#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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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…

#TOpoli votes to stop #nuclearwaste dump at #LakeHuron!

Even with the irresponsible Fords hogging the headlines with their right winginess, Toronto City Council managed to do something good!  From Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump

City of Toronto Joins Call to Stop Proposed Nuclear Waste Dump beside the Great Lakes

TORONTO, ONTARIO November 14, 2013—A growing number of communities, organizations and citizens are opposing Ontario Power Generation’s plan to build an underground nuclear waste dump (a Deep Geological Repository) approximately 1km from the shore of Lake Huron. Public hearings on the matter were closed on October 30, 2013 by a Joint Review Panel and a Federal government decision is expected in 2014.

Today the City of Toronto unanimously passed Councillor Mike Layton’s motion for a resolution opposing OPG’s proposed nuclear waste repository. Toronto joins Mississauga, Oakville, London, Hamilton and many others organizations, citizens and communities in Ontario, Michigan and Ohio in formally opposing OPG’s plan. ‘It is vitally important to human health, the environment and to the Great Lakes economy that the Great Lakes be protected from the threats of any potential radioactive contamination’ said Councillor Layton, the initiator of the motion. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, an organization of over 100 Canadian and American cities, including Toronto, is formally opposing OPG’s plan. ‘Today the City of Toronto took action to protect the drinking water of our citizens as well as the 40 million people living in the Great Lakes region. We would strongly encourage OPG to explore alternative sites outside of the Great Lakes Basin’ said Councillor Crawford.

Michigan State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood and Representative Sarah Roberts, who are rallying the public and Michigan politicians to oppose the nuclear dump, note ‘Placing a permanent nuclear waste burial facility so close to Lake Huron is ill-advised. If a radioactive leak were to occur, it could be devastating to our economies and to our valuable drinking water sources.’

U.S. Congressmen Dan Kildee, Sander Levin, Gary Peters and John Dingell have written a letter to the Joint Review Panel expressing serious concern. U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow also have urged US Secretary of State John Kerry to ‘encourage the Canadian government to reconsider placing a nuclear waste dump near the shores of Lake Huron.’

‘We are delighted that Canada’s largest city is showing leadership and taking action to protect this irreplaceable fresh water resource’ said Beverly Fernandez, Spokesperson of Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, a non-profit citizens group that launched a campaign to raise awareness about OPG’s plan and a petition that now has almost 42,000 signatures opposing OPG’s proposal. ‘It absolutely defies common sense to bury the most toxic waste humans have ever produced, that remains lethal and dangerous for 100,000 years, approximately 1 km from the drinking water of 40 million people in two countries,’ Fernandez said.

Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump is a non-profit organization comprised of concerned Canadians who believe that the protection of the Great Lakes from buried radioactive nuclear waste is responsible stewardship, and is of national and international importance. In order to protect our precious natural resource, the Great Lakes, our group believes that radioactive nuclear waste should not be buried anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin. We are urging citizens to sign our online petition and to send a message to the Minister of the Environment to stand up for the protection of the Great Lakes.

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)