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One Plus One: Dr Helen Caldicott

ABC News: Series 2014 Dr Helen Caldicott

Outspoken anti-nuclear campaigner, Dr Helen Caldicott, abandoned a promising medical career to fight the threats of nuclear power and weapons. Now in her 70s, Dr Caldicott fears she may be fighting a losing battle.

This episode was broadcast at 8:30pm on Friday 11 April 2014. It was published 14 hours ago and is available until 9:30pm on 25 April 2014.

Gambling with People’s Lives – The Perfect Crime?

The terrible things that are done in the name of pragmatism. As japanese citizens are moved back into contaminated areas with radiation levels at the top limit of what an EU nuclear worker would be allowed in terms of exposure the health cost to Japan will rise. This is not unknown. The most vulnerable will be children and fetuses, then women. This is not unknown. An actual EU nuclear worker would not be allowed to work forever at this level of exposure. This is also not unknown. Yet is is happening anyway, just as the radioactive plume of contamination is still to some extent being treated as if it were plotted with a compass, evenly. When in reality there are areas within the evacuation zone that are safer than areas outside it. This too is not unknown. What does that say about the nuclear industry, or the human race's capacity for denial or cupidity? This is worse than the "perfect crime." This is an unspeakable act of barbarism.

Gambling with People’s Lives – The Perfect Crime?

Gordon Edwards l CCNR     Background: April 7 2014

Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, 357 people are being allowed to go home in a small corner of a town right on the perimeter of the original evacuation zone, 20 km away from the stricken plant. These are the first people allowed to re-populate the evacuated areas, from which almost 140,000 were displaced -- so those eligible to return home represent about 1/4 of 1 percent of those evacuated.

Massive decontamination efforts have been underway throughout a huge area stretching far beyond the original evacuation zone. See . But decontamination is never 100 percent.

In this particular case, the radiation levels are deemed by the authorities to be low enough to allow rehabitation, having been brought down to a level no greater than 20 millisieverts (mSv) per year. That level happens to represent the maximum legally allowed radiation exposure limit for an atomic worker in the EU; indeed, no atomic worker would be allowed to work at that exposure level for an entire year under ordinary circumstances.

According to the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR Committee (BEIR = Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) if 100 people are exposed to 100 mSv, you would expect to see 1 extra cancer case caused by that radiation exposure. So if 140,000 people were returned to their homes at an exposure level of 20 mSv per year, you would expect to see 280 extra radiation-induced cancer cases in that population for every single year that the exposure continued.

It is impossible to say which individuals will get those cancers, and it is impossible to prove that any individual case of cancer was, in fact, caused by radiation. For this reason, John Gofman -- an award- winning nuclear physicist as well as an award-winning medical doctor -- described the deaths caused by such low-level radiation exposure as "the perfect crime". You know people are dying; you know what is killing them; you know who did it; but you can't prove it!

To say (as UNSCEAR has reported) that these extra deaths will be "not perceptible" simply means that statistics is too crude an instrument to reveal the truth; by the same token, you could say that any mass murderer would be responsible for an "imperceptible" number of deaths if it weren't for the bullet holes or knife wounds or eye witnesses to testify to the murders. Without a "smoking gun" to identify those who died of radiation exposure you can pretend that no one was killed.


Gambling with People’s Lives – The Perfect Crime?

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the 20 mSv described above refers only to external gamma radiation, without taking into account the internal emitters -- the radioactive materials which will be ingested, or inhaled, or otherwise absorbed into the bodies of men, women and children living in these still-contaminated areas, because of radioactive contaminants in the food, water, and the residual radioactivity in the dust that is kicked up by children at play, by men working outdoors, or by women washing the family's clothes.

It is well known that embryos, babies and children are much more sensitive to the damaging effects of ionizing radiation than adults are. In fact women are also more sensitive to radiation damage than men of the same age, sometimes by up to a factor of two. Because we are not dealing with an adult male work force, but a community of folks of different genders and all ages, the predictions of radiation- induced cancer cases may be woefully underestimated.

And cancer is not the only harmful biomedical effect of protracted exposure to low-level radiation. There is a growing body of evidence that heart attacks and strokes are increased by such chronic radiation exposure, as well as damage to the reproductive cells of both men and women. Every girl is born with her ovaries intact, already containing all the eggs that she will ever have; radiation damage to these eggs at a very early age can result in genetically damaged children or grandchildren much later on in life.

The immune system is likewise compromised by radiation exposure due to the fact that some critically important white blood cells are particularly depleted by radiation exposure, thereby leaving the exposed person more susceptible to infectious diseases of all kinds.

Those people who agree to move back into contaminated areas declared "safe" by the Japanese authorities will be rewarded with a one-time payment of about $9000. Those people who decide NOT to go back home when the authorities invite them to, will have their monthly support payments of $1000 per month stopped.

Dealing with the consequences of a nuclear disaster is no easy matter.

Gordon Edwards, CCNR

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Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated

Fairewinds Energy EducationMarch 20, 2014 (re-released from last year)

Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

As the three year anniversary of the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi just passed, our minds have been on the health of the Japanese people, in particular the children. This week’s film is a reissue of a film we released last year featuring Ian Goddard and Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen discussing the risk of cancer in children in and around Fukushima prefecture. The statistics are astounding especially for young girls. For every year a young girl is the in the radiation zone 1 in 100 girls is going to get cancer due to their exposure from Fukushima. As each year passes it compounds, so if a young girl is there for 10 years, 10 out of 100 will get cancer. The statistics are terrifying and the Japanese government has allowed families with young children to return to Fukushima prefecture.

Nukes Now: Obama Worse Than Reagan

The Cold War will never end until there is full nuclear disarmament, there's just too much money in it. For all Obama's promises and his prestigious peace prize he will allocate more money towards nuclear weapons "refurbishment" than Reagan. The nuclear weapons gravy train is the same as it ever was. If the people of this planet wish to survive and leave a world that is habitable for their children, the need to demand zero nuclear weapons, complete disarmament, is the only solution.

Steve BreymanTruthout | 19 March 2014

Heads-up, veterans of the nuclear freeze movement in the United States, the anti-Euromissile campaigns in Western Europe and the various anti-nuclear weapons efforts in New Zealand, Australia and Japan. Incoming. 

We spent much of the 1980s resisting Ronald Reagan's new Cold War and his new nuclear weapons of all shapes and sizes. We pushed back against his giant "defense" budgets and countered his harrowing rhetoric. We knew Star Wars was a scam and the MX missile a danger. We grimaced at his appointments to key policymaking positions and scoffed at his insincere arms control efforts. 

In the end, we prevailed (after a sort). We get much of the credit for preventing planetary incineration that seemed frighteningly close at the time (Gorbachev deserves some, too). Professional activists, plowshares heroes and a handful of stalwart others stayed in the anti-nuke trenches. Although nuclear weapons were not abolished with the end of the Cold War, most of the rest of us nonetheless moved on to fight other evils and to work on one or more better world construction projects. 

It's time to return. President Obama released his fiscal 2015 budget March 4. Ready for this? It asks for considerably more money (in constant dollars) for nuclear weapons maintenance, design and production than Reagan spent in 1985, the historical peak of spending on nukes: $8.608 billion, not counting administrative costs (see graph below). The Los Alamos Study Group crunched the numbers for us...

Read article here

A world awash in a nuclear explosive?

In the midst of a disasterous aftermath due to the failure of ordinary nuclear energy generation, Japan inexplicably moves forward with a multi billion dollar plutonium production facility at Rokkasho proposed to open in October. In 12 years this facility could produce more plutonium than the entire remaining US stockpile from the Cold War. This enormous plutonium proliferation risk would be burned in Fast Breeder Reactors, a concept so risky even the US abandoned it. In todays world, plagued by the threat of terrorisim, the idea that all it would take is a grapefruit size lump of plutonium (6.6lbs) to make a nuclear bomb with the explosive power 1 kiloton (1000tons) of TNT is chilling. Post Fukushima, does anyone, perhaps especially the Japanese people, feel comfortable with Japan having enough plutonium for 2600 nuclear weapons and how many dirty bombs? Not to mention the possibility of earthquakes, accidents and damage at fast breeder reactors.

Douglas Birch, R. Jeffrey Smith l Center for Public Integrity   10 March 2014

"...The impetus for Cochran’s urgent new campaign — supported by a growing cadre of arms control and proliferation experts — is a seemingly puzzling decision by Japan to ready a new $22 billion plutonium production plant for operation as early as October.

The plant will provide fuel for scores of special reactors resembling those canceled in America a generation ago. Critics of the Japanese project worry that its completion in just a few months will create a crucial beachhead for longtime nuclear advocates who claim that plutonium, a sparkplug of nuclear weapons, can provide a promising civilian path to carbon-free energy.

According to its builders, the Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility, which has been undergoing testing since 2006, will be capable of churning out 96 tons of plutonium metal in the next dozen years, an amount greater than all the stocks that remain in the United States as a legacy of the Cold War’s nuclear arms race. Rokkasho would be the fifth-largest such facility in the world, but the only one in a country without nuclear weapons.

The metal is to be burned by Japanese utilities in dozens of fast breeder reactors, so named because they have the capability to both consume and produce plutonium. The ambition is to make Japan, a craggy, energy-starved island, nearly self-sufficient in generating electrical power.

But there is a hitch... They just had this little problem,” Cochran said. “Plutonium.”"

Read article here.

Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly

Researchers have discovered leaf litter is not decaying at the normal rate in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. After conductiong experiments with leaf litter uncontaminated by fallout  they have established this is true. Tim Mousseau, Univ of S. Carolina: “The gist of our results was that the radiation inhibited microbial decomposition of the leaf litter on the top layer of the soil."

Among other things, this could increase risk of catastrophic wildfire contaminated with radioactive isotopes contained in the leaf litter. Studies have shown there is a risk of fire that could redistribute these radioanuclides ( to areas outside of the exclusion zone. Inhalation of radioactive particles could cause health problems for firefighters and inhabitants of areas where contaminated smoke could be carried on the wind.

Mousseau and colleagues feel it is also necessary to study whether the Fukushima area is experiencing the same phenomena which would indicate the same risks would be present in Japan.

Rachel Nuwer l SMITHSONIANMAG.COM  14 March, 2014

Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today. Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning.

Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow slower; and fewer spiders and insects—including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Additionally, game animals such as wild boar caught outside of the exclusion zone—including some bagged as far away as Germany—continue to show abnormal and dangerous levels of radiation. 

However, there are even more fundamental issues going on in the environment. According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem.

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Unskilled and Destitute Are Hiring Targets for Fukushima Cleanup

Why nuclear accidents happen has long been obvious. The technology uses highly dangerous radioactive fuel, the current reactors are aging, the new reactors are overbudget and years behind schedule due to unresolved safety problems, or exist only as elegant designs on computer screens unrealizable in the real world. Any real safety culture is absent, corporate interests lie with the government money and preferential treatment they receive, government interests lie with corporate money for campaigns and an excuse to maintain their nuclear weapons  programs (or the potential to start one). The the damage is subsidized by the taxpayers and ratepayers. An industry that has no liability for its actions and harm will cut corners.

But the horror of the fallout (literally and figuratively) of nuclear accidents that do happen is that instead of the well oiled disaster management plan you would expect of an industry whose materials involve forever deadly waste and long-lived carcinogenic isotopes- the clean-up falls to people unsuited in anyway for the serious work ahead, untrained, unskilled in some cases, unprepared, and desperate. Desperate to stay alive, desperate because they have no guidance, desperate because they, like the Fukushima reactor, are slowly being distanced from corporate responsibility and left to struggle and worry at a facility that is becoming more and more fragile.

NARAHA, Japan — “Out of work? Nowhere to live? Nowhere to go? Nothing to eat?” the online ad reads. “Come to Fukushima.”

That grim posting targeting the destitute, by a company seeking laborers for the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is one of the starkest indications yet of an increasingly troubled search for workers willing to carry out the hazardous decommissioning at the site.

The plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as Tepco, has been shifting its attention away, leaving the complex cleanup to an often badly managed, poorly trained, demoralized and sometimes unskilled work force that has made some dangerous missteps. At the same time, the company is pouring its resources into another plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, that it hopes to restart this year as part of the government’s push to return to nuclear energy three years after the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster. It is a move that some members of the country’s nuclear regulatory board have criticized.

Read full article here

Leak in massive Hanford nuclear waste tank getting worse

Some background on Hanford waste from Gordon Edwards at, March 7, 2014:

When nuclear proponents speak of "recycling" nuclear waste, they are talking about "reprocessing".  

Reprocessing involves chopping nuclear fuel waste into chunks and dissolving the chunks in boiling nitric acid to create a highly radioactive "soup"from which plutonium and/or other fissile material can be extracted by chemical means.  All of this has to be done in a robotic factory because the radiation is so intense it would kill any humans who tried it by hand. 


The result is high-level radioactive liquid waste called "post-reprocessing" waste.  It has to be constantly cooled and stirred to prevent heat build-up and minimize sludge formation that can jeopardize the integrity of the steel tanks used to store the corrosive liquid nuclear waste. 


At Hanford, Washington, not far from the Columbia River, plutonium for nuclear weapons was produced for several decades. The post-reprocessing liquid nuclear waste was originally stored in single-walled tanks which eventually leaked millions of gallons into the soil.  Twenty-eight new double-walled tanks were built to contain the liquid waste more securely, and now some of those are leaking too.

Susannah Frame l KING 5 News, Northwest Cable News, March 6, 2014 


RICHLAND, Wash. -- Workers have found more waste leaking between the walls of a nuclear storage tank on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The waste was found in a new place between the walls of one of the 28 double shell tanks at the site. The US Dept. of Energy, which owns Hanford, says the waste is covering an area of 7 feet by 21 inches. The double shell tanks were built to be the most robust tanks at Hanford. They were constructed with the intent to be able to safely store the dangerous wastes until the technology to permanently dispose of the liquids is developed. A leak in a double shell tank is seen as one of the biggest setbacks to the cleanup program at Hanford in the last decade.

Workers tell KING they first saw signs of the new leak location on February 24 and confirmed it with a video inspection on March 3. This is the third identified leak location in the massive 1 million gallon underground storage tank known as AY-102.

This tank has been at the center of a KING 5 investigation launched last year. The investigators exposed the government contractor in charge of the tank, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) -- ignored evidence of the leak for nearly a year before doing any serious investigating into it.

It’s been nearly two-and-a-half years since recently retired WRPS worker, Mike Geffre, found the first signs of the leak in October, 2011.  To date, there is no solid plan on how to mitigate the leak or pump the contents of the tank to a safer holding vessel. Geffre says the company is stalling.

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Dr. Helen Caldicott Schedule in Japan

1.  Dr. Helen Caldicott

    March 6, 2014 (Thursday), 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

    Sakai Shimin Kaikan, Sakai City (in Osaka)


2.  Dr. Helen Caldicott, together with Koide Hiroaki of Kyoto University

    March 8, 2014 (Saturday), 2 p.m. (Doors open at 1 p.m.)

    KBS Culture Hall, Kyoto


3.  Dr Helen Caldicott

    March 13, 2014 (Thursday), 1:30 p.m. (Doors open at 1 p.m.)

    Seijo Hall, Tokyo


4.  Dr. Helen Caldicott

    March 14, 2014 (Friday), 2 p.m. (Doors open at 1:30 p.m.)

    Former Hiroshima branch of the Bank of Japan Hall



5.  Dr Helen Caldicott

    March 15, 2014 (Saturday), 5:30 p.m. (Doors open at 4:30 p.m.) 

    Aster Plaza Hall (Medium-size), Hiroshima



6.  Dr Helen Caldicott

    March 16, 2014 (Sunday), 3:00 p.m. (Doors open at 2:30 p.m.) 

    Ehime Bunkyō Kaikan, Matsuyama City



 Ira Helfand, MD, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, PSR

Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War
on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition 

Introduction to the Second Edition

In April of 2012 we released the report Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk which examined the climatic and agri- cultural consequences of a limited, regional nuclear war. The report looked specifically at the declines in US maize and Chinese rice production that would result from the pre- dicted climate disruption and concluded that even a limited nuclear conflict would cause extensive famine, mainly in the developing world, and put more than one billion people at risk of starvation.

Since then new research by Lili Xia and Alan Robock has shown that the climate change caused by a limited nuclear war would affect Chinese maize production as severely as rice production and it would affect wheat production much more severely than rice output. Their new findings suggest that the original report may have seriously underestimated the consequences of a limited nuclear war. In addition to the one billion people in the developing world who would face possible starvation, 1.3 billion people in China would confront severe food insecurity. The prospect of a decade of wide- spread hunger and intense social and economic instability in the world’s largest country has immense implications for the entire global community, as does the possibility that the huge declines in Chinese wheat production will be matched by sim- ilar declines in other wheat producing countries.

This updated version of Nuclear Famine attempts to address these new concerns and better define the full extent of the worldwide catastrophe that will result from even a limited, regional nuclear war. 

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Nuclear Power is not the Answer