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Monday
Jun042012

Defend assault on Canadian environmental laws and NGOs

Many NGOs in Canada, and some in the US, are today "blacking out" their websites in defense of Canada's precious ecosystems which are under assault from draconian new regulatory changes embedded in the latest Canadian federal budget. The changes will allow extractive industries to plunder Canadian resources at will, virtually unfettered. Canadian NGOs are also being stripped of their non-profit status using spurious accusations that they are "too political" (The IPPNW Canadian affiliate - Physicians for Global Survival being one such.)

Today's Speak Out action includes an on-line petition and other actions of solidarity.

Right now, Parliament is pushing through a bill to weaken many of the country's most important environmental protection measures and silence the voices of all Canadians who seek to defend nature. Today it's our voice; tomorrow it could be yours. Read more here.

Friday
Jun012012

Stony Brook and Stanford Universities link radioactive bluefin tuna caught off California coast to Fukushima

As reported at The Raw Story: Bluefin tuna are large, fast-swimming fish, growing up to ten feet in length and weighing up to half a ton. The fish swim at “breakneck” speeds and cross the oceans to feed and mate, up to 45,000 miles over 16 months, scientific studies have shown.A study, published by the universities at Stony Brook and Stanford, has scientifically linked  radioactive contamination in bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California in August 2011, to the massive releases of radionuclides into ocean waters from Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear catastrophe which began in March 2011. The scientific report concludes that Fukushima has "caused significant local and global concern regarding the spread of radioactive material."  The authors with Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University jointly published "Pacific bluefin tuna transport Fukushima-derived radionuclides from Japan to California” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The authors report "unequivocal evidence" that the radioactive cesium-137 and cesium-134 contamination in the bluefin tuna is from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear catastrophe.  The bluefin tuna spawn in the waters of the Western Pacific off the coast of Japan each year and then migrate across the Northern Pacific to the eco-systems in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of California.   Radioactive cesium accumulates in the muscle tissue of fish.  The report states, “Because bluefin tuna are harvested annually in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) at 1.7 – 9.9 x 103 metric tonnes (between 1700 and 9900 metric tonnes) for human consumption (2000 to 2010), the possibility of radioactive contamination raises public health concerns.”

The report further states that the samples showed a 10-fold increase in radiocesium concentrations in the commercial fish and, presently, would likely only provide low doses of radioactivity through consumption relative to other naturally occurring radionuclides in those same fish.

However, the study appears to have measured only one kind of radiation: gamma. The researchers do not mention measuring beta or alpha radiation, two types that deliver a much higher dose once inside a human body. This means that any radioactive decay level (usually given in becquerels - Bq) would under represent the actual level of radioactivity. Additionally, the researchers attempt to compare radiocesium contamination with that of naturally occurring radiation. However, such comparisons should be avoided because studies show that cesium can behave very differently, collecting in unexpected places in the body and residing there longer than expected.

The study represents the first evidence that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, coming by way of the Pacific Ocean marine food chain, can ultimately end up increasing internal radioactive exposure and body burden for humans in the US. Since publishing the study, the authors have now caught more bluefin tuna that have completed additional migrations between Japan and California.  These commercial fish will be tested for increased bioaccumulation of radioactive isotopes. Additional bio-magnification of radioactive isotopes like cesium-137 can be expected to continue to increase in the fish food stock in these contaminated eco-systems. The average life span of bluefin tuna can be up to 15 years, meaning that additional fish migrations into these contaminated eco-systems can increase as the result of bio-magnification, bio-accumulation and  the uptake and retention of radioactivity in muscle and organ tissue.

Thursday
May312012

"Not on our Great Lakes: anti-nuclear activist criticizes proposed Ontario waste site"

Jim Bloch of The Voice, serving northern Macomb and St. Clair Counties in eastern Michigan, has reported on the speaking tour of Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps across Michigan, which featured showings of the documentary film "Into Eternity" about the proposed geologic repository for high-level radioactive waste in Finland. The tour was organized by Kay Cumbow of Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), to ring the alarm about the DGR ("Deep Geologic Repository," or DUD, as Greenpeace Canada's Dave Martin dubbed it, for Deep Underground Dump) targeted by the nuclear utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) at the Bruce Nuclear Complex on the Ontario shoreline of Lake Huron, 50 miles from Michigan and upstream of such communities on the U.S. side as Alpena, Bay City, Port Huron, and Detroit.

Although supposedly "only" for so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes from 20 atomic reactors in Ontario, as Bloch reports, the DUD could easily morph into a catch-all for every category of radioactive waste, including high-level, from 22 operable and additional shutdown reactors across Canada. Concerned citizens and environmental groups are urged to express their opposition to Canadian decision makers by visiting the proposal's environmental assessment website. The Great Lakes (photo, above left), 20% of the world's surface fresh water, and drinking water supply for 40 million people in the U.S., Canada, and a large number of Native American/First Nations, would be put at radiological risk.

It's interesting that OPG chose to cut off its consideration of earthquakes in the area at just 180 years ago: 200 years ago, the New Madrid quakes of 1811 and 1812 -- the largest in North American recorded history -- were powerful enough to impact the Great Lakes region, even though they were epicentered in Missouri. Native American oral history in Michigan, for example, speaks of tsunami-like waves on the Great Lakes. The DUD's entrance tunnel mouth would be located about a half-mile from the Lake Huron shore, as would its surface facilities for handling and storing radioactive wastes.

Wednesday
May302012

"Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission" by Karl Grossman

Investigative journalist, and Beyond Nuclear board of directors member, Karl Grossman (pictured, left), has published an article entitled "Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission" which has appeared at the Huffington Post and elsewhere. In it, Karl reports that U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko, has been pressured to resign over a year early due to withering attacks by the nuclear power industry and its friends within the NRC and on Capitol Hill, due to his safety advocacy. Karl points out that NRC has never, in its nearly 40 years of existence, denied a license to construct or operate a commercial atomic reactor. It has also rubberstamped 73 license extensions for 20 additional years of operation at U.S. atomic reactors, with 13 other license extensions already applied for.

Wednesday
May302012

New York Times editorial: "Nuclear Power After Fukushima"

In a May 25th editorial, the New York Times lauded outgoing U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman, Gregory Jaczko, for his devotion to safety -- such as his call for clear and ambitious deadlines for "Fukushima lessons learned" to be applied at U.S. atomic reactors -- and called on his nominated replacement, Dr. Allison Macfarlane, to keep holding NRC's and the nuclear power industry's feet to the fire.

But, as Beyond Nuclear board of directors member Karl Grossman has put it in his article "Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission," the New York Times "misses the institutional point": Jaczko was crucified by the nuclear power industry, and its friends within the NRC and on Capitol Hill, for his safety advocacy, a fate that could easily befall Macfarlane as well.