Download a PDF of the Fall/Winter 2011 issue here.
Download a PDF of the Fall/Winter 2011 issue here.
Last year at this time, I spoke about hope for the future. But guess what! Things got worse! The one bright light was the acknowledgment by the Director-General of the World Health Organization that there is no safe level of nuclear radiation. (See Radiation is always Dangerous this issue.)
The Fukushima disaster happened in March and is still ongoing even though there is very little media coverage. Added to that, there are now more nanoparticles in consumer goods and the worshippers of the technology are working on medical applications; yet there has been no proper independent scientific evidence that nanoparticles are harmless to health or the environment. Indeed, there are studies that show the potential of harm and even so, they are going ahead introducing more applications.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Health Canada and the USA regulatory authorities still do not recognize that there is no safe level of nuclear radiation, something that has been proven over and over again by independent researchers. In the face of the spread of Fukushima disaster derived radioisotopes, regulatory bodies in Japan and elsewhere have raised the “permissible dose level” for radiation. In other words, it is now permissible for more people to get cancer, genetic or teratogenic damage, immune diseases and all the other health manifestations that can be attributable to radiation.
Shocked by the magnitude of the devastation and the ongoing releases of nuclear radiation, we have endeavoured to evaluate why, in spite of our best efforts and those of other environmental NGOs, not enough people have become concerned about the continued use of nuclear power plants.
As you can see by reading the article Erosion of Public Participation…Erosion of Democracy in this issue, efforts are being made to reduce effectiveness of communication between environmental NGOs in Canada.
More people are becoming convinced of the dangers of nuclear radiation since the Fukushima disaster and there has been a large increase in people contacting us seeking information. However, we decided that change was still happening too slowly. Efforts needed to be stepped up to reach the critical mass needed to change the minds of governments.
Campaigning over the space of forty years, German people and organizations managed to persuade enough voters in the country of the dangers by reaching out to social and community groups. Although the government of Germany was planning to build new nuclear plants, public pressure after Fukushima was large enough to persuade their government to phase out nuclear power.
We have only been working for twenty-seven years! Our government bodies which are supposed to be protecting our health have not changed their stance on nuclear matters, in spite of all the times IICPH and other NGOs have responded to hearings and environmental assessments (see our website for the latest ones). We have participated in the spread of knowledge in more ways but it is still not enough!
Based on the German model, we came up with a plan to engage more thoroughly with social and community organizations in Canada and the USA. There has been considerable work of this nature in New Brunswick where they have reached a number of Aboriginal communities and church groups through the efforts of the coalition of organizations including IICPH working together in efforts to bring about the decommissioning of the aged Lepreau Nuclear Power Plant in that province.
This year, as usual, the members of the IICPH have worked incredibly to do as much as humanly possible, but in order to increase our reach we need new people to help.
WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need supporters of IICPH who are willing to become active members of our team. Please consider becoming one of the IICPH TEAM!
Computer skills are welcome but not necessary, just a desire to stop the madness of nuclear power!
To sign up go to the back page where it says, SIGN UP FOR THE IICPH TEAM.
Naturally, we also need DONATIONS to carry on and also support enhanced new initiatives.
Thanks to all so very much for your continued support and concern for planet Earth!
Marion Odell, Editor— Marion Odell
Until May 12, 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) always followed the lead of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on nuclear health effects issues as there is a 1959 agreement that WHO would accept the findings of that organization. This agreement is still in effect and hopefully will be rescinded soon. However this most likely will need some considerable political pressure from the public.
On that day in May, history was made when courageous WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said “There is no safe low level of radiation.” This was very exciting news for those of us who have been working so diligently over many years to get people and governments to understand this simple fact that has been very well-researched and scientifically proven over and over, that there is no safe level of nuclear (ionizing) radiation. There has been no significant media attention paid to this announcement. We learned about it through emails from other NGOs. This gives us some concern as there is sure to be opposition from the nuclear industries and governments that want nuclear power and/or nuclear weapons.
This pronouncement was made at a short meeting with the collective, “Independent WHO” made up of several organizations. Started in 2006, this collective has been carrying out a vigil at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. They have been demanding the revision of the Agreement “WHA-12-40” that leads to the WHO accepting the decisions of the IAEA on nuclear radiation health matters. The collective has grown from the original eight founders to over 40 organizations and growing! Included in the list is Enfants de Tchernobyl Belarus. One of its founding members, the late Solange Fernex, was an activist with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), also part of the coalition.
Originally from China, Dr. Chan received her MD degree from the University of Western Ontario. She began her public health career in Hong Kong, being appointed Director of Health there in 1978. In that post, she initiated new services to prevent the spread of disease and promote health, improved communicable disease surveillance and response and enhanced training of public health professionals.
Dr. Chan worked to establish better local and international collaboration. She effectively managed outbreaks of avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Dr. Chan has had a very distinguished career. In 2003, Dr. Chan became WHO Director of the Department for Protection of the Human Environment. In June 2005, she became Director of Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response with promotions onward to Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza, then Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. November 2006 saw her appointment to Director-General of the WHO. Her term will end in June 2012.
It is imperative that we support this tremendously important pronouncement and spread the message far and wide. This is a breakthrough that will impress the public because of the prestige of the World Health Organization and the integrity of the Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.
The letter to Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan from the International Institute of Concern for Public appears below. It can also be seen at iicph.org/330.
Please do write your own letter to Dr. Chan and send the word to others to spread the news and send their own letters.
Thanks, Marion Odell— Marion Odell
The Canadian Environmental Network/ Rėseau canadien de l’environnement (RCEN) is one of Canada’s oldest, largest, and most well-respected public institutions. Created in 1977 to act as a bridge between Environmental Non-governmental Organizations (ENGOs) and the federal government, its mission is to facilitate networking and to provide public input on policies and practices affecting the environment.
The RCEN consists of over 640 highly diverse non-profit organizations, including national organizations and community-based groups across Canada. Its members are environmental stewards of Canada, many of whom work tirelessly and mainly voluntarily on a broad range of issues. The RCEN is the thread that binds these diverse groups together.
For nearly 34 years, the RCEN has enabled its members to network with each other and to actively participate in government consultations and international programmes as representatives of the broader ENGO community. As a result, RCEN member groups have been the voice for civil society advocating for strong policy, legislation, and environmental management in Canada to protect the environment and the most vulnerable populations. The RCEN, as a unifying organization of Canadian ENGOs, is a unique institution in the world, and one which ENGOs from other countries have great respect for and would want replicated in their own countries.
Since its inception, the RCEN has received core funding from Environment Canada. This funding has been used to maintain a small staff at its national office, as well as to assist operations at its regional affiliated networks across the country.
On October 13, 2011, Environment Canada notified the RCEN that it was not going to continue the core funding for 2011-12. This government decision represents a tremendous loss for the members of the RCEN, and all Canadians. Considering the level of core funding, of the order of $550,000, the decision not to fund the RCEN cannot be based on economics. In fact, the cost to government to provide this core funding is a very small price to pay for giving civil society the opportunity to participate in government-led consultations and express its views on environmental issues.
This draconian decision is contrary to the spirit of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999, in which the federal government has committed to encourage the participation of the people of Canada in the making of decisions that affect the environment. This action, coupled with severe cut-backs to Environment Canada and other departments related to environmental issues, puts our environment at serious risk.
As the capacity and opportunity for public participation wanes, the voices of concerned groups and individuals will go unheard and the protection of human health and the environment for all Canadians, in particular the most vulnerable, will wane. This is a loss for civil society as a whole and a loss for democracy.
We are calling for Canadians from coast to coast to speak up for democracy and the rights of Canadians to have an effective means of communicating environmental issues and sharing their knowledge and expertise. We are urging the Canadian government to renew the core funding to the RCEN to maintain its essential service for the benefit of all Canadians.— Anna Tilman
On Nov. 6, 2011 the Washington Post quoted statements from an IAEA Report that indicated that know-how for the development of nuclear weapons can be obtained from technological experts from other countries. This demonstrated how the “peaceful use“of the atom can give rise to the development of nuclear weapons. It is easy for the nuclear power industry to develop the technical know-how from experts in nuclear weapons construction. Factories built to enrich uranium can be camouflaged as part of the civilian nuclear power chain. Plutonium for bombs can be stockpiled and described as planning for the eventual use of advanced fuel cycles. Without a civilian nuclear power industry, none of these activities could be portrayed as anything but an overt attempt to develop nuclear weapons.
In the Washington Post article by Joby Warrick, it states that intelligence provided to U.N. nuclear officials showed that Iran’s government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon. According to western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings of the report, it is believed that they have received assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles. A former Soviet weapons scientist is alleged to have tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators. Experts in Pakistan and North Korea are also alleged to have helped propel Iran to the threshold of nuclear capability.
However, we have since learned that the Russian scientist named in the report is said to have had nothing to do with weapons and he has completely denied helping Iran.
Dr. Bertell has said that it is hard to tell what is a deliberate provocation for war … just as was the case for Iraq.
The danger of any country holding nuclear weapons in its arsenals underlines the added threat for a nuclear conflagration that would occur when even more countries, perhaps even less stable than Iran, get their hands on nuclear weapons such as small dictatorships. A large country might build an arsenal as large as those owned by Russia and the USA. What powers could they then wield? What would happen then?
According to the article the diplomatic challenges presented by the actions of Iran are raising consternation and concern in international circles. In the first week of November 2011, Israeli newspapers are reported to have said that there is high level government support in Israel for a military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Imagine what a catastrophe that could be with releases of nuclear radiation to extremely vulnerable populations!
“One of the problems with with such open threats of military action is that it furthers the drift towards a military conflict and makes it more difficult to dial down tensions.” said Peter Crail, a nonproliferation analyst with the Arms Control Association a Washington advocacy group. “It also risks creating an assumption that that we can always end Iran’s nuclear program with a few strikes if nothing else works. That’s simply not the case.”
I asked Dr. Bertell to make comments on the subject.
“These are mistakes that would be irreparable for Iran and maybe even the planet. I would urge great caution! We must wake up before we destroy ourselves for “National Security”. I for one, feel very insecure with the deliberate and widespread fear-mongering and the modernization of nuclear arsenals by all the nuclear countries It is time to cry loudly,
ENOUGH! ENOUGH! NO MORE WAR! LET US SOLVE OUR DIFFERENCES IN COURTS OF LAW! NO MORE WAR.
No to war against life, to weather wars, to manipulation of the planetary system whether for war or to mitigate climate change. This, it seems to me, to be the primary work of civilization and evolution of life entrusted to our generation. We are sadly failing to get the message of survival! We hold in our hands the future of life itself and the integrity of this great planetary marvel we now enjoy through God’s great goodness.”IICPH
Dr. Rosalie Bertell and IICPH have been saddened by the death of Prof. Rudi H. Nussbaum, a dear colleague and friend and long time supporter of our work.
Rudi was 89 when he died as a the result of a fall while on vacation in Europe with his beloved wife, Laureen. Born in Germany in 1922, Rudi survived the Holocaust in the Netherlands, but lost his parents.
A physics professor at Portland State University for many years, he was a passionate and fearless advocate for peace, nuclear disarmament, and social justice. As Dr. Janette D. Sherman said on learning of his death, “Losing Rudi Nussbaum means losing a man of rare integrity, of profound humaneness and social engagement, of courage and fearlessness when truth and people’s rights are at stake. The insights and convictions that guided his life can serve as admonitions and beacons of hope: not to turn away when injustice is done, but to take responsibility also for the fate of others, not to withdraw and adapt, but to stand up for the survival of civil liberties.”
Rudi believed that we should apply the standards of common sense and human kindness to all decisions in life; that we must determine for ourselves what is true and right and stand up for the truth. He set a tremendous example to all who knew him and his work of the importance of naming the injustice to people and the environment and of standing up to those who were responsible.
Besides his wife of 64 years, Laureen, Rudi leaves behind two sons and numerous family members as well as colleagues and friends all over the world among whom we number.— IICPH
Aliss Terpstra, one of our directors and also secretary of the IICPH board, has been campaigning for a number of years to end the artificial fluoridation of municipal drinking water. Under her leadership, alliances were formed with like-minded groups and organizations that include Great Lakes United, the international Fluoride Action Network and local and provincial groups in Canada.
In July, 2009, Aliss was a guest speaker representing IICPH at a fundraising event for the Toronto Chapter of the Council of Canadians. She spoke about the environmental impact of water fluoridation on the Great Lakes ecosystem and linked it to the bigger picture of global water resource depletion and contamination from nuclear fission. Subsequently, Aliss was asked to join the chapter and form a water issues group, which she did. The Toronto Chapter initiated a Water Forum Conference held at Toronto’s Metro Hall in March 2010 that presented several issues including the environmental health concerns of continuous low level fluoride contamination of the source water commons from municipal fluoridation. The Forum was repeated in March 2011 and is now an annual event that will happen again in March 2012.
Maude Barlow, National Chair of the Council of Canadians, understood the concerns raised by the Toronto Chapter and despite opposition from some chapters, supported the first resolution being sent to the AGM in 2009. Due to time limits, it did not make the agenda in 2009 or 2010 but the executive of the Toronto Chapter was urged to resubmit.
This year, on Sunday, October 23, 2011, the resolution (below) passed unanimously. The Council’s main website page for Water issues, under “UNFLUORIDATE IT!” now states with firm clarity: “The Council of Canadians is opposed to the fluoridation of drinking water. We are concerned by the health and environmental impacts associated with it.”
Below is the resolution submitted by Toronto Chapter and passed at the Council of Canadians AGM on Oct. 23, 2011.
“Whereas municipal drinking water borrowed from and returned to the environmental commons should meet a continuum of quality, ethical purpose and sustainability both coming and going;
Whereas artificial water fluoridation is a practice whereby municipalities can add fluoride to their own drinking water commons but have no corresponding accountability for putting that fluoride into downstream commons via treated waste water;
Whereas there are two guidelines for fluoride: Health Canada’s narrow-focused one of 0.7 mg/L for increased fluoride in municipal water, infringing on the sustainability of the water commons with a Canadian Water Quality limit of 0.12 mg/L;
Whereas neither fluoride guideline is regulatory, but the Canadian Water Quality Guideline of 0.12 mg/L protects both human health and aquatic species and therefore should be observed; but the Health Canada Guideline does not protect the health of several vulnerable groups including babies, and harms aquatic species;
Whereas the chemicals used to increase fluoride in municipal water to reach the Health Canada guideline, hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium silicofluoride are not regulated by Health Canada at all, but are regulated by Canadian Environmental Protection Agency as Class 1 cumulative, persistent, hazardous toxins that must not be emitted to the environmental commons at all;
Whereas anyone is free to decide to take fluoride drugs that Health Canada has approved and regulated, or food and drink with naturally occurring fluoride, without adding restricted fluoride pollutants to drinking water and the downstream water commons;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Council of Canadians provide national leadership towards a policy of drinking water quality regulation that disallows water fluoridation, based on Canadian Water Quality Guideline for fluoride in the environmental commons.”— Aliss Terpstra
The Canadian TV program The Nature of Things, hosted by David Suzuki, recently extolled the advantages of nanoparticles for curative measures within the human body. It appears that a huge amount of research is being done on an increasing number of nanoparticles for medical uses.
Even more disturbing, it has become known that quietly, without any fanfare, nanoparticles have been introduced into food and agricultural products in the USA and elsewhere. In an article written in 2008, it was said that some members of the U.S. food industry were rushing ahead with plans to introduce nanoparticles into food and into just about every product in the aisles of supermarkets while others were already doing so.
Research reported in the Scientific American looked at health effects of nanoparticles in food. According to an article written by Biello in March 13, 2008, clay nanoparticles in Miller Brewing plastic beer bottles make them less likely to break and preserve the beer better. Simply H’s Toddler Health nutritional drink mix contains antiparticles of iron.
Examples of research that has demonstrated the need for a cautionary approach have been done by a number of researchers. A couple of examples are shown below.
Research done by Prof. Richard Handy at the University of Plymouth demonstrated that titanium nanoparticles in the fish brain have some parallels to the effects of mercury in the brain. Prof. Handy also said that these nanoparticles might not enter and leave the body but could, instead, build up inside of you. According to a study published in the journal Nanotoxicology, carbon nanoparticles can smash the cellular barriers in the parts of the kidneys that produce urine. This lets toxins that are supposed to be flushed out of the body get into the bloodstream while essential nutrients could be eliminated from the body.
A 2005 Environmental Science and Technology study showed that zinc oxide nanoparticles in lab tests were toxic to human lung cells even at low concentrations.
Other studies have shown that 15 nanometer-size particles killed liver and brain cells from rats.
In 2008, Washington DC based environmental NGO Friends of the Earth (FoE) found that none of more than 100 food or food-related products it identified that contained nanoparticles bore a warning label or had undergone safety testing by government agencies.
Producing nanoparticles involves the man-made reduction and manipulation of matter to 100 nanometers or less. At such a small scale, the chemical and physical properties of these materials become more chemically reactive. Their size makes them more likely to pass through biological membranes and circulate through the body thus entering cells of the body. Nanoparticles combine increased reactivity with increased bioavailability. To even contemplate their use in food and agricultural products without independent scientific study in a very thorough and rigorous way for evidence of possible potential risks to human health and the environment should be appalling to all.
“Products created using nanotechnology have entered the food chain” said Ian Illuminato, author of the FoE report. “Preliminary studies indicate there is a serious risk … We should know it is safe before we put it in food.”
Apparently, at the time of the report, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not specifically require nanoparticles to be proved safe but did require manufacturers to provide tests that the food goods they produce are not harmful! It then becomes puzzling that the FDA website reports that no safety concerns have been reported in the past because of particle size. They are confident that the existing battery of preclinical tests are accurate. They also say that there is limited scientific data available to address public health concerns.
By April 2011, it was being reported that nanoparticles are being used in hundreds of products on supermarket shelves while the scientific community in the U.S. is raising serious concerns about the safety of nano-based technology.
On June 1, 2011 Science Daily reported “With the curtain about to rise on a much anticipated new era of ‘nanoculture’…scientists are reporting a huge gap in knowledge about the effects of nanoparticles on corn, tomatoes, rice and other food crops… getting into soil, fertilizers, growth enhancers and other nanocultural products”. However, nothing was said about health effects.
Surprisingly, Canada is in the forefront by the introduction of a mandatory safety reporting scheme, becoming the first country in the world to do so. However, scientists still are concerned that there are too many gaps in the properties of nanoparticles. On both sides of the Atlantic, government bodies have been criticised for too slow a response. All the while, the number and variety of nanoparticles in our biosphere has been increasing. In the UK, there is concern about the amount of nanoparticles in sewage sludge!
IICPH believes that the Precautionary Principle should have come into play right at the very beginning of the manufacture of nanoparticles. Now, years later, the evidence of harms to health are sufficient to apply the principle and stop the potential of future harm to health and the environment.— IICPH
Since the catastrophic accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, independent investigations of safety issues are revealing more and more little-known facts about the unsolved dangers inherent to virtually all nuclear power plants in the world.
In Canada, Dr. Michel Duguay, of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering studies at Laval University, joined with public interest groups to share troubling scientific facts about problems that are intrinsic to all CANDU reactors. Duguay cites reports from staff at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) about a design flaw in CANDU nuclear reactor cooling systems, which can, with loss of pressure while in operation, cause a chain of events to commence, including explosions on the scale experienced in Japan, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
Historical investigations have also revealed that the vast majority of nuclear reactors everywhere are operating with another fatal design flaw … the radioactive fuel is encased in a zirconium metal alloy.
Zirconium becomes explosive when in contact with air or steam. One of the potential causes of the generation of the highly explosive hydrogen gas during a nuclear power plant accident comes from the reaction of steam with the zirconium-alloy metal in reactor fuel delivery systems.
This concern was raised at least as early as 1975 by Dr. Earl A. Gulbransen ( 1909-1992), a professor in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Despite this evidence, all CANDU reactors still use fuel delivery systems that contain zirconium alloy. Fuel rods containing pellets of uranium fuel for CANDUs are assembled into “bundles” or cylinders or tubes which are inserted into the reactor’s calandria vessel. Both the fuel rods and bundles are made of “zircaloy” an alloy composed mainly of zirconium.
A “calandria tube” containing insulating CO2 gas (carbon dioxide) surrounds each fuel bundle for delivery into the reactor’s calandria vessel while a cooling system dissipates the heat to prevent hot particles from becoming overheated and causing the reactor to go critical, which could result in reactor meltdown. The CANDU is designed so that failed or leaking zirconium fuel bundles can be located and removed from the reactor core while in operation and reduce radiation fields in the primary operating systems.
However, because zirconium explodes when in contact with hydrogen (air), fuel bundles are always kept covered with water. As has already happened at Fukushima and Three Mile Island, loss of water from pools of “spent” radioactive fuel leads to spontaneous ignition of the zirconium alloy cladding. In response, explosions of hydrogen gas from the surrounding air, damage to fuel assemblies, release of radioactive materials, reactor criticality leading to a potential meltdown can follow. All CANDU installations in Canada store used fuel bundles on site.
In 1979, a list of nuclear plants around the world published the fact that almost all Light Water Reactors (LWR) are also affected by this flaw. The same source indicates that 85% of the nuclear power plants in the world are affected by this design flaw.
“Earl A. Gulbransen: One of the potential causes of the generation of highly explosive hydrogen gas during a nuclear power plant accident comes from the reaction of steam with the zirconium-alloy metal cladding (or tubing) of the fuel rods that hold the uranium fuel pellets.”
Managing waste fuel bundles presents yet another set of problems. According to a November 2008 study by Gordon R. Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, there are no published studies on the potential for an accidental release of radioactive material from spent fuel stored at a nuclear power plant employing a CANDU reactor.
In October 2011, plant operators at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick, announced the installation of a passive hydrogen capture system to prevent possible hydrogen explosions in the reactor. No such measures were announced for its waste management facility. It is noteworthy that, because operators are relying on simulations to test potential for explosions, there is no way to obtain certainty about either the safety of this measure in real life situations, or the validity of software simulations under changing conditions, such as life extension projects for aging reactors.
Until Fukushima, science has not focused adequately on worst-case nuclear accident scenarios. There is no agreement on what exactly can or has or will happen in nuclear accidents or on the plans of action needed to protect populations from harm. Many hydrogen explosions have been reported at Fukushima; there is at least some growing consensus that loss of containment of used and unused reactor fuel assemblies are the cause of at least some of these explosions.
Governments regulators on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, although mandated to protect public health and the environment, are under fire for rubber stamping operator licenses and not paying enough attention to ensure that regulations to avoid severe accidents are enforced. Although the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ionizing radiation, regulators have in fact increased allowable levels of radiation for workers and the public while minimizing actual risks to health and safety. IICPH continues to note that independent medical opinion is missing from regulatory oversight of nuclear plant licence applications.
The states of New York and Vermont have both won successful rulings in lawsuits against the Nuclear Safety Commission (NRC) and reactor operator Entergy. These historic legal precedents demonstrate that the NRC violated regulations by allowing the nuclear plants to continue to operate without requiring complete assessments for environmental protection and safety in the case of severe accidents.
It is time for nuclear operators, proponents and the industry itself to admit that, whether through “acceptable” or accidental releases and exposure to the public or measures to mitigate severe harm and widespread damage, nuclear power plants will never guarantee public safety or complete control of radioactive materials.
Perhaps it is some comfort that, at the inception of the age of nuclear power, they were only designed to last forty years. That time has passed. Humanity must now learn wise use of energy. Conservation and efficiency must replace the practice of wasting precious energy resources. Economies and industries based on dirty energy generation must be replaced.
Fortunately, this trend has already begun, with strategies that combine wise energy use with renewable resources. We hope that it is not too late to alter our individual and collective ecological footprints to ensure the survival and well being of humanity.
Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII- Phase 2. Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. ISBN: 978-0-309-09156-5. 2006.http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11340.html
Wikipedia search — “CANDU reactor, Linear No-Threshold model”. Retrieved August 2, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU_reactor
Gentilly Unit 2 Refurbishment and its Global Implications: Risks of Operating Candu 6 Nuclear Power Plants: Greenpeace, November 2008 http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/romania/campaigns/nucleare/studii-rapoarte-informa-ii-s/raportcandu6.pdf
The Beverly Hess Collection: Papers (1979-1990). Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College. Carlisle, PA
(Dr. John) Gofman on the health effects of radiation: “There is no safe threshold” http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/synapse.pdf
New York Attorney General Motion To Improve Nuclear Regulation & Enforcement. http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2011/jul/NYAG_Motion.pdf
ATOMIC SAFETY AND LICENSING BOARD Before Administrative Judges: Lawrence G. McDade, Chairman Dr. Kaye D. Lathrop, Dr. Richard E. Wardwell. In the Matter of ENTERGY NUCLEAR OPERATIONS, INC. (Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 2 and 3) Docket Nos. 50-247-LR and 50-286-LR. ASLBP No. 07-858-03-LR-BD01. July 14, 2011
The Zirconium Connection. Daniel M. Piselio. The Ecologist Vol. 9 Nos. 4/5 August 1979
“The Radioactive Nub of the Problem” Final Written Comments on Darlington “New Build” Project. Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. http://www.ph-fare.com/node/80
“All About Meltdowns” Excerpts from the Reactor Safety Study (WASH-1400) (commonly known as the Rasmussen Report) published by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission 1974 “$“http://www.ccnr.org/rasmussen.html
Hydrogen-Zirconium Explosion Hazard: the findings of Dr. Earl A. Gulbransen. Kay Drey.
Nuclear Nonsense: Why Nuclear Power is No Answer to Climate Change and the World’s Post-Kyoto Energy Challenges. Benjamin K. Sovacool, Christopher Cooper. William & Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review, Vol. 33:1. 2008. http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmelpr/vol33/iss1/2 and http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=wmelpr
NRC licensing board bolsters argument that renewables can replace nuclear. Beyond Nuclear, 2010. http://www.beyondnuclear.org/nuclear-power/2010/12/29/nrc-licensing-board-bolsters-argument-that-renewables-can-re.html— Willi Nolan
The conference organized by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) dealt with all forms of radioactive waste and provided an international perspective as well as a strongly focused Canadian strategy on the management of low and intermediate radioactive waste (LIRW), as well as high-level radioactive waste. The conference consisted of plenary sessions every morning and 6 parallel breakout sessions in the afternoon in all.
In total there were about 400 registered participants … representing the nuclear industry, including scientists, governments, and consultants for the industry (mainly Canadian, with some from USA, UK, France…) and 7 ENGOs (CELA, Northwatch, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County (CCRC) and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), and IICPH. The ENGOs outlined a plan for a public campaign … based on elements that emerged from the conference related to low-level waste—incineration, clearance, free release, and that may resonate with the public.
Fukushima: The industry says there are lessons learned … but are steadfast that safety will be improved … and accidents like that cannot happen. Also, the effect of radiation was tremendously downplayed … especially by the CEO of OPG, Tom Mitchell. So, the industry has not learnt anything from Fukushima and seems to have corporate amnesia as to Chernobyl.
Incineration: Regarding ILRW, the real plan is to segregate and minimize the amount of waste … and for low-level, that typically means incineration. This could be done here, as is happening at Bruce Nuclear Power Plant and Blind River Nuclear Refinery and Incinerator, and Swan Hills, Alberta, but also through exporting liquid radioactive waste to the US (as long as it does not contain PCBs). So we can expect to see more “in Canada” solutions for PCB-radioactive waste, usually in liquid form. The industry has no problem with incineration, or shipping radwaste across the US border.
Clearance levels: Another disturbing theme is the identification of “clearance levels” for radioactive active waste so that this waste could be “free released” and be disposed of in unlicensed facilities such as landfills, or find their way into recycled products. Many countries have set such levels (the UK identifies these as very low radioactive waste). In Canada, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has been the chosen party to establish clearance level guidelines. There has been no public involvement about this or of these guidelines that are only available for a hefty fee of $264 (or $200). So much for the public being kept informed!
High-level waste: Fairly solid view from governments and industry that Deep Geologic Repositories (DGR) is the way to go so that future generations should not have to deal with the waste of the present, a rather misguided concept, especially as the waste is intended to be retrievable, and perhaps for the purpose of reprocessing. It was also noted that man-made barriers cannot be as good as natural barriers, and even these fail.
Decommissioning: as expected, a very expensive proposition considering all the waste and what to do with it … hence, “free release” of some of the radwaste has become attractive. The UK has admitted a real problem with their facilities (Sellafield in particular, also Dounreay … military, war, atomic weapons…). It was noted that there are always surprises (unpredictable events and circumstances) with decommissioning and the costs are so much more than predicted.
Legacy wastes: The Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program in Canada under NRCan) was set up in 2006 to deal with historical legacy nuclear wastes, from AECL (Chalk River, Whiteshell) and prototype reactors. So far, $520 million has been dedicated for a five-year period ending in 2011. Many more millions will be spent over the time-period of an estimated 70 years to complete the strategy to “manage” this waste.
Public Participation: while many presenters expressed the need to engage the public regarding nuclear waste, this conference gave an indication that there really is no intent to hear from the public, particularly those who are concerned about nuclear issues, DGR, etc. for disposal of waste. The industry needs public participation to find a community willing to buy-in to host DGR sites.
The NGOs in attendance discussed the need for a campaign. The following is an excerpt from an email from Gordon Edwards, regarding critical issues emerging from this conference that could garner public attention.
Action Item: It is urgently necessary to start an international campaign to roll back the “free release” limits which allow radioactively contaminated materials to be dumped into the environment and the marketplace. We need to talk about this at a global level … North America and Europe to begin with. Who will formally join in such a campaign? What name and mandate shall we have? How will we operate?
Re the conference itself: On one level it was encouraging to see all these nuclear scientists and engineers adapting to their role as nuclear garbage men, and realizing that it ain’t so bad … lots of challenging problems, lots of money available to do the job, a sense of importance and urgency due to the sad state of the nuclear industry and the growing impatience of the public and politicians re the nuclear waste problems.
On the other hand it was profoundly discouraging to see that the same old attitudes prevail and that the main goal is to spend billions of dollars consolidating, packaging, and stabilizing the wastes without really acknowledging that this does not a solution make. Also an increasingly disdainful insistence that “we nuclear guys are being held to too high a standard,” as they regard with envy the crimes that chemical polluters are “allowed” to commit.
So over the last 5-10 years, there has been an alarming growth in the amount of radioactive wastes of all kinds that have been “free released” into landfills, into the environment, or into the marketplace, facilitated by a flurry of regulations, guidelines, policies, etc. that allow and encourage the free release of these contaminated materials.
The code words are “segregation of wastes” (to separate those that can be dumped offsite without any further need for labelling, monitoring, or tracing, from those that have to be stored onsite, or on some site, in perpetuity.)
The nuclear industry is requisitioning and obtaining enormous budgets to deal with the radioactive wastes that they themselves have created. In the UK, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is looking after some very nasty wastes at an estimated cost of $80 billion. Yucca Mountain, you may remember, cost more than $10 billion before it was cancelled.
So now the industry, worldwide, is taking a sharp turn to the rear end of the nuclear fuel cycle. And now, more than ever before, there is a veritable tsunami of “very low level” radioactive contamination flooding into the non-nuclear world from our exceedingly generous nuclear industries.
The growing demands for aggregate materials in Ontario has led governments and aggregate and construction industries to explore various methods for the recycling and reusing of aggregate and concrete materials. The use of such methods may be viewed as beneficial in that need for extracting aggregates in ways that are detrimental to the environment or local communities would be reduced. At the same time, consideration must be given to what would constitute appropriate sources and materials for recycled aggregate and concrete; whether the materials may pose a risk to human health and the environment; what regulatory controls would be in place to ensure that the safety of the use of such materials; and whether these sources are acceptable to industry and to the public.
For example, one source of recycled aggregate and concrete could be radioactive-contaminated material produced by nuclear power plants. This type of waste, referred to as “low-level” radioactive waste, includes material such as soil, steel, wood and concrete contaminated in various degrees with man-made radioactive substances. Large amounts of this type of waste have been and continue to be generated from nuclear power plants world-wide from decades of their operation. The amount of this waste is going to increase greatly as these plants reach their end-of-life and will be dismantled. Concrete is expected to constitute the largest volume of this waste.
As a means of attempting to deal with the sheer volume of materials contaminated with “low-level” radioactive waste, over the past years, governments and nuclear agencies have been developing policies that would clear materials with low levels of radioactive contamination that meet criteria referred to as “clearance levels” from regulatory control.
If the radioactivity levels of these waste materials meet or are below designated “clearance levels”, this waste is considered no longer radioactive and can be “free-released”, that is, transferred without any restriction or regulatory control, directly to landfills, to recycling streams, such as concrete, metal, soil, asphalt, etc. and ultimately into commercial and consumer products, ranging from building materials, steel, roads, vehicles, tools, utensils, furniture, playgrounds, toys, personal items etc.
In this way, the nuclear industry has “minimized” its waste by making it available for recycling and re-use. These policies are permitting the dispersal of man-made radioactive waste to enter freely into the open marketplace and into everyday consumer products, without public knowledge or consent. There is no way of knowing what portion of recycled material contains “cleared” radioactive waste or how much is in a product.
The practice of deregulating some low-level radioactive waste material is currently in place in Canada under federal regulations since 2008 and in several other countries. However, we do not know the degree to which this is occurring as it is below regulatory control and there is no way of tracking it.
In light of the fact that there is no safe level of exposure to ionizing radiation, public concern has been raised as to the potential for releases of radioactive materials from numerous recycled sources over time, and the inability to track or control these releases to protect public safety. The release of any radioactive material must be prevented, and certainly not be made available in the marketplace.
Therefore, in considering the matter of recycling and reusing aggregate materials, questions that need to be asked relate to whether there is a market for the free-release of radioactive-contaminated materials, whether this practice is even acceptable to receiving industries whose products would contain this contaminated material, and finally would consumers tolerate this practice.—
In Niagara Falls, New York, there are areas of nuclear waste contamination including highways and byways. According to a recently published article, Mayor Paul Dyster of the city said that there’s not enough water to keep the dangerous dust wetted down during road “reconstruction”. This is the explanation given as to why a two-year-long road paving project (so far) has been embroiled in political and legal controversy. The same radioactive materials have also been found in driveways and in the yards of homes where city officials are saying that they are not responsible and that this is simply a road reconstruction project with “no chasing” of materials or concern for what will be left behind.
The road project was signed off by an unlicensed engineer that the city seemingly hired to assay and disavow its responsibility to the public trust, passing the proverbial buck to future generations. The engineer has since been let go from his employ further distancing the city from any responsibility or concern beyond the completion of the road paving.
In a residential area of the City of Niagara Falls called Deveaux, that is home to a church, a recently closed synagogue and a public elementary school, approximately two miles of roadway have been found to contain levels of radioactive materials that are the equivalent to one of the Chernobyl, Ukraine exclusion zones … or 140,000 counts per minute (CPM) on a Geiger-Mueller counter … approximately 20+ micro Roentgens per hour. (An electron volt is a measurement used to count the radioactive emissions of an unstable element during the decay process. That voltage, unseen by the human eye and undetected by the senses, is what causes a Geiger counter to respond with clicks or other audible alarms, or to move the indicator needle or change the digital readout display.)
If ever there was a case for public input and oversight, this is such a situation. The road is currently open to one-way traffic with one lane disinterred down to a few feet. No precautions have been taken to exclude human contact from these hot (radioactive) materials or from the dusty conditions allowing for the likely inhalation or ingestion of airborne radioactive particles. Simple plastic caution tape and six-inch square radiation placards are the only sign that anything unusual is happening with this seemingly innocuous road project. Earlier in the year, a photo was taken showing a chalk outline for a dangerous game of hopscotch (see picture). Another child was seen riding his bicycle through the dust clouds carrying an ice cream cone, licking, pedalling and steering all at once as only a child can do.
The unfortunate reality is that the city, state and federal governments have all turned a combined blind eye to the recommendations such as those in the National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII Report coming from the Congressional science arm of the U.S. Government and elsewhere including prominent scientists, stating quite clearly that there is no safe level of exposure to radioactive materials. In the 2006 Report, it is highlighted that all doses and exposures carry with them an accompanying risk of developing cancer, other maladies and life-threatening illnesses. Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., G.N.S.H., has found that as little as six to ten electron volts can irreparably damage human DNA … RNA which can also impact the the unborn fetus of pregnant women and cause future genetic problems carried forward in the generations yet to come in biological malformations.
Wiith the 140,000 CPM that has been found over the Deveaux section of Lewiston Road — U.S. Route 104, equating to some hundreds of thousands to millions of electron volts, damage to human genetic material and other cells can be expected to cause future harm. Damage caused by a chemical process called “The Bystander Cell Effect Mechanism” is a fairly recent discovery. A cell hit by a radioactive particle suffers a mutation in the nucleus and cells close-by to it suffer chemical changes to chromosomes. The surrounding cells receive false chemical signals from a damaged cell without receiving a direct hit of radioactivity. (See http://www.radiation-bystander.columbia.edu)
There are even more problems with a two-mile long roadway called Buffalo Avenue that’s located in an industrial section of the city … the area of some of the first chemical and metallurgical manufactories in North America, that were situated in close proximity to the moving waters of the Niagara River (which will present a massive somewhat different set of cleanup challenges not yet even contemplated by authorities). This industrial area has been surveyed within the past three years (pre-road reconstruction) read, “a quiet clean-up” and it contains radioactivity in the area of one million CPM!
If 140,000 CPM isn’t enough of a reading to warrant at least the wetting of dusty roads in a residential area then certainly stringent public oversight is warranted and even water from the nearby polluted Niagara River is better than nothing!
Lou Ricciuti, Niagara Falls, New York
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) organization, based in Maryland, has just released a new briefing paper titled “Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women” that shows that exposure to radiation causes 50% greater incidence of cancer and 50% greater rate of death from cancer among women, compared to the same radiation dose level to men.
The paper is based on under-reported information contained in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) 2006 BEIR-VII report, which also concluded that there is no “safe” level of radiation exposure.
Its goal is to help the lay reader understand the data on radiation impacts to women presented in the NAS radiation report. Other researchers indicate that the effects may be even greater than the NAS findings.
The paper was written by NIRS’ Mary Olson and Diane D’Arrigo, and internationally known radiation expert Dr. Rosalie Bertell, and Eric Epstein, chairman of Three Mile Island Alert. It will soon be available in Japanese and Ukrainian as well, and will be released in both countries.
The paper can be downloaded at http://www.nirs.org/radiation/radhealth/radiationwomen.pdf
NUCLEAR INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SERVICE
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340, Takoma Park, MD 20912. 301-270-NIRS (301-270-6477); fax 301-270-4291; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nirs.org
In 1988 while running for reelection, the then-Minister of Defence Perrin Beatty vowed to include nuclear submarines in Canada’s arsenal. I ran in opposition explaining to the riding of Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe was this was a bad idea. He won the election but I won the argument.
Now the UK finds itself in the position of having to dispose of 27 out-of-service nuclear powered submarines and for managing the resulting radioactive wastes. They propose “interim storage” awaiting a long-term disposal facility.
An accident occurred two years ago when a British and a French nuclear submarine collided. Yet the UK government still plans to rebuild its Trident submarine fleet. What a cock-up!— Shirley Farlinger