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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii wants the U.S, government to provide unclassified report on Runit nuclear waste dome

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June 17, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands giant clams – a delicacy – except for the plutonium

Giant clams are a delicacy of the Marshall Islands but illnesses fuel fears of nuclear contamination, ABC

Key points:

  • The Marshallese bore the brunt of US nuclear bomb tests between 1946–58
  • Tests released large amounts of radioactivity that the US was supposed to clean up
  • Local leaders say that people remain fearful of eating contaminated local produce

“You see a nice-looking edible clam in the lagoon — it’s just like giving a kid a lovely lollipop,” nuclear commissioner Alson Kelen told the ABC, maintaining that eating clams will always be part of Marshall Islands life.

From 1946–1958, the US detonated 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands — some of the largest atomic weapons tests in history — and the area near the test site was evacuated, with locals receiving settlement payouts.

In the aftermath, with widespread radiation sickness being reported across the Marshall Islands, radioactive soil, debris, and wreckage was dumped into a nuclear crater on Enewetak Atoll.

The crater was capped with cement in 1980 and is officially called the Runit Dome — but locals have nicknamed it The Tomb.

The Enewatak people eventually began returning to the islands in the early 1980s following highly controversial talks between the United States and leaders of the Marshall Islands.

Amid reports of ongoing aftereffects and illness, a 2012 United Nations report found that the effects of the nuclear tests were long-lasting, which was followed by a 2013 US Department of Energy report which found radioactive materials were leeching out of the Dome, threatening the already tenuous existence of Enewetak locals. ………..https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-08/illness-on-enewetak-atoll-reignites-nuclear-contamination-fears/11181940

June 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Radioactive shellfish – giant clams in Marshall Islands near USA nuclear dump

High radiation levels found in giant clams near U.S. nuclear dump in Marshall Islands, By SUSANNE RUST and CAROLYN COLE, MAY 28, 2019,  MAJURO, MARSHALL ISLANDS

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Temporary dome over radioactive trash on Runit Island – now leaking waste to the Pacific

May 28, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

USA’s radioactive dump in the Marshall Islands is leaking

May 27, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

France forced Polynesians to accept nuclear tests – they finally admit this!

May 25, 2019 Posted by | France, indigenous issues, OCEANIA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

USA’s nuclear waste dome ‘leaking’ radioactive sludge into the Pacific

May 21, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Warning on leakage of radiation from Pacific island’s “nuclear coffin”

UN chief warns nuclear waste could be leaking into the Pacific   https://www.engadget.com/2019/05/17/un-warns-nuclear-waste-leaking-pacific/

Cracks in a 40-year-old nuclear ‘coffin’ are raising concern. Christine Fisher@cfisherwrites  A UN chief is concerned that a Cold War-era nuclear ‘coffin’ could be leaking radioactive material into the Pacific. The concerns are both alarming and oddly similar to the plot of Shin Godzilla — including the part about it being the US’s fault.

According to Phys.org, the structure in question is on Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands — where the US conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958. The tests included the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb, which was reportedly about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In the late 70s, waste from those tests was dumped into a crater and capped with a concrete dome 18 inches thick. That was intended to be a temporary solution, so the bottom of the crater was never lined.

Now, UN Secretary General António Guterres and Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine fear nuclear waste could be leaking from the pit. They’re also concerned about cracks in the concrete, which they worry could break apart if hit by a tropical cyclone. Guterres says the Pacific’s

nuclear history needs to be addressed — hopefully he’ll be taken more seriously than Shin Godzilla‘s Goro Maki, who warned of impending trouble but went unheard.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment

UK covering up the records on nuclear bomb testing in Australia and the Pacific. Why?

May 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, history, OCEANIA, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Distress in Pacific Island governments, over climate change, and Australia’s inaction on this

UN secretary-general meets Pacific leaders to discuss ‘global catastrophe’ of climate change ABC By foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic , 15 May 19

  • UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the Pacific is on the “front line of climate change”
  • Pacific leaders have voiced frustration over Australia’s failure to curb its emissions
  • Australian politicians say rapidly cutting emissions would be “ruinous” for Australia

Regional heavyweights had gathered at an historic climate change summit convened with the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

Mr Guterres is intent on building global momentum for sharper cuts to emissions, arguing that drastic action is necessary to stave off ecological disaster.

