The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? 

  Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018 An important, detailed critique of thorium by Dr. Rainer Moormann, translated from the original German by Jan Haverkamp. Dr. Moormann concludes:

The use of technology based on thorium would not be able to solve any of the known problems of current nuclear techniques, but it would require an enormous development effort and wide introduction of breeder and reprocessing technology. For those reasons, thorium technology is a dead end.”

Author: Dr. Rainer Moormann, Aachen (r.moormann@gmx.deThorium is currently described by several nuclear proponents as a better alternative to uranium fuel.

Thorium itself is, however, not a fissile material. It can only be transformed into fissile uranium-233 using breeder and reprocessing technology. It is 3 to 4 times more abundant than uranium.

Concerning safety and waste disposal there are no convincing arguments in comparison to uranium fuel. A severe disadvantage is that uranium-233 bred from thorium can be used by terror organisations for the construction of simple but high-impact nuclear explosives. Thus development of a thorium fuel cycle without effective denaturation of bredfissile materials is irresponsible.


Thorium Introduction 

Thorium (Th) is a heavy metal of atomic number 90

(uranium has 92). It belongs to the group of actinides, is

around 3 to 4 times more abundant than uranium and is

radioactive (half-life of Th-232 as starter of the thorium

decay-chain is 14 billion years with alpha-decay). There

are currently hardly any technical applications. Distinctive

is the highly penetrating gamma radiation from its decaychain

(thallium-208 (Tl-208): 2.6 MeV; compared to

gamma radiation from Cs-137: 0.66 MeV). Over the past

decade, a group of globally active nuclear proponents is

recommending thorium as fuel for a safe and affordable

nuclear power technology without larger waste and

proliferation problems. These claims should be submitted

to a scientific fact check. For that reason, we examine

here the claims of thorium proponents.

Dispelling Claim 1: The use of thorium expands the

availability of nuclear fuel by a factor 400  

Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

Thorium itself is not a fissile material. It can, however, be

transformed in breeder reactors into fissile uranium-233

(U-233), just like non-fissile U-238 (99.3% of natural

uranium) can be transformed in a breeder reactor to fissile

plutonium. (A breeder reactor is a reactor in which more

fissile material can be harvested from spent nuclear fuel

than present in the original fresh fuel elements. It may be

sometimes confusing that in the nuclear vocabulary every

conventional reactor breeds, but less than it uses (and

therefore it is not called a breeder reactor).)

For that reason, the use of thorium presupposes the use

of breeder and reprocessing technology. Because these

technologies have almost globally fallen into disrepute, it

cannot be excluded that the more neutral term thorium is

currently also used to disguise an intended reintroduction

of these problematic techniques.

The claimed factor 400: A factor of 100 is due to the

breeder technology. It is also achievable in the uraniumplutonium

cycle. Only a factor of 3 to 4 is specific to

thorium, just because it is more abundant than uranium

by this factor…….


March 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY, Reference, thorium | Leave a comment

It’s a myth that thorium nuclear reactors were ever commercially viable

Dispelling Claim 2: Thorium did not get a chance in the  nuclear energy development because it is not  usable for military purposes   Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

In the early stages of nuclear technology in the USA (from 1944 to the early 1950s), reprocessing technology was not yet well developed. Better developed were graphite moderated reactors that used natural uranium and bred plutonium.

For the use of thorium (which, other than uranium, does not contain fissile components), enriched uranium or possibly plutonium would have been indispensable.

Initially, neither pathway for thorium development was chosen because it would have automatically reduced the still limited capacity for military fissile materials production. (Thorium has a higher capture cross section for thermal (that means slow) neutrons than U-238. For that reason, it needs as fertile material in reactors a higher fissile density than U-238.)

Only when the US enrichment capacity at about 1950 delivered sufficient enriched uranium, the military and later civil entry into thorium technology started: in 1955 a bomb with U-233 from thorium was exploded, and a strategic U-233 reserve of around 2 metric tons was created. The large head-start of the plutonium bomb could not be overtaken any more, and plutonium remained globally the leading military fission material (although, according to unconfirmed sources, Indian nuclear weapons contain U-233).

The US military research concluded in 1966 that U-233 is a very potent nuclear weapon material, but that it offers hardly any advantages over the already established plutonium. Because light water reactors with low-enriched uranium (LEU) were already too far developed, thorium use remained marginal also in civil nuclear engineering: for instance, the German “thorium reactor” THTR-300 in Hamm operated only for a short time, and in reality it was a uranium reactor (fuel: 10% weapon-grade 93% enriched U-235 and 90% thorium) because the amount of energy produced by thorium did not exceed 25%.


March 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference, spinbuster, thorium | Leave a comment

The weapons proliferation risks of thorium nuclear reactors

Dispelling Claim 3: Thorium use has hardly any proliferation risk   Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

The proliferation problem of Th / U-233 needs a  differentiated analysis ‒ general answers are easily misleading. First of all, one has to assess the weapon capability of U-233. Criteria for good suitability are a low critical mass and a low rate of spontaneous fission. The critical mass of U-233 is only 40% of that of U-235, the critical mass of plutonium-239 is around 15% smaller than for U-233. A relatively easy to construct nuclear explosive needs around 20 to 25 kg U-233.

The spontaneous fission rate is important, because the neutrons from spontaneous fission act as a starter of the chain reaction; for an efficient nuclear explosion, the fissile material needs to have a super-criticality of at least 2.5 (criticality is the amount of new fissions produced by the neutrons of each fission.)

When, because of spontaneous fissions, a noticeable chain reaction already starts during the initial conventional explosion trigger mechanism in the criticality phase between 1 and 2.5, undesired weak nuclear explosions would end the super-criticality before a significant part of the fissile material has reacted. This largely depends on how fast the criticality phase of 1 to 2.5 is passed. Weapon plutonium (largely Pu-239) and moreover reactor plutonium have – different from the mentioned uranium fission materials U-235 and U-233 – a high spontaneous fission rate, which excludes their use in easy to build bombs.

More specifically, plutonium cannot be caused to explode in a so-called gun-type fission weapon, but both uranium isotopes can. Plutonium needs the far more complex implosion bomb design, which we will not go into further here. A gun-type fission weapon was used in Hiroshima – a cannon barrel set-up, in which a fission projectile is shot into a fission block of a suitable form so that they together form a highly super-critical arrangement.   Here, the criticality phase from 1 to 2.5 is in the order of magnitude of milliseconds – a relatively long time, in which a plutonium explosive would destroy itself with weak nuclear explosions caused by spontaneous fission.

One cannot find such uranium gun-type fission weapons in modern weapon arsenals any longer (South Africa’s apartheid regime built 7 gun-type fission weapons using uranium-235): their efficiency (at most a few percent) is rather low, they are bulky (the Hiroshima bomb: 3.6 metric tons, 3.2 meters long), inflexible, and not really suitable for carriers like intercontinental rockets.

On the other hand, gun-type designs are highly reliable and relatively easy to build. Also, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reckons that larger terror groups would be capable of constructing a nuclear explosive on the basis of the gun-type fission design provided they got hold of a sufficient amount of suitable fissile material.1

Bombs with a force of at most 2 to 2.5 times that of the Hiroshima bomb (13 kt TNT) are conceivable. For that reason, the USA and Russia have tried intensively for decades to repatriate their world-wide delivered highly enriched uranium (HEU).

A draw-back of U-233 in weapon technology is that – when it is produced only for energy generation purposes – it is contaminated with maximally 250 parts per million (ppm) U-232 (half-life 70 years).2 That does not impair the nuclear explosion capability, but the uranium-232 turns in the thorium decay chain, which means ‒ as mentioned above ‒ emission of the highly penetrating radiation of Tl-208. A strongly radiating bomb is undesirable in a military environment – from the point of view of handling, and because the radiation intervenes with the bomb’s electronics.

In the USA, there exists a limit of 50 ppm U-232 above which U-233 is no longer considered suitable for weapons.

Nevertheless, U-232 does not really diminish all proliferation problems around U-233. First of all, simple gun-type designs do not need any electronics; furthermore, radiation safety arguments during bomb construction will hardly play a role for terrorist organisations that use suicide bombers.

Besides that, Tl-208 only appears in the end of the decay chain of U-232: freshly produced or purified U-233/U-232 will radiate little for weeks and is easier to handle.2 It is also possible to suppress the build-up of uranium-232 to a large extent, when during the breeding process of U-233 fast neutrons with energies larger than 0.5 MeV are filtered out (for instance by arranging the thorium in the reactor behind a moderating layer) and thorium is used from ore that contains as little uranium as possible.

A very elegant way to harvest highly pure U-233 is offered by the proposed molten salt reactors with integrated reprocessing (MSR): During the breeding of U-233 from thorium, the intermediate protactinium-233 (Pa-233) is produced, which has a half-life of around one month. When this intermediate is isolated – as is intended in some molten salt reactors – and let decay outside the reactor, pure U-233 is obtained that is optimally suited for nuclear weapons.

An advantage of U-233 in comparison with Pu-239 in military use is that under neutron irradiation during the production in the reactor, it tends to turn a lot less into nuclides that negatively influence the explosion capability. U-233 can (like U-235) be made unsuitable for use in weapons by adding U-238: When depleted uranium is already mixed with thorium during the feed-in into the reactor, the resulting mix of nuclides is virtually unusable for weapons.

However, for MSRs with integrated reprocessing this is not a sufficient remedy. One would have to prevent separation of protactinium-233.9

The conclusion has to be that the use of thorium contains severe proliferation risks. These are less in the risk that highly developed states would find it easier to lay their hands on high-tech weapons, than that the bar for the construction of simple but highly effective nuclear explosives for terror organisations or unstable states will be a lot lower.



March 5, 2018 Posted by | Reference, spinbuster, thorium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors: no safer than conventional uranium reactors

Dispelling Claim 4: Thorium reactors are safer than  conventional uranium reactors  Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

The fission of U-233 results in roughly the same amounts

of the safety-relevant nuclides iodine-131, caesium-137

and strontium-90 as that of U-235. Also, the decay heat is

virtually the same. The differences in produced actinides (see

next claim) are of secondary importance for the risk during

operation or in an accident. In this perspective, thorium use

does not deliver any recognisable safety advantages.

