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US Gov’t Scolded for Lack of Action Under Plutonium Disposal Deal with Russia

Sputnik – December 1, 2018

Moscow and Washington agreed in 2000 to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium by incorporating it into fuel for nuclear reactors. However, the Department of Energy has failed so far to build a costly nuclear facility and instead proposed burying their plutonium underground – something that scientists say could affect human health and the environment.

American academicians have criticised the government for insufficient efforts to dispose of surplus plutonium under a 2000 US-Russia agreement.

Congress asked the National Academies to assess the viability of the Department of Energy’s plan for disposing of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeast New Mexico.

WIPP has “insufficient capacity” to get rid of plutonium that is no longer required for defence purposes, which is “one of several barriers to implementation” of the disposal plan, the Academies concluded in a Consensus Study Report.

According to the document, the dilute-and-dispose process proposed by the Energy Department runs counter to the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), a deal that the United States and Russia signed in 2000 to dispose of 34 tons of weapons-capable plutonium each.

The 2000 agreement took effect after being ratified by Russia in 2011. It stipulated that both Russia and the United States would build special facilities to turn surplus plutonium into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors.

Moscow has met its part of the commitments; however, the Savannah River Site (SRS) MOX project has been under construction in South Carolina since 2007 and has not been completed yet. The study says that “substantial schedule delays and cost overruns” caused the government to scrap the project, which would adopt the PMDA-approved method.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Energy Department’s agency in charge of the US nuclear warhead stockpile, proposed what it called a cheaper way to dispose of plutonium. Instead of creating MOX oil, the office said, the SRS could be used to dilute the plutonium and bury it deep underground.

A federal judge ruled against the proposed shutdown of the SRS construction in June, arguing that Congress has not approved the dilute-and-dispose method to replace MOX. The judge argued that the NNSA’s proposal would turn South Caroline into the nation’s dumping ground for plutonium and produce an adverse environmental effect.

Academicians also insist that this approach has so far proven to be insufficient. “So far, the dilute and dispose process has been demonstrated at a small scale by DOE’s Office of Environmental Management as it begins to process 6 metric tons of surplus plutonium, a quantity separate from the 34 metric tons.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was not satisfied with the US plans either. He ordered to suspend the implementation of the bilateral agreement in October 2016, citing “a threat to strategic stability” emanating from the US and its inability to deliver on its obligations.

Putin’s move came ahead of the US presidential vote, bringing the nuclear issue back to the agenda. “Our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they [Russians] have gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our government shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We are old. We’re tired. We’re exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very bad thing,” then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said during a debate with Hillary Clinton, who brought the deal into force as Secretary of State together with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2011.

READ MORE:

Plutonium Stolen From Texas Last Year Eludes US Authorities

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | , , , | 1 Comment

Woolsey Fire started at Santa Susana Field Lab — where “radioactive materials released were never accurately measured”

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | November 30, 2018

In my Nov. 16 column, I reported on potential radiation risks posed by California’s Woolsey wildfire having burned over parts or all of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory—south of Simi Valley, Calif., 30 miles outside Los Angeles—site of at least four partial or total nuclear reactor meltdowns.

The field laboratory operated 10 experimental reactors and conducted rocket engine tests. In his 2014 book Atomic Accidents, researcher James Mahaffey writes, “The cores in four experimental reactors on site … melted.” Reactor core melts always result in the release of large amounts of radioactive gases and particles. Clean up of the deeply contaminated site has not been conducted in spite of a 2010 agreement.

Los Angeles’s KABC-7 TV reported Nov. 13 that the Santa Susana lab site “appears to be the origin of the Woolsey Fire” which has torched over 96,000 acres. Southern Calif. Public Radio said, “According to Cal Fire, the Woolsey Fire started on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 8 … on the Santa Susana site.”

In my column I noted that Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, estimated that the partial meltdown of the lab’s Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) in 1957, caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Gar Smith in his 2012 book Nuclear Roulette. But Makhijani was speaking in 2006, so now of course the SRE meltdown counts as the fourth largest radio-iodine release—after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986, and Windscale in England in 1957.

Santa Susana’s operators caused the destruction of the liquid sodium-cooled SRE on July 12, 1959—“showering the downwind hills and meadows of the 2,850-acre site with a fog of chromium and radioactive isotopes, including iodine-131,” according to Smith in Roulette. It was these hills and meadows that were burned so completely by the Woolsey wildfire.

“It [the fog of isotopes] likely spread to nearby communities such as Simi Valley, Chatsworth and Canoga Park,” according to Southern Calif. Public Radio’s Elina Shatkin (“What Happened at the Santa Susana Nuclear Site During the Woolsey Fire?” Nov. 13.) Makhijani calculated that fallout from the meltdown contained “80 to 100 times the amount of iodine-131 released at Three Mile Island” [in Harrisburg, Penn., in 1979], Smith reports in Roulette. Canoga Park Senior High School is one of four Red Cross evacuation centers for the Woolsey Fire.

During the two weeks after the partial meltdown of the SRE, workers tried to repair it. “When they couldn’t, they were ordered to open the reactor’s large door, releasing radiation into the air,” Shatkin reported for public radio.

Radioactive materials released by the meltdown were never accurately measured in part because monitors inside the SRE went off scale. Yet the melting of fuel didn’t cause the only releases of radiation from SRE—just the single largest. In his 2012 book Mad Science, Joe Mangano writes, “Every day, radioactive gases from holding tanks in the reactor building were released into the air—often at night … sometimes twice a day.” In Atomic Accidents, Mahaffey describes the same practice writing, “The fission gases were piped off and compressed into holding tanks for controlled release into the environment…”

After the July meltdown was halted, Atomics International, which ran the SRE, concocted a report for the Atomic Energy Commission on Aug. 29, 1957. The report falsely declared: “No release of radioactive materials to the plant or its environs occurred and operating personnel were not exposed to harmful conditions.”

However, conditions inside the reactor building were extremely dangerous for workers, and radiation levels are estimated to have reached between 10,000 and one million times greater than normal. According to one worker, staff radiation measuring badges were taken away. John Pace, a young trainee at the lab, “Before July 13, we wore film badges, and after then, at some point they [Atomics International] took them away, since they know that the levels would be really high.”

With 10 experimental reactors, radiation routinely released to the air, years of accidents, and four core meltdowns, the “downwind hills and meadows” can be considered permanently compromised with cancer-causing toxins. Dan Hirsch, president of Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear policy organization told public radio that Santa Susana’s soil has, “a mix of radioactive materials like plutonium, strontium-90 and cesium-137” and perhaps 100 toxic chemicals “such as PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals like mercury and chromium-6 and volatile organic compounds like PCE.” In 2012, the US EPA reported that its soil tests found radioactive cesium-137 at 9,328 times ordinary background levels.

Citizens living in the vicinity of Santa Susana have become harshly critical of the site’s early operators—Boeing, Atomic International and Rocketdyne—who for years burned toxic and radioactive wastes in open pits, endangering all the downwinders. In 2005, Boeing paid $30 million to compensate nearby residents for early mortalities and a range of rare diseases.

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fukushima waiting to happen? Huge stockpile of nuclear waste on California fault line threatens US

RT | November 15, 2018

Millions of pounds of toxic waste are being buried under the site of a privately owned former nuclear power plant in California. The only problem? Experts warn that it sits on a major fault line — and in a tsunami zone.

The San Onofre nuclear plant, located just 108 feet from a popular beach, was shut down in 2015 after a leak was discovered. Now, the Southern California Edison energy company is burying the nuclear waste at the failed site — a move which has been approved by federal regulators.

Charles Langley, the executive director of Public Watchdogs, told RT that the situation at San Onofre is of “grave concern” because spent nuclear fuel and water “don’t mix.”

Langley claimed that research carried out by experts which highlighted the extreme risks of storing the waste at the facility was “suppressed” by the very government agency responsible for protecting public health and safety.

“There are actually fault lines that run underneath the facility. We’ve documented this in geological reports that were suppressed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It’s in a Tsunami zone and it’s also extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks.”

So far, 29 of 73 canisters of waste are below the surface of the ground. Langley warns, however, that the canisters are unequipped to store the toxic nuclear waste. The warranty for the containment system is only for 10 years “and the canisters themselves are only guaranteed to last 25 years,” he said.

Nina Babiarz, a board member at Public Watchdogs, told RT that “there should have been a requirement for an underground monitoring system before one can even went in the ground.”

Babiarz believes the San Onofre plant is a ticking time bomb.

“It’s still very prevalent to me that this not only could happen, but it has happened at Three Mile Island, of course it has happened at Chernobyl, it’s happened at Fukushima — and lest we forget, it could happen at San Onofre,” she said.

Edison refused to answer any of RT’s questions. On its website, however, the company says they are “being proactive in seeking out options for the relocation of the fuel, including an off-site facility.”

But San Onofre is not the only nuclear site causing concern to scientists and environmentalists in California.

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory — a highly classified former nuclear testing site, which was the location of the worst nuclear meltdown in nuclear history — was scorched in the California wildfires. During the 1959 disaster, 459 times more radiation was leaked there than during the infamous 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania.

Physicians for Social Responsibility say that the toxic materials in the soil and vegetation could become airborne in smoke and ash. More than half a million people live within 10 miles of the area.

Investigative journalist Paul DeRienzo told RT that given the site’s classified status, it’s no surprise that Americans don’t know much about the place.

“It was a tremendous accident [in 1959] that gave off more radiation than Three Mile Island did — and other than that, very little is known. It’s a highly classified site and whatever we learn about it, we learn in dribs and drabs over a long period of time,” DeRienzo said.

Asked whether government assurances that the site is safe could be believed, DeRienzo warned against trusting official guarantees.

“You can’t, because it’s classified, because a lot of the things that happened at Santa Susana were classified and therefore there are things that they’re just never going to tell you and only accidentally does it come out,” he said.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

‘Serious Breaches’ Disclosed in Norway’s Treatment of Nuclear Waste

Sputnik – October 30, 2018

An investigation of of Norway’s national nuclear repository has revealed radiation levels up to 57 times above the maximum permitted limit, prompting environmental concerns and second thoughts about its future.

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority has revealed “serious breaches” in the handling of radioactive material at the national facility for final disposal in Himdalen, including licensing issues, the daily newspaper Aftenposten reported. Starting from February this year, eight illegally stored containers of liquid oxygenated nuclear waste have been discovered, together with other irregularities.

“The breaches of the storage permit and the license terms mean that we can no longer be completely sure that the landfill is as safe as it should be,” Per Strand, department head at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, told the newspaper.

Three of the containers discovered in Himdalen held the isotope Americium-241; these were found to be up to 57 times more radioactive than permitted. The other six containers were also well above the limit stipulated in the permit and the license terms. Americium-241 is used by a number of Norwegian industrial companies. The substance is also used in small amounts in the fire and smoke detectors found in most Norwegian homes.

According to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, the burial that occurred in 2013 and 2014 invoked a risk of chemical reactions that could have damaged the containers, causing a leak of radioactive contaminants.

Norway’s nuclear waste is currently stored in four mountain halls in Himdalen, Aurskog-Høland municipality. The landfill opened in 1998. By the end of 2017 it was 63 percent full and is scheduled to receive waste until 2030. Then, the waste facility will be left under administrative supervision for another 300-500 years. The waste is encased in barrels filled with cement and cast into the floor.

Aurskog-Høland Mayor Roger Evjen confirmed that the municipality had notified the police of the case. He has also requested a meeting with the Industry Ministry to discuss the operation of the nuclear deposit.

“What has emerged is untenable and deserves criticism,” Evjen told Aftenposten.

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority asked the Institute of Energy Technology (IFE), responsible for the deposit management, to conduct a full review, starting from the opening of the facility in 1998.

“They must prove that the waste is stored safely and that they thoroughly follow through their own routines,” Strand explained.

The Norwegian police admitted that the case has been on hold since February, citing a lack of investigators. Per Strand encouraged the police to prioritize the matter as a matter of national importance.

The IFE admitted to violating the routines, but denied any possibility of endangering Norwegians’ health or the environment, as the nuclear waste is “safely encapsulated” in containers.

READ MORE:

IAEA Finds Fault With Half of Norway’s Nuclear Reactors

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Radioactive, but… ‘safe’? Japan to dump Fukushima wastewater in Pacific despite objections

RT | October 17, 2018

Running out of space to store water contaminated by fuel that escaped during the Fukushima meltdown, the Japanese government is preparing to release it into the Pacific Ocean – despite the presence of radioactive elements.

Currently, 1.09 million tons of contaminated water is stored in 900 tanks near the Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, which suffered a catastrophic release of fuel following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The government claims that radioactive material is being reduced to non-detectable levels through the Advanced Liquid Processing System procedure, but there is evidence that this process does not remove many radioactive elements, including antimony, cobalt, iodine, rhodium, ruthenium, strontium, and tellurium. Tepco, which operates the plant, admits the water contains tritium, but insist the levels are “safe.”

The UK Telegraph has obtained documents from Japanese government sources indicating that authorities are aware ALPS, developed by Hitachi, is not actually eliminating radioactive elements to non-detectable levels. Tepco was forced last month to admit that 80 percent of the water still contains radioactive substances after local residents and fishermen protested plans to dispose of it in the ocean.

Tepco admits that 65,000 tons of ALPS-cleansed water retain more than 100 times the amount of strontium-90 legally permitted. Strontium-90 accumulates in teeth and bones and can cause leukemia and bone cancer.

Tritium, too, is not harmless, despite Tepco’s assurances. According to nuclear specialist Shaun Burnie, beta particles of the element are more harmful than X-rays and gamma rays.

The government initially planned to release the contaminated water in 2016, but was surprised by the strength of local opposition. In March 2016, Tepco executives were charged with contributing to deaths and injuries in relation to the Fukushima meltdown after a judicial panel said they had ignored a 2008 internal report warning the plant could be struck by 15-meter waves in the event of a tsunami.

October 17, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 5 Comments

Help Stop Radioactive Waste Dump and Thousands of Dangerous Shipments Across the US

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | October 5, 2018

The private company Waste Control Specialists (WCS) or “Interim Storage Partners” wants to place a high-level radioactive waste dump site (called a “centralized interim storage facility”) in West Texas.

If approved, opening this high-level waste dump would launch nation-wide transports of a total of 40,000 tons of irradiated reactor fuel (misleadingly known as “spent” fuel), to Texas from all over the country. The shipments are to be by rail, highway, and floating barge (even on Lake Michigan!). The planned-for thousands of such transports create risks for nearly everyone in the United States, because the ferociously radioactive material would pass near schools, hospitals, businesses, and farms, would travel on and over lakes, rivers, and waterways, and go through areas where our food is grown and where families live, play and work. Amazingly, no public meetings on the subject are planned in Texas or elsewhere.

Act now to stop this dangerous nuclear waste dump

Environmental and community right-to-know groups are demanding: 1) public meetings in Texas and along transportation routes across the country; 2) a halt to these transport and dumping plans; and 3) uniform publication of application and related materials in Spanish.  You can add your voice to these urgent demands by writing to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the license application by WCS until Oct. 19th.

Tell NRC: Listen to the people! No mass radioactive waste shipments to Texas.

Under WCS’s license application, the 40,000 tons of high-level waste from commercial power reactors could move on railroads, highways and even on waterways using barges for decades. Then, because the Texas site is supposedly “temporary,” after being shipped there the waste would have to be packed-up and transported again, to a “permanent” waste dump site — if one is ever approved. This means that new transportation and repackaging dangers will continue for additional decades.

For this reason, experts like D’Arrigo at NIRS and elsewhere recommend against any “interim” storage sites, and instead suggest storage on or near the reactors, until a permanent waste dump is opened.

The Texas region where WCS wants to store the waste (above-ground, and in the open) is prone to earthquakes, intense storms, extreme temperatures, and flooding. West Texas is not the place to store the most hazardous waste in the world.

Under the guise of “managing” this deadly waste from nuclear power reactors, the centralized temporary storage plan would make the problem worse, changing the country forever by ushering in an era of intensely deadly reactor waste transports everywhere, moving regularly through our major cities and rural communities.

Yet, the United States NRC does not want to fully consider the impacts of repeatedly transporting radioactive waste to or from the supposedly “temporary” site. Please tell the NRC to hold public meetings, to extend the comment and intervention deadlines, and to fully consider all the dangers from high-level waste storage and transport in the WCS Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

You can email: WCS_CISF_EIS@nrc.gov.

A sample letter you could submit is available here.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Kristen Iversen – Full Body Burden – Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats

argusfest – June 20, 2012

This talk was filmed at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado on June, 19, 2012.

Kristen Iversen shared excerpts from her new book “Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats”.

Here are some quotes about her book…

“In this powerful work of research and personal testimony, Iversen chronicles the story of America’s willfully blinkered relationship to the nuclear weapons industry . . . masterful use of the present tense, conveying tremendous suspense and impressive control of the material.” Publishers Weekly starred review

“Superbly crafted tale of Cold War America’s dark underside . . . exquisitely researched.” Kirkus starred review

“Iversen has crafted a chilling, brilliantly written cautionary tale about the dangers of blind trust . . . Full Body Burden is both an engrossing memoir and a powerful piece of investigative journalism.” Bookpage

“Full Body Burden is one of the most important stories of the nuclear era—as personal and powerful as Silkwood, told with the suspense and narrative drive of The Hot Zone. With unflinching honesty, Kristen Iversen has written an intimate and deeply human memoir that shows why we should all be concerned about nuclear safety, and the dangers of ignoring science in the name of national security. Rocky Flats needs to be part of the same nuclear discussion as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. So does Full Body Burden. It’s an essential and unforgettable book that should be talked about in schools and book clubs, online and in the White House.
–REBECCA SKLOOT, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“This terrifyingly brilliant book – as perfectly crafted and meticulously assembled as the nuclear bomb triggers that lie at its core – is a savage indictment of the American strategic weapons industry, both haunting in its power, and yet wonderfully, charmingly human as a memoir of growing up in the Atomic Age.”
–SIMON WINCHESTER, author of The Professor and the Madman and Atlantic

“News stories come and go. It takes a book of this exceptional caliber to focus our attention and marshal our collective commitment to preventing future nuclear horrors.”
–Booklist

Her website is: http://www.kristeniversen.com/

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

The Tip of the Radiation Disaster Iceberg

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | August 31, 2018

The World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. ¶ But claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.

CHALK RIVER (Ontario), Dec. 2, 1952: The first major commercial reactor disaster occurred at this Canadian reactor on the Ottawa River when it caused a loss-of-coolant, a hydrogen explosion and a meltdown, releasing 100,000 curies of radioactivity to the air. In comparison, the official government position is that Three Mile Island released about 15 curies, although radiation monitors failed or went off-scale.

ROCKY FLATS (Colorado), Sept. 11, 1957: This Cold War factory produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons 16 miles from Denver. It caused 30 to 44 pounds of breathable plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 to catch fire in what would come to be known as the second largest industrial fire in US history. Filters used to trap the plutonium were destroyed and it escaped through chimneys, contaminating parts of Denver. Nothing was done to warn or protect downwind residents.

WINDSCALE/SELLAFIELD (Britain), Oct. 7, 1957: The worst of many fires burned through one reactor igniting three tons of uranium and dispersed radionuclides over parts of England and northern Europe. The site was hastily renamed Sellafield. Another large radiation leak occurs in 1981and leukemia rates soared to triple the national average.

KYSHTYM/CHELYABINSK-65 (Russia), Sept. 29, 1957: A tank holding 70 to 80 metric tons of highly radioactive liquid waste exploded, contaminating an estimated 250,000 people, and permanently depopulating 30 towns which were leveled and removed from Russian maps. Covered up by Moscow (and the CIA) until 1989, Russia finally revealed that 20 million curies of long-lived isotopes like cesium were released, and the release was later declared a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The long covered-up explosion contaminated up to 10,000 square miles making it the third- or 4th-most serious radiation accident ever recorded.

SANTA SUSANA (Simi Valley, Calif.), July 12, 1959: The meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment just outside Los Angeles caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Arjun Makhajani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research. Released radioactive materials were never authoritatively measured because “the monitors went clear off the scale,” according to an employee. The accident was kept secret for 20 years.

CHURCH ROCK (New Mexico), July 16, 1979: Ninety-three million gallons of liquid uranium mine wastes and 1,000 tons of solid wastes spilled onto the Navajo Nation and into Little Puerco River, and nuclear officials called it “the worst incident of radiation contamination in the history of the United States.” The Little Puerco feeds the Little Colorado River, which drains to the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead—a source of drinking water for Los Angeles.

TOMSK-7 (Russia), April 7, 1993: In “the worst radiation disaster since Chernobyl,” Russian and foreign experts said a tank of radioactive waste exploded at the Tomsk nuclear weapons complex  and that wind blew its plume of radiation  toward the Yenisei River and 11 Siberian villages, none of which were evacuated.

MONJU (Japan), Dec. 8, 1995: This sodium-cooled “breeder reactor” caused a fire and a large leak of sodium coolant into the Pacific. Liquid sodium coolant catches fire on contact with air and explodes on contact with water. Costly efforts to engineer commercial models have failed. Japan’s Monju experiment was halted in 2018 after over 24 years of false starts, accidents and cover-ups.

TOKAI-MURA (Japan), Sept. 30, 1999: A uranium “criticality” which is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction caused a “neutron burst” that killed three workers and dispersed neutron radiation throughout the densely populated urban area surrounding the factory.

Not to be slighted, deliberate contamination has also been enormous: Five metric tons of plutonium was dispersed over the earth by nuclear bomb testing, and other nuclear weapons processes; Over 210 billion gallons of radioactive liquids were poured into the ground at the Hanford reactor complex in Washington State; and 16 billion gallons of liquid waste holding 70,000 curies of radioactivity were injected directly into Idaho’s Snake River Aquifer at the Idaho National Lab.

Sources. 

Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, by Gar Smith (Chelsea Green, 2012)

Mad Science: The Nuclear Power Experiment, by  Joseph Mangano (OR Books 2012)

In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, by Stephanie Cooke (Bloomsbury, 2009)

Criticality Accident at Tokai-mura, by Jinzaburo Takagi (Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, 2000)

Nuclear Wastelands: A Global Guide to Nuclear Weapons Production & Its Health & Environmental Effects, by Arjun Makhijani, et al (MIT Press, 1995)

The Nuclear Power Deception, by Arjun Makhijani & Scott Saleska (Apex Press, 1999)

Nuclear Madness, Revised, by Helen Caldicot (Norton, 1995).

Multiple Exposures: Chronicles of the Radiation Age, by Catherine Caufield  (Harper & Row, 1989).

Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age, by John May (Pantheon, 1989).

Deadly Defense: Military Radioactive Landfills, edited by Dana Coyle, et al (Radioactive Waste Campaign 1988)

No Nukes, by Anna Gyorgy (South End Press, 1979).

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 14 Comments

DPRK Slams Extension of US-Japan Nuclear Pact as US Double Standard – Report

Sputnik – 05.08.2018

North Korea denounced the extension of the US-Japanese atomic energy agreement, accusing Tokyo of undertaking activities allegedly aimed at nuclear weaponization and blaming the United States of double standards, local media reported on Sunday.

The Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) released a white paper on Saturday criticizing the 1988 US-Japanese nuclear pact, which was extended last month, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

According to the white paper, Japan has been conducting nuclear research since long ago, allegedly starting to push forward the A-bomb development in 1930s.

The paper also suggested that out of 518 tonnes of plutonium stockpiled around the world so far, 47 tonnes are stored by Japan.

The document accused the United States of a double-standard approach to treat North Korea and Japan differently on nuclear issues, calling on Washington to “judge the situation from a fair stand” if it wanted denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In July, the United States and Japan extended a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, which granted Japan the right to extract plutonium, reprocess spent fuel and enrich uranium on the condition that it was not used to build nuclear weapons.

August 5, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power | , , | 1 Comment

UK Parliament’s Committee Supports Nuclear Waste Disposal Under National Parks

Sputnik – 31.07.2018

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee of the UK House of Commons supported the government’s proposal to permanently bury highly radioactive nuclear waste under national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), the committee said in a report on Tuesday.

“We decided against adding an exclusionary criterion for National Parks and AONBs as in our view it is right for safety matters to prevail over environmental concerns in this case. Although we agree that major developments should not be allowed in designated areas except under exceptional circumstances,” the report’s summary read.

The committee also noted that the existing legislation and the NPS had sufficient safeguards against potential environmental damage to national parks and AONBs.

“We support the Government’s view that it is conceivable for a GDI to be designed in a way that would be acceptable to communities, preserve the socioeconomic benefits that National Parks and AONBs currently bring them and avoid any intrusive surface facility in conservation areas,” the report added.

On January 25, the UK government presented to the parliament its draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for Geological Disposal Infrastructure (GDI). The GDI is a facility made of specially-engineered underground vaults and tunnels located between 200 and 1,000 meters (124 and 621 miles) and designed to host the higher activity radioactive waste that cannot be stored at existing surface facilities on a permanent basis.

In 2013, the UK government failed to implement its plans on building an underground storage dump for nuclear waste, when the Cumbria County Council voted against the continuation of the preliminary work.

July 31, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

HuffPost Blames Populists And Russia For European Renewable Policy Failures

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | June 26, 2018

The alleged Russian conspiracy which is supposed to be helping populists win elections worldwide has now been blamed for a fall in EU nation state support for European renewable energy policies.

How A Populist Europe In Thrall To Russia Threatens Climate Change Action

“We are in a really dangerous moment.”

By Arthur Neslen
26/06/2018 7:45 PM AEST

As a growing number of European countries tip toward the far right politically, attempts to curb climate change are coming under pressure. The region’s race to cut planet-warming greenhouse gases is generating friction, and some Members of European Parliament and experts point the finger of blame at Russian big energy interests and populist governments in thrall to them.

This month, a bid to raise the European Union’s supply of renewable energy to 35 percent of the electricity mix by 2030 was stymied by a bloc of EU states led by populist governments in the Visegrad countries ― Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia ― even though it had the support of the European Parliament and European Commission.

The same bloc of countries helped whittle down proposals for a binding 40 percent energy conservation target, despite signs of accelerating climate change from the Antarctic to the African savannah.

“We see a pattern of populist governments clearly opposing ambitious climate and energy regulations, which is in line with the primary Russian economic interest: exporting fossil fuels and nuclear technology,” Benedek Jávor, the vice-chair of the European parliament’s environment committee and a Hungarian Green MEP, told HuffPost.

Russia supplies more than a third of Europe’s gas but this could be reduced to nothing by an ambitious energy saving target, according to analyses by several think tanks and consultancies.

Hungary, for example, which is becoming an increasingly authoritarian government under far-right leader Viktor Orbán, is a valued advocate for Russian gas infrastructure and is also building a Russian-financed €10 billion ($11.5 billion) nuclear reactor outside Budapest.

Russia’s energy agenda plays to a wider audience than extreme nationalists. Gas and nuclear are both seen as relatively lower carbon options than coal, which could “bridge” the path to a mid-century world powered solely by renewables. However, some climate studies suggest that, where gas is concerned, the bridge could also burn the chances of limiting global warming to no more than a 2 C temperature rise above pre-Industrial levels ― the target the majority of scientists say cannot be exceeded if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Several academic papers have found that investment in gas could crowd out desperately needed funds for renewable energy while providing few emissions-cutting benefits.

Full article: https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/europe-populism-russia-climate-action_us_5b30b86fe4b0321a01d33adf

In my opinion HuffPost are making it up as they go. If renewable energy was viable, gas wouldn’t have an opportunity to “crowd out” renewable investment, because renewable investment would make sense on its own terms.

As for Huffpost’s evidence free allegation that Russia is pushing populism to undermine the green agenda, in my opinion it would make far more sense for the Russian government to support the green agenda – to support anti-fracking, anti-nuclear and renewable energy advocacy movements.

More fracking in Europe would undermine Russian gas sales. A Nuclear power renaissance in Europe would undermine Russian gas sales. Useless green energy “investments” not so much.

Of course I’m not suggesting Russia is doing anything of the sort. Why risk scandal and exposure, when liberal green European politicians are doing everything in their power to wreck European energy independence without outside help?

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Russophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 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