Archive for the ‘secrets and lies’ Category

The Cold War near disasters at RAF Lakenheath could have left Suffolk as a nuclear wasteland

September 14, 2021
Boeing B-47B rocket-assisted take off on April 15, 1954. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Cold War near disasters at RAF Lakenheath could have left Suffolk as a nuclear wasteland By Dan Barker – , 13 September 2021  During the height of the Cold War nuclear bombs were dotted across the country, ready to wipe the USSR off the face of the map at a moment’s notice: but, on two separate occasions, Suffolk almost became victim to the very weapons which were meant to protect it.

July 27, 1956 was like any other summer’s day. Across the country attention was glued to the Ashes fourth test at Old Trafford, and four American airmen were in a B-47 bomber, on a routine training mission from RAF Lakenheath.  But, as they were practising touch-and-go landings, their bomber careered out of control and went off the runway.

it ploughed into an igloo containing three Mark-6 nuclear weapons, tearing the building apart.

The plane then

exploded, killing all four men on board, and showered the world-ending weapons with burning aviation fuel.

Most of A/C [Aircraft] wreckage pivoted on igloo and came to rest with A/C nose just beyond igloo bank which kept main fuel fire outside smashed igloo. “Preliminary exam by bomb disposal officers says a miracle that one Mark Six with exposed detonators sheared didn’t go. Firefighters extinguished fire around Mark Sixes fast.” – Telegram from RAF Lakenheath to Washington DC

Fortunately the atomic power of the bomb was missing that day, with the cores un-installed in all three for storage, but the explosives needed to trigger the deadly nuclear reaction were still in place.

With 8,000 pounds of high explosives combined with depleted uranium-238, they were a nuclear ticking time bomb as firefighters fought to put out the blaze.

Had they exploded the radioactive uranium would have been scattered over a wide area, and, depending on the wind, tens of thousands of people would have been at risk from the toxic dust across Suffolk.

Knowing the enormity of the situation base fire chief Master Sgt L. H. Dunn ordered his crew to ignore the burning wreckage of the bomber, and the airman inside, and douse the flames engulfing the nuclear storage building.

At the time it had been shrouded in secrecy, but decades later one senior US officer made it very clear how lucky Suffolk was to have narrowly missed out on a nuclear disaster.  “It is possible that part of Eastern England would have become a desert,” the then former officer told Omaha World Herald in Nebraska, who revealed the potentially catastrophic incident in November 1979.

Another said that “disaster was averted by tremendous heroism, good fortune and the will of God”.

A top secret telegram sent to Washington DC from the base, which has since been revealed, told of the near miss. “Most of A/C [Aircraft] wreckage pivoted on igloo and came to rest with A/C nose just beyond igloo bank which kept main fuel fire outside smashed igloo.

Another said that “disaster was averted by tremendous heroism, good fortune and the will of God”.

A top secret telegram sent to Washington DC from the base, which has since been revealed, told of the near miss. “Most of A/C [Aircraft] wreckage pivoted on igloo and came to rest with A/C nose just beyond igloo bank which kept main fuel fire outside smashed igloo.

Suffolk was lucky this time, but the incident caused great alarm in the British government, and it was decided it would try and block US authorities from ordering base evacuations because of the concern of causing mass panic in the country.

But what would happen if word got out that its most important ally had, almost, accidentally, made a huge part of the United Kingdom a nuclear wasteland?

Simple: Its policy for decades, if the press ever caught wind of the near miss, was to just deny it. After the news was broken in the American press in 1979, only then was it acknowledged something happened.

On November 5 that year the US Air Force and the Ministry of Defence would only admit the B-47 did crash.

In fact it took until 1996, some four decades after the near disaster, for the British state to accept the true scale of the accident in public.

But that near miss wasn’t the only one.

For on January 16, 1961, an F-100 Super Sabre, loaded with a Mark 28 hydrogen bomb caught on fire after the pilot jettisoned his fuel tanks when he switched his engines on.

As they hit the concrete runway the fuel ignited and engulfed the nuclear weapon – a 70 kilotons – and left it “scorched and blistered”.

Suffolk was saved again by the brave work of base firefighters who brought the blaze under control before the bomb’s high explosive detonated or its arming components activated.


errifyingly it was later discovered by American engineers that a flaw in the wiring of Mark 28 hydrogen bombs could allow prolonged heat to circumvent the safety mechanisms and trigger a nuclear explosion.

Had it gone, thousands of people would be dead within seconds, and thousands more would have been injured. As with the first incident, as well as the immediate blast, radioactive debris could have fallen in towns as far away as Ipswich and Lowestoft, given the right wind direction, spreading the toxic dust across Suffolk.

Since Clement Attlee ordered the scientists to investigate the creation of a nuclear bomb in August 1945, the British state has known that being a nuclear power comes with risk as well as reward.

It also knew it paid to be part of a nuclear alliance,

NATO, and with it came American nuclear bombs and the risk they brought.

Beyond the maths of working out how large the explosion would have been, it is impossible to know the true implications.

RAF Lakenheath was listed as a probable target for Soviet attack according to now released Cold War era documents, and intelligence agencies and war planners expected two 500 kiloton missiles to hit the site if the West was under attack.

Disaster creates uncertainty. Nobody would have known it was an accident within the minutes and hours after a blast, they would have just been dragged into a nuclear bunker and told of a large explosion at an airbase in Suffolk.

Where would that have left a British prime minister, an American president, and the rest of NATO, thinking they have come under attack?

In July 1956, and again in January 1961, those firefighters didn’t just save Suffolk … they might have saved the world.

The myth that the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified

September 14, 2021

Over the years, the myth that the “nuking” of two Japanese cities was justified, has lost much of its appeal on both sides of the Pacific

Mythmaking and the Atomic Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, CounterPunch BY JACQUES R. PAUWELS, 8 Aug 21,  Myth: The war in the Far East only ended in the summer of 1945, when the US president and his advisors felt that, to force the fanatical Japanese to surrender unconditionally, they had no other option than to destroy not one but two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with atom bombs. This decision saved the lives of countless Americans and Japanese who would have perished if the war had continued and required an invasion of Japan.

Reality: Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed to prevent the Soviets from making a contribution to the victory against Japan, which would have forced Washington to allow Moscow to participate in the postwar occupation and reconstruction of the country. It was also the intention to intimidate the Soviet leadership and thus to wrest concessions from it with respect to the postwar arrangements in Germany and Eastern Europe. Finally, it was not the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the Soviet entry into the war against Japan, which caused Tokyo to surrender.

With the German capitulation in early May 1945, the war in Europe was over. The victors, the Big Three,[1] now faced the complex and delicate problem of the postwar reorganization of Europe. The United States had entered the war rather late, namely in December 1941. And the Americans only started to make a major contribution to the victory against Germany with the landings in Normandy in June 1944, that is, less than one year before the end of the hostilities in Europe. When the war against Germany came to an end, however, Uncle Sam occupied a seat at the table of the victors, ready and eager to look after his interests, to achieve what one might call the American war aims. (It is a myth that the presumably deeply isolationist Americans just wanted to withdraw from Europe: the country’s political, military, and economic leaders had urgent reasons for maintaining a presence on the old continent.) The other big victorious powers, Britain and the Soviet Union, also looked to pursue their interests. It was clear that it would be impossible for one of the three to “have it all”, that compromises would have to be reached. From the American point of view, the British expectations did not present much of a problem, but Soviet aspirations were a concern. What, then, were the war aims of the Soviet Union?

As the country that had made the biggest contribution by far to the common victory over Nazi Germany and suffered enormous casualties in the process, the Soviet Union had two major objectives. First, hefty reparation payments from Germany as compensation for the huge destruction wrought by Nazi aggression, a demand similar to the French and Belgian demands for reparations payments from the Reich after World War I. Second, security against potential future threats emanating from Germany………………………….

on April 25, 1945, only days before the German capitulation, the president received electrifying news. He was briefed about the top-secret Manhattan Project, or S-1, the code name for the construction of the atom bomb. That new and powerful weapon, on which the Americans had been working for years, was almost ready and, if tested successfully, would soon be available for use. Truman and his advisors thus fell under the spell of what the renowned American historian William Appleman Williams has called a “vision of omnipotence”. They convinced themselves that the new weapon would enable them to force their will on the Soviet Union. The atomic bomb was “a hammer”, as Truman himself put it, that he would wave over the heads of “those boys in the Kremlin”.[3]

Thanks to the bomb, it would now be possible to force Moscow to withdraw the Red Army from Germany and to deny Stalin a say in its postwar affairs. It now also seemed a feasible proposition to install pro-Western and even anticommunist regimes in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and to prevent Stalin from exerting any influence there. It even became thinkable that the Soviet Union itself might be opened up to American investment capital as well as American political and economic influence,…………  Indeed, with the nuclear pistol on his hip, the American president did not feel that he had to treat “the boys in the Kremlin”, who did not have such a super-weapon, as his equals……….

Possession of a mighty new weapon also opened up all sorts of possibilities with respect to the ongoing war in the Far East and the postwar arrangements to be made for that part of the world, of great importance to the leaders of the US, as we have seen when dealing with Pearl Harbor. Nevertheless, playing that powerful trump card would only be possible after the bomb had been successfully tested and was available to be used………

Truman concluded that only an actual demonstration of the atomic bomb could persuade the Soviets to give way.

…………………The Americans thus knew only too well that the situation of the Japanese was hopeless. “Fini Japs when that comes about”, Truman wrote in his diary, referring to the expected Soviet intervention in the war in the Far East.[9]

…………….. In order to finish the war against Japan without having to make more sacrifices, Truman thus had a range of attractive options. He could accept the trivial Japanese condition, immunity for their emperor; he could also wait until the Red Army attacked the Japanese in China, thus forcing Tokyo into accepting an unconditional surrender after all; and he could have instituted a naval blockade that would have forced Tokyo to sue for peace sooner or later. But Truman and his advisors chose none of these options. Instead, they decided to knock Japan out with the atomic bomb.

This fateful decision, which was to cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly civilians, offered the Americans considerable advantages.

………………… The atom bomb seemed to offer the American leaders an additional important advantage. Truman’s experience in Potsdam had persuaded him that only an actual demonstration of this new weapon would make Stalin pliable. Using the atom bomb to obliterate a Japanese city seemed to be the perfect stratagem to intimidate the Soviets and coerce them to make major concessions with respect to postwar arrangements in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Truman’s secretary of state, James F. Byrnes, reportedly declared later that the atom bomb had been used because such a demonstration of power was likely to make the Soviets more accommodating in Europe.

To make the desired terrifying impression on the Soviets – and the rest of the world -, the bomb obviously had to be dropped on a big city. It is probably for this reason that Truman turned down a proposal, made by some of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, to demonstrate the power of the bomb by dropping it on some uninhabited Pacific island: there would not have been sufficient death and destruction. It would also have been extremely embarrassing if the weapon had failed to work its deadly magic; but if the unannounced atomic bombing of a Japanese city backfired, no one would have known and no one would have been embarrassed. A big Japanese city had to be selected, but the capital, Tokyo, did not qualify, since it was already flattened by previous conventional bombing raids, so that additional damage was unlikely to loom sufficiently impressive. In fact, very few cities qualified as the required “virgin” target. ……….

The atom bomb was ready just in time to be put to use before the USSR had a chance to become involved in the Far East………………

Already on August 10, 1945, just one day after the Soviet Union’s entry into the war in the Far East, a second bomb was dropped, this time on the city of Nagasaki. About this bombardment, in which many Japanese Catholics perished, a former American army chaplain later stated: “That’s one of the reasons I think they dropped the second bomb. To hurry it up. To make them surrender before Russians came”.[11] (The chaplain may or may not have been aware that among the 75,000 human beings who were “instantaneously incinerated, carbonized and evaporated” in Nagasaki were many Japanese Catholics as well an unknown number of inmates of a camp for allied POWs, whose presence had been reported to the air command, to no avail.)[12]

Japan capitulated not because of the atom bombs but because of the Soviet entry into the conflict. ………………………

 Truman, however, wanted to use the bomb for a number of reasons, and not just to get the Japanese to surrender. He expected that dropping the atom bomb would keep the Soviets out of the Far East and terrorize that country’s leaders, so that Washington could impose its will on the Kremlin with respect to European affairs. And so, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pulverized.  Many American historians realize this only too well. Sean Dennis Cashman writes:

With the passing of time, many historians have concluded that the bomb was used as much for political reasons . . . Vannevar Bush [the head of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development] stated that the bomb “was also delivered on time, so that there was no necessity for any concessions to Russia at the end of the war”. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes [Truman’s secretary of state] never denied a statement attributed to him that the bomb had been used to demonstrate American power to the Soviet Union in order to make [the Soviets] more manageable in Europe.[16]

Truman himself, however, hypocritically declared at the time that the purpose of the two nuclear bombardments had been “to bring the boys home”, that is, to quickly finish the war without any further major loss of life on the American side. This explanation was uncritically broadcast in the American media and thus was born a myth eagerly propagated by them and by mainstream historians in the US and in the Western World in general, and of course by Hollywood.

The myth that two Japanese cities were nuked to force Tokyo to surrender, thus shortening the war and saving lives, was “made in USA”, but it was to be eagerly espoused in Japan, whose post-war leaders, vassals of the US, found it extremely useful for a number of reasons, as War Wilson has pointed out in his excellent article on the Bomb. First, the emperor and his ministers, who were in many ways responsible for a war that had caused so much misery for the Japanese people, found it extremely convenient to blame their defeat, as Wilson puts it, on “an amazing scientific breakthrough that no one could have predicted”. The blinding light of the atomic blasts made it impossible, so to speak, to see their “mistakes and misjudgments”. The Japanese people had been lied to about how bad the situation really was, and how the misery had dragged on so long just to save the emperor, but the Bomb provided the perfect excuse for having lost the war. No need to apportion blame; no court of enquiry need be held. Japan’s leaders were able to claim they had done their best. So, at the most general level the Bomb served to deflect blame from Japan’s leaders.

Second, the Bomb earned Japan international sympathy. Like Germany, Japan had waged a war of aggression and committed all sorts of war crimes. Both countries looked for ways to improve their image, seeking to exchange the mantle of perpetrator. for that of victim…………

Third, echoing the American notion that the Bomb had ended the war was certain to please Japan’s post-war American overlords. The latter would protect Japan’s upper class against the demands for radical societal change emanating from radical elements, including communists,………………..

Over the years, the myth that the “nuking” of two Japanese cities was justified, has lost much of its appeal on both sides of the Pacific……………

References:   multiple sources are quoted .

The ”Think Tanks” that get funding from nuclear weapons makers

September 14, 2021

The countries, companies and think tanks that support the deadly nuclear arms trade, From ICAN 8 Aug 21, ”’……………Think tank reported income from nuclear weapon producers

Atlantic Council: $835,000 – $1,724,998

Brookings Institution: $275,000 – $549,998

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: $50,000 – 199,998

Center for New American Security: $1,085,000 – $1,874,991

Center for Strategic and International Studies: $1,530,000 – $2,794,997

Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS): amount not specified

French Institute of International Relations: amount not specified

Hudson Institute: $170,000 – $350,000

International Institute of Strategic Studies: $800,640 – $1,146,744

Observer Research Foundation: $71,539

Royal United Services Institute: $610,210 – $1,445,581

Stimson Center: $50,500

Total $5 – 10 million

Download the full report.

Headline photo: “Nuclear Nightmare – Open Your Eyes And Awake !” by Daniel Arrhakis is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


How the USA fabricated a movie, full of falsehoods about the nuclear bombing in 1945.

September 14, 2021

Over and over we’re told that bigger bombs will bring peace and end war.

We’re told and shown completely fabricated nonsense

At the time The Beginning or the End was being scripted and filmed, the U.S. government was seizing and hiding away every scrap it could find of actual photographic or filmed documentation of the bomb sites.

Hiroshima Is A Lie    Endangerment  By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, August 5, 2021 ”……………………… In Greg Mitchell’s 2020 book, The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood — and America — Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, we have an account of the making of the 1947 MGM film, The Beginning or the End, which was carefully shaped by the U.S. government to promote falsehoods.[xxiii] The film bombed. It lost money. The ideal for a member of the U.S. public was clearly not to watch a really bad and boring pseudo-documentary with actors playing the scientists and warmongers who had produced a new form of mass-murder. The ideal action was to avoid any thought of the matter. But those who couldn’t avoid it were handed a glossy big-screen myth. You can watch it online for free, and as Mark Twain would have said, it’s worth every penny.[xxiv]

The film opens with what Mitchell describes as giving credit to the UK and Canada for their roles in producing the death machine — supposedly a cynical if falsified means of appealing to a larger market for the movie. But it really appears to be more blaming than crediting. This is an effort to spread the guilt. The film jumps quickly to blaming Germany for an imminent threat of nuking the world if the United States didn’t nuke it first. (You can actually have difficulty today getting young people to believe that Germany had surrendered prior to Hiroshima, or that the U.S. government knew in 1944 that Germany had abandoned atomic bomb research in 1942.[xxv]) Then an actor doing a bad Einstein impression blames a long list of scientists from all over the world. Then some other personage suggests that the good guys are losing the war and had better hurry up and invent new bombs if they want to win it.

Over and over we’re told that bigger bombs will bring peace and end war. A Franklin Roosevelt impersonator even puts on a Woodrow Wilson act, claiming the atom bomb might end all war (something a surprising number of people actually believe it did, even in the face of the past 75 years of wars, which some U.S. professors describe as the Great Peace). We’re told and shown completely fabricated nonsense, such as that the U.S. dropped leaflets on Hiroshima to warn people (and for 10 days — “That’s 10 days more warning than they gave us at Pearl Harbor,” a character pronounces) and that the Japanese fired at the plane as it approached its target. In reality, the U.S. never dropped a single leaflet on Hiroshima but did — in good SNAFU fashion — drop tons of leaflets on Nagasaki the day after Nagasaki was bombed. Also, the hero of the movie dies from an accident while fiddling with the bomb to get it ready for use — a brave sacrifice for humanity on behalf of the war’s real victims — the members of the U.S. military. The film also claims that the people bombed “will never know what hit them,” despite the film makers knowing of the agonizing suffering of those who died slowly.

One communication from the movie makers to their consultant and editor, General Leslie Groves, included these words: “Any implication tending to make the Army look foolish will be eliminated.”[xxvi]

The main reason the movie is deadly boring, I think, is not that movies have sped up their action sequences every year for 75 years, added color, and devised all kinds of shock devices, but simply that the reason anybody should think the bomb that the characters all talk about for the entire length of the film is a big deal is left out. We don’t see what it does, not from the ground, only from the sky.

Mitchell’s book is a bit like watching sausage made, but also a bit like reading the transcripts from a committee that cobbled together some section of the Bible. This is an origin myth of the Global Policeman in the making. And it’s ugly. It’s even tragic. The very idea for the film came from a scientist who wanted people to understand the danger, not glorify the destruction. This scientist wrote to Donna Reed, that nice lady who gets married to Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, and she got the ball rolling. Then it rolled around an oozing wound for 15 months and voilà, a cinematic turd emerged.

There was never any question of telling the truth. It’s a movie. You make stuff up. And you make it all up in one direction. The script for this movie contained at times all sorts of nonsense that didn’t last, such as the Nazis giving the Japanese the atomic bomb — and the Japanese setting up a laboratory for Nazi scientists, exactly as back in the real world at this very time the U.S. military was setting up laboratories for Nazi scientists (not to mention making use of Japanese scientists). None of this is more ludicrous than The Man in the High Castle, to take a recent example of 75 years of this stuff, but this was early, this was seminal. Nonsense that didn’t make it into this film, everybody didn’t end up believing and teaching to students for decades, but easily could have. The movie makers gave final editing control to the U.S. military and the White House, and not to the scientists who had qualms. Many good bits as well as crazy bits were temporarily in the script, but excised for the sake of proper propaganda.

If it’s any consolation, it could have been worse. Paramount was in a nuclear arms film race with MGM and employed Ayn Rand to draft the hyper-patriotic-capitalist script. Her closing line was “Man can harness the universe — but nobody can harness man.” Fortunately for all of us, it didn’t work out. Unfortunately, despite John Hersey’s A Bell for Adano being a better movie than The Beginning or the End, his best-selling book on Hiroshima didn’t appeal to any studios as a good story for movie production. Unfortunately, Dr. Strangelove would not appear until 1964, by which point many were ready to question future use of “the bomb” but not past use, making all questioning of future use rather weak. This relationship to nuclear weapons parallels that to wars in general. The U.S. public can question all future wars, and even those wars it’s heard of from the past 75 years, but not WWII, rendering all questioning of future wars weak. In fact, recent polling finds horrific willingness to support future nuclear war by the U.S. public.

At the time The Beginning or the End was being scripted and filmed, the U.S. government was seizing and hiding away every scrap it could find of actual photographic or filmed documentation of the bomb sites. Henry Stimson was having his Colin Powell moment, being pushed forward to publicly make the case in writing for having dropped the bombs. More bombs were rapidly being built and developed, and whole populations evicted from their island homes, lied to, and used as props for newsreels in which they are depicted as happy participants in their destruction.

Mitchell writes that one reason Hollywood deferred to the military was in order to use its airplanes, etc., in the production, as well as in order to use the real names of characters in the story. I find it very hard to believe these factors were terribly important. With the unlimited budget it was dumping into this thing — including paying the people it was giving veto power to — MGM could have created its own quite unimpressive props and its own mushroom cloud. It’s fun to fantasize that someday those who oppose mass murder could take over something like the unique building of the U.S. Institute of “Peace” and require that Hollywood meet peace movement standards in order to film there. But of course the peace movement has no money, Hollywood has no interest, and any building can be simulated elsewhere. Hiroshima could have been simulated elsewhere, and in the movie wasn’t shown at all. The main problem here was ideology and habits of subservience.

There were reasons to fear the government. The FBI was spying on people involved, including wishy-washy scientists like J. Robert Oppenheimer who kept consulting on the film, lamenting its awfulness, but never daring to oppose it. A new Red Scare was just kicking in. The powerful were exercising their power through the usual variety of means.

As the production of The Beginning or the End winds toward completion, it builds the same momentum the bomb did. After so many scripts and bills and revisions, and so much work and ass-kissing, there was no way the studio wouldn’t release it. When it finally came out, the audiences were small and the reviews mixed. The New York daily PM found the film “reassuring,” which I think was the basic point. Mission accomplished.

“Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World”

June 17, 2021

A secondary theme in the book is the role of a free press.  Blume observes that “Hersey and his New Yorker editors created `Hiroshima’ in the belief that journalists must hold accountable those in power.  They saw a free press as essential to the survival of democracy.”  She does, too.

Review: Lesley Blume’s “Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World”, Portside,  June 1, 2021 Lawrence Wittner  In this crisply written, well-researched book, Lesley Blume, a journalist and biographer, tells the fascinating story of the background to John Hersey’s pathbreaking article “Hiroshima,” and of its extraordinary impact upon the world.

In 1945, although only 30 years of age, Hersey was a very prominent war correspondent for Time magazine—a key part of publisher Henry Luce’s magazine empire………..

Blume reveals that, at the time of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Hersey felt a sense of despair—not for the bombing’s victims, but for the future of the world.  He was even more disturbed by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki only three days later, which he considered a “totally criminal” action that led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

…………. Blume shows very well how this approval of the atomic bombing was enhanced by U.S. government officials and the very compliant mass communications media.  Working together, they celebrated the power of the new American weapon that, supposedly, had brought the war to an end, producing articles lauding the bombing mission and pictures of destroyed buildings.  What was omitted was the human devastation, the horror of what the atomic bombing had done physically and psychologically to an almost entirely civilian population—the flesh roasted off bodies, the eyeballs melting, the terrible desperation of mothers digging with their hands through the charred rubble for their dying children.

The strange new radiation sickness produced by the bombing was either denied or explained away as of no consequence.  “Japanese reports of death from radioactive effects of atomic bombing are pure propaganda,” General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, told the New York Times.  Later, when, it was no longer possible to deny the existence of radiation sickness, Groves told a Congressional committee that it was actually “a very pleasant way to die.”

When it came to handling the communications media, U.S. government officials had some powerful tools at their disposal.  In Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of the U.S. occupation regime, saw to it that strict U.S. military censorship was imposed on the Japanese press and other forms of publication, which were banned from discussing the atomic bombing.  As for foreign newspaper correspondents (including Americans), they needed permission from the occupation authorities to enter Japan, to travel within Japan, to remain in Japan, and even to obtain food in Japan.  American journalists were taken on carefully controlled junkets to Hiroshima, after which they were told to downplay any unpleasant details of what they had seen there.

In September 1945, U.S. newspaper and magazine editors received a letter from the U.S. War Department, on behalf of President Harry Truman, asking them to restrict information in their publications about the atomic bomb.  If they planned to do any publishing in this area of concern, they were to submit the articles to the War Department for review…………

Hersey had concluded that the mass media had missed the real story of the Hiroshima bombing.  And the result was that the American people were becoming accustomed to the idea of a nuclear future, with the atomic bomb as an acceptable weapon of war.  Appalled by what he had seen in the Second World War—from the firebombing of cities to the Nazi concentration camps—Hersey was horrified by what he called “the depravity of man,” which, he felt, rested upon the dehumanization of others.  Against this backdrop, Hersey and Shawn concluded that he should try to enter Japan and report on what had really happened there……….

Hersey arrived in Tokyo on May 24, 1946, and two days later, received permission to travel to Hiroshima, with his time in that city limited to 14 days.

Entering Hiroshima, Hersey was stunned by the damage he saw.  In Blume’s words, there were “miles of jagged misery and three-dimensional evidence that humans—after centuries of contriving increasingly efficient ways to exterminate masses of other humans—had finally invented the means with which to decimate their entire civilization.”   Now there existed what one reporter called “teeming jungles of dwelling places . . . in a welter of ashes and rubble.”  As residents attempted to clear the ground to build new homes, they uncovered masses of bodies and severed limbs.  A cleanup campaign in one district of the city alone at about that time unearthed a thousand corpses.  Meanwhile, the city’s surviving population was starving, with constant new deaths from burns, other dreadful wounds, and radiation poisoning.

Given the time limitations of his permit, Hersey had to work fast.  And he did, interviewing dozens of survivors, although he eventually narrowed down his cast of characters to six of them.

……… Ross and Shawn decided to keep the explosive forthcoming issue a top secret from the magazine’s staff.  

Given the time limitations of his permit, Hersey had to work fast.  And he did, interviewing dozens of survivors, although he eventually narrowed down his cast of characters to six of them.

……… Ross and Shawn decided to keep the explosive forthcoming issue a top secret from the magazine’s staff.  

Groves believed that the Japanese deserved what had happened to them, and could not imagine that other Americans might disagree. ………. and he believed that an article that led Americans to fear nuclear attacks by other nations would foster support for a U.S. nuclear buildup.

The gamble paid off.  Although Groves did demand changes, these were minor and did not affect the accounts by the survivors…….  

On August 29, 1946, copies of the “Hiroshima” edition of the New Yorker arrived on newsstands and in mailboxes across the United States, and it quickly created an enormous sensation, particularly in the mass media.  Editors from more than thirty states applied to excerpt portions of the article, and newspapers from across the nation ran front-page banner stories and urgent editorials about its revelations.  Correspondence from every region of the United States poured into the New Yorker’s office.  A large number of readers expressed pity for the victims of the bombing.  But an even greater number expressed deep fear about what the advent of nuclear war meant for the survival of the human race.

Of course, not all readers approved of Hersey’s report on the atomic bombing.  Some reacted by canceling their subscriptions to the New Yorker.  Others assailed the article as antipatriotic, Communist propaganda, designed to undermine the United States.  Still others dismissed it as pro-Japanese propaganda or, as one reader remarked, written “in very bad taste.”

………………………… The conclusion drawn by Blume in this book is much like Hersey’s.  As she writes, “Graphically showing what nuclear warfare does to humans, `Hiroshima’ has played a major role in preventing nuclear war since the end of World War II.”

A secondary theme in the book is the role of a free press.  Blume observes that “Hersey and his New Yorker editors created `Hiroshima’ in the belief that journalists must hold accountable those in power.  They saw a free press as essential to the survival of democracy.”  She does, too.

………… Blume has written a very illuminating, interesting, and important work—one that reminds us that daring, committed individuals can help to create a better world.

Australia dodged a bullet in not getting nuclear power – Ian Lowe

April 5, 2021

An obvious conclusion flows from the Fox Report’s 1976 comment about a lack of objectivity. We are not objective observers of the world: we all see reality through the lenses of our values and our experience. We all have a tendency to see what we would like to see…….

The probability that any person will be favourably disposed to the idea of nuclear power can be predicted from their values and from their view of the sort of future they would like to see. Fellows of the Academy of Technology and Engineering tend to favour a high-tech future, while conservationists are much more likely to favour small-­scale local supply systems.

This is a reminder that the future is not somewhere we are going, but something we are creating. From my perspective, nuclear power now looks like an intractable problem we were just lucky to avoid. Most developed nations have nuclear power stations with mountains of accumulated waste, for which there is no effective permanent solution. The urgent task of moving to clean energy supply, mostly from solar and wind, is made more difficult when resources have been sunk into the nuclear power industry. I believe we dodged a bullet.

A long half-­life,  Nuclear energy in Australia, Griffith Review,by Ian Lowe, March 21, ON MY DESK there sits a well-­thumbed copy of the 1976 Fox Report, the first report of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry. I grew up in New South Wales, where most electricity came from coal-­fired power stations, but miners were often killed or injured and the air pollution from burning coal was obvious. So as a young scientist I was attracted to the idea of replacing our dirty and dangerous coal-­fired electricity with nuclear power.

*** That report changed my thinking. And the sight of it is a reminder that while Australia has a very long history of involvement in nuclear issues, it’s one of the few advanced countries that does not have nuclear power stations. It would now be very difficult to make a rational case for taking that step, but a small group of pro-­nuclear enthusiasts continues to urge greater Australian involvement in the so-­called nuclear fuel cycle.

*** I want to summarise the history of this enthusiasm and use it to explore the continuing interest in that deeper involvement – because nuclear issues have always been intensely political. In practice, debates about nuclear energy are essentially arguments about what sort of future we want. Uranium ore was discovered at a remote site in the north-­east of South Australia in 1906. The prospector thought he had found a deposit that would yield tin or tungsten, but the young geologist Douglas Mawson showed the ore contained uranium and radium. He named the site Radium Hill, and its mine operated from 1906 to 1914, from 1923 to 1931, and again from 1954 to 1961. In the middle of this came the Manhattan Project, the secret research conducted during World War II to develop nuclear weapons, which changed the world forever.

*** When the US declined to share its frightening new bomb with the UK, the British government urged Australia to provide uranium for its own separate clandestine weapons program. At the same time, as a public-relations exercise, the UK government decided to use the Calder Hall reactor in West Cumbria – designed to produce plutonium for the British bomb – to generate a small amount of electricity: the newly installed Queen Elizabeth II formally turned it on. The US was also singing the praises of nuclear energy as a potential power source through its ‘Atoms for Peace’ program. This was a radical reframing of nuclear science, until then known only to the public as the basis for fearsome weapons, but now being portrayed as a possible source of unlimited clean energy.

*** When Prime Minister Robert Menzies opened a uranium mine at Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory in 1953, he too invoked energy supply as he gave a misleading slant to the operation. This ore body, he said, ‘can and will within a measurable distance bring power and light and the amenities of life to the producers and consumers and the housewives of this continent’. That never happened; the ore simply enabled the UK government to design and build its nuclear weapons and then test them at three sites in remote parts of Australia.

*** Three scientists who were centrally involved in both closed-­door discussions and public debates about nuclear issues in Australia had been central figures in the Manhattan Project. Mark Oliphant – a researcher in Ernest Rutherford’s famous Cambridge group that developed the basic physics later used to design and build the first bombs – returned to Australia after World War II to head the physics department at the newly established Australian National University (ANU). While an academic in England, he had supervised the research of Ernest Titterton, who triggered the Trinity test at Los Alamos in July 1945, the world’s first nuclear explosion. After helping to develop the British bomb, Titterton became the foundation professor of nuclear physics at ANU and was a member of Australia’s Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee, charged with assuring the government that the British tests were not a risk to Australian people. It later transpired that there had been serious impacts on local Indigenous people and, on one occasion, a wind change caused a cloud of radioactive debris to drift over a number of South Australian settlements. Titterton became a prominent advocate for Australia using nuclear power and developing nuclear weapons.

*** This was also true of the third central figure in this field, Philip Baxter. He was a chemical engineer working for ICI when he was asked in 1940 to produce quantities of uranium hexafluoride ‘for research’. He worked at the Oak Ridge laboratory in Tennessee, helping with the bomb project, and after the war was instrumental in designing and building the plant to separate plutonium for the British bomb. Arriving in Australia in the early 1950s, he was appointed deputy chair of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) when it was established in November 1952.

*** When the Menzies government approved the Commission’s proposal to build a small nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, then a remote bushland site well outside the suburban area of Sydney, it also expected the AAEC to develop the expertise that would allow Australia to build nuclear power stations. Baxter became chairman of the AAEC in 1956, by which time he was also director of a new tertiary institution, the New South Wales Institute of Technology. Under his direction its status was soon raised and it became the New South Wales University of Technology, specialising in applied sciences and engineering, before expanding in 1958 to become the University of New South Wales. The AAEC, under Baxter’s chairmanship, built the HIFAR reactor at Lucas Heights and explored two possible designs for power reactors: high-­temperature gas-­cooled reactors or liquid-­metal-­fuelled reactors. As it turned out, neither became commercially successful.

*** Baxter and Titterton, both knighted for their services to atomic science, were also both prominent advocates of nuclear power for Australia. In an extraordinary comment, Baxter described Australia in 1957 as ‘the last big continent which the white man has to develop and populate. It will be a difficult task, but the full use of atomic energy should make it both easier and more certain.’ At that time, there was a widespread acceptance that nuclear power would displace coal-­fired power stations to become the main source of electricity. In 1969, Baxter confidently estimated that Australia would have 44,000 megawatts of installed nuclear power by the year 2000. To put that figure in perspective, the 2020 maximum demand in the national electricity system was just over 35,000 megawatts.

*** Electricity supply in Australia was then operated by state and local governments; Brisbane City Council, for example, ran two power stations to provide for the city’s needs. The South Australian premier, Thomas Playford, proposed building a nuclear power station near Port Augusta, while Queensland’s Joh Bjelke-­Petersen said he would be keen to use nuclear energy as long as the power station was not in his state.

*** When no state proved willing to risk the large capital expense of a nuclear power station, Baxter persuaded the Gorton government to propose building a 500-­megawatt reactor on Commonwealth land at Jervis Bay, on the New South Wales south coast. While the plan was deferred when Gorton was displaced as prime minister by Bill McMahon, Baxter still believed ‘Australia would certainly begin building nuclear power stations within the next ten years.’ The Jervis Bay project was subsequently terminated by the Whitlam government, and there was no serious proposal to consider nuclear power for several decades after that. With plentiful cheap coal in the eastern states, there was little political interest in this more complex technology.

*** The public debate about nuclear issues took a new turn in the 1970s. While relatively small mines at Rum Jungle and the Queensland site of Mary Kathleen had been quietly supplying uranium for British bomb production, the discovery of a large deposit of uranium ore in the Kakadu area of the Northern Territory prompted the Whitlam government to hold a public inquiry into the possible environmental impacts of the proposed new mine. This was the Ranger environmental inquiry, conducted by Justice Fox, Dr Kelleher and Professor Kerr. It almost inevitably broadened into a study of Australia’s role in the wider nuclear industry. As already mentioned, their first report is still on my desk.

*** My first academic appointment was in the Faculty of Technology at the UK Open University, where some of my colleagues were raising important questions about the safety and economics of British nuclear power stations. Others were asking more fundamental questions about the long-­term problems of managing radioactive waste and avoiding nuclear war. The long arguments with my respected colleagues shifted my thinking from enthusiastic support of nuclear energy to a more nuanced position, still cautiously in favour of replacing coal-fired power stations but acutely aware of the need to manage the long-­term problems. When I returned to Australia for a six-­month appointment at Griffith University in 1977, the Fox Report had just been published, and I was drawn into the resulting discussion of its findings. *** The report questioned the widely assumed objectivity of science, noting that ‘many wildly exaggerated statements’ had been made about the risks of nuclear energy, and adding: ‘What has surprised us more is a lack of objectivity in not a few of those in favour of it, including distinguished scientists.’ It went on to say that those involved in nuclear energy had ‘painted excessively optimistic pictures’ of performance and safety: Titterton, for example, had described nuclear energy as ‘the cheapest, safest and cleanest means of power production yet devised’. The report also commented that some of those who supported nuclear energy had questioned the motives of critics. Baxter had dismissed opponents of nuclear energy as ‘a small, well-­funded, vocal minority’ who used ‘a mixture of untruthful and hysterical statements, emotionally concocted to frighten the lay public’. He later went even further, claiming, ‘The Australian anti-­nuclear conspiracy is a political thing with links to international communism and the general motive of reducing the economic and military strength of the West.’ While some of the opposition to nuclear energy was political, there is no evidence that it was either well-­funded or linked to international communism.

*** The Fox Report found that the proposed expansion of uranium exports raised two important issues: the potential for fissile material to be used to produce nuclear weapons and the need to manage the radioactive waste from reactors. ‘The nuclear power industry is unintentionally contributing to the risk of nuclear war,’ it said, recommending that uranium exports should be strictly controlled to prevent weapons proliferation. It also noted that the 1976 Flowers Report from the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution had argued that development of nuclear power should be limited until it had been demonstrated that radioactive waste could be ‘safely contained for the indefinite future’.

*** The Fox Report sparked vigorous debate in Australia, with community groups sponsoring public discussions. I remember a panel one Friday night in the town hall at Nambour, a small town in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, where a public meeting had been convened by their Apex Club. About 200 people turned up to witness a debate that became quite heated. I was vigorously attacked when I quoted from the UK nuclear industry house journal to show that the uranium mining representatives were lying to the meeting.

*** There was also division within the ALP. In a precursor of the contemporary differences about the Adani mine, those on the left of the party mostly opposed the mining and export of uranium, while those on the right supported the potential jobs that would be created. In 1977, the ALP national conference adopted a policy opposing expansion of uranium mining. But the Whitlam government, which began the inquiry, had been removed from office in 1975. Under Malcolm Fraser, the Coalition government was enthusiastic to see the Ranger mine go ahead and actively encouraged other possible export ventures. Fraser tried to elevate the program to a moral issue, claiming ‘an energy-­starved world’ needed our uranium. He also stated that the waste problem had been solved. That was a barefaced lie. Since it was not prudent for a young scientist to accuse the prime minister of lying, I pointedly described it instead as ‘a very modest announcement of a great scientific advance’. Of course, the problem had not been solved; over forty years later, it is still an issue. Huge volumes of nuclear waste are stockpiled at power stations around the world. Sweden and Finland have adopted a good process of community involvement and are well on the way to a potential solution involving storage in deep underground repositories – but the issue remains contentious everywhere else.

*** The South Australian government was also under pressure to approve the development of a major copper mine at Roxby Downs that would also produce uranium. In one of his last acts as premier before illness forced him to resign in 1979, Don Dunstan said, ‘We simply cannot assure the people of SA that mining or treatment of uranium and the sale of uranium to a customer country is yet safe.’ That opposition remained ALP policy until 1983, when the newly elected Prime Minister Bob Hawke persuaded the party’s national conference that opposing the Roxby Downs mine would harm the party’s chances at the forthcoming South Australian state election. After an acrimonious debate, the ALP adopted its ‘three mines policy’, qualifying its overall opposition to uranium mining and export by allowing three large mines. Hawke laughed off journalists’ criticism of this obvious double standard.

*** IN SUBSEQUENT DECADES, Australia’s involvement in nuclear issues has been confined to exporting uranium and operating the Lucas Heights reactor. When HIFAR reached the end of its life, the government approved its replacement by the OPAL reactor, mainly used to produce radioactive isotopes for medical and industrial purposes. But there have been attempts to expand our nuclear role.

*** Cabinet documents released in 2003 revealed that the Queensland government had secretly sought Commonwealth support to build a uranium enrichment plant near Rockhampton thirty years earlier. The process of enrichment is used to provide the uranium needed for most power reactors. Natural uranium consists of two isotopes: small amounts of Uranium-235 with larger quantities of Uranium-238. The lighter isotope is much more radioactive, so separation processes are used to ‘enrich’ the uranium, increasing the ratio of Uranium-235 to Uranium-238. The techniques developed as part of the Manhattan Project are still used in this work, and they require enormous amounts of energy. The proposal put forward secretly in 1972 would have been the biggest industrial plant ever built in Queensland and would have cost a billion dollars in 1970s money. The plan had been quietly shelved after the election of the Whitlam government, but surfaced in a different form a decade later. An angry rally filled Caboolture Town Hall during the 1983 federal election campaign, when a leaked report showed that the Fraser government would support a uranium enrichment plant in that area if re-elected.

*** There have also been several proposals over the decades for Australia to store radioactive waste from offshore nuclear power stations. Our political and geological stability is seen to make us ideal for permanent disposal of this waste. As prime minister, Bob Hawke supported a plan by a company called Pangea to store waste in outback Western Australia. Later, in 2015, the South Australian government initiated a Royal Commission into the possibility the state could store waste from other countries. Its report argued that it would be a great economic opportunity for South Australia, but the proposal foundered when a 350-­person citizens’ jury opposed it. The fundamental problem was trust. The members of the jury effectively said they were not confident such a project would be responsibly managed by either a government agency or a private corporation. The jury also questioned the projected financial claims for the project; since there is no operating market for the services being discussed, the figures were inevitably rubbery.

*** This lack of trust is a fundamental problem for any project involving radiation. For over twenty years, the Commonwealth Government has tried to establish a repository to store low-­level radioactive waste: comparatively benign items such as gloves and other protective gear used in nuclear medicine. Despite clear assurances from experts, several communities have defeated proposals for waste-storage facilities. Low-­level waste remains in a wide variety of locations around the nation, including hospitals and university laboratories, still awaiting agreement on a possible site for a permanent storage facility.

*** The question of nuclear power stations was not seriously raised for more than thirty years after the Jervis Bay project was cancelled. A few advocates kept writing to newspapers, but the economic reality was that nuclear energy could not compete with coal-­fired power, while the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown and the 1986 Chernobyl explosion discredited any claims of safety. A 1985 report by the Australian Science and Technology Council about nuclear science and technology said nothing about nuclear energy. It endorsed the proposal to rename the Atomic Energy Commission as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, recognising that its mission was no longer to provide the expertise for nuclear energy.

*** GLOBALLY, THE NUCLEAR power industry appeared dead in the water. After Chernobyl, political support in Europe evaporated. Planned reactors were deferred or cancelled, and the amount of nuclear power gradually declined. Then a small group in the UK came up with an idea to salvage the industry.

*** After decades of violently opposing environmental groups, they decided to conveniently accept the science of global climate change and proposed nuclear reactors as the low-­carbon power source the world needed. Concerned by this argument, I addressed the National Press Club in 2005 to remind Australian journalists of the case against nuclear energy. I argued that promoting nuclear power as the solution to climate change was like advocating smoking as a cure for obesity; the nuclear option would make it more difficult to move to the clean energy future that climate change demands. When asked why I was bothering, I said that I was worried that John Howard, then prime minister, might propose nuclear power as a distraction from his studied inaction on climate change.

*** My fears were well founded. In 2006, when his failure to respond to climate change became a political issue, Howard hastily set up an inquiry into the possibility of using nuclear energy to reduce the carbon footprint of our electricity industry. The process of assembling a group that the late comedian John Clarke described as ‘people who want nuclear power by Tuesday’ was so rushed that the taskforce was incomplete when Howard announced its formation to the media; it was several days before all the names could be revealed. Chaired by Dr Ziggy Switkowski, the group toured the world to find support for the idea of using nuclear energy. In a classic Freudian slip, the headline in The Australian acclaimed its 2007 final report as hailing ‘a glowing future’.

*** It put as good a case as it could, but the facts could not be fudged. This report accepted that both a carbon price and other forms of financial support would be required for a nuclear power station to be economically viable. It also conceded that it would take at least ten years and possibly fifteen to build one nuclear power station, given that Australia had neither the construction experience nor the regulatory structure that would be needed. Before the 2007 election, The Australia Institute mischievously released a map showing possible sites for a first nuclear power station, setting off a tsunami of panic among sitting MPs. That reaction showed there was little community support for nuclear energy.

*** The election that year of Kevin Rudd – who had described climate change as the greatest moral challenge of our time and promised Australia would finally ratify the Kyoto Protocol – effectively ended the debate about nuclear power. The following period of unprecedented political turmoil saw Julia Gillard replace Rudd as prime minister (the subsequent hung election leading to her negotiating a package of measures responding to climate change, including a carbon price) and Tony Abbott displace Malcolm Turnbull as leader of Liberal Party (and demonise the carbon price as ‘a great big tax on everything’). Abbott then won an election and wound back the national response to climate change – before being displaced as prime minister by Malcolm Turnbull, who was in turn himself displaced, after a disappointing result in the 2016 election, by supporters of Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison.

*** Perhaps to distract attention from its own inaction on climate change, the Morrison government started a parliamentary inquiry ‘into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia’ in August 2019. I gave evidence, arguing that nuclear power does not make economic or political sense in twenty-­first century Australia.

*** The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering had previously urged replacing coal-­fired power by nuclear energy; in this inquiry the academy argued that ‘development of a regulatory framework for nuclear fuel cycle activities without a clear business case would be a challenging exercise, and consume valuable policy and regulatory design resources that might otherwise be dedicated to more pressing challenges in energy policy’. The academy also contended that the legislative barriers that now exist should be removed ‘so that nuclear energy can be considered on its own merits’, while conceding that the cost-­effectiveness of the approach remains uncertain. In its final report, the parliamentary committee did not recommend adoption of nuclear power, but it did advocate repealing the current law that expressly forbids its use.

*** That raises the question I posed at the start of this essay. If there has never been hard evidence that nuclear power would be cost-­effective in Australia, why does it keep coming back into the debate?………….. An obvious conclusion flows from the Fox Report’s 1976 comment about a lack of objectivity. We are not objective observers of the world: we all see reality through the lenses of our values and our experience. We all have a tendency to see what we would like to see. I’m constantly struck by the optimism of football fans about their team’s prospects at the start of a new season, even if the players consist mostly of those who did poorly the season before. The probability that any person will be favourably disposed to the idea of nuclear power can be predicted from their values and from their view of the sort of future they would like to see. Fellows of the Academy of Technology and Engineering tend to favour a high-tech future, while conservationists are much more likely to favour small-­scale local supply systems.

*** This is a reminder that the future is not somewhere we are going, but something we are creating. From my perspective, nuclear power now looks like an intractable problem we were just lucky to avoid. Most developed nations have nuclear power stations with mountains of accumulated waste, for which there is no effective permanent solution. The urgent task of moving to clean energy supply, mostly from solar and wind, is made more difficult when resources have been sunk into the nuclear power industry. I believe we dodged a bullet.  

The truth about Fukushima today – and the cover-up – Thomas A Bass

April 5, 2021

Fukushima today: “I’m glad that I realized my mistake before I died.”   Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,  By Thomas A. Bass | March 10, 2021After the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, evacuees were put in what was supposed to be temporary housing built in parking lots and fields on the outskirts of inland towns. These metal structures were measured by the size of Japan’s traditional tatami sleeping mats, typically about 36 by 71 inches. T

Takenori and Tomoko Kobayashi lived in an eight-tatami-mat house for the next five years—nuclear refugees inhabiting 132 square feet of living space.

In 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi were allowed to return to their former home in Odaka, a village on the edge of Fukushima’s 20-kilometer exclusion zone, where Tomoko is a third-generation innkeeper. Owner of a small ryokan—a traditional Japanese hotel with common baths and a dining room holding a long table for family and guests—she invited volunteers to help her scrub down the inn, plant flowers along the roadside, open a gift shop, and rescue some of the area’s famous “samurai horses,” which are now branded with the white mark that labels radioactive livestock.

A. The operator of the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, evacuated its workers from F1 and ordered the site abandoned. The Japanese prime minister, in a dawn visit to TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo, effectively seized the company and demanded that they keep working. As a result, a suicide squad of older workers struggled to contain the disaster. Known as the “Fukushima Fifty” (which actually numbered 69) they tried to cool the reactors with fire trucks brought from Tokyo, 140 miles to the south. The command center for managing the disaster was moved to J-Village.

No one can say with 100-percent certainty the amount of radiation that came from Fukushima, since most of this radiation has been carried eastward into the ocean. At the high end, Fukushima may be worse than Chernobyl in terms of global contamination. At the low end, the Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that Fukushima’s release is one-tenth that of the accident at Chernobyl—which is estimated to have scattered between 50 and 200 million curies of radiation over Russia and Central Europe says Kate Brown, the MIT historian who published a book on Chernobyl in 2019. (One curie equals 37 billion becquerels, the standard unit of measurement for radioactive decays per second.) To give a sense of scale, this amount of radiation is the equivalent of what would have been emitted by at least 400 Hiroshima bombs, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. As Nobel laureate Kenzaburō Ōe says of the Fukushima disaster, unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this time Japan bombed itself.

Compounding the problem, most of Fukushima’s dosimeters were swept away in the flood or knocked offline. Readings from US military planes flying overhead and ships sailing offshore differed dramatically from those reported by TEPCO. The same is true for spot readings of air and soil samples around the plant………..

F1’s reactors are still radioactively hot. They are lethal to humans who approach them and even the robots sent to explore the melting cores are quickly fried; in 2017, TEPCO lost two robots in two weeks. But some of the nuclear exclusion zone has been re-opened—at least officially—to resettlement, and the Japanese government is paying two million yen (about $20,000) to people who move into the area. Ouside the core but still in the zone. An army of about 100,000 workers has spent a decade scraping up and bagging radioactively contaminated soil. Consequently, what were once the emerald green rice paddies of Fukushima’s coastal plain are now filled with black plastic garbage bags holding mountains of radioactive dirt…………..

casual attitude toward radiation is widespread. “We found a disregard for global trends and a disregard for public safety,” said the parliamentary report on the Fukushima disaster, known as The Official Report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. “Across the board, the commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power,” the report’s authors concluded.

They went on to note: “What must be admitted—very painfully—is this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan.’

” If Japan covered up the risks involved in building 54 nuclear reactors on its geologically unstable shores, it is now covering up the consequences. A government-sponsored study of radiation exposure in Fukushima prefecture undercounted people’s exposure by two-thirds. Australian physician Tilman Ruff, co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize), wrote me to say that doctors have left the area because the government refuses to reimburse them when they list radiation sickness as the cause for nose bleeds, spontaneous abortions, and other ailments resulting from ionizing radiation. (The only acceptable diagnoses are so-called “radiophobia,” nervousness, and stress.) The spike in thyroid cancer among children in Fukushima is dismissed as a survey error, produced by examining too many children.

The government has mounted no epidemiological study in Fukushima. It has established no baseline for comparing public health before and after the disaster. Instead, it has greenlighted the use of radioactive ash and soil from Fukushima in construction projects throughout the country, the Japan Times reported.

The generally accepted safety standard for radiation exposure is one milliSievert, or one-thousandth of a Sievert, per year. Different countries have different standards, but in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that the operators of nuclear power plants limit the amount of their incidental radiation exposure to individual members of the public to 1 milliSievert (1,000 microSieverts) per year above the average annual background radiation, and this figure has become a sort of rough international average benchmark. (For comparison’s sake, the natural level of background radiation usually averages in the range of up to as much as 3 milliSieverts annually.)

But in its haste to deal with the Fukushima emergency in the months after the accident, the Japanese government simply raised the limit of what was considered an acceptable amount of incidental radiation coming from the now-defunct nuclear power plant. The Japanese government now allows individuals in Fukushima prefecture to be exposed to 20 milliSieverts per year of incidental radiation, above and beyond what was emitted naturally, reported Scientific American. Figures like these are a far cry from that international average benchmark of 1 milliSievert annually.

To give a sense of scale, a figure in the 20 milliSieverts range means that a schoolchild in Fukushima can be exposed to the same amount of radiation as the average adult working full-time in a nuclear power plant.

The limit in the rest of Japan, outside of Fukushima’s environs, remains 1 milliSievert per year.

21st-century versions of hibakusha, or “bomb-affected people”? Anyone objecting to Fukushima’s 20-fold increase in allowable radiation exposure is criticized for promoting “harmful rumors.” After China and 50 other countries banned the importation of food from Fukushima on the grounds that it might be radioactive, the Japanese authorities reacted vehemently, and critics of the Japanese government’s response to the handling of anything related to Fukushima were treated like economic saboteurs. Similarly, refugees from Fukushima are scorned in other parts of Japan, and the Asahi Shimbun reported “widespread bullying and stigmatization of evacuees.” This finding was echoed by the UK newspaper The Independent, which said that “discrimination suffered by evacuee pupils [is] likened to that faced by those who lived through the atom bomb blasts of the Second World War.

” Women from Fukushima are shunned as marriage partners, and a new kind of Fukushima divorce has emerged, with men returning to the area in greater numbers than their wives, who want to keep their children as far away as possible.

“Japan has clamped down on scientific efforts to study the nuclear catastrophe,” said Alex Rosen, a pediatrician who co-chairs the German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. “There is hardly any literature, any publicized research, on the health effects on humans, and those that are published come from a small group of researchers at Fukushima Medical University, which are centered around the scientist Shunichi Yamashita, who in Japan is called ‘Mr. 100 milliSieverts.’ ” (Yamashita was the spokesman for the Japanese government in the early months of the catastrophe and led the Fukushima health survey for two years, before being forced to resign in 2013. Contradicting his earlier research and instructions to his own staff, Yamashita told the public that 100 milliSieverts of radiation was harmless. He recommended against administering iodine pills to prevent thyroid cancer, and told people that their best protection against radiation poisoning was literally to smile and be happy.)

Four thousand people continue to labor daily to contain the ongoing disaster at F1. They pump cooling water into reactor cores and fuel pools, while struggling to keep the damaged buildings from collapsing. More than a billion liters of contaminated water—the equivalent of 480 Olympic-sized swimming pools—are stored on-site in rusting tanks. Claiming that it has run out of storage room, TEPCO is planning to release this water directly into the ocean. For years, TEPCO maintained that the water stored at F1 had been scrubbed of radioactivity, save for tritium, a water-soluble isotope that is said to be relatively safe. In 2014, TEPCO was forced to admit that its cleaning process had failed, and Fukushima’s cooling water is actually contaminated with high levels of strontium-90 and other radioactive elements.

From the day it opened, Fukushima Daiichi struggled to contain the groundwater that rushed down from the nearby mountains and flowed through the plant. Fukushima today is a swamp of groundwater and cooling water contaminated with strontium, tritium, cesium, and other radioactive particles. Engineers have laced the site with ditches, dams, sump pumps, and drains. In 2014, TEPCO was given $292 million in public funds to ring Fukushima with an underground ice wall—a supposedly impermeable barrier of frozen soil. This, too, has failed, having “limited, if any effect,” Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

In 2019, the Japan Institute for Economic Research estimated that the cost of cleaning up the Fukushima disaster could reach $747 billion. But there is actually no such thing as saying that a nuclear disaster has been cleaned up. Lumps of radioactive fuel, concrete, and cladding remain lethal for tens of thousands of years. At Chernobyl, this lava-like mass, called the “Elephant’s Foot,” has been buried under a mountain of concrete and covered again by a second, $1.5 billion shield financed by the European Union, which some have dubbed the “sarcophagus.” Sensitive about looking like a failed nuclear power, Japan has vetoed the building of a similar concrete sarcophagus over Fukushima. Instead, relying upon technology yet to be invented, TEPCO plans to scoop up the fuel in its failed reactors and store the waste in some undisclosed location. In the meantime, Fukushima sits like an open wound on Japan’s eastern shore.

The takeaway? Among the new buildings meant to lure settlers back to Fukushima are two museums. In Tamioka, directly to the south of the power plant, a former energy museum has been converted into something called the Decommissioning Archive Center. Films depict actors replaying scenes from the disaster on one floor of the museum and demonstrate TEPCO’s “Progress of the Work” on another floor.

In the village of Futaba, directly to the north of the reactors, the government has erected a three-story building called The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum. A former boomtown filled with workers from the plant, Futaba used to have an archway over its main street, declaring, in bold letters, “Atomic Power: Energy for a bright future.” Yuji Onuma created this slogan for a ninth-grade homework assignment. He received a prize from the mayor.

Now living far from Fukushima and running a business installing solar panels, Onuma returned to Futaba one day a few years after the disaster. A photo from that visit shows him wearing a white Tyvek suit, booties, hat, and facemask. Behind him is Futaba’s main street, filled with crumbling buildings and overgrown with weeds. Above him is the archway that TEPCO financed. Over his head, Onuma holds a placard with red-letter writing on it, so the sign instead reads, “Atomic Power: Energy for a destructive future.”

The archway has since been removed and stored in Futaba’s new museum. Onuma wants it reinstalled, where the irony of having his slogan floating over the ruins of a dead city will remind everyone of their original mistake. At the least, he wants the sign put on display in the museum. “I made the wrong slogan,” he recently told an American interviewer. “But I’m glad that I realized my mistake before I died.”

United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) report on Fukushima health effects -rushed, inadequate, inconsistent

April 5, 2021

Dr Ian Fairlie, 12 Mar 21, more    On March 9, the United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published an advance copy of its latest (third) report on the health effects from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear accident which commenced on March 11, 2011. UNSCEAR 2020 Report – Annex B – Advance Copy

The report shows signs of having been rushed out as it is an advance copy and is unfinished. It states 23 electronic attachments with supplementary information on detailed analyses of doses to the public and their outcomes are currently in production and will be available soon on the UNSCEAR website.

I shall look at the Report in more detail when the additional information is published. However at the 10th anniversary of the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima in 2011, it’s necessary to have an initial look at the Report’s comments on contentious issues arising from the accident – (a) the number of expected fatal cancers and (b) the continuing controversy over the cause(s) of the large observed increases in thyroid cancers (TCs) in Japan since 2011.

On (a), the 2020 Report concludes that there are no observed ill health effects from the accident but this conclusion is inconsistent with UNSCEAR’s own estimates of high collective doses from the accident.  Table 13 (page 72) of UNSCEAR’s 2020 report shows that, in the first 10 years after the accident, the whole body collective dose from the accident was 32,000 man Gy. When we apply the widely-accepted fatal cancer risk estimate of 10% per Gy to this figure, we see that about 3,000 fatal cancers will have occurred due to the accident, correct to one significant figure.  The report’s strange, unscientific conclusion to the contrary is inconsistent with these estimates. The only assumption used here is that radiation’s dose-response relationship follows the linear-no-threshold model, as recognised and used by all the world’s radiation protection authorities.

On (b), the 2020 Report (page 107, para q) concludes that the sharp increase in observed thyroid cancers post-Fukushima was not due to thyroid intakes of iodine isotopes from the accident but due to increased surveillance.

However large collective doses to the thyroid are also published in UNSCEAR’s new 2020 report. In the first 10 years after the accident, the 2020 report states the collective thyroid dose to the Japanese population from the accident was 44,000 man Gy.  Again, this is a high number, but the absence of an authoritative risk factor for thyroid cancer – especially among young children aged 0 to 4 who were exposed to both internal intakes of radioactive iodine plus external exposures to ground-deposited Cs-134 and C-137 means that reliable estimates of  the actual numbers of thyroid cancer cases due to the accident are unfortunately not possible.  The supplementary information yet to be released may enable such calculations to be made. However the large collective dose to the thyroid from Fukushima casts doubt on UNSCEAR’s conclusion that the observed increases are not due to the accident.

I would not be surprised to learn that the negative conclusions in the UNSCEAR 2020 Report might be a reason why an advance copy was rushed out in unfinished form before the anniversary of the Fukushima accident.

I add the caveat that the above analysis is a (second) draft and has not yet been fully peer-reviewed. However many requests have been made for views on the UNSCEAR’s 2020 report, so I’m publishing this quickly. Any errors which are pointed out will be corrected in a later post.

Time to clean up Bikini Atoll,to right the nuclear wrongs done to the Pacific islands people.

April 5, 2021

After 75 years, it’s time to clean Bikini

By Hart RapaportIvana Nikolić Hughes | March 9, 2021,   Due to their remote location in the Northern Marshall Islands, the people of Bikini Atoll were spared the worst of the mid-Pacific fighting between the American and Japanese armies in the final years of World War II. Their millennia-old culture and sustainable way of life ended abruptly when, in early 1946, Commodore Ben Wyatt, a representative of the occupying United States Navy, informed King Juda and other Bikini residents that the US would begin to test nuclear weapons near their homes. Wyatt asked the Bikinians to move elsewhere, stating that the temporary move was for “the good of mankind and to end all wars.” Though Wyatt may have believed his words to be true, the show of might by the US that followed neither ended all conflict, nor was the exodus short-lived. Seventy-five years later, Bikinians have yet to return.

Nuclear testing in Bikini and other Marshall Islands, which lasted from 1946 to 1958, received international attention at the time. In those early Cold War days, America demonstrated its nuclear prowess through images of mushroom cloud blasts towering over the Pacific on the cover of Time magazine and other prominent publications. The word Bikini infiltrated popular culture via the name of a two-piece swimsuit (named by a French designer to be “explosive”) and SpongeBob’s home, without simultaneously suffusing our conscience with an awareness of the injustices and suffering those blasts caused the Marshallese people.

It is time, finally, to recognize and right the wrongs perpetrated by the US government in the Marshall Islands. The US forced a new and dangerous technology on the native lands and peoples, without fully comprehending the short- and long-term consequences. The Marshall Islands–and Bikini specifically–ended up the site of most of the tests of US hydrogen bombs, weapons up to a thousand times more powerful than atomic bombs used in attacks on Japan in 1945. Later, when the refugees were briefly returned to Bikini after testing ended, they were exposed to harmful radiation amounts with devastating health effects.

To be sure, the US government has taken steps to monitor and address the contamination that resulted from these nuclear detonations. However, the status quo—studies by the Energy Department for the sake of scientific publications and reports, while Bikinians continue to live on other islands—is not only inadequate, but morally repugnant. Bikini is a native land and water that, over thousands of years, was critical to the people’s sustenance and the bedrock of their culture. While some of those who survived the decades of relocations are still alive, their children and grandchildren, including the descendants of King Juda, have yet to resettle their ancestral home. Without an immediate US-government-funded plan to resettle the living refugees, the millennia-long culture and history tied to the atoll may be lost forever. Also, as one of the highest lying islands in the region, Bikini could be the solution to challenges the Marshallese face from global warming and corresponding rise of sea levels.

But it’s not as simple as saying: “Let’s move the Bikinians back.” A permanent return to the atoll by a multi-generational community would risk serious health effects unless sources of remaining radiological contamination in Bikini’s fruit, soil, and lagoon are addressed and removed, according to our research at Columbia University’s K=1 Project, Center for Nuclear Studies. We have found radioactive materials throughout Bikini Atoll, resulting in background gamma radiation above the limit agreed upon by the Republic of the Marshall Islands and US and levels of cesium-137 in various fruits that violate most relevant international and domestic safety standards. Even the waters surrounding Bikini, a formerly plentiful source of food, are riddled with radioisotopes from the detonations. The cleanup may require a novel scientific approach on par with that used after the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents. That said, a modern nuclear testing cleanup protocol may prove useful in the event of future nuclear incidents in the United States or elsewhere.

The Biden administration has promised to lead in domestic and international spheres with morals and compassion. To do so, it must engage in a truthful, comprehensive accounting of past missteps in the Marshall Islands, regardless of whether the cost of reparations and resettlement exceeds its current pledge of roughly $110 million to Bikini. Commodore Wyatt’s allegedly “temporary” displacement of Bikinians from their native land has lasted 75 years and counting. Will the Biden administration act with morals to clean remaining radioactive material from US detonations? Will it act with compassion to help Bikinians find their way home?

New Zealand groups oppose launch of U.S. military nuclear satellite

April 5, 2021

a security expert has suggested it puts New Zealand into “the kill chain” and makes New Zealand a military target. 

NZ rocket launches may breach nuclear-free laws, say peace groups,  The Spinoff Ollie Neas | 8 Mar 21, Rocket Lab launches of satellites honing US military targeting capabilities have been criticised by the Peace Foundation, which is calling on the PM to step in.Peace groups are calling on the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to stop the launch of a controversial US military satellite that is scheduled for lift-off from Mahia this month, saying it may contravene nuclear-free legislation.

Rocket Lab’s next mission is due to carry a satellite for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command, called the Gunsmoke-J. The satellite is designed to improve US military targeting capabilities by improving how data is provided to “warfighters”.The satellite has previously been condemned by the Green Party, while a security expert has suggested it puts New Zealand into “the kill chain” and makes New Zealand a military target.

Non-profit group The Peace Foundation has now added to those concerns: the launch may breach New Zealand’s nuclear-free laws. In an open letter to the prime minister, the Peace Foundation’s International Affairs and Disarmament Committee says Rocket Lab’s launches for US military agencies risk drawing New Zealand “into supporting the weaponisation of space and the related nuclear arms race”. Satellites contributing to nuclear weapons programmes cannot be approved under New Zealand law.

But the Peace Foundation says New Zealand may lack the technical expertise and information necessary to properly assess whether a satellite is making such a contribution. As a result, the Peace Foundation says approvals of US military satellites should be suspended, and approval of the Gunsmoke-J satellite revoked, until greater oversight of space launches is implemented. The letter has been endorsed by 17 civic, peace and religious groups, as well as members of the public…………

The US Army says the technology being demonstrated could, among other purposes, assist in “long-range precision fires” – a type of missile used to provide “precision surface-to-surface deep-strike capability”. The minister responsible for approving the satellite, Stuart Nash, told parliament last month that he was “unaware” of its “specific military capabilities”. Otago University conflict resolution and disarmament expert Kevin Clements said it is “astonishing” that Nash was unaware of the Gunsmoke-J’s specific military capabilities.

“It is even worse that he is willing to rely on the US Army alone to provide the information required by him and New Zealand’s space agency in relation to the approval process,” Clements said in a statement. “Rocket Lab’s launch programme is increasingly opaque. The precise content of each payload seems intentionally ambiguous and approvals do not seem to take New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation into account.”

Strong parallel’ with nuclear ships issue The Peace Foundation says there is a “strong parallel” between the launch of US military satellites from New Zealand and the “neither confirm nor deny” issue of the 1980s. The US policy of neither confirming nor denying whether its ships were nuclear armed led to a ban on US warships visiting New Zealand ports – the seminal moment in the anti-nuclear campaign.

As with that issue, the Peace Foundation says New Zealand cannot be confident that US military satellites launched from New Zealand are not contributing to nuclear weapons systems. The Peace Foundation says assessing whether the Gunsmoke-J complies with the nuclear free law would require detailed technical knowledge of how the technology might be used in the future. “Increasingly, space-based US military assets are ‘dual-capable’ (can support nuclear and non-nuclear weapons), and dual-capable satellites used for non-nuclear targeting today can easily be used for nuclear targeting tomorrow……….

Call to reform space law  In light of its concerns, the Peace Foundation says greater oversight is needed over New Zealand’s space regime. It proposes assigning oversight of space launches to the prime minister, strengthening space regulations, and mandating oversight of space-launch activity to the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC) – a body set up by the Nuclear Free Zone Act to advise the government on disarmament matters.

Minutes of PACDAC meetings obtained by The Spinoff under the Official Information Act show the committee has had ongoing concerns about the consistency of space activity with New Zealand’s nuclear free law. Space Agency officials have met with the committee to assure members of the legality of launches. The Peace Foundation also calls for changes to the Technology Safeguards Agreement that New Zealand signed with the US to allow for the transfer of sensitive rocket technology.

The treaty requires the US to provide “sufficient information” about its spacecraft to allow New Zealand to assess them, but also allows the US government to veto any space launch from New Zealand. “There are some very big moral questions at stake here,” says Clements. “Is this current Labour government willing for New Zealand soil to be used by Rocket Lab in order to assist US government targeting in conventional and nuclear warfare?”

The Peace Foundation’s letter comes a week after Rocket Lab announced that it would list publicly on the Nasdaq stock exchange, with a valuation of $5.7 billion. Although its main launch site and production facility is in New Zealand, Rocket Lab is US owned. Its investors include major US venture capital firms as well as aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin, which produces nuclear weapons. Rocket Lab also unveiled plans to launch a larger rocket called the Neutron, which will allow it to launch astronauts.

Since 2018, Rocket Lab has launched military or intelligence payloads on seven different missions for agencies ranging from US Special Operations Command to the National Reconnaissance Office, a major US spy agency.  Rocket Lab says around 30% of its business is for defence agencies.