The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Japan’s Fukushima Survivors are stigmatised

‘You’re Contaminated’: The Stigma Against Japan’s Fukushima Survivors ,   A 2011 quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, killing thousands and displacing more. Two ‘nuclear refugees’ explain why returning home is more complicated than it seems., Bobbie van der List, 

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the triple disaster that hit the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, when a 9.1 magnitude quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Almost 16,000 people were declared dead.

While the nuclear disaster is becoming a distant memory for most Japanese, for some others it is their everyday reality. Nuclear refugees and evacuees face discrimination, separation from loved ones, and in some cases, they are even forced to return to the former evacuation zone.

The government, worried about people getting exposed to radiation, declared a 20-km evacuation zone around the plant and uprooted close to 165,000 people. As of today, there are still 50,000 people who haven’t returned to Fukushima.

Keiko Owada, 66, is one of them. When I meet her in Tokyo, she refers to the Japanese capital as her home for the past seven years. That will soon change due to the government’s decision to withdraw her free housing subsidies.

Because decontamination work has made progress and food declared safe from radiation, it has been deemed safe to return to most villages within the evacuation zone. The same goes for Owada’s village Naraha, where the evacuation order was lifted two years ago.

Owada is not excited about the prospect of returning to Naraha. “Would I continue to get financial support for my apartment here in Tokyo, I would have stayed here, yes. I’ll tell you why: there is no hospital in Naraha, only a small hospital for first aid. There is no supermarket, only a small convenience store. And the reason is simple: only a few people have returned.”

Life as an evacuee hasn’t always been easy, Owada explains. “It wasn’t like people were treating me any different, but my neighbors never greeted me. I think it’s because of the compensation I received and the free housing. They knew I was from Fukushima, that’s why.”

According to Owada, some of the other evacuees in Tokyo she knows have faced harsher treatment. “I know of others whose cars were damaged on purpose because they had a Fukushima license plate. That’s why I never parked my car in the middle of the parking lot, but always in a corner, so no one could see it.”

If anything, Owada’s story illustrates how many evacuees continued to live in fear. Displaced from their homes, dropped in a new community—the disaster is anything but over for them.

As an evacuee in Tokyo, Owada went back to Fukushima on numerous occasions. She can still recall her first time back in June 2011. The town of Naraha was still a no-go-area, and she and her family only had one hour to visit. “We wore protective clothes against radiation, with only a small plastic bag for gathering some personal belongings. We had too little time, and the bag was too little for our entire family. But I can remember the smell—[there were] rats everywhere and small animals’ feces.”

Of course, there are things she misses about her old town, like growing vegetables and fruits on her land. But it doesn’t take away the concerns she has about the dangers of radiation exposure, despite the government’s reassurance that it is safe to live there.

“Even though the streets and houses are decontaminated, they didn’t even touch with mountains and forests. Radiation hasn’t been cleaned everywhere. My house is right next to the mountains, so my house might get contaminated.”

Akiko Kamata, 66, still remembers how she was surprised by the alarm warning for a tsunami in her village of Odaka. When I meet her at a Tokyo café, she recalls how she sheltered in Fukushima the first few weeks after the disaster. “I still remember taking my first bath after 10 days, it felt so good.”

When Kamata got in touch with relatives living in other parts of Japan, she was shocked to hear one sister-in-law’s initial response. “After the disaster, I wanted to flee to Chiba [a prefecture next to Tokyo], my sister-in-law picked up the telephone and told me I didn’t have to come to their house. ‘You’re contaminated,’ she told me.” 

Eventually she did manage to find a place in Chiba, the region she grew up in as a child. “People were nice to us in Chiba. But still I noticed some skepticism. After I asked the regional authorities for financial support their answer was, ‘No, people in Chiba are victims of the earthquake as well.’”

Kamata did receive a one-off compensation payment from TEPCO: 7 million yen per person, or just over $65,600. Her husband received a similar amount.

Although Kamata is thankful for the financial support, they have not been compensated for the loss of income from their family business in Odaka. “I’m thinking about calling in the help of an organization that specializes evacuees with these type of claims,” she says.

Kamata has decided not to return to Odaka. Her husband’s illness (he suffers from a nerve disease that makes him reliant on Kamata’s support) got worse during the evacuation. She fears that it might worsen if they move back to Fukushima.

As Kamata remembers what life was like back in Fukushima, she uses a handkerchief to wipe a tear from her cheek. She barely speaks to her friends anymore.

“The disaster divided our communities, both physically as well as mentally. People got separated. One friend of mine in Chiba is thinking about divorcing her husband. He wants her to come back to Fukushima, but she doesn’t want this. One reason is exposure to radiation, but there are more reasons, such as her child’s school and the fact that they’ve gotten used to life in Tokyo.”

There is one more story she would like to share, Kamata says while crying. “One friend of mine is a farmer in Odaka. She had 10 cows. They evacuated to Chiba just like me and couldn’t go back to Fukushima to feed the cows. Once they could return for the first time to check on the animals, only three of them were still alive. The others died from starvation, and they were all looking at the same direction—the road the farmers would come from to feed them.”


March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, PERSONAL STORIES, social effects | Leave a comment

The fight for justice for Fukushima nuclear evacuees: the determination of Mrs Mizue Kanno

This woman is winning the fight for justice after Fukushima  by Kazue Suzuki and Shaun Burnie  

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Legal, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Plagued by disease, ridiculed for their explanation: A Three Mile Island ‘survivors’ group is growing

Plagued by disease, ridiculed for their explanation: A TMI ‘survivors’ group is growing, York Daily Record, Joel  12 Feb 18,  


February 17, 2018 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear veterans to be DNA tested

DNA tests for UK’s nuclear bomb veterans 16 February 2018 

Decades ago they witnessed nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific. Now some veterans hope new DNA testing will prove it was responsible for their subsequent ill health, which they say ruined their lives.

“It was awe-inspiring, like another sun hanging in the sky. The blast bowled people over. A few men were on the ground screaming.”

(Picture is not of Bob Fleming. It is of Gomer Hickman) 

Bob Fleming was wearing a T-shirt, khaki shorts and flip flops when the bomb went off.

At just 24, he had just witnessed one of the most powerful weapons on earth detonate on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.

It was 1956 and the Cold War threat was growing.

The RAF serviceman was one of around 22,000 British service personnel who witnessed nuclear weapons tests on mainland Australia, the Montebello Islands off Western Australia and Christmas Island in the South Pacific between 1952 and 1958.

With their backs to the bomb, they felt the intense heat from the explosion first.

Then, after the countdown, they were ordered to turn round and look directly at the huge mushroom cloud in front of them.

“We had no protective clothing,” said Bob, who’s from Downham Market in Norfolk.

“We were guinea pigs. It was so bright I could see the bones in my hands with my eyes closed. It was like an X-ray.”

‘Genetic curse’

The veterans say the nuclear tests ruined their lives, causing cancers, fertility problems and birth defects passed down the generations.

Now 83, the great-grandfather believes that three generations of his family are living with the “genetic curse” of those explosions. Sixteen out of 21 of his descendants have had birth defects or health problems.

His youngest daughter, Susanne Ward, has thyroid problems and severe breathing difficulties, and her teeth fell out prematurely.

“It just gets worse as the next generation comes along. Our grandchildren have similar problems,” Suzanne said.

“My dad blames himself, but it isn’t his fault.”

  • The Fleming family now hope new DNA testing could end decades of uncertainty.Last week, the UK’s first Centre for Health Effects of Radiological and Chemical Agents was launched at Brunel University in London.One of its projects is a three-year genetic study looking for any possible damage to the veterans’ DNA caused by the tests.

    Blood samples will be taken from 50 veterans who were stationed at nuclear test sites, and compared with a control group of 50 veterans who served elsewhere.

    Blood will also be taken from their wives and any children they have together.

    Dr Rhona Anderson, who is leading the study, said a major question to answer is whether “there is a genetic legacy of taking part at these nuclear tests”.

    “If no differences (in the DNA) are seen between test and control groups then this will be reassuring for the nuclear community.”

    ‘No valid evidence link’

    Fewer than 3,000 nuclear veterans are still alive today.

    They cannot volunteer for the study, as that might lead to bias in the results.

    Veterans will be selected using military service records and information available about those who were most at risk of exposure to radiation.

    The Ministry of Defence says it is grateful to Britain’s nuclear test veterans for their service, but maintains there is no valid evidence to link participation in these tests to ill health.

    The UK is the only nuclear power to deny special recognition and compensation to its bomb test veterans.

    The veterans took their case for compensation to the highest court in the land and lost in 2012.

    The Supreme Court Justices said the veterans would face great difficulty proving a link between their illnesses and the tests.

    In 2015 the Aged Veterans’ Fund was set up by the government using bank industry fines. It will help to fund a series of social and scientific projects.

    Doug Hern, who’s 81, and his wife Sandie, from Lincolnshire have been campaigning tirelessly for years.

    When Doug was 21 he saw five nuclear explosions on Christmas Island and has suffered ill health ever since.

    He said is skeleton is “crumbling”. He has skin problems and bone spurs.

    His daughter died, aged 13, from a cancer so rare it did not have a name. He believes this was a consequence of her inheriting his “corrupted genes”.

    Sandie Hern is vice-chair of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association (BNTVA)

    “The veterans have been treated abominably. They’ve been forgotten. We need this research to see if anything can be done to help their children,” she said.

    The overall aim of the new centre at Brunel is to work closely with the veteran community to improve their health and well-being in the future.

    After years of personal suffering, the Flemings want to have their DNA tested and are waiting to hear if they have been selected.

    Six decades on, nuclear families are still living in the aftermath of the bomb tests, and searching for answers.


February 17, 2018 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“It was complete chaos” says Hanford worker who inhaled plutonium

The worker tested positive for inhalation of the potential lethal nuclear isotope of plutonium – a key ingredient to the production of nuclear bombs and warheads., KGW8 News: Susannah Frame, February 13, 2018  A Hanford worker directly impacted by safety failures at an extremely dangerous demolition project at the site has granted an interview to KING 5.

The worker tested positive for inhalation of the potential lethal nuclear isotope of plutonium – a key ingredient to the production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

“I’m pissed. I’m scared, like we all are, that sooner or later it’s going to bite me and I’m going to end up with cancer,” said the contaminated worker.

For fear of retaliation, the worker does not want to be identified. Eight months ago, on June 8, the person was one of hundreds working on the demolition of Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP). The workers were told to ‘take cover’ as a ‘precaution’ because monitors detected radioactive plutonium particles could be in the air.

But the event ended up not being precautionary whatsoever. The contractor in charge of the demolition, CH2M Hill, had an enormous problem on its hands.

“It was complete chaos. It was a mess,” said the worker.

Indeed, radioactive particles had escaped and spread outside the demolition zone. Hundreds of workers were eventually tested. Thirty-one of them got bad news: They had inhaled or ingested plutonium, which emits alpha radiation, the worst kind of radiation to get inside your body.

“Plutonium will go to the bones and sit there for a long, long time,” said Dr. Erica Liebelt, a toxicologist and executive director, as well as medical director, of the Washington Poison Center.

“Your risks are lung cancer, liver cancer, and bone cancer. That’s where plutonium heads in the body.”  “(After being told no one was hurt) I was angry. You carry that with you for the rest of your life. It’s a cancer causer,” said the worker interviewed by KING 5.

The PFP is where, for decades, the Hanford workforce produced plutonium buttons, a key component of building nuclear warheads throughout the Cold War. The buildings left behind were the most lethally radioactive structures on the entire 586-square-mile Hanford reservation.

After that event in June CH2M Hill increased safeguards and promised to do better. But six months later the job got out of control again. More plutonium began escaping outside the demolition control zone on December 15. Instead of getting to the bottom of it right away, CH2M Hill waited two days to halt the job.

Radioactive particles ended up on all kinds of items including worker’s boots, office trailers, jersey barriers, tumbleweeds.

And elevated airborne levels of plutonium were recorded at an employee exit right next to a public highway.

“The response was awful. To me (waiting was) unforgivable, inexcusable. That should never have happened and this contractor ought to be on the hot seat,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director of the advocacy group Hanford Challenge.

The plutonium spread also made it onto cars. The KING 5 Investigators have found 36 cars total. Seven of them were personal vehicles, driven off the site by unsuspecting employees. The vehicles, with contamination on them, were driven into town and to their homes. One of those cars belongs to the worker who was contaminated internally six months earlier. …..

Once you have contamination that gets on private party’s cars and then gets driven off the Hanford Site it’s a big concern for us,” said Alex Smith of the Washington state Department of Ecology. Smith is the state’s top-ranking regulator for the state over Hanford.

On January 9, the Department of Ecology and the EPA sent a joint letter to U.S Department of Energy officials to communicate their great concern. For the first time in Hanford’s history, the regulators enacted a provision allowing them to halt work on a project due to a “creation of danger” to people and the environment.

The two regulatory agencies said the project demonstrated so much risk that they were shutting it down until the federal government could prove they could proceed safely…….


February 14, 2018 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Death of a hero who saved White Sea from nuclear disaster

Captain who saved White Sea from nuclear disaster dies at 67, Barents Observer  When a training missile exploded in the silo, Captain Igor Grishkov immediately dived his enormous Typhoon submarine to flush away burning rocket fuel before the other nuclear weapon-tipped missiles were set on fire.  By Thomas Nilsen, February 03, 2018

One of Russia’s most unknown heros, submarine captain Igor Grishkov, is dead 67 years old, the blog site Korabel reports. After retirement, he moved to Severodvinsk by the White Sea where he lived until his death this week.

Severodvinsk Mayor, Igor Skubenko, is quoted saying Captain Grishkov will remain forever in the history of Severodvinsk and his successful experience and struggle to rescue the submarine will be adopted by many other submarine commanders.

Failed coup in Moscow

What happened in the White Sea in September 1991 is little known to open public sources. Captain Igor Grishkov was sailing out the White Sea to the area where he was told to launch a ballistic test missile supposed to hit the designated target on the Chukotka Peninsula in the Far East of the Soviet Union.

Grishkov’s vessel, TK-17, was the fifth of the six giant Typhoon class submarines……..

The Typhoon submarines and the on board SS-N-20 nuclear missiles are designed to launch its nuclear weapons from submerged position. So also for this test on September 27, 1991.

10-9-8-7-6….. , then suddenly the missile exploded, blowing off the cover of the silo. Captain Grishkov ordered his men in the command centre of the submarine to blow the tanks with air and make an emergency surfacing. At surface, the crew could see a massive fireball over the deck.

All 20 nuclear missile-silos on the Typhoons are in front of the tower.

The fire came from the solid propellant of the exploded missile that had leaked inside the silo and all around the deck near the blown-to-pieces part of the silo-cover. Also the rubber-cover of the outer hull was on fire. Within seconds, Captain Grishkov reportedly understood the danger. What would happen if the fire spread and triggered overheating of the highly flammable propellant in the other 19 missiles. Those who were not on board for test shooting but aimed for real nuclear war.

Dive man, dive!

There was only one option; dive down again and hope the seawater would extinguish the fire. He warned his crew members in the missile compartment to be prepared for flooding. Diving a more than 30,000 tons heavy vessel just after emergency surfacing is not easy, its dangerous and its risky.

But the alternative was so much worse.

The commanders on bridge managed the task quickly and then surfaced again. The manoeuvre was successful and a real nuclear catastrophe in the White Sea was miraculously prevented……….

Back in port, the accident was kept secret to most people. Damage control was done, the burnt silo was cleaned and sealed off and the rubber on the outer hull was repaired. The silo in question was never used again, and TK-17 continued to sail with 19 missiles until she was laid up in 2004 and put in reserve.

Although the heroically saving of his crew and submarine, Captain Igor Grishkov was never awared with the medal “Hero of the Soviet Union” or today’s “Hero of Russia”.  …….



February 5, 2018 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Russia | Leave a comment

Nadezhda Kutepova and the growing danger for anti nuclear activists in Russia

CRACKDOWN IN RUSSIA: CRITICS ACCUSE NUCLEAR AUTHORITIES OF SOVIET-STYLE COVER-UPS AND HEAVY-HANDED TACTICS, Newsweek, BY MARC BENNETTS One thing that’s clear: The risks are growing for environmental and human rights activists who take on the powerful nuclear agency. Just ask Nadezhda Kutepova, 45, the head of a human rights organization that helped the victims of radiation pollution in and around Ozyorsk. “At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the reports about the radioactive pollution, but as soon as I heard that Rosatom had said everything was OK and that Mayak officials were denying an accident had taken place, I started to monitor the situation,” she tells Newsweek. “These are very cynical people.”

Kutepova was born in Ozyorsk in 1974. Her father worked at Mayak for 35 years and took part in the 1957 clean-up. He died of cancer in 1985, but the Soviet authorities never officially admitted that the illness was linked to his job. In 2007, after a long legal battle, Kutepova forced the government to recognize her father as a victim of occupational radiation sickness. Neither Kutepova nor her mother, however, received compensation.

Kutepova didn’t fight only for her family. She also tried to force Rosatom to pay for medical treatment for locals affected by illnesses related to decades of atomic pollution. In 2013, Kutepova discovered the first known case of third-generation radiation sickness in the region. The case involved a 6-year-old girl named Regina Khasanova who died of cancer. Medical experts said her death was caused by genetic mutations that resulted from the radiation her grandmother was exposed to during the 1957 clean-up at Mayak.

Two years later, Kutepova was forced to flee Russia after state TV accused her of trying to exploit the nuclear issue to foment revolution. Another report said she was attempting to destroy Russia’s nuclear deterrent on behalf of the United States. The purported evidence? Her human rights group received financing from the U.S. government–funded National Endowment for Democracy, which Russian officials have accused of seeking to topple Putin. (The NED says its aim is to promote worldwide democracy.) “We never covered up this funding,” Kutepova says. “We also received funds from organizations in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.”

One of the televised reports even showed the door to Kutepova’s apartment, which caused her to fear for her safety. Kutepova and her four children now live in France, where she has political asylum…….


December 22, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, PERSONAL STORIES, Russia | Leave a comment

My people are still suffering from Australia’s secret nuclear testing Sue Coleman-Haseldine, 

My name is Sue Coleman-Haseldine. I was born into poverty on the margins of Australian society on the Aboriginal mission of Koonibba in 1951. At this time my people were not allowed to vote and we had very few means to be understood, let alone be heard.

I was born into one of the oldest living cultures known on Earth and into a place that I love – a dusty, arid paradise on the edge of a rugged coastline. Our land and waters are central to our outlook and religion and provide the basis for my people’s health and happiness.

And I was born just before the desert lands to our north were bombed by the deadliest weapons on Earth in an extensive, secretive and devastating manner by the Australian and British governments.

In the 1950s, areas known as Emu Fields and Maralinga were used to test nine full-scale atomic bombs and for 600 other nuclear tests, leaving the land highly radioactive. We weren’t on ground zero, but the dust didn’t stay in one place. The winds brought the poison to us and many others.

Aboriginal people, indeed many people at that time, knew nothing about the effects of radiation. We didn’t know the invisible killer was falling amongst us. Six decades on, my small town of Ceduna is being called the Cancer Capital of Australia. There are so many deaths in our region of various cancers. My grand-daughter and I have had our thyroids removed, and there are many others in our area with thyroid problems. Fertility issues appear common.

 But there has been no long-term assessment of the health impacts in the region and even those involved in the botched clean-ups of the test sites have no recourse because they cannot prove their illness is linked with exposure to nuclear weapons testing.

The impact of the Maralinga and Emu Fields testing has had far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today. Ask a young person from my area, “What do you think you will die from?” The answer is, “Cancer, everyone else is”.

I have lived my life learning about the bomb tests and also learning that the voice of my people and others won’t always be understood or heard. But I learnt from old people now gone that speaking up is important and by joining with others from many different places and backgrounds that our voices can be amplified.

Through these steps I found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), or perhaps ICAN found me.

ICAN – as an organisation, as a collective of passionate, educated people working for a clear goal – has been so important to me. To know that my story and my voice helps bring recognition to the past and can shape the future of nuclear prohibition has strengthened my resolve.

Being involved in ICAN has been a double-edged sword. On one hand and for the first time in my life, I no longer feel alone or isolated. I have met others from many parts of the globe who have similar stories and experiences and who are passionate advocates for a nuclear-free future.

But the flip side of this is my understanding of just how widespread and just how devastating the nuclear weapons legacy is across the globe. To learn that so many weapons still exist sends fear to my heart. ICAN is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – in a short time we have gathered support for a treaty to finally outlaw nuclear weapons and help eliminate the nuclear threat.

The vision was reached in part with so many nations adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017. And we should celebrate this win and the opportunity to work together to stop the suffering and assist countries to make amends to nuclear weapons victims by acknowledging the permanent damage done to land, health and culture.

Unfortunately, the Australian government, along with other first world nations, didn’t even participate in the treaty negotiations, and they haven’t signed the treaty yet, but over time we feel confident they will.

A lot has changed since I was born. Aboriginal people now have the right to vote in Australia, but still we battle for understanding about our culture and the Australian nuclear weapons legacy. My home is still remote and most of my people still poor. But we are also no longer alone. We have the means and the will to participate – to share and to learn and to bring about lasting change.

ICAN’s work is not done, our work is not done. We will continue to work together. A world without nuclear weapons is a world we need and are creating. I stand here in hope and gratitude for the opportunity to participate. I stand here with pride and I stand here for our future and the generations to come.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine is a Kokatha woman who lives in Ceduna, South Australia. This is an extract of her speech in Oslo marking the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN.​


December 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Aboriginal grandmother to testify on nuclear bomb test damage at Maralinga site, in Australia

World spotlight shines on Maralinga horror   Lisa Martin, 30 Nov 17,  Sue Coleman-Haseldine was a toddler crawling around in the dirt when the winds brought the black mist.

Her white nappies on the washing line were burnt.

It was in the 1950s when the British began testing nuclear weapons at Maralinga in the South Australian outback.

The legacy of the bombs dropped continues to haunt the 67-year-old Aboriginal grandmother. “We weren’t on ground zero at Maralinga, otherwise we would all be dead,” she told AAP. “I was born and grew up on a mission at Koonibba, but the winds came to us.”

Ceduna, the main township before the Nullarbor, is the cancer capital of Australia, Ms Coleman-Haseldine says. She’s had her thyroid removed and will be on medication for the rest of her life.

Her 15-year-old granddaughter is also battling thyroid cancer..

There are birth defects and cancers right across the community. “It’s changed our genes,” she said.”These diseases weren’t around before the bombs.”

On December 10, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will be in Oslo for the Noble Peace Prize award ceremony.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is being recognised for its work to achieve a treaty-based ban on nuclear weapons.

So far 122 countries have adopted the treaty, excluding Australia and countries with nuclear weapons – the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

Only three countries have ratified the treaty and 50 are needed for it to become international law.

ICAN is a grassroots movement that began in Carlton, Melbourne more than a decade ago.

In Norway, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will tell the story of her people and their contaminated land.”You’ve got to keep the past alive to protect the future,” she said.

Ms Coleman-Haseldine hopes Australia will reverse its opposition and sign the treaty.

The Turnbull government has ruled that out but the Labor Party will debate the issue at its national conference next year.


December 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Gaol for Australian anti-war protestors at USA’s secret base in theAustralian desert

An American Spy Base Hidden in Australia’s Outback, NYT   The trials — and the Australian government’s uncompromising prosecution of the protesters — has put a spotlight on a facility that the United States would prefer remain in the shadows.

— Margaret Pestorius arrived at court last week in her wedding dress, a bright orange-and-cream creation painted with doves, peace signs and suns with faces. “It’s the colors of Easter, so I always think of it as being a resurrection dress,” said Ms. Pestorius, a 53-year-old antiwar activist and devout Catholic, who on Friday was convicted of trespassing at a top-secret military base operated by the United States and hidden in the Australian outback.


November 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear radiation harmed 3 generations of family, claims British veteran

Veteran claims three generations of family left with deformities due to nuclear test radiation exposure  Luke Powell,, @LukePowell88  13 November 2017 

When Robert Fleming watched one of the world’s most powerful weapons detonate 60 years ago, little did he know of the lasting impact it would have on future generations. Aged just 24, the RAF serviceman was stationed on an island in the Pacific Ocean when Britain tested its first megaton-class thermonuclear bomb.

Now aged 83, he believes his prolonged exposure to radiation in the following weeks has led to deformities in three generations of his family.

He said his grandson and great grandson suffered problems with their genitals, while his youngest daughter was born with extra knuckles.

In total, he said eight members of his family – mostly grandchildren and great grandchildren – were born with severe health defects.

Mr Fleming is one of several veterans from Norfolk who claim their ill health is linked to the nuclear bomb tests they witnessed in the 1950s.

Many have now shared their stories to mark the 60th anniversary of the UK’s first true hydrogen bomb test on November 8, 1957, codenamed Grapple X.

Around 22,000 men, many on National Service, were ordered to Australia and Christmas Island in the South Pacific from 1952 to witness the explosion of dozens of atomic and hydrogen bombs.

In the following years, many reported increased cases of blood, thyroid and tongue cancers, as well as rare blood disorders. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has always denied blame.

Mr Fleming, who lives in Downham Market, was on a beach on Christmas Island during the Grapple X test.

He was one of around 3,000 servicemen stationed within a 23-mile radius of the planned detonation point.

The men, who were from the RAF, Navy and Army, were given no protective clothing or individual dosimeters to measure radiation levels. Instead, they were told to sit with their backs to the blast and cover their eyes.

Mr Fleming, who also took part in the Grapple Y test months later, believed radioactive fallout contaminated water sources on the island.

He said: “We used to swim in the sea and in the lagoons, shower in sea water and eat fish that were caught there.

“It was all contaminated, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”

Mr Fleming said he avoided any major health issues until his later years.

Instead, it was his youngest daughter who was the first to show signs of ill-health. She was born with extra knuckles on both hands, and lost her teeth by the time she was 30.

His wife, Jean, 79, said: “It was frightening. When one of our children fell pregnant we would just think ‘please god let them be alright’.

“But they just started getting more and more wrong with them.”

Mrs Fleming said one grandson was born with his knee caps out of place, while another suffered from a condition affecting his genitals.

Their great grandchildren, meanwhile, suffer from a wide range of health defects, including having no enamel on their teeth, hypermobility, eyesight problems, and genital issues.

Fellow Grapple X veteran Derek Chappell, who lives in Swaffham, said he developed a rare blood disorder decades after the tests.

Known as polycythaemia vera, the condition causes too many red blood cells to be produced in the bone marrow. Cancer Research UK said exposure to radiation can increase the risk of developing the disorder.

Mr Chappell, who was 20 when he witnessed the explosion, had been tasked with recording the blast from the back of an old signals truck.

The 81-year-old said: “There has to be justice for what has happened, but of course everyone who was involved is now getting on a bit.”

Earlier this year, London’s Brunel University announced it was launching a study looking at possible genetic damage caused to nuclear test veterans.

Blood samples were taken from 50 men present at explosions in Christmas Island and South Australia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Samples will also be taken from the men’s wives and children to see if any genetic damage has been passed on.

The UK remains the only nuclear power to deny recognition to its bomb test veterans. France, Russia, the USA, China, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and even the Isle of Man all admit their citizens were harmed by radiation and pay some form of compensation.

My gums started to bleed and my teeth fell out

Veteran David Freeman said his gums started to bleed in the weeks after the Grapple X test.

And within a year, the 78-year-old, from Thorpe St Andrew, said his teeth started to fall out.

But, much like fellow test veteran Robert Fleming, Mr Freeman said it was not just himself who has suffered.

He claimed his daughter also started to lose her teeth, while one grandchild was born deaf, and another only had one kidney.

Mr Freeman, meanwhile, has suffered bowel and bladder cancer.

“When you are exposed to something in the megaton range, you are bound to be affected by radiation of some sort,” he said.

“We must have had the lot, because when it rained on the island, we were walking through six to seven inches of water.”

He also claimed there was an instance on Christmas Island where discoloured rain fell from the sky – a claim backed up by other veterans.

MoD response

The MoD said it was “grateful” to those who participated in the British nuclear testing programme.

But it added: “Other than what we have paid out for, we have seen no valid evidence to link these tests to ill health.”

The MoD said there was no published peer-reviewed evidence of excess illness or mortality among nuclear test veterans as a group, which could be linked to their participation in the tests, and claimed there were “state-of-the-art” procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of those taking part.

The MoD said a possible increase in leukaemia in the first 25 years had been identified. As a result, awards were made under the War Pensions Scheme.

Nuclear test veterans took their case to the Supreme Court but in March 2012 seven justices handed down a majority decision in favour of the MoD.

It said: “All seven justices recognised the veterans would face great difficulty proving a causal link between illnesses suffered and attendance at the tests.”

The nuclear tests

Operation Grapple was the code-name given to a series of nuclear weapon tests carried out by the British in the late 1950s.

Between 1957 and 1958, nine hydrogen bombs were detonated at Malden Island and Christmas Island.

The first series of Grapple tests at Malden Island failed to reach the predicted destructive yield.

But months later on November 8, the Grapple X thermonuclear bomb was dropped by a Valiant bomber five miles off the south east point of Christmas Island.

It detonated after 52 seconds of freefall and created Britain’s first megaton-class explosion, with a yield of 1.8 megatons, 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The following test, Grapple Y, was in April 1958 and became the most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested by the UK, with a yield of around three megatons.

In 1958, a moratorium came into effect and Britain never resumed atmospheric testing.

DDT spray over Christmas Island

Radioactive fallout was not the only potential health risk to those stationed on Christmas Island.

Test veteran Gordon Wilcox, 80, from Attleborough, said aircraft would regularly spray the island with the insecticide DDT.

The substance was banned by most developed countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Wilcox, who is chairman of the Anglia branch of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA), said: “There is credible anecdotal evidence to the effect that many individuals would eat their meals in the open air to escape the heat in the mess tents.

“Consequently, they and their food would be invariably exposed to the spray.”

Tests veteran Ron Neal, who attended the anniversary event in Norwich on Wednesday, managed to photograph an aircraft spraying the chemical.

The BNTVA said tests found that DDT is of low hazard and low toxicity to man


November 15, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow to accept Nobel Peace Prize

Canadian who survived Hiroshima nuclear bomb to accept Nobel Peace Prize. This is her story

Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow Recalls U.S. Bombing

‘We learned how to step over the dead bodies’: Setsuko Thurlow, 85, was 13 when she survived the attack. She has spent her life since campaigning against nuclear weapons Setsuko Thurlow will be in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10 to jointly accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of this year’s laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The 85-year-old Toronto resident is a Hibakusha — a survivor of the atomic attacks on Japan in 1945. Her hometown of Hiroshima was destroyed by the Americans on August 6, 1945.

Thurlow’s sister, burned and bloated from the blast, lived for four days afterwards. When she spoke, what she expressed was a mother’s guilt: Her child had been badly burned. How could she have let it happen?

“It’s not easy to carry these memories,” Thurlow says. “We learned how to step over the dead bodies.” She recalls feeling numb. She couldn’t cry. All she could do was watch, as Japanese soldiers tossed the lifeless bodies of her sister, Ayako, and her four-year-old nephew, Eiji, into a shallow grave, dousing them with gasoline, throwing in a match. Thurlow was 13.

She has spent much of her life since campaigning against nuclear weapons.

Her weapon is her words — and her resolve to keep telling the story. Thurlow sat down with the National Post at her home in Toronto.


October 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Nagasaki nuclear bomb survivor warns America and North Korea, calls for negotiation

‘It kills slowly, painfully’: Nagasaki atomic explosion survivor has a message for US, North Korea

Nobu Hanaoka was only 8-months-old when the US dropped Fat Man — a Plutonium bomb — on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Sep 25, 2017  HT Correspondent  Hindustan Times, New Delhi 

“Does he have all five fingers?” This was a Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor’s first question to the doctor when his son was born.Nobu Hanaoka, 73, says he was relieved when the doctor replied that his son was in perfect health. “I had hoped that the radiation did not affect the child,” Hanaoka told Al Jazeera.

Hanaoka was only eight months old when the US dropped ‘Fat Man’ — a Plutonium bomb — on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, killing about 74,000 people. Three days before, ‘Little Boy’ — the first-ever atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima — had claimed 140,000 lives.

Hanaoka — clad in a simple, grey coat, has a message for the United States and North Korea as tensions escalate between the two countries over the possibility of a nuclear war.

“This is the kind of weapon that doesn’t just kill. It kills indiscriminately. It kills slowly and painfully.”

“And it shouldn’t be allowed on the surface of the Earth,” the survivor says after a pause.

“We were not even in the city of Nagasaki. We were outside. And yet the radiation that came from the bombing went far beyond the city limits,” Hanaoka said, before explaining the three ways an atomic bomb can kill.

Hanaoka’s mother and sister died due to radiation when he was six, he says, adding that he overheard the doctor telling his father the boy wouldn’t live to see his 10th birthday. “So I knew that I was not going to live long,” Hanaoka says in the video.

The atomic bomb survivor says he was always concerned for his health and feared he was dying when he got a simple cold. He also had survivor’s guilt, a mental condition in which a person feels remorse for surviving a traumatic event when others did not. “Why did my sister and mother, who were wonderful people… beautiful and smart and gentle, and they had to die.”

“And yet, I, who am not unworthy, am still alive?”

“I want all nations to come together and start finding a way of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether,” Hanaoka tells Al Jazeera after warning that there will be millions of casualties if either the US or North Korea is attacked with radioactive weapons.

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations General Assembly last week that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Trump, too, dialled up the rhetoric against North Korea over the weekend, warning Ho that he and its leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” as Pyongyang staged a major anti-US rally.

The North had threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and fired two missiles over the northern island of Hokkaido in the space of less than a month. Pyongyang said this month it had carried out an underground test on a hydrogen bomb estimated to be 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. It was its sixth and largest nuclear test.

Survivors of Hiroshima-Nagasaki — the only two nuclear attacks in the history of mankind — warned of the threat of atomic weapons in a photo essay by the Time magazine last month. It quoted another survivor Fujio Torikoshi (86) as saying all he wanted was to forget the bombing. “We cannot continue to sacrifice precious lives to warfare. All I can do is pray – earnestly, relentlessly – for world peace.”


September 30, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference | Leave a comment

Remembering an intelligent man who saved the world from WW3

‘I was just doing my job’: Soviet officer who averted nuclear war dies at age 77 

Soviet officer saves world from Armageddon – Cold War unknown facts 

A decision that Soviet lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov once took went down in history as one that stopped the Cold War from turning into nuclear Armageddon, largely thanks to Karl Schumacher, a political activist from Germany who helped the news of his heroism first reach a western audience nearly two decades ago.

On September 7, Schumacher, who kept in touch with Petrov in the intervening years, phoned him to wish him a happy birthday, but instead learned from Petrov’s son, Dmitry, that the retired officer had died on May 19 in his home in a small town near Moscow.

On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov was on duty in charge of an early warning radar system in a bunker near Moscow, when just past midnight he saw the radar screen showing a single missile inbound from the United States and headed toward the Soviet Union.

“When I first saw the alert message, I got up from my chair. All my subordinates were confused, so I started shouting orders at them to avoid panic. I knew my decision would have a lot of consequences,” Petrov recalled of that fateful night in an interview with RT in 2010.

“The siren went off for a second time. Giant blood-red letters appeared on our main screen, saying START. It said that four more missiles had been launched,” he said. From the moment the warheads had taken off, there was only half an hour for the Kremlin to decide on whether to push the red button in retaliation and just 15 minutes for Petrov to determine whether the threat was real and report to his commanders.

“My cozy armchair felt like a red-hot frying pan and my legs went limp. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up. That’s how nervous I was when I was taking this decision,” he told RT.

Taught that in case of a real attack the US would have gone on an all-out offensive, Petrov told his bosses the alarm must have been caused by a system malfunction.
“I’ll admit it, I was scared. I knew the level of responsibility at my fingertips,” he said.

It was later revealed that what the Soviet satellites took for missiles launch was sunlight reflected from clouds. Petrov’s action, however, received no praise, and he was scolded for not filling in a service journal. His superiors were blamed for the system’s flaws. “My superiors were getting the blame and they did not want to recognize that anyone did any good, but instead chose to spread the blame.”

For over 10 years, the incident was kept secret as highly classified. Even Petrov’s wife, Raisa, who died in 1997, didn’t know anything of the role her husband played in averting nuclear war.

That was until 1998, when Petrov’s superintendent, Colonel General Yury Votintsev, spoke out and a report about the officer’s quiet deed appeared in the German tabloid Bild.

“After reading this report, I was as if struck by thunder,” Karl Schumacher wrote in his blog.

“I could not get rid of the idea that I had to do something for the man who prevented an atomic war and thus saved the world,” says Schumacher, for whom “nuclear threat was so real for decades.”

Schumacher flew to Russia to find the man who saved the world, and found him living in a flat in Fryazino, northeast of Moscow. Schumacher invited Petrov to the German town of Oberhausen, so that locals would find out about the episode of when the world was teetering on the edge of nuclear catastrophe.

During his stay in Germany, Petrov appeared on local TV and gave interviews to several daily newspapers. Global recognition followed that trip, with major awards presented to him. In 2006, the Association of World Citizens handed him an award, which reads: “To the man who averted nuclear war,” in the UN headquarters in New York.

In 2012, Petrov was honored with the German Media Prize, also awarded to Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and Kofi Annan. Next year he received another accolade, the Dresden Peace Prize, with the prize given by a 25-year-old Dresden resident, who “belongs to the generation that would not have survived had it not been for Stanislav Petrov.”

Based on his story, the movie “The man who saved the world”premiered in 2014, featuring actor Kevin Costner. The actor sent Petrov $500 as a “thank you” for making the right decision.

“At first when people started telling me that these TV reports had started calling me a hero, I was surprised. I never thought of myself as one – after all, I was literally just doing my job,” Petrov said.


September 18, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Remembering America’s nuclear scientists of The Mahattan Project, those who died young because of nuclear radiation

Paul Waldon, fight to stop nuclear waste dump in flinders ranges sa, 15 Sept 17, Today the 15th of September is another red letter day in the nuclear arena, with the 72nd anniversary of the death of Haroutune Krikor “Harry” Daglian, physicist with the Manhattan Project. Harry was NOT the only person working on the project to die from “Acute Radiation Syndrome” but he was the youngest at only 24 years of age. Three members of the big four were to follow Harry to a early grave with cancer deemed to be from the radiation they were subjected to during their time on the Manhattan and other projects. The contaminated materials left over from the development of the bombs are still having a impact on life and the environment, and will continue to do so for generations. However the deaths and contamination on American soil from the development of the bombs, outnumber Japans. RIP Harry.


September 16, 2017 Posted by | health, history, PERSONAL STORIES, radiation, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment