Beyond Nuclear International

A Fukushima vigil

The mothers of Fukushima will join a series of events that urge the world to renounce nuclear power

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Every Friday morning, a group of Japanese residents living and working in the UK gather outside the Japanese Embassy in London, and in front of TEPCO’s London headquarters. They are there to remind their government, TEPCO, and the world, that the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power disaster is not over and its consequences will reach far into the future.

Now, as we arrive at the eighth anniversary, the group, along with other UK partners, is preparing to hold its annual series of events to once again raise the profile of a disaster the nuclear industry would like us to forget and the Japanese government tries to pretend is over.

The group calls itself Japanese Against Nuclear UK (JAN UK) and, says its website, it was “formed on the 3rd August 2012 with a desire to better inform the public in the UK and Japan about the damage caused by nuclear power and to highlight the catastrophic effects of nuclear accidents, as well as to make the public aware to the continued failings and ongoing suffering from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident and the consequences for Japan and the world.”


Protest at the UK Parliament. (Photo: JAN UK)

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The colonial mindset that caused eternal pain

Remembering the Castle Bravo anniversary

By Peace Movement Aotearoa

March 1, last Friday was Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day — the 65th anniversary of the ‘Bravo’ nuclear bomb detonation by the United States close to the surface of Bikini Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, which blasted out a crater more than 200 feet deep and a mile across.

Particles of radioactive fallout from the blast landed on the island of Rongelap (100 miles away) to a depth of one and a half inches in places, and radioactive mist appeared on Utirik (300 miles away). The US navy did not send ships to evacuate the people of Rongelap and Utirik until three days after the explosion.

Fallout from this one nuclear weapon detonation spread over more than 7,000 square miles, and traces were detected throughout the Pacific, in India, Japan, the United States and Europe. The Marshallese, and other Pacific peoples subjected to more than 300 full scale nuclear bomb detonations in the Pacific — conducted by Britain, France and the US — were used as human guinea pigs in an obscene experiment to ‘progress’, the insane pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.

Bravo FAS

The massive Castle Bravo. (Photo: Federation of American Scientists/Creative Commons/Flickr)

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Will the peace bell sound in the Koreas?

Can the two Koreas save Trump’s failure in Hanoi?

By Rebecca Johnson

Through aggressive rhetoric and miscalculations, nuclear war can happen by accident. As the Trump-Kim circus founders, escalating military action between India and Pakistan shows why global denuclearization is necessary

This is how nuclear wars get started – two or more nuclear armed countries, a political flashpoint like Kashmir, an attack, a retaliation, mutual blame and threats, and then – whoosh – someone launches a nuclear weapon. Will it happen in South Asia? We have to hope not, but need to recognize that this latest military conflict between India and Pakistan has many of the ingredients that make nuclear war probable, sooner or later.

Meanwhile, the summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ended in failure, purportedly over sanctions, a frequently used weapon in US diplomacy. Trump was prepared for small reductions but Kim wanted more, as the price for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programme. Their failure to make progress also carries a high price, along with renewed risks.

As Trump flies home to face allegations made by his former partners in crime, it will be up to Kim and the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, to take forward the regional security, denuclearization and peace treaty that Korean people ardently desire. Proposals from networks such as #KoreaPeaceNow and Women Cross DMZ provide ideas and support for making tangible progress. While US involvement is important, Trump’s problems cannot be allowed to block or derail these hopes.

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Scottish tragedy could become an Australian one

Aboriginal elder launches final appeal to stop Scotland sending nuclear waste to Australia

By Martin Williams

(Note: Since this article first appeared, The Ferret has revealed that expert advice sought by ministers stated that the Scottish Government could prevent the export of radioactive waste from the UK under a swap arrangement involving the Dounreay nuclear complex in Caithness.)

Some of the Aborigines who live in and around a sacred burial place in South Australia can still remember the clouds of poison that were the result of Britain’s nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s.

Many of the indigenous population claimed they were exposed to radiation as a result of the post-war atomic weapons tests in the desert and received compensation from the Australian government.

But a new kind of radiation could be heading to the remote sacred area of Wallerberdina – nuclear waste.

The concerns are centred over a spot 280 miles north of Adelaide, which has become a potential location for Australia’s first nuclear dump.

The movement of waste is part of a deal that returns spent fuel processed at the nuclear facility currently being decommissioned to its country of origin.

Despite campaigners’ efforts it has emerged that David Peattie, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), has insisted that there can be no change.

And now Aboriginal elder Regina McKenzie has made a last-ditch direct appeal to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, for help to halt Dounreay’s dumping plans, calling for her “not to be part of the cultural genocide of Australian Aboriginal people”.

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Paul Flynn, anti-nuclear politician, dies

“Welsh pixie” who fought for the “you” in Labour

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Paul Flynn, the UK Member of Parliament for West Newport in Wales, who died on February 17 at age 84, knew how to spell Labour and also what it meant. For those who believe a Labour Party — whether you spell it with a “u” or not — ought to represent working people, Paul Flynn was a big loss. His was, for a while, a dying breed. Now he has died, there may not be enough of his ilk to keep a genuine Labour Party alive. Already, defections are happening. There are those in the Labour Party today who dread success if it is led by a Socialist. Flynn was one. Current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is another.

The defectors hail from “New Labour” but now call themselves “Independent.” New Labour was an artifice of former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, a tactic to move the party rightward. It sowed the seeds of destruction for the Labour Party which is now, like its Tory counterpart, riven with dissent. It threw bus drivers, and other working people, under their own bus.

Paul Flynn by Ninian Reid Creative C

Paul Flynn was a consummate — and often witty — backbencher. (Photo: Ninian Reid, Creative Commons/Flickr)

Flynn, a consummate and lifelong backbencher, didn’t like New Labour one bit. Writing about Flynn in The Guardian in March 2001, Andrew Roth said Flynn derided New Labour as “a malign alien force [which] could infiltrate a political party with beautiful people reared in public schools [and] fed an idealism-inhibiting diet”.

Flynn described himself as “Hyper-assiduous, Welsh-speaking, green-leaning off-beat semi-hard Leftist, fears Labour Party is being taken over by ‘Midwitch Cuckoos’.”* He saw the death knell that Blair’s regime would sound on “old” Labour, writing in 1995 that ‘We will win the election but lose the Labour Party”. Which is pretty much what happened.

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The uranium map in our bodies

Where uranium and its decay products go and how they harm us

By Cindy Folkers

Uranium is radioactive. Humans have been digging uranium out of the earth worldwide for over a century, using it in everything from pottery glaze to atomic bomb production. While health impacts of uranium and its decay products were at first unknown, by the time of the Cold War atomic arsenal buildup, obvious health impacts (lung cancer, for instance, had become associated with uranium mining as early as the 1930s) were ignored in favor of nuclear warhead production. Uranium mines and mills spread across the US.

In the Western US, as in most of the rest of the world, the miners and people living near these facilities were largely indigenous. Not only was the health of workers impacted, but because uranium industrial processes left radioactive contamination in soil and water, people living in the area also suffered health effects. Uranium and decay products still litter these landscapes, posing a continuing danger, particularly when inhaled or ingested

While these radioisotopes occur naturally, they are artificially available due to industrial processing.  Although mining for uranium is the most obvious source, gold and other mine processes can also release these materials. Mine sites and surrounding areas pose the greatest danger of exposure to uranium and all of its decay products

Additional sites that could pose a danger from individual decay products include thorium waste disposal sites and factories that used radium paint for commercial and military items such as watch and airplane dials. These sites dot the North American landscape and although a number of these facilities have been cleaned up as part of the Superfund program, for some, monitoring is ongoing. Radon gas can leach out from the ground in many places, not just from mines, and become trapped in buildings. In this instance, however, radon can be easily, safely removed by simple technology as recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), posing essentially no danger.

While all exposed are at risk, radiation poses a particular danger to women, children and pregnancy. Pregnancy is a unique concern, as the impacts are not accounted for in current radiation exposure standards.

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