3 lakes near Weldon Spring have elevated levels of uranium, records say. Health department lacks current data on fish. via St Louis Post-Dispatch

Jack Suntrup Jul 22, 2023


Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for DHSS, said the department formulates its fish consumption advisories — which warn anglers to limit or avoid consumption of fish due to contaminants detected — based on review of data provided by other agencies.

But Cox said the health department doesn’t have current data on the Weldon Spring site or nearby Lakes 34, 35 and 36 in the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area, which is adjacent to the Weldon Spring site.

The three lakes and the presence of uranium were mentioned in state and federal government records that were the subject of a recent report by The Missouri Independent on apparent disagreements between regulators about the pace of cleanup at Weldon Spring.


Cox said the DHSS has asked the Department of Energy, which controls the Weldon Spring site, for current fish tissue data in comments on previous five-year Weldon Spring site reviews at least as far back as 2016.

“DOE has previously told us that they assessed fish contamination risk already, but we have asked for them to update that assessment to account for any changes that have occurred,” Cox said in an email.

She said a July 1995 report “may be the assessment DOE has previously referenced.”

That report says the human health risk associated with eating fish from the three lakes with elevated levels of uranium “is below the EPA’s target range for unacceptable human risk levels.”


A U.S. Department of Energy spokesman in an email Friday said because monitoring results for surface water at Lakes 34, 35 and 36 have remained below the maximum contaminant level for uranium since the late 1990s, no further testing of fish has been conducted.

State Rep. Tricia Byrnes, R-Wentzville, said she is concerned that federal agencies are “not providing answers to the questions of our state agencies.


The Weldon Spring site has been a focus of area nuclear waste activists in the wake of recent reporting on St. Louis’ role in the development of nuclear weapons and the legacy of contamination left behind.

Mallinckrodt moved its uranium processing operations from its St. Louis plant to Weldon Spring, at the former site of a World War II-era TNT and DNT plant, in 1957. By the time it stopped uranium processing there in 1966, the site was heavily contaminated. Surface remediation concluded with completion of a 41-acre, onsite disposal cell in 2001 visible from Highway 94 just west of Francis Howell High School.


Uranium levels at the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area are referenced in a 2021 Department of Natural Resources review of a draft five-year report being prepared by the Department of Energy.

“The uranium levels at Busch Lake 34 continue to be higher than the other locations…,” the DNR document says, quoting from the Department of Energy draft.

“Please include a discussion on why the uranium levels are higher in Busch Lake 34 than other locations,” the DNR wrote to the Department of Energy.

In response, the Department of Energy told the DNR that the passage would be revised to: “Busch Lake 34, the relatively highest uranium concentration pond, is immediately downgradient of Burgermeister Spring where much of the groundwater from the Chemical Plant flows.


Read more at 3 lakes near Weldon Spring have elevated levels of uranium, records say. Health department lacks current data on fish. via St Louis Post-Dispatch

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Fukushima fish with 180 times legal limit of radioactive cesium fuels water release fears via The Guardian

A fish living near drainage outlets at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in May contained levels of radioactive cesium that are 180 times Japan’s safety limit.

The black rockfish caught on 18 May was found by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to have 18,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium-137, compared with the legal maximum level of 100 becquerels per kg.

Japan’s plan to release 1.3m tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima plant has sparked concern in the region, despite approval from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Hong Kong has threatened to ban food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures if the water release goes ahead as planned.


Rainwater from the areas around reactors one, two and three, which melted down during the March 2011 disaster, flows into the inner breakwater where the rockfish was caught in May. Cesium concentration in the sediment from the seabed in the inner breakwater measures more than 100,000 becquerels per kg, according to Tepco.

“Since contaminated water flowed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station port immediately after the accident, Tepco has periodically removed fish from inside the port since 2012 using fishnets that have been installed to prevent the fish from escaping the port,” a Tepco official told the Guardian.

A total of 44 fish with cesium levels above 100 becquerels per kg have been found in the Fukushima plant port between May 2022 and May 2023, Tepco confirmed, with 90% of those caught in or near the inner breakwater. Other specimens identified as having particularly high radioactivity were an eel with 1,700 becquerels per kg, caught in June 2022, and rock trout, with 1,200 becquerels in April 2023.

Regular monitoring of fish from the inner breakwater had been suspended after nets were installed in January 2016 to keep potentially contaminated fish inside the area.


“However, when a black rockfish with radioactive concentrations that exceed regulatory standards was caught off the coast of Soma [about 50km north of the plant] in January 2022, we began sampling again within this area in conjunction with the installation of more nets to prevent fish from leaving the port,” added the Tepco official.

Shipments of black rockfish caught off Fukushima prefecture were suspended in February 2022 after the radiation was detected and have yet to resume. The high radioactivity levels found in the tested specimen led authorities to believe it had escaped from the nuclear plant’s port. All species of seafood from the areas around the plant are regularly monitored for radioactivity.


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Trinity Nuclear Test’s Fallout Reached 46 States, Canada and Mexico, Study Finds via New York Times

By Lesley M. M. Blume

  • Published July 20, 2023Updated July 21, 2023, 9:05 a.m. ET

In July 1945, as J. Robert Oppenheimer and the other researchers of the Manhattan Project prepared to test their brand-new atomic bomb in a New Mexico desert, they knew relatively little about how that mega-weapon would behave.

On July 16, when the plutonium-implosion device was set off atop a hundred-foot metal tower in a test code-named “Trinity,” the resultant blast was much stronger than anticipated. The irradiated mushroom cloud also went many times higher into the atmosphere than expected: some 50,000 to 70,000 feet. Where it would ultimately go was anyone’s guess.

new study, released on Thursday ahead of submission to a scientific journal for peer review, shows that the cloud and its fallout went farther than anyone in the Manhattan Project had imagined in 1945. Using state-of-the-art modeling software and recently uncovered historical weather data, the study’s authors say that radioactive fallout from the Trinity test reached 46 states, Canada and Mexico within 10 days of detonation.

“It’s a huge finding and, at the same time, it shouldn’t surprise anyone,” said the study’s lead author, Sébastien Philippe, a researcher and scientist at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.

The study also reanalyzed fallout from all 93 aboveground U.S. atomic tests in Nevada and created a map depicting composite deposition of radioactive material across the contiguous U.S. (The team also hopes to study U.S. tests over the Pacific Ocean in the future).

How much of Trinity’s fallout still remain at original deposition sites across the country is difficult to calculate, said Susan Alzner, an author of the study and the co-founder of shift7, an organization that coordinated the study’s research. The study documents deposition as it originally hit the ground in 1945.

“It’s a frozen-in-time image,” she said.

The findings could be cited by advocates aiming to increase the number of people eligible for compensation by the federal government for potential exposure to radiation from atmospheric nuclear explosions.

The drift of the Trinity cloud was monitored by Manhattan Project physicists and doctors, but they underestimated its reach.


At the time, Dr. Stafford L. Warren, a Manhattan Project physician specializing in nuclear medicine, reported to Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, leader of the Manhattan Project, that the Trinity cloud “remained towering over the northeast corner of the site for several hours.” Soon, he added, “various levels were seen to move in different directions.” Dr. Warren assured General Groves that an assessment of the fallout’s reach could be undertaken later on horseback.

In the decades that followed, a lack of crucial data has bedeviled assessments and attempted studies of the Trinity test’s fallout. The U.S. had no national monitoring stations in place in 1945 to track the fallout, Dr. Philippe said. Plus, essential historical weather and atmospheric data was available only from 1948 onward. Remodeling fallout from tests in Nevada — starting in 1951 — was easier, but Trinity remained frustratingly difficult to reanalyze.

“The data sets for the Nevada tests and the available data that we could possibly find for Trinity were not comparable,” Ms. Alzner said. “You couldn’t put them on the same map. We decided to keep pushing.”

Determined to fill in the gaps, the team started the study about 18 months ago. Dr. Philippe has extensive background in modeling fallout and was an author of a similar project in 2021 that documented the effects from French nuclear tests.

A breakthrough came in March, when Ms. Alzner and Megan Smith, another co-founder of shift7 and a former United States chief technology officer in the Obama administration, contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There, Gilbert P. Compo, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado and the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory, told the team that the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts had only a week earlier released historical data that charted weather patterns extending 30,000 feet or higher above Earth’s surface.

“For the first time, we had the most accurate hourly reconstruction of the weather back to 1940, around the world,” said Dr. Compo, who became a co-author on the study. “Every single event that puts something in the air, no matter what it is, can now be tracked, by the hour.”

Using the new data and software built by NOAA, Dr. Philippe then reanalyzed Trinity’s fallout. And while the study’s authors acknowledge limitations and uncertainties within their calculations, they maintain that “our estimates likely remain conservatively low.”


Trinity test “downwinders” — a term describing people who have lived near nuclear test sites and may have been exposed to deadly radioactive fallout — have never been eligible for compensation under the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). It has provided over $2.5 billion in payments to nuclear workers in much of the Western U.S. and to downwinders who were located near the Nevada test site and may have developed cancer or other diseases as a result of radiation exposure.


Census data from 1940 shows that as many as 500,000 people were living within a 150-mile radius of the test site. Some families lived as close as 12 miles away, according to the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. Yet no civilians were warned about the test ahead of time, and they weren’t evacuated before or after the test.

“This new information about the Trinity bomb is monumental and a long time coming,” Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the consortium, said. “We’ve been waiting for an affirmation of the histories told by generations of people from Tularosa who witnessed the Trinity bomb and talked about how the ash fell from the sky for days afterward.”


Although Dr. Wellerstein said that he approaches such reanalyses of historical fallout with a certain amount of uncertainty, partly because of the age of the data, he said there is value in such studies by keeping nuclear history and its legacy in the public discourse.

“The extent to which America nuked itself is not completely appreciated still, to this day, by most Americans, especially younger Americans,” he said.

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“Nuclear Power Is Already a Climate Casualty” via Hot Globe by Steve Chapple

Dr. Paul Dorfman, Chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group, former Secretary to the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Internal Radiation, and Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex“If something goes wrong, you can really start to write off a lot of people’s lives.”

Paul, thanks for joining us. Let’s talk about nuclear and climate change.
 Thanks, Steve. It’s important to understand that nuclear is very likely to be a significant climate casualty. For cooling purposes nuclear reactors need to be situated by large bodies of water, which means either by the coast or inland by rivers or large water courses. Sea levels are rising much quicker than we had thought and inland the rivers are heating up, potentially drying up, and also subject to significant flooding and flash-flooding and inundation. The key issue for coastal nuclear is storm surge, which is basically where atmospheric conditions meet high tide, which is essentially what happens in Fukushima.

Nuclear has been touted as a potential ameliorated solution to climate. The problem, of course, is that nuclear will be, and relatively soon, a climate casualty, so coastal nuclear, unfortunately, is likely to flood via storm surge and inland nuclear will struggle more and more to get reactor cooling water and be able to discharge super-heated water to the receiving river waters.

 DORFMAN: It’s not been simply I, but the former head of the US nuclear regulatory commission, the NRC, who coauthored a key study which says quite clearly that small modular reactors produce significantly more radioactive waste than conventional reactors. The waste issue is absolutely key, but there are other issues as well. I remember being invited to give a talk at the Royal United Services Institute in the UK, basically the governmental intellectual arm of the military. The compact design of small nuclear reactors is not suited to defense in depth of the nuclear island and the military guys really seemed to get and understand this, similar problem to conventional reactors in terms of safety and security as we’re finding out in Ukraine now.
The other issue is what’s known as the “economies of scale.” The bigger the nuclear plant the cheaper. It’s exactly the same with wind where the bigger the wind power the more the megawatts. Going small goes against this completely. The economics of small nuclear reactors are proving deeply problematic. The cost per MW hour is rising. Already conventional reactors are hugely, massively, 4 to 5 times more expensive than renewables-plus, and it’s looking more and more that small nuclear reactors will have similar economic and finance problems, and of course small nuclear reactors are still in development. There are no functioning small nuclear reactors in the world producing conventional power, and they are many years from deployment.
So given the fact that we now know we have an existential climate crisis, small nuclear reactors and of course certainly conventional nuclear look to be far too costly and far too late to help the climate crisis.”
HOT GLOBE: Tell us a little bit about the situation in Zaporizhia. It comes and goes in the American media, but it seems pretty freaking scary to us over here in California! How do you estimate the dangers in the last month or so?
DORFMAN: We’ve been lucky so far but luck isn’t a strategy. Zaporizhia –6 very large nuclear power plants, the largest station in Europe with a very significant radiological inventory and critically very significant spent fuel, spent high level radiological nuclear inventory–is in the middle of a shooting war. Now there’s no way that any nuclear power plant can survive a concerted military attack. No nuclear power plant in the world is designed to do this. The International Atomic Energy agency has been very quiet about this for the last few decades which is kind of worrying given the fact that it seems obvious. Basically, people like me and many others haven’t wanted to talk about this in the past for fear of putting ideas into people’s heads, but the cat is really out of the bag now, and in an increasingly unstable world, it seems absolutely clear that nuclear risk for conventional civil nuclear plants is ramping up  both in Zaporizhia and elsewhere whether in Israel, Iran, Pakistan, India or any other potential conflict zone. There’s a very real risk that existing and any new nuclear power plants will be in the firing line.
In Zaporizhia the key concern is cooling-–the cooling ponds are open but the reactors themselves are basically open in all these plants, too. They are in cold shutdown but they also need power to keep the internal sort of governance working, so both the reactors in cold shut down, not in active use and certainly the high level radioactive waste, need cooling. If something God forbid goes wrong you’ll see a worst case scenario. You’ll see what happened at Fukushima. Within eight hours you’ll see hydrogen buildup, hydrogen explosion. You’ll then see significant loss of cooling. If the backup diesel generators don’t run within a day or two, you could well see meltdown. The worst case prognosis is very grave.


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Call by scientists against a new nuclear program/

Appel de scientifiques contre un nouveau programme nucléaire

JUIN 2023

JUNE 2023

On February 11, 1975, in the columns of the daily newspaper Le Monde, 400 scientists urged the French population to refuse the installation of nuclear power stations, “until there is a clear awareness of the risks and consequences”. Recalling the potentially appalling nature of a nuclear accident, they noted that “the problem of waste is treated lightly”, and that “systematically, our leaders minimize risks, hide the possible consequences, and try to reassure us”.

The relevance of this call, which could be repeated almost word for word today, has been largely confirmed in recent decades:

  • Presented at the time as impossible, several serious or major accidents have occurred, leading to massive releases of radioactive materials. They affected reactor cores  (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima) as well as radioactive waste repositories or fuel plants (Mayak, Tokaimura, WIPP, Asse).
  • Vast geographical areas have thus been rendered toxic to all living beings. Radiation and radioactive contamination continue to claim many victims, including around installations in “normal” operation.
  • According to official statistics, the nuclear industry in France has produced more than 2 million tons of radioactive waste, including 200,000 tons of waste that remains dangerous over long periods. Furthermore, this account excludes both the tailings waste abandoned abroad, as well as the “materials” intended for hypothetical reuse (spent fuel, depleted uranium, reprocessed uranium …).
  • The dismantling of reactors and clean up of polluted sites, that has barely begun, promises to be excessively long and costly, thus further aggravating the waste toll.

It is clear that after half a century of industrial development, we still have not mastered the dangers of the atom, and have only postponed problems that were foreseen a long time ago.

However, with neither a real democratic debate, nor a serious assessment of past choices and the options available today, our leaders are preparing to relaunch a program of construction of new nuclear power stations. Under the pretext of the climate emergency, but on the basis of truncated, simplistic, even grossly erroneous arguments, lobbyists with significant media influence are working to organize amnesia of nuclear disasters and revise history.

Remember that, to store only a fraction of the most dangerous waste produced to date in France, we are preparing to dig 300 km of tunnels under a site of 29 km2, for a cost provisionally estimated at between 25 and 35 billion euros, and this without certainty as to the durability of this repository at the required geological scales, of the order of at least 100,000 years.

Remember that the consequences of major accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima cannot be reduced to a small number of “official” deaths. The fact that a serious health and economic assessment of the Chernobyl drama has still not been established should challenge any scientific mind. A wide range of morbidities affect the inhabitants of the contaminated territories. Degraded living conditions, impoverishment and stigmatization will be their lot for centuries.

Two major recent news items should alert us more than ever: accelerating climate change, and the war in Ukraine. The scarcity of fresh water and the reduction in the flow of rivers (essential for cooling reactors) linked to a soon-to-be chronic drought in France, the risks of flooding of coastal areas due to the rise in sea levels, as well as the increasing frequency of extreme climate events, will all make the operation of nuclear facilities very problematic. Betting on new reactors, the first of which would at best be commissioned in 2037, will in no way enable us to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions today, as the climate emergency demands. Moreover, beyond the horrors of war, the vulnerability of the Zaporizhia power plant threatens the whole of Europe. In such a context of geopolitical instability, how are we going to guarantee the eternal peace needed by nuclear power?

In the immediate future, the industrial and financial efforts that this new program would require, would for a long time monopolize the financial and human resources necessary to face the combined challenges of the climate crisis, the collapse of biodiversity, generalized pollution and resource depletion. In fact, the nuclear power system is inseparable from an economic model based on productivism, consumerism and waste, which must be reviewed as a matter of priority.

Today, any criticism of nuclear technology – subject to both industrial and military secrecy – has become extremely difficult within French schools, laboratories and research institutes, all of which are linked to the nuclear establishment. Furthermore, the engineering sciences do not have a monopoly on knowledge or the legitimacy to decide our future. The earth and life sciences, health sciences, social and economic sciences, the humanities, as well as arts and letters, produce surveys, analyses and counter-narratives without which we would know nothing today of the true consequences of atomic energy on societies, living environments and populations, both human and nonhuman.

This is why we, women and men, scientists, doctors, teachers, engineers, academics and researchers launch this call to refuse any new nuclear program. We oppose the decision that has been imposed on us, and that would commit our future for the very long term. We insist on the need to develop, in a democratic and decentralized process, based on local needs, new breakthrough proposals for energy policy based on sobriety, the energy transition, and ecological justice.

Original text/sign the call


Le 11 Février 1975 dans les colonnes du Monde, 400 scientifiques invitaient la population française à refuser l’installation des centrales nucléaires « tant qu’elle n’aura pas une claire conscience des risques et des conséquences ». Rappelant le caractère potentiellement effroyable d’un accident nucléaire, ils constataient que « le problème des déchets est traité avec légèreté », et que : « systématiquement, on minimise les risques, on cache les conséquences possibles, on rassure ».

La pertinence de cet appel, qui pourrait être repris quasiment mot pour mot aujourd’hui, a été largement confirmée dans les dernières décennies :

  • Présentés à l’époque comme impossibles, les accidents graves ou majeurs se sont multipliés, entraînant des rejets massifs de matières radioactives. Ils ont touché aussi bien des cœurs de réacteurs (Three Mile Island, Tchernobyl, Fukushima) que des dépôts de déchets radioactifs ou des usines de combustible (Mayak, Tokaimura, WIPP, Asse).
  • De vastes zones géographiques ont été ainsi rendues toxiques pour tous les êtres vivants et les irradiations et les contaminations radioactives continuent de faire de nombreuses victimes, y compris autour des installations en fonctionnement « normal ».
  • L’industrie du nucléaire a officiellement accumulé en France plus de 2 millions de tonnes de déchets radioactifs, dont 200 000 tonnes dangereuses sur de longues périodes, un volume très sous estimé qui ne comptabilise ni les stériles et déchets miniers abandonnés à l’étranger, ni les « matières » destinées à un hypothétique réemploi (combustibles usés, uranium appauvri, uranium de retraitement…).
  • Le démantèlement et la dépollution des sites déjà contaminés sont à peine engagés, s’annoncent excessivement longs et coûteux, et vont encore aggraver le bilan des déchets.

Force est de constater qu’après un demi-siècle de développement industriel, nous ne maîtrisons toujours pas les dangers de l’atome, et n’avons fait que repousser des problèmes annoncés de longue date.

Pourtant, hors de tout débat démocratique, et sans avoir procédé à un réel bilan des choix passés et des options qui s’offrent aujourd’hui, nos gouvernants s’apprêtent à relancer un nouveau programme électronucléaire. Sous prétexte d’urgence climatique, et sur la base d’arguments tronqués, simplistes, voire lourdement erronés, des lobbyistes disposant d’importants relais médiatiques s’emploient à organiser l’amnésie.

Rappelons que, pour stocker une fraction seulement des déchets les plus dangereux produits à ce jour en France, déchets qui selon certains « tiendraient dans une piscine olympique », on s’apprête à creuser 300 km de galeries sous un site de 29 km2, pour un coût provisoirement estimé entre 25 et 35 milliards d’euros, et ce, sans certitude sur la durabilité de ce stockage aux échelles géologiques requises, de l’ordre d’au moins 100 000 ans.

Rappelons que les conséquences d’accidents majeurs tels que Tchernobyl et Fukushima ne peuvent se réduire à un petit nombre de morts « officiels ». Le fait qu’un bilan sanitaire et économique sérieux du drame de Tchernobyl ne soit toujours pas établi devrait interpeller tout esprit scientifique. Un large éventail de morbidités affecte les habitants des territoires contaminés : conditions de vie dégradées, paupérisation et stigmatisation seront leur lot pour des siècles.

Deux faits majeurs de notre actualité devraient plus que jamais nous alerter : le dérèglement climatique qui s’accélère, et la guerre en Ukraine. La raréfaction de l’eau douce et la réduction du débit des fleuves liés à une sécheresse bientôt chronique en France, tout autant que les risques de submersion des zones côtières dûs à l’élévation du niveau des océans et à la multiplication d’évènements climatiques extrêmes vont rendre très problématique l’exploitation des installations nucléaires. Miser sur de nouveaux réacteurs dont le premier serait au mieux mis en service en 2037 ne permettra en rien de réduire dès aujourd’hui et drastiquement nos émissions de gaz à effet de serre, comme l’urgence climatique l’exige. Par ailleurs, au-delà des horreurs de la guerre, la vulnérabilité de la centrale de Zaporijia menace l’Europe entière. Dans un tel contexte d’instabilité géopolitique, comment allons nous garantir la paix éternelle requise par le nucléaire ?

Dans l’immédiat, l’effort industriel et financier que représenterait ce nouveau programme détournerait pour longtemps les moyens nécessaires pour affronter les défis conjugués de la crise climatique, de l’effondrement du vivant, des pollutions généralisées et de l’épuisement des ressources. Le système électronucléaire est au contraire indissociable d’un modèle économique basé sur le productivisme et le gaspillage, qui doit prioritairement être revu.

Aujourd’hui, toute critique de la technologie nucléaire, soumise au double secret industriel et militaire, est devenue extrêmement difficile au sein des écoles, laboratoires et instituts qui lui sont liés. Mais les sciences de l’ingénieur n’ont le monopole ni du savoir ni de la légitimité pour décider de notre avenir. Les sciences de la terre et du vivant, de la santé, les sciences sociales et économiques, les humanités et les lettres produisent des enquêtes, des analyses et des contre-récits sans lesquels nous ne saurions rien aujourd’hui des véritables conséquences de l’atome sur les sociétés, les milieux de vie et les populations, humaines et autres qu’humaines.

C’est pourquoi nous, femmes et hommes scientifiques, médecins, enseignants, ingénieurs, universitaires et chercheurs lançons cet appel à refuser tout nouveau programme nucléaire. A un choix imposé qui engagerait notre avenir sur le très long terme, nous opposons la nécessité d’élaborer démocratiquement et de manière décentralisée, à partir des territoires et des besoins, des propositions de rupture pour des politiques de sobriété, de transition énergétique, et de justice écologique.

texte original/signez l’appel

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東電が謝罪 取り返しつかない被害viaしんぶん赤旗









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How America’s Push for the Atomic Bomb Spawned Enduring Radioactive Waste Problems in St. Louis via Associated Press

Michael Phillis and Jim Salter/Associated Press

The federal government and companies responsible for nuclear bomb production and atomic waste storage sites in the St. Louis area in the mid-20th century were aware of health risks, spills, improperly stored contaminants and other problems but often ignored them, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Decades later, even with much of the cleanup complete, the aftereffects haunt the region. Federal health investigators have found an increased cancer risk for some people who, as children, played in a creek contaminated with uranium waste. A grade school closed last year amid radiation concerns. A landfill operator is spending millions to keep underground smoldering from reaching nuclear waste illegally dumped in the 1970s.

The AP examined hundreds of pages of internal memos, inspection reports and other items dating to the early 1950s, and found nonchalance and indifference to the risks of materials used in the development of nuclear weapons during and after World War II.

This story is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Missouri Independent, the nonprofit newsroom MuckRock and The Associated Press. The government documents were obtained by outside researchers through the Freedom of Information Act and shared with the news organizations.

Consider a 1966 government inspection report on a site in St. Louis County, which noted that “in a number of places along the roadway” material that later tested positive for radioactivity “appeared to have fallen from vehicles.”

A follow-up inspection three months later found the material was still sitting on the road. The company, Continental Mining and Milling Co., said it was having trouble with the contractor — a lone man who used a shovel and broom to pick up the atomic waste and put it in a pickup truck.

The company was not penalized.

The AP review didn’t uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing. What it did find were repeated instances where companies, contractors or the government could have addressed significant problems but didn’t.

Dawn Chapman of the activist group Just Moms STL — a group pushing for cleanup and federal buyouts in an area near the airport — said the region “saved our country” with its work on the nuclear program but paid a terrible cost.

“We are a national sacrifice zone,” she said.


St. Louis was part of a geographically scattered national effort to build a nuclear bomb that was tested in New Mexico. Much of the work in the St. Louis area involved uranium, where Mallinckrodt Chemical Co. was a major processor of the element into a concentrated form that could be further refined elsewhere into the material that made it into weapons.

“This is an enterprise of heavy industry,” said Gwendolyn Verhoff, a historian at St. Louis Community College.

Just months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Mallinckrodt began processing uranium near downtown. In 1946, the government bought land near the airport and began trucking nuclear waste from the Mallinckrodt facility.

Meanwhile, starting in 1941, the government began making explosives at a new plant in Weldon Spring. Production there ended in 1945, but not before soil, sediments and some springs were contaminated.

In 1957, the Atomic Energy Commission opened a plant in Weldon Spring and Mallinckrodt moved its uranium processing there. Radioactive waste contaminated the area, including a large quarry that eventually became a Superfund cleanup site in 1987. The rest of the Weldon Spring site was added two years later.

Alison Carrick, co-director of “The First Secret City,” a documentary about the region’s nuclear history, said after the war some companies thought that byproducts of the radioactive material could be sold.

But that didn’t work. So the waste moved to new sites, contaminating more land, near more people.

In 1966, the Atomic Energy Commission demolished and buried buildings at the airport site. Continental Mining and Milling Co. moved the waste to 9200 Latty Ave. in nearby Bridgeton, piling it in a heap, the commission said at the time. Radioactive barrels lay outside the fence. Storage was so haphazard that even the path to the site was contaminated by trucks that spread waste on their hauls from 1966 to 1969.

Tons of that nuclear waste flowed into Coldwater Creek, contaminating the often-flooding waterway and adjacent yards for 14 miles, state and federal investigators determined.

In 1973, the uranium processor Cotter Corp. took hazardous leached barium sulfate from Latty Avenue to the West Lake Landfill, also in Bridgeton. The material contained uranium residue.

The government cleanup of Weldon Spring is complete, but the site is considered permanently damaged and will require oversight into perpetuity. Rather than remove the waste, the government built a 75-foot-tall mound, covered in rock, to serve as a permanent disposal cell for much of the waste. The government said the site is safe, but some local residents still worry. About 5,300 people live in Weldon Spring, but tens of thousands more live within a few miles in neighboring O’Fallon.

Federal officials plan to remove some of the waste at West Lake Landfill and cap the rest. Cleanup of Coldwater Creek is far along, but isn’t expected to finish until 2038. Cleanup efforts have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion, and millions more will be needed to finish the job.

The AEC, historically responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons program, was abolished in the 1970s, in no small part because of public criticism of its handling of nuclear safety. The Department of Energy is now responsible for overseeing the country’s nuclear weapons and waste. The department has publicly detailed the environmental damage earlier waste mismanagement caused to people and the environment. Now, the Army Corps of Engineers handles cleanup at several former nuclear program sites, including in St. Louis.



Less than a year after victory in World War II, Winston Churchill traveled to a small Missouri town and announced a turning point in history: an “iron curtain” had descended on Europe. The brutality of global war quickly transitioned to a dangerous standoff with the Soviet Union. In America’s push for nuclear dominance, across the St. Louis region, when harmful waste was dumped, officials were indifferent to the hazards posed by materials that were so vital for the nuclear program.

The focus was on speed and secrecy. The environment was secondary.

Take a March 17, 1953, memo from Merril Eisenbud, health and safety division director for the Atomic Energy Commission, concerning a barium cake spill that left a half-mile of road, its shoulder and part of a corn field with nuclear contamination. Eisenbud wrote that in his opinion “no emergency existed.”

“A decision as to what action to take will undoubtedly involve a balance between costs, potential risks, public relations aspects,” Eisenbud said.

In a May 27, 1966, memo from a senior radiation specialist for the Atomic Energy Commission, it was noted that at Continental, an inspector found a pile of uranium material 30 feet wide, 100 feet long and nearly 8 feet high that was not in a secure area behind fencing and a locked gate, as the contract required. About 100 barrels of “miscellaneous residues” also were found outside the fenced area.

An on-site manager said he was unfamiliar with the storage requirements, the inspector wrote. When he turned to the company’s vice president in Chicago, he got nowhere.

The vice president “immediately submitted that most of what the inspector was talking about was not understood,” the memo stated. “He went on to explain that he had taken over as Executive Vice President of CMM as a protection of the money invested by a number of individuals.”

Continental was not penalized.

It wasn’t just in St. Louis. At the arid Los Alamos site in New Mexico where weapons were developed, for example, waste was thrown into nearby canyons.

Handling waste “was shielded from any greater public oversight or attention,” Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told AP. Environmental standards at the time were looser and the program’s secrecy allowed bad practices to continue for too long, he said.

Workers received some protection but health risks were in some cases ignored or written off.

Another 1966 report noted that Continental used the Nuclear Consultant Corp.’s field badge service to track radiation exposure among workers. The report found radiation levels so high for some workers that some at the company doubted the results.

“They did not see how people could be getting that much exposure,” it stated.

The memo showed no evidence that any action was taken.


Efforts to force cleanup have been led largely by women who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Denise Brock’s father worked for years at Mallinckrodt. When he had cancer when she was young, she would sometimes stay home from school to help care for him. He died in 1978.

When Brock learned in 2001 that former Mallinckrodt workers with certain types of cancer were eligible for federal compensation, her effort to help her mother get payment grew into an activist role. In 2003, she founded the United Nuclear Weapons Workers in her home, and worked with others to convince federal lawmakers to make it easier for thousands of former workers to get compensation for their illnesses.

Brock’s prodding led the government to begin offering up to $400,000 to those who worked at nuclear facilities across the country who developed certain cancers, or their survivors. Over the past two decades, the government has paid out $23 billion.


While nuclear workers had direct exposure, people who live near contamination sites worry about uncertainty. Many who grew up in the area weren’t told about the risks for decades.

In 2007, Chapman and Karen Nickel were so concerned about cancer and other unusual illnesses in their St. Louis County neighborhoods that they formed Just Moms STL.

In 2019, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued a report that found people who regularly played in Coldwater Creek as children from the 1960s to the 1990s may have a slight increased risk of bone cancer, lung cancer and leukemia. The agency determined that those exposed daily to the creek starting in the 2000s, when cleanup began, could have a small increased risk of lung cancer.

Some experts are skeptical. Tim Jorgensen, a professor of radiation medicine at Georgetown University, said the biggest risk factor for cancer is age and local radiation’s contribution would be so low as to be hard to detect, he said.

“The public also tends to overestimate the risk of radiation-induced cancer,” Jorgensen said.

The government’s sloppy handling of nuclear contamination over decades has understandably made people doubt official promises that conditions are safe now, said Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear expert and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

“There is zero trust,” he said.

People in the St. Louis area are concerned that more illnesses are caused by the contamination and some are pushing for legislation to compensate those who are sick. Others have sued those responsible for the waste.


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‘We deserve better’: Residents demand action to extend radiation exposure compensation via Las Vegas Review-Journal

By David Wilson Las Vegas Review-Journal

Sheron Carter’s brother and grandfather died from cancer after working at the Nevada Test Site.

Three years ago, the 66-year-old Las Vegas native was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, she’s demanding lawmakers take action to compensate herself and her family for the fallout from years of nuclear testing.

“It has destroyed families,” Carter said.

On Saturday afternoon, Carter was one of about 30 people who attended an information session at the West Las Vegas Library focused on a federal compensation law that is set to expire next year.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act passed in 1990 and provides compensation to individuals and their families who lived downwind of nuclear tests, test-site participants and uranium industry workers.

Under current law, White Pine, Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye and northeast portions of Clark County are considered downwind areas. Those who contracted certain diseases and lived in those areas during a specific time period can apply for compensation. Downwinders can receive $50,000, on-site participants $75,000 and uranium industry employees $100,000.

A two-year extension of the law passed last year, meaning the law is due to sunset on June 10, 2024.

Of the approximately 200 above-ground nuclear tests done in the United States, about 100 were done at the Nevada site, starting in 1951. The facility is located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, with the government town of Mercury at the main entrance.

Carter recalled her mother hosing down the lawn because of radiation and having to stay inside — sometimes all day — after a nuclear test.


Three bills proposed

Dr. Laura Shaw, an investigator with the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program and the Nevada Test Site Screening Program, provided updates with her team Saturday and answered questions about bills that were introduced in Congress this year.

Three bills have been introduced in 2023 to extend or amend existing law, but none have been brought before a committee.

H.R. 1751 expands downwind areas to include all parts of Clark County and Mohave County in Arizona.

It was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March.

S. 1751 has been co-sponsored by 14 senators, including Sen. Jacky Rosen. This would extend the RECA deadline by 19 years after its enactment. It would expand the covered area to include Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Guam, as well as all of Nevada, Utah and Arizona. If passed, the bill would reduce the physical presence requirement for those exposed from two years to one year. The compensation would increase to $150,000 and provide medical benefits.

H.R. 3497 would expand the eligible time period for uranium industry workers from 1971 to 1978, and extend the RECA program for years, including for downwinders and on-site workers.

‘Fallout does not go away’

Shaw said not only would compensation end if the law expires, but the free medical screenings offered by UNLV and other grant-funded programs would end as well.

A misconception about nuclear fallout, Shaw said, is that it only impacted people in the immediate aftermath of a test.

“That fallout does not go away. That fallout spreads: People are inhaling it, increasing their risk of lung cancer,” Shaw said. “They’re drinking the milk from the cows that fed on the grass that has fallout. That fallout, 30 percent of that, is still here.”

Scott Bunn, 63, lives in Reno and attended Saturday’s event with his wife, Debra. Bunn worked on the test site between 1979 and 1983. In 2018, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and plasmacytoma.

“We feel that it’s certainly unfair to end this program,” he said. “It should be increased if anything.”

Bunn received medical benefits and compensation through the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, also known as EEOICPA.

Current laws allows individuals affected by radiation exposure or their families to receive money from either RECA or EEOICPA.

Bunn said it would be unfair for RECA to expire in a year because there are on-site participants who have not yet developed cancer or other diseases as a result of radiation exposure.

“It needs to be updated because when it started, 50 grand was a lot of money and it got you a long way, but now it’s not,” Bunn said.

For free assistance in filing compensation claims or to schedule a medical screening, call 702-992-6887 or email nevadaresep@medicine.unlv.edu.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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Red alert at Zaporizhzhia? via Beyond Nuclear International

The threatened deadly scenarios could not happen at a wind farm

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Amidst accusations from both the Russian and Ukrainian sides that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine has been wired for detonation or could be deliberately attacked during the current war there, one absolute truth remains: nuclear power plants are inherently dangerous. 


Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe with at least 2,204 tons of highly radioactive waste within the reactors and the irradiated fuel pools. 

Depending on the severity of what transpires, any or all of this radioactive fuel could be ignited.

Amidst the confusion and unreliability of any pronouncements uttered through the “fog of war”, there remain several unanswered questions that have led to heightened rumor and speculation:

Has the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in fact been wired for detonation and whose interests would be served by blowing up the plant? 

Why is there an exodus of both Russian and Ukrainian plant personnel? 

Will the sabotage of the downstream Kakhovka dam that resulted in catastrophic flooding, also lead to an equally catastrophic loss of available cooling water supplies for the reactors and fuel pools? 

Will the backup diesel generators, frequently turned to for powering the essential cooling each time the plant has lost connection to the electricity grid, last through each crisis, given their fuel must also be replenished, potentially not possible under war conditions?

None of these threats would make headlines if Zaporizhzhia was instead home to a wind farm or utility scale solar array. This perhaps explains the rush now to downplay the gravity of the situation, with claims in the press that a major attack on the plant would “not be as bad as Chornobyl” and that radioactive releases would be minimal and barely travel beyond the fence line.

This is an irresponsible dismissal of the real dangers. The measured assessment of Dr. Edwin Lyman at the Union of Concerned Scientists confirms that an attack on Zaporizhzhia could indeed be catastrophic.

The graphite moderator used at Chornobyl undeniably worsened the outcome of that explosion and its aftermath. The graphite fueled the fire and the smoke further suspended what became the radioactive fallout that traveled far and wide across the former Soviet Union and all of Europe.

The part played by the graphite moderator in increasing the severity of the Chornobyl disaster has led to an assumption that major fires and explosions at Zaporizhzhia would result in less serious consequences, given the reactors are not of the same design. All six at Zaporizhzhia are Russian VVERs, similar to the Pressurized Water Reactor used here in the United States. (Chornobyl was the older RBMK.)

However, while Zaporizhzhia may be a less primitive design, it is not harmless. (Absurdly, these 1980s reactors are described in the press as “more modern.”)

If the uranium fuel in the Zaporizhzhia reactors or irradiated fuel storage pools overheats and ignites, it could then heat up the zirconium cladding around it, which would ignite and burn fiercely as a flare at temperatures too hot to extinguish with water. 

The resulting chemical reaction would also generate an explosive environment. The heat of the release and any subsequent detonations could breach concrete structures, then loft radioactive gas and fallout into the environment to travel on the weather. 

Radioactive fallout could contaminate crucial agricultural land in Ukraine and potentially also in Russia should prevailing winds travel eastward at the time of the disaster. As we have learned from the Chornobyl fallout, this is an enduring harm that enters the food chain and human bodies and remains harmful in the environment indefinitely, as exemplified by the 1,000 square mile Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.

Who then consumes that food is also of critical importance. While Europe allows an already too high 600 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of radioactive cesium in food, contaminated food supplies from Ukraine that read at higher levels after a nuclear disaster could be exported to countries with even weaker standards, including the US where the limit is an unacceptable 1200 Bq/kg. But will those consuming such foodstuffs be counted among the victims of such a nuclear disaster? Likely not.

The true numbers of those harmed by the Chornobyl disaster will never be known due to institutional suppression and misrepresentation of the numbers and the absence of record-keeping in the former Soviet countries affected. Therefore, to suggest that a major nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia would be “not nearly as bad as Chornobyl” is too broad and speculative without looking at the specifics.

Those specifics depend on whether the disaster involves hydrogen explosions such as happened at Fukushima, or fires resulting from a bombing raid or missile attack, which could disperse more radioactivity further. It would also depend on whether all six reactors suffered catastrophic failures, whether all of the fuel pools were drained and caught fire and whether the storage casks were breached.

It would further depend on which way the wind was blowing, and if, when and where it subsequently rained out a radioactive plume, all factors that influenced where the Chornobyl radioactive fallout was deposited.

If Zaporizhzhia comes to harm, each side in the conflict will almost certainly hold the other responsible. But ultimately, the responsibility we all share is to reject the continued use of a technology that has the potential to wreak such disastrous consequences on humanity.

Nuclear power is the most dangerous way to boil water. It is unnecessary, expensive, and an obstacle to renewable energy development. It is intrinsically tied to the desire for — and development of  — nuclear weapons, the use of which could be the other lethal outcome in this war.

Zaporizhzhia is in the news almost every day. The propaganda may be deliberately alarmist, but the basis for the alarm is very real or it would not be in the headlines in the first place. 

It is time to see sense. Calling for a no-fire zone around Zaporizhzhia is not enough. We must call for no nuclear power at all.

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< What to know about Japan's plan to dump waste water into the ocean via NPR

July 9, 20238:00 AM ET



The International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday approved Japan’s plan to release over 1 million tons of treated nuclear wastewater from a nuclear plant. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station was destroyed in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated much of the country’s east coast in 2011. But the plan to dump the contaminated water into the ocean later this summer faces a lot of domestic and international opposition. Bob Richmond is a research professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is the director of Kewalo Marine Laboratory. Welcome to the show.

BOB RICHMOND: Thanks very much, Ayesha. I appreciate the opportunity.

RASCOE: OK, so the IAEA says that the plan is sound because it went through a two-year assessment period and that the release of the water will have, quote, “negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.” So should that reassure people who are worried about this plan?

RICHMOND: For me and a number of my colleagues, our answer is at this point, we’re not convinced. We’re not saying that there’s no way, but we are saying because we’re scientists and data driven, that there are insufficient data to be able to demonstrate the feeling that this is going to be safe. And I really should take a moment to clarify, the International Atomic Energy Agency – their job is to see that their plan adheres to standards, and adhering to standards is not the same thing as guaranteeing safety.

RASCOE: What are the specific concerns that you have?

RICHMOND: There are missing data on a number of the radionuclides of greatest concern. There’s a lot of discussion of one in particular, tritium, that’s coming out in the – what we call tritiated water from the cooling. And so I agree. I’ve been in animated discussions with nuclear chemists and nuclear physicists saying if you calculate the concentration of radionuclides and the volume of the Pacific Ocean, the dilution is great and it’s going to be tiny. And that’s where the opinion that IAEA presented was they feel that the effects would be negligible. Dilution is a chemical process. You can calculate it out, and if the ocean was a sterile vessel, it would work. But it’s not. You have phytoplankton at the bottom of the food web, microscopic algae that photosynthesize. They pick up a number of the radionuclides, notably tritium and carbon-14. And so these can be taken up, and then they can be passed through the food web to other organisms, and a number of radionuclides can be bioaccumulated. And this is a pathway for which it can get into people through seafood.

RASCOE: So do we know then how the release of the wastewater will have an impact over the next 30 or 40 years on marine life?

RICHMOND: Yeah. So we don’t want to be alarmist and, you know, scare people to say that, you know, the world’s going to end and don’t eat anything from the ocean. That’s not the case. It is interesting to note that as we understand and we’ve been studying, this is very much what’s called a transboundary issue. The water release is going to occur a kilometer offshore from Fukushima, but it’s not going to stay in Japan’s waters. It’s going to spread throughout the Pacific through ocean currents – also through organisms like fish, tuna, others. So we know it will move across biologically. And interestingly enough, radionuclides can even adhere to plastics, particularly PET. When I talked to the physicist and the chemist, they say, well, we’re assuming everything is going to go well. If you look at the history of how we got here, I think the assumption that everything is going to go to plan is one that has to be clearly evaluated, and I don’t think that will be the case.

RASCOE: Has this been done before, this sort of release?

RICHMOND: There are categories for nuclear disasters from 1 to 7. There have only been two No. 7s. The first was Chernobyl, and then the second one was Fukushima. So this was about a tenth of what happened at Chernobyl. What’s different about Fukushima is this is primarily marine release. So in answer to your question, this is not a normal operation, but challenges are also opportunities. And this is an opportunity for Japan and the IAEA to provide forward-thinking leadership and do a far better job.

RASCOE: China said on Thursday that it’s banning seafood imports from 10 regions in Japan, including Fukushima. Is that valid, or is that too far, to start banning seafood imports?

RICHMOND: Yeah, for me, again, I’m data driven. And, you know, you pointed out the timeline. This is supposed to go on for over 30 years. And so not only is this a transboundary issue, but it’s a transgenerational issue. That’s a concern because many of the problems won’t show up immediately. And once it does show up, you’re not going to get the genie back in the bottle. So, you know, should there be concern? Absolutely. Are there data missing to answer these fundamental questions? Yes. Do we know that radionuclides like cesium and strontium have been picked up already by sea life? The answer is yes. Levels have been very low. So, again, I don’t want to overstate the issue, but, you know, as an environmental biologist, I strongly adhere to what’s called the precautionary principle. In the absence of data showing something is safe, you don’t assume that it’s safe. You rather put in those protective measures to be very conservative.

RASCOE: Japanese authorities are saying that in order to move ahead with decommissioning the damaged plant, they have to get rid of the water. What are the alternatives to dumping it into the ocean?

RICHMOND: We strongly recommended that they evaluate the use of putting that water into concrete to be used on-site and around that area. And it was everything from deflection to denial. And our concern – once again, me as a marine biologist – is the health of the oceans and the people who depend on it. We need to step away from continuing to use the ocean as the ultimate dumping ground for everything we don’t want on land. And this is a really good place to start.


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