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The sea of death

By John Loretz | IPPNW | July 13, 2018

The US conducted 105 atmospheric and underwater tests at its Pacific Ocean proving ground from 1946-1962. Massive amounts of radioactive fallout from those tests spread across the Pacific, causing severe health effects that have continued to this day.

One of the best-known incidents from this reckless and shameful history was the fate of the Japanese fishing boat the Lucky Dragon. Despite being 90 miles away from ground zero, all 23 crew members were covered in thick layers of fallout from the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo explosion, which, at 15 megatons, was the largest US nuclear test. The entire crew suffered from acute radiation sickness and were hospitalized for months. One crew member died from his injuries.

As it turns out, the Lucky Dragon was not an anomaly. Japanese film maker Hideaki Ito has produced a documentary called “Exposure to Radiation—Post X Years,” which explores how the extensive tuna fishing ground came to be known as “the sea of death.” The fishing crews had no idea they were working in heavily contaminated waters, and contaminated tuna became a health hazard throughout Japan.

Hideaki and his crew surveyed affected communities some 50 years later, and spoke with public health experts about the limited data that’s available. Field maps obtained from what was then the US Atomic Energy Commission, show fallout paths extending across the Pacific and the US, reaching into Canada and parts of Central and South America. Today, cesium-137 from the tests has been detected in ground samples under houses in Okinawa, Kyoto, and Yamagata prefectures.

Hideaki’s full documentary exists only in Japanese. When he visited IPPNW last fall after a showing at an MIT film festival, we encouraged him to make at least a portion of the film available in English. He has now come back to us with an 11-minute abridged version that we highly recommend to anyone concerned about the health and environmental consequences of nuclear testing and their persistent legacy.

“Knowing how much damage was done in order to make nuclear weapons,” Hideaki told us, “I believe it will be a great accomplishment to abolish them.”

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Cloud Seeding Water Wars Causing Eco-Disasters?

By Victor Thorn | American Free Press | November 4, 2011

Without realizing it, Diane Macmillan may have stumbled upon one of the biggest conspiracies currently taking place in America: A quiet war being waged over natural resources that could be behind heavy rains and huge snowfalls in some areas and droughts and wildfires in others.

As a licensed realtor in Colorado, Ms. Macmillan started noticing that rain and snowfall east of the Rocky Mountains had been undergoing significant changes. Researching this phenomenon for the past 15 years, Ms. Macmillan discovered a secret that may be adversely affecting the entire nation.

During an October 26 interview, she told this writer: “Water districts and ski areas west of the Continental Divide have engaged in cloud seeding that has produced a snow pack 500% above normal. Not only are ski resorts enjoying boom times, but the water runoff greatly benefits their housing divisions.

“Cloud seeding is actually permitted throughout the state of Colorado,” she said. “In fact, we even have an official Division of Weather Modification that acknowledges cloud seeding.”

As of now, this is being done almost exclusively on the west side of the Rocky Mountains. But there is a downside. East of the Rockies, the rain and snow that usually falls has been sucked away, resulting in severe weather on that side of the mountain range.

Ms. Macmillan continued: “Without getting their natural amount of rain and snow that they’d previously been getting for centuries, severe droughts have resulted, causing a heavy economic toll on farmers. Their crops are dwindling, cattle don’t have enough hay to eat and aquifers and underground wells are depleted.”

But that’s only the beginning. Ms. Macmillan noted another byproduct: “The lack of snow cover in winter creates soil diseases and E. coli in cows because certain bugs don’t die off. Most people aren’t aware of it, but the cantaloupe listeria outbreak that killed 25 people began in Colorado.”

This story, though, has broader ramifications. Ms. Macmillan paints the picture. “Because it’s so dry, eastern Colorado has suffered a rash of wildfires,” she said. “But we’re not the only ones. Every state along the Continental Divide permits cloud seeding. So, if you’ve noticed, there were deadly fires last summer in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, all because of drought conditions.”

Like placing pieces together in a puzzle, Ms. Macmillan added: “Today, silver iodide is used for cloud seeding. Yet before, pilots dropped ashes onto clouds to produce rain. In this context, what do wildfires produce huge amounts of? Ashes.”

Here is where it gets interesting. Ms. Macmillan theorized: “Due to Colorado’s fires, ashes—acting as cloud seeding agents—filtered up into the atmosphere, drifted northeast toward Wisconsin, and then caused tremendous flooding. Plus, did ash produced by half-million-acre wildfires in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas create record-breaking rainfall and flooding in states along the Mississippi River such as Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi? Then, of course, there were hailstorms, 100-day long heatwaves, and a tornado that obliterated Joplin.”

Billions of dollars in destruction came in the aftermath, leaving families homeless, communities wrecked, and insurance companies scrambling to cover their costs. With so many lives ruined, what could possibly be the motive for this possible cloud-seeding plot? An answer might be found in something called the Colorado River Compact where cities built on desert land such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles are starved for water and therefore rely on surpluses from their northern mountain neighbors. Thus, with substantially more rain and snow west of the Continental Divide due to cloud seeding, teeming reservoirs spill into the Colorado River, which then feeds Las Vegas and the L.A. aqueducts.

What we’re talking about are water wars and astronomical amounts of money being paid to Colorado by water-hungry areas in the southwest. Ms. Macmillan weighed in: “Last year, the city and county of Denver spent $200,000 on cloud seeding. But in Colorado, there’s a blackout on this story among those in the press.”

When this reporter inquired as to why insurance companies haven’t investigated this matter, Ms. Macmillan responded, “I don’t think they’ve put the whole picture together yet.”

2018 video report:

Central Colorado Mountains Cloud Seeding Program goal is to increase snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin

See Also:

Israel’s CRAZY offer to Iran: we’ll give you water, you give us your LAND

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Ever wonder where the 275 billion taxpayers money went that got poured down the EU carbon trading system hole?

eu democracy

By Tim Channon | Tallbloke’s Talkshop | June 28, 2018

Talkshop readers may remember a damning report by UBS about the billions of public money lost in the ETS carbon trading system. It calculated that if the money had been invested in modernising the European power generation fleet, CO2 could have been cut by 40% (and generate a huge number of high quality jobs). EU emissions rose 1.8% last year.

Despite all the recent turmoil over the UK steel industry and meetings in Brussels today, the reality is that the European Union has actually been subsidising the Chinese steel industry for years, in payments hidden amongst its efforts to combat Climate Change.

Using complex methods of carbon credits and carbon offsets, the EU devised rules on climate change ended up paying Chinese steel manufacturers billions to upgrade their steel mills and other energy intensive industry.

According to the analysis company, European Insights, almost €1.5 billion was paid to over 90 steel plants in China with the purpose of modernising them to consume less energy, and making the plants more efficient. Taken with the downturn in Chinese trade and the need for them to reduce world market prices to sell their product, the output of these mills has flooded onto the European market making steel products artificially cheap and endangering thousands of jobs in the UK. One plant alone, Anshan Iron and Steel, received a payment of €150 million to help pay for the installation of up to date equipment and replace the old inefficient Communist era machinery.

The money came from the EU’s self-claimed flagship Climate Directive, the Emission Trading System, and paid for by power and industrial companies in the EU who are, as part of their industry, emitters of carbon dioxide. This system forces big carbon emitters in Europe to buy carbon offsets, known as Certified Emission Reductions. They can buy these on the “carbon market” but companies in China, for example, who could show they intended to reduce their own levels of carbon emissions, would qualify.

The system then allowed Chinese steel producers to exploit a loophole that allowed their modernisation to be financed by the sale of these credits, as they received upfront payments of billions of Euros.

European installations that involve high energy consumption also can participate in this carbon trading market, but at a much lesser scale. Effectively around 12,000 European installations, including power stations and steel mills, were forced by the EU into subsidising Chinese industrial growth and development in a trade worth up to a total of €45 billion.

The Think Tank, European Insights, said: “These Chinese upgrades have now, sadly, assisted in record levels of Chinese steel production and are contributing to the low steel price that is endangering jobs in the UK. The system of carbon credit trading is highly complex, and we uncovered 91 individual steel mills in China that received funding of this nature. We estimate that the total paid to them was €1.4 billion.”

The EU approach to Climate Change is another example of the unintended consequences associated with policies made at an EU level. The initiative was well-meaning maybe, but failed totally to anticipate the consequences on world trade and impact on EU member states. Most damaging is that EU is also terribly slow to ameliorate the negative effects of its own policies.

The full report by European Insights can no longer be found here:

http://europeaninsights.org/carbon-credits-and-steel/

And you won’t find it on the wayback machine at Archive.org either

https://web.archive.org/web/20180628113838/http://europeaninsights.org?reqp=1&reqr=

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power Won’t Survive Without A Government Handout

By Maggie Koerth-Baker | FiveThirtyEight | June 14, 2018

Once upon a time, if you were an American who didn’t like nuclear energy, you had to stage sit-ins and marches and chain yourself to various inanimate objects in hopes of closing the nation’s nuclear power plants. Today … all you have to do is sit back and wait.

There are 99 nuclear reactors producing electricity in the United States today. Collectively, they’re responsible for producing about 20 percent of the electricity we use each year. But those reactors are, to put it delicately, of a certain age. The average age of a nuclear power plant in this country is 38 years old (compared with 24 years old for a natural gas power plant). Some are shutting down. New ones aren’t being built. And the ones still operational can’t compete with other sources of power on price. Just last week, several outlets reported on a leaked memo detailing a proposed Trump administration plan directing electric utilities to buy more from nuclear generators and coal plants in an effort to prop up the two struggling industries. The proposal is likely to butt up against political and legal opposition, even from within the electrical industry, in part because it would involve invoking Cold War-era emergency powers that constitute an unprecedented level of federal intervention in electricity markets. But without some type of public assistance, the nuclear industry is likely headed toward oblivion.

“Is [nuclear power] dying under its own weight? Yeah, probably,” said Granger Morgan, professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Morgan isn’t pleased by this situation. He sees nuclear energy as a crucial part of our ability to reduce the risks of climate change because it is our single largest source of carbon emissions-free electricity. Morgan has researched what the U.S. could do to get nuclear energy back on track, but all he’s come up with is bad news (or good news, depending on your point of view).

The age of the nuclear fleet is partly to blame. That’s not because America’s nuclear reactors are falling apart — they’re regularly inspected, and almost all of them have now gone through the process of renewing their original 40-year operating licenses for 20 more years, said David McIntyre, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A few, including the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Florida, have even put in for a second round of renewals that could give them the ability to operate through their 80th birthdays.

Instead, it’s the cost of upkeep that’s prohibitive. Things do fall apart — especially things exposed to radiation on a daily basis. Maintenance and repair, upgrades and rejuvenation all take a lot of capital investment. And right now, that means spending lots of money on power plants that aren’t especially profitable. Historically, nuclear power plants were expensive to build but could produce electricity more cheaply than fossil fuels, making them a favored source of low-cost electricity. That changed with the fracking boom, Morgan told me. “Natural gas from fracking has gotten so cheap, [nuclear plants] aren’t as high up in the dispatch stack,” he said, referring to the order of resources utilities choose to buy electricity from. “So many of them are now not very attractive economically.”

Meanwhile, new nuclear power plants are looking even less fetching. Since 1996, only one plant has opened in the U.S. — Tennessee’s Watts Bar Unit 2 in 2016. At least 10 other reactor projects have been canceled in the past decade. Morgan and other researchers are studying the economic feasibility of investment in newer kinds of nuclear power plants — including different ways of designing the mechanical systems of a reactor and building reactors that are smaller and could be put together on an assembly line. Currently, reactors must be custom-built to each site. Their research showed that new designs are unlikely to be commercially viable in time to seriously address climate change. And in a new study that has not yet been published, they found that the domestic U.S. market for nuclear power isn’t robust enough to justify the investments necessary to build a modular reactor industry.

Combine age and economic misfortune, and you get shuttered power plants. Twelve nuclear reactors have closed in the past 22 years. Another dozen have formally announced plans to close by 2025. Those closures aren’t set in stone, however. While President Trump’s plan to tell utilities that they must buy nuclear power has received criticism as being an overreach of federal powers, states have offered subsidies to keep some nuclear power plants in business — and companies like Exelon, which owns 22 nuclear reactors across the country, have been happy to accept them. “Exelon informed us that they were going to close a couple plants in Illinois,” McIntyre said. “And then the legislature gave them subsidies and they said, ‘Never mind, we’ll stay open.’”

So intervention can work to keep nuclear afloat. But as long as natural gas is cheap, the industry can’t do without the handouts.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Radioactive Dust Found in Homes of Workers at Major US Nuclear Weapons Facility

Sputnik – June 14, 2018

Radioactive microparticles were detected in the homes of six workers in central Washington state’s Tri-City area who are associated with the Hanford nuclear site, a major Cold War-era plutonium manufacturing facility, scientists have reported.

A study published this month in the Journal of Environmental Engineering Science reported that small but still dangerous amounts of radioactive elements were found in dust collected by cloth wipes and vacuum cleaners in order to track the potential spread of radiation from one of the United States’ most notorious nuclear cleanup sites.

The same study also found radioactive particles in the homes of nuclear workers associated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado. All three sites are heavily associated with nuclear weapons production.

It’s believed the particles could have found their way into the homes in a variety of ways, including being attached to workers’ clothing and being stirred up by wind storms and wildfires, which are common in the region, and blown inside.

The tests found radioactive uranium, thorium, plutonium and americium particles that, while innocuous in the external environment, represent a “potential source of internal radiation exposure” if ingested, warns Marco Kaltofen, a civil engineer affiliated with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and author of the study, the Seattle Times reported.

Exposure to these materials increases the risk of cancer, the study noted. Plutonium is “fiendishly toxic, even in small amounts,” said Glenn Seaborg, the physicist who discovered the element in 1941, as quoted in a 2011 fact sheet on the Rocky Flats site. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry notes in its public health statement on thorium exposure that the radioactive isotopes can sit in the soil for decades and cause lung cancer if inhaled. Uranium ingestion mainly targets the kidneys, the ATSDR notes, while americium destroys and irradiates bone tissue and can cause bone cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma and damage the thyroid.

“These radioactive particles are tiny and difficult to detect once you get a few inches away, but once inside the body, the distance from our tissue is essentially zero,” Kaltofen explained. While the skin can handle certain amounts of radiation safely, the body’s internal organs have no protection and a tiny amount can prove fatally toxic. Polonium-210, for example, is 250 million times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide, the New York Times reported.

The report’s conclusions come from years of testing coordinated with Hanford Challenge, a Seattle-based organization that has fought for decades for accountability in the federal cleanup of the Hanford site. Kaltofen used an unusual technique that involves both electron microscopy and a specialized X-ray analysis that can detect extremely low levels of radioactive particles. The samples were compared to those taken from the Hanford site, which served as a kind of fingerprint for identifying the particles.

The levels found in the Hanford workers’ homes represented a health risk exceeding that considered acceptable by the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s safety standards. However, the manager of the Radioactive Air Emissions Section of the Washington Department of Health John Martell told the Seattle Times that the level found in the study “is not jumping out to us as a public health risk.”

The US Department of Energy (DoE) performs regular environmental monitoring to measure radionuclide concentrations in the air, water and soil, as well as in fish and wildlife “to assure the public that the dose and risk from Hanford contaminants are well understood,” the department says.

Hanford Site, or Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is a 586 square-mile site between the Columbia and Yakima Rivers, just upstream from the Tri-Cities and adjacent to Richland. It is roughly half the size of Rhode Island. The site was established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, the United States’ top secret program to develop an atomic bomb.

Hanford housed the world’s first full-scale plutonium reactor in the world, B Reactor, and was expanded to nine nuclear reactors and five plutonium processing plants. Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the Trinity blast, the world’s first nuclear explosion, as was the fuel for the two atom bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in August 1945, that killed more than 200,000 people. Most of the nuclear fuel for the 60,000 nuclear weapons the United States produced through the 1980s came from the Hanford site, according to the US Department of Energy.

Hanford was decommissioned after the Cold War but remains the storage site for 53 million gallons of liquid nuclear waste and 25 million cubic feet of solid nuclear waste, the DoE website notes. Neither the stored waste nor the waste from production has been properly stored, and large radiation leaks have contaminated much of the area, which remains the nation’s largest environmental cleanup site. According to Earth Island Journal, between 1944 and 1972, “as much as 1.7 trillion gallons of liquid waste, radionuclides and hazardous chemicals” were dumped into the Columbia River or into the ground.

The site regularly leaks nuclear contaminants, notably in February 2016 and May 2017, with the planned December 2017 demolition of a Hanford plutonium finishing plant being halted after several workers inhaled contaminated particles, arousing fears of a larger contamination if demolition continued, the Seattle Times reported at the time. Plutonium and americium traces were found up to 10 miles away from the condemned plant in subsequent tests. However, all of Kaltofen’s samples came from before the demolition began.

The Yakama Nation, whose reservation sits only 20 miles from the site, for decades fought turning Hanford into a nuclear waste site, as did other affected tribes such as the Nez Perce and Umatilla nations. Three counties around the Yakama reservation have seen high rates of a rare and fatal birth defect called anencephaly, in which a fetus’ brain and skull fail to fully form, which is believed to be caused by irradiation, Earth Island reported. Higher rates of anencephaly are also associated with sites in Iraq where the US military used depleted uranium rounds during the Iraq War, Iraqi doctors in Basra and Baghdad have noted.

Indigenous nations in Washington aren’t the only ones negatively affected by the US nuclear weapons program: decades of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation have caused extensive irradiation of the countryside, creating a disease known as Navajo Neuropathy, NPR reported. One spring in northeastern Arizona was reported in 2015 to have uranium levels “at least five times greater than safe drinking water standards” by a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The contamination caused the early deaths of many children who drank from the spring or whose mothers drank the water while pregnant.

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

George Monbiot: selling the 1% agenda in a Green box

George Monbiot NOT shilling for corporate interests
By Catte | OffGuardian | June 8, 2018

The neoliberals of today specialise in using concepts of concern and inclusiveness as a cover for their frankly fascist agenda. Censorship is being repackaged as “anti-hate”. The destruction of the core idea of “innocent until proven guilty” is being repackaged as protecting (mostly female) victims from their persecutors. Reasonable doubt is being repackaged as “denialism.” Minority opinion is being repackaged as treachery or subversion. Facts that contradict a current state-sponsored agenda are repackaged as “fake news.”

Conformity is being encouraged, presented as a cosy and reassuring “consensus blanket”, under which we can all snuggle together, safe from confusion, doubt or the horrendous experience of having our cherished beliefs called into question. Most journos operating in the mainstream have already opted to crawl in and curl up for the long snooze into intellectual and ethical oblivion, while others, the kapos, are actively herding the remaining doubters inside.

George Monbiot is one of the latter. The last few years have outed this one time supposed anti-establishment figure as nothing more than a fully establishment goon, posturing in the sad tatters of his “dissident Green” cosplay. His performance during the Syria crisis made this too obvious. His sub-intelligent smears on those independent journalists daring to question the narrative made his real allegiances, and limitations, more than clear. His preparedness to brazenly lie and his refusal to debate the people he smeared in an open forum cemented this view.

Monbiot is revealed as the guy the establishment uses to try and lure the Left-Greens out in support of the latest agenda roll-out by the likes of Soros, Gates and the Atlantic Council. He’s booked for the same gigs as Avaaz. His brief, as ever, is to sell fascism – but this time in a Green box.

Today George is busy selling us on veganism.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Veganism is fine. It’s a human choice and it has a place. This is not an attack on veganism, or vegans.

But we need to separate what a thing is from what it’s being used for. Everything, even the best things, can be exploited. And we can’t let loyalty to the thing itself stop us from seeing when its being used for less than good ends.

Veganism is being promoted right now by the usual suspects. There has been a rash of articles in the Guardian and elsewhere about the supposed health and environmental benefits of giving up meat and dairy. Even if we happen to be vegan, we’d be insane not to wonder why. Especially when Monbiot is getting involved.

George is a poster child for the New Wave Vegan. Strange, perhaps, given he’s only a “97% vegan” himself. But let’s just ignore the 3% carnivore, since it’s only road kill. The more important point, anyway, is that George wants us all to think he’s a vegan. Because a salesman has to be seen to use the product he’s promoting. His latest article breaks no new ground on this really. He’s said most of it before, as have others. But still, given the mounting evidence for the political mobilisation of veganism, it’s a good idea to look at what he says.

