Archive for the ‘Employment’ Category

For centuries the dangers of uranium mining have been known

May 18, 2017

Native American uranium miners and the Trump budget, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  Robert Alvarez, 30 Mar 17, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  “…….The hazards of uranium mining have been known for centuries. As early as 1556, dust in the Ore Mountain (Erzgebirge) mines bordering Germany and what is now the Czech Republic was reported to have “corrosive qualities… it eats away the lungs and implants consumption in the body…” By 1879, researchers found that 75 percent of the miners in the Ore Mountains had died from lung cancer. By 1932, the Ore Mountain miners were receiving compensation for their cancers from the German government. Uranium mining was convincingly linked to lung cancer by dozens of epidemiological and animal studies by the late 1930s.

In 1942, Wilhelm C. Hueper, the founding director of the environmental cancer section of the National Cancer Institute, brought the European studies to light in the United States—concluding that radon gas was responsible for half of the deaths of European miners after 10 to 20 years of exposure. By this time, uranium had become a key element for the making of the first atomic weapons. Hueper’s superiors blocked him from further publication and discussion in this area; they told him that dissemination of such information was “not in the public interest.”

In fact, withholding information about workplace hazards was deeply embedded in the bureaucratic culture of the early nuclear weapons program. In 1994, the Energy Department made a previously secret document, written in the late 1940s, public. It crystallized the long-held rationale for keeping nuclear workers in the dark: “We can see the possibility of a shattering effect on the morale of the employees if they become aware that there was substantial reason to question the standards of safety under which they are working. In the hands of labor unions, the results of this study would add substance to demands for extra-hazardous pay.”

Kee Begay worked in the mines for 29 years and was dying of lung cancer when I first met him. “The mines were poor and not fit for human beings,” he told me. Begay also lost a son to cancer. “He was one of many children that used to play on the uranium piles during those years. We had a lot of uranium piles near our homes—just about 50 or 100 feet away or so. Can you imagine? Kids go out and play on those piles.”

In 1957, the US Public Health Service reported that the average radiation lung dose to Indian miners was 21 times higher than was allowed in the Atomic Energy Commission’s nuclear weapons plants. In 1962, the Public Health Service revealed that radon exposure in the mines was statistically linked to lung cancer among US miners—at a rate comparable to what Heuper had warned about 20 years earlier.

Lung disease associated with radon exposure was “totally avoidable,” former chief health scientist for the AEC Merrill Eisenbud said in 1979. “The Atomic Energy Commission … is uniquely responsible for the death of many men who developed lung cancer as a result of the failure of the mine operators, who must also bear the blame, because they too had the information, and the Government should not have had to club them into ventilating their mines………..”http://thebulletin.org/native-american-uranium-miners-and-trump-budget10657?platform=hootsuite

Confirmed – low dose radiation increases cancer risk- World Health Organisation

February 1, 2017

 http://fukushimawatch.com/2015-11-05-multiple-studies-confirm-exposure-to-low-levels-of-radiation-can-cause-cancer.html The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed what Fukushima Watch has been reporting for quite some time now — namely, that exposure to low doses of radiation overtime increases the risk of cancer.

The results of the study, published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMI), provide “direct evidence about cancer risks after protracted exposures to low-dose ionizing radiation,” said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

The findings demonstrate “a significant association between increasing radiation dose and risk of all solid cancers,” the study’s co-author, Dr. Ausrele Kesminiene, told sources.

“No matter whether people are exposed to protracted low doses or to high and acute doses, the observed association between dose and solid cancer risk is similar per unit of radiation dose,” he added.

Nuclear workers around globe at heightened cancer risk

The study evaluated approximately 300,000 nuclear workers in Britain, France and the United States between 1943 and 2005. The average dose to the colon of workers was 21 mGy, a derived unit of ionizing radiation dose in the International System of Units.

Dose to the colon is often used in radiation studies. It allows the results to be compared to previous radiation studies, like atomic bomb survivors, from which most knowledge about the link between cancer and radiation is founded.

Results of the study showed the risk of death from solid cancer was modest and increased by nearly five percent per 100 mGy. Among all the participants, approximately 1 out of 100 died from cancer which originated from radiation exposure in the workplace. Among participants who were exposed to 5 mGy of radiation dose in the workplace, an estimated 2.4 out of 100 people died from radiation exposure.

The findings of the study add further evidence to the causal connection between solid cancer and exposure to low radiation levels. The average lifespan of the participants in the study was 58 years, an age at which the incidence of many diseases is on the rise.

Since the level of doses received by nuclear workers is comparable to those received by patients repeatedly exposed to CT scans or other radiology procedures, IARC researcher Dr. Isabelle Thierry-Chef said the findings are important not only for the protection of workers in the nuclear industry, but for medical staff and the general population, as well.

“This stresses the importance of striking a balance between the risks and the benefits of such medical imaging procedures,” she added.

Results of study cross verified by meta-analysis   This isn’t the first time exposure to low levels of radiation was shown to have an adverse effect on health. Even the lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, according to a 2012 meta-analysis published in the Philosophical Society’s journal, Biological Reviews.

The meta-analysis included 46 peer-reviewed studies published in the last 40 years. Both plants and animals were reviewed in the study, with the majority being humans. The researchers found that low levels of background radiation had a significant negative impact on DNA and several levels of health.

What is ironic is that this study was published about a year and a half after the Fukushima disaster. A tsunami bombarded the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which released a plume of radiation into the environment. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company in charge of the site, claims radiation hasn’t had an adverse effect in nearby communities despite overwhelmingly massive evidence to the contrary.

To make matters worse, radiation from the Fukushima disaster is now beginning to bombard the West Coast. Although radiation has been diluted by the sea, it will remain in the environment for decades. And as the results of these studies have shown, continuous exposure to modest amounts of radiation would have a noxious accumulative effect overtime.

The lesson to be learned? Claims that “a little radiation never hurt anyone” should be taken with a grain of salt.

Sources:

IARC.Fr/En

OnlineLibrary.Wiley.com

The legal case for thorium affected nuclear workers

September 13, 2016

Once secret documents helping lawyers argue for sick nuclear workers at South Carolina complex Unlike many lawyers, Bob Warren agreed to represent sick workers at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The pay has been low, but Warren has for 13 years handled their cases in hopes of gaining compensation from the federal government. He’s done so, despite battling Parkinson’s disease and financial difficulties.Today, he continues to press their cases from a tiny law office in Black Mountain, N.C.  BY SAMMY FRETWELL sfretwell@thestate.com COLUMBIA, SC , 11 Aug 16, 

Lawyers are using once-classified government documents to argue that potentially thousands of sick nuclear weapons workers and their families should be eligible for federal benefits.

The documents, released late last year, provide evidence that some workers at the Savannah River Site were exposed to thorium after 1972 even though the government said the South Carolina plant no longer had significant quantities of the radioactive material, said Bob Warren, an attorney representing ex-SRS employees.

Warren said the federal records show that SRS had ample amounts of thorium, a metal used in nuclear reactions that can cause cancer. Warren obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act from the U.S. Department of Energy after a three-year wait.

“Without this information, we would not be able to go forward,’’ Warren said in an interview with The State. “These documents are pivotal in making the case.’’

In a letter to a government radiation advisory board, Warren asks that more people employed at SRS be compensated for illnesses they contracted while working there.

Warren’s request, to be discussed by the advisory board Wednesday, seeks to expand a federal compensation program by making it easier for people who worked at SRS from 1973-2007 to gain benefits for cancer the site caused.

The federal government has already made it easier for many sick workers employed before 1973 at SRS to receive compensation because of likely exposure to thorium at the site.

Those eligible for benefits could get up to $400,000 each under the federal compensation program. The program, available to sick workers at federal weapons complexes across the country, has been criticized as a bureaucratic maze of rules so tough that many deserving people have been denied benefits. Some ex-workers have died before receiving compensation, according to a McClatchy newspapers investigation last year.

“There is no reason not to expand,’’ Warren’s written comments said, noting that approving his request would make “many more workers and their survivors eligible for benefits from the … program before they die.’’

Warren said if he is successful, several thousand people who worked at SRS from 1973 to 2007 could receive benefits.

SRS is a 310-square mile federal atomic weapons site near Aiken along the Georgia border. It was a cornerstone of the nation’s Cold War nuclear weapons production effort, at times employing more than 10,000 people. Many who worked there were exposed to radiation, and some now say the exposure made them sick.

Federal officials charged with recommending whether to expand the program are expected to challenge Warren’s arguments at Wednesday’s meeting of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health. But Warren said it’s hard to dispute what he has found in more than 1,300 pages of records that the government released.

The documents, many of which were previously classified, contradict past federal justification for not expanding the compensation program, he said. The records indicate that thorium existed in notable quantities for years at SRS after 1972 – despite government arguments that it did not.

Among the documents are:

▪  Handwritten records from SRS officials showing that more than 8 tons of thorium were stored at the site in 1998.

▪ A 1982 memo from a ranking SRS official showing that thorium was among the radioactive materials the government wanted to discard.

▪  A 1976 inventory report showing about 7 tons of thorium on the site.

In addition, Warren’s comment letter to the advisory board uses the deposition of a top site official to show that the government had no bioassay medical screening program for thorium exposure before 2000.

Thorium is used in the aerospace industry and in nuclear reactions. Breathing thorium dust may cause an increased chance of lung disease as well as lung and pancreatic cancer years after being exposed, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Thorium, which is odorless and tasteless, also has been linked to bone cancer, the agency reports.

The 1,300 pages released by the government now “definitely show thorium shipments to, and in some cases from, SRS after 1972,’’ Warren’s letter says. In the past, federal health officials charged with giving the advisory board information have not provided documentation that would have helped the board recommend expanding the program to cover more recent years, he said.

The Department of Energy had no immediate comment on the thorium issue. It could be months before Warren’s request is resolved……….

Under the federal compensation program, employees sickened by numerous types of cancer at SRS and other federal weapons sites must show that the radiation they received was a significant cause of their illnesses. But the government also can declare entire classes of workers as eligible without requiring each worker to document his or her doses. The class designation can occur when individual dosage records are unavailable to workers.

Bioassy records are unavailable for individual workers to show exposure to thorium, Warren said. So Warren argues that all workers from 1973-2007 should be eligible for compensation. In 2011, he was successful in persuading the government to make workers prior to 1973 eligible for compensation because of thorium exposure.

Warren’s petition is part of a 14-year-effort to obtain compensation for people who say they were sickened by radiation at SRS. An attorney in Black Mountain, N.C., Warren is one of the few lawyers who took on SRS compensation cases, which do not pay attorneys well. He plans to retire soon because of health problems but he works with South Carolina lawyers Warren Johnson and Joshua Fester, who will continue the work.

Nationally, the government has paid more than $12 billion to sick ex-nuclear workers and their families, including those from SRS, McClatchy newspapers reported last year. The energy employees compensation program began in 2001. http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article94448307.html

America’s nuclear regulation officials move into comfortable nuclear industry jobs

September 12, 2016
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ‘enforcement’ is as fierce as the comfy chair, Ecologist  Linda Pentz Gunter 2nd August 2016 “…….

Increased risk of leukaemia in Nuclear workers – World Health Organisation

March 20, 2016

Even low doses of radiation increase risk of dying from leukaemia in nuclear workers, says IARC  http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr235_E.pdf  Lyon, France, 22 June 2015 A study coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, shows that protracted exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation can cause leukaemia. The study, published today in The Lancet Haematology, shows that the risk of death from leukaemia increases linearly with the radiation dose.

 “To date, this study provides the most precise evaluation of the risk of developing leukaemia linked to the protracted low doses of radiation received by nuclear workers throughout their careers,” says IARC researcher Dr Ausrele Kesminiene, a study co-author. “It shows that the nuclear workers we studied have a small increase in the risk of dying from leukaemia as their exposure to radiation increases.”
 Low-dose exposures are typical of environmental or occupational exposures, such as exposure of nuclear workers at their workplace, but also of medical exposures, such as patients undergoing multiple computed tomography (CT) scans through medical diagnostic procedures. The study Based on the strongest evidence currently available, the International Nuclear Workers Study (INWORKS), a collaboration1 among international partners, evaluated the exposures of more than 300 000 nuclear workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the USA over a period of time between 1943 and 2005. The study assessed the risk of developing certain cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
The results 
The study results highlight strong evidence for a positive association between exposure to ionizing radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and show that the risk of leukaemia increases linearly with radiation dose. 
The risk associated with the exposure varies with the type of leukaemia; the risk was highest for chronic myeloid leukaemia, and there was no increased risk for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. 
The study shows little evidence of associations between exposure to ionizing radiation and risk of death from multiple myeloma or lymphoma. “Current standards used for radiation protection remain primarily based on acute high-dose exposures, derived from studies based on atomic bomb survivors in Japan,” says IARC Director Dr Christopher Wild. “This assessment of the carcinogenic impact of low-dose exposures strengthens the evidence on which to base radiation protection measures. These new findings are important when considering radiation exposure in different settings, including use in medical diagnosis.”
Note to the Editors: INWORKS is an international collaboration between research partners including Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France; Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain; CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Madrid, Spain; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH, USA; Public Health England Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Chilton, United Kingdom; and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
For more information, please contact
Véronique Terrasse, Communications Group, at +33 (0)4 72 73 83 66 or terrassev@iarc.fr or Dr Nicolas Gaudin, IARC Communications, at com@iarc.fr
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization. Its mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships. If you wish your name to be removed from our press release emailing list, please write to com@iarc.fr.

Study of nuclear industry workers shows that low dose radiation increases cancer risk

October 19, 2015

Radiation Impact Studies: Chernobyl and Fukushima, Dissident Voice,  by Robert Hunziker / September 23rd, 2015

“…….A consortium of researchers coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, examined causes of death in a study of more than 300,000 nuclear-industry workers in France, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of whom wore dosimeter badges.1

The workers received on average just 1.1 millisieverts (mSv) per year above background radiation, which itself is about 2–3 mSv per year from sources such as cosmic rays and radon. The study confirmed that the risk of leukemia does rise proportionately with higher doses, but also showed that this linear relationship is present at extremely low levels of radiation.

The study effectively “scuppers the popular idea that there might be a threshold dose below which radiation is harmless.”

Even so, the significant issue regarding radiation exposure for humans is that it is a “silent destroyer” that takes years and only manifests once damage has occurred; for example, 200 American sailors of the USS Reagan have filed a lawsuit against TEPCO et al because of radiation-related illnesses, like leukemia, only four years after radiation exposure from Fukushima….. http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/09/radiation-impact-studies-chernobyl-and-fukushima/

“Indentured servitude” – unemployed Japanese tricked into Fukushima clean-up work

October 31, 2013

‘Nuclear Slaves’ at Fukushima: Workers have debts paid off, forced to stay as ‘indentured servants’ — Foreign workers may soon be needed at plant, official reveals http://enenews.com/nuclear-slaves-at-fukushima-workers-have-debts-paid-off-forced-to-stay-as-indentured-servants-foreign-workers-may-soon-be-needed-at-plant-reveals-tepco-vp

Voice of Russia, Oct. 27, 2013: “Nuclear slaves” discovered at Fukushima […] An in-depth journalistic investigation uncovered that thousands of unemployed Japanese were tricked into working underpaid and highly dangerous jobs on the site of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster. […] Yakuza act as enforcers who keep the “nuclear slaves” from complaining or leaving their jobs. […] Reuters reports that “labor brokers” […] resort to “buying” laborers by paying off their debts and then forcing them to work in hazardous conditions until their debt to the “labor broker” is paid off. Such “employment schemes” are commonly referred to as “indentured servitude”  and are a form of slavery […] Lake Barrett, a former US nuclear regulator and an advisor to Tepco, told the news agency that existing practices won’t be changed for Fukushima decontamination: “There’s been a century of tradition of big Japanese companies using contractors, and that’s just the way it is in Japan. You’re not going to change that overnight just because you have a new job here, so I think you have to adapt.”

Asahi Oct. 28, 2013: TEPCO President Naomi Hirose […] explained that it is getting difficult for the utility to secure sufficient manpower at the plant and that it was grappling with tasks the company was not familiar with.

AP,, Oct. 28, 2013: Hirose acknowledged that TEPCO is having trouble finding a stable pool of workers at the plant […] TEPCO Vice President Zengo Aizawa said […] that uncertainty remains over the long-term decommissioning process. “We are not sure about our long-term staffing situation during the upcoming process of debris removal, which requires different skills,” Aizawa told a news conference. Asked if the company may have to consider hiring foreign workers, he said TEPCO is open to that idea even though it’s not an immediate option. […] [Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA] called on Hirose to implement sweeping steps to safeguard workers from high doses of radiation and other troubles […]

UPDATE: Fukushima Worker: I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, now stomach and intestinal cancers found recently — Each developed independently, not from one spreading — Worked at plant for just 4 months in 2011

Exposing the lies about renewable energy losing jobs

September 14, 2013

Debunking the Renewables “Disinformation Campaign”, Mother Earth NewsDespite vast evidence supporting the advancement of renewable energy, various media outlets insist on denying its progress, blurring the lines between inefficient reporting and deliberate lying.  By Rocky Mountain Institute  August 19, 2013 “……..a recent study commissioned by Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry found that the renewable energy sector provided around 382,000 jobs in 2011, up four percent in a year, and more than doubled in seven years. More jobs have been created than lost in Germany’s energy sector—plus any jobs gained as heavy industry moves to Germany for its competitive electricity.

Yet a myth persists that countries lose more jobs then they gain when they transition to renewables. This upside-down fantasy rests largely on a 2009 study from King Juan Carlos University in Spain, by an economist reportedly tied to ExxonMobil, the Heartland Institute, and the Koch brothers. His study asserted that, on average, every renewable energy job in Spain destroys 2.2 jobs in the broader Spanish economy. This story was picked up by news media around the world and is still promoted by U.S. anti-renewables groups. But its methodology and assumptions were promptly demolished by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Spanish government, among others. A 2012 report for the International Labour Organization (ILO) even cites Spain, which built a renewable export industry, as a counterexample: “The green economy presents a good opportunity to increase competitiveness, promote the creation of quality employment and reduce the economy’s environmental impact,” says Joaquín Nieto, who heads the ILO Office in Madrid, especially “when Spain needs to kick-start its economy.” Sure enough, despite new electricity taxes and a halt to subsidies for new renewable projects, Spain’s latest solar projects continue to be built to compete without subsidy.

The disinformation campaign about job creation is not limited to Europe. A Cato Institute article claimed that if people believe a commitment to renewables will fuel job growth “we’re in a lot of trouble.” Yet in 2012 alone, more than 110,000 new U.S. clean-energy direct jobs were created, and in 2010, the U.S. had more jobs in the “clean economy” than in the fossil-fuel industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that direct employment in May 2012 totaled 181,580 for oil and gas extraction, 87,520 for coal mining, and 93,200 for iron and steel production. BLS doesn’t similarly classify solar or wind jobs, but reputable analysts have determined from bottom-up industry surveys that in September 2012, for example, the U.S. had 119,016 direct solar jobs (89 percent full-time, the rest at least half-time), up 27 percent in two years—more than in steel-making or coal-mining. Had you heard that before? Why not? …….. http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/debunking-the-renewables-disinformation-campaign-zm0z1308zsal.aspx#axzz2cYi1w7VS

 

Weapons manufacture not necessarily a job creator

May 23, 2013

America’s War Games How the Obama administration is redefining the US military’s strategic priorities with far-reaching consequences, Aljazeera, 27 April 13  “……. William Hartung, from the Center for International Policy says that Pentagon contractors have “for years used the jobs argument to revive weapons systems that have been cancelled. To push for things that even the Pentagon itself has not wanted.” For months, a study has been circulating in Washington, underwritten by the Aerospace Industries Association, a major defence industry trade group. It claims that a million jobs would be lost as a result of sequestration cuts to defence spending.

Hartung, who has analysed the study, says it exaggerates the potential job loss number by a factor of three, and that many of those jobs will be replaced. He points out that spending on education, health care, and infrastructure “can create 1.5 to 2 times as many jobs. So the economy would be much better off spending on things other than the Pentagon.”

Several recent reports examining ways to cut Pentagon spending call for changes in the US nuclear weapons posture. They claim that it would produce hundreds of billions of dollars of savings in coming decades, and the Obama administration is reportedly considering nuclear weapons cuts. But they will be difficult to achieve.

“People are still mired in Cold War thinking and they feel like the more nuclear weapons we have the better,” Hartung says. “And in addition to that the nuclear weapons industry has some of the biggest strongest companies in the military industrial complex.”

Lockheed Martin builds submarines, launches ballistic missiles, and runs the nuclear weapons laboratories; General Dynamics builds nuclear subs; and Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are all hoping to build the next nuclear bomber……http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2013/04/2013424113558268754.htm

Japan’s poorly paid nuclear sub contract workers

November 4, 2012

Desirability of nuclear power is the real question, THE HINDU, 28 Sept 12
MADHUMITA DUTTA“……In France, over 20,000-30,000 workers dubbed as “nuclear nomads” are subcontracted annually in the 58 nuclear reactors operated by Électricité de France S.A. (EDF) located in 20 sites which contribute 78 per cent of the electricity produced in the country.

EDF subcontracts over 1,000 companies, who employ the “nuclear nomads,” sometimes of foreign origin, to do the dangerous maintenance, repair and clean-up work in these plants, exposing them to ionising radiations. In her book “Nuclear Servitude: Subcontracting and Health in the French Civil Nuclear Industry,” French social scientist Annie Thébaud-Mony has highlighted this division of labour and “risk” by subcontracting dangerous work in the French nuclear power industry.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, over 18,000 workers were hired to clean-up the power plant, who were all subcontracted to do dangerous radioactive clean-up work. These men, hailed as “national heroes” by many, were actually local residents rendered unemployed by the disaster or were daily wagers from city slums.

Since the 1970s, Japan has had a dubious track record of subcontracting maintenance
work of reactors to outside companies which hire workers on a short-term basis who remain employed till they reach their radiation exposure limit (Nuclear Nomads: A look at the Sub-contracted Heroes by Gabrielle Hecht in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 9, 2012)…. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/desirability-of-nuclear-power-is-the-real-question/article3939373.ece