Ex-Hanford nuclear facility employee gravely ill after inhaling toxic fumes Nuclear worker: ‘Retaliation is very real at Hanford’ Susannah Frame, KING5.com, July 29, 2016 A veteran worker at the Hanford Site says he was harassed, isolated and reassigned to cleaning tasks after he made repeated attempts to bring attention to safety problems in the lab where he works.
“Retaliation and harassment is very, very real at Hanford and that’s a fact. I lived it and I’m living it right now,” said Dave Lee, an instrument technician assigned to the 222-S Lab at Hanford. “I’m cleaning closets and I’m replacing filters and if that’s not degrading and retaliatory, explain to me what is.”
Ex-Hanford nuclear facility employee gravely ill after inhaling toxic fumes
The 222 S Lab is a 70,000 square foot facility operated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS). Work in the lab consists of analyzing samples of lethal radioactive nuclear waste taken from underground storage tanks.
Technicians also analyze vapors captured from the headspaces of the tanks. The vapors contain a mix of poisonous chemicals that were used to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods. Production took place at Hanford from the 1940s through the 1980s to support the country’s nuclear weapons program. Since then, work at the site has been exclusively dedicated to cleanup – one of biggest environmental remediation projects in the world.
Since last November, Lee says he’s repeatedly brought up safety concerns related to a piece of machinery used to analyze vapors. He noticed oil leaking from a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) instrument. A GC-MC machine measures the presence of selected chemicals in materials fed into it.
His research of the GC-MC factory manuals found that oil in the GC-MC is contaminated with whatever is being tested. That means toxic vapors could be emanating from the oil, into the breathing space of lab workers, who don’t wear protective gloves or respiratory protection as WRPS has never required it.
According to the Clarus 560/600 MS Hardware Guide: “When using toxic samples, the mechanical pump oil is toxic waste….If you were running toxic samples, the oil is contaminated as toxic waste. Handle and dispose of waste oil appropriately.”
“I come to find out this roughing pump oil is part of the process stream (which means it’s in contact with contaminated substances),” said Lee. “I was mad (when I found out)……..
According to a discrimination complaint filed against WRPS with the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Lee reported his concerns to many people, including his direct manager and other managers present in lab meetings, the maintenance manager of the lab, the site wide manager of the lab, a field representative from the Defense Facilities Nuclear Safety Board, members of the Department of Energy’s Employee Concerns Council, the Employee Concerns Council manager, in addition to writing up a Problem Evaluation Request (PER) about inadequate venting in the lab. PERs are designed to formally document a concern that is supposed to be addressed by the company.
Lee said after all that, nothing changed. Managers allegedly told him not to worry about it.
“’This is common practice, Dave. You’re fine,’” was the alleged response.
That led to a more dramatic action. On May 2, Lee issued what is called a stop work action at the lab. All Hanford workers have the right to shut work down if they feel the conditions are unsafe. Lee wanted no work to take place with the oil until it was fully analyzed to ascertain if it were indeed hazardous. The next day, WRPS human resources asked for his badge. He was sent home, placed on “investigative removal” for allegations of “extremely serious misconduct”……..
According to a newly released report from the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, Dave Lee’s experience isn’t isolated. The investigators found the U.S. Department of Energy routinely allows “unlawful retaliation” perpetrated by its contractors at sites such as Hanford.
“It’s clear the Department of Energy contractors are going to go to amazing lengths to send a signal to their employees that when you blow the whistle it is going to be the end of your career,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in response to the GAO findings………
Pattern at Hanford
Hanford has been embroiled in high-profile whistleblower retaliation cases in recent years. ……..http://www.king5.com/news/local/investigations/nuclear-worker-retaliation-is-very-real-at-hanford/283622616
his affiliations with questionable institutes, corporations focused on energy-for-profits, and government agencies whose interests very likely contradict the people’s, brings to question the validity of his expertise on the matter of nuclear energy, as it very well may be influenced by those who funded and mandated his research.
The news that the EPA plans to raise the allowed dosage of radiation should not only concern you, it should piss you off; there is nothing “safe” about ionizing radiation, and the only reason the public is being convinced otherwise is so the US government can keep hold of nuclear technology.
Radioactive Drinking Water in the U.S. Raises the Nuclear Debate, WeAre Anonymous, July 18th, 2016 | by EV Reports have recently surfaced that the EPA plans to raise the allowable radioactivity levels in drinking water by 3,000 times, which is the equivalent of receiving over 250 chest x-rays in one year. The notion that there is a safe level of radiation has been perpetuated by the US government for generations to promote the idea that nuclear energy is safe, but of course the government’s true motives behind the use of nuclear technology has little to do with energy, and more to do with weapons of mass destruction…..
There are a few things readers need to know about Stewart Brand,[pro nuclear advocate]
From 1987 to 1989, Brand worked for corporations such as Royal Dutch/Shell—an energy-for-profit company—as a “private-conference” organizer for the corporation’s strategic planners. In 1988 he joined the Board of Trustees at the Santa Fe Institute, an organization founded by George Cowan, who was an American physical chemist known for his participation in the Manhattan Project (for those who are unfamiliar with the Manhattan Project, see our List of Most Horrifying US Government Experiments).
