nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

What’s the situation of Bikini atoll and its people now?

What Bikini Atoll Looks Like 60 Years Post-Nuclear Testing  https://www.thetravel.com/bikini-atoll-nuclear-testing-can-you-visit-now/

Bikini Atoll sounds like a tropical paradise, but its history includes that of nuclear testing… So, what does it look like six decades following?

BY AARON SPRAYPUBLISHED 1 DAY AGO  Bikini Atoll is an example of a tropical paradise-come-fire-and-brimstone apocalypse. It is a coral reef in the Marshall Islands made up of 23 islands that surround a large central lagoon. After WW2 all of the atoll’s population were forcibly relocated in 1946 to make way for a nuclear testing site for the United States.

Between 1946 and 1958 Bikini Atoll was subjected to 23 nuclear tests by the United States. And here is to be found the sunken American nuclear fleet. Another stunning lagoon to see a ship graveyard is in Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon in Micronesia.

The American authorities had promised the Bikini Atoll’s residents they would be able to return home after they were done nuking their home. Most of the islanders agreed to leave and moved to Rogerik Atoll and then Kili Island. But both of these new islands were unable to sustain them forcing the government to keep giving them aid.

After the end of the nuclear tests, three families were resettled on Bikini Island in 1970 (about 100 residents). But dangerously high levels of contamination were found in the well water and they were evacuated again in 1980.

In the end, the United States paid the islands and their descendants $125 million in compensation.

January 31, 2022 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, social effects | Leave a comment

Maori workers exposed to radiation in cleaning up USA’s failed nuclear reactor in Antarctica

Detour: Antarctica – Kiwis ‘exposed to radiation’ at Antarctic power plant,  https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/detour-antarctica-kiwis-exposed-to-radiation-at-antarctic-power-plant/NY5WTQ72JF4OFUW4F35ZSUCB6U/ 8 Jan, 2022 By Thomas Bywater, Thomas Bywater is a writer and digital producer for Herald Travel

In a major new Herald podcast series, Detour: Antarctica, Thomas Bywater goes in search of the white continent’s hidden stories. In this accompanying text series, he reveals a few of his discoveries to whet your appetite for the podcast. You can read them all, and experience a very special visual presentation, by clicking here. To follow Detour: Antarctica, visit iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Waitangi Tribunal will consider whether NZ Defence Force personnel were appropriately warned of potential exposure to radiation while working at a decommissioned nuclear reactor in Antarctica.

It’s among a raft of historic claims dating from 1860 to the present day before the Military Veterans Inquiry.

After an initial hearing in 2016, the Waitangi Tribunal last year admitted the Antarctic kaupapa to be considered alongside the other claims.

“It’s been a bloody long journey,” said solicitors Bennion Law, the Wellington firm representing the Antarctic claimants.

Between 1972 and the early 1980s, more than 300 tonnes of radioactive rubble was shipped off the continent via the seasonal resupply link.

Handled by US and New Zealand personnel without properly measuring potential exposure, the submission argues the Crown failed in its duty of care for the largely Māori contingent, including NZ Army Cargo Team One.

“This failure of active protection was and continues to be in breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” reads the submission.

The rubble came from PM3A, a portable nuclear power unit on Ross Island, belonging to the US Navy. Decommissioned in 1972, its checkered 10-year operating history led it to be known as ‘Nukey Poo’ among base inhabitants. After recording 438 operating errors it was shut off for good.

Due to US obligations to the Antarctic Treaty, nuclear waste had to be removed.

Peter Breen, Assistant Base Mechanic at New Zealand’s Scott Base for 1981-82, led the effort to get similar New Zealand stories heard.

He hopes that NZDF personnel involved in the cleanup of Ross Island might get medallic recognition “similar to those who were exposed at Mururoa Atoll”. Sailors were awarded the Special Service Medal Nuclear Testing for observing French bomb sites in the Pacific in 1973, roughly the same time their colleagues were helping clear radioactive material from Antarctica.

A public advisory regarding potential historic radiation exposure at McMurdo Station was published in 2018.

Since 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal has been a permanent commission by the Ministry of Justice to raise Māori claims relating to the Crown’s obligations in the Treaty of Waitangi.

The current Military Veterans’ Kaupapa includes hearings as diverse as the injury of George Nepata while training in Singapore, to the exposure of soldiers to DBP insecticides during the Malayan Emergency.

Commenced in 2014 in the “centenary year of the onset of the First World War” the Māori military veterans inquiry has dragged on to twice the duration of the Great War.

Of the three claimants in the Antarctic veterans’ claim, Edwin (Chaddy) Chadwick, Apiha Papuni and Kelly Tako, only Tako survives.

“We’re obviously concerned with time because we’re losing veterans,” said Bennion Law.

Detour: Antarctica is a New Zealand Herald podcast. You can follow the series on iHeartRadio, Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

January 8, 2022 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, health, indigenous issues, New Zealand, wastes | Leave a comment

The US Faces Pressure To Do More To Address Its Nuclear Legacy In The Marshall Islands.

The US Faces Pressure To Do More To Address Its Nuclear Legacy In The Marshall Islands,  Civil Beat     By Anita Hofschneider   22 Nov 21,   Marshallese are concerned about continued health effects from Cold War-era nuclear testing as well as a concrete dome in which the atomic waste was stored.

Two Congress members are asking the U.S. Department of Energy to provide more information about the effects of U.S. nuclear waste in the Marshall Islands.

The U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958, exposing Marshallese people to radiation that continues to have health and environmental implications. The U.S. then stored the atomic waste at Runit Dome, a concrete dome on Enewetak Atoll.

Rep. Katie Porter represents Orange County, California, and is chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

She has been seeking more details about the effects of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands in the wake of a Los Angeles Times investigation that found the U.S. stored nuclear waste from Nevada in Runit Dome without informing the Pacific nation.

In a letter Friday, Porter and Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona asked for documents and correspondence among Department of Energy officials related to a letter that officials sent to the Marshall Islands about the state of nuclear waste in May.

The Department of Energy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In October, Porter led a congressional hearing regarding concerns about Runit Dome, which is leaking radioactive waste. The Energy Department said in a report last year that the leaking is not significant.

“The U.S. has both a moral and national security imperative to address our nuclear legacy in the Marshall Islands,” Porter said at the hearing, adding that addressing the issue would be in line with the Biden administration’s commitment to racial justice and national security issues in the Pacific………

In their letter, Porter and Grijalva criticized the agency’s lack of response to repeated document requests, raised concerns about conflicting Energy Department testimony and the timing of the department’s May letter.

The U.S. is in the midst of renegotiating a treaty with the Marshall Islands that in part gives the U.S. military strategic denial rights over the country’s surrounding air and waters.

The Congress members described how the U.S. failed to evacuate Marshallese people quickly enough to protect them from the fallout during the 1946-1958 testing, and cited descriptions of how mothers later gave birth to babies with translucent skin and no bones.

A 2014 study analyzed how the radiation exposure in the Marshall Islands increased the risk of certain cancers, especially thyroid cancer.

Broader Concerns

Franscine Anmontha, communication director of the Marshall Islands National Nuclear Commission, said Saturday that the community is concerned about the ongoing health effects of radiation on people not only on the atolls enrolled in the U.S. medical program but on surrounding atolls.

“If you were to ask a group of young Marshallese people if they knew someone with cancer almost 90% of them would raise their hands,” she said. She said the commission wants to bring scientists to the Marshall Islands to analyze the dome so that they don’t have to rely solely on U.S. data……….

Friday’s letter is the second letter this month pressing the Biden administration for more information about the nuclear testing.

Several Congress members — including Hawaii Reps. Ed Case and Kai Kahele — wrote to the White House on Nov. 5 pushing for the appointment of a lead negotiator for treaty discussions who would have the ability to address concerns about nuclear waste.

The lead negotiator “should have the mandate to see that legacy issues related to U.S. nuclear testing in the region are appropriately resolved, including proper environmental protections, clean up, health benefits, and monetary compensation for victims and their descendants,” the lawmakers wrote………….  https://www.civilbeat.org/2021/11/the-us-faces-pressure-to-do-more-to-address-its-nuclear-legacy-in-the-marshall-islands/

November 23, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

This world of pandemic and climate change can no longer afford the luxury of nuclear weapons proliferation

Aotearoa must stand apart as others amass nuclear weapons https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/127065066/aotearoa-must-stand-apart-as-others-amass-nuclear-weapons, Nov 23 2021 EDITORIAL You’d be forgiven for not thinking about the threat of nuclear war during the past couple of years.

The pandemic, climate change – it seems there are enough dangers threatening our existence, without adding a nuclear holocaust to the list.

Unfortunately, ignoring the steady proliferation of nuclear weapons is a luxury we can no longer afford.

As geopolitical tensions rise, many of them centred on our own Indo-Pacific region, so do nuclear arsenals

Russia and the US continue to own more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and it seems they have no plan to give those up. Earlier this month, the Pentagon estimated China will have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027. Estimates currently put its arsenal at about 350.

Meanwhile, the UK has reversed a policy of reducing the country’s nuclear arsenal, increasing the planned cap on nuclear warheads. There are reports that India, Pakistan and North Korea are also expanding their capabilities

At the same time, our traditional allies, Australia, the US and the UK, have a new strategic agreement enabling Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines. While they won’t carry nuclear arms, they are not without risk/

It’s no wonder Phil Twyford, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, says the risk of nuclear warfare is as bad – if not worse – now than at vany time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. In a recent speech, he was blunt in his criticism of nuclear states the US, France, China, Russia and the UK for their lack of efforts to work towards disarmament. But one speech does not a meaningful security policy make.

Aotearoa has long prided itself on its independent foreign policy, and nuclear-free stance. Lest we forget the great Lange speech from the 1985 Oxford Union debate.

Aside from his memorable uranium comment, the late prime minister was clear in communicating the position of the New Zealand people: the nuclear weapons which would defend us caused more alarm, and accordingly, we deemed it pointless to be defended by them.

Over the years, Kiwis have become disconnected from this element of our foreign policy. We assume we are safe, and that with the end of the Cold War came the end of the imminent threat of nuclear war.

But with the threat on our doorstep, thanks to the US, North Korea and China, now is the time to start caring again.

November 23, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders” 

Biggest US nuclear bomb test destroyed an island—and this man’s life,  https://nypost.com/2021/11/20/biggest-us-nuclear-bomb-test-destroyed-an-island-and-lives/ By Eric Spitznagel   The US bomb tested near John Anjain’s (right) home in the Marshall Islands in 1954 was 1,000 times stronger than at Hiroshima, and left his wife and kids with debilitating and deadly health problems, as detailed in a new book. November 20, 2021

Just before dawn on March 1, 1954, John Anjain was enjoying coffee on the beach in the South Pacific when he heard a thunderous blast, and saw something in the sky that he said “looked like a second sun was rising in the west.”

Later that day, “something began falling upon our island,” said Anjain, who at the time was 32 and chief magistrate of the Rongelap atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. “It looked like ash from a fire. It fell on me, it fell on my wife, it fell on our infant son.”

It wasn’t a paranormal experience. Anjain and his five young sons, along with the 82 other inhabitants of Rongelap, were collateral damage from a “deadly radioactive fallout from a hydrogen bomb test… detonated by American scientists and military personnel,” writes Walter Pincus in his new book, “Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders” (Diversion Books), out now.

In 1946, the US started testing atomic weapons began in Bikini Atoll, 125 miles west of Rongelap. Known as Operation Crossroads, the tests were moved to the islands from the US because officials feared “radioactive fallout could not be safely contained at
any site in the United States,” writes Pincus.

During those early tests, the Rongelapians were relocated to another island a safe distance away.

But the 1954 test was different. Not only were there no evacuations, but “Castle
Bravo,” as it was dubbed, was also the largest of the thermonuclear devices detonated during the military’s 67 tests, “a thousand times as large as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima,” writes Pincus.

It took just hours for fallout to reach the shores of Rongelap, where it blanketed the island with radioactive material, covering houses and coconut palm trees. On some parts of the isle, the white radioactive ash was “an inch and a half deep on the ground,” writes Pincus.

The natives, who often went barefoot and shirtless, were covered in the toxic debris. It stuck to their hair and bodies and even between their toes.

“Some people put it in their mouths and tasted it,” Anjain recalled at a Washington DC hearing run by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to investigate the incident in 1977. “One man rubbed it into his eye to see if it would cure an old ailment. People walked in it, and children played with it.”

Rain followed, which dissolved the ash and carried it “down drains and into the barrels that provided water for each household,” writes Pincus.

It took three days before American officials finally evacuated the island, taking the natives to nearby Kwajalein for medical tests. Many Rongelapians were already suffering health effects, like vomiting, hair loss, and all-over body burns and blisters. Tests showed their white blood cell counts plummeting, and high levels of radioactive strontium in their systems. No one died, at least not immediately. That would come later.

After three years, the Rongelapians were allowed to return home, assured by officials that conditions were safe. But by 1957, the rate of miscarriages and stillbirths on the island doubled, and by 1963 the first residents began to develop thyroid tumors.

Though they continued to conduct annual medical tests, the US military admitted no culpability, other than awarding each islander $10,800 in 1964 as compensation for the inconvenience.

In fact, some — including the islanders — have speculated that the US government had used the Rongelapians as “convenient guinea pigs” to study the effects of high-level radiation.

For Anjain and his family, the effects were devastating. His wife and four of his children developed cancer. A sixth child, born after the fallout, developed poliomyelitis and had to use a crutch after one of his legs became paralyzed.

But the biggest tragedy befell his fifth child Lekoj, who was just one year old when Castle Bravo covered their island in nuclear dust. As a child, he was mostly healthy, other than the occasional mysterious bruise. Soon after his 18th birthday, Lekoj was flown to an American hospital, where doctors discovered he had acute myelogenous leukemia.

Anjain stayed at his son’s bedside for weeks as he underwent chemo, holding his dying son’s hand and watching him disappear.

He recounted Lekoj’s final days in a letter to the Friends of Micronesia newsletter in 1973. “Bleeding started in his ears, mouth and nose and he seemed to be losing his mind,” Anjain wrote of his son. “When I would ask him questions he gave me no
answer except ‘Bad Luck.’”

Lekoj passed away on November 15, 1972, at just 19. Newsweek called him “the first, and so far only leukemia victim of an H-bomb,” and said his death was proof that nuclear fallout “could be even more lethal to human life than the great fireball itself.”

After burying his son at a spot overlooking Rongelap Lagoon, Anjain continued to battle for financial restitution for his family and other Rongelapian survivors. In 2004, just months before his death (of undisclosed causes) at 81, he marched with 2,000 people in Japan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1954 hydrogen bomb test that slowly killed his son.

In 2007, a Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded Rongelap more than $1 billion in damages, but not a penny of it has yet been paid. And according to a 2019 Columbia University study, radiation levels on Rongelap are still higher than Chernobyl or Fukushima.

For Anjain, it was never really about the money. “I know that money cannot bring back my son,” he once said. “It cannot give me back 23 years of my life. It cannot take the poison from the coconut crabs. It cannot make us stop being afraid.” 

November 22, 2021 Posted by | children, environment, OCEANIA, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The global nuclear weapons race is back on: New Zealand needs to continue its stance for disarmament.

Nuclear weapons back ‘in’ as countries up stakes in complex global tussle, Stuff, Lucy Craymer, Nov 22 2021  China is believed to be building missile silos and accelerating its nuclear programme; the UK has increased the cap on its overall nuclear weapon stockpile; and the US is undertaking a multibillion-dollar nuclear modernisation programme. Are we seeing a new weapons race, and what is nuclear-free New Zealand doing to cool the situation? National Correspondent Lucy Craymer reports.

A worrying global trend is emerging that indicates disarmament is stalling and in some cases countries are now accumulating more weapons. In 2020, despite an overall decline in the number of nuclear warheads, more have been deployed with operational forces, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) year book.

Furthermore, earlier this month a US Pentagon report found China was accelerating its nuclear armament programme and is on track to have 1000 warheads by 2030. This follows the release of satellite imagery of north-central China that shows, according to analysts, the appearance of at least three vast missile silo fields under construction. China has not confirmed the facilities or increases in arsenal.

The build-up is against a backdrop of geopolitical competition. Rivalry between the US and China continues to simmer; tensions between China and India are getting worse, with skirmishes reported at their border; and the relationship between India and Pakistan remains volatile.

“The risk of nuclear warfare is as bad – if not worse – now than at any time since the Cuban Missile crisis,” says Phil Twyford, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control.

Renewed interest in nuclear weapons heralds a shift away from a period little more than a decade ago when US President Barack Obama spoke publicly about his deep interest in reducing nuclear arms, and broadly there was an appetite for disarmament.

Maria Rost Rublee, associate professor in international relations at Monash University says in the past decade geopolitics have shifted. Now, the likes of Russia are relying more heavily on their nuclear stockpiles for military security.

“What’s different today [from during the Cold War] is that we don’t just have two countries facing off, we have a lot more countries with nuclear weapons, including countries that might be more willing to use them,” Rublee says.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon estimated China will have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027. It currently has around 350, according to the Pentagon estimates.

However, Russia and the US continue to own over 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The US and Russia had more warheads in operation in January 2021 than a year earlier, even though they had reduced the overall number of weapons they had, according to SIPRI, an independent institute that does research in disarmament.

This year, the UK reversed a policy of reducing the country’s nuclear arsenal and increased the planned cap on nuclear warheads; and there are reports that India, Pakistan and North Korea are expanding their capabilities……………..

Tanya Ogilvie-White, senior research adviser at the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, says China’s decision to expand its nuclear arsenal is a worrying development. But, she says, it’s partly a response to the nuclear modernisation going on in the likes of the US and Russia. Beijing has refrained from fielding some of the riskiest nuclear weapons, such as nuclear-capable cruise missiles, even though it has the capability to do so.

Ogilvie-White adds there has been a shift recently in the thinking of some decision makers globally, who now think actually firing a small nuclear weapon could de-escalate a situation as it would show a willingness to use such weapons.

“It’s deeply troubling,” says Ogilvie-White, who studies nuclear deterrence. “You don’t need many nuclear weapons to cause total havoc and kill millions of people. The idea that you could use them to win wars is a dangerous fallacy.”…….

How does Aukus fit within this?

Australia, the US and the UK have announced a new strategic partnership. As part of the agreement, Australia will get the technology required to build nuclear-powered submarines.

These are not nuclear weapons. However, it does raise concerns. Accidents happen. An increase in nuclear-propelled submarines boosts the risk that something could go wrong. It also raises questions about whether other countries could reach agreements for similar types of hardware.

It’s not all bad news

In January, a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons came into force. The treaty has been ratified by more than 55 countries – none of the nuclear powers have signed it.

Angela Woodward, who is deputy executive director of non-profit Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (Vertic), says while the treaty applies only to those who sign it, it makes nuclear weapons less acceptable and will hopefully create pressure in the same way treaty bans on chemical weapons and cluster munitions did.

According to an ICAN report, 127 financial institutions stopped investing in nuclear weapons this year, many due to the pressure that came about as a result of the treaty.

“The power of this treaty is only just starting to be realised,” says Woodward, who specialises in arms control and disarmament………………..

But is there more New Zealand can do?

New Zealand remains globally respected on nuclear issues due to its strong, and long-standing, stance against such weapons. Analysts say that New Zealand needs to continue to add its voice to concerns about non-proliferation and to speak out against activities by all nuclear-powered countries.

Twyford says he also believes New Zealand needs to continue to call out the nuclear weapon states for what they’re doing and not allow the diplomatic niceties or friendships and alliances to mute our voice. We do this, he says, in both multinational and bilateral forums.

“We are trying to build a renewed commitment to disarm. We’ve got to get out of this downward spiral.”  https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/explained/127039453/nuclear-weapons-back-in-as-countries-up-stakes-in-complex-global-tu

November 22, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Children Who Suffered When a U.S. Nuclear Test Went Wrong

The Children Who SufferedWhen a U.S. Nuclear Test Went Wrong  https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-children-who-suffered-when-a-us-nuclear-test-went-wrong

YEARS OF SUFFERING

In 1954 the U.S. executed its largest nuclear detonation. The people of the Marshall Islands would endure the effects of fallout for years.Walter Pincus Nov. 07, 2021. During the 1954 Castle Bravo test over Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, America executed its largest nuclear detonation, a thousand times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Nuclear fallout rained down on inhabitants of atolls more than 100 miles away, including Rongelap.

What follows is an excerpt of Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders, where Dr. Robert A. Conard, a former Navy doctor who was among those who first examined the Marshall Island natives after Bravo, discovers a new impact of the radioactive fallout on children. Beginning in 1956, as an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Conard led annual medical examinations of the Rongelapese.

Over the years, Dr. Robert A. Conard and pediatricians he brought with him to Rongelap carefully watched the slow development of several children who had been exposed to the 1954 fallout. In the survey done in March 1963, the doctors’ attention was initially focused on two boys who had been one-year-olds at the time of the fallout.

Both showed early signs of cretinism, a condition of stunted physical and mental growth owing to a deficiency of a thyroid hormone often related to iodine deficiency.

Also of particular interest was the development of a palpable nodule in the thyroid gland of 13-year-old Disi Tima, a fisherman’s daughter, who had been exposed to the Bravo fallout when she was four years old.

November 9, 2021 Posted by | children, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Members of US congressional oversight committee press the Biden administration on the Marshall Islands’ legacy of nuclear waste contamination

It’s a thorny point for the Marshallese, who are worried about the lingering effects of the nuclear waste left in their nation, decades of persistent health concerns, and a fear that United States officials have not been forthright or transparent about the risks the nuclear waste poses to their health and environmental well-being.

According to a U.S. government presentation delivered in 2019, Runit Dome is vulnerable to leakage caused by storm surge and sea level rise, and its groundwater, which is leaking into the lagoon and ocean, is severely contaminated with radioactive isotopes. Testing of sea creatures in the surrounding lagoon, including giant clams, shows high levels of radioactivity.

Rep. Katie Porter presses Biden team on Marshall Islands nuclear waste, gets few answers,  https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-10-22/marshall-islands-nuclear-waste-congressional-hearing-compact, SUSANNE RUST  OCT. 22, 2021

For months, U.S. refusal to accept responsibility for a leaking dome of radioactive waste in the Marshall Islands has complicated negotiations with the Marshallese government on an international compact viewed as crucial for blunting Chinese influence in the central Pacific.

On Thursday, members of a congressional oversight committee scolded representatives of the Biden administration for not making more progress on negotiations and taking the Marshallese position more seriously. During the hearing, administration officials offered conflicting statements on U.S. obligations to the Marshall Islands, making it unclear where the White House stands on America’s history in the region. In addition, the U.S. State Department declined to participate.

“The point of the hearing today was to examine why the United States is not willing to discuss the nuclear legacy with the Marshallese,” said Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who along with a bipartisan panel of lawmakers stressed the critical role the Republic of the Marshall Islands plays in U.S. national security and safety.

Porter, who heads the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said negotiations will be difficult “unless we act on the moral and national security imperative that we have to address the nuclear legacy.”

The hearing was timed for the 35th anniversary of the signing of the agreement between the two nations, which is set to expire in 2023. It also comes as China develops friendly relations with nations of the central and South Pacific, part of a broader strategy to stem U.S. influence off its shores and worldwide.

The Marshall Islands’ Kwajalein Atoll is home to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site — where the U.S. tests its long- and mid-range missile defense system. Its location halfway across the Pacific allows the U.S. military to monitor hostile foreign forces, and it is also an important hub for the American space program.

Realizing its leverage, the Marshallese government is increasingly pressing U.S. officials to take ownership for cleaning up Runit Dome. The leaking nuclear repository holds 3.1 million cubic feet of radioactive waste, a byproduct of U.S. weapons testing during the Cold War, and a focus of a Times investigation in 2019.

For decades, the U.S. government has deflected. Instead, it insists the Marshall Islands is solely responsible for the waste site, even though Congress has required the Department of Energy, with funding from the Department of the Interior, to monitor it indefinitely.

Continue reading

October 23, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

AUKUS and the Philippines – sleepwalking into military-nuclear entanglements

From peaceful, nuclear-free Asean to battle-ready Indo-Pacific? Manila Times, By Dan Steinbock, October 18, 2021As the Duterte era is gradually ending, new arms races and nuclear proliferation cast a dark shadow over Southeast Asia. The Philippines may be sleepwalking into military-nuclear entanglements.

ACCORDING to the new trilateral security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Aukus), Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The highly controversial $66-billion deal is expected to trigger arms races and nuclear proliferation in Asia. It violates the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995), effective since 1997. It would seem to violate the Philippine Constitution. And it is strongly opposed by China.

Yet, right after the Aukus, when Asean began to build consensus on the nuclear pact, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomed the pact.

PH policies, Asean concerns

According to Locsin, the Philippines “welcomes Australia’s decision to establish” the Aukus. And he added: “Asean member states, singly and collectively, do not possess the military wherewithal to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia.”

According to this logic, Asean is irrelevant in matters of regional peace and security and therefore each Asean should align with one or another major military power, irrespective of collective consequences.

Such logic shuns and could derail, inadvertently or purposefully, the ongoing work by the Asean and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by 2022. Most importantly, the logic opens the door to the nuclearization of the region at the expense of the SEANWFZ treaty and the aspirations of the Asean community. That’s why Malaysia’s veteran statesman Mahathir Mohamad blasted the Aukus statement: “You have escalated the threat.”

The first reaction of both Malaysia and Indonesia was to warn of an impending arms race unleashed by such a pact. Australia’s nuclear decision prompted the Indonesian foreign ministry’s official note that it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.” So, why did Locsin choose to break ranks with the Asean?

ADRi: China the issue of 2022

The plan to drag the Philippines into the Indo-Pacific containment front against China seems to have evolved in the mid-2010s, but fell apart with the Duterte election triumph and the meltdown of the Liberal Party.

To avoid a déjà vu, former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario recently called on the Philippines to choose a leader who will reverse President Rodrigo Duterte‘s policy of “loving and embracing” China after the “’22 polls.”

In this quest, a key supportive role belongs to the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi), embedded with US business and national security interests. Through its board members and executives, Rosario’s ADRi is joined with its parent, Stratbase, an “advisory and research consultancy,” and Bower Group Asia led by Ernest Z. Bower 4th. Stratbase is the Philippine partner of Bower Group Asia.

Until the 2000s, Bower led the US-Asean Business Council. He is an ADRi board member and Southeast Asia advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a leading US think-tank close to the State Department, Pentagon, defense contractors and Wall Street.

The maritime dispute with China, said ADRi’s president Victor Manhit, is what “we will make an issue in the 2022 elections.” Due to interlocking leaderships, Manhit himself heads Stratbase and Bower Asia Group‘s Philippine branch.

The goals go back to the Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd government (2010 to 2016).


As the Duterte era is gradually ending, new arms races and nuclear proliferation cast a dark shadow over Southeast Asia. The Philippines may be sleepwalking into military-nuclear entanglements.

ACCORDING to the new trilateral security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Aukus), Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The highly controversial $66-billion deal is expected to trigger arms races and nuclear proliferation in Asia. It violates the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995), effective since 1997. It would seem to violate the Philippine Constitution. And it is strongly opposed by China.

Yet, right after the Aukus, when Asean began to build consensus on the nuclear pact, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomed the pact.

Such logic shuns and could derail, inadvertently or purposefully, the ongoing work by the Asean and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by 2022. Most importantly, the logic opens the door to the nuclearization of the region at the expense of the SEANWFZ treaty and the aspirations of the Asean community. That’s why Malaysia’s veteran statesman Mahathir Mohamad blasted the Aukus statement: “You have escalated the threat.”

The first reaction of both Malaysia and Indonesia was to warn of an impending arms race unleashed by such a pact. Australia’s nuclear decision prompted the Indonesian foreign ministry’s official note that it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.” So, why did Locsin choose to break ranks with the Asean?…………..

Conflicts of interest, military entanglements…………..

…….. the Aukus pact does contribute to the ongoing arms races in Southeast Asia. It will foster nuclear proliferation in the region. It violates the goals of the nuclear-free Southeast Asia treaty. It is not in line with the Philippine Constitution.

President Duterte has pledged to end the bilateral military deal with Washington if US nuclear weapons are found in the Philippines. But his term will end by next summer.

Obviously, Australia, the US and UK seek to calm Asean members, arguing that nuclear weapons are not really for military purposes. But since 1945, assurances have not been reliable in nuclear matters. During the Cold War, US nuclear warheads were secretly stockpiled in the Philippines. Moreover, in the 1965 Philippine Sea A-4 crash, a US Skyhawk attack aircraft fell into the sea off Japan. Coming from the US Naval Base in Subic Bay, it was carrying a nuclear weapon with 80 times the blast power of the Hiroshima explosion.

It wasn’t until 1989 that the Pentagon disclosed the loss of the 1-megaton hydrogen bomb.

New policy? Two policies? No policy?

Today, the destructive power of these weapons is far greater, as stressed by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). In January, the Philippines ratified the ICAN’s legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). On May 19, Locsin stated that the Philippines welcomes the Aukus nuclear pact.

Only two days later, Locsin reaffirmed the Philippines’ “principled policy and commitment toward the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons as enshrined in the relevant provisions of the Philippine Constitution and the Treaty.”

The Philippines’ principled policy is crystal clear: The country definitely welcomes nuclear proliferation in Southeast Asia. And the country is absolutely committed against nuclear-free Southeast Asia. Where will that “principled policy and commitment” take us after the 2022 election?

https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/10/18/opinion/columns/from-peaceful-nuclear-free-asean-to-battle-ready-indo-pacific/1818773


October 18, 2021 Posted by | Philippines, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Keep space for peace – opposition to New Zealand’s space industry and its military connections


NZ’s $1.7 billion space industry rockets away, but a law review sparks more debate about controversial military payloads, Stuff Amanda Cropp, Oct 17 2021
  ”………………..   how far and how fast the New Zealand space industry has come since Rocket Lab’s first test launch blasted off in 2017 from its Māhia Peninsula launch site, with millions being invested by the Government and the private sector.A review of the Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Act that regulates launches and payloads received only 17 responses last month, but consultation on the “peaceful, sustainable and responsible” use of space, delayed until next year because of Covid-19, is likely to get a much more heated reception.

Peace groupsthe Green Party and members of the Māhia community have already been vocal about their opposition to Rocket Lab’s military work in the wake of the controversial Gunsmoke-J satellite it launched for the United States Army Space and Missile Defence Co………….

…… The Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Act outlaws payloads that contribute to nuclear weapons programmes or capabilities, harm, interfere with or destroy other spacecraft or systems on earth; support or enable specific defence, security or intelligence operations that are contrary to government policy, or are likely to cause serious or irreversible harm to the environment…………….

Space for Peace

In March, 17 peace groups wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying the Gunsmoke-J launch appeared to breach both the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act and the Cabinet-approved to payload assessments.

They argued that because US military strategy was increasingly using satellite systems to control and direct nuclear, as well as non-nuclear, weapons, it was extremely difficult to determine whether any given satellite was contributing to supporting this weapons system.

……… In mid-September the Anti-Bases Campaign had about 100 attendees at a Keep Space for Peace webinar, and organiser Murray Horton says they were primarily concerned Rocket Lab’s Auckland and Māhia operations effectively constituted a US base in New Zealand, albeit a privately owned one.

Sonya Smith of the Māhia’s Rocket Lab Monitoring Group says they want future regulations to include a clause outlawing payloads that will “assist in the operation of a weapon”.

Professor Kevin Clements is a member of the Peace Foundation International Affairs and Disarmament Committee, which was a signatory to the letter to the prime minister, and he does not believe MBIE is the appropriate agency to vet payloads.

“They have a vested interest in seeing [space] is a thriving industry bringing dollars into the New Zealand economy. This needs to be handled by the prime minister’s department.”……..  https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/126560061/nzs-17-billion-space-industry-rockets-away-but-a-law-review-sparks-more-debate-about-controversial-military-payloads

October 18, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, space travel | Leave a comment

CNMI House slams Japan’s plan to dump nuclear waste into Pacific


CNMI House slams Japan’s plan to dump nuclear waste into Pacific, 
https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/452916/cnmi-house-slams-japan-s-plan-to-dump-nuclear-waste-into-pacificThe CNMI House of Representatives has a introduced a joint resolution that condemns Japan’s plan to dump treated nuclear waste from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Introduced by Representaive Sheila Babauta, the joint resolution opposes any other government’s actions related to nuclear testing, storage, and waste disposal in the Pacific and reaffirm everyone’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy living environment.

The resolution states that the Pacific Ocean is a resource and home for many in the Commonwealth, broader Oceania, and many in Japan who rely on it to provide food, economic subsistence, a means of travel, and so many other aspects of life that can be easily threatened by human activities such as pollution and nuclear exercises.

Japan announced in April a plan to start dumping in two years into the Pacific more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was destroyed in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Babauta, who chairs the House’s Natural Resources Committee, said the people of Oceania have throughout history been disproportionately impacted by foreign powers’ nuclear activities within the Pacific region.

In 1979, Japan also proposed a plan to dump about 10,000 drums of nuclear waste in the Pacific.

Babauta said UN Special Rapporteurs released a statement expressing deep disappointment in Japan’s latest decision, saying “the release of one million tons of contaminated water into the marine environment imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan.”

October 5, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

New Zealand PM says Australian nuclear subs will NOT be welcome in country’s waters

New Zealand PM says Australian nuclear subs will NOT be welcome in country’s waters,  https://7news.com.au/politics/federal-politics/australian-nuclear-subs-not-welcome-in-nz-c-3978704 7 News, Ben McKay, 16/09/20

Australia’s planned nuclear submarine fleet won’t be welcome in New Zealand, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The new submarines are the centrepiece of the new AUKUS security tie-up of Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

NZ has been left out of the AUKUS alliance, despite being a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, along with AUKUS members and Canada.

The country has been staunchly nuclear-free for decades, earning the ire of treaty partner US by declining visits from its nuclear-powered ships.

“We weren’t approached by nor would I expect us to be,” Ardern said.

“Prime Minister Morrison and indeed all partners are very well versed and understand our position on nuclear-powered vessels and also nuclear weapons.

Australia’s planned nuclear submarine fleet won’t be welcome in New Zealand, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The new submarines are the centrepiece of the new AUKUS security tie-up of Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

NZ has been left out of the AUKUS alliance, despite being a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, along with AUKUS members and Canada.

The country has been staunchly nuclear-free for decades, earning the ire of treaty partner US by declining visits from its nuclear-powered ships.

“We weren’t approached by nor would I expect us to be,” Ardern said.

“Prime Minister Morrison and indeed all partners are very well versed and understand our position on nuclear-powered vessels and also nuclear weapons.

That of course means that they well understood our likely position on the establishment of nuclear-powered submarines and their use in the region.”

Ardern said by law, and by a consensus of NZ’s major political parties, nuclear-powered vessels would not be welcome. 

“Certainly they couldn’t come into our internal waters,” she said.

Ardern declined to say whether it would be appropriate for Australia’s new fleet to sail in the Pacific but welcomed interest from the US and the UK in the “contested region”.

“I am pleased to see that the eye is being tuned to our region, from partners that we work closely with.”

Some Kiwi experts believe the AUKUS formation shows an Australian acquiescence to US foreign policy.

“It highlights that much deeper level of Australian integration into US defence and security planning and thinking,” Victoria University professor David Capie told The Guardian.

“New Zealand and Australia were in a different space to begin with and this has perhaps just made that look sharper again.”

Ardern said the new alliance “in no way changes our security and intelligence ties with these three countries”.

NZ’s opposition is less sure, with leader Judith Collins saying other aspects of the defence alliance would be worth involvement.

September 18, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Mururoa nuclear test veterans fight for their children and grandchildren

Mururoa nuclear test veterans fight for their children and grandchildren, Stuff Jimmy Ellingham, Sep 11 2021  Forty-eight years after 500 Kiwi sailors were sent to French Polynesia to protest French nuclear testing in the Pacific the effects on their health and families continue to reverberate.

Those aboard the HMNZS Otago and HMNZS Canterbury were several dozen kilometres away from the atmospheric tests they witnessed at Mururoa Atoll.

The sailors drank, washed in and cleaned their clothes in desalinated water from the fallout zone, and the ships’ decks were washed down with it.

In 2020, an Otago University study of 83 sailors and 65 children published in the New Zealand Medical Journal found they were at higher risk of transferring genetic illnesses across generations.

The research found 30 per cent of veterans had cancer and 31 per cent joint problems. Among their children, 40 per cent reported fertility problems, while many chose not to have offspring of their own because their fathers were exposed to radiation.

The veterans can get help or certain health conditions. Their descendants can’t get anything.

The Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group, an incorporated society representing the men from the two frigates and HMAS Supply, is working to change this.

Retired Rear Admiral Jack Steer, who didn’t serve at Mururoa but works with the group to advocate for veterans, said children and grandchildren were affected by their fathers and grandfathers being exposed to radiation on the protest mission.

The group wants to see as many veterans and descendants as possible tested to see if there is a link.

“A number of the veterans have died of various forms of cancer and some of them are very unwell. They believe they were eradiated. This test will prove beyond reasonable doubt whether they were.”

The group wanted to collect blood samples, so they’re available for scrutiny as science advances. It’s a costly process. Each sample costed $117, although the group had secured a place to store them, Steer said.

The group was hoping to secure government funding for testing, as had happened for Operation Grapple veterans, who witnesses British nuclear testing in the Pacific in the 1950s.

Steer said the Mururoa veterans weren’t after compensation.

“What they want is that testing proves that their children and grandchildren were exposed to radiation or affected by their dads’ exposure to radiation.”

The group had recently secured $50,000 funding from the Returned and Services’ Association to start the testing project……. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300404527/mururoa-nuclear-test-veterans-fight-for-their-children-and-grandchildren

September 11, 2021 Posted by | health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pacific environmentalists call on Japan not to empty radioactive wastewater into the Pacific

 This year marks the 76th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons
for the purpose of war. As the world solemnly observes the tragic
anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we wish to highlight
the Pacific’s own and often overlooked nuclear history that followed.

Asguardians of the world’s largest ocean, we emphasise again our continuing
concern for our region and the irreparably damages on our people and the
environment from 318 nuclear weapons tests undertaken by the United States,
United Kingdom and France.

Today, we acknowledge that our region has still not healed from this trauma and that we did not consent. Given this legacy, we call on Japan to not repeat this brutality through its proposed act of
discharging over a million tonnes of radioactive wastewater from Fukushima.

 Pasifika Environews 6th Sept 2021

September 7, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

No apology from France, as new report reveals the harm done to Pacific islands by atomic bomb tests

Although testing stopped more than two decades ago, its legacy lives on in French Polynesia’s politics, health, economy and environment,

“In every other Pacific Island, you have the same,” said Colombani, who also spent more than a decade working in French Polynesia’s tourism sector. “You have the postcard, but if you look beyond that, there’s something you cannot even imagine.”

New study on nuclear testing in French Polynesia reveals France’s ‘censorship and secrecy’ https://www.pri.org/stories/2021-08-06/new-study-nuclear-testing-french-polynesia-reveals-france-s-censorship-and



More than 400 claims have been filed against the French government for nuclear tests on French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996. Scientists say about 110,000 people have been affected by radioactive fallout.  
It’s been nearly two decades since France stopped testing nuclear weapons in French Polynesia.

But many across French Polynesia’s 118 islands and atolls across the central South Pacific were disappointed last month when President Emmanuel Macron, on his very first trip to the territory France has controlled since 1842, failed to apologize for the nearly 200 nuclear tests conducted between 1966 and 1996.

“Faced with dangerous powers in the concert of nations, I wish to say here that the nation owes a debt to French Polynesia,” Macron said in a July 27 speech. He went on to admit that the tests on the Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls were “not clean in any way” — but stopped short of an official apology.

Guillaume Colombani, who works for Radio Te Reo-o-Tefana, said while they weren’t expecting an apology, it was still devastating not to get one.

“So, when you do something wrong, whatever it is, if you go and see the people you have hurt and you say, ‘Listen, I’m sorry for what I’ve done,’” said Colombani, “it is easier for the community to say, ‘OK, we accept, here’s forgiveness,’ or ‘No, we don’t accept. You have to do something for us.’”

Colombani, 41, grew up in Tahiti during the last decades of the nuclear tests and said he remembers seeing images of blue lagoons turning white after bombs were set off. He can recount the hyper-polarization of the issue and the anti-nuclear demonstrations spurred across the Pacific.

Although testing stopped more than two decades ago, its legacy lives on in French Polynesia’s politics, health, economy and environment, he said.

Underestimated exposure levels 

Scientists have long estimated some 110,000 people were affected by the radioactive fallout — many of them French Polynesians who worked at the testing sites. However, a study released earlier this year revealed that France underestimated the level of toxic exposure during the atmospheric tests that took place in the 1960s and ’70s.

The Mururoa Files was based on a two-year investigation of more than 2,000 declassified French state documents as well as various interviews conducted in French Polynesia.

“We found that they underestimated the level of exposure by factors of two to 10, depending on the tests and locations,” said Sebastien Philippe, a researcher and lecturer at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs with the program on science and global security and co-author of the study.

That’s two to 10 times higher than the estimates given by France’s Atomic Energy Commission in a report produced nearly a decade after testing stopped. The findings compiled by Philippe and his team found, among other things, that one reason the estimates of radiation exposure were so low is that France did not take into account contaminated drinking water.

Ultimately, this systematic underestimation not only made it more difficult to link cases of cancer to the nuclear tests, but it also made it harder for victims to get compensated.

“The compensation process was scientifically broken, and I think the reason for that is the government really realized how much money it was going to cost them, and decided it would be easier to deal with this in court,” Philippe said.

More than 400 claims have been filed against the French government, but only about half have been settled in the last 10 years. Philippe said this was allowed to happen because of the French government’s “censorship and secrecy” surrounding the nuclear testing.

One upside of the release of this study, he said, was the French government’s commitment to open more government archives to the public — a commitment that President Macron made on his recent trip. The French government did not respond to The World’s request for comment about Macron’s trip.

Irreversible environmental damage

The underestimation of the radioactive fallout also made it difficult to fully understand the scope of irreversible environmental damage from the nuclear testing.

Keitapu Maamaatuaiahutapu, a physicist and climate scientist at the University of French Polynesia, said the destruction was particularly bad when the testing went underground in the mid-’70s and bombs were set off in boreholes drilled into the atolls

These bombs had power “100 to 1,000 times more than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” he said.

Whole lagoons full of coral were decimated and fish populations were poisoned for years. Now, there’s also a concern that the atolls may break apart — a process being sped up by rising ocean levels due to climate change, he said.

“And the release of the radioactivity from those holes,” Maamaatuaiahutapu said. “Not only would that create [a] tsunami, but it would pollute the ocean.”

France continues to control all of the information about the damage caused by nuclear testing, including heavily guarding the test sites themselves, he said, so there might not be a way to tell when something might happen. Both the Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls are more than 700 miles away from the main island of Tahiti.

Maamaatuaiahutapu also said that he doesn’t believe that French Polynesia will never get an official apology from Paris, and that also creates political problems.

Experts said that French Polynesians who are loyal to France don’t want to criticize Paris, because it supports the territory with some $2 billion a year.

On the other hand, the independent movement, which both Maamaatuaiahutapu and Colombani are part of, supports every effort to hold France accountable, and to spread the word about nuclear tests across the Pacific — a place known mostly for its beauty.

“In every other Pacific Island, you have the same,” said Colombani, who also spent more than a decade working in French Polynesia’s tourism sector. “You have the postcard, but if you look beyond that, there’s something you cannot even imagine.”

August 23, 2021 Posted by | environment, France, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment