the plant, given his remarkable credentials and his long history in the industry. In June of 2013 SCE threw in the towel and shut down the plant permanently.

But Dave still want finished. There is one other nuclear plant in California, the oddly named Diablo Canyon plant owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE). …

 Dave was quoted as saying the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are both “disasters waiting to happen: ageing, unreliable reactors sitting near earthquake fault zones on the fragile Pacific Coast, with millions or hundreds of thousands of Californians living nearby”. PGE read the tea leaves, and in June of 2016 agreed to cease pursuing a re-licensing, close Diablo Canyon’s two units in 2024 and 2025, and replace its output with renewable power and storage. Dave was 90 years and 4 months old.

The “nuclear renaissance,” announced with fanfare sixteen years ago, has resulted in the troubled and still incomplete construction of a grand total of two new US plants, both being built by Toshiba. Dave hasn’t announced any new campaigns with regard to nukes as of this writing. But if one saw him heading for the Vogtle plant of Georgia Power, or the Summer plant in South Carolina, the only two construction locations, one should think about shorting Toshiba’s stock. And if he could stop these construction projects—both way over budget and way behind schedule— it just might be the best thing that ever happened to the two utilities paying for all this expensive hardware. And it would certainly be good for their customers who will ultimately pay for this expensive electricity.

Mr. Hemphill is the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Soldiers, a non-profit focused on education activities happening in energy, especially with regard to the adoption of renewable energy technology by utilities, commercial customers and homeowners, and strategies to benefit from it. Hemphill is also the author for two business travel books, Stories From the Middle Seat: The Four-Million-Mile Journey to Building a Billion Dollar International Business and Dust Tea, Dingoes & Dragons: Adventure in Culture Cuisine & Commerce from a Globe-Trekking Executive

May 5, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

South Africa: Beware the nuclear corporates and the governments who cosy up to them

Nuclear deals: Beware the corporates and the governments who cosy up to them

My view was (and remains) that we must not let President Jacob Zuma get away with the unaffordable R1-trillion deal he wants with Russia, which lacks transparent conduct and includes the possibility of backhanders. Being told of government and corporate lies in Japan and South Korea was an eye-opener. The 2011 Fukushima disaster was triggered by a tsunami or earthquake. But that tells only half the story.

Contaminated food, children’s sandpits, water
My journey started with a visit to a parish church in Iyaki Laiki, 47km from the epicentre of the 2011 accident. The parish had opened its doors to people evacuated from the centre of the disaster. In all 24 000 people were evacuated, not because of the huge wave of seawater, but because of the high levels of radioactivity. Even here at this distance, radioactivity remains, six years after the accident, unacceptably high. In the local crèche children may not play outside because radioactivity of the playground sand, the swings and jungle gym remains dangerously high. Instead children play inside a pen with sand imported from hundreds of kilometres away.

Government radioactivity meters on street corners measure lower levels of radioactivity than locals’ meters. There is a reason for this: it costs the government millions to provide essential services to those evacuated. The government wanted them to return to their homes in Fukushima by April 1 2017, when all support and aid stops. The government says it is safe to do so but the people I met do not trust its advice. In what was the church vestry there are now two detector cubicles that measure and decontaminate food. Consumers have learnt that food they buy is often contaminated with high levels radioactivity. It takes an hour to decontaminate a litre of milk and three to four hours for water.

In Iyaki Laiki contamination levels vary from 1 to 2 on private meters. Everyone has one. In Tokyo, the government says 0.06 is acceptable. In the world we live in we consider 0.01 acceptable. High incidences of cancer and deformities in newborn babies have placed a blanket of trauma over everyone I met.

Next we drove into the moon landscape that once was Fukushima. In our bus we had five different measuring devices. As we got closer to where the nuclear plant ruptured, the devices started ticking faster and faster, starting at .09 but soon crossing the 2.0 mark, then 3.0 and then off the scale. We were in danger if we stayed.

Deadly Fukushima
Police and government officials in astronaut-like protective clothing stop people from entering houses or streets where contamination remains very high. The houses were left in haste and nothing could be taken because of it oozing radioactivity. Abandoned cars in driveways are covered in dust and have flat tyres. Earthmoving machines are scraping away the topsoil of former rice-paddy fields, bagging the soil and disposing of it. I asked, where to? Well, whoever in the world offers to put it deep into the Earth’s crust – to be forgotten about.

Wherever you stop a tannoy voice warns you not to leave the road and to move on. It is eerie to see fields devoid of animal life or crops. No birds.

For as long as the rupture of the Fukushima plant can be blamed on the tsunami and an earthquake the Japanese government and its associated Tokyo Electricity Company (or rather the taxpayer) pay for rehabilitation and the loss to life and limb Direct and indirect fatalities from the disaster numbers 1 600 people; the health damage to the survivors cannot yet be estimated.

The company that built the Fukushima plant, Toshiba/Hitachi, avoids responsibility. It is here that I learnt my first lesson: Toshiba, which built scores of nuclear plants in Japan and elsewhere, ignored major risks to save costs. Legal investigations point to Toshiba’s liability. Angry Japanese charge that Toshiba places profit before the lives of people — and its effect will be felt by those not yet born. In a nation that has suffered more than its share of nuclear outfall, I heard the words repeatedly: the government-corporate nuclear mafia cannot be trusted; we don’t want compensation, we want prevention.

Back at the parish church the reverend asks that we don’t publicise his name and church for fear of reprisals from those in power. His parting comment: for every child elsewhere that has thyroid cancer we have 180 children.

The message from my hosts is moral and compelling: Toshiba, supplier globally to the booming nuclear energy industry, must stop exporting its lethal technology. Their call is to boycott, disinvest and call for sanctions against this evil industry. Between Japan, South Korea and the coast of China about 130 nuclear plants are in operation or are under construction. There are 90 in Western Europe and 104 in the United States.

South Korea’s pain
In Kori, South Korea, is another nuclear plant, partly shut down because of its age. The real danger of the plant is kept from them. We met Mr Lee and his disabled son. Mr Lee has stomach cancer. His wife contracted thyroid cancer two years ago. They charged the local nuclear plant company for her illness. The court found in her favour on the basis that the company hid the fact that radioactive material had leaked from the plant. Since the court victory 1 000 locals have instituted legal action because their health has been similarly compromised.

Mr Lee continues to run his small business but illness and grief stands written all over his face.

Mrs Yoshi Zaki Sachie, 77, is a Hiroshima survivor. As a five-year-old all she remembers is the huge light when the bomb was dropped. Her family’s distance from the epicentre of the bomb ensured it did not kill her. It maimed her.

Mrs Sachie She has devoted her life to campaign against the lethal power of nuclear plants. She never thought that nuclear power would haunt Japan again. Today the Japanese are perpetrators seeking to sell unsafe nuclear technology to others.

Racism against Koreans is not far from this debate either. When Hiroshima and Nagasaki was bombed, Korea was a colony of Japan. Of those killed, at least 22 000 were Koreans, partly forced labour, in Japanese armaments factories. They have not been acknowledged or compensated. Social prejudice persists to this day.

Koreans not killed but maimed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki returned, mainly, to Hapcheon in South Korea. At the memorial and victim care centre, I saw first, second and third generation victims – their bodies and minds impaired by nuclear venom.

South Korean citizenry is as opposed to nuclear plants as the Japanese are. Koreans want recognition and compensation for their A-bomb victims from the United States.

Taiwan has decided against new nuclear plants while Vietnam cites financial woes to keep out of the Japanese, South Korean and Russian clutches. In Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia popular sentiment opposes nuclear plants in the face of their governments buckling under corporate pressure.

South Koreans have a special concern: they worry that nuclear plants are the Trojan horse through which a new nuclear arms race will ensue. The US has induced the South Korean government to allow American bases to be built with nuclear warheads aimed at North Korea and potentially at China.

A moral revolution against governments in cahoots with the mega corporations is on the move — the Japanese and Korean Citizen’s Peace Solidarity Against Nukes. South Africa needs to join the global wave of popular uprising and stop the Zuma-Putin deal.

