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A nuclear bomb terrorist attack on New York – the sequence of events

What a nuclear attack in New York would look like This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like (picture of a somewhat rusting ordinary van) Ny Mag. 12 June 18 

If America is attacked, the strike probably won’t come from North Korea. And it will be even scarier than we imagine. …….

There are currently at least 2,000 tons of weapons-grade nuclear material stored in some 40 countries — enough to make more than 40,000 bombs approximately the size of the one that devastated Hiroshima. Stealing the material would be challenging but far from impossible. Russia stockpiles numerous bombs built before the use of electronic locks that disable the weapons in the event of tampering. Universities that handle uranium often have lax security. And insiders at military compounds sometimes steal radioactive material and sell it on the black market. Since 1993, there have been 762 known instances in which radioactive materials were lost or stolen, and more than 2,000 cases of trafficking and other criminal activities.
Once terrorists obtained the uranium, they would need only a small team of sympathetic engineers and physicists to build what is known as a gun-type nuclear bomb, like the one dropped on Hiroshima. A gun-type nuke uses traditional explosives to fire a slug of uranium through a tube directly into another chunk of uranium, fracturing huge numbers of atoms and unleashing a massive amount of energy. Compared to modern nuclear missiles, which are far more powerful and complex, constructing a crude gun-type nuke is fairly straightforward.  …..
The last step in the process — smuggling the weapon into the United States — would be even easier. A ten-kiloton bomb, which would release as much energy as 10,000 tons of TNT, would be only seven feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds. It would be simple to transport such a device to America aboard a container ship, just another unseen object in a giant metal box among millions of other metal boxes floating on the ocean. Even a moderate amount of shielding would be enough to hide its radioactive signature from most detectors at shipping hubs. Given all the naturally radioactive items that frequently trigger false alarms — bananas, ceramics, Brazil nuts, pet deodorizers — a terrorist group could even bury the bomb in bags of Fresh Step or Tidy Cats to fool inspectors if a security sensor was tripped.
In 1946, a senator asked J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who played a key role in the Manhattan Project, what instrument he would use to detect a nuclear bomb smuggled into the United States. Oppenheimer’s answer: “A screwdriver.” Amazingly, our detection systems have still not caught up to this threat: One would essentially have to open and visually inspect every single crate and container arriving on America’s shores. Once the container ship reached a port like Newark, terrorists would have no trouble loading the concealed bomb into the back of an unassuming white van and driving it through the Lincoln Tunnel directly into Times Square.

The Blast

One of the greatest misconceptions about nuclear bombs is that they annihilate everything in sight, leaving nothing but a barren flatland devoid of shape and life. In truth, the physical destruction inflicted by a nuclear explosion resembles that of a combined hurricane and firestorm of unprecedented proportion. Consider one example: A ten-kiloton nuclear bomb detonated on the ground in Times Square would explode with a white flash brighter than the sun. It would be seen for hundreds of miles, briefly blinding people as far away as Queens and Newark. In the same moment, a wave of searing heat would radiate outward from the explosion, followed by a massive fireball, the core of which would reach tens of millions of degrees, as hot as the center of the sun.

When such a bomb explodes, everyone within 100 feet of ground zero is instantaneously reduced to a spray of atoms. There are photos from Hiroshima and Nagasaki showing eerie silhouettes of people cast against a flat surface, such as a wall or floor. These are not, as is sometimes claimed, the remains of vaporized individuals, but rather a kind of morbid nuclear photograph. The heat of the nuclear explosion bleaches or darkens the background surface, except for the spot blocked by the person, leaving a corresponding outline. In some cases the heat released by the explosion will also burn the patterns of clothing onto people’s skin.

Near the center of the blast, the suffering and devastation most closely conform to the fictional apocalypse of our imaginations. This is what it would look like within a half-mile of Times Square: Few buildings would remain standing. Mountains of rubble would soar as high as 30 feet. As fires raged, smoke and ash would loft into the air. The New York Public Library’s stone guardians would be reduced to pebble and dust. Rockefeller Center would be an unrecognizable snarl of steel and concrete, its titanic statue of Prometheus — eight tons of bronze and plaster clad in gold  — completely incinerated. 

Within a half-mile radius of the blast, there would be few survivors. Those closest to the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have described the horrors they witnessed: People with ripped sheets of skin hanging from their bodies; people whose brains were visible through their shattered skulls; people with holes for eyes. Sakue Shimohira watched her mother’s charred body crumble into ash as she tried to wake her. Shigeko Sasamori’s father cut off the blackened husk of skin all over her face, revealing pools of pus beneath.

As the fireball travels outward from the blast, people, buildings, and trees within a one-mile radius would be severely burned or charred. Metal, fabric, plastic, and clay would ignite, melt, or blister. The intense heat would set gas lines, fuel tanks, and power lines on fire, and an electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion would knock out most computers, cell phones, and communication towers within several miles.

Traveling much farther than the fireball, a colossal pressure wave would hurtle forth faster than the speed of sound, generating winds up to 500 miles per hour. The shock wave would demolish the flimsiest buildings and strip the walls and roofs off stronger structures, leaving only their naked and warped scaffolding. It would snap utility poles like toothpicks and rip through trees, fling people through the air, and turn brick, glass, wood, and metal into deadly projectiles. A blast in Times Square, combined with the fireball, would carve a crater 50 feet deep at the center of the explosion. The shock wave would reach a diameter of nearly 3.2 miles, shattering windows as far as Gramercy Park and the American Museum of Natural History.

All this would happen within a few seconds.

From Van to Tsunami

Five different nukes, and what they would do if unleashed on Times Square.……….


June 20, 2018 Posted by | Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Robots the hope for cleaning up the world’s riskiest and massive nuclear waste storage pool, at Sellafield, UK.

Above – Sellafield’s massive Magnox nuclear waste storage pool

Only Cthulhu can solve Sellafield’s sludgy nuclear waste problem, Wired,    , 14 June 18 

Cleaning up Sellafield’s nuclear waste costs £1.9 billion a year. To help with the toxic task, robots are evolving fast.  Sellafield has been called the most dangerous place in the UK, the most hazardous place in Europe and the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site. At its heart is a giant pond full of radioactive sludge, strewn with broken metal, dead animals and deadly nuclear rods. The solution to clearing up Sellafield’s nuclear waste and retrieving the missing nuclear fuel? Robots, of course. And to tackle this mammoth task, the robots are being forced to evolve.

Sellafield’s First-Generation Magnox Storage Pond is a giant outdoor body of water that’s the same size as two Olympic swimming pools. It was built in the 1960s to store used fuel rods from the early Magnox reactors – which had magnesium alloy cladding on the fuel rods – as part of Britain’s booming nuclear program. In 1974, there was a delay in reprocessing; fuel rods started corroding and the pond became murky. The pool was active for 26 years until 1992 and is now finally being decommissioned as part of the £1.9 billion spent each year on Sellafield’s mammoth cleanup operation.

The pond contains about six metres of radioactive water and half a metre of sludge, composed of wind-blown dirt, bird droppings and algae – the usual debris that builds up in any open body of water. Unlike other mud, it conceals everything from dropped tools and bird carcasses to corroded Magnox cladding and the remains of uranium fuel rods.

A number of robotic creations have bee used to get to the bottom of the pool’s sludge but struggle to break through the hostile environment. Tethered swimming robots do not have the sensors to find objects in the fine mud, and lack the leverage to lift chunks of metal. Experience at Fukushima has shown robots that are not well adapted to the environment are a waste of time.

Enter Cthulhu, a tracked robot that can drive along the pond bed, feeling its way with tactile sensors and sonar. The robot, which is currently in development, is approaching Sellafield’s problem differently. The robot will be able to identify nuclear rods and then pick them up. “Rather than trying to mimic a human, we’re building a robot that can do things humans can’t do with senses that humans don’t have,” says Bob Hicks of QinetiQ, which is leading the project.

The name stands for ‘Collaborative Technology Hardened for Underwater and Littoral Hazardous Environment,’ but it’s also a nod to Cthulhu, the godlike alien created by HP Lovecraft: both are amphibious, dwell in strange surroundings, and have sensory feelers. “Much like a walrus detecting molluscs, we hope to be able to detect and identify objects in the sludge with the whiskers,” says Plamen Angelov of Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications.

QinetiQ is supplying the tracked body, originally from a bomb disposal robot, and Bristol Maritime Robotics is developing the tactile sensors, while Angelov’s team is providing the neural network AI. It is planned the robot will use deep learning to fuse tactile and sonar data into a single picture of the world. Existing neural networks can handle video data, and ‘image classifiers’ to distinguish objects are well-established. But nobody has tried to fuse data from different types of sensor before.

Cthulhu’s classifier will learn to divide objects into ‘fuel rods’ and ‘everything else’………

The work at Sellafield is due to take several decades to complete fully. Nuclear waste is spread through several buildings in a variety of silos and pools. Each has its own challenges for cleaning-up. For the First Generation Magnox Pond, documents from the government show all the bulk fuel should be removed by the early 2030s.

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Reference, technology, wastes | Leave a comment

Completely ignored in nuclear summit talks – the forgotten North Korean victims of 1945 atomic bombs

Trump–Kim: an agenda for forgotten nuclear victims, ps:// Interpreter, BY Lauren Richardson, @Lauren_ANU  14 June 18

Like most Korea observers, in the lead-up to the Trump–Kim summit I have been inundated with questions from journalists and friends alike. Does Kim Jong-un have any actual intention to denuclearise? Would Donald Trump settle for anything less than complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament (CVID) of North Korea’s nuclear program? Will North Korea’s human rights abuses be on the agenda? And, in that vein, will Trump raise the issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens?

There is, however, one question that no one is asking. And it is a crucial one.

What about the North Korean A-bomb victims, the only survivors of the US nuclear attacks on Japan, who have never had recourse to monetary redress? Will they be on the summit agenda?

The absence of this question in the summit discussions is unsurprising. North Koreans are the forgotten victims of the atomic bombs and represent a gap in global memory of nuclear issues. It is not commonly known that when the US dropped atomic bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945, roughly 10% of the victims of these attacks were of Korean descent.

Koreans were residing in the A-bomb target cities in large numbers under colonial auspices: in many cases they had been brought there against their will, forced to perform labour in Japan’s military industrial factories.

And it is a virtually unknown fact that when Koreans were repatriated to their newly divided homeland in the years following Japan’s surrender, approximately 2000 of the A-bomb survivors wound up north of the 38th parallel, suffering from the unrelenting effects of the radiation blast. Many of them are still alive and ailing today. In a further twist of fate, owing to the lack of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Tokyo, North Korean victims were precluded from financial assistance provided by the Japanese government to overseas A-bomb survivors, including South Koreans, in later decades. This was premised on a belief that “the money would likely never reach them”.

The plight of the North Koreans would never have come to light at all were it not for an activist named Lee Sil-gun. I have sat with Lee in Hiroshima on a number of occasions to interview him about his advocacy efforts. He was born in Japan in 1929 to Korean parents, and became an atomic bomb victim by virtue of exposure to residual radiation in Hiroshima.

In the post-war years, as the plight of A-bomb victims became politicised in Japan and the redress movement launched by South Korean victims gradually gained traction, he was dismayed to find that the voiceless North Koreans had been left out of the discourse:

I knew that there were victims in the North because I farewelled them at the port when they were shipped off from Japan after the Second World War.

Lee began embarking on annual visits to Pyongyang in the 1990s in an attempt to reach out to the victims there. He was supported in this endeavour by a small group of dedicated Japanese anti-nuclear activists.

They found the North Koreans in a terrible predicament: without recourse to adequate medical care, the victims were resorting to various primitive methods to treat their radiation-related maladies. They were burning sulphur, for instance, and using the smoke to sterilise recurrent wounds.

On discovering this, Lee and his supporters arranged a dispatch of Japanese medical practitioners to the DPRK to train local doctors in the treatment of A-bomb illness; they then organised a converse delegation of victims and doctors from North Korea to Japan, to respectively undergo treatment and be familiarised with advanced medical equipment.

North Korean officials were appreciative of and inspired by Lee’s efforts, and in 1997 issued him with an astonishing request. They asked Lee if he would organise a photo exhibition in North Korea depicting the destructive impact of nuclear weapons. Lee happily obliged, and this exhibit came to fruition two years later: 77 photos were displayed in the Grand People’s Study House in central Pyongyang from 13–18 August 1999.

I found a newspaper article about this event in an archive in Seoul. When I asked Lee how he managed to pull it off, he became choked with emotion. Through tears, he said:

I went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and asked if I could borrow some of their posters and photos. At first they were reluctant, but eventually they let them have them for a month. I was so happy.

Four reasons make plain why this issue should be part of the Trump–Kim summit and any ongoing US–DPRK talks.

First, for Trump to acknowledge North Korea’s long-ailing A-bomb victims would be the best way to set the scene for talks on denuclearisation. Consider Barack Obama’s playbook, for instance. When he made an historic visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in 2016, paying homage to the nuclear victims, it did wonders for US–Japan relations. Paying tribute to the North Korean victims at the summit would serve to frame the negotiations in such a way that Pyongyang was not the only party with adverse nuclear potential at the table.

Second, the issue of North Korean A-bomb victims would be a reminder that the devastating potential of nuclear weapons is embedded in the memory of North Korea. This should factor into Trump’s strategic calculus of Kim’s intentions for his nuclear program.

To be sure, Kim is young and did not experience first-hand the turmoil in Northeast in the aftermath of the US atomic bombings. But his grandfather did. And his own father permitted the efforts of activists from Japan to advocate on behalf of North Korean A-bomb victims – the same victims that live among Kim Jong-un’s populace today. Thus, if Trump does not manage to achieve the grand CVID bargain that he hopes for at the summit, he shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that Kim intends to use his nukes in the near future.

Third, any settlement regarding the “denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula should reasonably entail the establishment of a specialist treatment facility for A-bomb victims in the North. Two years ago, I visited a nursing home that offers round-the-clock treatment to the South Korean victims in Hapcheon County; the patients reported to me that they were still having tiny shards of glass surgically removed from their faces all these decades down the track.

While I don’t wish to suggest that the South Koreans are better off – in fact, they are still suffering immensely – the North Koreans have been left without any such facility. If the 1945 chapter of nuclear history has still not been settled, how can we expect to settle the current one with North Korea?

Lastly, raising the North Korean A-bomb victims issue would serve as a stark reminder at the summit that there is still only one government that has deployed nuclear weapons in conflict, and it is not Pyongyang. To the contrary, (the now) North and South Koreans were the collateral damage of that historic conflict, and many are still awaiting redress.

* This piece is based on a forthcoming journal article.

June 15, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The global problem of poisonous plutonium: Japan looks at its options

a minimum requirement for any form of political consent to onsite storage would be a clear commitment by the government to phase out all nuclear power by a fixed date, so that the final amount of waste can be determined and will not just keep growing, along with the burden on local people. 

CNIC Seminar report: The problems with Japan’s Plutonium: What are they and how do we deal with them?  Caitlin Stronell, CNIC BY CNIC_ENGLISH · JUNE 4, 2018  On April 20, CNIC organized a seminar with guest speaker Prof. Frank von Hippel, a nuclear physicist from Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, presenting alternative ways to dispose of spent fuel instead of reprocessing, as well as options for disposal of separated plutonium.  After this presentation of technical solutions, a panel discussion took place. Prof. Eiji Oguma, a historical sociologist from Keio University’s Faculty of Policy Management and a well-known commentator on the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear movement in Japan, pointed out the political barriers that must be overcome if any of these technical solutions were to be actually implemented, no matter how much more reasonable they may seem from economic and safety perspectives. CNIC’s General Secretary, Hajime Matsukubo was also on the panel and brought into the discussion the international implications of Japan’s plutonium policy including the US-Japan Nuclear Agreement.

June 11, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

Groups Release Key DOE Documents on Expanded Plutonium Pit Production, DOE Nuclear Weapons Plan Not Supported by Recent Congressional Actions  May 31, 2018 Contact Tom Clements, SRS Watch, 803.240.7268, Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch NM, 505.989.7342, c. 505.470.3154,

  Santa Fe, NM & Columbia, SC – Two key U.S. Department of Energy documents on future production of plutonium “pits” for nuclear weapons, not previously released to the public, fail to justify new and upgraded production facilities at both the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

The report reveals that the initial cost estimate for these new and upgraded facilities at both sites is $10 billion by 2030, and around $46 billion in total life cycle costs. Plutonium pits are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons. Cost overruns are the rule for major projects undertaken by the National Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency within DOE, so the costs are likely to rise yet more, according to Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Savannah River Site Watch.

NNSA’s Pu Pit Production Engineering Assessment, originally marked Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information, was finalized on April 20, 2018. The 293-page document was obtained by Nuclear Watch and is being released so that the public may be fully informed about the agency’s misguided pursuit of new plutonium pit production facilities for future new-design nuclear weapons. The new NNSA Administrator has called future plutonium pit production her highest priority. But the Engineering Assessment fails to answer the most crucial question: why are at least 80 plutonium pits per year needed to begin with?

As background, on May 10, 2018, NNSA announced in a one-page statement:

 To achieve DoD’s [Department of Defense] 80 pits per year requirement by 2030, NNSA’s recommended alternative repurposes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce plutonium pits while also maximizing pit production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. This two-prong approach – with at least 50 pits per year produced at Savannah River and at least 30 pits per year at Los Alamos – is the best way to manage the cost, schedule, and risk of such a vital undertaking.

Nuclear Watch also obtained NNSA’s 14-page Plutonium Pit Production Engineering Assessment (EA) Results. That summary document, dated May 2018, relied on the Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review for claiming the need for expanded plutonium pit production. However, that high-level review failed to state any concrete justification for the alleged pit need. Moreover, Congress is balking at funding any new pit production facilities at SRS, primarily because Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vociferously opposes repurposing the MOX facility, now undergoing termination, and the New Mexico congressional delegation opposes any pit production outside of the Los Alamos Lab.

The Engineering Assessment details that NNSA analyzed four pit production options, one in the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS and three options at Los Alamos. NNSA chose the most expensive combination, repurposing the MOX facility and increasing pit production at LANL to 30 pits per year. Los Alamos is currently authorized to produce 20 pits per year, but has failed to achieve even that because of ongoing nuclear criticality safety issues (moreover, LANL proposed to produce all 80 pits per year, which NNSA rejected). SRS has never produced pits, raising new nuclear risks at that site and concern about new waste streams.

The Engineering Assessment makes clear that “moderate risks” in the option of repurposing the MOX plant at SRS includes any failure to quickly terminate the MOX project, due to subsequent delays in closing out the project and terminating contracts. Likewise, the report affirms a longheld concern that there is a “very high probability for incomplete construction records/as-built drawings” for the MOX project. On May 10, DOE began congressionally sanctioned termination of the bungled MOX project, but it is being opposed in last-ditch, desperate attempts by Senator Lindsey Graham and the State of South Carolina. The Engineering Assessment makes explicitly clear that terminating the MOX program is the crucial prerequisite for plutonium pit production at SRS and that “some work [on repurposing the MOX plant] can be completed during MOX closeout,” contrary to both the wishes of Congress and requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Expanded plutonium pit production is NOT needed to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile, according to Nuclear Watch. In fact, no pit production for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile has been scheduled since 2011, and none is scheduled for the future. Up to 15,000 “excess” pits and another 5,000 in “strategic reserve” are already stored at DOE’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, TX. In 2006 independent experts found that pits last a least a century1 (they currently average 40 years old). A 2012 follow-on study by the Livermore Lab found that the “graceful aging of plutonium also reduces the immediate need for a modern highcapacity manufacturing facility to replace pits in the stockpile.” 2

 Future pit production is for speculative future new designs being pushed by the nuclear weapons labs, so-called Interoperable Warheads for both land- and sub-launched missiles that the Navy does not support. 3 Moreover, as the Engineering Assessment makes clear, future pits will NOT be exact replicas of existing pits. This could have serious potential consequences because heavily modified plutonium pits cannot be full-scale tested, or alternatively could prompt the U.S. to return to nuclear weapons testing, which would have severe international proliferation consequences.

The Engineering Assessment also explicitly links raising the administrative limit on plutonium at LANL’s “Rad Lab” to expanded pit production. This contradicts a recent draft environmental assessment in which NNSA claimed that re-categorizing the Rad Lab as a Hazard Category-3 nuclear facility was necessary only to maintain basic analytical chemistry capabilities, while omitting any reference whatsoever to expanded plutonium pit production.

The Engineering Assessment briefly outlines what could be a major vulnerability to NNSA’s pit production plans, that is the agency’s future compliance (or not) with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Assessment states that if “compliance is delayed, [this] extends the schedule, increases costs, and/or delays production.” Both Nuclear Watch and SRS Watch assert that the law requires that major federal proposals be subject to public review and comment before a formal decision is made. Arguably, a formal decision to raise production to 80 pits or more per year necessitates a new or supplemental nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), which the new dual-site decision strongly buttresses. Follow-on site-specific NEPA documents will then be necessary, with full public participation and hearings. All of this could introduce substantial delays to NNSA’s plutonium pit production plans.

“While it’s clear that the bungled MOX project is unworkable from technical and cost perspectives and must rapidly be terminated, there is no justification to convert the abandoned facility to a nuclear bomb production plant,” said Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch. “We agree that money must now be spent closing and securing the MOX building, but not on the new, unauthorized pit mission. Spending taxpayer funds to now begin conversion of the MOX plant to pit production, as is indicated in the pit report, is premature and can’t even be considered until Congress approves the NNSA approach for new facilities and an environmental impact review with public participation takes place,” added Clements.

Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch Director, commented, “NNSA has already tried four times to expand plutonium pit production, only to be defeated by citizen opposition and its own cost overruns and incompetence. We realize that this fifth attempt at a new pit plant is the most serious yet, but we remain confident it too will fall apart. The enormous financial and environmental costs of new nuclear bomb factories and the fact that expanded plutonium pit production is simply not needed for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile will doom this effort. We think the American public will reject new-design nuclear weapons, which is what this expanded pit production decision is really all about.”

June 4, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Terra Power’s Traveling Wave Nuclear Reactor sounds great – BUT!

TerraPower’s Nuclear Reactor Could Power the 21st Century. The traveling-wave reactor and other advanced reactor designs could solve our fossil fuel dependency IEEE Spectrum, By Michael Koziol  3 June 18,    “….  ..In a world defined by climate change, many experts hope that the electricity grid of the future will be powered entirely by solar, wind, and hydropower. Yet few expect that clean energy grid to manifest soon enough to bring about significant cuts in greenhouse gases within the next few decades. Solar- and wind-generated electricity are growing faster than any other category; nevertheless, together they accounted for less than 2 percent of the world’s primary energy consumption in 2015, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | China, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Hanford – the true heartland of America’s toxic nuclear mess

The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the U.S. Has Left a Huge Mess   The demand for atomic energy is in decline. But before the country can abandon its plants, there’s six decades of waste to deal with.  The Atlantic , FRED PEARCE,  

“………  The true heartland of America’s nuclear enterprise has always been Hanford. And it is the biggest and most toxic cleanup legacy too. Straddling the Columbia River, the Hanford nuclear reservation was America’s primary bomb-making factory. It was where they made the plutonium. At peak production, during the 1960s, its nine reactors irradiated 7,000 metric tons of uranium fuel annually. The intense radiation inside the reactors produced plutonium that was then extracted at five reprocessing plants. Hanford produced a total of 67 metric tons of the metal for the American arsenal, before business halted after the Cold War ended.Plutonium production was a huge task. It required much of the electricity generated at the giant Grand Coulee Dam upstream on the Columbia, the largest hydroelectric power producer in the United States. And the mess left behind is equally mind-boggling. Since production ceased, Hanford has been conducting the country’s largest-ever environmental cleanup program. The current expenditure is $2.3 billion a year. By the time it is done the bill will be more than $100 billion.

The site holds an estimated 25 million cubic feet of solid, radioactive waste. Much of it is buried in over 40 miles of trenches and tunnels, up to 24 feet deep, including the stretch that caved in last year. Elsewhere, there are two corroding cooling ponds, each the size of an Olympic swimming pool, containing some 2,000 tons of spent fuel that never got reprocessed.

But the headline Hanford problem is the 56 million gallons of acidic and highly radioactive liquids and sludges, stored in 177 giant tanks, each up to 75 feet in diameter. They are the solvent leftovers from reprocessing, and contain around twice the total radioactivity released from the world’s worst nuclear accident to date, the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power station in Ukraine.

The tanks have been leaking for over half a century. Around a million gallons are slowly spreading toward the Columbia River, in a plume of contaminated soil covering 80 square miles. Protecting the river and its rich salmon habitat from the radioactive pollution is the number-one cleanup priority for the site’s custodians at the Department of Energy. To head off the flows, engineers are constantly pumping out radioactive water.

A better idea is to stop the leaks at the source by emptying the tanks and solidifying the liquids. The current aim is to heat them with glass-forming materials to create solid blocks that could one day be buried deep underground—maybe at Yucca Mountain. Work on a plant to do this began in 2002. It is currently 25 years behind schedule. Operations are not set to begin until 2036 and, once underway, would take 40 years.

At $17 billion and counting, the project is way over budget. Former plant engineers who have turned whistle-blowers believe it won’t be fit for the job and should be abandoned. They warn of a serious risk that particles of plutonium may settle out in the plant processing tanks, creating the potential for an accidental explosion with a big release of radiation.

The task at Hanford grows ever more daunting. After almost three decades, little of the waste and few of the tanks or processing plants have been cleaned up. Far away in Washington, D.C., some question the continuing money sink. It seems to some like a 21st-century pork barrel. Perhaps, critics say, it would be better to put up a fence and walk away. President Trump, while so far publicly supporting the Hanford cleanup, may privately agree. He has slashed its annual budget by $230 million, or about 10 percent.

Local environmentalists are scandalized. “We have got to clean up the site,” says Dan Serres, the conservation director of Columbia Riverkeeper, a local NGO. The tanks should be emptied and the trenches dug up. “In a hundred years, I’d hope the Native Americans have their treaty rights to this land restored,” agrees Chuck Johnson, of Physicians for Social Responsibility. But Tom Carpenter, the executive director of Hanford Challenge, who sits on an advisory board at the Hanford Concerns Council, told me: “You are never going to dig all the waste there up.” The tanks will have to be dealt with, but “most of Hanford’s waste volume-wise is going to stay put. Hanford is going to be a national sacrifice zone for hundreds of years.”

This piece is adapted from Pearce’s new book, Fallout: Disasters, Lies, and the Legacy of the Nuclear Age.


May 30, 2018 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear veterans, damaged by radiation, deserve to be recognised as heroes

Because while science cannot be certain, common sense tells us why successive governments did not test these terrible new weapons in the skies over Britain. Yet for 60 years governments of every stripe denied, ignored or failed our nuclear heroes.

Tom Watson: Nuclear test veterans’ long battle for nation’s thanks is cruel shame A medal from the nation would go a long way to healing some of their wounds. ByTom Watson 29 MAY 2018 

Sixty years ago, Britain sent thousands of men to the middle of the South Pacific and ordered them to take part in one nuclear explosion after another.

Our National Servicemen went to Christmas Island and built a runway, a hospital, and officers’ mess. They put up tents, fuel tanks and refrigeration units. Then they were told to watch as RAF crews dropped hydrogen bombs, and they say the only care taken was to tell them to cover their eyes.

Thirty years ago those men got together and the Mirror told their stories: of leukaemia, rare cancers, miscarriages, birth defects. Of troubled wives and sick children. Of ground crew allegedly contaminated washing down the planes, Royal Engineers who fell sick after collecting bomb-damaged equipment, strapping navy stevedores suddenly struck down by ill health. They fought long court battles, to no avail.

Twenty years ago research from Durham University found evidence that 1 in 3 of the nuclear veterans had bone cancer or leukaemia, and that twice as many veterans had multiple myeloma than successive British governments had admitted.

Eleven years ago research in New Zealand showed survivors of British tests had the same rate of genetic damage as survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Ten years ago the Isle of Man Tynwald voted to give 8 of its residents, who were nuclear veterans, £6,000 each in recognition of their service. Five years ago those who still survived and their families marched – with walking sticks and wheelchairs – on Downing Street demanding recognition. Not money: just recognition.

Today, of the 22,000 who saw those tests, just 1,500 survive. I met one of them, a West Bromwich born-and-bred gentleman called John Ward, when he came to Parliament to see me. You can see the video of our chat on the Mirror website. I already knew a little of his story but was stunned to learn that in that powerful flash of light from the bomb’s explosion he saw the bones in his hands as though in an X-ray.

And it was incredibly moving to hear him talk of the troubles his family has suffered since. John went on to work for the Wolverhampton Express & Star, the Birmingham Post and later for the government itself in the Cabinet Office, but meanwhile his wife Margaret had difficult pregnancies and a miscarriage, John and his son Mark both recently had tumours removed from their kidneys, and his daughter Denise is, in his words, “a medical mess”.

What struck me about John was his bravery and dignity in the face of terrible experiences, and that he – quite wrongly – holds himself to blame. That because he was ordered into danger, he feels guilt for the problems suffered by his family. Nobody should have to bear that burden.

But there are not many people like John who feel that worry, because most have died. Thousands of men who were the fittest the British armed forces could find to take part in experiments vital to this nation’s future safety and security have passed away many years before they were expected to.

And still they cannot prove what, if anything, happened to them. The records of the time are missing or incomplete, science is simply unable to link genetic changes definitively to radiation from a bomb, and there are so few veterans left it is hard for scientists to find suitable subjects to help them find that silver bullet.

But there is, nevertheless, something we can do. And something we SHOULD do.

Because while science cannot be certain, common sense tells us why successive governments did not test these terrible new weapons in the skies over Britain. Yet for 60 years governments of every stripe denied, ignored or failed our nuclear heroes. We let people like John, and their families, feel ashamed of something that was never their fault. It is a stain on our nation’s record that for so long we asked these men for proof of what was done to them, when all most of them ever wanted was our thanks for doing it.

Now four survivors of those tests have returned to the Pacific proving grounds to bear witness once again. It has been 60 years since they helped Britain to do the improbable, and now it is time for us to repay that debt. Regardless of whether or not these men, or their children, have suffered ill effects as a result of the nuclear tests it is time the nation honoured their service. A medal from the nation would go a long way to healing some of their wounds.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Fort St. Vrain spent nuclear fuel store – just another example of America’s stranded radioactive waste dumps

The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the U.S. Has Left a Huge Mess   The demand for atomic energy is in decline. But before the country can abandon its plants, there’s six decades of waste to deal with.  The Atlantic FRED PEARCE, 

“……..  About 30 miles northeast of Rocky Flats, out on the prairie near the small town of Platteville, is the Fort St. Vrain spent-fuel store. It resembles nothing so much as an outsize grain store, but since the 1990s it has been holding 1,400 spent fuel rods, laced with plutonium and encased in blocks of graphite. The spent fuel was left behind when the neighboring nuclear power plant shut. The plan had been to send it to another temporary store at the Idaho National Laboratory, but the governor of Idaho banned the shipment. The Fort St. Vrain facility is designed to withstand earthquakes, tornado winds of up to 360 miles per hour, and flooding six feet deep. Also time. It will be several decades at least before the federal government finds the fuel a final resting place.
The country is littered with such caches of spent fuel stuck in limbo. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel, the most dangerous of all nuclear wastes, is stored at 80 sites in 35 states. The sites include stores at past and present power plants such as Maine Yankee, and stand-alone federal sites such as Fort St. Vrain. As the GAO puts it: “After spending decades and billions of dollars … the future prospects for permanent disposal remain unclear.” Nobody wants to give the stuff a forever home.

Nuclear waste is conventionally categorized as high-, intermediate-, or low-level. Low-level waste includes everything from discarded protective clothing to plant equipment and lab waste. It can usually be treated like any other hazardous waste, which in practice usually means burial in drums in landfills or concrete-lined trenches.

Intermediate waste contains radioactive materials with isotopes that decay with half-lives long enough to require long-term incarceration. It includes many reactor components, as well as chemical sludges and liquids from processing radioactive materials, which can often be solidified in concrete blocks. Once solid, intermediate waste can be buried safely in shallow graves, though anything containing plutonium will have to be disposed of deep underground because of the very long half-life.

Much of America’s intermediate-level waste will end up at the country’s largest deep-burial site for such radioactive material. The U.S. military’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in salt beds near Carlsbad, New Mexico, could eventually take 6.2 million cubic feet of waste. But it has had problems that have slowed progress and raised questions about its viability.

A chemical explosion in 2014 sprayed the tunnels dug into the salt beds with a white, radioactive foam. When a ventilation filter failed, some of the plutonium reached the surface, where at least 17 surface workers were contaminated. The military shut the tunnels for three years to clean up. While WIPP is today back in business, full operations cannot resume until a new ventilation system is in place, probably in 2021. The eventual cost of the accident, including keeping the dump open longer to catch up with the waste backlog, has been put at $2 billion.

High-level waste is the nastiest stuff. It includes all spent fuel and a range of highly radioactive waste liquids produced when spent fuel is reprocessed, a chemical treatment that extracts the plutonium. Most of America’s high-level waste liquids—and around 30 percent of the world’s total—are in tanks at Hanford.

High-level waste is either very radioactive and will stay so for a long time, or it generates heat and so requires keeping cool. Usually both. It accounts for more than 95 percent of all the radioactivity in America’s nuclear waste, and needs to be kept out of harm’s way for thousands of years.

There is general agreement that the only way to keep high-level waste safe is by turning the liquids into solids and then burying it all deep underground, somewhere where neither water nor seismic activity is likely to bring the radioactivity to the surface, and where nobody is likely to stumble on it unexpectedly. There is disagreement, however, about whether this buried waste should be kept retrievable in case future technologies could make it safer sooner, or whether accessibility simply places a burden of guardianship on future generations.

Before it can be buried, most high-level waste needs to be stored for up to a century while it cools. Unfortunately, this has encouraged countries to put off making plans. None of the world’s high-level waste currently has any permanent resting place. The planet is instead peppered with interim stores. America is no better. Its 90,000 metric tons of high-level waste—set to rise to as much as 140,000 tonnes by the time the last power plant closes—is mostly sitting in ponds at dozens of power stations or lockups like Fort St. Vrain………..


May 30, 2018 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Japanese atomic bomb survivor pays tribute to U.S. POWs killed in A-bombing

Hiroshima hibakusha attends Massachusetts memorial ceremony for U.S. POWs killed in A-bombing KYODO An atomic bomb survivor attended a memorial ceremony Monday to honor the 12 American servicemen who died in the U.S. nuclear attack in the closing days of World War II.

Hibakusha Shigeaki Mori, an 81-year-old historian, spent years researching and identifying the 12 American soldiers who were killed during the bombing of Hiroshima. He was reunited at the ceremony with a relative of one of the fallen POWs, Normand Brissette of Lowell, Massachusetts.

In a speech, Mori said Brissette was a true patriot who risked his life to fight for his country. Brissette was a naval officer who was taken prisoner and died from radiation poisoning in the days following the bombing.

Susan Archinski, a niece of Brissette, said her reunion with Mori is “emotional because he is a wonderful, wonderful man and his wife is a wonderful woman. Mori-san is (the) best. Very pleased.” The two had met once before, in Hiroshima in 2015.

Mori was 8 years old at the time of the world’s first atomic bombing. He was blown off a bridge near his school at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, 1½ miles (about 2.5 km) from ground zero in Hiroshima.

After 42 years of research, Mori found each soldier’s name and tracked down their next of kin to obtain permission to memorialize the 12 POWs on the cenotaph for A-bomb victims in Hiroshima among the more than 300,000 Japanese, Korean and Chinese victims.

Mori is visiting the United States for the first time. He attended screenings of the film “Paper Lanterns,” a documentary about his research into the U.S. POWs, in California and will attend more screenings of the film in Boston and at the United Nations in New York.

The 2016 documentary, which the filmmakers hope to release digitally this summer, caught the attention of former U.S. President Barack Obama shortly after its limited release.

Obama, who in May 2016 became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, mentioned Mori in his speech at the Peace Memorial Park as “the man who sought out families of Americans killed here because he believed their loss was equal to his own.”   Afterward, Obama and Mori shared an embrace that garnered international attention.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Earth’s climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, before the end of 21st century.

Earth’s climate to increase by 4 degrees by 2084  INSTITUTE OF ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

A collaborative research team from China has published a new analysis that shows the Earth’s climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, before the end of 21st century.

To understand the severity of this, consider the Paris Agreement ( of the United Nations. It’s a global effort to prevent an increase of 2°C. Nearly every country on the planet–the United States is the only country to withdraw–has agreed to work to prevent the catastrophic effects of two degrees of warming.

The researchers published their analysis projecting a doubling of that increase in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences ( ) on May 18, 2018.

“A great many record-breaking heat events, heavy floods, and extreme droughts would occur if global warming crosses the 4 °C level, with respect to the preindustrial period,” said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “The temperature increase would cause severe threats to ecosystems, human systems, and associated societies and economies.”

In the analysis, Jiang and his team used the parameters of scenario in which there was no mitigation of rising greenhouse gas emissions. They compared 39 coordinated climate model experiments from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (, which develops and reviews climate models to ensure the most accurate climate simulations possible.

They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095 in the 21st century, with 2084 appearing as the median year.

This increase translates to more annual and seasonal warming over land than over the ocean, with significant warming in the Arctic. The variability of temperature throughout one year would be lower in the tropics and higher in polar regions, while precipitation would most likely increase in the Arctic and in the Pacific. These are the same effects that would occur under 1.5°C or 2°C increases, but more severe.

“Such comparisons between the three levels of global warming imply that global and regional climate will undergo greater changes if higher levels of global warming are crossed in the 21st century,” wrote Jiang.

The researchers continue to investigate the changes associated with 4°C of global warming in extreme climates.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the mean and extreme climate changes associated with higher levels of global warming based on state-of-the art climate models, which is of high interest to the decision-makers and the public,” said Jiang.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, the Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters at the Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, the Joint Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Change at Chengdu University of Information Technology, and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences contributed to this study.

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

New research reveals significant Fukushima radioactive particle release

Fukushima radioactive particle release was significant says new research  UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER

Scientists say there was a significant release of radioactive particles during the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident.

The researchers identified the contamination using a new method and say if the particles are inhaled they could pose long-term health risks to humans.

The new method allows scientists to quickly count the number of caesium-rich micro-particles in Fukushima soils and quantify the amount of radioactivity associated with these particles.

The research, which was carried out by scientists from Kyushu University, Japan, and The University of Manchester, UK, was published in Environmental Science and Technology.

In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, it was thought that only volatile, gaseous radionuclides, such as caesium and iodine, were released from the damaged reactors. However, in recent years it has become apparent that small radioactive particles, termed caesium-rich micro-particles, were also released.

Scientists have shown that these particles are mainly made of glass, and that they contain significant amounts of radioactive caesium, as well as smaller amounts of other radioisotopes, such as uranium and technetium.

The abundance of these micro-particles in Japanese soils and sediments, and their environmental impact is poorly understood. But the particles are very small and do not dissolve easily, meaning they could pose long-term health risks to humans if inhaled.

Therefore, scientists need to understand how many of the micro-particles are present in Fukushima soils and how much of the soil radioactivity can be attributed to the particles. Until recently, these measurements have proven challenging.

The new method makes use of a technique that is readily available in most Radiochemistry Laboratories called Autoradiography. In the method, an imaging plate is placed over contaminated soil samples covered with a plastic wrap, and the radioactive decay from the soil is recorded as an image on the plate. The image from plate is then read onto a computer.

The scientists say radioactive decay from the caesium-rich micro particles can be differentiated from other forms of caesium contamination in the soil.

The scientists tested the new method on rice paddy soil samples retrieved from different locations within the Fukushima prefecture. The samples were taken close to (4 km) and far away (40 km) from the damaged nuclear reactors. The new method found caesium-rich micro-particles in all of the samples and showed that the amount of caesium associated with the micro-particles in the soil was much larger than expected.

Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University, Japan, and the lead author of the study says “when we first started to find caesium-rich micro-particles in Fukushima soil samples, we thought they would turn out to be relatively rare. Now, using this method, we find there are lots of caesium-rich microparticles in exclusion zone soils and also in the soils collected from outside of the exclusion zone”.

Dr Gareth Law, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester and an author on the paper, adds: “Our research indicates that significant amounts of caesium were released from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in particle form.

“This particle form of caesium behaves differently to the other, more soluble forms of caesium in the environment. We now need to push forward and better understand if caesium micro-particles are abundant throughout not only the exclusion zone, but also elsewhere in the Fukushima prefecture; then we can start to gauge their impact”.

The new method can be easily used by other research teams investigating the environmental impact of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Dr Utsunomiya adds: “we hope that our method will allow scientists to quickly measure the abundance of caesium-rich micro-particles at other locations and estimate the amount of caesium radioactivity associated with the particles. This information can then inform cost effective, safe management and clean-up of soils contaminated by the nuclear accident”.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Hiroshima bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow continues her fight for a nuclear free world

The Growing Dangers of the New Nuclear-Arms Race,  The Trump Administration’s push for more nuclear weapons is part of a perilous global drive to miniaturize and modernize devices that already promise annihilation. New Yorker, By Eric Schlosser, 24 May 18,  “…….On the morning of August 6, 1945, Setsuko Thurlow, then thirteen years old, was preparing to decode messages on the second floor of the Army headquarters in Hiroshima. About twenty girls from her school worked beside her, and thousands of other middle schoolers were employed at patriotic tasks throughout the city as part of the Student Mobilization Program. Thurlow noticed a bright bluish-white flash outside the window at 8:15 a.m. She never saw the mushroom cloud; she was in it. She felt herself fly through the air, blacked out, and awoke pinned in the rubble of the collapsed building, unable to move. Lying there in silence and total darkness, she had a feeling of serenity. And then she heard the cries of classmates trapped nearby: “God, help me!,” “Mother, help me!” Someone touched her, removed the debris on top of her, and told her to crawl toward the light.

She somehow made it out safely and realized that what was left of the headquarters was on fire. A half dozen or so other girls survived, but the rest were burned alive.

The smoke and dust in the air made the morning look like twilight. As Thurlow and a few classmates left the city center and walked toward the hills, they witnessed one grotesque scene after another: dead bodies; ghostly figures, naked and burned, wandering the streets; parents desperately searching for lost children. She reached an Army training ground in the foothills, about the size of two football fields. Every inch of ground was covered with wounded people begging for water. There seemed to be no doctors, no nurses, no medical help of any kind. Thurlow tore off strips of her clothing, dipped them in a nearby stream, and spent the day squeezing drops of water from them into the mouths of the sick and dying. At night, she sat on the hillside and watched Hiroshima burn.

Thurlow was reunited with her parents. But her sister and her sister’s four-year-old son died several days later. Her sister’s face had grown so blackened and swollen that she could only be recognized by her voice and her hairpin. Soldiers threw her body and that of her son into a ditch, poured gasoline on them, and set them on fire. Thurlow stood and watched, in a state of shock, without shedding a tear. Her favorite aunt and uncle, who lived in the suburbs outside Hiroshima and appeared completely unharmed, died from radiation poisoning a few weeks after the blast.

More than seven decades later  on the afternoon of December 10, 2017, I watched Thurlow accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ican). It was a remarkable moment, as she slowly walked to the podium with a cane, and the crowd in Oslo’s City Hall gave a standing ovation. After the bombing, Thurlow attended universities in Hiroshima and Lynchburg, Virginia. Later, she earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Toronto. She married a historian and settled in Canada. She began her anti-nuclear activism in 1954, and became a leading advocate for survivors of the atomic bombings, known as the hibakusha. A few years ago, I spent time with her in Stockholm, meeting with academics and legislators to discuss the nuclear threat.  In her early eighties, she was sharp, passionate, tireless, and free of bitterness. “Today, I want you to feel in this hall the presence of all those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki . . . a great cloud of a quarter of a million souls,” Thurlow said in her Nobel speech.  “Each person had a name. Each person was loved by someone. Let us insure that their deaths were not in vain.”………..


May 25, 2018 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s history of accidental dropping of nuclear bombs

Remembering A Near Disaster: U.S. Accidently Drops Nuclear Bombs On Itself And Its Allies  WUNC91.5,  24 May 18

During the Cold War, U.S. planes accidentally dropped nuclear bombs on the east coast, in Europe, and elsewhere. “Dumb luck” prevented a historic catastrophe. 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of a decision that ended a perilous chapter of the Cold War.

In 1968, the Pentagon halted a program that kept military bombers in the air, loaded with nuclear weapons to deter a Soviet attack.

The problem was the jets kept having near-catastrophic accidents.

“If you go through some of the archival evidence publicly available, it seems like once a week or so, there was some kind of significant noteworthy accident that was being reported to the Department of Defense or the Atomic Energy Commission or members of Congress,” said Stephen Schwartz, a long-time nuclear weapons analyst.

Schwartz singled out 1958 as a particularly notorious year.
“We’re actually celebrating − celebrating is probably the wrong word − but we’re marking the 60th anniversary of no fewer than eight nuclear weapons accidents this year,” Schwartz said.

Every couple of weeks, Maurice Sanders gets a reminder of one of those 1958 accidents when a car with out-of-state tags parks in front of his house just outside Florence, South Carolina. Strangers pile out and tromp around to the scrub oak forest just behind his back yard to gaze down at an odd tourist attraction.

“It’s the hole from where the bomb had dropped, years ago,” Sanders said. “I think it’s on some kind of map or something.”

The circular pit is as big around as a small house, with a pond of tea-colored water at the bottom. A fading plywood cutout that someone put up − apparently to lure more tourists − is the size and shape of the Mark 6 nuclear bomb that was dropped there by accident.

The core containing the nuclear material was stored separately on the B-47 bomber it fell from, but the high explosives that were used to trigger the nuclear reaction exploded on impact, digging the crater estimated at 35 feet deep. The blast injured six members of a nearby family and damaged their home beyond repair.

Earlier that same year, just one state farther south, a jet fighter collided with a bomber during a training exercise, and the crew jettisoned a bomb into coastal waters near Savannah, Georgia.

Two years later, in 1961, a B-52 bomber flying out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro came apart in the sky, and the two armed nuclear bombs it was carrying fell into a farming community northeast of the base. One buried itself so deeply into a tobacco field that some of its parts were never found. The other floated down on a parachute, planting its nose in the ground beside a tree.

The parachute bomb came startlingly close to detonating. A secret government document said three of its four safety mechanisms failed, and only a simple electrical switch prevented catastrophe. It was 260 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and could have instantly killed thousands of people. The radioactive fallout could have endangered millions more as far north as New York City.

Safety takes back seat to readiness

The military’s name for serious nuclear weapons mishaps is “broken arrow.” The Pentagon has only officially acknowledged 32 broken arrows, but evidence compiled by the government shows there were thousands more accidents involving nuclear weapons, Schwartz said.

“Most of which were not that as serious as the 32 we know about, but some of them were quite bad,” he said.

Schwartz said a wave of serious accidents in the late 1950s through 1968 was partly due to programs that kept the U.S. on a war footing. A few planes were kept aloft 24 hours a day, ready to drop bombs on Russia.

And then there was the sheer number of weapons being made, which created more opportunities for things to go wrong.

Schwartz said by the year after the bomb fell on South Carolina, the U.S. was making almost 20 nuclear weapons a day……..

“Everything associated with nuclear weapons  the nuclear weapons delivery system, the command-and-control systems that make sure they go off when they’re supposed to and most importantly that they don’t go off when they’re not supposed to − all of these things are designed, built, operated, and maintained by human beings,” Schwartz said. “And human beings are fallible.”

Overseas accidents bring program’s end

It wasn’t the bombs the U.S. dropped on itself that finally ended the program. Rather, it was two accidents over friendly nations.

In 1966, a B-52 bomber – also flying out of Seymour Johnson – broke apart in the sky near the coast of Spain. One of its bombs dropped into the sea, and three fell on land where conventional explosives scattered radioactive material.

Then, in 1968, the burning-seat-cushion crash spread plutonium and uranium onto sea ice and into the sea off the coast of Greenland……..

May 25, 2018 Posted by | history, incidents, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Desperate nuclear lobby goes bananas over bananas

The pro-nuclear lobby goes bananas

May 22, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment