Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

“Significant radiation dose” received by Lucas Heights worker in nuclear accident, Australia

April 2, 2018

Radioactive liquid spills on worker at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/radioactive-liquid-spills-on-worker-at-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor-in-sydney/news-story/a14c71d0d093ddad94d39f5ea614359f, Peter Jean, Political Reporter, The Advertiser, December 14, 2017 A WORKER received a “significant radiation dose” when a vial of radioactive liquid spilt onto their hands in the most serious recorded safety incident to ever occur at Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

The Advertiser can reveal the accident occurred on August 22 when a vial of the nuclear medicine product Molybdenum-99 was dropped when its cap was being removed during a quality-control test. The incident was rated “severe” by regulators and has led to changes in safety procedures.

Molybdenum-99 is produced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at Lucas Heights, below, for use in cancer and heart disease scans.

ANSTO Health general manager Mark Moore said the analyst has a slightly elevated risk of developing skin cancer after the liquid spilt on their hands.

“The analyst was working in a shielded fume cupboard that, in normal operation, limits a dose received, but the dropping of the vial resulted in the radiation dose,’’ Mr Moore said.

“Our employee remains at work and is currently performing alternative quality assessment work in the nuclear medicine field.”

Mr Moore said the staff member had burn-like symptoms, including blistering and reddening of the skin.

“While ANSTO is still waiting to be advised on the final estimate dose by an independent clinical specialist, we know it was above the annual statutory dose limit of 500 millisieverts, and expect to be issued with a formal breach from the regulator,” Mr Moore said.

“At this stage, the dose is estimated to be more than 20 Sieverts, which is 40 times above the extremity dose limit.”

The incident was reported to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An ARPANSA investigation criticised some safety practices in Lucas Heights’ radiopharmaceutical production facilities.

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March 28 – anniversary of Three Mile Island nuclear disaster and the lies about “no-one died”

April 2, 2018

Too little information clouds real impact of TMI, https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/03/25/too-little-information-clouds-real-impact-of-tmi/ By Beyond Nuclear staff

The disaster at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, began on March 28, 1979. Today, 39 years later, the reality, of what really happened, and how many people it harmed, remains cloaked in mystery and misinformation. Unlike the popular catchphrase, TMI is a story of too little information.

What happened?

The two unit Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sits on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River, just ten miles southeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. TMI Unit 2 was running at full power, but had been commercially operational for just 88 days when, at 4 A.M. on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, it experienced either a mechanical or electrical failure that caused the turbine-generator and the nuclear reactor to automatically shut down.

The pressure and temperature in the reactor began to increase, but when a relief valve on top of the reactor’s primary coolant pressurizer stuck open, malfunctioning instrumentation indicated that the valve had shut. While cooling water emptied out of the reactor, operators mistakenly reduced the amount of cooling water flowing into the core, leading to the partial meltdown.

Workers deliberately and repeatedly vented radioactive gas over several days to relieve pressure and save the containment structure. Then came fears of a hydrogen explosion. But by April 1, when President Jimmy Carter arrived at the site, that crisis had been averted, and by April 27 the now destroyed reactor was put into “cold shutdown.” TMI-2 was finished. But its deadly legacy was to last decades.

How much radiation got out?

Within hours of the beginning of the nuclear disaster, onsite radiation monitors went off the scale because radiation levels exceeded their measurement capacity. There were only a few offsite radiation monitors operating that day. Subsequent examination of human blood, and of anomalies in animals and plants, suggest that significant levels of radiation were released.

In the days following the TMI meltdown, hundreds of local residents reported the same acute radiation exposure symptoms as victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings — nausea and vomiting, severe fatigue, diarrhea, hair loss and graying, and a radiation-induced reddening of the skin. For example, Marie Holowka, a dairy farmer near TMI, recalled as she left the milkhouse that morning that, outside, “it was so blue, I couldn’t see ten feet ahead of myself.” There was a “copper taste” in the air. She was later treated for thyroid problems. Given the absence of monitors and the paucity of evidence, the only real radiation meters were the people of Three Mile Island.

“No one died:” The biggest lie


Given that exposure to ionizing radiation is medically understood to cause diseases like cancer which can be fatal, there is no way to definitively state that “no one died at TMI” or later developed cancers. The opposite is far more likely to be true.

Estimates can be complicated by the long latency period for illnesses caused by exposure to radiation. Sometimes exposed populations move away and cannot be tracked. Nevertheless, long after a catastrophic radiation release, disease can still manifest, both from the initial radiation exposure and from slow environmental poisoning, as the radionuclides released by the disaster are ingested or inhaled for many generations.

The only independent study that looked at the aftermath of TMI was conducted by the late Dr. Stephen Wing and his team at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. They looked at radiation-specific markers in residents’ blood, called biomarkers, to assess dose rather than relying solely on industry measured (or mis-measured as the case was) radiation emissions. The team concluded that lung cancer and leukemia rates were two to 10 times higher downwind of the Three Mile Island reactor than upwind.

Harm to animals and plants

After the radiation release from Three Mile Island, a number of plants exhibited strange mutations including extra large leaves (gigantism), double-headed blossoms and other anomalies. These plant anomalies were documented over decades by Mary Osborn, a local resident who conducted meticulous plant research and is a founder of Three Mile Island Alert. (Her deformed rose is pictured at the top of this story.)

Robert Weber, a Mechanicsburg veterinarian, reported a 10% increase in stillbirths, and a marked increase in the need for Cesarean Sections among sheep, goats and pigs in 1979, 1980, and 1981 in a 15-mile area around the TMI site. Dr. Weber also reported significant increases in the cancer rate among animals with shorter life spans such as dogs and cats. These findings are consistent with research around Chernobyl.

Evacuation failure

During the licensing phase of the construction and operation of TMI, a nuclear disaster was considered unthinkable. Consequently, emergency plans were practically non-existent when TMI began its meltdown. Emergency planning officials were repeatedly misinformed by TMI owner, Metropolitan Edison, on the disaster’s progression, and kept in the dark about the need for public protective actions in the early days at TMI.

On March 30, Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh finally “advised” that pregnant women and pre-school age children voluntarily evacuate a five-mile perimeter around TMI, an anticipated target population of 3,500 people. Instead, approximately 200,000 people spontaneously evacuated from a 25-mile perimeter.

TMI demonstrated that managing human responses during a nuclear catastrophe is not realistic and provokes unique human behavior not comparable to any other hazard.

Competing loyalties between work duty and personal family caused a significant number of staffing problems for various emergency response roles. As the crisis intensified, more emergency workers reported late or not at all.

Doctors, nurses and technicians in hospitals beyond the five-mile perimeter and out to 25 miles, spontaneously evacuated emergency rooms and their patients. Pennsylvania National Guard, nuclear power plant workers, school teachers and bus drivers assigned to accompany their students, abandoned their roles for family obligations. A similar response could be expected in the same situation today.

You can find our full investigation — The Truth About Three Mile Island — on our website. It is free to download and reprint.

 

Nuclear waste containers: the problem of corrosion in copper canisters

April 2, 2018

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. 

the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is to carry out an expert peer review of a Canadian research programme on microbiologically influenced corrosion of canisters that will be used to dispose of used nuclear fuel.

The Copper Corrosion Conundrum  No2Nuclear Power  http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NuClearNews_No105.pdf

The Swedish Environmental Court has rejected the Nuclear Waste Company SKB’s license application for a final repository for spent nuclear fuel in Forsmark, Sweden. This is a huge triumph for safety and environment – and for the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review (MKG), the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), and critical scientists. Now it is up to the Swedish government to make a final decision.

The Environmental Court took into consideration viewpoints from all parties in the case, including scientists who have raised concerns about disposing spent nuclear fuel in copper canisters. During the legal proceedings, the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review (MKG) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) presented the shortcomings of this method of disposal. For many years, the environmental organisations have been arguing that the Nuclear Waste Company SKB need to listen to critical scientists, and investigate alternative disposal methods, especially the possibility of developing a very deep boreholes disposal system. (1) Johan Swahn, Director at MKG said:

“Several independent researchers have criticized both the applied method and the selected site. There is a solid documentation base for the Environmental Court’s decision. It is hard to believe the Swedish Government’s conclusions will be any different from the Court’s.”

MKG has made an unofficial translation into English of the Environmental Court opinion. (2)

The court said no to the application because it considered that there were problems with the copper canister that had to be resolved now and not later. The translation shows the courts judicial argumentation and why it decided not to accept the regulator – the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s (SSM’s) opinion that the problems with the integrity of the copper canister were not serious and could likely be solved at a later stage in the decision-making process. The court is quite clear in its statement and argumentation:

“The Land and Environmental Court finds that the environmental impact assessment meets the requirements of the Environmental Code and can therefore be approved. All in all, the investigation meets the high standards set out in the Environmental Code, except in one respect, the safety of the canister.” (Emphasis added)

“The investigation shows that there are uncertainties, or risks, regarding how much certain forms of corrosion and other processes can impair the ability of the canister to contain the nuclear waste in the long term. Overall, these uncertainties about the canister are significant and have not been fully taken into account in the conclusions of SKB’s safety analysis. The Land and Environmental Court considers that there is some leeway for accepting further uncertainties. The uncertainties surrounding certain forms of corrosion and other processes are, however, of such gravity that the Court cannot, based on SKB’s safety analysis, conclude that the risk criterion in the Radiation Safety Authority’s regulations has been met. In the context of the comprehensive risk assessment required by the Environmental Code, the documentation presented to date does not provide sufficient support for concluding that the final repository will be safe in the long term.” (Emphasis added)

The court says that the application is only permissible if the nuclear waste company SKB:

“…produces evidence that the repository in the long term will meet the requirements of the Environmental Code, despite remaining uncertainties regarding how the protective capability of the canister may be affected by: a. corrosion due to reactions in oxygen-free water; b. pit corrosion due to reaction with sulphide, including the contribution of the sauna effect to pit corrosion; c. stress corrosion due to reaction with sulphide, including the contribution of the sauna effect to stress corrosion; d. hydrogen embrittlement; e. radioactive radiation impact on pit corrosion, stress corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement.”

The main difference between the court’s and the regulator’s decision-making was that the court decided to rely on a multitude of scientific sources and information and not only on the material provided by SKB. It had also been uncovered that the main corrosion expert at SSM did not want to say yes to the application at this time that may have influenced the court’s decision-making. In fact there appear to have been many dissenting voices in the regulator despite the regulator’s claim in the court that a united SSM stood behind its opinion.

The court underlines in its opinion that the Environmental Code requires that the repository should be shown to be safe at this stage in the decision-making process, i.e. before the government has its say. The court says that some uncertainties will always remain but it sees the possible copper canister problems as so serious that it is not clear that the regulator’s limits for release of radioactivity can be met. This is a reason to say no to the project unless it can be shown that the copper canister will work as intended. The copper canister has to provide isolation from the radioactivity in the spent nuclear fuel to humans and the environment for very long time-scales.

It is still unclear how the process will proceed. The community of Östhammar has cancelled the referendum on the repository, as there will be no question from the government in the near future. The government has set up a working group of civil servants to manage the government’s handling of the opinions delivered by the court and SSM. SKB has said that it is preparing documentation for the government to show that there are no problems with the canister. Whether the government thinks this will be enough remains to be seen. This is likely not what the court had in mind. The government would be wise to make a much broader review of the issue. There is a need for a thorough judicial review on the governmental level in order to override the court’s opinion. Otherwise the government’ decision may not survive an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

There are eminent corrosion experts who believe that copper is a bad choice as a canister material. There is also increasing experimental evidence that this is the case. The court’s decision shows the importance of democratic and open governance in environmental decisionmaking. It is important that the continued decision-making regarding the Swedish repository for spent nuclear is transparent and multi-faceted. (3)

Copper Canisters The canister has to enclose the nuclear waste for a very long; it is the final repository’s primary safety function. The canister has a 50 mm thick copper shell with an insert of cast iron. The canister must withstand corrosion and mechanical stress.

The investigation on the capability of the canister is extensive and involves complex technical and scientific issues. These include groundwater chemistry, corrosion processes, as well as creep and hydrogen embrittlement (this latter affects the mechanical strength of the canister). However, the parties taking part in the court proceedings disagreed on several issues crucial to the final repository’s long-term security.

The Land and Environmental Court considered the following uncertainties regarding the canister to be most important in the continued risk assessment:

  • 1. General corrosion due to reaction in oxygen-free water. The parties have different views on scientific issues surrounding this kind of corrosion. The Court found that there is considerable uncertainty on this topic that has not been taken account of in SKB’s safety analysis
  • .· 2. Local corrosion in the form of pit corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. The Court found that there is significant uncertainty regarding pit-corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. This uncertainty has not been included in the safety analysis. In addition, there is uncertainty about the sauna effect, which may have an amplifying effect on pit corrosion.
  • · 3. Local corrosion in the form of stress corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. The Court found that there is significant uncertainty regarding stress corrosion due to reaction with sulphide. This uncertainty has not been included in the safety analysis. In addition, there is uncertainty about the sauna effect, which may have an amplifying effect on stress corrosion.
  • · 4. Hydrogen embrittlement is a process that affects the mechanical strength of the canister. The Court found that significant uncertainty regarding hydrogen embrittlement remains. This uncertainty has not been taken account of in the safety analysis.
  •  · 5. The effect of ionizing radiation on pit corrosion, stress corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement. There is significant uncertainty regarding ionizing radiation impact on pit corrosion, stress corrosion and hydrogen sprays. This uncertainty has been included to a limited extent in the safety assessment.

Meanwhile, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is to carry out an expert peer review of a Canadian research programme on microbiologically influenced corrosion of canisters that will be used to dispose of used nuclear fuel. The NNL has been contracted by Canada’s National Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) to review its work on the potential for corrosion of the copper-clad canisters. The NWMO is responsible for designing and implementing the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel under a plan known as Adaptive Phased Management. This requires used fuel to be contained and isolated in a deep geological repository, with a comprehensive process to select an informed and willing host for the project.

The used fuel will be isolated from the environment using a series of engineered barriers. Fuel elements comprise ceramic fuel pellets, which are themselves highly durable, contained inside corrosion-resistant zircaloy tubes to make fuel elements. Bundles of fuel elements are placed into large, durable copper-coated steel containers which are designed to contain and isolate used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository, essentially indefinitely. The canisters will be placed in so-called “buffer boxes” containing by bentonite clay, providing a fourth barrier.

World Nuclear News reports that although copper is highly resistant to corrosion, under anoxic conditions – that is, where no oxygen is present – sulphate-reducing bacteria have the potential to produce sulphide, which can lead to microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC) of copper. Waste management organisations and regulators therefore need to understand the levels of sulphide that will be present in a geological disposal facility, to understand its potential to migrate to the canister surface and the potential for it to cause copper corrosion, the NNL said.

The NWMO has been actively developing computer models that will be used to evaluate the potential for MIC once a disposal site has been selected, and has selected the NNL to carry out a peer review of its work because of the UK laboratory’s expertise in the biogeochemical processes that could affect repository performance and in developing computer modelling techniques that simulate the effects of sulphate-reducing bacteria. The work is linked closely with NNL’s participation in the European Commission Horizon-2020 MIND (Microbiology in Nuclear waste Disposal) project. (4

Thorium nuclear reactors: no safer than conventional uranium reactors

April 2, 2018

Dispelling Claim 4: Thorium reactors are safer than  conventional uranium reactors  Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

The fission of U-233 results in roughly the same amounts

of the safety-relevant nuclides iodine-131, caesium-137

and strontium-90 as that of U-235. Also, the decay heat is

virtually the same. The differences in produced actinides (see

next claim) are of secondary importance for the risk during

operation or in an accident. In this perspective, thorium use

does not deliver any recognisable safety advantages.

Of greater safety relevance is the fact that uranium-233

fission produces 60% less so-called delayed neutrons than

U-235 fission. Delayed neutrons are not directly created

during the fission of uranium, but from some short-lived

decay products. Only due to the existence of delayed

neutrons, a nuclear reactor can be controlled, and the

bigger their share (for instance 0.6% with U-235), the

larger is the criticality range in which controllability is given

(this is called delayed criticality). Above this controllable

area (prompt criticality) a nuclear power excursion can

happen, like during the Chernobyl accident. The fact that

the delayed super-critical range is with U-233 considerably

smaller than with U-235, is from a safety point of view an

important technical disadvantage of thorium use.

During the design of thermal molten salt reactors (breeders),

the conclusion was that the use of thorium brings problems

with criticality safety that do not appear with classical

uranium use in this type of reactors. For that reason, it was

necessary to turn the attention to fast reactors for the use

of thorium in molten salt reactors. Although this conclusion

cannot be generalised, it shows that the use of thorium can

lead to increased safety problems.

As mentioned, a serious safety problem is the necessity to

restart breeder and reprocessing technology with thorium.

Thorium is often advertised in relation to the development

of so-called advanced reactors (Generation IV). The

safety advantages attributed to thorium in this context are

mostly, however, not germane to thorium (the fuel) but

rather due to the reactor concept. Whether or not these

advanced reactor concepts bring overall increased safety

falls outside the scope of this article, but that is certainly

not a question with a clear “yes” as the answer.

Should GE’s Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Be Recalled Worldwide Like a Faulty Unsafe Automobile?

April 2, 2018

The following news piece represents the fifth in a 15-part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority, engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen. The EnviroNews USA special encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to the continuously-unfolding crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan. The transcript is as follows:

Josh Cunnings (Narrator): Good evening and thanks for joining us at the EnviroNews USA news desk for the fifth segment in our 15-part mini series, Nuclear Power in Our World Today. In our previous episodes, we explored several Manhattan-era messes in the United States, but tonight, we begin by discussing the troublesome situation on the ground at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on Japan’s eastern coast.

Now, if you trace Japan’s troubles back far enough, then once again, you’re going to find yourself right back here in the good old U S of A — in the state of California — during the 1970s — with General Electric at the helm.

The project that we’re referring to was the development of the Mark 1 boiling water nuclear reactor — the very same model which melted entirely in units 1, 2 and 3 at Fukushima.

Now, when it comes to people who are qualified to talk about the many issues and problems surrounding the Mark 1, few could be more capable than former nuclear reactor operator and engineer Arnie Gundersen. As a matter of fact, the distinguished expert is all too familiar with the ins and outs of the design.

So, without further ado, here’s another excerpt from this simply fantastic interview with Arnie Gundersen by EnviroNews USA Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry. Take a listen.

Urry: And so speaking about these reactors and the technical components — you were actually involved with the Mark 1. And I remember reading that some of the engineers that worked on that project had resigned way back then in 1972, yet General Electric was still apparently willing to pimp this reactor out essentially, all over the planet. What can you tell us about the Mark 1 reactor, and your understanding of what happened back then with these engineers, and how General Electric has been able to spread this reactor to all corners of the globe, with really no consequence. We saw Greenpeace had started a petition to make General Electric and Hitachi, and maybe a couple others of the service providers, actually pay for the damage there, but has there been any culpability? [Editor’s Note: Urry intended to say “1976” not “1972” in this passage]

Gundersen: Fukushima Daiichi has four units — one, two, three, four — and they’re all Mark 1 designs. In addition, there’s another 35 in the world, including 23 here in America, that are the same design. A group of three engineers quit General Electric in 1976 because they realized the design was not safe. Two of the three are still alive and living here in California, and they are my personal heroes. They understood before any of us did how seriously we really didn’t understand what it was that the engineers were doing.

Excerpt From Greenpeace Video With Dale Bridenbaugh

Bridenbaugh: My boss said to me, that if we have to shut down all of these Mark 1 plants, it will probably mean the end of GE’s nuclear business forever.

I started with GE immediately after I got out of college as a mechanical engineer, and I started out as a field engineer responsible for supervising the construction and startup of power plant equipment across the United States.

In the first ten or fifteen plants that GE sold of the large-scale commercial boiling water reactors, they did so on what’s called a “turnkey” basis. They built the whole thing, get it operating, and then they turn the key over to the utility, and the utility then is theoretically capable of operating it to produce electricity.

Fukushima 1 was basically a turnkey plant provided to TEPCO by GE. In 1975 the problem developed that became known at the Mark 1 plants — the some 24 Mark 1 units in the United States, and also those overseas, including the Fukushima units — had not taken into account all of the pressures and forces that are called hydrodynamic loads that could be experienced by the pressure suppression units as a result of a major accident. We didn’t really know if the containments would be able to contain the event that they were supposedly designed to contain.

Not only were there the containment problems that existed with the Mark 1s, which I was very familiar with, but there were a number of other problems with the GE boiling water reactors and with the nuclear program in general. And I got disillusioned with the speed with which these problems were being addressed, and then in the middle of the night I called my boss at GE and I said, “My recommendation is that we tell the U.S. utilities that GE cannot support the continued operation of these plants.” And my boss said to me, “Well, it can’t be that bad Dale, and keep in mind that if we have to shut down all of these Mark 1 plants it will probably mean the end of GE’s nuclear business forever.” That conversation occurred at about midnight on January 26, and that clinched my decision on resignation on February 2.

The accident that occurred in Fukushima, it’s some two years later now, and we don’t really know the condition of the reactor core; we don’t really know the condition of the containment. The radiation levels are so high inside the containment that it’s very difficult to get in there. It will be years before that plant site is cleaned up.

The damage that has been experienced at Fukushima is so great and so extensive that I don’t think any one utility, certainly TEPCO, has the capability to be able to pay for all of that. So, it becomes a national issue. I think it would be a good idea to not have reliance on nuclear units. They’re very risky enterprises. And I would like to see a world that is provided with electricity by alternative energy supplies.

Gundersen: When Maggie [Gundersen] and I were walking one day in February [a month] before the [Fukushima] accident, she said to me, “Where is the next accident going to be?” And I said, “I don’t know where, but I know it’s going to be in a Mark 1 reactor.” And, I’m not alone. It’s not like I was clairvoyant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission had a report that they published in 1982, and they said there was an 85 percent chance, if there was a meltdown in a Mark 1 reactor, that the containment would explode. The writing was on the wall.

Urry: How many of these things are still out there in operation today?

Gundersen: In the U.S., all 23 continue to run, and as a matter of fact, the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended some pretty substantial improvements, and the politically appointed commissioners, who have no nuclear background, overrode the staff and said, “no, we’re not going to do those changes.” So, the Commission has been actively involved in thwarting the safety improvements that everybody knows are needed.

Script for General Electric Television Commercial

Voice of Child Narrator: My mom, she makes underwater fans that are powered by the moon. My mom makes airplane engines that can talk. My mom makes hospitals you can hold in your hand. My mom can print amazing things, right from her computer. My mom makes trains that are friends with trees. My mom works at GE.

Cunnings: If GE, a company that successfully weaseled its way out of paying any taxes whatsoever in the U.S. wants to boast night and day on the mainstream media airwaves — the same mainstream media which it once nearly monopolized — that it “brings good things to life” and makes “underwater fans that are powered by the moon” and locomotives that “talk to trees” perhaps the company should also bother to mention its own manufacture and sales of faulty nuclear power reactors that quite frankly, bring good things to an early death.

Oh, and by the way, the company not only builds the reactors that breed uranium into plutonium for bombs, oh no, its role goes much deeper. In fact, GE is in the business of manufacturing the actual bombs too. “We bring good things to life.” Seriously? Let’s get real.

Documentary Film Trailer for Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and Our Environment

Narrator: The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, a massive 570-square-mile facility, where General Electric made plutonium for the U.S. military.

Subject #1: I began loosing my hair, which I had long naturally curly hair.

Narrator: [Of] 28 families who lived in a small area near Hanford, 27 of them had suffered severe health problems.

Subject #1: … and the physician said that I had the most severe case of hypothyroidism he’d ever seen in his career…

Narrator: … all of which are associated with exposure to high doses of radiation.

Subject #2: We took twice the amount that the Children of Chernobyl took. There was absolutely no warning. They came and said, “You’re safe.”

Narrator: According to the business press, General Electric is the most powerful company in the United States, and GE is rapidly expanding its control of markets worldwide.

Subject #3: I’d like to wake Jack Welch up in the middle of his atomic power lab; let him explain why their husbands died of cancer related to the asbestos.

Subject #4: I find their ads disgusting. I find that ad disgusting.

Narrator: Four million individuals and 450 organizations in the U.S., Canada and around the world, have decided to join the GE boycott.

Subject #4: Are you asking us to clean up your toxic waste again!?

Subject #5: What GE does is not bring good things to life. They mislead the American public.

Subject #6: General Electric is in this business of building weapons for profit — not for patriotism, not for the country, not for the flag, but for profit.

Ronald Reagan: Until next week then, good night for General Electric.

Excerpt from Fairewinds Associates Video, Featuring Arnie Gundersen on the GE Mark 1 Reactor

Gundersen: This picture of a boiling water reactor containment is taken in the early 70s. It was taken at Browns Ferry [Nuclear Plant], but it’s identical to the Fukushima reactors. Now, let me walk you through that as I talk about it.

There are two pieces to the containment, the top looks like an upside down light bulb, and that’s called a “drywell.” Inside there is where the nuclear reactor is. Down below is this thing that looks like a doughnut, and that’s called the “torus,” and that’s filled almost all the way with water. The theory is that if the reactor breaks, steam will shoot out through the light bulb into the doughnut, creating lots of bubbles, which will reduce the pressure. Well, this thing’s called a “pressure suppression containment.” Now, at the bottom of that picture is the lid for the containment. When it’s fully assembled, that lid sits on top. The containment’s about an inch thick. Inside it is the nuclear reactor that’s about eight inches thick, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

Well, this reactor containment was designed in the early 70s, late 60s, and by 1972 a lot of people had concerns with the containment. So, in the early 70s, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recognized this containment design was flawed. In the mid-70s, they realized the forces were in the wrong direction; instead of down, they were up, and large straps were put into place.

Well, then in the 80s, there was another problem that developed. After Three Mile Island engineers began to realize that this containment could explode from a hydrogen buildup. That hadn’t been factored into the design in the 70s either. Well, what they came up with for this particular containment was a vent in the side of it.

Now, a vent is designed to let the pressure out, and a containment is designed to keep the pressure in. So, rather than contain this radioactivity, engineers realized that if the containment were to survive an explosion they’d have to open a hole in the side of it called a “containment vent.”

Well, these vents were added in the late 1980s. And they weren’t added because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanded it. What the industry did to avoid that was create an initiative and they put them in voluntarily. Now, that sounds really proactive, but in fact, it wasn’t. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission required it, it would have opened up the license on these plants to citizens and scientists who had concerns. Well, by having the industry voluntarily put these vents in it did two things: One, it did not allow any public participation in the process to see if they were safe. And the second thing is that it didn’t allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to look at these vents and say they were safety related. In fact, it sidetracked the process entirely.

Well, these vents were never tested until Fukushima. This containment was never tested until Fukushima. And it failed three times out of three tries. In retrospect, we shouldn’t be surprised.

Looking at the procedures for opening these vents, in the event electricity fails, requires someone fully clad in radiation gear to go down to an enormous valve in the bowels of the plant and turn the crank 200 times to open it. Now, can you imagine, in the middle of a nuclear accident, with steam and explosions and radiation, expecting an employee to go into the plant and turn a valve 200 times to open it?

So, that was the second Band-Aid fix that failed, on a containment that 40 years earlier, was designed too small.

Well, with all this in mind, I think we really need to ask the question: should the Mark 1 containment even be allowed to continue to operate? The NRC’s position is: well, we can make the vents stronger. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Now, all those issues that I just talked about are related to the Mark 1 containment. The next thing I’d like to talk about is the reactor that sits inside that containment. So, that light bulb and that doughnut are the containment structure; inside that is where the nuclear reactor is.

Now, on a boiling water reactor, the nuclear control rods come in at the bottom; on a pressurized water reactor they come in from the top. All of the reactors at Fukushima, and 35 in the world in this design, have control rods that come in from the bottom. Now, that poses a unique problem and an important difference that the NRC is not looking at right now.

If the core melts in a pressurized water reactor, there’s no holes in the bottom of the nuclear reactor, and it’s a very thick eight to 10-inch piece of metal that the nuclear reactor core would have to melt through. But that didn’t happen at Fukushima.

Fukushima was a boiling water reactor; it’s got holes in the bottom. Now, when the nuclear core lies on the bottom of a boiling water reactor like Fukushima, or the ones in the U.S., or others in Japan, it’s easier for the core to melt through because of those 60 holes in the bottom of the reactor. It doesn’t have to melt through eight inches of steel. It just has to melt through a very thin-walled pipe and scoot out the hole in the bottom of the nuclear reactor. I’m not the only one to recognize that holes at the bottom of a boiling water reactor are a problem.

Last week an email came out that was written by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission right after the Fukushima accident, where they recognize that if there’s a core meltdown, and it’s now lying as a blob on the bottom of the nuclear reactor, these holes in the bottom of the reactor form channels, through which the hot molten fuel can get out a lot easier and a lot quicker than the thick pressurized water reactor design. Now, this is a flaw in any boiling water reactor, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not recognizing that the likelihood of melting through a boiling water reactor like Fukushima, is a lot more significant than the likelihood of melting through a pressurized water reactor.

The third area is an area we’ve discussed in-depth in a previous video, and that’s that the explosion at Unit 3 was a detonation, not a deflagration. It has to do with the speed of the shockwave. The shockwave at Unit 3 traveled faster than the speed of sound, and that’s an important distinction that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the entire nuclear industry, is not looking at.

A containment can’t withstand a shockwave that travels faster than the speed of sound. Yet, all containments are designed assuming that doesn’t happen. At Fukushima 3 it did happen, and we need to understand how it happened and mitigate against it in the future on all reactors.

Now, I measured that. I scaled the size of the building versus the speed at which the explosion occurred, and I can determine that that shockwave traveled at around 1,000 feet per second. The speed of sound is around 600 feet per second. So, it traveled at supersonic speeds that can cause dramatic damage to a containment. They’re not designed to handle it. Yet, the NRC is not looking at that. [Editor’s Note: Gundersen intended to say “miles per hour,” not “feet per second” in this video.]

So, we’ve got three key areas where the NRC, and the nuclear industry, don’t want people to look, and that’s: 1) should this Mark 1 containment even be allowed to continue to operate?

Cunnings: In America, when a vehicle, or even a part in a vehicle, is deemed unsafe for the population at large, the government forces automakers into costly and multi-billion dollar recalls — and the mainstream media does its part by shaming those culprit companies, relentlessly beating them to a bloody pulp for their negligence and their reckless endangerment of innocent American citizens.

The Mark 1 nuclear reactor is an extremely outdated model with obvious design flaws. Apparently, it has so many problems, that as Mr. Gundersen pointed out, three of the engineers who originally designed it ended up resigning because they knew it wasn’t safe — and that was well before Three Mile Island or Chernobyl ever happened — long before the public had experienced the fright, and health consequences of a full-scale nuclear meltdown.

Surely, after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan, it appears the Mark 1 is far from safe, yet here in the U.S., the government continues to let operators drive this faulty nuclear vehicle down the road — knowing full well that it could fall apart and crash, harming, or even killing innocent Americans at any time.

Perhaps the government should consider holding nuke-plant manufacturers, like GE, to the same standards it demands from automakers, and punish them with shameful recalls when they market a piece of faulty equipment that poses any danger to the public.

So, just what would a recall of the Mark 1 nuclear reactor look like, and who would issue or enforce it? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission? And how could enough political will ever be mustered for such a massive undertaking? It would surely cost more than any auto recall ever has, but frankly, who should give a damn (except for General Electric’s shareholders of course)? I mean, if it ain’t safe, then it just ain’t safe mate. Besides, after paying zero taxes, GE’s pockets should be plenty deep enough to handle such an event — right? The concept of an all-out recall on the antiquated General Electric Mark 1 reactor is one that we will continue to explore. As a matter of fact, in tomorrow’s show, we’ll discuss the problems with the Mark 1 a little further.

Tune in then for episode six in our series of short films, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, with esteemed expert and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen.

Signing off for now — Josh Cunnings — EnviroNews USA.

Source:
Should GE’s Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Be Recalled Worldwide Like a Faulty Unsafe Automobile?
Related articles:
Fukushima: Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Quit In Protest
Experts Had Long Criticized Potential Weakness in Design of Stricken Reactor
23 GE-Designed Reactors in in 13 states Similar to Japan’s

Trump’s NASA Space Plans – Potential for a Nuclear Catastrophe

April 2, 2018

Trump’s NASA Plans Are a Nuclear Disaster Waiting to Happen http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43021-the-nuclear-disaster-of-trumps-nasa-plans December 29, 2017By Linda Pentz Gunter,   Earlier this month, President Trump announced that he wants the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to “lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars.” But while couched in patriotic sound bites and pioneering rhetoric that “Florida and America will lead the way into the stars,” the risks such ventures would entail — and the hidden agenda they conceal — have scarcely been touched upon.

For those of us who watched Ron Howard’s nail-biter of a motion picture, Apollo 13,and for others who remember the real-life drama as it unfolded in April 1970, collective breaths were held that the three-man crew would return safely to Earth. They did.

What hardly anyone remembers now — and certainly few knew at the time — was that the greater catastrophe averted was not just the potential loss of three lives, tragic though that would have been. There was a lethal cargo on board that, if the craft had crashed or broken up, might have cost the lives of thousands and affected generations to come.

It is a piece of history so rarely told that NASA has continued to take the same risk over and over again, as well as before Apollo 13. And that risk is to send rockets into space carrying the deadliest substance ever created by humans: plutonium.

Now, with the race on to send people to Mars, NASA is at it again with its Kilopower project, which would use fission power for deep space. It would be the first fission reactor launched into space since the 1960s. Fission, commonly used in commercial nuclear reactors, is the process of splitting the atom to release energy. A by-product of fission is plutonium.

Small reactors would be used to generate electricity on Mars to power essential projects in the dark. But first, such a reactor has to get to Mars without incident or major accident. And the spacecraft carrying it would also be nuclear-powered, adding monumentally to the already enormous risk. As physicist Michio Kaku points out, “Let’s be real. One percent of the time, rockets fail, they blow up, and people die.” With plutonium on board, the only acceptable accident risk has to be 0 percent.

When Apollo 13 mission astronaut John Swigert told NASA Mission Control “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” it only touched on the most immediate crisis: the damaging of the craft after the explosion of an oxygen tank that forced the crew to abort the planned moon landing.

However, what few knew at the time — and what was entirely omitted from Howard’s 1995 film — was the even bigger crisis of what to do about the SNAP-27 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) on board. The RTG was carrying plutonium-238. It was supposed to have been left on the moon to power experiments. Now that no moon landing was to occur, what would become of the RTG, especially if Apollo 13 ended up crashing back to Earth in a fireball? Such an outcome could disperse the plutonium as dust, which, if inhaled, would be deadly.

One (and possibly the only) journalist who has been consistently on the “nukes in space” beat for more than 30 years is Karl Grossman. When the Apollo 13 movie came out, he picked up the phone and called the film’s production company, Imagine Entertainment, to ask why they had not included the higher drama of the plutonium problem. “It was surprising to see Hollywood not utilizing an Armageddon theme,” he told Truthout.

Grossman said that Michael Rosenberg, then executive vice president and now co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment, told him that the omission was an “artistic decision.” However, since NASA personnel had served as advisors for the film, Grossman speculated that the agency might have been more than a disinterested party. Far better that the film confine itself to the life-threatening jeopardy of the three astronauts rather than the danger to life on Earth that would have been posed by falling plutonium.

Grossman was already well aware of the Armageddon potential of NASA missions by the time he called Howard’s production company. In 1985, he had learned that two space shuttle missions planned for 1986 would carry plutonium-powered probes to be lofted into space to orbit the Sun and Jupiter. As it turned out, the ill-fated Challenger was one of the shuttles scheduled for the May 1986 plutonium mission, in what would have been its second flight that year.

Grossman said he had been worried at the time about a rocket explosion on launch, a not unprecedented disaster. Or what if a shuttle carrying a plutonium-fueled space probe failed to attain orbit, exploded and crashed back to Earth?

The official NASA and Department of Energy (DOE) documents Grossman eventually obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, “insisted that a catastrophic shuttle accident was a 1-in-100,000 chance,” he said.

But on January 28, 1986, Challenger exploded. (Shortly thereafter, NASA changed the odds of a catastrophic shuttle accident to 1-in-76.) Grossman called The Nation and asked if they knew that Challenger’s next mission would have carried plutonium. The magazine invited Grossman to write an editorial — “The Lethal Shuttle” — which ran on the magazine’s front page.

After The Nation editorial, Grossman was invited over to the offices of “60 Minutes.” He duly appeared with armfuls of documents and alarming “what ifs” but, as he told Truthout, “there was no ignition,” and “60 Minutes” never picked up the story.

Over the years, articles about the use of nuclear power on space devices and military plans for space continued to be ignored. With the mainstream media apparently reluctant to challenge the space program — perhaps out of a misplaced sense of “patriotism” — Grossman continued his solo investigations. In 1997, he penned a book, The Wrong Stuff, which detailed NASA’s blunders with plutonium-fueled missions and its unrealistic calculations about the probability of a major accident.

There had been problems before Challenger. In 1964, an aborted mission carrying an RTG had resulted in a reentry burn-up over Madagascar. Plutonium was found in trace amounts in the area months later. Although the event was downplayed, it had serious consequences, as Grossman found in a report he cited in The Wrong Stuff. The plutonium had spread all over the world.

According to page 21 of the report, “A worldwide soil sampling program carried out in 1970 showed SNAP-9A debris to be present on all continents and at all latitudes.”

John Gofman, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, and involved in the isolation of plutonium in the early years of the Manhattan Project, connected the SNAP-9A accident to a worldwide spike in lung cancer, as reported on page 12 of Grossman’s The Wrong Stuff.

Similarly, in 1968, a weather satellite was aborted soon after takeoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The plutonium from its RTG plunged into 300 feet of water off the California coast. Fortunately, in this instance, it was retrieved. At the time, all satellites were powered by RTGs. But in the wake of these disasters, NASA had already begun to push to develop solar photovoltaic (PV) power for satellites. Today, all satellites are powered by solar PV, as is the International Space Station.

Apollo 13 jettisoned its 3.9 kg of plutonium over the South Pacific, already the setting for scores of atomic weapons tests by the US and France. Contained in a graphite fuel cask, it supposedly came to rest in the deep Tonga Trench. No one will ever bother to retrieve it, even though it is now technically feasible, because of the enormous cost. Whether it has leaked (likely) and how it has affected marine life will now never be known.

Grossman kept on writing about the dangers of nuclear materials in space as well as the possibility for space wars. He found that one of the reasons NASA and the DOE sought to use nuclear power in space was to work in tandem with the Pentagon, which was pushing Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, known colloquially as “Star Wars.” Star Wars was predicated on orbiting battle platforms with nuclear reactors — or “super RTGs” — on board, providing the large amounts of energy for particle beams, hypervelocity guns and laser weapons.

Although seemingly alone on the issue as a journalist, Grossman is not without an important resource in the form of Bruce Gagnon’s Maine-based Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, which has been campaigning on the issue since 1992. Gagnon has watchdogged space weaponry but also US government plans to plunder other planets and moons for minerals, as the Trump administration is hinting it expects to do. Gagnon told Grossman that such plans have never been far from the nuclear industry’s radar and that at nuclear power industry conferences, “Nuclear-powered mining colonies and nuclear-powered rockets to Mars were key themes.”

The topic was also covered by Helen Caldicott and Craig Eisendrath in their 2007 book, War in Heaven. That same year, the Cassini space probe was launched. It carried 72.3 pounds of plutonium fuel, used to generate electricity, not propulsion — 745 watts of it to run the probe’s instruments. As Grossman wrote in a recent article and drew attention to in his documentary — Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens — Cassini “was launched on a Titan IV rocket despite several Titan IV rockets having blown up on launch.”

In 1999, because “Cassini didn’t have the propulsion power to get directly from Earth to Saturn…. NASA had it hurtle back to Earth in a ‘slingshot maneuver’ or ‘flyby’ — to use Earth’s gravity to increase its velocity,” Grossman wrote. A catastrophic failure of that operation could have seen Cassini crash to Earth, dispersing its deadly plutonium load. According to NASA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission, Section 4-5, the “approximately 7 to 8 billion world population at the time … could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure.” And yet, the agency proceeded to take that chance.

The world had once again dodged a radioactive bullet. In September 2017, having completed its mission, Cassini was deliberately crashed into Saturn, contaminating that planet with plutonium. While less controversial than lethally dumping it on Earth, the event raises at least moral, if not scientific questions about humankind’s willingness to pollute other planets with abandon after already doing so to our current home.

The Trump administration’s planned new missions to the moon and Mars would seem to follow that pattern, with Trump stating ominously, “this time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint.” The US now intends to conduct “long-term exploration and use” on Mars and the moon.

A recent article in Roll Call suggested that while Trump has said little publicly about the militarization of space, behind-the-scenes space satellite warfare is very much on the agenda with serious money set aside to develop “weapons that can be deployed in space.”

A war in space might not involve nuclear weapons — for now. But warring satellites could knock out nuclear weapons early warning systems and set other potential disasters in motion. These cataclysmic risks play strongly into the arguments — enshrined in the recent UN nuclear weapons ban — that we should be disarming on Planet Earth, not arming in space.

Argayash, close to Russia’s Mayak Nuclear Facility, at the centre of radiation leaking

April 2, 2018

The Russian town in the shadow of a leaking nuclear plant https://www.ft.com/content/2d853158-d064-11e7-b781-794ce08b24dc   

Authorities finally admit that Argayash was at the centre of a radiation cloud.
 Henry Foy in Argayash , 24 Nov 17

Argayash is a cynical, mistrustful town. Decades of being lied to by the government about being down the road from a leaking nuclear plant does that to a place. So too does watching generations of people dying of radiation-related ailments while officials assure them nothing is amiss.

A small, two-road settlement where homes roofed with corrugated iron and Soviet-era Lada cars nod to its poverty, Argayash is one of a handful of towns surrounding the Mayak Production Facility in southern Russia, one of the world’s biggest radiation emitters where a litany of tragic accidents has made it a byword for the dangers of the atomic industry.

This week, 76 years after radiation first began seeping from Mayak into the surrounding rivers, lakes and atmosphere, Russian authorities admitted that Argayash was at the centre of a radiation cloud containing “exceptionally high” levels of radioactive isotope ruthenium-106, which spread so far west that it reached France. The radiation was detected by Russia’s meteoological agency in late September, but only revealed on Monday, after local politicians had spent weeks denying rumours of a leak and rubbishing reports from EU agencies that had tracked the cloud’s movement.

The levels of the isotope in Argayash were almost 1,000 times the normal level. Officials say it is not harmful to public health.  “Nobody tells us anything. They keep it secret,” says Lilia Galimzhanova, a cook at a café in the town. “We are afraid. We are afraid for our children and grandchildren.”  “But we know that the air, the environment is very bad here,” she says. Her 80-year-old mother suffers from radiation poisoning from Mayak. “We are not protected by anyone here . . . We are survivors.”

 The source of the leaked isotope, which does not occur naturally and is produced during the processing of nuclear fuel, has not been confirmed. Rosatom, which operates the Mayak facility, has repeatedly denied it is to blame. “[Mayak] is not a source of increased content of ruthenium-106 in the atmosphere,” Rosatom said in a statement. On Thursday, the company published a message poking fun at journalists on its Facebook page, inviting them to tour the plant, which it sarcastically dubbed “the cradle of ruthenium”. The local region’s chief oncology specialist has told concerned residents to stop worrying, advising them to instead “watch football and drink beer”.
 But local residents see little to laugh about. Many scoff at official denials, having heard similar for decades, even as they watched family and friends die from radiation-related ailments. “We are not told anything about Mayak,” says Nadia, an 18-year-old medical student living in the town, 1,700km east of Moscow. “The government should not keep things secret when people suffer.”  “People in the west know more about this than we do here,” she adds.

Ms Galimzhanova only heard of the radiation that had enveloped her town when a friend in Germany read about it in a western newspaper. Before the authorities admitted its existence, text messages had been sent to residents saying that high levels of pollution from nearby industrial factories meant people should stay indoors.  Regardless of the potential health risks, many here say the government’s initial silence, denial and obfuscation has dredged up painful memories of a past that refuses to stay buried.  Secretly constructed in the 1940s, Mayak was at the forefront of the USSR’s scramble to catch up with the US nuclear programme. As it raced to produce weapons-grade plutonium, a vast amount of nuclear waste was discharged into nearby lakes and the Techa river.  Then, in 1957, nuclear waste storage tanks at the site exploded, raining fallout over hundreds of towns — and releasing more radiation than any other nuclear accident except Chernobyl and Fukushima. Ten years later, an adjacent reservoir used for waste disposal dried out, and powdered radioactive dust was blown over the area.

Not that local people were evacuated, or even warned: Mayak’s very existence was only acknowledged in the late 1980s, as information began to circulate about the long-term contamination. An estimated 450,000 were exposed to radiation from the accidents and the discharging of waste into the water supply, Russian authorities said in 1993, making Mayak one of the world’s biggest sources of harmful radiation. But anti-nuclear campaigners say safety breaches continued: a 2005 court case revealed nuclear waste was still being dumped into rivers as late as 2004, while Rosatom only sealed off the radioactive lake that caused the 1967 disaster in 2015.
 An estimated 450,000 were exposed to radiation from the accidents and the discharging of waste into the water supply, Russian authorities said in 1993, making Mayak one of the world’s biggest sources of harmful radiation. But anti-nuclear campaigners say safety breaches continued: a 2005 court case revealed nuclear waste was still being dumped into rivers as late as 2004, while Rosatom only sealed off the radioactive lake that caused the 1967 disaster in 2015.
 “Previous experience has taught us that they lie and suppress information,” said Andrey Talevlin, co-chairman of the Russian Social-Ecological Union NGO. “We can’t trust what they say, whether they mislead the population on purpose or not.”
 Mr Talevlin, an academic and environmental activist who this week was branded a “foreign agent” by Russian state TV after he called for an investigation into the ruthenium leak, says that suppression of anti-nuclear groups in Russia has rapidly increased over the past two decades. A fellow activist, Nadezhda Kutepova, fled to France in 2015 seeking political asylum after a similar media campaign accused her of “industrial espionage”.  President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said this week that the Kremlin has “no information” regarding any possible causes of the radiation. And some in Argayash say it is little more than an occupational hazard of living in one of Russia’s most industrialised regions.
The authorities say they do not know anything about it. And we must trust them,” says Jamshed, who runs a greengrocer on the town’s main Lenin Street. “Nobody has proven anything. And even if something is proved, I am sure our government will immediately take measures,” he says, looking over his locally-grown vegetables.

Urals nuclear disaster 1957

March 31, 2018
NUCLEAR DISASTER IN THE URALS. KYSHTYM ACCIDENT  https://sherbrooktimes.com/nuclear-disaster-in-the-urals-kyshtym-accident/12112   

On 29 September 1957 at 16 o’clock on the territory of the chemical plant “Mayak”, which was in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40 (now Ozersk), was the first in the USSR radiation accident — an explosion of capacity to store radioactive waste. The catastrophe was called the Kyshtym accident — the name closest to Chelyabinsk-40 by city.

The blast occurred in containers, of a capacity of 300 m? because of the failure of the cooling system. In the tank contained a total of about 80 m? highly radioactive nuclear waste. At the time of construction in 1950-ies the strength of the structure is not in doubt. She was in the pit, in a concrete shirt thickness meter.

Cover the container weighed 560 tons, over it was laid a two-meter layer of earth. However, even this failed to contain the explosion.

According to another, unofficial version, the accident occurred due to human error of the plant that in the tank-evaporator with hot plutonium nitrate solution by mistake added a solution of plutonium oxalate. The oxidation of oxalate nitrate allocating a large amount of energy, leading to overheating and explosion of the tank.

During the explosion in the atmosphere were about 20 million curies of radioactive substances, some of which rose to a height of up to two miles, and formed an aerosol cloud.

Over the next 11-12 hours of radioactive fallout on the territory with a length of 300-350 km on northeast from the explosion.

In the area of radioactive contamination got 23 thousand km2 with a population of 270 thousand people in 217 settlements of the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk and Tyumen regions. During the liquidation of consequences of the accident were required to relocate 23 villages with a population of 10-12 thousand a man, all the buildings, property and livestock were destroyed.

Liquidators were hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians

Only in the first ten days the number of deaths from radiation have gone on hundreds, during the works in varying degrees, suffered 250 thousand liquidators.

According to the international scale of nuclear testing accident was estimated at six points. For comparison, the seventh level, the maximum was rated accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima-1.

To avoid scattering of radiation by government decision was established the sanitary-protective zone in which economic activity was banned. In 1968 this territory was formed of the Eastern Ural state reserve.

It is forbidden to visit — the level of radioactivity is still too dangerous for humans.

October 6, 1957 in the newspaper “Chelyabinsk worker” appeared devoted to his note, in which, however, about the accident not a word was said:

On Sunday night… many residents of Chelyabinsk watched the special glow of a starry sky. It’s pretty rare in our latitudes, the glow had all the signs of the Aurora. Intense red, time moves to slightly pink and light blue glow first covered a large part of the South-Western and North-Eastern surface of the firmament. About 11 o’clock it was possible to observe in the North-Western direction… In the sky appeared a relatively large colored area and the quiet lanes that had at the last stage of lights North-South direction. The study of the nature of the Aurora, has begun Lomonosov continues in our days. Modern science has confirmed the basic idea of the University, that the Aurora occurs in the upper layers of the atmosphere by electrical discharges of the Aurora…… can be observed in the future at the latitudes of the southern Urals”.

Kyshtym accident has long been a state secret. For the first time openly about her was said in a shot at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, the film Director and biologist Elena Sakanyan, dedicated to the fate of Soviet genetics and biologist Nikolai Timofeev-Ressovsky.

The films were shown on television only after Sakanyan directly asked about the show to Boris Yeltsin.

But in the foreign press leaked the information in April 1958. For the first time about the accident said one of the Copenhagen Newspapers. Subsequently, information about the accident appeared in the report of the National laboratory, USA, biologist Zhores Medvedev dedicated incident book entitled “Nuclear disaster in the Urals”, published in the US, an analysis of the causes of the accident and its causes held by a group of American scientists from the atomic center at oak ridge.

“About the explosion at the “Mayak” for long periods of time, the public knew almost nothing. Later, for some reason, the accident was replicated in the media as the “Kyshtym accident”.

In Kyshtym on this occasion, even recently, was the obelisk, although the city to this event is irrelevant.

And the East-Ural radioactive trail, formed after 1957, did not affect Cistema and its residents,” — said in an interview in 2009, one of its liquidators.

Only the “Lighthouse” there were more than 30 incidents of radioactive emissions and human victims.

The Kazakhstan low-enriched uranium bank will not make the world safer

October 30, 2017

Banking on Uranium Makes the World Less Safe https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/08/banking-on-uranium-makes-the-world-less-safe/  There is a curious fallacy that continues to persist among arms control groups rightly concerned with reducing the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. It is that encouraging the use of nuclear energy will achieve this goal.

This illogical notion is enshrined in Article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which rewards signatories who do not yet have nuclear weapons with the “inalienable right” to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Now comes the international low-enriched uranium bank, which opened on August 29 in Kazakhstan, to expedite this right. It further reinforces the Article IV doctrine— that the spread of nuclear power will diminish the capability and the desire to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The uranium bank will purchase and store low-enriched uranium, fuel for civilian reactors, ostensibly guaranteeing a ready supply in case of market disruptions. But it is also positioned as a response to the Iran conundrum, a country whose uranium enrichment program cast suspicion over whether its real agenda was to continue enriching its uranium supply to weapons-grade level.

The bank will be run by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose remit is “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy.” Evidently the IAEA has been quite successful in this promotional endeavor since the agency boasts that “dozens of countries today are interested in pursuing nuclear energy.”

A caveat here, borne out by the evidence of nuclear energy’s declining global share of the electricity market, is that far more countries are “interested” than are actually pursuing nuclear energy. The IAEA numbers are more aspiration than reality.

Superficially at least, the bank idea sounds sensible enough. There will be no need to worry that countries considering a nuclear power program might secretly shift to nuclear weapons production. In addition to a proliferation barrier, the bank will serve as a huge cost savings, sparing countries the expense of investing in their own uranium enrichment facilities.

The problem with this premise is that, rather than make the planet safer, it actually adds to the risks we already face. News reports pointed to the bank’s advantages for developing countries. But developing nations would be much better off implementing cheaper, safer renewable energy, far more suited to countries that lack major infrastructure and widespread electrical grid penetration.

Instead, the IAEA will use its uranium bank to provide a financial incentive to poorer countries in good standing with the agency to choose nuclear energy over renewables. For developing countries already struggling with poverty and the effects of climate change, this creates the added risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident, the financial burden of building nuclear power plants in the first place, and of course an unsolved radioactive waste problem.

No country needs nuclear energy. Renewable energy is soaring worldwide, is far cheaper than nuclear, and obviously a whole lot safer. No country has to worry about another’s potential misuse of the sun or wind as a deadly weapon. There is no solar non-proliferation treaty. We should be talking countries out of developing dangerous and expensive nuclear energy, not paving the way for them.

There is zero logic for a country like Saudi Arabia, also mentioned during the uranium bank’s unveiling, to choose nuclear over solar or wind energy. As Senator Markey (D-MA) once unforgettably pointed out: “Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Arabia of solar.” But the uranium bank could be just the carrot that sunny country needs to abandon renewables in favor of uranium.

This is precisely the problem with the NPT Article IV. Why “reward” non-nuclear weapons countries with dangerous nuclear energy? If they really need electricity, and the UN wants to be helpful, why not support a major investment in renewables? It all goes back to the Bomb, of course, and the Gordian knot of nuclear power and nuclear weapons that the uranium bank just pulled even tighter.

Will the uranium bank be too big to fail? Or will it even be big at all? With nuclear energy in steep decline worldwide, unable to compete with renewables and natural gas; and with major nuclear corporations, including Areva and Westinghouse, going bankrupt, will there even be enough customers?

Clothed in wooly non-proliferation rhetoric, the uranium bank is nothing more than a lupine marketing enterprise to support a struggling nuclear industry desperate to remain relevant as more and more plants close and new construction plans are canceled. The IAEA and its uranium bank just made its prospects a whole lot brighter and a safer future for our planet a whole lot dimmer.

Australia’s unsafe plan to sell uranium to Ukraine

July 24, 2017

In a statement tabled in the Senate last night, the Turnbull government has confirmed it will seek to proceed with selling Uranium to Ukraine despite significant safety and security concerns raised by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

Uranium exports to Ukraine


“Australia, the nation that fuelled Fukushima should not sell uranium to the country that gave us Chernobyl,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney.

In February a JSCOT investigation found that existing safeguards were ‘not sufficient’ and there was a risk Australian nuclear material would disappear off the radar in Ukraine.

The government has ignored JSCOT’s recommended pre-conditions around risk assessment and recovery of nuclear materials and is looking to advance the deal despite the risks of war, civil unrest and nuclear insecurity in the eastern European country, which is involved in hostilities with Russia.

“The treaties committee’s report found ‘Australian nuclear material should never be placed in a situation where there is a risk that regulatory control of the material will be lost’, yet this is exactly what could happen under the deeply inadequate checks and balances that apply to exported Australian uranium,” said Mr Sweeney.

“JSCOT recommended the Australian government undertake a detailed and proper risk assessment and develop an effective contingency plan for the removal of ‘at risk’ Australian nuclear material prior to any sales deal.

“Unreasonably and irresponsibly the government response fails to credibly address this. Australia should be very cautious about providing nuclear fuel to an already tense geo-political situation in eastern Europe.

“Ukraine’s nuclear sector is plagued by serious and unresolved safety, security and governance issues.

“Two-thirds of Ukraine’s aging fleet of 15 nuclear reactors will be past its design lifetime use-by date in just four years.

“This is an insecure and unsafe industrial sector in a highly uncertain part of the world. Australian uranium directly fuelled Fukushima and this deeply inadequate response shows the government has learnt little and cares less”.