Horst Kleinschmidt’s visit was at the invitation of the movement against corporations in the nuclear industry in South Korea and Japan. Kleinschmidt is an activist. He was arrested and then went into exile in the 1970s, returning post-1994 to turn around the sea fisheries department. Besides opposing the Zuma-Putin deal, he does other ecological and social justice work.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

A Nuclear Rallying Cry from atomic bomb survivors

Survivors Speak Out As UN Negotiates Nuke Ban, Huffington Post, By Ariel Conn,31 Mar 17 “…….A Nuclear Rallying Cry

Not surprisingly, the horror of the effect nuclear bombs have on children provides some of the most compelling arguments for a ban treaty.

Fujimori Toshiki, a Hibakusha (survivor of the bombs dropped on Japan), described his personal experience to the General Assembly at the very start of the negotiations. He was a baby at the time, and he and his mother were just far enough away from the blast that a two-story home protected them somewhat.

“I had my entire body covered with bandages,” said Toshiki, “with only eyes, nose, and mouth uncovered. Everybody thought I would die over time. Yet, I survived. It is a miracle. I am here at the U.N., asking for an abolition of nuclear weapons. I am convinced that this is a mission I am given as a survivor of the atomic bomb.”

His 13-year-old sister was not so lucky. She was one of 6,300 teenagers to die near the blast site because their schools had sent them there to help “create firesafe [sic] areas against air raids.”

Toshiki added, “Every year, on Aug. 6, my mother would gather all of us children and would talk to us about her experience in tears. I once asked my mother why she would speak about it if recalling the experience makes her suffer. ‘I can’t make you go through the same experience.’ That was her answer. Her tears were her heartfelt appeal. She called, as a mother, for a world with no more hell on earth.”

Setsuko Thurlow, another Hibakusha, was also 13 when the bombs fell. She described witnessing the slow death of her 4-year-old nephew Eiji. He was “transformed into a charred, blackened and swollen child who kept asking in a faint voice for water until he died in agony.”

Thurlow continued, “Regardless of the passage of time, he remains in my memory as a 4-year-old child who came to represent all the innocent children of the world. And it is this death of innocents that has been the driving force for me to continue my struggle against the ultimate evil of nuclear weapons.”

However, unlike the stories of landmines and cluster munitions, which told of present-day children suffering and dying, these stories are over 70 years old. It can be difficult to relate to events that happened so long ago and that most people believe has not ― and cannot ― be repeated.

But Sue Coleman-Haseldine told the assembly of stories and concerns that were more recent. Coleman-Haseldine is an Aboriginal who lived near the atomic weapons testing sites in Australia. She was two when the testing first began in the 1950s.

“Our district is full of cancer now,” she said.

She continued, “I grew up hearing about the bombs, but I didn’t know about how the sickness went through the generations. When mining companies started eyeing off areas of my country I started to look more into it and I went to an Australian Nuclear Free Alliance meeting to learn more about fighting mining companies but also radiation fallout. What I learnt devastated me. To find out that our bush foods were possibly contaminated was a real blow to me.”

“I am a mother, grandmother and great grandmother,” she added. “My third great grandson was born just recently. And now I am here, speaking about the past [and] present day problems and what we want for the future. I’m fighting for all my grandchildren and all the children of the world.”

April 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Grandfather and granddaughter join forces prevent nuclear doom

The former defense secretary is spending his twilight years sounding the alarm with his 29-year-old granddaughter.

“When my kids were getting under desks at their school and going through nuclear drills — the danger today is actually greater. We’re just not aware of it,” says Perry.

At 89, he works with granddaughter to prevent nuclear doom

Before Forever Changes


MARCH 11, 2017, BY  Picture a nondescript packing crate labeled “agricultural equipment” being loaded onto a delivery truck, which drives along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., until it stops midway between the White House and the Capitol.

The nuclear bomb explodes with the power of 15 kilotons. There are more than 80,000 deaths, from the highest ranking members of government to the youngest schoolchildren. All major news outlets then report receiving an identical claim: that five more nuclear bombs are hidden in five major cities.

Such is the nightmare nuclear scenario that former US Defense Secretary William Perry says may seem remote, but the consequences, if realized, would be disastrous.

“I do not like to be a prophet of doom,” says Perry, 89, with the gentle grace of a decadeslong diplomat who has negotiated with countries both hostile and friendly to US interests. Then he bluntly gets to the point. “What we’re talking about is no less than the end of civilization.”

Perry doesn’t believe an intentional terrorist attack or all-out nuclear war is the greatest risk — he fears a “blunder” that plunges the globe into a nuclear conflict.

Perry says with a more aggressive Russia, and a brash and at times unpredictable President Donald Trump, “the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe is probably greater than it has ever been, greater than any time in the Cold War.”

CNN reached out to the White House for comment on Perry’s statements. It did not respond.

While he’s long been out of government, Perry’s uses his extensive policy chops and background to engage the public — through speeches, presentations and online courses.

He worries that tensions between the Koreas, and possibly Japan, could turn into a conventional conflict that could go nuclear. A bellicose and expansion-minded Russia could draw the United States into a situation that could escalate, Perry says. And the District of Columbia scenario shows how devastation can result from a crude bomb.

“When my kids were getting under desks at their school and going through nuclear drills — the danger today is actually greater. We’re just not aware of it,” says Perry.

The former defense secretary is spending his twilight years sounding the alarm with his 29-year-old granddaughter. They’re trying to awaken a new audience on social media with the William J. Perry Project, an advocacy group dedicated to helping end the nuclear threat.

“We’re really just out there trying to reach a generation that isn’t really engaged on this issue right now,” says Lisa Perry, the digital communications manager for the project. “It’s something we learned in history class. There was no conversation about what’s happening now.”

“The dangers will never go away as long as we have nuclear weapons,” William Perry explains. “But we should take every action to lower the dangers and I think it can be done.”

A lifetime dealing with the nuclear threat

Perry served three years under President Bill Clinton, a time when more than 8,000 nuclear weapons were dismantled. His nuclear knowledge traces back to his days as a CIA analyst working with the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was tapped to evaluate photos showing Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and recalls it as one of the scariest times in his life.

“We made miscalculations,” recalls Perry about those anxious two weeks. “It’s a miracle they did not lead to war.”

Perry lists the risks: US-Russia hostilities. A nuclear terror attack. A regional crisis.

On a regional conflict, Perry sees North Korea as an unpredictable nuclear threat. The regime’s growing arsenal and history of bold actions, Perry says, could be met by an escalated response by South Korea or even the United States. Not necessarily a deliberate attack, says Perry, but he fears a “blunder” that plunges the globe into a nuclear conflict.

“When a crisis reaches a boiling point then you have a possibility of a miscalculation,” warns Perry.

Trump and the nuclear threat……….

March 13, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Larry Criscione, Nuclear Regulatory Crusader

safety-symbol-SmFlag-USANuclear Regulatory Crusader   DAVE LOCHBAUM, DIRECTOR, NUCLEAR SAFETY PROJECT | JANUARY 23, 2017, To many, the acronym NRC stands for Nuclear Regulatory Commission. At times, NRC has been said to stand for Nobody Really Cares, Nuclear Rubberstamp Committee, and Nielsen Ratings Commission.

In regard to Larry Criscione, it may stand for Nuclear Regulatory Crusader.Larry is an engineer working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Last year, Larry received the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage from The Safeek Nader Trust. Joe Callaway established the award in 1990 to recognize individuals who, with integrity and at some personal risk, take a public stance to advance truth and justice.

In March 2011, the three operating reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan melted down after a tsunami generated by a large earthquake flooded the site and disabled primary and backup power supplies to emergency equipment. In public, the NRC denied that reactors operating in the U.S. were vulnerable to such hazards.

In private, the NRC knew otherwise.

Flooding Risk at Oconee

In June 2010—nine months before Fukushima—the NRC issued a Confirmatory Action Letter to the owner of the Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina requiring more than a dozen measures be taken. The measures were intended to lessen the chances that the Jocassee Dam fails and to increase the chances that the three operating reactors at Oconee survive should the dam fail anyway.

An evaluation showed that if the dam—located about 21 miles upriver from Oconee—failed, the site would be inundated with about 12.5 to 16.8 feet of flood water. The site was protected by a flood wall about seven feet tall, so it mattered little whether the actual depth was 12.5, 13, 14, 15, or 16.8 feet.

The NRC estimated that if the dam failed and flooded the site, there was a 100 percent chance that all three reactors would meltdown.

But the NRC issued the Confirmatory Action Letter secretly and did not tell the public about the hazard it required Oconee’s owner to lessen. After Fukushima tragically demonstrated the hazard posed by flooding, the NRC continued to cover-up measures taken and planned to lessen the flooding vulnerability at Oconee.

Larry and the OIG

So, Larry sent a 19-page letter dated September 18, 2002, to the NRC Chairman chronicling this history and asking four things:

  1. The NRC’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) should review the documents related to flooding at Oconee and the associated federal regulations to determine whether the documents could be made publicly available.
  1. The NRC’s Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response (NSIR) should review the information on flooding hazards redacted from documents released to the public in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to determine whether additional information could be made publicly available.
  1. Based on the OGC and NSIR reviews, ensure that all flooding hazard documents that can be made publicly available are publicly available.
  1. The NRC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) should investigate whether the agency has been inappropriately marking documents as containing “Security-Related Information.”

Exercising his rights under the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912, Larry copied U.S. Congressional staff members on the email transmitting his letter to the NRC Chairman.

Larry’s letter was obtained by a reporter and featured in a Huffington Post article dated October 19, 2012.

As Larry had requested, the NRC’s OIG investigated handling of documents about flooding hazards. But rather than investigate whether NRC had improperly withheld information as he contended, OIG investigated whether Larry had improperly released information. As detailed in our 2015 report on the NRC and nuclear power safety, OIG made Larry an offer—he could voluntarily resign from the NRC or they would turn over his case to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for prosecution.

Larry did not resign.

OIG did refer the case to DOJ.

DOJ did not prosecute.

Through FOIA, UCS obtained DOJ’s response to NRC declining to prosecute Criscione. Under the Primary Reasons for Declination section, DOJ checked one box—No Federal Offense Committed.

Fortunately for Larry, not breaking the law is not yet against the law.

Thanks to Larry’s selfless efforts, the flooding hazards at Oconee have been made public. Larry had been right about the NRC inappropriately withholding information from the public. When lawyers and investigators were all through, the information he sought to have publicly released was publicly released. The NRC lacked legal grounds to continue hiding it.

More importantly, NRC’s mangers may think twice—or at least once—before withholding dam safety information in the future.

Unfortunately for Larry, he experienced unnecessary stress and expense defending himself against baseless OIG investigations. The Callaway Award does not fully offset those unfortunate consequences. But it helps show Larry and others who have our backs that not everyone wants to twist a dagger in their backs.

video of the award presentation and Larry’s acceptance speech has been posted to YouTube.

Bottom Line

Doing the right thing when it’s relatively easy fails to accurately measure courage.

Larry Criscione did the right thing when it was a very hard thing to do. He could have remained silent like so many of his co-workers opted to do. He faced a strenuous courage test and aced it.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Pressure on Hanford doctor to disregard worker safety

see-no-evilFlag-USAFormer Hanford doctor ‘under duress’ to disregard worker safety  Susannah Frame, KING  February 09, 2017          In 30 years of medical practice, Dr. Loren Lewis of Spokane said he’s never seen tactics like those used at Hanford.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lewis pushed back in dozens of emails.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America’s nuclear weapons made workers very ill

body-radThe perils of Pantex: Hundreds of workers sickened at Texas nuclear weapons plant

Panhandle nuclear weapons assembly plant a hazardous workplace

Workers used to joke that they made soap at the facility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then it’s too late, Rashada said.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family frustrations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘We’re going to help’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘They killed him’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yamil Berard: 817-390-7705@yberard

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

A personal story of nuclear radiation, cancer and death

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

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

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

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

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

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