Nuke fallout & the industry grinds on

A couple of interesting items landed in the PnP mailbox this weekend.

Further to the Fukushima fallout comes this story of radioactive tuna.

Every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has shown to be contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. Every single one.

 

But you won’t hear about that in the msm, even though it was expected a year ago.

Less than two weeks after the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster, Michael Kane, an investigative journalist, reported, “In the wake of the continuing nuclear tragedy in Japan, the United States government is still moving quickly to increase the amounts of radiation the population can “safely” absorb by raising the safe zone for exposure to levels designed to protect the government and nuclear industry more than human life.”

The radiation has absolutely reached the shores of North America.  Water samples from across the continent have tested positive for unsafe levels of radioactivity.  The levels exceeded federal drinking water thresholds, known as maximum contaminant levels, or MCL, by as much as 181 times.”This means that the complete ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean is now poisoned with radiation and we aren’t being warned.

 

And still, the deadly nuke industry carries on.

Candu Energy is hopeful about selling Canada’s first nuclear reactors in years after Romanian and Chinese state-owned companies signed a letter of intent to invest in and develop two reactors in Romania.

The subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin (TSX:T.SNC, Stock Forum) said Wednesday that the new units would be built on the Cernavoda site where initial construction was halted in the early 1990s.

Encouraging news!

It’s always good to add a little good news to one’s day!

The World Bank and United Nations on Wednesday appealed for billions of dollars to provide electricity for the poorest nations but said there would be no investment in nuclear power.

“We don’t do ,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim as he and UN leader Ban Ki-moon outlined efforts to make sure all people have access to electricity by 2030.

 

And, in case I missed this one, I’ll add it now, too!

Nuclear reactors are not a viable source of new power in the West, Morningstar analysts conclude in a report this month to institutional investors.

Nuclear’s “enormous costs, political and popular opposition, and regulatory uncertainty” render new reactors infeasible even in regions where they make economic sense, according to Morningstar’s Utilities Observer report for November.

“Aside from the two new nuclear projects in the U.S., one in France, and a possible one in the U.K., we think new-build nuclear in the West is dead,” Morningstar analysts Mark Barnett and Travis Miller say in the report.

This view puts Morningstar on the same page as former Exelon CEO John Rowe, who said in early 2012 that new nuclear plants “don’t make any sense right now” and won’t become economically viable for the forseeable future.

 

Real reasons to hope for an end to nuclear energy.

Proposed Lake Huron Nuclear Waste Dump

 Readers from around the Great Lakes region might want to take a closer look at these media stories, provided by Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR).
CANADIAN – London Area
(1) Video clip from London local news:
(2) Article in local London community news outlet:
“Don’t Bury Waste Near Our Water Supply”
 
AMERICAN – National
(3) AP “Big Story”: Nuclear Waste Burial Debate Produces Odd Alliances
(4) From the US publication “The Hill”
“Nuclear Waste Burial Site Near Great Lakes Attracts Debate”

Some Poetry & Some Politics

I was pleased to find some political poetry, specifically about Fukushima today.  It’s fitting for this blog, anyway.  An excerpt:

 

Fukushima Man

by Jon Rappoport

So there I was
in one of those giant discount stores
trying on a new pair of pants in the dressing room

a cool neutral voice said
“changing your underwear is politics
and by the way when was the last time
you cut your toenails
wearing or not wearing a watch is politics
that mole near your left knee is political
the calcium deposit on your right ankle is political
the way you look at yourself in the mirror is political
those three years of your life in the 60s we can’t account for
are political”

The curtain brushed aside and a tall naked woman walked in
she ran a black instrument over the new pants
-a loud buzz-
“they’re radioactive,” she said “testicular cancer in three months
try the pink drawstring sweat pants instead”
she withdrew

the neutral voice picked up…
“you’re a month late on your appointment for a dental cleaning
you haven’t changed your oil in a year
your health plan will be canceled next week”

Read the full poem.

 

I can only imagine the fear people living in Japan might feel as a result of the Fukushima disaster.  No one can be happy about the dangers of removing the fuel rods, either.  The second in Reactor 4 pool will be removed today.  No one’s really talking about it. And no one’s really talking about the disaster and the plume that’s making its way to North America.  There seems to be a media blackout. Perhaps, now that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is there, we’ll hear more.

A team of 19 experts from the IAEA and other bodies will tour the plant on Wednesday and evaluate Tepco’s fuel extraction process at the No. 4 reactor and its handling of contaminated water. It concludes its review on Dec 4.

“They must look into Tepco’s overall management of the site,” Masashi Goto, a retired Toshiba’ nuclear engineer and critic of Tepco. “They shouldn’t just look at each little issue. They should look at the organizational challenges at Tepco that have created the recent string of incidents.”

I hope we hear more about creating a nuclear-free world where disasters such as this can never take place.  Going with alternative energy sources would be a wise start.

Renewable energy could change the energy business. While some large-scale organizations will always be part of the energy industry, we are seeing the start of decentralized, distributed generation of energy. Although the conventional wisdom tells us that solar power, battery technology, and smart grids are far in the future, we are only a breakthrough or two away from a new age of decentralized energy technology. While none of us can predict the future, and technological breakthroughs cannot be assumed, the risk of nuclear power is not difficult to predict.

The price of solar energy continues to come down, as the number of solar cells continues to grow. Breakthroughs in nanotechnology have the potential to shrink the size of these cells, making it possible to imagine smaller, more inexpensive installations of solar arrays. While some of the discussion of solar technology imagines utility-scale centralized power stations, my own view is that improved solar cells coupled with improved battery technology makes it possible to imagine a far more decentralized approach to energy generation.

Let’s do it, ok?

Uranium Industry’s Impact on Community & Safety

From the Media Co-op, Uranium’s Chilling Effects

Not only is Dale Smith a soft-spoken fisherman and wild rice grower, he is also a dedicated community activist who is taking two of the world’s largest uranium mining companies to court. Smith recently filed a lawsuit together with 38 people and organizations to fight back against a $200 million agreement that he says will effectively muzzle opposition to future uranium mines.

“What I’m seeing and experiencing now is that there’s a silencing,” Smith, a lifelong Métis resident of the northern village of Pinehouse, told The Dominion. “I don’t think people really truly understand the significance of what happened to my community.”

The uranium industry is rapidly expanding its sphere of control in northern Saskatchewan, and the impacts of its widening footprint aren’t limited to the lands and waters. Residents of affected communities are speaking out against an increasing corporate influence that is altering local governance and diminishing opportunities for critical public participation.

Pinehouse residents became very active when the threat of the community becoming a nuclear waste disposal site became real.  The Committee for Future Generations worked hard to involve citizens and the greater public in their struggle to exclude Pinehouse from the list of possible locations.  And they succeeded. But the Town of Creighton saw the matter in a different light and welcomed the possibility of more jobs in the area.  It is on the shortlist.

Regardless where the Nuclear Waste Management Organization decides to dump the waste the question remains, can it be done safely over the course of the waste’s lifetime, which far surpasses the life of any one generation of humans.

From the Committee for Future Generation’s research files regarding the hazards of Nuclear Waste:

Hazards of Nuclear Waste

http://nuclear-news.net/2013/04/05/internal-radiation-emitters-cesium-and-iodine-far-more-dangerous-than-external-exposure/

http://www.llrc.org/health/healthframes.ht

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UovlbzFTBXE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbnyjW6OC7I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=omXT5slKHGs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pjidsOytZ8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJZkz318tjI&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLCE16FC12321E2E4E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv73MfgZWdg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saozSVjPmOE&feature=fvwrel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdqmDvvepvE&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnouqSKZP1w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb5HItRpDY8&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL57399D593043DFA2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omXT5slKHGs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPydmupt38U&feature=related

Pandas as thanks?

Interesting study here.

China’s practice of gifting and loaning giant pandas has been given new impetus as a result of damage to panda-conservation facilities caused by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and China’s rise as an economic power. We suggest that a new, third phase of panda diplomacy is under way that is distinct from the previous two. Phase 1 during the Mao era (in the 1960s and 1970s) took the form of China gifting pandas to build strategic friendships. Phase 2 followed Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978 when gifts became gift loans involving a capitalist lease model based on financial transactions. In the emerging phase 3, panda loans are associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources and technology and symbolize China’s willingness to build guanxi—namely, deep trade relationships characterized by trust, reciprocity, loyalty, and longevity.

Documents accessed via Freedom of Information requests show that PM Harper requested the pandas and that the Chinese government wanted a high level visit to the country to announce it.

“Although the approval has been granted, China has advised that a public announcement should wait for a suitable occasion (i.e. a senior level visit). As China has already granted approval for the loan, the risk of a change in this arrangement is low and the loan process is expected to proceed without incident.”

Just so happens that the uranium issue fit the bill.

According to Canada’s Postedia [sic] News, in 2012 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced China would be loaning Canada two pandas on the same trip that he signed an agreement expanding Canadian uranium exports to China.

The pandas do make Harper look good to the nondiscerning.  But the relationship with China is complex.

And dangerous.  More uranium will be mined and shipped.  And more people will be harmed.

#Nuclear Obfuscation?

West coast people might be wondering about this horrible headline from Counterpunch:
A Global Threat

Fukushima Fallout Damaged the Thyroids of California Babies

by CHRIS BUSBY

A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.

 

Counter that with this and one can see how people might be torn:

Ontario nuclear reactor shutdown triggers medical isotope shortage

HELEN BRANSWELL

TORONTO — The Canadian Press

An unplanned shutdown of the aging Chalk River nuclear reactor has the country on the verge of a major shortage of medical isotopes, the president of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine said Friday.

Dr. Norman Laurin said the forced shutdown of production at the Chalk River facility comes at a time when two of the world’s three other major producers of medical isotopes are also out of operation.

 

The Doctor incorrectly identifies the problem as being the shutdowns.  A thorough reading of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility’s documents suggests that the  larger problem is AECL.  Before nuclear fission was discovered, there were other ways to make the radioisotopes necessary for imaging.

…radio-isotopes have been used in nuclear medicine, industry and scientific research, for a very long time, starting around 1900 — half a century before the first nuclear reactors were built.

At first, the radio-isotopes utilized were naturally-occurring ones such as radium-226, radium-224, radon-222, polonium-210, tritium (hydrogen-3), carbon-14, et cetera. Even today, “radium needles” and “radon seeds” are used to shrink cancerous tumours, and polonium-210 is used in industrial devices to eliminate static electricity. These naturally occurring radioactive substances have nothing to do with the operation of nuclear reactors.

Later, in the 1940s, when the first particle accelerators were built (beginning with the cyclotron of Ernest Lawrence in California) a host of artificial radio-isotopes became available — produced not by the fissioning of uranium, not by neutron bombardment inside a nuclear reactor, but simply by colliding a beam of accelerated subatomic particles with various target materials.

And as Politics’n’Poetry has discussed in the past, other new, non-nuclear ways have since been developed.  But the  nuclear industry’s stranglehold on the market prevails.

Politics’n’Poetry has discussed the Chalk River facility in the past.  Visitors may want to refresh their memories regarding it.  Of particular interest is the paper presented  by Dr. Gordon Edwards to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the body that licenses reactors.  Have these been addressed?  Ask your MP.

It seems there’s a shortage of isotopes every time the aging facility has to shut down.  Isn’t it time to invest in alternatives?

 

Developing: Earthquake During #Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal

We knew it was going to be a very risky job, perhaps even foolhardy, removing the fuel rods from the Fukushima reactors.

…since an earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi Plant in March of 2011, the fuel rods at Reactor Number Four have been in dangerously delicate shape. They can’t heat up, be exposed to air or break without releasing deadly gas, but the cooling pool they’ve been resting in is leaky and corroded by seawater and could never withstand another tremor or quake.

Starting any day now, Tokyo Electric or TEPCO, is going to begin plucking more than 1,500 brittle and potentially damaged fuel assemblies out of where they are and placing them in new casks.

Each assembly contains some 50-70 spent fuel rods, weighs around 660 pounds and measures fifteen feet long. And I did mention the pool is 100 feet up?

Operations like this are usually done by robot, but here it has to be done by hand because the rods are out of place and the pool’s still littered with junk.

Foolhardy because today that work began. And an earthquake hit Japan.

Developing:

A strong earthquake has struck Japan’s coast south of the Fukushima nuclear plant currently undergoing a dangerous removal of highly radioactive Unit 4 fuel rods, according to online reports.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that a 5.7 magnitude earthquake has struck Japan 25 kilometers southeast of Toba, releasing the following tweet:

Strong earthquake, NEAR S. COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN, Nov-18 19:10 UTC, 0 #quake tweets/min, http://t.co/jAAXkTfU5k

MSNreports

The quake struck at around 04:10am local time (0610 AEDT) on Tuesday off the eastern Honshu coastline, 25km from the city of Toba and 37km from the city of Ise, according to the US Geological Survey which monitors earthquakes worldwide.

The tremor struck far down at a depth of 332km, USGS added. There are no initial reports of damage.

And this happens as Saskatchewan digs more of the Yellow Monster out of the ground.

Are the vehicles transporting nuke waste safe?

Two interesting tidbits today:

Nuclear waste could pass through Niagara

Niagara could be the road of choice for nuclear waste bound for South Carolina.

Liquid highly-enriched uranium from Canada’s Chalk River research reactor could be trucked through here on the way to be processed in South Carolina, says a report bound for regional council’s planning committee next week.

St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan, a former chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, said public safety is a concern. The organization has opposed shipping nuclear waste by boat through the Great Lakes but has no stance on ground transport.

McMullan said approving agencies on both sides of the border must show there’s no risk.

“I think the onus is on the approving agencies to ensure there will be no risk to the public, which includes no risk to our waterways,” he said.

But the public shouldn’t be concerned about the waste, whether it is carried by trucks or trains, said Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority chairman Bruce Timms.

Read full article

 

But maybe the residents of the Niagara area should be worried, at least a little.

Trucks with radioactive cargo fail inspections

Since 2010, more than one truck in seven carrying radioactive material has been pulled off the road by Ontario ministry of transportation inspectors for failing safety or other requirements.
 
The information is contained in a notice quietly filed with a panel studying a proposal to store low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste in deep underground near Kincardine.
 
The information filed doesn’t specify what sort of radioactive cargos the trucks were carrying. In theory, it could have been anything from uranium fuel for nuclear reactors, to radioactive isotopes for medical use.
Personally, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
 
A spokesman for Ontario Power Generation said that none of its nuclear shipments has failed a vehicle inspection.
 
“We have zero tolerance” for failed inspections, Neal Kelly said. “We’ve got no infractions. Period.”
 
What the information does show is that since 2010, inspectors have examined 102 trucks carrying “Class 7 Dangerous Goods (Radioactive material.)”
 
Of those, 16 were placed “out-of-service,” which means the vehicle “must be repaired or the violation corrected before it is allowed to proceed.”

Viewer Beware!

A pro-nuke video featuring “former” anti-nuclear activists is making the rounds.

Pittsylvania Co., VA– Two local groups aimed at bringing uranium mining to Pittsylvania County will be showing a movie this weekend to inform the public of its benefits.

Read about it here.

PANDORA’S PROMISE asks whether the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty. In his controversial new film, Stone tells the intensely personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have undergone a radical conversion from being fiercely anti to strongly pro-nuclear energy, risking their careers and reputations in the process. Stone exposes this controversy within the environmental movement head-on with stories of defection by heavy weights including Stewart Brand, Richard Rhodes, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Michael Shellenberger. Undaunted and fearlessly independent, PANDORA’S PROMISE is a landmark work that is forever changing the conversation about the myths and science behind this deeply emotional and polarizing issue.

Pro-nuke film reviewers love it.

Bored by the tranche of lefty-liberal journalistic documentaries which attempt to uncover the manifold ills of the modern world and bring sickening tyrants to justice? If so, Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise could be the documentary you. It’s not a film which tells us something we already know from reading the newspapers in an emotive and informative way, it’s a film which dares to challenge ingrained perceptions and offers radical new perspectives on a taboo subject.

Others do not.  Beyond Nuclear published a report in direct response to the film.

Pandora’s Promise, is a new pro-nuclear propaganda documentary released theatrically in the US in July 2013. It is funded in part by individuals with a vested interest in seeing the development of new reactors and is seemingly a vehicle by which to raise the profile of the anti-environmental Oakland think tank, The Breakthrough Institute, whose personnel feature prominently in the film. Despite the film’s premise and early claim that it features “a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists” who now support nuclear energy, no one in the film ever led the anti-nuclear movement. Nor was any credible, independent scientific or medical professional with expertise in the areas covered in the film consulted or featured. Beyond Nuclear has bird-dogged the film from the beginning, and has produced numerous critiques. We have also published a definitive report – Pandora’s False Promises: Busting the pro-nuclear propaganda – and a two-page synopsis. These documents address virtually all of the myths, lies and omissions typically found in pro-nuclear rhetoric and are intended to address these long after Pandora’s Promise fades into deserved oblivion.

The good news is that when CNN aired it, few watched.

CNN’s airing last night of the documentary Pandora’s Promise delivered a wet 345,000 total viewers in its 9-11 PM time slot and just 145,000 among adults 25-54. The heavily promoted Robert Stone-directed film was way, way down from the 1.36 million that CNN Films’ Blackfish drew in total viewers in the same slot two weeks beforehand.

It seems folks are more interested in films about killer whales than pro-nuclear propaganda.  Thank goodness!

May the film fade into obscurity…