Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear power – violent from the very beginning

Born Violent: The Origins of Nuclear Power, Asian Journal of Peacebuildling, 2019, Robert (Bo) Jacob

Please excuse the “t”s and “f”s which have somehow turned into squares my copying problems.

“…his article traces the origins o nuclear power technology as it was speciically developed to produce nuclear weapons or use against a civilian population in war……

It will trace numerous radiological disasters during the production history o the Hanord reactor fleet and at other military plutonium production reactor sites during the early Cold War.It will describe the later emergence o the nuclear power production industry which used nuclear reactors to also produce energy or civilian use and the history o partial and ull nuclearuel meltdowns that accompanied that industry……..

Hanford during the Cold War…..During the Cold War, the United States produced over 60,000 nuclear weapons, most o them with the plutonium produced at Hanord. This includes both ission weapons like the one used in the nuclear attack on Nagasaki, and also in thermonuclear weapons. While nuclear weapons were not used in wararea ater 1945, over 2,000 weapons have been detonated in nuclear tests, roughly hal o those (1,054) by the United States. The United States tested 928 nuclear weapons at the Nevada est Site, and another 67 at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands.  wo hundred and sixteen o those tests were in the
atmosphere, which distributed vast quantities o radioactive allout in heavy quantities close to the test sites, and also globally when the atmospheric clouds reached the upper atmosphere.

A 2015 article in The Lancet   describes how “risk modelling studies o exposure to ionising radiation rom the Nevada est Site in the United States suggest that an extra 49,000 (95 percent CI 11 300–212 000)cases o thyroid cancer would be expected to occur among U.S. residents alive at the time o the testing—an excess o about 12 percent over the 400,000 cases othyroid cancer expected to develop in the absence o allout” (Simon and Bouville 2015, 407-408).

The Marshall Islands had ar ewer tests than the Nevada test site, however the United States tested its thermonuclear weapons exclusively at the Pacific Proving Ground which resulted in massive amounts o radioactive allout aecting the local population and also entering into the Paciic Ocean rom which the radionuclides could disperse throughout the Pacific Rim.

One test, the Bravo test o 1954, which was the largest weapon ever tested by the United States, created a vast and lethal allout cloud that enguled numerous Marshallese atolls. he entire population o Rongelap Atoll suered rom radiation sickness after the Bravo test.  The Japanese tuna fishing boat the DaigoFukuryu Maru , among many others, was also exposed to the allout cloud. When it came to port in Yaizu, Japan two weeks after the test, its crew was hospitalized or radiation sickness. One crew member, radioman Aikichi Kuboyama, died ocomplications rom his exposure six months later,even though he was physically located about 100km rom the actual detonation point. All of these illnesses and deaths can be traced back to the nuclear reactors at Hanford.

During its years o production, Hanord was the site o numerous substantial radiological releases that endangered the local population as well as those downwind. ……..  Large releases o radiation into the nearby ecosystem would be routine during the operation o the Hanord reactors and especially the plutonium extraction procedures.  hese activities would leave a disastrous legacy once the plants were closed……

Historical Disasters at Plutonium Production Sites

Hanord did not suffer a major uel meltdown or catastrophic fire. However, all other nuclear weapon states have also operated multiple plutonium production reactors and the first two large-scale nuclear disasters occurred in such reactor complexes, happening within two weeks o each other.

On September 29, 1957, writes Kate Brown, as a soccer game was beingplayed in a stadium in Ozersk, in the Chelyabinsk Oblast near the Ural Mountainsin Central Russia, where the Mayak Production Association was located, a loudexplosion was heard nearby.Te source o the blast was an underground storage tank holding highly radioactivewaste that overheated and blew, belching up a 160-ton cement cap buried twenty-oureet below the ground and tossing it seventy-five eet in the air. Te blast smashedwindows in the nearby barracks and tore the metal gates off the perimeter ence.

The explosion and subsequent radiological disaster, known as the KyshtymDisaster, occurred just eight years and one month after the detonation o the firstnSoviet nuclear weapon made with plutonium produced at Mayak, the plutonium production that was the target o surveillance motivating the Green Run at Hanord.

he radioactive cloud rom the explosion, “settled over an area o 20,000square kilometers, home to 270,000 people” (Rabl 2012). Te Soviet authorities were slow to react to the crisis. “A week after the explosion,” writes Brown, who did extensive fieldwork in the region as well as at Hanord, “radiologists ollowed the cloud to the downwind villages, where they ound people living normally,children playing bareoot.  hey measured the ground, arm tools, animals and people. he levels o radioactivity were astonishingly high” (Brown 2013, 239-240). he contaminated area would eventually be known as the East Urals Radioactive race (Ichikawa 2015).

Eleven days later a fire ignited in one o the reactors at the Windscale Works, the plutonium production site o the United Kingdom located in Cumbria in Northwest England. he ire burned inside o the reactor or three days and released massive amounts o radiation blanketing surrounding communities and downwind areas.  “While the authorities denied large releases o radioactivity at the time, this was not a correct portrayal o the situation…On 12 October, authorities stopped the distribution o milk originating rom seventeen areaarms. However, just three days later, milk rom a ar wider area (200 square miles compared to the previous 80) was restricted” (Makhijani et al. 1995, 418). Falloutrom the accident was detected in Ireland, and the confiscated milk was dumped into the Irish Sea (Bertell 1985)

The Establishment of Commercial Nuclear Power…….  Many o these plants would experience occasional leaks or releases oradiation into their local ecosystems. Several would have catastrophic nuclear accidents.  In addition to the accidents at plutonium production reactors citedabove, partial core meltdowns would occur at Santa Susana in Simi Valley,Caliornia (1957), Fermi-1 in Detroit, Michigan (1966), the Lucens reactor inVaud, Switzerland (1969), Leningrad-1 in Leningrad, USSR (1975), and hreeMile Island-2 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1979).  A ull, catastrophic nuclearmeltdown occurred at Chernobyl-4 (1986) and three ull meltdowns occurred at Fukushima 1-2-3 in 2011.

In addition to these dire nuclear accidents, the spent uel rom normal operations at nuclear power plants pose a vexing problem or tens o thousands o generations.  hese spent uel rods will need to be eectively contained or millennia as they will remain highly dangerous or over 10,000 years, and seriously dangerous or over 100,000 years. Almost all o this spent uel, millions o tons, sit in temporary or intermediate storage on the grounds o the reactors where the uel was burned. Finland will be the very irst nation to attempt to permanently store the spent uel rom its very limited nuclear power program in deep geological storage at the Onkalo site on the Baltic Sea, beginning in the2020s. All o the spent nuclear uel rom the long history o operation at Hanord still sits in temporary storage, some o it or over seventy years now (Deense Nuclear Facilities Saety Board 1997).

he challenges o containing this highly toxic waste or millennia and insuring that the sites are not damaged by geologicalorces or breached by uture human societies is speculative at best. The ongoing capacity o nuclear power to damage the health o human beings and other creatures or millennia, through the risks posed by this waste, means that we can never adequately grasp the ull violence that will result rom its production (Jacobs2018).  o date, over seventy years after the successul operation o CP-1, not one spent uel rod has been placed in “permanent” storage anywhere on the planet………

Beyond the visible, nuclear waste may kill and harm for tens of thousands of years to come. Hundreds of thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel rods will remain deadly for over 100,000 years and must be successfully contained for that entire period of time to protect the health of thousands of generations of humans and other creatures yet unborn.   Nuclear power will remain violent long past the generation of any electricity that will benefit any being. The legacy waste of operating nuclear power plants—for weapons or for electricity—will remain dangerous for longer than human civilization has so far existed.
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June 11, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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