Archive for February, 2013

Radiation in space – the “nuclear deterrent” against astronauts

February 12, 2013

there are two things those astronauts have shown us. First, there are genetic changes and damage happening even within the relatively safe confines we’ve traveled thus far. Second, there is a hell of a lot we don’t know about how radiation exposure and risk works in outer space.

How space radiation hurts astronauts, Boing Boing,  Maggie Koerth-Baker, Jan 4, 2013    ”……We know the rates of cancer for survivors of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but that radiation isn’t really comparable to the stuff in Galactic Cosmic Radiation. In particular, Cucinotta is concerned about particles known as HZE ions.

These particles are very heavy and very fast and we don’t experience them here on the ground. They’re the kind of things that get filtered out and broken down by Earth’s defense systems. But HZE ions can cause more damage, and different kinds of damage, than the radiation scientists are really familiar with. We know this because scientists actually compare samples of astronauts’ blood before and after a spaceflight.

Cucinotta calls this pre-flight calibration. Scientists take a blood sample from an astronaut before the launch. While the astronaut is in space, the scientists divide that blood sample up and expose it to various levels of gamma rays — the kind of damaging radiation we’re used to dealing with on Earth. Then, when the astronaut comes back, they compare those gamma ray-affected samples to what has actually happened to the astronaut while in space. “You see about a two-to-three fold difference across the population of astronauts,” Cucinotta told me.

One example of how HZE ions are different: They seem to be able to affect cells they don’t even touch. In non-human trials, these non-targeted effects can happen in cells up to a millimeter away from the cells that have actually been irradiated and we don’t really know what that means yet. But it definitely changes the way we think about radiation risks, which is a model based on the assumption of a direct, linear connection between dose and risk. With HZE ions, that might not be true….

there are two things those astronauts have shown us. First, there are genetic changes and damage happening even within the relatively safe confines we’ve traveled thus far. Second, there is a hell of a lot we don’t know about how radiation exposure and risk works in outer space….  http://boingboing.net/2013/01/04/how-space-radiation-hurts-astr.html

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Exposing USA’s fraudulent “Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule”

February 12, 2013

The only reasonable and logical solution is to stop making more.  But this “Waste Confidence” decision isn’t based on reason or logic.   It’s based on keeping the reactors OPERATING for the next hundred years.

So why are we burdening our future generations with an ever-growing, unsolvable problem?

 The Eternal Problem  – Nuclear Waste Confidence, Counter Punch  by RUSSELL D. HOFFMAN, JANUARY 03, 2013“………The pro-nuker preferred to call it “spent fuel confidence.”  I, on the other hand, didn’t like the word “confidence” since there’s nothing that warrants ANY confidence in this discussion, whatsoever.  ”Waste Failure” would be more appropriate.  Or “Waste Impasse” might be even better.  Or better yet:  ”The Intractable, Unsolvable, Filthy, Disgusting Mess We’ve Made” but I guess that would just be too accurate to a group where a “rapid disassembly” is the term for a core explosion that spews radioactive crud for miles around.

But one way or another, it’s obvious that “Waste Confidence” is a misnomer from start to finish…… …… Nuclear waste storage is a huge unsolved problem in every nuclear country.  Although France, Japan and several other countries reprocess spent fuel, they have had numerous incidents at thier facilities and numerous releases of radiological materials into the environment.  In addition to being dirty, reprocessing is energy-intensive and expensive.   For these and other reasons, such as proliferation issues, we do not reprocess spent fuel in America, and don’t expect to.

Instead, we just hold onto it.  What else can we do? (more…)

Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s dangerous radioactive wastes

February 12, 2013

Vermont, New York regulators urge review of storage of spent nuclear fuel, VT Digger, by Andrew Stein | January 3, 2013  ”……Vermont Yankee has 1,507 fuel rod assemblies submerged in a spent fuel pool, which was originally designed to hold about 350. Spent fuel rods must be kept under water in order to prevent the Zirconium cladding (the metal tubes that contain the fuel pellets) from igniting. The rods can remain hot for several years.

Vermont Yankee’s spent fuel pool, located in a metal warehouse structure, has more than five full reactor cores worth of radioactive material. In the event of an accident, the impact would be five times greater than a single reactor meltdown.

The dry cask storage containers on the site are hundreds of times safer than the spent fuel pool, Shadis said.

At this point, the site has 13 loaded casks, four of which were filled last year, according to Neil Sheehan, NRC public affairs officer for Region 1.

Each cask, which can hold 72 assemblies, costs $1 million. It would cost roughly $11 million to move all of the assemblies into dry cask storage……. http://vtdigger.org/2013/01/03/vermont-new-york-regulators-urge-review-of-spent-nuclear-fuel-storage/

Global “background ” radiation doubled after Chernobyl nuclear accident

February 12, 2013

Geneticist Valery N. Soyfer, founder of the former Soviet Union’s first molecular biology laboratory, analyzed the 1986 report to the IAEA, which has since been condemned as a cover-up. Dr. Soyfer says that if only 100 million curies were vented, then world “background radiation doubled at once.”[10] This claim was unsupported by accompanying evidence, butif “background” was doubled by 100 million curies, then it was multiplied 180 times by the release of Chernobyl’s “full inventory.”

Nineteen months after the disaster, in Nov. 1987, the U.S. government officially doubled its estimate of the “background” radiation to which we are exposed every year

Chernobyl at Ten:  Half-lives and Half Truths, Chernobyl, by John M. LaForge ”…… In the first part of this article (Spring 1996 Pathfinder) I compared the recent trivialization of Chernobyl’s consequences to news accounts that appeared soon after the explosions and fire. For example, while the commercial press now tell us that the disaster “spread radiation across parts of Europe,” the fact is that the federal EPA announced in mid-May 1986 that, “Airborne radioactivity from the Chernobyl nuclear accident is now so widespread that it is likely to fall to the ground wherever it rains in the United States.”[4]

In this part I look at how much radiation Chernobyl evidently added to the “background,” at official skewing of the inevitable long-term effects, and at recent reports of its human health consequences.

Answers are Blowin’ in the Wind

How much radiation was released? What percentage of which isotopes were thrown into the atmosphere. Was it mostly iodine-131? How much of the total was made up of the far more dangerous cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium?

Piecing together the truth is a dizzying job of ferreting out bias and vested interest. The pro-nuclear Time magazine reported in 1989 that perhaps “one billion or more” curies were released, rather than the 50 to 80 million estimated by Russian authorities.[5] One curie is the amount of radiation equal to the disintegration of 37 billion atoms — 37 billion becquerels — per second. It is a very large amount of radiation.

The U.S. government’s Argonne National Lab has said that 30 percent of the reactor’s total radioactivity — 3 billion of an estimated 9 billion curies — was released.[6] And scientists at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Lab suggested that one-half of the core’s radioactivity was spewed — 4.5 billion curies, according the World Information Service on Energy, quoting Science, 6-13-86.

Vladimir Chernousenko, the chief scientific supervisor of the “clean up” team responsible for a 10-kilometer zone around the exploded reactor, says that 80 percent of the reactor’s radioactivity escaped, something like seven billion curies.[7] At the Union of Concerned Scientists, senior energy analyst Kennedy Maize, concluded that “the core vaporized” — all 190 tons of fuel, and all 9 billion curies.[8]

Former Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Joseph Hendrie, concluded likewise, saying “They have dumped the full inventory of volatile fission products from a large power reactor into the environment. You can’t do any worse than that.”[9]

The Russians and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claimed in a 1986 report, that 50 million curies of radioactive debris, plus another 50 million curies of rare and inert gasses were discharged. However, the rocketing incidence of cancers, leukemias and other radiation-induced illnesses, leads scientists to suspect that the higher radioactive fallout estimates are likely. Pandemic numbers of thyroid cancers led even the cautious Dr. Alexander Sich, in his Chernobyl cover story for the May 1996 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to conclude that the “higher [radiation] release estimates support the conclusions drawn by medical experts.”

Geneticist Valery N. Soyfer, founder of the former Soviet Union’s first molecular biology laboratory, analyzed the 1986 report to the IAEA, which has since been condemned as a cover-up. Dr. Soyfer says that if only 100 million curies were vented, then world “background radiation doubled at once.”[10] This claim was unsupported by accompanying evidence, but if “background” was doubled by 100 million curies, then it was multiplied 180 times by the release of Chernobyl’s “full inventory.” Nineteen months after the disaster, in Nov. 1987, the U.S. government officially doubled its estimate of the “background” radiation to which we are exposed every year………[11] http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Chernobyl/Chernobyl@10p2.html

Chernobyl’s cancer legacy – the IAEA misled the world about this

February 12, 2013

Thyroid Cancers: More, Sooner, Untreatable   Chernobyl at Ten:  Half-lives and Half Truths, Chernobyl, by John M. LaForge 

“……Dr. Soyfer further discovered that the Soviets focused on and publicized the fallout’s radioactive iodine content, but understated the amounts of other far more dangerous isotopes. While 10 to 15 percent of the fallout was iodine-131, the long-lived radionuclides strontium-90 and cesium-137 made up more than two thirds of the total contamination.[12]

Furthermore, the Soviet’s 1986 estimate of future cancer deaths was based only on the impact of iodine-131, and then only on external doses. As a result, the IAEA misled the world about Chernobyl’s cancer threat.People contaminated with iodine-131 ingested it, first by breathing, then by drinking contaminated milk for six weeks. Thyroid cancer is caused by the iodine-131. Its rates are today ten times higher than the increase any scientist had anticipated. The U. N. has said that the number of thyroid cancers among children in Belarus — where 70 percent of the fallout landed — are 285 times pre-Chernobyl levels.[13] (more…)

Sorry history of exploitation of indigenous peoples by uranium mining companies

February 12, 2013

Nuclear dangers real and widespread
BY HELEN CALDICOTT, THE STARPHOENIX NOVEMBER 9, 2012
Caldicott is founding president of Physicians for Social
Responsibility and was featured in the Oscar winning film, If You Love
This Planet.

I write to reply to the allegations made about me in John Gormley’s
column, More private liquor stores, less Caldicott (SP, Nov. 2).

First, it is important for me to stress that the aboriginal people in
Northern Saskatchewan are being exploited by the uranium and nuclear
power industry, as they have routinely been in the United States and
Australia.

People who have lived benignly with nature for tens of thousands of
years have been forced to allow mining companies to extract uranium
from beneath their feet and to work in the mines.

Ample evidence abounds in the scientific literature that one-fifth to
one-half of uranium miners in North America have suffered from lung
cancer. Furthermore, uranium miners are also exposed to carcinogenic
whole body gamma radiation as well as the ingestion of radium – the
element that induced leukemia in Madame Marie Curie.

Many indigenous people who live near uranium mines are also exposed to
radioactive elements, and newly elevated rates of cancer are now
reported in these populations. We don’t know exact numbers because the
Saskatchewan government has not performed a baseline health study on
the populations affected.

As if this ecological danger were not enough, the nuclear industry is
proposing to bury 37,000 tonnes of extremely toxic, high level
long-lasting radioactive waste from Canadian nuclear reactors among
this vulnerable group of people, which, it is claimed will give them
jobs.

As the isotopes inevitably leak, they will contaminate the food chain
for evermore inducing more malignancies and genetic disease over
future generations…..http://limitlesslife.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/nuclear-dangers-real-and-widespread/

Legal action by US navy men over Fukushima radiation

February 12, 2013

Navy rescue workers sue Japan over Fukushima cover-up — “Irreparable harm to life expectancy” — Gov’t and Tepco conspired http://enenews.com/navy-rescue-workers-sue-japan-over-fukushima-cover-up-irreparable-harm-to-their-life-expectancy-govt-and-tepco-conspired
 Title: U.S. Sailors Sue Japan Over Fukushima
Source: Courthouse News Service
Author: By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM
Date: Dec 26, 2012

[…] Eight crew members of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, whose home port is San Diego, sued the Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Federal Court. […]

Lead plaintiff Lindsay R. Cooper claims Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) intentionally concealed the dangerous levels of radiation in the environment from U.S. Navy rescue crews working off the coast of Japan […]

The complaint states: “Defendant TEPCO and the government of Japan, conspired and acted in concert, among other things, to create an illusory impression that the extent of the radiation that had leaked from the site of the FNPP was at levels that would not pose a threat to the plaintiffs, in order to promote its interests and those of the government of Japan, knowing that the information it disseminated was defective, incomplete and untrue, while omitting to disclose the extraordinary risks posed to the plaintiffs who were carrying out their assigned duties aboard the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan.” […]

And, they say: “Defendants had actual and/or constructive knowledge of the properties of radiation that would ensure that, once released into the environment, radiation would spread further and in concentrations that would cause injury to the plaintiffs.” […]

The sailors say they “face additional and irreparable harm to their life expectancy, which has been shortened and cannot be restored to its prior condition.”

US Navy data shows pockets of high radiation on Treasure island

February 12, 2013

Alarming Radiation Levels Found on Treasure Island (includes Video –
on cancers in former residents) ) 
The Navy’s own data suggests that island residents were at risk of
radiation exposure.
East Bay Express, By Ashley Bates, 27 Dec 12, Navy officials have repeatedly downplayed the risks of
radiation exposure to current and former residents on Treasure Island.
But data from the US Navy shows that measurements taken in former
residential areas of the island revealed pockets of alarmingly high
radiation levels. (more…)

Complicated story of Fukushima post nuclear accident

February 12, 2013

Two high school girls that were affected by the disaster are launching a peace discussion forum devoted to expanding the dialogue about nuclear power and weapons. One of the young women said, “My parents’ and grandparents’ generations may be to blame for allowing the nuclear power plants, but both adults and children are responsible for thinking together about the problem.”

Japan Continues Struggle with Aftermath from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2012/12/26/japan-continues-fukushima-struggle/
 December 26th, 2012 › As 2012 draws to a close, evaluating the ongoing effects of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on the people of Japan is a difficult and depressing task. After having fled their homes due to the tsunami and resulting triple nuclear meltdown, 21 months later an estimated160,000 citizens still have not returned home.

Reports of illness in humans and livestock continue to underscore the far reaching and difficult to predict impacts that a nuclear accident can cause. In July, 36% of Japanese children screened were found to have abnormal thyroid growths. This fall, an illness dubbed the “Fukushima syndrome” was reported to be killing cattle near the Fukushima prefecture. Mutations are already observed inbutterflies and other insects, whose shorter life cycles allow genetic disruptions to display more quickly than in mammals or humans.

The World Health Organization downplayed radiation and exposure risks in a report they released last summer, which is being discredited as biased by members of Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. (more…)