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Paducah, Kentucky – its nuclear waste tragedy is compounded by climate change

I never said a bad thing about the plant the whole time I was growing up,” Lamb said. “It made the economy good. But then we got sick.”  

“People who were not highly educated could make really good money working in these industries

“Not only that but the government was saying, this is your patriotic duty. We need this. So everybody just went along because the compensation was pretty good.”

GAO report released in November showed that 60 percent of U.S. Superfund sites are at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Instead of focusing on cleanup plans, some state lawmakers and federal agencies are loosening regulations on hazardous sites…… Last year, the DOE also moved to relax restrictions on the disposal and abandonment of radioactive waste

December 5, 2019 Posted by | climate change, investigative journalism, Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

New report on Iraqi babies, deformed due to thorium and uranium from U.S. military actions and bases

IRAQI CHILDREN BORN NEAR U.S. MILITARY BASE SHOW ELEVATED RATES OF “SERIOUS CONGENITAL DEFORMITIES,” STUDY FINDS   https://theintercept.com/2019/11/25/iraq-children-birth-defects-military/  Murtaza Hussain, November 26 2019,  MORE THAN A decade and a half after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a new study found that babies are being born today with gruesome birth defects connected to the ongoing American military presence there. The report, issued by a team of independent medical researchers and published in the journal Environmental Pollution, examined congenital anomalies recorded in Iraqi babies born near Tallil Air Base, a base operated by the U.S.-led foreign military coalition. According to the study, babies showing severe birth defects — including neurological problems, congenital heart disease, and paralyzed or missing limbs — also had corresponding elevated levels of a radioactive compound known as thorium in their bodies.

“We collected hair samples, deciduous (baby) teeth, and bone marrow from subjects living in proximity to the base,” said Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the study’s lead researchers. “In all three tissues we see the same trend: higher levels of thorium.” Savabieasfahani, who has authored studies on the radioactive footprint of the U.S. military presence in Iraq for years, says that the new findings contribute to a growing body of evidence about the serious long-term health impact of U.S. military operations on Iraqi civilians. “The closer that you live to a U.S. military base in Iraq,” she said, “the higher the thorium in your body and the more likely you are to suffer serious congenital deformities and birth defects.”
The new study piles onto a growing wealth of knowledge about severe ill effects of the U.S. military on the environments in which it operates. All industrialized military activity is bad for ecological systems, but the U.S., with its enormous military engaged in activities spanning the globe has a particular large environmental footprint. Not only does the U.S. military lead the world in carbon output, but its prodigious presence around the globe leaves a toxic trail of chemicals that local communities have to deal with, from so-called burn pits on bases releasing poisonous smoke to the radiation of depleted uranium rounds mutating the DNA of nearby populations.

The suffering of Iraqis has been particularly acute. The results of the new study added to a laundry list of negative impacts of the U.S.’s long war there to the long-term health of the country’s population. Previous studies, including some contributed by a team led by Savabieasfahani, have pointed to elevated rates of cancer, miscarriages, and radiological poisoning in places like Fallujah, where the U.S. military carried out major assaults during its occupation of the country.

The study published in Environmental Pollution was conducted by a team of independent Iraqi and American researchers in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2016. They analyzed 19 babies born with serious birth defects at a maternity hospital in the vicinity of Tallil Air Base, compared with a control group of 10 healthy newborns.
“Doctors are regularly encountering anomalies in babies that are so gruesome they cannot even find precedents for them,” said Savabieasfahani. “The war has spread so much radiation here that, unless it is cleaned up, generations of Iraqis will continue to be affected.”

SOME OF THESE negative health effects of the American war in Iraq can be put down to U.S. forces’ frequent use of munitions containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium, a byproduct of the enriched uranium used to power nuclear reactors, makes bullets and shells more effective in destroying armored vehicles, owing to its extreme density. But it has been acknowledged to be hazardous to the environment and the long-term health of people living in places where the munitions are used.

“Uranium and thorium were the main focus of this study,” the authors note. “Epidemiological evidence is consistent with an increased risk of congenital anomalies in the offspring of persons exposed to uranium and its depleted forms.” In other words: The researchers found that the more you were around these American weapons, the more likely you were to bear children with deformities and other health problems.

In response to an outcry over its effects, the U.S. military pledged to not use depleted uranium rounds in its bombing campaigns against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, but, despite this pledge, a 2017 investigation by the independent research group AirWars and Foreign Policy magazine found that the military had continued to regularly use rounds containing the toxic compound.

These depleted-uranium munitions are among the causes of hazards not only to the civilians in the foreign lands where the U.S. fights its wars, but also to American service members who took part in these conflicts. The chronic illnesses suffered by U.S. soldiers during the 1991 war in Iraq — often from exposure to uranium munitions and other toxic chemicals — have already been categorized as a condition known as “Gulf War syndrome.” The U.S. government has been less interested into the effects of the American military’s chemical footprint on Iraqis. The use of “burn pits” — toxic open-air fires used to dispose military waste — along with other contaminants has had a lasting impact on the health of current and future Iraqi generations.

Researchers conducting the latest study said that a broader study is needed to get definitive results about these health impacts. The images of babies born with defects at the hospital where the study was conducted, Bint Al-Huda Maternity Hospital, about 10 kilometers from Tallil Air Base, are gruesome and harrowing. Savabieasfahani, the lead researcher, said that without an effort by the U.S. military to clean up its radioactive footprint, babies will continue to be born with deformities that her study and others have documented.

“The radioactive footprint of the military could be cleaned up if we had officials who wanted to do so,” said Savabieasfahani. “Unfortunately, even research into the problem of Iraqi birth defects has to be done by independent toxicologists, because the U.S. military and other institutions are not even interested in this issue.”

November 26, 2019 Posted by | children, Iraq, Reference, thorium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

On nuclear radiation – past and future – extract from article on Chernobyl

DOES CHERNOBYL STILL MATTER? Public Books, BY GABRIELLE HECHT , 25 Nov 19, “……. The question is not whether an accident of Chernobyl’s gravity can happen elsewhere, but how to prepare for the consequences when it does.

That’s one of the questions Kate Brown considers in Manual for Survival. Offering a wealth of new information and analysis, Brown speeds past the reactor explosion. Instead, she focuses on dozens of previously untold stories about how people coped with their newly radioactive lives.

Brown’s protagonists include women who worked at a wool factory fed by contaminated sheep and butchers ordered to grade meat according to radioactivity. Ukraine, we learn, kept serving as the Soviet breadbasket, despite food radiation levels that exceeded norms. The concentrations of radionuclides were biomagnified by receptive organisms and ecologies, such as mushrooms, wild boar, and the Pripyat Marshes. Defying expectations, some foods, over time, have even become more contaminated.

Brown’s descriptions add historical flesh to arguments first developed by Olga Kuchinskaya, in her 2014 book on Belarus’s Chernobyl experience, The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl.

Since the first studies of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science on the biological effects of radiation exposure has been subject to controversy. Like all scientific work, these early survivor studies had limitations. Exposure estimates were unreliable.

The largest study began data collection five years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, so it didn’t include people who died or moved between 1945 and 1950. Another problem lies in the applicability of these studies. Bomb exposures, such as those in Japan, mostly consist of high, external doses from one big blast. Yet postwar exposures have mainly consisted of low doses, delivered steadily over a long period. They often involve internal exposures—such as inhalation of radioactive particles or consumption of irradiated food—which can be deadlier.

Irrespective of their limitations, however, the findings of these survivor studies have served as the basis for establishing regulatory limits for all types of radiation exposures. Critics argue that extrapolating from the Japan data underestimates low-dose effects: If you’ve already decided that the only possible health effects are the ones you’ve already found, surely you’re missing something? Among other limitations, studies of external gamma radiation exposures cannot illuminate the long-term health effects of inhaling radioactive alpha particles.

Brown injects the work of Dr. Angelina Gus’kova into this story. Gus’kova started treating radiation-induced illnesses in the 1950s, while working at the top-secret Mayak plutonium plant (where the radioactive spills from a 1957 accident continue to contaminate people, land, and water). A neurologist, Gus’kova made observations that extended beyond the narrow cancer focus of most Western practitioners who studied the health effects of radiation exposure. Her patients displayed a wide range of symptoms, which Gus’kova and her colleagues dubbed “chronic radiation syndrome.” Not that they neglected cancer: a 40-year study of 1.5 million people who lived near Mayak found significantly higher cancer and death rates than those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Soviet rubric of “chronic radiation syndrome” did not exist in the West. Yet Gus’kova’s findings did align with those of dissident scientists in the US and the UK. Thomas Mancuso, for example, was pushed out of the US Atomic Energy Commission because he refused to give the Hanford plutonium plant a clean bill of health after finding that workers there sustained high rates of cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, and other illnesses.

Alice Stewart, meanwhile, was shunned by the British establishment after her 1956 research showed that x-raying pregnant women increased the risk of cancer and leukemia in their children by 50 percent. Over the years, these and other scientists whose data challenged the findings of American and European nuclear establishments found themselves sidelined and defunded.

In tandem with perestroika, Chernobyl opened communication between Soviet and Western nuclear experts, engendering what Brown calls an “unholy alliance.” In 1990, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a mission to Belarus and Ukraine to assess radiation damage. Belarusian scientists reported rising rates of many diseases in contaminated areas. Nevertheless, the IAEA team rejected radiation as a possible cause. Such correlations didn’t appear in Western data.

Instead, the IAEA teams used dose estimates provided by distant Moscow colleagues and ignored local Belarusian and Ukrainian descriptions of people’s actual consumption habits, which included significant amounts of contaminated food and milk. The IAEA assessments neglected the internal exposures resulting from this consumption. Yet these assessments now serve as international reference points. “Underestimating Chernobyl damage,” Brown warns, “has left humans unprepared for the next disaster.” …….

Brown is on the right track. Many modes of scientific inquiry aren’t equipped to address our most urgent questions. Clear causal chains are a laboratory ideal. The real world brims with confounding variables. Some scientists studying Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone”—the region officially declared uninhabitable due to contamination—are trying new techniques to grapple with this reality. Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, for example, collect data on the zone in its ecological entirety, rather than focusing on single organisms. Their findings belie romantic tales of wildlife resurgence (such as the one offered up by a 2011 PBS special on the radioactive wolves of Chernobyl). They too have met resistance. …..

we can refuse to see Chernobyl and its kin as discrete events of limited duration. Brown, for example, treats Chernobyl as an acceleration of planetary-scale contamination that began with the atomic arms race.

Let’s be clear: the contamination continues. After the triple meltdown at Fukushima, scientists found highly radioactive, cesium-rich microparticles in Tokyo, 150 miles south of the accident site. When inhaled, such particles remain in human lungs, where their decay continues to release radioactivity for decades. Contaminants from future accidents will, in turn, accrete on the radioactive residues of their predecessors.   https://www.publicbooks.org/does-chernobyl-still-matter/

November 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

The global uranium industry is really on the skids

Uranium bulls ‘as rare as white unicorns’ Jim Green, Online Opinion, 26 November 2019, https://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20623&page=0

Uranium bulls are “as rare as white unicorns” according to a commentary in FNArena in September 2019, and the market is “sick and dying” with uranium “quickly becoming a dinosaur of a commodity”.

Canadian company Cameco recently said it cannot see any case for construction of new uranium mines for some years to come. Chief financial officer Grant Isaac said that new mines will not win financial backing without a far stronger recovery in demand for uranium than is currently on the horizon.

“It’s pretty hard to say you’re going to take the risk on an asset … that isn’t licensed, isn’t permitted, probably doesn’t have a proven mining method, when you have idle tier one capacity that’s licensed, permitted, sitting there,” Isaac said.

Moreover, Cameco has no plans to restart mines put into care-and-maintenance in 2016 and 2017: McArthur River (and the Key Lake mill) and Rabbit Lake in Canada, and the Crow Butte and Smith Ranch-Highland in-situ leach mines in the US. Plans to expand Crow Butte were abandoned in March 2019.

Instead, Cameco will continue to meet its contracts by purchasing uranium on the spot market. Delivering the company’s third-quarter results (a small loss), chief exec­utive Tim Gitzel said that only 9 million pounds of uranium oxide will be produced from its mines next year, with the remainder of its requirement of 30‒32 million pounds supplied from spot market purchases.

Cameco’s workforce in Canada has halved. Before the Fukushima disaster, the company employed more than 2,100 people in Saskatchewan. Since then, 810 mine and mill workers have been sacked, along with 219 head office employees in Saskatoon. Continue reading

November 26, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Studies on Chernobyl nuclear disaster show that it’s relevant today, and for the future

DOES CHERNOBYL STILL MATTER? https://www.publicbooks.org/does-chernobyl-still-matter/ 11.22.2019 BY GABRIELLE HECHT  Since it first announced electricity “too cheap to meter,” in the 1950s, the nuclear industry has promised bountiful futures powered by a peaceful—and safe—atom. Design principles, the industry claims, limit the chances of core damage to one incident every 50,000 reactor-years of operation. History, however, has delivered a different verdict: together, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the three Fukushima reactors represent five meltdowns in only 100 reactor-years. What lessons do these accidents hold for the future of nuclear power?

Each meltdown has impelled design, operational, and regulatory changes, increasing the cost of nuclear power. Today, says the industry, the technology is safer and more vital than ever. No other source of electricity can offer so much baseload power with so few carbon emissions. But who can make money when a single US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection costs $360,000?

For the current US administration, the remedy for waning profits lies in cutting inspection hours. In a July 2019 proposal, which drew heavily on nuclear industry recommendations, the NRC also suggested crediting utility self-assessments as “inspections” and discontinuing press releases about problems of “low to moderate safety or security significance.” Translation: fewer inspections, less transparency, and weaker environmental and health oversight at the nation’s nuclear power plants.

The cause, costs, and consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl accident loom large in these battles. Was Chernobyl a fluke, the result of faulty technology and a corrupt political system? Or did it signal a fundamentally flawed technological system, one that would never live up to expectations?

Even simple questions are subject to debate. How long did the disaster last? Who were the victims, and how many were there? What did they experience? Which branches of science help us understand the damage? Whom should we trust? Such questions are tackled, with markedly different results, in Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl, Kate Brown’s Manual for Survival, and HBO’s Chernobyl (created by Craig Mazin).

Serhii Plokhy’s book and Craig Mazin’s miniseries, both entitled Chernobyl, focus primarily on the accident and its immediate aftermath. Both build on the standard plotline embraced by nuclear advocates.

In this narrative, Soviet love of monumental grandeur—or “gigantomania”—led to the selection and construction of Chernobyl’s RBMK1 design: an enormous 1000-megawatt reactor, powered by low-enriched uranium fuel, moderated by graphite, and cooled by water. The utterly unique RBMK had fundamental design flaws, hidden by corrupt state apparatchiks obsessed with secrecy, prestige, and productivism. Operators made inexcusable errors. The accident was inevitable. But the inevitability, Plokhy and Mazin affirm, was purely Soviet.

Plokhy gives more backstory. The enormous scale of Soviet industrialization put huge strains on supply chains, resulting in shoddy construction. Some of the men in charge had no nuclear background. The pressure to meet production quotas—and the dire consequences of failure—led bureaucrats and engineers to cut corners.

For both Plokhy and Mazin, these conditions at Chernobyl came to a head during a long-delayed safety test.   When the moment to launch the test finally arrived, shortly before midnight on April 25, 1986, there was confusion about how to proceed. The plant’s deputy chief engineer, Anatolii Diatlov, who did have extensive nuclear experience, believed he knew better than the woefully incomplete manuals. He pushed operators to violate the poorly written test protocol. (Disappointingly, Mazin’s miniseries portrays Diatlov more as a deranged bully than as someone with meaningful operational knowledge.)

The reactor did not cooperate: its power plummeted, then shot back up. Operators tried to reinsert the control rods. The manual didn’t mention that the RBMK could behave counterintuitively: in other reactor models, inserting control rods would slow down the fission reaction, but in the RBMK—especially under that night’s operating conditions—inserting the rods actually increased the reactivity. Steam pressure and temperature skyrocketed. The reactor exploded, shearing off its 2000-ton lid. Uranium, graphite, and a suite of radionuclides flew out of the core and splattered around the site. The remaining graphite in the core caught fire.

At first, plant managers didn’t believe that the core had actually exploded. In the USSR—as elsewhere—the impossibility of a reactor explosion underwrote visions of atomic bounty. Nor did managers believe the initial radiation readings, which exceeded their dosimeters’ detection limits. Their disbelief exacerbated and prolonged the harm, exposing many more people to much more radiation than they might have otherwise received. Firefighters lacked protection against radiation; the evacuation of the neighboring town of Pripyat was dangerously delayed; May Day parades proceeded as planned. Anxious to blame human operators—instead of faulty technology or (Lenin forbid!) a broken political system—the state put the plant’s three top managers on trial, in June 1987, their guilt predetermined.

Mazin’s miniseries follows a few central characters. Most really existed, though the script takes considerable liberties. The actions of the one made-up character, a Belarusian nuclear physicist, completely defy credibility. But hey, it’s TV. Dramatic convention dictates that viewers must care about the characters to care about the story. Familiar Cold War tropes are on full display: defective design, craven bureaucrats, and a corrupt, secrecy-obsessed political system. A few anonymous heroes also appear: firefighters, divers, miners, and others who risked their lives to limit the damage.

Nuclear advocates—many of whom believe that Chernobyl was a fluke, one whose lessons actually improved the industry’s long-term viability—object to the unrealistically gory hospital scenes portraying acute radiation sickness. But these advocates should feel appeased by the closing frames, which ignore the long-term damage caused by the accident.

Instead, the miniseries skates over post-1987 events in a few quick captions. The managers went to prison, a scientist committed suicide, people were evacuated. Yes, controversy persists over the number of casualties (31? That was the official Soviet number. How about 4,000? That’s the number issued by the Chernobyl Forum, an entity that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations. As for the 41,000 cancers suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—that number isn’t even mentioned). But all is under control now, thanks to the new confinement structure that will keep the area “safe” for a hundred years. Mazin himself insists that the show isn’t antinuclear.

Instead, the miniseries skates over post-1987 events in a few quick captions. The managers went to prison, a scientist committed suicide, people were evacuated. Yes, controversy persists over the number of casualties (31? That was the official Soviet number. How about 4,000? That’s the number issued by the Chernobyl Forum, an entity that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations. As for the 41,000 cancers suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—that number isn’t even mentioned). But all is under control now, thanks to the new confinement structure that will keep the area “safe” for a hundred years. Mazin himself insists that the show isn’t antinuclear.

Plokhy also addresses the accident’s role in the breakup of the USSR. In 2006, Mikhail Gorbachev famously speculated that “the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.” Plokhy delivers details. Ukrainian dissidents trained their writerly gaze on Chernobyl, vividly describing the damage. Street demonstrations depicted the accident and its coverup as “embodiments of Moscow’s eco-imperialism.” This vision spread and morphed, animating protests in Belarus—also severely contaminated by the accident—and elsewhere. Chernobyl served as Exhibit A for why the republics should shed the Soviet yoke.

If you’re hoping for clear technical explanations, however, you’ll be disappointed. A stunning error mars the first few pages: Plokhy declares that each RBMK produced 1 million megawatts of electricity. This is off by a factor of 1,000. Typo? No, because he doubles down in the next sentence, affirming that the station produced 29 billion megawatts of electricity in 1985. He gets the orders of magnitude right later on, but these early missteps undermine reader confidence. Muddled technical descriptions and uninformative diagrams add to the confusion.

Readers seeking to understand the technology should turn instead to journalist Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. He uses global nuclear history to illuminate Soviet efforts to manage the Chernobyl crisis. By comparing the crisis to reactor accidents elsewhere, Higginbotham shows that deep vulnerabilities are widespread. Plokhy’s engineers and managers seem bumbling, verging on incompetent. Higginbotham’s more nuanced portrayal reflects how complex engineering projects of all types necessitate informed improvisation. The three-dimensional world doesn’t faithfully obey manuals. Adjustments are always required.

Higginbotham and Plokhy differ most starkly in their treatment of Soviet reactor choice. In the1960s, technocrats weighed the RBMK design against the VVER,2 the Soviet version of a pressurized light water reactor similar to those sold by Westinghouse and used in the United States. For Plokhy, it’s simple. The VVER was “safe.” The RBMK was not, but its size and cost appealed to Soviet productivism.

Higginbotham, however, wisely relies on Sonja Schmid’s pathbreaking Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry (2015) to show that reactor safety isn’t a yes-no proposition. Plutonium-producing reactors similar to the Soviet RBMK (albeit half its size) existed in North America and Western Europe. Like nine of its French cousins, the RBMK could be refueled while continuing to operate. This presented significant advantages: light water reactors had to shut down for refueling, which entailed several weeks of outage. Even the risks presented by RBMK design vulnerabilities seemed manageable. “Nuclear experts elsewhere considered the RBMK design neither technologically novel nor particularly worrisome,” Schmid writes, noting that “what we consider good and safe always depends on context.” In the Soviet context, “selecting the RBMK made very good sense.”

Neither Schmid nor Higginbotham absolves the Soviet technopolitical system. The specific circumstances that led to Chernobyl’s explosions might not recur. But, as sociologist Charles Perrow has been arguing since his 1983 book Normal Accidents, highly complex technological systems create unpredictable situations, which inevitably lead to system failures. The question is not whether an accident of Chernobyl’s gravity can happen elsewhere, but how to prepare for the consequences when it does. 

That’s one of the questions Kate Brown considers in Manual for Survival. Offering a wealth of new information and analysis, Brown speeds past the reactor explosion. Instead, she focuses on dozens of previously untold stories about how people coped with their newly radioactive lives.

Brown’s protagonists include women who worked at a wool factory fed by contaminated sheep and butchers ordered to grade meat according to radioactivity. Ukraine, we learn, kept serving as the Soviet breadbasket, despite food radiation levels that exceeded norms. The concentrations of radionuclides were biomagnified by receptive organisms and ecologies, such as mushrooms, wild boar, and the Pripyat Marshes. Defying expectations, some foods, over time, have even become more contaminated.

Brown’s descriptions add historical flesh to arguments first developed by Olga Kuchinskaya, in her 2014 book on Belarus’s Chernobyl experience, The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl.

Since the first studies of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science on the biological effects of radiation exposure has been subject to controversy. Like all scientific work, these early survivor studies had limitations. Exposure estimates were unreliable.

The largest study began data collection five years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, so it didn’t include people who died or moved between 1945 and 1950. Another problem lies in the applicability of these studies. Bomb exposures, such as those in Japan, mostly consist of high, external doses from one big blast. Yet postwar exposures have mainly consisted of low doses, delivered steadily over a long period. They often involve internal exposures—such as inhalation of radioactive particles or consumption of irradiated food—which can be deadlier.

Irrespective of their limitations, however, the findings of these survivor studies have served as the basis for establishing regulatory limits for all types of radiation exposures. Critics argue that extrapolating from the Japan data underestimates low-dose effects: If you’ve already decided that the only possible health effects are the ones you’ve already found, surely you’re missing something? Among other limitations, studies of external gamma radiation exposures cannot illuminate the long-term health effects of inhaling radioactive alpha particles.

Brown injects the work of Dr. Angelina Gus’kova into this story. Gus’kova started treating radiation-induced illnesses in the 1950s, while working at the top-secret Mayak plutonium plant (where the radioactive spills from a 1957 accident continue to contaminate people, land, and water). A neurologist, Gus’kova made observations that extended beyond the narrow cancer focus of most Western practitioners who studied the health effects of radiation exposure. Her patients displayed a wide range of symptoms, which Gus’kova and her colleagues dubbed “chronic radiation syndrome.” Not that they neglected cancer: a 40-year study of 1.5 million people who lived near Mayak found significantly higher cancer and death rates than those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Soviet rubric of “chronic radiation syndrome” did not exist in the West. Yet Gus’kova’s findings did align with those of dissident scientists in the US and the UK. Thomas Mancuso, for example, was pushed out of the US Atomic Energy Commission because he refused to give the Hanford plutonium plant a clean bill of health after finding that workers there sustained high rates of cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, and other illnesses.

Alice Stewart, meanwhile, was shunned by the British establishment after her 1956 research showed that x-raying pregnant women increased the risk of cancer and leukemia in their children by 50 percent. Over the years, these and other scientists whose data challenged the findings of American and European nuclear establishments found themselves sidelined and defunded.

In tandem with perestroika, Chernobyl opened communication between Soviet and Western nuclear experts, engendering what Brown calls an “unholy alliance.” In 1990, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a mission to Belarus and Ukraine to assess radiation damage. Belarusian scientists reported rising rates of many diseases in contaminated areas. Nevertheless, the IAEA team rejected radiation as a possible cause. Such correlations didn’t appear in Western data.

Instead, the IAEA teams used dose estimates provided by distant Moscow colleagues and ignored local Belarusian and Ukrainian descriptions of people’s actual consumption habits, which included significant amounts of contaminated food and milk. The IAEA assessments neglected the internal exposures resulting from this consumption. Yet these assessments now serve as international reference points. “Underestimating Chernobyl damage,” Brown warns, “has left humans unprepared for the next disaster.”

For some, hope springs eternal. In 2017, Chernobyl’s “New Safe Confinement” finally became operational, after two decades of design and construction. This $1.7 billion structure aims to contain the spread of radioactive rubble while workers inside dismantle the reactor and its crumbling sarcophagus. Ownership was transferred from the builders of the structure to the Ukrainian government in July 2019.

At the transfer ceremony, newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a tourism development plan for the radioactive exclusion zone, including a “green corridor” through which tourists could travel to gawk at the remains of Soviet hubris. “Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” declared Zelensky, who was nine years old when the reactor exploded. “It’s time to change.” (Zelensky further demonstrated his dedication to “branding” two weeks after this ceremony, when he emphasized his recent stay in a Trump hotel during his now-infamous phone conversation with the US president.)

Change also seems possible to Plokhy, who optimistically predicts that new reactor designs will be “cheaper, safer, and ecologically cleaner.” But Allison Macfarlane, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Obama, recently noted that these “new” options are actually “repackaged designs from 70 years ago.” They still produce significant quantities of highly radioactive, long-lived waste.

Meanwhile, regulators in France—the world’s most nuclear nation—are taking the opposite approach from the United States’ NRC. Rather than rolling back oversight, France is intensifying inspections of their aging reactor fleet. After four decades of operation, many French reactors have begun to leak and crack. Keeping them operational will cost at least $61 billion. Despite the phenomenal cost, there are many who believe such an investment in the nuclear future is worthwhile.

Brown is far less sanguine about our nuclear future. Predictably, she has been denounced for believing marginal scientists and relying too heavily on anecdotal evidence. She does occasionally go overboard in suggesting conspiracy. Cover-ups clearly occurred on many occasions, but sometimes people were just sticking to their beliefs, trapped by their institutional and disciplinary lenses. Brown’s absence of nuance on this point matters, because the banality of ignorance—its complicity in all forms of knowledge production—can be more dangerous than deliberate lies: more systemic, harder to detect and combat.

Overall, though, Brown is on the right track. Many modes of scientific inquiry aren’t equipped to address our most urgent questions. Clear causal chains are a laboratory ideal. The real world brims with confounding variables. Some scientists studying Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone”—the region officially declared uninhabitable due to contamination—are trying new techniques to grapple with this reality. Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, for example, collect data on the zone in its ecological entirety, rather than focusing on single organisms. Their findings belie romantic tales of wildlife resurgence (such as the one offered up by a 2011 PBS special on the radioactive wolves of Chernobyl). They too have met resistance.

How, then, can we harness the immense power of scientific analysis while also acknowledging its limitations? The nuclear establishment is quick to lump its opponents together with climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers. Some may deserve that. But much dissident science is well executed. So how do we, the lay public, tell the difference? How can dissent and uncertainty serve, not as a block to action, but as a call?

One way: we can refuse to see Chernobyl and its kin as discrete events of limited duration. Brown, for example, treats Chernobyl as an acceleration of planetary-scale contamination that began with the atomic arms race.

Let’s be clear: the contamination continues. After the triple meltdown at Fukushima, scientists found highly radioactive, cesium-rich microparticles in Tokyo, 150 miles south of the accident site. When inhaled, such particles remain in human lungs, where their decay continues to release radioactivity for decades. Contaminants from future accidents will, in turn, accrete on the radioactive residues of their predecessors.

And, we might add, on the ocean floor. The Russian state-run firm Rosatom recently announced the inauguration of its first floating reactor, towed across the melting Arctic to serve a community in Siberia: yet another manifestation of how climate change favors nuclear development. Rosatom is currently negotiating contracts for reactors (floating and otherwise) in some 30 countries, from Belarus to Bangladesh, Egypt to South Africa.

Threatened, the US nuclear industry sees Russian expansion as “another reason that the United States should maintain global leadership in nuclear technology exports.” And so we hurtle forward: rolling back oversight, acceleration unchecked.

This article was commissioned by Caitlin Zaloom.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | history, investigative journalism, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

As the Runit nuclear waste dome crumbles, Marshall Islanders want honesty and justice

‘People want justice’: Marshalls’ fury over nuclear information US withheld–  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2018723289/people-want-justice-marshalls-fury-over-nuclear-information-us-withheld  From Dateline Pacific,  21 November 2019

November 25, 2019 Posted by | history, Legal, OCEANIA, oceans, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

New Mexico not keen to take South Carolina’s plutonium wastes

November 25, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Global heating is shrinking and accelerating the jet stream

Times 24th Nov 2019, The jet stream – the powerful transatlantic wind that dominates British weather – is being shrunk by climate change, scientists say. It means that Britain is at growing risk of more violent storms in winter and searing heatwaves in summer.

Tim Woollings, associate professor of atmospheric physics at Oxford University, who has published a new book, Jet Stream,
said: “The planet is warming rapidly due to humanity’s greenhouse gases. It
means the whole of the Earth’s tropical belt is likely to expand, pushing
the jet stream north so it shrinks in size and accelerates.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/e154bfe6-0e24-11ea-93be-ccf3f2ed7d1d

November 25, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

Nuclear wastes and other problems – nuclear power not low carbon, not safe

Uncertainties surround spent nuclear fuel disposal   https://www.ft.com/content/496254ae-0a38-11ea-bb52-34c8d9dc6d84   Dr Paul Dorfman, et al
We beg to differ with Jonathan Ford’s view on nuclear waste, that decommissioning and storage should be manageable problems (“Nuclear liabilities need to be put into a clearer perspective”, Inside Business, November 18). As the recent World Nuclear Waste Report 2019, states, no country in the world has a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel in operation, and there remain significant scientific uncertainties associated with the deep disposal concept. Moreover, with costs of both interim and permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel ramping, no country has either securely estimated costs nor closed the gap between secured funds and cost estimates. The report adds that there is a lack of comprehensive, quantitative and qualitative information on risks associated with nuclear waste, with meta-analyses on the health impacts of nuclear waste notable for their virtual absence.

We also take issue with Mr Ford’s claim that “nuclear power remains one of the few technologies the world has for reliably generating zero-carbon electricity”. The evidence base concludes that, taking account of the nuclear fuel cycle (uranium mining, fuel enrichment, construction of power stations and the waste stream), nuclear has CO2 emissions between 10 and 18 times those of renewables. And, in the light of major accidents, incidents, technical failures and outages, it is difficult to comprehend how the world’s ageing nuclear fleet can conceivably be described as reliable. Dr Paul Dorfman Senior Research Associate, UCL Energy Institute, University College London Prof Andy Blowers Author, ‘The Legacy of Nuclear Power’ Prof Keith Barnham Emeritus Professor of Physics, Imperial College London Paul Brown Co-Editor, Climate News Network Prof Tom Burke Founder and Chair, E3G Prof Steve Thomas Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy, University of Greenwich Dr David Toke Reader in Energy Policy, University of Aberdeen Prof Andy Stirling Science Policy Research Unit, Sussex Energy Group, University of Sussex Prof Brian Wynne Professor Emeritus of Science Studies, Lancaster University  

November 21, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Waste Report

The final disposal of high-level radioactive waste presents governments worldwide with major challenges that have not yet been addressed, and entails incalculable technical, logistical, and financial risks. This is the conclusion of the first “World Nuclear Waste Report ‒ Focus Europe” launched in Berlin in November.

The World Nuclear Waste Report (WNWR) is a project by a group of renowned international experts who want to draw more attention to radioactive waste as a significant and growing challenge with no long-term solutions yet available. The project was initiated by Rebecca Harms, and the original outline was produced by Wolfgang Neumann, Mycle Schneider (coordinator of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Reports) and Gordon MacKerron. Numerous experts have contributed to the first edition of the WNWR (including former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Allison Macfarlane).

The WNWR aims to make a substantial contribution to understanding nuclear waste challenges for countries around the world. It does so by describing national and international classification systems, the risks posed by specific radioactive waste forms, generated and estimated future waste quantities, the waste management and disposal strategies of governments and their financing mechanisms.

According to the WNWR, over 60,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel alone are stored in interim storage facilities across Europe (excluding Russia and Slovakia). Spent fuel rods are highly radioactive waste. To date, no country in the world has a repository for high-level waste from nuclear power in operation. Within the EU, France accounts for 25 percent of the current spent nuclear fuel, followed by Germany (15 percent) and the United Kingdom (14 percent).

In addition, more than 2.5 million cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level waste has been generated in Europe (excluding Slovakia and Russia). Over its lifetime, the European nuclear reactor fleet will produce an estimated 6.6 million cubic metres of nuclear waste. Four countries are responsible for most of this waste: France (30 percent), the UK (20 percent), the Ukraine (18 percent) and Germany (8 percent).

According to the WNWR, many governments underestimate the costs of interim and final storage. No country has a consistent financing model to date in places. This poses further financial risk for taxpayers.

Marcos Buser, a Swiss geologist and co-author of the report, said: “Increasing amounts of high level waste have to be interim stored for ever longer periods of time, as no country in the world has yet commissioned a deep geological repository for such waste. The problem is that interim storage facilities have not been designed for such long-term use.”

The Swiss nuclear expert warned that the storage facilities are already reaching the limits of their capacities. For example, storage capacity for spent fuel in Finland has already reached 93 percent saturation. Sweden’s decentralized storage facility CLAB is at 80 percent saturation. “The shutdown and decommissioning of many nuclear power plants will again drastically increase the quantities of nuclear waste,” warns Buser.

In addition to the safety aspects, the report identifies the enormous costs of interim storage and final disposal as another risk. “National governments and operators often significantly underestimate the costs of decommissioning, storage, and disposal of nuclear waste,” said Ben Wealer, co-author of the study and industrial engineer at the Technical University of Berlin.

In many countries there is a large gap between the expected costs and the financial resources earmarked for them. The problem would be exacerbated by the fact that final disposal also involves incalculable risks, which could lead to enormous cost increases, as the German government experiences with the Asse repository illustrate.

Nearly every government claims to apply the polluter-pays-principle, which makes operators liable for the costs of managing, storing, and disposing of nuclear waste. In reality, however, governments fail to apply the polluter-pays-principle consistently. “No country in Europe has taken sufficient precautions to finance the costs of the final disposal of nuclear waste. There is a threat that the real, massive costs will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers,” Wealer warned.

Ellen Ueberschär, President of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, said: “The numerous unsolved problems in dealing with nuclear waste show that nuclear power has no future. At the same time, the report makes clear that phasing out nuclear power is not enough. Insufficient financial provisions for disposing of nuclear waste must not undermine the care and safety of decisions for interim storage and final disposal. The search for a suitable final repository needs greater public attention. The report is intended to facilitate a qualified international debate.”

World Nuclear Waste Report https://worldnuclearwastereport.org/

World Nuclear Waste Report 2019 ‒ Focus Europe: https://worldnuclearwastereport.org/wp-content/themes/wnwr_theme/content/World_Nuclear_Waste_Report_2019_Focus_Europe.pdf

November 17, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, wastes | 1 Comment

Tritium and other radionuclides are hazardous,even in transport and storage

Zac Eagle Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch Australia, 11 Nov 19, 
This is from the International Atomic Energy Agency admitting some radionuclides will be released into the environment even in Storage!

“The specific aims of disposal are:

(c) To inhibit, reduce and delay the migration of radionuclides at any time from
the waste to the accessible biosphere;

(d) To ensure that the amounts of radionuclides reaching the accessible
biosphere due to any migration from the disposal facility are such that
possible radiological consequences are acceptably low at all times.”

Some radionuclides can NOT be contained as they will diffuse in transport and storage, eg tritium.

Tritium is a carcinogen (causes cancer), teratogen (causes deformations of the embryo during pregnancy) and mutagen (causes mutations to DNA). Even very low rates of tritium exposure can lead to cancer, leukemia, and birth defects. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

November 12, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

A Govt panel to decide on dumping Fukushima waste water

Panel deciding whether to dump radioactive water from Fukushima into the ocean https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/panel-deciding-whether-to-dump-radioactive-water-from-fukushima-into-the-ocean By Chris Loew October 30, 2019 

The Japanese government may allow Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to dump more than 250 million gallons of contaminated water accumulated in tanks around its Fukushima nuclear power plants into the ocean.

Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada commented in September that he supports the plan, as it may be the only solution for the wastewater. An expert panel is now studying the options, and its recommendation is likely to become policy.

The contaminated water was used to cool the superheated fuel rods in the Fukushima Daiishi facility prior to and during the nuclear meltdown that occurred as a result of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The water has already been treated by multiple facilities, including a multi-nuclide removal facility (an advanced liquid processing system, or “ALPS”), which removed most of the radioactive materials, including cesium and strontium, but not tritium. Tritium is difficult to separate from water, because it closely resembles hydrogen, which is a natural component of water.

Many methods, both practically tried and theoretical, do exist for separation and removal of tritium, and they were assessed in a report presented by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning in 2013.  But all of them had the drawback of requiring a large amount of energy and equipment. Also, performance is poor for the low concentrations in the water at Fukushima Daiichi.

Last year, a team of researchers from Kindai University and private companies in western Japan developed an aluminum filter with holes of five nanometers or less in diameter. Steam of water containing tritium can be stopped, while that of water can pass. However, another issue is that 400 cubic meters of groundwater flowing into the basements of the buildings every day needs to be pumped and treated, necessitating treatment on a very large scale. This may not be justified when considering the actual danger of release to the ocean, according to the report.

Before the accident, tritium in cooling water was thinned with circulated sea water so that the allowable concentration might not be exceeded, and the diluted tritium was routinely released into the sea. Releasing the water at a rate that would allow it to be well diluted may be the best option, the report said.

While tritium has a radioactive half-life of 12.3 years, its biological half-life in the human body is only 10 days, and in fish it is less than two days. This is because tritium easily bonds to water, replacing the hydrogen atom. So as we drink and expel water, the tritium is carried away rather than accumulating in tissues. While some radioactive materials become concentrated as they move up the food chain, tritium is diluted.

The main danger of the policy is not actual harm, but rather public perceptions about the safety of seafood from Fukushima and its neighboring prefectures. Countries that have been gradually relaxing restrictions on imports of Japanese seafood may be forced by public fears to take a wait-and-see approach before further easing—a setback to local seafood firms, which have waited for years to return to their pre-disaster export figures.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference | Leave a comment

The million year problem – deep burial of nuclear wastes

Quite apart from the technological challenges and ethical issues these solutions present, both have one major drawback: to be successful they rely on external, uncontrollable factors. How could the knowledge required to interpret these things this be guaranteed to last?

Semiotician Thomas Sebeok recommended the creation of a so-called Atomic Priesthood. Members of the priesthood would preserve information about the waste repositories and hand it on to newly initiated members, ensuring a transfer of knowledge through the generations.

Buried nuclear waste stays dangerous for a million years — here’s how scientists plan to stop a future disaster 

In thousands of years’ time, will they even understand the language written on our ‘keep out’ signs? https://inews.co.uk/news/long-reads/buried-nuclear-waste-danger-underground-future-disasters-814704

By Helen Gordon, Monday, 14th October 2019  The red metal lift takes seven juddering minutes to travel nearly 500 metres down. Down, down through creamy limestone to reach a 160-million-year-old layer of clay.

Here, deep beneath the sleepy fields and quiet woods along the border of the Meuse and Haute-Marne departments in north-east France, the French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (Andra) has built its underground research laboratory.

The laboratory’s tunnels are brightly lit but mostly deserted, the air dry and dusty and filled with the hum of a ventilation unit.

Blue and grey metal boxes house a series of ongoing experiments – measuring, for example, the corrosion rates of steel, the durability of concrete in contact with the clay. Using this information, Andra wants to build an immense network of tunnels here.

It plans to call this place Cigéo, and to fill it with dangerous radioactive waste. It is designed to be able to hold 80,000 cubic metres of material.

Long-term risks of nuclear waste Continue reading

October 15, 2019 Posted by | France, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Russia and the quest for nuclear power in space

Below are extracts from this very thoroughly researched article. The original contains much historical detail, good diagrams and excellent references

Ekipazh: Russia’s top-secret nuclear-powered satellite, The Space Review, by Bart Hendrickx, Monday, October 7, 2019  There is strong evidence from publicly available sources that a Russian company called KB Arsenal is working on a new type of military satellite equipped with a nuclear power source. Called Ekipazh, its mission may well be to perform electronic warfare from space.

KB Arsenal, based in St. Petersburg, is no newcomer to the development of nuclear-powered satellites. In the Soviet days it built satellites known as US-A (standing for “active controllable satellite”), which carried nuclear reactors to power radars used for ocean reconnaissance (in the West they were known as “radar ocean reconnaissance satellites” or RORSAT for short.)  ……………
 evidence emerged in the past few years for the existence of another KB Arsenal project with the odd name Ekipazh (a French loanword meaning both “crew” and “horse-drawn carriage”). The name first surfaced in the 2015 annual report of a company called NPP KP Kvant, which manufactures optical sensors for satellite orientation systems. It revealed that the company had signed a contract with KB Arsenal under project Ekipazh to deliver an Earth sensor (designated 108M) for “transport and energy modules.” According to the 2015 report, test flights of Ekipazh were to be completed in 2021.
Documentation published in recent weeks and months on Russia’s publicly accessible government procurement website zakupki.gov.ru has now confirmed that Ekipazh and TEM are indeed separate efforts. While TEM is a civilian project started jointly by Roscosmos and Rosatom in 2010, Ekipazh officially got underway on August 13, 2014, with a contract signed between KB Arsenal and the Ministry of Defense. It has the military index 14F350, an out-of-sequence number in the 14F satellite designation system, pointing to the satellite’s unusual nature………
While this procurement documentation reveals little about the true nature of Ekipazh and its “transport and energy module,” contractual information that appeared on the procurement website this summer provides conclusive evidence that Ekipazh is a nuclear-powered satellite and leaves little doubt that it uses the Plazma-2010 platform or an outgrowth of it…………

Regulatory issues

Despite the safety risks associated with launching nuclear reactors into space, there are no international rules forbidding nations from doing so. In September 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations did adopt the so-called “Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space,” but these do not have the same binding force as the UN Outer Space Treaties.

One of the Principles stipulates that nuclear reactors may be operated on interplanetary missions, orbits high enough to allow for a sufficient decay of the fission products, or in low-Earth orbits if they are boosted to sufficiently high orbits after the operational part of the mission. As explained earlier, the latter procedure was followed for the Soviet-era RORSAT missions, but it is highly unlikely that Russia would want to risk repeating the Cosmos 954 experience of 1978. In fact, the very presence of a “transport and energy module” on Ekipazh is a sure sign that it will be placed into an orbit high enough to prevent any harm. Before the nuclear-powered TEM is even activated, a liquid-fuel propulsion system may first boost the satellite to an orbital altitude of at least 800 kilometers, the same procedure that has been described for the one-megawatt TEM. During a recent question-and-answer question with students in St. Petersburg, Roscosmos chief Dmitri Rogozin confirmed that 800 kilometers is the minimum operating altitude for nuclear reactors. Judging from Russian press reports, Rogozin was actually replying to a question about Ekipazh, but seemingly dodged that by talking about the one-megawatt reactor instead.[38]

Another Principle states that launching nations should make a thorough and comprehensive safety assessment and share the results of that with other nations before launch:

The results of this safety assessment, together with, to the extent feasible, an indication of the approximate intended time-frame of the launch, shall be made publicly available prior to each launch and the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be informed on how States may obtain such results of the safety assessment as soon as possible prior to each launch.

Russia adhered to this rule on the only occasion that it launched nuclear material into space after the adoption of the 1992 Principles. This was on the ill-fated Mars-96 interplanetary mission, which carried two surface penetrators powered by small radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). However, unlike Ekipazh, Mars-96 was an international scientific mission and the presence of the RTGs was widely known. It will be interesting to see how Russia deals with this issue once the top-secret Ekipazh nears launch.

Outlook

It may well be several more years before that launch takes place. Although the initial goal appears to have been to finish test flights by 2021, the available procurement documentation suggests that the first mission is still some time off. Ekipazh may well be experiencing the same kind of delays suffered by many other Russian space projects due to both budgetary issues and Western-imposed sanctions that have complicated the supply of electronic components for space hardware. On top of that, the development of a nuclear-powered satellite is bound to pose some daunting technical challenges that may further contribute to the delays.

One also wonders if the Russians are biting off more than they can chew by simultaneously working on two nuclear electric space tugs (Ekipazh and the one-megawatt TEM). An attempt to streamline this effort seems to have been made by giving KB Arsenal a leading role in both projects in 2014, making it possible to benefit from the company’s earlier experience in the field and infrastructure that it may already have in place to test related hardware. Still, the two projects use fundamentally different nuclear reactors built by different organizations.

The slow progress made in developing the one-megawatt gas-turbine reactor has left many wondering if it will ever fly in space. If Russia plans to use nuclear reactors solely for practical applications in Earth orbit, it may make more sense to abandon the gas-turbine reactor altogether and upgrade the capacity of Krasnaya Zvezda’s thermionic reactors. The company has already done conceptual work on thermionic reactors with a maximum capacity of several hundred kilowatts, even though their operational lifetime would be limited.[39] If this path is chosen, Ekipazh could serve as a testbed for all the nuclear reactors that Russia intends to fly in the near future. However, the country is unlikely to let all the money and effort invested in the one-megawatt TEM go to waste, even if its capabilities may not be needed until well into the 2030s or even later.
Project Ekipazh is discussed in this thread on the NASA Spaceflight Forum, which is updated with new information as it becomes available……. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3809/1

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Russia, space travel | Leave a comment

Revealed by Wikileaks – facts about nuclear weapons and the nuclear industry

What we know about nuclear weapons and the nuclear industry thanks to WikiLeaks,  https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/what-we-know-about-nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-industry-thanks-wikileaks/    The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on 11 October. Why I support the nomination of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.” Felicity Ruby, 7 October 2019  The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on 11 October. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been nominated for the prize again this year, as they have since 2010. As the first staffer of the campaign that won the Peace Prize in 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), I support this nomination for a number of reasons.

The vast majority of governments on this planet want nuclear disarmament negotiations to occur and produce results. ICAN has been mobilising this willingness to push for a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons. From the outset, the campaign deployed accurate information to mobilise public opinion and reeducate a new generation. In facing the truth about nuclear dangers, answers became available and courageous action was taken. Facing the truth about climate change similarly involves the public having accurate information and courageously acting on it.

WikiLeaks and Assange have made a great deal of information available about nuclear weapons and the nuclear industry. A search on the WikiLeaks site for the word ‘nuclear’ brings up 284, 493 results. These documents traverse the nuclear fuel cycle – from uranium mining to nuclear waste – with many thousands exposing nuclear energy industry giants, and nuclear weapon threat assessments, numbers, doctrines and negotiations.

Ten examples

Below are just ten examples of where WikiLeaks exposed wrongdoing on the part of governments and corporations that meant citizens could take action to protect themselves from harm, or governments were held to account:

– Chalk River nuclear reactor shut down – released 11 January 2008 – Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on Chalk River reactor.

After the Chalk River nuclear reactor was shut down for routine maintenance on 18 November 2007, inspectors verified the reactor’s cooling systems had not been modified as required by an August 2006 licensing review. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) did not start the reactor but said upgrades could be done as part of maintenance while still operating safely. This impasse lasted a month, with the government intervening to grant an exemption to the reactor to allow its restart.  The responsible Minister for Natural Resources, Gary Lunn MP, fired Linda Keen, the President of the Nuclear Safety Commission. Their exchange of letters revealed much about the safety standards and routine practices of the Canadian nuclear regulatory system, and particular problems with the ageing Chalk River reactor previously unknown to the public.

– Footage of the 1995 disaster at the Japanese Monju nuclear reactor – released 25 January 2008
Following the 2008 announcement that the Japanese Monju fast breeder nuclear reactor would be reopened, activists leaked the suppressed video footage of the sodium spill disaster that led to its closure in 1995. Named after the Buddhist divinity of wisdom, Monju, located in Japan’s Fukui prefecture, is Japan’s only fast-breeder reactor. Unlike conventional reactors, fast-breeder reactors, which “breed” plutonium, use sodium rather than water as a coolant. This type of coolant creates a potentially hazardous situation as sodium is highly corrosive and reacts violently with both water and air. On December 8, 1995, 700 kg of molten sodium leaked from the secondary cooling circuit of the Monju reactor, resulting in a fire that did not result in a radiation leak, but the potential for catastrophe was played down the extent of damage at the reactor and denied the existence of a videotape showing the sodium spill. Further complicating the story, the deputy general manager of the general affairs department at the PNC, Shigeo Nishimura, 49, jumped to his death the day after a news conference where he and other officials revealed the extent of the cover-up.

– Serious nuclear accident lay behind Iranian nuke chief’s mystery resignation – released 16 July 2009

WikiLeaks revealed that a source associated with Iran’s nuclear program confidentially told the organisation of a serious, recent, nuclear accident at Natanz. Natanz is the primary location of
Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and the site targeted with the Stuxnet worm that contained 4 zero days and was designed to slow down and speed up centrifuges enriching uranium. WikiLeaks had reason to believe the source was credible, however contact with this source was lost.

– 180 confirmed US tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe – released 7 December 2010

In advance of the nuclear posture review, a briefing was provided by US Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller to NATO in July 2009. Federation of American Scientists nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen stated, “Whether Miller was providing certified U.S. intelligence numbers or simply referenced good-enough nonofficial public estimates is less clear. But his use of a specific number (180) for Europe rather than a range suggests that it might an official number.”

– Italian nuclear industry corruption – released 18 March 2011    American diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks revealed how, “bribes could have a major impact on the future of the country’s energy industry,” in a four-year US campaign, which began in 2005, to encourage Italy to re-start a nuclear power program with a view to reducing its energy dependence on Russian gas and limiting the influence of the partnership between Italian energy company ENI and Russia’s Gazprom.

– Cash payments were made to Indian MPs for support of US India nuclear deal – released 18 March 2011     WikiLeaks revealed a cable by US Charge d’Affaires Steven White dated 17 July 2008 that indicated that the ruling Congress Party in India had bought MPs a vote on the 2008 India-US nuclear deal. Nachiketa Kapur, a political aide to Congress leader Satish Sharma showed a US Embassy employee “two chests containing cash” saying it was part of a bigger fund of Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 60 crore that the party had assembled to purchase the support of MPs.

– The IAEA warned Japan about safety issues at nuclear plants in 2009 – released 17 March 2011 In 2009, years before the Fukushima disaster, Japan was warned that its power plants could not withstand powerful earthquakes. The US was highly critical of Japan’s senior safety director at the International Atomic Energy Association “particularly with respect to confronting Japan’s own safety practices.”

– Safety and security issues with the UK Trident nuclear weapon system – released 17 May 2015

In an exclusive report to WikiLeaks, Trident nuclear weapons submariner, Royal Navy Able Seaman William McNeilly, aged 25, stated, “Please make sure this information is released. I don’t want to be in prison without anyone knowing the truth,” about the detailed nuclear safety problems he says he has been “gathering for over a year… This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us. We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public… Our Nuclear weapon systems are the prime target and we are wide open to attack. We must unite globally in order to eliminate the biggest threat the world has ever seen.”

– Western and Chinese companies expose workers in African uranium grab – released 5 February 2016       WikiLeaks released a collection of documents that open up a corrupt multi-billion dollar war by Western and Chinese companies which grab uranium and other mining rights in the Central African Republic (CAR) and escape paying for the environmental consequences. French giant Areva failed to protect miners from high levels of radiation who processed soil samples with no radiation protection, and neglected local employees when pulling out of a financially and politically disastrous venture in the CAR.

– Uranium One links with the Clinton Foundation – released 7 October 2016

As Russian Rosatom company Uranium One gained control of 1/5th of the US uranium production between 2009 – 2013, its chairman used his family foundation to make donations of over USD$ 2 million to the Clinton Foundation. Because uranium is a strategic asset, such a deal had to be approved by a Committee, whose decision was signed off by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Uranium One paid $20,000 to The Podesta Group to lobby the State Department for this deal, a lobbying firm founded by Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman, John Podesta.

WikiLeaks and Assange have brought forward many truths that are hard to face, publishing well over 10 million documents since 2006. Often forgotten is that each one was provided by a whistleblower who trusted this platform to publish, and who sought reform of how political, corporate and media power elites operate. Each release has shared genuine official information about how governments, companies, banks, the UN, political parties, jailers, cults, private security firms, war planners and the media actually operate when they think no one is looking.

Assange is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because of these many releases of information, used as evidence in court cases, freeing prisoners and exposing scandals, torture, murder and surveillance for which redress is only possible when the wrongdoing is dragged into the light. For publishing this true information, Assange, an Australian based in the UK at the time of publication, is on the health ward of Belmarsh Prison, facing extradition and charges attracting 175 years in a US jail, an effective death sentence.

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Reference | Leave a comment