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Are the remains of an experimental reactor buried on the Niagara Falls storage site?

A wide range of radioactive material was dumped cavalierly on site during the Second World War and the decades that followed: plutonium, uranium, thorium, cesium, polonium, strontium, and other dangerous materials. On site today, buried with that steel ball, is what is assumed to be irradiated graphite and almost 4,000 tons of radioactive radium-226, the largest repository in the western hemisphere, representing a staggering quantity of radiation.

—isotopes of plutonium, uranium, cesium, polonium, and other elements that are produced only inside nuclear reactors and by nuclear explosions—

It was known as the Radiological Warfare, or RW, program, and under its auspices scientists studied what materials could best be weaponized, what health consequences they would have on an enemy,

The Bomb That Fell On Niagara: The Sphere Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v7n39 (09/24/2008), by Geoff Kelly & Louis Ricciuti

Are the remains of an experimental reactor buried on the Niagara Falls storage site?

This is going to seem complicated and take a long way to get where it’s going. So here’s the gist, right upfront: Possibly, in Lewiston, are buried the remnants of an experimental nuclear reactor dating from the 1940s. This reactor would have been part of a secret program to weaponize poisonous materials—a program with roots in the study of poison gases in the First World War and whose culmination is found today in the use of depleted uranium munitions around the world.

Sure, it sounds like a plot inspired by Dr. Strangelove. But read on.

Amid the radioactive slurry and scrap interred in the 10-acre interim containment facility at the Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston is a curiosity: a hollow industrial steel ball, 38 feet in diameter.

You won’t find that house-sized steel ball on any waste materials manifest, at least not on any manifest released to the public by the US Army Corp of Engineers, which is the site’s caretaker, or the US Department of Energy, which owns the site and the hazardous waste buried there.

The ball exists in aerial photographs taken of the site in the mid 1940s, however, and it appears to have been rediscovered in a 2002 electric resistivity underground imaging study performed by defense contracting giant SAIC.

In those aerial photos, the ball sits some distance from the main cluster of buildings; the nearest structure is a concrete silo, which eventually became a receptacle for high-energy radium wastes, a legacy of local industry’s central role in the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission, which produced the first atomic bombs.

The Army Corps say there is no documentary record of the ball having been removed from the site. And the 2002 electric imaging scans suggest that a steel sphere, 38 feet in diameter, just like the one in the photos, is buried about a quarter mile from the ball’s original location, on the developed portion of a vast, former federal reservation called the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works. The LOOW came online officially in 1942, a 7,500-acre facility cobbled together from farm fields by the Department of War. Its initial use, according to the site’s official history, was a TNT factory. That factory closed, however, after nine months, at the height of the Second World War. The factory and all its infrastructure—miles of massive pipes, a water and power grid sufficient to sustain a city of 100,000 people, dozens of industrial buildings—were declared surplus.

The LOOW’s actual uses have been a mystery, whose plots and subplots have been revealed slowly and grudgingly by an unforthcoming federal government. ……..

Various sectors of the vast compound became dumping grounds for toxic radiological and chemical waste produced in Niagara Falls factories, as well as laboratories and reactors nationwide, working first on the atom bomb project and later on other Atomic Energy Commission and defense- and intelligence-related projects. A wide range of radioactive material was dumped cavalierly on site during the Second World War and the decades that followed: plutonium, uranium, thorium, cesium, polonium, strontium, and other dangerous materials. On site today, buried with that steel ball, is what is assumed to be irradiated graphite and almost 4,000 tons of radioactive radium-226, the largest repository in the western hemisphere, representing a staggering quantity of radiation.

Beginning in 1980, these wastes—originally dumped in open pools, seeping out of corroded barrels, or just piled on open ground—were consolidated by the DOE into a temporary containment structure on the 119-acre Niagara Falls Storage Site.

The existence on the LOOW of particularly exotic transuranics (that is, above uranium on the periodic table) and fission materials—isotopes of plutonium, uranium, cesium, polonium, and other elements that are produced only inside nuclear reactors and by nuclear explosions—has begged an explanation for decades. The Army Corps says that these transuranics and fission materials arrived at the LOOW with waste from the Navy’s Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory near Schenectady. But the waste from Knolls doesn’t explain all the transuranics and fission materials found on the LOOW, according to some experts, and it doesn’t explain how widespread and how much.

That steel sphere buried among this collection of radiological waste suggests another, simpler explanation: Could that steel ball—a Hortonsphere, named for the inventor of the process of its fabrication—been a component in an early model of an experimental ball-and-pile reactor? One in which exotic materials were created or irradiated, all in the service of a federal weapons program that sought to find new and lethal applications of the materials created in Niagara Falls for the Manhattan Project and beyond?

“I’d have to say yes,” says Tedd Weyman, of the Uranium Medical Research Centre, based in Toronto.

Occam’s Razor

Weyman is a physicist and his group, UMRC, studies the effects of uranium, transuranium elements, and radionuclides produced by the process of uranium decay and fission. UMRC is especially interested in the health effects of depleted uranium, whether it enters the environment as a result of munitions use or as waste.

Weyman examined the aerial photographs of the ball and silo, the list of transuranics and fission materials found on site, and the electric imaging scan that seemed to show that same ball from the photos buried alongside radioactive waste. He reviewed documents that describe the history of the LOOW site and of Niagara Falls industry over the past 60 or so years: the metals and chemicals and devices created in nearby factories, the experimental programs undertaken by defense and intelligence agencies beginning in the 1940s. He considered the size of the Hortonsphere, which he said is consistent with a ball reactor, and its placement in relation to the silo, which is consistent with the pile in a ball and pile reactor—that is, the source of the reactor’s “fuel” and critical reactions.

Weyman then listened to the explanations the Army Corps offered for the ball and the transuranics and fission products: that the ball was used to store anhydrous ammonia used in making TNT and the transuranics and fission products came from Knolls. He concluded that an on-site reactor was a far simpler explanation.

“They’re fission products,” Weyman says of the residues found on site…..

On the subject of the history of the LOOW site and the environmental dangers it poses, the Army Corps has been less than reliable when discussing the documentary evidence. In 2000, for example, when offered evidence that plutonium-tainted waste from medical experiments conducted at the University of Rochester had been buried on the LOOW site, the Corps denied such evidence existed. Eventually, they allowed both that the evidence existed and that the plutonium-tainted waste had been found on site…….

Occam’s Razor is the principle that the simplest explanation is most often the correct one. There’s that anomaly, exactly the diameter of the ball in question, which is exactly the size and manufacture of a ball reactor vessel. It is interred alongside radioactive waste. It originally sat near a silo, which once stored radioactive waste; a 1944 photo of the site looks like a photo of a ball and pile reactor of that era. And there are transuranics and fission materials buried nearby, as well as irradiated graphite, whose nature, quantity, and location aren’t completely explained by the Knolls hypothesis.

“If it quacks, is it not a duck?” Weyman says. “It’s quacking pretty loud.”……….

It was known as the Radiological Warfare, or RW, program, and under its auspices scientists studied what materials could best be weaponized, what health consequences they would have on an enemy, how best to deliver and disperse radioactive materials to a battle zone, and how much to use. This research was more secretive, but here too the expertise of local industries proved valuable. In a brochure from the postwar era, Bell Aircraft (later Bell Aerospace) bragged of its research in area weapons: that is, devices that disperse materials across a battlefield. Niagara Sprayer (a.k.a. FMC, the Middleport company that manufactured Agent Orange) created specialized compounds and nozzles for spraying agricultural metals, powders, and insecticides.

And over at the LOOW site, there was a mammoth federal reserve on which exotic radioactive wastes were accumulating.

Bob Nichols, the San Francisco-based writer who came to the same conculsion as Weyman about the ball buried on the NFSS, specializes in the history of this second track of research. He draws a straight line that connects the radiological warfare program to American research into poison gases, such as mustard gas and chlorine gas (both of which were produced in Niagara County), during the First World War; that line passes through the Manhattan Project along the way, and continues to the present-day use of depleted uranium munitions, which release a cloud of poisonous ceramicized uranium particles as a form of gas when they vaporize on impact.

Nichols explains that the first track—the building of more and better nuclear weapons—created vast stores of radiological waste materials. “The question back then was what on earth to do with it,” he said………

Whatever took place on the former LOOW site in the first decades of the Cold War may have evolved and—like so many local industries—moved away. But its legacy is in the dirt, air, and water. It’s interred under that clay cap. It’s in the region’s higher-than-expected rates of cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. History should matter to the Corps as much as it matters to those who live in its aftermath.

For more documents and photographs related to the article, visit AV Daily at Artvoice.com. http://artvoice.com/issues/v7n39/the_sphere.html

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October 16, 2017 Posted by | history, radiation, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

In fact, nuclear power plants are a cause of climate change, generating Krypton-85

Krypton-85: How nuclear power plants cause climate change https://thesenecaeffect.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/krypton-85-how-nuclear-power-plants-cause-climate-change/

Nuclear power is often referred to as a low-carbon source of energy, implying that it would be a good idea to replace our fossil fuel based energy system with one based on nuclear energy. This is part of a dog and pony show, where the problem of climate change is reduced to its current main contributor, human carbon dioxide emissions. The problem with this approach is that replacing fossil fuel based energy with other energy sources is not a solution, if these other energy sources cause climate change through different mechanisms.

This brings us to the nuclear industry’s dirty little secret, known as Krypton-85. Natural processes generate small amounts of Krypton-85. This leads to an equilibrium concentration in the atmosphere of 0.009 PBq. However, nuclear power plants generate Krypton-85 as well. When spent fuel is recycled, Krypton-85 is released into the atmosphere. As a result, Krypton-85 concentrations in the atmosphere have risen dramatically. The concentration in 1973 was estimated at 1961 PBq. In 2000, the concentration was estimated at 4800 PBq, by 2009, this had increased to 5500 PBq.1

Why should we be interested in the Krypton-85 concentration in our atmosphere? Krypton-85 has a number of interesting effects. As a beta-emitter, Krypton-85 is capable of ionizing our atmosphere. This leads to the formation of ozone.2 In the stratosphere, we’re quite happy to witness the formation of ozone, as it protects us against harmful radiation from the sun. On the other hand, in the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere beneath the stratosphere, the formation of ozone is a big problem. Unfortunately, Krypton-85’s ozone formation in the stratosphere is minor compared to that by cosmic rays.

In the troposphere on the other hand, Krypton-85 is believed to have a significant role in ozone formation compared to cosmic rays. This is especially significant at night, because normally ozone is not generated during the night, as it requires the presence of sunlight. Krypton-85 generates tropospheric ozone, during the day as well as during the night. Normally, Ozone concentrations in the troposphere drop to near zero during the night.3 In the presence of Krypton-85 however, ozone can be created at night as well.

What are the effect of this? Not a lot is known yet, unfortunately, despite the estimated eight orders of magnitude increase of ozone in our atmosphere. What is know about ozone however, reveals a cause of concern. Besides the fact that tropospheric ozone functions as a greenhouse gas, ozone damages plants. It is believed that ozone causes relatively more damage when trees are exposed to it at night, when concentrations are normally very low due to the absence of sunlight.4 Other worrisome effects of Krypton-85 are expected as well. In a 1994 study it was suggested that “there are unforeseeable effects for weather and climate if the krypton-85 content of the earth atmosphere continues to rise”.5 In its global atmosphere watch measurement guide, the World Meteorological Organization warned:

If 85Kr continues to increase, changes in such atmospheric processes and properties as atmospheric electric conductivity, ion current, the Earth’s magnetic field, formation of cloud condensation nuclei and aerosols, and frequency of lightning may result and thus disturb the Earth’s heat balance and precipitation patterns. These 85Kr-induced consequences call for 85Kr monitoring.6

Fortunately, there is good news as well. Thanks to the ongoing global phase-out of nuclear energy, global atmospheric Krypton-85 concentrations are estimated to have peaked back in 2009. If on the hand, a nuclear renaissance occurs after all, we could expect global atmospheric concentrations to continue to increase. It remains to be seen what the subsequent effects of this would be.


1 – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0265931X12001816?np=y

2 – Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases: Why and How to Control? Proceedings of an International Symposium, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 13–15 December 1993

3 – http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ChemistrySunlight/chemistry_sunlight2.php

4 – http://treephys.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/3/159.full.pdf

5 – http://www.opengrey.eu/item/display/10068/255704

6 – http://www.empa.ch/plugin/template/empa/*/7530

7 – http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.07.006

October 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | 4 Comments

Secret tragedy of Britain’s nuclear bomb tests

ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia.

In 2007 it was found nuclear veterans had the same DNA damage as Chernobyl survivors.

Wives had three times the normal numbers of miscarriage and children 10 times more birth de­­­fects. 

The secrets behind Britain’s first atomic bomb – and the heartbreaking aftermath The detonation of the plutonium bomb in 1952 was hailed a national success, but many of the servicemen involved were left permanently damaged by the fallout BY SUSIE  BONIFACE, MIRROR UK, 6 OCT 2017 

A blinding flash, an eerie silence, and then the sky cracked.

The sound reached those wat­ching at the same time as the blast – a scorching 600mph wind carrying with it the long, grumbling roar of the worst weapon known to humankind.

It was 65 years ago this week – 9.30am local time on October 3, 1952 – that Britain detonated its first nuclear bomb .

Winston Churchill was jubilant, the scientists bursting with pride. But on a tiny island off Australia the cost of the radioactive fallout from Operation Hurricane had yet to be counted.

Many of the servicemen present that day went on to suffer heartbreaking consequences.

Royal Engineer Derek Hickman, now 84, was there. He says: “We had no pro­­tective clothing. You wore shorts and sandals and if you remembered your bush hat, that was all you had.” The blast took place on HMS Plym, an old frigate anchored 300 yards off Trimouille, one of the Monte Bello islands. Troops and scientists lived and worked for months on a small fleet that accompanied her on her final mission.

Derek remembers: “They ordered us to muster on deck – I was on HMS Zeebrugge – and turn our backs to the Plym. We put our hands over our eyes and they counted down over the Tannoy.

“There was a sharp flash and I could see the bones in my hands like an X-ray. Then the sound and the wind and they told us to turn and face it. We watched the mushroom cloud just melt away. They gave us five photos as a memento.

“All that was left of the Plym were a few pieces of metal that fell like rain and her outline scorched on the sea bed.”………

In 1951 Aus­­tralia agreed the blast could take place at Monte Bello.   ….

Thousands of UK and Aussie servicemen saw the mushroom cloud dis­­perse before dozens of planes flew through it to collect dust samples.

The press had been given a viewing tower 55 miles away. The Mirror announced: “This bang has changed the world”.

No official statement was made until October 23 when PM Churchill told the Commons: “All concerned are to be warmly congratulated on the successful outcome of an historic episode.”

But ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia.

James Stephenson, 85,remembers being given an unexplained posting to Aber­­­gavenny. The former Royal Engineers soldier says: “We went for train­­ing and they started weeding us out, re­­­moving lads they thought were Communist sympathisers or not up to it.

“Nobody told us what it was about. When we embarked in Portsmouth we had to load machinery ourselves, they wouldn’t let the dockers do it.”James left with the first wave of vessels in January 1952. They were fol­­lowed six months later by HMS Plym carrying the bomb.

Derek explains: “It was a plutonium bomb – the dirtiest. A few years later I went to the doctor and mention­­­ed Monte Bello.

“He asked if I was mar­­ried. I said ‘Yes’ and he replied ‘My advice is ne­­­­v­­­er have children’. He wouldn’t say why.”

It was a warning Derek, now living alone in Crediton, Devon, couldn’t ignore. He says: “My wife wanted children and in the end I walked away from the marriage.

“She never blamed me but it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Since then I’ve discovered my friends’ wives suffered many miscarriages and their children had deformities.

“It’s given me a small comfort that at least we avoided that.”

In 2007 it was found nuclear veterans had the same DNA damage as Chernobyl survivors.

Wives had three times the normal numbers of miscarriage and children 10 times more birth de­­­fects. James, from Taunton, Devon, had two healthy children. But he was lucky.

He says: “I know people whose children were born with organs outside their bodies. It made me worry about my grandchildren. Thank God they’re fine.”

Hurricane had an explosive yield of 25 kilotons – 15 kilotons had flattened Hiroshima and killed 126,000. But less than four weeks later the US detonated a hydrogen bomb 400 times more powerful than Hurricane.

The UK was back out in the cold and would not be accepted at the nuclear top table until 1958 when it finally developed its own H-bomb.

In all 22,000 servicemen took part in Britain’s nuclear tests which ended only in 1991. Derek and James are among the 2,000 or so who survive and are still coming to terms with the chain reaction unleashed at Monte Bello.

James says: “Nobody really knew what they were doing, not us or the scientists. It was just a job we had to do.”

The Monte Bello islands are now a wildlife park but visitors are warned not to stay for more than an hour or take home the fragments of metal that can still be found – radioactive pieces of a long-forgotten Royal Navy warship that unleashed a hurricane. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/secrets-behind-britains-first-atomic-11300935

Thousands of UK and Aussie servicemen saw the mushroom cloud dis­­perse before dozens of planes flew through it to collect dust samples.

The press had been given a viewing tower 55 miles away. The Mirror announced: “This bang has changed the world”.

No official statement was made until October 23 when PM Churchill told the Commons: “All concerned are to be warmly congratulated on the successful outcome of an historic episode.”

But ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/secrets-behind-britains-first-atomic-11300935

October 9, 2017 Posted by | health, Namibia, Reference, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ignoring the danger of ionising radiation: nuclear waste dumping in the sea

The idea that nuclear pollution can be rendered safe by extreme dilution has been proven wrong

radioactive materials bioaccumulate. A worm can contain 2,000 to 3,000 times higher levels than its environment. The worm is then eaten by another marine animal, which gets eating by another, and so on. At each step, the radioactive level rises. Barbey has identified reproductive defects in sea crabs, caused by radioactive contamination, and these genetic defects are passed on to future generations of crabs.

Are we to believe the same is not happening in humans, who are at the top of the food chain?

The fact of the matter is that a certain number of cancer deaths are considered acceptable in order to keep costs for the nuclear waste industry down. The question no one has the answer to is: At what point do the deaths begin to outweigh the cost-savings of the nuclear industry?

As to where such cost-benefit considerations came from in the first place, the filmmakers identify the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP)

the nuclear industry is hardly operating for the benefit of the many.

The Rarely Discussed Reality of Radioactive Pollution https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/10/07/radioactive-pollution-exposure.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20171007Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM16

Story at-a-glance

  • For decades, the common method of nuclear disposal was to dump plutonium-filled steel barrels into the ocean. Today, many if not most of these barrels have corroded and disintegrated, releasing radioactive material into the environment
  • “Versenkt und Vergessen” (Sunk and Forgotten) investigates what happened to the barrels of nuclear waste, and how radioactive material is disposed of today
  • In 1993, nuclear waste dumping into the ocean was banned worldwide, yet the ocean remains a primary dumping ground for radioactive waste
  • Instead of ditching barrels overboard, the nuclear waste industry built pipes along the bottom of the sea, through which the radioactive material is discharged directly into the open sea
  • Cancer deaths are considered acceptable to keep costs for the nuclear waste industry down. According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, this cost-benefit consideration is part of Epicurus’ utilitarian ethics, which states that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

By Dr. Mercola

A rarely addressed environmental problem is radioactive pollution from nuclear waste disposal. For decades, the common method of nuclear disposal was to simply dump plutonium-filled steel barrels into the ocean. Continue reading

October 9, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

The Nuclear History of Port Hope – Book “Blind Faith”

Blind Faith: The Nuclear History of Port Hope, Ontario http://www.mintpressnews.com/MyMPN/blind-faith-nuclear-history-port-hope-ontario/  by Dennis Riches  @DennisRiches Port Hope and Public Charity for a Corporate Citizen

Since the 1940s, nuclear weapons tests, power plant failures and uranium mining have left radioactive contamination at hundreds of sites around the world. Whether the contamination is from weapons tests, accidents, or just reckless routine operations, the story of the affected people unfolds in much the same way, as if it were a formulaic plot for a generic television soap opera. Communities that have been chemically contaminated follow much the same script, but radiation adds some distinctive elements to the situation.

Radiation is invisible, and it has always been imbued with a diverse range of magical powers in science fiction. Ironically, in a very real sense, radiation does make people invisible (the phenomenon is fully explained by Robert Jacobs in “Radiation Makes People Invisible”) [1]. Once groups of people have become victims of a radiological contamination, they are, in addition to being poisoned (or being traumatized by the possibility that they have been poisoned), marginalized and forgotten. Their traditions and communities are fragmented, and they are shamed into concealing their trauma. When contamination occurs, there is a strong impulse even among many victims to not admit that they have been harmed, for they know the fate that awaits them if they do.

The victims are helped in this denial by those who inflicted the damage on them because nuclear technology, both for weapons and electricity production, has always been treated as two sides of a single national security problem that requires secrecy and the occasional sacrifice. Its workings must be hidden from enemies, terrorists and citizens themselves. Thus governments have never been interested in helping their citizens investigate nuclear accidents and environmental damage left in the wake of nuclear development.

As secretive programs of nation states, nuclear complexes operate free of any governing body that could provide checks and balances. In this sense, they are a more intractable problem than the corporate villains that are occasionally held in check by government supervision. The American tobacco industry was eventually forced into retreat by government, and it had to pay enormous damages to state governments for health care costs, but the nuclear weapons and energy complexes still operate free of any higher power that could restrain or abolish them.

Thus it is that hibakusha (the Japanese word for radiation victims) become invisible. When a new group of people become victims, such as in Fukushima in 2011, they feel that they have experienced a unique new kind of horror. For them, for their generation, it is new, but for those who know the historical record, it is a familiar replay of an old story. The people of Fukushima should know by now that they are bit players who have been handed down a tattered script from the past.

A case in point is “Blind Faith,” the superb 1981 book by journalist Penny Sanger, about the small irradiated Canadian town of Port Hope on the shores of Lake Ontario. (See the timeline at the end of this article) [2] In the 1970s it faced (and more often failed to face) the toxic legacy of processing first radium, then uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.

In a saner world this book would not be out of print and forgotten. It would be a classic text known by everyone who has ever had to share his town with a dangerous corporate citizen. Then there would be no surprises when a nuclear reactor explodes or a cancer cluster appears somewhere new. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the victims themselves fall over each other in a rush to excuse their abuser, beg for a continuation of jobs and tax revenue, and threaten the minority who try to break the conspiracy of silence.

On the back cover of the 1981 paperback edition of “Blind Faith” there was an endorsement by the late great Canadian writer Farley Mowat, who passed away in the spring of 2014:

Penny Sanger has written a fascinating and fearsome account of the emotional turmoil that engulfs a small town when it discovers that its major industry is a threat to the health of its citizens. This is a classic account of how economic power enables industry to ride roughshod over those who must depend on it for their daily bread.

Although I wrote above that “Blind Faith” illustrates universal truths about what happens to communities contaminated with radiation, there are always unique aspects of the situation that come into play. In this case, we see the extreme complacency and obliviousness of Canadian society to the role that the country played in the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

The uranium refinery in Port Hope was a key element in the Manhattan Project. It was the main facility for refining uranium ores from the Congo and northern Canada. However, as a subordinate nation in the American-led war, Canada just had to go along in complete secrecy. As was the case even in the US, there was never any debate in public or in elected legislatures. Canada was just taking orders and didn’t have to feel responsible. Canadians are still largely ignorant about their complicity in making the bombs that fell on Japan, as they are about being one of the sources of the uranium that was in the reactors of Fukushima Daiichi.

Another factor in our sense of irresponsibility is the comfortable delusion that all bad things are done by the evil empire south of the border. We’re the good guys, with universal health care and multiculturalism……..

The Port Hope refinery began operations in the 1930s to produce radium from uranium ore. The ore came from the recently discovered rich deposits in the Port Radium mine on the shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories (previous post on this topic here). This mine would later become one of the primary sources of uranium for the first atomic weapons, but in the 1930s radium was the only product that had value for its use in making luminescent paint and medical applications.

By the 1930s it was well understood that radium and uranium mines were extremely dangerous. The high lung cancer rates of miners in Czechoslovakia had been noted for a long time, but there were others who failed to acknowledge any connection. Marie Curie died in 1934 from aplastic anemia, and she never acknowledged that her numerous health problems had been related to the vials of radium that she carried around in her pocket or perhaps to the unshielded x-ray machines she worked with. [3] Today her diaries and papers still have to be stored in a lead box.

Because there was no consensus on the dangers of radium by the early pioneers (DNA wasn’t even understood until the 1950s), there were few safety controls in place when radium became an industrial product. Radium paint workers got sick and died for mysterious reasons, as did workers in processing plants like the Eldorado Mining and Refining facility in Port Hope. Almost nothing was done to protect workers or properly dispose of the waste product. The wastes were isolated in a dump, but when that became problem, the dirt was sold as fill to unsuspecting (or unscrupulous) buyers and used at construction sites all over town.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that a few citizens of Port Hope started to notice radioactive wastes turning up in various locations. This new awareness was the beginning of bitter social divides that would be familiar to anyone who has followed what has happened in Fukushima prefecture since 2011. The enormous implications of the necessary cleanup forced political and economic powers to downplay or ignore the dangers, and ostracize anyone who dared to threaten real estate values and tarnish the image of the community. The mayor even boasted of what a great role the town had played in the Cold War by refining uranium so that America could beat back the Soviet threat, as if the contamination had been worth it.

There was a minimal recognition of the need to do something about the worst hot spots, to placate critics and relocate residents in the worst danger. Everyone agreed, for example, that something had to be done to clean up a contaminated school, but for the most part the problem was denied in favor of keeping the town’s biggest tax payer and employer satisfied. At the same time, the federal government was not motivated to do anything that would set back the expansion of the nation’s nuclear energy program. The Darlington and Pickering nuclear plants were built nearby in this era on the shores of Lake Ontario.

By this time, Eldorado was no longer selling uranium for American nuclear weapons, but it had become a major player in the uranium fuel market. It would provide the fuel for the large fleet of CANDU reactors that Ontario was building, and by the 1980s Eldorado was privatized, turned into Cameco, and was then selling about 80% of its output to the US where the uranium was enriched for use in light water reactors.

Thus a full acknowledgment of the extent of the problem—the cost of cleanup and the health impacts—would have jeopardized the refinery’s role as a major supplier in a growing nuclear energy industry. Eldorado might have seemed like a wealthy giant to outsiders, but the uranium business was perilous and changing rapidly. Just as the public was becoming aware of the extent of the pollution, Eldorado was stuck in long-term contracts that were a bargain for its customers but disastrous in a time of soaring costs.

The situation presented especially difficult obstacles for opponents because Eldorado was a crown (publicly owned) corporation. One obstacle was secrecy. Since 1942, the operations of Eldorado have been state secrets, and much remains locked up in archives that are yet to be opened to historians. [4]

The other problem was in the fact that the government had no interest in investigating its own corporation, and because Eldorado was a federal crown corporation, the province of Ontario had no authority to investigate it for environmental crimes. Thus complaints from citizens ran into this dead end.

Similar situations in the United States, such as at the Rocky Flats plutonium pit factory, involved the Department of Energy hiring large defense contractors like Rockwell to manage the plant. This meant there was a possibility the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations could act if enough public pressure were applied and evidence of crimes became apparent. As much as the American nuclear weapons complex was a monstrous crime against nature, there is at least something redeeming in the fact that the American system of government consisted of various institutions that could sometimes keep the others in check. In the dying days of operations at Rocky Flats in 1989, the EPA and the FBI raided the facility which was then operated by Rockwell under contract for the Department of Energy. The US government essentially raided and prosecuted itself. [5]

Unfortunately, no such checks and balances existed in Canada’s nuclear industry. The federal government and its crown corporation had a monolithic grip on the historical records and on decisions about environmental safety and health related to radiation. There was no outside force that had legal authority to prosecute them and force them to divulge information.

There are some further details in “Blind Faith” that stand out in my memory. Some are unique to the Port Hope story, while others are typical of stories of other irradiated and poisoned communities.

At one point, a doctor in a nearby town grew alarmed at the number cancer cases that appeared in his patients from Port Hope. He tried to bring the issue to the attention of health authorities, but was slandered and opposed by city officials to a degree that he found alarming. He had foolishly thought that his efforts to speak up for public health would be appreciated.

Instead, city officials made a pathetic attempt to sue him for defaming Port Hope, and when that immediately failed, they complained to the provincial medical association. They had thought that this would succeed in getting him stripped of his license to practice, but they were quickly rebuffed by the medical association that found no fault in a doctor expressing his opinion about a serious public health concern. Such was the sophistication of the strategies of the town fathers as they floundered for ways to preserve the tax base.

Eldorado and the federal government, and even the Workmen’s Compensation Board were equally combative in the lawsuits that former workers eventually managed to bring to court. Lung cancer was the only health issue that was admitted for consideration in the lawsuits, and once it became a legal battle, all ethical considerations went by the wayside. It became a matter of winning at all costs, of admitting to absolutely no wrongdoing no matter how absurd the defendants had to appear. The government lawyers played hardball, abandoning any thought that the government corporation owed anything to the citizens who had lost their health working on a project so essential for national security. The government side was not too ashamed to engage in extreme forms of legalistic hair-splitting.

For example, the victims were forced to prove their exposure, but everyone involved knew that the only party that had the information were the defendants, and Eldorado did its best to conceal it. One victim was denied compensation because the records showed his cumulative exposure was 10.8 working level months. Expert witnesses were brought in to say that the threshold of danger to health was 12 working level months.

Another segment of the book that stands out is that in which Penny Sanger was able to discover that at one time, before the contamination was known by townspeople, the Canadian military had used Port Hope as a training ground for operating in the aftermath of nuclear warfare. The military knew what the citizens of the town didn’t know at the time: there were sizzling hot spots of various sizes all over town, so it made for an ideal training ground for soldiers who would have to map radiation levels and move through contaminated terrain after a nuclear attack. After the training exercise, they might have bothered to tell the locals about what they were living with, but the contamination remained a secret until residents started to figure it out for themselves.

As the years of legal struggles and activism dragged on, there were signs that the government was tacitly admitting to the scale of the problem, even if it refused to accept legal responsibility for health damages. The management of Eldorado was routed, and it would eventually be privatized and turned into Cameco. The refinery became the object of pork barrel politics when the federal Liberals came back to power in 1980. They announced that the more dangerous uranium trioxide operation would be relocated to Blind River, a town in the north that had voted Liberal. Eldorado wanted the refinery kept in place close to markets. (I wonder if anyone saw the ironic symbolism of progress in the names; going from hope to blind—a fiction writer couldn’t have come up with anything better).

One stand-out account is that of a widow whose husband, a long-time Eldorado worker, had died of lung cancer at age 50. He had worked at Eldorado for over twenty years, during the era when workplace monitoring and standards were non-existent. Her husband was no longer there to say whether he too was “philosophical” about it and “couldn’t be bitter about it” like his wife and his daughter claimed. The widow said that in spite of her husband’s shortened life, they were grateful for the good jobs and university education that the children were able to get. Thanks to Eldorado, they had come up in the world.

Penny Sanger passed no judgment on this thinking, but I find it to be a rather disturbinging example of working man’s Stockholm Syndrome. The victim has internalized the values of the captor, and lost self-esteem and critical thinking skills in the process. The bereaved family shrugs that they “can’t be bitter about it.” They’ve internalized the value that children have to go to university to live worthwhile lives, and it’s alright if parents have to kill themselves to accomplish this goal.

It seemed to never occur to any of the Port Hope boosters that there were dozens of similar towns in rural Ontario that had found ways to survive without hosting toxic industries. I know a family of Polish immigrants who landed in Port Hope in the 1960s, and they managed to get by without working for Cameco. The children had the sense to leave town after high school when they saw their friends going straight to grim lives working with the yellowcake down at the plant. One of them managed somehow to get a couple of university degrees after he left town.

This lack of imagination among the terminally hopeful applies more widely. Not only do company towns fail to imagine less toxic ways to live, but large nations also fail to imagine new paradigms for energy and economic systems.

Port Hope’s troubles with its radioactive legacy didn’t end with the privatization of the refinery and other varied forms of resolution that came about in the 1980s. A cleanup was done in the 1980s, but twenty years later hot spots were still turning up, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission finally admitted the extent of the problem and committed taxpayer funds to a billion-dollar decontamination project which is presently underway—an amount that is, ironically, about the same as the budget for the new Chernobyl sarcophagus under construction now. [6][7]

There is further irony in the fact that while the Fukushima and Chernobyl exclusion zones have become the famous global icons of radiation-affected communities, the Port Hope disaster has no place in Canada’s national consciousness. [8] There is little public awareness of the history, and the present billion-dollar decontamination project has received scant media attention and no public alarm over the high cost.

Opposition parties in Ontario have focused in recent years on stoking citizen outrage over cancelled plans to build gas-powered electric generating stations. That loss was comparatively little, amounting to “only” a few hundred million dollars. The same can be said of the province’s plan to spend $20 billion or more to refurbish nuclear power plants to operate them beyond their originally planned expiry dates. This issue receives little attention, as none of the major political parties wish to use it to stoke debate with rivals. Nuclear energy has vanished from political discourse.

Meanwhile, Cameco has continued to practice its philosophy of good corporate citizenship by funneling all its uranium sales through Switzerland in order to avoid Canadian taxes. The company is in an ongoing legal battle with Canada Revenue Agency, while it has warned stockholders it may owe as much as $850 million in back taxes[9]. Note that this amount falls a bit short of the cost of the decontamination project in Port Hope, but it would provide a big chunk of it.

 

“Blind Faith” is available on a website dedicated to the history of Port Hope. Since it is out of print and over thirty years old, I asked the author if she would allow its free distribution as a pdf file. She gave her permission, but of course the common sense rules apply. If you want to sell the book, ask the author for permission. If you redistribute it free, in whole or in part, do so with proper citation.Read it in a web browser:
http://www.porthopehistory.com/blindfaith/blindfaith.htmFree download (permitted by author):
Penny Sanger, Blind Faith” (pdf) (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1981), 135 pages.http://www.mintpressnews.com/MyMPN/blind-faith-nuclear-history-port-hope-ontario/

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Canada, environment, Reference, resources - print | Leave a comment

Text of Nobel Peace Prize award to anti-nuclear campaign ICAN

 https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/37375277/text-of-nobel-peace-prize-award-to-anti-nuclear-campaign-ican/   OSLO (Reuters) (Reporting By Alister Doyle), 6 Oct 17 – Following is the text of the Nobel Peace Prize award on Friday to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.
We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.

Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth. Through binding international agreements, the international community has previously adopted prohibitions against land mines, cluster munitions and biological and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition.

Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap. An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that a nuclear war will cause. ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe.

The coalition has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.

Furthermore, ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavor to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law. On 7 July 2017, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is aware that an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty.

The Committee wishes to emphasize that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states. This year’s Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world.

Five of the states that currently have nuclear weapons – the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – have already committed to this objective through their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty will remain the primary international legal instrument for promoting nuclear disarmament and preventing the further spread of such weapons.

It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly, in its very first resolution, advocated the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world. With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to pay tribute to ICAN for giving new momentum to the efforts to achieve this goal.

The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will.

The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses. ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament.
ICAN and a majority of UN member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. And through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.

It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor.

October 7, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Debunking the myths about nuclear fusion – The ITER Power Amplification Myth

The ITER Power Amplification Myth   – By Steven B. Krivit –New Energy Times, 6 Oct 17 

Short link: http://tinyurl.com/y9lvf79j

This is the third of three reports about the claims by representatives and proponents of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). “The Selling of ITER” published on Jan. 12, 2017. “Former ITER Spokesman Confirms Accuracy of New Energy Times Story” published on Jan. 19, 2017.


Abstract (Abstract is Copyleft, duplication permitted but only with attribution and link to original )

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the largest and most expensive science experiment on Earth today. Public outreach for the experimental fusion reactor, under the direction of Laban Coblentz, the head of the ITER communications office, has led journalists and the public to believe that, when completed, the reactor will produce 10 times more power than goes into it.

It will do no such thing. The $22 billion reactor is designed to produce only 1.6 times more thermal power than it consumes in electric power. Using a more conservative calculation, the reactor will lose more power than it produces. The planned output power of the reactor has been reported correctly, but the input power for the reactor has been widely reported, incorrectly, as 50 megawatts. The actual input power value, rarely discussed publicly, will be significantly larger.

For decades, some proponents of thermonuclear fusion research have used a double meaning for the phrase “fusion power” yet failed to inform the public, the news media, or legislators about the existence of this dual meaning. This ambiguity has caused non-experts to think that power production rates from large-scale thermonuclear fusion experiments show greater technological progress than has actually occurred. As a result, people who are not fusion experts think that ITER will achieve a power production rate, or power amplification, six times larger than its design specification. ITER will produce power at a rate of only two-thirds of the rate it will consume power, when comparing electric power input to equivalent electric power output.

Some fusion proponents have used the secondary meaning of “fusion power” to convince non-experts that the record-setting 1997 fusion experiment in the Joint European Torus (JET) reactor in the U.K. had produced thermal power at a rate of 65 percent of the electric power consumed by the reactor and, therefore, that the reactor had come close to producing power at a rate equal to the rate of power consumed. In fact, in that experiment, the reactor produced power in heat at a rate of less than 2 percent of the power in electricity it consumed. Coblentz and the ITER communications group have used the same double meaning to promote the publicly funded $22 billion ITER reactor, under construction now in southern France.

Fusion research insiders know that the current primary goal of ITER is not to demonstrate power amplification of the reactor. Instead, they know, the main goal is the power amplification of the fusion plasma, a significantly different measurement. Fusion experts say that non-experts understand the distinction, but nearly all evidence, as shown for example in news coverage by The New York Times, Scientific American, Bloomberg, Forbes and BBC News, is to the contrary. The double meaning of the phrase “fusion power” went unnoticed for years and has misled experienced journalists, scientists, members of the public and elected officials…….http://news.newenergytimes.net/

October 7, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Essential for the public to know about the hazards of RADON

In the face of multiple environmental hazards and issues radon often gets overlooked, partially because radon is what one can call a silent killer

Educating the public about radon and their ill effects and ways of preventing it is a must as there is not much awareness about this in the public –despite many northern states in the USA having high concentrations. Part of this education effort involves indoor testing.

Public funding and radon poisoning, what’s the link? https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/radon-public-funding/ Morgan, Jessica | October 5, 2017 It has only been a short while since the news of drastic budget trimming on various EPA projects by President Donald Trump’s government came out; however, it is already obvious that it will have a long-term effect on the environment.

The proposed 25-30% cut in EPA’s budgets can severely affect several climate programs that were nurtured under President Obama’s rule, and many other initiatives and projects that support clean air and water. These initiatives were introduced for the well-being of the public to a large extent in the future. This move can also shut the doors for the Indoor Air Radon Program and State Indoor Radon Grants.

The main goal of the Indoor Air Radon Program is minimizing and preventing radon-related lung cancer nationally. The EPA provides grant funds to States and tribes. These funds help finance their radon risk reduction programs. The recipients of the funds must provide a minimum of 40% in matching funds. The SIRG or States Indoor Radon Grant funds are however not available to individuals or homeowners.

The SIRG program was started in 1988 and has been consistent in supporting the State efforts to reduce Radon exposure-related health risks. The SIRG program from time to time has been revising the SIRG guidance by removing the obsolete administrative and technical guidance and updating with latest modifications that address a renewed emphasis on program priorities, documenting results, and results reporting.

Those who receive funds from SIRG are expected to follow the agency’s strategic goals and all their projects and activities must be aligned accordingly. The strategic goals include,

  • Local government to adopt building codes that require radon-reducing features and initiate those building new homes to add these radon-reducing features where appropriate.
  • Have real estate dealers test the property for radon exposure before striking a deal. Also, have homeowners test their homes for radon exposure and have it fixed.
  • Have existing school buildings check for radon exposure and get it fixed appropriately. Building new schools with radon-reducing features.
  • Conducting projects and activities that bring awareness to the public about the above three strategies which include promoting action by consumers, real estate professionals, state and local building code officials, schools officials, non-profit public health organizations,  professional organizations partnerships.

Cutting down the EPA budget can directly affect the SIRG program as it is essential to continue the State radon programs. With the budget cut down, SIRG cannot run an effective program.

In the face of multiple environmental hazards and issues radon often gets overlooked, partially because radon is what one can call a silent killer. It is a gas which is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. When radium or uranium present in the soil, rock, or water breaks down or decays, it releases radon. Radon itself does not cause any harmful effects as it travels to the surface of the ground and dilutes in the air outdoors. The problem is when the gas accumulates indoor in a building it might not have room for an escape of dilution and further decays –radon can enter a house through cracks in foundations, floors, well water, etc. The decayed radon creates radon progeny, which are radioactive particles that attach to dust particles indoors. When a person inhales this radioactive gas, it can damage the cells in the lung tissue and leads to lung cancer.

Usually there will be two copies of DNA repair enzymes in many people that can repair the damage; however, a few less fortunate people may have just one copy of these DNA repair enzymes which might not be sufficient enough to repair the damages and can lead to lung cancer. This is the reason why even though an entire family is living in a radon-exposed environment, only one or two might be affected by it.

Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air, and the recommended level is 4 pCi/L. In comparison, the outdoor level of radon is just 0.4 pCi/L. If a house or a building has radon above the recommended levels then proper actions need to be taken. Modern technology is able to bring down the radon level indoors to 2 pCi/L or lower.

Educating the public about radon and their ill effects and ways of preventing it is a must as there is not much awareness about this in the public –despite many northern states in the USA having high concentrations. Part of this education effort involves indoor testing. There are short term tests that last for 90 days as well as long-term tests that last for more than 90 days to confirm the levels. There are also test kits available. If it is confirmed that your home is exposed to radon, mitigation steps can be taken by professional contractors who have expertise in this field. The contractor will gauge your house and recommend the exact mitigation system that your house will need. There are different methods like soil suction which involves sub-slab suction, sump holds suction, drain tile suction, and block wall suction. Other methods are heat recovery ventilators, home pressurization, well water aeration, sealing radon entry locations, etc.

Reductions in federal funding for the Indoor Air Radon Program and States Indoor Radon Grant hamstrings many of the radon risk reduction and education programs, raising the likelihood that low-income households will not be able to afford testing and mitigation.  Whether your government supports you or not, you can learn more about the harmful risks of radon and the steps you can take to make your house safer for you and your family. To learn more about radon, go through this infographic from PropertEco which explains about radon gas and its ill effects.


The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org

MAHB Blog: https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/radon-public-funding/

October 7, 2017 Posted by | politics, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

From Nuclear Fusion Fraud to Physics Fortune

The ITER Power Amplification Myth Oct. 6, 2017 – By Steven B. Krivit –

Short link: http://tinyurl.com/y9lvf79j

This is the third of three reports about the claims by representatives and proponents of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). “The Selling of ITER” published on Jan. 12, 2017. “Former ITER Spokesman Confirms Accuracy of New Energy Times Story” published on Jan. 19, 2017.

From Fusion Fraud to Physics Fortune
“………..The ITER project, supported by a widespread misunderstanding of its promised results, funded by billions in cash, resources and materials, will not deliver a practical demonstration of fusion power, but merely a scientific demonstration of a sustained fusion reaction. Yet on July 3, 2017, the Chinese Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak reactor already did this, for 101 seconds. When built, ITER will merely do it for four times longer.

Oddly, the quest for practical nuclear fusion on Earth was born out of fraud. The ITER Web site recognizes this, with a page titled “Proyecto Huemul: From Fusion Fraud to Physics Fortune.”

The story began in 1948 in Argentina when Austrian scientist Ronald Richter proposed his idea for a fusion device to President Juan Perón. Perón agreed to fund the concept, and on March 24, 1951, Perón held a press conference at which he announced that his country had achieved practical, controlled nuclear fusion. By 1952, however, after independent investigators reported no evidence to support the claims, the project was shut down. The ITER page calls it “the scientific fraud of the century.”

Yet in 1951, before the Argentinian project was shut down, the project caught the attention of Lyman Spitzer, an astrophysicist at Princeton University. Spitzer, in turn, approached the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and convinced it to fund his own fusion research concept. Thus, the U.S. controlled nuclear fusion era began at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and the worldwide race for fusion energy began.

Since construction on ITER began in 2007, nuclear fusion news stories have been tagged with titillating headlines about unlimited energy. A CNN story headline is typical: “Is Nuclear Fusion About to Change Our World?” Every incremental step forward in temperature, pressure, or plasma confinement time has been a “breakthrough.” Each breakthrough, according to the news stories, has brought the dream of harnessing the power of the sun on Earth one step closer to reality. Rarely have the stories featured any critical assessment or analysis.

One journalist wrote that physicists at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory had “demonstrated” how a new fusion reactor design could lead to the first commercially viable nuclear fusion power plant. The demonstration was merely on paper. The article featured a photo of a reactor. But it wasn’t the reactor described in the article. That reactor hadn’t been built yet.

As the comics below show, the very same Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory — back in 1975 when the DOE was called the Atomic Energy Commission — told journalists it was a big step closer to virtually limitless pollution-free energy thanks to “breakthroughs” in plasma density and temperature.

Then there’s MIT scientist Earl Marmar, who told journalists this year that the technology exists to have fusion energy in 13 years if only it is funded aggressively enough.

Vision and hope are wonderful and necessary components of the human experience. But false hope and worthless promises — laced with misleading claims — do not represent the science accurately. They do not represent the integrity of all scientists involved in the research.

The false idea that the JET reactor produced 65% of the power it consumed has been deeply planted in the minds of the public and journalists. The same goes for the false idea that the ITER reactor will produce 10 times the power it consumes. These two myths serve to misrepresent the status of fusion energy research and, specifically, the ITER project……http://news.newenergytimes.net/2017/10/06/the-iter-power-amplification-myth/#more-44064

October 7, 2017 Posted by | Reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

James Hansen – great on climate change – wrong on Generation IV nuclear reactors

The risks……..in fact, thorium has been used to produce fissile material (uranium-233) for nuclear weapons tests.

Waste…. “Even integral fast reactors (IFRs), which recycle most of their waste, leave behind materials that have been contaminated by transuranic elements and so cannot avoid the need to develop deep geologic disposal.”

Generation IV economics…..The US Government Accountability Office’s 2015 report noted that technical challenges facing SMRs and advanced reactors may result in higher-cost reactors than anticipated, making them less competitive with large light-water reactors or power plants using other fuels.

James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear advocacy: a deconstruction of nuclear fallacies and fantasies http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2989318/james_hansens_generation_iv_nuclear_advocacy_a_deconstruction_of_nuclear_fallacies_and_fantasies.html, Dr Jim Green, 3rd October, 2017 

Climate scientist James Hansen’s claims about Generation IV nuclear concepts simply don’t stack up, argues JIM GREEN Dr James Hansen is rightly admired for his scientific and political work drawing attention to climate change. His advocacy of nuclear power ‒ and in particular novel Generation IV nuclear concepts ‒ deserves serious scrutiny.

In a nutshell, Dr Hansen (among others) claims that some Generation IV reactors are a triple threat: they can convert weapons-usable (fissile) material and long-lived nuclear waste into low-carbon electricity. Let’s take the weapons and waste issues in turn. Continue reading

October 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Urals nuclear disaster 1957

NUCLEAR DISASTER IN THE URALS. KYSHTYM ACCIDENT  https://sherbrooktimes.com/nuclear-disaster-in-the-urals-kyshtym-accident/12112   

On 29 September 1957 at 16 o’clock on the territory of the chemical plant “Mayak”, which was in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40 (now Ozersk), was the first in the USSR radiation accident — an explosion of capacity to store radioactive waste. The catastrophe was called the Kyshtym accident — the name closest to Chelyabinsk-40 by city.

The blast occurred in containers, of a capacity of 300 m? because of the failure of the cooling system. In the tank contained a total of about 80 m? highly radioactive nuclear waste. At the time of construction in 1950-ies the strength of the structure is not in doubt. She was in the pit, in a concrete shirt thickness meter.

Cover the container weighed 560 tons, over it was laid a two-meter layer of earth. However, even this failed to contain the explosion.

According to another, unofficial version, the accident occurred due to human error of the plant that in the tank-evaporator with hot plutonium nitrate solution by mistake added a solution of plutonium oxalate. The oxidation of oxalate nitrate allocating a large amount of energy, leading to overheating and explosion of the tank.

During the explosion in the atmosphere were about 20 million curies of radioactive substances, some of which rose to a height of up to two miles, and formed an aerosol cloud.

Over the next 11-12 hours of radioactive fallout on the territory with a length of 300-350 km on northeast from the explosion.

In the area of radioactive contamination got 23 thousand km2 with a population of 270 thousand people in 217 settlements of the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk and Tyumen regions. During the liquidation of consequences of the accident were required to relocate 23 villages with a population of 10-12 thousand a man, all the buildings, property and livestock were destroyed.

Liquidators were hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians

Only in the first ten days the number of deaths from radiation have gone on hundreds, during the works in varying degrees, suffered 250 thousand liquidators.

According to the international scale of nuclear testing accident was estimated at six points. For comparison, the seventh level, the maximum was rated accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima-1.

To avoid scattering of radiation by government decision was established the sanitary-protective zone in which economic activity was banned. In 1968 this territory was formed of the Eastern Ural state reserve.

It is forbidden to visit — the level of radioactivity is still too dangerous for humans.

October 6, 1957 in the newspaper “Chelyabinsk worker” appeared devoted to his note, in which, however, about the accident not a word was said:

On Sunday night… many residents of Chelyabinsk watched the special glow of a starry sky. It’s pretty rare in our latitudes, the glow had all the signs of the Aurora. Intense red, time moves to slightly pink and light blue glow first covered a large part of the South-Western and North-Eastern surface of the firmament. About 11 o’clock it was possible to observe in the North-Western direction… In the sky appeared a relatively large colored area and the quiet lanes that had at the last stage of lights North-South direction. The study of the nature of the Aurora, has begun Lomonosov continues in our days. Modern science has confirmed the basic idea of the University, that the Aurora occurs in the upper layers of the atmosphere by electrical discharges of the Aurora…… can be observed in the future at the latitudes of the southern Urals”.

Kyshtym accident has long been a state secret. For the first time openly about her was said in a shot at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, the film Director and biologist Elena Sakanyan, dedicated to the fate of Soviet genetics and biologist Nikolai Timofeev-Ressovsky.

The films were shown on television only after Sakanyan directly asked about the show to Boris Yeltsin.

But in the foreign press leaked the information in April 1958. For the first time about the accident said one of the Copenhagen Newspapers. Subsequently, information about the accident appeared in the report of the National laboratory, USA, biologist Zhores Medvedev dedicated incident book entitled “Nuclear disaster in the Urals”, published in the US, an analysis of the causes of the accident and its causes held by a group of American scientists from the atomic center at oak ridge.

“About the explosion at the “Mayak” for long periods of time, the public knew almost nothing. Later, for some reason, the accident was replicated in the media as the “Kyshtym accident”.

In Kyshtym on this occasion, even recently, was the obelisk, although the city to this event is irrelevant.

And the East-Ural radioactive trail, formed after 1957, did not affect Cistema and its residents,” — said in an interview in 2009, one of its liquidators.

Only the “Lighthouse” there were more than 30 incidents of radioactive emissions and human victims.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | history, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

How America tested radiation on its citizens, during the Cold War.

Cold War radiation testing in U.S. widespread, author claims Three members of Congress are demanding answers after a St. Louis scholar’s new book revealed details of how the U.S. government sprayed, injected and fed radiation and other dangerous materials to countless people in secret Cold War-era testing.

The health ramifications of the tests are unknown. Lisa Martino-Taylor, an associate professor of sociology at St. Louis Community College who wrote “Behind the Fog: How the U.S. Cold War Radiological Weapons Program Exposed Innocent Americans,” acknowledged that tracing diseases like cancer to specific causes is difficult.

 But three congressmen who represent areas where testing occurred — Democrats William Lacy Clay of Missouri, Brad Sherman of California and Jim Cooper of Tennessee — said they were outraged by the revelations.

Martino-Taylor used Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain previously unreleased documents, including army records. She also reviewed already public records and published articles. In an interview, she said she found that a small group of researchers, aided by leading academic institutions, worked to develop radiological weapons and later “combination weapons” using radioactive materials along with chemical or biological weapons.

Her book, published in August, was a follow-up to her 2012 dissertation that found the government conducted secret testing of zinc cadmium sulfide in a poor area of St. Louis in the 1950s and 1960s. The book focuses on the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s.

An army spokeswoman declined comment, but Martino-Taylor’s 2012 report on testing in St. Louis was troubling enough to spur an army investigation. The investigation found no evidence that the St. Louis testing posed a health threat.

Martino-Taylor said the offensive radiological weapons program was a top priority for the government. Unknowing people at places across the U.S. as well as parts of England and Canada were subjected to potentially deadly material through open-air spraying, ingestion and injection, Martino-Taylor said.

“They targeted the most vulnerable in society in most cases,” Martino-Taylor said. “They targeted children. They targeted pregnant women in Nashville. People who were ill in hospitals. They targeted wards of the state. And they targeted minority populations.”

The tests in Nashville in the late 1940s involved giving 820 poor and pregnant white women a mixture during their first pre-natal visit that included radioactive iron, Martino-Taylor said. The women were chosen without their knowledge. Blood tests were performed to determine how much radioactive iron had been absorbed by the mother, and the babies’ blood was tested at birth. Similar tests were performed in Chicago and San Francisco, Martino-Taylor said.

Cooper’s office plans to seek more information from the Army Legislative Liaison, said spokesman Chris Carroll.

“We are asking for details on the Pentagon’s role, along with any cooperation by research institutions and other organizations,” Carroll said. “These revelations are shocking, disturbing and painful.”

In California, investigators created a radiation field inside a building at North Hollywood High School during a weekend in the fall of 1961, Martino-Taylor said. Similar testing was performed at the University of California, Los Angeles and at a Los Angeles Police Department building.

Sherman said he wants a survey of people who graduated from the school around the time of the testing to see if there was a higher incidence of illness, including cancer. He also said he will seek more information from the Department of Energy.

“What an incredibly stupid, reckless thing to do,” said Sherman, whose district includes North Hollywood High School.

Among those who recall the testing is Mary Helen Brindell, 73. She was playing baseball in a St. Louis street in the mid-1950s when a squadron of green planes flew so low overhead that she could see the face of the lead pilot. Suddenly, the children were covered in a fine powdery substance that stuck to skin moistened by summer sweat.

Brindell has suffered from breast, thyroid, skin and uterine cancers. Her sister died of a rare form of esophageal cancer.

“I just want an explanation from the government,” Brindell said. “Why would you do that to people?”

Clay said he was angered that Americans were used as “guinea pigs” for research.

“I join with my colleagues to demand the whole truth about this testing and I will reach out to my Missouri Delegation friends on the House Armed Services Committee for their help as well,” Clay said in a statement.

St. Louis leaders were told at the time that the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield the city from aerial observation in case of Soviet attack. Evidence now shows radioactive material, not just zinc cadmium sulfide, was part of that spraying, Martino-Taylor said.

Doris Spates, 62, was born in 1955 on the 11th floor of the Pruitt-Igoe low-income high-rise where the army sprayed material from the roof. Her father died suddenly three months after her birth. Four of her 11 siblings died from cancer at relatively young ages. She survived cervical cancer and suffers from skin and breathing problems.

“It makes me angry,” Spates said. “It is wrong to do something like that to people who don’t have any knowledge of it.”

According to Martino-Taylor, other testing in Chicago; Berkeley, California; Rochester, New York; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, involved injecting people with plutonium-239.

She said her book shines a light on the team of mostly young scientists tasked with developing radiological weapons. They worked in a closed world with virtually no input from anyone “who could say, ‘This isn’t right,’ or put some sort of moral compass on it,” she said.

She hopes her book prompts more people to investigate.

“We haven’t gotten any answers so far,” Martino-Taylor said. “I think there’s a lot more to find out.”

October 4, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, Reference, USA | 1 Comment

Health effects of uranium mining in India

Radiation in uranium mines People working in nuclear power plants face considerable health hazards. http://www.millenniumpost.in/opinion/radiation-in-uranium-mines-264457?utm_source=web-social-share&utm_partner=mpost&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook Arun Mitra |  2 Oct 2017, Nuclear energy is being projected as the panacea for the energy crisis in our country. It is true that we have acute shortage of electricity which is so essential for development. But there has been debate around the globe whether nuclear energy is the answer. There is evidence to prove that It is fraught with dangers right from digging of its ore – the uranium, to its transport to the nuclear power plants, hazards involved in its utilisation in nuclear facilities and lastly its waste management. There have been many accidents worldwide in the nuclear facilities which have been of extremely serious nature. The Three Mile island accident in 1979, the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. In India, too, several low-level accidents have occurred but they have gone unreported because there is no transparency in the nuclear energy industry and it is not covered under the RTI act.
A large number of workers are involved at every step of nuclear energy. Since nuclear energy is directly linked to radiations, it is important to examine if the workers or their families living in and around these facilities have any associated health problems. The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) had conducted a study on the health status of indigenous people around Jadugoda uranium mines situated in Jharkhand. The study was conducted under the leadership of Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman, who at present the General Secretary of IDPD.
All mining operations have related occupational health and safety hazards. Uranium mines present another hazard to workers and to members of the public. That is a radiation hazard. There are three types of exposure paths in the surrounding of uranium mine. Uranium mining and milling operations produce dust and gas (radon) having radioisotopes that are inhaled by miners and deliver internal radiation.
Through the ingestion of uranium series radioisotopes, transported in surface waters discharged from the mine delivering an internal radiation.  The gamma-ray exposure by approaching tailing ponds or mine-tailings. The population living around the Jadugoda uranium mines was found to be suffering from following health effects:
Congenital Deformities: The investigation showed that babies from mothers, who lived near the uranium mining operation area, suffered a significant increase in congenital deformities. While 4.49 per cent mothers living in the study villages reported that children with congenital deformities were born to them, only 2.49 per cent mothers in reference villages fell under this category. The study when seen in this background reveals that people with disabilities in the study villages are significantly more than the all India average. Moreover, increased number of children in the study villages are dying due to congenital deformities. Out of mothers who have lost their children after birth, 9.25 per cent in the study villages reported congenital deformities as the cause of death of their children as compared to only 1.70 per cent mothers in the reference villages. The result shows that children born to mothers who lived near uranium mining operational area are more likely to die due to congenital deformities.
Primary Sterility: For the study purpose, the criteria of primary sterility were laid down to be a married couple not having conceived for at least three years after the marriage, and not using any method of contraception. The result shows that while 9.60 per cent of couples in study villages have not conceived even after three years of marriage, only 6.27 per cent of couples from reference villages fell under this category. The finding demonstrates that couples living near uranium mining operational area are approximately 1.58 times more vulnerable to primary sterility.
Cancer: On being asked the cause of last death in the household, 2.87 per cent households in the study villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, whereas, 1.89 per cent households in reference village fell under this category. The study reveals that cancer as a cause of death among people living near uranium mining operational area is significantly high.
Life Expectancy: The study shows that increased numbers of people living near uranium mining operational area are dying before completing 62 years of age. The average life expectancy in the state of Jharkhand is 62 years. The study shows that 68.33 per cent the of deaths in the study villages were happening before attaining 62 years of age, whereas 53.94 per cent deaths were reported in reference villages under this category. The findings are discerning and the difference is significant. Other variables: The study tried to look at a few other health variables as well, like prevalence of spontaneous abortion among married women, stillbirths, and chronic lung diseases. The prevalence of all these health variables was definitely more in the study villages as compared to reference village, but the results were statistically not significant. (Dr. Arun Mitra is a leading ENT specialist based in Ludhiana. He is the Senior Vice-President of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) and is presently a member of the core committee of Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Health care in India. Views expressed are personal.)

October 4, 2017 Posted by | health, India, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea – the meaning of Trump’s threats

Trump Threatens Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42101-trump-threatens-genocide-crimes-against-humanity-in-north-korea, September 29, 2017, By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19. That threat violates the UN Charter, and indicates an intent to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, the war crime of collective punishment and international humanitarian law. Moreover, a first-strike use of nuclear weapons would violate international law.

By threatening to attack North Korea, Trump is endangering the lives of countless people. In the past, he has indicated his willingness to use nuclear weapons and Kim Jong-un has threatened to retaliate. The rapidly escalating rhetoric and provocative maneuvers on both sides has taken us to the brink of war.

Trump’s threat prompted North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho to state, “Given the fact that this [threat] came from someone who holds the seat of the US presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war.”

Ri added, “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make counter-measures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

Such a move by North Korea would violate international law. But that does not justify US law-breaking. Two wrongs do not make a right. Moreover, the use of military force by either country would prove disastrous.

The UN Charter Requires Peaceful Dispute Resolution

After two world wars claimed millions of lives, the UN Charter was adopted in 1945 “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

The Charter mandates the peaceful resolution of international disputes and forbids the use of force except in self-defense or with Security Council authorization.

Article 2 requires that UN members “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” Peaceful means are spelled out in Article 33: Parties to a dispute likely to endanger international peace and security must “first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”

In 1953, after one-third of North Korea’s population was decimated, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement.  But the US never allowed a peace treaty to be adopted. North Korea has repeatedly advocated the signing of a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. To this day, 30,000 US troops continue to occupy South Korea.

The US has also refused to pursue the “freeze-for-freeze” strategy suggested by China and Russia. Under this plan, North Korea would freeze its nuclear and missile testing, and the US and South Korea would end their annual, provocative joint military exercises. Vassily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said this path would offer “a way out” of the current situation.

Instead, the US has engineered punitive sanctions against North Korea, which have only strengthened the latter’s resolve to develop usable nuclear weapons. Since 1953, North Koreans have lived in fear of annihilation by the United States.

In his speech to the General Assembly, on top of his threats toward North Korea, Trump also issued a veiled threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. That sends a dangerous message to North Korea that the US cannot be trusted to abide by its agreements.

The UN Charter Prohibits Threats and Preemptive Use of Force

Article 2 of the Charter states that all members “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea violates that mandate. In addition, the preemptive use of force violates the Charter.

The only exceptions to the Charter’s prohibition of the use of force are self-defense or approval by the Security Council.

Self-defense, under Article 51 of the Charter, is a narrow exception to the Charter’s prohibition of the use of force. Countries may engage in individual or collective self-defense only in the face of an armed attack. In order to act in lawful self-defense, there must exist “a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation,” under the well-established Caroline Case.

North Korea has not attacked the United States or another UN member country, nor is such an attack imminent.

Moreover, the Security Council has not authorized any country to use military force against North Korea The council resolutions that establish sanctions against North Korea end by stating the Council “decides to remain seized of the matter.” That means that the Council, and only the Council, has the authority to approve military action.

Both Trump’s threat to use military force against North Korea and the mounting of a preemptive strike would violate the Charter.

The Crime of Genocide

By stating the intention to totally destroy North Korea, Trump has threatened genocide.

The crime of “genocide,” as defined in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, is committed when, with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, any of the following acts are committed: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.

Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea, if carried out, would destroy, in whole, the national group of North Koreans. That would amount to genocide.

Crimes Against Humanity

Under the Rome Statute, “crimes against humanity” include: the commission of murder as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population; or persecution against a group or collectivity based on its political, racial, national, ethnic or religious character, as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population.

Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea, if realized, would constitute a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of North Korea, which would amount to a crime against humanity.

The War Crime of Collective Punishment

The crime of “collective punishment” is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is considered a war crime. Collective punishment means punishing a civilian for an offense he or she has not personally committed.

If Trump were to make good on his threat to totally destroy North Korea, he would be punishing the civilian population for offenses committed by the North Korean government. This would constitute the war crime of collective punishment.

Destroying North Korea Would Violate Distinction and Proportionality

The United States has a legal obligation to comply with the requirements of proportionality and distinction, two bedrock principles of international humanitarian law, as delineated in the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

“Proportionality” means an attack cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage sought. “Distinction” requires that the attack be directed only at a legitimate military target.

The total destruction of North Korea would violate the principles of proportionality and distinction.

First-Strike Use of Nuclear Weapons Violates International Law

In its 1996 advisory opinion, “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.”

The ICJ went on to say, “However … the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.” That means that while the use of nuclear weapons might be lawful when used in self-defense if the survival of the nation were at stake, a first-strike use would not be.

Donald Trump’s apocalyptic threat against North Korea violates international law. It also imperils the lives of untold numbers of people. We must urge Congress to prevent Trump from launching a catastrophic war.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and AbuseCowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website: MarjorieCohn.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MarjorieCohn.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How a single terrorist nuclear bomb would affect a city

The effects of a single terrorist nuclear bomb, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 
Matthew Bunn Nickolas Roth28 SEPTEMBER 2017,   The escalating threats between North Korea and the United States make it easy to forget the “nuclear nightmare,” as former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry put it, that could result even from the use of just a single terrorist nuclear bomb in the heart of a major city.

At the risk of repeating the vast literature on the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and the substantial literature surrounding nuclear tests and simulations since then—we attempt to spell out here the likely consequences of the explosion of a single terrorist nuclear bomb on a major city, and its subsequent ripple effects on the rest of the planet. Depending on where and when it was detonated, the blast, fire, initial radiation, and long-term radioactive fallout from such a bomb could leave the heart of a major city a smoldering radioactive ruin, killing tens or hundreds of thousands of people and wounding hundreds of thousands more. Vast areas would have to be evacuated and might be uninhabitable for years. Economic, political, and social aftershocks would ripple throughout the world. A single terrorist nuclear bomb would change history. The country attacked—and the world—would never be the same.

The idea of terrorists accomplishing such a thing is, unfortunately, not out of the question; it is far easier to make a crude, unsafe, unreliable nuclear explosive that might fit in the back of a truck than it is to make a safe, reliable weapon of known yield that can be delivered by missile or combat aircraft. Numerous government studies have concluded that it is plausible that a sophisticated terrorist group could make a crude bomb if they got the needed nuclear material. And in the last quarter century, there have been some 20 seizures of stolen, weapons-usable nuclear material, and at least two terrorist groups have made significant efforts to acquire nuclear bombs.

Terrorist use of an actual nuclear bomb is a low-probability event—but the immensity of the consequences means that even a small chance is enough to justify an intensive effort to reduce the risk. Fortunately, since the early 1990s, countries around the world have significantly reduced the danger—but it remains very real, and there is more to do to ensure this nightmare never becomes reality.

Brighter than a thousand suns. Imagine a crude terrorist nuclear bomb—containing a chunk of highly enriched uranium just under the size of a regulation bowling ball, or a much smaller chunk of plutonium—suddenly detonating inside a delivery van parked in the heart of a major city……….

The silent killer. The bomb’s immediate effects would be followed by a slow, lingering killer: radioactive fallout. A bomb detonated at ground level would dig a huge crater, hurling tons of earth and debris thousands of feet into the sky. Sucked into the rising fireball, these particles would mix with the radioactive remainders of the bomb, and over the next few hours or days, the debris would rain down for miles downwind. Depending on weather and wind patterns, the fallout could actually be deadlier and make a far larger area unusable than the blast itself. Acute radiation sickness from the initial radiation pulse and the fallout would likely affect tens of thousands of people. Depending on the dose, they might suffer from vomiting, watery diarrhea, fever, sores, loss of hair, and bone marrow depletion. Some would survive; some would die within days; some would take months to die. Cancer rates among the survivors would rise. Women would be more vulnerable than men—children and infants especially so.

Much of the radiation from a nuclear blast is short-lived; radiation levels even a few days after the blast would be far below those in the first hours. For those not killed or terribly wounded by the initial explosion, the best advice would be to take shelter in a basement for at least several days. But many would be too terrified to stay. Thousands of panic-stricken people might receive deadly doses of radiation as they fled from their homes. Some of the radiation will be longer-lived; areas most severely affected would have to be abandoned for many years after the attack. The combination of radioactive fallout and the devastation of nearly all life-sustaining infrastructure over a vast area would mean that hundreds of thousands of people would have to evacuate.

Ambulances to nowhere. The explosion would also destroy much of the city’s ability to respond. Hospitals would be leveled, doctors and nurses killed and wounded, ambulances destroyed. (In Hiroshima, 42 of 45 hospitals were destroyed or severely damaged, and 270 of 300 doctors were killed.) Resources that survived outside the zone of destruction would be utterly overwhelmed. Hospitals have no ability to cope with tens or hundreds of thousands of terribly burned and injured people all at once; the United States, for example, has 1,760 burn beds in hospitals nationwide, of which a third are available on any given day.

And the problem would not be limited to hospitals; firefighters, for example, would have little ability to cope with thousands of fires raging out of control at once. Fire stations and equipment would be destroyed in the affected area, and firemen killed, along with police and other emergency responders. Some of the first responders may become casualties themselves, from radioactive fallout, fire, and collapsing buildings. Over much of the affected area, communications would be destroyed, by both the physical effects and the electromagnetic pulse from the explosion.

Better preparation for such a disaster could save thousands of lives—but ultimately, there is no way any city can genuinely be prepared for a catastrophe on such a historic scale, occurring in a flash, with zero warning. Rescue and recovery attempts would be impeded by the destruction of most of the needed personnel and equipment, and by fire, debris, radiation, fear, lack of communications, and the immense scale of the disaster. The US military and the national guard could provide critically important capabilities—but federal plans assume that “no significant federal response” would be available for 24-to-72 hours. Many of those burned and injured would wait in vain for help, food, or water, perhaps for days.

The scale of death and suffering. How many would die in such an event, and how many would be terribly wounded, would depend on where and when the bomb was detonated, what the weather conditions were at the time, how successful the response was in helping the wounded survivors, and more. Many estimates of casualties are based on census data, which reflect where people sleep at night; if the attack occurred in the middle of a workday, the numbers of people crowded into the office towers at the heart of many modern cities would be far higher. The daytime population of Manhattan, for example, is roughly twice its nighttime population; in Midtown on a typical workday, there are an estimated 980,000 people per square mile. A 10-kiloton weapon detonated there might well kill half a million people—not counting those who might die of radiation sickness from the fallout. (These effects were analyzed in great detail in the Rand Corporation’s Considering the Effects of a Catastrophic Terrorist Attack and the British Medical Journal’s “Nuclear terrorism.”)………http://thebulletin.org/effects-single-terrorist-nuclear-bomb11150

September 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | Leave a comment