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Thursday
Feb072019

God's River, by filmmakers Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac

GOD’S RIVER is a short documentary film created by Mark Isaac and Gabriela Bulisova as part of their work in Ukraine supported by a Fulbright grant. Energy producers and environmentalists agree that climate change has significantly reduced the flow of the Southern Bug River, the longest river entirely within Ukraine. But the two camps differ dramatically on how to respond. The state-operated nuclear conglomerate, EnergoAtom, proposes to raise water levels behind Alexandrivsky Dam, flooding a portion of Buszky Gard National Park. But a unique coalition of veterans, academics, environmentalists and Ukrainian nationalists opposes the plan because it will threaten endangered plants and animals, submerge archaeological digs, and destroy Gardove Island, a place that is sacred to Cossack heritage. While some urge compromise, others claim concessions could permanently kill the river. Returning soldiers from the Donbas region forthrightly embrace the struggle as an extension of the war effort. If the Ukrainian Parliament approves the plan, they have pledged — along with their allies — to occupy Gardove Island, where a Cossack church once stood, and protect it “by all means necessary, including radical ones.” God's River from Gabriela Bulisova is viewable on Vimeo

Thursday
Feb072019

Radiation apologist now heads EPA radiation panel

When Beyond Nuclear submitted comments on EPA's proposed transparency rule (the agency's bid to make regulations of pollutants less protective) we were told the EPA’s attack on science-based protections wouldn't include radiation. Now EPA has appointed Brant Ulsh, a member of a group promoting hormesis (the misguided idea that a little radiation is good for you), as panel chairman of its radiation advisory committee.
 
Ulsh has recently written an article claiming that hormesis has been "arbitrarily" excluded as a potential model for radiation damage. In reality, hormesis is not applicable to establishing protections against radiation. In his article, Ulsh challenges legitimate concerns over thyroid exposures in childhood. He mentions nothing about disproportionate impacts on women and pregnancy, which EPA's regulations already do not fully account for. Ulsh has failed to respond to a published critique. Appointing Ulsh bodes ill for public protection from radiation exposure and Beyond Nuclear is investigating if his appointment violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
Thursday
Feb072019

City officials, doctors, public seek expansion of KI for nuclear disaster preparedness around Fermi-2 reactor

Credit: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory CommissionOn February 4, 2019, the Ann Arbor City Council in Southeast Michigan unanimously passed a municipal resolution calling on the State and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to upgrade radiological disaster preparedness around the Fermi Unit 2 nuclear power station, approximately 30-miles away, in Monroe, MI. Specifically, the city is requesting the State and the NRC to strategically stockpile potassium iodide (KI) tablets in city schools, hospitals, police and fire stations for the population-level protection of the thyroid, particularly those of infants, young children through 18 years old and pregnant woman and lactating mothers, from radioactive iodine released during a severe nuclear accident.  KI, if ingested shortly after a radioactive release and accompanied by evacuation, sheltering-in-place and avoiding contaminated food, water and milk, is effective in saturating the thyroid with stable iodine and preventing the absorption of cancer-causing radioiodine.

In fact, Ann Arbor officials are seeking the same level of disaster medicine preparedness as already provided Canadians living within Fermi nuclear station’s internationally recognized 50-mile emergency planning zone. The Fermi radiological emergency planning zone spans Lake Erie and the US and Canada border. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Ontario health officials and Canadian nuclear regulators required in 2014 the predistribution and stockpiling of KI to Canadian populations around all Canadian nuclear power stations. In December 2017, the Ontario Provincial Government expanded the predistribution of KI to Canadians living in radiological emergency planning zones for the U.S.-based nuclear power stations in Michigan (Fermi-2) and Ohio (Davis-Besse and Perry).

The Ann Arbor municipal resolution---introduced by Beyond Nuclear, city residents and a Michigan safe energy coalition---is supported by the American Thyroid Association (ATA).  In testimony before City Council on the night of the vote, Dr. Thomas Giordano, an Ann Arbor resident, a pathologist with University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine and ATA board member, supported passage of the municipal resolution. Dr. Giordano emphasized the importance of KI pre-distribution and stockpiling around nuclear power stations to protect the youngest and most vulnerable population and that it should be required---not just an option.

The City of Ann Arbor is now preparing a KI lobby campaign to approach state and Washtenaw County emergency planners and public health officials as well as the NRC. Beyond Nuclear will work with Ann Arbor officials and broaden its public outreach to foster support for the resolution in municipalities within the emergency planning zone of Fermi and other U.S. reactors.

Currently, the availability of free KI tablets from the NRC  for the prophylactic protection of the thyroid from cancer-causing radioactive iodine released during a nuclear accident is an optional volutary program for states affected by nuclear power plants' 10-mile  evacuation planning zones. Of those states participating, KI is distributed within the 10-mile EPZ through vouchers sent in the mail with utility bills that can be redeemed for KI tablets on designated calendar dates at designiated pickup stations. A 2012 study by Michigan health health officials determined that little more that 5% of eligible receipents actually picked up their tablets.

Monday
Feb042019

Trump wants space for war, others remind us of its beauty and our place in it

This week, two stories on Beyond Nuclear International juxtapose the transformative beauty of Earth from space and our home in the universe, with President Trump's latest move toward war in space. Bella Gaia, Kenji Williams' breathtaking creation, is an immersive, multi-media experience that uses NASA photography of Earth from and in space, as well as digital creations that represent our heavy footprint down on Earth -- including forest fires, air traffic, ocean pollution and the Fukushima radioactive plume. But Trump is pulling the US out of the INF treaty, has already withdrawn the US from the Iran nuclear deal, has demanded a "Space Force" and now, writes Karl Grossman, wants to ramp up Reagan's failed and futile "Star Wars" missile defense system.

Bella Gaia: https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/02/03/a-planet-worth-saving/

Darth Trump: https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/02/03/darth-trump-from-space-force-to-star-wars/

(Headline photo of ocean currents and temperature from Bella Gaia courtesy of Christopher Altman/Creative Commons.)

Friday
Feb012019

The global crisis of nuclear waste

A comprehensive report -- in English -- has been published by Greenpeace France, taking an in-depth look at the growing, unending and unsolved problem of radioactive waste. A team of experts reviewed the radioactive waste situation in Belgium, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland, the UK and the USA. The report -- The Global Crisis of Nuclear Waste - is authored by Pete Roche, Bertrand Thuillier, Bernard Laponche, Miles Goldstick, Johann Swahn, Hideyuki Ban and Robert Alvarez.