Monthly Archives: November 2013

India’s Nuclear Scientists Keep Dying Mysteriously

Vice By Joseph Cox, Nov. 25, 2013

Castle_romeo2

Indian nuclear scientists haven’t had an easy time of it over the past decade. Not only has the scientific community been plagued by “suicides,” unexplained deaths, and sabotage, but those incidents have gone mostly underreported in the country—diluting public interest and leaving the cases quickly cast off by police.

Last month, two high-ranking engineers—KK Josh and Abhish Shivam—on India’s first nuclear-powered submarine were found on railway tracks by workers. They were pulled from the line before a train could crush them, but were already dead. No marks were found on the bodies, so it was clear they hadn’t been hit by a moving train, and reports allege they were poisoned elsewhere before being placed on the tracks to make the deaths look either accidental or like a suicide. The media and the Ministry of Defence, however, described the incident as a routine accident and didn’t investigate any further.

This is the latest in a long list of suspicious deaths. When nuclear scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam’s body turned up in June of 2009, it was palmed off as a suicide and largely ignored by the Indian media. However, Pakistani outlets, perhaps unsurprisingly, given relations between the two countries, kept the story going, noting how quick authorities were to label the death a suicide considering no note was left.

Five years earlier, in the same forest where Mahalingham’s body was eventually discovered, an armed group with sophisticated weaponry allegedly tried to abduct an official from India’s Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC). He, however, managed to escape. Another NPC employee, Ravi Mule, had been murdered weeks before, with police failing to “make any headway” into his case and effectively leaving his family to investigate the crime. A couple of years later, in April of 2011, when the body of former scientist Uma Rao was found, investigators ruled the death as suicide, but family members contested the verdict, saying there had been no signs that Rao was suicidal.


Trombay, the site of India’s first atomic reactor. (Photo via

This seems to be a recurring theme with deaths in the community. Madhav Nalapat, one of the few journalists in India giving the cases any real attention, has been in close contact with the families of the recently deceased scientists left on the train tracks. “There was absolutely no kind of depression or any family problems that would lead to suicide,” he told me over the phone.

If the deaths of those in the community aren’t classed as suicide, they’re generally labeled as “unexplained.” A good example is the case of M Iyer, who was found with internal haemorrhaging to his skull—possibly the result of a “kinky experiment,” according to a police officer. After a preliminary look-in, the police couldn’t work out how Iyer had suffered internal injuries while not displaying any cuts or bruises, and investigations fizzled out.

This label is essentially admission of defeat on the police force’s part. Once the “unexplained” rubber stamp has been approved, government bodies don’t tend to task the authorities with investigating further. This may be a necessity due to the stark lack of evidence available at the scene of the deaths—a feature that some suggest could indicate the work of professional killers—but if this is the case, why not bring in better trained detectives to investigate the cases? A spate of deaths in the nuclear scientific community would create a media storm and highly publicised police investigation in other countries, so why not India?

This inertia has led to great public dissatisfaction with the Indian police. “[The police] say it’s an unsolved murder, that’s all. Why doesn’t it go higher? Perhaps to a specialist investigations unit?” Madhav asked. “These people were working on the submarine program, creating a reactor, and have either ‘committed suicide’ or been murdered. It’s astonishing that this hasn’t been seen as suspicious.”

Perhaps, I suggested, this series of deaths is just the latest chapter in a long campaign aiming to derail India’s nuclear and technological capabilities. Madhav agreed, “There is a clear pattern of this type of activity going on,” he said.


INS Sindhurakshak (Photo via)

The explosions that sunk INS Sindhurakshak – a submarine docked in Mumbai – in August of this year could have been deliberate, according to unnamed intelligence sources. And some have alleged that the CIA was behind the sabotage of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Of course, the deaths have caused fear and tension among those currently working on India’s various nuclear projects. “[Whistleblowers] are getting scared of being involved in the nuclear industry in India,” Madhav relayed to me. Their “families are getting very nervous about this” and “many of them leave for foreign countries and get other jobs.”

There are parallels here with the numerous attacks on the Iranian nuclear scientist community. Five people associated with the country’s nuclear programme have been targeted in the same way: men on motorcycles sticking magnetic bombs on to their cars and detonating them as they drive off. However, the Iranian government are incredibly vocal in condemning these acts—blaming the US and Israel—and at least give the appearance that they are actively investigating.

The same cannot be said for the Indian government. “India is not making any noise about the whole thing,” Madhav explained. “People have just accepted the police version, [which describes these incidents] as normal kinds of death.”

If the deaths do, in fact, turn out to be premeditated murders, deciding who’s responsible is pure speculation at this point. Two authors have alleged that the US have dabbled in sabotaging the country’s technological efforts in the past; China is in a constant soft-power battle with India; and the volatile relationship with Pakistan makes the country a prime suspect. “It could be any of them,” Madhav said.

But the most pressing issue isn’t who might be behind the murders, but that the Indian government’s apathy is potentially putting their high-value staff at even greater risk. Currently, these scientists, who are crucial to the development of India’s nuclear programes, whether for energy or security, have “absolutely no protection at all. Nothing, zero,” Madhav told me. “Which is amazing for people who are in a such a sensitive program.”

@josephfcox

More nuclear stories:

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Geriatric Nuclear Reactors Could Kill Us All

They Weren’t Joking, North Korea Tested Another Nuclear Bomb

Fukushima Reports 1

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 6:45

(Before It’s News)

Excerpts from an Interview with Professor Robert Jacobs, Hiroshima City University, Nov. 27, 2013: I see the catastrophe as absolutely horrifying and ongoing. There is no discernible end in sight to this tragedy, radiation will continue to seep into the Pacific Ocean for decades […] when they have problems they are always global in scale. […] These toxins will remain dangerous for hundreds of generations and will disperse throughout the planet. […] the sickness and contamination resulting from the disaster will last for hundreds [of generations]. […] they knew that there had been a full meltdown on the first day of the disaster, and three full meltdowns by the third day, they denied this for almost three months. […] fuel has melted and is now located somewhere unknown beneath the reactor building […] if some rice is contaminated above this legal level it is not removed from the food supply, but rather is mixed with uncontaminated rice until it is below this level. This is a process for moving contaminated food into the food supply […] But by far the most disastrous thing is to allow so many children to remain in contaminated areas. All children should be removed from contaminated areas immediately […]

Prof. Jacobs, Oct. 18, 2013 (at 3:30 in): Nobody really knows how to solve the problems at Fukushima. There is nobody who has solutions to these. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented […] There’s no solution that other countries have that they can come in and fix the reactors, or rather shut down the contamination, shut down the leaks[…] those experts will be at a loss it how to solve the immense problems that we’ll be facing for decades in Fukushima.

This is exactly how I feel.  Helpless and I’m just sitting here waiting for something to happen. When you build something big enough that someone on the other side of the planet feels helpless about because its about to collapse and radiate the world, you know you’ve gone too far. Japan is going to be a ghost island soon and the Japenese people are in danger of dying out. The country is mostly old people and now they are bathing their children in radiation. Terrible. Nothing right now in the world that is happening frustrates me more than this. Environmental groups should be on the streets rioting right now, it’s amazing that they aren’t.

 

‘We Are Suffering A Slow-Motion Nuclear War’ – Interview

Nuclear weapon test Romeo (yield 11 Mt) on Bikini Atoll

By IDN | November 27, 2013 | By Julio Godoy

Robert Jacobs was born 53 years ago, at the height of the cold war, amidst the then reigning paranoia of nuclear annihilation of humankind. In school, he was eight years old. “We learned about how to survive a nuclear attack. We were told that the key to survival was to always be vigilant in detecting the first signs of a nuclear attack.”

45 years later, Jacobs, Bo for his friends, is one of the world’s leading researchers on the social and cultural consequences of radioactivity on families and communities. Bo holds a PhD in history, has published three books on nuclear issues, and is author of hundreds of essays on the same matter. He is also professor and researcher at the Graduate Faculty of International Studies and the Peace Institute, both at the Hiroshima City University, Japan.

Back in the early 1960s, Jacobs learnt at school that “The first thing we would perceive (on a nuclear attack) would be the bright flash of the detonation. Teachers told us to always be prepared for this flash and to take shelter. I remember going home that day and sitting on the steps in front of my house in suburban Chicago and just sitting there for an hour waiting for the flash.”

This dreadful experience marked Jacobs’ life, for it led his studies and professional life towards analysing the consequences of the nuclear age on humankind.

“We live through a slow motion nuclear war,” he says, referring to the sheer amount of nuclear and radioactive material stored across the world, which will be part of the global ecosystem for millenniums to come.

As professor at the Hiroshima City University, Jacobs spends most of his time in one of the two cities (along with Nagasaki) destroyed by nuclear annihilation in the final phase of World War II (1939-1945). He is a privileged witness of the social and psychological responses of society to such a tragedy; furthermore, the nuclear accident of Fukushima (in Mach 2011) has given him again a excruciating opportunity to analyse social, psychological, and bureaucratic reactions to such catastrophes.

Julio Godoy, associated global editor of IDN-InDepthNews, communicated with Prof. Jacobs through Email:

What made you pursue an academic career on nuclear issues?

Robert Jacobs (RJ): My choice of a career working on nuclear issues is the result of a childhood in which I was very afraid of nuclear weapons. When I was 8 years old we learned in school about how to survive a nuclear attack. I don’t remember the specific format, I don’t think it was the classic Duck and Cover material but it was similar. We were told that the key to survival was to always be vigilant in detecting the first signs of a nuclear attack. The first thing we would perceive would be the bright flash of the detonation. They told us to always be prepared for this flash and to take shelter. I remember going home that day and sitting on the steps in front of my house in suburban Chicago and just sitting there for an hour waiting for the flash.

Vigilantly waiting for the flash. I imagined the school across the street from me just dissolving. I imagined my house, and all of the houses on my block dissolving. I imagined my whole town just dissolving into white light. I became terrified. I think that this was partly when I became aware of my own mortality and that I would die one day, but it was very connected to nuclear weapons. The way that I dealt with this fear was to find books in the library about nuclear weapons and read them. Throughout my childhood I read everything that I could find about nuclear weapons. Since I had such a strong fear, my means of dealing with it was to learn whatever I could about the thing that terrified me. I have never stopped this process.

Fukushima

As staff member of the Hiroshima Peace Institute you are first-rank witness of the severest nuclear catastrophe of modern times. Fukushima typifies several dangers of all things nuclear: The difficulties to control the technology, the recklessness of administrations, both private and public, and the fact that radioactivity does not respect national borders. How do you see the catastrophe?

RJ: I see the catastrophe as absolutely horrifying and ongoing. There is no discernible end in sight to this tragedy, radiation will continue to seep into the Pacific Ocean for decades. I think that there were many instances of negligence that facilitated the disaster. The design of the reactors and site was bad. The maintenance of the plant was neglected for decades. Adequate emergency procedures were never designed or enacted. In many ways, this highlights the problems not just of nuclear power but especially of privately run, for profit, nuclear power plants. In this case profits are raised by lowering costs, a process which both facilitated and accelerated the disaster. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) notoriously has neglected its nuclear plants in honour of increasing profitability.

Beyond this, I would say that we also see illustrated here that the decisions to build nuclear plants are national ones, but when they have problems they are always global in scale. When one considers the time scale of some of the radionuclides that enter the ecosystem from nuclear disasters, they will stay in the ecosystem for thousands of years (as will the radionuclides in the spent fuel rods when they operate without a meltdown). These radionuclides will simply cycle through the ecosystem for millenniums. These toxins will remain dangerous for hundreds of generations and will disperse throughout the planet. At Fukushima the benefits of the electricity generated by the plants will have lasted barely longer than one generation while the sickness and contamination resulting from the disaster will last for hundreds.

‘Cold shutdown’ catastrophe

How do you evaluate the government’s handling of the catastrophe, for instance, the fact that only 12 square kilometres around the site have been evacuated?

RJ: The government’s handling of the disaster is a second disaster. Virtually every decision has been driven by two things: money and public relations. The decision to evacuate only 12 square kilometres was driven by concerns of cost and not by concerns of public health. When the government mandates evacuation they incur financial responsibilities. This is why they limited it to 12 km. They made a “suggested” evacuation area of 20 square kilometres.

Why the difference? Mandatory vs. suggested? The area between 12 and 20 km where evacuation is suggested means that the government bears no fiscal responsibility for those evacuees. If they evacuate, it is their own decision, and must be done at their own cost. These people are in a terrible bind. They know that they must evacuate because of the levels of radiation, but they will receive no assistance. Their homes are now worthless and cannot be sold. They are on their own. They have become both contaminated and impoverished. The other thing guiding decision making by the government is public relations.

While they knew that there had been a full meltdown on the first day of the disaster, and three full meltdowns by the third day, they denied this for almost three months. The reason this was done was to control perceptions. They managed to keep the word “meltdown” off the front pages of the world’s newspapers during the period when they were focused on Fukushima.

When the government acknowledged the meltdowns almost three months later the story was on page 10 or page 12 of international papers. This is a success for them. At the end of 2011 they declared the plants in “cold shutdown.” This is insane. The term cold shutdown refers to the activities of an undamaged and fully functional reactor. A reactor whose fuel has melted and is now located somewhere unknown beneath the reactor building, and that must have water poured on it for years to keep it cool are not in cold shutdown. This was just a way of saying to people that the event was over and everything was under control–absolute conscious lies. These concerns, costs and perceptions have guided the government’s response far more than public safety has.

Loss of livelihoods

How does the tragedy affect the food supply?

RJ: The government has set “legally acceptable” levels of contamination in food. For example, there is a legally allowable level for caesium in rice. So if some rice is contaminated above this legal level it is not removed from the food supply, but rather is mixed with uncontaminated rice until it is below this level. This is a process for moving contaminated food into the food supply, not excluding it.

The reasons for this are cost. Many thousands of people have lost their livelihoods because of the disaster. Many farmers, fisherman and others have lost the value of their businesses because of contamination, with no fault of their own.

What is to be done about these people? One solution would be to compensate them for their lost businesses, but this would cost a lot of money up front. The other solution is to try to keep their businesses viable. To do this you keep them at work, you continue to bring their agricultural goods and fish to market and support their businesses.

In this case you end up with increased costs to public health because of exposure to radiation, but those cost come in the future, they are on the backside, in 10-20 years. So bringing contaminated food to market reduces short term costs and pushes the consequences into the lives of politicians in the future. But by far the most disastrous thing is to allow so many children to remain in contaminated areas. All children should be removed from contaminated areas immediately, but that would, alas, cost money.

Tradition and radioactivity

For the relatives of the mortal victims of the Fukushima accident, the fact that they cannot tend and worship the graves of their relatives constitutes a further penalty. Can you tell me something about this Japanese tradition and how radioactivity impedes it?

RJ: There are a few things to think about in relation to this. First is the Japanese holiday of Obon. This is a very old traditional holiday in which ancestors are celebrated and thanked. During this holiday many people return to the towns where their families are from and conduct very old rituals. The family goes to the site of the graves of their ancestors and clean and decorate their graves. They invite the spirits of their ancestors to return to visit with the living family for a few days. The family tends to spend this time together building both connections to the past and to each other. At the end of the festival the spirits of the ancestors are escorted back to the cemetery.

For those whose home towns are in the contaminated area, this ritual can no longer be observed. They are unable to honour the spirits of their ancestors in traditional ways, and the graves of their ancestors are untended. This can have a devastating psychological affect. The notion that ancestors are no longer being honoured, no longer being invited to join together with the living, and that they will spend eternity with the dishonour of graves untended by their descendants can damage families and individuals.

For many people, these are rituals that have been observed in their families for hundreds of years, for many generations, and it is they who have broken this chain. How will the ancestors know that they are not being disrespected, but that the descendants have no choice? Having worked with many radiation-exposed communities around the world, I know that many people are able to manage the distress that this causes for a few years, knowing it is not their fault. But over decades of neglecting ancestors people tend to feel a visceral sense of their own failure to honour their ancestors. Additionally, when the tsunami occurred, some people were unable to claim the bodies of their relatives and give them a proper burial as their bodies were recovered very close to the nuclear plants and were considered “nuclear waste.”

‘Second class citizens’

What other humanitarian consequences has the catastrophe provoked?

RJ: There is almost no way to calculate this. Many families have divorced over conflicts about whether to move or to stay, whether to eat local food or not. Many children are unable to play or spend time outdoors because of contamination. Many wear dosimeters that record their exposures (they don’t alert the children to the presence of radiation, merely record the exposures for later diagnostic purposes) and they will grow up with a sense of being “contaminated.” Children in families that move away have been experiencing bullying and discrimination. Many people have no idea if they have been exposed to radiation, but are aware that they have been lied to repeatedly; about whether they will be able to return to their homes, about the dangers of radioactivity, about nuclear power in general.

My work with radiation exposed people around the world has shown that those exposed to radiation often become “second class citizens.” They are shunned, they are lied to, they are observed for medical information but rarely informed of this information, and they are marked as contaminated for the rest of their lives. In this way they are denied the dignity that other members of the same society expect.

‘Military colonialism’

Now to nuclear weapons: Western countries in possession of the bomb have over the years carried out experiments in faraway locations, in Oceania, in the North African deserts, not near London or Paris… It is an extraordinary abuse, and yet such countries have never been made accountable for the damages they have caused…

RJ: I view nuclear testing as linked to military colonialism. Nuclear powers tend to test in the far reaches of their military empires and contaminating people with little political power or agency to protect themselves. As is true in general, colonialists rarely have to face any consequences for their exploitation. This is an extension of the brutalization of the colonized by the colonizer.

When we look at the history of colonialism, the British have entirely retained the great wealth that came from the slave trade, when the French lost Haiti, Haiti was forced to pay compensation to the French for their “loss.” In the case of the nuclear powers, we can see this dominance both sustained and rewarded. Consider the Security Council of the United Nations, its five permanent members are the first five nuclear powers. Obtaining nuclear weapons has earned them a permanent veto over “lesser” countries. Those exposed to radiation from nuclear weapon testing have almost never been given any health care or compensation for loss of life or the contamination of land and food sources. It is criminal.

Nuclear ignorance – nuclear fatalism

You work and live in Hiroshima, one of the two cities which directly suffered the unspeakable effects of nuclear weapons. Despite such horrors, still present in our lives, the world nuclear powers, from the U.S.A. to Pakistan, have accumulated some 30,000 nuclear heads capable of destroying the Earth several times. And yet, nobody seems to be scandalised about it. This lethargy, is it ignorance or fatalism?

RJ: Both. Most people don’t ever think about nuclear weapons. Most didn’t think much about nuclear power until Fukushima. For most people nuclear weapons are abstract – they have never seen one, they don’t understand how they work – as poet John Canaday has said, most people experience nuclear weapons through stories, and for many those stories are Hollywood movies in which there are rarely consequences from nuclear detonations (besides killing aliens and destroying asteroids).

But it is also true that many people don’t feel that they can do anything about nuclear weapons. They are never a topic of public debate in the politics of nuclear nations, they are at the deepest, most secure parts of large militaries. And most people really have no idea of how much of their tax monies are being spent on nuclear weapons in nuclear nations. This, by the way, is where I feel that the stockpiles are vulnerable. As wealthy imperial nations decline, the billions spent annually on nuclear weapons will be questioned. They are rarely questioned in terms of desirability since many people living in nuclear armed countries feel that the weapons either protect them or help to establish their nation as one of the big players.

Can you imagine such a child terrified by the possibility of nuclear annihilation, as you were yourself today, in Israel, in Iran, in Korea, in India, or Pakistan?

RJ: Yes, it is possible for me to imagine such an experience in today’s world, for instance Kashmir where the military stance between nuclear armed India and Pakistan is very visible. But I do think that it would be different. In the modern case the child would be imagining such a thing, piecing it together through what they hear at home and around the community. When I was young it was presented as formal education in the school system, so I didn’t have to imagine it myself at all, I was being trained to think about nuclear war.

Julio Godoy is an investigative journalist and IDN Associate Global Editor. He has won international recognition for his work, including the Hellman-Hammett human rights award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting Online by the U.S. Society of Professional Journalists, and the Online Journalism Award for Enterprise Journalism by the Online News Association and the U.S.C. Annenberg School for Communication, as co-author of the investigative reports “Making a Killing: The Business of War” and “The Water Barons: The Privatisation of Water Services”.

On 11/26/13 a NKK news report on fishing in the Fukushima area of Japan was aired on PBS.

Here are some highlights of the English language broadcast:

* Limited fishing now allowed by the government is called “Test Fishing.” However, the “test fish” caught are scanned and sold in fish markets.

* It was claimed in the news report that “Radiation levels are now half that of government maximum standards.” New anchor failed to mention how the government quietly raised maximum safe radiation exposure standards about a year ago.

* Smiling women shopping in a supermarket were shown looking at seafood on display. A sign in a refrigerated case was shown in mixed English and Japanese. It listed the radiation levels present (in Becquerels, or Bq) for 3 kinds of seafood in English:
.2 Bq.
.4 Bq.
.6 Bq.
Considering the very low level of the above readings, it is impossible to believe these readings are accurate. Typical background radiation measures about 20 counts/minute (or more.) Twenty counts/min. = 20Bq. Yet these supermarket signs claim to be radiation levels of seafood caught near several failed power plants – an area known to be dumping thousands of gallons of radioactive water 24/7 into the ocean for years? Radioactive seawater dumped into the ocean measures millions of Becquerels or more. It is impossible for seafood from that area to have radiation counts lower than background cosmic radiation after living in highly radioactive water. Utter nonsense to you and I, but perfectly acceptable to the unsuspecting public.

* None of the various video clips in the news footage of fisherman, warehouse workers, store workers or consumers was shown using a Geiger counter. That’s not believable. But the Japanese mindset is to never  talk about anything bad. In other words, lie by omitting what people really need to know: Don’t live in that area! If you must live there, wear a dosimeter and carry a pocket Geiger counter around with you.

* No one talked about toxic, accumulative health effects of radioactive heavy elements like Cesium which are present in seafood caught in the Fukushima coastal areas. Toxic effects create separate issues different from radiation effects.

* Long tables packed with people eating bowls of seafood were shown. These people were smiling, laughing and happy. One was shown tasting the seafood with her friend, then smiling and giving a nod of approval to her friend. This reminds one of the old USSR and Chinese propaganda videos, showing people working like dogs out in the field and smiling as they toiled. Even using sledge hammers to break rocks they were smiling.

* A fisherman was shown living in one room inside a building with others. His room is about 10ft x 10ft. He is smiling and happy saying “The Tokyo Electric Company gave me this room to live in along with a small living allowance.” He also pointed out how all of his fingers are getting smaller, and how his wedding band now easily slides on and off his finger. (Weight loss is one of many signs of radiation exposure.) He can’t work at his fishing trade, making him equivalent to a dog kept in a cage.

In short, the entire news report was created just like a propaganda film to illustrate how wonderful everything is near Fukushima.
What difference does it make if people consume fish laced with toxins and radioactivity which cause cancer – or drink Jonestown cyanide laced Coolaid?
No difference – except one takes longer than the other to bring death.

Will these same people be smiling and laughing when they learn they have a incurable cancer – with little time left to live? All because they obediently accepted so-called “safe radiation limits?”

Basic Conversions from http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/explained-radioactivity-0328.html which may be helpful:

1 gray (Gy) = 100 rad
1 rad = 10 milligray (mGy)
1 sievert (Sv) = 1,000 millisieverts (mSv) = 1,000,000 microsieverts (Sv)
1 sievert = 100 rem
1 becquerel (Bq) = 1 count per second (cps)
1 curie = 37,000,000,000 becquerel = 37 Gigabecquerels (GBq)

*Note – One sievert carries with it a 5.5% chance of eventually developing cancer. Doses greater than 1 sievert received over a short time period are likely to cause radiation poisoning, possibly leading to death within weeks. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sievert)

For x-rays and gamma rays, 1 rad = 1 rem = 10 mSv
For neutrons, 1 rad = 5 to 20 rem (depending on energy level) = 50-200 mSv
For alpha radiation (helium-4 nuclei), 1 rad = 20 rem = 200 mSv

Ted Twietmeyer

 

US Group Calls For Radiation Monitoring Of Food Supply

Simply Info | November 28th, 2013

radioactive-sandwich

A US grassroots group is urging the public to support a set of efforts to improve food monitoring in the US against radioactive contamination.

The fallout from Fukushima that fell on the US and that which has been crossing the Pacific has been an area of concern with residents of the US and Canada. Government agencies have declared the issue to be a “non-issue” and either have opted to do no testing or rely on premature inaccurate testing such as the FDA’s very limited effort.

One of the major areas of concern has been the US intervention level of 1200 bq/kg for domestic and imported foods. This level is higher than most other countries in the world including Japan.
Our research shows there has been and still is some level of Fukushima attributable contamination to US domestic foods. Without widespread testing the extent of this will not be understood and will leave consumers with anxiety about the food supply.

Find out more about FFAN’s efforts here and on their website here.

image credit | funz.eu

This article would not be possible without the extensive efforts of the SimplyInfo research team
Join the conversation at chat.simplyinfo.org

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Typhoons spreading Fukushima fallout

Australia Network News | Fri 29 Nov 2013, 5:46am AEDT

Typhoons that hit Japan each year are contributing to the spread of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the country’s waterways, researchers say.

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Photo: A person suspected of radiation contamination is taken to a radiation centre in Fukushima prefecture (AFP/Getty)

A joint study by France’s Climate and Environmental Science laboratory (LSCE) and Tsukuba University in Japan shows contaminated soil gets washed away by the high winds and rain and deposited in streams and rivers.

“There is a definite dispersal towards the ocean,” LSCE researcher Olivier Evrard said Wednesday.

The typhoons “strongly contribute” to soil dispersal, he said, though it can be months later, after the winter snow melts, that contamination actually passes into rivers.

An earthquake-sparked tsunami slammed into the Fukushima plant in March 2011, sending reactors into meltdown and sparking the worst atomic accident in a generation.

After the accident, a large number of radioactive particles were flung into the atmosphere, dispersing caesium particles which typically cling to soils and sediment.

Studies have shown that soil erosion can move the radioactive varieties of cesium-134 and 137 from the northern mountains near Fukushima into rivers, and then out into the Pacific Ocean.

Last year, the radioactive content of Japan’s rivers dropped due to fairly moderate typhoons.

However, more frequent and fierce storms in 2013 have brought a new flood of caesium particles.

This is “proof that the source of the radioactivity has not diminished upstream” said Mr Evrard.

Tsukuba University has completed a number of studies on Fukushima since November 2011.

Scientists “concentrated mostly on the direct fallout from Fukushima yet this is another source of radioactive deposits” that must be taken into account, he warned.

Coastal areas home to fishermen or where people bathe in particular face a potential risk.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from around the Fukushima plant following the disaster and nearby villages and towns remain largely empty as residents fear the risks of radiation.

The delicate process of decommissioning the site is expected to take decades.

AFP

Iran will continue construction at Arak nuclear site

Reuters | DUBAI Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:00pm IST

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media during a news conference following the E3/EU+3-Iran talks in Geneva November 24, 2013.        Credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

(Reuters) – Iran will press on with construction at a nuclear reactor site at Arak, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Wednesday, despite an agreement with Western powers to halt activity.

The uncompleted heavy-water research reactor emerged as one of several crucial issues in negotiations in Geneva last week, when Iran agreed with six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme for six months in return for limited sanctions relief.

Iran said it would not make “any further advances of its activities” on the Arak reactor, according to text of the agreement.

“The capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there,” Zarif told parliament in translated comments broadcast on Iran’s Press TV.

But experts have said an apparent gap in the text could allow Tehran to build components off-site to install later in the nuclear reactor. It was not immediately clear if Zarif was referring to this or other construction activity.

Tehran has said it could open the reactor as soon as next year. It says its purpose is only to make medical isotopes, but Western countries say it could also produce plutonium, one of two materials, along with enriched uranium, that can be used to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. (Reporting by Stephen Kalin, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Pakistan launches largest nuclear power project

AFPNov 26, 2013, 07.18PM

KARACHI: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday launched the construction of the country’s biggest atomic power plant and vowed to pursue further projects to make nuclear the largest energy source.

The 2,200-megawatt plant is to be built with Chinese technical assistance on the Arabian Sea coast at Paradise Beach, 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Karachi.

Pakistan already has three operational nuclear plants generating a total of around 740 MW of power and has begun work on a fourth, in addition to the one launched on Tuesday.

The government hopes nuclear will ultimately provide a relatively low-cost solution to the power cuts — known euphemistically as “loadshedding” — that blight life in Pakistan.

Mismanagement, corruption and an over-reliance on expensive imported fuels have left the energy sector in dire straits, with hours-long blackouts a daily reality in the summer months.

“This is one of the first steps of our goal of racing towards a loadshedding-free Pakistan,” Sharif told the audience at the site of the plant.

The World Nuclear Association has estimated the cost of the new project at nearly $10 billion.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission engineers will work on the project with help from the China Atomic Energy Authority.

As Pakistan is not party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty it is excluded from the international trade in nuclear materials and technology, and can rely only on its neighbour China for help.

Sharif pledged to increase nuclear power generation capacity to 40,000 MW in the long term as part of his energy plan.

A few kilometres further west of the new nuclear power project, an energy park is being built at Gaddani beach in Baluchistan province, with plans for 6,600 MW coal-fired power projects

New Analysis Shows Unit 1 Meltdown More Severe Than Admitted

Simply Info | November 21st, 2013

“Computer simulations show the melted fuel in Unit 1, whose core damage was the most extensive, has breached the bottom of the primary containment vessel and even partially eaten into its concrete foundation, coming within about 30 centimeters (one foot) of leaking into the ground.”

This is a recent statement out of Hajimu Yamana, the president of IRID. IRID is the new authority created to come up with ways to decommission Fukushima Daiichi.

In a 2011 report Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory explains the total failures of the BWR Mark 1 reactor design when it is deprived of power sources. Without a source of power all of the cooling systems but one fail to operate. The remaining system (the RCIC) can only run for a short period of time before the torus system used to cool the water also overheats leaving the reactor with no way to cool itself. They estimate less than 10 hours from the time the RCIC cooling system fails to when fuel begins to melt down.

The report goes on to describe how difficult it is to locate melted fuel in a BWR Mark 1 reactor after a meltdown. They explain a process of following the CRD rail to the pedestal below the reactor, something TEPCO has tried at units 1 and 2 with no success. In both instances they were unable to run a scope into the pedestal due to severe damage inside containment.

Sandia National Lab also looked at the melt scenarios via computer modeling for Fukushima. The computer modeling used includes the ability to estimate the time needed for the melted core to burn through the drywell liner. This becomes critical as the edge of the drywell floor near the torus downcomers has no concrete containment structure backing it up. This is exactly at the point where the containment floor meets the containment wall.

“The model assumes an opening in the drywell liner occurs 15 minutes after debris first contacts the drywell wall”

The Sandia reports stop short of the computer modeling mentioned by Mr. Yamana, and does not look into the depth or spread of the melted fuel to this extent. These three reports while looking at different aspects of the meltdowns seem to agree on the severity.