Australian news, and some related international items

90 Coronavirus cases among India’s nuclear workers, most at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant: Rising infections among workers, Daily Star,  Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu, 10 July 20,  More and more workers of different sub-contracting firms at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Ishwardi upazila are getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Upazila Health Officer Dr AFM Asma Khatun said 103 people in the upazila have been diagnosed with the virus till July 6. Of them, around 90 workers were infected with Covid-19 in the last three days. The majority of the workers who tested positive for coronavirus work at Paharpur Cooling Tower Ltd, a sub-contracting firm of the Rooppur project.

The number of Covid-19 patients has increased as over 800 employees of the sub-contracting firms at the plant gave samples to the labs of different government and private institutions for Covid-19 testing in the last few days, said the doctor, adding that the number of infected workers is increasing every day.

Most of the Covid-19 patients are the workers of Paharpur Cooling Tower Ltd, a sub-contracting firm of the plant, said Dr Asma Khatun, adding that the authorities of different sub-contracting firms at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant have collected samples of several hundred workers and sent those to the lab of a private institution in Dhaka for coronavirus testing but they are yet to get copy of the test reports from the private institution.  ……

July 11, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

People with mild coronavirus symptoms can get serious brain disorders

Warning of serious brain disorders in people with mild coronavirus symptoms

UK neurologists publish details of mildly affected or recovering Covid-19 patients with serious or potentially fatal brain conditions,  Guardian,  Ian Sample Science editor, @iansample, Wed 8 Jul 2020 Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned.

Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient’s first and main symptom.

A dozen patients had inflammation of the central nervous system, 10 had brain disease with delirium or psychosis, eight had strokes and a further eight had peripheral nerve problems, mostly diagnosed as Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune reaction that attacks the nerves and causes paralysis. It is fatal in 5% of cases.

“We’re seeing things in the way Covid-19 affects the brain that we haven’t seen before with other viruses,” said Michael Zandi, a senior author on the study and a consultant at the institute and University College London Hospitals NHS foundation trust.

“What we’ve seen with some of these Adem patients, and in other patients, is you can have severe neurology, you can be quite sick, but actually have trivial lung disease,” he added. …….

The cases add to concerns over the long-term health effects of Covid-19, which have left some patients breathless and fatigued long after they have cleared the virus, and others with numbness, weakness and memory problems……..

The cases, published in the journal Brain, revealed a rise in a life-threatening condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), as the first wave of infections swept through Britain. At UCL’s Institute of Neurology, Adem cases rose from one a month before the pandemic to two or three per week in April and May. One woman, who was 59, died of the complication………

July 11, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Call to avoid hasty decision on nuclear waste dump, during pandemic

both legislators and activists have seen these attempts at engagement as insufficient and are asking for delays of months, if not years. 
concern from Native American communities in the region because of the likelihood that nuclear waste would have to pass through tribal land, including Navajo Nation. 

Pandemic Allows for New Front in Fight Against Southwest Nuclear Waste Storage Contracts  Activists, industry, lawmakers push for delays to interim spent fuel storage facilities planned in Texas, New Mexico , Morning Consult BY LISA MARTINE JENKINS, July 10, 2020 

Two proposals to send high-level spent nuclear fuel to sites in Texas and New Mexico are seeing renewed opposition as environmental activists, the oil and gas industry and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have formed an unlikely and informal alliance leveraging the pandemic as a reason to delay.

The proposed Texas and New Mexico facilities — which are licensed by Interim Storage Partners LLC (a joint venture of Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists) and Holtec International, respectively — have applications under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for consolidated interim storage facilities intended to serve as temporary repositories for high-level nuclear waste from all over the country.

The ISP facility already stores low-level waste, but the proposals would expand its license to store high-level waste, which is exponentially more radioactive, for at least 40 years. The Holtec facility would be built on undeveloped land; both facilities are located in the Permian Basin, home to more than 7,000 oil and gas fields.

While most of the country’s more than 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste is stored where it is generated, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act amendments of 1987 mandated that the country use Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as its only permanent nuclear waste repository. But since the Obama administration scrapped those plans for Yucca in 2009, the United States has not had a long-term destination for the radioactive waste produced by its nuclear energy facilities.

Unlikely agreement

Now, the proposals for these two interim alternatives are eliciting pushback of their own, especially in light of the coronavirus. The pandemic has brought renewed vigor to the fight by both environmental activists and the oil and gas industry, all of whom are concerned about the inability of local stakeholders to sufficiently review and weigh in on the current proposals and statements.

“Just look at what’s happened in Texas today: COVID numbers are just going through the roof,” said Tommy Taylor, director of oil and gas development for the family-owned Fasken Oil and Ranch Ltd. in Midland, Texas. “It’s just hard enough to keep your businesses afloat; we need a lot more time to be able to respond effectively and say what we need to say.”

Taylor’s primary concern is about the potential damage that an accident involving nuclear waste could cause for the industry’s Permian Basin resources, as well as the health effects for those working and living in close proximity to the waste. Fasken is among a coalition of Permian Basin landowners and operators coordinating a resistance to the plan to bring high-level nuclear waste to the region.

“We’re not against nuclear energy,” he clarified. “But if you had to do interim storage in the U.S., there are a lot of better areas to put it than in the middle of our energy security blanket. It really tees it up for something bad to happen.”

Karen Hadden, executive director of the Austin, Texas-based Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, has been vocal for years on the issue of nuclear waste and told Morning Consult the proposals are “environmental justice of the largest magnitude imaginable.”

“They’re building a nuclear empire in West Texas,” Hadden said. “The communities do not have the resources to fight back.”

The ISP facility would be located in Andrews County, a largely Hispanic region of Texas where Hadden said language and technology barriers have compromised the community’s ability to stay informed about the proposal — issues that she said have been “compounded” by the pandemic. And the Holtec facility, which would be located just across the state border in New Mexico’s Lea County, has elicited concern from Native American communities in the region because of the likelihood that nuclear waste would have to pass through tribal land, including Navajo Nation. ……..

A push for delays

The proposals’ respective draft environmental impact statements are currently open for public comment; ISP’s 120-day comment period ends Sept. 4, while Holtec’s 180-day period concludes Sept. 22. Holtec’s was initially just 60 days, but has been extended twice, which NRC Public Affairs Officer David McIntyre said is due to “the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

The NRC has held two webinars for public comment on the Holtec project, with the latest eliciting strong reactions from local Indigenous groups. McIntyre said the agency hopes to schedule a webinar for the ISP project soon, and that “decisions on in-person meetings in New Mexico and Texas will be made later, and will depend on our assessment of the public health emergencies in each state.”

But both legislators and activists have seen these attempts at engagement as insufficient and are asking for delays of months, if not years.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) represents a region of the state through which the waste is likely to pass, and he sent a letter to NRC leaders June 16 requesting that the agency hold in-person public meetings in six different Texas locations regarding the draft environmental impact statement. He asked that the agency schedule the hearings “at least six months after the COVID-19 risks are fully resolved and extend the comment period deadline as well.”

“The pandemic threatens our families now; nuclear waste could endanger us forever,” Doggett told Morning Consult via email. “It’s essential that the NRC not act prematurely when we are preoccupied with the immediate threat of a pandemic greatly worsened by failures of national and state leadership.”…..

These more recent pushes to pause the endeavor until after the pandemic echo a March letter from New Mexico’s congressional delegation to the NRC, which highlighted concerns about the fuel’s transport, as well as about local agriculture and industry and disproportionate impacts of the proposal on Native American communities in the state.

“I hope that the NRC will look at what these legislators are asking and really consider a significant delay,” Taylor said, “because I think they want to get this right, and it’s not going to be right just pushing it through during the pandemic.”

July 11, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Anniversary of nuclear bomb test on Mururoa Atoll

ACE Nuclear-Free Collective   No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, 2 July 20

This day on July 2nd 1966, the first French nuclear test took place at Mururoa Atoll. [Image description: slides with blue and orange text on black background with text that reads, On this day in history, an orange radioactive mushroom cloud ruptured Pacific skies, seas and engulfed the atoll of Mururoa. It was the beginning of a toxic reign of radioactive negligence by the French in the Pacific region. The French President who upon witnessing the July 2nd detonation remarked, “It’s beautiful”.

The colonial power had been testing in Algeria, but as their independence became more evident, the French moved into the atolls of Polynesia. From 1966 to 1996, the French conducted 193 tests on the atoll; some of the explosions 200 times the strength of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Information on safety, and the lasting impacts for environment and human health, was scarce if not, misleading. The sovereign peoples were led to believe testing was not only safe but would benefit their communities through military-based economic opportunity. People who worked only 15kilometres away from test sites often had no more protection than the shorts and t-shirts on their backs.

French testing, was a theatrical power display, an assertion of their priority to grasp tight to global dominance rather than world peace. Resistance to testing was prominent from the outset. Pouvanaa a Oopa, a fierce and enduring anti colonial leader, led the first protection action in 1950, collecting signatures for the Stockholm Peace Appeal. He remained an important leader and agitator, even throughout his political imprisonment and exile to France.

During the thirty years of French testing, condemnation swelled internally and across Pacific nations including Aotearoa and so called Australia. Mass protests, demonstrations, flotilla solidarity, trade union bans and boycotts on French products took place. “If it is safe to test, test it in Paris” was a phrase used by key collective, The Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific.

The radioactive fall out has had devastating impacts on both environment and human health. Tahiti the most populated island was exposed to 500 times the maximum accepted levels of radiation. Tahitian socialist, Richard Tuheiava outlines the continuing struggle for justice, ”The fact is since the nuclear testing most of the diseases were cancer, leukaemia. Most of the diseases were as a result of the nuclear testing, so we collectively also put a request for the state of France, the colonial power to not only compensate directly the veterans, but also compensate this fund, this public health care fund.”

Today, July 2nd 2020, we honour the ongoing impacts of nuclear colonialism in the Polynesia, and the enduring fight for justice, truth and accountability.]

July 11, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge   

Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilization is a near certainty within decades’  MAHB, Damian Carrington | July 9, 2020   This interview was first published in The Guardian on March 22, 2018

Fifty years after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb, biologist Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge   

A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.

In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.

The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.

Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”.

Continue reading

July 11, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

In 2020 Chernobyl is again at risk of radiological catastrophe

Chernobyl Is Again Close To A Disaster! What Happened There In 2020?    Ukrainian officials have sought calm after forest fires in the restricted zone around Chernobyl, scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident, led to a rise in radiation levels.

Firefighters said they had managed to put out the smaller of two forest fires that began at the weekend, apparently after someone began a grass fire, and had deployed more than 100 firefighters backed by planes and helicopters to extinguish the remaining blaze.
The fire had caused radiation fears in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, which is located about 60 miles south of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Government specialists on Monday sent to monitor the situation reported that there was no rise in radiation levels in Kyiv or the city suburbs.
“You don’t have to be afraid of opening your windows and airing out your home during the quarantine,” wrote Yegor Firsov, head of Ukraine’s state ecological inspection service, in a Facebook post about the results of the radiation tests.
As of Monday afternoon, the country’s emergency ministry said that the remaining fire in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone covered about 20 hectares and was still being extinguished. Footage released by the ministry showed firefighters dousing flames on the forest floor, and clouds of smoke rising.
Police have arrested a suspect believed to have caused the blaze, a 27-year-old man from the area who reportedly told police he had set grass and rubbish on fire in three places “for fun”. After he had lit the fires, he said, the wind had picked up and he had been unable to extinguish them.
An earlier post by Firsov had warned about heightened radiation levels at the site of the fire, which he said had been caused by the “barbaric” practice of local grass fires often started in the spring and autumn. “There is bad news – radiation is above normal in the fire’s center,” Firsov wrote on Sunday.
The post included a video with a Geiger counter showing radiation at 16 times above normal. The fire had spread to about 100 hectares of forest, Firsov wrote.
The country’s emergency ministry put out a warning for Kyiv on Monday about poor air quality but said it was related to meteorological conditions, and not to the fire.
The service had said on Saturday that increased radiation in some areas had led to “difficulties” in fighting the fire while stressing that people living nearby were not in danger. On Monday, it said that gamma radiation levels had not risen near the fire.
Chernobyl polluted a large area of Europe when its fourth reactor exploded in April 1986, with the region immediately around the power plant the worst affected. People are not allowed to live within 30km of the power station.
The three other reactors at Chernobyl continued to generate electricity until the power station finally closed in 2000. A giant protective dome was put in place over the fourth reactor in 2016.
Fires are common in the forests near the disused power plant.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate action now will get results only after 20-30 years – that is the problem

July 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Reducing radioactive waste in processes to dismantle nuclear facilities

July 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

European Union lawmakers ban nuclear from green transition fund

EU lawmakers ban nuclear from green transition fund, leave loophole for gas
By Kate Abnett and Marine Strauss, 8 July 20, 

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders are split over which fuels deserve support from the bloc’s flagship green energy fund, after lawmakers on Monday called for rules that could allow the money to be spent on some fossil gas projects.

The European Commission wants to launch a 40 billion euro ($45 billion) Just Transition Fund using cash from the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund and its budget for 2021-27, to help carbon-intensive regions launch green industries and retrain workers currently in polluting sectors.

All EU member states agreed last week that the new fund should exclude nuclear and fossil fuels projects, including natural gas projects – a position also shared by the EU Commission.

But on Monday a committee of lawmakers leading talks on the issue in the European Parliament broke ranks. They said that while nuclear energy projects should not be eligible, some fossil gas projects could get just transition funding.

The committee voted in favour of requiring green finance rules to be applied to funding of gas projects – which would effectively exclude such projects. But they also said the EU Commission could make exemptions to this rule and approve some gas projects that don’t meet the green criteria.

The full legislative assembly will vote in September on whether or not to approve the rules. Once the assembly has agreed its position, talks will start with the EU Commission and national governments in the EU Council on the final terms of the funding.

Gas emits roughly 50% less CO2 than coal when burned in power plants, but it is not a “zero-carbon” fuel and is associated with leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Covid-19, climate change – what are we to do?

July 6, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Jane Goodall on conservation, climate change and COVID-19

Jane Goodall on conservation, climate change and COVID-19: “If we carry on with business as usual, we’re going to destroy ourselves”  BY JEFF BERARDELLI JULY 2, 2020 CBS NEWS   While COVID-19 and protests for racial justice command the world’s collective attention, ecological destruction, species extinction and climate change continue unabated. While the world’s been focused on other crises, an alarming study was released warning that species extinction is now progressing so fast that the consequences of “biological annihilation” may soon be “unimaginable.”Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned conservationist, desperately wants the world to pay attention to what she sees as the greatest threat to humanity’s existence.

CBS News recently spoke to Goodall over a video conference call and asked her questions about the state of our planet. Her soft-spoken grace somehow helped cushion what was otherwise extremely sobering news: “I just know that if we carry on with business as usual, we’re going to destroy ourselves. It would be the end of us, as well as life on Earth as we know it,” warned Goodall.

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Jeff Berardelli: Destruction of nature is causing some really big concerns around the world. One that comes to the forefront right now is emergent diseases like COVID-19. Can you describe how destruction of the environment contributes to this?

Dr. Jane Goodall: Well, the thing is, we brought this on ourselves because the scientists that have been studying these so-called zoonotic diseases that jump from an animal to a human have been predicting something like this for so long. As we chop down at stake tropical rainforest, with its rich biodiversity, we are eating away the habitats of millions of animals, and many of them are being pushed into greater contact with humans. We’re driving deeper and deeper, making roads throughout the habitat, which again brings people and animals in contact with each other. People are hunting the animals and selling the meat, or trafficking the infants, and all of this is creating environments which are perfect for a virus or a bacteria to cross that species barrier and sometimes, like COVID-19, it becomes very contagious and we’re suffering from it.

But we know if we don’t stop destroying the environment and disrespecting animals — we’re hunting them, killing them, eating them; killing and eating chimpanzees in Central Africa led to HIV/AIDS — there will be another one. It’s inevitable.

Do you fear that the next [pandemic] will be a lot worse than this one?

Well, we’ve been lucky with this one because, although it’s incredibly infectious, the percentage of people who die is relatively low. Mostly they recover and hopefully then build up some immunity. But supposing the next one is just as contagious and has a percentage of deaths like Ebola, for example, this would have an even more devastating effect on humanity than this one.

I think people have a hard time connecting these, what may look like chance events, with our interactions and relationship with nature. Can you describe to people why the way that we treat the natural world is so important? 

Well, first of all, it’s not just leading to zoonotic diseases, and there are many of them. The destruction of the environment is also contributing to the climate crisis, which tends to be put in second place because of our panic about the pandemic. We will get through the pandemic like we got through World War II, World War I, and the horrors following the World Trade towers being destroyed. But climate change is a very real existential threat to humankind and we don’t have that long to slow it down.

Intensive farming, where we’re destroying the land slowly with the chemical poisons, and the monocultures — which can be wiped out by a disease because there is no variation of crops being grown — is leading to habitat destruction. It’s leading to the creation of more CO2 through fossil fuels, methane gas and other greenhouse gas [released] by digestion from the billions of domestic animals. 

It’s pretty grim. We need to realize we’re part of the environment, that we need the natural world. We depend on it. We can’t go on destroying. We’ve got to somehow understand that we’re not separated from it, we are all intertwined. Harm nature, harm ourselves.

If we continue on with business as usual, what do you fear the outcome will be?

Well, if we continue with business as usual, we’re going to come to the point of no return.  At a certain point the ecosystems of the world will just give up and collapse and that’s the end of us eventually too.

What about our children? We’re still bringing children into the world — what a grim future is theirs to look forward to. It’s pretty shocking but my hope is, during this pandemic, with people trapped inside, factories closed down temporarily, and people not driving, it has cleared up the atmosphere amazingly. The people in the big cities can look up at the night sky and sea stars are bright, not looking through a layer of pollution. So when people emerge [from the pandemic] they’re not going to want to go back to the old polluted days.

Now, in some countries there’s not much they can do about it. But if enough of them, a groundswell becomes bigger and bigger and bigger [and] people say: “No I don’t want to go down this road. We want to find a different, green economy. We don’t want to always put economic development ahead of protecting the environment. We care about the future. We care about the health of the planet. We need nature,” maybe in the end the big guys will have to listen……….

July 6, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Michael Shellenberger mucked up the pro nuclear “climate action” propaganda

The environmentalist’s apology: how Michael Shellenberger unsettled some of his prominent supporters

The American environment and energy commentator’s piece in the Australian has found praise in conservative media , Guardian Graham Readfearn @readfearn, 4 Jul 2020  Few things engage a particular subset of conservative media more than an environmentalist having an apparent change of heart and dumping all over the “climate scare”.

Earlier this week, the Australian newspaper ran an opinion piece that fitted this narrative so perfectly that room was found on its front page.

The American environment and energy commentator and nuclear power supporter Michael Shellenberger was the provider.

“On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the past 30 years,” wrote Shellenberger in his 1,700-word article.

A long interview on Australia’s Sky television, known for airing derisory views of environmentalism and climate change in its evening schedules, soon followed.

Though he had almost no profile in Australia before the piece, Shellenberger has been a contrarian voice on environmental issues and a critic of aspects of environmentalism for more than 15 years.

But his “apology for the climate scare” has unsettled some supporters of his who spoke to Guardian Australia.

His op-ed was first published three days earlier on Forbes, but was removed by the outlet.

Shellenberger claimed on social media he had been censored and told rightwing site the Daily Wire he was grateful Forbes was committed to publishing viewpoints that “challenge the conventional wisdom, and thus was disappointed my editors removed my piece from the web”.

Forbes told Guardian Australia the article was removed “because it violated our editorial guidelines around self-promotion”.

Before appearing in the Australian, the op-ed also ran on the website of Shellenberger’s thinktank, Environmental Progress, and on at least three other sites. The article heavily promoted Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never.

The article contained a list of “facts few people know” to buttress his claim that while climate change was happening, “it’s not even our most serious environmental problem”.

Among Shellenberger’s many claims was that climate change was not making natural disasters worse, fires had declined around the world since 2003, and the more dangerous fires being experienced in Australia and California were because of the build up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change.

Voices that have questioned human-caused climate change have embraced and applauded Shellenberger’s article.

At the same time, climate science experts have also offered qualified praise, while expressing concerns about the broader impact of the opinion article.

Respected MIT climate expert Prof Kerry Emanuel sits on a line-up of science advisers of Environmental Progress.

He told Guardian Australia he was “very concerned” about the opinion piece, and was consulting with other members of the advisory group before deciding whether to remain listed…….

He said: “For example, he states ‘climate change is not making natural disasters worse’ when there is plenty of evidence that it is.”….

One example of the more questionable claims in the opinion piece comes when Shellenberger claims fires in Australia and California were becoming more dangerous because of the “build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change”.

That claim is at odds with many studies showing higher temperatures driven by rising levels of greenhouse have already increased the risks of bushfires in Australia and will continue to do so in the future.

review of the academic literature produced earlier this year in response to Australia’s devastating bushfire summer found “human-induced warming has already led to a global increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather, increasing the risks of wildfire”. …..

According to the latest publicly available financial records, Environmental Progress earned US$809,000 in revenue in 2017 from gifts, grants and donations.

In the process of researching this article, Guardian Australia emailed questions to Shellenberger to clarify why Forbes had removed his article and who funded his organisation.

A third question related to a 2017 internal report from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) which said the institute, which represents the nuclear energy industry, had “engaged third parties to engage with media through interviews and op-eds” and named “environmentalist Michael Shellenberger” as one of those it had engaged………


July 6, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Rare type of leukaemia, other health effects, in British veterans of nuclear testing


“My task was to go in and pick up all the radioactive debris, load them into my truck and take them to the decontamination centre.

“I had no protection whatsoever. The only people who had protection on Christmas Island were civilian AWREs – Atomic Weapons Research Establishment people.” 

A study undertaken by Sue Rabbitt Roff, a social scientist at Dundee University in 1999, found that of 2,261 children born to veterans, 39% were born with serious medical conditions. By contrast, the national incidence figure in Britain is around 2.5%.

“I want them to apologise to all the nuclear veterans for using us as experiments,” he said.   

I still maintain that they wanted to find out the level of radiation that a person could survive the nuclear bombs with.

I want them to apologise to all the nuclear veterans for using us as experiments’, says Fife Christmas Island veteran, July 4 2020  Michael Alexander. Here’s why nuclear test veteran Dave Whyte from Fife intends to campaign for justice “until the end”

In the 18 years that Christmas Island veteran Dave Whyte from Fife has been campaigning for “justice” for Britain’s nuclear test veterans, he has never held back with the language he has used to describe the Ministry of Defence’s treatment of British soldiers during the nuclear tests of the 1950s.
He has compared the nuclear tests with the “experiments of Nazi Doctor Joseph Mengele”, accused the MoD of treating soldiers as “guinea pigs” and made comparisons with the aftermath of “Chernobyl”.

He blames his exposure to the fallout from five atomic and hydrogen bomb blasts in 1958 for a catalogue of health problems he’s experienced over the years including the loss of all his teeth at 25 and the discovery in his mid-30s that he was sterile.

The Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, has said there is no valid evidence linking the nuclear tests to ill health.

But despite numerous attempts at legal action against the MoD over the years, which, he admits have “hit every brick wall available”, the now 83-year-old, of Kirkcaldy, is refusing to give up as he continues searching for an admission that he, and thousands of other servicemen – now dwindling in numbers – were exposed to more radiation than the authorities have ever admitted. 

Born and raised in Montrose before a spell living in Edinburgh and Germany where his sergeant major father served with the Royal Artillery, Mr Whyte was 22-years-old and serving with the Royal Engineers when he was sent to Christmas Island in the South Pacific in 1958.

The Cold War was at its height and Mr Whyte was stationed there, off the north-eastern coast of Australia, to assist with British nuclear tests.

His job was to collect samples afterwards.

At the time the stakes were high. Amid real fears that the Cold War could escalate into open warfare with the USSR, Britain was determined that it should have its own nuclear deterrent.

In all, Britain and the USA caused some 40 nuclear test explosions in the Pacific region between 1952 and 1962.

Something like 21,000 British servicemen were exposed to these explosions.

But little did Mr Whyte and his colleagues realise that in years to come, some would suffer ill health and in some cases premature death.

Some would suffer from rare forms of leukaemia.

Others reported congenital deformities in their children with a disproportionate number of stillbirths.

“I was at Grapple Y – the largest hydrogen bomb exploded by Britain,” said Mr Whyte. Continue reading

July 6, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small modular nuclear reactors distract from real climate solutions

Small modular nuclear reactors distract from real climate solutions, Regina Leader Post, Darrin Qualman, Glenn Wright   Jul 03, 2020  •Last fall, the premiers of Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick pledged their support for small modular reactors (SMRs). Last week, Saskatchewan’s government announced a Nuclear Secretariat to oversee development of those reactors. Many in Saskatchewan took these announcements at face value and began questioning the cost, feasibility and safety of these units. To do so, however, is to misunderstand what’s really happening. The reality is that three premiers lacking adequate emission-reduction plans pledged themselves to speculative technologies that will take a decade or two to get up and running, if ever. SMRs are another distraction to shift the focus away from provincial records of increasing emissions. The SMR announcement follows a pattern of past policy declarations that serve to distract the public and delay effective policies…..

As the lustre was fading from biofuels, Saskatchewan’s government trotted out a new fix: Carbon capture and storage (CCS). ……..  As a political tactic, CCS did what it was supposed to do: Delay action on emissions reduction and paper over a huge policy gap. Rather than admitting it had no climate plan, the Saskatchewan government spent years pretending CCS would be an emissions fix.
SMRs are the third chapter in the government’s use of distracting technologies to kick the climate change can down the road. Thoughtful, informed people can disagree over nuclear energy, but even those who support nuclear power should be angered by what the government is doing: Not supporting nuclear, but rather using it cynically as a fig leaf to cover up the government’s ideologically driven foot-dragging on climate solutions
The government’s stalling tactics are irresponsible. There are numerous proven technologies, policies, and strategies to address climate change and reduce emissions being implemented worldwide. Our government is delaying because it chooses to, not because it has to. In the best case, SMRs are 2030s or 2040s technologies. But solar and wind power can provide low-emission electricity today. In fact, our province has among the best solar and wind resources in the world and those power supplies can be deployed at less cost, lower risk and much more quickly. It’s strange that the sunniest province in Canada has not developed this world class renewable resource. Real leadership would focus on wind and solar. Instead, the government dealt a body blow to solar installers when it rolled back the net metering program.
Real leadership would focus on wind and solar. Instead, the government dealt a body blow to solar installers when it rolled back the net metering program.
Canada has committed to cut emissions by 30 per cent (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. We have lots of work to do. And the sooner we start, the smoother the transition will be. We must begin ramping up employment to support this transition: Residential solar installation, utility-scale wind turbine construction, battery and power-storage installation, new net zero buildings, energy-conserving building retrofits and adding capacity to the electrical grid for automobile charging and building heating and interprovincial electricity transfers.

Solutions are within reach. Jobs await. SMRs are a distraction. Let’s not be fooled again. Let’s demand rapid, effective emissions reduction now as part of a revitalized Saskatchewan economy.

Darrin Qualman is director of climate crisis policy and action with the National Farmers Union. Glenn Wright is an NFU member, farmer, engineer, student at law, former uranium-sector worker and electric vehicle advocate.

July 3, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Germany is first major economy to phase out coal and nuclear

Germany is first major economy to phase out coal and nuclear, Economic Times, 3 July 20

The plan is part of Germany’s ‘energy transition’ – an effort to wean Europe’s biggest economy off planet-warming fossil fuels and generate all of the country’s considerable energy needs from renewable sources…….

Bills approved by both houses of parliament Friday envision shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 and spending some 40 billion euros ($45 billion) to help affected regions cope with the transition.

The plan is part of Germany’s ‘energy transition’ – an effort to wean Europe’s biggest economy off planet-warming fossil fuels and generate all of the country’s considerable energy needs from renewable sources…….

Bills approved by both houses of parliament Friday envision shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 and spending some 40 billion euros ($45 billion) to help affected regions cope with the transition.

The plan is part of Germany’s ‘energy transition’ – an effort to wean Europe’s biggest economy off planet-warming fossil fuels and generate all of the country’s considerable energy needs from renewable sources.

“The days of coal are numbered in Germany,” Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said. “Germany is the first industrialized country that leaves behind both nuclear energy and coal.”……
Schulze, the environment minister, said there would be regular government reviews to examine whether the end date for coal can be brought forward. She noted that by the end of 2022, eight of the country’s most polluting coal-fired plants will have already been closed………
This week, utility companies in Spain shut down seven of the country’s 15 coal-fired power plants, saying they couldn’t be operated at profit without government subsidies.

But the head of Germany’s main miners’ union, Michael Vassiliadis, welcomed the decision, calling it a “historic milestone.” He urged the government to focus next on an expansion of renewable energy generation and the use of hydrogen as a clean alternativ ..

July 3, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment