Trinity downwinders seek recognition and compensation

Today, July 16, also marks the anniversary of the 1945 Trinity atomic test. Shockingly, those downwind in New Mexico, the same state in which the bomb was detonated, have never been recognized as affected and never compensated. Beyond Nuclear went with a delegation to Capitol Hill when they finally got their Senate hearing.

Read our story on Beyond Nuclear International. 

"When Barbara Kent was twelve years old she went away to dance camp. It was July 1945. A dozen young girls were enjoying a summer retreat, sleeping together in a cabin, and sharing their love of dance. On July 16 they danced with something deadly.

After being jolted unexpectedly out of bed, they went outside pre-dawn when it should have been dark, to find it bright as day with a strange white ash falling like snowflakes. “Winter in July,” Kent, now 86 years old, has called it.

The girls rubbed the “snowflakes” on their bodies and caught them with their tongues. Before they all turned 40, 10 of the 12 girls had died.

No one had warned the girls, or their teacher, or anyone in the community, that the US government had just exploded the first atomic bomb a little more than 50 miles away at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico, now known as the Trinity Test Site. The “snowflakes” were deadly radioactive fallout and just the beginning of an endless — and likely permanent — cycle of disease, death and deprivation.

“While it was not the end of the world, it was the beginning of the end for so many people,” said Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, an organization that “seeks justice for the unknowing, unwilling and uncompensated participants of the July 16, 1945 Trinity test in southern New Mexico.”

Read the full story here.


The forgotten 90 million gallon nuclear tragedy

Today, July 16, marks the anniversary of the biggest "accidental" release of radioactive waste in US history.

On July 16, 1979,  the worst accidental release of radioactive waste in U.S. history happened at the Church Rock uranium mine and mill site. While the Three Mile Island accident (that same year) is well known, the enormous radioactive spill in New Mexico has been kept quiet. It is the U.S. nuclear accident that almost no one knows about.

Just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and 34 years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico became the scene of another nuclear tragedy.

Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Puerco River.

Read the full story on Beyond Nuclear International.


2018 Nuclear-Free Future Award winners announced

Jeffrey Lee, Karipbek Kuyukov, Linda Walker, Peter Weish, Didier and Pauletee Anger

The five winners of the 2018 Nuclear-Free Future Award, representing often unsung grassroots activists and innovators who oppose all aspects of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and who have found alternative paths forward, were announced today.

The Nuclear-Free Future Award offers three cash prizes and two honorary awards and is held annually in different cities around the world. The 2018 Award ceremony will take place on October 24, 2018 in Salzburg, Austria, and is celebrating its 20th year. The event, which is open to the public, also includes an international Think Nuclear-Free Symposium the next day, where the winners further expound on their work. Winners are voted on by an international jury panel.

Jeffrey Lee of Australia, Karipbek Kuyukov of Kazakhstan and Linda Walker of the United Kingdom, are the recipients of cash awards in the amount of $10,000 each in the categories of Resistance, Education and Solutions respectively.

The winners of the two honorary Lifetime Achievement Awards are French activist couple, Didier and Paulette Anger, long-time opponents of the French nuclear power and weapons sectors, and Peter Weish of Austria, the driving force behind his country’s nuclear power opposition movement.

Lee, the sole surviving member of his Djok aboriginal clan, single-handedly defended the land he inherited against uranium mining corporations, refusing huge monetary offers and instead choosing to preserve its precious ecology and cultural and spiritual significance. Eventually, Lee’s land became incorporated into Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage site, permanently protecting it from uranium mining.

Kuyukov was born without arms in a small village near the site of Soviet atomic testing, a victim of his parents’ exposure to radiation from the tests. He has become an international spokesperson for the victims of atomic testing, using his moving paintings — which he produces using his feet and mouth — and frequent speaking engagements to ensure that such atrocities are never repeated.

Walker established a relief program for children from Belarus, the most radiologically impacted country in the aftermath of the deadly Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in Ukraine in 1986. She has provided “radiation vacations” for affected children who travel to Britain but also humanitarian aid in the form of ambulances, medical supplies and respite centers in Belarus itself.

The Angers have resisted the construction of the Flamanville nuclear reactors, exposed the deadly health impacts due to radioactive leaks and releases from the La Hague reprocessing site, and opposed the stationing of nuclear submarines at Cherbourg, among other campaigns. Over the years, they have become known as the “godparents” of the French anti-nuclear movement. 

Similarly, Weish is the longtime leading light in the Austrian anti-nuclear movement in a country that today has no nuclear power plants, forbids nuclear waste transportation and was a leader in driving forward the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For a time, Weish worked within the Institute for Radiation Protection, lending him specialized knowledge that made him a formidable force when arguing against nuclear energy. 

The Nuclear-Free Future Award Foundation is headquartered in Munich, Germany. Beyond Nuclear is the foundation’s North American partner.


Abnormal bugs found around Swiss nuclear power plants

A new study, believed to be the first to investigate health effects on insects near operating nuclear power plants, has found a highly significant twofold increase in morphological malformations on true bugs in the 5 km vicinity of three Swiss nuclear power stations. The study — Morphological Abnormalities in True Bugs (Heteroptera) near Swiss Nuclear Power Stations — was conducted by Alfred Körblein, a physicist and authority on the health impacts of low-dose radiation, and Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, who has studied and painted insects affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. (You can read more about Hesse-Honegger's work here.) Earlier studies on wildlife around Chernobyl and Fukushima found large and highly statistically significant incidences of radiation-induced mutation rates.  Due to its ecological design, however, the Swiss study cannot answer the question whether the effect is caused by radiation from nuclear power plants. However, given the results, the researchers are calling for future studies to confirm their findings. Read the study.


July 14 Uranium Legacy Commemoration

July 3, 2018
Contact: Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community Association
505.905.8051 home, 505.713-4085 cell

Susan Gordon, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, coordinator
505.577.8438  contact for photos or graphics
Red Water Pond Road Community: 39 Years Since North East Church Rock 
Uranium Tailings Spill That Was Never Investigated Nor Cleaned Up
  •  Uranium Legacy Commemoration, Saturday, July 14, 7 am to 3 pm
  •  12 miles North of Red Rock State Park on State Highway 566 near Church Rock, NM
The Red Water Pond Road Community on Navajo Nation will be hosting their 39th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill that is the largest uranium tailings spill in the United States. 
On July 16, 1979, an earthen dam that held liquid uranium waste broke, releasing 1,000 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and more than 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco. The contaminants flowed downstream through Gallup, NM and across nine Navajo chapters. Several days after the spill, United Nuclear Corporation sent a handful of people out with shovels and buckets in an attempt to remediate the mess. To this day there has been no reclamation, no study to see how far the contamination went and its impacts on local water systems and people’s health. United Nuclear Corporation has not been held accountable for the spill.
“Let us come together again and share these issues and concerns, collaborate and strategize, to push clean up of these contaminated environments among our Diné people, to restore, preserve and protect our Mother Earth,” said Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community resident. “It is time for our state and tribal governments to stand up and help these impacted communities on Dinetah. There has been enough talk. It is time to take action on behalf of the people."  
The North East Church Rock community are concerned about the uranium contamination legacy that has poisoned Mother Earth, including our sacred waters, land, and livestock. This gathering will provide a venue to discuss and educate everyone about the impacts of uranium mining and milling and about the ongoing work to remove uranium contaminated soil from the surrounding areas to protect our families and environment. 
There will be a 7 am walk to the spill site to offer healing prayers. Following the walk people will gather under shade for food, community education, speeches, and a silent auction.