Fihn and Thurlow accept Nobel Peace Prize at all women ceremony

Two women, spanning generations and cultures, accepted the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, presented by a third woman, Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The prize, which was announced on October 6, went to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN received the award, said Reiss-Andersen, “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.” The prize was accepted by ICAN’s 34-year old executive director, Beatrice Fihn of Sweden, and 85-year old hibakusha, Setsuko Thurlow of Japan, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In her acceptance remarks, Fihn thanked the many thousands of members of ICAN and others who made the win possible, saying that “we represent the only rational choice. We represent those who refuse to accept nuclear weapons as a fixture in our world, those who refuse to have their fates bound up in a few lines of launch code.” Thurlow, who was 13 at the time of the Hiroshima bombing, spoke vividly of the horrors she witnessed. “Today, I want you to feel in this hall the presence of all those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” she said. “I want you to feel, above and around us, a great cloud of a quarter million souls. Each person had a name. Each person was loved by someone. Let us ensure that their deaths were not in vain.” Watch the entire ceremony.


Uranium firm urged Trump officials to shrink Bears Ears National Monument

As reported by Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post.

Mary Papenfuss also reported on this story in Huffington Post, including that a coalition of environmental groups, Native American nations, scientists, and businesses are countering the Trump administration's attacks on national monuments in Utah in court.

The HuffPosrt article reports: "The [uranium company's hired] lobbying team was headed by Andrew Wheeler, whom Trump has tapped to be deputy secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler is awaiting Senate confirmation."

Please phone both your U.S. Senators via the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and urge that they do everything in their power to block Andrew Wheeler's confirmation as EPA deputy secretary.

Combined with Michael Flynn's reported involvement in promoting dozens of new atomic reactors in Saudi Arabia, including Russian industry involvement, nuclear power-related schemes have risen to the top of the list of biggest scandals and controversies plaguing the Trump administration's first 11 months in office.


U.S. nuclear companies invited to help launch Saudi Arabia’s dangerous “Atomic Age”

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih is extending invitations to the U.S. nuclear industry to launch the Gulf Region’s most ambitious nuclear power program.

The Saudi atomic energy plan is to build as many as 17 nuclear power plants by 2032.  The Saudi Arabia government has stated that its atomic power program will be “self-sufficient” in the production of nuclear fuel at 5% enriched uranium-235 and purely directed for civilian power development. The pronouncement comes as Saudi energy officials remain silent on their past refusal to not pursue high-grade uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies as military weapons production facilities. In any case, the introduction of nuclear materials will significantly increase instability and tensions in the region.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited the Saudi Arabia capitol in Riyad for talks on the nuclear deal that would include negoitations with the bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Corporation to build two of the nuclear power projects despite the company financially abandoning its AP1000 construction projects for the two reactor units halted in South Carolina and two more units teetering on cancellation in Georgia.

Saudia Arabia is similarly reaching out for nuclear power technology from Russia, South Korea, France and China.

Presently, the neighboring United Arab Emirates leads the regional atomic race with the near completion and projected 2018 operation of the first of four units at the Barakah nuclear power station near Abu Dhabi using South Korea’s Generation III APR1400 pressurized water reactors. The other three units are slated to be completed and operational by 2020.

Tensions continue to mount in the region following claims that  Houthi rebels have launched Iranian-made cruise missiles from Yemen into both Saudia Arabia and the UAE where the massive Barakah nuclear power construction project was the intended though missed target. Once operational, however, any of these reactors potentially present pre-deployed radiologically-enhanced weapons for mass destruction if successfully hit by high explosive-laden cruise missiles or suicidal ground and water borne attack teams.


104 Great Lakes mayors urge Canada's environment minister to reject OPG's DGR

See the letter, sent by 104 mayors and other elected officials throughout the Great Lakes basin, to Canada's Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna. Their demand is that she reject Ontario Power Generation's Deep Geologic Repository, a scheme to bury radioactive waste on the Lake Huron shore at Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada.

See the press release about it, by Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump.

The following media covered this story:

The Times Herald

National Post

Nuclear News

Michigan Radio

The Voice


Is the mysterious radioactive plume from Mayak -- and will we ever know?

In a November 24 column in Counterpunch, Beyond Nuclear's Linda Pentz Gunter reports on the radioactiveplume of ruthenium 106, detected in Europe and seemingly emanating from deep inside Russia, and possibly -- or even probably -- from the Mayak nuclear facility. But she postulates that a potential reason behind Russia's denial of an accident at that facility is because it is owned by Rosatom, the state nuclear corporation actively marketing itself around the globe. A nuclear disaster could put a serious dent in commerce. So perhaps the origins and consequences of this significant release are being suppressed, even from local residents and workers around the site who may not be getting the medical help they need and deserve. 

Here are the introductory paragraphs -- or read the full article.

September 29 marked the 60th anniversary of the world’s third most deadly— and least known — nuclear accident. It took place at the Mayak plutonium production facility, in a closed Soviet city in the Urals. The huge explosion was kept secret for decades. It spread hot particles over an area of more than 20,000 square miles, exposing a population of at least 270,000 and indefinitely contaminating land and rivers. Entire villages had to be bulldozed. Residents there have lived for decades with high rates of radiologically induced illnesses and birth defects.

Now, evidence is emerging of a potentially new nuclear accident and indications point once again to Mayak as one of the likely culprits. Ironically, if there was indeed an accident there, it happened on or around the precise anniversary of the 1957 disaster. The Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad in the region is another possible suspect.

The presence of the man-made radioactive isotope, ruthenium 106, was detected in the atmosphere in early October by a French nuclear safety institute and by a Danish monitoring station, but only recently confirmed by Russia’s meteorological agency. However, the Russian authorities continue to deny that the releases came from one of their nuclear facilities and the source of the release is yet to be identified.

And the release of ruthenium 106 is a massive one, indicating a major accident, not a minor leak. The French radiological institute for nuclear safety IRSN) calculated the release at 300 Terrabequerels. To put this in perspective, it is an amount equivalent to 375,000 times the annual release of ruthenium 106 authorized for a French nuclear power plant. 

Read the rest of the article at Counterpunch.