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.

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

#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?

 

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…

Japan’s ex-PM Koizumi urges Prime Minister Abe to abandon nuclear power

From Reuters

Japan’s ex-PM Koizumi urges Prime
Minister Abe to abandon nuclear power
 
by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Edited Robert Birsel
Reuters News Agency, Tue, Nov 12 2013

Nov 12 (Reuters) – Former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday urged his old deputy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to abandon nuclear power, adding to pressure on the government to re-consider its position on unpopular atomic energy.

Koizumi was one of Japan’s most popular prime ministers before he stepped down in 2006 and his comments carry influence among the general public and within the ruling bloc, led by his old Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Nuclear power has been contentious since a power plant in the Fukushima region north of Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake and tsunami in 2011, triggering explosions, meltdowns and the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

“If the LDP decided on abandoning nuclear power, all the parties would be for the policy as the opposition is already supporting it,” Koizumi told a news conference.

“What a magnificent and fantastic project it would be. He can get to use his power to utilise nature as resources. There are no other prime ministers who are as lucky as he is.”

Koizumi supported nuclear power when he was prime minister and his calls in recent months for the country to give it up are a headache for the government.

Abe aims to reduce nuclear power as much as possible but believes it would be irresponsible to give it up straight away because that would threaten a stable power supply.

Koizumi said if money used to build nuclear plants was spent on renewable energy, it would spur a range of technological development.

More than two and a half years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, is struggling to stop radiation leaks.

Koizumi said Abe could determine Japan’s position on the issue.

“Even within the LDP, there are quite a few lawmakers who at heart are leaning towards the zero-nuclear policy. A prime minister’s power is enormous. If he proposed the zero-nuclear policy, no objections would emerge.”

Asked about Koizumi’s call, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated the government intended stick to its policy of gradually reducing nuclear power’s ratio in the country’s energy mix.

“The government believes it is extremely important to administer its energy policy in a responsible manner,” Suga said.

Abe has been riding high in opinion polls due to the success of his economic policy. But energy policy could prove to be his Achilles’ heel as a survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily showed on Tuesday that 60 percent of those polled supported Koizumi’s zero-nuclear proposal. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Quebec to shut down its only nuclear reactor

YAAAAAAY!!!

Quebec to shut down its only nuclear reactor

Quebec’s new government has confirmed it won’t proceed with the multibillion-dollar refurbishment of the province’s lone nuclear reactor and will instead shut it down.

A spokesman for incoming premier Pauline Marois gave the confirmation Tuesday, one day after the first public screening of a new film on the reactor that raises questions about its safety for people living nearby.

The government of outgoing Premier Jean Charest decided in 2008 to rebuild the Gentilly-2 nuclear plant at a cost of about $2 billion, but stopped work after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

The PQ has committed since 2009 to close the generating station, which is located in Bécancour, Que., across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières.

Full story

 

Tritium in the Twilight Zone

From:

Peterborough Pollution:
Tritium in the Twilight Zone
                                                                         
by Gordon Edwards, September 8, 2012
 
A Twilight Zone Fable 
(1) Picture, if you will, a small-town sheriff who sits dozing in his office for 18 years, ignoring alarms and wake-up calls, yet bragging that he will “never compromise public safety”.
(2) Imagine that same sheriff posting a speed limit of 34 million kilometres per hour, then claiming that no one in town is ever guilty of speeding because no one can possibly exceed that limit. 
(3) Now imagine that same individual freeing dangerous offenders, already safely secured in locked cells, letting them out through the back door at night so they can go about their nefarious business unobstructed. 
Strange events? Not really. 
You have just entered the Tritium Twilight Zone!

 

Radioactive Pollution in Peterborough
The people of Peterborough are experiencing an analogous series of Alice-in-Wonderland occurrences, where the role of sheriff is played by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
This story deals with releases of radioactive tritium into the Peterborough environment. The source of pollution is a factory at the Peterborough Airport called SSI (Shield Source Incorporated). 
SSI manufactures glass tubes filled with radioactive tritium gas to make them glow in the dark.  Tritium — an unwanted radiotoxic byproduct of Ontario’s electricity-producing nuclear reactors — is notoriously difficult to contain.  For over 20 years SSI has been releasing, on average, more than a trillion becquerels of tritium into the environment every day.  (A Becquerel is a unit of radioactivity; it indicates that one radioactive disintegration is taking place every second.)

 

The Fable Illustrated with Facts
(1)  On August 24 2012, SSI issued a report (“Root Cause Investigation, Tritium Stack Emissions Reporting Discrepoancies”) revealing that for the last 18 years, the amount of tritium released annually has been 5 to 10 times greater than the amount reported to the nuclear regulator, CNSC. Indeed, yearly emissions of this radiotoxic gas from the SSI facility have been greater than those from any nuclear reactor in Canada – in 2011, about 1500 trillion becquerels per year.  That’s much higher than the very lax emissions standard of 500 trillion becquerels per year specified in the current CNSC licence. 

 

Over the years, there were several indications that SSI’s releases were higher than announced, but the numbers or the equipment were always “fixed” to hide the discrepancy.  For two decades CNSC failed to verify the validity of SSI’s reported emissions – and misled the public about this.  The CNSC’s “record of decision” from its 2009 public hearing on SSI says “CNSC staff stated that it conducts its own verifications to ensure that the monitoring data is reliable and that the monitoring program in place is acceptable.”
Protecting people and the environment from radioactive pollution is CNSC’s mandate, and CNSC claims to “never compromise safety”. But the record shows that CNSC has been asleep on the job for 18 years.

 

(2)  After SSI’s very large accidental release of 150 trillion becquerels of tritium gas in just a few minutes in February 2010, CNSC staff reported that this was “far below the licence release limits of 34 million TBq/year.”  [TBq = terabecquerel = one trillion becquerels]  
How could CNSC possibly make this statement, when the release limit is 500 trillion becquerels? 
Conveniently, the CNSC has included TWO release limits in SSI’s current licence – the 500 trillion becquerel limit calculated by the CNSC itself,  and a 34 MILLION trillion Becquerel “derived” limit calculated by SSI (which by the way was the ONLY limit prior to 2009!)  The far higher limit allows the CNSC to claim that SSI’s radioactive gas releases – whether “routine” or accidental” – are of no concern.
But that is 10,000 times higher than the yearly tritium releases from any nuclear reactor in Canada — a “limit” so enormous that it would be impossible for SSI or any other facility to exceed.  

 

Setting such a limit for tritium is like setting a speed limit of 34 million kph for cars, knowing that no vehicle will ever go that fast.

 

CNSC vows to keep radiation exposures and radioactive releases “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” – it’s called the “ALARA” principle.  But the Peterborough experience shows that CNSC prefers to follow the ‘Tritium LITE’ principle — by invoking a tritium “Limit Impossible To Exceed”.  (No polluter can exceed the speed of LITE!)  And CNSC seems to be following another unspoken rule, the ALANN principle: radioactive pollution is permissible “As Long As Nobody Notices”.

 

(3)  SSI buys its radioactive tritium from Darlington’s Tritium Removal Facility (TRF), which Ontario Power Generation (OPG) built in 1990 to isolate, sequester — and, in effect, imprison this radioactive pollutant in order to prevent it from further contaminating workers, the public or the environment.  
This tritium is man-made.  CANDU reactors use non-radioactive heavy water as moderator and coolant.  As the plants age there is a steady build-up of radioactive tritium within the heavy water – and as tritium concentrations go up, so do radiotoxic tritium exposures to workers and to the environment. So OPG periodically removes tritium from the heavy water and stores it as radioactive waste in the TRF.
    “To help keep workers safe, and to minimize the 
      amount of tritium going into the environment, 
      a tritium removal facility was opened at the 
      Darlington site in 1990. This plant extracts tritium 
      from heavy water used in OPG’s nuclear reactors. 
      The tritium is safely stored in stainless steel 
      containers within a concrete vault.”
                             http://www.opg.com/power/nuclear/darlington/
However, CNSC gives SSI a licence to UNDO what the TRF does!  SSI is allowed to liberate tritium from OPG’s carefully engineered prison at TRF and spread that radioactive waste material far and wide, fabricating radioactive signs that are sent all over the world — many of them ending up in landfills — while spilling huge quantities of tritium into the Peterborough environment. 
We believe such counterproductive activity is irresponsible.  It should not be permitted, let alone licensed.  Tritium light manufacturing and SSI should be shut down permanently.

 

Conclusion
The Peterborough experience with tritium highlights a chronic lack of political oversight and public accountability in the nuclear field in Canada.  It reveals that CNSC is inadequate as a protector of people and the environment. And it underscores the need for a National Inquiry into the Future of Nuclear Power in Canada, as recommended by 65 organizations across Canada.

 

For more information on tritium pollution: http://ccnr.org
For the SSI Tritium Releases Report: http://tinyurl.com/9d2e874
For more on the proposed Inquiry: http://ccnr.org/Media_Release_11_03_31.pdf
 
Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President,
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Montreal.
 
===================================================================
Tritium operations at SSI have been temporarily shut down since April 2012, when it was first revealed that radioactive emissions had been vastly underestimated for the years 2010 and 2011 — so much so that SSI was operating in clear violation of its CNSC licence during those two years.
==========================================================
 

Ado in Saskatoon

Some Senators at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon want the Chair of the Board of Governors to resign. She serves on the Board of the nuclear giant, Cameco.

The senators also say lawyer Nancy Hopkins’s position as a board member for Cameco Corp. puts her in a conflict of interest chairing a search committee for a new university president.

In a letter sent to the university’s secretary and board vice-chair earlier this year, environmental lawyer and senator Stefania Fortugno points to equity Hopkins has at stake that rides on Cameco’s performance. Fortugno questions whether Hopkins’s role is connected to the university’s increasing focus on nuclear research.

“Any time that the University of Saskatchewan enlarges the role of the nuclear sciences on campus, through the appointment of faculty chairs, or establishing a new $30-million nuclear research centre and allocates scarce educational resources to the same, the share prices of Cameco Corporation correspondingly increase,” the letter says.

Cameco is everywhere in Saskatoon; it’s frightening. I’m with the Senators on this one.

Successful Slovakian No-Nukes Campaign (& More)

The Slovakian Parliament responded favourably to a petition from the people of Slovakia.  Environmentalists organized a petition drive to give local citizens a stronger voice.

This week the campaign was victorious when, in a momentous decision, the Slovak parliament agreed on legal changes to geological and mining laws to give more power and control to local communities, municipal and regional authorities. This will allow them stop or limit geological research of uranium deposits and to stop proposed uranium mining.

The pro-nukers won’t be too happy about that, I’m sure.  But hey, they’re watching the markets.  And the nukers are wetting their pants about Cameco’s move back to full operation by 2013.  They really do think they can sell nuclear as green.  Scary, huh?

More and more, however, people are stepping up and saying that nukes are not green, nukes won’t work to solve our energy woes, nukes kill.  Why, then, do the nukers persist?