Of greater safety relevance is the fact that uranium-233

fission produces 60% less so-called delayed neutrons than

U-235 fission. Delayed neutrons are not directly created

during the fission of uranium, but from some short-lived

decay products. Only due to the existence of delayed

neutrons, a nuclear reactor can be controlled, and the

bigger their share (for instance 0.6% with U-235), the

larger is the criticality range in which controllability is given

(this is called delayed criticality). Above this controllable

area (prompt criticality) a nuclear power excursion can

happen, like during the Chernobyl accident. The fact that

the delayed super-critical range is with U-233 considerably

smaller than with U-235, is from a safety point of view an

important technical disadvantage of thorium use.

During the design of thermal molten salt reactors (breeders),

the conclusion was that the use of thorium brings problems

with criticality safety that do not appear with classical

uranium use in this type of reactors. For that reason, it was

necessary to turn the attention to fast reactors for the use

of thorium in molten salt reactors. Although this conclusion

cannot be generalised, it shows that the use of thorium can

lead to increased safety problems.

As mentioned, a serious safety problem is the necessity to

restart breeder and reprocessing technology with thorium.

Thorium is often advertised in relation to the development

of so-called advanced reactors (Generation IV). The

safety advantages attributed to thorium in this context are

mostly, however, not germane to thorium (the fuel) but

rather due to the reactor concept. Whether or not these

advanced reactor concepts bring overall increased safety

falls outside the scope of this article, but that is certainly

not a question with a clear “yes” as the answer.


March 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety, spinbuster, thorium | Leave a comment

Thorium reactors – NOT a solution to nuclear waste problem

Dispelling Claim 5: Thorium decreases the waste problem  

Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

Thorium use delivers virtually the same fission products

as classical uranium use. That is also true for those

isotopes that are important in issues around long-term

disposal.  Those mobile long-lived fission products

(I-129, Tc-99, etc.) determine the risk of a deep geological

disposal when water intrusion is the main triggering event

for accidents. Thorium therefore does not deliver an

improvement for final disposal.

Proponents of thorium argue that thorium use does not

produce minor actinides (MA)5, nor plutonium. They argue

that these nuclides are highly toxic (which is correct) and

they compare only the pure toxicity by intake into the body

for thorium and uranium use, without taking into account

that these actinides are hardly mobile in final disposal

even in accidents.


March 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster, thorium, wastes | Leave a comment

The Thorium lobby – religious fervour in attacking critics of the nuclear industry

Thorium Church: a trojan horse in the “green” movements. Here the Removal Tool.   How do I know if my preferred “green” organization, or group, or leader… is infected by the ‘thorium church’ trojan horse?”. How to protect yourself from malicious propaganda of Thorium Church or from related compromised group or organizations. nonukes Italy, By Massimo Greco (June 2015)

What are trojan horses?

Trojan horses, otherwise known as trojans, are programs or applications that are inadvertently opened by the user, who expects the file to be something else..  by the same way “thorium supporters” are infecting forums, mailing list, debacts and environmental organizations.

It’s a strategy that is working in progress from some year. In few years they infected large part of the web. 

Like any malware, thorium’s priests are insinuated through any open space or open port .. and they are able to act at different levels. Mutating depending on the circumstances, improvising them selves as technicians or economists with the sole purpose of creating deviationism which in practice consists of annoying redirect to their cause that is regularly touted as a “green” solution or, even, “pacifist” or as a miraculous solution for the “salvation of the climate”.

Their function is aggressive, especially when you try to contradict them. Continue reading


March 2, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, thorium | 1 Comment

Scan your environmental group for “thorium troll” infection

 nonukes Italy, By Massimo Greco (June 2015) “How do I know if my preferred “green” organization, or group, or leader… is infected by the ‘thorium church’ trojan horse?”

“……..Scanning and Removal, First check if the leader or “group leader” you are referring knows the problem of thorium, whether it has never taken a position on it. If the answer is “I do not know the problem” or “what you’re talking about,” you have the first certainty that your organization or target group is NOT protected.

If the answer is: “It is not a problem that concerns us”, “there is no matter in our topic or with antinuclear matter or uranium …”, or even worse … “nuclear thorium could be a clean way but the NWO prevents “… then you have the most certain that your group or environmental organization is terribly infected and that the leader is highly compromised.

If you are doing this survey “in public”, in a forum related to your organization reference, and after posting these sacrosanct questions and you are reproached or assaulted without causing or leading an intervention by the “admin” able to defend you, that’s another proof that your organization, or environmental group, results hugely infected.

You can also do a very easy search to see if the “admin” or the “most active” subjects are related to pro-thorium forums or registered as supporters of fan in groups offering thorium as a “savior” or “green”, especially when you attend to spam and suspicious behavior in the forums or social networks. You can do the same search about chemtrails or “HAARP” deviationism. As better Explained before, Thorium Church used very much the conspiracy decoy in order to mislead, confused and make it weak, vulnerable and unpractical environmental movements.

How to protect yourself from malicious propaganda of Thorium Church or from related compromised group or organizations.

If, as explained above, your reference group or environmental organization is infected: leave the group. This way you will avoid being accomplices. Thou hast tried, you have already taken the necessary steps. You’re not responsible. You have tried to change things.

If you are a “leader” or admin of a forum, or group… or green or environmental organization, you have to eject such people before they get completely the control of any topic. You have the duty to eject these individuals, without any hesitation of “democracy” and “freedom of confusion”… Because they, in the spaces controlled by the Thorium Church, do not allow you ever to contradict them and erase systematically, as their typical practice, anything that might cast doubt on their truth or propaganda. And, in any case, as admin or “leader” you have a duty to treat these subjects like any nuclearist that want to provoke discussion on the space that you are owning, or controlling.

If you are owning a youtube channel or any social page on social networks and you want to get protection from the thorium worm.. specially concerning antinuclear or environmental documents:

Simply “turn off” the option about “free comments” and choice comments under authorization or moderate. If you are admin of social pages delete their worms (spamming) and eject the vehicle of infection (for the reasons better explained before).

“How can I become active against cultural damages of pro-nuclear business propaganda of the Thorium Church?”

Ofcourse there are many different ways. Remember that pro-nuclear lobbies are pushing for the “new generation of nuclear power”, that means not only tradicional way of uranium. In fact they are talking about “nuclear of future”. So, “green”, environmentalist organizations, antinuclear people need to look about future strategies of the lobbies and not only to the past or the temporary, local, contingencies.

In recent years many antinuclear resources and internationally famous have taken a position on thorium. Just think about documents released by Bellona, Beyond Nuclear or to the Excellent article from Bob Alvarez on why thorium is not the wonder fuel it’s being promoted as and a brief history of the US’s persistent failure in making thorium safe or efficient ending with the expected trail of dangerous, weaponizable, waste… or the position of Helen Caldicott, violently attacked by the priests of the Thorium Church with a lot of insults like at the time of the “Scarlet Letter”…

[Dr. Arjun Makhijani on the downsides of the proposed thorium reactors (by Dr. Helen Caldicott)]

So it’s important to diffuse all the events, documents and positions, everywhere is possible, in order to counteract the mala information and debunking thorium commercials spot on the net.

To start an international and active support of the antinuclear movement in Indonesia, Malaysia, specially concerning the mobilization around Lynas, Koodankulam and any Rare Earth opposition in the West Asia. Promoting an active “UPGRADE” of all the antinuclear organizations.

Not only. You can help also supporting all the RNA spaces. Like this. For a new “NoThorium” activism. RNA was the first organization that started activism against thorium in Italy and in Paris. And at this moment has and diffuses the most rich archive of documents against thorium.

Better active today than radioactive tomorrow


March 2, 2018 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, thorium | Leave a comment

Some of the problems with thorium nuclear reactors

Disadvantages of thorium reactors:  High start-up costs: Huge investments are needed for thorium nuclear power reactor, as it requires significant amount of testing, analysis and licensing work. Also, there is uncertainty over returns on the investments in these reactors. For utilities, this factor can weigh on the decisions to go ahead with plans to deploy the reactors. The reactors also involve high fuel fabrication and reprocessing costs.

High melting point of thorium oxide: As melting point of thorium oxide is much higher compared to that of uranium oxide, high temperatures are needed to make high density ThO2 and ThO2–based mixed oxide fuels. The fuel in nuclear fission reactors is usually based on the metal oxide.

Emission of gamma rays: Presence of Uranium-232 in irradiated thorium or thorium based fuels in large amounts is one of the major disadvantages of thorium nuclear power reactors. It can result in significant emissions of gamma rays.


February 17, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, thorium | Leave a comment

“Make A Change World” – brothers work to clean up polluted superfund sites

These Brothers Are Cleaning Up Waterways Where The EPA Has Failed, ZACH JOHNSTON, LIFE WRITER01., 17.18 
Environmental pollution from industry abuse and human negligence feels like it’s part of another era — especially if you live in America. For many of us, it all feels like something that happens elsewhere and not in our own backyards. While we have made great strides in fighting against industrial pollution since President Nixon founded the EPA, there have been numerous regressions and disasters along the way. Sometimes, it’s right under our noses.

Brothers Sam and Gary Bencheghib have taken matters into their own hands. When they moved to Brooklyn, they were shocked to find several of the country’s most polluted waterways weren’t a country away but, literally, in their own backyards. For the earth-loving duo, it was a call to action.

The brothers — along with millions of residents in Queens and Brooklyn — live within a stone’s throw of three Superfund sites. Those are the places the EPA deems so polluted, toxic, or destroyed by a natural disaster that a fund has to be set up to clean up the area as quickly as possible. Among these, Newtown Creek is considered one of the most polluted spots in all of the United States. This is thanks to over a century of industrial waste being spewed into the river, raw sewage still being pumped into the waterway every day, and a semi-continual oil spill that’s seen 30 million gallons spilled into the water.

Add in the usual plastic waste that’s clogging our waterways and you have an American river that’s bafflingly poisoned.

The Gowan Canal is similarly toxic. The freshwater stream has been used for shipping of waster and toxic materials for so long that if you were to fall into the water, you’d have to be rushed to a hospital for decontamination procedures. Drinking the water would risk dysentery, arsenic poisoning, and, eventually, cancer.

The Bencheghib brothers know they cannot clean this up all by themselves. Their task is to bring awareness to the sites through their work with Make A Change World. The group aims to directly involve the average person is cleaning up the messes we’re making around the world — through an overuse of plastics and the under-regulated waste from industry.
Currently, “the bros” are focusing on their own backyard in Brooklyn, by highlighting the Superfund sites of Newtown Creek and Gowan Canal. These two sites are both earmarked for clean up operations to begin, but the process is slow and faces hurdles. Meanwhile, the current White House leadership plans to cut $327 million out of the EPA’s Superfund budget and has forbidden the EPA from speaking with citizens.

Luckily, the administration’s disinterest in the environment won’t have drastic effects on the clean up of Newtown Creek and Gowan Canal, as those sites have responsible parties who have been tasked with funding the lion’s share of the cleanup costs. WNYC reported back in November that the six major polluters of Newtown Creek were identified along with the 30 polluters of Gowan Canal. This means, hopefully, the cleanups will go forward unhindered.

Just down the street from Newtown and Gowan is a site called Wolff-Alport. This was the site of an earth metals extraction facility that shuttered in the 1950s. One of their extractions was the radioactive element thorium. That process has made the Wolf-Alport site the most radioactive spot in New York City. Since the company responsible for the radioactive pollution went out of business over 70 years ago, there’s no one to fine and, thereby, collect the funds to clean up the site. The whole tab falls on the shoulders of the EPA’s Superfund budget. WNYC talked to the EPA and they have an estimated cost of $39.9 million to clean up this radioactive site. Currently, there’s $650,000 in the account designated for that job. The acting deputy regional administrator for EPA said bluntly of the site that “What we do know is that people are actually being exposed.”

It would seem to reason that radioactive exposure to the citizens of New York would be a little higher on the list of sites the EPA and local, state, and the federal government would be rushing to clean up. That’s where Make A Change World comes in. 75 years is too long to wait for a radioactive, oil-soaked, or just plain toxic site to be cleaned up. Like the Bencheghib brothers, it’s time to take action in our backyards, in the voting booths, and in how we live our lives.


January 19, 2018 Posted by | environment, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

America’s toxic Superfund sites to be ignored, as Pruitt cuts EPA funding?

Batavick: EPA cuts will have real consequences, Frank BatavickContact Reporter

 I received an email on Dec. 25 from a high school and college friend informing me that his kidney cancer had spread to his bones and that he was now in hospice.

Since we were mostly a close bunch in high school — just 128 grads in 1963 — I thought it appropriate to share my friend’s sad news with other classmates and ask for their good thoughts and prayers. Just 12 days later, my friend’s sister contacted me and said he had died peacefully at home. I relayed this sorrowful update to the class.

Among the responders was a classmate who told me that he and my now-departed friend, as well as other kids from the neighborhood, were all regular playmates. Their “playground” in this blue-collar city on the Delaware River was a swampy landfill that was once the location of a gas mantle factory from the 1890s through the 1940s. Gas mantles were small mesh socks coated with radium and thorium that covered a lamp’s gas jet. When ignited, they brightly illuminated America’s streets and houses before electrification.

Today the mantle factory’s former setting is a Superfund site, as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1996. The feds have spent more than $350 million ridding the area and adjacent locales of hazardous wastes, including that deadly radium and thorium. As these elements decay, they give off gamma radiation and radon gas, both proven carcinogens.

The sensible reaction to this horror story would be to double our efforts to protect the environment so today’s and tomorrow’s kids won’t suffer the same horrible fate as these afflicted adults. But then we don’t live in sensible times.Under EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency is slowly being dismantled. He and President Donald Trump have already canceled or overridden some key environmental regulations on coal waste and vehicle emissions, and the 2018 appropriations bill cuts the EPA’s budget for the Superfund program and climate change research.

Pruitt is on record denying the existence of global warming and, as a result of his staff’s disgust with his beliefs and a federal job freeze and buy-outs, more than 700 employees — 200 or more of them scientists — have left the agency in the last year. According to the union representing EPA staff, Pruitt’s ultimate goal is to cut “at least 3,100 full-time employees.”

Will this make our environment safer? Better yet, do you pack apples in your kids’ lunches? Last February, Pruitt withdrew a proposed ban on pesticides containing chlorpyrifos, used on apples, oranges and cherries across the country. This was despite the EPA’s own scientists, supported by the 66,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics, arguing that even low exposure levels to chlorpyrifos during early childhood increases the risk of learning disabilities, including reduced IQ and developmental delay, and behavioral problems, like ADHD. For expectant and new mothers, the agency’s scientists concluded that even the smallest amounts of the chemical can impact the brain development of fetuses and infants.

Chlorpyrifos are considered so toxic that their use has been banned in homes, schools, day care facilities, parks, hospitals, nursing homes and malls since 2000. But Pruitt says they are OK for your fruit bowl. The pesticide has also proven hazardous to farmworkers and approximately 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.

A not-so-much fun fact is that Dow Chemical, the manufacturer of Lorsban which contains chlorpyrifos, underwrote President Trump’s inaugural parties to the tune of $1 million. Draw your own conclusions.

As things go, it’s not an especially big leap from a toxic playground in New Jersey in 1955 to an apple orchard in Maryland in 2018. The difference is that today we are supposed to be more discerning because some of us have reaped a sad harvest of family and friends who didn’t know a Superfund from Superman when they were growing up.

So what lessons have we learned? For me it is the undying power of greed — the greed that once caused a company to bury its toxic wastes instead of properly disposing of them, and the greed evinced by the current administration that’s at the beck and call of its corporate benefactors, whether they produce energy or chemicals. This hasn’t changed over the years, even when the guinea pigs are our own sons and daughters.

Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at


January 19, 2018 Posted by | environment, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

ISIS supporters in Malaysia, and plans to make a “dirty bomb”

The militants had hoped to transform low-grade radioactive Thorium 232 (Th-232) into deadly Uranium 233 (U-233). When combined with powerful home-made explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the concoction can create a “nuclear bomb”, according to an instruction manual used by the militants and reviewed by Reuters.

IS supporters in Malaysia may build bombs with radioactive materials,  Today online 02 JANUARY, 2018, KUALA LUMPUR — Fears are growing that fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group, including their sympathisers in Malaysia, may attempt to build bombs using radioactive materials.

This concern is especially real as the Malaysian police have recorded no less than 20 cases involving radioactive and nuclear materials which have “gone missing” over recent years.While some may have been retrieved, the whereabouts of many others remain unknown.

Perturbed by the combination of “missing radioactive goods and IS”, sources in security agencies said it was crucial for the counter-terrorism division to aggressively trace the missing radioactive materials.Normally, these cases will be investigated by the police’s Criminal Investigation Department. However, it should not be treated as a usual case of theft,” the sources said.

“There is a need to trace who the perpetrators are, their background, contacts and find out their motives. These are all vital information that must be cross-checked to ensure that these dangerous materials do not fall into the wrong hands.”

The sources also warned that terrorists might make use of radioactive and nuclear materials which had not been categorised as “controlled items”.

“There are two groups of radioactive and nuclear materials: those which are controlled and monitored by the authorities, and the others that we cannot control as they are stolen or improperly disposed off.”

Concerns about security threats in South-east Asia intensified when Indonesian security forces recently foiled an attempt by militants to detonate a dirty bomb.A dirty bomb is a conventional bomb that contains radioactive material.

The plot was foiled when police raided homes and arrested five suspects in Bandung, West Java in August last year. After the raids, police spoke of a plan to explode a “chemical” bomb but provided no other details.

The militants had hoped to transform low-grade radioactive Thorium 232 (Th-232) into deadly Uranium 233 (U-233). When combined with powerful home-made explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the concoction can create a “nuclear bomb”, according to an instruction manual used by the militants and reviewed by Reuters.

Malaysia has been on high alert since gunmen linked to the IS launched multiple attacks in Jakarta in January 2016 and has arrested hundreds of people over the past few years for suspected links to militant groups, and has arrested hundreds of people over the past few years for suspected links to militant groups.

Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Hamrah Mohd Ali cautioned the authorities against underestimating terrorists’ knowledge and capabilities in utilising radioactive and nuclear materials to produce dirty bombs.

He said his agency had, several times, found abandoned radioactive materials with unclear origins and purpose…….


January 3, 2018 Posted by | Malaysia, thorium, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Concern in Malaysia over radioactive thorium and uranium in building materials

No Inspections At Construction Sites Without Strong Proof Of Radioactive Readings: Mosti, Malaysian Digest, 02 January 2018 , KUALA LUMPUR: Inspections at construction sites will not be carried out until there is strong proof of elevated readings on radioactivity content in building materials……..

Nuclear and radiation experts yesterday had cautioned the public over potential hazards posed by naturally-occurring radioactive elements in construction materials.

Commonly found in materials naturally sourced from earth, uranium and thorium are Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) often found in bricks, cement blocks, granite, marble or glazed tiles used in the construction of homes.

The two elements (uranium and thorium) undergo a natural decaying process to form other harmful elements and emit several types of radiation, particularly alpha, beta or gamma rays.

Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Hamrah Mohd Ali previously said a statement that excessive exposure to these rays could damage human tissue and cells, and cause health issues or death.

He said apart from the dangers of being exposed to lethal radiation, uranium and thorium also produced radon and thoron, which are also lethal gases……

If concern arises with regards to radioactivity in any areas across the nation, Mosti advised the public to contact AELB so that further measures can be taken immediately.


January 3, 2018 Posted by | Malaysia, thorium | Leave a comment

Thorium radioactively contaminated soil will not be going to landfill

Soil from Luckey clean-up project not going to local landfill, The Press by Larry Limpf, November 10, 2017  At least one waste stream from the clean-up project at the former Brush Beryllium plant site near the Village of Luckey won’t be disposed at the Evergreen landfill in Northwood

        In a project update, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would not dispose of soils from the plant site at the landfill, which is operated by Waste Management.

        Arleen K. Kreusch, a spokesperson for the Corps’ environmental project management team, said the decision was made after a “thorough evaluation.”

        The Evergreen facility was one of two disposal sites the Corps had been considering for disposal as soils and other contaminated materials are removed during the project; the other site, the U.S. Ecology Wayne Disposal Facility, Belleville, Mich., received approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to receive soils.

        Kreusch said some soil and materials have already been transported to the Michigan facility…….

 The site is a former beryllium production facility the Atomic Energy Commission operated in the 1950s as part of the national defense program.

        The Corps has identified soils contaminated with beryllium, lead, radium-226, thorium-230, uranium-234 and uranium-238 for removal.

        The 40-acre L-shaped parcel includes several trenches, lagoons and waste areas where solutions and sludge from the operation were stored, as well as manufacturing facilities, warehouses and utility buildings.

Forum cancelled

        A public forum scheduled for Nov. 14 to discuss the clean-up project has been cancelled. The forum was to be held in the auditorium at the Northwood schools complex but was cancelled by Mayor Ed Schimmel.


November 10, 2017 Posted by | thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Costly task to clean up New York’s highly radioactive thorium contaminated site

Trump’s E.P.A. Pledges to Clean Up NYC’s ‘Most Radioactive Site’ – But Funding Is in Question WNYC News, Nov 6, 2017, By Sarah Stein Kerr and Annie Nova

The Trump administration is taking on its first Superfund cleanup in New York City – that is, assuming it has the money.

Last month, a $40 million plan to remediate a radioactive site in Queens where highly toxic materials were once poured into city sewers was unveiled by local officials of the Environmental Protection Agency. Known as Wolff-Alport for the chemical firm that was once located there, the site sits on an industrial stretch in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens. About three-quarters of an acre in size, the site currently houses a deli, an auto-shop and four other businesses. The E.P.A. counts a public school, a bar and some 300 residences within the site’s immediate vicinity.

Wolff-Alport, the newest of the city’s three designated Superfunds, was added to the E.P.A.’s Superfund priority list in 2014. The move came after surveys identified radioactivity throughout the property, including below public sidewalks and streets and in nearby sewers.

Going after such sites has been declared a priority for new E.P.A. administrator Scott Pruitt, a former attorney general of Oklahoma whose views on the environment make him one of the President’s most controversial appointees. Before assuming the post, Pruitt sued the agency repeatedly and still maintains that climate change is not the result of human activity.

But if he’s a climate change doubter, Pruitt has proclaimed himself a Superfund believer. In a memo this summer, Pruitt wrote: “My goal as Administrator is to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s core mission.”

Judith Enck, former regional E.P.A. administrator for New York who pushed to get Wolff-Alport on the Superfund list, said she remains skeptical of Pruitt’s public declarations in support of cleaning up these hazardous waste sites.

“You can’t be the E.P.A. administrator and not stand for anything,” Enck said. “So he’s latched on to Superfunds. But at the same time, he’s cutting the budget, so it kind of rings hollow.”

President Donald J. Trump has proposed cutting $327 million – or around a third – of the nation’s annual Superfund budget. At the same time, Pruitt is also seeking to end the E.P.A.’s financial support to the Department of Justice, which holds the polluters of these hazardous waste sites accountable.

Regardless, spokeswoman for the E.P.A Tayler Covington, said that the agency is committed to cleaning up Wolff-Alport.

“There are no plans to change any of the cleanups for the three New York City Superfund sites,” said Covington. “We are in the budgetary process and final funding levels will not be settled until Congress acts.”

But experts on the Superfund program contend that even the current funding levels are still well below what is needed to clean up the nation’s many contaminated sites.

The E.P.A. announced the cleanup plan for Wolff-Alport in late September. The site’s remediation calls for all tenants to be permanently relocated, all buildings to be demolished and sewers to be replaced. The contaminated soil will be transported to a waste landfill.

All told, the cleanup will cost $39.9 million. But exactly where those funds will come from remains a question.

The E.P.A. maintains an account for each Superfund site in which money allocated for the cleanup is held. The Wolff-Alport-designated bank account currently holds just a little over $650,000, Thomas Mongelli, E.P.A. project manager of the site, told WNYC.

Usually, it’s the original polluters who are responsible for picking up the tab for cleanups. At Newtown Creek, a heavily polluted waterway that borders Brooklyn and Queens, six potentially responsible polluters have been identified. The Gowanus Canal in southern Brooklyn has more than 30 known polluters. Wolff-Alport, on the other hand, is considered in E.P.A. terminology an “orphan,” which means that the original polluter is defunct and can’t be relied upon for payment.

“There is a good chance that most of this money is going to need to come from the federal Superfund program and federal Superfund is running on fumes,” Enck said.

Beginning in the 1980s, a tax on Superfund polluters amassed funds for cleanup in a trust account. But that provision expired around 1995, and the account has since languished. Although there are no official estimates of the cost to clean up all of the country’s polluted sites, Kate Probst, author of a report to Congress, “Superfund’s Future: What Will It Cost?,” said the $280 million account balance is woefully insufficient.

Although annual congressional appropriations for Superfunds were meant to compensate for the trust account’s decline, these appropriations have also steadily dwindled. Federal contributions for Superfund cleanup have fallen from $2.1 billion in 1999, to an annual budget of $1.2 billion by 2013, according to the Office of Government Accountability.

This shortfall has stunted the cleanup work at the nation’s most contaminated sites,   Probst said. “If they had more money, they probably would have cleaned up more sites, or gotten construction completed on more sites. We know the number of cleanups are slowing,” she said, adding that she expects there will be more disruptions due to the funding shortages. “That is the tip of the iceberg,” Probst said.

City officials are also worried that the feds may be low-balling the costs of cleaning up Wolff-Alport. In an August letter to the E.P.A., Haley Stein, a lawyer with the  city’s law department, stated that the city “believes that E.P.A. significantly underestimates the cost and feasibility of implementing its preferred alternative.”

City officials declined to detail the reasons for their skepticism.

At an E.P.A. meeting about the site in Queens this summer, a handful of residents also expressed concerns about the Trump administration’s plan to cut the Superfund budget and how that would affect Wolff-Alport’s cleanup.

Walter Mugdan, acting deputy regional administrator for E.P.A. region 2, was frank in his response.

