Adani coal mine is a public health catastrophe http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4485747/adani-coal-mine-is-a-public-health-catastrophe/?cs=97 26 Feb 2017,The international medical community is watching Australia with alarm. This month The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, published a report about the giant Adani mine, titled: Australia’s new coal mine plan: a “public health disaster”.
Coal mines are a health risk for miners, workers and local communities: they cause higher rates of childhood asthma, heart and lung disease, and some cancers. Frighteningly, there has been a recent resurgence in black lung disease – a potentially fatal disease caused by breathing in coal dust. More widely, the overwhelming majority of scientists say there can be no more coal mines if we’re to have any chance of a safe climate. Medical organisations are increasingly recognising the health risks, with the British Medical Journal describing climate change as, “a health emergency”.
The global health risks include increased severity and frequency of extreme weather, adverse changes in air pollution, the spread of disease vectors such as mosquitoes, food insecurity and under-nutrition, displacement and mental ill health.
In the UK, an alliance of 15 health bodies including seven royal medical colleges and the British Medical Association are calling for a rapid phase-out of coal to protect health and reduce costs. In Australia, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians recently described climate change as a “public health emergency”. The RACP board determined fossil fuel projects are inconsistent with its core business and, along with many other organisations around the world, has divested from fossil fuels.
Just as health professionals advocated against the tobacco industry, so we have a responsibility to speak up against fossil fuel projects such as the Adani mine, which present such unacceptably high risks.
Canada develops nuclear-free production of medical isotopes, Australia subsidises nuclear production
Steve Dale Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA., 14 Jan 17, Canada is moving towards clean Cyclotrons for Molybdenum-99 production – yet Australia decides it wants to undermine worldwide Cyclotron development by subsidising Mo-99 for the world. Waste taxpayer’s money to produce unnecessary nuclear waste.
“The ANSTO Nuclear Medicine (ANM) Project will enable ANSTO to triple production of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). The increased capacity will enable Australia to meet domestic demand, as well as being able to supply up to 25-30% of global demand.”
A NEW REACTOR? It’s the worst possible option! Nuclear Study Group Sutherland Shire Environment Centre 1998 By R.D. (Bob) Walshe, OAM“…..There are attractive alternatives to a new reactor, especially cyclotrons. Why are they being ignored?
Dr Jim Green says, ‘There are several alternatives to a new reactor, including particle accelerators, spallation sources, and synchrotron radiation sources.’
But none of these were independently evaluated prior to the Federal Government’s 3 September 1997 statement of intention to proceed with a new reactor. Yet, says Dr Green, in all cases ‘the alternatives are preferable to a reactor, in relation to radioactive waste and safety’.
There is not room here to report the claims of all these scientific/technical alternatives, but the keenest contender, the cyclotron, suffices to demonstrate what is possible.
‘Particle accelerators’ are machines that charge particles to enormous velocities, whence they can be directed to hit a target and so produce the medical isotopes that ANSTO has led so many people to believe require a nuclear reactor. The cyclotron is at present the most useful of the accelerators.
Australia already has two cyclotrons, one in Sydney and a smaller in Melbourne. Dr Green says they are much cheaper to buy than reactors, cheaper to run, are powered by electricity not nuclear fuel, leave only a small quantity of low-level radioactive waste, and so avoid the intractable waste problem associated with a reactor.
Attractive indeed. How, then, to explain the churlish attitude of ANSTO to cyclotrons? The unavoidable answer is – because the nuclear industry fears it will be undermined by the cheaper, safer, electricity-based cyclotron industry.
Several authoritative voices have called for funds for cyclotron research; for example, the 1995 Senate Select Committee on Radioactive Waste was urged to recommend that $500,000 be spent over three years on cyclotron research – a fraction of the money lavished on the reactor – but none has been forthcoming.
The relatively cheap, safe and simple cyclotron undermines the case for a new, expensive, waste-proliferating reactor. The cyclotron and other attractive alternatives to a reactor promise better results in nuclear medicine. And ANSTO’s last defence of the reactor – that it alone can produce the much-used isotope Technetium-99m which can’t be imported because its effective life is only six hours – neglects to say that its equally effective longer-lived parent , Molybdenum-99m, is being widely transported around the world. (Moreover, American research into cyclotron production of Technetium-99m has shown promising results in recent years, and further research is proceeding actively. ) http://ssec.org.au/our_environment/issues_campaigns/nuclear/a_new_reactor.htm
From Jay Weatherill’s Response to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report
“I’m also excited about the many positive commercial opportunities that are on the table for South Australia in nuclear medicine around the SAHMRI cyclotron.”
This IS one positive outcome from this long drawn out process. ra ra http://nuclear.yoursay.sa.gov.au/news/get-to-know-nuclear-discover-discuss-decide-government-delivers-response-to-nuclear-fuel-cycle-royal-commission-report
New Queensland Health data shows 3223 children aged 10 and under required hospital treatment in 2013-14 for dental caries (the scientific term for tooth decay or cavities).
More than 51 per cent of Queensland five to 10-year- olds who attended public dental clinics in 2014-15 had decay in their baby teeth. On average, four teeth were affected.
Decay in Queensland children aged five to 10 was 20 per cent higher than national averages to 2012-14 and 33 per cent higher in the permanent teeth of nine to 14-year-olds.
Queensland’s Chief Dentist Dr Mark Brown said he was concerned by the “high level of tooth decay” in children, describing it as “a significant problem”.
In terms of population, about three-quarters of the state has water fluoridation – up from less than 5 per cent before the Bligh government made fluoridated water supplies mandatory for communities of more than 1000 people in 2008.
But since 2012, changes made under former premier Campbell Newman have allowed councils to pull out of fluoridating water supplies.
“My concern is for the quarter of the population in regional and rural Queensland who don’t have access to fluoridation,” Dr Brown said. “That community is being left behind when most Australians now have access to water fluoridation.”.
Australian Dental Association state fluoride spokesman Dr Michael Foley said there was no doubt water fluoridation reduced the risk of decay.
Dr Foley said he would like to see the State Government take control of fluoridating drinking water, rather than local councils. Continue reading
Environment regulator questioned over its measuring of how it protects public health, ABC News By Rebecca Turner, 20 Oct 16, The environmental regulator has been questioned why it is using the speed at which it issues environmental approvals to measure its effectiveness at protecting public health and the environment.
Between the lines of the department’s 2015-16 annual report lies a simmering disagreement between the public sector watchdog, auditor-general Colin Murphy, and the director-general of the Department of Environmental Regulation, Jason Banks.
Mr Murphy has taken the Department of Environment Regulation (DER) to task for choosing to monitor how effectively it fulfils one of its key roles — ensuring pollution and land clearing do not put the health of Western Australians or their environment at risk — by measuring how quickly it finalises environmental approvals, permits and investigations……..
While the disagreement is being played out in the most bureaucratic of language in a document which is likely to gather dust on departmental shelves, it is an interesting insight into how policy debates are conducted among public servants.
For example, Mr Murphy chose to issue a qualified opinion on the department’s annual report, a serious matter in the world of auditing.
He was critical of how the department used four Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which focused on the timeliness of regulatory activities — including the percentage of major resource projects work approvals decided within 60 days — to measure how it was avoiding risks to public health and the environment.
He called the KPIs to assess its effectiveness as a regulator “not relevant”…….
While the nature of this new KPI is unknown, this year’s annual report marked the first time the department has not published KPIs which show how many times environmental pollution exceeded safe guidelines.
It has prompted Greens MP Lynn Maclaren to call on the WA Government to reinstate vigorous environmental health and air quality measuring in the annual report.
Ms Maclaren said she agreed with the auditor-general, who had raised a serious issue with a department which she claimed was shifting its focus away from ensuring a healthy environment and towards speedy development approvals.
“Who else is going to challenge the director-general in this way?” she said.”It shows that he is taking his job very seriously.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-20/auditor-general-in-public-spat-with-agency-der-environment/7947734
This March, documents obtained exclusively by news.com.au revealed that hundreds of children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to radiation were born with shocking illnesses including tumours, Down syndrome, cleft palates, cerebral palsy, autism, missing bones and heart disease.
Other veterans posted to the Maralinga nuclear test site blamed the British Nuclear Test for an unusually high number of stillbirths and miscarriages among the group.
“The rest of the Aboriginal people in this country need to know the story as well,” “This one’s been kept very quiet.”
Nuclear will be on show at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide, South Australia from 17 September to 12 November.
The secret destruction of Australia’s Hiroshima, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/the-secret-destruction-of-australias-hiroshima/news-story/9eabf722dbe2f87e03a297c2a348a8e1 news.com.au, SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 WHEN nuclear explosions tore through Australia’s vast, arid centre, some people living there didn’t even know it was coming.
It devastated the country for miles around, annihilating every bird, tree and animal in its path.
Even today, the effects of our very own Hiroshima are still felt by the families it ripped apart, and those suffering horrific health problems as a result.
The British military detonated seven nuclear bombs in remote Maralinga, around 800km north-west of Adelaide, plus two at Emu Fields and three off the coast near Karratha, Western Australia.
They also staged hundreds of minor trials investigating the impact of non-nuclear explosions on atomic weapons, involving tanks, gun, mannequins in uniforms and even tethered goats. In many ways, these smaller tests were equally dangerous, spraying plutonium in all directions.
Yet most Australians know very little about the blasts that shattered communities, and the dramatic story now buried under layers of dust. Continue reading
Atomic test veterans back at Montebello Islands as compo bid drags on Malcolm Quekett – The West Australian on May 4, 2016 “……After returning to HMAS Fremantle, the sailors were tested with the Geiger counter and told they had to decontaminate themselves using a hard brush and soap under the shower.
They stayed under the water for hours and scrubbed. But they were then told they were wasting their time. They were showering under sea water which was itself contaminated.
Mr Whitby said he collapsed soon afterwards and was taken to a naval hospital in Darwin where he stayed for a week, lost one-third of his body weight and developed extreme anxiety and a chronic cough.He was transferred to hospital in Perth for another two weeks. “No one had any knowledge of radiation illness,” he said.
Mr Whitby was eventually discharged from the Navy in 1961, but the problems have followed him to this day. He said he developed skin cancers that had to be removed, and he still had the anxiety and the cough.
His best man, who had gone ashore with him, died at the age of 38 from cancer, and another mate died before turning 40. Wives of men on the ship suffered miscarriages.
After years of struggling to have his case acknowledged by officialdom, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found in 2012 that he should be paid compensation and have his legal bills met.
Mr Whitby, 76, of East Fremantle, said he was still waiting. A Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesman said the DVA was “investigating the claims and will be in a position to respond when that investigation is complete”.
Mr Whitby has allies among the other members of the Australian Ex-Services Atomic Survivors Association. Between 1952 and 1957, Britain conducted 12 atomic tests at the Montebellos as well as Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.
“Minor trials” were also conducted at Emu Field and Maralinga between 1953 and 1963. Next month, members of the association and family members will journey to the Montebellos to place a plaque to mark the 60th anniversary of the last test.Among them are Jim Marlow, 80, of Canning Vale, Rex Kaye, 76, of Melville, and Denis Flowers, 80, of Ferndale, who will all pay their own costs to be part of the expedition.
Mr Marlow was aboard HMAS Karangi near the Montebellos when one of the tests took place. He said the crew assembled on deck and were told to turn their backs just before the explosion, and then turned back again to see the massive cloud build up.
Mr Kaye was a general hand in the Royal Australian Air Force and worked with planes used in the SA tests. He said he was still fighting leukaemia and side effects……..https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/31511899/atomic-test-veterans-back-at-montebello-as-compo-bid-drags-on/
Many medical imaging procedures involve exposure to ionising radiation. The immediate and long-term benefits of these procedures are widely understood. However, in clinical settings, both referring and radiological medical practitioners often have limited awareness of the actual doses of radiation and risks involved.
While risk associated with any single procedure is likely very small, the cumulative effect of frequent, often repeated and potentially inappropriate radiographic imaging presents a real public health concern for risks such as radiation-induced cancer.
This activity will cover the measurement of radiation associated with medical imaging; the effects of radiation exposure; the radiation associated with specific imaging procedures; and issues in clinical decision making, including evidence based medicine and risk communication.
The premise of justification is simple: the benefit of the test must outweigh the harm. In clinical practice, the process of justification is often less clear.
GPs are responsible for more imaging referrals than any other group. Most of these referrals are justified (the benefits far outweigh the risks) however, recent reviews suggest that between a significant number of medical radiation exposures may be unnecessary.
This activity will discuss the radiation associated with specific imaging procedures; and issues in clinical decision making, including evidence based medicine and risk communication. …….http://www.racgp.org.au/education/courses/activitylist/activity/?id=32177
New generations of Australian families suffering deformities and early deaths because of ‘genetic transfer’,news.com.au MARCH 10, 2016 [EXCELLENT PHOTOS] PEOPLE who worked at Australian atomic bomb test sites claim they have produced generations of children with severe deformities and suffered a high number of stillbirths.
Documents obtained exclusively by news.com.au show hundreds of children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to radiation were born with shocking illnesses including tumours, Down syndrome, cleft palates, cerebral palsy, autism, missing bones and heart disease.
One veteran, who was posted to the Maralinga nuclear test site in South Australia in the 1950s as part of the British Nuclear Test (BNT) program, says the radiation contaminated his sperm and is to blame for the death of a child he never got to know.
But he is not alone, with the documents detailing a litany of miscarriages and stillbirths that has allegedly passed the devastation from generation to generation.
Australian ex-servicemen and their families originally made submissions to a Federal Government review in 2003 over deaths and disabilities they believe were caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear testing in South Australia and Western Australia in the 1950s and 60s.
The submissions were later compiled to use in a class action against the British Ministry of Defence, but the case was not allowed to proceed because it was deemed impossible to prove radiation caused their illnesses. Continue reading
New generations of Australian families suffering deformities and early deaths because of ‘genetic transfer’, news.com.au MARCH 10, 2016 [EXCELLENT PHOTOSlifestyle/health/health-problems/new-generations-of-australian-families-suffering-deformities-and-early-deaths-because-of-genetic-transfer/news-story/5a74b7eab2f433402aa00bc2fcbcbea4 “…….. But the link between exposure to radiation at the test sites and subsequent illness of the BNT veterans and their descendants has never been accepted by the Australian Government.
Those who can prove they sustained an injury or disease related to their service are eligible for compensation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA), and its antecedent Acts.
But BNT veterans told news.com.au they are continually rejected on the grounds that the levels of radiation they were exposed to were “too low” to cause their illnesses.
It’s a stark contrast to a 1999 study for the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which found that 30 per cent of the nuclear test veterans had died, mostly in their 50s, from cancers or cancer-related illnesses.
In addition, a 2007 New Zealand study found that New Zealand sailors who had been exposed to the nuclear testing had three times the level of genetic abnormality and notably higher rates of cancer than the general population.
Following a British decision in 1988, the Australian Government negotiated compensation for a small group of Australian servicemen suffering from two specific conditions — leukaemia (except lymphatic leukaemia) and a rare blood disorder known as multiple myeloma.
But the bulk of BNT Australian veterans have never been compensated over radiation exposure during the atomic bomb tests in the 1950s and 60s. Nor have their medical conditions been officially linked to their exposure.
While BNT service personnel have had access to disability pensions and health care under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) since July 1, 2010, and cancer treatments, many of them say they are not entitled to full benefits.
Mr Batchelor said he wasn’t even entitled to a veteran’s gold card despite all he has suffered, sacrificed and lost.
“Those (veterans) that are left could desperately do with a gold card,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s asking for too much.” http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/new-generations-of-australian-families-suffering-deformities-and-early-deaths-because-of-genetic-transfer/news-story/5a74b7eab2f433402aa00bc2fcbcbea4
A very comprehensive 2010 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report found reactor based isotope production requires significant taxpayer subsidies, as the cost of sale does not cover the cost of production.
The report concludes: “In many cases the full impact of Mo-99/Tc-99m provision was not transparent to or appreciated by governments… The full costs of waste management, reactor operations, fuel consumption, etc were not included in the price structure. This is a subsidisation by one country’s taxpayers of another country’s health care system. Many governments have indicated that they are no longer willing to provide such subsidisation.”
What is needed urgently is a debate about how much waste we make. We have a choice: whether we follow ANSTO’s expensive business model to ramp up reactor manufacture (and the long-lived radioactive waste that goes with it), or collaborate with Canada to develop cyclotron manufacture of isotopes that does not produce long-lived nuclear waste.
Debunking the myths around medicine and a nuclear waste dump
The Federal government is seeking a location for a nuclear waste facility. But the provision of information to communities has been problematic, with some major flaws.
Claims have been made that provision of nuclear medicine services is a key reason to build it, but existing medical waste makes up a very small proportion of the total waste requiring disposal.
In addition, little has been said about ANSTO’s business plan to greatly ramp up Australia’s reactor based production of isotopes from 1 per cent to over 25 per cent of the world’s market, which will massively increase the amount of long-lived radioactive waste produced in the future.
A new process may reduce the volume of the waste, but the actual quantity of radioactive material to store will be significantly greater, and will become most of the radioactive waste Australia produces.
In Australia nuclear medicine isotopes are indeed useful, but according to Medicare figures represent less than 3 per cent of medical imaging. They are most commonly used for bone scans and some specialised heart scans. They are not needed (as claimed by government) for normal X-rays, most heart scans and the vast majority of cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy). Continue reading
Chris Murray 16 Feb 16 The issue of low level radiation is crucial to the nuclear debate. If the threshold/hormesis outliers are successful in their campaign, radiation protection limits will be raised and nuclear costs will fall dramatically.
It is unfortunate therefore that The Royal Commission is so economical with the truth on low level radiation. It specifically quotes WHO and UNSCEAR to paint a particular picture. The omission of very relevant material from the same sources does not inspire confidence in its findings. Although it states that “a precautionary approach is appropriate”, by minimizing the possible casualties from Chernobyl and Fukushima, it effectively dumps any such precautionary approach.
While UNSCEAR, citing uncertainties, refuses to give any estimates for the absolute number of casualties from Chernobyl, it does state that “”Although the numbers of cancers projected to be induced by radiation exposure after the accident are very small relative to the baseline cancer risk, THEY COULD BE SUBSTANTIAL IN ABSOLUTE TERMS”
(My emphasis – even a “very small” increase of say, 0.5%, in baseline risk would cause 5,000 extra cancers in a 5 million population, assuming normal cancer mortality of 20% of all deaths.)
Also unmentioned is that the WHO/Chernobyl Forum (of which UNSCEAR was a member) stated that
“The Expert Group concluded that there may be up to 4 000 additional cancer deaths among the three highest exposed groups over their lifetime (240 000 liquidators; 116 000 evacuees and the 270 000 residents of the SCZs)”
(this is for the most exposed areas alone)
Also ignored is that the WHO/CF, while acknowledging considerable uncertainties (which can lead to underestimation of effects as easily as overestimation), estimated a possible further 5,000 fatal cancers from the most contaminated areas in wider Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, giving a total of 9,000.
“Predictions, generally based on the LNT model, suggest that up to 5 000 additional cancer deaths may occur in this population from radiation exposure, “
Nor is there any mention that even UNSCEAR accepts a proven risk down to 10 mSv:
“Risk estimates vary with age, with younger people generally being more sensitive; studies of in utero radiation exposures show that the foetus is particularly sensitive, with elevated risk being detected at doses of 10 mSv and above.”
Also ignored is that UNSCEAR, in its recent Fukushima report, no longer uses a DDREF (Dose and Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor). No DDREF means that the 9,000 could legitimately be doubled to 18,000. And again, this is from the most contaminated areas. The fallout and its effects did not stop there, unless one is claiming a definite threshold, an ideological position rejected again and again by the scientific establishment (See the recent US EPA statement athttp://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NRC-2015-0057-0436 ).
Again, unmentioned in the report, the WHO/CF admits that “Chernobyl may also cause cancers in Europe outside Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.“
The Commission seems to have adopted the nuclear industry spin that low level radiation is of no concern if it’s comparable to background radiation. This is like saying it’s ok to deliberately electrocute people so long as the numbers are comparable to those killed by “natural electricity” ie lightning. The Commission seems to have no awareness that the BEIR VII committee, the ICRP, the 21st H L Gray conference etc. examined the “evidence” for the claim that background radiation was harmless and found it wanting, the studies either being ecological or lacking statistical power.
Likewise the Commission seem unaware that a recent study – A record-based case-control study of natural background radiation and the incidence of childhood leukaemia and other cancers in Great Britain during 1980-2006 – has shown that background radiation may be responsible for 12% of childhood leukaemias. And if it’s responsible for leukaemia, it is almost certainly responsible for other cancers.
One of the authors of this study is Richard Wakeford, the former BNFL principal research sciencist, who can hardly be accused of being an unscientific tree-hugger, an anti-nuke idealogue, a Greenpeace or coal industry shill, etc. etc.
Shockingly, none of this, much from the Commission’s own sources, is mentioned. Instead it hides behind “ongoing scientific debate”, and cherrypicks the most reassuring quotes.