The Santa Fe Institute receives funding from various sources including government and corporate. This is normal for many institutes, but in the case of the Santa Fe Institute, it’s also a little… thought provoking, considering some of the areas of research at the institute are: Evolutionary diversification of viral strains, interactions and conflicts in primate social groups (primal traits still held by humans), as well as structures and dynamics of species interactions that includes food webs.
These topics of study might not seem too ominous at first, except the institute also has an interest in researching the emergence of hierarchy and cooperation in the human species, (Cowan, 2010). Cooperation sounds cool, but when it follows the word “hierarchy,” and when you mix it all together with government and corporate interests, it doesn’t immediately paint a pretty picture.
In 1987 Brand wrote “The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT.” MIT, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also known for receiving extensive funding from the government and corporations, and they work closely with other institutes such as the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research—David Koch being one of the infamous “Koch brothers.”
The name “Koch” is almost synonymous with Rockefeller and Rothschild in the corporate-world. In recent years, the oil-tycoon brothers have been known to invest millions of dollars into the US’s higher education system—introducing curriculums focused on capitalism and industry rather than helping the poor or protecting the environment—and they’re known to influence elections through “dark money” groups. Continue reading
the pact has had deadly consequences. For years, the Soviet Union’s political and scientific leadership withheld the effects of extreme exposure to radiation on the health of the city’s inhabitants, and their future offspring.
From the late 1940s, people here started to get sick and die: the victims of long-term exposure to radiation.
While accurate data is not available thanks to the authorities’ extreme secrecy and frequent denials, the gravestones of many young residents in Ozersk’s cemetery bear witness to the secret the Soviets tried to bury alongside victims of the Mayak plant.
It is difficult for outsiders to comprehend how the residents of City 40 can continue to live in a place they know is slowly killing them.
Hot Docs 2016 Trailers: CITY 40
The graveyard of the Earth’: inside City 40, Russia’s deadly nuclear secret https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/20/graveyard-earth-inside-city-40-ozersk-russia-deadly-secret-nuclear
Ozersk, codenamed City 40, was the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme. Now it is one of the most contaminated places on the planet – so why do so many residents still view it as a fenced-inparadise? Samira Goetsche Continue reading
Memo: Residents got 3 billion yen to host Hamaoka nuclear plant http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607210064.html By KAZUHIKO OKADA/ Staff Writer July 21, 2016 Researchers now have a clearer idea of how much it costs to win over residents in a town hosting the most dangerous nuclear facility in Japan. The price is at least 3 billion yen ($28.3 million) over two decades, according to a memo on display at a university in Tokyo.
The memo was part of a trove of documents kept by the head of a residents group in Hamaoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, where Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka nuclear power plant is located.
The documents, on display at Rikkyo University’s Research Center for Cooperative Civil Societies in Toshima Ward since May, also show how the “cooperation money” was used to improve the town, including infrastructure projects, and add beauty to a festival.
In addition, the documents provide details of the residents’ demands and how the money was distributed.
“As far as I know, this is the first time that a series of documents produced by the party that accepted hosting the nuclear plant has been disclosed,” said Tomohiro Okada, professor of local economy at Kyoto University’s graduate school. “Utilities were struggling to secure land for a nuclear power station, so it was their old trick to win over opponents with money.”
He said researchers are aware that electric companies have used such tactics across the nation. But they were largely in the dark about details of this approach because the utilities’ financial statements have not provided any information on the topic.
Genkichi Kamogawa, who chaired the Sakura district council for countermeasures for the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, preserved the memo and the in-house documents in 723 folders.
Kamogawa died in 1999 at the age of 84. His relatives offered the papers to the university after his death.
The town of Hamaoka is now part of Omaezaki.
The Hamaoka plant has been described as the most dangerous nuclear plant in Japan because of its proximity to a long-expected huge earthquake off the prefecture.
The nuclear plant was shut down in May 2011 under the request of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Chubu Electric now plans to restart reactors at the Hamaoka plant.
The Nagoya-based utility approached the town of Hamaoka in 1967 about plans to build the nuclear power plant there. The residents council was formed in August 1968 to gather opinions about the project.
Kamogawa had held a senior position at the council from the start, including chairman between fiscal 1978 and fiscal 1990. He also served as a member of the Hamaoka town assembly. The in-house documents include the council’s financial reports. They also show minutes of meetings where requests were compiled in relation to construction of new reactors at the plant.
The council had enormous sway over the fate of Chubu Electric’s plans to add reactors to the plant. The utility’s donations for each reactor were listed in the documents. Kamogawa’s memo showed that the donations had reached 3 billion yen by the end of August 1989, after construction of the No. 4 reactor had started.
The council also devised its own system to receive the flow of money coming from Chubu Electric and other organizations.The council’s terms stipulated that the donations should be used to contribute to the welfare of residents and development of their community. The money was spent to build roads, a sewage system, parks, a disaster-preparedness facility, and lights for security.
One of the documents also stated that 10 million yen each was given to four neighborhood associations in the town to create gorgeous floats for a festival.
Kazuo Shimizu, 91, who succeeded Kamogawa in fiscal 1991 as the council’s chairman, said the acceptance of donations was meant for the betterment of the local community. “We should benefit from the nuclear power plant project,” said Shimizu, a former Hamaoka assemblyman. “We genuinely wanted to improve the town’s infrastructure.”
A Chubu Electric official in charge of local community affairs acknowledged that the company offered the money to the council. “It was expected of us to help invigorate the host community since we were causing local residents trouble,” the official said. “But we cannot give details, such as the amount of money.”
The two oldest reactors at the Hamaoka plant are now being decommissioned.
Chubu Electric plans to bring the remaining three reactors online by spending 400 billion yen to build 22-meter high sea walls to protect the plant from a powerful tsunami.
According to the House of Lords register of interests, around 15% of sitting members are directors of, or shareholders in, companies that are either directly contracted to the Trident programme or invest in it.
Specifically Barclays and HSBC. A report by Don’t Bank on the Bomb details the involvement of major financial institutions in the western nuclear weapons industry.
The truth about Trident: the shocking fact that would turn us all against paying for nukes, The Canary, JULY 18TH, 2016 STEVE TOPPLE As parliament debates the renewal of Trident, the UK’s “nuclear deterrent” – the arguments surrounding the controversial weapons system rage as fiercely as ever. But there’s one aspect which has been repeatedly overlooked. UK banks not only finance our nuclear deterrent, but also our supposed “enemy” Russia’s as well, and senior politicians enjoy a direct financial profit through keeping Trident.
The name Trident refers to the nuclear missiles that are carried on four Vanguard-Class submarines. Based out of Faslane, on the Clyde in Scotland, at any one time, there is one submarine on active patrol, another in service, another preparing to patrol and a final one on exercise.
Each submarine can carry 16 Trident missiles (but since 2010 this has been reduced to eight), and each missile can hold 40 warheads.
The cost of replacing the Trident system with “Successor” (which is what the parliamentary debate on Monday is about) is disputed. The official Ministry of Defence (MoD) line is £41 bn per submarine. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) says the true cost is around £205 bn for all four, when you included the cost of their upkeep.
The mainstream arguments for and against Trident are fairly clear cut………
However, there are two arguments that both sides fail to acknowledge – maybe because if they did, it would bring the whole military industry into question. The role of multinational banks and senior UK politicians.
All aboard the Westminster gravy train
The main companies involved in Trident are US multinational Lockheed Martin (who produce the missiles), BAE Systems, Babcock & Wilcox and Rolls-Royce – who are involved in the Successor programme – and also names like Bechtel, Honeywell, Raytheon and Serco who are contracted or subcontracted in relation to the current Trident system.
According to the House of Lords register of interests, around 15% of sitting members are directors of, or shareholders in, companies that are either directly contracted to the Trident programme or invest in it.
Prominent names include Lord Hollick, a Labour Peer who is a director of Honeywell. Lord (William) Hague, chair of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). RUSI, who are supposedly impartial US and UK government defence advisors, are sponsored by Babcock, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce.
But one of the most telling individuals is Labour’s Lord Hutton, defence secretary under Gordon Brown. He is an adviser to Bechtel, consultant for Lockheed Martin and chair of the Nuclear Industries Association (NIA). The revolving door (the phrase used to describe MP’s who, once finished in parliament, go into jobs related to their previous role) has never spun so quickly.
It may be no wonder then, that the majority of parliament (excluding the SNP and the Green party) are supportive of renewing Trident.
With reference to the role of multinational financial institutions, all the companies listed above, aside from being involved in Trident, share one other common denominator. They are all financed, or owned, by UK banks. Specifically Barclays and HSBC. A report by Don’t Bank on the Bomb details the involvement of major financial institutions in the western nuclear weapons industry. http://www.thecanary.co/2016/07/18/truth-trident-shocking-fact-turn-us-paying-nukes/
Department of Energy took little action against contractors, federal report says
‘They are eventually going to terminate anyone who files a concern with DOE,’ one employee told investigators
Two largest facilities didn’t implement pilot program to boost whistleblower protections
BY LINDSAY WISE AND SAMMY FRETWELL McClatchy Washington Bureau WASHINGTON, 14 July 16
When Sandra Black’s colleagues came to her to report unsafe, illegal or wasteful practices at the Savannah River nuclear facility in South Carolina, she assured them that the U.S. Department of Energy would not tolerate retaliation against them.
“Now I know that wasn’t true,” said Black, of Martinez, Georgia.
As head of the site’s employee complaints program, Black’s job required her to evaluate such concerns and protect employees who raised them.
Then she herself was fired, allegedly because she cooperated with government auditors who were investigating retaliation against whistleblowers, according to a highly critical Government Accountability Office report released on Thursday.
The report found that the DOE’s nuclear program almost never holds its civilian contractors accountable for unlawful retaliation against whistleblowers.
The Department of Energy relies more heavily on contractors than any other civilian federal agency. Ninety percent of the DOE’s budget is spent on contracts and large capital asset projects.
And yet the agency has taken little or no action against contractors responsible for creating chilled work environments at nuclear sites across the country, and has failed to create effective policies for doing so, the report says.
Only two violation notices have been issued against contractors in the past 20 years, according to the report.
“All the words that the (U.S. Department of Energy) proclaims about wanting to have a strong ‘safety culture,’ a ‘safety conscious work environment,’ and that it has ‘zero tolerance for retaliation are a pretense,” Black said at a press conference on Capitol Hill, her voice shaking with emotion.
“It is impossible to explain how devastated I am,” she said. “I did nothing wrong.”
The report was released at a news conference Thursday held by three Democratic senators who requested the investigation more than two years ago: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts.
The senators initially had asked the GAO to get to the bottom of persistent incidents of retaliation against whistleblowers reported at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state. The scope of the GAO’s review soon broadened to the handling of 87 contractor employee complaint files at 10 of the DOE’s largest nuclear facilities, including Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C
“The three of us have been doing this a while and I think it would be fair to say we thought that we had seen it all,” Wyden said. “Today, however, it seems that there’s a whole new precedent. We’re talking about a contractor who was retaliated against for actually helping government auditors investigate retaliation against whistleblowers.”
Black’s firing was a new low, Wyden said. “Auditors couldn’t identify a single instance where someone providing information to them had ever been dealt with in this way,” he said.
“It’s clear that DOE contractors are going to go to amazing lengths to send the message to their employees that when you blow the whistle it’s going to be the end of your career,” he said.
McCaskill said the report confirmed her fears that the DOE is not taking the problem seriously enough.
“I know we have heard the Secretary of Energy and his predecessors saying that things will get better, but based on the findings of this report released today, it’s clear that things are not getting better,” she said.
The report verified that contract employees at DOE’s nuclear sites “are working in an environment that is not open, not safety conscious and hostile to whistleblowers,” she said.
One particular point of concern, McCaskill said, is the report’s finding the DOE hasn’t been making full use of a pilot program she helped put in place to enhance whistleblower protection for contract employees.
The report said the DOE has not taken steps to evaluate the pilot program’s merits and could not even tell investigators which contractors had adopted it and when.
Two of the DOE’s largest nuclear facilities, Savannah River Site and Hanford, “had not bothered to implement the program” at all, McCaskill said………
Above all, said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the nuclear weapons contractors should be barred from using unlimited taxpayer’s money against whistleblowers in legal proceedings.
“The GAO’s findings of abysmal whistleblower protection at the Department of Energy is not by accident or coincidence,” Coughlan said. “DOE whistleblower retaliation is historic, systemic and by design, seeking to suppress public knowledge of the inside secrets of the dirty nuclear weapons business.”
Investigators say in the GAO report that Black was fired allegedly for cooperating with the agency, a claim Black made in a federal whistleblower complaint against site contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.
Black said she was pressured by her superiors to alter or close some investigative reports. She also was pressured to disclose the identities of employees who brought up questions, Black said.
In one case, a senior SRNS official told her he wanted to know the name of the “rat’’ who’d prompted an investigation of hazardous gas cylinder releases, but Black refused. She said it was vital to maintain a whistleblower’s confidentiality.
Black said she was fired in January 2015 after she talked with the GAO. Even though Black had never been disciplined in three decades of working at SRS – in fact, she had been promoted and rewarded with bonuses – human resource representatives told her she was being fired for an unsatisfactory job performance, her labor department complaint says.
Black said Thursday that her very public termination has had a “chilling effect” on other workers at the SRS, an assertion echoed in the report’s findings.
One SRS employee told auditors, “They fired (Sandra Black). What do you think they’re going to do to me?”
Others said, “They will make an example of anyone who challenges them” and, “There are eventually going to terminate anyone who files a concern with DOE.”
Those who do come forward face ostracization and long, expensive legal battles.
Walt Tamosaitis, who was fired after raising safety concerns about the handling of radioactive waste at Hanford Reservation in Washington state, spoke at Thursday’s press conference about his sense of profound alienation the day he was fired as manager of research and technology at Hanford’s waste vitrification plant.
“I was told to hand over my phone, Blackberry, badge, keys and leave the site,” he recalled. “I was escorted to the door and told not to come back. I was not given any reason for it. It was the loneliest day of my life.”
After a five year legal battle, Hanford subcontractor URS settled a lawsuit Tamosaitis had brought for $4.1 million. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article89674082.html
Three incidents within the past six months involving the attempted smuggling of radioactive materials – uranium 235 and 238, and cesium 137 – are driving concerns about Georgia. Turkey was the materials’ presumed destination, some experts say…….
Officials are not commenting on precisely how the radioactive materials were transported to Georgia. ……Gedevanishvili and other Georgian officials sidestepped questions about the recent spate of arrests for transporting such materials. Unrest to the south of Turkey, in Syria and Iraq, would seem one possible contributing factor. Little doubt exists, however, that Turkey is smugglers’ ultimate destination……..http://www.eurasianet.org/node/79576
U.S. State Department to release human rights report on N.K. this week WASHINGTON, July 5 (Yonhap) –– The U.S. State Department is expected to submit a report on North Korea’s human rights abuses to Congress this week, and the document is likely to name North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responsible for the situation, a diplomatic source said Tuesday.
Under the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act enacted in February, the State Department is required to submit a specific report on Pyongyang’s human rights abuses within 120 days of enactment. That deadline passed on June 17.
The department is expected to submit the report this week as it is unable to delay any longer, and the report is expected to mention the North’s leader, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The report can be used as a basis for what would be the first-ever U.S. sanctions on the North over the country’s human rights record. News reports have said that the U.S. is expected to blacklist about 10 North Korean officials. Should Kim be included in the report, he is also expected to be blacklisted……..The U.S. has led the U.N. Security Council to adopt the toughest sanctions ever on Pyongyang while enacting its own unilateral sanctions on the communist nation in the wake of the North’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month.
Last month, the Treasury Department also designated the North as a “primary money laundering concern,” a powerful sanction designed to cut off the provocative regime from the international banking system for defiantly pursuing nuclear and missile development. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2016/07/06/52/0200000000AEN20160706000400315F.html
How far up the ladder did the #Fukushima cover up really go? Digital Journal, By Karen Graham Jun 27, 2016 Tokyo – About the only country today where a public apology is still accepted is in Japan, and quite honestly, this writer has always thought life would be so much more simpler if that’s all it took to right a profound wrong.
Hirose’s apology on the cover-up was to be expected after the news came out that an investigation had found Hirose’s predecessor had instructed staff to avoid using the term, “meltdown” after the disaster in March 2011. “I would say it was a cover-up,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”……..
And owing to the fact that Mr. Abe has been adamant in saying Japan needs its nuclear power plants, anything he says about Fukushima I would take with a grain of salt. Digital Journal reported that on March 6, this year at a press conference, Abe insisted that safety of nuclear plants was the government’s “top priority.” He also said the government would “not change its policy” in which reactors that meet the new standards can be restarted. So, yes, I think he probably did speak sternly with TEPCO officials in March 2011.
Three important nuclear power events occurred in the past seven days — one in Nebraska and two in California — which together show just how doomed and unworkable nuclear power really is.
In Nebraska, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board of Directors unanimously decided to shut down Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power plant because its cost of operation could not be justified against the current and expected future price of natural gas, solar and wind power (but mainly natural gas). Certainly natural gas prices are at an unnatural low compared to the price of oil and nuclear power, and that might change over the coming years, but natural gas prices cannot go up too much if they are to stay competitive with renewable energy prices — which are going to continue to plummet over the next few decades.
Solar panels thinner than a human hair have been developed in the labs. They don’t use many natural resources to make. Solar panels as flexible as a human hair have also been developed. They can be placed virtually anywhere. Wind turbine output keeps going up for the exact same land requirements, which of course, are already minimal to begin with. Power requirements of all the major household appliances keep coming down as better motors, coolers and pumps are developed. The future is bright for renewables, and getting brighter.
All this spelled doom for Fort Calhoun, a “small” (478 megawatts, the smallest operating reactor in the United States) lone reactor that cost about $178 million dollars to build when construction began in 1966, and now costs over $250 million annually to operate. It was “simply an economic decision” to close the facility according to the operators.
Being so old and run-down, it went offline yesterday suddenly, for a turbine issue, (its speed controller failed). But no matter how often a nuclear power plant goes offline without warning, regulators and operators still assure the public they are necessary for “baseload capacity.”
Lies, damned lies and the nuclear industry strike out again
In California, an apparently momentous decision was made regarding Diablo Canyon’s pair of massive nuclear reactors (~1,100 megawatts each), which first went online in the mid-1980s and were originally scheduled to close by this year, but were granted a 10-year extension a few years ago for no apparent reason at all.
After years of threatening to try to extend their license another 20 years to 60 years and beyond, its operator, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced that they would only run out their current license (good to 2024 and 2025 for units 1 and 2, respectively) and then be shut down permanently. The decision was made in cooperation with several environmental organizations (FoE, NRDC and A4NR) in some sort of secret backroom arrangement — an arrangement which has some good points, but has some very bad points, too.
First and foremost among the good points is, of course, that the plant will shut down. And second is that it will be replaced with renewable energy and increased energy conservation.
But first and foremost among the bad points is not only that it will take 10 more years, and not only that the decision is potentially reversible, but also that the aforementioned environmental groups apparently have lost interest in shutting the plant down earlier. That means another two million pounds of high-level nuclear waste will be generated in the meantime, with their approval. And worst of all, it means that if the San Andreas earthquake fault does what it’s been threatening to do for decades, and is actually considered late in doing, southern California will be ruined financially and environmentally. Not to mention the dozens of other faults that could shake the plant to smithereens any day of the week.
Additionally, while Fort Calhoun’s operators have promised to help the employees of that plant find other work (probably installing solar panels on rooftops, making new interconnections to the power grid, building wind turbines and so forth), Diablo Canyon has promised to take more than a third of a billion dollars of ratepayer money to do the same. As if it was the ratepayers who chose to make the workers work in a dying industry with high-paying jobs. As if there aren’t other nuclear power plants around the country that are having trouble finding workers, for those who want to stay in a dying industry. And as if there won’t be plenty of renewable energy jobs they can find for themselves.
In short, the deal stinks so badly, one activist in the Diablo Canyon area described it as being “sold down the river.”
n both cases, a major part of the decision was based on the fact that the electricity generated by Fort Calhoun and Diablo Canyon (and virtually every other nuclear power plant in the country) can be replaced immediately with other power sources, without the lights going out or reliability of the grid falling below set point levels. This is as it must be: Nuclear power plants require the rest of the grid to be operating or they themselves must shut down.
That’s why, when a massive power outage struck the northeastern United States in 2003, all the nuclear power plants in the area automatically shut down and could not help keep the grid up. They require about 30 megawatts of continuous power to operate, and as much as 100 megawatts during restart once they shut down for any reason. It took many days for the nuclear power plants to come back online even after the rest of the grid was restored. So much for the reliability of the “baseload” power system!
Diablo Canyon can and should close today. Even its owners have now admitted that its electricity output can be replaced entirely by renewables (although that might take a couple of years to accomplish, it would free up about 1500 workers (1200 PG&E employees, 200 subcontractors, and miscellaneous high-paid executives) to start installing solar panels and wind turbines. Its total output could be replaced in a matter of months.
Meanwhile, the nuclear waste at San Onofre is no longer being generated (SanO closed permanently in 2013 after a leaky steam generator could not be repaired). But the lies and damned lies continue spewing forth unabated from that complex as well. Last night, the quarterly Citizen’s Engagement Panel met once again, supposedly to engage with citizens but in fact, to push the utility’s agenda of cheap, ineffective, dangerous solutions to its nuclear waste problem — which it will have for 500,000 years unless something is done about it.
The meeting was attended by some high-powered outsiders from the Department of Energy and a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, Dr. Allison Macfarlane. Earlier in the day several localized meetings were held with these outsiders for additional discussions. It all looks very cooperative on paper, but in reality it’s nothing but the regular dog-and-pony shows the nuclear industry and the NRC have been putting on for decades.
Time was, speakers at an NRC hearing were sworn in, swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That ended about 20 years ago, and now we have a non-governmental body making nonsense plans and decisions which will affect the local population for decades to come, will solve nothing, will obstruct real solutions (more on that in a moment), and will push the utilities’ agenda down everybody’s throats (literally, when the waste escapes its escarpments)………http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/59553-nuclear-industry.html
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPSJUNE 19, 2016Alarms sounded on United States Air Force bases in Spain and officers began packing all the low-ranking troops they could grab onto buses for a secret mission. There were cooks, grocery clerks and even musicians from the Air Force band.
It was a late winter night in 1966 and a fully loaded B-52 bomber on a Cold War nuclear patrol had collided with a refueling jet high over the Spanish coast, freeing four hydrogen bombs that went tumbling toward a farming village called Palomares, a patchwork of small fields and tile-roofed white houses in an out-of-the-way corner of Spain’s rugged southern coast that had changed little since Roman times.
It was one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history, and the United States wanted it cleaned up quickly and quietly. But if the men getting onto buses were told anything about the Air Force’s plan for them to clean up spilled radioactive material, it was usually, “Don’t worry.”
“There was no talk about radiation or plutonium or anything else,” said Frank B. Thompson, a then 22-year-old trombone player who spent days searching contaminated fields without protective equipment or even a change of clothes. “They told us it was safe, and we were dumb enough, I guess, to believe them.”
Mr. Thompson, 72, now has cancer in his liver, a lung and a kidney. He pays $2,200 a month for treatment that would be free at a Veterans Affairs hospital if the Air Force recognized him as a victim of radiation. But for 50 years, the Air Force has maintained that there was no harmful radiation at the crash site. It says the danger of contamination was minimal and strict safety measures ensured that all of the 1,600 troops who cleaned it up were protected.
Interviews with dozens of men like Mr. Thompson and details from never before published declassified documents tell a different story. Radiation near the bombs was so high it sent the military’s monitoring equipment off the scales. Troops spent months shoveling toxic dust, wearing little more protection than cotton fatigues. And when tests taken during the cleanup suggested men had alarmingly high plutonium contamination, the Air Force threw out the results, calling them “clearly unrealistic.”
In the decades since, the Air Force has purposefully kept radiation test results out of the men’s medical files and resisted calls to retest them, even when the calls came from one of the Air Force’s own studies.
Many men say they are suffering with the crippling effects of plutonium poisoning. Of 40 veterans who helped with the cleanup who The New York Times identified, 21 had cancer. Nine had died from it. It is impossible to connect individual cancers to a single exposure to radiation. And no formal mortality study has ever been done to determine whether there is an elevated incidence of disease. The only evidence the men have to rely on are anecdotes of friends they watched wither away.
“John Young, dead of cancer … Dudley Easton, cancer … Furmanksi, cancer,” said Larry L. Slone, 76, in an interview, laboring through tremors caused by a neurological disorder.
At the crash site, Mr. Slone, a military police officer at the time, said he was given a plastic bag and told to pick up radioactive fragments with his bare hands. “A couple times they checked me with a Geiger counter and it went clear off the scale,” he said. “But they never took my name, never followed up with me.”
Monitoring of the village in Spain has also been haphazard, declassified documents show. The United States promised to pay for a public health program to monitor the long-term effects of radiation there, but for decades provided little funding. Until the 1980s, Spanish scientists often relied on broken and outdated equipment, and lacked the resources to follow up on potential ramifications, including leukemia deaths in children. Today, several fenced-off areas are still contaminated, and the long-term health effect on villagers is poorly understood.
Many of the Americans who cleaned up after the bombs are trying to get full health care coverage and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the department relies on Air Force records, and since the Air Force records say no one was harmed in Palomares, the agency rejects claims again and again.
The Air Force also denies any harm was done to 500 other veterans who cleaned up a nearly identical crash in Thule, Greenland, in 1968. Those veterans tried to sue the Defense Department in 1995, but the case was dismissed because federal law shields the military from negligence claims by troops. All of the named plaintiffs have since died of cancer…….
“First they denied I was even there, then they denied there was any radiation,” said Ronald R. Howell, 71, who recently had a brain tumor removed. “I submit a claim, and they deny. I submit appeal, and they deny. Now I’m all out of appeals.” He sighed, then continued. “Pretty soon, we’ll all be dead and they will have succeeded at covering this whole thing up.”……
The Pentagon focused on finding the bomb lost in the ocean and largely ignored the danger of loose plutonium, the Air Force personnel at the site said. Troops traipsed needlessly through highly contaminated tomato fields with no safety gear. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPS JUNE 19, 2016 “……….Spain’s Monitoring
The United States promised to pay for long-term monitoring of health in the village, but for decades it provided only about 15 percent of funding, with Spain paying the rest, according to a declassified Department of Energy summary. Broken air-monitoring stations went unfixed and equipment was often old and unreliable. In the early 1970s, an Atomic Energy Commission scientist noted, the Spanish field monitoring team consisted of a lone graduate student.
Reports of two children dying of leukemia during that time went uninvestigated. The lead Spanish scientist monitoring the population told American counterparts in a 1976 memo that, in light of the leukemia cases, Palomares needed “some kind of medical surveillance of the population to keep watch for diseases or deaths.” None was created.
In the late 1990s, after years of pressure from Spain, the United States agreed to increase funding. New surveys of the village found extensive contamination that had gone undetected, including some areas where radiation was 20 times the permissible level for inhabited areas. In 2004, Spain quietly fenced off the most contaminated land near the bomb craters.
Since then, Spain has urged the United States to finish cleaning the site.
Because of the uneven monitoring, the effect on public health is far from clear. A small mortality study in 2005 found cancer rates had gone up in the village compared with similar villages in the region, but the author, Pedro Antonio Martínez Pinilla, an epidemiologist, cautioned that the results could be because of random error, and urged more study.
At that time, a United States Department of Energy scientist, Terry Hamilton, proposed another study, noting problems in Spain’s monitoring techniques. “It was clear the uptake of plutonium was poorly understood,” he said in an interview. The department did not approve his proposal…..
About a fifth of the plutonium spread in 1966 is still estimated to contaminate the area. After years of pressure, the United States agreed in 2015 to clean up the remaining plutonium, but there is no approved plan or timetable…….http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPSJUNE 19, 2016 “….. Tests Thrown Out During the cleanup, a medical team gathered more than 1,500 urine samples from the cleanup crew to calculate how much plutonium they were absorbing. The higher the level in the samples, the greater the health hazard.
The records of those tests remain perhaps the most prominent artifact from the cleanup. They show about only 10 of the men absorbed more than the allowed safe dose, and the rest of the 1,500 responders were not harmed. The Air Force today relies on the results to argue that the men were never harmed by radiation. But the men who actually did the testing say the results are deeply flawed and are of little use in determining who was exposed.
“Did we follow protocol? Hell, no. We had neither the time nor the equipment,” said Victor B. Skaar, now 79, who worked on the testing team. The formula for determining the contamination level required collecting urine for 12 hours, but he said he was able to get only a single sample from many men. And others, he said, were never tested at all.
He sent samples to the Air Force’s chief of radiation testing, Dr. Lawrence T. Odland, who started seeing alarmingly high results. Dr. Odland decided the extreme levels did not indicate a true health threat, but were caused by plutonium loose in the camp that contaminated the men’s hands, their clothes and everything else. He threw out about 1,000 samples — 67 percent of the results — including all samples from the first days after the blasts when exposure was probably highest.
Now 94 and living in a rambling Victorian house in Hillsboro, Ohio, where a photo from the Greenland crash hangs in his hall, Dr. Odland questioned his decision.
“We had no way of knowing what was from contamination and what was from inhalation,” he said. “Was the world ending or was everything fine? I just had to make a call.”
He said he never got accurate results for hundreds of men who may have been contaminated. In addition, he soon realized plutonium lodged in the lungs could not always be detected in veterans’ urine, and men with clean samples might still be contaminated.
“It’s sad, sure, it’s sad,” he said. “But what can you do? You can’t take the plutonium out; you can’t cure the cancer. All you can do is bow your head and say you are sorry.”
Monitoring Program Killed
Convinced that the urine samples were inadequate, Dr. Odland persuaded the Air Force in 1966 to set up a permanent “Plutonium Deposition Registry Board” to monitor the men for life.
Experts from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) and Atomic Energy Commission met to establish the program shortly after the cleanup. In welcoming remarks, the Air Force general in charge said the program was “essential” and following the men to their graves would provide “urgently needed data.”
The organizers proposed not notifying troops of their radiation exposure and keeping details of testing out of medical records, according to minutes of the meeting, out of concern notifying them could “set a stage for legal action.”
The plan was to have Dr. Odland’s staff follow the men. Within months, though, he had hit a wall.
“He is not able to get the support from the Department of Defense to go after the remaining people or set up a real registry because of the sleeping-dog policy,” an Atomic Energy Commission memo from 1967 noted.
“The sleeping dog policy? It was to leave it alone. Let it lie. I didn’t agree. Hell no, I didn’t agree,” Dr. Odland said. “Everyone decided we should watch these guys, take care of them. And then from somewhere up high they decided it was better to get rid of it.”
Dr. Odland did not know who gave the order to terminate the program, but said since the board included all the military branches and the veterans agency, it likely came from top-level officials.
The Air Force officially dismantled the program in 1968. The “permanent” board had met just once…….. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html
Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change
Analysis of Peabody Energy court documents show company backed trade groups, lobbyists and thinktanks dubbed ‘heart and soul of climate denial’, Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson, 13 June 16, Peabody Energy, America’s biggest coalmining company, has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environment regulations, analysis by the Guardian reveals.
The funding spanned trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative thinktanks and was exposed in court filings last month.
The coal company also gave to political organisations, funding twice as many Republican groups as Democratic ones.
Peabody, the world’s biggest private sector publicly traded coal company, was long known as an outlier even among fossil fuel companies for its public rejection of climate science and action. But its funding of climate denial groups was only exposed in disclosures after the coal titan was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in April, under competition from cheap natural gas.
Environmental campaigners said they had not known for certain that the company was funding an array of climate denial groups – and that the breadth of that funding took them by surprise.
The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change.
“These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”
Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list…….
the full extent of Peabody’s financial support for climate denial is unlikely to be revealed until the completion of bankruptcy proceedings.
“The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.
“We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”
Peabody’s filings revealed funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate lobby group which opposes clean energy standards and tried to impose financial penalties on homeowners with solar panels, as well as a constellation of conservative thinktanks and organisations.
These included the State Policy Network and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which worked to defeat climate bills in Congress and are seeking to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, as well as the Congress for Racial Equality, which was a major civil rights organisation in the 1960s.
The filings also revealed funding for the George C Marshall Institute, the Institute for Energy Research, and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which are seen as industry front groups.
The names of a number of well-known contrarian academics also feature in the Peabody filings, including Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Soon has been funded almost entirely by the fossil fuel industry, receiving more than $1.2m from oil companies and utilities, but this was the first indication of Peabody funding.
Soon and the Smithsonian did not respond to requests for comment.
Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer, two contrarian scientists who appeared for Peabody at hearings in Minnesota last month on the social cost of carbon, were also included in the bankruptcy filings.
Peabody refused to comment on its funding for climate denial groups, as revealed by the bankruptcy filings……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/13/peabody-energy-coal-mining-climate-change-denial-funding
EDF’s Hinkley Point deal over radioactive waste sparks anger https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/30/edf-hinkley-point-deal-radioactive-waste-sparks-anger?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=174833&subid=12125&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2
Expert criticises ministers over refusal to disclose agreement with energy supplier for planned nuclear plant Guardian, Terry Macalister, 31 May 16, A furious row has broken out after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) refused to disclose the arrangement with EDF for dealing with radioactive waste at the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
The information commissioner’s office has turned down a freedom of information (FoI) request for state aid arrangements between the UK and the European commission to be made public.
The FoI complainant, David Lowry, has launched an appeal, claiming it is in the public interest for British citizens to be able to judge whether their government had made the right decision about the new reactors in Somerset.
Lowry, a British-based senior research fellow with the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in the US, said: “I do not believe the balance of judgment should be in favour of a foreign company, EDF Energy, who will potentially make huge multibillion-pound financial gain from the continued non-disclosure, and hence non scrutiny, over myself as a British tax and electricity bill payer.”
The government said that anyone building new reactors in Britain must manage and pay for the cost of handling waste products, unlike the existing situation where all radioactive materials are effectively dealt with through the public purse via the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
However, although the operator must agree to take responsibility for the spent fuel and other radioactive waste, the cost is expected to be passed on to the domestic electricity user through higher bills.
Under the new arrangements, the prospective nuclear operators must enter into a waste transfer contract (WTC). Those contracts, like the one covering Hinkley, must be submitted for scrutiny by the EC under its state aid rules. It is the pricing methodology of the WTC that Lowry wished to review and which remains under wraps.
Greenpeace said Lowry raised critical issues that went to the heart of whether the £18.5bn project was good or bad value for the taxpayer and British energy consumers.
John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, said: “The government has repeatedly said that Hinkley is great news for the British public and our energy security. But they refuse to back this up with hard evidence. In fact, DECC is incredibly cagey and is failing to answer questions on where the dangerous radioactive waste will go or how much Hinkley will cost us.
“If Hinkley is such a good deal, it should be no problem for the government to release the information to prove it. Their failure to do so leaves us to believe that their assumptions are correct – it’s a terrible deal for bill payers and they simply don’t know what to do with the nuclear waste.”
DECC turned down the original request under regulation 12(5)(a) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 arguing, “disclosure would adversely affect international relations, defence, national security or public safety”.
This argument was accepted by the information commissioner who believed that disclosure of the state aid discussions with the EC “would adversely affect the relationship between the (UK) government and the commission’s ability to work effectively together”.
Lowry said he thought the real reason the government did not want to disclose the information was to save ministers from embarrassment. “I think the concern is if the truth were to come out with documents being made public would adversely affect the credibility of the government submissions as their threadbare content would be laid bare for all to see,” he said.
DECC declined to comment, saying it was a matter for the information commissioner.
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