Nuclear Power Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Nuclear Power Media Articles in Major Media
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An 85-year-old nun and two fellow Catholic peace activists who splashed blood on the walls of a bunker holding weapons-grade uranium — exposing vulnerabilities in the nation's nuclear security — were wrongly convicted of sabotage, an appeals court ruled Friday. At issue was whether Sister Megan Rice, 66-year-old Michael Walli and 59-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed injured national security when they cut through several fences to break into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July 2012. A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that they did not. Once there, the trio had hung banners, prayed and hammered on the outside wall of the bunker to symbolize a Bible passage that refers to the end of war: "They will beat their swords into ploughshares." "If a defendant blew up a building used to manufacture components for nuclear weapons ... the government surely could demonstrate an adverse effect on the nation's ability to attack or defend," the opinion says. "But vague platitudes about a facility's 'crucial role in the national defense' are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage." Rice wrote in a letter to The Associated Press in March that "the important message of the appeal is the illegality of nuclear weapons, which are sabotaging the planet."
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In a ghostly reminder of the Bay Area's nuclear heritage, scientists announced Thursday they have captured the first clear images of a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The USS Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. The Navy deliberately sank the contaminated ship in 1951 south of the Farallon Islands. The rediscovery of the USS Independence offers a fascinating glimpse into American military history and raises old questions about the safety of the Farallon Islands Radioactive Waste Dump ... where the federal government dumped nearly 48,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste between 1946 and 1970. The Independence was sunk on Jan. 26, 1951, and came to rest 2,600 feet below the ocean surface. The Navy withheld the location of the wreck for decades, but the U.S. Geological Survey found its likely resting place while mapping the sea floor in 1990. Retired judge and state legislator Quentin Kopp, who many years ago demanded research into the Navy's disposal of radioactive material off Northern California before 1970, said Thursday that the question of whether the waste posed a risk to humans and wildlife was never resolved.
Note: A CNN article and a CBS article fail to mention anything about the Farallon Islands Radioactive Waste Dump and CNN doesn't even mention radioactive material on the ship. Neither mentions the many drums of radioactive material are buried within the ship. Do you think the media is complicit in hiding key information regarding public health? For verifiable information that this happens much more than people think, read this two-page summary.
Weeks before Pacific Gas and Electric Co. released a long-awaited seismic report about the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant last year, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials had already drafted talking points declaring the plant safe from earthquakes, Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday. An internal commission memo showed that the agency was planning to tell the public that “the NRC had reviewed the report, and it had concluded Diablo Canyon was seismically safe” — before even seeing the report. Boxer ... used it to illustrate what she called the commission’s lax attitude toward seismic safety, even in the wake of the 2011 meltdown of three reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Her comments shone new light on a controversy that has simmered since the seismic safety report’s release last fall. PG&E released the report on Sept. 10. That same day, the commission — the federal agency that regulates nuclear plants — formally rejected complaints from one of its own former inspectors at Diablo Canyon, who had argued that the plant should be closed. Several newly discovered faults nearby, he said, could produce more violent shaking than Diablo was designed to withstand. Environmental groups ... accused the commission and PG&E of colluding to release both the report and the rejection of the inspector’s complaint on the same day, generating positive press about Diablo’s safety.
Note: Why would Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials ignore their responsibility to protect the public from the potentially disastrous combination of earthquakes and nuclear power plants?
The cleanup of Japan’s devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crossed an important milestone on Saturday when the plant’s operator announced it had safely removed the radioactive fuel from the most vulnerable of the four heavily damaged reactor buildings. The company, known as Tepco, had put a high priority on removing the No. 4 unit’s some 1,500 fuel rods because they sat in a largely unprotected storage pool on an upper floor of the building, which had been gutted by a powerful hydrogen explosion. By succeeding in the technically difficult task of extracting those rods, Tepco eliminated one of the plant’s most worrisome vulnerabilities. It took almost four years to reach this goal. The aging Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a triple meltdown after a huge earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, knocking out vital cooling systems. Tepco still faces the far more challenging task of removing the ruined fuel cores from the three reactors that melted down in the accident. These reactors were so damaged — and their levels of radioactivity remain so high — that removing their fuel is expected to take decades. Some experts have said it may not be possible at all, and have called instead for simply encasing those reactors in a sarcophagus of thick concrete. The fuel cores from those three reactors, Nos. 1-3, are believed to have melted like wax [into] lumps on the bottom of the reactor vessels.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the disastrous pitfalls of nuclear power from reliable major media sources.
The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oakridge, Tennessee, is supposed to be impregnable. But on July 28th 2012, an 84 year-old nun called Sister Megan Rice broke through a series of high-security fences surrounding the plant and reached a uranium storage bunker at the center of the complex. She was accompanied by Greg Boertje-Obed (57) and Michael Walli (63). The trio ... sat down for a picnic. When the security guards arrived they offered them some bread. Two years later, Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were sentenced to federal prison terms of between three and five years, plus restitution in the amount of $53,000 for damage done to the plant - far in excess of the estimates produced at their trial. When questioned about her actions at her trial by Judge Amul Thapar, Rice told him that her actions were intended to draw attention to the US stockpile of nuclear weapons that she and her co-defendants felt was illegal and immoral. They also wanted to expose the ineffectiveness of the security systems that were supposed to protect these weapons from theft or damage. “We were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear weapons have already caused,” wrote Rice afterwards in a letter to her supporters, “and we realize that all life on earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental or technical error. Our action exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public.” All three defendants were found guilty of “sabotage of the national defense.” Just before they were sentenced, Rice made a statement to the court which ended like this: “We have to speak, and we’re happy to die for that. To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor that you could give me. Please don’t be lenient with me. It would be an honor for that to happen.”
Note: If you would like to receive copies of Sister Rice’s letters to her supporters, please email [email protected] Mailing addresses for Sister Rice and her co-defendants can be found here and here. You can also sign a petition requesting their pardon.
A sprawling new plant [near Kansas City] in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines. It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. Supporters of arms control, as well as some of President Obama’s closest advisers, say their hopes for the president’s vision have turned to baffled disappointment as the modernization of nuclear capabilities has become an end unto itself. “A lot of it is hard to explain,” said Sam Nunn, the former senator whose writings on nuclear disarmament deeply influenced Mr. Obama.
Note: Consider the possibility the Obama, shortly after becoming president, may have received a death threat to his children if he didn't comply with the desires of powerful, greedy forces which want everlasting war on our planet. The trillion-dollar war industry has no qualms threatening anyone who gets in the way of their profits. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources and read what a top US general had to say about how he was manipulated.
A 55-gallon drum of nuclear waste, buried in a salt shaft 2,150 feet under the New Mexico desert, violently erupted late on Feb. 14 and spewed mounds of radioactive white foam. The flowing mass, ... laced with plutonium, went airborne, traveled up a ventilation duct to the surface and delivered ... radiation doses to 21 workers. The accident contaminated the nation's only dump for nuclear weapons waste ... and gave the nation's elite ranks of nuclear chemists a mystery they still cannot unravel. Six months after the accident, the exact chemical reaction that caused the drum to burst is still not understood. Indeed, the Energy Department has been unable to precisely identify the chemical composition of the waste in the drum. The accident at the facility near Carlsbad, N.M., known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is likely to cause at least an 18-month shutdown and possibly a closure that could last several years. A preliminary Energy Department investigation found more than 30 safety lapses at the plant, including technical shortcomings and failures in the overall approach to safety. The accident raises tough questions about the Energy Department's ability to safely manage the nation's stockpiles of deadly nuclear waste. "The accident was a horrific comedy of errors," said James Conca, a scientific advisor and expert on the WIPP. "This was the flagship of the Energy Department, the most successful program it had. The ramifications of this are going to be huge. Heads will roll."
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear weapons dangers news articles from reliable major media sources.
Reindeer farms and grazing Holstein cows dot a vast stretch of rolling green pasture here on Japan's northern tip. Underground it's a different story. Workers and scientists have carved a sprawling laboratory deep below this sleep dairy town that, despite government reassurances, some of Horonobe's 2,500 residents fear could turn their neighborhood into a nuclear waste storage site. Japanese utilities have more than 17,000 tons of "spent" fuel rods that have finished their useful life but will remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. What to do with them is a vexing problem that nuclear-powered nations around the world face, and that has come to the fore as Japan debates whether to keep using nuclear energy after the 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant. The answer to that problem may lie in the Horonobe Underground Research Center, which has been collecting geological data to determine if and how radioactive waste can be stored safely for as long as 100,000 years in a country that is susceptible to volcanic activity, earthquakes and shifting underground water flows. But as with America's doomed Yucca Mountain project, finding a community willing to host a radioactive dump site is proving difficult, even with a raft of financial enticements. One mayor expressed interest in 2007, and was booted from office in the next election.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear power news articles from reliable major media sources.
The operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has started pumping groundwater into the Pacific ocean in an attempt to manage the large volume of contaminated water at the site. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it had released 560 tonnes of groundwater pumped from 12 wells located upstream from the damaged reactors. The water had been temporarily stored in a tank so it could undergo safety checks before being released, the firm added. The buildup of toxic water is the most urgent problem facing workers at the plant, almost two years after the environment ministry said 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater from Fukushima Daiichi was seeping into the ocean every day. The groundwater, which flows in from hills behind the plant, mixes with contaminated water used to cool melted fuel before ending up in the sea. Officials concede that decommissioning the reactors will be impossible until the water issue has been resolved. The bypass system intercepts clean groundwater as it flows downhill toward the sea and reroutes it around the plant. It is expected to reduce the amount of water flowing into the reactor basements by up to 100 tonnes a day ... and relieve pressure on the storage tanks, which will soon reach their capacity. But the system does not include the coolant water that becomes dangerously contaminated after it is pumped into the basements of three reactors that suffered meltdown after the plant was struck by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. That water will continue to be stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the site, while officials debate how to safely dispose of it.
Note: For more on the devastating impacts of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Hanford union workers tell NBC Right Now there was an explosion at the plutonium finishing plant cleanup site weeks ago, but the event wasn't shared with the public. The Hanford union representative says it happened when workers were cutting some pipe as part of the demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant. The union representative wants to remain anonymous and says workers are concerned management isn't putting worker safety first. "Having a pipe explode at probably the most contaminated facility in the United States. This is one of the most hazardous buildings in the U.S." said the Union representative. PFP is where the plutonium was manufactured for one of the atomic bombs dropped in World War II. Workers describe the explosion as a spark then flames that shot out of a pipe and a loud bang that vibrated the pipe and the worker. "Management continues to call it a small pop even though the workers say no this thing was a big, loud bang like a shot gun blast," said the union representative. Workers say they think the contractor is playing down the explosion and possible safety concerns to protect themselves from fines and work delays. The union representative says if the pipe broke, workers would have inhaled plutonium particles that could have possibly deadly health effects.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear cover-ups news articles from reliable major media sources.
In the tense days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan on March 11, 2011, staff at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a concerted effort to play down the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis to America’s aging nuclear plants, according to thousands of internal emails reviewed by NBC News. The emails, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, show that the campaign to reassure the public about America’s nuclear industry came as the agency’s own experts were questioning U.S. safety standards and scrambling to determine whether new rules were needed to ensure that the meltdown occurring at the Japanese plant could not occur here. At the end of that long first weekend of the crisis three years ago, NRC Public Affairs Director Eliot Brenner thanked his staff for sticking to the talking points that the team had been distributing to senior officials and the public. "While we know more than these say," Brenner wrote, "we're sticking to this story for now." There are numerous examples in the emails of apparent misdirection or concealment in the initial weeks after the Japanese plant was devastated: When asked to help reporters explain what would happen during the worst-case scenario -- a nuclear meltdown -- the agency declined to address the questions. The emails pull back the curtain on the agency’s efforts to protect the industry it is supposed to regulate. The NRC officials didn't lie, but they didn't always tell the whole truth either. When someone asked about a topic that might reflect negatively on the industry, they changed the subject.
Note: For more on corruption in the nuclear power industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
At a motel in the town of Hirono, just outside a restricted zone in Fukushima Prefecture, [the] residents were all men, all apparently working on the cleanup of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three reactors melted down and a fourth caught on fire after a quake and tsunami in 2011. The plant's operator is mostly using subcontractors to supply labor, which drives down the pay and tends to leave the poorest workers living in crowded dormitories. Workers and labor activists say that Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is subcontracting the work out to avoid taking direct responsibility — financial and otherwise — for the dangers the workers face each day at the plant. Recent days and weeks have brought embarrassing news for Tepco, including that levels of radioactive strontium in wells in the plant were reported months late, and were 10 times lower than the actual amount. TEPCO says it was a measurement error. Some critics say that TEPCO can't be trusted and that the world's largest nuclear accident is still waiting to happen at Fukushima, such as an accidental nuclear reaction that releases large amounts of harmful radiation into the air. TEPCO dismisses predictions like this as alarmist. Japanese themselves are highly divided on the issue, just as they are about whether or not their country should continue to rely on nuclear power, which previously supplied up to a third of their electricity. One thing that seems certain is that the work of cleaning up and shutting down the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will go on for a long time. TEPCO predicts it could last 30 or 40 years. Others say that estimate is blindly optimistic.
Note: Why is this critical news getting so little coverage? For more on deception and corruption around nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
In what may be the biggest such scandal in Air Force history, 34 officers entrusted with land-based nuclear missiles have been pulled off the job for alleged involvement in a cheating ring that officials say was uncovered during a drug probe. The 34 are suspected of cheating several months ago on a routine proficiency test that includes checking missile launch officers' knowledge of how to handle an "emergency war order," which is the term for the authorization required to launch a nuclear weapon. The cheating scandal is the latest in a series of Air Force nuclear stumbles ... including deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections, breakdowns in training and evidence that the men and women who operate the missiles from underground command posts are suffering burnout. In October the general who commands the nuclear missile force was fired for engaging in embarrassing behavior, including drunkenness, while leading a U.S. delegation to a nuclear exercise in Russia. The AP disclosed in May an internal Air Force email in which a missile operations officer complained that his force was infested with "rot" — bad attitudes and disregard for discipline. The Air Force's nuclear mission includes operation of 450 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Malmstrom unit failed a nuclear safety and security inspection in August but succeeded on a redo in October.
Note: Some are speculating about a purge of high-level U.S. military officers. For evidence of this, click here. And is it just a coincidence that the Malmstrom unit is mentioned? That is the base where several officers testified that a UFO shut down all nuclear warheads several decades ago. For more, click here. And for more on military corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing. Despite the fact that the Israel's nuclear programme has been an open secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to confirm or deny its existence. When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo last month, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as "outdated and childish" a rightwing group formally called for a police investigation for treason. Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of "opacity" by avoiding all mention of the issue. Israel ... almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting the traffic in nuclear materials and technology. The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include today's staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway. Israeli agents charged with buying fissile material and state-of-the-art technology found their way into some of the most sensitive industrial establishments in the world.
Note: For more on government secrecy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Japan's flagging anti-nuclear movement is getting a boost from two former prime ministers who are calling for atomic power to be phased out following the Fukushima disaster. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said [on November 12] that the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, ... "should use the power given to him to do what the majority of the people want," Koizumi said in a speech at the Japan Press Club. "It can be achieved. Why miss this chance?" Koizumi, who supported nuclear power during his 2001-2006 term in office, said that with Japan's nuclear plants all offline for safety checks it would be easiest to begin the phase-out soon. Polls have shown the majority of the public ... prefers to shift away from the nuclear plants that provided nearly a third of Japan's power generation capacity before the accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. Three [former prime ministers], including Koizumi, have said they support ending use of nuclear power. Their support could help reinvigorate the anti-nuclear movement, which has lost some of its vitality nearly three years after the Fukushima accident. Another former prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, said in an interview ... that he also favors an end to reliance on nuclear power. "I can't understand why they want restarts of the nuclear plants when there is no place to discard the nuclear waste," said Hosokawa, who served as prime minister for eight months in 1993-94. "It would be a crime against future generations for our generation to restart nuclear plants without resolving this issue," he said. Experts have questioned whether earthquake-prone Japan can safely store nuclear waste under any scenario.
Note: For more on the risks of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
It was the part of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that spooked American officials the most, as the complex spiraled out of control two and a half years ago: the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4, with more than 1,500 radioactive fuel assemblies left exposed when a hydrogen explosion blew the roof off the building. In the next 10 days, the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, is set to start the delicate and risky task of using a crane to remove the fuel assemblies from the pool, a critical step in a long decommissioning process that has already had serious setbacks. The operation addresses a threat that has hung over the plant since the crisis started. It is still dangerous to have the fuel high up in a damaged structure that could collapse in another quake, experts warn. But removing it poses dangers, too. The fuel rods must remain immersed in water to block the gamma radiation they emit and allow workers to be in the area, and to prevent the rods from overheating. An accident could expose the rods and — in a worst-case scenario, some experts say — allow them to release radioactive materials beyond the plant. “There are potentially very big risks involved,” Shunichi Tanaka, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulator, said last week. “Each assembly must be handled very carefully.” “All I can do is pray that nothing goes wrong,” said Yasuro Kawai, a former plant engineer who now heads a group that is independently monitoring the decommissioning process.
Note: For further assessment of the risks associated with any attempt to remove the rods from the damaged Fukushima Reactor #4 fuel pool, click here. For more on the risks of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to spew radiation. It's 5,300 miles from Los Angeles -- and still not far enough. Fukushima is an enormous problem that's getting bigger. Nuclear Engineer Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, confirmed that ocean currents are carrying the radioactive water to the West Coast. "There are several hundred tons of radioactive water that are pouring into the ocean at the site every day," Makhijani said. According to a study published in the journal Deep Sea Research 1, it will begin arriving this March . But Makhijani says there's no need to panic. The radiation will be diluted, and levels found on the West Coast are very low and not considered dangerous so far. But the question is, will we really know? "I think we should be doing a better monitoring of food. I don't think the EPA and FDA are doing a good enough job," Makhijani said. The scariest part of Fukushima is not what has already happened; it's what could still happen. Every day is a desperate effort to keep the plant from melting down. Fukushima is potentially the biggest ticking time bomb in human history. The damaged plant is in no condition to withstand another massive earthquake or tsunami. Just last week, Dr. David Suzuki, one of Canada's top environmental scientists, stunned the audience when he described what will happen if a massive quake did hit today. "It's bye bye Japan, and everybody on the West Coast of North America should evacuate," Suzuki said.
Note: For more on the Fukushima meltdowns and the dangers of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
On 11 March 1958, in Mars Bluff, South Carolina, a man called Walter Gregg was building shelves in his shed with his son, when a Mark 6 atom bomb landed in his yard. Mrs Gregg was inside [the house], sewing. The little Gregg girls were playing outside. The fissile core of the bomb had been removed for safer transit, but the explosives that powered it nonetheless blew the Gregg house to bits, killing half a dozen of the Gregg chickens. In military talk this sort of thing is known as a "broken arrow", an accident involving nuclear weapons that falls short of causing risk of war, and Schlosser's book is about the several dozens of these that have happened – counting only those of US origin – since the atomic bomb was invented in 1945. The next-up sort of accident is called a Nucflash. So far, it hasn't happened, but Schlosser considers this due as much to luck as anything else. [The book] aims to "pierce a false sense of comfort", ... the popular assumption that ... the threat of nuclear escalation has gone away for good. It hasn't, is Schlosser's miserable message. "They are out there, soulless and mechanical, sustained by our denial – and they work." In this book, he's interested in how "the effort to control nuclear weapons – to ensure that one doesn't go off by accident" is undermined, over and over again, by demands from the military for bombs they can trust to explode.
Note: Watch a 16-minute interview with Erik Schlosser showing how close we have come to accidental nuclear explosions. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear risk news articles from reliable major media sources.
While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home. Some have moved on, reluctantly, but tens of thousands remain in a legal and emotional limbo while the government holds out hope that they can one day return. As they wait, many are growing bitter. Now they suspect the government knows that the unprecedented cleanup will take years, if not decades longer than promised, as a growing chorus of independent experts have warned, but will not admit it for fear of dooming plans to restart Japan’s other nuclear plants. That has left the people of Namie and many of the 10 other evacuated towns with few good choices. They can continue to live in cramped temporary housing and collect relatively meager monthly compensation from the government. Or they can try to build a new life elsewhere, a near impossibility for many unless the government admits defeat and fully compensates them for their lost homes and livelihoods. For Namie’s residents, government obfuscation is nothing new. On the day they fled, bureaucrats in Tokyo knew the direction they were taking could be dangerous, based on computer modeling, but did not say so for fear of causing panic. The townspeople headed north, straight into an invisible, radioactive plume.
Note: For more on the devastation caused by nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, [but] whatever one's views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries is a historically significant event. Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event: "This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!" Yes, Iran's claim that they don't want nuclear weapons sure is "sudden" - if you pretend that virtually everything that they've said on that question for the past ten years does not exist. The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in January of this year, Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast declared: "We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons." The following month, Khamenei himself said: "We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don't want to build atomic weapons." Iran's top leadership has been making similarly unambiguous statements for almost a full decade, even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2005 to counter the growing clamor in the US for a military attack by proclaiming that Iran had no desire for nuclear weapons, was not pursuing them, and wanted transparency, accountability and peace. US intelligence agencies have repeatedly though secretly concluded that they do not believe that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and even top Israeli military officials have expressed serious doubts that Iran is building, or will build, a nuclear weapon.
Note: For more on mass media corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
For almost nine hours starting on Sept. 18, 1980, brave airmen sought to contain the damage precipitated by a dropped wrench socket that hit a Titan II missile -- which was tipped with a W-53 thermonuclear warhead -- in its silo [in Damascus, Arkansas]. The socket pierced the missile’s skin, causing fuel and oxidizer leaks. The ensuing explosion destroyed the silo, propelling missile parts and [the] warhead into abbreviated flight. One airman died from internal wounds while 21 personnel were injured. The W-53 warhead ended up on a nearby roadside -- passed by motorists but fortunately never detonated. Close, but no mushroom cloud. This freakish event is at the core of Eric Schlosser’s new book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety. “The United States has narrowly avoided a long series of nuclear disasters,” he writes. He reveals declassified studies that disclose hundreds of mishaps between 1950 and 1967 and beyond. They include a B-61 hydrogen bomb accidentally dropped 7 feet from a parked B-52 bomber at Carswell Air Force Base when a crewman pulled a handle too hard, and a Mark 6 atomic bomb landing in a Mars Bluff, South Carolina backyard, creating a 35-foot-deep crater and blowing out nearby windows and doors. Schlosser takes Baby Boomers of the “duck and cover” era down a Megaton Memory Lane while providing a vivid primer for the Twitter generation on a world where nuclear weapons were a fact of life to deter a larger-than-life Soviet Union depicted as bent on world domination.
Note: Watch a 16-minute interview with Erik Schlosser showing how close we have come to accidental nuclear explosions. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear risk news articles from reliable major media sources.
In his new book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, award-winning investigative journalist [Eric Schlosser] challenges and expands on the U.S. government's secretive record regarding nuclear accidents. Let's get the big question out of the way: How many times have we just barely avoided nuclear armageddon in the U.S.? It's a very secretive subject, and I did my best, through interviews and through the Freedom of Information Act, to get as much information as I could on these accidents. The Pentagon lists 32 broken arrows, which are their official nuclear weapon accidents that they consider really serious. A lot of other accidents [posed the] threat of accidental detonation on American soil. For many years, there were safety flaws with our nuclear weapons which weren't being addressed and which were being covered up. We're just very, very ... fortunate that a major city has not been destroyed by a nuclear weapon since Nagasaki. But there's no guarantee that that luck will last. Very little has been written about the ordinary servicemen and women who often took great risks. I tell the story of a guy whose job it was to walk over to a nuclear weapon damaged in an accident and dismantle it – basically a bomb squad guy trained to handle nuclear weapons. That takes a lot of nerve to do. People like that put themselves at risk in order to prevent catastrophes. I think their stories are really worth telling. It was important to me to show, not just the bureaucratic incompetence in many cases, but also the incredible heroism of these ordinary servicemen. So it's not a simplistic, black-and-white anti-military thing at all.
Note: For more on the dangers of nuclear technologies, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A little over 50 years ago a South Carolina doctor ... treated a family for injuries sustained when a sudden, inexplicable explosion tore through their backyard. The object in the 50-foot crater left behind their house was an atomic bomb that had fallen from a passing Air Force plane. The bomb had not been “armed” with its nuclear core; the blast came from the explosives intended to trigger a chain reaction. The crater can still be seen today. That incident, which led to an anti-nuclear movement in Britain, where the plane was bound, is one of many stories Eric Schlosser ... tells in Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. During the cold war, nuclear bombs fell out of the sky, burned up in plane crashes and were lost at sea. In the incident Schlosser describes in greatest detail, “the Damascus accident” of Sept. 18, 1980, the warhead from a Titan II missile was ejected after a series of mishaps that began when a repairman dropped a socket wrench and pierced a fuel tank. Tactical nuclear weapons scattered across Europe had minimal security; misplaced tools and failed repairs triggered serious accidents; inadequate safety procedures and poor oversight led to dozens of close brushes with nuclear explosions. Schlosser’s readers (and he deserves a great many) will be struck by how frequently the people he cites attribute the absence of accidental explosions and nuclear war to divine intervention or sheer luck rather than to human wisdom and skill.
Note: For more on this highly revealing book, click here. For details of Schlosser's amazing story of the two H-bombs that fell on North Carolina in 1961, click here. For more on the grave risks of nuclear technologies, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Israel has 80 nuclear warheads and the potential to double that number, according to a new report by U.S. experts. In the Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, recently published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, proliferation experts Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris write that Israel stopped production of nuclear warheads in 2004. But the country has enough fissile material for an additional 115 to 190 warheads, according to the report, meaning it could as much as double its arsenal. Previous estimates have been higher but the new figures agree with the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute yearbook on armament and international security. The yearbook estimated 50 of Israel's nuclear warheads were for medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 were for for bombs carried by aircraft. Although widely assumed a nuclear power, Israel has never acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons or capabilities and continues to maintain its decades-old "strategic ambiguity" policy on the matter, neither confirming nor denying foreign reports on the issue. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician, leaked the country's alleged nuclear secrets to a British newspaper, and said Israel had at least 100 nuclear weapons. Vanunu was later convicted of espionage and treason and was released from jail in 2004 after serving 17 years. Israel continued to adhere to its vagueness policy after comments made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2006 were interpreted by many as an inadvertent confirmation that Israel had nuclear weapons.
Note: For more on government secrecy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Japan is stumbling helplessly from one crisis to the next as it battles the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The situation at Fukushima two and a half years after the nuclear meltdown can at best be described as tenuous. Rather than implementing a clearly thought-out disaster management plan, TEPCO's approach has been a haphazard patchwork. Every day, TEPCO pumps 400 tons of contaminated cooling water and groundwater out of the radioactive wreckage of Fukushima. TEPCO stores the liquid in numerous tanks, the largest of which are 12 meters (40 feet) across and 11 meters high, hastily riveted together rather than welded. Currently, there are over 1,000 such tanks, with plans for over 2,000 of them by 2015. TEPCO is veritably drowning in contaminated water. When one of these makeshift containers recently sprang a leak, it apparently took weeks before the company's two-person foot-patrol passed by and noticed it, by which time 300 tons of highly contaminated water had seeped out of the tank. There's little question that more of these tanks will develop leaks, with a number of them approaching their expiration dates and only some of the tanks outfitted with sensors to provide early warning of leakage. "These are the wrong containers in the wrong place, made of the wrong material and built in the wrong way," declares nuclear expert Mycle Schneider, one of the lead authors of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.
Note: For more on the grave risks of nuclear technologies, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Japanese government and TEPCO were scrambling to reassure people [on Sep. 13] that they have a lid on Fukushima after a senior utility executive said the nuclear plant was "not under control". The remarks by Kazuhiko Yamashita, who holds the executive-level title of "fellow" at Tokyo Electric Power, seem to flatly contradict assurances Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave Olympic chiefs a week earlier. In a meeting with members of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Yamashita was asked whether he agreed that "the situation is under control" as Abe had declared at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires. He responded by saying, "I think the current situation is that it is not under control," according to major media, including national broadcaster NHK. News of his comment prompted a rush by the government and TEPCO to elaborate on Yamashita's remark, saying he was talking specifically about the plant's waste water problem, and not the facility's situation in general. TEPCO has poured thousands of tonnes of water on the Fukushima reactors to tame meltdowns sparked by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The utility says they are now stable but need to be kept cool to prevent them running out of control again. Much of that now-contaminated water is being stored in temporary tanks at the plant, and TEPCO has so far revealed no clear plan for it. The problem has been worsened by leaks in some of those tanks that are believed to have seeped into groundwater, which runs out to sea.
Note: For an excellent ABC News article titled "A Never-Ending Disaster at Fukushima," click here. For more on the grave environmental impacts of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Deep beneath Fukushima's crippled nuclear power station, a massive underground reservoir of contaminated water that began spilling from the plant's reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has been creeping slowly toward the Pacific. Now, 2 1/2 years later, experts fear it is about to reach the ocean and greatly worsen what is fast becoming a new crisis at Fukushima: the inability to contain vast quantities of radioactive water. The looming crisis is potentially far greater than the discovery earlier this week of a leak from a tank that stores contaminated water used to cool the reactor cores. That 300-ton (80,000-gallon) leak is the fifth and most serious from a tank since the March 2011 disaster. But experts believe the underground seepage from the reactor and turbine building area is much bigger and possibly more radioactive, confronting the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., with an invisible, chronic problem and few viable solutions. Many also believe it is another example of how TEPCO has repeatedly failed to acknowledge problems that it could almost certainly have foreseen — and taken action to mitigate before they got out of control. To keep the melted nuclear fuel from overheating, TEPCO has rigged a makeshift system of pipes and hoses to funnel water into the broken reactors. The radioactive water is then treated and stored in the aboveground tanks that have now developed leaks. But far more leaks into the reactor basements during the cooling process — then through cracks into the surrounding earth and groundwater.
Note: For more on the water-storage-tank leaks at Fukushima from the New York Times, click here. For more on the environmental devastation caused by nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated. Mycle Schneider is an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments. He says water is leaking out all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels. Meanwhile the chairman of Japan's nuclear authority said that he feared there would be further leaks. The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site. The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents. This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011. But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit. "The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic," [said] Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues. "What is worse is the water leakage everywhere else - not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that. It is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse," said Mr Schneider, who is lead author for the World Nuclear Industry status reports.
Note: For more on the environmental devastation caused by nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Despite his age, 63-year-old Kazuo Niitsuma believes there are many more years of fishing ahead of him. The sea is in his family's blood, he says. His octogenarian father began working on boats when he was 12, and only retired three years ago. But ... Niitsuma knows he may never again get the chance to board his boat and head out into the Pacific in search of sole, whitebait, flounder and greenling. The greatest threat to Niitsuma's livelihood, and that of other fishermen in Hisanohama ... lies just up the coast at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The environment ministry recently announcement that 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater from Fukushima Daiichi is still seeping over or around barriers into the Pacific every day, more than two years after it was struck by a tsunami in March 2011. Government officials said they suspected the leaks had started soon after the accident. The admission by the ministry, confirmed by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which runs the plant, is likely to keep Hisanohama's 40 fishing boats in port for the foreseeable future. Tepco's failure to handle the contaminated water – and accusations that it tried to cover up the leaks – is a serious setback to attempts to clean up Fukushima Daiichi, 18 months after the government declared it had reached a "safe" state known as cold shutdown. "I haven't been able to fish since the tsunami," Niitsuma said. "People want to be reassured that they are buying fish that is safe to eat, and we can't give them that guarantee at the moment."
Note: Declaring the situation an "emergency", the Japanese government has stepped in to take over control of the response from Tepco. For more on this, click here. For a National Geographic article on what you need to know about the radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean by the Fukushima disaster, click here. It reports that scientists have estimated that contaminated seawater could reach the West Coast of the United States in five years or less. For more on the environmental devastation of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Tons of contaminated groundwater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have overwhelmed an underground barrier and are emptying daily into the Pacific, creating what a top regulator has called a crisis. The water contains strontium and cesium, as well as tritium. The plant was already struggling to store hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water that flowed through the buildings housing three reactors where [three] meltdowns occurred in 2011. But the contamination in this new groundwater problem is from different sources, Tepco said. The company has admitted that it failed to respond quickly enough to the latest groundwater contamination, saying it was preoccupied with more pressing issues like cooling the damaged reactors. “Tepco appears overwhelmed in dealing with what is a very serious problem,” said Akio Yamamoto, a professor of nuclear engineering at Nagoya University, who serves as outside expert for the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan’s nuclear watchdog. Critics contend that the plant has emitted far more radioactive materials than it is saying, based in part on levels of contaminants discovered in the harbor, which are well above safe levels in some places. The contamination appears to be spreading, with tests last month by Tepco showing high levels of tritium and other radioactive elements like strontium starting at other locations near the two other crippled reactors.
Note: Declaring the situation an "emergency", the Japanese government has stepped in to take over control of the response from Tepco. For more on this, click here. For a National Geographic article on what you need to know about the radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean by the Fukushima disaster, click here. It reports that scientists have estimated that contaminated seawater could reach the West Coast of the United States in five years or less. For more on the environmental devastation of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima has probably been leaking contaminated water into the ocean for two years, ever since an earthquake and tsunami badly damaged the plant, Japan’s chief nuclear regulator said on [July 10]. In unusually candid comments, Shunichi Tanaka, the head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, also said that neither his staff nor the plant’s operator knew exactly where the leaks were coming from, or how to stop them. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power, has reported spikes in the amounts of radioactive cesium, tritium and strontium detected in groundwater at the plant, adding urgency to the task of sealing any leaks. Radioactive cesium and strontium, especially, are known to raise risks of cancer in humans. Mr. Tanaka’s comments bring into sharp relief the precariousness of the cleanup at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where core meltdowns occurred at three of the six reactors. A critical problem has been the groundwater that has been pouring into the basements of the damaged reactor buildings and becoming contaminated. Workers have been pumping the water out to be stored in dozens of tanks at the plant, but have not stopped the inflow. Until recently, Tokyo Electric ... flatly denied that any of that water was leaking into the ocean, even though various independent studies of radiation levels in the nearby ocean have suggested otherwise. Mr. Tanaka said that the evidence was overwhelming. “We’ve seen for a fact that levels of radioactivity in the seawater remain high, and contamination continues — I don’t think anyone can deny that,” he said.
Note: For more on dangers from the nuclear power industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Honestly, if the consequences weren’t potentially so dire, the ongoing struggles to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan would be the stuff of comedy. In March, an extended blackout disabled power to a vital cooling system for days. The cause: a rat that had apparently been chewing on cables in a switchboard. Another dead rat was found in the plant’s electrical works just a few weeks ago, which led to another blackout. The dead rats were just the latest screwups in a series of screwups by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). But it’s not funny, not really, because the consequences of the meltdown and TEPCO’s mismanagement are very real. The latest threat comes from nearby groundwater that is pouring into the damaged reactor buildings. Once the water reaches the reactor it becomes highly contaminated by radioactivity. TEPCO workers have to pump the water out of the reactor to avoid submerging the important cooling system. TEPCO can’t simply dump the irradiated groundwater into the nearby sea ... so the company has been forced to jury-rig yet another temporary solution, building hundreds of tanks, each able to hold 112 Olympic-size pools worth of liquid, to hold the groundwater. So TEPCO finds itself in a race: Can its workers build enough tanks and clear enough nearby space to store the irradiated water — water that keeps pouring into the reactor at the rate of some 75 gal. a minute? More than two years after the tsunami, TEPCO is still racing against time — and just barely staying ahead.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the grave risks from the nuclear power industry, click here.
Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain. Groundwater is pouring into the plant’s ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. A small army of workers has struggled to contain the continuous flow of radioactive wastewater, relying on ... storage tanks sprawling over 42 acres of parking lots and lawns. The tanks hold the equivalent of 112 Olympic-size pools. But even they are not enough to handle the tons of strontium-laced water at the plant — a reflection of the scale of the 2011 disaster. In a sign of the sheer size of the problem, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, plans to chop down a small forest on its southern edge to make room for hundreds more tanks, a task that became more urgent when underground pits built to handle the overflow sprang leaks in recent weeks. While the company has managed to stay ahead, the constant threat of running out of storage space has turned into what Tepco itself called an emergency, with the sheer volume of water raising fears of future leaks at the seaside plant that could reach the Pacific Ocean. Two years after the meltdowns, the plant remains vulnerable to the same sort of large earthquake and tsunami that set the original calamity in motion.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on risks and corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on [April 8]. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives. The position of the former chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, is not unusual in that various anti-nuclear groups take the same stance. But it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring. Dr. Jaczko made his remarks at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington in a session about the Fukushima accident. Dr. Jaczko said that many American reactors that had received permission from the nuclear commission to operate for 20 years beyond their initial 40-year licenses probably would not last that long. He also rejected as unfeasible changes proposed by the commission that would allow reactor owners to apply for a second 20-year extension, meaning that some reactors would run for a total of 80 years. Dr. Jaczko resigned as chairman last summer after months of conflict with his four colleagues on the commission. He often voted in the minority on various safety questions, advocated more vigorous safety improvements, and was regarded with deep suspicion by the nuclear industry.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on grave risks caused by corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has removed most anti-nuclear researchers from a revamped post-Fukushima energy policy advisory board to the government. After a landslide victory in a December election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the previous administration’s policy to abandon atomic power needs to be reviewed. Six of eight members that voted for phasing out nuclear power on the board advising the previous government have been dropped from the LDP panel. Another ten members were reappointed, including Akio Mimura, an adviser for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., as chairman. He headed an energy advisory board under a previous LDP government that promoted nuclear power. “It’s wrong to let the same man who led discussions on pre-Fukushima energy policy be in charge,” said Tetsunari Iida, the executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies. Iida was one of those dropped from the advisory board. In September, the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan approved phasing out nuclear power by the end of the 2030s. Around 160,000 people were evacuated because of radiation fallout. Three options were considered for the country’s future energy supply: Zero nuclear, 15 percent nuclear, and 20 percent to 25 percent. A government poll in August found 47 percent of citizens favored zero, with the remainder split on the other choices. “The LDP wants to avoid the zero nuclear scenario at all costs and is looking for a point of compromise between 15 percent and 20 percent nuclear,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, a research fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the grave dangers posed by nuclear power, click here.
Within weeks of setting off a geiger counter and scrubbing three layers of skin off his hands and arms, former Navy quartermaster Maurice Enis recalled being pressured to sign away U.S. government liability for any future health problems. Enis and about 5,000 fellow sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier had finally left Japan, after 80-some days aiding victims of the March 11, 2011, Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, and were about to take a long-awaited port call in Thailand. But first, they were told they needed to fill out some paperwork. "They had us [to] sign off that we were medically fine, had no sickness, and that we couldn't sue the U.S. government," Enis [says], recalling widespread anger among the sailors who ... felt they had little choice. [On] the [second] anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, Enis joined a lawsuit with more than 100 other service members who participated in the rescue mission and who have since developed medical issues they contend are related to radioactive fallout from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Rather than targeting the U.S. government, the federal lawsuit names plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. the defendant. TEPCO, as the company is known, provided false information to U.S. officials about the extent of spreading radiation from its stricken reactors, according to Roger Witherspoon on his blog Energy Matters.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear power news articles from reliable major media sources.
This month, the Department of Energy announced that a tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is leaking up to 300 gallons of radioactive waste a year. Nuclear sludge left over from Cold War plutonium production is drip-drip-dripping into American soil, infiltrating the groundwater, slowly making its way into our rivers. The leak is just another in a long line of mild disasters at America’s most contaminated nuclear-waste site, a radioactive drop in the already-polluted Columbia River. Hanford is the worst kind of mess: the kind that humanity is capable of making, but not capable of cleaning up. It was the home of the world’s first full-scale plutonium reactor and the epicenter of American nuclear production during the Cold War. Now the 586-square-mile campus is the subject of the largest environmental cleanup operation the United States government has ever undertaken. There are other sites in America with long nuclear histories—places like Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Yucca Mountain. But none have become sprawling disasters with quite as much panache as Hanford. The human and environmental consequences of Hanford have spread beyond those borders, across Washington and Oregon. A decade ago a rash of radioactive tumbleweeds blew across the nearby plains. In the early 1960s, an irradiated whale was killed off the Oregon coast, having apparently been contaminated by nuclear waste flowing down the Columbia River.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on environmental and health devastation caused by the nuclear weapons and energy industry, click here.
Workers have raised the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that eventually will cover the exploded nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station. Upon completion, the shelter will be moved on tracks over the building containing the destroyed reactor, allowing work to begin on dismantling the reactor and disposing of radioactive waste. The shelter, shaped like a gargantuan Quonset hut, will be 257 meters by 150 meters (843 feet by 492 feet) when completed and at its apex will be higher than the Statue of Liberty. The shelter is to be moved over the reactor building by the end of 2015 — a deadline that no one wants to miss given that the so-called sarcophagus hastily built over the reactor building after the 1986 explosion has an estimated service life of about 30 years. The arch now under construction is only one of two segments that will eventually form the shelter, and so far it's only been raised to a height of 22 meters (72 feet). More structural elements have to be added before it reaches its full height of 108 meters (354 feet), and the work so far has taken seven months. The overall shelter project is budgeted at €1.54 billion ($2 billion) — €1 billion ($1.3 billion) of that for the structure itself — and much uncertainty lies ahead. Even when the shelter is in place, the area around the reactor building will remain hazardous.
Note: It is now over 25 years since the massive Chernobyl disaster and the site is still not safe. Why are we gambling our own health and the health of the planet with such risky technology when there are other alternatives that are much safer and more friendly to the environment? For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the environmental and health impacts of nuclear power, click here.
Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment has caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests. Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident. By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes. Six months later, they again collected adults from the 10 sites and found that butterflies from the Fukushima area showed a mutation rate more than double that of those found sooner after the accident. The team concluded that this higher rate of mutation came from eating contaminated food, but also from mutations of the parents' genetic material that was passed on to the next generation, even though these mutations were not evident in the previous generations' adult butterflies. The findings from their new research show that the radionuclides released from the accident had led to novel, severely abnormal development, and that the mutations to the butterflies' genetic material [were] still affecting the insects, even after the residual radiation in the environment had decayed away. "This study is important and overwhelming in its implications for both the human and biological communities living in Fukushima," explained University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau, who studies the impacts of radiation on animals and plants.
The U.S. government said it will stop issuing permits for new nuclear power plants and license extensions for existing facilities until it resolves issues around storing radioactive waste. The government's main watchdog, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, believes that current storage plans are safe and achievable. But a federal court said that the NRC didn't detail what the environmental consequences would be if the agency is wrong. There are 14 reactors awaiting license renewals at the NRC, and an additional 16 reactors awaiting permits for new construction. Nuclear waste disposal has been a daunting political question that is still unanswered after decades of study. Nuclear watchdog groups -- which don't agree with the NRC's assertion that the waste is currently safely stored -- are hoping the new review will provide an opportunity to push for stricter standards at nuclear power plants. There are currently 104 operating nuclear reactors at 64 plants across the country. Half are over 30 years old. '"The court is ordering them to do this analysis that should have been done a long time ago," said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In particular, UCS and others want less of the waste to be stored in pools of water, which they believe are vulnerable to sudden draining and possible meltdown.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry [has] concluded. The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami. That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. “It was a profoundly man-made disaster — that could and should have been foreseen and prevented,” said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission’s chairman, in the report’s introduction. “And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” The 641-page report criticized Tepco as being too quick to dismiss earthquake damage as a cause of the fuel meltdowns at three of the plant’s six reactors, which overheated when the site lost power. Tepco has contended that the plant withstood the earthquake that rocked eastern Japan, instead placing blame for the disaster on what some experts have called a “once in a millennium” tsunami that followed.
Note: For lots more from reliable major media articles on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
Two prominent seismologists said on Tuesday that Japan is ignoring the safety lessons of last year's Fukushima crisis and warned against restarting two reactors next month. Japan has approved the restart of the two reactors at the Kansai Electric Power Ohi nuclear plant, northwest of Tokyo, despite mass public opposition. They will be the first to come back on line after all reactors were shut following a massive earthquake and tsunami last March that caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl at Tokyo Electric Power's Daiichi Fukushima plant. Seismic modeling by Japan's nuclear regulator did not properly take into account active fault lines near the Ohi plant, Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University, told reporters. "The stress tests and new safety guidelines for restarting nuclear power plants both allow for accidents at plants to occur," Ishibashi told reporters. "Instead of making standards more strict, they both represent a severe setback in safety standards." Experts advising Japan's nuclear industry had underestimated the seismic threat, Mitsuhisa Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphology professor at Tokyo University, said at the same news conference. "The expertise and neutrality of experts advising Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency are highly questionable," Watanabe said.
Note: For more from reliable sources on corruption on the nuclear power industry, click here.
Faulty computer modeling caused the equipment problems that are expected to keep the San Onofre nuclear plant dark through the summer, federal regulators said Monday. The plant has been out of service since Jan. 31, when operators discovered a small leak in one of the thousands of steam generator tubes that carry hot, radioactive water used to create steam to turn turbines that generate electricity. That led to the discovery that other tubes were rubbing against support structures and adjacent tubes, and wearing out more quickly than expected. Eight tubes failed pressure testing, which NRC officials said ... is the first time in the nuclear industry that more than one tube at a plant has failed. The wear is a safety concern because tube ruptures can release radiation. The plant's operator, Southern California Edison; the NRC; and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the steam generators, have been studying the cause and extent of the wear. The NRC has ordered Edison to keep the plant shuttered until it has determined the cause and how to fix it. "This is a significant, serious safety issue," said NRC regional administrator Elmo Collins. "This is a very difficult technical issue, and to be honest, it's not one we've seen before." NRC officials said it appears that simulations by Mitsubishi underpredicted the velocity of steam and water flowing among the tubes by a factor of three or four. The high rate of flow caused the tubes to vibrate and knock against each other, leading to the wear. It was not clear why the computer modeling was so far off.
Note: For lots more on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
Could we be overlooking profound questions and truths about the again-rising likelihood of the decimation or the end of life on Earth in an H-bomb holocaust? The actual and prospective nuclear policy and practice of the United States, Israel and Britain has moved from the nuclear disarmament promised in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty into attacking nations that ... insist on getting the same weapons we have. More nations keep getting the H-bomb and the systems to deliver it wherever they want to. There is still no international control of these weapons that can end life on Earth. Jonathan Schell reports in The Seventh Decade that 50 more nations know how to make H-bombs. It’s a secret no more. Why are possibly apocalyptic facts about them blocked from us by nine systems of military secrecy? For just one example, does Israel, as indicated in Ron Rosenbaum’s recent well-sourced book How the End Begins, have five German-made nuclear-armed submarines in the Mediterranean poised to fire H-bombs in retaliation even if Israel’s leadership has been “decapitated”? The U.S. should be leading the world toward “near zero” or the abolition of these weapons. We should be challenging our officials and military for risking our deaths, the lives of our fellow human beings and our national honor by keeping, maintaining and implicitly threatening to use our own weapons of mass murder.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the nuclear power and weapons industries, click here.
Last year’s tsunami disaster in Japan clouded the nation’s nuclear future, idled its reactors and rendered its huge stockpile of plutonium useless for now. So, the industry’s plan to produce even more has raised a red flag. Nuclear industry officials say they hope to start producing a half-ton of plutonium within months, in addition to the more than 35 tons Japan already has stored around the world. That’s even though all the reactors that might use it are either inoperable or offline while the country rethinks its nuclear policy after the tsunami-generated Fukushima crisis. “It’s crazy,” said Princeton University professor Frank von Hippel, a leading authority on nonproliferation issues and a former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology. “There is absolutely no reason to do that.” Japan’s nuclear industry produces plutonium — which is strictly regulated globally because it also is used for nuclear weapons — by reprocessing spent, uranium-based fuel in a procedure aimed at decreasing radioactive waste that otherwise would require long-term storage. Fuel reprocessing remains unreliable and it is questionable whether it is a viable way of reducing Japan’s massive amounts of spent fuel rods, said Takeo Kikkawa, a Hitotsubashi University professor specializing in energy issues. “Japan should abandon the program altogether,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of a respected anti-nuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. “Then we can also contribute to the global effort for nuclear non-proliferation.”
Note: For a state-of-the-art analysis revealing that radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdown is at least as big as Chernobyl and more global in reach, click here.
Fourteen months after the accident [at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant], a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic. The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe ... as frequent quakes continue to rattle the region. The jury-rigged cooling system for the pool has already malfunctioned several times, including a 24-hour failure in April. Had the outages continued, they would have left the rods at risk of dangerous overheating. “The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns. “Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.” The worst-case situations for Reactor No. 4 would be for the pool to run dry if there is another problem with the cooling system and the rods catch fire, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material, or for fission to restart if the metal panels that separate the rods are knocked over in a quake. That would be especially bad because the pool, unlike reactors, lacks containment vessels to hold in radioactive materials.
Note: For extensive coverage from reliable sources on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
It has been revealed that ailing imaging company Kodak had a secret nuclear reactor hidden in a US research facility for more than 30 years. The reactor, which contained 1.5kg of enriched "weapons-grade" uranium, was a Californium Flux Multiplier (CFX) acquired by the company in 1974 and only decommissioned in 2006. "The uranium used in the CFX was highly enriched, but ... was not easily adaptable to creating a nuclear weapon," company spokesman Christopher Veronda told Fairfax Media. While the reactor was not used to generate power and therefore was not at risk of a meltdown, it was still vulnerable to radiation leaks. "These devices are very rare," said Miles Pomper, a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C. "According to the decommissioning plan submitted by Kodak it is only one of two such devices ever produced - and the only one for private industry," Mr Pomper [said]. The CFX, which was roughly the size of a domestic refrigerator, was used for neutron multiplication, an analytical method. Kodak used it to test chemicals for impurities, and to perform neutron radiography - an imaging technique in which neutrons are passed through an object [and] then produce an image of the object as they expose a photographic film. If the reactor really was secure, it poses the question: why was it decommissioned? Kodak claims that in 2003 it made the decision to pursue alternative, more cost-effective methods of analysis. The uranium was removed in 2007 and taken to a government facility in South Carolina.
Note: For reliable articles revealing the dangers of nuclear reactors, click here.
Kelp off California was contaminated with short-lived radioisotopes a month after Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant accident, a sign that the spilled radiation reached the state's coastline. Scientists from CSU Long Beach tested giant kelp collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other locations after the March 2011 accident and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor. The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels found in kelp before the accident. "Basically, we saw it in all the California kelp blades we sampled," said Steven Manley, a CSU Long Beach biology professor who specializes in kelp. The radioactivity had no known effects on the giant kelp, or on fish and other marine life, and it was undetectable a month later. Iodine 131 "has an eight-day half-life, so it's pretty much all gone," Manley said. "But this shows what happens half a world away does effect what happens here." Some radioactive material probably accumulated in fish that eat the kelp. "We just don't know if it was harmful," Manley said. Iodine 131, found in nuclear fission products, is not naturally occurring and is not naturally found in oceans.
The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear plant says tons of highly radioactive water appears to have leaked into the ocean from a purification unit. The leak comes as Tokyo Electric Power Co. struggles to keep the melted reactors cool and contain radiation and raises concerns about its ability to keep the plant stable. Similar leaks have occurred several times since last year, and officials say they do not pose an immediate health threat.
Note: For an abundance of major media articles showing major problems with nuclear power, click here.
One of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool its fuel, according to an internal examination that reinforces doubts about the plant's stability. The data collected showed the damage from the disaster is so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades. The No. 2 reactor is the only one plant workers have been able to closely examine so far. Tuesday's examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber. The other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse shape. Three Dai-ichi reactors had meltdowns, but the No. 2 reactor is the only one that has been examined because radiation levels inside the reactor building are relatively low and its container is designed with a convenient slot to send in the endoscope. The exact conditions of the other two reactors, where hydrogen explosions damaged their buildings, are still unknown. Simulations have indicated that more fuel inside No. 1 has breached the core than the other two, but radiation at No. 3 remains the highest. The high radiation levels inside the No. 2 reactor's chamber mean it's inaccessible to the workers. Fukushima's accident has instilled public distrust and concerns about nuclear safety, making it difficult for the government to start up reactors even after regular safety checks. All but one of Japan's 54 reactors are now offline, with the last one scheduled to stop in early May.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on Fukushima and other cases of corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
A nuclear reactor on the Southern California coast will remain shut down indefinitely while a team of federal inspectors determines why several relatively new tubes became so frail that tests found they could rupture and release radioactive water, a federal official said [on March 15]. The Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located about 45 miles north of San Diego, was shut down as a precaution on Jan. 31 after a water leak from another tube in a massive steam generator. Since then, investigators have been looking into excessive wear found on steam generator tubes in the seaside plant and its twin, Unit 2, which has been offline for maintenance and refueling. The two huge steam generators at Unit 2, each containing 9,700 tubes, were replaced in fall 2009, and a year later in Unit 3 as part of a $670 million overhaul. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission dispatched a special, five-member team to Unit 3 ... after pressure tests showed three of the metal-alloy tubes had become so degraded that they could rupture under some circumstances. Such ruptures can require a plant to shut down, if spewing water reaches 150 gallons a day. According to the NRC, the tubes have an important safety role because they represent one of the primary barriers between the radioactive and non-radioactive sides of the plant. If a tube breaks, radioactivity from the system that pumps water through the reactor could escape into the atmosphere.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the dangers of nuclear power, click here.
Japan's prime minister acknowledged Saturday the government failed in its response to last year's earthquake and tsunami, being too slow in relaying key information and believing too much in "a myth of safety" about nuclear power. "We can no longer make the excuse that what was unpredictable and outside our imagination has happened," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said. "Crisis management requires us to imagine what may be outside our imagination." Noda was speaking to reporters at his official residence ahead of the anniversary of the March 11 disaster that killed nearly 20,000 people in northeastern Japan and set off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. The phrase "soteigai," or "outside our imagination," was used repeatedly by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that ran the plant, as the reason why it was not prepared for the giant tsunami that hit after the magnitude-9.0 quake. Although some scholars had warned about such tsunami risks, both the utility and regulators did little and kept backup generators in basements where they could be flooded. Japan has also drawn criticism as having been slow with information about the meltdowns and about radiation leaks into the air and the ocean. "We can say in hindsight that the government, business and scholars had all been seeped in a myth of safety," Noda said of the oversights in the accident. "The responsibility must be shared."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima power plant remains fragile nearly a year after it suffered multiple meltdowns, its chief said [on February 28], with makeshift equipment — some mended with tape — keeping crucial systems running. An independent report, meanwhile, revealed that the government downplayed the full danger in the days after the March 11 disaster and secretly considered evacuating Tokyo. Journalists given a tour of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Tuesday ... saw crumpled trucks and equipment still lying on the ground. A power pylon that collapsed in the tsunami, cutting electricity to the plant’s vital cooling system and setting off the crisis, remained a mangled mess. The equipment that serves as the lifeline of the cooling system is shockingly feeble-looking. Plastic hoses cracked by freezing temperatures have been mended with tape. A set of three pumps sits on the back of a pickup truck. Along with the pumps, the plant now has 1,000 tanks to store more than 160,000 tons of contaminated water. The Unit 3 reactor, whose roof was blown off by a hydrogen explosion, resembles an ashtray filled with a heap of cigarette butts. Officials say radiation hot spots remain inside the plant and minimizing exposure to them is a challenge.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 ... to grant a license to build two reactors at a nuclear plant in Georgia. It was the first time the commission decided to grant a license for a new reactor since 1978, a year before the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania. The sole vote against approval was cast by the commission's chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko. He said the construction and operating license would not assure that all of the safety improvements mandated by the agency in response to Japan's Fukushima disaster would be accomplished before the reactors begin operating in 2016 and 2017. The plant, which already has two reactors dating from the 1980s, will be the largest nuclear complex in the United States. The reactors were supposed to be the first in a wave of new projects after the Bush administration set aside $17.5 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear projects. But the nuclear rebirth has been so puny that much of that money is still available. The Energy Department has promised an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the two reactors.
Note: Why is this happening less than a year after the Fukushima disaster which left huge areas of land uninhabitable to this day?
Unusual wear has been found on hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water at Southern California’s San Onofre Unit 2 nuclear plant, raising questions about the integrity of equipment the company installed in a multimillion-dollar makeover in 2009. The disclosure came two days after a tube leak at the plant’s other unit prompted operators to shut down the reactor as a precaution. A tiny amount of radiation could have escaped, but officials say workers and the public were not endangered. The problems at Unit 2 were discovered during inspections of a steam generator, after the plant 45 miles north of San Diego was taken off-line for maintenance and refueling. The two huge steam generators at Unit 2, each containing 9,700 tubes, were replaced in fall 2009, and a year later in its twin plant, Unit 3, as part of a $670 million overhaul. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, more than a third of the wall had been worn away in two tubes at Unit 2, which will require them to be plugged and taken out of service. At least 20 percent of the tube wall was worn away in 69 other tubes, and in more than 800, the thinning was at least 10 percent. Retired NRC engineer and researcher Joram Hopenfeld said the company will have to determine why the tubing is degrading so quickly “before they do anything else.” “I’ve never heard of anything like that over so short a period of time,” Hopenfeld said. “The safety implications could be very, very severe,” Hopenfeld added.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on dangers posed by the nuclear power industry, click here.
A federal judge on [January 19] blocked Vermont from forcing the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor to shut down when its license expires in March, saying that the state is trying to regulate nuclear safety, which only the federal government can do. The judge [said] in his ruling that ... state lawmakers and witnesses made clear that their effort to close the plant was "grounded in radiological safety concerns" - the province of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The commission has already granted Vermont Yankee a 20-year license extension. The ruling is almost certain to be appealed by the state and an array of private groups that want the plant shut down because of leaks of radioactive tritium and other issues. Since Entergy bought Vermont Yankee 10 years ago, public opinion has turned sharply against the plant. After several plants around the country suffered leaks of radioactive water into the soil, state officials asked Vermont Yankee executives in 2009 whether their plant might be susceptible to that problem. The executives said that Vermont Yankee had no underground pipes carrying radioactive material. But it did - and the pipes leaked. The State Senate voted 26 to 4 in 2010 not to authorize the needed certificate.
Note: How convenient for the nuclear power industry that federal judges can block state legislation to shut down dangerous nuclear power plants. For more on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.
Federal regulators on [December 22] signed off on a next-generation nuclear reactor slated for Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point plant and five other utilities in the Southeast, paving the way for construction of the first new reactors in the U.S. in three decades. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's approval of the Westinghouse AP 1000 design was a major milestone for the nuclear power industry, which hasn't built a new reactor since the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. Opponents of the AP 1000 ... bristled at the decision. [Some elected officials and] environmental groups ... contend the NRC "fast-tracked" the AP 1000 without thoroughly addressing potential safety concerns or incorporating lessons learned from the March meltdown of the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan, disabled by an earthquake and tsunami. Arnie Gunderson, an outside expert ... warned the design might be vulnerable to rust that could cause dangerous holes and cracks in the steel reactor containment vessel - a particular problem in the marine environment of Turkey Point. Another study, commissioned by NC Warn, a North Carolina anti-nuclear group, and Friends of the Earth, argued the safety margin for an accidental high pressure build-up inside the reactor was dangerously slim.
Japan's nuclear power industry, which once ignored opposition, now finds its existence threatened by women angered by official [secrecy] on radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. More than 100 anti-nuclear demonstrators, most of them women, met with officials of the Nuclear Safety Commission this week and handed over a statement calling for a transparent investigation into the accident and a permanent shutdown of all nuclear power plants. Groups of women, braving a cold winter, have been setting up tents since last week preparing for a new sit-in campaign in front of the ministry of economic affairs. The women have pledged to continue their demonstration for 10 months and 10 days, traditionally reckoned in Japan as a full term that covers a pregnancy. "Our protests are aimed at achieving a rebirth in Japanese society," said Chieko Shina, a participant, and a grandmother from Fukushima. "The ongoing demonstrations symbolise the determination of ordinary people who do not want nuclear power because it is dangerous. There is also the bigger message that we do not trust the government any more," said Takanobu Kobayashi, who manages the Matsudo network of citizens' movements. Distrust stems primarily from the fact that the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors was not reported to the public immediately, causing huge health risks to the local population from radiation leaks.
Japan’s government [has said] that it could take 40 years to clean up and fully decommission [the Fukushima reactors]. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. will start removing spent fuel rods within two to three years from their pools. After that is completed, TEPCO will start removing the melted fuel, most of which is believed to have fallen to the bottom of the core or even down to the bottom of the larger, beaker-shaped containment vessel, a process that is expected to begin in 10 years and [be] completed 25 years from now. Completely decommissioning the plant would require five to 10 more years after the fuel debris removal, making the entire process up to 40 years. The process still requires the development of robots and technology that can do much of the work remotely because of extremely high radiation levels inside the reactor buildings. The operator and the government would also have to ensure a stable supply of workers and save them from exceeding exposure limits while keeping the long process going. They also have to figure out ways to access each containment vessel and assess the extent of damage, as well as locate holes and cracks through which cooling water is leaking and flooding the area. Another problem is huge volume of radioactive waste and debris that will come out of the plant during its dismantling process. Officials said they have not decided what to do with them and that part is not covered by the 40-year roadmap.
An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima. Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks. The IJHS article [is] available online ... at http://www.radiation.org. Internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD, said: "Based on our continuing research, the actual death count [in the US] may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults."
Note: To read the report (in pdf format) on excess mortality in the US already caused by the Fukushima meltdowns, click here.
The Japanese government [has] declared that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had reached a stable state known as “cold shutdown.” But the formal status change at the plant, experts cautioned, means only that its problems have become less dire; they have not disappeared. The plant still leaks radiation into the sea. Its makeshift cooling system is vulnerable to earthquakes. And the cleanup work remains dangerous, with many flooded and debris-strewn areas of the reactor buildings difficult even for robots to access. In normal circumstances, a reactor in cold shutdown mode is entirely stable, its fuel intact, with no chance of a chain reaction. To achieve its version of a cold shutdown at Fukushima Daiichi, ... Japan had to loosen the definition. Fukushima now meets the government’s requirements because temperatures at the bottom of the three damaged reactor pressure vessels have dropped below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). Airborne leaks into the environment have also been almost halted. The declaration poses new questions for many of the 80,000 people who fled towns around the plant ... since the government had made the cold shutdown a precondition for even considering reopening parts of the no-go zone to residents. Many areas within the no-entry zone — a 12-mile radius around the plant — will be uninhabitable for decades, maybe longer.
Just after 6 a.m. on Dec. 5, under cover of darkness, nine Greenpeace activists cut through a fence at the Nogent-sur-Seine atomic plant 95 kilometers (59 miles) southeast of Paris and headed for a domed reactor building. They scaled the roof and unfurled a “Safe Nuclear Doesn’t Exist” banner before attracting the attention of security guards. Two remained at large for four hours. On the same day, two more campaigners breached the perimeter of the Cruas-Meysse plant on the Rhone, escaping detection for more than 14 hours while posting videos of their sit-in on the Internet. The security lapses ... come at a time when debate has intensified on France’s reliance on atomic power for three-quarters of its energy needs in the run-up to next year’s presidential elections. They also preempt next month’s release of the results of safety checks at France’s 58 reactors, commissioned in the aftermath of the Fukushima tragedy. Greenpeace said its activists exposed the biggest security lapse to date at the reactors that are operated by Electricite de France SA.
Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear-power complex came closer to a catastrophic meltdown than previously indicated by its operator [which on November 30] described how one reactor's molten nuclear core likely burned through its primary containment chamber and then ate as far as three-quarters of the way through the concrete in a secondary vessel. The [new] assessment—offered by Japan's government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., ... marked Japan's most sobering reckoning to date of the nuclear disaster sparked by the country's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But it came nearly six months after U.S. and international nuclear experts and regulators had reached similar conclusions. For the first time, Tokyo Electric ... said that nuclear-fuel rods in the complex's No. 1 reactor had likely melted completely, burning through their so-called pressure vessel and then boring through concrete at the bottom of a second containment vessel. That brought the fuel closer than previously believed to breaching the containment vessel and foundation and continuing to burn through the ground below — a scenario sometimes described as the "China Syndrome." The findings are the latest reminder of how much remains unknown about the extent of the mid-March Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Note: For further information on the developing understanding of the severity of the meltdowns at Fukushima, see these reports at The Guardian and The New York Times. For key reports from major media sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.
The radioactive gas xenon, which is often the byproduct of unexpected nuclear fission, was detected at the Fukushima Daiichi plant during tests. Officials were today injecting boric acid as an emergency precautionary measure to stem any accidental chain reactions which could result in further radiation leakages. The discovery of such a gas is likely to be regarded as an unwelcome setback among operators who are keen to achieve cold shutdown by the end of the year. Officials both from Tokyo Electric Power Co, which operates the plant, and from Japan Atomic Energy Agency, were today (WED) reexamining the gases to double check their identity. The discovery of the gases coincided with the controversial reopening of a nuclear reactor in southern Japan – the first to be put back online since the March 11 Fukushima disaster. The Genkai plant in Kyushu was restarted despite strong public opposition, after officials confirmed it had passed safety tests following its closure over technical problems last month. Anti-nuclear public sentiment has been growing across Japan since the nation was caught up in the on-going atomic crisis, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Around 40 of Japan's 54 reactors currently remain offline for testing, with the Genkai plant widely regarded as a symbolic first step in restarting dozens more across the country.
This spring’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant released almost double the amount of radiation the Japanese government has claimed, according to a new analysis. The authors say the boiling pools holding spent fuel rods played a role in the release of some of the contaminants, primarily cesium-137 — and that this could have been mitigated by an earlier response. Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Air Research ... say the amount of cesium-137, a long-lived isotope that persists in the atmosphere, was about twice as high as the Japanese government’s official estimate. The researchers also say about 20 percent of the total fallout landed over Japan, but the vast majority fell over the Pacific Ocean. (The effects of this fallout on fisheries and aquatic wildlife are still being determined.) Cesium-137 emissions peaked three or four days after the quake and tsunami, remaining high until March 19, according to this new study. That’s the day authorities started spraying water on the spent-fuel pool at reactor unit 4, the researchers note. “This indicates that emissions were not only coming from the damaged reactor cores, but also from the spent-fuel pool of unit 4 and confirms that the spraying was an effective countermeasure,” they say. This contradicts Japanese government reports claiming the pools released no radiation.
Note: According to the French nuclear agency, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN, Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire), even the higher estimate of radiation release described in this article is too low. The agency estimates that 20 times more cesium-137 was released than has been admitted by Tepco.
The operator of Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant [Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco)] said the amount of radiation being emitted from the complex has halved from a month ago, in the latest sign that efforts to bring the plant under control are progressing. In light of the progress being made in cooling its damaged reactors, which suffered nuclear fuel meltdowns in the first days of the crisis, Tepco formally brought forward its plan to bring the plant to a state of "cold shutdown" within this year. Technically, a cold shutdown is a state in which water used to cool nuclear fuel rods remains below 100 degrees Celsius, preventing the fuel from reheating. Declaring a cold shutdown will have repercussions well beyond the plant as it is one of the criteria the government said must be met before it begins allowing about 80,000 residents evacuated from within a 20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant to go home. Japan faces a massive cleanup task if these residents are to be returned home -- the environmental ministry says about 2,400 square km (930 square miles) of land surrounding Daiichi may need decontamination. Even if a cold shutdown is declared Tepco has acknowledged that it may not be able to remove the fuel from the reactors for another 10 years and that the cleanup at the plant could take several decades.
Note: For more on the Fukushima situation from the standpoint of the tens of thousands of evacuees, click here.
FirstEnergy Corp. [stock price] fell after a report that engineers discovered cracks in the concrete shell of its Davis-Besse nuclear plant. Contractors on Oct. 10 discovered a hairline crack measuring about 30 feet (9.1 meters) long as they sliced a hole into the plant’s outer shell in order to install a new reactor vessel head, said Jennifer Young, a FirstEnergy spokeswoman. The cracked shell is the outermost of several layers of steel and concrete that protect the reactor, which has been shut down since Oct. 1 in preparation for the repair work. Davis-Besse was shuttered for more than three months in 2010 after workers discovered cooling water leaking through cracks in some reactor-head nozzles, steel casings that hold fuel and control rods. Leaks and reactor corrosion prompted FirstEnergy to close the plant for two years, from 2002 to 2004, while the company retrained or replaced workers who ignored signs of damage, and eventually replaced the reactor head. The leaks found last year at the 900-megawatt plant prompted the Union of Concerned Scientists in April 2010 to demand that the plant remain closed until its owners established better controls to maintain health and safety standards.
Note: If you want to see how safety around nuclear plants is ignored and threatened all the time by money interests at all levels, watch the amazingly revealing documentary on Chernobyl at this link. The most telling piece in this documentary involves the man tasked by Gorbechov to write the official report of all the problems they faced. When he gave the report to the IAEA in a secret meeting, he was ridiculed by the other international leaders there, who accused him of spreading baseless fears. On the second anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, he committed suicide.
The triple meltdown and its aftermath at the Fukushima nuclear power plant [have] elevated Japan into unknown, and unknowable, terrain. Across the northeast, millions of people are living with its consequences and searching for a consensus on a safe radiation level that does not exist. Experts give bewilderingly different assessments of its dangers. Some scientists say Fukushima is worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with which it shares a maximum level-7 rating on the sliding scale of nuclear disasters. Chris Busby, a professor at the University of Ulster ... said the disaster would result in more than 1 million deaths. "Fukushima is still boiling its radionuclides all over Japan," he said. "Chernobyl went up in one go. So Fukushima is worse." Slowly, steadily, and often well behind the curve, the government has worsened its prognosis of the disaster. Last Friday, scientists affiliated with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the plant had released 15,000 terabecquerels of cancer-causing Cesium, equivalent to about 168 times the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the event that ushered in the nuclear age. [But] Professor Busby says the release is at least 72,000 times worse than Hiroshima.
It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit? The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan may have to be shut down. Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: it was the earthquake that knocked out the plant's electric power, halting cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami then washed out the plant's back-up generators 40 minutes later, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world's first triple meltdown. But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes burst after the earthquake – before the tidal wave reached the facilities; before the electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the 40-year-old reactor one, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still operating in Japan. Problems with the fractured, deteriorating, poorly repaired pipes and the cooling system had been pointed out for years. In September 2002, Tepco admitted covering up data about cracks in critical circulation pipes.
British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known. Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK. "This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear." Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power. Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like "scandalous collusion". "This highlights the government's blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear," she said.
Look at the Department of Energy's 2012 budget request for the Livermore Lab and it becomes apparent that PR has an inverse relationship to budget. Some 89 percent of the funds are for nuclear weapons activities. Yet, more than 89 percent of the press releases showcase programs like renewable energy and science that receive less than 3 percent of the spending. This has caused many to believe that Livermore Lab is converting from nuclear weapons to civilian science. A major consequence of the chasm between public perception and where the money actually goes is that science at Livermore continues to exist on the margins - underfunded, understaffed and at the mercy of the 800-pound gorilla of the nuclear weapons budget. Consider the many benefits of transitioning Livermore from nuclear-weapons design to a "green lab," focused on nonpolluting energy development, climate research, basic sciences, nonproliferation and environmental cleanup. Livermore Lab is uniquely qualified to contribute in these areas. The lab already employs the right mix of physicists, other scientists, engineers, materials specialists, and support personnel for these undertakings.
Note: To learn more about how the public is being massively deceived around war and weapons spending, read what a top U.S. general had to say about this at this link.
Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping. The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation. Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP's yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard — sometimes at hundreds of times the limit. At three sites — two in Illinois and one in Minnesota — leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes. At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean. Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Tritium moves through soil quickly, and when it is detected it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time.
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public. Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. Not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.
Note: Read this detailed report in its entirety to see the amazing range of serious problems in the US nuclear industry which have systematically been covered up by the NRC. For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly [on June 20], after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway. The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said. Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The Cooper Nuclear Plant is operating at full capacity Monday, Becker said. The Columbus-based utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission. The Cooper Nuclear Station is one of two plants along the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska. The Fort Calhoun Station, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, is about 20 miles north of Omaha. It issued a similar alert to the regulatory commission June 6.
Note: This same plant narrowly avoided a shutdown just a couple weeks prior due to an electrical fire. For the AP article on this, click here. On Monday, June 27, floodwaters collapsed a berm protecting the plant and flooded a building onsite. Authorities, however, still claim there are no dangers.
Physician Janette Sherman, M.D. and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published a report Monday highlighting a 35% spike in northwest infant mortality after Japan's nuclear meltdown. The report spotlighted data from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on infant mortality rates in eight northwest cities, including Seattle, in the 10 weeks after Fukushima's nuclear meltdown. The average number of infant deaths for the region moved from an average of 9.25 in the four weeks before Fukushima' nuclear meltdown, to an average of 12.5 per week in the 10 weeks after. The change represents a 35% increase in the northwest's infant mortality rates. In comparison, the average rates for the entire U.S. rose only 2.3%.
The nuclear fuel in three of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has melted through the base of the pressure vessels and is pooling in the outer containment vessels, according to a report by the Japanese government. The findings of the report, which has been given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, were revealed by the Yomiuri newspaper, which described a "melt-through" as being "far worse than a core meltdown" and "the worst possibility in a nuclear accident." Water that was pumped into the pressure vessels to cool the fuel rods, becoming highly radioactive in the process, has been confirmed to have leaked out of the containment vessels and outside the buildings that house the reactors. Elevated levels of radiation have been confirmed in the ocean off the plant. The radiation will also have contaminated the soil and plant and animal life around the facility, making the task of cleaning up more difficult and expensive, as well as taking longer. The pressure vessel of the No. 1 reactor is now believed to have suffered damage just five hours after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Melt-downs of the fuel in the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors followed over the following days with the molten fuel collecting at the bottom of the pressure vessels before burning through and into the external steel containment vessels.
Note: The UK Telegraph has been consistently reporting the bad news about the Fukushima catastrophe, but many other major media outlets have not kept the spotlight on this vital issue. Could that be because they are protecting the nuclear industry and its plans for expansion from the fallout of public opinion?
A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station. The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60. They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young. It was while watching the television news that Yasuteru Yamada decided it was time for his generation to stand up. No longer could he be just an observer of the struggle to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant. The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he is organising a team of pensioners to go with him. For weeks now Mr Yamada has been getting back in touch with old friends, sending out e-mails and even messages on Twitter. Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical. "I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live," he says. "Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer." Mr Yamada is lobbying the government hard for his volunteers to be allowed into the power station. The government has expressed gratitude for the offer but is cautious.
The operator of the nuclear power plant at the center of a radiation scare after being disabled by Japan's earthquake and tsunami confirmed ... that there had been meltdowns of fuel rods at three of its reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Co said meltdowns of fuel rods at three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant occurred early in the crisis triggered by the March 11 disaster. The government and outside experts had said previously that fuel rods at three of the plant's six reactors had likely melted early in the crisis, but the utility, also known as Tepco, had only confirmed a meltdown at the No.1 reactor. Tepco officials said a review since early May of data from the plant concluded the same happened to reactors No.2 and 3. Some analysts said the delay in confirming the meltdowns at Fukushima suggested the utility feared touching off a panic by disclosing the severity of the accident earlier. "Now people are used to the situation. Nothing is resolved, but normal business has resumed in places like Tokyo," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Tokyo's Sophia University. Nakano said that by confirming the meltdowns now, Tepco may be hoping the news will have less impact.
Note: Very few major media have given TEPCO's confirmation of the world's worst fears about the severity of the Fukushima nuclear disaster the attention it deserves. Are the major media burying this story because of the potential harm it will do to plans for the expansion of the nuclear power industry?
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said it is studying whether the facility's reactors were damaged in the March 11 earthquake even before the massive tsunami that followed cut off power and sent the reactors into crisis. Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed source at the utility on Sunday as saying that the No. 1 reactor might have suffered structural damage in the earthquake that caused a release of radiation separate from the tsunami. Tepco has provided a new analysis of the early hours of the Fukushima crisis. The utility said on Sunday that a review of data from March 11 suggested that the fuel rods in the No. 1 reactor were completely exposed to the air and rapidly heating five hours after the quake. By the next morning - just 16 hours later - the uranium fuel rods in the first reactor had melted down and dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel. The No. 2 and No. 3 reactors are expected to have gone through a similar process and like No. 1 are leaking most of the water being pumped in a bid to keep their cores cool. A massive pond of radioactive water has collected in the basement of the No. 1 reactor. Experts fear that the contaminated water leaking from the plant could threaten groundwater and the Pacific.
Japan will scrap a plan to obtain half of its electricity from nuclear power and will instead promote renewable energy and conservation as a result of its ongoing nuclear crisis, the prime minister said [on May 10]. Naoto Kan said Japan needs to "start from scratch" on its long-term energy policy after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was heavily damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami and began leaking radiation. Some 80,000 people living within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the plant were evacuated from their homes. Nuclear plants supplied about 30 percent of Japan's electricity, and the government had planned to raise that to 50 percent by 2030. Kan told a news conference that nuclear and fossil fuel used to be the pillars of Japanese energy policy but now the government will add two more pillars: renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass, and an increased focus on conservation. "I believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted nuclear energy as national policy. I apologize to the people for failing to prevent the nuclear accident," Kan said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on promising renewable energy sources, click here.
Severe storms and tornadoes moving through the U.S. Southeast dealt a severe blow to the Tennessee Valley Authority [on April 27], causing three nuclear reactors in Alabama to shut and knocking out 11 high-voltage power lines, the utility and regulators said. All three units at TVA's 3,274-megawatt Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama tripped about 5:30 EDT after losing outside power to the plant, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. A TVA spokeswoman said the station's backup power systems, including diesel generators, started and operated as designed. External power was restored quickly to the plant but diesel generators remained running Wednesday evening, she said. The Browns Ferry units are among 23 U.S. reactors that are similar in design to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan where backup generators were swept away in the tsunami that followed the massive earthquake on March 11.
Note: And what might have happened if one of those tornadoes happened to hit a nuclear power plant?
A month after a devastating earthquake sent a wall of water across the Japanese landscape, the global terrain of the atomic power industry has been forever altered. The ongoing drama at the power plant in Fukushima ... has erased the momentum the nuclear industry has seen in recent years. Before Fukushima, a "nuclear renaissance" - as it was termed in the press - seemed well underway, except for this point: Nuclear power, as a total of world energy supply, has been in steady decline for the past decade. From 2000 to 2008, nuclear energy dropped from 16.7% to 13.5% of global energy production, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2009. The 2010-11 preliminary report, expected to be released [on April 20], will show the downward trend has continued. Costs of nuclear power plants can be as high as $10 billion. The average construction time is seven years, but with licensing approval new builds often take a decade. Nuclear power reactors are dependent on government subsidies and loan guarantees to be built, cover costs in case of accidents and assume long-term responsibility for storage of spent radioactive fuel, critics say, which artificially lowers the cost of production. Market reaction has been swift against the nuclear industry after the Fukushima disaster. Companies on the Standard & Poor's Clean Energy Index rose on average 17% in the wake of the disaster, while companies on the S&P Nuclear Index fell 8.7%.
Japanese officials have been forced to explain why it took them a month to disclose large-scale releases of radioactive material in mid-March at a crippled nuclear-power plant. The government announced [on April 12] that it had raised its rating of the severity of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex to 7, the worst on an international scale, from 5. Japan's new assessment was based largely on computer models showing heavy emissions of radioactive iodine and cesium March 14-16, soon after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami rendered the plant's emergency cooling system inoperative. The nearly monthlong delay in acknowledging the extent of these emissions is a fresh example of confused data and analysis from the Japanese and put authorities on the defensive about whether they have delayed or blocked the release of information to avoid alarming the public. Seiji Shiroya, a commissioner of Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission, an independent panel that oversees the country's nuclear industry, ... suggested a public-policy reason for having kept quiet. "Some foreigners fled the country even when there appeared to be little risk," he said. "If we immediately decided to label the situation as Level 7, we could have triggered a panicked reaction." The peak release in emissions of radioactive particles took place after hydrogen explosions at three Fukujima reactors.
Igor Gramotkin is ... the manager of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and has spent more than two decades at the site of the most devastating nuclear accident in history, trying to stop further radiation emissions and cleaning the area. Mr Gramotkin admitted that the destroyed reactor, still full of radioactive waste and nuclear fuel, remains "a threat not only to Ukraine but to the whole world" until it is encased in a vast steel structure that is being built. In the months after the accident, a makeshift "sarcophagus" had been constructed to encase the reactor, but it is now unstable and, despite work to shore it up, experts say a new shelter is desperately needed in case the old one collapses. At more than 100m tall, the shelter will be the largest moveable structure ever built. Those building it still have to be extremely careful. Standing in the area immediately around the plant subjects a person to radiation equivalent to about one old-style chest X-ray per day. The human costs of the Chernobyl accident are ... horrific by any estimate. [Some] studies put the figure in the hundreds of thousands. There are incidences of genetic mutations, children born lacking organs, and dramatically elevated thyroid cancer levels in local children, who drank milk contaminated with radioactive iodine in the years after the accident.
The chaos at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant — explosions, fires, ruptures — has not shaken the bipartisan support in partisan Washington for the U.S.'s so-called nuclear renaissance. Republicans have dismissed Japan's crisis as a once-in-a-lifetime fluke. President Obama has defended atomic energy as a carbon-free source of power, resisting calls to halt the renaissance and freeze construction of the U.S.'s first new reactors in over three decades. But there is no renaissance. Even before the earthquake-tsunami one-two punch, the endlessly hyped U.S. nuclear revival was stumbling, pummeled by skyrocketing costs, stagnant demand and skittish investors, not to mention the defeat of restrictions on carbon that could have mitigated nuclear energy's economic insanity. Obama has offered unprecedented aid to an industry that already enjoyed cradle-to-grave subsidies, and the antispending GOP has clamored for even more largesse. But Wall Street hates nukes as much as K Street loves them, which is why there's no new reactor construction to freeze. Once hailed as "too cheap to meter," nuclear fission turns out to be an outlandishly expensive method of generating juice for our Xboxes.
It turns out that nuclear waste has more in common with the financial world than being a metaphor for the worst of its toxic assets. Nuclear waste — some of which remains disastrously radioactive for 100,000 years — turns out to be the ultimate tail risk. Tail risk, of course, is the statistical term much in vogue in the financial press for describing unlikely events. (The 'tail' in tail risk refers to the tail-shaped edges in the bell curve of a normal distribution.) These allegedly unlikely events are sometimes referred to as black swans. Black swans are occurring with such regularity in these volatile times that they can no longer be considered true statistical outliers. [Take] a look at these outlier events within the context of building nuclear waste containment vessels. Repository builders have to take into account a tail risk of future humans disturbing the site and not realising the danger facing themselves and their ecology. People might regress towards a pre-industrial state or lose language over a timescale like that. So you have to design a marker that scares people away, but doesn't flip them over into morbid curiosity towards exploring further and, potentially, dooming an entire civilisation with radioactive poisoning.
A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium. China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s. Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster. “The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert. “If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,” he said. US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation. The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.
U.S. government officials, in private sessions on Capitol Hill [on Friday, March 18], repeatedly declined to give details of radiation measurements at the stricken Japanese nuclear complex, saying the situation is shrouded in a "fog of war." Separately, the Obama administration said ... "miniscule quantities" of radiation from the Japanese nuclear accident were detected Friday at a monitoring station in Sacramento, Calif., a day after similar traces of radiation were detected in Washington state. The administration said the levels of the radioactive isotope xenon 133 were approximately equivalent to one-millionth the dose received from the sun, rocks or other natural sources. The Obama administration's reluctance to detail in public what it is learning from radiation-detection operations around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan ... comes after statements Wednesday by the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that painted a grimmer picture of the nuclear crisis than Japanese officials had offered, and suggested that the U.S. didn't trust the information coming from the Japanese government.
Note: Shouldn't the title be something more like "U.S. Refuses to Give Radiation Details for Fear of Industry Repercussions"? How sad that money often continues to trump public health in matters like this.
Nuclear plants in the United States last year experienced at least 14 "near misses," serious failures in which safety was jeopardized, at least in part, due to lapses in oversight and enforcement by US nuclear safety regulators, says a new report. They occurred with alarming frequency – more than once a month – which is high for a mature industry, said the study of nuclear plant safety performance in 2010 by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based nuclear watchdog group. The report, the first in what the UCS expects will become an annual study, details both successes and failures by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which it calls "the cop on the beat." Charged with overseeing America's fleet of 104 nuclear reactors, the NRC made some "outstanding catches," but was also inconsistent in its oversight, seeming at times to nod off when most needed. "The chances of a disaster at a nuclear plant are low," the report states. "But when the NRC tolerates unresolved safety problems – as it did last year at Peach Bottom, Indian Point, and Vermont Yankee – this lax oversight allows that risk to rise. The more owners sweep safety problems under the rug and the longer safety problems remain uncorrected, the higher the risk climbs."
Note: For many reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
For 18 months, operators at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo didn't realize that a system to pump water into one of their reactors during an emergency wasn't working. It had been accidentally disabled by the plant's own engineers, according to a report ... from the Union of Concerned Scientists watchdog group, [which] lists 14 recent "near misses" - instances in which serious problems at a plant required federal regulators to respond. The report criticizes both plant operators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing some known safety issues to fester. The problem at Diablo Canyon ... involved a series of valves that allow water to pour into one of the plant's two reactors during emergencies, keeping the reactor from overheating. A pair of remotely operated valves in the emergency cooling system was taking too long to move from completely closed to completely open. So engineers shortened the distance between those two positions, according to the report. Unfortunately, two other pairs of valves were interlocked with the first. They couldn't open at all until the first pair opened all the way. No one noticed until the valves refused to open during a test in October 2009, 18 months after the engineers made the changes.
If any institution needs to get back to basics and refocus on what it takes to survive a disaster - or report on it with integrity - it's the cable news business. The triple threat in Japan - earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors in peril - is clearly demonstrating how reporters and anchors are bungling the basics and how the producers and executives in charge of them have fallen woefully short of leadership. Yes, the visuals were riveting and horrific, but context was lacking. Covering this trilogy of terror in Japan really underscores how much better prepared reporters and anchors need to be. The incessantly simplistic and embarrassing questions need to stop. It's a shame that going online to watch videos from NHK, BBC and Al Jazeera English was far and away the best option for Americans.
Behind Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses. Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all. In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died. "Everything is a secret," said Kei Sugaoka, a former nuclear power plant engineer in Japan who now lives in California. "There's not enough transparency in the industry." In 1989 Sugaoka received an order that horrified him: edit out footage showing cracks in plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators. Sugaoka alerted his superiors in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., but nothing happened — for years. He decided to go public in 2000. Three Tepco executives lost their jobs. The legacy of scandals and cover-ups over Japan's half-century reliance on nuclear power has strained its credibility with the public. That mistrust has been renewed this past week with the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The vagueness and scarcity of details offered by the government and Tepco — and news that seems to grow worse each day — are fueling public anger and frustration.
The horrible and heartbreaking events in Japan present a strange concatenation of disasters. Succumbing to the one-two punch of the earthquake and the tsunami, eleven of Japan’s 54 nuclear power reactors were shut down. Three of them have lost coolant to their cores and have experienced partial meltdowns. The same three have also suffered large explosions. The spent fuel in a fourth caught fire. Now a second filthy wave is beginning to roll — this one composed of radioactive elements in the atmosphere. They include unknown amounts of cesium-137 and iodine-131, which can only have originated in the melting cores or in nearby spent fuel rod pools. The Japanese government has evacuated some 200,000 people in the vicinity of the plants. The second shock was, of course, different from the first in at least one fundamental respect. The first was dealt by Mother Nature, who has thus reminded us of her sovereign power to nourish or punish our delicate planet, its axis now tipping ever so slightly in a new direction. No finger of blame can be pointed at any perpetrator. The second shock, on the other hand, is the product of humankind, and involves human responsibility. Until the human species stepped in, there was no appreciable release of atomic energy from nuclear fission or fusion on earth.
Note: For an excellent list of experiments in which humans, either individually or collectively as a species, are being used as guinea pigs in most unethical and dangerous ways, click here.
Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s. "The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh [said]. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release." Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power. In 1986, for instance, Harold Denton, then the director of NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, spoke critically about the design during an industry conference. Today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan.
Witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby. Six former U.S. Air Force officers and one former enlisted man will break their silence about these events at the National Press Club and urge the government to publicly confirm their reality. One of them, ICBM launch officer Captain Robert Salas, was on duty during one missile disruption incident at Malmstrom Air Force Base and was ordered to never discuss it. Captain Salas notes, "The U.S. Air Force is lying about the national security implications of unidentified aerial objects at nuclear bases and we can prove it." Col. Halt adds, "I believe that the security services of both the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted—both then and now—to subvert the significance of what occurred at RAF Bentwaters by the use of well-practiced methods of disinformation." Declassified U.S. government documents, to be distributed at the event, now substantiate the reality of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites extending back to 1948. The press conference will also address present-day concerns about the abuse of government secrecy as well as the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons.
Note: Captain Salas has submitted to WantToKnow.info his own further investigation into his experience. Read his fascinating story at this link. For the testimony of several dozen key military and government officials on the existence of a major cover-up of UFOs, click here.
Israel's Army Radio reported on [July 7] that the United States has sent Israel a secret document committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries. The U.S. has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies, despite the fact that Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Other countries have refused to cooperate with Israel on nuclear matters because it has not signed the NPT, and there has been increasing international pressure for Israel to be more transparent about its nuclear arsenal. Army Radio's diplomatic correspondent said the reported offer could put Israel on a par with India, another NPT holdout which is openly nuclear-armed but in 2008 secured a U.S.-led deal granting it civilian nuclear imports. Israel neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons under an "ambiguity" strategy billed as warding off foes while avoiding public provocations that can spark regional arms races. The official reticence, and its toleration in Washington, has long aggrieved many Arabs and Iranians - especially given U.S.-led pressure on Tehran to rein in its nuclear program.
Note: For many key reports on the government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of [Israel's] possession of nuclear weapons. The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret. The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky ... provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence. The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request.
Note: A New York Times article states that Isreal has strongly denied this story. Yet even this articles states, "Israel has a longstanding policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying that it has nuclear weapons, though it is widely believed to have developed a large arsenal."
This week, scientists gathered at the American Chemical Society's spring meeting in San Francisco to turn the spotlight on a highly unorthodox path: the effect known as cold fusion. This year's session featured nearly 50 presentations - including reports on batteries and bacteria that appear to exhibit the cold-fusion effect. Back in 1989, cold fusion was heralded as a simple, inexpensive way to get a power-generating fusion reaction on a desktop. But when the experimental results couldn't be reproduced, the researchers were driven into obscurity [and] the term "cold fusion" became synonymous with quackery. Chemists, however, have kept up their interest in the effect. Rick Nebel [has headed] up a handful of researchers following the less-traveled path to fusion at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that it successfully completed a series of experiments to "validate and extend" earlier results. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine. Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant - a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years. "Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.
Note: For a powerful, reliable documentary showing how promising results from cold fusion were strongly suppressed, click here. For lots of reports from reliable sources of new energy developments, click here.
President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget blueprint calls for an increase in funding of more than 13 percent for the agency that oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, a greater percentage increase than for any other government agency. The $11.2 billion request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) represents a 13.4 percent increase for the agency from the previous fiscal year. Most agencies across the rest of the government saw either no increase in the spending plan announced this week or a single-digit percentage increase. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who has actively followed negotiations over a new nuclear treaty with Russia, said the increase in the budget was "a definite improvement over previous years." Other observers already see the new budget as a boon for arms-control advocates.
Note: So the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama, is increasing the budget for nuclear weapons more than any other agency. Kind of ironic, isn't it? For the real reasons behind this, read what one of the most highly decorated US generals ever had to say about the real forces behind war at this link.
The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons. The publication of the document was revealed Monday in an online newsletter devoted to issues of federal secrecy. It ... prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document had been made public. On Tuesday evening, after inquiries from The New York Times, the document was withdrawn from a Government Printing Office Web site. The information, considered confidential but not classified, was assembled for transmission later this year to the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of a process by which the United States is opening itself up to stricter inspections in hopes that foreign countries, especially Iran and others believed to be clandestinely developing nuclear arms, will do likewise. President Obama sent the document to Congress on May 5 for Congressional review and possible revision, and the Government Printing Office subsequently posted the draft declaration on its Web site. Steven Aftergood, a security expert at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, revealed the existence of the document on Monday in Secrecy News, an electronic newsletter he publishes on the Web. Mr. Aftergood expressed bafflement at its disclosure, calling it “a one-stop shop for information on U.S. nuclear programs.” The report lists many particulars about nuclear programs and facilities at the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories — Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia — as well as dozens of other federal and private nuclear sites.
Note: For lots more on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
The US military has been using Britain's atomic weapons factory to carry out research into its own nuclear warhead programme. US defence officials said that "very valuable" warhead research has taken place at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire as part of an ongoing and secretive deal between the British and American governments. Campaign groups warned any such deal was in breach of international law. Kate Hudson, of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Any work preparing the way for new warheads cuts right across the UK's commitment to disarm, which it signed up to in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. That this work may be contributing to both future US and British warheads is nothing short of scandalous." The extent of US involvement at Aldermaston came to light in an interview with John Harvey, policy and planning director at the US National Nuclear Security Administration. Harvey said: "There are some capabilities that the UK has that we don't have and that we borrow... that I believe we have been able to exploit [and] that's been very valuable to us." In the same interview, Harvey admitted that the US and UK had struck a new deal over the level of cooperation, including work on ... a new generation of nuclear warhead known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).
A hydrogen bomb is missing from the United States' arsenal and has been, evidently, for 40 years. When last seen, the bomb was one of four aboard an Air Force B-52 bomber that crashed on a frozen bay near Thule Air Force Base in northern Greenland on Jan. 21, 1968. Two years later, the United States and Denmark reported that they agreed "that the accident caused no danger to man or animal and plant life in the area." The 96-page report of the investigation indicated that all four nuclear warheads aboard the plane had disintegrated on impact. Case closed. Well, maybe not, the BBC says this week. Declassified documents that the BBC obtained under the United States Freedom of Information Act indicate that only three of the bombs were accounted for, and that the United States searched secretly for the fourth bomb, without success. By April , a decision had been taken to send a Star III submarine to the base to look for the lost bomb, which had the serial number 78252. (A similar submarine search off the coast of Spain two years earlier had led to another weapon being recovered.) But the real purpose of this search was deliberately hidden from Danish officials. One document from July reads: "Fact that this operation includes search for object or missing weapon part is to be treated as confidential NOFORN", the last word meaning not to be disclosed to any foreign country. "For discussion with Danes, this operation should be referred to as a survey repeat survey of bottom under impact point," it continued. And what does the Pentagon have to say about all this now? It had no comment for the BBC.
Note: To read the original New York Times article from Jan. 22, 1968 on this incident, click here.
An investigation into the illicit sale of American nuclear secrets was compromised by a senior official in the State Department, a former FBI employee has claimed. The official is said to have tipped off a foreign contact about a bogus CIA company used to investigate the sale of nuclear secrets. The firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was a front for Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent. Her public outing two years later in 2003 by White House officials became a cause célčbre. The claims that a State Department official blew the investigation into a nuclear smuggling ring have been made by Sibel Edmonds, 38, a former Turkish language translator in the FBI’s Washington field office. Plame, then 38, was the ... wife of a former US ambassador, Joe Wilson. She travelled widely for her work, often claiming to be an oil consultant. In fact she was a career CIA agent who was part of a small team investigating the same procurement network that the State Department official is alleged to have aided. Brewster Jennings was one of a number of covert enterprises set up to infiltrate the nuclear ring. [Edmonds said the State Department official] "found out about the arrangement . . . and he contacted one of the foreign targets and said . . . you need to stay away from Brewster Jennings because they are a cover for the government.“ Phillip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, said: “It’s pretty clear Plame was targeting the Turks. If indeed that [State Department] official was working with the Turks to violate US law on nuclear exports, it would have been in his interest to alert them to the fact that this woman’s company was affiliated to the CIA. I don’t know if that’s treason legally but many people would consider it to be.”
Note: To read former CIA agent Philip Giraldi's analysis of Edmonds' claims, in which he identifies the unnamed State Department official as Marc Grossman, click here. And to read an interview with Edmonds on the series of articles about her revelations appearing in the Sunday Times and media censorship elsewhere, click here.
The FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets. The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network. She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish- and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file. The freedom of information request ... was made ... by an American human rights group called the Liberty Coalition, acting on a tip-off it received from an anonymous correspondent. Edmonds [said] that members of the Turkish political and diplomatic community in the US had been actively acquiring nuclear secrets. They often acted as a conduit, she said, for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, because they attracted less suspicion. She claimed corrupt government officials helped the network, and venues such as the American-Turkish Council in Washington were used as drop-off points. Edmonds is the subject of a number of state-secret gags preventing her from talking further about the investigation she witnessed. “[These gags were] invoked not to protect sensitive diplomatic relations but criminal activities involving US officials who were endangering US national security,” she said.
Note: For an important commentary by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on this Sunday Times story, click here. For other excellent media articles on the courageous Ms. Edmonds, click here.
A whistleblower has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets. Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish-language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office. Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions. Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan. The name of the official – who has held a series of top government posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims. However, Edmonds said: “He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.” She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents. “If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials,” she said. Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology.
Note: Although not naming the high-level individuals it acknowledges were identified by Edmonds, this important exposé in the London Sunday Times should be read in its entirety for the many other details of her allegations that it reveals. For an excellent commentary on these new revelations, click here. For many revealing articles on the ongoing efforts by longtime whistleblower Sibel Edmonds to tell her story, click here.
Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million on a highly classified program to help Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, secure his country’s nuclear weapons. The aid, buried in secret portions of the federal budget, paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, a facility that American officials say is nowhere near completion, even though it was supposed to be in operation this year. A raft of equipment — from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment — was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age. While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used. That is because the Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing. In addition, the Pakistanis were suspicious that any American-made technology in their warheads could include a secret “kill switch,” enabling the Americans to turn off their weapons. While Pakistan is formally considered a “major non-NATO ally,” the program has been hindered by a deep suspicion among Pakistan’s military that the secret goal of the United States was to gather intelligence about how to locate and, if necessary, disable Pakistan’s arsenal, which is the pride of the country.
Note: Isn't it interesting that the U.S. administration has so fervently attacked Iraq and Iran for developing nuclear weapons, yet they seem unconcerned about Pakistan, which is known to have supported terrorist groups.
Four Air Force colonels have been relieved of their commands and more than 65 lower-ranking officers and airmen have been disciplined over a series of errors that led to a B-52 flight from North Dakota to Louisiana with six nuclear-armed cruise missiles that no one realized were under the wing. The Fifth Bomb Wing commander at Minot, Colonel Bruce Emig, was removed from command, along with his chief munitions officer and the operations officer of the B-52 unit at Barksdale. The munitions squadron commander at Minot was relieved of command shortly after the incident. The problems began with a breakdown in the formal scheduling process used to prepare the AGM-129 cruise missiles in question for decommissioning. In March, the Pentagon decided to retire it in favor of an older AGM-86. Part of the preparation involved removing the W-80 nuclear warhead and replacing it with a steel dummy on missiles to be flown aboard B-52s to Barksdale for destruction. On the morning of Aug. 29, the loading crew at Minot used a paper schedule that was out of date when members picked up 12 missiles from a guarded weapons-storage hangar, six with dummy warheads and six they did not realize had nuclear warheads. The trailer that would carry the pylons to the B-52 arrived early, and its crew did not inspect the missiles as it should have before loading them on the trailer. The driver called the munitions control center to verify the numbers, but the staff there failed to check them. At the aircraft, the crew that loaded the pylons, one under each wing, failed again to check the missiles, which have a small glass porthole to view whether a dummy or nuclear warhead is installed. The next morning, Aug. 30, the plane's navigator failed to do a complete check of the missiles, as required, looking under only one wing and not the one where the nuclear-armed missiles were.
Note: How is it possible that 65 military people were involved in this? Could it be that they were part of a rogue operation that was uncovered? There's more here than meets the eye.
A three-year veil of secrecy in the name of national security was used to keep the public in the dark about the handling of highly enriched uranium at a nuclear fuel processing plant -- including a leak that could have caused a deadly, uncontrolled nuclear reaction. The leak turned out to be one of nine violations or test failures since 2005 at privately owned Nuclear Fuel Services Inc., a longtime supplier of fuel to the U.S. Navy's nuclear fleet. The public was never told about the problems when they happened. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed them for the first time last month when it released an order demanding improvements at the company, but no fine. In 2004, the government became so concerned about releasing nuclear secrets that the commission removed more than 1,740 documents from its public archive -- even some that apparently involved basic safety violations at the company. Environmental activists are still suspicious of the belated revelations and may challenge the commission's decision not to fine Nuclear Fuel Services for the safety violations. "That party is not over -- the full story of what is going on up there," said Ann Harris, a member of the Sierra Club's national nuclear task force. While reviewing the commission's public Web page in 2004, the Department of Energy's Office of Naval Reactors found what it considered protected information about Nuclear Fuel Service's work for the Navy. The commission responded by sealing every document related to Nuclear Fuel Services. Under the policy, all the documents were stamped "Official Use Only," including papers about the policy itself and more than 1,740 documents from the commission's public archive.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon says Saddam Hussein "can be absolutely confident" the UK is willing to use nuclear weapons "in the right conditions". Mr Hoon said the UK reserved the right to use the weapons "in extreme self defence". It is widely reported that before the first Gulf War the US and its allies made it known to the Iraqi leader that nuclear weapons would be the response to any use of chemical or biological weapons. Mr Hoon's Cabinet colleague, International Development Secretary Clare Short, said she could foresee no scenario in which a retaliatory nuclear strike would serve any useful purpose. Mr Hoon contradicted her view, saying nuclear weapons could not be a deterrent if there was no willingness to use them. He said: "We have always made it clear that we would reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in conditions of extreme self defence. Saddam can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use nuclear weapons."
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the dark realities of the new era of endless war, click here.
British officials have approved the export of key components needed to make nuclear weapons to Iran and other countries known to be developing such weapons. An investigation by BBC Radio 4 programme File on Four will disclose that the Department of Trade and Industry allowed a quantity of the metal, Beryllium, to be sold to Iran last year. That metal is needed to make nuclear bombs. Britain has had an arms embargo to Iran since 1993 and has signed up to an international protocol which bans the sale of Beryllium to named countries, including Iran. Beryllium is a metal with a limited number of high-tech uses in civilian industry, but is mostly used in defence applications and is a vital component in a nuclear bomb. The programme has also interviewed a leading nuclear weapons expert in the UK who says that the Beryllium and other items which the DTI has licensed to Iran add up to a shopping list for a nuclear weapons programme. The UK has an arms embargo against Iran, but not a trade embargo. The programme highlights the weaknesses in the UK's new export control system, which was set up to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Iranian procurement agents have been working in the UK to get sensitive material back to Iran, and that Pakistan has also been successful in procuring material for its nuclear programme from here.
The US Government has announced that it will release $95m to North Korea as part of an agreement to replace the Stalinist country's own nuclear programme, which the US suspected was being misused. In releasing the funding, President George W Bush waived the Framework's requirement that North Korea allow inspectors to ensure it has not hidden away any weapons-grade plutonium from the original reactors. President Bush argued that the decision was "vital to the national security interests of the United States". The head of the Non-proliferation Policy Education Centre in Washington, a critic of the Agreed Framework, has warned that even when the new reactors are completed they may not be tamper-proof. "These reactors are like all reactors, They have the potential to make weapons. So you might end up supplying the worst nuclear violator with the means to acquire the very weapons we're trying to prevent it acquiring," Henry Sokolski told the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Note: Though this article is from 2002, one must ask why on earth President Bush would waive the requirement for inspectors who would ensure no nuclear weapons development? Wasn't this one of three countries he had already labeled as the axis of evil? For answers to these questions, click here.
Britain's nuclear industry was involved in a top secret international operation to steal dead babies for up to three decades, according to newly declassified documents. The papers, released by the American Department of Energy, show that scientists from the UK Atomic Energy Authority removed children's bones and bodies to ship to the United States for classified nuclear experiments. Letters exchanged between American and British government scientists ... discuss levels of radiation in the ribs of stillborn babies and lists of dead children's bodies ... spirited to American nuclear laboratories. The human 'guinea pigs' are not named, but assigned codenames. Baby B-1102, for example, is listed as a boy who died aged eight months. Baby B-595 was a girl who was 13 months old when she died. The report listing them [was] stamped 'top secret'. Although the US government has released hundreds of documents about the operation, it has retained even more sensitive papers thought to detail some of the most embarrassing aspects of collusion between the British and American authorities. An investigation into the 'body snatching' programme - codenamed Project Sunshine - ordered by former President Bill Clinton, was scathing: 'Researchers employed deception in the solicitation of bones of deceased babies from intermediaries with access to human remains.' Among the documents obtained ... is the transcript of a secret meeting in Washington of Project Sunshine's keenest minds. They show that Willard Libby, a renowned scientist who later won the Nobel prize ... instructed colleagues to skirt the law in their search for bodies.
Note: For a highly revealing list of military and government sponsored experiments on human guinea pigs with links for verification, click here.
The U.S. government secretly hired hundreds of private companies during the 1940s and '50s to process huge volumes of nuclear weapons material, leaving a legacy of poisoned workers and contaminated communities that lingers to this day. From mom-and-pop machine shops to big-name chemical firms, private manufacturing facilities across the nation were quietly converted to the risky business of handling tons of uranium, thorium, polonium, beryllium and other radioactive and toxic substances. Few of the contractors were prepared for the hazards of their government-sponsored missions. Thousands of workers were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, often hundreds of times stronger than the limits of the time. Dozens of communities were contaminated, their air, ground and water fouled by toxic and radioactive waste. The risks were kept hidden. In some cases, they have remained so. The full story of the secret contracting effort has never been told. Many of the companies that were involved have been forgotten, the impact of their operations unexamined for half a century. Yet their history carries profound implications for the thousands of people they employed, as well as for the thousands who lived — and still live — near the factories.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
1. Cost of the Manhattan Project (through August 1945): $20,000,000,000. 2. Total number of nuclear missiles built, 1951-present: 67,500. 3. Estimated construction costs for more than 1,000 ICBM launch pads and silos, and support facilities, from 1957-1964: nearly $14,000,000,000. 4. Total number of nuclear bombers built, 1945-present: 4,680. 5. Peak number of nuclear warheads and bombs in the stockpile/year: 32,193/1966 6. Total number and types of nuclear warheads and bombs built, 1945-1990: more than 70,000/65 types 7. Number currently in the stockpile (2002): 10,600 (7,982 deployed, 2,700 hedge/contingency stockpile) 8. Number of nuclear warheads requested by the Army in 1956 and 1957: 151,000 9. Projected operational U.S. strategic nuclear warheads and bombs after full enactment of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty in 2012: 1,700-2,200 10. Additional strategic and non-strategic warheads not limited by the treaty that the U.S. military wants to retain as a "hedge" against unforeseen future threats: 4,900
Note: The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project was completed in August 1998 and resulted in the book Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 edited by Stephen I. Schwartz. To understand how these huge amounts of money affect our world, see what a top US general had to say about what he learned at this link.
A hydrogen bomb that went missing for three months in the Mediterranean Sea is back in the hands of the U.S. military after being found the previous day. The bomb had been lost in January when two U.S. military planes, a KC-135 tanker and a B-52 carrying four thermonuclear weapons, collided during midair refueling. Three of the four bombs fell to the ground near Palomares, Spain. While none of them detonated with a nuclear explosion, the high-explosive triggers in two of the bombs went off upon impact and contaminated the area with radioactive material. A fourth bomb plunged into the water off Spain's southeastern coastline. Following the incident, the Spanish government announced it would no longer allow U.S. planes carrying nuclear weapons to fly over its territory. On March 17, the U.S. Navy, using a midget submarine called the Alvin [found] the bomb 2,500 feet underwater, intact and with its parachute still attached.
Note: You can access a Jan. 27, 1966 NY Times article on this incident for a small fee at this link.
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