#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?

 

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About that Chalk River Fiasco…

Remember the thoroughly abusive Stephen Harper knifing at Linda Keen over the nuke facility at Chalk River? Well, now there’s some interesting stuff written about the Chalk River reactor. This pdf, from Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Safety, for example, with the following preamble:

Background:

I have recently completed a document related to the relicensing of Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories.

It is addressed to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and is a submission to CNSC on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew Country.

I have entitled it “Canada’s Nuclear Sacrifice Area” for public consumption, although this title was not included on the CNSC submission.

It includes some eye-opening material on the NRU reactor and the production of medical radioisotopes at Chalk River.

Gordon Edwards.

More Nuke News

Not a lot of people liking President O’s greenwashing of nukes.  This most excellent article in the Guardian dispels the myth that nukes are green.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants. In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits. This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

The uranium-enrichment process also emits greenhouse gases and is highly wasteful. Eighty percent of the ore that goes through the enrichment process ends up as waste. And this is to say nothing of the lye, sulfuric acid, and other caustic agents that must be used to turn the uranium into reactor-ready fuel.

While on the surface, the steam billowing from the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor is less harmful than the toxic smoke that spews from a coal plant, nuclear reactors still create byproducts that are dangerous to human health and welfare. There’s also the huge problem of radioactive nuclear waste, which can stay hot for hundreds of thousands of years. Storing the radioactive waste isn’t just a security threat; there’s potential for radioactive chemicals to leak, as they are in Vermont and at other aging reactors around the country.

It’s clear to me that the US Prezzie doesn’t read P’n’P.  Perhaps you could invite him to do so via this handy form?

The folks at nuclear news have that article available, as well as a fantastic sidebar, The Very Secret Costs of Nuclear Power.  From their site:

Well it is impossible for anyone to estimate the real costs of nuclear power, as only a narrow range of costs are discussed, even where the nuclear industry is supposedly privately owned.

1. The nuclear weapons industry is so connected with nuclear power, and the costs on the nuclear weapons industry are huge.

2. Where the nuclear industry is state owned – e.g. in France, Russia, China, South Korea, taxation, and the costs of electricity are manipulated, and figures given out for nuclear costs are not really reliable.

Secrecy about the nuclear industry is essential anyway, for security reasons. But it is also convenient, as no-one really knows how much it costs for state-owned nuclear facilities to manage nuclear waste. Well, there are ‘cheap’ options used, as we learn from time, with nuclear waste dumping occurring secretly, and without regard for the environment or the people, (usually poor communities, indigenous and rural people.) Eventually someone has to pay for the long-term costs.

Back at home, the nukers are bragging about their exploration in Quebec’s Otish Mountains.

Ditem Explorations /quotes/comstock/11v!dit (CA:DIT 0.08, 0.00, 0.00%) is pleased to report that the 2010 exploration program on the Company’s Otish Mountains uranium property in Quebec is underway. A fully operational camp has been established to accommodate geophysical and drilling crews. Drilling on the first hole began yesterday.

They don’t get that they’re involved in ecological racism. And that sux!  The Quebec no-nukers have been working tirelessly to put an end to nuking the environment.  Check it out.  And here’s a thorough piece from the Dominion about the nuke activity in northern Quebec.

One further focus for criticism is the province’s much-hyped development strategy, known as the “Plan Nord,” which involves targeting government money at selected infrastructure projects favouring principally the resource extraction sector in northern Quebec. According to research conducted by The Dominion, last year’s provincial budget earmarked $130 million for extending Highway 167 by 268km into the Otish Mountains, northeast of the James Bay Cree town of Mistissini. It is in an area without residential communities, but where Vancouver-based Strateco Resources has discovered some of Quebec’s most concentrated uranium deposits.

Finally, here’s another story about Canada’s outrageous and extravagant spending on AECL flowing from the Chalk River Fiasco.

As a result, Ottawa allocated $824-million in the current fiscal year to the problem-plagued nuclear flagship as the government prepares to restructure it and sell its commercial division, according to supplemental estimates released late yesterday.

That’s a 50-per-cent increase from federal spending on AECL in the prior fiscal year. In today’s budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will likely provide hundreds of millions more to support AECL’s operating budget and design work on the advanced Candu reactor and refurbish Chalk River laboratories.

Our tax dollars are being sunk into what the PM himself called a “sinkhole” so that the feds can sell it for next to nothing?  WTF?  It seems that PMS definitely needs to hear from you on this ridiculous, costly venture!  Imagine, were that kind of money to be spent on real green technology…

A stream of nuke news

Grab a coffee or tea.  Find a snack.  Lots of linky news today so this could take a while!

First up:  A Calgary nuke company, Kirrin Resources, is not going to expand its exploration for uranium in Quebec.  That’s good news for Quebec’s citizens.  Not so good for Saskatchewan though.  A few days ago, the company said they’re moving into Saskatchewan.

Kirrin Resources Inc. said it will enter into a 70-30 joint venture with Majesta Resources Inc. on the 36,287-hectare Key Lake Southwest property after agreeing to a deal worth roughly $3.3 million.

Next? A guy who thinks he knows something about nuclear reactors because he once worked at one, is now a nuke promoter.  Read it and weep.

The IFR uses higher energy neutrons — “fast” neutrons — to cause the fuel atoms to split and release their energy. This particular kind of fast reactor can use all the various isotopes of uranium in its fuel load. Therefore, costly enrichment procedures are not needed to make reactor fuel. This reactor also can use the various trans-uranic elements as fuel. This is important. All of the extremely long-lived fission byproducts of pressurized water reactors just happen to be fuel material for this fast neutron reactor.

The non-usable material in used-up IFR fuel has a half life of about 500 years. This is still a long period of time but much more manageable than a period of billions of years. Further, the volume or mass of this material will be considerably less.

It gets better.

Better?  Ya, right!  Where do they find these guys?  How much do they pay them?

More newsHuffPo points to a Mother Jones piece questioning Obama’s recent support for the nuke industry.

The Obama administration has embarked on a high-stakes gamble: devoting billions of dollars to an expansion of nuclear power in the hope of winning Republican votes for a climate bill. But in its eagerness to drum up bipartisan support for one of the hardest sells on Obama’s policy agenda, is the administration turning a blind eye to the financial risk?

Bradford, the former nuclear regulator, observes that if the Georgia reactors alone defaulted, taxpayers could be left with a bill of as much as $8.3 billion. “If the Tea Party folks ever figure that out, the [DOE] building is going to be three floors deep in tea bags,” he says. “This administration desperately needs someone to point out that this emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”

Citizens in the USA ain’t necessarily buying Obama’s nuke dreams.  A US blogger, Greenhoof, calls Obama’s nuke promotion a “greenwashing.” That’s a good word, one I need to consider using more often.  S/he tells it like it is:

President Obama has justified his proposed $55 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors by misrepresenting nuclear reactors as the largest “carbon-free” energy source in the United States.  That’s like saying McDonald’s should be put in charge of a nationwide obesity campaign because it’s the largest restaurant in the U.S. that sells salads.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants.  In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits.  This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

More stuff:  Here’s a little tidbit from Australia, another uranium-producing nation with a strong no-nukes movement.

James Neal Blue who helped devise the Predator unmanned aircraft that are in use in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is the director of a company that bought the Four Mile uranium mine in Australia. Blue is the chairman of Quasar Resources, which is affiliated with General Atomics, a major United States weapons and nuclear energy corporation. General Atomics reportedly holds $700 million in Pentagon contracts. The Four Mile mine is located next to the Beverly Uranium mine, with is owned by another affiliate of General Atomics.

I guess all those pro-nukers like to play in one big tub, eh?  Here’s more on that Ozzie deal.

More CA news:  A Canadian reporter did the math on the Canadian government’s contribution to the nuclear industry and it’s not good!  “Over two years, we’re talking more than $1.1 billion” being spent, about half of it going to the AECL.  Remember the Chalk River Fiasco?

Oy!

Finally, this, from Kazakhstan:

Leading energy and mining firms from Russia, China, Japan, France and Canada have already invested billions here. Kazakhstan, meanwhile, is seeking to leverage its ore into a larger role in the global nuclear industry and has taken a stake in the U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse.

Only the nation’s fledgling environmental movement has dared object, pointing out that Kazakhstan has yet to recover from its days as the Soviet Union’s main atomic test site.

The Soviets conducted 456 nuclear blasts in northeastern Kazakhstan, more than anyone else anywhere in the world. Much of the region remains contaminated, residents suffer elevated rates of cancer and other radiation-related illnesses, and babies continue to be born with deformities.

“Nothing good can come of the world’s push for nuclear energy, and we should understand this better because of our past,” said Mels Eleusizov, a veteran environmentalist who complains that the uranium industry is shrouded in secrecy, with no independent monitoring.

Indeed, nothing good can come from nukes and nukers, no matter how you wash it.

Sorry for the length.  Lots going on these days…

Scientist vanishes without trace

I must’ve missed this in the post-holiday haze.  He’s been missing for a month.  And that frightens me.

http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/768621–scientist-vanishes-without-trace

Scientist vanishes without trace

Adrian Morrow Staff Reporter

On Jan. 18, Lachlan Cranswick left the Chalk River nuclear facility, where he worked, and took a bus to Deep River, the small town on the Ottawa River where he lived.

The 41-year-old physicist, whose job entailed running experiments for the National Research Council, had just finished some work for a researcher overseas and left his findings on his desk, to be mailed later.

Sometime that night or the next morning, he took his garbage bins outside for pickup.

Then, he vanished without a trace.

When he didn’t show up for work for several days and missed a game with the local curling club, of which he was a devoted member, his friends went looking for him.

At his house, his door was unlocked and his car was parked in the garage. His wallet, keys and passport were all there. But Cranswick was nowhere to be found.

Now, a month after he was last seen, police say they have done everything they can to find him, but they still have no idea where he is.

“We’re at the end of all the possible information we have received,” said Const. Darin Faris, the Deep River police officer leading the investigation. “There has been no information from the public that has helped.”

Police originally believed Cranswick had gone for a walk on one of the many trails near his house and got lost, Faris said. However, all the items he usually took with him when going for nature walks – a fanny pack, flashlight, whistle to ward off wildlife and a GPS system – were found in his house.

A search of the area with tracking dogs and a helicopter could find no trace of him. Police checked across the Ottawa River, and searched nearby hospitals. They had no luck.

Police, along with the scientist’s colleagues at the National Research Council, have contacted his acquaintances to see if he had been planning to travel.

Faris said Cranswick is known as a well-organized, regimented man who would be unlikely to take a spontaneous trip without telling anyone. He also points to the work left unmailed on the scientist’s desk as evidence he wasn’t planning to leave.

“If he was going to go away for any length of time, or if he was ending his life, he would have finished it up,” he said.

If Cranswick had been murdered or accidentally killed, Faris said, there would be some physical evidence left behind. Police have found none.

Cranswick grew up in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to England as a young man. He worked as an experimental physicist in Britain before taking up his job in Canada in 2003.

The Neutron Beam Centre in Chalk River is used as a laboratory for scientists from around the world to conduct various experiments and academic research. Cranswick’s job was to help them by running tests. His primary specialty was earth sciences and testing samples of substances to find their molecular structure, said colleague Daniel Banks.

Cranswick’s family declined to comment when contacted in Australia by the Star, but said the scientist’s brother had been in Canada for more than a week looking for him.

Nukers lobbied to have Keen fired?

Remember the Chalk River Scandal?  Remember how we got a taste of just how much Harper hates “uppity women”?  Remember how he treated Linda Keen, how he and his cronies fired her for no real reason?

Well, thanks to intrepid reporter, Greg Weston, of Sun Media, P’n’P has learned that

industry insiders say lobbyists had long been trying to get rid of Keen for reasons that had nothing to do with medicine. Their clients were companies that stand to make huge money from the next generation of Canadian nuclear power reactors called the Advanced Candu, or ACR-1000. Rightly or wrongly, it seems, the iron-fisted Keen was getting in the way.

Keen would not agree to conduct a special review of AECL’s new toy design.  But, exit Keen and enter Binder and everything changed!

Almost immediately after Binder took over from Keen, the supposedly independent, quasi-judicial safety commission reversed itself and agreed to conduct a pre-project review of Atomic Energy’s new ACR-1000 reactor design.

Seven months later, the commission concluded its review, finding the new Candu complies with “regulatory requirements and meets the expectations for new nuclear power plants in Canada.”

It’s  like, well, it’s like MAGIC! Or something, eh?

Thanks to BCer in Toronto for pointing me to the article!