Category Archives: geheimhouding | secrecy

Group to monitor trial of former TEPCO executives to clarify truth about Fukushima disaster

The Asahi Shimbun | Masakazu Honda | January 27, 2016

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From left, Ruiko Muto, Kazuyoshi Sato and Takashi Soeda hold a news conference in Fukushima on Jan. 19 to announce a planned group that will monitor the trial of three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Masakazu Honda)

Lawyers, journalists and scientists will form a group to help expose the truth and spread details about the Fukushima nuclear disaster during the criminal trial of three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

“We will encourage the court to hold a fair trial while transmitting information regarding the trial across the nation,” said an official of the planned organization, whose name is translated as “support group for the criminal procedure on the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

Tsunehisa Katsumata, former chairman of TEPCO, the operator of the crippled plant, and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, face mandatory charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Although the trial is still months away, 33 people are now setting up the group, including Ruiko Muto, who heads an organization pursuing the criminal responsibility of TEPCO and government officials for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tetsuji Imanaka, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, and Norma Field, a professor emeritus of East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, have also joined.

Three reactors melted down at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011. A number of hospital patients died in the chaotic evacuation.

About 14,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against TEPCO executives, government officials and scientists in 2012, saying they were aware of the dangers to the Fukushima nuclear plant from a tsunami, but they failed in their responsibility to take proper countermeasures.

Tokyo prosecutors twice decided not to indict the three former TEPCO executives. However, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, a panel of citizens, decided to forcibly indict the three in July last year.

“It has been almost five years since the disaster, but many details, including their foreseeability of the tsunami, remain unclear,” said science writer Takashi Soeda, one of the group’s co-founders. “As TEPCO has not unveiled a sufficient amount of information even in inquiries conducted by the Diet and the government or in civil lawsuits, the truth must be uncovered through the legal force of a criminal trial.”

Five lawyers appointed by the Tokyo District Court will act as prosecutors in the trial.

Legal experts expect the lawyers will indict the former TEPCO executives and release a statement naming the victims around March 11, the fifth anniversary of the triple disaster that still haunts the Tohoku region.

By MASAKAZU HONDA/ Staff Writer

Verarmd uranium en het Golfoorlogsyndroom

Henk van der Keur | stichting Laka | 20 december 2015

Dat in oorlogstijd de waarheid als eerste sneuvelt weten we sinds mensenheugenis. Wat telt is de versie van de oorlogsplanners die ons door embedded oorlogscorrespondenten wordt ingeprent. Nieuw bij de Golfoorlog van 1991 was dat voor het eerst een oorlog live in de huiskamer werd gebracht. Ik herinner me de televisiebeelden van de Amerikaanse nieuwszender CNN op de kabel, een hype bij het thuisfront.

We werden permanent bestookt met ‘precisiebombardementen’ die de kijkers moesten overtuigen dat dit een ‘schone oorlog’ was. Alsof er helemaal geen burgers in Irak bestonden en er alleen militaire doelen waren. De kijkers hadden geen flauw benul van de werkelijke situatie in Irak. Toen op 17 januari het luchtoffensief tegen Irak begon, hadden de Irakezen al bijna een half jaar zwaar te lijden onder het zeer strikte VN-embargo dat begin augustus 1990 van kracht werd toen het Iraakse leger Koeweit binnenviel. Officieel waren voedsel en medicijnen uitgesloten van de economische sancties, maar in de praktijk was er vrijwel geen aanvoer meer van deze basale behoeften.

Stervende kinderen

Een jaar na de Golfoorlog kon ik met eigen ogen aanschouwen wat deze oorlog had aangericht en wat de gevolgen waren van de aanhoudende economische boycot. Op een bijeenkomst van vredesorganisaties in De Balie in Amsterdam werd besloten een delegatie naar Irak te sturen in aanwezigheid van een arts en een aantal ingenieurs. Redenen voor dat besluit was het grote zwijgen van de media over het hoge aantal burgerdoden en een rapport van het medisch team van Harvard dat een onthutsend beeld schetste van de situatie in Irak, kort na de oorlog. Een groot deel van de civiele infrastructuur was vernietigd, waaronder levensmiddelenfabrieken en voorzieningen voor drinkwater. Het team trof tienduizenden stervende kinderen aan als gevolg van epidemieën die waren ontstaan door een groot gebrek aan schoon water. Onder normale omstandigheden waren deze infectieziekten eenvoudig te behandelen, maar door gebrek aan elementaire voorzieningen, waaronder medicijnen, konden die niet worden genezen. Een jaar later, vlak voor de lente van 1992, wilde onze fact-finding missie poolshoogte nemen van de toestand in Irak. Mijn opdracht was om te pogen grondmonsters te nemen nabij de restanten van het gebombardeerde kerncomplex Al Tuwaitha, circa 30 kilometer van Bagdad. Daarvoor kreeg ik echter geen toestemming van de Iraakse autoriteiten.

Mijn bezoek aan Irak was een harde confrontatie met de werkelijkheid. De ziekenhuizen waren nog altijd overvol en er was nog steeds een groot gebrek aan basale levensbehoeften. Het sterftecijfer bij kinderen onder de vijf jaar bleef onverminderd hoog. De aanvoer van bijvoorbeeld bouwmaterialen of onderdelen voor reparatie van waterzuiveringsinstallaties lag nog altijd stil, waardoor wederopbouw uitbleef. Feitelijk werd de oorlog tegen de burgerbevolking voortgezet met sancties. Wat ook opviel was dat het aantal gevallen van kanker snel toenam.

Radioactieve munitie

Dat er veel meer aan de hand was in Irak bleek al direct bij aankomst waarbij onze delegatie in de lobby van het hotel de Duitse arts Dr. Siegwart-Horst Günther tegen het lijf liep. Hij had restanten van munitie gevonden die radioactief bleken te zijn. Niet veel later leerde ik dat ze afkomstig zijn van 30 mm antitankgranaten van het A-10 grondaanvalstoestel. Die schieten met een mix van ‘high explosive’ patronen en ‘DU penetrators’. Dat laatste type antitankgranaat bestaat uit een kern van massief uraniummetaal. Het betreft een afvalproduct van de uraniumverrijkingsindustrie, ‘depleted uranium (DU)’ ofwel verarmd uranium. Voor zover bekend werden ze tijdens Operatie Desert Storm voor het eerst gebruikt. Het zware metaal heeft een opmerkelijk lage verbrandingstemperatuur. Na inslag op een hard doel verbrandt en verpulvert de munitiekern tot zeer fijne stofdeeltjes die zich tot ver in de omgeving kunnen verspreiden. Via de longen, slokdarm of open wonden kunnen de stofdeeltjes het lichaam binnendringen. Iraakse artsen leggen een verband tussen de uraniumbesmettingen en de opkomst van doorgaans zeldzame vormen van kanker na de Golfoorlog. Aanvankelijk trof het vooral jonge kinderen. Later – medio jaren negentig – spraken Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, hoofd van het Oncologisch Centrum in Basra, en andere oncologen van een kankerepidemie in Irak. Met daaronder veel gevallen die aan twee of drie soorten kankers tegelijk leden. Een verschijnsel dat onder normale omstandigheden zelden voorkomt. De kankerclusters waren ontstaan in gebieden waar veel gebruik is gemaakt van uraniumhoudende antitankgranaten.

Siegwart-Horst Günther

De arts Dr. Siegwart-Horst Günther overlegt ons foto’s van gevonden restanten DU-munitie en aantekeningen van waargenomen aandoeningen bij kinderen die er mee speelden Bagdad, 26 februari 1991 / foto Henk van der Keur

Gevaren bekend

Juist voor de Iraakse invasie van Koeweit verscheen een rapport van het Amerikaanse leger over het strategische belang van de uraniumhoudende antitankgranaten. In een bijlage wordt door adviseurs gewezen op de potentiële gezondheidsrisico’s van het militair gebruik van verarmd uranium. De auteurs wezen vooral op de gevaren bij de verwijdering van de restanten en besmet legermaterieel in post-conflictgebieden.

Al direct na de Golfoorlog werden ook bij Golfoorlogveteranen ziekten vastgesteld, zowel acuut als chronisch, met zeer uiteenlopende symptomen, die gebundeld werden onder noemer Golfoorlogziekten of het Golfoorlogsyndroom. Het Pentagon weet die ziekten aan vaccinaties, slagveldstress, en aan de gevolgen van bombardementen: sarin en rook van oliebranden. Later voegden de Balkanveteranen zich daarbij met Balkansyndroom (Bosnië ‘94/’95 en Kosovo ’99) met vergelijkbare symptomen. Zij hebben echter niet blootgestaan aan rook, experimentele vaccins en sarin, maar wel aan verarmd uranium en andere chemische stoffen. Ondanks de snel groeiende hoeveelheid wetenschappelijk bewijsmateriaal over de schadelijke effecten van DU, blijven maatregelen uit. Dat komt doordat er nog steeds grote strategische waarde wordt toegekend aan deze wapensystemen. Alle kernmachten beschikken over DU arsenalen. Zelfs in Duitsland – één van de weinige grote landen die ze niet bezitten – gaan binnen het leger stemmen op om ze aan te schaffen. In de Koude Oorlog waren de DU-antitankgranaten bestemd voor een mogelijke tankoorlog tussen de NAVO en het Warschaupact. Nu zouden ze gebruikt kunnen worden als het conflict in Oost-Oekraïne weer oplaait in een tankoorlog tussen de NAVO en Rusland of bij de oorlog in Syrië door de A-10.

Vier jaar na de Golfoorlog verbood de Amerikaanse regering het testen van de uraniumgranaten in de open lucht. De testgebieden zijn zwaar vervuild. Op de Jefferson Proving Ground is een gebied dat bezaaid ligt met restanten van verarmd uranium, maar er liggen ook blindgangers. De Amerikaanse atoomwaakhond NRC is vorig jaar akkoord gegaan met het voorstel van het leger om het terrein niet te saneren omdat het veel te gevaarlijk en heel erg duur is. Omwonenden maken zich ernstig zorgen over uitbreiding van de besmetting via het grondwater.

Dit artikel verscheen in een dossier van VD Amok in het VredesMagazine (december 2015)

 

Journalism at its best uncovers the ongoing deadly legacy of the atomic age

Green World | Michael Marriotte | December 14, 2015

moxnuclearfuelfacility

The unfinished MOX fuel facility at the DOE’s massive Savannah River Site, part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex whose operation has resulted in the deaths of more than 33,000 Americans, according to a new report from McClatchy News Service.

Radiation kills.

That is a fact, established by scientific bodies like the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and incorporated into government-established laws and regulations across the world intended to reduce one’s possibility of receiving unintended radiation exposure. It is a fact recognized, for the most part, even by the world’s nuclear power industry, which generates by far the largest amounts of man-made radioactivity.

That radiation kills is the fundamental reason to oppose nuclear power. Nuclear power might fail as an electricity-producing technology for other reasons in any case–economics, etc; but there would not be what is now a decades-long, powerful movement to prevent new nuclear reactors and close existing ones if radiation were benign. Because if nuclear power were not dangerous, why would we bother? And nuclear power is dangerous because of the radioactivity it produces, and which is always not only under the threat of catastrophic release but poisons us and our planet even when it functions “normally.”

There is public controversy over what level of radiation exposure kills–controversy typically generated by a self-serving nuclear industry which requires the weakest possible radiation protection standards in order to exist, much less expand, and by the radiation deniers who back that industry–but there is no controversy that at some exposure level, radiation kills. And, of course, the prevailing view (though not incorporated by government regulation) of the NAS and other global scientific bodies is that there is no safe level of radiation exposure, that every exposure, no matter how small, carries some risk of death from cancer or other disease.

We all know these truths, but receiving real-life reminders of them is always jarring. Receiving two real-life reminders on a Monday morning is particularly grim, evoking both empathy for the victims but, even more, anger at those who allowed–and continue to allow and even encourage–the atomic age’s legacy of death and destruction.

Kudos to those who uncovered what should be scandals on par with the worst abuses of government and corporate wrongdoing in our planet’s modern history, starting with McClatchy News Service, which spent the past year investigating the U.S. victims of the Cold War–those people who worked for our nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Titled simply Irradiated, McClatchy’s journalists report that the human death toll from this program was 33,340 Americans. Patriotic Americans who believed they were engaged in the right side (and they were) of a historic battle between two great powers and who also believed their government–our government–would protect them. It didn’t. Neither did the other side’s, but we don’t have many reports on that.

But rather than have me summarize their report, I’ll quote directly:

*McClatchy can report for the first time that the great push to win the Cold War has left a legacy of death on American soil: At least 33,480 former nuclear workers who received compensation are dead. The death toll is more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
*Federal officials greatly underestimated how sick the U.S. nuclear workforce would become. At first, the government predicted the program would serve only 3,000 people at an annual cost of $120 million. Fourteen years later, taxpayers have spent sevenfold that estimate, $12 billion, on payouts and medical expenses for more than 53,000 workers.
*Even with the ballooning costs, fewer than half of those who’ve applied have received any money. Workers complain that they’re often left in bureaucratic limbo, flummoxed by who gets payments, frustrated by long wait times and overwhelmed by paperwork.
*Despite the cancers and other illnesses among nuclear workers, the government wants to save money by slashing current employees’ health plans, retirement benefits and sick leave.
*Stronger safety standards have not stopped accidents or day-to-day radiation exposure. More than 186,000 workers have been exposed since 2001, all but ensuring a new generation of claimants. And to date, the government has paid $11 million to 118 workers who began working at nuclear weapons facilities after 2001.

Read the full report here.

Meanwhile, the journalists at the Center for Public Integrity have been investigating another side of the atomic age: uranium mining and nuclear fuel fabrication in India. Their findings are no less disgraceful. Their long and must-read report begins, “The Subarnarekha River roars out of the Chota Nagpur plateau in eastern India, emptying 245 miles downstream into the Bay of Bengal, making it a vital source of life and, lately, of death.”

But this is not a story primarily about the past, about a Cold War struggle between two great powers. This is a story about today, about powering India’s commercial nuclear reactor program; a program for which the U.S. not long ago signed an agreement to be part of, and just this past weekend, so did Japan–both nations want to sell more reactors to India, which could only exacerbate the death and destruction along the “river of death.”

That U.S.-India agreement raised concerns even at the traditionally pro-nuclear State Department:

In a confidential cable to Washington, Henry V. Jardine, a career foreign service officer and former Army captain, expressed blunt dismay about India’s “notoriously weak” worker protections and substandard safety procedures around mines. If safety at civil nuclear projects like these was “an apparent failure,” Jardine wondered “what standards are being maintained in India’s nuclear facilities not visible to the public.”

Again, rather than me summarizing, read the full report here.

These two reports are both examples of journalism at its finest, and both McClatchy and the Center for Public Integrity deserve our fullest congratulations. But reports like these are also all too rare as resources for such investigative reporting continue to decline. The lethal reality of the atomic age probably doesn’t sell newspapers–or web hits–these days. That doesn’t make it any less real.

One could hope that such reports would make the radiation deniers reconsider their junk science views; after all, the radiation levels experienced by these victims in India and across the U.S. were nowhere near the levels even they have to acknowledge causes death and disease. Indeed, most of these exposure levels were probably below the level the “hormesis” advocates consider safe, below the levels where these advocates are trying to convince the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stop regulating. One could hope, but it probably won’t happen.

But these reports show why the “nuclear-free” part of a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system is so vital and why building that system is so essential. Because radiation kills.

Michael Mariotte

December 14, 2015

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2015/12/14/journalism-at-its-best/

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Is de Pallasreactor een gelopen race?

Stichting Laka | Henk van der Keur | 28 oktober 2015

Al sinds de eerste aankondiging van de bouw in 2003 heeft stichting Laka campagne gevoerd tegen een nieuwe kernreactor in Petten. Dat was in het begin geen makkelijke opgave. Vrijwel iedereen was ervan overtuigd dat een onderzoeksreactor noodzakelijk was voor de productie van medische isotopen. Deze radioactieve isotopen worden gebruikt in radiofarmaca voor het stellen van diagnoses en therapeutische behandelingen voor onder meer kanker. Juist daarom werd door pleitbezorgers van onderzoeksreactoren altijd dankbaar gebruik gemaakt van dit argument. Maar onderzoek van Laka bracht al in de jaren negentig aan het licht dat onderzoeksreactoren helemaal niet nodig zijn voor isotopenproductie. Medische isotopen kunnen ook goedkoper, veiliger en relatief schoner worden geproduceerd met deeltjesversnellers. Die boodschap lijkt nu langzamerhand ook door te dringen binnen het politieke establishment.

Opkomst en neergang van isotopenproductie met kernreactoren

De idee dat kernreactoren belangrijk zouden zijn voor medische isotopen is feitelijk een erfenis van het Manhattan Project dat in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Behalve plutonium voor de productie van de eerste kernwapens, leverde de militaire onderzoeksreactor in Hanford in de Amerikaanse staat Washington vanaf 1943 ook op commerciële schaal radio-isotopen. Dat was het begin van isotopenproductie met onderzoeksreactoren. Daarvoor werden medische isotopen door cyclotrons (ronde deeltjesversnellers) gemaakt. Deze relatief eenvoudige apparaten bleven tot in de jaren vijftig een populaire productiemethode. Daarna stokte de ontwikkeling van cyclotrons doordat kernreactoren het overgrote deel van de productie van medische isotopen overnamen.

hanford_wtp-300x199

nucleaire complex bij Hanford, Washington

Door de toename van de welvaart in het Westen en de ziektes die daarmee verband houden, waaronder kanker en hart- en vaatziektes, nam de vraag naar medische isotopen sinds de jaren zeventig flink toe. Naast kernonderzoek werd het aandeel medische isotopen steeds belangrijker voor onderzoeksreactoren. Probleem was dat die productiefaciliteit helemaal niet bijdroeg aan het onderhoud van de kernreactoren. Dat was volgens onderzoekers van de OESO in 2010 de voornaamste verklaring voor de aanhoudende crises in de aanvoer van isotopen in het eerste decennium van dit millennium. Ze maakten duidelijk dat het businessmodel van de reactorisotopen niet deugde. De huidige productie draait op een handjevol stokoude reactoren, waaronder de HFR in Petten, die ooit met overheidssubsidies zijn gebouwd. De overheidssubsidies op reactorproductie van isotopen in Petten worden nu afgebouwd en de prijzen van reactorisotopen stapsgewijs verhoogd. Maar de kans dat reactoren het huidige hoge aandeel in de productie van isotopen blijft behouden, lijkt verkeken. De opmars van versnellers is niet meer te stuiten. Dat komt door de snelle opkomst van de PET-scanner, een beeldvormende techniek die uitsluitend op versnellerisotopen draait. De snelle wereldwijde uitbreiding daarvan gaat ten koste van de andere beeldvormende techniek SPECT, die nu nog gebruik maakt van reactorisotopen. Door de verhoging van de prijzen van deze isotopen wordt het voor producenten met cyclotrons (en straks linacs) steeds aantrekkelijker om naast PET-isotopen ook SPECT-isotopen te gaan produceren. Het Internationaal Atoomenergie Agentschap (IAEA, juli 2015) voorziet op korte termijn een omwenteling van reactorisotopen naar versnellerisotopen binnen de Nucleaire Geneeskunde. In maart 2018 zal ‘s werelds grootste producent van medische isotopen, de NRU-reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, gaan sluiten. De Canadezen zijn al vijf jaar bezig met het treffen van voorbereidingen om in 2018 over te schakelen naar een infrastructuur van isotopenproductie die gebaseerd is op versnellers. Eén van de weinige zaken waar we de voormalige conservatieve premier Harper dankbaar voor kunnen zijn.

actievoerders-opgepakt-bij-kernreactor-petten

Huidige kernreactor in Petten

Pallas belemmert innovatie

Minister van Economische Zaken Henk Kamp blijft het Pallasproject stug verdedigen. Maar uit geheime stukken die recent door radioprogramma Argos zijn onthuld, blijkt dat de provincie er geen toekomst in ziet. Tijdens een geheime vergadering, begin oktober, besloten de Provinciale Staten van Noord Holland om het tweede deel van een lening voor een nieuwe kernreactor in Petten, Pallas, te weigeren. Daarmee hangt de geplande Pallasreactor aan een zijden draadje. Reden voor de weigering is een gebrek aan vertrouwen in de gepresenteerde business case van de Pallasreactor. Met name het feit dat Pallas nog geen private investeerders heeft gevonden weegt zwaar. “De Pallas organisatie loopt met de actualisatie van de business case niet in de pas met het tijdschema dat voor de go/no go-momenten is bedacht.” Schrijft CDA-gedeputeerde Jaap Bond aan de commissie EEB (Energie, Economie en Beleid) van de Provinciale Staten.

Maar het zijn niet alleen economische argumenten. Voor PS weegt ook zwaar dat er twijfel bestaat of een nieuwe Pallasreactor wel nodig is gezien ontwikkelingen in de markt. Pallas is vooral gepland voor de productie van medische isotopen. CDA’er Bond wijst er op dat de OESO voorspelt dat er in 2020 een overschot aan medische isotopen wordt verwacht. Dat komt enerzijds door nieuwe productiefaciliteiten die in aanbouw zijn en door het feit dat medische isotopen ook geproduceerd kunnen worden met behulp van cyclotrons.

Laka verwelkomt de beslissing van de Provinciale Staten. Het is een verstandig besluit op het juiste moment. Het heeft geen zin aan te blijven modderen. Het is zaak nu vol in te zetten op productie van medische isotopen met innovatieve deeltjesversnellers. Dat is de enige mogelijkheid om werkgelegenheid in de kop van Noord-Holland te behouden.

Bestuursakkoord: verschillende interpretaties

Minister Kamp beantwoorde afgelopen week nog Kamervragen over Pallas. Hij liet op geen enkele manier de bestaande twijfel over de voortgang doorschemeren. Dat is vreemd, omdat hij van de beslissing van de Provincie Noord-Holland op de hoogte moet zijn geweest. En des te vreemder omdat bij het afsluiten van de lening in 2012, in een bestuursakkoord is afgesproken dat PS en EZ samen op trekken. Als één partij ermee stopt dan stopt de andere ook. Er is een afspraak tot “consensus” over de gezamenlijke lening van 80 miljoen euro. En die is er dus niet. Het is de vraag of hij nu een andere keuze heeft dan de bijdrage van het Rijk te stoppen.

Volgens Argos houden de Staten de deur nog wel op een kier. De PS verleent namelijk wel toestemming voor de start van de aanbesteding van het ontwerp voor Pallas. Gedeputeerde Bond wijst er op dat, mocht de minister toch besluiten zijn 14 miljoen over te maken aan Pallas, PS van Noord Holland daarvan “zeven miljoen voor haar rekening dient te nemen.” Dat is een gevolg van de afspraken in het bestuursakkoord.

Ondertussen meldt het Noordhollands dagblad dat de Commissaris van de Koning in Noord-Holland, Remkes, aangifte bij de politie gaat doen vanwege een “vermoedelijke schending van een opgelegde geheimhoudingsplicht.” En volgens de provincie zijn er daarnaast ook nog stukken gelekt waar geheimhouding op zit.

Israel and the Atomic Bomb

IMEU | September 25, 2015

REUTERSNuclearFacilityNegev

View of the Israeli nuclear facility in the Negev Dest outside Dimona (Reuters)
  • Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons, with an arsenal estimated at 60-400 warheads, although most experts put the actual number in the range of 80-200.
  • In addition to other delivery methods, Israel has nuclear-armed submarines that allow for first and second-strike capabilities. The Dolphin-class submarines were sold to Israel by Germany, which was aware that they would be armed with nuclear missiles. In 2010, the Sunday Times newspaper reported that Israel was in the process of deploying three nuclear-armed submarines off the coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf as part of a plan to maintain a permanent nuclear presence there.
  • Israel developed the bomb secretly at its nuclear facilities in the town of Dimona in the 1950s and 1960s. While a number of countries helped Israel acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, France in particular played a key role, assisting in the construction of a reactor and reprocessing plant, and providing engineers and technical assistance. Israel is also believed to have stolen intelligence and materials necessary for making atomic weapons, including from the United States.
  • Israel has maintained a policy of neither acknowledging nor denying having the bomb, and is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). This policy of ambiguity is the result of a secret agreement reached between President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969. According to the deal, Israel agreed not to test nuclear weapons or publicly acknowledge having them and in return the U.S. stopped pressuring Israel to allow inspections of its secret nuclear facilities and to sign the NPT. Among other concerns, the Nixon administration feared that Israel’s possession of the bomb would start a nuclear arms race in the region. Since 1969, the U.S. has worked to prevent Israel’s nuclear program from being discussed publicly or scrutinized by bodies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.
  • Israel’s nuclear weapons program was revealed to the world in 1986 by whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Dimona who approached the Sunday Times with proof of its existence. Before the Times’ exposé was published, Israeli agents lured Vanunu to Rome where he was kidnapped and taken back to Israel to stand trial. After being convicted of espionage and treason, Vanunu served 18 years in prison, including 11 in solitary confinement. Since his release in 2004, the Israeli government has continued to impose severe restrictions on Vanunu, including preventing him from talking to journalists or foreigners or traveling abroad. In a 2014 statement, an Amnesty International spokesperson declared: “The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous.”
  • In 1975, Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa at a time when the two countries were developing a close alliance. The offer was made by then-Defense Minister and future Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who played a central role in Israel’s nuclear program. Although the apartheid regime declined, Israel subsequently helped South Africa develop the bomb, while South Africa provided Israel with the yellowcake it needed to make nuclear weapons. The two countries also collaborated on the testing of a nuclear bomb off the coast of South Africa in 1979, in violation of the secret agreement made between Israel and the U.S. in 1969.
  • In 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released previously classified documents revealing that an investigation begun during the 1980s concluded that Benjamin Netanyahu was part of an Israeli smuggling ring that illegally purchased nuclear triggers from the U.S. without export licenses from the State Department, using a front company called Heli Trading, which Netanyahu worked for.

Treasury’s work on nuclear energy being kept secret

Politics Web (South Africa) | David Maynier | 27 September 2015

The Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, has not disclosed the fact that the National Treasury conducted and completed extensive work on the proposed nuclear build programme in the 2014/15 Financial Year.

Up until now the Minister has claimed the National Treasury had only recently been invited into the process of decision-making on the financing of the nuclear build programme; and that, although work was being done on the nuclear build programme, the work had not been completed.

However, a careful reading of the National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report tells a very different story. The National Treasury in fact:

– conducted and completed extensive work on nuclear energy during the 2014/15 Financial Year;

– some of the work was included in the decision-making process and submitted to the Department of Energy during the 2014/15 Financial Year; and

– an official, or officials, from the National Treasury, received training, at an estimated cost of R500 000, in nuclear finance, which was sponsored by South Korea.

National Treasury’s Urban Development and Infrastructure Unit, according to National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report:

completed the update of the liquid fuels sector investment study and several studies on the feasibility of gas, nuclear and regional hydro for electricity generation.” (National Treasury, National Treasury 2014/15 Annual Report, p. 64.)

The Unit evidently completed a study, or several studies, on the feasibility of inter alianuclear energy for electricity generation in South Africa.

Moreover, the National Treasury’s Urban Development and Infrastructure Unit’s study, or studies, on the feasibility of inter alia nuclear energy were completed before the end of the 2014/15 Financial Year.

National Treasury’s Oversight and Governance of State-Owned Enterprises Unit, according to National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report:

Finalized the report on financing nuclear options, models and solutions and presented to the Nuclear Sub-Work Group on corporate finance and procurement; compiled a memorandum and letter formally submitting the report to the Department of Energy (DOE).” (National Treasury, National Treasury 2014/15 Annual Report, p. 96.)

The Unit evidently completed a report on financing nuclear energy.

Moreover, National Treasury’s Oversight and Governance of State-Owned Enterprises Unit’sreport on financing nuclear energy was completed before the end of the 2014/15 Financial Year.

National Treasury’s Oversight and Governance of State-Owned Enterprises Unit also presented the report on financing nuclear energy to a Nuclear Sub-Work Group on Corporate Finance and Procurement.

It is not clear from the National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report whether the Nuclear Sub-Work Group on Corporate Finance and Procurement was located inside or outside the National Treasury.

However, the Unit formally submitted a letter, memorandum and report on financing nuclear options to the Department of Energy.

Moreover, National Treasury’s Oversight and Governance of State-Owned Enterprises Unitsubmitted the letter, memorandum and report on financing nuclear energy to the Department of Energy before the end of the 2014/15 Financial Year.

A National Treasury official, or officials, according to the National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report, evidently received training in nuclear finance during the 2014/15 Financial Year in South Korea. (National Treasury, National Treasury 2014/15 Annual Report, Annexure 1H, p. 408.)

Moreover, National Treasury’s National Capital Projects Unit, according to the National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report, also completed several in-depth studies on short and long-term energy generation options for South Africa.” (National Treasury, National Treasury 2014/15 Annual Report, p. 65)

Although there is no explicit mention of nuclear energy, the National Capital Projects Unit’sin depth studies almost certainly include nuclear energy as a possible energy generation option for South Africa.

In the end, National Treasury:

– have clearly done more work on the feasibility, financing and assessment of alternative energy options, including nuclear energy, than the Minister has been prepared to disclose; and

– much of the work was completed before the end of the 2014/15 Financial Year.

The Minister is walking a political tightrope because the National Treasury has more than likely raised serious questions about the feasibility of the nuclear build programme.

If this is the case, the Minister is on a potential collision course with President Jacob Zuma who wants the nuclear build programme procurement concluded before the end of the 2015/16 Financial Year.

In the end, it’s not in the public interest for the work done by the National Treasury on the nuclear build programme to be hidden from the public or Parliament.

I will, therefore, request the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, to schedule a briefing by the National Treasury on:

– the work conducted and completed on the nuclear build programme by the National Treasury; and

– the economic and financial implications of the proposed nuclear build programme for South Africa.

We cannot sit back and allow the nuclear build programme to go ahead in secret given the massive financial implications for South Africa.

Statement issued by David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, 27 September 2015

LA’s Nuclear Secret: Part 1

Tucked away in the hills above the San Fernando and Simi valleys was a 2,800-acre laboratory with a mission that was a mystery to the thousands of people who lived in its shadow

NBC | Joel Grover and Matthew Glasser | Sep 22, 2015

The U.S. government secretly allowed radiation from a damaged reactor to be released into air over the San Fernando and Simi valleys in the wake of a major nuclear meltdown in Southern California more than 50 years ago — fallout that nearby residents contend continues to cause serious health consequences and, in some cases, death.

LA’s Nuclear Secret: Timelines, Documents, FAQ

Those are the findings of a yearlong NBC4 I-Team investigation into “Area Four,” which is part of the once-secret Santa Susana Field Lab. Founded in 1947 to test experimental nuclear reactors and rocket systems, the research facility was built in the hills above the two valleys. In 1959, Area Four was the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in U.S. history. But the federal government still hasn’t told the public that radiation was released into the atmosphere as a result of the partial nuclear meltdown.

Now, whistleblowers interviewed on camera by NBC4 have recounted how during and after that accident they were ordered to release dangerous radioactive gases into the air above Los Angeles and Ventura counties, often under cover of night, and how their bosses swore them to secrecy.

In addition, the I-Team reviewed over 15,000 pages of studies and government documents, and interviewed other insiders, uncovering that for years starting in 1959, workers at Area Four were routinely instructed to release radioactive materials into the air above neighboring communities, through the exhaust stacks of nuclear reactors, open doors, and by burning radioactive waste.

How It Began

On July 13, 1959, the day of the meltdown, John Pace was working as a reactor operator for Atomics International at Area Four’s largest reactor, under the watch of the U.S. government’s Atomic Energy Commission.

“Nobody knows the truth of what actually happened,” Pace told the I-Team.

In fact, Pace said, the meltdown was verging on a major radioactive explosion.

“The radiation in that building got so high, it went clear off the scale,” he said.

To prevent a potentially devastating explosion, one that in hindsight the 76-year-old Pace believes would have been “just like Chernobyl,” he and other workers were instructed to open the exhaust stacks and release massive amounts of radiation into the sky.

“This was very dangerous radioactive material,” he said. “It went straight out into the atmosphere and went straight to Simi Valley, to Chatsworth, to Canoga Park.”

Pace and his co-workers frantically tried to repair the damaged reactor. Instead, he said they realized, their efforts were only generating more radioactive gas. So for weeks, often in the dark of night, Pace and other workers were ordered to open the large door in the reactor building and vent the radiation into the air.

“It was getting out towards the public,” he said. “The public would be bombarded by it.”

Pace said he and his co-workers knew they were venting dangerous radiation over populated areas, but they were following orders.

“They felt terrible that it had to be done,” he said. “They had to let it out over their own families.”

Area Four workers “were sworn to secrecy that they would not tell anyone what they had done,” Pace explained.

He remembered his boss getting right in his face and saying, “You will not say a word. Not one word.”

That was more than five decades ago, but radioactive contamination didn’t just vanish. It remains in the soil and water of Area Four and in some areas off-site, according to state and federal records obtained by the I-Team. And, evidence suggests that the fallout could be linked to illnesses, including cancer, among residents living nearby.

Arline Mathews lived with her family in Chatsworth, downwind of Area Four during some of the radiation releases. Her middle son, Bobby, was a champion runner on the Chatsworth High School track team for three years, running to the Santa Susana Field Lab and back to school every day. Bobby died of glioblastoma, a rare brain cancer often linked to radiation exposure. Mathews said there is no known family history of cancer and she blames the radiation from Area Four for her son’s illness.

“He was exposed to the chemical hazardous waste and radioactivity up there,” Mathews said. “There’s no getting over the loss of son.”

The Government Cover-up

Six weeks after the meltdown, the Atomic Energy Commission issued a press release saying that there had been a minor “fuel element failure” at Area Four’s largest reactor in July. But they said there had been “no release of radioactive materials” to the environment.

“What they had written in that report is not even close to what actually happened,” Pace said. “To see our government talk that way and lie about those things that happened, it was very disappointing.”

In 1979, NBC4 first broke the story that there was a partial meltdown at Area Four’s largest reactor, called the Sodium Reactor Experiment. But at the time, the U.S. government was still saying no radiation was released into the air over LA.

But during its current yearlong investigation, the I-Team found a NASA report that confirmed “the 1959 meltdown… led to a release of radioactive contaminants.”

For years, NASA used part of the site for rocket testing and research.

More Radioactive Releases

After filing a Freedom of Information request, the I-Team obtained more than 200 pages of government interviews with former Santa Susana workers. One of those workers, Dan Parks, was a health physicist at Area Four in the 1960s.

In the early 60s, Parks said, he often witnessed workers releasing radiation into the sky through the exhaust stacks of at least three of Area Four’s ten nuclear reactors.

“They would vent it to the atmosphere,” he said. “The release was done with the flick of a switch.”

Radioactive Waste Up in Smoke

Parks said he often witnessed workers releasing radioactive smoke into the air when they disposed of barrels of radioactive waste from Area Four’s 10 nuclear reactors.

“We were all workers,” he said. “Just taking orders.”

Workers would often take those barrels of waste to a pond called “the burn pits” and proceed to shoot the barrels with a high-powered rifle causing an explosion. The radioactive smoke would drift into the air over nearby suburbs and toward a summer camp for children.

“It was a volatile explosion, beyond belief,” Parks said.

Whatever direction the wind was blowing, the radioactive smoke would travel that way.

“If the wind was blowing to the Valley, it would blow it in the Valley,” he said.

Ralph Powell, who worked as a security officer at Area Four in the mid-60s, recalled being blanketed by that radioactive smoke.

“I saw clouds of smoke that was engulfing my friends, that are dying now,” Powell said.

Powell believes it wasn’t just his friends who suffered the consequences. He fears he may have exposed his own family to radiation, tracking it home on his clothes and car.

While Powell was working at Area Four, his son Michael was diagnosed with leukemia — a cancer linked to radiation exposure — and died at age 11.

“I suspect it caused the death of my son,” he said. “I’ve never gotten that out of my mind.”

Toxic Chemical Contamination

In addition to the radiation, dozens of toxic chemicals, including TCE and Perchlorate, were also released into the air and dumped on the soil and into ground and surface water from thousands of rocket tests conducted at the Santa Susana Field lab from the 1950s to 80s. The tests were conducted by NASA, and by Rocketdyne, a government aerospace contractor.

According to a federally funded study obtained by the I-Team, “emissions associated with rocket engine testing” could have been inhaled by residents of “West Hills, Bell Canyon, Dayton Canyon, Simi Valley, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Woodland Hills, and Hidden Hills.”

Contamination Moves into Neighborhoods

Radiation released at Area Four continues to contaminate the soil and water of the Santa Susana Field Lab.

In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed a $40 million soil test of the site and found 423 hot spots — places contaminated with high levels of man-made radiation.

Other studies and government documents obtained by the I-Team show that radiation has moved off-site, and has been found in the ground and water in suburbs to the south, northeast and northwest of the Field Lab.

“Radiation doesn’t know any boundaries,” said Dr. Robert Dodge, a national board member of the Nobel Prize-winning nonprofit Physicians For Social Responsibility, which studies the health effects of radiation.

Dodge, who has reviewed numerous government and academic studies about the contamination at Santa Susana, said he believes the contamination has spread far beyond the facility’s borders.

“If the wind is blowing and carrying radiation from Santa Susana, it doesn’t stop because there’s a fence,” he said.

One of the places radiation has been found, in a 1995 study overseen by the U.S. EPA, was the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley. The Institute is a nationally-known center of Jewish learning, and the home to Camp Alonim, a beloved summer sleepaway camp that has hosted some 30,000 children.

In December 1995, The Brandeis-Bardin Institute filed a federal lawsuit against the present and past owners of the Santa Susana Field Lab, alleging that toxic chemicals and radiation from the field lab “have subsequently seeped into and come to be located in the soil and groundwater” of Brandeis “is injurious to the environment” and “will cause great and irreparable injury.”

Brandeis settled the lawsuit in a confidential agreement in 1997.

A spokesman for the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Rabbi Jay Strear, told NBC4 that the groundwater and soil is “tested routinely,” and the results have shown the “the site is safe.”

The I-Team asked Brandeis-Bardin to provide NBC4 with those test results showing the site is safe and free of hazardous substances. The Institute refused, and in an email said “we are not in a position to devote the required staff time to respond to your more detailed inquiries, nor do we see the necessity for doing so.”

A government scientist who has studied the contamination at Santa Susana told the I-Team he thinks there’s a continued threat of radiation and toxic chemicals flowing from the field lab to places like Brandeis-Bardin, via groundwater and airborne dust.

Clusters of Cancer

Researchers inside and out of government have contended that the radiation and toxic chemicals from Santa Susana might have caused many cancer cases.

“The radiation that was released in 1959 and thereafter from Santa Susana is still a danger today,” Dr.Dodge said. “There is absolutely a link between radiation and cancer.”

The I-Team tracked down dozens of people diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses who grew up in the shadow of Santa Susana — in Canoga Park, West Hills, Chatsworth, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley. Many of them believe their cancers were caused by radiation and chemicals from the field lab.

Kathryn Seltzer Carlson, 56, and her sisters, Judy and Jennifer, all grew up in Canoga Park around the time of the nuclear meltdown and for years after, and all have battled cancer.

“I played in the water, I swam in the water, I drank the water” that ran off the Santa Susana Field Lab, said Carlson, who finished treatment for ovarian cancer earlier this year and is now undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. “I’ve had, I don’t know how many cancers.”

Bonnie Klea, a former Santa Susana employee who has lived in West Hills since the 60s, also battled bladder cancer, which is frequently linked to radiation exposure.

“Every single house on my street had cancer,” Klea said.

A 2007 Centers for Disease Control study found that people living within two miles of the Santa Susana site had a 60 percent higher rate of some cancers.

“There’s some provocative evidence,” said Dr. Hal Morgenstern, an epidemiologist who oversaw the study. “It’s like circumstantial evidence, suggesting there’s a link” between the contamination from Santa Susana and the higher cancer rates.

Silence From the Government

For more than two months, the I-Team asked to speak with someone from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the federal agency that’s responsible for all nuclear testing, to ask why workers were ordered to release dangerous radiation over Los Angeles, why the DOE has never publicly admitted this happened, and what it plans to do to help get the site cleaned up.

The DOE emailed the I-Team, “We will not have anyone available for this segment.”

So the I-Team showed up at a public meeting this month about Santa Susana and asked the DOE’s project manager for the site, Jon Jones, to speak with us. He walked away and wouldn’t speak.

Will the Contamination Ever Be Cleaned Up?

Community residents, many stricken with cancer and other radiation-related illnesses, have been fighting for years to get the government and the private owners of the Santa Susana Field Lab to clean up the contamination that remains on the site.

But efforts in the state legislature and state agencies that oversee toxic sites have, so far, stalled.

But residents, with the support of some lawmakers, continue to fight for a full cleanup.

“People are continuing to breathe that (radiation) in and to die,” Chatsworth resident Arline Mathews said.

“See that this is done immediately, before more lives are lost.”