Australian news, and some related international items

Space radiation – harmful to astronauts, not only with cancers, but also with heart and blood vessel effects

From Vitamin C to Spinach: Researching Ways to Protect Astronaut Cardiovascular Health From Space Radiation.   Review explores ways that space radiation can damage cardiovascular health, and discusses how we can protect astronauts, from vitamin C to spinach. SciTech Daily 14 Mar 21, Space: the final frontier. What’s stopping us from exploring it? Well, lots of things, but one of the major issues is space radiation, and the effects it can have on astronaut health during long voyages. A new review in the open-access journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine explores what we know about the ways that space radiation can negatively affect cardiovascular health, and discusses methods to protect astronauts. These include radioprotective drugs, and antioxidant treatments, some of which are more common than you might think.

Space is incredibly inhospitable. Outside of low earth orbit, astronauts are bombarded with radiation, including galactic cosmic rays, and ‘proton storms’ released by the sun. This radiation is harmful for the human body, damaging proteins and DNA, and is one of the major reasons that we haven’t yet been able to send anyone to Mars, or beyond.

These issues inspired Dr Jesper Hjortnaes of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands to investigate what we know about the harmful effects of space radiation. “If we want to see human long distance space travel, we need to understand the impact of space-induced disease and how to protect our bodies from it,” said Hjortnaes. However, Hjortnaes has an interest in a specific aspect of space radiation: its cardiovascular effects.

You may be surprised to learn that aside from the illnesses we typically associate with radiation, such as cancer, it can also have serious effects on the cardiovascular system. Suffering from cardiovascular illness would be catastrophic for crew members on long-haul space missions, and so it’s important to identify what the risks are, and how to reduce them.

Hjortnaes and colleagues reviewed the evidence to establish what we know about the cardiovascular risks of space radiation. Much of what we know comes from studying people who have received radiation therapy for cancer, where cardiovascular disease is a common side-effect, or from mouse studies of radiation exposure.

So, what are the effects? Radiation can cause myocardial remodeling, where the structure of the heart begins to change, and tough, fibrous tissue grows to replace healthy muscle, potentially leading to heart failure. Other effects include atherosclerosis in blood vessels, which can cause stroke or heart attack. Radiation exerts its effects by causing inflammation, oxidative stress, cell death and DNA damage.

Researchers have also investigated potential ways to protect astronauts. These include drugs that an astronaut could take to protect themselves from space radiation, and antioxidants. Interestingly, an antioxidant diet, including dairy products, green vegetables such as spinach, and antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C, has potential in protecting astronauts from the damaging reactive oxygen molecules produced during radiation exposure.

Overall, the review revealed that so far, research has only scratched the surface of space radiation and the best methods to protect astronauts from it. There is little conclusive evidence of radiation-induced cardiovascular disease in astronauts themselves, as so few of them have ever gone further than low earth orbit, and mouse studies aren’t an exact match for humans……..

March 15, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Low doses of radiation used in medical imaging lead to mutations in cell cultures

March 15, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear power losing out in the UK – not a good omen for the global nuclear industry

Seeking Alpha 13th March 2021, My comments on offshore wind making other forms of energy uncompetitive in 2017 have only become more clear in the past 3 years. Now the adoption ofnoffshore wind is happening elsewhere around the world including in the US, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, India.
Here I review the current statusnof the UK nuclear power program because the UK nuclear sector is a key
indicator for the status of nuclear power adoption in the West. I concludenthat, notwithstanding a lot of lobbying for SMR (Small Modular Reactor) technology, nuclear power is a fading force.
This has particular relevance for investors interested in  SMR technology. Indicating the desperate state of the UK nuclear industry, a new report from the Centre for Policy Studies “Bridging the gap: the case for new nuclear investment” concludes that at least one new nuclear plant needs to be built to support the Hinkley Point C development.
However it is acknowledged that this will not be possible with current financing. An interesting example of creative financing being considered is the Regulated Asset Base model which would allow developers to start charging
consumers before the nuclear reactor commences power generation. It will be interesting to see how such a model of financing might be regarded.
The essence of the SMR argument is that it will be more cost effective to build SMRs in a factory for delivery on site. Rolls Royce is a serious contender in the race to develop a Small Modular Reactor and it is proposing to build
not one, but 16 of these plants with a capacity of 440 MW at a cost of 2 billion pounds each.

The Rolls Royce strategy is that by building multiple SMRs it will get good at it and the cost might go down. The reality behind this proposal is that it seems pretty ambitious to set out to build 16 plants before one has been successfully constructed. Time seems against this concept as the UK will have largely exited nuclear power by 2030.

March 15, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Australian government’s Kimba Nuclear Waste Dump Bill moribund in the Senate

Kazzi Jai, 13 Mar 21, “The week ahead” scheduled bills for the Senate, which resumes sitting this coming Monday 15th March 2021 to Thursday 18th March 2021, has just been released.
So far… NO Bill for the Nuclear Dump has been scheduled….
The week ahead … – Parliament of Australia

March 13, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s nuclear waste nightmare – a warning to Australia’s pro-nukers

The Advertiser,Robyn Wood, 11 Mar 21, Today is the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear power station reactor meltdown in Japan. Far from being under control, there are still serious problems with the reactor. In addition, there are thousands of large plastic bags of contaminated soil with nowhere to go, and thousands of litres of radioactively contaminated water that the Japanese government intends to release into the Pacific Ocean. Former residents of the area are still suffering with many on welfare, as they have lost their livelihoods and their homes,  farms and shops are uninhabitable. Serious food for thought for those advocating for Australia to adopt nuclear power.

March 13, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Inaccuracy of Robert Parker and his nuclear lobby

Robyn Wood.13 Mar 21, So much for all the pronukers BS about SMRs.
Prominent Australian pronuker Robert Parker told me that SMRs will be able to be churned out like chocolate frogs. He hangs out in the Citizen’s Climate Lobby Facebook group annoying everyone with his posts and comments insisting nuclear is the answer to climate change. He keeps posting out of date graphs and has nothing new to add when challenged. What a delightful fantasy world he must live in.

March 13, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

French Nuclear tests: revelations about a cancer epidemic

March 11, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Problem in accepting higher level radioactive wastes in Texas

March 11, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia take note : New Zealanders oppose launch of U.S. military nuclear satellite

a security expert has suggested it puts New Zealand into “the kill chain” and makes New Zealand a military target. 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

At last! – some media questioning the story that small nuclear reactors combat climate change

SMRs “are not the solution to climate change,” said the organization, citing a University of British Columbia study indicating that energy produced by SMRs could cost up to 10 times as much as power from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
SMRs “are a diversion from the development of energy systems that best mitigate climate change,”
What’s the Role for New Nuclear Power in the Fight Against Climate Change?
Some fear that small modular reactors could rob cash from more proven low-carbon technologies. Greentech Media, JASON DEIGN MARCH 08, 2021 
Small modular reactors (SMRs) — nuclear reactors using novel technologies to fit into much smaller and mass-producible packages than the behemoth nuclear power plants of today — are presented as a way of rapidly decarbonizing the grid in the face of an ever more pressing need to meet climate targets. But some opponents claim new nuclear power could have the opposite effect, slowing the fight against human-caused climate change just when things should be speeding up.In September last year, for example, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation harshly criticized Canada’s plans to foster an SMR industry.SMRs “are not the solution to climate change,” said the organization, citing a University of British Columbia study indicating that energy produced by SMRs could cost up to 10 times as much as power from renewable sources such as wind and solar.“Critics of SMRs say that developing experimental nuclear reactor technologies will take too long to make a difference on climate change and could drain billions of dollars from public coffers,” said the advocacy group.

Similar challenges have been leveled against U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy and Southern Company that include SMRs in the longer-range suite of options to fully decarbonize their power grids by 2050. Critics question whether the SMRs under development today can be commercialized fast enough to drive down emissions over the next decade or two and whether government funding to drive faster deployment might better be spent on other technologies.

That’s not the only criticism facing new nuclear. In 2014, NuScale Power, which looks likely to become the first Western SMR developer to commercialize a reactor, published a paper on the use of its SMRs for oil recovery and refining applications.

The aim of the paper was to show that SMRs could be instrumental in “reducing the overall carbon footprint of these industrial complexes and preserving valuable fossil resources as feedstock for higher-value products,” according to the authors.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t look good for the nuclear industry’s climate-fighting credentials when one of its upcoming stars is apparently touting wares to the oil and gas sector.

In a written statement, Diane Hughes, NuScale Power’s vice president of marketing and communications, told GTM that the SMR developer “does not comment or discuss what companies we may be talking to regarding potential business opportunities.”……

Doubts over government finance for SMRs

Despite this, the question remains whether it makes sense for governments to put money into SMR research and development when other low-carbon generation technologies can be used to combat climate change right away.

Nuclear skeptics such as David Toke, who researches energy politics at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K., don’t think so. SMRs “are a diversion from the development of energy systems that best mitigate climate change,” he said in an interview.

“Small reactors already exist, and they occupy a very niche zone, which is military marine, mainly. That allows very high costs. But that’s the point: They cost an awful lot of money. Just because something reduces carbon emissions doesn’t mean to say the state ought toencourage it.”  ….

March 9, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The radiation danger to astronauts

“These are all crucial studies to be conducted in order to really understand the risks we’re exposing astronauts to,” says Meerman. “Therefore, we believe we are not there yet and we should debate whether it is safe to expand human space travel significantly

March 9, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The growing threat of space debris

March 9, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Isolated and alone — Beyond Nuclear International

Suguru’s story reveals bullying, ostracization and government whitewash

Isolated and alone — Beyond Nuclear International
A teenager’s account of the Fukushima ordeal

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Ten years after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, how has the Japanese government responded and what is it like for the people affected, still struggling to return their lives to some semblance of normality? Here is how things look:

  • Manuals are being distributed in schools explaining that radioactivity exists in nature and is therefore not something to be afraid of.
  • The government is considering getting rid of radiation monitoring posts as these send the wrong message at a time of “reconstruction”.
  • The Oversight Committee for Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey is discussing the possibility of stopping thyroid inspections at schools because they stress children out and overburden teachers and staff.

    • Depression and suicide rates among young people from Fukushima are likely to be triggered by being called “germs” and by being seen as “contaminated”.
    • Those who speak out about radiation are more stigmatized today than they were 10 years ago.
    • Those who “voluntarily” evacuated, recognizing that the so-called protection standards were not adequate for their region, are often ostracized from their new communities. They are seen as selfish for abandoning their homeland, friends and families “just to save themselves” and are bullied as parasites living on compensation funds, even though the “auto-evacuees” as they are known, received none.
      • Those forced to evacuate are also bullied if they do not now return, accused of not trusting the government and its assertions that it is safe to do so.
      • The taboo against speaking out for proper radiation protection and for compensation has grown worse as the rescheduled Olympics loom for this summer and Japan is determined to prove to the world it has fixed the radiation problem and beaten Covid-19.
      • On March 1, 2021, it took three judges all of 30 seconds to dismiss a case brought by 160 parents and children who lived in Fukushima prefecture at the time of the nuclear accident, and known as the Children’s Trial Against Radiation Exposure. The class action suit sought 100,000 yen per person in damages from the government and the prefecture, due to the psychological stress brought on by the lack of measures to avoid radiation exposure after the accident.
      • These are some of the realities uncovered by France-based Japanese activist, Kurumi Sugita, as she interviewed those affected and began to compile a graphic short story about her findings, entitled Fukushima 3.11 and illustrated by French artist, Damien Vidal. The booklet is produced by the French NGO, Nos Voisins Lontains 3.11 (Our Distant Neighbors 3.11).

        Fukushima 3.11, a long-form cartoon strip, is told in the first person by the youngest of Sugita’s interview subjects, Fukushima evacuee, Suguru Yokota, who was 13 at the time of the nuclear disaster.

        Suguru was also one of the plaintiffs in the Children’s Trial, and noted after the devastating dismissal, just days before the Fukushima disaster’s 10th anniversary, that “we cannot give up” and that “the court hasn’t issued a legitimate verdict.”

      • In 2012, Sugita had traveled to Japan with a research project she helped create, financed by the French National Centre for Scientific Research where she worked, to set up an investigation into Japan’s nuclear victims. A list of 70 interview candidates was put together.

        “I met Suguru in 2013 in Sapporo where he was living alone after he moved there from Fukushima,” said Sugita. “I also interviewed his mother and they were interviewed once a year over six years.”

        A schoolboy at the time of the accident, the book follows Suguru’s account of his experiences. He encounters the refusal by his uncle to believe the dangers in the early days of the accident, “a typical denial case,” says Sugita, and he is ostracized at school where he is the only pupil to wear a mask.

        Suguru’s only respite comes when his mother, who is equally alert to the radiation risks, sends him on a “radiation vacation” to Hokkaido, the first time he encounters peers who share his concerns.

      • Back at school and feeling isolated and alone, Suguru studies at home instead, eventually leaving the region for a different high school and then college.

      • The book weaves in essential information about radiation risks, and the clampdowns by the Japanese government, which withdrew support for auto-evacuees claiming, as Suguru relates it, that “these families are not victims. They are responsible for their fate.”

        The book was first published in the magazine, TOPO, whose audience is predominantly teenagers and which reports on topics of current interest. 

        “It appealed to us to address an audience interested in world events, but not exclusively the nuclear issue,” said illustrator Vidal.  “We thought our comic strip could be read by all those — and not necessarily just teenagers — who want to understand what the consequences of the nuclear accident were, and how it affected the inhabitants of Fukushima Prefecture.”

      • The book vividly brings home the psychological and emotional pain suffered by those who chose to recognize the true dangers posed by the Fukushima disaster, as well as the financial hardships and fracturing of families. And it exposes the depths of deliberate denial by authorities, more interested in heightened normalization of radiation exposure in the name of commerce and reputation.

      • Even as early as October 2011, an announcement is made that “rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture will supply school canteens again.” We see Suguru and his mother watching this news on their television, then the name-calling Suguru faces in school for bringing his own lunch. He is shown in the strip being called a “hikokumin”, which, explains Suguru, “is a really insulting word, used during the Second World War. It refers to people who are not worthy of being Japanese citizens.”

        But that stigma has only become worse with time, Sugita says. 

        These days people are name-called “hoshano”. “Hoshano”(放射能) means radioactivity, but with a different Chinese character(放射脳) it  means “radioactive brain – or brain contaminated by the fear of radioactivity”, she explains. And that is the slur in common circulation now.

        Nevertheless, the book ends on a hopeful note. “Today,” concludes Suguru on the closing page, “I know I’m not alone. I hope other voices will be heard in Japan and around the world.”

        It’s easy to say “never again.” But in order to ensure it, we must all continue to raise our voices, joining Suguru’s and others yearning to be heard.

        Read the English language version of Fukushima 3.11 on line for free. A version is also available in French. Hard copies (in French only), may be ordered from Nos Voisins Lontains 3.11 for 8€ plus shipping costs.


March 8, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021 — Beyond Nuclear International

Greenpeace report reveals deception and abuse

Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021 — Beyond Nuclear International

The decontamination myth and a decade of human rights violations

The following is the Executive Summary from the new Greenpeace report. Download the full report.

As a result of a catastrophic triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on 11 March 2011, several tens of thousands of square kilometres in Fukushima Prefecture and wider Japan were contaminated with significant amounts of radioactive caesium and other radionuclides. The first Greenpeace radiation expert team arrived in Fukushima on 26 March 2011, and Greenpeace experts have since conducted 32 investigations into the radiological consequences of the disaster, the most recent in November 2020.

This report, the latest in a series, chronicles some of our principal findings over recent years, and shows how the government of Japan, largely under prime minister Shinzo Abe, has attempted to deceive the Japanese people by misrepresenting the effectiveness of the decontamination programme as well as the overall radiological risks in Fukushima Prefecture. As the latest Greenpeace surveys demonstrate, the contamination remains and is widespread, and is still a very real threat to long term human health and the environment.

The contaminated areas comprise rice fields and other farmland, as well as a large amount of forest. Many people who lived in these areas were employed as farmers or in forestry. Residents gathered wood, mushrooms, wild fruits and vegetables from the mountain forests, and children were free to play outdoors in the woodlands and streams. Since the disaster, tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their ancestral lands. The harm extends far beyond the immediate threat to health – as well as destroying livelihoods, it has destroyed an entire way of life.

Because of the government’s actions, many thousands of evacuees have been forced to make an impossible choice: to return to their radioactively contaminated homes or to abandon their homes and land and seek to establish a new life elsewhere without adequate compensation. This amounts to economic coercion and may force individuals and families to return against their will due to a lack of financial resources and viable alternatives. Given that these people lost their livelihoods, communities, and property as a result of a nuclear disaster they had no part in creating, this is grossly unjust.

Key findings………..


March 8, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

War Mongering for Artificial Intelligence


The testimony is generously spiked with the China threat thesis

the note of warning in not being too morally shackled becomes a screech. 

War Mongering for Artificial Intelligence,  BY BINOY KAMPMARK-2 March 21,

The ghost of Edward Teller must have been doing the rounds between members of the National Commission on Artificial Intelligence.  The father of the hydrogen bomb was never one too bothered by the ethical niggles that came with inventing murderous technology.  It was not, for instance, “the scientist’s job to determine whether a hydrogen bomb should be constructed, whether it should be used, or how it should be used.”  Responsibility, however exercised, rested with the American people and their elected officials.

The application of AI in military systems has plagued the ethicist but excited certain leaders and inventors.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has grandiloquently asserted that “it would be impossible to secure the future of our civilization” without a mastery of artificial intelligence, genetics, unmanned weapons systems and hypersonic weapons.

Campaigners against the use of autonomous weapons systems in war have been growing in number.  The UN Secretary-General António Guterres is one of them.  “Autonomous machines with the power and discretion to select targets and take lives without human involvement,” he wrote on Twitter in March 2019, “are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law.”  The International Committee for Robot Arms Control, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Human Rights Watch are also dedicated to banning lethal autonomous weapons systems.  Weapons analysts such as Zachary Kallenborn see that absolute position as untenable, preferring a more modest ban on “the highest-risk weapons: drone swarms and autonomous chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons”.

The critics of such weapons systems were far away in the Commission’s draft report for Congress.  The document has more than a touch of the mad scientist in the bloody service of a master.  This stood to reason, given its chairman was Eric Schmidt, technical advisor to Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, which he was formerly CEO of.  With Schmidt holding the reins, we would be guaranteed a show shorn of moral restraint.  “The AI promise – that a machine can perceive, decide, and act more quickly, in a more complex environment, with more accuracy than a human – represents a competitive advantage in any field.  It will be employed for military ends, by governments and non-state groups.”

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 23, Schmidt was all about “fundamentals” in keeping the US ascendant. Continue reading

March 8, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment