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Japan’s Plan To Discharge Water From Fukushima Nuclear Plant Faces Pacific Opposition

  By BenarNews, By Stephen Wright

Officials from Pacific island nations will meet Japan’s prime minister in March in an effort to halt the planned release of water from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, a regional leader said.

Plans to dispose of Fukushima water over four decades are a source of tension between Japan and Pacific island nations and a possible complication for the efforts of the United States and its allies to show a renewed commitment to the Pacific region as China’s influence grows.

The planned discharges “are a very serious issue that our leaders have accepted must be stopped at all costs,” Henry Puna, secretary-general of the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, said Thursday at a press conference in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara.

The Japanese government’s timetable for disposal of Fukushima water indicates that releases could begin as soon as April this year – part of an effort to decommission the stricken power station over several decades. Water contaminated by the nuclear reactors damaged in a 2011 tsunami is stored in dozens of large tanks at the coastal Fukushima plant.  

Japan’s method involves putting the contaminated water through a purification process known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, which it says will reduce all radioactive elements except tritium to below regulatory levels. The treated water would then be diluted by more than 100 times to reduce the level of tritium – radioactive hydrogen used to create glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs……………………………

Data doubts

Five scientists working with the Pacific Islands Forum last week criticized the quality of data they had received from Tokyo Electric on the treated water in the tanks and expressed doubts about how well the purification process works.

Over more than four years, only a quarter of tanks had been tested for radiation, and testing rarely covered more than nine types of radiation out of 64 types that should be tested for, said the five scientists, who include Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s senior scientist Ken Buesseler.

“The accident is not over; this is not normal operations for a reactor. Therefore, extraordinary efforts should be made to prove operations are safe and will not cause harm to the environment,” the scientists’ presentation said.

The Pacific Islands Forum has described the scientists as independent nuclear experts. The forum’s secretariat didn’t respond to a question about whether the scientists are compensated for their work with the forum. 

Nigel Marks, a materials scientist at Australia’s Curtin University and former nuclear reactor engineer, who is not advising the forum, said he is sympathetic to concerns that Tokyo Electric’s data could be more complete.

“But at the same time some recognition for Japan’s unique situation must be acknowledged,” he said. “The authorities have done their very best that technology allows. Eventually they reach a point where there is too much water to store.”

Puna said the Pacific islands delegation would meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida around March 7. They want a delay in water releases, at the very least, while more research is carried out, he said.

“There are serious gaps in the scientific evidence on the safety or otherwise of the proposed release,” Puna said. “I am pleased that the Japanese prime minister has finally agreed to meet with a high-level delegation from our region.” 

Decades of Fukushima water discharges, Puna said, could “damage our livelihoods, our fisheries livelihoods, our livelihood as people who are dependent very much and connected to the ocean in our culture and identity.” 

Mihai Sora, a Pacific analyst at Australia’s Lowy Institute, said it’s hard to imagine a more alarming proposition for Pacific island nations given the “toxic legacy” of nuclear weapons testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. 

The timing, amidst regional geopolitical competition that has traditional powers falling over themselves to demonstrate who’s a better partner to the Pacific, could scarcely be worse,” Sora said. 

The United States, United Kingdom and France carried out more than 300 nuclear detonations in the Pacific from 1946 to 1966, according to the International Disarmament Institute at Pace University in New York, which exposed thousands of military personnel and civilians to radiation and made some atolls uninhabitable. 

“Decades of hard-won regional goodwill towards Japanese Pacific engagement are at risk with this single policy initiative,” Sora said……………….

Japan’s embassy in Suva, Fiji didn’t respond to a request for comment. https://www.eurasiareview.com/28012023-japans-plan-to-discharge-water-from-fukushima-nuclear-plant-faces-pacific-opposition/

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January 29, 2023 Posted by | Japan, OCEANIA, oceans, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Don’t dump on us

Japan has also benefited from the (inevitable) support of the (nuclear power-promoting) International Atomic Energy Agency, an organization that never met a nuclear danger it couldn’t downplay. The agency has described the proposed discharges as “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” in a statement last April.

Pacific Islanders, marine scientists, urge Japan not to dump Fukushima radioactive water into ocean

By Linda Pentz Gunter, Beyond Nuclear International, 24 Jan 23,

The nuclear power industry has a long history of disproportionately impacting people of color, Indigenous communities and those living in the Global South. As Japan prepares to dump more than 1 million tonnes of radioactive water from its stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant site into the Pacific Ocean some time this year, history is about to repeat itself.

To remind us of that — and to warn against this reckless and entirely unnecessary action (Japan could and should expand the cask storage pad on site and keep storing the radioactive water there) — the leader of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) has spoken out.

In a recent column in the UK daily newspaper, The Guardian, Henry Puna wrote that “continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable”, given how directly it once again discriminates against — and will likely seriously harm the health of — the peoples of the Pacific. Puna took care to remind readers “that the majority of our Pacific peoples are coastal peoples, and that the ocean continues to be an integral part of their subsistence living.”

Going forward with the dump without further study and serious consideration of viable alternatives, would, Puna said, mean that “the region will once again be headed towards a major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others.” Victims of years of atomic testing, Pacific Islanders are rightly not ready to be dumped on yet again.

Tepco and the lapdog Japanese government announced last May that they would release around 1.3 million tonnes of radioactive waste water from the Fukushima site next spring. Recently, authorities suggested the dump could be delayed until the summer but seem undeterred by the loud chorus of opposition from multiple quarters.

The plant produces 100 cubic metres of contaminated water daily, a combination of groundwater, seawater and water used to keep the reactors cool. The water is theoretically filtered to remove most harmful isotopes, other than tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and cannot be separated from water. It is then stored in casks on site where authorities claim they are running out of space. However, independent watchdogs are not convinced that the filter system has successfully removed other dangerous radioactive isotopes from the waste water.

Most recently, the 100-member American group, the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML), expressed its fervent opposition in a strongly worded position paper released last month. Their opposition, they wrote, “is based on the fact that there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety. Furthermore, there is an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.”

The report went on: “The proposed release of this contaminated water is a transboundary and transgenerational issue of concern for the health of marine ecosystems and those whose lives and livelihoods depend on them. We are concerned about the absence of critical data on the radionuclide content of each tank, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which is used to remove radionuclides, and the assumption that upon the release of the contaminated wastewater, ‘dilution is the solution to pollution.’”

The scientists accused Japan of ignoring the inevitable processes of bioaccumulation and bioconcentration, which contradict the dilution contention. The Association also called out what it saw as shoddy or incorrect science conducted by Tepco and the Japanese government, including “flaws in sampling protocols, statistical design, sample analyses, and assumptions, which in turn lead to flaws in the conclusion of safety and prevent a more thorough evaluation of better alternative approaches to disposal.”

Japan has consistently rejected on-going onsite storage — presumably due to the expense, given the land space is there and more casks could be provided. In the view of some, the eagerness to dump the water— largely contaminated with tritium (a form of radioactive hydrogen that cannot be separated from water) and likely other undeclared radionuclides — is a public relations exercise to make the problem “go away” and restore normal optics to the site. The site cannot also be fully decommissioned so long as the tanks are there.

Japan has also benefited from the (inevitable) support of the (nuclear power-promoting) International Atomic Energy Agency, an organization that never met a nuclear danger it couldn’t downplay. The agency has described the proposed discharges as “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” in a statement last April.

After sending in a task force and several earlier reports, the IAEA released a new report in December in which it said “the IAEA will conduct its own independent checks of the radiological contents of the water stored in the tanks and how it will analyse environmental samples (for example seawater and fish) from the surrounding environment.” However, the IAEA has not expressed opposition to the dumping of the radioactive water even now and instead indicates that its safety reviews will continue “before, during, and after the discharges of ALPS treated water.”

Japan has faced down opposition from fishermen and environmentalists, particularly from those in the Marshall Islands who have suffered decades of horrific health issues, especially birth defects, after enduring 67 US atomic tests there. A Pacific region collective advocacy group, Youngsolwara Pacific, expressed dismay that the Japanese, of all people, would not empathize with them and condemn the Fukushima water dump…………………………..  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2023/01/24/dont-dump-on-us/

January 27, 2023 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, wastes | Leave a comment

Pacific states entitled to claims against Japan for discharge of radioactive nuclear wastewater

As a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Japan has knowingly violated them all by making such a dangerous decision. Without exhausting all safe means of disposal, disclosing all information, or fully consulting with surrounding countries and international organizations, the Japanese government went ahead and unilaterally decided to dump its wastewater into the ocean in a flagrant attempt to pass on the disastrous consequences to other Pacific countries. Those countries have every right to defend their rights and interests through legal means.

Li Weichao  http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2023-01/06/content_10210311.htm

“We must remind Japan that if the radioactive nuclear wastewater is safe, just dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.” Vanuatu’s famous politician Motarilavoa Hilda Lini spoke for all people living in the Pacific region when making this statement.

The Japanese government announced in April 2021 that it will begin dumping the nuclear wastewater stored at Fukushima into the ocean from the spring of 2023. As that day is approaching, the international community is voicing waves of objection, and people living in the Pacific region have consistently expressed their strong protest. Analysts said if Japan did discharge the wastewater into the Pacific Ocean as planned, the Pacific countries would have the right to claim damages.

Japan decided to just dump the wastewater into the ocean in order to save trouble and money, at the price of transferring nuclear contamination to the whole world, which is extremely irresponsible and selfish. South Pacific countries have suffered enough from nuclear contamination. From 1946 to 1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear weapon tests on the Marshall Islands, the aftermaths of which are still haunting the local residents in the form of radioactive poisoning, contamination of marine species, and leak from radwaste landfill.

The Fukushima nuclear station had the highest-level nuclear accident that produced an enormous amount of nuclear wastewater – more than 1.3 million tons in storage right now. Even though Japanese politicians claimed that the wastewater is safe enough for drinking after being treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), that’s simply not true.

A Japanese NGO recently released an article saying that treated nuclear wastewater still contains 64 kinds of radioactive substances, including tritium, which, once released into the ocean, will contaminate the marine environment and spread through the food chain, till eventually taking a toll on human health and the ecological environment. A report released by Greenpeace, an international environmental protection organization, showed that the technology currently adopted by Japan cannot get rid of the Sr90 and C14 in the wastewater, which are even more damaging than tritium with their half-life of 50 years and 5,730 years respectively.

It’s foreseeable that dumping Fukushima’s more than 1.3 million tons of nuclear wastewater into the ocean is a murderous move for people living along the ocean and will put the marine ecology at stake with irreversible outcomes. A renowned environmental protection organization of Pacific island countries said that such an irresponsible move of transboundary pollution is no different from waging a nuclear war against the people and the islands in the Pacific region.

As a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Japan has knowingly violated them all by making such a dangerous decision. Without exhausting all safe means of disposal, disclosing all information, or fully consulting with surrounding countries and international organizations, the Japanese government went ahead and unilaterally decided to dump its wastewater into the ocean in a flagrant attempt to pass on the disastrous consequences to other Pacific countries. Those countries have every right to defend their rights and interests through legal means.

In fact, there are already precedents for claims of this kind. For instance, the International Arbitration Tribunal ruled in 1938 and 1941 that Canada’s Trail Smelter should compensate America’s State of Washington for the damages caused by the SO2 it emitted. The “Trail Smelter case” is generally considered the basis for holding countries committing transboundary pollution accountable. Countries along the Pacific Ocean can totally refer to it and pursue claims against Japan after scientifically measuring the damages imposed upon them.


The ocean is the common wealth and symbiotic home for humanity. Dumping nuclear wastewater into it is not Japan’s internal affair. Right now the IAEA is still conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the wastewater at Fukushima, and Japan’s pushing for the dumping plan reveals its intention to make it a fait accompli regardless of the concerns of other parties. Japan’s egregious atrocities in history have already caused horrendous miseries to the surrounding countries. Does it plan to add another entry to its infamous track record now?

Editor’s note: Originally published on news.cri.cn, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

January 11, 2023 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Philippines looking at Chinese investors for cooperation on nuclear energy

By JON VIKTOR D. CABUENAS, GMA Integrated News, January 9, 2023 The Philippines is banking on Chinese investors to participate in the planned venture into nuclear energy, along with cooperation in other areas such as renewable energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) said Monday…………………………………..

The briefing was made after a state visit by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to Beijing, China last week, where Malacañang said he secured $13.76-billion worth of investments in the energy sector.

………………………………… Malacañang last week said the government is set to update its nuclear energy roadmap, with Marcos pushing for its adoption in a bid to lower power rates.

The President, along with his running mate Vice President Sara Duterte, have been pushing for the adoption of nuclear energy, which they said would lower electricity rates and help secure a steady power source.

His predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, last March issued Executive Order 164, directing the conduct of relevant studies for the adoption of a National Position for a Nuclear Energy Program.

The DOE in November said, however, that the Philippines will have to wait a decade to see a working nuclear power plant given the time needed for feasibility studies and other factors.

“At this point we cannot say how fast they (Chinese commitments) will be implemented but the President has committed that he’s going to make sure that there will be a systematic handholding of investors,” Lotilla said……   https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/money/economy/856790/philippines-looking-at-chinese-investors-for-cooperation-on-nuclear-energy/story/

January 11, 2023 Posted by | Philippines, politics international | Leave a comment

The problem with nuclear energy advocates

There is something curiously bewitching about nuclear power that makes its backers disciples rather than advocates. They become nuclear champions first rather than energy champions (which is what everyone should be), and are either unaware of or intentionally ignoring the fact that most of the time, they are putting their efforts into a solution that is looking for a problem.

ROUGH TRADE, By Ben Kritz, January 10, 2023

 https://www.manilatimes.net/2023/01/10/opinion/columns/the-problem-with-nuclear-energy-advocates/1873611

I WAS asked over the weekend if I planned to respond to a recent letter to the editor (“SMR issues addressed,” published on January 5), which said it was a reaction to my December 29 column about small modular reactor (SMR) technology and the problems that have been encountered in trying to make it commercially practical.

No, I responded, I had not planned to react to the letter because I could not see much in it to actually react to; while polite and thoughtful, it essentially boiled down to the same long-on-enthusiasm and short-on-specifics kind of pitch for SMR technology I see every day.

Maybe that’s exactly the point you need to address, my annoying yet helpful self-appointed consultant suggested.

I realized she’s right; there’s a bigger problem with nuclear energy and its advocates than just the technical and economic details that make it difficult to develop and use. There is something curiously bewitching about nuclear power that makes its backers disciples rather than advocates. They become nuclear champions first rather than energy champions (which is what everyone should be), and are either unaware of or intentionally ignoring the fact that most of the time, they are putting their efforts into a solution that is looking for a problem.

For the record, my December 29 column dealt with two more exotic forms of SMR technology, the traveling wave reactor (TWR) and the Natrium reactor; the basic difference between the two being that the latter uses uranium fuel that is enriched to a concentration that is four or five times what is used in a conventional reactor, and the former is designed to use unenriched or depleted uranium fuel. For a variety of reasons, both of those technologies are at least eight to 10 years from even being functional, and whether or not they can be made economical at all is still an open question.

The discussion about the less extreme and more common form of SMR technology was in the column prior to that, on December 27, and detailed obstacles with the development of commercial-ready SMRs that have been identified through actually trying to build an SMR plant, on the one hand, and a couple of reliable studies by nuclear experts (Stanford University and the Argonne National Laboratory) on the other.

The first obstacle is cost. A plant being constructed in rural Idaho by SMR developer NuScale — which is designed to eventually consist of six 77-megawatt units — has run into massive cost overruns, despite the assumption that SMRs are relatively inexpensive due to being smaller and simpler than conventional nuclear plants. NuScale is hoping to have the first of the six units online by 2029, but the per-megawatt-hour cost of the plant has hit $58, the threshold set by the consortium of six utilities in the western US which are financing the project to decide whether or not to continue.

The reason for this is that at that cost, there are already a variety of conventional and renewable energy generation sources available, so there is nothing to be gained by building the SMR complex, no matter how cutting-edge its technology may be.

The second obstacle is waste management. Again, because SMRs are smaller and less complex than conventional nuclear power plants, it is assumed that they would produce less radioactive waste, both of the more dangerous high-level variety in the form of spent fuel and the low-level variety in the form of wastewater and contaminated discarded equipment and other materials. 

This, however, is not the case, according to the Stanford and Argonne studies, both published last year. Both studies found the same result, that SMRs produce about as much waste as conventional light-water reactors, but differed in their subjective interpretation. The Stanford researchers concluded that this contraindicated the use of SMRs since they do not offer any improvement in waste management, while Argonne’s lead scientist suggested that the result was more positive, as it demonstrated using SMRs wouldn’t be any worse than conventional nuclear power.

Contrary to our recent reader-correspondent’s assertions, neither of those issues — the only two I focused on concerning SMRs, because they are not hypothetical, but demonstrated by real-world experience or analysis — are “addressed” at all by what he presented, which is “a unique approach to SMRs” being developed by an unnamed enterprise only identified as being Seattle-based. The design, according to him, uses “widely available, cheap low-enriched uranium” (as I have pointed out more than once, except for reactors running on exotic fuel like the Natrium, fuel is actually the least of the cost issues for a nuclear plant);  do not need to be refueled (are they then considered disposable?); and “are safe enough that their ‘plug-and-play’ generators can be placed anywhere with little infrastructure investment and without any special security.”

As for the application of this mysterious miracle technology in the Philippines, the company in question is “confident that they can satisfy all the requirements of the Philippine government regulators, the power companies and the public. They could even achieve the objective of having the current president preside over the ribbon-cutting ceremony before he leaves office.”

First of all, if the developer of this game-changing technology has created something that is ready enough that they are actively seeking a foothold in the Philippine market, one would think that they would be willing, even eager, to be clearly identified. I suspect I know who it is, and if I’m right, I’m going to be very disappointed because then this sly press release in the form of a letter to the editor (and yes, that’s exactly what it is; I get three or four press releases a day from different companies or trade publications that sound exactly like this) doesn’t even begin to answer questions that have already been raised about this specific company’s technology.

Second, even if this is just a standard-design SMR, we already know that a commercial version in its own country of origin will not be operational by the time President Marcos steps down, let alone be available to the Philippines. Local requirements might indeed be satisfied, but before that can even happen, the hoops that both US and Philippine stakeholders will have to jump through in order to secure export authorization from the US government — with the resulting agreement also needing approval from the Philippine Senate, the sort of thing it never acts quickly on — will take a couple of years at a minimum.

The Philippines could use nuclear energy, and it’s rational not to completely discount the future possibility of its doing so, provided a very long list of conditions are satisfactorily met. But it is in no position to serve as a test site for novel ideas that have been clearly demonstrated to be years from being a viable, let alone a practical, best option. Trying to mislead the public into believing that a magical solution is available for the asking — proselytizing for nuclear energy, rather than seeking actual attainable solutions for the country’s rather more immediate energy problems — is going to achieve very little, except to disappoint people and ensure this won’t be a market for whatever you’re selling.

January 9, 2023 Posted by | Philippines, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Alliance of Pacific organisations condemns Japan’s decision to discharge nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean

NZ and Pacific urged to ‘step up’ against Japan’s nuclear plan, Stuff NZ, Christine Rovoil, Dec 17 2022,

Japan’s decision to discharge nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean for the next 30 years has been condemned by a Pacific alliance.

And the group of community members, academics, legal experts, NGOs and activists is calling on New Zealand and the Pacific to act to stop Japan.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had meltdowns after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 which left more than 15,000 people dead.

The Japanese government said work to clean up the radioactive contamination would take up to 40 years.

Following the Nuclear Connections Across Oceania Conference at the University of Otago last month, a working group was formed to address the planned discharge.

Dr Karly Burch at the OU’s Centre for Sustainability said many people might be surprised to hear that the Japanese government has instructed Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to discharge more than 1.3 million tonnes of radioactive wastewater into the ocean from next year.

Burch said they had called on Tepco to halt its discharge plans, and the New Zealand Government to “step up against Japan”.

In June, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for nuclear disarmament during her speech at the Nato Leaders’ Summit in Madrid.

“New Zealand is a Pacific nation and our region bears the scars of decades of nuclear testing. It was because of these lessons that New Zealand has long declared itself proudly nuclear-free,” Ardern said.

Burch said the Government must “stay true to its dedication to a nuclear-free Pacific” by taking a case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea against Japan.

“This issue is complex and relates to nuclear safety rather than nuclear weapons or nuclear disarmament,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement on Friday.

“Japan is talking to Pacific partners in light of their concerns about the release of treated water from Fukushima and Aotearoa New Zealand supports the continuation of this dialogue.

…………….. In Onahama, 60km from the power station, fish stocks have dwindled, said Nozaki Tetsu, of the Fukushima Fisheries Co-operative Associations.

“From 25,000 tonnes per year before 2011, only 5000 tonnes of fish are now caught,” he said. “We are against the release of radioactive materials into our waters. What worries us is the negative reputation this creates.”

………………………. Burch said predictive models showed radioactive particles released would spread to the northern Pacific.

“To ensure they do not cause biological or ecological harm, these uranium-derived radionuclides need to be stored securely for the amount of time it takes for them to decay to a more stable state. For a radionuclide such as Iodine-129, this could be 160 million years.”

………… Burch said the Japanese government was aware in August 2018 that the treated wastewater contained long-lasting radionuclides such as Iodine-129 in quantities exceeding government regulations.

She has called for clarity from Tokyo, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Pacific Oceans Commission, and a Pacific panel of independent global experts on nuclear issues on the outcome of numerous meetings they have had about the discharge.

“We want a transparent and accountable consultation process which would include Japanese civil society groups, Pacific leaders and regional organisations.

“These processes must be directed by impacted communities within Japan and throughout the Pacific to facilitate fair and open public deliberations and rigorous scientific debate,” Burch said.

The Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general, Henry Puna, has been approached for comment.
 https://www.stuff.co.nz/pou-tiaki/130784783/nz-and-pacific-urged-to-step-up-against-japans-nuclear-plan

December 18, 2022 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment

US military atomic cleanup crews were sent out in the wake of American nuclear testing, and many paid a heavy price, veterans say

“We’re still fighting. We’re not gonna give up, and we’re just gonna keep going and keep fighting,” Brownell said. “The world needs to know. They need to know how dangerous the radiation is — how dangerous nuclear testing is.”

 https://www.businessinsider.com/us-military-atomic-cleanup-crews-heavy-price-nuclear-testing-2022-12 Jake Epstein , Dec 11, 2022

  • Over a period of more than a decade, the US military conducted dozens of nuclear tests in the Pacific.
  • Years later, soldiers were sent to the Marshall Islands to try and clean up the fallout from the testing.
  • But many were exposed to contaminated food and dust, leaving them with severe and lasting health issues. 

For over a decade beginning not long after World War II, the US carried out dozens of nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands — a chain of islands and atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The largest of the 67 tests that were conducted between 1946 and 1958 was Castle Bravo. On March 1, 1954, the US military detonated a thermonuclear weapon at Bikini Atoll, producing an explosive yield 1,000 times greater than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan.

Nuclear tests like Castle Bravo produced a substantial amount of nuclear fallout that negatively affected the people of the Marshall Islands, according to the Brookings Institution think tank. Radioactive material was even found in communities thousands of miles away.2

‘There’s no way possibly to clean that up’

Ken Brownell, who was a carpenter when he served in the military in the late 1970s, was sent to the Marshall Islands in 1977 to build a base camp for hundreds of soldiers assigned to cleanup operations. These cleanup efforts involved a concrete dome that was built on Runit Island, one of 40 islands that make up Enewetak Atoll, which was used to deposit soil and debris contaminated by radiation. 

The goal, Brownell said, was supposedly to make the area habitable again for the Marshallese people after all the nuclear testing that happened during the US occupation, which began during World War II (the Marshall Islands eventually became independent in 1979). 

Brownell, 66, said he worked 12-hour work days, six days a week, while living on Lojwa — an island “deemed safe” at the time because it didn’t host any nuclear tests, even though it was located near islands that did. His job included excavations and pouring concrete. 

But despite the US military’s efforts to clean up the islands, Brownell said there was one, massive problem — it just couldn’t be done.

“There’s no way possibly to clean that up. Once that soil was contaminated, the animals that lived on the islands, the birds, the rats, the coconut crabs, all the — whatever wildlife was there — they consumed all that,” Brownell said. “So all this — the radioactive material goes into the ocean, gets into the coral. Now you’ve got it into the fish life. You’ve got it into the lobsters.”

Brownell said exposure to radioactive material could come from “any place on those islands,” whether it was eating contaminated seafood, or just walking around in the dirt and breathing in contaminated dust. 

“On our end of it, most of our guys are dead because of the cancers and all the ailments that come along with the radioactive materials that we ingested,” Brownell said, adding that he had nothing in the way of protective gear. On a typical day, he said he would wear an outfit consisting of just combat boots, shorts, and a hat.  

Coming from a farming community in New York, Brownell said he had no knowledge of radioactive materials before getting sent to the Marshall Islands. He also said he didn’t receive any prior training in radiological cleanups and that the potential dangers of the mission were never properly addressed beforehand.   

“There was no running water … you couldn’t actually wash up. So you’re eating a baloney sandwich with dirty, contaminated hands, sitting in contaminated soil,” Brownell said. “The government said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it … be careful swimming because there’s sharks out there.'”

Atomic veteran Francis Lincoln Grahlfs echoed Brownell’s remarks about a lack of knowledge on the dangers of nuclear cleanups, writing in a Military Times op-ed last year that “little was known by the public about the long-term effects of radiation exposure.”

Impact of radiation contamination 

Nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands had “devastating effects” on the country’s environment that “remain unresolved,” according to a 2019 report by the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission. Some individuals still “live with a daily fear of how their health might be affected by long-term exposure to radiation.”

Several of Brownell’s friends dealt with health complications that he believed to be related to their service in the Marshall Islands — and he was not immune. In 2001, he was diagnosed with stage-four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given only six months to live. That wasn’t the end though.

That six months has turned into 20 years — 21 years,” Brownell said. “So I’m grateful every day that I’m still here.”

Like Brownell, Grahlfs — who was sent to the Marshal Islands in 1946 — wrote in his December 2021 op-ed that he has suffered from health complications, including cancer, believed to be a result of his service.

Brownell and other veterans have been fighting to be covered by government services that could provide compensation and other care. He is currently covered by the PACT Act, which is legislation aimed at improving funding and healthcare access for veterans who were exposed to toxins during their service that was signed by President Joe Biden in August.

However, he, like thousands of others, are excluded from the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which only covers veterans present for atmospheric nuclear tests. RECA has had faster response times for claims than those submitted through the VA.

“We’re still fighting. We’re not gonna give up, and we’re just gonna keep going and keep fighting,” Brownell said. “The world needs to know. They need to know how dangerous the radiation is — how dangerous nuclear testing is.”

December 12, 2022 Posted by | environment, health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA trying to use Philippines as a guinea pig for its unviable small nuclear reactors – and for military purposes.

“With recent plans by the US Department of Defense to build an advanced mobile nuclear microreactor prototype in Idaho, Manila should not allow Washington to use Philippine military bases as prototype areas for these reactors.

Save the country from the perils of nuclear reactors, NAKED THOUGHT

https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/12/03/opinion/columns/save-the-country-from-the-perils-of-nuclear-reactors/1868797

By Charlie V. Manalo, December 3, 2022

AS the United States government, invoking provisions of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), requests for additional military bases, five on the island of Luzon alone, the idea of the country playing host to mobile nuclear reactors is not far-fetched.

This is for the simple reason that whoever crafted the agreement made it so vague, it did not provide for any restrictions on the type of facilities and materials the US would be using in constructing its bases in the Philippines.

And this has been aggravated further by the enactment of the Public Service Law which opens the country’s airports to foreign ownership, giving the US all the resources needed to construct its own airports which it could use as military bases under the guise of a commercial airport.

Anyway, former congressman Terry Ridon, convenor of Infrawatch Philippines, sent me a copy of an article he wrote on the subject, explaining clearly its implications. It’s entitled, “Reject mobile nuclear reactors in PH bases-Infrawatch Philippines,” which I’m publishing in its entirety.

“With recent plans by the US Department of Defense to build an advanced mobile nuclear microreactor prototype in Idaho, Manila should not allow Washington to use Philippine military bases as prototype areas for these reactors.

According to an April report by The Associated Press, the US DoD ‘signed off on the Project Pele plan to build the reactor and reactor fuel outside of Idaho and then assemble and operate the reactor at the lab.’

As this is a project initiated by the US defense department, its military objectives had been disclosed by Jeff Waksman, project manager for Project Pele, saying, “Advanced nuclear power has the potential to be a strategic game-changer for the United States, both for the (Department of Defense) and for the commercial sector.”

The US DoD further said that the reactor designs are ‘high-temperature gas-cooled reactors using enriched uranium for fuel.’

PH microreactor deployment

Under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, there are no restrictions to Washington on the type of facilities and materials it will construct and install in Philippine military bases, except a specific restriction against installing nuclear weapons.

However, Philippine authorities should be reminded that this restriction does not assuage fears that the country will not be involved in regional military conflicts because EDCA allows the installation of conventional military weapons which may approximate the breadth and fatal impact of nuclear weapons.

More importantly, in the event that nuclear microreactors are produced by the US DoD at scale, these small nuclear plants can, in fact, be installed in EDCA locations in different parts of the country.

This is alarming because the country has yet to decide and implement its national policy on nuclear development based on the policy direction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In fact, it needs to be made clear that nuclear microreactors in EDCA locations in the country will not be used for civilian purposes but for military objectives by the United States in the Indo-Pacific.

This distinction alone should give the current government pause on allowing nuclear microreactors to be deployed in EDCA locations in the future.

More importantly, military nuclear microreactors will allow Washington to deploy different kinds of weapons to influence the security arrangement in the South China Sea and the greater Indo-Pacific.

Military purposes

Further, as nuclear microreactors in EDCA areas will certainly be used for military purposes, this might prompt other regional actors to accuse Manila of violating the Bangkok Treaty, the treaty declaring Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapons-free zone and other weapons of mass destruction.

With a military nuclear microreactor in Philippine soil, Washington may be able to operate high-powered conventional military weapons which may be equivalent to weapons of mass destruction.

Certainly, Manila should follow its treaty obligations in the region, particularly as other strong powers are also looking at Manila to temper its pivot toward Washington.

Finally, allowing this kind of deployment in EDCA areas diminishes the current call of President Marcos to carefully proceed with nuclear research and development for civilian purposes.

The focus of the government should be considering whether nuclear energy should be part of the current energy mix and whether the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should be revived.

It should also consider developing other aspects of nuclear technology, which can benefit health care and other critically important sectors.

As such, allowing nuclear microreactors in EDCA areas or anywhere in the Philippines should not be on the agenda.”

December 2, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Uniting to oppose Japanese plan to dump nuclear waste in Pacific

Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific Journalist, lydia.lewis@rnz.co.nz, 28 Nov 22,

Activists and academics are joining forces to fight plans by Japan to start dumping nuclear waste from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

It is scheduled to start next year and continue for 30 years.

A statement of solidarity opposing the move was being drafted following the Nuclear Connections Across Oceania conference in Dunedin at the weekend.

At least 800,000 tons of radioactive wastewater was scheduled to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean over 30 years from early next year.

“We understand this is within Japan’s jurisdiction but the ocean is not stagnant and Pacific Islands will be at the forefront of disposal,” Pacific Network on Globalisation Deputy Coordinator Joey Tau said.

Pacific anti-nuclear activists, a Hiroshima bomb survivor and academics voiced their opposition at the event and set up a working group to tackle the issue.

International law expert Duncan Currie told the conference Japan had not considered the impacts or conducted baseline studies, which he said was “completely unacceptable”.

He said modelling suggested the waste would travel to Korea, China, and then the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

“Japan has other options like storing the waste on land which is costly, but countries need to take a stand now. It is an open and shut case,” Curry said.

“Very simply, any country, any Pacific country, Korea, China could take a case against Japan in the international tribunal of Law of the Sea demanding an injunction or what are called provisional measures in international law be exercised.”

Toshiko Tanaka, an 84-year-old survivor of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945, urged the world to remember the suffering nuclear weapons cause.

Marshallese ‘still suffering’ from nuclear testing

The newly-elected Vanuatu Climate Minister Ralph Regenvanu said Vanuatu was against the move as the country was a member of the Pacific Islands Forum which had expressed its opposition to the dumping.

Fiji-based Bedi Racule said hearing about Japan’s plans and the potential impacts had been re-traumatising as Marshall Islands residents were still facing the impacts of nuclear testing by the United States………………. more https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/479626/uniting-to-oppose-japanese-plan-to-dump-nuclear-waste-in-pacific

November 28, 2022 Posted by | OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Lawmaker says Filipinos will be ‘guinea pigs’ in nuclear pact with US

ABS-CBN News Nov 24 2022

MANILA — House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro is against negotiations for a civilian nuclear pact between the United States and the Philippines, saying it poses threat to the health and safety of Filipinos.

According to the ACT Teachers party-list representative, the Filipinos will become “guinea pigs” in this nuclear energy cooperation deal known as “123 agreement”.

The pact, among initiatives announced during US Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent trip to the Philippines, can lead to the future sale of US nuclear reactors to Manila.

“The US and the Philippines agreed to have a… testing of what we call the nuclear equipment here in the Philippines,” Castro told ANC’s “Headstart” Thursday.

“So, we are being made as guinea pigs in this experiment. This would affect our health, of course, our safety and the environment,” she added.

The Makabayan bloc, led by Castro, has filed House Resolution 582 to investigate the “123 agreement”.

The group said modular or microreactor nuclear power plants are still at an experimental stage and are only legally being made in US bases…………………… https://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/11/24/22/filipinos-will-be-guinea-pigs-in-nuclear-pact-with-us-solon

November 24, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Philippines to be America’s nuclear guinea-pig for experimental small modular nuclear reactors?

Philippines’ Makabayan bloc files resolution seeking to probe US-Philippines nuclear energy deal By CNN Philippines Staff.Nov 23, 2022,

 The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the nuclear energy cooperation deal announced by United States Vice President Kamala Harris, citing threats to the health and safety of Filipinos and the environment.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel Manuel warned that Filipinos may be used as “guinea pigs” for testing nuclear equipment.

Ang mahirap dito baka tayong mga mamamayang Pilipino ang ma-1-2-3 at maging mga guinea pig ng teknolohiyang ito na tine-testing pa lang ng US,” Castro said in a statement.

[Translation: The problem here is that Filipinos may be duped and served as guinea pigs for a technology still being tested by the US.]

According to the White House fact sheet released on Monday, the 123 Agreement, or the nuclear energy cooperation deal, will provide the legal basis for US exports of nuclear equipment and material to the Philippines.

The 123 Agreement also aims to support expanded partnerships on zero-emission energy and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

According to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Marcos administration is considering bringing in US-developed small modular reactors to the country.

“As it is, modular or microreactor nuclear power plants are still at an experimental stage and are only legally being made in US bases. Early this year, the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office announced the construction and testing decision that followed the office’s Environmental Impact Statement work for Project Pele,” Castro said………….more https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/11/23/Makabayan-bloc-US-PH-nuclear-energy-deal-probe.html

November 22, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics international, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Barbados PM launches blistering attack on rich nations at Cop27 climate talks

Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, has criticised industrialised
nations for failing the developing world on the climate crisis, in a
blistering attack at the Cop27 UN climate talks.

She said the prosperity –
and high carbon emissions – of the rich world had been achieved at the
expense of the poor in times past, and now the poor were being forced to
pay again, as victims of climate breakdown that they did not cause.

“We were the ones whose blood, sweat and tears financed the industrial
revolution,” she said. “Are we now to face double jeopardy by having to
pay the cost as a result of those greenhouse gases from the industrial
revolution? That is fundamentally unfair.”

Guardian 7th Nov 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/07/barbados-pm-mia-mottley-launches-blistering-attack-on-rich-nations-at-cop27-climate-talks

November 9, 2022 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Rocket Lab: Helping the US wage endless wars from space

 https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2022/10/25/rocket-lab-helping-the-us-wage-endless-wars-from-space/By John Minto, October 25, 2022

It’s clear local mana whenua were misled by Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck when iwi land at Mahia Peninsula was leased to launch satellites into space.

At the time Peter Beck was clear Rocket Lab would be used for civilian purposes only and would not take up military contracts, despite this being a particularly lucrative path to take.

Fast forward a few years and we find Beck has abandoned any principles he may have had and his company is now majority owned by the US military and is launching satellites for US military purposes.

The government has to sign off on each launch to make sure it is in line with what’s acceptable to this country but it’s clearly a rubber stamp process conducted by Stuart Nash.

Any assurances from Peter Beck or Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, who signs off on the launches for the government, that Rocket Lab’s work is for the betterment of mankind are not credible.

Peter Beck sets up straw man arguments saying claims of Rocket Lab weaponizing space are “misinformation” and the company would “not deal in weapons”. “We’re certainly not going to launch weapons or anything that damages the environment or goes and hurts people,” he told Newshub last year.

What nonsense. These are “straw-man” arguments. No-one has claimed the rockets contain weapons but what is absolutely clear is that the US military launches rockets for military purposes and this is what is happening at Mahia.

The NZ Herald reported last year on the capabilities of “Gunsmoke-J satellites”, which have been launched from Mahia for the US military, saying:

The other is the “Gunsmoke-J” satellite being launched for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command (SMDC).

Gunsmoke-J is a prototype for a possible series of nano-satellites that will collect targeting data “in direct support of Army combat operations” according to a US Army fact sheet and a US Department of Defence budget document.

Green MP and party spokesperson for security and intelligence, Teanau Tuiono, is right to speak out:

“Weaponising space is not in our national interest and goes against our international commitments to ensuring peace in space,”

“The government should put in place clear rules that stop our whenua being used to launch rockets on behalf of foreign militaries”

and

“We should not be a launching pad for satellites for America’s military and intelligence agencies,” Green Party security and intelligence spokesman Teanau Tuiono said.

Rocket Lab is donkey deep with US strategies for “full spectrum dominance of the planet – including space. In doing so Beck and the government have made Mahia a target for conventional or even tactical nuclear weapons if hostilities break out between the US and another world power.

It’s ironic that the government provided start-up funds for Beck to get Rocket Lab off the ground only for Aotearoa New Zealand to find the company has put us to bed with a foreign military and made us target for conventional or nuclear attack.

Mana whenua in Mahia are right to be concerned – and so should the rest of us.

The government is “consulting” at the moment on these issues in their Space Policy Review.

Make a submission for the peaceful use of space here (Deadline 31 October)

October 26, 2022 Posted by | New Zealand, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Zealand MP says Rocket Lab launches could betray country’s anti-nuclear stance

The commercial space company rejects criticism of satellite launches for the US military,

Guardian, Eva Corlett in Wellington, @evacorlett 17 Oct 22,

New Zealand commercial space company, Rocket Lab, has faced new opposition to its activities on behalf of foreign militaries, with one New Zealand Green MP saying its actions could fly in the face of the country’s anti-nuclear stance.

The American-New Zealand company, founded by Peter Beck in 2006, provides rockets to deliver payloads into orbit from its launch site on the Māhia Peninsula, in New Zealand’s north. A third of Rocket Lab’s activities have been on behalf of defence and national security agencies. These include launching US and Australian spy satellites, the controversial “Gunsmoke J” satellite, and most recently Nasa’s capstone spacecraft.

The company’s contracts with the US have been flagged as concerning by the Māhia community, the Green party, and Rocket Lab Monitor – a watchdog group.

In 2019, the New Zealand government banned launch activities that were not in the country’s national interest, or were a breach of both domestic and international laws. The minister for economic and regional development, Stuart Nash, who is also the MP for the area that covers the Māhia Peninsula, has the ability to veto space launches that are not considered to be in the national interest, including payloads that contribute to nuclear weapons programmes or support or enable specific defence, security or intelligence operations contrary to government policy.

But the Green party’s security and intelligence spokesperson, Teanau Tuiono warned last week that it is “unclear when the national interest test should be invoked” and that there is no guarantee the satellites will not be used to assist nuclear programmes.

“Weaponising space is not in our national interest and goes against our international commitments to ensuring peace in space,” he said.

“Launching space satellites from Aotearoa could improve the ability of foreign actors to control a nuclear explosive device,” Tuiono said. “But right now, the government is allowing operators like Rocket Lab to put payloads into space for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the US Space Force.”

Tuiono said that this poses a risk to New Zealand’s nuclear-free stance, which was enshrined in law more than 35 years ago and is considered a defining moment in the country’s history.

“We risk betraying the anti-nuclear generation and handing our kids a less safe world,” Tuiono said………………………………………………………

Watchdog group, Rocket Lab Monitor, has said it’s skeptical that this is a fail-proof system and worries the country’s space agency lacks in-house expertise to assess if satellites are contributing to nuclear weapon programmes.

“It all relies on the ‘intent’ of a payload rather than monitoring what it actually ends up being used for,” its spokesperson Sonya Smith said.

Smith pointed to Rocket Lab’s 2021 launch of the “Gunsmoke-J” satellite – an experimental satellite that, according to the US army, can “provide tactically actionable targeting data” to “warfighters”, and to which Minister Nash admitted he was “unaware of [its] specific military capabilities”.

Last month, the government announced a new aerospace strategy, that includes further financial support for the emerging sector. At the same time, it opened a review to allow the public to give feedback on the future of New Zealand’s space policy.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/17/new-zealand-mp-says-rocket-lab-launches-could-betray-countrys-anti-nuclear-stance

October 18, 2022 Posted by | New Zealand, space travel | Leave a comment

Marshall Islanders unwilling to sign economic agreement with USA – want redress first of their harmful nuclear legacy

Haunted By 67 Nuclear Tests, US Facing Severe Roadblocks To Renew COFA Pact With Marshall Islands

https://eurasiantimes.com/haunted-by-67-nuclear-tests-us-facing-severe-roadblocks-to-renew-cofa-pact-with-marshall-islands/ By Ashish Dangwal, October 18, 2022

The United States appears to be facing a severe roadblock in renewing a binding treaty with the Marshall Islands, which have long sought compensation for the dozens of US nuclear tests conducted there between the 1940s and 1950s.

The provisions of a Compact of Free Association (COFA), signed between the Pacific island group and the US in 1986, will be reviewed by the Marshall Islands and the United States later this year.

The COFA’s key components include US immigration benefits for Marshallese citizens, direct economic support, and exclusive American defense and security access to the islands and their territorial waters. 

The Marshall Islands leaders have repeatedly highlighted that the long-term repercussions of the 67 US nuclear tests conducted between 1946 and 1958 on health, the environment, and the economy must be adequately addressed before they consent to a new economic agreement with the US.

October 18, 2022 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment