Tag Archives: nuclear

Feds raided Rocky Flats 25 years ago, signaling the end of an era

By Electra Draper, June 1, 2014. Source: The Denver Post.
Rocky Flats was once the site of the a nuclear weapons production facility, May 29, 2014. This June will be 25 years since the FBI raided Rocky Flats. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

Rocky Flats was once the site of the a nuclear weapons production facility, May 29, 2014. This June will be 25 years since the FBI raided Rocky Flats. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

ROCKY FLATS — In 1989, Germans tore down the Berlin Wall. The anti-Soviet Solidarity movement pushed for power in Poland. One million Chinese in Tiananmen Square demanded reform. And Colorado was seeing the end of its own extraordinary Cold War chapter at Rocky Flats, 16 miles northwest of Denver.

Twenty-five years ago, on June 6, 1989, a convoy of about 30 vehicles carrying more than 70 armed agents of the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency raided the U.S. Department of Energy’s plutonium-processing plant at Rocky Flats for suspected environmental crimes.

The Cold War site, which operated continuously from 1952 to 1989, was the Denver area’s largest industrial plant, with 4,000 men and women manufacturing plutonium fission cores used to detonate U.S nuclear bombs. Continue reading

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Highest Radiation Detected In Japan’s Fukushima Reactor

Cross-posted from RTT News, 6/28/2012 8:14 AM ET

The highest level of radiation to date has been detected inside the No.1 reactor at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said on Thursday it used endoscopes and dosimeters to examine the interior of the reactor. A record level of 10,300 millisieverts per hour was detected in the internal measurement carried out for the first time since the March, 2011 accident. The measurement was taken 20 centimeters above the surface of a contaminated water puddle in the reactor’s suppression chamber. This high level of radiation would be fatal for humans within 50 minutes.

A measurement of 1,000 millisieverts per hour was detected about four meters above the water surface, which is ten times higher than measured in the No.2 and No.3 reactors, Japanese media reported.

TEPCO official Junichi Matsumoto said he suspected that a higher radiation level in the No.1 reactor was caused by more fuel rods melting down than in other reactors.
Continue reading

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Scientists Track Radioactive Iodine in New Hampshire from Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown

Note: Another reason why false solutions to climate change designed to maintain the status quo: like nuclear power, wood-based “biomass” electricity, and industrial-scale agrofuels (biofuels) are only making things worse.  We need a systemic transformation.  Nothing short of this will solve anything.  One cannot heal a burn with a cigarette lighter…

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from ScienceDaily, Apr. 2, 2012

Radioactive iodine found by Dartmouth researchers in the local New Hampshire environment is a direct consequence of a nuclear reactor’s explosion and meltdown half a world away, says Joshua Landis, a research associate in the Department of Earth Science. The failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, was the largest nuclear disaster since 1986 at Chernobyl. “We live on a really small planet and this demonstrates that what happens in Japan has the potential to affect us.”


Landis and a team drawn from Dartmouth’s Department of Earth Science and Department of Geography recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesaddressing such concerns.

“Though regrettable, the Japanese catastrophe did provide a unique opportunity to examine the transport and accumulation of radioactive iodine in the environment,” Landis says. “We took up this study mostly as concerned scientists in our own right, wondering how much of this contaminant is really coming down, and where the iodine is moving in the landscape.”

The paper reports that testing in New Hampshire’s Mink Brook watershed during March through May 2011 showed the amount of radioactive iodine deposition in the soil was minimal, with calculations revealing the total amount to be on the order of 6,000 atoms per square meter. Landis comments that “at these levels, it is unlikely that this is going to cause measurable health consequences.”

However, sampling of Mink Brook stream sediments showed a doubling of iodine concentrations relative to what was found in soils. But even in these concentrations, stream and river transport are expected to result in significant dilution.

The radioisotope iodine-131, a significant constituent of the fallout, is a by-product of nuclear fission, highly radioactive, acutely toxic and presents a health risk upon its release to the environment. It does have a relatively short half-life, which is both a blessing and a curse, Landis notes. “It releases a lot of radioactivity, which makes it dangerous, but it’s gone very quickly so there is no long term exposure risk,” he says. Its high radioactivity, however, makes it very detectable by the gamma-ray spectroscopy instruments used by the Dartmouth team in its analyses.

This is not the case with another isotope, iodine-129, released concurrently with iodine-131. It is not as radioactive, which makes it much harder to measure, but it is much longer lasting and, as it concentrates in certain areas over time, it may become more hazardous. “Due to its long half-life and continued release from ongoing nuclear energy production, [iodine-129] is perpetually accumulating in the environment and poses a growing radiological risk,” the authors point out.

The production rate of these two isotopes in a nuclear reactor occurs at a fixed ratio of 3 parts iodine-131 to one part iodine-129. The two substances travel together, so the presence of the easily detectable isotope also signals the presence of the longer-lived one. “If you have a recent event like Fukushima, you are going to have both present. The iodine-131 is going to decay away pretty quickly over the course of weeks, but the iodine-129 is there forever, essentially,” Landis says. However, he explains, “Once the iodine-131 decays, you lose your ability to track the migration of either isotope.”

Thus, the group’s research turned toward the development of an innovative alternative approach to measuring and tracking the iodine. What became an important off-shoot of their work was the methodology of using the benign radioisotope, beryllium-7, as the tracking indicator. It’s an easily detected natural radionuclide, and is routinely used by the Dartmouth researchers in their environmental analyses.

The Dartmouth researchers have shown that beryllium-7 follows the same transport paths as the iodine isotopes. By ascertaining the ratio of association of the beryllium to the iodine, tracing the beryllium-7 as it moves through the environment then allowed the researchers to track the parallel transport of iodine, and to demonstrate the accumulation of iodine fallout in stream sediments.

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Report from the False Solutions Circus at VT Yankee

Clowns Highlight Absurdity of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant

by the Red Clover Climate Justice Collective

The false solutions circus at VT Yankee Protest. Photo: Dylan Kelley

On Thursday, March 22nd in Brattleboro, Vermont, the Red Clover Climate Justice collective, based in Burlington, Vermont, held a False Solutions Circus highlighting the absurdity of Entergy Corporation suing the State of Vermont for refusing to allow the continued operation of its Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant.  Using humor to communicate a distrust of corporate solutions to the climate crisis, the Circus drew connections between the anti-nuke movement and climate justice struggles against energy development and resource extraction. On the day after the expiration of Vermont Yankee’s operating license, 900 people demonstrated and 130 were arrested at Entergy Headquarters in Brattleboro, Vermont.  The Circus joined this day of action called by the SAGE Alliance, which brought together several anti-nuke organizations and dozens of affinity groups in September to coordinate the struggle to shut down Vermont Yankee.

While the False Solutions Circus brought a comical light to what is a serious issue, the purpose of the performance, according to Keith Brunner, a ringleader and organizer with Red Clover Climate Justice, was to “bring together the many different struggles against so-called ‘clean’ energy development promoted by the one percent under the banner of ‘false solutions.’” The false solutions presented included clean coal, natural gas, biomass, geoengineering, industrial scale hydro, wind and solar and, of course nuclear power.

“The most polluting industries in the country, including the nuclear industry, view the climate crisis as an opportunity to expand their control over energy resources,” said Keith Brunner, standing next to a satirical banner reading “Climate Change: The Profit-Making Opportunity of a Generation.” Keith has been a youth delegate to the past two United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change.

When asked to define what a false solution is, Red Clover Climate Justice organizer Sara Mehalick said, “A false solution to the climate crisis is one that depends on or worsens existing social inequalities or creates other areas of ecological destruction.  Vermont Yankee & nuclear power in general is a great example. Uranium mining pollutes indigenous lands, nuclear power plants produce fuel for nuclear weapons & nuclear waste, and Entergy depends on the federal court systems to overturn the State of Vermont’s democratic decisions.”

The False Solutions Circus was performed in solidarity with communities affected by energy development and climate change policy across the northeast and around the world.  “Organizing and resistance are the only ways to address climate change,” said Avery Pittman, a Red Clover Climate Justice organizer and Circus ringleader. “The strategies we develop today to replace dirty energy like nuclear, coal, oil and gas, may have serious impacts on disenfranchised communities if we do not focus on radical climate solutions rooted in a just transition towards ecologically resilient and equitable communities which can weather the social and ecological crises of tomorrow, while challenging the interlocking systems of oppression existing today.”

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Vermont Yankee Protest: 130 Demonstrators Arrested At Nuclear Plant’s Corporate Headquarters

By WILSON RING 03/23/12  AP

Cross-Posted from the Huffington Post

Vermont Yankee Protest
Hundreds of anti-nuclear activists march to the local corporate offices of Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp., Thursday, March 22, 2012 in Brattleboro, Vt. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — A 93-year-old anti-nuclear activist was among more than 130 protesters arrested at the corporate headquarters of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on the first day of the plant’s operation after the expiration of its 40-year license.
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Frances Crowe, of Northampton, Mass., said she wants Vermont Yankee to cease operations because she feels it’s a threat to the people who live nearby.
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“As I was walking down, all I could think of was Fukushima and the suffering of all the people, and I don’t want that to happen to New England,” Crowe said, referring to the Japanese nuclear reactor damaged last year after an earthquake and tsunami.
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When asked how many times she’d been arrested, she answered: “Not enough.”
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A heavy police presence and ropes blocked off access to the offices in Brattleboro during Thursday’s protest. The arrests were made calmly and without any confrontation, with obvious signs that protesters and police had worked out the logistics beforehand.
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Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn said in a statement that more than 130 people had been arrested for unlawful trespass. He said after being processed, they were later released.
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A company spokesman said work continued as normal at the plant 10 miles south in Vernon.
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“We greatly appreciate the backing of our supporters and respect the rights of opponents to peacefully protest,” said a statement issued by company spokesman Larry Smith. “Inside the gates, our employees will not be distracted. As it is every day, their focus on safety will be laser sharp.”
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A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 gathered in a downtown Brattleboro park before they marched the 3 1/2 miles to the headquarters. Some marched on stilts. Others with painted faces carried signs that read “hell no, we won’t glow.” Many chanted: “Shut it down.”
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Gov. Peter Shumlin was sympathetic to the protesters.
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“I am very supportive of the peaceful protesters gathered today in Brattleboro to express their – and my – frustration that this aging plant remains open after its agreed-upon license has expired,” he said.
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In a coordinated action in New Orleans, the headquarters of Vermont Yankee’s parent company, Entergy Nuclear, another group of seven activists were arrested after they went into the building and refused to leave, police said. The Journal News reported that five others also were arrested at Entergy offices in White Plains, N.Y.
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Loyola University law professor Bill Quigley said the New Orleans protesters live near the Vermont plant and traveled to Louisiana to request a meeting with Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard. They didn’t get that meeting before they were arrested.
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“We’re trying to tell Entergy that the whole world is watching, and you can’t pollute in one area of the country without consequences for everybody,” Quigley said.
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The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued the plant a 20-year license extension, but the state of Vermont wants the plant to close and the two sides are fighting a legal battle. In January, a federal judge issued an order that allows the plant to continue operating while the legal case continues in court.
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While the protesters gathered on the Brattleboro Commons, Vermont Yankee supporters sat across the street and watched. A half-dozen signs saying “VT4VY” were posted on the lawn.
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“The thing is these people are not going to realize it until it’s too late what a benefit it is down there. I feel bad for them. I don’t think they’re looking at the big picture,” said Steve Shaclumis of Brattleboro.
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Some protesters, including Crowe, were released immediately with citations to appear in court. Others were handcuffed and led onto a waiting school bus. It was expected they would be taken to a police station and then released.

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Associated Press reporters Michael Kunzelman and Chevel Johnson in New Orleans and Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, N.Y., contributed to report.

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Dozens arrested in Vermont Yankee anti-nuclear protest

Hundreds of anti-nuclear activists march to the local corporate offices of Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp., Thursday, March 22, 2012 in Brattleboro, Vt. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

By WILSON RING, Associated Press – 24 minutes ago

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) — Dozens of protesters are being arrested in Brattleboro for trespassing on the property of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in a demonstration against the continued operation of the reactor.

Seven others have been arrested for entering the headquarters of the plant’s owner, Entergy Corp., in New Orleans.

Thursday marks the first day of the plant’s operation after its initial 40-year operating license expired a day earlier.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued the plant a 20-year license extension, but the state of Vermont wants the plant to close.

More than 800 protesters marched to the plant’s Brattleboro headquarters on Thursday.

In a statement, Vermont Yankee said the company respects the rights of opponents to peacefully protest. But it says the company’s employees will not be distracted from their jobs.

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2011 Top Ten Articles on Climate Connections

Note:  The following are the top ten articles from Climate Connections from 2011 according to those the number of views each received.  Several of these are original articles/photos from GJEP’s Jeff Conant, Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle, and were also published in magazines, over the wires and cross-posted in other websites/blogs over the past twelve months.  We have posted them in reverse order, from number 10 through number 1.

Please subscribe to our news blog on this page or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

–The GJEP Team

10. A Broken Bridge to the Jungle: The California-Chiapas Climate Agreement Opens Old Wounds (April 7) GJEP post

Photo: Jeff Conant

By Jeff Conant, Communications Director at Global Justice Ecology Project

When photographer Orin Langelle and I visited Chiapas over the last two weeks of March, signs of conflict and concern were everywhere, amidst a complex web of economic development projects being imposed on campesino and indigenous communities without any semblance of free, prior, and informed consent. Among these projects is a renewed government effort to delimit Natural Protected Areas within the Lacandon Jungle, in order to generate carbon credits to be sold to California companies. This effort, it turns out, coincides with a long history of conflicting interests over land, and counterinsurgency campaigns aimed at the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), as well as other allied or sympathetic indigenous and campesino groups.  Continue article

photo: Kim Kyung-hoon / Reuters. caption: Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children...

9. Nuclear Disaster in Japan; Human Health Consequences of Radiation Exposure and the True Price of Oil  (March 15) Cross-posted from Earthbeat Radio

Nuclear power plants across Japan are exploding as the country struggles to cool them down and recover from the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Joining host Daphne Wysham to discuss the latest on the disaster is Damon Moglen. Damon is the director of the climate and energy program for the Friends of the Earth.  Continue article
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8.  Today’s tsunami: This is what climate change looks like (March 11) Cross-posted from Grist

March 11 tsunami leads to an explosion at Chiba Works, an industrial (chemical, steel, etc.) facility in Chiba, Japan.Photo: @odyssey

So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan — there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai — but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.  Continue article

7.  2011 Year of Forests: Real Solutions to Deforestation Demanded (February 2) GJEP post

As UN Declares International Year of Forests, Groups Demand Solutions to Root Causes of Deforestation

Insist Indigenous & Forest Peoples’ Rights Must Be at the Heart of Forest Protection

New York, 2 February 2011-At the launch of the High Level segment of the UN Forum on Forests today, Mr. Sha Zhukan, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs will declare 2011 “the International Year of Forests.” Civil society groups advocating forest protection, Indigenous Rights, and climate justice are launching a program called “The Future of Forests,” to ensure that forest protection strategies address the real causes of global forest decline, and are not oriented toward markets or profit-making.

Critics from Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition, Dogwood Alliance, Timberwatch Coalition, BiofuelWatch, and Indigenous Environmental Network charge that the UN’s premier forest scheme: REDD… Continue article

6. Chiapas, Mexico: From Living in the jungle to ‘existing’ in “little houses made of ticky-tacky…” (April 13) GJEP post

Selva Lacandona (Lacandon jungle/rainforest)

Photo Essay by Orin Langelle

At the Cancún, Mexico United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last year, journalist Jeff Conant and I learned that California’s then-Governor Arnold Swarzenegger had penned an agreement with Chiapas, Mexico’s Governor Juan Sabines as well as the head of the province of Acre, Brazil.  This deal would provide carbon offsets from Mexico and Brazil to power polluting industries in California—industries that wanted to comply with the new California climate law (AB32) while continuing business as usual.

The plan was to use forests in the two Latin American countries to supposedly offset the emissions of the California polluters.

Conant and I took an investigative trip to Chiapas in March.  When we arrived… Continue photo essay

Overview of the March. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

5. Photo Essay: Global Day of Action Against UN Conference of Polluters (COP) in Durban (December 3) GJEP post

3 December 2011–Thousands of people from around the world hit the streets of Durban, South Africa to protest the UN Climate Conference of Polluters.

Photo Essay by Orin Langelle/Global Justice Ecology Project and Anne Petermann/Global Justice Ecology Project-Global Forest Coalition. Continue photo essay

4. Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy (December 13) GJEP post

GJEP's Anne Petermann (right) and GEAR's Keith Brunner (both sitting) before being forcibly ejected from the UN climate conference. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Dedicated to Judi Bari, Emma Goldman, my mother and all of the other strong women who inspire me

An action loses all of its teeth when it is orchestrated with the approval of the authorities.  It becomes strictly theater for the benefit of the media.  With no intent or ability to truly challenge power.

I hate actions like that.

And so it happened that I wound up getting ejected from one such action after challenging its top-down, male domination.  I helped stage an unsanctioned ‘sit-in’ at the action with a dozen or so others who were tired of being told what to do by the authoritarian male leadership of the “big green’ action organizers–Greenpeace and 350.org.  Continue article

3. Photo Essay from Vermont: The Recovery from Hurricane Irene Begins (August 31) GJEP post

Route 100--this and other washed out bridges and culverts cut off the town of Granville, VT from the outside world

As of Tuesday, 30 August 2011, there were still thirteen towns in the U.S. state of Vermont that were completely cut off from the outside world due to the torrential rains of Hurricane Irene.  This was because roads like Route 100, which runs north and south through the state, sustained catastrophic damage to its culverts and bridges for many miles.    In all, over 200 roads across the state were closed due to wash outs from the heavy rains that pelted the state for nearly twenty-four hours on Sunday, August 28.

Text: Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Photos: Orin Langelle, Co-Director/Strategist, Global Justice Ecology Project  Continue photo essay

2. Environmental Destruction, Effects of Climate Change to Worsen in Philippines (January 6) Cross-posted from  Bulatlat.com

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL

MANILA – The year 2010 should have been an opportunity for the new administration to implement fundamental reforms to protect the environment and national patrimony, especially since during the former administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the state of the environment of the country has gone from bad to worse. Continue article

1. Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts (February 22) Cross-posted from IPS News

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 17, 2011 (IPS) – Thawing permafrost is threatening to overwhelm attempts to keep the planet from getting too hot for human survival.

Without major reductions in the use of fossil fuels, as much as two-thirds of the world’s gigantic storehouse of frozen carbon could be released, a new study reported. That would push global temperatures several degrees higher, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable.

Once the Arctic gets warm enough, the carbon and methane emissions from thawing permafrost will kick-start a feedback that will amplify the current warming rate, says Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. That will likely be irreversible.  Continue article

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PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: REPORTED U.S. DEATHS AFTER JAPAN FALLOUT ARRIVES

Note:  This is additional information in regards to our post yesterday “Medical Journal Article: 14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Disaster Fallout.” –as reported by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman in the International Journal of Health Services, December 2011.

All nuclear plants should be decommissioned and no more ever built. Nuclear power is a false solution to climate change.-The GJEP Team

- Japan Fallout Quickly Reaches the U.S.  Fallout was first detected in U.S. air March 17, six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima, and spread across the U.S., along with many other nations.

- Fallout Levels Elevated Across U.S.  EPA found elevated radiation levels in U.S. air, water, and milk beginning late March.  Highest levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water):

3/27, Boise ID      390 3/31, Jacksonville FL 150

3/22, Boise ID      242 3/22, Richmond CA 138

3/29  Kansas City KS      200 3/24, Olympia WA 125

3/29 Salt Lake City UT   190 3/22, Boston MA   92

- Reported Deaths Jump in 14 Weeks After Fallout Arrives.  The CDC issues weekly reports on numbers of deaths for 122 U.S. cities with a population over 100,000, or about 25-30% of the U.S.  In the 14 weeks after Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. (March 20 to June 25), deaths reported to the CDC rose 4.46% from the same period in 2010, compared to just 2.34% in the 14 weeks prior.  Estimated excess deaths during this period (“spring”) for the entire U.S. is about 14,000.

- Excess Deaths Comparable to post-Chernobyl Period.  The estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.  (Patterns of preliminary and final deaths after Chernobyl were roughly similar).

- Infants Hardest Hit.  The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima were largest among U.S. infants under age one.  The 2010-2011 increase in the spring was 1.80%, compared to a decrease of 8.37% in the 14 weeks prior.

- Implications of the Results.  This study of Fukushima health hazards is the first to be published in a scientific journal.  It raises concerns, and strongly suggests that health studies continue, to understand the true impact of Fukushima in Japan and around the world.  Findings are important to the current debate of whether to build new reactors, and how long to keep aging ones in operation.

UPDATED FINDINGS

SINCE SUBMISSION OF THE JOURNAL ARTICLE

Between the July 2011 submission of the manuscript to the International Journal of Health Services, and as of mid-December 2011, several updated findings have been made beyond the data reported in the article:

- Excess Deaths Rise.  The difference between the 2010-2011 increase in reported deaths in the spring (3.85%) and the other 34 weeks of the year thus far (0.98%) has widened.  Excess U.S. deaths are now estimated at about 18,000.

- Deaths Increase for all Ages.  There has been an excess 2010-2011 rise in reported deaths during the spring for all age groups (<1, 1-24, 25-44, 45-64, and >65).  The largest gap continues to be infants <1 year.

- Pneumonia and Influenza Deaths Rise.  The CDC reports deaths in 122 cities for only one cause (pneumonia and influenza).  The 2010-2011 increase for this cause was 11.49%, far higher than the 2.30% increase for the rest of the year.

- Cities Hardest-Hit by Fallout Show Excess Deaths.  Some of the largest increases in deaths during the spring occurred in places where Fukushima fallout was greatest:

Boise ID +22.68% in spring, +5.09% in other 34 weeks

Seattle/Spokane/Tacoma WA + 6.07% in spring,  +0.16% in other 34 weeks

Kansas City KS and MO -  0.93% in spring,  – 7.69% in other 34 weeks

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Medical Journal Article: 14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Disaster Fallout

Impact Seen As Roughly Comparable to Radiation-Related Deaths After Chernobyl; Infants Are Hardest Hit, With Continuing Research Showing Even Higher Possible Death Count.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in theDecember 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services.   This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.

Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.  The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one.  The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks.

The IJHS article will be published Tuesday and will be available online as of 11 a.m. EST at http://www.radiation.org.

Just six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima on March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores.  Subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S.  The highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water):  Boise, ID (390);Kansas City (200); Salt Lake City (190); Jacksonville, FL (150); Olympia, WA (125); and Boston, MA (92).

Epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA, said: “This study of Fukushima health hazards is the first to be published in a scientific journal.  It raises concerns, and strongly suggests that health studies continue, to understand the true impact of Fukushima in Japan and around the world.  Findings are important to the current debate of whether to build new reactors, and how long to keep aging ones in operation.”

Mangano is executive director, Radiation and Public Health Project, and the author of 27 peer-reviewed medical journal articles and letters.

Internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD, said: “Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults.”

Dr. Sherman is an adjunct professor, Western Michigan University, and contributing editor of “Chernobyl – Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment” published by the NY Academy of Sciences in 2009, and author of “Chemical Exposure and Disease and Life’s Delicate Balance – Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues weekly reports on numbers of deaths for 122 U.S. cities with a population over 100,000, or about 25-30 percent of the U.S.  In the 14 weeks after Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. (March 20 to June 25), deaths reported to the CDC rose 4.46 percent from the same period in 2010, compared to just 2.34 percent in the 14 weeks prior.  Estimated excess deaths during this period for the entire U.S. are about 14,000.

SOURCE Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman, International Journal of Health Services

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Vermont’s plan misses the forest

Note:  This is from our colleague, Chris Matera.  It was published in the Bennington Banner (VT).  The problem of biomass energy is a concern for all of us on this planet.

-The GJEP Team

Monday October 10, 2011

Chris Matera

As Vermont considers the recently released Comprehensive Energy Plan and the draft air permit just given to a large proposed tree-fueled power plant in Fair Haven, it is urgent that citizens take a close look at just what is being proposed for Vermont’s energy and environment future because most Vermonters have no idea what policies are rapidly being cemented in place without much public debate or consultation.

Looking at the proposed Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, one quickly notices how adept we humans are at speaking sincerely, in perfect contradiction, out of both sides of our mouth. The plan frets about high carbon emissions that cause global warming (as the floods rage) but then proposes policies and taxpayer subsidies to incentivize tree-burning “biomass” energy which has the highest carbon footprint of all.

Meanwhile, too many so-called “green” groups sit by silently, or even cheerlead, while these plans quickly move forward that would drastically increase cutting and burning of Vermont’s golden goose forests, for tiny amounts of energy.

Most people know that we need to protect forests to absorb carbon dioxide, clean our air and water, provide flood control, shelter wildlife and provide the beauty that brings higher quality of life and tourist dollars to New England. So how did increased cutting and burning of forests (called “deforestation” and “pollution” when it occurs in other countries) get re-branded as “green” energy, particularly considering that burning wood is one of the dirtiest forms of energy that exists.

In addition to the strong influence of vested interests, the serious negative impacts from tree-fueled biomass energy are often glossed over when promoted under the “local” banner which seems to raise blinders to looking at what local activity is being sold. Vermont Yankee is “local” and coal is local to West Virginians, so just because something is local, doesn’t automatically mean it is good. (I do not support either of the above) .

The latest science states the inconvenient truth that tree-fueled biomass electric facilities like the one proposed in Fair Haven are 50 percent worse than coal and 300 percent worse than natural gas for carbon emissions, worse than fossil fuels for most conventional air pollutants including particulates (even with modern air pollution controls and accounting for new tree growth), and will significantly increase forest ecosystem and wildlife impacts on already stressed forests.

Even more efficient combined heat and power (CHP) biomass facilities, which some consider “less bad” than biomass electric production, still emit carbon dioxide at a rate 24 percent higher than oil and 97 percent higher than natural gas. Also, the air pollution profile in CHP biomass is worse than even oil, so think hard the next time you hear it promoted as “good” for the climate, or “good” for heating hospitals and schools with their at-risk populations. New England already has the highest asthma rates in the nation.

Producing tiny amounts of new biomass energy in New England would require drastic increases in cutting and burning of living, green trees. According to the Vermont Biomass Energy Working Group (which is mostly stacked with biomass vested interests), it would require one million additional tons of cutting (a 62 percent increase in logging of Vermont’s forests) to provide just 1 to 2 percent of Vermont’s heat and electric. Think about that the next time you recycle a “post-it” note to save trees.

Frighteningly, the recently released draft Comprehensive Energy Plan proposes getting 25 percent of Vermont’s energy from bio-energy (fueled largely by forests) by 2025, which would mean a drastic increase in forest cutting and carbon emissions, the exact opposite of what we need at this time. Additionally, New England’s forests are threatened by serious efforts to export wood pellets to Europe.

Nobody is saying “don’t ever cut a tree” or “don’t use your home wood stove” (although it is helpful to use cleaner, more efficient models). The intention here is to avoid increasing the cutting and burning of our critical forests. According to the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, Vermont is already cutting 67 percent of its annual forest growth, and if inaccessible areas like steep slopes are taken into consideration, Vermont is already cutting about all of its available growth.

We have big energy and environmental challenges, but wishful and delusional thinking, such as burning forests is “green” just because it is “local” is no better than West Virginians who want the money provided by dirty energy from their “local” resource. We can and must do much better than burning down the house (our forests) to keep warm for a night.

We are lucky to have our world renown, golden goose forests again in New England. They were almost gone 80 years ago, and could go again. We do not the need additional pollution and tiny amounts of energy available from cutting, burning and belching them up dirty smokestacks, but we do need to protect our forests if they are to continue attracting tourist dollars, sheltering wildlife and cleaning up the mess we have already made of our air, water and atmosphere.

Local solar, geothermal, (appropriately scaled and located) wind and hydro energy, along with conservation and efficiency can drastically clean up our energy supply, and help save our environment without destroying it. This is where we need to be putting our energy, so to speak.

Chris Matera is a civil engineer and the founder of Massachusetts Forest Watch, an all volunteer citizen watchdog group formed to protect New England’s public forests and to promote genuinely “clean” and “green” energy solutions. Visit www.maforests.org

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