The Pacific is on the “front line of climate change”, Mr Guterres told the meeting.

“It has a unique moral authority to speak out. It’s time for the world to listen.”

Senior Australian officials at the meeting could do little else; sent in the place of Prime Minister Scott Morrison only days before the federal election, they were bound to observer status by the caretaker conventions.

As a result, Australia did not sign up to the final statement by Pacific leaders, which declared climate change a “global catastrophe” and called for “transformative action” to stop it……

while Pacific leaders have praised New Zealand’s announcement that it wants to go carbon neutral by 2050, many are frustrated that Australia has failed to curb its emissions.

One Pacific official told the ABC the meeting’s call for radical action on climate change “really was aimed at the whole globe” but “for those in the room [it] was a message for one country”.

“Of course no-one said Australia. No-one needed to say Australia,” the official said. “What other country in the room could we be referring to?”

The outspoken Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele, went much further, wading straight into Australia’s election campaign during the post-summit press conference…….

decision makers in Canberra also know that the Pacific is increasingly impatient about Australia’s long and painful debate on climate policy.

The argument will flare up again in only months when regional leaders gather for the Pacific Islands Forum on tiny Tuvalu, which has long been a vocal champion for drastic climate action.

And this time, Australia will not be sitting on the sidelines. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-16/guterres-antonio-un-pacific-meeting-climate-change/11115816

May 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA, politics international | Leave a comment

UN chief Antonio Guterres to Pacific islands, warning rich nations about climate impacts

May 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

The Blue Pacific and the legacies of nuclear testing 

The Strategist 1 May 2019| Patrick Kaiku States in the Pacific islands are small in landmass and population. Their limited terrestrial resources and lack of comparative advantage are compounded by their remoteness from global centres of commerce. This obviously has impacts on the costs of doing business and integration into global trade relations. Their invisibility in international relations means that small states must creatively frame their presence in the global community.It’s against this backdrop that the ‘Blue Pacific’, which is touted as an empowering worldview, should be understood. The core principles of the Blue Pacific must be read together with recent developments in the region. In 2017, Pacific Islands Forum leaders endorsed the concept as a ‘driving force’ connecting Pacific peoples ‘with their natural resources, environment, culture and livelihoods’. The Boe Declaration of 2018 formally recognised Pacific islanders’ stewardship over the Pacific Ocean.

While big states such as the US and China are competing for influence in the region, the Boe Declaration makes a case for prioritising the concerns of Pacific island communities. The strategic confrontations of big powers do not feature in the daily lives of Pacific peoples. What’s important to the survival of island states is their environment and the capacity of their resources to meet present needs and the needs of future generations. This logic is seen with the proposed Pacific Resilience Facility, which is a regional pool of resources to manage or mitigate the adverse effects of environmental challenges in the region.

….. a  sticky issue in the region is the potential effects of nuclear contamination of the Pacific Ocean. The legacies of nuclear tests in the Pacific islands include highly radioactive waste materials stored on vulnerable atolls.

In the 1950s, the Pacific Ocean was considered an empty space by the Euro-American powers. With the onset of the arms race during the Cold War, some of the colonial powers used the Pacific as a testing ground for their nuclear weapons. More than 300 nuclear tests were conducted in the Pacific Ocean. Atolls in the Marshall Islands, Johnston Island, Christmas Island and French Polynesia were used as nuclear test sites, casting long shadows into the present.

On one low-lying Pacific island atoll, the toxic legacy of the nuclear tests remains. In 2017, Mark Willacy from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation investigated the nuclear-waste storage facility on the remote atoll of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands. It was there that the US conducted its series of tests of nuclear weapons, including the first full-scale hydrogen bomb. Before it abandoned its nuclear testing program in the 1970s, the US buried contaminated material on Runit Island.

An estimated 85,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste is buried on Runit Island, including some of the world’s most toxic materials. It will take more than 24,000 years for the waste to disintegrate. It’s buried in porous coral and sand and capped by a concrete dome. Marshallese and international non-government organisations are concerned that sea-level rise and major typhoons will destroy the dome, resulting in the contamination of not only the Marshall Islands but the wider Pacific Ocean. Since the sea is a free-flowing matrix of currents and borderless movements of water, a Pacific-wide disaster is a plausible scenario…….

The Pacific island states have an illustrious record in employing collective diplomacy to tackle difficult issues. Since the 1980s, the high-water marks of collective diplomacy have been the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982, the 1985 Rarotonga Treaty and the global moratorium on drift-net fishing. Currently, small states in the Pacific islands are actively engaged in framing the narrative on global cooperation to deal with climate change challenges.

The Blue Pacific is a timely framework, emphasising a Pacific islands worldview, and is an alternative to the zero-sum confrontations of big powers in the region. More importantly, it stresses the importance of cooperation on Pacific terms in dealing with transnational challenges. The various major powers embroiled in their great-power confrontations in the Pacific ought to be educated about the significance of the Blue Pacific and their participation in advancing the goals of that paradigm. After all, the Pacific Ocean connects all the large landmasses on the Pacific Rim. The state of affairs in the islands is a microcosm of the planet’s chances of surviving global environmental challenges.

Patrick Kaiku is a teaching fellow in the political science department at the University of Papua New Guinea.  https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-blue-pacific-and-the-legacies-of-nuclear-testing/

May 4, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change encroaching on Marshall Islands – drastic effort to “elevate” some of them

 

Climate change forces low-lying Marshall Islands to ‘elevate islands’,   Climate change has left the low-lying Marshall Islands with little choice but to consider drastic measures.  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/climate-change-forces-low-lying-marshall-islands-to-elevate-islands, 24 Feb 19, The far-flung Marshall Islands needs to raise its islands if it is to avoid being drowned by rising sea levels, President Hilda Heine has warned. 

Plans are underway for national talks on which of the 1,156 islands, scattered over 29 coral atolls, can be elevated in a dramatic intervention to ensure safety on the islands.

“Raising our islands is a daunting task but one that must be done,” Heine said in an interview with the Marshall Islands Journal published Friday.

“We need the political will, and especially traditional leaders’ commitment, to see this through.

“We must come together as a nation as this is about our survival as a nation, as a people and as a culture.”

A “climate crisis” policy document prepared by the office of the chief secretary painted a bleak outlook for the Pacific Ocean archipelago with a population of 55,000. 

It cited an increasing frequency of “inundation events, severe droughts, coral bleaching events, and… looking forward, there is very good reason to believe that conditions and prospects for survival will only worsen.”

Most of the islands are less than two metres (6.5 feet) above sea level and the government believes physically raising the islands was the only way to save the Marshall Islands from extinction.

They have not yet outlined specifics of  how this would be achieved expect to have plans formulated by the end of the year. In the meantime, they are keeping a close watch on the ambitious City of Hope project on an artificial island in the Maldives as a viable option.

To lay the foundations of the city – which is expected to accommodate 130,000 people when completed in 2023 – sand is being pumped onto reefs from surrounding atolls and it is being fortified with walls three metres above sea level, which will make it higher than the tallest natural island in the Maldives.

“Whatever approach is selected, it will involve selecting islands to raise, add to, or build upon” Heine said.

“All Marshallese stakeholders, but especially traditional landowners, need to be at the forefront of this discussion if we are ever going to move the conversation forward.”

The Marshall Islands also aims to increase engagement with the three other all-atoll nations – Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Maldives – on climate issues.

“As a group, the atoll nations need to come together to formulate their unique concerns and develop their positions and plans and identify financial needs related to climate impacts,” said Heine, who chairs the Coalition of Atoll Nations Against Climate Change.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Deception and mistrust between Nevada and Department of Energy, over secret plutonium shipment


The Indy Explains: How a secret plutonium shipment exacerbated mistrust between Nevada and Department of Energy, The Nevada Independent By Daniel Rothberg 18 Feb 19,  The secretive Nevada plutonium shipment that has spawned angry rhetoric from Nevada politicians has a history that starts with Russia. In 2000, the United States entered into a pact with Russia to set aside excess weapons-grade plutonium for civilian use in nuclear reactors. Congress then passed a law that it would turn the excess 34 metric tons of plutonium into MOX, or mix-oxide fuel, at a newly built facility in South Carolina.

But that statute came with a firm deadline: If the MOX facility was not operational by 2014, the Department of Energy would be required to move one metric ton of plutonium stored at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site, a nuclear facility built in the 1950s, within two years.

After years of cost overruns and technical challenges, the Trump administration scrapped the facility. Meanwhile, the state of South Carolina obtained a court order in 2017 requiring the Department of Energy enforce the deadline and move the metric ton of plutonium by 2020.

Less than one year later, the agency said it moved a half-ton of that plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site. The action came after months of questioning from state officials, and its furtive nature has spurred a lawsuit, driving a deep chasm between the state and the agency.

Four months after South Carolina obtained the court order, Nevada officials heard that the federal government might be sending some of the plutonium to the state, according to court records. From August to November, state officials began asking questions about the potential shipment. But Nevada officials received few assurances from Department of Energy officials.

Beyond a general ‘expectation’ that any plutonium would be removed by approximately 2026-27, [a November 20] letter did not contain any of the requested assurances,” Pam Robinson, the policy director for then-Gov. Brian Sandoval, wrote in a December affidavit.

What Nevada officials didn’t know: the United States had already moved the plutonium.

Who knew what when

That surprising disclosure came months later — on January 30 — when a general counsel for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) disclosed that the agency had made a half-ton plutonium shipment from South Carolina to the Nevada Test Site prior to November.

Gov. Steve Sisolak responded to the revelation with a heated statement, pledging to continue existing litigation and keep the Department of Energy accountable.I am beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception from the U.S. Department of Energy,” he said to the media. “The department led the state of Nevada to believe that they were engaging in good-faith negotiations with us regarding a potential shipment of weapons-grade plutonium, only to reveal that those negotiations were a sham all along.”

Members of the state’s congressional delegation also released fiery responses.

State officials worry that the plutonium shipment to the testing facility, which is about 65 miles outside of Las Vegas and occupies an area the size of Rhode Island, could set a precedent for the federal government to send more nuclear materials to the state.

In court filings, lawyers for Attorney General Aaron Fordalso argued the federal government failed to fully inventory the environmental impacts of the size and type of plutonium being sent to the highly guarded site.

They also view the action as a backdoor move to open Yucca Mountain, the controversial nuclear waste repository that sits in the remote desert about 100 miles outside of Las Vegas.

The NNSA disputes all of these claims. ………

“Plutonium is nasty stuff,” said Allison Macfarlane, a George Washington University science and technology professor who chaired the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2012 to 2014. “But we’ve made so much of it on the weapons side in this country — and the civilian side in other countries — that we really need to manage it very carefully unless we eliminate it.”

With South Carolina’s MOX facility mothballed, the options are more limited…….. https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/indy-explains-how-a-secret-plutonium-shipment-created-mistrust-betw

February 19, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, OCEANIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

France’s government snidely changes law to avoid paying compensation to Polynesian victims of atomic bomb testing

Dismay in Tahiti over changed nuclear compensation law  https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/381065/dismay-in-tahiti-over-changed-nuclear-compensation-law French Polynesia’s nuclear test veterans organisations are dismayed to find out that a planned change to the compensation law for test victims was quietly altered last year.

It emerged that in the finance act passed in France in the week before Christmas, a provision of negligible exposure for compensation claimants was included.

This was against the recommendation of a commission set up in 2017 which advised for the reference to negligible risk to be removed as a way to improve the 2010 compensation law.

There had been widespread clamour to change the law because most applications had been thrown out.

The head of the Moruroa e tatou organisation Roland Oldham told the public broadcaster that the situation was simple.

He said the French state refused to compensate the test victims by playing for time.

Father Auguste Uebe-Carlson of the Association 193 also condemned this change, saying the fight was continuing.

The 12-member commission which advised the French legislature was headed by a French Polynesian Senator Lana Tetuanui, who is yet to comment.

France tested 193 nuclear weapons in the South Pacific over a 30-year period, with some of the atmospheric blasts irradiating most islands.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | France, Legal, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment