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Cutting through the nuclear advocacy’s nonsense – for the Philippines, nuclear benefits only Russia

The supposed cost benefits of nuclear power are completely misrepresented by the nuclear advocacy.

Only Russia will benefit if PH goes nuclear, in Press   by— 360 Feed Wire By BEN KRITZ, TMT, October 29, 2019 FOR the second time during the term of the current administration, fast-talking salesmen from Russia’s nuclear energy agency Rosatom have managed to convince a few impressionable officials here that the mighty atom is the answer to all the Philippines’ energy needs, especially if it is packaged in the product Rosatom has to offer.

The only people who will benefit from the Philippines’ adopting nuclear power will be the shareholders of Rosatom. Nuclear power is an economically and environmentally disastrous proposition for the Philippines, and no amount of persistence from the misguided nuclear advocacy can change that.

On October 17, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi announced the Department of Energy had signed a memorandum of intent with Rosatom for the latter to conduct feasibility studies on the possible deployment of so-called small modular reactors (SMRs) in the Philippines.

These reactors, which generate between 20 to 200 megawatts (MW) of power, can be mounted on floating platforms to provide electricity to island provinces, or slaved together like giant batteries to create larger land-based power plants.

Russia currently has one such floating plant in operation, a 21,000- metric ton barge carrying two 35-MW reactors and dubbed the Akademik Lomonosov. The craft, which will replace a coal plant and an old nuclear plant in Russia’s far east, can provide power to about 100,000 homes and has a crew of about 70.

The (weak) case for nuclear power

Hard on the heels of the announcement of the DoE’s agreement with Rosatom, local nuclear advocates took part in a “Stand Up for Nuclear” event held in Manila and other cities around the world on October 20. The event achieved what its organizers presumably hoped it would — the publication of a rash of news articles and opinion columns in the days following it, all touting the supposed benefits of nuclear power to the energy-challenged Philippines.

The arguments put forth in favor of nuclear power in general — which haven’t changed in years — and of SMRs in particular are rather shallow, but at first glance seem to be valid.

The benefits of nuclear power, according to its advocates, are that it does not produce harmful emissions, unlike conventional fossil-fueled power plants; it is an extremely efficient energy source, which results in lower power costs to consumers; it has a very good overall safety record, in spite of attention-grabbing disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima; and it provides reliable baseload power to augment energy from intermittent sources like solar and wind power.

SMRs are touted as a good option for countries like the Philippines without well-developed nuclear capabilities or budgets to sustain them because they are small, versatile, relatively inexpensive, and less complicated than normal-scale nuclear plants. For example, unlike a conventional pressurized water or boiling water reactor, the cooling and steam generation water flows in most SMR designs are gravity-fed. This presumably makes them immune from the sort of loss-of-coolant accidents that led to the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters.

All of these arguments are very positive-sounding, enough to convince many impressionable government officials and media commentators, whom the nuclear advocacy hopes have neither the time, inclination nor capacity to look critically at the facts, which tend to be a more than a little inconvenient.

Cutting through the nonsense

The first argument that “nuclear plants do not produce harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,” is true in a very literal sense, but it is not true that nuclear plants do not contribute to harmful emissions at all, as some advocates claim. All nuclear plants emit heat and water vapor to the atmosphere at the rate of 4.4 grams CO2-equivalent per kilowatt-hour (g CO2-e/kWh) of energy produced. While this is certainly very much less than a conventional power plant, it is not zero, and compares unfavorably with solar and wind power, which actually remove water vapor and heat flux to the atmosphere at the rate of -2.2 g CO2-e/kWh.

An even bigger environmental problem with nuclear power is that any nuclear reactor uses an enormous amount of fresh water and discharges a large amount of heated wastewater.

Because of the complicated chemistry within a nuclear reactor, seawater cannot be used, and even fresh water must be “scrubbed” to remove any impurities. In a country such as the Philippines, where fresh water supplies are increasingly constrained, any nuclear power facility is a problematic option.

The second argument, that nuclear energy is extremely efficient and therefore less expensive than other forms of power, is again only literally true in a narrow context.

Uranium as a fuel is incredibly efficient; one ton of uranium has the energy content of about 80,000 tons of coal. However, to obtain useable fuel a great deal of processing is necessary, which of course comes at an energy cost, and the amount of useful uranium to be used as nuclear fuel is quickly being depleted; US reserves of uranium have virtually disappeared, and reserves elsewhere in the world are estimated to last no more than 100 years.

The supposed cost benefits of nuclear power are completely misrepresented by the nuclear advocacy. A comparison between an existing nuclear plant and an existing coal plant, for example, would show that electricity derived from nuclear power is less costly on a per-MW basis, but power costs, as Filipino consumers have long been painfully aware, include all the costs associated with building and maintaining a power plant. The proper way to calculate comparative costs is through a formula called levelized cost of energy (LCOE), which takes into account construction costs, regulatory costs, fuel costs, available subsidies, and operating costs.

This is where nuclear power completely falls apart compared to other energy alternatives.

According to the 2018 report of Lazard (the go-to source for energy cost analysis), nuclear has a high-end LCOE of $189 per megawatt hour (MWh). Coal has an LCOE of $143/MWh; utility-scale solar of between $44/MWh and $48/MWh; and wind, $56/MWh. Of the various energy sources analyzed, only gas peaking plants and rooftop solar installations had a higher LCOE than nuclear power, at $208/MWh and $287/MWh, respectively.

And Lazard’s results may be a serious underestimate of the true cost of nuclear power. In the next installment, I’ll explain further why, despite supplying about 20 percent of the world’s electricity, nuclear power is one of the worst solutions for the Philippines, or any other country for that matter

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Philippines, spinbuster | Leave a comment

National nuclear commission strategy for Marshall Islands

Marshalls endorses nuclear commission strategy,    The Marshall Islands government has endorsed the adoption of a national nuclear commission strategy for the next three years.

The strategy honours the legacy of Marshallese nuclear heroes and heroines who fought and continue to demand accountability for their communities.

The strategy was mandated in the Marshall Islands parliament, or Nitijela, as part of the National Nuclear Commission Act of 2017.

It focuses on five broad themes for nuclear justice: compensation, health care, the environment, national capacity, and education and awareness.

From 1946 to 1958, the US used the Marshall Islands to test its nuclear weapons.

The commission also aims to establish an independent panel of scientists and specialists in fields related to radiation exposure, to provide the republic’s citizens access to trusted, independent science.

The commission’s chair, Rhea Moss-Christian, said the NNC strategy was a tool for all Marshallese, whether living in the islands or overseas, to use in their individual and collective efforts to respond to the devastation resulting from the US nuclear weapons testing program in the Marshall Islands.

“It is also a resource for our partners and friends outside the Marshall Islands to understand the nuclear testing impacts that persist today and how they can support the Marshallese people,” Ms Moss-Christian said.

October 28, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands’ nuclear clean-up workers concerned about radiation leaking

October 17, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands, victim of nuclear testing, now declares a Climate Emergency


Marshall Islands, low-lying US ally and nuclear testing site, declares a climate crisis,  By Susanne Rust Los Angeles Times (TNS), Oct 11, 2019 

    • The Marshall Islands, a low-lying chain of atolls and key U.S. ally in the Central Pacific, has declared a national climate crisis because of the mounting risk of sea-level rise, the nation’s president announced this week.

The nation’s parliament, the Nitijela, overwhelmingly supported a measure that calls upon the international community to step up its efforts to mitigate global warming and provide aid to nations unable to finance safeguards against rising seas.

“As one of only four low-lying coral atoll nations in the world, the failure of the international community to adequately respond to the global climate crisis of its own making holds particularly grave consequences,” wrote President Hilda Heine in a tweet Wednesday.

Low-lying coral atoll nations such as the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are particularly vulnerable to rising oceans, averaging just a few feet above sea level. There have already been episodes of “King Tide” flooding in the Marshall Islands, which consists of 29 coral atolls, located about 5,000 miles from Los Angeles and 2,000 from Hawaii.

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that sea level could rise by 1 to 4 feet by 2100, potentially submerging many of these nations, and by 2050, making many uninhabitable.

The report echoes research sponsored by the Department of Defense, which found Kwajalein Atoll, where the U.S. leases a strategic military base, could become unlivable by 2030, if the Antarctic ice sheet were to melt. Mid-century inhabitability due to flooding, storm waves and ground water contamination by salt water was predicted in a more conservative model.

The resolution calls upon the Nitijela to “unite fully and unequivocally behind the science” and to recognize the rights of the Marshallese youth to grow up in a “climate safe future.”

It asks the international community to “consider additional ways to respond to and support the extreme vulnerability and special circumstances” unique to low-lying coral atoll islands, such as the Marshall Islands.

“Prolonged and unseasonal droughts are hitting us real hard, and saltwater is creeping into our freshwater lands,” said Heine last month at the United Nations Climate Action conference in New York. “We are on the very front line of climate change.”

The United States used the Marshall Islands as a nuclear testing ground during the Cold War, detonating 67 nuclear bombs on the nation between 1946 and 1958.

The U.S. is committing $10 million to the Pacific region for disaster resilience, weather forecasting and “to address environmental challenges,” said a U.S. State Department spokesperson Friday. “The United States recognizes that addressing environmental degradation and climate change is a priority in the Pacific — especially for the Marshall Islands — due to the threat posed by sea level rise and the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters.”

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

Senate to probe Philippine’s nuclear energy program

Senate to probe Philippine’s nuclear energy program, Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) – October 14, 2019 – MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee on energy will look into the status of the country’s nuclear energy program as the Duterte administration is set to decide on a recommendation to tap nuclear fuels for stable power supply, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said yesterday.

Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, filed a resolution for an inquiry on the status of the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) in pursuit of his call for transparency in the government’s nuclear initiatives.

“A comprehensive, transparent and public discussion must be made on the merits of a national nuclear program taking into consideration the social, economic, environmental and technical effects and requirements of such a program,” he said.

He added that the development of a nuclear power program in any country requires three phases marked by a specific milestone and the completion of 19 infrastructure requirements, which necessitate specific actions during each of these three phases as indicated in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s milestones in the development of a national infrastructure for nuclear power.

The Philippines, according to the senator, is currently completing phase one, which commenced when the DOE issued Department Order 2016-10-0013 in 2016, creating the NEPIO, which is tasked to explore the development and inclusion of nuclear energy in the country’s electric power supply.

Phase two requires preparation for the contracting and construction of a nuclear power plant after a policy decision has been made, and its milestone is an invitation to bid or negotiate a contract for the power plant.

Meanwhile, phase three details the activities necessary to implement the first nuclear power plant, and its milestone is the commissioning and operation of such activities……..

The senator made the call during the hearing on the DOE’s proposed 2020 budget.

He pushed for the scrutiny of the nuclear energy program after a memorandum of intent was signed by Philippine and Russian officials during President Duterte’s visit to Moscow last week “to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants in the Philippines.”

A proposal to build a floating nuclear power plant in the country was also forwarded by Russia.

One of world’s worst nuclear disasters occurred in 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which was blamed on a flawed Soviet reactor in Ukraine, at the time part of the Soviet Union.

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

US govt to fund study of Marshall Islands nuclear dome water

US govt to fund study of Marshall Islands nuclear dome water,    The US government has announced US$1.6 million in funding to investigate the water surrounding a radioactive dome in the Marshall Islands.The Runit Dome on Enewetak Atoll was built to contain nuclear waste after US nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific in the 1940s and ’50s.

However, Marshall Islands officials say the lagoon water is already more contaminated than the dome itself, which has been leaking.

The money announced last week will fund a radiochemical analysis of the water surrounding the crater, and an engineering survey of the structure.

October 6, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

Pacific Island nations urge action on climate change at UN

Pacific Island nations urge action on climate change at UN,  Pacific leaders want to remind the world what’s at stake for the most vulnerable – low lying nations – if nothing is done to combat climate change.  (video)

September 30, 2019 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

A rude concrete sign indicates a deadly truth about nuclear radiation and cancer


September 24, 2019 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Health research on descendants of Pacific nuclear veterans.

Pacific nuclear veterans’ descendants sought for study.    A search is underway for descendants of service personnel who witnessed a nuclear test at Mururoa Atoll to take part in a nationwide study.A Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group wants all veterans who were deployed to Mururoa Atoll in 1973, and their families, to be part of a study as it’s believed their children may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation.

The then Labour government sent a frigate to Mururoa Atoll, including then Cabinet Minister Fraser Colman, to protest against French nuclear testing there.

Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group wants all people on the frigate, and their families to be part of a study as it’s believed their children may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation. 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.

University of Otago associate professor David McBride, has been tasked with conducting the first medical testing of veterans’ children and grandchildren.

To establish whether genetic transfer of illnesses are related to exposure to nuclear radiation and create a registry “would be difficult but not impossible,” Mr McBride said.

Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group vice-president, Tony Cox, was concerned veteran’s offspring could be more susceptible to conditions like leukaemia and auto-immune diseases.

“If we don’t do it now, when we die no one else is going to care. Their sickness and problems we consider is directly attributable to our service,” Mr Cox said.

“Be it Operation Grapple, Christmas Island, Mururoa, anywhere else … widows and children especially we are looking for.”  The University of Otago will carry out the study from October or November this year, but a registry needs to be created for the study to work.

Mr Cox encouraged anyone with a nuclear testing background to come forward to take part in the study or identify themselves in order to be included in the registry.

August 12, 2019 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation Levels Higher in Marshall Islands Than in Chernobyl

Radiation Levels Higher in Marshall Islands Than in Chernobyl

Aug 5, 2019 George Winston  The Marshall Islands are a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean that lie between Hawaii and the Philippines. They contain the Bikini and Enewetak atolls which you may have heard of if you’ve studied your history lessons.

This is where the United States tested atomic weapons in the 1940s and 1950s. Though it has been over sixty years since testing ended there, the islands are still more radioactive than Chernobyl and Fukushima, sites of two of the worst nuclear reactor disasters.

In a recent study, researchers tested the soil of these sites for plutonium-239 and plutonium-240. In some places, the islands had levels that were ten times higher than soil in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

While the study was limited, the results indicate that a more thorough test is warranted. The surprising thing to the researchers was that they could not find any guidance from governments or from international organizations which indicated what a permissible level of plutonium would be.

The US tested radioactive weapons in the Marshall Islands even after dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. At the time, the islands were a district of the Trus Territory of the Pacific Islands. The US ran this district on behalf of the United Nations.

The first tests were carried out on Bikini Atoll in 1946 and involved two bombs names Able and Baker. Over the next twelve years, the US tested 67 weapons on the Bikini and Enewetak atolls.

Those tests included one in 1951 code-named Ivy Mike – the first hydrogen bomb test. The largest hydrogen bomb test occurred in 1954 with the Castle Bravo test. Castle Bomb was over 1,000 times more powerful than Little Boy. Little Boy was the bomb that completely destroyed Hiroshima.

The radioactive damage from the tests was not contained to Bikini and Enewetak, though. Fallout from the test contaminated the Rongelap and Utirik atolls which are also part of the Marshall Islands. People on those islands became sick from the radiation levels.

In 2016, a study of background gamma radiation on the three northern atolls in the Marshall Islands, Bikini, Enewetak, and Rongelap, found elevated levels of the radiation. The study found that Bikini even had a higher level than had previously been reported.

That team returned to do more testing. They recently released the results of those studies in the PNAS journal. The studies focused on the Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utirik Atolls in the northern part of the islands.

The studies found levels of gamma radiation that were significantly higher than the levels of a southern Marshall Island that the researchers used as a control.

Especially bad were the levels on Bikini and Naen islands. Those levels were found to be higher than the maximum exposure limit that the US and the Republic of the Marshall Islands had agreed to in the 1990s.

Along with Runi and Enjebi islands in the Enewetak Atoll, the islands were found to have radioactive plutonium levels in the soil that were higher than what has been found at Chernobyland Fukushima.

Ivana Nikolic-Hughes, director of the K1 Project at the Center for Nuclear Studies, stated that the researchers were surprised at the levels of external gamma radiation on Naen Island.

This island is on the outer edge of the Rongelap Atoll and was populated at the time of the Bravo test. The people were moved from the island, moved back and then moved away again, Nikolic-Hughes called it a “dreadful history” of treatment for the Rongelapese people.

A second study by the group used professional divers to collect 130 samples from the Castle Bravo Crater on the Bikini Atoll. Here, isotopes such as plutonium-239 and 240, americium-241 and bismuth-207 were much higher than they were on other Marshall Islands.

The researchers were interested in testing the crater because they feel it is a first step in determining how the testing of nuclear weapons has affected the ocean.

The third study tested over 200 fruits from the islands. They found many of the fruits contained higher levels of cesium-137 which would be deemed unsafe by several countries and international organizations.

The researchers hope the data gathered can be used to educate the residents of the Marshall Islands about the dangers there and inform them of whether it is safe to live on these islands or gather food from them.

August 6, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands to survey leaking nuclear dome,

August 6, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Bikini Atoll, site of nuclear bomb testing, still 10 times more radioactive than Chernobyl

After 61 Years, U.S. Testing Site For Nuclear Weapons Still 10 Times More Radioactive Than Chernobyl    David Bressan

Between 1946 and 1958 the atolls of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean were testing ground for the United States nuclear arsenal. The first bomb, called Able, was detonated July 25, 1946, on Bikini Atoll. The first-ever American hydrogen bomb, with the code name Ivy Mike, was tested on Enewetak in 1951. The 1954 Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb was 1,000 times more powerful than Little Boy, the uranium bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In 12 years the U.S. tested 67 nuclear weapons on the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls. The craters formed by the explosions are visible from space; however, less obvious is the radioactive contamination of the entire area.

A survey conducted in 2015 found concentrations of radioactive plutonium-239 and -240 in the soil of Bikini and Enewetak almost ten times higher than levels in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where thirty-three years ago the reactor experienced a catastrophic core meltdown, exploded and parts of the nuclear fuel were released. Levels of gamma radiation were also higher than previously reported on Bikini and significantly elevated on sites tested on Enewetak and Rongelap Atolls.. Radioactive fallout from the Castle Bravo test on March 1, 1954, also contaminated the nearby Rongelap and Utirik Atolls, prompting the evacuation of the local population. Still today some sites surpass the maximum exposure for radiation considered safe by experts. Apart the 67 tests, also a leaking nuclear waste repository is contributing to the radioactive pollution of the area.

On Runit Island, one of forty islands forming the Enewetak Atoll, sits “The Dome” – a 100 meters wide crater filled with 85,000 cubic meters of radioactive debris and waste and covered with half a meter of concrete. The dome sits on permeable rocks and in 2013 leaks of radioactive water were noted at the base of the structure. As sea levels are rising the entire site will be flooded, potentially causing widespread radioactive contamination, including plutonium-239.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

New revelations on the very high radiation in the Marshall Islands

Nuclear isotopes on Marshall Islands up to 1000 times higher than Chernobyl or Fukushima, 17 July 19,Between Australia and Hawaii are islands where locals were banished due to nuclear testing. New research reveals the extent of the problem. Rohan Smith@ro_smith

Never mind Chernobyl and Fukushima.

New research shows a tiny island halfway between Australia and Hawaii has concentrations of nuclear material up to 1000 times higher than at two well-known meltdown locations in Ukraine and Japan.

Research carried out by Columbia University and published this week shows deadly plutonium levels are far higher than previously thought on the Marshall Islands. The group of 29 atolls was subject to 67 US nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958, with locals forced to flee as the country dropped bomb after bomb in paradise.

The United States entombed nuclear waste under a dome on the island of Runit that some believe is leaking into the Pacific Ocean. However the real impact of the contamination is only now being realised.

Researchers wrote that two atolls, Bikini and Enewetak, “were used as ground zero” and took the brunt of the impact.

On Enewetak, the first-ever hydrogen bomb was tested. But Bikini was the site of the world’s largest-ever hydrogen bomb test — known as Castle Bravo.

The tests, researchers say, “caused unprecedented environmental contamination and, for the indigenous peoples of the islands, long-term adverse health effects”.

Researchers tested levels of radioactive isotopes in soil and food sources and found “a real concern” on Runit where the huge dome was designed to contain radiation but is not working.

“The presence of radioactive isotopes on the Runit Island is a real concern, and residents should be warned against any use of the island,” researchers said.

“Moreover, wash-off of existing isotopes off the islands into the ocean from weathering and continued sea level rise continues to threaten, further contaminating the lagoon and the ocean at large.”

On Bikini, researchers found concentrations of particular radioactive material “were up to 15-1000 times higher than in samples from areas affected by the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters”.

Though residents were banished from the Marshall Islands during the height of the Cold War, many have returned. The Los Angeles Times reports more than 600 people call Enewetak, Runit and Enjebi home.

Jan Beyea, a retired radiation physicist, told the newspaper: “Implicitly, I think these results might caution efforts to return because of the readings found.” previously reported rising sea levels were degrading the concrete dome at Runit, and the US Department of Energy concluded the “burial site” was leaking highly toxic waste.

Locals refer to it as “the poison” and have already been complaining of birth defects and high cancer rates.

After Castle Bravo, islanders more than 160km away mistook fallout for snow. It “caused skin burns, hair loss, nausea and eventually cancer” in many who were exposed, the Times reports.

The warnings from researchers clash with advice from the US Government, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of the Marshall Islands agreeing it was safe for those who wished to return home.

In the Marshall Islands, the most common cause of death is diabetes, which is related to a thyroid disorder. The second most common cause of death is cancer.

The population of the Marshall Islands is around 70,000 people, with local Marshallese people allowed to live and work in the US without a visa as part of the reparations for the nuclear testing that took place.

Over a third have already moved to the US. It is said when you leave the Marshall Islands, you buy a one-way ticket.

— Additional reporting by Phoebe Loomes

July 18, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

New bill introduced in U.S. Congress will benefit Guam victims of radiation exposure

New bill introduced in Congress will benefit Guam victims of radiation exposure

Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, introduced The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019, which provides health and monetary compensations for individuals who were exposed to high levels of radiation that caused sickness, cancer, and deaths in New Mexico and other parts of the country, including Guam.

RECA was first passed in 1990 to ensure the federal government met its responsibilities to Americans who made sacrifices for national security. The new legislation has more than 35 co-sponsors, including Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas.

“This legacy issue for the people of Guam is more than about policy; it is about cancer, it is about the major impact these diseases have on our families, it is about the life and death of loved ones past, present, and future, and we are humbled to join Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján in making this right,” San Nicolas said.

Without this legislation, the current authorization for RECA will expire in two years – leaving thousands without the ability to pay for their medical care for illnesses directly linked to the exposure.

Senator Therese Terlaje, who coincidentally is having a hearing tomorrow, July 18, on Resolution 94-35 (COR), which is related to RECA, said she wants to thank the New Mexico congressman and Congressman San Nicolas for the introduction of the House RECA bill.

“That’s very good timing for us as we hold this hearing tomorrow,” Terlaje said during an interview with Andrea Pellacani on NewsTalk K-57.

The senator would also like to thank Robert Celestial, president of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors (PARS) for his work and for building relationships that have ensured Guam’s inclusion in the House bill and in Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) compensation.

For his part: Celestial said: “The people of Guam thank and applaud Congressman Ben Ray Luján and sponsors for their compassionate and just recognition of the cancer and other ailments suffered on Guam from downwind exposure to nuclear fallout, as determined in a report to Congress 2005: “Assessment of the Scientific Information for the radiation exposure Screening and Education program ” by the National Academy of Sciences.”

Senator Terlaje’s Resolution 94-35 (COR) expresses support for S. 947, “The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019,” which includes Guam residents exposed to radiation during nuclear testing in the Pacific from 1946 to 1962.

S. 947 was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Mike Crapo (R- Idaho) and would expand eligibility requirements and increase compensation for persons suffering health problems related to cancer caused by radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests.

Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Guam would be added to existing areas where victims can apply for compensation under the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act program (RECA). Qualified claimants are entitled to free medical care, health screening, and $150,000 compensation for certain illnesses.

In 2004, The National Academies of Science confirmed Guam’s exposure to radiation as “downwinders” and recommended that Guam be included under RECA. Fifteen years later, Terlaje said Guam is still fighting an uphill battle for inclusion. S. 947 is the eighth version of the RECA Amendment bill introduced in the last 12 years.

Senator Terlaje’s hearing on Resolution 94-35 (COR) will be held tomorrow, July 18, at 10 a.m., at the Guam Congress Building.

July 18, 2019 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, politics | Leave a comment

Alarmingly high radiation in soil, ocean sediments and fruits from Marshall Islands

Radiation Levels at the Marshall Islands Remain Disturbingly High, George Dvorsky15 July 19

An analysis of soil samples, ocean sediment, and fruits from the Marshall Islands—the site of nearly 70 nuclear weapons tests during the 1940s and 1950s—has revealed alarmingly high levels of radiation, with some regions at levels exceeding areas affected by the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

From 1946 to 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, a series of atolls located north of the equator between Hawaii and Australia. Twenty-three of these tests were conducted at Bikini Atoll and 44 near Enewetak Atoll, but fallout spread throughout the entire Marshall Islands, exposing the indigenous people there to dangerous levels of radiation.

Much of the Marshall Islands remains uninhabitable as a consequence of these nuclear tests, and it’s not immediately clear when Marshallese residents will be able to return to their ancestral homes. Three new studies published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests their long-awaited return won’t happen anytime soon. A research team led by Emlyn Hughes and Malvin Ruderman from the Center for Nuclear Studies at Columbia University has detected unsafe levels of radiation in the soil, ocean sediment, and fruits in these contaminated areas.

Three years ago, the same team discovered alarming levels of gamma radiationin the Marshall Islands, and at levels that exceeded scientists’ expectations. The three new PNAS studies add to this prior work, which is being done to determine which, if any, of the Marshall Islands are safe for resettlement, and the specific risks that would be faced by returning indigenous peoples.

For the first study, the researchers measured background gamma radiation in soil samples taken from four atolls in 2017 and 2018: Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utirik. Gamma radiation on Bikini and Naen islands were well beyond the maximum exposure limit as stipulated in agreements between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. On Bikini, the levels were as high as 648 millirems per year, and on Naen they were as high as 460 millirems per year. Safe exposure to radiation is 100 millirems per year, according to the U.S.-Republic of the Marshall Islands agreement.

These levels are “significantly higher” than “areas affected by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents,” wrote the study authors. The “radiation levels on Bikini Island, which served as the primary island for habitation on the atoll, before and in the aftermath of the testing, are too high for relocation to Bikini,” according to the new research. Some of the outer islands “may not [be] suitable for habitation on their own, but… islanders may visit in search of food, especially in times of harvest.”

For the second paper, the researchers explored the Castle Bravo crater—the site of the most powerful nuclear test ever conducted by the United States, which happened on March 1, 1954. This 15-megaton explosion vaporized the land beneath it, forming a crater 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) wide and 75 meters (246 feet) deep on Bikini Atoll. The ensuing fallout was comprised of pulverized coral, water, and radioactive particles. Traces of the radioactive debris were detected as far as Japan, India, Australia, Europe, and even the United States.

The Castle Bravo explosion also produced radioactive material that settled into the ocean sediment. From the research vessel Indies Surveyor, the researchers collected nearly 130 core samples from the Castle Bravo crater from 2017 to 2018. Analysis showed that, six decades later, the radiation levels are still “orders of magnitude” above normal levels within the top inch of sediment across the entire crater. The researchers conclude thusly:

In summary, there is still residual contamination of radionuclides throughout the Bravo bomb crater, from center to rim. We find that the radionuclide distribution is fairly uniform across the crater with some tapering off toward the crater rim….Although the lagoon is gradually filling in over time, contamination levels from residual long-lived radioactive isotopes, such as plutonium and americium, will likely last for centuries. The nuclear weapon tests caused a dramatic change in sediment composition. Additional studies to determine what the impact on life is in the lagoon craters, especially at the deeper depths, would be valuable.

The third paper is an analysis of fruits found in the Marshall Islands, namely coconuts and pandanus fruits. Cesium-137 features a half-life of around 30 years, and it’s easily absorbed by plants, presenting a potential health hazard. Sadly, 11 islands were found to have coconuts and pandanus fruits with radioactivity exceeding limits established by several countries and international organizations, including International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Once again, some of the levels exceeded values found near Fukushima and Chernobyl.

“Based upon our results, we conclude that to ensure safe relocation to Bikini and Rongelap Atolls, further environmental remediation… appears to be necessary to avoid potentially harmful exposure to radiation,” wrote the authors in the study.

All-in-all, some very discouraging results, as much of the Marshall Islands remain unsafe for resettlement. It’s not immediately clear when these islands will be free of radiation, or if people will ever return to Bikini Atoll. Sadly, climate change is making a bad situation worse, as rising sea levels could render many of the safe Marshall Islands uninhabitable.

July 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment