Australian news, and some related international items

Chernobyl disaster and the U.N. response – a global matter

‘Disasters know no borders’ says Guterres, 35 years on from Chernobyl nuclear accident, his message for Chernobyl International Remembrance Day on Monday, the UN chief reminded that “disasters know no borders”. 

A 20-second shut down of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986, created a surge that led to a chemical explosion, which released nearly 520 dangerous radionuclides into the atmosphere. As a result, large parts of the former Soviet Union were contaminated; territory which now lies within the borders of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, according to the UN. 

Marking the 35th anniversary of the accident, Secretary-General António Guterres said that together, “we can work to prevent and contain [disasters]… support all those in need, and build a strong recovery”

Never forget 

As one of the most serious nuclear accidents in history, nearly 8.4 million people in the three countries were exposed to radiation, according to the UN. 

Some 350,000 were forced to leave their homes in severely contaminated areas, which left a deeply traumatic and lasting impact on their lives: “Their suffering must not be forgotten”, said the top UN official. 

He also pointed to the anniversary as an occasion to recognize the recovery efforts led by the three governments  as well as the work of “scientists who sifted through the evidence” to provide important analysis that has informed emergency planning and reduced risks. 

A legacy of assistance 

While the Organization had helped the people in the areas surrounding Chernobyl at the onset, four years after the accident the Soviet Government acknowledged the need for international assistance.  

That same year, 1990, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for “international cooperation to address and mitigate the consequences at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant”. This began the UN’s participation in the recovery effort. 

And in 2019, a new safety casing over the old shelter was completed and given to the Government of Ukraine. It was achieved with €2.2 billion in donations from over 45 nations.  

The UN said the milestone one of the largest ever seen projects in terms of international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety. 

Working for ‘the common good’ 

UN country teams – working with civil society, international partners and donors – first supported emergency and humanitarian aid, then recovery and finally social and economic development, Mr. Guterres noted, adding that “our joint efforts have enjoyed some success”. 

He cited that the number of small and medium-sized businesses operating in areas directly affected by the disaster has risen from 2,000 in 2002 to 37,000 today.  

And thousands of residents, community leaders and doctors have been trained on health risks and promoting healthy lifestyles. 

The Chernobyl disaster was contained by governments working with academics, civil society and others, “for the common good”, the UN chief said.  

“It holds important lessons for today’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”, he concluded.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The health effects of Chernobyl nuclear disaster as far away as Scotland

SCND 23rd April 2021. Ian Fairlie: April 26, 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the world’s largest nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Several days later, clouds containing the radioactive caesium-137 released by the reactor passed over Scotland about 1,400 miles or 2,500 kilometres away.

Although we got off lightly in comparison to nearer neighbors, rain brought radioactivity to the ground contaminating parts of southern and central Scotland. Understandings of the impact of radioactivity on human health are constantly being revised but scientists generally agree that any additional radiation over natural levels in the environment can have negative effects particularly on women and children. Even here, it is likely that some cancers will have been caused by Chernobyl.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Despite the Morrison hype, Australia is at the bottom of the pack for clean power — RenewEconomy

Australia’s power grid is a core bragging point for the government – but where does it really sit on the world stage? The post Despite the Morrison hype, Australia is at the bottom of the pack for clean power appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Despite the Morrison hype, Australia is at the bottom of the pack for clean power — RenewEconomy

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Battery of the world”: Australia’s key role in fast transition to wind and solar — RenewEconomy

Australia well placed to become “battery of the world” if wind and solar can pass political barriers, as well as technical and economic hurdles already jumped. The post “Battery of the world”: Australia’s key role in fast transition to wind and solar appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“Battery of the world”: Australia’s key role in fast transition to wind and solar — RenewEconomy

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia spends more propping up fossil fuels than it does on the Army — RenewEconomy

Federal and state governments are spending more than $10 billion a year subsidising the fossil fuel industry, mostly through fuel tax credits. The post Australia spends more propping up fossil fuels than it does on the Army appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australia spends more propping up fossil fuels than it does on the Army — RenewEconomy

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No future for new nuclear

 ‘the claim that any nuclear reactor system can “burn” or “consume” nuclear waste is a misleading oversimplification. Reactors can actually use only a fraction of spent nuclear fuel as new fuel, and separating that fraction increases the risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.’ 

mini-PWR designs, like NuScale’s Small Modular Reactor. – the UCS is none too keen on SMRs, as witness its earlier report on them –it says ‘small isn’t always beautiful’. A more recent review of SMRs by Prof. M.V. Ravana, from the University of British Columbia, looking more at the economics, came to similar conclusions: ‘Pursuing SMRs will only worsen the problem of poor economics that has plagued nuclear power and make it harder for nuclear power to compete with renewable sources of electricity.’ 

No future for new nuclear— arguably definitive study 25 Apr 21, of new advanced non-water cooled nuclear options, including molten salt reactors and liquid sodium cooled fast reactors, from the US Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that none can be ready for at least a decade, more like two, and there are none that meet safety, security, sustainability criteria, apart possibly from once-through breed and burn reactors. If we want nuclear it says it would more sensible just to upgrade the standard, more familiar, water cooled reactors.

It sets the scene by noting that, in the United States, so-called Light Water Reactors (PWRs and BWRs) have dominated, these using ordinary water to cool their hot, highly radioactive cores, as opposed to reactors like the Canadian CANDU that use ‘heavy water’, with a double neutron hydrogen isotope, as a moderator. Support for LWRs has continued, despite some economic problems, which have bedevilled expansion in the US and elsewhere: ‘new nuclear plants have proven prohibitively expensive and slow to build, discouraging private investment and contributing to public skepticism’. 

Continue reading

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear disaster: ‘Three-day evacuation lasted 35 years’.

BBC 26th April 2021, Chernobyl nuclear disaster: ‘Three-day evacuation lasted 35 years’.
Thirty-five years ago an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine released lethal radiation into the atmosphere. The nearest city, Pripyat, home to around 50,000 people, was evacuated along with other communities in a 4,000 sq km zone.

Lyudmila Honchar was four years old at the time and lived in Pripyat with her parents. We joined her as she
returned to try and find her family home, 35 years on.–

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children

IPPNW 26th April 2021, Dr Alex Rosen: Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children. In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout in many places. Some still live in irradiated regions where they are confronted with increased amounts of radiation every day: radioactive hot spots on the roadside, in rice fields or in sandboxes, contaminated fungi or algae, irradiated groundwater and recontamination from forest fires or floods.

One of the most dreaded long-term effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancers through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous, but it is the easiest to detect form of radiation-related cancer. On the one hand, the latency periods until the development of a cancerous ulcer are relatively short,only a few years; on the other hand, thyroid cancer in children is anextremely rare disease, so that even a slight increase can be statistically significant. In 2011, the pressure on the Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima was correspondingly great.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear fallout from the Cold War might be killing our bees

Nuclear fallout from the Cold War might be killing our bees,  The Takeout, 26 Apr 21    It’s no secret that humankind has been a massive dick to bees, even though they’re responsible for the pollination and survival of 80% of the world’s plants and are directly linked to more than one third of the world’s food supply…………

we’ve been killing billions of them every year with pesticides, chemicals, and god knows what else. Over the past few decades, the world’s bee population has been decreasing thanks to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder;; fingers have been pointed at the aforementioned pesticides, malnutrition, starvation, and a whole slew of other things, but science still does not have a definitive answer as to what is killing the bees. Now, according to a study published last month in the scientific journal Nature Communicationsthere’s another potential culprit in the mix: Cesium-137.

What is Cesium-137, you ask? Well, it’s an isotope produced when radioactive elements like uranium and plutonium become bombarded by neutrons, which split apart their unstable atoms and releases an absolute ungodly amount of energy. In other words: it’s a radioactive byproduct of atomic bombs. Though the atomic bomb has only been used as a weapon twice, during the Cold War more than 2,000 were detonated in military technology tests around the world. Though most of these tests were conducted in New Mexico and Russia, lots of that sweet, radioactive cesium-137 got into the stratosphere where it was blown eastward, ended up in rain clouds, then came pouring down on the east coast of the U.S., where it was greedily sucked up by plants, which transformed it into nectar. Since nectar makes up 100% of bees’ food supply, they’ve been feasting on cesium-137 for decades and have been passing trace amounts into their honey. Of the 122 honey samples gathered from hives up and down the East Coast, cesium-137 was found in 68 of them.

Before you run frantically into the kitchen to grab all your honey and bury it deep underground, Jim Kaste, an associate professor at the College of William & Mary and one of the study’s co-authors, said in a statement that the levels of cesium-137 he’s found in honey are not high enough for humans to start freaking out about. Bees, however, should totally be freaking out, and they have every right to.

“What we see today is a small fraction of the radiation that was present during the 1960s and 1970s,” said Keste. “And we can’t say for sure if cesium-137 has anything to do with bee colony collapse or the decline of population.”  

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

France tested 41 nuclear weapons in the Pacific, and grossly underestimated the radioactive fallout

Science 11th March 2021, From 1966 to 1974, France blew up 41 nuclear weapons in above-ground tests
in French Polynesia, the collection of 118 islands and atolls that is part of France. The French government has long contended that the testing was done safely.

But a new analysis of hundreds of documents declassified in 2013 suggests the tests exposed 90% of the 125,000 people living in French Polynesia to radioactive fallout—roughly 10 times as many people as theFrench government has estimated.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 26 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “CNBC: How Tesla’s Battery Mastermind Is Tackling Electric Vehicles’ Biggest Problem” • JB Straubel, a Tesla co-founder and former CTO, started Redwood Materials, a recycling company, in 2017. CNBC interviewed him, and he talked about the importance of battery recycling. He said 95% to 98% of battery materials are recyclable and “good as […]

April 26 Energy News — geoharvey

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment