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New Zealand nuclear veterans want apology and compensation from the government

New Zealand’s nuclear horror still not acknowledged say vets  Stuff, Janine Rankin May 02 2021 Photos on a wall, names on a board and an academic study will ensure the radiation damage to 551 men who witnessed Britain’s nuclear bomb explosions in the Pacific is never forgotten.

But what the New Zealand survivors of those blasts really want is an apology and compensation from the Government.

The stories of the nuclear veterans and the subsequent heartache and illness affecting them and the off-spring of those who had families have been retold in Palmerston North this weekend.

It was the third opening of Denise Baynham’s exhibition of the photographs and stories of navy veterans “Operation Grapple, We were There” at Te Manawa art gallery……………

……..   The men exposed to those bomb blasts, many times more powerful than the bombs that ended World War II in Japan, suffered radiation damage, and still do.

A carefully controlled sample of 50 veterans showed three times the frequency of genetic damage, technically called total chromosome translocations, than the control group.

Rowland is now the association’s patron, and he and Sefton’s close friend and successor Tere Tahu are determined to have the Government acknowledge the harm done.

They have a meeting with Veterans’ Affairs Minister Meka Whaitiri on May 10, with the goal of gaining an audience with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Veteran John Purcell said until now, they had only received “a wall of silence” from successive ministers.

“It is my belief that the Crown abrogated its duty of care by dispatching HMNZS Pukaki and Rotoiti to take part in the British nuclear testing, being fully aware that we were being sent into harm’s way.”

What he wants is a public apology, a public acceptance of the research findings, urgent research regarding the children and grandchildren of veterans, and compensation.,   https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/125002784/new-zealands-nuclear-horror-still-not-acknowledged-say-vets

May 3, 2021 Posted by | health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Growing opposition to Rocket Lab in New Zealand

Rocket Lab: Growing opposition in New Zealand. By Murray Horton, 18 Apr 21,

Rocket Lab started life as a small New Zealand company but is now much bigger and has become the local subsidiary of a US company, with its owners including arms industry behemoths such as Lockheed Martin. 

It specialises in frequent launches of small satellites for clients including a range of US military and intelligence agencies. These launches are conducted from New Zealand, which prides itself on being nuclear free (it was kicked out of the ANZUS Treaty in 1986 by the other two parties – the US and Australia – for having banned US nuclear warships from entering. That remains the status quo today). 

NZ also claims to have an independent foreign policy. But it remains the most junior of the Five Eyes global electronic spying network (with the US, UK, Canada and Australia). Having Rocket Lab operating a private enterprise space port in New Zealand for US military and intelligence agencies, with the active backing of Jacinda Ardern’s Government, totally undermines that claim.

Rocket Lab has, up until recently, received uncritical, even adulatory, coverage by the NZ news media. That, plus the fact that its’ launch pad is in a very remote, sparsely populated area (the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast) means that it has been off the radar (pardon the pun) of the NZ public. 

In 2021 that is now changing. Mainstream media coverage has become more critical, the best example being  “Mahia, We Have A Problem”, by Ollie Neas in the March 2021 North & South (a national monthly magazine). And opposition has started, right in Rocket Lab’s back yard, in the Mahia area, led by local Maori women (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand). 

There was a protest against Rocket Lab’s most recent military satellite launch; the group – Rocket Lab Monitor – has taken its case to the local media; and, via billboards, etc, directly to the people. They have set up a Website

Opposition is also being organised on a more national scale – New Zealand is one of the most urbanised countries in the world and Rocket Lab’s assembly plant and headquarters is situated in the country’s biggest city, Auckland.
 
Murray Horton
Secretary/Organiser
Anti-Bases Campaign
Christchurch, New Zealand

April 20, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

New Zealand groups oppose launch of U.S. military nuclear satellite

a security expert has suggested it puts New Zealand into “the kill chain” and makes New Zealand a military target. 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, politics international, Reference, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Glaciers in New Zealand – extreme melting due to global heating

August 4, 2020 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand | Leave a comment

New Zealand stood up to the nuclear bullies- the Rainbow Warrior story

NZ gained ‘international creds’ as nuclear-free nation with Rainbow Warrior bombing, says author, Asia Pacific Report

By PMC Editor -June 29, 2020   From RNZ Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

New Zealand established its credentials as an independent small nation after the fatal bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in 1985, says an author and academic who spent weeks on the vessel shortly before it was attacked.

On 10 July 1985, the Rainbow Warrior was sunk at an Auckland wharf by two bombs planted on the hull of the ship by French secret agents.

The event is often referred to as the first act of terrorism in New Zealand.

LISTEN: The Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan Crime NZ interview with David Robie
WATCH: Eyes of Fire archival videos
READ: The Eyes of Fire book

Two French agents planted two explosives on the ship while it was berthed at Marsden wharf, the second explosion killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira.

Dr David Robie, who is an AUT professor of journalism and communication studies, as well as the director of the university’s Pacific Media Centre, had spent more than 10 weeks on the ship as a journalist covering its nuclear rescue mission in the Pacific.

He wrote about his experience in Eyes of Firea book about the last voyage of the first Rainbow Warrior – two other Rainbow Warrior ships have followed.

In 1985, Rongelap atoll villagers in the Marshall Islands asked Greenpeace to help them relocate to a new home at Mejato atoll. Their island had been contaminated by radioactive fallout from US atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.

Environmental journalism
“At the time I was very involved in environmental issues around the Pacific and in those days Greenpeace was very small, a fledgling organisation,” he tells Jesse Mulligan.

“They had a little office in downtown Auckland and Elaine Shaw was the coordinator and she was quite worried that this was going to be a threshold voyage.

“It was probably the first campaign by Greenpeace that was humanitarian, it wasn’t just environmental – to rescue basically the people who had been suffering from nuclear radiation.” ……….

Moruroa protest planned
The US had carried out 67 nuclear tests at the Marshall Islands. France was also carrying out 193 tests in the Pacific and Greenpeace had planned on confronting that situation at Moruroa Atoll after its Marshall Islands rescue effort.

New Zealand had already voiced disapproval of the testing in the region, with then Prime Minister David Lange in 1984 rebuking the French for “arrogantly” continuing the programme in the country’s backyard.

Dr Robie left the ship when it docked in Auckland after the Marshall Islands stage of the mission. Three days after the ship had docked, a birthday celebration was held for  Greenpeace campaign organiser Steve Sawyer onboard. The attack happened after the party.

Just before midnight on the evening of 10 July 1985, two explosions ripped through the hull as the ship.

Portuguese crew member Fernando Pereira was killed after returning on board after the first explosion……..

Thirteen foreign agents were involved, operating in three teams. The first team brought in the explosives, the second team would plant these and the third was on stand-by in case anything went wrong with the first two teams.

“A commanding officer kept an overview of the whole operation. I think there was an element of arrogance, the same arrogance as with the testing itself. There was a huge amount of arrogance about taking on an operation like this in a peaceful country – we were allies of France at the time – and it is extraordinary that they assumed they could get away with this outrageous act.”

Two of the spies were caught. Two General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) officers, Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart, were arrested on July 24. Both were charged with murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Repression of independence movements
“You have to see it within the context of the period of the time,” Dr Robie says.

He says that the French policy of repression against independence movements in New Caledonia and Tahiti, with assassinations of Kanak leaders like Eloi Machoro, needed to be understood to put the Rainbow Warrior attack in perspective. France was bitterly defending its nuclear force de frappe.

“New Zealand was unpopular with the major nuclear powers and there was certainly no sympathy for New Zealand’s position about nuclear testing. So, there wasn’t really any co-operation, even from our closest neighbour, Australia……..

The case was a source of considerable embarrassment to the French government.

“They did pay compensation after arbitration that went on with the New Zealand government and Greenpeace. But justice was never really served… the 10 years were never served, both Prieur and Mafart were part of the negotiations with French government.

NZ was held ‘over a barrel’
“Basically, France had New Zealand over a barrel over trade and the European Union, so compromises were reached and Prieur and Mafart were handed over to France for three years. Essentially house arrest at Hao atoll, the rear base of the French nuclear operations in Polynesia.”

Dr Robie said the rear base was widely regarded as a military “Club Med”.

He says they didn’t even spend three years there, but left for France within the time period.

While the attack was on an international organisation rather than New Zealand itself, most New Zealanders saw it as an attack on the sovereignty of the nation

Dr Robie says it left a long-lasting impression on New Zealanders.

“It was a baptism of fire. It was a loss of innocence when that happened. And in that context, we had stood up as a small nation on being nuclear-free. Something we should have been absolutely proud of, which we were, with all those who campaigned for that at the time. I think that really established our independence, if you like, as a small nation.

“I think we have a lot to contribute to the world in terms of peace-making and we shouldn’t lose track of that. The courage that was shown by this country, standing up to a major nuclear power. We should follow through on that kind of independence of thought.” https://asiapacificreport.nz/2020/06/29/nz-gained-international-creds-as-nuclear-free-nation-with-rainbow-warrior-bombing-says-author/

June 29, 2020 Posted by | incidents, New Zealand, politics | Leave a comment

The most effective leader in the world – Jacinda Adern

New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet.  Uri Friedman 19 April 20  The Atlantic Amid the Trump administration’s calamitous response to the Covid-19 pandemic, media have been looking to other countries for inspiration in responsible leadership during a period of crisis. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has been one popular pick, having capably managed to limit the damage to only 1,504 infections and 22 deaths, as of June 5.

A widely shared article in the Conversation (4/5/20) described Ardern as putting on a “masterclass in crisis leadership.” The Washington Post (4/7/20) characterized her government’s response as a “triumph of science and leadership.” Elsewhere, she has been praised as “the most effective leader on the planet” (Atlantic4/19/20) who “should be teaching the rest of the world” (Guardian4/10/20). The Financial Times (4/19/20) unironically anointed her “Saint Jacinda.”

Despite its obvious geographical and economic advantages, New Zealand certainly deserves praise. But less deserving have been the European countries corporate media consistently highlight as outstanding performers. With over 185,000 cases and 8,763 deaths, Germany has one of the highest per capita fatality rates in the world. Yet Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn effusive praise as somebody who “embraces science” (Atlantic4/19/20Guardian4/16/20Financial Times4/3/20). CNN (5/7/20) proclaimed her a “global leader on coronavirus”; Vox (5/21/20) said she’d been “praised for her clear and effective communication with her country — and the world.”

In its editorial on crisis leadership, the New York Times editorial board (4/30/20) also praised Merkel (while attacking China for supposedly covering up the outbreak). They highlighted and applauded the leadership of several other countries, including Denmark, Norway and Finland. Amazingly, the editorial also singled out and commended Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose inept response has led to Italy having the third-highest number of deaths in the world at the time of its publication.

There was far less praise for leaders in the Global South. Indeed, the only one mentioned by name was Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen, and this was primarily because she “sent millions of face masks to the United States and Europe”—although with 443 total cases and only seven deaths, Taiwan has had a far more enviable record on Covid-19 than most of the countries featured in the editorial. True Asian leadership, according to the Times editorial board, is helping white people, apparently.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | New Zealand, politics | 1 Comment

Climate change: lakes and rivers will become drier, increasingly infectious and toxic

Climate change: lakes and rivers will become drier, increasingly infectious and toxic, Stuff NZ, Olivia Wannan, Apr 30 2020  

By dragging our feet on climate action, we increasingly condemn our beloved lakes and rivers to a future of salmonella contamination, algal blooms, species extinctions and drying out, a new report warns.

Our Freshwater 2020, produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ, is a stark reminder that the already-threatened health of our waterways rests on our ability to urgently shift away from fossil fuels.

Even if emissions stay at historically low levels, temperatures will continue to rise in the coming decades, due to the lag between releasing greenhouse gas and the effects on our atmosphere, seas and waterways.

As the climate warms, rain storms will intensify, snowfall will decrease, glaciers will melt, soils will dry out and the sea level will rise – each affecting our lakes and rivers.

In the east, regions such as Hawke’s Bay will see increasingly low waterways by the end of the century, says Ministry for the Environment departmental science advisor Dr Alison Collins.

In the west – particularly in the South Island – rivers and lake levels are expected to rise, potentially leading to flooding.

After extreme downpours, drinking water and swimming spots are at high risk of being contaminated with infectious tummy bugs such as salmonella and harmful strains of E.coli, she says. Northern and remote eastern communities with less-developed water supply systems are particularly vulnerable.

Toxic algal blooms will become more common, as warmer temperatures reduce the mixing between upper and lower levels of deep lakes, boosting nutrient levels at the surface and algal growth. Without the waters mixing, the lake bottom is also deprived of oxygen, which drives out animals such as crayfish (kōura) and mussels (kākahi).

Combined with pollution and habitat loss, climate change is likely to push some freshwater species – both native and introduced – to extinction, the report says. …… https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/121178883/climate-change-lakes-and-rivers-will-become-drier-increasingly-infectious-and-toxic

April 30, 2020 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand | Leave a comment

New Zealand veterans await nuclear radiation genetic testing study

January 9, 2020 Posted by | health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One small nation shows how to be nuclear- free and climate friendly – theme for November 19

Citizen Advocacy: The Achievements of New Zealand`s Peace Activism, Asia Pacific Journal Pinar Temocin and Noriyuki Kawano, October 1, 2019 Volume 17 | Issue 19 | Number 2Abstract

Aotearoa New Zealand provides an important example of successful citizen activism in the form of anti-nuclear peace advocacy. The collective efforts by peace actors over several decades resulted in the successful demand for a nuclear-free nation. This paper highlights the widespread participation and political support that facilitated the process and assesses its achievements.

Introduction  New Zealand, a small and isolated country, is a rare example of a nation achieving nuclear-free status. The peace-seeking nation unified around an anti-war narrative, and moved from activism based on public awareness and engagement to the passage of laws that eliminated nuclear weapons through a number of stages: from the first generation of movements against the atomic bomb after 1945 to the response to French nuclear testing in the late 60`s to US and UK nuclear warship visits in the 70`s and the early 80`s. As part of this shift, the US-led military alliance with Australia and New Zealand (ANZUS) was redefined by New Zealanders from a guarantee of security to a threat that posed a security dilemma. As this essay shows, social consciousness and activism was ultimately successful in bringing fundamental change. The Labor Party, in particular, played a critical role in translating strong public participation on the part of a broad section of the population into a significant policy outcome: `the creation of a peaceful and nuclear-free nation`. 

This mobilization involved persistent and substantial public pressure over decades. Public pressure to change the nation’s foreign policy also included opposition to involvement in the United States-led coalition in the Korean and Vietnam wars. As these wars came to an end, the matter of nuclear testing became a hot-button election issue forcing each political party to adopt a policy on nuclear weapons. The anti-nuclear argument was placed within a broader moral vision. New Zealand peace advocates problematized the threatening conditions and demanded a solution under the narratives of a `democratic, egalitarian, decolonized, independent, non-violent, non-militarist nation which is intrinsically based on `a peaceful nation`. A peaceful nation for them required a nuclear-free approach in its domestic and foreign policies. To achieve this, they organized actively, coordinated professionally, sustained effective campaigns, and engaged in the policy-formation and shaping process.

Since the end of the 60s, successful protest movements have established new modes of political participation in advanced democracies.1 In some democratic societies including New Zealand, social movements have benefitted from tolerant political structures. Their success depends further on specific configurations of resources, trustworthy institutional arrangements, and historical precedents for social mobilization that facilitate the development of protest movements.2

Strong democracies are conducive to positive engagements and interactions between citizen and the state. The strengthening of practices of participation, responsiveness to a majority, and the development of inclusive and cohesive societies are powerful components of the democratic decision-making process. Therefore, citizen participation in governance with a responsive, open, and tolerant state can produce positive effects based on popular consensus……https://apjjf.org/2019/19/Temocin.html 

New Zealand passes historic zero carbon bill with near unanimous bipartisan support – The New Zealand parliament has passed landmark legislation that enshrines the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement into law, and will see the country achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 ….. https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-zealand-passes-historic-zero-carbon-bill-with-near-unanimous-bipartisan-support-33500/

November 9, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes, climate change, New Zealand, opposition to nuclear | 2 Comments

Deadline looms for nuclear veterans and descendants study

A Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group is encouraging veterans and their families to come forward to take part in a study before the deadline closes.  In August, the group put out newspaper advertisements, wanting all veterans who were deployed to Mururoa Atoll in 1973 and their families, to be part of a study which closes at midnight today.

The study lead by University of Otago associate professor David McBride will look into the connection between nuclear veterans and their children, who may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation.

So far only 166 people had signed up, according to Mururoa Nuclear Veterans president Gavin Smith.

Mr Smith implored more to join, saying about 500 people went to the Christmas Island and were exposed to nuclear tests in the 1950s and about 500 went to Mururoa during the 1970s.

“Everyone who has a veteran father or grandfather that served there and has maybe deceased or may be living but mentioned nothing of it, I urge them to contact the University of Otago,” he said.

He said the study was crucial because veteran’s children may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation, which could make their offspring more susceptible to conditions like leukaemia and auto-immune diseases.

“Our study is open to all nuclear veterans. If we don’t do it in our generation, it’s going to be an even bigger battle for the next generation.”

The group, which was established in 2013 to press the government to help families with nuclear related illnesses, had 135 members who served at the protest.

Of those, 56 had children or grandchildren with unexplained medical conditions.

Testing would begin next week at the University of Otago, with a timeframe and details on the study yet to be confirmed.

November 7, 2019 Posted by | children, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hiroshima witness urges New Zealand to lead nuclear weapons elimination 

Stuff,  LAURA WALTERS , June 28 2018,   When the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, Taeko Yoshioka Braid watched from the second-floor window of herclassroom, 60 kilometres away.

Braid, who moved to New Zealand in 1956 and now lives in Hastings, travelled to Hiroshima the next day with classmates to look for her family members and take supplies to the victims.

Yoshioka Braid said it was hard to talk about the horrors she saw as a 13-year-old in Hiroshima, including children separated from their parents, and people dying from burns from the blast and the radiated water.

On her second trip to the town at the epicentre, she felt something sticking to her shoes. She eventually realised it was human skin, which had melted off, following the blast.

…….. At a time when the international rules-based order is being challenged, and nuclear weapons remain a global issue, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reinstated the Cabinet portfolio of disarmament and arms control. Ardern announced Winston Peters would take up the ministerial role, during her first foreign policy speech in February.     In September last year, New Zealand was one of the first countries to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at a ceremony during the United Nations General Assembly.

The treaty is a landmark legally-binding international instrument prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons and related activities.

In July last year, it was adopted by the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.

Yoshioka Braid’s comments came during the international treaty examination, at a Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee hearing on Thursday. Something that needed to take place before New Zealand ratified the treaty.

“If anyone went there the day the bombed dropped, I’m sure they would all think like me: never again…

“I don’t want those same sorts of things to happen anywhere in the world; anywhere in the world.”

Alternative NZ submission by stuffnewsroom on Scribd….(included on original) ..

It was difficult to describe the experience, she said, adding that the bomb was so strong, some people died instantly, others were alive but too injured to move or talk.

Her daughter, Jacky Yoshioka Braid said New Zealand needed to take a leadership role in the elimination of nuclear weapons.

“We need to stop the fighting, and stop this fantasy around a nuclear war that we possibly could survive – it won’t happen.

“We saw what happened in Hiroshima, we’ve seen the after effects of what happened there and in Nagasaki. They were tiny compared to what could happen today.”

New Zealand created a world-leading anti-nuclear policy in 1984, after seeing what happened in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the cold war years.

“I think it’s really important that New Zealand takes this leadership role and helps guide these other young people around the world who want to stop the nuclear proliferation,” she said……….. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/105072027/hiroshima-witness-urges-nz-to-lead-nuclear-weapons-elimination

June 29, 2018 Posted by | New Zealand, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Zealand could lead the way in getting nuclear weapons OFF the global agenda

Hiroshima witness urges NZ to lead nuclear weapons elimination, Stuff,  LAURA WALTERS , June 28 2018 “………Last month, former Green party candidate, and disarmament campaigner, Thomas Nash said “for technology that hasn’t been used in conflict since 1945, nuclear weapons sure have a knack of getting on to the global agenda”.

But it wasn’t surprising given they posed the greatest existential threat to humanity next to climate change, he said.

Nash also spoke to the select committee on Thursday, urging New Zealand to take a leadership role in eliminating nuclear weapons and global disarmament, in general.

“This treaty has a humanitarian purpose, this is rather distinct from previous international deliberations on nuclear weapons, which have tended to be about big power politics between countries weighing up the grand game and the balance,” he said.

Nash painted a picture of “Cambridge grads, strutting around in operations rooms, thinking about deterrents and game theory, missile silos and sleek nuclear submarines”.

“I think it’s important to think about bringing back this human element of the impact of nuclear weapons, because violence, militarism, relies on a dehumanisation of violence; abstracting it away from us.

“And I think if we’re going to move away from that, we have to acknowledge the human face.”

On behalf of New Zealand Alternative, Nash recommended New Zealand ratify the treaty next month, adding that early ratification would signal New Zealand’s commitment to eliminating nuclear weapons and to making genuine progress on international disarmament work.

Nash was part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize last year after the group of Geneva-based activists was recognised for its role in pushing for a United Nations treaty declaring the weapons illegal.

ABOUT THE TREATY

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a landmark legally-binding international instrument prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons and related activities.

In July last year, it was adopted by the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.

In September last year, New Zealand was one of the first countries to sign the treaty, at a ceremony during the United Nations General Assembly.

At the time, then-foreign minister Gerry Brownlee said it represented an important step towards a nuclear-free world, despite no countries that currently hold nuclear weapons signing the treaty.

New Zealand’s signing of the treaty was consistent with the country’s long-standing commitment to international nuclear disarmament efforts.

“It establishes the first global prohibition on nuclear weapons and provides the international legal framework for a world without these weapons,” Brownlee said at the time.

New Zealand joined over 120 other states in supporting the adoption of the treaty at a United Nations conference in July last year.

The treaty would come into force once 50 states have ratified it. At this stage 10 countries have ratified the treaty, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/105072027/hiroshima-witness-urges-nz-to-lead-nuclear-weapons-elimination

June 29, 2018 Posted by | New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Zealand’s Antarctic veterans are advised on effects of their exposure to nuclear radiation

New Zealand warns its Antarctic veterans about radiation risks from leaky US Navy reactor  https://www.stripes.com/news/new-zealand-warns-its-antarctic-veterans-about-radiation-risks-from-leaky-us-navy-reactor-1.533546  By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES  June 19, 2018

The New Zealand government is warning personnel who worked in Antarctica in the 1960s and ‘70s about radiation from a leaky U.S. Navy reactor.

Alerts were posted online by the New Zealand Defence ForceAntarctica New Zealand and other government entities in January and reported by local media last month.

They advise people to contact the New Zealand Office of Radiation Safety or their doctor if they think they may have been exposed to radiation from the reactor used to power McMurdo Station, Antarctica, from 1962 to 1979.

The U.S. Department of Defense has assessed the risk of radiation exposure for those who worked near the power plant as low.

However, the Department of Veterans Affairs ruled in November that retired Navy veteran James Landy’s “esophageal, stomach, liver, and brain and spine cancers, [were] incurred in active duty service.”

Landy worked at McMurdo as a C-130 flight engineer from 1970 to 1974 and from 1977 to 1981 before dying at age 63 in 2012, said his widow, Pam Landy.

He had pain in his kidneys and went to the doctor and they sent him to an oncologist who said he had cancer from radiation exposure,” she said in a phone interview Monday from her home in Pensacola, Fla.

Veterans who served in Antarctica should have been warned about the radiation risk, Pam Landy said.

“The government knew that thing was there. If they had given people a heads up he could have been diagnosed early and might have a shot at being alive,” she said. “I got a payout from the VA, but it’s a pittance compared to a life.”

The McMurdo reactor had many malfunctions, but personnel might also have been exposed during its decommissioning when soil and rock from the site was trucked through the base to be shipped off the continent, she said.

Peter Breen, 64, was a New Zealand Army mechanic about 2 miles from McMurdo at Scott Base from 1981 to 1982. Rock and soil from the reactor site was taken to a wharf in open trucks, and Breen fears he could have been exposed to contaminated dust blown by the wind or on ice harvested from nearby cliffs.

He’s campaigning for New Zealand Antarctic veterans to be recognized with a medal and offered health checks.

“It is not compensation that guys are after,” he said in a phone interview from his home in Tauranga, New Zealand. “They want a health-check program.”

robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1

June 20, 2018 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

There’s be no escape from the horrible consequences of nuclear war – not even in New Zealand

According to various experts, New Zealand would indeed likely be the best place to be in the event of a nuclear holocaust. But “best” is a relative term, and this belies just how hellish life could become on one of the world’s last inhabitable countries.

It’s a reminder that whatever happens on June 12 and at future global nuclear negotiations, New Zealand is not a disinterested bystander – and neither are those around the globe who want to treat this country like their own personal bomb shelter. No one gets to opt out of nuclear war.

What happens to NZ if global nuclear war breaks out?  News Hub, 4 June 18 Anxiety over nuclear annihilation is lodged in our collective psyche. And fair enough: we’ve blundered our way to the precipice of nuclear warfare so many times by this point that it’s a wonder how we never made it over the edge.

This month, Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will, all going well, attempt to alleviate these fears somewhat, in what is arguably the best opportunity in decades to end conflict in the Korean peninsula and drive nuclear tensions down. But even if North Korea successfully de-nuclearises and the US stops its sabre-rattling, the world won’t be safe from the threat of future catastrophe: there remain around 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, nearly 14,000 of which are held by Russia and the United States, two countries currently experiencing a renaissance of mutual loathing.

Of course, the question on everybody’s lips is: should global nuclear war break out, what will happen to New Zealand? We after all currently enjoy the status of being the “bolt hole” for the world’s terrified billionaires, and our geographic distance and general disentanglement from the rest of the world’s geopolitical jostling suggests that should the worst happen, we at the very least won’t be in the firing line.

This is a small consolation. According to various experts, New Zealand would indeed likely be the best place to be in the event of a nuclear holocaust. But “best” is a relative term, and this belies just how hellish life could become on one of the world’s last inhabitable countries.

……… some have tried to map out a potential aftermath. In a 2014 paper for Earth’s Future, a team of scientists attempted to model the effects of a limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan that would see each country use 50 warheads, each with a yield of 15 kilotons, about the same as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The results weren’t pretty. Even a “limited” war like this would send five megatonnes of smoke into the stratosphere, heating it by up to 100degC and wiping out most of the earth’s ozone layer for as long as a decade. This means the average burn time in the sun would halve for humans, while the resulting surge of UV radiation would wreak havoc on the world’s vegetation and sealife, including, in the latter case, disrupting the entire food chain of the ocean and damaging marine life in its early, developmental stages.

More alarming is the fact that the colossal amount of black carbon sitting up in the stratosphere would cause a global nuclear winter, the coldest average surface temperatures in 1,000 years. That means shorter growing seasons and the destruction of crops by killing frosts, which Brian Toon, one of the authors of the report, has said would reduce yields of corn, wheat and rice by 10-40 percent for years afterwards.

And this is just for a “limited” war.

“After a full scale nuclear war, temperatures would plunge below Ice Age conditions,” Toon explained to a TED audience earlier this year. “No crops would grow. It’s estimated 90 percent of the population of the planet would starve to death.”

Where does New Zealand fit into all this? Based on what several experts have told me, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is, we would likely be spared the worst consequences of all this. Experts like Toon and Brian Martin, a social scientist at the University of Wollongong who has a PhD in theoretical physics, say that we’d have little to fear from radiation drifting our way. The most harmful isotopes would decay before reaching our shores, and even fallout drifting over from a potential attack on Australia would likely be blown eastward, where it would be rained out.

It’s a similar story when it comes to surface temperature. According to the 2014 study, the scenario it’s based on would produce a drop of around somewhere between 1 and 1.5 degrees – nothing to sneeze at, but substantially less than the 5-7 degrees below normal predicted in the centres of North America and Eurasia.

“In New Zealand, you can still be growing crops,” says Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, and another of the study’s authors.

Brian Toon, however, sees a less cheerful forecast in the case of a full-scale nuclear war. “It would cause low light levels and winter conditions in New Zealand for several years, perhaps up to a decade,” he says. “No one has evaluated the impact directly on New Zealand, but I would imagine nothing would grow for several years.”

……… It’s a reminder that whatever happens on June 12 and at future global nuclear negotiations, New Zealand is not a disinterested bystander – and neither are those around the globe who want to treat this country like their own personal bomb shelter. No one gets to opt out of nuclear war. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/06/what-happens-to-nz-if-global-nuclear-war-breaks-out.html

June 4, 2018 Posted by | New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Just Stood Up to One of The Most Powerful Industries in The World

No more drilling. Af, CARLY CASSELLA, 13 APR 2018   Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is doing everything in her power to wean New Zealand off fossil fuels.

This week, the New Zealand government announced it will no longer grant any new offshore oil exploration permits. The 22 permits that have already been issued are set to expire in 2030.

The new Prime Minister, who took office last year, says this is all part of her aggressive, long-term plan to move towards a carbon-neutral future.

“When it comes to climate change, our plan is clear,” said Ardern, according to The New York Times.

“We are committed to the goal of becoming a net zero emissions economy by 2050.”

Ardern added that her ultimate goal is to switch the country’s electricity system to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

….. Ardern’s government has promised that “no current” jobs will be lost as a result of the change, which still honors “all agreements with current permit holders.” https://www.scienceaf.com/new-zealand-prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-offshore-drilling#.WuFOjDvAQh0.twitter

April 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand | Leave a comment