Archive for the ‘NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS’ Category

Seven nuclear disasters: who’s next?

February 3, 2015

Is Nuclear Experimentation Fascism?  OpEdNews Op Eds 1/22/2014By  (about the author) opednews.com

“……..HANFORD, USA, 1943 — 1987

As an early “flagship’ nuclear experiment, many of the safety procedures and waste disposal practices employed at the Hanford site were completely inadequate. Although most of the reactors were shut down between 1964 and 1971, government documents have since confirmed that operations at the Hanford site released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the Columbia River, which still threatens the health of residents and ecosystems today. Hanford is currently the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States, representing two-thirds of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste by volume. .

BIKINI ATOLL, NORTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN, 1946

The United States military undertook nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in mid-1946. At the request of the US military, Bikini’s 146 native residents agreed to temporarily evacuate the island so the United States government could begin testing atomic bombs for “the good of mankind and to end all world wars.” After “confused and sorrowful deliberation”, the Bikinians agreed to the relocation request, announcing “we will go believing that everything is in the hands of God.”

Most residents were moved by the military to Rongerik Atoll, 125 miles away. Only one-sixth the size of Bikini Atoll, no one lived on Rongerik because it had an inadequate water and food supply, however the United States Navy left the natives there with only a few weeks of food and water. Predictably, this soon proved to be insufficient and the Bikinians were left starving on Rongerik. (Read more: http://www.bikiniatoll.com/history.html)

As a series of large thermonuclear tests continued at Bikini Atoll into the 1950″s, the island was eventually rendered unfit for subsistence farming and fishing, and because of radioactive contamination still remains uninhabitable today. So much for the “temporary” evacuation of the Bikinians from their native island to help the United States “end all world wars.”

WINDSCALE FIRE, UK, 1957

The worst nuclear accident in Great Britain’s history, the core of the nuclear reactor at Windscale, Cumberland (now Sellafield, Cumbria) caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. Caused by operators pushing the first-generation design of the Windscale facility beyond its intended limits, the fire burned for three days releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere that spread across the UK and Europe.

SANTA SUSANA, USA, 1959

A reactor at the Atomics International field laboratory in the Santa Susana Mountains, California, experienced a power surge and subsequently spewed radioactive gases into the atmosphere. According to a 2009 report from the Los Angeles Times, residents blame the facility for their health issues and say the site remains contaminated.

THREE MILE ISLAND, USA, 1979

The worst accident in U.S. commercial history, the Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) reactor near Middletown (PA) partially melted down on March 28, 1979. A combination of equipment malfunctions, design-related problems and worker errors led to TMI-2″s partial meltdown and off-site releases of radioactivity. 14 years later, the clean up effort officially ended in December

CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE, 1986

Widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, Chernobyl’s reactor four suffered a catastrophic power increase leading to explosions in its core. The explosion and resulting fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR (the then-Soviet Republic) and Europe.

ROCKY FLATS PLANT, USA 1987

Following insider reports of unsafe conditions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found numerous violations of federal anti-pollution laws, including the contamination of water and soil. A grand jury report released following this incident criticized the Department of Energy and Rocky Flats contractors for “engaging in a continuing campaign of distraction, deception and dishonesty”, and noted that Rocky Flats had discharged pollutants, hazardous materials and radioactive matter into nearby creeks and water supplies for many years. But even the DOE itself acknowledged that Rocky Flats’ ground water was (at the time) the single greatest environmental hazard at any of its nuclear facilities.

The contamination levels at Rocky Flats itself, as measured by the United States government remain sealed records and have not been reported to the public. Clean-up was not declared complete until October 13, 2005 — 18 years later.

 FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI, JAPAN 2011

The troubled Fukishima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan has experienced a number of “incidents’ since its construction in 1971, culminating in total reactor failure when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the Tōhoku earthquake. At the time of the disaster, the plant began releasing substantial amounts of radioactive materials making it the largest nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the second in history (with Chernobyl) to measure at Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. More than two years after the incident it was revealed that the plant is still leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, and despite the technical assistance of GE (the corporation that designed the failing reactor) the situation appears to keep deteriorating as time goes on.

WHO IS NEXT?

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Victims of Three Mile Island nuclear accident speak out

February 2, 2015

Three Mile Island – 35 years on http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2334940/three_mile_island_35_years_on.html Linda Pentz Gunter 28th March 2014  Thirty-five years ago today the USA had its worst ever civilian nuclear accident with a reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island. Linda Pentz Gunter reports on the lies and cover ups about the true scale of the radiation release and its impacts on human health. Today marks 35 years since the meltdown at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Despite the long passage of time, myths and misinformation about the disaster still abound. Many questions may remain permanently unanswered.

The consequences of the TMI disaster were made more serious because, early on, emergency planning officials were repeatedly misinformed about the disaster’s progression and kept in the dark about the need for public protective actions.

Ironically, despite today’s popular ‘too much information’ shorthand, TMI is a story of ‘too little information’. What the public believes about TMI is far removed from what really happened. ‘No one died’

The often repeated nuclear industry line – that“no one died at Three Mile Island” – does not stand the test of fundamental medical scrutiny.

Yet, 35 years later, we are hearing it again, put about by nuclear deniers who also claim that the Chernobyl nuclear explosion harmed a mere handful and that the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan will yield no fatalities.

Given what we know about exposure to radiation, it is medically far more probable that there were multiple fatalities as a result of TMI, as well as non-fatal cancers and other illnesses.

The numbers will be orders of magnitude higher as a result of the even more serious Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear catastrophes. There are other prematurely fatal outcomes too, triggered by stress, dislocation and abandonment. None of these should be callously discounted.

A 2-10 times increase in cancer incidence downwind

The two TMI studies – by Columbia and Pittsburgh Universities – that have perpetuated the ‘no harm’ myth, were conducted under the constraints of a court order that significantly compromised the study findings.

The only independent study, by Dr. Stephen Wing et al., found that lung cancer and leukemia rates were two to 10 times higher downwind of the destroyed Three Mile Island reactor than upwind.

This supports the premise that far more radiation escaped from TMI than has been acknowledged by the authorities.

Within hours of the beginning of the nuclear disaster, onsite radiation monitors went off scale and were shut down because radiation levels exceeded their measurement capacity.

Radiation sickness

In the days following the TMI meltdown, hundreds of local residents reported symptoms consistent with those caused by radiation exposure. These include nausea and vomiting, severe fatigue, diarrhea, hair loss and graying, and a reddening of the skin.

There were anomalies found in animals and plants as well. A number of plants exhibited strange mutations including extra large leaves (gigantism) and double-headed blossoms.

A local veterinarian reported a 10% increase in stillbirths, and a marked increase in the need for Cesarean Sections among sheep, goats and pigs.

He 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. Similar incidences are beginning to be seen around Fukushima.

Information control

However, the most notable parallel between the three disasters is the control of information. By suppressing weather data, evacuations were delayed or directed into the radioactive plume path.

There were deliberate under-estimations of the radiation releases and the true severity of the disaster was hushed up. This was done in order to protect the nuclear industry’s reputation and to allay “panic”.

This meant that public health was compromised to protect the industry’s public image. For example, potassium iodide – which can protect the thyroid – was unavailable to exposed populations around TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima, leading to elevated rates of thyroid problems, including cancer.

Such consequences are avoidable, first and foremost by closing operating reactors and halting construction of new ones.

As Ralph Nader recently put it on Democracy Now!“Nuclear power is uneconomic, it is uninsurable, it is unevacuable, and it is unnecessary. The sooner we phase it out, the sooner we avoid the risk of rendering hundreds of square miles in our country radioactively uninhabitable. It’s not worth the risk in order just to boil water.”