“Do I know how this site will rank against others? I don’t,” Mugdan told residents, according to a transcript of the meeting. “But I do know radioactive materials are [a] serious concern and what we do know is that people are actually being exposed.”

Indeed, The New Yorker, citing government findings, dubbed Wolff-Alport, “The most radioactive place in New York City,” in a 2014 video storywhich recounts the site’s fascinating history.

In the 1920s,  business partners Harry Wolff and Max Alport founded the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company. At the factory, workers processed monazite sand to extract rare earth metals – a highly toxic procedure. By the 1940s, the Atomic Energy Commission, the successor of the Manhattan Project, started buying radioactive thorium from the site. In the 1950s, the factory shuttered.

Norman Kleiman, director of the Eye Radiation and Environmental Research Laboratory at Columbia University, said the E.P.A. had an obligation to clean up the site. Radiation there is “well above the average terrestrial exposure even in New York City,” Kleinman told WNYC.

“People are especially concerned about exposure,” Kleinman added, “and from a public policy and public health point of view, it’s important to allay fear.”

He said risks to passersby and casual visitors to the site are likely minimal, however. “We get radiation from the sun, from the stars, so we live and are bathed in a radioactive world,”Kleinman said.

But for those who labor at the site everyday, the risks associated with Wolff-Alport’s radiation are higher…….


November 8, 2017 Posted by | environment, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Tamil Nadu: Union Ministry of Environment now allowing mining of thorium, uranium, in ecologically sensitive CRZ areas

Greed for atomic minerals to leave Tamil Nadu in peril, INDIAN EXPRESS, By Sv Krishna Chaitanya & Sushmitha Ramakrishnan  |  Express News Service   13th October 2017  CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has been the biggest victim of illegal beach sand mining in the country. As per the report submitted recently by senior lawyer and rights activist V Suresh, appointed as amicus curiae by Madras High Court in the case relating to illegalities in mining of beach sand minerals in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari, out of 1.5 crore  tonnes of raw sand mined between 2000 and 2017, 57 per cent had been mined illegally.

Now, the latest “horrific” amendment, as activists call it, to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 by Union Ministry of Environment, allowing mining of atomic minerals like uranium, thorium or titanium in ecologically sensitive CRZ areas, irrespective of whether they are available in non-CRZ areas or not, is only going to deliver a telling blow on the already under-stress Tamil Nadu coast.

As per the study titled “Coastal Mineral Mapping” done by researchers in Institute of Ocean Management (IOM) in Anna University, it is revealed that Tamil Nadu arguably has highest concentration of Monazite deposits in the country along its coastline that spans over 1,076 km. Monazite, an atomic mineral, contains 8-10 percent thorium, which is a nuclear fuel. This was India’s first exhaustive attempt to map and record all the natural minerals available, done is tandem with Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) of Department of Atomic Energy and funded by Environment Ministry. The beach sands of India — especially in Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh — are rich in several heavy minerals such as ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, garnet, sillimanite, zircon and monazite.

Supreme Court lawyer Ritwick Dutta, who is also the managing trustee of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, said the latest notification will compromise the integrity of the coast. “I can’t make sense of this notification. There is no consultation, there is no fixation on extraction of minerals. This will give a free run for miners to plunder India’s natural treasure. There is a pattern in what the Centre is doing. It is systematically weakening all the laws coming under Environment (Protection) Act, 1972. Firstly, construction projects were exempted from preparing EIA, later Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority was replaced with ‘toothless’ Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, where state authorities call the shots. Now, this mindless amendment to CRZ Notification, 2011.”………

Environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman says that Tamil Nadu has already been plundered violating CRZ norms. The intertidal, CRZ-1 areas were not spared even when there were laws. “Now, this is legitimising some of the wrongdoing done in the past and people have also lost their right to question the illegality.”

Environmental dangers

It’s not just the loss of precious minerals that should worry the States. Tampering of fragile coastline would also invite disasters like salt water intrusion,  qualitative and quantitative degradation of ground water……..

Health effects

While social and environmental consequences seem inevitable, Konstantine claimed that atomic mining has brought serious health complications to residents around the mines. “Since 1965, mining for radioactive minerals has been prominent in Kanniyakumari, particularly in Manavalakruchi. Studies in the neighbouring mines in Kollam have revealed that the effect of radiation has had a far reaching effect, up to 85 km,” he rued.

 He added that no comprehensive study has been brought to public forum about the health effects of these radiations. “The incidences of cancer has been rising over the decades and most victims from Manavalakuruchi and Midalam, approach the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram or the International Cancer Centre , by CSI Medical Mission at Neyyoor. “These cases are however are not mapped back to radioactivity,” he said claiming that the incidence of the disease is relatively lower the farther one lives from atomic mining areas……..

Alarm bells ringing

  • Activists say the resources could end up in foreign soil owing to lack of state-run companies’ expertise in handling such rare-earth minerals
  • Mining for radioactive minerals can contribute to cancer among those in the vicinity of the project
  • Tampering of fragile coastline would also invite disasters like salt water intrusion, leading to degradation of ground water. They say there are many areas in the State already battling such issues due to unscientific construction
  • Activities like coral mining, beach sand mining and other dredging activities are highly harmful and contribute to sea erosion

October 14, 2017 Posted by | environment, India, thorium | Leave a comment