福島原発避難者の支援手薄 「安心情報だけ提供」と批判via Kyodo (Yahoo!ニュースJapan)

 国連人権理事会に任命され、東京電力福島第1原発事故の避難者の実態を調査した専門家が、日本政府に対し「放射線に関して安心できる情報だけを提供し、避難者より帰還した人に手厚い支援を行うことは国際法の基準に反する」と指摘した最終調査報告をまとめたことが25日、分かった。7月4日にも人権理へ正式に提出される。  国内避難民の権利担当の特別報告者だったセシリア・ヒメネスダマリー氏が昨年9~10月、来日して調査した。人権理会合では、当事国の日本や各国から報告書の内容に対する意見や質問が出され、ヒメネスダマリー氏が回答する予定。  共同通信が入手した報告書は、事故後、政府が「差し迫った危険はない」と市民に強調し、事態の深刻さを軽視したと批判。詳しい説明に消極的で、矛盾するメッセージを伝えることもあったことから、市民は自分で避難するか決断せざるを得なかったとの見方を示した。放射線に関する政府の情報への信頼は失墜したと指摘し、科学に基づいた中立的な情報を提供するよう促した。(共同)

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‘Exploring Tritium’s Danger’: a book review by Robert Alvarez via the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Over the past 40 years, Arjun Makhijani has provided clear, concise, and important scientific insights that have enriched our understanding of the nuclear age. In doing so, Makhijani—now president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research—has built a solid reputation as a scientist working in the public interest. His most recent contribution to public discourse, Exploring Tritium’s Dangers, adds to this fine tradition.

A radioactive isotope of hydrogen, tritium is one the most expensive, rare, and potentially harmful elements in the world. Its rarity is underscored by its price—$30,000 per gram—which is projected to rise from $100,000 to $200,000 per gram by mid-century.

Although its rarity and usefulness in some applications gives it a high monetary value, tritium is also a radioactive contaminant that has been released widely to the air and water from nuclear power and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plants. Makhijani points out that “one teaspoon of tritiated water (as HTO) would contaminate about 100 billion gallons of water to the US drinking water limit; that is enough to supply about 1 million homes with water for a year.”

Where tritium comes from. Since Earth began to form, the radioactive isotope of hydrogen known as tritium (H-3) has been created by interactions between cosmic rays and Earth’s atmosphere; through this natural process, the isotope continues to blanket the planet in tiny amounts. With a radioactive half-life of 12.3 years, tritium falls from the sky and decays, creating a steady-state global equilibrium that comes to about three to seven kilograms of tritium.

Tritium initially became a widespread man-made contaminant when it was spread across the globe by open-air nuclear weapons explosions conducted between 1945 and 1963. Rainfall in 1963 was found in the Northern Hemisphere to contain 1,000 times more tritium than background levels. Open-air nuclear weapons explosions released about 600 kilograms (6 billion curies) into the atmosphere. In the decades since above-ground nuclear testing ended, nuclear power plants have added even more to the planet’s inventory of tritium. For several years, US power reactors have been contaminating ground water via large, unexpected tritium leaks from degraded subsurface piping and spent nuclear fuel storage pool infrastructures.

Since the 1990s, about 70 percent of the nuclear power sites in the United States (43 out of 61 sites) have had significant tritium leaks that contaminated groundwater in excess of federal drinking water limits.

The most recent leak occurred in November 2022, involving 400,000 gallons of tritium-contaminated water from the Monticello nuclear station in Minnesota. The leak was kept from the public for several months. In late March of this year, after the operator could not stop the leak, it was forced to shut down the reactor to fix and replace piping. By this time, tritium reached the groundwater that enters the Mississippi River. A good place to start limiting the negative effects of tritium contamination, Makhijani recommends, is to significantly tighten drinking water standards.

Routine releases of airborne tritium are also not trivial. As part of his well-researched monograph, Makhijani underscores this point by including a detailed atmospheric dispersion study that he commissioned, indicating that tritium (HTO) from the Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant in Illinois has been literally raining down from gaseous releases – as it incorporates with precipitation to form tritium oxide (HTO)—something that occurs at water cooled reactors. Spent fuel storage pools are considered the largest source of gaseous tritium releases.

The largely unacknowledged health effects. Makhijani makes it clear that the impacts of tritium on human health, especially when it is taken inside the body, warrant much more attention and control than they have received until now. This is not an easy problem to contend with, given the scattered and fragmented efforts that are in place to address this hazard. Thirty-nine states, and nine federal agencies  (the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Agriculture are all responsible for regulating tritium.

This highly scattered regulatory regime has been ineffective at limiting tritium contamination, much less reducing it. For example, state and  federal regulators haven’t a clue as to how many of some two million exit signs purchased in the United States—and made luminous without electric power by tritium—have been illegally dumped.  For decades, tritium signs, each initially containing about 25 curies (or 25,000,000,000,000 pCi) of radioactivity, have found their way into landfills that often contaminate drinking water. One broken sign is enough to contaminate an entire community landfill. There are no standards for tritium in the liquid that leaches from landfills, despite measurements taken in 2009 indicating levels at Pennsylvania landfills thousands of times above background.

Adding to this regulatory mess, is the fact that federal standards limiting tritium in drinking water only apply to public supplies, and not to private wells.

[…]

The NRC and other regulating agencies are sticking to an outdated premise that tritium is a “mild” radioactive contaminant that emits “weak” beta particles that cannot penetrate the outer layers of skin. When tritium is taken inside the body (by, for example, drinking tritiated water), half is quickly excreted within 10 days, the agencies point out, and the radiation doses are tiny. Overall, the NRC implies its risk of tritium ingestion causing cancer is small.

But evidence of harm to workers handling tritium is also growing. Epidemiologists from the University of North Carolina reported in 2013, that the risk of dying from leukemia among workers at the Savannah River Plant following exposure to tritium is more than eight times greater (RBE-8.6) than from exposure to gamma radiation (RBE-1).  Over the past several years, studies of workers exposed to tritium consistently show significant excess levels of chromosome damage.[1]

The contention that tritium is “mildly radioactive” does not hold when it is taken in the body as tritiated water—the dominant means for exposure. The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board—which advises the US Energy Department about safety at the nation’s defense nuclear sites—informed the secretary of energy in June 2019 that “[t]ritiated water vapor represents a significant risk to those exposed to it, as its dose consequence to an exposed individual is 15,000 to 20,000 times higher than that for an equivalent amount of tritium gas.”

As it decays, tritium emits nearly 400 trillion energetic disintegrations per second. William H. McBride, a professor of radiation oncology at the UCLA Medical School, describes these disintegrations as “explosive packages of energy” that are “highly efficient at forming complex, potentially lethal DNA double strand breaks.” McBride, underscored this concern at an event sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, where he stated that “damage to DNA can occur within minutes to hours.” [2]

“No matter how it is taken into the body,” a fact sheet from the Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory says, “tritium is uniformly distributed through all biological fluids within one to two hours.” During that short time, the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board points out that “the combination of a rapid intake and a short biological half-life means a large fraction of the radiological dose is acutely delivered within hours to days…”

A new approach to tritium regulation. Makhijani pulls together impressive evidence clearly pointing to the need for an innovative approach that addresses, in addition to cancer, a range of outcomes that can follow tritium exposure, including prenatal and various forms of genomic damage. In particular, he raises a key point about how physics has dominated radiation protection regulation at the expense of the biological sciences.

It all boils down to estimation of a dose as measured in human urine based on mathematical models. For tritium, dose estimation can be extraordinarily complex (at best) when it is taken inside the body as water or as organically bound, tritide forms. So the mathematical models that can simplify this challenge depend on “constant values” that provide the basis for radiation protection.

In this regard, the principal “constant value” holding dose reconstruction and regulatory compliance together is the reliance on the “reference man.” He is a healthy Caucasian male between the age of 20 to 30 years, who exists only in the abstract world.

Use of the reference man standard gives rise to obvious (and major) questions: What radiation dose limit is necessary to protect the “reference man” from serious genomic damage? And what about protection of more vulnerable forms of human life?

According to the 2006 study by the National Research Council, healthy Caucasian men between the age of 20 and 30 are about one-tenth as likely to contract a radiation-induced cancer as a child exposed to the same external dose of gamma radiation while in the womb.

In his monograph, Makhijani underscores the need to protect the fetus and embryo from internal exposures to tritium—a need largely being side-stepped by radiation protection authorities. “Tritium replaces non-radioactive hydrogen in water, the principal source of tritium exposure,” Makhijani writes, pointing to unassailable evidence that tritium “easily can cross the placenta and irradiate developing fetuses in utero, thereby raising the risk of birth defects, miscarriages, and other problems.”

He is not alone in such an assessment. According a 2022 medical expert consensus report on radiation protection for health care professionals in Europe, “The greatest risk of pregnancy loss from radiation exposure is during the first 2 weeks of pregnancy, while between 2-8 weeks after conception, the embryo is most susceptible to the development of congenital malformations because this is the period of organogenesis.”

In the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s efforts to reduce exposure limits and protect pregnant women and their fetuses is best described as foot-dragging. By comparison, the required limit for a pregnant worker in Europe to be reassigned from further exposure is one-fifth the US standard—and was adopted nearly 20 years ago.

[…]

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[Interview] Japanese lawmaker proposes novel way of storing irradiated Fukushima water via Hankyoreh

Posted on : Jun.21,2023 17:09 KST Modified on : Jun.21,2023 17:09 KST

Calling the sea the world’s “shared asset,” Tomoko Abe, 74, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, has proposed a new alternative for the impending discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean: mixing Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS)-treated water with cement and sand to form a solid, then storing it.The Hankyoreh sat down with Abe, who belongs to the Constitutional Democratic Party and is a member of a bipartisan group advocating for zero nuclear power and 100% renewable energy in Japan, for an interview at the House of Representatives in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 15.During our interview, Abe was critical of the Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying they aren’t conducting in-depth studies on the effects of long-term discharge on the marine environment.She continues to use the phrase “ALPS-treated contaminated water” (hereafter written as contaminated water) because she believes that the water is still contaminated even after treatment.

Hankyoreh: The Japanese government plans to discharge the contaminated water into the sea later this summer once the IAEA issues a final report this month. What do you make of this plan?

Tomoko Abe: This issue is not one that can be resolved by the Japanese government and the IAEA stating that the situation is fine. The sea is our shared asset. We need the understanding of the people who are concerned about the discharge and neighboring countries.The IAEA General Safety Guide (GSG-8) states that “for planned exposure situations, justification is the process of determining whether a practice is, overall, beneficial, i.e. whether the expected benefits to individuals and to society from introducing or continuing the practice outweigh the harm (including radiation detriment) resulting from the practice.”Since the discharge of contaminated water cannot be 100% safe, it has been strongly opposed by Japanese citizens, Korean fishermen, Pacific Island countries, and others. If there are no benefits and only risks, the discharge should be annulled. IAEA hasn’t reviewed this portion at all.

Hankyoreh: TEPCO is arguing that it’s reducing radiation to below legal thresholds with ALPS, and that diluting the unremoved tritium with sea water before dumping it makes it safe.

Abe: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is a nuclear reactor where an accident occurred [in March 2011], so there are all sorts of radioactive materials present in the water, including cesium and strontium. The government has not been doing any testing at all on the total quantities to see how much radioactive material it is dumping into the sea.Even if the radioactive substances have been diluted to below the legal thresholds, we’re still talking about vast quantities of contaminated water, so we can’t ignore the total volumes. The number of nuclides that are measured before discharge has also been reduced from 64 to 30. If we’re going to assess the risks, we need to verify that as much as possible.

Hankyoreh: In connection with the water’s safety, there has also been some debate over the effectiveness of the ALPS system.

Abe: There isn’t enough data to verify the effectiveness of ALPS. When they took samples to analyze the 64 nuclides, they only came from three tanks (K-4, J1-C, and J1-G) out of more than 1,000 where the contaminated water is stored.An even bigger problem is that [an inquiry with TEPCO] found there to be no churning when the samples are taken [to mix them evenly]. The samples were collected from the upper part of the tank, where the radioactive material is less concentrated.That means we can’t trust the data used to verify the effectiveness of ALPS. This is an act of deception.

Hankyoreh: How do you think the contaminated water should be disposed of?Abe: It’s not too late. It is necessary to remove as much radioactive material as possible by running the water multiple times through ALPS, as TEPCO is doing now. Once the radioactive content has been lowered to below the threshold, it should be mixed with cement, sand, and other materials so it can be stored in solid form.If you see what experts are saying, they talk about how that sort of concrete can be reused later on to make things like seawalls. It also obviates the need to keep storing them in the nuclear power plant tanks like we’re doing with the contaminated water.

Hankyoreh: Opinion surveys have shown 60% of the Japanese public supports the discharge of the contaminated water into the ocean.

Abe: The fishers want to preserve the seas, and the opposition from them has been fierce. Polls say that 60% of people are supportive of the move, but not only has correct information not been provided to the people, but the overall mood regarding nuclear power in Japan is shifting. It feels as if we’re going back to before the 2011 earthquake (such as by allowing the use of nuclear plants beyond their 60-year lifespan). The nuclear meltdown is being underplayed, and it’s making people forget the lessons of that day.Moreover, there’s no understanding of how we’re going to protect our marine environments, internationally speaking. I’m talking about more than just tritium — there’s a lack of thought about the contaminated water that’s coming out of the ruined nuclear reactor. Twelve years have passed since the meltdown, but fish that have been contaminated with cesium and other radioactivity continue to be caught. There’s endless biomagnification occurring.

[…]

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Legal challenge against Sizewell C nuclear power plant rejected via The Guardian

A legal challenge against the government’s decision to build the Sizewell C nuclear power plant has been rejected.

The campaign group Together Against Sizewell C (Tasc) had launched a judicial review against the government’s decision to give the green light to the 3.2 gigawatt plant on the Suffolk coast, which is being built by French energy company EDF.

The group said the government had failed to consider alternatives to nuclear power to meet its emissions targets when approving the project. It cited the threat to water supplies in an area officially designated as seriously water-stressed, the threats to coastal areas from the climate crisis, and environmental damage.

[…]

Mr Justice Holgate rejected the group’s challenge against the secretary of state for energy security and net zero in a written ruling at the high court on Thursday. Holgate ruled the government’s decision was in keeping with energy policy intended to achieve “diversity of methods of generation and security of supply”.

He said the judicial review was an attempt to “rewrite the government’s policy aims by pretending that the central policy objective is … to produce clean energy, without any regard to diversity of energy sources and security of supply”.

Tasc said it would continue its campaign and was examining options for how to do so.

Sizewell got the go-ahead from government last year, when the then business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, overruled a verdict from the independent Planning Inspectorate.

The planning body had said that “unless the outstanding water supply strategy can be resolved and sufficient information provided to enable the secretary of state to carry out his obligations under the Habitats Regulations, the case for an order granting development consent for the application is not made out”.

Kwarteng’s decision to override these concerns came against the backdrop of plans to approve one new nuclear reactor a year, under an energy strategy drawn up under the former prime minister Boris Johnson. The strategy envisaged the UK sourcing up to 25% of its projected energy demand from nuclear by 2050.

The Tasc chair, Jenny Kirtley, said: “Naturally, Tasc is disappointed, but this verdict does not signal the end of our efforts. Together with our lawyers we are examining all possible options open to us and can promise our supporters that in one form or another, this campaign will continue.

[…]

Sue Ferns, a senior deputy general secretary of the trade union Prospect, said the ruling “removes one of the blocks” to getting Sizewell C started. “Nuclear must play an important role in our energy mix as we race to net zero. We now need to get on with building Sizewell C, and secure the jobs, economic benefits and clean reliable energy it will bring.”

[…]

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HOLTEC ACCUSED OF “STRONGARMING” UNIONS TO HELP THEIR PLAN FOR HUDSON RIVER NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP via Yonkers Times

By Dan Murphy

Efforts to keep Holtec, the Corporation that is charged with decommissioning Indian Point Power Plant, from dumping one million gallons of nuclear waste in the Hudson River, continue, with a bill to prohibit radiological discharges into the Hudson River expected to be passed in the Assembly this week, and to land on the desk of Governor Kathy Hochul this month.

But Holtec is now on the offensive, pushing back on the narrative that they should not be allowed to dump in the Hudson River, which took Pete Seeger and Robert Kennedy Jr., and many other environmental advocates, decades to clean. Members of several unions packed a recent decommissioning meeting in Buchanan and held protests outside of the office of Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, the sponsor of the bill.

[…]

“I care deeply about all of my constituents, including our local workforce. I have been hearing concerns from three labor unions who are fearful of possible layoffs during the decommissioning of Indian Point. Because I am very concerned about local jobs, I asked multiple questions about the labor implications of different radioactive waste management options during last night’s Decommissioning Oversight Board meeting. I heard repeatedly that there is plenty of work to be done at various points during the decommissioning process. If this is the case, why are workers being told that their jobs are at stake if A7208 passes? This appears to be an attempt to enlist labor in an effort to stifle public discussion of our options,” said Assemblywoman Levenberg.

“If they are confident that the science and evidence unequivocally supports the safety of discharging the water, they should want skeptical members of the public to be able to come in and hear it and be convinced.  Public perception of a polluted, hazardous river will undermine our local economy in various ways, harming property values, business interests, and much more. More than 30 municipalities and thousands of my constituents have reached out to my office to oppose the plan to discharge nuclear waste into the Hudson.”

Members of the Carpenters Union oppose the bill by Levenberg and State Senator Pete Harckham, claiming that it will effectively stop the decommissioning of Indian Point and kill their union jobs as a part of the cleanup.

“This bill may be well intentioned, but it would stop the decommissioning of Indian Point and lead to substantial long-term job losses in the Hudson Valley. The concerns raised by the bill’s sponsors have been addressed, and the EPA has developed environmentally conscious procedures that our members are following closely. A handful of misguided activists from outside our community shouldn’t be allowed to stop a worthy project that is providing critical blue collar jobs,” said Bill Banfield, Assistant to the Executive Secretary-Treasurer, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.

However, finding the connection between stopping Holtec from dumping in the Hudson, to the union jobs for the cleanup on the power plant and surrounding property, is difficult to find. “This is nothing more than Holtec strongarming unions into stopping this bill from passing, and allowing them to dump this Nuclear Waste in the Hudson. This is how a child acts when they don’t get what they want, and their refusal to consider other options is a sign of a corporation that doesn’t care,” said one Westchester environmental leader.

State Sen. Peter Harckham, a sponsor of the bill, called connecting union jobs with toxic dumping a false choice.”Protecting jobs versus protecting our environment and natural resources is a false choice. We need to work together to accomplish both. There are years’ worth of work onsite at Indian Point, and workers should not be treated as hostages while we deal with the challenges of safe decommissioning.”

Another point raised by opponents of the dumping is that if Holtec decides to store the wastewater on site, which would reduce the tritium’s half-life (the radioactive isotope) by 50%, there would be hundreds of new union jobs required to build the waste facilites and the surrounding infrastructure.

Recent supporters of Holtec’s plan to dump include John Ravitz, of the Business Council of Westchester, who penned an Op-Ed, ( https://www.theexaminernews.com/holtecs-planned-release-of-indian-point-water-was-agreed-to-by-all-parties/?) and from Warren Smith, republican candidate for Cortlandt Town Supervisor.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer at his weekly briefing on June 15, said, “If Holtec asserts that there is no method by which the contaminated water can remain on site, they must explain why that is the case…The question that I have to ask is if this water is released in this quantity at this level of pollution, that there will be no harmful effects to this river over the next 50 years? I have no confidence, nor have I seen persuasive data that assures me otherwise….If there is any miscalculation, we are the ones who will pay the price. I support calls for a moratorium to address these issues.”

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‘Truly shocking’: UK has enough plutonium to make almost 20,000 nukes via Nuclear Free Local Authorities

[…]

The 2023 Fissile Material Directory [1] is published in June each year by the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) [2], based at Nagasaki University. RECNA has been established for over twenty years as an educational and research institute at a university that has a medical faculty with a first-hand experience of the horror of nuclear weapons. Its primary goal is achieving a world free from nuclear weapons.

In January, the institute was visited by UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretary Richard Outram, where he met Vice-Director Professor Tatsujiro Suzuki.

The study lists the UK as holding 119.7 tons of plutonium, the second highest stockpile in the world after Russia with 191.5 tons, and 22.6 tons of Highly Enriched Uranium. The plutonium stockpile is said to be sufficient to arm 19,947 atom bombs, like the ‘Fat Man’ bomb dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, whilst the uranium stockpile has the potential to be turned into a further 355 devices comparable to the ‘Little Boy’ bomb dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier.

The Nagasaki bomb is estimated to have killed 35,000 – 40,000 people on the day and the Hiroshima bomb about twice that many.

The UK Government and nuclear industry has conceded in the 2022 UK Radioactive Material Inventory that 113 tons of UK-owned plutonium are currently managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, whilst a further 4 tons are in semi-assembled MOX or other fuel components. An additional 24 tons of foreign-owned plutonium are also held, a further legacy of the costly failure of the UK’s experiment with reprocessing.[3]

Across the world, RECNA estimates that 552 tons of plutonium and 1,260 tons of HEU are held, much of the latter in military hands. These are all deemed to be fissile materials and together could arm 92,000 plutonium bombs like the one used at Nagasaki and almost 20,000 uranium devices like that deployed at Hiroshima.

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities are gravely concerned about the future use of Britain’s plutonium stockpile. In recent weeks, the UK Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have published plans suggesting that some of this material should be used as fuel for a new generation of nuclear reactors.

The NFLA fears that burning plutonium as fuel will simply lead to the creation of more nuclear waste, that such material could be a target for terrorists or hostile state actors, especially in transit, and that these actions could lead to nuclear weapon proliferation. In its response to the government and industry plan the NFLA called for fissile material to be put ‘beyond use’ for all time.[4]

Responding to the RECNA report, Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee, said:

“The data published by RECNA is both astonishing and truly shocking. If only a tiny fraction of Britain’s stockpile of fissile materials ended up in the wrong hands for use by terrorists or in military action then the consequences could be too awful to contemplate. In the UK, and elsewhere in the world, anti-nuclear campaigners need to continue to work together to lobby our respective governments to make these stockpiles safe and beyond use, and the time to do that is now.”

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“Radioactive” is compelling viewing via Beyond Nuclear International

New film spotlights women’s experiences with the Three Mile Island nuclear accident

By Karl Grossman

Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island is the title of a newly-released documentary feature film directed, written and produced by award-winning filmmaker Heidi Hutner, a professor of environmental humanities at Stony Brook University, a “flagship” school of the State University of New York.

With greatly compelling facts and interviews, she and her also highly talented production team have put together a masterpiece of a documentary film.

[…]

Resident after resident of the area around Three Mile Island is interviewed and tells of widespread cancer that has ensued in the years that have followed the accident—a cancer rate far beyond what would be normal. Accounts shared in the documentary are heartbreaking.

A whistleblower who had worked at the nuclear plant tells Hutner of the deliberate and comprehensive attempt by General Public Utilities, which owned TMI, to cover up the gravity of the accident and its radioactive releases, especially of cancer-causing Iodine-131 and Xenon 133.

An attorney, Lynne Bernabei, involved in litigation in the wake of the accident, says the Three Mile Island “cover-up was one of the biggest cover-ups in history.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission which is “supposed to protect the public” has then and since been just “interested in is promoting the [nuclear] industry. This is corrupt,” says attorney Joanne Doroshow, now a professor at New York Law School and director of the Center for Justice & Democracy. Many examples of this are presented.

The documentary’s focus on women includes women being far more at risk to the effects of radioactivity than men. Mary Olson, a biologist, founder, and director of the Gender & Radiation Impact Project, says in the film that those setting radiation standards in the U.S. from the onset of nuclear technology in 1942, based impacts on a “25 to 30 years-old” male “defined as Caucasian.” She said, “It has come to be known as the ‘Reference Man.” However, Olson cites research findings that “radiation is 10 times more harmful to young females” and “50 percent more harmful to a “comparable female” than it is to “Reference Man” who is “more resistant” to radioactivity than a woman.

There’s the scientist Dr. Aaron Datesman, who is now pursuing a major chromosomal study regarding the impact of the disaster on the health of people in the area and how people have been harmed despite the denials of the nuclear industry. This study is based on his recent ground-breaking work, “Radiological Shot Noise,” in Nature.

And more and more.

After the screening of the documentary at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, Long Island, the showing I attended, there was a panel discussion involving Hutner, four women featured in the documentary, and its editor Simeon Hutner, who is also a producer.

The discussion was moderated by Kelly McMasters, author of the memoir, Welcome to Shirley, A Memoir of an Atomic Town, and a professor at Hofstra University on Long Island. McMasters in her book attributes wide-ranging cancer in her Shirley hometown on Long Island to radioactive releases from the three nuclear reactors that operated at the adjacent Brookhaven National Laboratory, reactors that are now shut down.

From the audience, Catherine Skopic of Manhattan, who journeyed to Long Island for the premiere of the documentary in Huntington, said the film “is going to make waves.” She related the link between the TMI accident and contemporary nuclear issues. These included the plan by Holtec International, now the owner of the closed Indian Point nuclear power plants 25 miles north of the city, to “dump a million gallons of radioactive water” into the Hudson River from which “seven communities get their drinking water,” and similar dumping planned in coming months by the Tokyo Electric Power Company from its 2011 accident-struck Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plants into the Pacific Ocean.

Hutner, in speaking about the focus on women in Radioactivity: The Women of Three Mile Island, explains: “Following health and safety disasters, it is often women on the ground fighting back, and over and over throughout nuclear history, these women are gaslighted, silenced, called hysterical and ‘radiophobic.’ The result of such silencing: we lose significant information about nuclear history, science, and health.”

Hutner goes on: “What I have dug up after over 20 years of ecofeminist research is shocking—Dr. Alice Stewart’s research on the danger of X-rays to fetuses in the womb; Rachel Carson’s writing about radiation and bioaccumulation; Dr. Helen Caldicott’s warnings about the dangers of nuclear weapons and her peace and vital medical health advocacy as a physician (she has been attacked mercilessly and unfairly by male critics on sexist grounds); Mary Olson’s study of the alarming danger of radiation to girls and women; Leona Morgan’s decolonization activism to protect Indigenous communities from uranium extraction and poisoning, and the dumping radioactive waste on native lands; poet activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s story-telling about the suffering of women miscarrying in the Marshall Islands after the 67 nuclear test-bombing by the U.S. There are endless stories such as these.

“By erasing such women’s voices, by gaslighting these women, men have erased significant human stories, science, research,” says Hutner. “This is a classic sexist maneuver. They call women and those who speak up about the dangers of nuclear technology radiophobic, hysterical, and incapable of understanding science. As the women in Radioactive explain, when they spoke at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings and meetings, asking intelligent questions about the verity of the nuclear company’s and NRC’s claims, and armed with detailed information regarding their corruption and cover-ups—what really happened—the women were laughed at, mocked, told to ‘go home and bake cookies.’

“That’s why we made Radioactive. The public needs to know and understand how they are being lied to, how key aspects of nuclear disasters and radiation impacts have been swept under the rug. And at what cost. This is life and death. And so we focus on buried women’s stories, and in subsequent film projects we hope to make as part of a series, we will bring in the silenced voices of black, brown, and women’s Indigenous groups impacted unequally by nuclear disasters.”

She adds: “The film could not come at a more important time for a number of reasons. With nuclear power being discussed in some circles as an ‘answer’ to our climate crisis, we believe anyone seeing this film will walk away with the unmistakable conclusion that nuclear power must be off the table. 

“TMI is one of a long list of environmental disasters and cover-ups that have caused serious harm to surrounding communities, which will last decades,” Hutner continued. “It was and continues to be the lesson of what happens when a corporation and industry lacking integrity, regulated by an agency completely captured by that industry, is put in charge of people’s lives. 

“TMI happened 44 years ago. But when it comes to systems meant to protect the public’s health and safety from nuclear hazards, nothing has changed and in fact, has only gotten worse,” Hutner concluded.

Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet, as well as the Beyond Nuclear handbook, The U.S. Space Force and the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear war in space. He is a board member of Beyond Nuclear.

This review is taken from an earlier article published on CounterpunchTo screen the film, visit Radioactive the film, the official website.

Headline photo courtesy of Radioactive, The Film.

The opinions expressed in articles by outside contributors and published on the Beyond Nuclear International website, are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Beyond Nuclear. However, we try to offer a broad variety of viewpoints and perspectives as part of our mission “to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future”..

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A life uprooted and stolen via Beyond Nuclear International

Wherever they went, it wasn’t home

From Voices of Nuclear Victims, a project of Nos Voisins Lontains. 311

The callous dismissal of those who suffered, were sickened, or died as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, is pervasive among the nuclear lobby. But even as they dismiss those directly affected by the nuclear accident, they ignore victims of the earthquake and tsunami who, because of the high radiation levels caused by the subsequent nuclear disaster, could not be rescued. (See our earlier article about the short film Munen (Remorse) on this.) Shouldn’t their deaths also be ascribed to the nuclear accident, asks Fukushima evacuee, Mizue Kanno? Her poignant testimony forms the second installment of the short film series, Voices of Nuclear Victims. You can watch her 12-minute testimonial below and also a short interview feature with Ms. Kanno made by Friends of the Earth Japan. (Note: We are unable to find a source to verify Ms. Kanno’s claim that people who could not be rescued from the earthquake/tsunami destruction were left to starve to death. This does not necessarily mean it did not happen and it possibly refers to those who were also physically trapped or injured.)

Mizue Kanno tells her story:

There is one thing I would like to tell you: there are lives that could have been saved, if the nuclear accident had not occurred. The coastal areas of our municipality were severely affected by the tsunami, and that on March 11, there were people who were frantically searching: they were firefighters.

Because of the earthquake and tsunami, all electricity sources were cut off. As there was no emergency power supply, at nightfall, it was impossible to light up the sea. There were moans and groans. “Hold on, we’ll be back!” shouted the rescuers. “We’ll be back at dawn!” There were voices of victims responding.

In the pre-dawn darkness of March 12, firefighters and families took the path to the sea.

But it was forbidden to enter within a 5 km radius of the plant. This was because of the nuclear accident. Because radioactive elements were present. That’s why it was forbidden to enter. Family members who had taken refuge in our house returned to rescue the victims, but they were prevented from entering the coastal area.

Finally, when the ban on entry was lifted, among the dead, autopsies revealed many who had died of starvation. These are lives that could have been saved. If the nuclear accident had not happened, these people would have been rescued.

Haven’t they also died because of the nuclear accident?

[…]

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A-bombed artist to distribute ‘war brooms’ in Hiroshima as he calls for nuclear abolition via The Mainichi

SHIKAOI, Hokkaido — A Hiroshima A-bomb survivor ink artist seeking to amplify his nuclear abolition message will hand out miniature brooms signifying the renunciation of war in front of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, coinciding with his art show opening in the city on June 24.

Miki Tsukishita, 82, a resident of the Hokkaido town of Shikaoi, was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing in Hiroshima when he was 4 years old. He is upset that the recent Group of Seven (G7) summit held in the A-bombed city from May 19 to 21 recognized the deterrence of war through the possession of nuclear weapons.

The joint document, “G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament,” set forth the direction that the G7 would pursue to realize a world without nuclear weapons. At the same time, the document referred to nuclear deterrence. While it also pointed out the importance of nuclear nonproliferation, Tsukishita said emphatically, “What we are seeking is not nuclear nonproliferation, but nuclear abolition.”

[…]

The feelings of the people of Hiroshima cannot be conveyed only by the appeal letter. So, in line with his already scheduled show in Hiroshima, Tsukishita decided to convey the wishes of A-bomb survivors for nuclear abolition by distributing miniature brooms, paper cranes and letters of appeal to foreign visitors to the Hiroshima museum.

Tsukishita made about 8-centimeter-long “senso hoki” brooms with his friends using materials such as Ryukyu Island pine trees and perennial shell ginger native to Okinawa Prefecture, where ground battles took place during World War II. Senso (war) hoki is a pun on the Japanese word “hoki,” which means both broom and renunciation, implying the renunciation of war. The brooms were originally planned to be displayed at the exhibition, but instead will be handed out on the streets.

The appeal letter included the statement that the U.S. atomic bombs dropped on Japan and Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons violated international humanitarian law. Tsukishita told the Mainichi Shimbun, “The G7 summit was a farcical tourism event. Don’t underestimate hibakusha. Even though this is only one person’s activity, I can’t help but do it.”

[…]

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Content of radioactive element in fish at Fukushima’s Nuclear Power Plant 180 times of safe limit via CGT

The radioactive elements in the marine fish caught in the harbor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan far exceed safety levels for human consumption, according to a report issued by the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Monday. In particular, the data released show that the content of Cs-137, a radioactive element that is a common byproduct in nuclear reactors, is 180 times that of the standard maximum stipulated in Japan’s food safety law.

[…]

CGTN downloaded the English version of the report available on TEPCO’s official website. According to the data, the sampled black rockfish contains the radioactive element Cs-137 with a content of 18,000 becquerels per kilogram. Data available on the website of Fukushima Revitalization Station run by Japan’s Fukushima prefectural government shows that Japan’s current limit of radioactive cesium in general food which contains fish is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram.  

[…]

A Chinese news website sina.com.cn quoted experts noting that the radioactive elements in the nuclear wastewater could penetrate into fish, shrimp and other seafood, and later accumulate in the human body after consumption. 

A magnitude 9.0 quake on March 11, 2011, triggered a massive tsunami that destroyed the plant’s power supply and cooling systems, causing reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 to melt and spew large amounts of radiation. Water used to cool the reactors’ cores leaked into the basements of the reactor buildings and mixed with rainwater and groundwater.

Now, 12 years after the triple reactor meltdowns, Japan is preparing to release the massive amount of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea later this summer.

TEPCO on Monday started sending seawater into an underwater tunnel to be diluted before releasing the nuclear wastewater into the ocean. The company said that all facilities for the water release system are expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Local fishing communities say their businesses and livelihoods will suffer still more damage. Neighboring countries such as China and South Korea and Pacific Island nations have raised safety concerns. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth oppose the release.

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