He starts by offering a binary choice – between the current wasteful and insane industrial farming system and a somewhat poorly defined alternative in which everyone eats a plant-based diet, which he implies without really saying, will put an end to this insanity. He tells us not only will this choice fix the problem of worldwide food shortage (because plant-husbandry produces far more calories per hectare than animal husbandry), but it will also remove the problem of all that unused animal waste currently pouring into rivers and creating massive pollution.

George’s ideal future will also be gratifying for the processed food industry. Because vegans need ready meals!

Unless you can cook well – and many people have neither the skills nor the space – a plant-based diet can be either boring or expensive. We need better and cheaper vegan ready meals and quick and easy meat substitutes

And fake meat grown in a lab!

The big shift will come with the mass production of cultured meat.

George recognises the latter will be a tough sell, but he’s up for giving it a try. An objection to this might be that “artificial meat is disgusting”, says George, but:

If you feel this way, I invite you to look at how your sausages, burgers and chicken nuggets are currently raised, slaughtered and processed. Having worked on an intensive pig farm, I’m more aware than most of what disgusting looks like.

Mmmm… Lab-grown pseudo-meat, pink-dyed and not quite as disgusting as something even worse! Lovely Roundup-saturated veggies [silage] processed into some approximation of the kind of protein humans can digest, and piped into microwavable sachets.

Who knew utopia would end up looking quite so much like – now? Who knew the new way would be just like the old way but with more “progressive” slogans?

George uses twisty self-contradictory arguments to claim one minute that eliminating livestock farming would “be a chance to break our complete dependence on artificial nitrogen”, while in his very next para admitting the exact opposite will in fact be the case.

the transition to plant protein is unlikely to eliminate the global system’s need for artificial fertiliser

Though he throws us a bone in the shape of

the pioneering work of vegan organic growers, using only plant-based composts and importing as little fertility as possible from elsewhere

This is blatant bait and switch. Green or green-sounding proclamations being swapped out for their very opposites with a deftness he hopes will fool us. We may, in some misty future time, not need to rely entirely on synthetic chemicals – but yes, OK, for now we will still be sucking up carcinogens with our lovely all veg diet.

Of course we could just use the animal manure to fertilise our veggies, which would entirely eliminate the need for chemical fertilisers… But let’s not think about that too much. Let’s instead soften that focus and just picture fields full of lovely cruelty-free plants waving in the even lovelier breeze…

In case you haven’t noticed, George’s entire article is hand-waving nonsense predicated on a lie, or a system of lies, and his trademark nifty footwork.

His claim that we need to produce more food is used as a blanket rationale for everything he advocates, but it’s a lie. We don’t need to produce more food. We currently produce more than enough food to feed the world. What we need and don’t have is equitable distribution. And that is because of the stranglehold of the minority interests George is carefully eliding.

His initial binary choice is a lie. We don’t need to choose between intensive animal farming and intensive cereal/veg farming. We have the option of non-intensive farming methods that treat the land, the animals and the crops with respect, and use age-old, sustainable methods to produce chemical-free and healthy food.

His dishonesty is nowhere more apparent than when he tries to elide this simple truth. Look at how he acknowledges the illogicality of unused animal waste

Today, the link between livestock and crops has mostly been broken: crops are grown with industrial chemicals while animal slurry stacks up, unused, in stinking lagoons, wipes out rivers and creates dead zones at sea.

but dodges away from the obvious solution – use the “slurry” to fertilise the land in place of synthetic chemicals – with a weak excuse:

When it is applied to the land, it threatens to accelerate antibiotic resistance.

Notice how he avoids mentioning the fact non-intensively reared animals don’t need to be pumped full of antibiotics in the first place. He even links to the source for sustainable husbandry I cite above, but does so only to dismiss it (without data) as “worse” than anything else on offer, by using, once again, the fake claim about the need to produce more food per hectare:

More damaging still is free-range meat: the environmental impacts of converting grass into flesh, the paper remarks, “are immense under any production method practised today”. This is because so much land is required to produce every grass-fed steak or chop

And adding that it’s also bad for the environment

Those who claim that “regenerative” or “holistic” ranching mimics nature deceive themselves. It relies on fencing, while in nature wild herbivores roam freely, often across vast distances. It excludes or eradicates predators, which are crucial to the healthy functioning of all living systems. It tends to eliminate tree seedlings, ensuring that the complex mosaics of woody vegetation found in many natural systems – essential to support a wide range of wildlife – are absent

You thought Monsanto, GM, monocultures and the ripping up of hedgerows was the problem? Nah. It’s fences. And herbivores eating the grass they’re designed to eat. And implicit in this nonsense of course is the greater nonsense that massive veggie monocultures drowned in pesticides and herbicides, are just teaming with wild life, tree seedlings and predators.

Just as he used frank lies to promote the Soros-backed White Helmets as unsung “heroes”, here, in the fake guise of promoting a healthy, organic, back-to-nature solution to the world’s problems, George is promoting the current power system of Big Ag and Big Food monopoly. Just as Avaaz sells us imperial regime change as grass roots activism, George is selling us industrial farming and denatured food as a return to Eden.

Don’t buy what he’s selling. Don’t surrender your sense of the real to this snake oil salesman. Go vegan if you want – that’s a fine personal choice. But not at the expense of the small producers who are already struggling to survive without the subsidies the big guys get. Don’t vote for some future “meat tax” that will drive them out of business, and penalise the poor, just as Big Ag wants. Don’t buy into this soft focus dreamland where our entire livestock herd disappears bloodlessly and completely from our landscape without being killed or culled, and is somehow better for it. Don’t be whispered into campaigning for a new and self-imposed serfdom, in which 7 billion compliant vegans munch their potage or their shrink-wrapped lab-grown Soylent Green, while the 1% quietly eat grass-fed steak and snigger with duping delight.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

The California – New Mexico Nuclear Connection

By James Heddle | CounterPunch | June 7, 2018

Target: ‘Nuclear Alley,’ New Mexico

In the past few weeks – un-reported in the scandal/crisis-pre-occupied American main stream media – New Mexico has become the epicenter of an on-going national controversy: how to responsibly manage the tons of radioactive waste accumulated at all the nuclear energy reactors around the country so far in the Nuclear Age.

Why, New Mexicans and others around the country are asking, has this region suddenly become the potential target destination for all of America’s radioactive waste?

Will the Shimkus Bill ‘Bring Death to New Mexico’?

New Mexico cattle rancher Ed Hughs is one of the many around that state and the country who think so.

Having, with his neighbors, just successfully fought off a proposed deep bore hole nuclear waste depository next to his ranch in Quey County, NM, Hughs told a recent Roswell, New Mexico NRC meeting to rousing applause,

“There are a lot of questions that have not been answered. One of the questions, how do you retrieve if there are accidents? How do you monitor? How do you repair? Those questions have not been answered. So I guess in summing up I want to say that the Holtec and Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, and I agree with an earlier statement that, you know, you aren’t bad people in the sense that you are trying to do us harm, but you are making a huge mistake…. You are in fact proposing to bring death to New Mexico.”

Yucca Redux and the ‘Fukushima Freeway’

The Congressional trigger to this rising national controversy is the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 2018, HR 3053, known as the Shimkus Bill, which recently passed the House on its way to the Senate.

It calls for restarting the failed Yucca Mountain Project in Nevada, and establishing a system of Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) sites for radioactive waste around the country until Yucca is operational.

First on the list of possible ‘temporary’ CIS nuke dumps is a site proposed by Holtec International and the local Eddy-Lea Alliance just outside Hobbs, New Mexico. It’s just over the border from Andrews, Co., Texas – where another high level nuke waste dump is also being proposed by Waste Control Specialists, which already operates a controversial toxic materials dump in the area.

In early may, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a series of five so-called ‘scoping’ meeting around New Mexico to take public comments on the Holtec/Eddy-Lea site proposal.

Proponents of the dump tout it as a regional economic boon and a patriotic service to the nation.

Opponents see it as a public health, environmental and economic disaster waiting to happen that could ruin the region’s thriving dairy ranching, pecan growing and oil drilling industries.

Planned to eventually hold more metric tons of waste than Yucca Mtn. itself will be designed for, the Hobbs site could well become – if the Yucca site never gets built – America’s de facto national dump site, and make the region a national ‘nuclear sacrifice area.’

The region targeted for the proposed ‘interim’ radioactive waste storage sites is already known to the region’s population as ‘nuclear alley.’

Welcome to Nuclear Alley

Nuclear Alley is on the edge of one of the world’s richest and – currently on pace to be – most productive petroleum patches: the Permian Basin, which straddles the New Mexico-Texas border.

We traveled there recently for our forthcoming documentary series on the shutdown and decommissioning of California’s last remaining nuclear energy plants at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. We also wanted to express our support of the groups resisting the ill-conceived consolidated interim storage agenda.

Along with the coming cascade of waste from other scheduled nuclear power reactor shutdowns around the country, California’s radioactive waste could well be headed for New Mexico… if the proposed Holtec and WCS ‘Consolidated Interim Storage’ sites are licensed by the industry-captured NRC.

Oil Patch Central

To get to this region we flew into Midland, Texas. The thriving city is a prime beneficiary of the area’s present oil- and gas-fueled economic boom. As we got off the plane, we entered a bustling airport space dominated by a battery of animated electronic screens showing glitzy ads – not for consumer goods – but for the region’s thriving, readily available, fracking and oil drilling services and products.

From Midland we headed to Eunice, New Mexico, an epicenter of New Mexico’s Nuclear Alley. To get there, we drove through endlessly flat countryside dotted every few yards stretching to the horizon with temporarily dormant or busily functioning oil pumps.

Rose Gardner is a feisty Hispanic grandmother and co-founder of the Alliance for Environmental Strategies organization in opposition to the Holtec dump.  In keeping with her name, she runs a flower shop on the Main Street of Eunice.

The little town’s local landscape is dominated by the presence, just five minutes up the highway, of Waste Control Specialists’ toxic waste materials site – where WCS is proposing adding a new CIS ‘parking lot’ nuclear dumpsite.

Just next-door to WCS is the Urenco uranium enrichment facility, which supplies much of the fuel for the country’s nuclear power reactors.  [A January, 2018 NRC Inspection Report noted both a security violation and the loss of criticality controls at this Urenco plant.]

Both proposed sites are about 40 miles from the now infamous Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), where more than 171,000 waste containers are stored in salt caverns 2,100 feet underground.

Touted as the demonstration ‘Flagship’ model for the feasibility of long-term deep geological radioactive storage facilities for nuclear weapons waste, and advertised to last for thousands of years, WIPP experienced underground fires and explosions on February 14, 2014, after only 15 years of operation.

The disaster caused a major radiation release of plutonium and americium that contaminated at least 22 workers. The release was tracked by monitors and acknowledged by DOE as far away as 26 miles.

Reports the LA Times “the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.”

But, says the Southwest Research and Information Center’s Dan Hancock, “There is no question the Energy Department has downplayed the significance of the accident.”

Diagnosed as being caused by the use of the use of ‘organic cat litter’ in the storage barrels, the WIPP disaster was dubbed a ‘comedy of errors’ by commentators around the world. Not to worry. Sustaining such huge potential costs (that are charged to the state of New Mexico) WIPP is now again accepting waste – presumably packed with the right brand of inorganic kitty litter.

Cui Bono?

Guiding us on a tour of the local Eunice roadside attractions, Rose showed us a sprawling, sun-baked trailer park, on land owned by a local politician. The bleak dusty field is home for many of the workers at the town’s two dominant facilities.

If WCS succeeds in getting an NRC license for a CIS site here, the workers’ ranks will expand, and so will the trailer park owner’s profits. That’s one of the ‘economic benefits,’ Rose noted to us wryly, that are loudly touted by the region’s CIS advocates.

“This crap that could kill us!”

Speaking at the NRC’s first regional meeting in Roswell, Gardner told the standing-room-only crowd,

This isn’t the right thing to do. It’s an injustice to this state, to this community…. Most of the people in this area are like me, Brown-skinned or darker. We’re already poor. We don’t have insurance. We speak another language and we’re at least 50 percent here. And that’s an environmental injustice because they’re basically saying it’s okay… because those people aren’t going to speak up, because they can get run over just like they’ve been run over for the last several hundred years.

I’m here to tell Holtec, ‘Hell No, we don’t want it!’ I am so sick and tired of all these big companies coming into New Mexico or close to my town in Eunice, wanting to give us all this crap. This crap that could kill us!

New Mexico as ‘National Sacrifice Area?’

Leona Morgan, a fiery young Diné [Navajo] community organizer and co-founder of  New Mexico’s Nuclear Issues Study Group, expands on Rose’s points.

“Starting with uranium mining and milling,” she says, “to modern weapons production, uranium enrichment, and storage of low-level and transuranic wastes, New Mexico has been targeted as a national sacrifice zone for too long,”

“New Mexico is the birthplace of nuclear colonialism,” Morgan points out. “We have been impacted by just about every step in the nuclear fuel chain! We did not generate this waste from nuclear reactors that is intended to come here. So why should we take it? As a state with many indigenous nations and people of color, and being at the tail end of several measures of quality of life, it is environmental racism at its core to keep dumping on New Mexico. And it’s time to stop!”

Speaking to the NRC meeting in Hobbs, New Mexico, Morgan gave a greeting in her native language and went on to remind the group that they were assembling on land originally stolen from the Mescalero Apache and Comanche tribes. “The things I want to talk about,” she said, “have to do with indigenous rights across the nation.“

“How many of you from the NRC or any of the regulating Agencies are aware,” she asked, “of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Or, for that matter, any of the elected officials here, how many of you know about this document called the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed in 2008?”

She scanned the crowd.

“Okay, let the record show no hands going up. How many of you are aware of the Organization of American States’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?“

She glanced around at the blank official faces.

“Okay, again, nobody’s hands went up. This was passed in 2016 and so I’d like to read directly from this Declaration.”

She went on to quote language from the Declarations’ Articles declaring that

Article 19: Indigenous peoples are entitled to be protected against the introduction of abandonment, dispersion, transit, indiscriminate use or deposit of any harmful substance that could negatively affect indigenous communities’ lands, territories, and resources.

And that

Article 22: The indigenous law and legal systems shall be recognized and respected by the national, regional, and international legal systems

“The reason I’m reading this,” she told the meeting, “is because it cites that the Federal Government needs to recognize tribal law.”

“Specifically with my tribe, the Navajo nation, we have a law against the transport of radioactive materials through our lands.

“So, if this transport should occur, it’s directly violating our tribe’s laws that were put in place because of all the history and the health impacts of the horrendous things that the United States did, not just going back to the genocide of our people but more recently, the exploitation of uranium on our lands.

“And so we have a law against uranium mining and we have a law against transport because we’ve already suffered the impacts from these industries for United States imperialism and capitalism. And so that did not benefit our people. We wrote these laws for the protection of our future generations, however, they are not being respected here.”

Based on indigenous historical experience, it would be a pleasant surprise if such legal provisions were ruled to be within the scope of the NRC’s consideration of the Eddy-Lea/Holtec license application for their proposed project.

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

The Eddy-Lea Alliance Project’s point man and lead salesman is John Heaton, a former member of the NM state legislature and current Chairman of the Alliance.

The Alliance is a limited liability corporation made up of 8 people appointed by the Councils of Hobbs, Lea, Eddy and Carlsbad counties. According to its promotional material it was “Formed Under the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) for Economic Development Purposes in 2006 & to Respond to Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Proposal from DOE.”

Heaton qualifies as what Eric Hoffer called a ‘True Believer’ in his 1951 best seller of that title. Heaton’s energetic sales-pitch is persuasive… at least to the uninformed.

As Heaton tells it, seeing opportunity in a recommendation by Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’ Nuclear Future for creation of ‘consent-based’ Centralized Interim Storage sites around the country, the Alliance believed it had secured what Heaton calls ‘an ideal site.’ It’s located 35 miles outside the town of Hobbs, and about equidistant from the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) outside Carlsbad.

Although ‘consent-based siting’ was recommended by Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission, the DOE has not finalized rules for how a state or community gives or denies consent. Already some cities have forced construction of highway bypasses around their metropolitan jurisdictions.

New Mexico’s ‘High Nuclear IQ’ vs. ‘Fear Mongering’

Heaton describes the proposed Eddy-Lea site as ‘dry’ and ‘seismically stable.’  In addition he says, because of all the existing neighboring facilities in Nuclear Alley, “we have what I call an area of the country with a very high nuclear IQ. The local population understands nuclear materials,” he claims, “and know they can now be handled competently.”

“This is deja vu for us,” an irritated Heaton told the NRC in its Hobbs meeting. “We went through this same thing with WIPP. We went through all the fear mongering. WIPP has shipped more than 12,000 shipments and traveled over 14 million miles. That’s like going to the moon and back 28 times, without a serious accident and absolutely no release.”

However, there are many members of that regional ‘high nuclear IQ population’ Heaton refers to who also remember that – touted as the country’s flagship deep geological nuclear waste repository, designed to remain secure for ten thousand years – WIPP suffered an explosion and release of plutonium in 2014, after a mere15 years of operation.

An ‘Ideal Site’ for Holtec

Having secured their ‘ideal site,’ the Alliance issued an RFP to potential contractors and chose Holtec. “Because,” Heaton says, “they are a great company with a fabulous record [and] have the best, safest, most secure system in the world.”

Joy Russell is a Holtec Vice President and nuclear engineer who is proud, she told us, of being both a West Point graduate and a co-designer of the Holtec transport cask modeled by the scaled-down inflatable replica being toured around the state by opponents as the growing Halt Holtec campaign gathers momentum.

She boasts that her company has been in the radioactive waste storage business for over 30 years, and that “sixty per cent of nuclear plants in the U.S. use Holtec dry storage equipment.”

“We have an impeccable safety record,” Russell told an NRC community meeting in Roswell, NM. “None of our equipment has ever experienced a safety issue, ‘leak,’ as you so call it.

But, I would like to point out,” she told the Roswell auditorium – packed 5-1 with opponents of the proposed project – in a tone dripping with ill-concealed condescension, “spent nuclear fuel is not a liquid, it can’t ‘leak’.”

Opponents cite a number of disquieting facts, which call Heaton and Russell’s confident public relations assertions into question.

Halt Holtec!

A group of New Mexico and Texas organizations, including the Nuclear Waste Study Group, the SEEDS Coalition, and Alliance For Environmental Strategies, started a ‘Halt Holtec’ campaign. They toured an inflated, scaled-down model of the kind of transport cask proposed by Holtec that would carry thousands of shipments of highly radioactive waste shipments through the nation’s towns and metropolitan areas on dilapidated highways, bridges and railway lines for the next 20 years or more.

One significant result of their campaign is that on Monday, May 21, the Albuquerque City Council, in a 4-3 vote, approved what it called a ‘memorial’ against the transportation of nuclear waste through the Albuquerque metropolitan area.

Similar measures by other municipalities and counties along the potential shipment routes around the country are in the works.

Details and additional Cask Tour dates will be posted online at: 
www.facebook.com/HaltHoltec

Websites with more information:
   Here   Here    Here

‘Strange Bedfellows’

The Halt Holtec Campaign has quickly gathered strong momentum surprising both to its organizers, and the Holtec dump proponents, whose claim of ‘wide-spread regional public support’ has been totally debunked by the turnout in opposition to the project. Public statements have so far run 5-1 ‘against’ the proposed site in all five New Mexico NRC meetings.

At the recent series of NRC community meetings, this opposition was strong from a wide cross section of New Mexico and Texas demographic sectors, including Native American Tribes, growers, ranchers, the Jewish and Christian faith communities, and the powerful oil and gas fracking industry.

A regional leader of that booming industry is the Fasken Oil and Ranch company, which has been in business since 1913. Their representative, Jimmy Carlisle, explained his company’s position to the visiting NRC officials.

I work for Fasken Oil and Ranch based in Midland. We are an oil and gas company, but we also are a major landowner in the State of Texas.

We own some 200,000 net acres in the State of Texas. Our largest ranch is a 165,000 acre contiguous ranch just north and west of Midland.

The WCS site definitely comes into play in this discussion. The Holtec side, however, has the same issues … groundwater issues.

On our ranches [we depend on] everything we look at: we look at vegetation, we look at soil characteristics, we look at moisture in the soil, but the thing we watch the closest is the quantity and the quality of our groundwater.

Our company is the first one really in West Texas that made the determination to get off of use of fresh water in our drilling and fracking operations and we started recycling produced water and using brackish water as a result.

So we believe firmly that the freshwater issue is a major significance that has to be addressed.

Stressing that the State Engineer’s Office lacks definitive maps of the ground water aquifer locations in New Mexico, Carlisle told the NRC panel, “We’re not alone in this fight.”

Explaining that it had taken ‘less than two hours to get four letters of opposition from major landowners in West Texas, Carlisle concluded,

Groundwater, folks, is the lifeblood of the ranching business. If you don’t have groundwater you’d just own dirt. Think about that for a second.

The bottom line is we believe that this [Holtec] application and the WCS application need to be withdrawn.

A group letter from oil industry representatives to Holtec warned that Holtec and the Eddy-Lea Alliance would ‘need more money than God’ to compensate them if their project damaged the thriving drilling industry in the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin, which is currently on pace to become the world’s most booming region of petroleum production.

“I don’t intend to let this thing run over us.”

Randy Prude, an influential county commissioner from Midland, Texas, told the Roswell NRC meeting that he had spent $2000 of his own money to fly Fasken representative Jimmy Carlisle and other opposition speakers to the event.

“I intend to organize all the ranchers and all the commissioner’s courts and everybody in all the governments in all this whole region,” Commissioner Prude went on.

I will tell you, I am an odd duck, I am a Republican — (Laughter) and this is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is an important issue to all of us….

I just cannot tell you the horror that could happen if we ever have an accident. And so I intend to organize all of our governments that are willing to listen….

I am going to get to all the ranchers and all the ranch oil men to contact their commissioners and their mayors and their representatives, house representatives, senators, and so forth, and I don’t intend to let this thing run over us.

The Permeable Permian

The contentions by dump proponents that the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site is ‘dry and seismically stable’ were repeatedly debunked by facts presented by opposing speakers.

Activists visiting the site, despite Heaton’s attempts to stop them, discovered clear signs that it contains a ‘playa,’ where seasonal rain water collects, feeding the ground water deposits and aquifer below.

The region’s most famous tourist attraction – the Carlsbad Cavern – was formed by such a subterranean body of water, the Capitan Reef Aquifer.

“It’s hard to think of a worse place to choose for placing an interim waste site,” consulting geologist Dr. Steve Schafersman told the meeting.

The area is surrounded by aquifers, some close, some far. The sediments and the sedimentary rock are porous and permeable. The thin barrier they claim is on the top is not sufficient. It’s just like the WCS site, which is really no better. So this is not a good place to put a hazardous waste site, especially one for nuclear waste.

There are soluble rocks below the site, limestone and rock salt. There is karst limestone in the area, which is a soluble limestone that develops caverns, the caverns collapse and sinkholes develop.

It is conceivable that a sinkhole would collapse and take down the depository with it, which would be a terrible, colossal tragedy. In addition there is the soluble Salado formation below that.

In West Texas unplugged wells carry fluids to this formation, the salt dissolves, and sinkholes develop. This is a matter of fact.

An Earth-Shaking Announcement of Seismic Significance

Several of the opposition speakers referred to a recently-published, peer-reviewed study in the March 16, 2018 issue of Nature, with the catchy title, ‘Association between localized geohazards in West Texas and human activities, recognized by Sentinel-1A/B satellite radar imagery.

The study by Southern Methodist University geophysicists Jin-Woo Kim and Zhong Lu reported literally earth-shaking findings.

It showed that, in the last two and a half years, large sections of the four Texas counties they studied, spanning a 4000-square-mile area, had shown ‘vertical deformation,’ that is, sunk or uplifted as much as 40 centimeters or nearly 16 inches.

“The ground movement we’re seeing is not normal. The ground doesn’t typically do this without some cause,” said co-author Zhong Lu, a recognized global expert in satellite radar imagery research.

“These hazards represent a danger to residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines, as well as potential pollution of ground water,” Lu declared.

Co-author Jin-Woo Kim notes that, “This region of Texas has been punctured like a pin cushion with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s and our findings associate that activity with ground movement.”

In fracking, liquid is injected into bore holes under pressure, then extracted, causing uplift while the wells are in operation, and subsidence when they are abandoned.

The researchers’ Nature article states,

… the rapid subsidence is likely induced by the freshwater impoundments from the nearby abandoned wells. During our field trip, we observed numerous recent ground fissures…. These growing fissures can allow the rainwater to swiftly flow down to the Salado formation and promote the dissolution of the salt layers. [ Thus causing subsidence. ]

Although their analysis focused on just that one 4000-square-mile area, Kim says, “We’re fairly certain that when we look further, and we are, that we’ll find there’s ground movement even beyond that.”

The area they’ve studied so far lies just adjacent to the two proposed storage sites in New Mexico and Texas.

The Oil Drilling and Fracking Connection – Oil & Nuclear Waste Don’t Mix

Evidence of the links between oil and gas extraction and earth movement are clear. Researching an unprecedented swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas, a 2016 Stanford University study published in Science found a direct connection between a quake series in Texas in 2012 and 2013, which included the largest on record, and the high volume injection of wastewater into oil and gas fracking wells that happened between 2005 and 2007. The high pressure forced water into fault zones and triggered the subsequent quakes, the study showed. Read more

One of the people Commissioner Randy Prude flew in to speak at the Roswell meeting was Cody Rogers. “I am an ex-Navy nuke,” he told the NRC. “I have operated nuclear reactors for eight years. I am a huge proponent of nuclear power. I think we need it. We have 99 operating nuclear reactors. We do not have anywhere to dispose of the spent fuel. This is a major, major problem and we have to fix it.

“I know we need a site” Rogers told the group. But the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site, he said emphatically, “is not it.”

“We [the U.S.] are on the cusp of being the world’s largest energy producer, okay. We are going to control oil very soon. We are going to control our own destiny. So West Texas is one of the most valuable places in the world right now, especially in the United States, and, because of this I implore you to look up the study from SMU. West Texas is sinking… fast!

“I know we need a site. This is not it. If this thing sinks and we get something like the WIPP accident, that was never supposed to happen, the environmental impact is forever, and if we lose West Texas oil, natural gas, the people of Roswell, the people of New Mexico, the people of Texas, the United States, we’re done.

”We’re not going back to Saudi Arabia and getting their oil. We need independence and this site is sinking and I truly believe that we need to look at that and study its environmental impact.”

Reputations and Rap Sheets

Opponents stress that entrusting the economic and environmental future of this area to companies with corporate histories like those of Holtec and Waste Control Specialists is a highly risky proposition.

Growth Industry

With aging reactors closing down around the country in an accelerating cascade – and with no ‘national permanent geological repository’ for their accumulated SNF in sight – decommissioning and radwaste storage are on pace to become major growth industries for some time to come.

Holtec’s visionary head Dr. Krishna Singh is positioning his huge company, based in Camden, New Jersey, to dominate both industries, as well as to be a leader in the manufacture of small modular reactors (SMRs), the failing nuclear energy industry’s latest bid for survival.

Back in October 2010, based on the results of a criminal investigation of bribery, conducted by its Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) debarred Holtec International, Inc. for sixty days. And fined it $2 million.

According to a TVA document,

Holtec agreed to pay a $2 million administrative fee and submit to independent monitoring of its operations for one year. The TVA Board’s Audit, Risk, and Regulation Committee and TVA management fully supported the OIG’s recommendation to create a suspension and debarment process and submit Holtec to that process. TVA’s Supply Chain organization and Office of General Counsel worked collaboratively with the OIG to achieve this milestone in TVA history. Why wasn’t the company permanently debarred? A subsequent Department of Justice document seems to suggest that a TVA employee may have been bribed by Holtec to falsify a financial disclosure report. Read more.

Meanwhile, just miles away on the other side of the state border in Texas, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and its new French partner Orano each have their own checkered pasts.

WCS was founded in 1989 as a landfill company by Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who controlled it until his death in 2013. During that time, Simmons used his financial muscle and political connections to morph the site into a licensed low level waste dump with some highly questionable maneuvers.

His generous support for then Texas Governor, now Energy Secretary Rick Perry, no doubt eased his path. Critics allege that “Radioactive Rick” Perry appointees at key regulatory agencies bent rules on WCS’s behalf, including the Texas Water Development Board’s altering of maps showing that Simmons’ waste facility is located over part of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies and supplies drinking and agricultural water for eight western bread basket states. Another water body, the Dockum Aquifer lies nearby as well. Many Texas environmental officials resigned in protest.

For its part, WCS’s new partner Orano, parent company of Orano USA, is a recent reincarnation of the radically reorganized French government-owned struggling reactor maker AREVA, after years of business losses brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.

These are the strange bedfellows hoping to profit from the nuclear energy industry’s decline by making New Mexico’s ‘nuclear alley’ America’s de facto radioactive waste repository for the foreseeable future.

There are several things wrong with this scenario, not the least of which, as noted, is that poor and minority residents make up a large portion of the population in and around ‘Nuclear Alley.’

Until and unless the existing Nuclear Waste Policy Act is changed by currently proposed, but not yet enacted legislation, licensing of these CIS sites will be illegal. This is because the Act requires that a permanent repository is approved before any consolidated interim storage site can be licensed.

If the NRC were to license the sites without a central repository being established, they would likely become in effect the national dump, because utilities would probably stop lobbying for – and lawmakers could be less inclined to authorize funding for – establishing a central repository.

If that happens, thousands of shipments of deadly radioactive waste will be moving daily along rail and truck transportation corridors, through our nation’s population centers, for decades to come.

A Shell Game of Nuclear Russian Roulette on Wheels

Eddy-Lea/Holtec project proponents are fond of citing the transport record claimed by the Navy, which proudly states that it has been shipping both new and used nuclear fuel cross-country by rail for over 60 years without mishap.

However the Navy admits that, “All shipments [are] classified (security) and invoke the Department of Transportation (DOT) National Security Exemption (49CFR173.7b).” It claims that 850 spent fuel containers have been safely shipped from March, 1957 to the present.

However, no radioactive labels and placards are ever used in these boxcar and flatcar shipments, and there is no advance notification given to authorities along the route, so reports of any incidents that may have occurred would also be classified – secret for ‘security reasons.’

Those 850 shipments over 6 decades are far fewer than the estimated 17,000 shipments it would take to move the projected 173,000 metric tons of radioactive SNF from US nuclear plants to the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site across the entire lower 48 states in the coming years.

Government documents show that other details of Navy shipping methods make them significantly different than those anticipated for the Shimkus Bill’s proposed nation-wide rail, highway and barge transport network:

+ Transport has been along only one specific rail route;

+ The Navy uses a different containment system than the Holtec transport cask;

+ Each Navy transport cask holds just 1/10th of what is planned for each Holtec spent fuel canister.

Itemizing Nuclear Transport Risks

Kevin Kamps from the Washington DC-based group Beyond Nuclear traveled to New Mexico to show his organization’s solidarity with the Halt Holtec movement and to share knowledge gained from a professional life spent campaigning for nuclear safety.

His hand-out list of the documented high risks involved in transporting highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, whether by train, truck, or barge, on rails, roads, or waterways included “high-speed crashes into immovable objects, like bridge abutments, or high-temperature long-duration fires, or long-duration underwater submergence.”

“Intentional attacks,” he warned, “such as by anti-tank missiles or shaped charges, could also breach shipping containers and release their contents into the environment.”

Since Holtec has claimed in its license application that any and all NRC certified canisters can be accommodated at this facility, Kamps explained, not only rail-sized shipping containers must be worried about, but also legal weight limits for the truck casks which would travel on interstate highways throughout the country.

“X-Ray Machines that can’t be Turned Off”

Contrary to Holtec VP Joy Russell’s reassurance that, since spent fuel shipments aren’t liquid, “they can’t leak,” all shipments would emit dangerous gamma and neutron radiation for several yards in every direction, dissipating with distance. Because of the large expense and added weight necessary to provide shielding against these gamma and neutron emissions, the NRC has set ‘allowable’ limits.

“But,” Kamps reminded the meeting, “Allowable does not mean safe. Any exposure to ionizing radioactivity carries a health risk, and these risks accumulate over a lifetime.”

According to NRC guidelines, at six feet away from the container’s exterior surface, a dose rate of 10 millirem per hour is allowed – about one to two chest x-rays’ worth per hour.

At the exterior surface of the container, the allowable dose rate increases dramatically to 200 millirem per hour. That’s 20 to 40 chest x-rays’ worth.

But workers, such as truck drivers, locomotive engineers, inspectors, security guards, and the like, who come in very close physical proximity into the shipping container would be exposed to the highest radiation dose rates.

Even innocent passersby and bystanders in the general public would also be exposed, including those who live close to transport routes exposed to large numbers of shipments going by over time.

Some people, Kamps noted, such as pregnant women, should not be exposed to any radiation dose that can be avoided due to the high risk of harm caused to the fetus in the womb.

He reported that the state of Nevada, based on federal government data, has documented 49 incidents of accidental surface contamination on these highly radioactive waste shipments between the years of 1949 and 1996.

And in France, Areva Corporation has had many hundreds of externally contaminated shipments, a full one-quarter to one-third of all shipments bound for the La Hague reprocessing facility. On average, these French contamination incidents emitted 500 times the allowable radiation dose rates. One even emitted 3,300 times the allowable dose rate.

De Facto National Dump in Disguise?

But, perhaps the greatest danger to be considered by New Mexicans, Kamps, warned, is the “question of temporary versus permanent.”

This is the danger, Kemps says, of so-called centralized or consolidated interim storage facilities becoming actually de facto permanent surface storage parking lot dumps.

Holtec-ELEA have applied for a permit to NRC to store irradiated nuclear fuel here for 40 years. But this time period could, as they admit, be extended to 120 years.

But, Kamps’ research shows that, on page 12 of a January 27th, 2017 report that Holtec prepared and submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Andrew Griffith over company Vice President Joy Russell’s signature, Holtec’s response to the DOE request for proposal on centralized interim storage, stated that “the CIS should have a minimum service life of 300 years.”

“How can 40 years be called temporary, let alone 300?” Kemps asked the gathering. “That’s longer than the United States has been a country.”

“So, just to end with some political reality,” he said, “If this waste comes out here, it would turn out to be one New Mexico member of the United States House of Representatives versus 434 others for it to ever move again. And in the U.S. Senate it would be a vote of 98 against 2.”

“So,” Kemps concluded, “folks had better think about this deeply before it’s allowed to come out here.”

‘Chernobyl in a Can’

Expanding on the theme of transportation risks, EON producer, Mary Beth Brangan pointed out that “Every one of these canisters that would be coming would contain roughly as much cesium alone, as was released in the Chernobyl accident. Every canister. […]

“My partner and I are here,” Brangan told the meeting, “because we’re very, very concerned about this. And I want to assure you there are other Californians who do not want to send their radioactive waste here.

“We don’t want to do that for a great many reasons but the first one is its environmental racism, and we really object to the concept of putting anymore of the burden of the nation’s radioactivity on your communities,” she said to appreciative applause.

We were not the only concerned Californians who came to the NRC’s New Mexico scoping meetings to say, “We don’t want our radioactive waste dumped on you.”

Another was Southern California urban planner and community organizer Torgen Johnson, whose efforts helped shut down San Onofre’s reactors. He flew in to the Albuquerque meeting to show support for the Halt Holtec Campaign and network with regional organizers.

“The New Mexico people hammered Holtec and the NRC,” he reported. “They didn’t need our help, but they welcomed our solidarity. It was so great and encouraging to hear these well-informed, passionate and articulate people expressing the same concerns we have at the other end of the potential rail line.”

Johnson says he heard testimonies from down-winders of the 1945 Trinity test with long, tragic family histories of cancer and health impacts. Being among them, he says, deepened his understanding of the human rights, social justice and environmental issues at stake, and his commitment to continued public education about them.

What impressed him, he says, is the realization of the “Link between the low income, red and brown people in New Mexico and wealthy white people in Southern California – both being victimized by the plans and decisions of Holtec and the NRC.”

“Its a representative cross-section of America” he says, “united against the onslaught of the nuclear waste disposal industry.”

Sharon and Ace Hoffman, whose efforts had also contributed to the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant, attended several of the meetings to share their experience and voice their solidarity with the Halt Holtec movement.

“We are very happy that San Onofre is closed,” Sharon Hoffman said.  “It is a really bad place for the waste. But that doesn’t mean that we solve the problem by moving it to a different place. We have to look at the transportation. We are talking about moving the most dangerous stuff on the planet all over the country. And if we moved it all today, we would have more tomorrow.

“So the real question here is, when are we going to shut down all these plants and stop making more waste? That’s really the problem.

“This is a beautiful place,“ she concluded. “And it might be contaminated forever. This is not something that you want to take on for the rest of the country. Yes, you can help the rest of the country. You can say, stop making this, and then let’s figure out together the best thing to do with what is left.”

“I am a stakeholder,” Ace Hoffman told the assembly. “I am from Carlsbad. Not Carlsbad, New Mexico; Carlsbad, California, which is about 15 miles as the crow flies, or the plutonium flies, from San Onofre. So it was very important to me that we do something about this waste.”

Based on his experience of the NRC’s actions during the controversy about shutting down San Onofre, Hoffman warned his New Mexico counterparts, “don’t expect anyone to be telling you the truth about what is possible or what is going to happen. And I strongly advise — even though I would love to get rid of the waste, and I would love to find a sucker that will take it — don’t be that sucker.”

From the Mouths of Babes…

But it was the little daughter of artist and prominent Halt Holtec campaigner Noel Marquez who perhaps best summarized New Mexico’s majority view that emerged from the 5 meetings held around the state on the Elea-Holtec proposed dump site.

When the moderator, Chip Cameron offered to hold the mike for her, she responded, “I can hold it myself. Thank you.”

Handling the mike with confident ease, she continued, “My name is Pakeia Marquez and I am 11 years old. I’m here on behalf of unborn kids and born kids like me. I think this whole situation is very important because it affects everything and everybody. It affects the plants and wildlife around here.

“I have recently been writing an essay about ecosystems. I read that ecosystems can be very easily poisoned through water, air, and soil. Water, if all this radiation leaks into the water, everything that’s living needs water. It’s going to suck up all of that, and it’s going to get poisoned. Who is going to, like, you know, reimburse us for it?

“You may think you might be solving a problem, but really you’re just creating more problems to solve, and they might just be forever, and you might just not be able to solve them.

“Please remember that I cannot vote,” she told the NRC officials. “So please do vote against this horrible mistake. Thank you.”

The applause was loud and long as Pakeia Marquez made her way back to her seat.

James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection Pt. ! – The Case of San Onofre is now in post-production. He can be reached at jamesmheddle@gmail.com

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 8 Comments

Rebellion or Counter-Revolution: Made In US In Nicaragua?

By Achim Rödner – teleSUR – May 30, 2018

Many wonder if the United States is involved in the student protests of the past month in Nicaragua which attempted to destabilize the country. Western media writes nothing about the issue, while at the same time similar scenarios have played out in Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Honduras, Bolivia and other countries in which the left has made progress. At this moment, three Nicaraguan students are touring Europe and Sweden in search of support for their campaign. At least one of the students represents an organization funded and created by the United States.

The student protests in Nicaragua are described in the Western media as legitimate protests by young Nicaraguans who have spontaneously united to fight the supposed dictatorship. Surely there are many young people who have joined the fight with these ideas. Surely many people here in Sweden have joined and support that struggle. But there is much that indicates that these are not just spontaneous protests. There are many indications that organizations led by the United States waited for the right moment to create chaos, and exacerbate the contradictions to destabilize the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.

Changing Society

One of the three students on tour in Sweden right now is Jessica Cisneros, active in issues of integration and youth participation in political processes. She is a member of the Movimiento Civico de Juventudes (MCJ). That organization is financed, created by and an integral part of the National Democratic Institute. The NDI is an organization that works to change society in other countries. The president of the NDI is Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state. The general secretary of the MCJ, Davis Jose Nicaragua Lopez, founder of the organization, is also the coordinator of the NDI in Nicaragua and active in a series of similar organizations in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Excerpt from the NDI website: “The Civic Youth Movement (MCJ) has been part of an NDI project that began in 2015 with the aim of expanding youth leadership and political commitment by providing hands-on training in organizational techniques. Several of the group members are graduates of the Leadership and Political Conduct Certification (CLPM) program that the NDI has supported in conjunction with Nicaraguan universities and civil society organizations.”

Yerling Aguilera is from the Polytechnic University (UPOLI) of Managua and has specialized in research on the revolution and the feminist movement. She has also been an employee and consultant for IEEPP in Nicaragua, which works to strengthen the capacity of political, state and social actors for a better informed public through creative and innovative services. IEEPP has received support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of US$224,162 between 2014 and 2017.

Madelaine Caracas participates in the national dialogue currently taking place in Nicaragua. She is also active in the feminist and environmental movement.

From 2015 on, the United States expanded its support to Nicaragua, especially through support for leadership courses and money for young people in universities, schools, NGOs and political parties. Organizations that work with feminist movements and women, human rights and the environment have been prioritized.

This from the NDI website: “To ensure that the next generation of leaders will be equipped to govern in a democratic and transparent manner, since 2010 the NDI has partnered with Nicaraguan universities and civic organizations to lead a youth leadership program that has helped prepare more than 2,000 youth leaders, current and future, throughout the country. The NDI has also contributed to Nicaragua’s efforts to increase women’s political participation and initiatives to reduce discrimination against LGBT people, as well as shared best practices for monitoring electoral processes.” Is foreign interference in democracy and elections good for Nicaragua, but unacceptable for the United States and Sweden?

Foreign Interference

It is also interesting to compare what happens in Nicaragua with what happens in other countries. The NDI also works in Venezuela, also with subversive tasks. The activity of the United States and the NDI in Latin America should be compared with the debate on the interference of powers in the electoral systems of the United States, Sweden or Europe. For example, would those countries accept that Russia form and support organizations that train political leaders in Sweden or the United States?

This is how the NDI describes its activities in Venezuela on its website: “The NDI began working in Venezuela in the mid-1990s in response to requests to exchange international experiences on comparative approaches to democratic governance. After closing its offices in Venezuela in 2011, the NDI has continued – based on requests – offering material resources to democratic processes, including international approaches on electoral transparency, monitoring of political processes and civic and political organization, and the Institute promotes dialogue among Venezuelans and their civic and political peers and politicians at an international level on topics of mutual interest. ”

Organizations from the United States work towards the development of democracy and foreign interference in Nicaragua. According to its website, the Instituto Democratico Nacional (NDI) has 2,000 young leaders in Nicaragua. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is another organization that, according to its own version of events, since the 1990s has been dedicated to doing the work that the CIA used to do in secret. It promotes the destabilization of other countries. The NED works with a number of other organizations, media, websites and NGOs in Nicaragua. Officially, its support for Nicaragua amounted to US$4.2 million between 2014 and 2017.

USAID officially works with medical and disaster relief, but the NDI and the NED support a number of organizations that work with issues concerning women, children, the environment and human rights. On their website, they write that they want to “Promote democracy by training young and emerging leaders and giving them technical help so that they strengthen civil participation and improve local leadership.” They do not say whose democracy they want to strengthen: whether it is the vision of democracy in the United States and the CIA, or the people of Nicaragua.

Previously, USAID worked in Bolivia but it was expelled in 2013 for carrying out destabilizing activities. In the same raid, a Danish organization was also expelled. That does not mean the organization necessarily engaged in illegal activities, but that it did work with an organization that received money from the United States. USAID also works in Venezuela, and also says there is work to strengthen “civil society.” Its budget in Venezuela in 2015 was US$4.25 million. Its partners in Venezuela are, among others, Freedom House and the NDI.

Creating Change

Who will create change in Nicaragua? And will it be violently or through elections? USAID, NDI and NED have extensive activities in Nicaragua, with thousands of activists trained to “change society,” and hundreds of NGOs, universities and political parties that receive money and material for these organizations. The United States participates in this process and its interests are to destabilize the democratically elected Sandinista government.

Believing that the United States is not involved in the riots in Nicaragua is naive. The situation in Nicaragua is serious and a dialogue for peace is necessary. Those responsible for the violence, the criminal fires, the riots, the destruction and the looting must answer for them, both on the side of the demonstrators, as well as on the critical elements, the political groups of young people and the responsible politicians. If, as the student leaders say, Daniel Ortega has ordered the police to shoot to kill, go ahead and have the president tried. And if there has been foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, those responsible for it have responded, both from activists in Nicaragua and from politicians in the United States. Many things can change for the better in Nicaragua, but it must be the work of the Nicaraguans themselves and not the money and agenda of the United States determining the changes.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste

Photo by Iwan Gabovitch | CC BY 2.0
By John Laforge | CounterPunch | May 18, 2018

Last month’s explosive news from the safe, reliable nuclear deterrence folks is that at least four barrels of military radioactive waste either burst or exploded somewhere inside the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), near Idaho Falls, April 11. INL officials said the “ruptured” barrels reportedly contained a sludge of fluids and solvents sent from the long-shuttered Rocky Flats plutonium weapons machining site near Denver. The officials did not describe which radioactive materials were in the sludge.

The accident was reported by ABC News, the Associated Press, the Seattle Times, the Japan Times, Industrial Equipment News, and Fox Radio among others. Laboratory spokespersons said a 55-gallon drum, or two, holding radioactive sludge “ruptured.” Energy Department (DOE) spokesperson Danielle Miller wrote April 12 that, “Later, there were indications that a third drum may have been involved.” On April 25 Erik Simpson, a spokesman for DOE contractor Fluor Idaho, told the AP that four barrels had burst. Simpson said the “ruptures” (i.e. explosions) were heard outside the building where they took place.

The DOE’s Miller called the prompt deconstruction of the rad waste barrel(s) an “exothermal event” — a pseudonym for “bomb” that means “a chemical reaction accompanied by a burst of heat.” The phrase harks back to the officially described “gaseous ignition event” involving hydrogen gas in a loaded high-level rad waste cask at Wisconsin’s Point Beach reactor site in May 1996. The cask contained 14 tons of highly radioactive used reactor fuel, and the explosion (a word avoided only by agency public relations linguistic gymnastics) blew the high-level waste cask’s 4,000-pound lid right off.

One theory about the cause of the accident is that “radioactive decay made the barrel[s] heat up and ignite particles of uranium,” the AP reported. Unfortunately for the first responders, “When the firefighters left the building emergency workers detected a small amount of radioactive material on their skin,” the AP reported April 12. The very next sentence in this story was that the DOE’s Miller said, “None of the radioactive material was detected outside of the building where the rupture occurred.” The isotopes that contaminated the firefighters somehow don’t figure in to Miller’s “outside.”

Because of what officials said was “decades of secretive record-keeping,” lab authorities claimed not to know exactly what is in the burst barrels. Neither DOE nor INL described what got on the firefighters’ skin. INL officials do not “know the exact contents,” of the barrels, Joint Information Center spokesman Don Miley reportedly said.

Nuclear waste explosions “actually happening”

Miley told the press, “They haven’t run into anything like this actually happening” — but he has a short memory. Exploding rad waste has been around a long time.

It happened four years ago, on Valentine’s Day 2014, at the U.S. Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico. A barrel of military plutonium waste exploded underground, contaminating the entire facility, including the elevator and ventilator shafts, and even poisoned 22 workers internally — they inhaled the plutonium-laced dust.

More recently, on October 18, 2015, a fire and explosions spurred by rainfall hurled 11 buried barrels of radioactive chemical waste from a trench into the air and spewed debris like a geyser 60 feet high, at a “US Ecology” site near Beatty, Nevada. This shocking fire in one of 22 shallow trenches of radioactive waste couldn’t be put out with water hoses because water started it in the first place. Authorities had to close US Highway 95, cancel school, and await more explosions while they let the fire burned itself out. US Ecology had its records seized by Nevada’s Radiation Control Program, which has never disclosed what sorts of radioactive materials were burned in exploded Trench 14 — although dump site is known to hold a total of 47 lbs. of plutonium and uranium isotopes.

In September 1957 at Kyshtym in Russia, a tank holding 70 million metric tons of highly radioactive waste exploded and produced a massive plume that contaminated 250,000 people across 410 square miles. This risk always comes with high-level rad waste. It helped cancel the plan to use Yucca Mountain, Nevada for abandonment of commercial nuclear power waste, because physicists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory reported in 1995 that the material could erupt in a catastrophic explosion. Now, naturally, the Trump regime and his Congress want to restart that rejected plan.

After the Idaho Lab accident, the DOE’s Danielle Miller told reporters that first responders “got some radioactive contamination on their skin, but emergency workers washed it away.” And, she added, “The firefighters did not inhale any of the radioactive material.” Miller couldn’t possibly know this without extensive medical evaluation, but it could be true: if the nose and mouth weren’t attached to the skin.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Move Over Chernobyl, Fukushima is Now Officially the Worst Nuclear Power Disaster in History

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | April 27, 2018

The radiation dispersed into the environment by the three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan has exceeded that of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, so we may stop calling it the “second worst” nuclear power disaster in history. Total atmospheric releases from Fukushima are estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl, according to the 2013 World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Professor Komei Hosokawa, who wrote the report’s Fukushima section, told London’s Channel 4 News then, “Almost every day new things happen, and there is no sign that they will control the situation in the next few months or years.”

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has estimated that about 900 peta-becquerels have spewed from Fukushima, and the updated 2016 TORCH Report estimates that Chernobyl dispersed 110 peta-becquerels.[1](A Becquerel is one atomic disintegration per second. The “peta-becquerel” is a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion Becquerels.)

Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 in Ukraine suffered several explosions, blew apart and burned for 40 days, sending clouds of radioactive materials high into the atmosphere, and spreading fallout across the whole of the Northern Hemisphere — depositing cesium-137 in Minnesota’s milk.[2]

The likelihood of similar or worse reactor disasters was estimated by James Asselstine of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), who testified to Congress in 1986: “We can expect to see a core meltdown accident within the next 20 years, and it … could result in off-site releases of radiation … as large as or larger than the releases … at Chernobyl.[3] Fukushima-Daiichi came 25 years later.

Contamination of soil, vegetation and water is so widespread in Japan that evacuating all the at-risk populations could collapse the economy, much as Chernobyl did to the former Soviet Union. For this reason, the Japanese government standard for decontaminating soil there is far less stringent than the standard used in Ukraine after Chernobyl.

Fukushima’s Cesium-137 Release Tops Chernobyl’s

The Korea Atomic Energy Research (KAER) Institute outside of Seoul reported in July 2014 that Fukushima-Daiichi’s three reactor meltdowns may have emitted two to four times as much cesium-137 as the reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl.[4]

To determine its estimate of the cesium-137 that was released into the environment from Fukushima, the Cesium-137 release fraction (4% to the atmosphere, 16% to the ocean) was multiplied by the cesium-137 inventory in the uranium fuel inside the three melted reactors (760 to 820 quadrillion Becquerel, or Bq), with these results:

Ocean release of cesium-137 from Fukushima (the worst ever recorded): 121.6 to 131.2 quadrillion Becquerel (16% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq). Atmospheric release of Cesium-137 from Fukushima: 30.4 to 32.8 quadrillion Becquerel (4% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq).

Total release of Cesium-137 to the environment from Fukushima: 152 to 164 quadrillion Becquerel. Total release of Cesium-137 into the environment from Chernobyl: between 70 and 110 quadrillion Bq.

The Fukushima-Daiichi reactors’ estimated inventory of 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq (petabecquerels) of Cesium-137 used by the KAER Institute is significantly lower than the US Department of Energy’s estimate of 1,300 quadrillion Bq. It is possible the Korean institute’s estimates of radioactive releases are low.

In Chernobyl, 30 years after its explosions and fire, what the Wall St. Journal last year called “the $2.45 billion shelter implementation plan” was finally completed in November 2016. A huge metal cover was moved into place over the wreckage of the reactor and its crumbling, hastily erected cement tomb. The giant new cover is 350 feet high, and engineers say it should last 100 years — far short of the 250,000-year radiation hazard underneath.

The first cover was going to work for a century too, but by 1996 was riddled with cracks and in danger of collapsing. Designers went to work then engineering a cover-for-the-cover, and after 20 years of work, the smoking radioactive waste monstrosity of Chernobyl has a new “tin chapeau.” But with extreme weather, tornadoes, earth tremors, corrosion and radiation-induced embrittlement it could need replacing about 2,500 times.

John Laforge’s field guide to the new generation of nuclear weapons is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of CounterPunch magazine.

Notes.

[1]Duluth News-Tribune & Herald, “Slight rise in radioactivity found again in state milk,” May 22, 1986; St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch, “Radiation kills Chernobyl firemen,” May 17, 1986; Minneapolis StarTribune, “Low radiation dose found in area milk,” May 17, 1986.

[2]Ian Fairlie, “TORCH-2016: An independent scientific evaluation of the health-related effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” March 2016 (https://www.global2000.at/sites/global/files/GLOBAL_TORCH%202016_rz_WEB_KORR.pdf).

[3]James K. Asselstine, Commissioner, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Testimony in Nuclear Reactor Safety: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, May 22 and July 16, 1986, Serial No. 99-177, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1987.

[4] Progress in Nuclear Energy, Vol. 74, July 2014, pp. 61-70; ENENews.org, Oct. 20, 2014.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 4 Comments

US struggling to handle excess plutonium

The Nevada Radioactive Waste Dump (File photo)
Press TV – April 24, 2018

The United States is struggling to handle the excessive amounts of plutonium generated at the cores of its many retired nuclear reactors, according to a new report, raising fears that it might end up in the wrong hands.

Today, there are some 54 metric tons of surplus plutonium stored in nuclear facilities the US Department of Energy operates around the country, according to Reuters.

In Pantex, a plant located near Amarillo, Texas, the surplus plutonium has long exceeded the 20,000 cores, also known as “pits,” that regulations allow such facilities to store in their temporary storage facility.

That means a mishap in the process, which is mostly done manually by contract workers, can trigger massive nuclear explosions.

While in the past the US simply used the leftover plutonium to produce more nuclear munitions, it is now obliged under a 2010 treaty with Russia to keep its arsenal under 1,550 warheads.

Moscow and Washington have also agreed in a separate agreement to render unusable for weapons 34 metric tons of plutonium.

This helps the two sides to keep the deadly material out of reach for terrorists and prevent nuclear proliferation. According to experts, terrorists would only need 11 pounds (5 kg) or less plutonium to make a bomb.

According to data by the US Energy Department, collectively the two countries have 68 metric tons of plutonium designated for destruction, enough to make 17,000 nuclear weapons.

US President Donald Trump’s desire to dismantle older warheads and refill them with more lethal nuclear payloads is another factor that has put American nuclear authorities under immense pressure to get rid of the country’s plutonium stockpile and make room for more.

Then there’s the problem of burying the material, a long and complex process that involves digging repositories and making them impenetrable to make sure the plutonium remains out of reach as it slowly passes its radioactive half-life of 24,000 years.

This is while Washington has not even started to take necessary measures to acquire additional space for burying plutonium more than 2,000 feet (610 meters) below ground, the depth considered safe.

“We are in a much more dangerous situation today than we were in the Cold War,” William Potter, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told Reuters.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | | 2 Comments

The Guardian Distorts Nicaragua’s Indio Maiz Fire

teleSUR | April 14, 2018

Under the headline ‘Nicaragua fires: aid from Costa Rica rejected as blaze destroys rainforest,’ the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper has published another politically skewed report smearing Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. This time, the pretext is a devastating forest fire affecting the peripheral buffer zone of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve. Falsely alleging that Nicaragua has rejected the offer of help from Costa Rica, the Guardian report uses the standard NATO propaganda attack recipe, blending false reports from hostile opposition media and anti-government NGOs.

The article argues that Nicaragua’s government has been negligent in protecting the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve; has not sought international help, and has deliberately facilitated invasion of the reserve by impoverished rural families seeking land.

Reality completely contradicts the report’s main assertions. The Guardian refers to a statement by the Costa Rican government saying that a unit of Costa Rican firefighters was turned away, but the Guardian report offers neither a link to the alleged statement nor any quote from it.

Here’s the Costa Rican fire service spokesman on the matter: “We are fully ready to cooperate in any other incident. From what we can see, this incident has already been controlled by the army. We were at the border and had to return. We see no problem. In the moment (we offered to help) Nicaragua they didn’t have the personnel to fight the fire; thankfully, over the last few hours, it now has the personnel to deal with this emergency and they are engaged in controlling and extinguishing the fire.”

In fact, the decision not to use the help offered by Costa Rica was taken jointly by the chiefs of the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican fire services during a meeting in Managua on April 8, when they agreed that “the realistic possibilities of controlling the fire by the firefighting services of Nicaragua and Costa Rica were limited due to the characteristics of the fire and that the effective means to control and extinguish the fire is from the air.” In any case, access to the area of the fire was impractical overland, with access being possible almost exclusively by air or sea along the region’s Caribbean coast.

Nicaragua’s Vice-President Rosario Murillo said on April 9, in relation to coordination with the director of operations of the Costa Rican Fire Fighting Service: “We have been in meetings with him all weekend, looking precisely at what is being done, the difficulty of reaching the place… There, where the fire has broken out, it’s impossible to reach with trucks or pick-ups. What’s really needed, urgently, are airplanes equipped with all the technical means to fight forest fires.”

Murillo also explained on April 10 that the Sandinista government led by President Daniel Ortega had “coordinated with Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Mexico, the Russian Federation, the air forces of each one of these countries, requesting air resources to fight the fires.” Currently, helicopters from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador are helping control and extinguish the fire, contradicting the impression given by the Guardian’s report that the government had not sought international help.

The Nicaraguan government has also coordinated support from U.S. authorities, with a specialist team sent from USAID’s Office of Disaster Assistance and the U.S. Forestry Service. The team leader arrived in Nicaragua on April 10. The Guardian’s April 11 report includes none of this information, which contradicts the impression that report gives by citing environmentalists calling on the government to seek international support, as if it had not already done so a week before the Guardian’s report was published.

The report quotes criticism from well-known Nicaraguan environmentalist Jaime Incer Barquero. Now in his 80s, Incer Barquero has made distinguished contributions to environmental conservation in Nicaragua. However, his pronouncements on the fire in the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve demonstrate ignorance of the measures taken by the Nicaraguan government to control the fire. The Guardian report also quotes a representative of the Fundacion Rio NGO, who noted ‘relations between the countries have not been the best’ due to a long-running border dispute. But as Costa Rica’s cooperation with Nicaragua makes clear, diplomatic relations take a back seat in the context of a major regional ecological threat like the Indio Maiz forest fire.

The Fundacion Rio NGO has solicited funds supposedly to support community authorities and firefighters in the Indio Maiz area, a function well beyond the organization’s statutory objectives. It has now been warned by the Nicaraguan government not to solicit funds for purposes it was not established to carry out: functions which are the government’s responsibility and which the government is fulfilling. The self-serving propaganda of this kind of environmentalist NGO is no doubt the basis for the Guardian’s allegation that “the fires are believed to have been started by illegal homesteaders, who were attempting to clear land for planting crops.”

In fact, the fires began in a marshland area completely unsuitable for agricultural activity, either arable farming or pasture for cattle. One of Nicaragua’s leading environmental scientists, Efrain Acuña, has dismissed the accusation that the area was set on fire so as to facilitate arable or cattle farming: “The soils in this zone do not lend themselves to those activities, among other reasons because the acidity is high, the fertility percentages for grazing are very low and so the nutritional value for cattle is insufficient.”

The Guardian quotes Gabriel Jaime of Fundacion Rio as saying that the government has encouraged rural workers and their families to encroach on land belonging mainly to the Indigenous Rama people, but gives no context to that allegation. Jaime’s solution is “removing people and telling them ‘You can’t live in a protected area.”’ Jaime also criticizes the government’s provision of health and education services in the area, as if these did not benefit the local Indigenous population. This is another example of a neocolonial NGO patronizing local Indigenous people who own their land and have a strong say in how it is used.

The same false neocolonial argument has been used to misrepresent the potential displacement of Indigenous people should Nicaragua’s interoceanic canal go ahead. The canal company HKND and the Nicaraguan authorities consulted with local Indigenous people who agreed terms for the canal’s construction across their land, but that fact has been systematically omitted or misrepresented by environmentalists in the same way as the complex issue of migration by rural workers families to areas of the Caribbean coast has been.

Western NGOs and the local organizations they fund around the world undermine the role and functions of sovereign national governments. That is why Western corporations finance them. It is also why foreign news coverage by Western corporate media systematically distorts and misrepresents the reality of events around the world. The Guardian report on the Indio Maiz forest fire categorically demonstrates that fact one more time.

April 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment