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.
Medical isotope production in Australia: Should we be using reactor based or cyclotron technology? 15th January 2016 Dr Margaret Beavis MBBS FRACGP MPH Medical Association for Prevention of War, Australia Health Professionals Promoting Peace
Total eclipse for tanning beds, The West Australian, Cathy O’Leary December 31, 2015, Hundreds of young WA women are likely to avoid disfiguring and potentially deadly skin cancers because of a ban on tanning beds that starts tomorrow.
Regulations to ban commercial sun beds make WA the last State to outlaw the machines.
Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said the ban came 12 months after laws took effect in the rest of the country.
He said that before regulations started in Australia it was estimated that sun beds caused almost 3000 skin cancers a year, including 281 melanomas, and were responsible for 43 melanoma-related deaths.
A recent study predicted one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18 to 29 could be prevented if solarium operators were shut down.
Mr Slevin said the machines were mostly used by people under the age of 24, often young women.
They exposed skin to ultra-violet radiation five to six times more intense than the midday summer sun……https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/30464028/total-eclipse-for-tanning-beds/
The Cancer Council and the Australasian College of Dermatologists are joining forces this week during the National Skin Cancer Action Week http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/campaigns-and-events/national-skin-cancer-action-week.html to remind Australians that damage from UV radiation adds up whether by accident or attempts to have a tan and increases the risk of skin damage and cancer
Australians’ risk for cancer-causing sunburn higher at home than the beach, study finds, IBT, By Karla Tecson on November 16 2015 Half of weekend sunburns occur while Australians are going about their day-to-day activities at home, a new study suggests.
According to Cancer Council’s National Survey, one in two adult sunburn cases occurs during daily activities such as gardening and chores around the house, along with passive recreation activities such as reading, enjoying a picnic in the park or having a barbecue. Continue reading
Medical radioactive wastes — the nuclear industry fig leaf, Independent Australia, 17 Nov 15 With modern developments in the non-nuclear production of medical isotopes, perhaps it’s also time to shut down the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and stop producing dangerous radioactive trash, writes Noel Wauchope.
Watching the Australian media last week, you would be sure that the government’s hunt for a nuclear waste disposal site was solely to do with medical wastes. Rarely do they mention the real impetus for this hasty search, which is Australia’s current obligation to take back processed nuclear wastes from France. Later, we will have to receive similar wastes returning from UK. …..
the vast majority of medical radioisotopes have very short half-lives, so there’s no need for them to be moved beyond the site of use…. The real problem is the returning intermediate level wastes from Australia’s used nuclear fuel rods reprocessed overseas….
it must be acknowledged that the medical radioisotopes produced at Lucas Heights do have their valuable uses in diagnostics and in the treatment of cancers.
However, it also must be recognised that all these radioisotopes can be produced without use of a nuclear reactor. This is happening increasingly and, rather like the distributed renewable energy boom, the world could be on the brink of a distributed medical radioisotope boom. Continue reading
The damages of UV radiation are a daily risk even when you can’t feel the heat of the sun, News Local, Sydney September 12, 2015 IT seems logical to assume that the red hot sunburn we get comes from standing under the hot sun we feel, but it is not quite correct.. Sun damage is a reality that Australians face every day of the year, regardless of how hot the temperature is or how cloudy the sky…….
associate Professor Pablo Fernández-Peñas, who sees the detrimental effects of too much sun exposure.
“We can’t feel UV light and the heat sensation is not related to the amount of UV light,” he said.
“In winter, as days are cooler, people tend to stay longer outdoors.” A 2014 Australian study, “The influence of age and gender in knowledge, behaviours and attitudes towards sun protection”, found the use of sunscreen dropped to between 24 and 49 per cent outside summer.
“When you are just walking from your house to the car or dropping the kids to school, that sun exposure accumulates in the future,” Prof Fernández-Peñas said.
“Australia has the highest mortality of skin cancer in the world.”……..HEALTH EFFECTS OF UV RADIATION
■ Sunburn: can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can lay the groundwork for skin cancer
■ Eye damage: photoconjunctivitis, also known as snow blindness or welders flash, and skin cancer of the conjunctiva and skin surrounding the eye
■ Premature ageing: such as skin wrinkling, sagging, blotchiness and roughness …….http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/city-east/why-sunscreen-should-be-a-daily-habit/story-fngr8h22-1227522871234