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Stratcom Chief Says $1 Trillion for Nukes Is ‘Affordable’: Says Nukes Are the Most Critical Thing the Pentagon Does

In Cost, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Peace, War on April 4, 2017 at 9:15 am

by Jason Ditz, April 02, 2017

US Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten continues to argue in favor of massive spending on nuclear weapons upgrades, insisting that despite the $1 trillion estimates the cost is “affordable,” and that “deterrence will always be cheaper than war.”

Hyten also faulted the idea of getting an estimate before starting the spending at all, saying getting the estimate first is “just a crazy way to build things,” and that he thinks the US should be able to build this massive arsenal “for an affordable price,” insisting it is “the most critical thing that we do in the military.”

Though early estimates on the nuclear weapons upgrade started at several hundred billion dollars, more recent estimates have shown that it was likely to be much larger than that, with most recent figures in excess of a trillion dollars over the next 30 years.

While in Hyten’s estimation that’s “affordable,” it’s not at all clear where it would fit in President Trump’s budget, which is already planning large military spending increases to buy more warships and planes, and is struggling to cut domestic spending to pay for that without having to find more for the nuclear program.

A Legal First: Japanese Government and Tepco found liable for Fukushima disaster

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Public Health on March 21, 2017 at 3:42 am

BY DAISUKE KIKUCHI, JAPAN TIMES, MARCH 17 2017
http://tinyurl.com/k3g3xy4

MAEBASHI, GUNMA PREF. – A court in Japan has ruled for the first time that the government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were responsible for failing to take preventive measures against the March 11, 2011, quake-triggered tsunami that killed scores and forced tens of thousands from their homes.
Friday’s stunning ruling by the Maebashi District Court was the first to recognize negligence by the state and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. It called the massive tsunami predictable and said the major nuclear disaster could have been avoided.
The district court ordered the two to pay damages totaling ¥38.55 million to 62 of 137 plaintiffs from 45 households located near the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown caused by the tsunami, awarding ¥70,000 to ¥3.5 million in compensation to each plaintiff.
The plaintiffs had demanded the state and Tepco pay compensation of ¥11 million each — a total of about ¥1.5 billion — over the loss of local infrastructure and psychological stress they were subjected to after being forced to relocate to unfamiliar surroundings.
Citing a government estimate released in July 2002, the court said in the ruling that “Tepco was capable of foreseeing several months after (the estimate) that a large tsunami posed a risk to the facility and could possibly flood its premises and damage safety equipment, such as the backup power generators.”
It pointed out that the state should have ordered Tepco to take bolstered preventive measures, and criticized the utility for prioritizing costs over safety.
Of the plaintiffs, 76 who lived in evacuation zones were forced to move, while another 61 evacuated voluntarily even though their houses were located outside evacuation zones. The ruling was the first of 30 similar class-action suits filed nationwide involving more than 10,000 plaintiffs.
About 80,000 citizens who had lived in Fukushima reportedly left the prefecture after the March 2011 disaster.
“I believe that the ruling saying both the government and Tepco were equally responsible is an important judgment,” Katsuyoshi Suzuki, the lead lawyer for the defense said at a news conference following the ruling. “But thinking about the psychological distress (the plaintiffs faced) after being forced to evacuate from their homes, I think the amount is not enough.”
Takehiro Matsuta, 38, one of the plaintiffs who evacuated from the city of Koriyama, hailed the ruling, but called the damages “disappointing.”

“The ruling was one big step for my family, for those who evacuated from Fukushima to Gunma, and for tens of thousands of earthquake victims nationwide,” he said.
But called the payout “disappointing,” as his child, who was 3 years old at the time of the nuclear disaster, was not granted compensation. “My wife and I are struggling everyday, but it’s my child who suffers the most.”
The group of lawyers for the plaintiffs, which have had suits filed since September 2011, claimed that the Fukushima disaster resulted in serious human rights violations by forcing victims to relocate after the crisis caused widespread environmental damage.
The plaintiffs argued that Tepco could have prevented the damage if it had implemented measures, including the building of breakwaters, based on its 2008 tsunami trial calculation that showed waves of over 10 meters could hit the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Those calculations took into account the 2002 estimate by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which concluded that there was a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 earthquake rocking areas off Fukushima within 30 years.
However, the government and Tepco have argued that the massive tsunami was unexpected, claiming that there were different opinions among scholars over the long-term evaluation. Both attacked the credibility of the study, calling it unscientific.
The government also objected to the ruling, saying that because it had no authority to force Tepco to take such preventive measures as argued by the plaintiffs, it bore no responsibility.
According to the defense, a number of other class suits are inching closer to rulings, with one in the city of Chiba scheduled for Sept. 22 and another in the city of Fukushima involving 4,000 plaintiffs expected by the year’s end.

Japanese nuclear plant just recorded an astronomical radiation level. Should we be worried?

In Cost, Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Public Health on February 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm

By Anna Fifield and Yuki Oda, Washington Post, February 8, 2017

TOKYO — The utility company that operated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan — the one that went into triple meltdown after the enormous 2011 earthquake and tsunami — has released some jaw-dropping figures.

The radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor 2 has reached as high as 530 sieverts per hour, Tokyo Electric Power Co. — or Tepco, as it’s known — said last week. This far exceeds the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour recorded at the reactor following the March 2011 disaster.

That was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the one at Chernobyl, in Ukraine, in 1986. Almost 16,000 people were killed along Japan’s northeastern coast in the tsunami, and 160,000 more lost their homes and livelihoods. The cleanup is taking much longer than expected.
At this level of radioactivity, a person could die from the briefest of exposures.

Tepco recorded the radiation near the reactor core, suggesting that some melted fuel had escaped, using a long, remote-controlled camera and radiation measurement device. It was the first time this kind of device has been able to get into this part of the reactor. There it found a three-foot-wide hole in a metal grate in the reactor’s primary containment vessel.

So, how dangerous is this?

At this level of radiation, a robot would be able to operate for less than two hours before it was destroyed, Tepco said.

And Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences said medical professionals had never even thought about encountering this level of radiation in their work.

According to the Kyodo news agency, the institute estimates that exposure to one sievert of radiation could lead to infertility, loss of hair and cataracts, while four sieverts would kill half the people exposed to it.

This measuring device hasn’t even gone into reactors 1 and 3 yet — that’s still in the works.

Robot explores damaged nuclear plant reactor in Japan Embed Share Play Video
Plant operators for Tokyo Electric Power company used a small cable-operated robot to film inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. (Reuters)
So should the people who live in Japan, who live on the Pacific basin be freaking out?

Not yet, some analysts say.

Although the radiation level is “astoundingly high,” says Azby Brown of Safecast, a citizen science organization that monitors radiation levels, it doesn’t necessarily signify any alarming change in radiation levels at Fukushima. It’s simply the first time they have been measured that far inside the reactor.

Here’s what Brown wrote on Safecast’s website:

It must be stressed that radiation in this area has not been measured before, and it was expected to be extremely high. While 530 Sv/hr is the highest measured so far at Fukushima Daiichi, it does not mean that levels there are rising, but that a previously unmeasurable high-radiation area has finally been measured. Similar remote investigations are being planned for Daiichi Units 1 and 3. We should not be surprised if even higher radiation levels are found there, but only actual measurements will tell.

Hiroshi Miyano, nuclear expert and visiting professor at Hosei University, also warned against overreacting. He said the radiation reading might not be particularly reliable since it was only an estimation based on the image analysis. (Tepco said there was a margin of error of 30 percent.)

“It’s not something new to worry about,” he said, although he added that it underscored how difficult the next steps would be.

But some think there is cause for concern.

Fumiya Tanabe, nuclear safety expert and former chief research scientist at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, said while experts expected the radiation reading inside the Daiichi reactors to be high, it was still “shocking” to learn how high it was six years on.

“It will be very difficult to operate robots in there for a long time to come, and to remove the melted fuel. So the finding might greatly affect the decommissioning time schedule,” he said.

Tepco had been hoping to start taking out the fuel out in 2021.

Japan now estimates Fukushima nuclear cleanup cost at $180 billion Embed Share Play Video0:54
Japan’s trade ministry has almost doubled the estimated cost of compensation for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and decommissioning of the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant to more than 20 trillion yen. (Reuters)
Could the radiation level be even higher?

Possibly. The 530 sievert reading was recorded some distance from the melted fuel, so in reality it could be 10 times higher than recorded, said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

He agreed with Tanabe, saying that the findings underscore how difficult the decommissioning process will be.

“It definitely shows the path towards decommissioning will be very difficult, and the time frame to start taking out the fuel in 2021 will most likely be delayed as more investigations will be necessary,” Ban said.

Still, he cautioned against overreacting, saying, like Brown, that Tepco had simply not been able to measure this close to the fuel before.

So what does this news portend?

Tanabe said that the level of the reading should give pause to proponents of nuclear power in Japan, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been pushing to restart reactors shut down after the 2011 disaster.

“It’s unbelievable that anyone would want to restart nuclear plants when Japan hasn’t learned how and why the Fukushima Daiichi accident happened, or learned lessons from it,” he said.
Indeed, Ai Kashiwagi, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan, said the findings showed how little the government and Tepco knew about what was happening inside the reaction.

“The prime minister said everything was under control and has been pushing to restart nuclear plants, but no one knew the actual state of the plant and more serious facts could come out in the future,” she said. “It’s important to keep an eye on radiation-monitoring data and how Tepco’s investigations go.”

Anna Fifield is The Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington DC, Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.

Radiation levels in the Fukushima reactor are soaring unexpectedly

In Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Public Health on February 5, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Fiona MacDonald, Science Alert, 4 February 2017

Radiation is at its highest since the 2011 meltdown.

The radiation levels inside Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor No. 2 have soared in recent weeks, reaching a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, a number experts have called “unimaginable”.

Radiation is now by far the highest it has been since the reactor was struck by a tsunami in March 2011 – and scientists are struggling to explain what’s going on.
The previous maximum radiation level recorded in the reactor was 73 sieverts per hour, a reading taken not long after the meltdown almost six years ago. The levels are now more than seven times that amount.

Exactly what’s causing the levels to creep upwards again is currently stumping the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). But the good news is that they say the radiation is safely contained within the reactor, so there’s no risk to the greater population.

The latest readings were taken near the entrance of the No. 2 reactor, immediately below the pressure vessel that contains the reactor core.

To get an idea of the radiation levels inside, the team used a remote-operated camera to take photos of the area – the deepest point in the reactor to date – and then analysed the electronic noise in the images to measure radiation levels.

The technique has an error margin of plus or minus 30 percent, which means that it’s not highly accurate. But even at the lowest end of the measurements, the levels would still be 370 sieverts per hour – and could be as high as 690 sieverts per hour.

These unexpectedly high levels are complicating Tepco’s plan to decommission the nuclear reactor. The most recent aim was to have workers find the fuel cells and start dismantling the plant by 2021 – a job that’s predicted to take up to half a century.
But the levels within reactor No. 2, at least, are in no way safe for humans.

The Japanese National Institute of Radiological Sciences told Japan Times that medical professionals have no experience dealing with radiation levels this high – for perspective, a single dose of just 1 sievert of radiation could lead to infertility, hair loss, and sickness.

Four sieverts of radiation exposure in a short period of time would kill 50 percent of people within a month. Ten sieverts would kill a person within three weeks.

Even the remote-operated camera sent in to capture these images is only designed to withstand 1,000 sieverts of radiation, which means it won’t last more than two hours in the No. 2 reactor.

It’s not yet clear exactly what’s causing the high levels either. It’s possible that previous readings were incorrect or not detailed enough, and levels have always been this high. Or maybe something inside the reactor has changed.

The fact that these readings were so high in this particular location suggests that maybe melted reactor fuel escaped the pressure vessel, and is located somewhere nearby.

Adding to that hypothesis is the fact that the images reveal a gaping 1-metre (3.2-foot) hole in the metal grate underneath the pressure vessel – which could indicate that nuclear fuel had melted out of it.

On Monday, Tepco also saw “black chunks” deposited on the grating directly under the pressure vessel – which could be evidence of melted fuel rods.

If confirmed, this would be a huge deal, because in the six years since the three Fukushima reactors went into meltdown, no one has ever been able to find any trace of the nuclear fuel rods.

Swimming robots were sent into the reactors last year to search for the fuel rods and hopefully remove them, but their wiring was destroyed by the high levels of radiation.

Naturally, Tepco is reluctant to jump to any conclusions on what the black mass in the images could be until they have more information.

“It may have been caused by nuclear fuel that would have melted and made a hole in the vessel, but it is only a hypothesis at this stage,” a Tepco spokesperson told AFP.

“We believe the captured images offer very useful information, but we still need to investigate given that it is very difficult to assume the actual condition inside.”

Given the new readings, Tepco is now putting their plans to further explore reactor No. 2 using remote operated camera on hold, seeing as the device will most likely be destroyed by the intense conditions.

But they will send a robot into reactor No. 1 in March to try to get a better idea about the internal condition of the structure, while they decide what to do next with reactor No. 2.

UN: Threat of a Hacking Attack on Nuclear Plants Is Growing

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Peace, War on December 17, 2016 at 3:58 am

By The Associated Press, December 15, 2016

UNITED NATIONS — The “nightmare scenario” is rising for a hacking attack on a nuclear power plant’s computer system that causes the uncontrolled release of radiation, the United Nations’ deputy chief warned Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told a Security Council meeting that extremists and “vicious non-state groups” are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction “and these weapons are increasingly accessible.”

Non-state actors can already create mass disruption using cyber technologies — and hacking a nuclear plant would be a “nightmare scenario,” he said.

The open council meeting focused on ways to stop the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons by extremist groups and criminals. Members unanimously approved a resolution to strengthen the work of the council committee monitoring what countries are doing to prevent “non-state actors” from acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction, known as WMDs.

Eliasson said there are legitimate concerns about the security of stockpiles of radioactive material suitable for making nuclear weapons but that are outside international regulation.

In addition, he said, “scientific advances have lowered barriers to the production of biological weapons.”

“And emerging technologies, such as 3D printing and unmanned aerial vehicles, are adding to threats of an attack using a WMD,” Eliasson said.

He said the international community needs robust defenses to stay ahead of this technological curve. “Preventing a WMD attack by a non-state actor will be a long-term challenge that requires long-term responses,” Eliasson said.

U.N. disarmament chief Kim Won-soo said the new resolution recognizes “the growing threats and risks associated with biological weapons” and the need for the 193 U.N. member states, international groups and regional organizations to step-up information sharing on these threats and risks.

Kim said it is important that the Security Council keep up its focus on preventing deadly weapons from getting into the hands of extremists and criminals, but it also needs to study how to respond if prevention fails.

“The consequences of an attack would be disastrous and we must be prepared,” he said.

Eliasson said that “a biological attack would be a public health disaster,” but that there is no global institution capable of responding.

Brian Finlay, president of the Stimson Center in Washington, which has been supporting the work of the Security Council committee since 2004, said the resolution requiring all countries to take action to prevent non-state actors from getting WMD “has provided a near unprecedented rallying point for global efforts to prevent terrorist acquisition of these weapons.”

But challenges remain, he said, citing a steady increase in nuclear, biological and chemical incidents around the globe, “including notably by non-state actors.” He also cited growing access to the internet and potentially illegal technology transfers, saying there is “evidence that terrorist groups with regional or global ambitions continue to seek weapons of mass destruction.”

He called for civil society, industry and the general public to support the campaign against the growing threat of the world’s most dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Montreal Declaration for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Peace, Workplace exposure on August 14, 2016 at 8:15 am

Montreal Declaration for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World

As citizens of this planet inspired by the Second Thematic World Social Forum for a Nuclear-Fission‐Free World, conducted in Montreal from August 8 to August 12, 2016, we are collectively calling for a mobilization of civil society around the world to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons, to put an end to the continued mass‐production of all high‐level nuclear wastes by phasing out all nuclear reactors, and to bring to a halt all uranium mining worldwide.

This call goes out to fellow citizens of all countries worldwide who see the need,whether as an individual or as a member of an organization, for a nuclear-­fission‐free world. We are committed to building a global network of citizens of the world who will work together, using the internet and social media to overcome isolation, to provide mutual support and to coordinate the launching of joint actions for a world free of nuclear fission technology, whether civilian or military.

We will begin by creating communication channels to share information and educational tools on legal, technical, financial, medical, and security‐related matters linked to

military and non‐military nuclear activities. We will pool our resources across national boundaries in a spirit of cooperation, allowing us to contribute to the formulation of a convergent and unified response to counteract the plans of the nuclear establishment that operates on a global scale to multiply civil and military nuclear installations worldwide and to dump, bury and abandon nuclear wastes.

We recognize each nuclear weapon as an instrument of brutal and unsurpassed terror, designed to kill millions of innocent men, women and children at a single stroke. We realize that even a limited nuclear war can provoke sudden extreme climate change on a global scale, crippling agricultural production and threatening the survival of all higher forms of life. We are grimly aware that a nuclear‐armed world will surely destroy itself and set in motion a process that will undo four billion years of evolution. We are determined to help guide the world away from the brink of nuclear annihilation.

We recognize each nuclear reactor as a repository of the most pernicious industrial waste ever known; waste so radioactive that it spontaneously melts down if not continually cooled; waste that, when targeted by terrorists or saboteurs, or by conventional warfare, will render large portions of the earth uninhabitable for centuries; waste that contains material that can be used as a nuclear explosive at any time in the future, for thousands of years to come.

We recognize uranium as the key element behind all nuclear weapons and all nuclear reactors, and we endorse the call by the International Physicians for the Prevention of- Nuclear War and by the 2015 Quebec World Uranium Symposium for a total global ban on the mining and processing of uranium.

We will use our networks

‐to pressure governments everywhere to put an end to nuclear fission

‐to expose the dangers associated with the export and transport of nuclear materials and nuclear waste;

‐to puncture the myths used to prop up and justify our irrational nuclear addiction;

‐to tell the sobering stories of nuclear victims and nuclear refugees;

‐to emphasize our moral responsibilities not to burden future generations with a poisonous nuclear legacy;

‐to warn governments without nuclear facilities to realize the dangers and avoid becoming enmeshed in this technology;

‐to disseminate the findings of engineers, doctors, biologists, ecologists, physicists and concerned citizens having special knowledge and appreciation of nuclear dangers;

‐to promote and popularize the wide variety of renewable energy alternatives that are green and sustainable;

‐to launch lawsuits and to support whistle‐blowers to halt the most egregious examples of nuclear malfeasance;

‐to promote non‐violent conflict resolution, and

‐to denounce the illegal, immoral, and insane obsession with nuclear weapons arsenals.

We invite all people, groups and organizations involved in the effort for a world without nuclear fission and uranium mining, to commit themselves to this effort. We also ask them to endorse this declaration and to transmit it widely in their networks.

This declaration is partly inspired by the Tokyo Appeal issued by the First Thematic World Social Form for a Nuclear‐Free World held in Tokyo and Fukushima in March 2016.

To endorse the declaration send name and e‐mail address to ccnr@web.ca and to JGerson@afsc.org

http://www.PeaceAndPlanet.org

Watching the Nuclear Watchdog

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Public Health on August 9, 2016 at 3:22 am

By Janette D. Sherman, MD

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Despite scientific findings linking low-level radiation exposure and cancer that go back as far as Madam Marie Curie in the 1930s, the nuclear power industry in the U.S. has evaded rigorous examination of the risks its plants pose to their neighbors and downwinders.

Senator Ted Kennedy demanded a study of cancer risks 27 years ago. For an industry that has been splitting uranium atoms to heat water and create electricity since 1957, one study hardly seems adequate. A second study is pending, but industry watchdogs worry it is so compromised that its results will be predictable.

Last year, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board issued a “Phase 2 pilot planning report.” The report was designated “planning” because executives at the agency have yet to decide how to conduct the study.

The current federally-sponsored study of cancer rates near nuclear plants is now nearly six years old, and will take at least five more years, maybe more, to complete. The planning is being shaped by regulators closely aligned with an industry that stands to lose if nuclear energy plants are linked to cancer.

The current study of cancer rates near nuclear plants is now nearly six years old, and will take at least five more years, maybe more, to complete. The planning is being shaped by regulators closely aligned with an industry that stands to lose if nuclear energy plants are linked to cancer.

To appreciate how flawed the process has been, a little history is needed. The building of nuclear power plants in the U.S. began in 1943 to produce atomic bombs. It was not until 1957 that plants began to produce electricity. In the 1980s, the number of power reactors peaked at 112. That is now 99 and falling.

Despite known releases of radiation from these reactors into the environment and a connection between radiation exposure and cancer that is now widely accepted among medical researchers, federal officials spent decades declaring no risk of developing cancer to anyone living near a reactor—without conducting any studies to support their claims.

That ended in 1988 when Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to James Wyngaarden, director of the National Institutes of Health. Kennedy had learned of an article in the medical journal The Lancet describing high leukemia rates around the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station near Boston. Wyngaarden took the senator’s not-so-subtle hint, and responded three weeks later:

“The National Institutes of Health is actively involved in studying the adverse effects of ionizing radiation, and we concur with your view that the risks at low levels need further clarification … We are currently correlating county mortality data from the 1950s through early 1980s with reactor operations.”

Wyngaarden wasn’t truthful about his staff “currently correlating” cancer data. No such process had begun until Kennedy’s letter arrived. Wyngaarden also demonstrated his pro-industry bias by writing: “The most serious health impact of the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident that can be identified with certainty is mental stress to those living near the plant, particularly pregnant women and families with teenagers and young children.”

Following Kennedy’s request, the National Cancer Institute issued a report in July 1990, concluding: “The survey has produced no evidence that an excess occurrence of cancer has resulted from living near nuclear facilities.” Researchers, however, for the most part only surveyed cancer deaths, not incidences, thus limiting the consideration of radiation-sensitive cancers like thyroid and child cancer, which most victims survive. The safety of nuclear plants was subsequently ignored by officials except when they cited the 1990 report as evidence that it is “safe” to live near nuclear plants.

Then in May 2009, seemingly out of nowhere, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) posted a “pre-solicitation” notice for experts to conduct a cancer study near U.S. nuclear plants.

As encouraging as that might appear, an NRC-sponsored study of cancer risks near the reactors it regulates is a blatant conflict of interest. Approximately 90 percent of NRC funding comes from licensing fees paid by companies that own the nuclear plants that the commission regulates. Bad news about cancer and nuclear plants means bad news for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Moreover, NRC officials do not have medical backgrounds. They are mostly physicists and engineers, typically moving through the revolving door connecting the regulatory community and the industry. Most employees either have worked at nuclear plants or they will work at nuclear plants when they leave the agency.

To direct the study, the NRC approved a no-bid contract to the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Located at the world’s oldest nuclear weapons plant, the institute has extensive contracts with the U.S. Energy Department, which is strongly invested in nuclear development.

That conflict was too obvious. After protests by activists, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey intervened and the NRC responded by moving the study to the National Academy of Science, whose National Academy Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board would direct the project.

The Radiation Study Board’s chair was Richard Meserve, himself a former NRC chair—and an illustration of how compromised our nation’s nuclear regulators are.

Meserve has been a senior counselor to a law firm that works for the nuclear industry, a board member of nuclear energy companies in Texas and California, and board advisor to a French-U.S. conglomerate with plans to build new nuclear plants in the U.S.

Protests by anti-nuclear activists compelled Meserve to recuse himself from the project. Yet while other members of the study board are not as compromised as Meserve, few have backgrounds in public health or medicine, and none has ever published a peer-reviewed article on cancer near nuclear plants.

By now critics of this process expect a report that finds “no link” between cancer risk and living in proximity to a reactor.

Yet science uncompromised by relations with the industry has reached a different conclusion. At least 60 published, peer-reviewed studies have linked cancer to low-level exposure to radiation (particularly among children who are most susceptible).

Examples? A 2012 study of all nuclear plants in France found elevated levels of child leukemia in the vicinity of the plants. A 2008 study in Germany came to a similar conclusion regarding child leukemia and that country’s nuclear generating facilities.

A study in Archives of Environmental Health in 2003 found cancer rates in children that were 12.4 percent higher than nationwide occurrences in 49 counties surrounding 14 nuclear plants in the eastern U.S. (Note: The author was one of the five researchers.)

The obligation among government employees and scientists to maintain their objectivity and to protect human health is on the line with this upcoming study. That unbiased research is unlikely unless grassroots organizations and individuals keep the pressure on elected officials.

Uranium mining: Health Dangers, Radioactive Tailings, and Nuclear Bombs

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere on July 16, 2016 at 6:15 am

In this three-part interview with a Danish woman, Canada’s foremost nuclear critic, Gordon Edwards of Montreal, explains in detail that uranium mining cannot be done without contributing to health dangers, radioactive waste and nuclear bombs. I invite you to read the full interview with one of the most knowledgeable students of nuclear matters anywhere.

Part 1

Anne: Canada is and always has been one of the biggest producers and exporters of uranium in the world. Nevertheless, three of Canada’s ten provinces have outlawed uranium mining, and health professionals have played an important role in each case. Could you please explain why these medical professionals are opposed to uranium mining?

Gordon Edwards: This is a great question. The answer hinges on the remarkable properties of uranium, and the unprecedented nature of the health dangers that it poses. In order to answer the question properly, a good deal of explanation is required.

For Edwards’ complete response see the following link.
http://atomposten.blogspot.ca/2016/06/uranium-mining-interview-with-dr-gordon.html
==================
Part 2

Anne: Danish experts Gert Asmund and Violeta Hansen from the Danish Center for Environment and Energy University of Aarhus have mentioned to me that Cluff Lake is a good example of uranium mining remediation. Do you agree?

Gordon Edwards: It is much too early to determine the long-term success or failure of remediation efforts at Cluff Lake. There has already been one spectacular failure at that site, and there may be more to come.

For Edwards’ complete response see the following link.
http://atomposten.blogspot.dk/2016/07/uranium-mining-interview-with-dr-gordon.html

=================
Part 3

Anne: Danish authorities say that they will prevent the uranium from Kvanefjeld to be used in nuclear weapons. Is this possible according to you?
Gordon Edwards: There are at least four different ways in which Greenland’s uranium can end up in nuclear weapons, as discussed below. Can the Danish Government successfully block all these avenues?

For Edwards’ complete response see the following link.
http://atomposten.blogspot.ca/2016/07/uranium-mining-interview-with-dr-gordon_15.html

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is ongoing

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere, Public Health, Workplace exposure on June 3, 2016 at 10:05 pm

by Andrew R. Marks, Op-Ed, Journal of Clinical Investigation, May 23, 2016

http://www.jci.org/articles/view/88434#B2

Abstract

The 5th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the two most catastrophic nuclear accidents in history, both occurred recently. Images of Chernobyl are replete with the international sign of radioactive contamination (a circle with three broad spokes radiating outward in a yellow sign). In contrast, ongoing decontamination efforts at Fukushima lack international warnings about radioactivity. Decontamination workers at Fukushima appear to be poorly protected against radiation. It is almost as if the effort is to make the Fukushima problem disappear. A more useful response would be to openly acknowledge the monumental problems inherent in managing a nuclear plant disaster. Lessons from Chernobyl are the best predictors of what the Fukushima region of Japan is coping with in terms of health and environmental problems following a nuclear catastrophe.

Five years after a tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, cleanup of radioactive contamination is ongoing and a formerly vibrant farming region lays largely fallow. A recent visit to northeast Japan revealed wholly unexpected aspects of the impact of the meltdown of three nuclear reactors. The area devastated by the nuclear accident is easily accessed by a two-hour train ride from Tokyo to the city of Fukushima. It is then possible to rent a car and drive to within 18 kM of the reactors, which are still in meltdown.

On the train, digital banners in Japanese and English encourage passengers to visit the beautiful cherry trees in the Fukushima district. In the rental car agency, glossy pamphlets exclaim the beauty of the region and feature the brilliant pink blossoms. On a recent April afternoon, the cherry blossoms were indeed spectacular. The roads deep into the region affected by the radioactive plume that engulfed the area in March of 2011 are clearly marked and readily accessible in a car rented at the Fukushima rail station. My Japanese-speaking colleague translated the rental agency’s map as indicating an “area not to return to,” which we carefully avoided.

Following route 114 traveling east toward the coast, progressively larger piles of large black plastic bags filled with dirt appeared on the roadside. At first, there were piles of several hundred such bags, each approximately five feet wide by five feet in height, methodically stacked one upon the other. Of note, similar bags appear to be used elsewhere in Japan to hold debris at construction and yard cleaning sites. Each bag was numbered with a white marker.

Approaching the eastern coast of Japan, the piles of bags on the roadside were more frequent and larger and larger and larger. As route 114 progresses toward the exclusion zone indicated on the car rental agency’s map, the piles of plastic bags filled with dirt reach unimaginable dimensions. Numbered in the many thousands, they eventually fill entire valleys that recede off into the horizon. In some instances, the piles of black plastic bags are covered with blue tarps with pipes inserted into their tops, presumably to provide ventilation.

Roadside radiation monitoring stations are placed near now abandoned homes, many of which are still decorated with plantings of flowers and the blossoming cherry trees that are found in the yards of most homes in this region. The readings on the radiation monitors ranged from 0.2115 to 1.115 microsieverts per hour, a measure of the relative risks imparted to biological tissues by ionizing radiation. One microsievert per hour is equivalent to four airport security screenings per hour and is almost twice the annual limit for occupational whole-body radiation dose limits established by the nuclear regulatory commission. One sievert total exposure causes a 5.5% risk of cancer (1).

To understand the health risks associated with ongoing radiation contamination and cleanup in the Fukushima region, the best comparator is Chernobyl. Two of the most important public health issues related to both the Chernobyl and the Fukushima disasters are thyroid cancers and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Assessing the effects of these nuclear accidents on the risk of thyroid cancer is confounded by the fact that the mere collection of data required to make the diagnosis (e.g., thyroid scans and ultrasounds) necessitates extranormal surveillance. Thus, true control populations are not available. Nevertheless, there have been reports of increased rates of thyroid cancer following the Chernobyl nuclear accident (2), and extrapolation from that incident to Fukushima is reasonable but as-yet unproven. The incidence of PTSD is understandably quite high following nuclear accidents (3). There are no controlled experimental data available to assess the ongoing risks of chronic low-level radiation now present throughout the Fukushima region. Thus, it is imperative that epidemiological data are collected as thoroughly as possible to provide insight concerning the risks of long-term low-level environmental radiation. Similarly, it is imperative that data are collected concerning the spread of radioactivity from the nuclear plant disaster via water (e.g., streams running through the region should be sampled regularly) and via animals (in particular birds should be banded and monitored to determine how they may be vectors for spreading radioactivity in seeds and other forms throughout Japan).

Just outside the town of Iitate, brilliant pink flags, which are the same color used for the advertisements designed to attract tourists to view the cherry blossoms in the region, flap in the breeze, announcing (only in Japanese) “radioactivity removal.” At one particularly large site near the town of Iitate, a constant stream of large trucks with entirely open containers was streaming into an excavation site located at a large mountain of brown dirt. Huge shovels were digging dirt and placing it onto conveyer belts pouring the dirt into the open trucks, which were leaving the site heading south. The men and women handling this contaminated dirt were wearing outfits similar to construction workers observed in other regions of Japan, including helmets, masks, gloves, and overalls (Figure 1). Over an approximately 5-hour period of driving through the region, the only police observed were at the turn around marking the edge of the restricted zone. No military presence was observed. On several occasions, workers were seen handling the plastic bags of radioactively contaminated dirt without gloves.

[ See also http://ccnr.org/Decontamination_Fuk_2014.pdf ]

During the entire afternoon of driving through the region not a single sign warning of the potential dangers of radioactive contamination was observed in any language other than Japanese. There was no security at most of the contaminated sites, and thousands of plastic bags of contaminated dirt were piled high in areas without any supervision or even a fence to prevent access from the public roadway. Birds flew all through the area, presumably transporting radioactive seeds and leaving contaminated droppings throughout Japan.
It is estimated that over 100,000 individuals have been displaced from their homes due to the reactor meltdown (4). Some have been relocated to far away cities, including Tokyo. During my visit, a group of five elderly women arrived on the same train as we did and were escorted onto a waiting bus to be driven to see the cherry blossoms decorating the village they used to live in. Other displaced former residents of now unlivable villages are perhaps less fortunate and have been relocated to one of the numerous “temporary” dwellings dotting the region indicated by convenient roadside signs. Many of these were immediately adjacent to radioactivity detectors indicating levels of at least 1 microsievert per hour.

Ironically, during my visit to Fukushima on April 14, 2016, an earthquake rocked the Kumamoto region of Japan, ultimately causing at least 42 deaths and displacing thousands. This region contains the only working nuclear reactor remaining in Japan. Too far away to be felt in Fukushima, it was nevertheless a harsh reminder of the continued risk for further damage to the reactors already in meltdown.

The continued high level of radioactivity removal efforts in the Fukushima region (entire hill sides have been denuded of surface soil) indicate that the Japanese government knows the health threat caused by the contamination remains. The lack of security, the failure to provide any of the internationally accepted protective warnings against radioactivity contamination (e.g., the universal three-armed black and yellow sign warning of radioactivity), and the absence of any warning signs for non-Japanese-speaking individuals, despite the active advertising campaign to attract tourists to view the cherry blossoms on this beautiful region of Japan, is disturbing. The possibility that individuals could access enormous amounts of radioactively contaminated dirt and transport it to a sensitive area in Japan or elsewhere is frightening.
About the author
Andrew R. Marks is the chair of the Department of Physiology, founding director of the Clyde and Helen Wu Center for Molecular Cardiology, and professor of Medicine and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and served as editor in chief of the JCI from 2002 to 2007. His research focuses on the regulation of ryanodine receptor calcium release channels that control excitation-contraction coupling in cardiac and skeletal muscle.
Reference information:J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI88434.

[No authors listed]. The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. ICRP publication 103. Ann ICRP. 2007;37(2–4):1–332.
Tuttle RM, Vaisman F, Tronko MD. Clinical presentation and clinical outcomes in Chernobyl-related paediatric thyroid cancers: what do we know now? What can we expect in the future? Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2011;23(4):268–275.
Ben-Ezra M, et al. From Hiroshima to Fukushima: PTSD symptoms and radiation stigma across regions in Japan. J Psychiatr Res. 2015;60:185–186.
Yamashita S, Radiation Medical Science Center for the Fukushima Health Management Survey. Comprehensive health risk management after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2016;28(4):255–262.

Public meeting in Denver on high-level nuclear waste, May 24

In Environment, Human rights, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere on May 22, 2016 at 1:52 am

The topic of this DOE meeting is “consent based siting” of location(s) for storage of the most dangerous nuclear waste. For details, see http://www.eventbrite.com/e/consent-based-siting-public-meeting-denver-colorado-registration-23429680806

 

For opposition news, including talking points from Nuclear Information and Resource Service, see http://www.nirs.org/fukushimafreeways/stopfukushimafreeways.htm