Hard-won federal acknowledgement that radioactive waste in metro St. Louis creek increases cancer risks  

West Lake LandfillAs reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and St. Louis Public Radio, the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that "radiological contamination in and around Coldwater Creek, prior to remediation activities, could have increased the risk of some types of cancer in people who played or lived there." Specifically, ATSDR cited the risk for increases in bone, breast, lung, and skin cancers, as well as leukemia. ATSDR admits that even post-remediation, "more recent exposures [year 2000 and after] increased the risk of developing bone or lung cancer from daily residential exposure."

The radioactive wastes originated from highly concentrated Belgian Congo uranium ores processed, beginning in 1942, by Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in downtown St. Louis, MO during the Manhattan Project, that led to the atomic bombings of Japan. Over the course of the following decades, the wastes were later stored near the airport, and even illegally dumped, around metro St. Louis, leading to the contamination of not only Coldwater Creek, but also Bridgeton at the West Lake Landfill (see image, above). The latter has the added risk of an immediately adjacent underground municipal garbage dump fire, threatening to drive radioactive contaminants into the air supply of surrounding residential neighborhoods. These stories are told in the very powerful recent documentary Atomic Homefront, featured on HBO.  The work of local grassroots groups such as Coldwater Creek -- Just the Facts, Just Moms STL, and Beyond Nuclear's board president (and in-house pamphleteer!) Kay Drey, are highlighted in the film, for their years and decades of tireless advocacy, for full cleanup, on behalf of the families and children still put at risk by these oldest radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age.


Trump wants a Space Force and "dominance" in space

“Space is a warfighting domain,” said the White House statement this week. It came as the Trump administration once again proclaimed that it plans to create a “Space Force".

Last time the Trump White House tried this, Pentagon officials objected, saying it would “lead to unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.” Maybe. What’s far far worse is that it would lead to unnecessary wars.

The 2018 Defense Budget that Trump signed into law in December 2017 authorizes almost $700 billion in defense spending, the biggest ever in US history. The Space Force was included, although without a dollar figure assigned to it. But, says Bruce Gagnon, director of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, “Trump does not have the authority to make [Space Force] happen without congressional approval and appropriation, thus at this point it is only a suggestion.”

A Space Force is not about GPS and weather satellites, despite what military spokesmen might say. Or even about spying. It’s about preparation for war. And that war will include nuclear weapons. Read the full article.


One of the world's worst nuclear accidents was in Brazil

On September 13, 1987, Brazilian scrap metal dealer, Devair Ferreira, unwittingly opened Pandora’s box. Out spilled a bright blue crystalline powder that fell glowing to the floor. Fascinated by the magical iridescence, Ferreira invited family members to his home to see the mysterious substance for themselves. They were entranced. They touched it and passed it around to other friends and relatives.

What none of them knew was that they had just set in motion Latin America’s worst nuclear accident. The blue powder was cesium chloride, encased inside a cesium-137 teletherapy unit that had been left behind in an abandoned cancer treatment hospital in the City of Goiânia, the capital of the State of Goiás. Two jobless youngsters had picked it up, pulled out the heavy lead cylinder containing 19 grams of cesium-137, and sold it to Ferreira.

According to the Goiás Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Association of Cesium Victims (AVCesio), at least 1,400 people were contaminated and that 66 have died as of 2017 as a result of the accident. Read the full story.


Women's voices from Three Mile Island

Accidents Can Happen: Voices of women from Three Mile Island is a film about about the silenced story of the women from the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. 

This is the tale of the mothers —  Linda, Joyce, Beth and Paula — ordinary American housewives who lived five miles from the nuclear power plant at the time of the meltdown on March 28, 1979. The accident turned their lives upside down and awakened them to the politics of the nuclear industry and the silencing of truth. The women fought back.


The $7.6 billion nuclear bailout. Who's really paying?

Long Island Power Authority ratepayers—including those in Suffolk County—will be and already are paying a disproportionate share of the $7.6 billion bailout of four upstate nuclear power plants pushed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, writes Karl Grossman this week. The bailout runs for 12 years. It kicked in last year with an added charge in the electric bills of all New York State residents, businesses and other entities including schools and governments.

A lawsuit is underway in New York State Supreme Court to end the bailout. It follows unsuccessful efforts in the State Legislature to stop it, of which State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. from Suffolk, was a leader. “The lawsuit is our hope now,” he said last week.

The disproportionate share LIPA ratepayers are being charged is based on a complicated formula developed by Exelon, which owns in whole or part the four plants, and approved by the state. Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, calculates that LIPA ratepayers are being hit with an overcharge of many millions of dollars a year in contrast to what should be their share.

The bailout is based on a claim by Governor Cuomo supported by the State Public Service Commission that nuclear power plants don’t generate greenhouse or carbon gases and thus should receive “zero emissions credit”—an assertion the lawsuit strongly challenges. Read the full article.

And watch Grossman explain more on Enviro Close-Up with attorney Susan Shapiro.