nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The Castle Bravo bomb and its effects on the soldiers, and on the planet

Your Inner H-Bomb, Nuclear testing left a signature of radioactive carbon all around the world—in trees and sharks, in oceans and human bodies. Even as that signal disappears, it’s revealing new secrets to scientists. The Atlantic, by Carl Zimmer, 2 Mar 20, 

In the morning of March 1, 1954, a hydrogen bomb went off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. John Clark was only 20 miles away when he issued the order, huddled with his crew inside a windowless concrete blockhouse on Bikini Atoll. But seconds went by, and all was silent. He wondered if the bomb had failed. Eventually, he radioed a Navy ship monitoring the test explosion.

“It’s a good one,” they told him.

Then the blockhouse began to lurch. At least one crew member got seasick—“landsick” might be the better descriptor. A minute later, when the bomb blast reached them, the walls creaked and water shot out of the bathroom pipes. And then, once more, nothing. Clark waited for another impact—perhaps a tidal wave—but after 15 minutes he decided it was safe for the crew to venture outside.

The mushroom cloud towered into the sky. The explosion, dubbed “Castle Bravo,” was the largest nuclear-weapons test up to that point..

It was intended to try out the first hydrogen bomb ready to be dropped from a plane. Many in Washington felt that the future of the free world depended on it, and Clark was the natural pick to oversee such a vital blast. He was the deputy test director for the Atomic Energy Commission, and had already participated in more than 40 test shots. Now he gazed up at the cloud in awe. But then his Geiger counter began to crackle.

“It could mean only one thing,” Clark later wrote. “We were already getting fallout.”

That wasn’t supposed to happen. The Castle Bravo team had been sure that the radiation from the blast would go up to the stratosphere or get carried away by the winds safely out to sea. In fact, the chain reactions unleashed during the explosion produced a blast almost three times as big as predicted—1,000 times bigger than the Hiroshima bomb.

Within seconds, the fireball had lofted 10 million tons of pulverized coral reef, coated in radioactive material. And soon some of that deadly debris began dropping to Earth. If Clark and his crew had lingered outside, they would have died in the fallout.

Clark rushed his team back into the blockhouse, but even within the thick walls, the level of radiation was still climbing. Clark radioed for a rescue but was denied: It would be too dangerous for the helicopter pilots to come to the island. The team hunkered down, wondering if they were being poisoned to death. The generators failed, and the lights winked out.

“We were not a happy bunch,” Clark recalled.

They spent hours in the hot, radioactive darkness until the Navy dispatched helicopters their way. When the crew members heard the blades, they put on bedsheets to protect themselves from fallout. Throwing open the blockhouse door, they ran to nearby jeeps as though they were in a surreal Halloween parade, and drove half a mile to the landing pad. They clambered into the helicopters, and escaped over the sea.
As Clark and his crew found shelter aboard a Navy ship, the debris from Castle Bravo rained down on the Pacific. Some landed on a Japanese fishing boat 70 miles away. The winds then carried it to three neighboring atolls. Children on the island of Rongelap played in the false snow. Five days later, Rongelap was evacuated, but not before its residents had received a near-lethal dose of radiation. Some people suffered burns, and a number of women later gave birth to severely deformed babies. Decades later, studies would indicate that the residents experienced elevated rates of cancer.  ……….https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/03/how-nuclear-testing-transformed-science/607174/

March 3, 2020 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Plutonium-affected U.S. airmen, cancers, deaths, and a new legal ruling

The Palomares disaster occurred on Jan. 17, 1966, when an American B-52 bomber on a Cold War patrol exploded during a midair refueling accident, sending four hydrogen bombs hurtling toward the ground. They were not armed, so there was no nuclear detonation, but the conventional explosives in two of the bombs blew up on impact, scattering pulverized plutonium over a patchwork of farm fields and stucco houses.

Plutonium is extremely toxic, but it often acts slowly. The alpha-particle radiation it gives off travels only a few inches and would not penetrate skin. But inhaled plutonium dust can lodge in the lungs and steadily irradiate surrounding tissue, gradually inflicting damage that can cause cancer and other ailments, sometimes decades later. A single microgram absorbed in the body is enough to be harmful;  according to declassified Atomic Energy Commission reports, the bombs that blew apart at Palomares contained more than 3 billion micrograms.

February 13, 2020 Posted by | health, incidents, legal, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Meet the scientists quitting academia for climate activism

Meet the scientists quitting academia for climate activism,  https://www.dw.com/en/meet-the-scientists-quitting-academia-for-climate-activism/a-5145233712 Dec 2019, Emotional stress, burnout, and a sense of frustration at policy makers are driving some academics to take a different path in tackling climate change. DW spoke to three people to find out why they became activists.

Most people have the option to switch off from the terrifying media stories of how climate change is affecting the planet. This isn’t so easy for environmental scientists and academics who spend their days researching the consequences of climate change.

In a letter published in Science magazine in October this year, biologists Andy Radford, Stephen Simpson and Tim Gordon, said the loss of nature for people with a strong emotional attachment to it “triggered strong grief responses.”

They argued institutes needed to adapt strategies from “healthcare, disaster relief, law enforcement and military” for environmental scientists so they can manage their “emotional stress.”

After the letter a number of colleagues reached out to Radford, a professor at the University of Bristol, to express their comfort at the views being made public.

Caught between frustration at the disconnect between climate science and policy, and a hope inspired by burgeoning global climate protests in the last year, DW spoke to three people shunning academia in favor of activism.

Dr Wolfgang Knorr:  ‘We know a lot less than we pretend to’ 

Dr Wolfgang Knorr, 53, researcher, physical geography and ecosystem science, and principal investigator (BECC), Lund University, Sweden

Knorr handed in his resignation in September 2019 after 27 years in environmental science. He believes his skills could be better applied as an activist, though he’s not yet sure what form this will take.

“My attraction to science has always been emotional. But in science, it’s all about keeping the emotions down, because they’re not wanted, basically. On the emotional level, I have this strong sense that there is a tremendous risk out there and we know a lot less than we pretend to.

In 2005, I joined the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council. On a daily basis, I would sit in meetings, debating new renewable energy schemes or whatever. On the train back, you read newspaper stories about climate change, but the next page will be economic news about expansion and GDP growth. At that time it became clear to me that there’s a dichotomy between the work and what’s going on in the rest of the world.

That gut feeling at that time continued until very recently — until the youth protests. There was a real step-change in public perception due to these protests. I would say, as a climate scientist, we’re following the lead of these protesters in a way, because it made me realize that I had a potential for being an advocate. I got a new perspective about what I could do with these skills.

I am hoping to find new uses for the skills that I used as a scientist, and make better use of them.”

Jess Spear: ‘I was really demoralized’

Jess Spear, 38, scientist, educator and socialist activist, RISE, Dublin

Spear left climate science in 2013 to work on a campaign in the US city of Seattle that elected its first socialist city councillor in a century. She moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 2017 and works for a new Irish left-wing group called Radical Internationalist Socialist Environmentalist (RISE).

“I worked at the US Geological Survey. It is much easier to be a scientist working as a civil servant than it is in academia. It wasn’t that stressful and was rewarding, but it wasn’t actually producing what I wanted in the world.

At the beginning of 2011 I was really demoralized about the state of the movement for climate action. There didn’t appear to be very many people concerned about it.

To see constant emission rises and failure of governments was like watching a train about to go off a cliff in slow motion. You know what’s going to happen. You feel powerless to do anything about it when you’re just one person.

In 2013 when I started to work in activism, I can remember standing in my kitchen, watching videos of Occupy Wall Street. It was like a light turning on. That was a life-changing moment for me because it opened up the possibilities for shifting away from finding solutions, to focusing on community activism.”

Mathieu Munsch: ‘What I’m doing now is much more meaningful’

Mathieu Munsch, 30, builder, educator and community activist, France

Munsch quit his PhD in climate change at Strathclyde University in Scotland after two and a half years in September 2018. He’s now constructing an eco-friendly house in rural France and has become involved in local politics.

One major impetus was what he saw as a conflict with his values as an academic concerned about the environment if he continued on a certain career path.

“Strathclyde has a big engineering department that does research on fracking. It receives funding from the oil industry. Professors within my departments, theirpension funds were invested in fossil fuels.

In the first year, I still had some faith that I was doing the right thing. But it became more and more obvious to me that I was never going to be able to have a successful career, access to a pension and all of that if for me to benefit from that, the current economic system would need to continue functioning, and therefore we would go into catastrophic climate change. It became a wake-up call that I needed to get out of that system.

I experienced some burnout, specifically when I was spending eight hours of my day on the computer reading documents about climate change. It was pretty emotionally heavy, even though I don’t think I was in the deep despair that I know some people experience.

Something that helped me cope was giving time to activist groups. But it’s only leaving and finding a completely different way to do things that helped me overcome the stress and burnout.

Since I left, I’ve had people contacting me over Twitter as well, specifically for the decision, and one of them said, ‘Oh, yeah, I did exactly the same thing two years ago. I feel like what I’m doing now is much more meaningful.”

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity and length

   

February 1, 2020 Posted by | climate change, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

John Wayne and the movie crew killed by nuclear radiation

John Wayne squares off against Jim Hansen, Medium,  Albert Bates, 11 Jan 2020     “……..The famous cowboy actor John Wayne may have been felled by the same foe, as was Marie Curie. From 1951 to 1962 the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) detonated more than 100 bombs in the southwestern US desert, sending huge pinkish plumes of radioactive dust across the stony valleys and canyons of southern Utah and northern Arizona. It gave each “shot” names like Annie, Eddie, Humboldt and Badger. Eleven of those tests were part of a series called Upshot-Knothole in Utah in 1953. In 1954, the Upshot-Knothole site was chosen as the location for a John Wayne film called The Conqueror.

The AEC sent a scientist with a Geiger counter to show Wayne that the location was safe enough for him to bring his wife and children to visit the set. The Geiger counter is said to have crackled so loudly Wayne thought it was broken. Waving it over clumps of cactus, rock and sand produced the same loud result. The Duke, by all accounts, shrugged it off. By 1980, 91 out of 220 cast and crew on The Conquerer had contracted cancer and 46 of them, including Wayne and co- stars Dick Powell, Pedro Armendáriz, Agnes Moorehead, and Susan Hayward had died. Those numbers did not include the families of the cast and crew. John Wayne’s wife and two sons all got cancer. While the two sons survived, the daughter of one of Wayne’s sons also died of cancer. Hayward’s son Tim Barker had a benign tumor removed from his mouth. Many of the Native American Paiute extras went on to die of cancer also……..https://medium.com/@albertbates/john-wayne-squares-off-against-jim-hansen-42a258b2260d

January 21, 2020 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear ghost city 404 – a personal story

404: The City Left Behind by China’s Nuclear Ambitions,  https://www.wired.com/story/404-the-city-left-behind-by-chinas-nuclear-ambition/20 Jan 2020,
An artist goes looking for his past in a Cold War ghost town.   Li Yang grew up in what he thought was a boring town. It was called 404, like the error code, and sat a couple hours from the nearest city, in the sun-beaten Gobi Desert of western China. There was no commercial movie theater—just a zoo with a handful of cages, several small video game arcades, and a skating rink that eventually closed. To Yang, it seemed small and backwards. He dreamed of the day he’d leave and “see the big, outside world,” he says.

But despite the humdrum, 404 wasn’t exactly boring: It was once part of a massive nuclear weapons base in the People’s Republic of China. In 1955, following threats of nuclear attacks from the United States, Chairman Mao Zedong resolved to stock his own atomic arsenal.

The USSR promised to provide blueprints and a prototype for a bomb, and as part of the quest, helped build the Jiuquan Atomic Energy Complex, dubbed Plant 404. Though an ideological squabble caused the Soviets to withdraw just after construction started, China plowed forward. The site hosted the nation’s first nuclear reactor, which generated an estimated .9 tons of weapons-grade plutonium between 1966 and 1984, as well as plutonium processing factories and nuclear warhead workshops. (Later, the complex was converted for use by the civilian nuclear industry.)

China staffed its war complex with the country’s finest scientists, technicians, and other workers, who lived in a closed settlement absent from most maps. Yang’s grandparents and parents moved there in 1958, leaving their home in Beijing to forge a new one on a windy frontier a thousand miles away. At its height, Yang’s parents told him, the town had a population of some 50,000 people.

But by the time Yang was a kid, the population had dwindled. He remembers just about 100 kids in his grade. After dinner, people chatted under a statue of Chairman Mao in the square and took strolls. “Some walked around in the park, others along the half-mile main road,” Yang says. “Because the city was so small, people might meet each other several times in one night, until they were too embarrassed to say hello.”

Yang finally got his wish to leave in 2003, enrolling in college in Sichuan province and eventually settling in Beijing. But as he got older, he started to miss 404 and the simplicity of life there. He couldn’t move home if he wanted to, though. In the mid-2000s, according to Chinese media, residents seeking a better quality of life voted to relocate their housing to the more desirable city of Jiqyuguan.

Yang’s nostalgia grew so strong, though, that in 2013 he packed a couple cameras in his car and drove back to 404 to photograph what remained. The guards let him in since he’d lived there. The town wasn’t entirely empty—some people chose to stay, Yang says—but it was eerily quiet. Yang wandered his old haunts on foot, memories flooding back as he visited his old elementary school classroom, the public baths where he used to shower, and even his family’s former house, now demolished. One of two poplar trees he had planted out front was dead.

He returned three more times to produce the images in his series 404 Not Found. To Yang, they represent the home of his childhood—“the place I want to go back to but can’t,” he says. For others, they’re a fascinating glimpse at a remote town born from geopolitical strife during a period in Chinese history not often seen—however dull it might have seemed to the teenagers who lived through it.

A book on the series is out from Jiazazhi Publishing Project.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | China, environment, PERSONAL STORIES, wastes | Leave a comment

Marie Curie’s illness and death caused by ionising radiation

John Wayne squares off against Jim Hansen, Medium,  Albert Bates, 11 Jan 2020     “…….. In 1896, Henri Becquerel discovered that uranium emitted rays that resembled X-rays. Marie Curie suspected that the radiation was not the outcome of some interaction but came from the atom itself. Her work with uranium disproved the conventional wisdom going back to ancient Greece that atoms were indivisible and set up the later discovery of subatomic particles. Curie discovered that thorium, radium, polonium and radioactive bismuth occurred naturally with uranium. Radium was known to glow in the dark, which made it useful for painting the hour and minute hands on watches and clocks. It was later discovered that radium “radiated” more than just neutrons, but also protons and electrons, becoming another unstable element, radon, and that element radiated its subatomic particles to become others, polonium and bismuth, until those eventually became a  stable element, lead. Indeed, the radium Curie discovered was the progeny of another unstable element, thorium, which was the progeny of yet another unstable element, uranium.

Madame Curie was a physicist, not a medical doctor, so she did not recognize the health effects of handling uranium, thorium, radium and the other radionuclides. Indeed, she suspected the effects would be beneficial. One of the papers she and her husband published in the late 19th century announced that, when exposed to radium, diseased, tumor-forming cells were destroyed faster than healthy cells (the basis for today’s radio-chemotherapy). She carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pockets and stored them in her desk drawer. Although her many decades of exposure to radiation caused chronic illnesses (including near-blindness due to cataracts) and ultimately her death, she never acknowledged the inherent health risks. She likely did not recognize the symptoms when she began to feel weak and lose her hair. She died in 1934 from aplastic anemia without ever knowing that she fought the same mortal enemy as those who had painted the hands on watches and clocks, or those who had mined and processed the uranium on which she worked. After her death, and to this day, her papers and effects are too radioactive to be handled and her laboratory is unsafe to enter.also……..https://medium.com/@albertbates/john-wayne-squares-off-against-jim-hansen-42a258b2260d

January 21, 2020 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

An emigrant’s memory of Chernobyl

Chernobyl’s dark history: Australian returns home 33 years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, News 7  Steve Pennells  15 September 2019

Chernobyl – just the word is enough to evoke visions of a nuclear holocaust.

But for thousands of Australians, the nightmare was all too real. They are the children of Chernobyl – scarred by their experiences – and now, more than 30 years on, determined to confront the past.

Inna Mitelman grew up in Belarus, in the shadow of Chernobyl. 33 years later, she’s happily settled in Melbourne with two children of her own. Her parents, Irina and Ilia, live close by.

“I remember it as a very beautiful place to grow up,” Inna tells Sunday Night’s Steve Pennells. “The people were lovely. I had a very beautiful childhood, I can tell you that much.”

For Inna, it was an idyllic existence, with her best friend Natasha living in the apartment right next door.

“We were pretty much inseparable,” Inna explains. “Our parents were very close friends, they were like family. We used to come into each other’s houses without knocking. My house was her house, her house was my house.”

Chernobyl was 100 kilometres away – but on the 26th of April 1986, that was much too close.

The explosion in Reactor Number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant would be the worst nuclear accident in history. A safety test gone wrong ruptured the reactor core and caused a fire that released vast clouds of radioactive contamination. But the Soviet authorities supressed the true scale of the disaster – and only after 36 hours was the order given to evacuate the nearby city of Pripyat, home to the power plant workers and their families.

Inna Mitelman was only 11 years old when the refugees from Pripyat arrived on her doorstep, but the memory is still vivid.

“The first thing I remember is seeing new kids in our yard in the morning when we walked out to go to school,” Inna recalls. “There were wrapped up in blankets.”

As the fire continued to rage in the reactor, badly injured power plant workers and fireman were brought to the Pripyat hospital.

Today, the hospital at Pripyat stands abandoned, like the rest of this once-thriving city. But 33 years ago, the reactor was spewing out 400 times more radioactive material than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs combined.

Sergii Mirnyi soon learnt the truth. He was the commander of a radiation reconnaissance unit. It was his job to seek out the worst of the hot zones……..

“I’ve got thyroid nodules which were discovered when I was pregnant with my second child,” Inna reveals. “The surgeon said I’ve got [a] 50 per cent chance of developing thyroid cancer, so let’s just get it out now.”

Now, Inna wants to return to her homeland, to understand a tragic event from her past that still haunts her.

“I’m terrified,” Inna admits. “There’s a reason why we haven’t been back. But you need to do this to confront it and deal with it and move on. Because the worst thing that ever happened to me [was] probably my best friend dying when I was 11, and I think having to deal with that freaks me out as well.”

“We first found out that something was wrong with her when she became cross-eyed. They found a brain tumour, they operated, but she died the next morning.”

“This was my best friend. This was the person that I grew up with. Her death, it destroyed me.”

Natasha’s family moved out after the death of their daughter. But Inna is determined to find them.

Inside the exclusion zone

2,500 square kilometres of contaminated territory – including Pripyat – are now abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Pripyat was a brand new city, right next to the nuclear power plant. It was a jewel in the Soviet crown, with a thriving population of 50,000 people. It was emptied in the course of a single day, with residents forced to leave with only what they could carry…….

For many new mothers here in Belarus, there’s a profound fear that the effects of Chernobyl might be passed on to a second generation.

At the local Children’s Hospital, chief doctor Irina Kalmanovich has been treating Chernobyl survivors for more than 30 years. She has no doubt she is still seeing children suffering from the disaster – and unlike other doctors in this repressive regime, she’s willing to risk saying it.

“It’s my opinion. It can be [a] result of Chernobyl because we have many patients even in our hospital, children with tumour, different parts of body, we have tumour of brain, leukaemia, so we have many patients.”……. https://7news.com.au/sunday-night/chernobyls-dark-history-australian-returns-home-33-years-after-the-worlds-worst-nuclear-disaster-c-454567

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Belarus, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

The village of Iitate – nuclear tragedy, and Fukushima’s black snow

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference | Leave a comment

Absolutely no need for Russia and the US to be adversaries and enemies

I visited Russia’s nuclear city and don’t want to relive the Cold War  

Commentary: One era of nuclear brinksmanship was enough for CNET’s Stephen Shankland, who visited the Russian nuclear weapons center of Sarov just after the first Cold War ended. CNET, BY STEPHEN SHANKLAND
AUGUST 18, 2019  I spent more than five years as a reporter in Los Alamos, New Mexico, birthplace of the atomic bomb, home to a major national laboratory, and the 18,000-person town where I grew up. I covered everything from President Bill Clinton visiting the lab to mostly harmless radioactive cat poop triggering radiation alarms at the county landfill. But the story that made the biggest impression on me took place thousands of miles away, in Russia.

In May 1995, I was part of a seven-person civilian delegation that traveled to Los Alamos sister city Sarov, about 230 miles east of Moscow. It’s the home of the institute where Russia developed its first atomic bomb. Our visit was timed to coincide with a 50th anniversary celebration of the end of the Great Patriotic War, aka World War II, which for the Russians ended when the Germans capitulated in May 1945.

It was a sobering visit — the economic devastation; the Soviet-era microphones bugging away in our hotel; the angry and impoverished veterans; and the daunting quantities of vodka, champagne and cognac that accompanied us during a weeklong series of banquets. I spoke with Viktor Adamsky, one of the designers of the biggest nuclear bomb of all time, the 50-megaton Tsar Bomba, which was more powerful than all the bombs dropped in World War II.

I’m remembering it now because I’ve recently interviewed Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and a key leader of the US-Russian lab collaboration that led to my trip.

Back when US-Russian relations were thawing

During the time of my trip, relations between Russia and the US were warming, but now they’re cooling once again. That troubles Hecker — even though he spent much of his career designing the nuclear weapons the US aimed at the then-USSR.

It troubles me, as well. I grew up during the Cold War, and I’m not eager to introduce my children to concepts like nuclear winter and megadeath. And even as treaties between the US and Russia fizzle out and the two countries rev up another arms race, worries are piling up about the nuclear weapons capabilities of Iran and North Korea, too.

But Hecker stresses the similarities between the US and Russia — “They’re so much like us,” he says……

Each city benefited from its government’s largesse during the Cold War. “When I first came here, I thought it was a paradise. Such food!” one Sarov man told me. Meanwhile, Los Alamos received a federal funding boost for its schools and its police and fire departments. Each city suffered when government funding dropped with the end of the Cold War. Both cities teem with elite researchers who play important military roles and are curious about what makes the universe tick. Both cities have nuclear weapons museums showing off the hulking casings of early bombs…….

Hecker has a lot more of those connections. He’s friends with plenty of Russians and sees their cultural values as very similar to ours. And he’s keeping his communication links alive even though the US-Russia lab-to-lab collaboration project he helped begin is now all but dead. He’ll take his 57th trip to Russia in November.

The two countries can move past sticking points like NATO’s eastward expansion and Russia’s military action in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Hecker says. Today’s nationalistic fervor might make it hard to defrost the relationship, but seeing the world from the other side’s perspective will help, he says.

“There is absolutely no need for Russia and the US to be adversaries and enemies,” Hecker tells me. “Absolutely none.” https://www.cnet.com/news/i-visited-russia-nuclear-city-sarov-dont-want-to-relive-cold-war/

August 20, 2019 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

Belarus’ forgotten children – victims of Chernobyl’s nuclear radiation

Kevin Barry in Chernobyl: ‘Misha is an example of what happens when a country is on its knees’  Irish Examiner, August 05, 2019 

In 2000 the Irish Examiner sent Kevin Barry, now longlisted for the Booker Prize for his novel Night Boat to Tangier, to Chernobyl. Here we reproduce what he reported

Misha photographed by Eugene Kolzov at the No 1 orphanage in Minsk.Misha, aged seven, is the victim of not one but many sicknesses. His physical disorders, as can be plainly seen, are many and various.

But Misha is the victim of another ailment too, a kind of compassion deficiency.

Chernobyl isn’t fashionable these days, it’s been around so long now. April 26, 1986 seems a long time in the way-distant past. After the initial blurt of paranoia and charitable outreach, the fickle gaze of public interest quickly flicked from the incident at Reactor No 4 to fresher horrors.

Misha, then, has been shuffled way back in the compassion pack. He has fallen behind the other ravaged children who sombrely people the planet’s trouble spots, in places like Mozambique and Ethiopia.

He’s competing with Rwanda and Chechnya. And it’s beginning to tell Misha’s illness is a direct consequence of the Chernobyl explosion.

The radioactive danger in Belarus is not so much in the air now as in the food chain. Professor Yuri Bandashevsky, a dissident scientist, told the Irish Examiner this week that the mutations caused by radiation in children like Misha have by now entered the gene pool and thus the effects of the ‘86 explosion can stretch to infinity.

After criticising the state’s alleged misspending of research money for Chernobyl, Professor Bandashevsky recently found himself banged up in jail for five months, bound at the feet.

Which isn’t the sort of thing that bodes well for the likes of Misha. Some aid continues to filter through. This week, a convoy run by the Chernobyl Children’s Project has been on a drive through Belarus, dispensing almost £2 million in food and medicines.

One of the institutions the orphanage supports is Novinki, a children’s asylum on the outskirts of Minsk. Such is its Dickensian squalor, its actual existence was long denied by the state. This is where you’ll find little Misha.

Project leader Adi Roche says she has known the child since he was a baby, but has been stunned at his deterioration since she last visited in December.

After finding him emaciated and dying this week, the project has placed a Dublin nurse and a local Chernobyl nurse on 24-hour care alert with Misha, an attempt to make whatever is left of his life as painless as possible

“We don’t know how long Misha will live, or if he will live, but we are morally obliged to do everything in our power to attempt saving his life,” said Ms Roche last night.

“‘He is not the only child in Belarus suffering as horrifically as this. he’s just one of many.” she added. “‘These children are the victims of 14 years of neglect by the international community.”’

Many children in Belarus consigned to mental asylums have no mentaI handicap. “All orphaned children with any kind of disability are put into mental asylums if they live beyond the age of four,” she said.

Meanwhile, staffed by1,000 workers, the Chernobyl plant continues operate a couple of kilometres inside the Ukraine border.

The authorities say it will close this year. The concrete sarcophagus built to contain contamination from the reactor has 200 holes and counting.

Orphans of the nuclear age

Kevin Barry, in Chernobyl, finds a land and its people scarred by a disaster from which they may never recover.

Chernobyl at this time of year is beautiful, the borderlands of the Ukraine and Belarus a pastoral and idyllic place. Vast swardes of rich woodland are full of babbling brooks and twittering songbirds, every way you turn, there’s a postcard vista to please even the most jaded eyes.

The locals, however, are edgy. The President of Belarus, Alaksandr Lukashenko — aka ‘Batska’ (‘The Father’) — has decreed that the farmlands here–abouts are now safe to plant and he’s threatening to fly overhead and make sure the workers are toiling.

If not, he says, there will be trouble. Big trouble.

The notion of Batska in an airplane is enough to prompt sleepless nights for those who remain in the Purple Zone, the area most contaminated by the accident in 1986 at Smelter No 4 of the nuclear plant that lies inside the Ukranian border.

In a tragedy of happenstance, because there was a stiff northerly gusting that day, Belarus took the brunt of the damage and because radioactivity is most lethal when it attacks developing human systems, children have borne most of the pain.

But for these children, the most serious ailment is not the thyroid cancer or the leukaemia or the heart trouble or the kidney failure or the various disorders of colon and spleen prompted by Chernobyl.

The greatest danger is the compassion-fatigue. 1986 seems a long time ago now and the incident at Smelter No 4 is no longer swaddled in the necessary event-glamour or crisis-chatter.

When the evening news is an atrocity exhibition, when daily there are hellish dispatches from Mozambique, Ethiopia and Chechnya, the Belarussians fall ever further back in the line.

The foreign correspondents have long since moved on elsewhere. The story of a child developing thyroid cancer over a period of years doesn’t conform neatly with the sound-byte culture.

By this stage, the Belarussians have had enough. A condition of mass denial exists in the country and a native of the village Solchechy in the Purple Zone says that up to around 1993, everybody fretted and freaked out but then they decided, well, to hell with it.

“The mess got to be too much,” she says.

We don’t think about it now. Life is life and we try to get on with it.

This is easier said than done in Belarus. The country’s economy is shot — agriculture was its mainstay and since Chernobyl, the income from farming has been negligible. Almost 30% of the country’s annual turnover goes to the clean-up operation.

Belarus remains the most Soviet of states. There are thickly-piled layers bureaucracy and this tangle of demented protocol regulations and petty restrictions is amorphic, constantly shape-shifting.

The natives have had to develop a stoic acceptance of a hard frustrating life…….. https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/kevin-barry-in-chernobyl-misha-is-an-example-of-what-happens-when-a-country-is-on-its-knees-941735.html

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Belarus, children, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference | Leave a comment

Samantha Smith – a 10 year old who acted to reduce nuclear weapons

Your voice matters in reducing nuclear weapons  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2019/07/31/your-voice-matters-in-reducing-nuclear-weapons.html

August 1, 2019 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Breast cancer: a personal story – connection with nuclear radiation is never explored.

contributed by Kitty  6 July 19  My Boobs Were Busy Breastfeeding My Newborn. Then They Turned On Me.”

The lady worked in South Korea. There are 22 beatup old Nuclear Reactors in South Korea, spewing Tritium and other radionuclides into the small country. Not to mention Fukushima. These factors are never considered, when they write articles like about cancer like this. It is anethema to the Nuclear Security State. The story is tragic. The lady’s ongoing tragedy is not fully explored. A toddler, chemo-therapy while pregnant, advanced inflammatory breast cancer. The story is white-wahsed according to the ongoing ignoraing of Nuclear pollution and cancer, in nuclear countries.

Excerpts from
My Boobs Were Busy Breastfeeding My Newborn. Then They Turned On Me.

m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5d1cd4f3e4b0f312567db790

“i was relieved to be able to dismiss my lumps, since I had a very active 2-year-old who I was trying to potty train, an intense full-time job, and was living abroad in Seoul, South Korea, with no family or close friends around other than my husband.”

LATER

Two days later I received a call. The biopsy results were in. It was a metastatic adenocarcinoma. “We think it originated from your breast,” the radiologist said.

“Excuse me,” I asked. “Did you just tell me that I have cancer?” He asked me to come in for a mammogram, but provided no other information. I went into a tailspin. ”

“After receiving my mammogram, the scans came up immediately. I could clearly see a mass in my right breast. This was not a clogged duct. It was breast cancer. How did this happen to me? I wondered. I thought I had done all the right things!”(blaming herself)

AS IF DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS MAKES ANY DIFFERENCE NOW THAT 1 IN 8 WOMEN DEVELOP BREAST CANCER

The holistic doctor said the cancer was from having a root canal as a child or, maybe the guilt of having been adopted.
The allopathic doctors, blamed her lactation while pregnant, for the cancer and not catching it. Always blame the victims. Never look at the most carcinogenic substances in the universe that are so abundance in HYPER-NUCLEARIZED industrial states like South Korea, Japan, Russia, France The USA , where there are dozens of radionuclide leaking, reactors in each country.

July 6, 2019 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, South Korea | 1 Comment

Chernobyl military survivor reveals secrets

Secrets of Chernobyl spill out more than three decades after the nuclear disaster, By SERGEI L. LOIKO  sergei.l.loiko@gmail.com, JUN 30, 2019| CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE  [good photographs on original]

The measuring device was sounding off loudly on that night 33 years ago, not because of the convoy’s cargo — 30 antiaircraft missiles, three of them tipped with nuclear warheads — but because of where and when the post-midnight parade had kicked off: at the Chernobyl air defense missile base just three days after the explosion of a reactor at the adjacent Chernobyl nuclear power plant that had sent enough radioactivity spewing into the air that it at one point had the potential of poisoning much of Eastern Europe.

Chershnev knew that the missiles, the trucks and his crew were badly contaminated and that they should not have been ordered to drive through a city of more than 2 million people. But there was no bypass road at the time — and orders were orders. What Chershnev didn’t know in the early hours of the morning of April 30, 1986, was that a radioactive cloud had already caught up with them and blanketed the city on the eve of its annual May Day festivities.

The reaction to HBO’s recent “Chernobyl” miniseries has been almost as far-reaching as the initial tragedy and has spurred a daily line of buses packed with foreign tourists at the gate of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, which extends for 20 miles around the plant. But Chernobyl still boasts secrets more than three decades later, including the story of Chershnev and his charges — a saga of dysfunction and disregard for human life that lays bare conditions in the waning years of the Soviet Union.

When the red alert sounded, Chershnev, then the deputy commander and chief engineer of the Kiev Air Defense Brigade, was responsible for the readiness of weaponry and equipment at the Chernobyl antiaircraft battalion’s base in a massive in-ground bunker with 10-inch-thick, rusty metal doors.

These days, the site also features a 10-yard-long missile launcher’s towing trolley, half-buried in silver moss, the former walls of a second smaller bunker surrounded by dense pines and a vast carcass of barracks with missing floorboards, dilapidated walls and a mural of a Soviet soldier cheerfully calling upon comrades to defend the motherland.

Seventy officers and men — ill-informed, unprotected and exposed to deadly radiation — were housed at the site along with the missiles back in 1986, under orders to arduously protect and save the weapons and structures rather than themselves.

The site included the nuclear plant and the Chernobyl over-the-horizon early warning radar station, a 500-meter-long, 150-meter tall installation designed to detect strategic missiles launched from the United States. The now-rusty structure still towers over the area and is a major tourist attraction, a frightening monument to the Cold War that even the complex‘s normally fearless marauders have not attempted to cut into pieces to sell as scrap metal outside the zone, a routine business in these parts.

In the aftermath of the 1986 explosion — as the government evacuated more than 50,000 residents from the town of Pripyat, including the families of nuclear plant workers, plus more than 75,000 residents of nearby villages — the men of the Chernobyl air defense unit stayed put until they received fresh orders.

“Three days after the explosion, on April 29, I arrived at the base with 30 heavy trucks and we loaded on them 30 missiles from the storage hangars,” recalls Chershnev, who headed the evacuation effort. “Twenty-seven of them were conventional, but the other three were tactical rockets with nuclear warheads. We were to take them to a facility outside Boryspil, near Kiev.

“After that, we were ordered to go back and salvage the remaining equipment that could be dismantled.”

The men traveled — without protective gear — for 14 hours at speeds lower than 20 mph as radiation from the explosion leaked into the air.

Chershnev admits he knew the dangers but says he was a career officer and could not disobey orders………….

When Chershnev got back from that trip, he repeated the ritual of burning his uniform.

“No one in the world knows that we existed and what we went through,” he said. “And all for nothing. All so stupid and futile. We didn’t save anyone. We didn’t clean up anything.

“All those I personally know and have kept track of all these years are either badly sick like myself or dead by now. My driver who accompanied me on all the convoys was discharged and died at 28. My fellow deputy brigade commander, … who was also dealing with contaminated equipment, died [in 1995] of cancer. Warrant Officer Petro Pozyura went blind. And so on and so forth. I have a heart ailment and every year spend a couple of weeks in hospital.”

The cardiologist who has been treating Chershnev for the last few years once asked him to retrieve his Chernobyl-era medical records from the military. But Chershnev was told that the records no longer exist.

“Here I am on a pension with a monthly Chernobyl health compensation of about $11 a month,” he concluded bitterly. “It is not even enough to buy a bottle of decent vodka, let alone medicines.”

The official death toll related to the explosion is listed as 39, but out of the officially registered 3.2 million people who were exposed to radiation in Ukraine alone, 1.3 million have died in the last 33 years, said Vladimir Kobchik, a former Chernobyl cleanup worker who is now a leader of a group that aims to protect the rights of fellow survivors.

“For the last four years, the government of Ukraine has been allocating $70 million annually for the needs of the affected. That is $37 per person per year! Not a penny more! How many of those remaining 1.9 million people affected by Chernobyl are sick [and] we can’t even tell? The doctors will never tell you you are sick or dying because of radiation.”……… https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-ukraine-chernobyl-secrets-20190630-story.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Shelby Surdyk, Alaska’s nuclear disarmament youth campaigner

From NYC to Sitka, this Alaskan is taking on nuclear disarmament https://www.ktoo.org/2019/06/13/alaskans-chip-away-at-nuclear-disarmament/  

By Sheli DeLaney, KRNN,  June 13, 2019   On Wednesday’s Juneau Afternoon, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weaponswas a topic of discussion as host Sheli DeLaney sat down with nuclear disarmament advocate Shelby Surdyk.Nuclear disarmament became Surdyk’s cause when she was in high school in Skagway and met a new teacher who had previously taught at the U.S. military base on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands. The central Pacific Ocean nation was the site of U.S. nuclear testing between 1946 and 1958.

The teacher educated students about the history and impact that nuclear weapons testing had on the Marshallese people, and their story left a lasting impression on Surdyk.

“I think that once you become connected to people whose lives have been touched by nuclear weapons testing, it’s a path you can’t turn back from,” she said.

Today, Surdyk is the project manager for HOPE: Alaska’s Youth Congress for the Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a five-day conference for high school students to be held in Sitka in April 2020. The idea for the youth congress was introduced by Veterans for Peace, an organization that opposes the proliferation of nuclear weapons as part of their philosophy.

Surdyk recently attended the 2019 NPT PrepCom, a conference held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City this spring. She will be speaking about her experience over a brown-bag lunch hosted by Veterans for Peace this Friday at noon at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

30 years later, a Soviet general still suffers from effects of radiation at Chernobyl nuclear disaster

YEARS OF HELL General, 85, portrayed in Sky Original’s Chernobyl still suffers crippling radiation disease more than 30 years after disaster https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9239830/sky-original-chernobyl-general-tarakanov-radiation/ By Jacob Dirnhuber 6 Jun 2019,

June 8, 2019 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Ukraine | Leave a comment