The Nuclear History Blog at https://wordpress.com/post/9420700/16007 has become rather large and unwieldy. It is far easier for me to start a new blog, and use Nuclear History as a reference.
I’ve chosen the title Nuclear Exhaust because this is the crux of the issue in the modern world, as it has been since the beginning.
The attempt to conceal the consequences of nuclear emissions behind the false assertion that only nuclear weapons are dangerous – and that reactors and the other components of the nuclear cycle are benign – is the great lie of nuclear authorities, and has been since 1945.
Nuclear power as primary basis of state power – increasingly less democratic states – is merely one political and social way of existing. Such a state of being is not inevitable for any state. There are many ways for a state and a society to exist.
The nuclear power states are less and less the guardians of stability and prosperity – more and more they restrict free expression and claim state privilege while censoring information crucial for voters and societies to freely hold.
The demise of democracy in Japan, as established by that nation’s new secrecy laws, flows as naturally from the global nuclear industry need to hide the truth as night follows day. It is as predictable as the original and amended US Atomic Energy Act – the singular act which has enabled the nation most committed to free expression to plunge into darkness entire decades of deceit.
The truth only being revealed when it is too late for the plaintiffs, the machinery of justice and the safety of “mere” individuals.
It is a myth that nuclear industry is a zero emitter. Where is the fission and fuel emission levy?
Dr. Strangelove might mock the wind, the sun, the tides, and the heat of the core of the earth, however each trillions of horsepower are needlessly wasted. The sun falling on the Sahara alone could power the planet.
It is now too late for justice for so many military and civilian victims since 1945. It is not too late for continued clear proclamations of the truth. Unless the truth is known, abandonment of nuclear power will be caused by the economic and environmental collapse it is rushing us toward.
The thousands of nuclear refugees already present in the world are a foretaste of things to come if long known truths are not resolutely rescued from obscurity.
It is no surprise that there is no justice for nuclear veterans. To give anyone justice would be to create a legal precedent which would cut into the corporate profits of companies responsible for the assaults both old and new.
These companies have been cossetted and coddled by power drunk administrations. At the same time, governments governments cry poor and force, as in Japan, large segments of populations live in polluted areas. Areas which, as recently as 2010, were clean and happy food bowls for a land poor, talent rich population.
It is no surprise new laws increasingly gag such witness populations.
The UK Telegraph,
By Patrick Marnham
7:00AM GMT 04 Nov 2013
Tracing the Congolese mine that fuelled Hiroshima
On a quest to trace the origins of the Hiroshima atom bomb, writer Patrick Marnham travelled to the Congolese mine that supplied its uranium, and found the Geiger counter still clicking
Miners push trucks of radioactive ore along a shaft at the Shinkolobwe mine, Congo Photo: National Geographic/Getty Images
” Until the discovery of nuclear fission, uranium was an ore of very limited use, and in 1939 it was also in very limited supply. There was one mine in south-western Colorado in the region of a town called Paradox. There was another that had a small but good-quality production at Great Bear Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and there were the Joachimsthal mines in Bohemia.
“Uranium’s primary use had been as a dye for the ceramics industry; it produced lemon-yellow, orange and green colouring at various concentrations. When Pierre and Marie Curie identified radium as a source of radiation and demonstrated its use in treating cancer, for which they were awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, uranium mines were presented with a second market: radium is a by-product of uranium. Prices reached $3 million an ounce in 1919 and Paradox and Joachimsthal were doing well until 1922, when a newly discovered mine in the Belgian Congo came on stream.
“This mine, Shinkolobwe, had been identified as a source of uranium by the English geologist Robert Sharp in 1915, who made his discovery by chance. He was working for Union Minière du Haut Katanga and looking primarily for copper. One day, while prospecting near Elisabethville, he climbed a low hill to take his bearings and noticed that the earth on the hilltop was stained with several colours. One was yellow, which he associated with uranium. Sharp had heard that local men used coloured mud to decorate their bodies. He was told that ‘Shinkolobwe’ means ‘the fruit that scalds’. He sent the rocks for analysis and they turned out to contain uranium at 80 per cent, the purest concentration in the world. There was so much pure uranium at Shinkolobwe that the mines at Joachimsthal and Paradox in Colorado simply stopped producing it. …….
” A United Nations report in 2006 found that 15,000 amateur miners were living in the village of Shinkolobwe and using ‘informal’ or manual methods to mine cobalt from what was supposed to be a sealed uranium mine. Shortly before the UN inspection took place the regional authorities had destroyed the mining village and les creusers (the illegal miners) were dispersed. But rumours of black-market uranium being offered for sale soon started again. Hacking into a flooded uranium mine to remove the ore is a dangerous occupation, but at Shinkolobwe children were said to be employed by the black-market traders, and tunnel collapses were frequent.
It took us three years to get permission to enter Shinkolobwe.
A man enters one of the tunnels in the Shinkolobwe Cobalt mine. Photo AP
“Our police convoy set out for Shinkolobwe at 9.30……
“There were five vehicles in the convoy: the lead car contained a major of police, followed by the Atomic Energy Agency car driven by Leonard, who was equipped with Geiger counters. After 10 minutes we stopped at police headquarters to take on six more policemen. The mine was supposed to be sealed but was said to be infested with creusers who could become aggressive if interrupted.
We reached the mine at 12.20pm after twice losing our way in the forest. On one gentle bend Leonard managed to overturn the Atomic Energy car. Eventually we found the right path by following the wide tracks of a lorry, presumably one that was normally laden with bootleg cobalt and uranium. The trees opened out and we found ourselves in a rather overgrown clearing containing several twisted steel skeletons that marked the site of the world’s most celebrated and most secret uranium mine.
“There is no shortage of rumours about Shinkolobwe. We had been told that it was staffed by child miners, that it was heavily guarded by South African soldiers, and that the ‘South Africans’ were actually US marines. A Belgian professor of politics in Lubumbashi had identified the mine as the key to the situation in the Middle East and the target of Sudanese mercenaries working for Hezbollah, which was supplying Iran with uranium. The professor said that he had recently visited the site wearing a lead-lined suit. We had no lead suits but we did have paper face masks, thoughtfully provided by the Atomic Energy Agency.
“The Shinkolobwe mine in its heyday was a single shaft that was entered at the summit of a low hill. The uranium lode took the form of a vertical egg and the shaft ran straight down through the centre of the egg with galleries running off to left and right at intervals. When the mine was sealed by Union Minière on its departure in 1960 the shaft was filled with concrete and a solid ferroconcrete cap was constructed over the summit of the hill. It did not take the creusers long to work out that the way to crack this abandoned golden egg was to forget about the central concrete shaft and attack from the sides. Fifty years later the result is a new landscape. The hill has disappeared. In its place there is a raised rim about two metres high encircling a crater about 10 metres deep. And lying at the bottom of the crater is the original mine shaft, now visible as a long concrete pillar that has snapped off and tumbled over. Today the mine is derelict and heavily overgrown, a tranquil relic of the bombs that liquidated two Japanese cities.
“Everyone got out of the cars and the major led the way to the lip of the crater around the main shaft. As we started to film, Leonard, the unpredictable driver with the Geiger counter, said that we had a maximum of 30 minutes for the good of our health. He obviously had no idea about the length of the filming process. Manu’s voice rang out – ‘Silence. On tourne.’ Justin, our reliable driver, did not like the look of the Geiger counter and said that he would be getting himself examined by a doctor when he got home. It was a beautiful day. Towering white pillars of cloud against a deep blue sky. There were black martins hawking low over our heads, and white and blue butterflies in the wind that kept the tall grass rustling, a flame tree was in flower and there was a grove of umbrella thorns, all about 30 metres tall. These trees had had 50 years to grow since independence. Radiation seemed to make good fertiliser.
“The first shots of the crater used up 20 minutes of our time, leaving us barely 10 minutes to shoot a water reservoir. Leonard said that the reservoir had the highest score on the site and issued more paper face masks as a precaution. The Geiger counter started to click and Leonard told us to move on. The director and crew disappeared to the far side of the mine to film the rusting steel girders, and did not reappear for 40 minutes. By the time we left, 30 minutes had become two hours.
“In the forest on the road back to Likasi we came across the ghost of a graveyard lost in the trees. There were lines of rusty red iron crosses that seemed like miniature echoes of the rusty iron superstructure of the uranium factory. Each grave was neatly marked and of exactly the same size and design as though these people had all died at the same time. There were no names but these were clearly African graves because on each there was a white enamel food bowl; this was a precaution, placed there to feed the phantoms so that they did not leave the cemetery and return home looking for food. Each bowl had a neat hole drilled in the bottom to make sure that some profane traveller did not steal it and return it to human use. The fact that so many people had died and been buried in military order at the same time had the unmistakable air of a mining accident…..
Snake Dance: Journeys Beneath a Nuclear Sky by Patrick Marnham (Chatto and Windus) is available to order from Telegraph Books for £16.99 plus £1.35 p&p (0844 871 1514; books.telegraph.co.uk)
Still from Snake Dance. Photo: Manu Riche
Clearly, uranium mines are forever. Pro nuclear advocates tend to be futurists. This is because they rely on the myth that the future will solve the problems created by nuclear industry and which it has never been able to solve. It’s methods include denying that problems and hazards exist. That nuclear technology is advanced. It is not. It still relies upon old fashioned patents which date from the mid 1930s. Nothing has changed. As each year passes, the lies get deeper, the origins of the problems become less well known, more hazards are denied and faulty technology gets re-presented as fail safe. Witness the statements of Australian nuclear experts in the wake of Fukushima Diiachi, and compare those statements of reassurance with the facts which have been on the record but ignored, for decades.
Factual reports such as the Ergen Report of 1967 report the hazards and reality of reactor core melt down. The Ergen Report was quite a famous report at the time it was published by the US Atomic Energy Commission. From sprang a major component of the nuclear debate within the USA. This recorded by both press reports of the time and the official history of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a successor organisation of the AEC. Due to the findings of the Ergen Report, licensing of nuclear power plants became more difficult and the Ergen findings directly led to widespread public debate and opposition to nuclear power in the USA. This culminated in public hearings which continued throughout the early and mid 1970s. In the course of these hearings nuclear industry and nuclear regulators conducted what was clearly a deceptive campaign. It is as a result of this deceptive behaviour that licensing of nuclear power plants continued in USA at the conclusion of the hearings.
The NRC “A Short History of Nuclear Regulation, 1946-1999” can be found at :
Chapter 2 of this official history confirms Nader and Abbott (1977) and consists of the following sections:
CHAPTER 2: THE NUCLEAR POWER DEBATE, 1963-75
The “Great Bandwagon Market”
Burdens of the Bandwagon Market
The Problem of Core Meltdown
The Emergency Core Cooling Controversy
Nuclear Power and the Environment
The Radiation Debate
NEPA and Calvert Cliffs
Schlesinger’s Response to Calvert Cliffs
The ECCS Hearings
Radioactive Waste Disposal
The End of the AEC
The items of primary interest to me in the wake of Fukushima Diachi are :
The Problem of Core Meltdown
The Emergency Core Cooling Controversy and
The ECCS Hearings
Radioactive waste disposal of course, from mining, to milling, to reactor emissions to transport and long term storage of spent fuel are the seminal subjects of this blog, as is the issue nuclear exhaust in general. This includes bomb fallout as well reactor fallout, by now a regular event historically around the world.
However, before proceeding further, the above sections of Chapter 2 of the NRC short history have revealed the lies nuclear industry and its advocates have spoken since March 2011. Australian “experts”, including “experts” resident at the Australian National University and one who once headed the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, seem unaware of the facts of history as they continue to maintain, as they have since March 2011 that Japan’s reactors are “world’s best” and that the sequence of reactor failures at Fukushima Diiachi were “absolutely normal”.
To quote from the NRC’s short history:
The Problem of Core Meltdown
“The regulatory staff sought to gain as much experimental data as possible to enrich its knowledge and inform its collective engineering judgment. This was especially vital in light of the many unanswered questions about reactor behavior. The AEC had sponsored hundreds of small-scale experiments since the early 1950s that had yielded key information about a variety of reactor safety problems. But they provided little guidance on the issue of greatest concern to the AEC and the ACRS by the late 1960s–a core meltdown caused by a loss-of-coolant accident.
“Reactor experts had long recognized that a core melt was a plausible, if unlikely, occurrence……
“….molten fuel would melt through not only the pressure vessel but also through the thick layer of concrete at the foundation of the containment building. The intensely radioactive fuel would then continue on its downward path into the ground. This scenario became known as the “China syndrome,” because the melted core would presumably be heading through the earth toward China. Other possible dangers of a core meltdown were that the molten fuel would breach containment by reacting with water to cause a steam explosion or by releasing elements that could combine to cause a chemical explosion. The precise effects of a large core melt were uncertain, but it was clear that the results of spewing radioactivity into the atmosphere could be disastrous. The ACRS and the regulatory staff regarded the chances of such an accident as low; they believed that it would occur only if the emergency core cooling system (ECCS), made up of redundant equipment that would rapidly feed water into the core, failed to function properly. But they acknowledged the possibility that the ECCS might not work as designed. Without containment as a fail-safe final line of defense against any conceivable accident, they sought other means to provide safeguards against the China syndrome.
The Emergency Core Cooling Controversy
“At the prodding of the ACRS, which first sounded the alarm about the China syndrome, the AEC established a special task force to look into the problem of core melting in 1966. The committee, chaired by William K. Ergen, a reactor safety expert and former ACRS member from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, submitted its findings to the AEC in October 1967. The report offered assurances about the improbability of a core meltdown and the reliability of emergency core cooling designs, but it also acknowledged that a loss-of-coolant accident could cause a breach of containment if ECCS failed to perform. Therefore, containment could no longer be regarded as an inviolable barrier to the escape of radioactivity. This represented a milestone in the evolution of reactor regulation. In effect, it imposed a modified approach to reactor safety. Previously, the AEC had viewed the containment building as the final independent line of defense against the release of radiation; even if a serious accident took place the damage it caused would be restricted to the plant. Once it became apparent that under some circumstances the containment building might not hold, however, the key to protecting the public from a large release of radiation was to prevent accidents severe enough to threaten containment. And this depended heavily on a properly designed and functioning ECCS.
“The problem facing the AEC regulatory staff was that experimental work and experience with emergency cooling was very limited. Finding a way to test and to provide empirical support for the reliability of emergency cooling became the central concern of the AEC’s safety research program. Plans had been underway since the early 1960s to build an experimental reactor, known as the Loss-of-Fluid-Tests (LOFT) facility, at the AEC’s reactor testing station in Idaho. Its purpose was to provide data about the effects of a loss of coolant accident. For a variety of reasons, including weak management of the test program, a change of design, and reduced funding, progress on the LOFT reactor and the preliminary tests that were essential for its success were chronically delayed. Despite the complaints of the ACRS and the regulatory staff, the AEC diverted money from LOFT and other safety research projects on existing light-water reactor design to work in the development of fast-breeder reactors. A proven fast breeder was an urgent objective for the AEC and the Joint Committee; Seaborg described it as “a priority national goal” that could assure “an essentially unlimited energy supply, free from problems of fuel resources and atmospheric contamination.”
“To the consternation of the AEC, experiments run at the Idaho test site in late 1970 and early 1971 suggested that the ECCS in light-water reactors might not work as designed. As a part of the preliminary experiments that were used to design the LOFT reactor, researchers ran a series of “semiscale” tests on a core that was only nine inches long (compared with l44 inches on a power reactor). The experiments were run by heating a simulated core electrically, allowing the cooling water to escape, and then injecting the emergency coolant. To the surprise of the investigators, the high steam pressure that was created in the vessel by the loss of coolant blocked the flow of water from the ECCS. Without even reaching the core, about 90 percent of the emergency coolant flowed out of the same break that had caused the loss of coolant in the first place……
“By the spring of 1971, nuclear critics were expressing opposition to the licensing of several proposed reactors, and news of the semiscale experiments seemed likely to spur their efforts.
“For those reasons, the AEC sought to resolve the ECCS issue as promptly and quietly as possible. It wanted to settle the uncertainties about safety without arousing a public debate that could place hurdles in the way of the bandwagon market. Even before the task force that Price established completed its study of the ECCS problem, the Commission decided to publish “interim acceptance criteria” for emergency cooling systems that licensees would have to meet. It imposed a series of requirements that it believed would ensure that the ECCS in a plant would prevent a core melt after a loss-of-coolant accident. The AEC did not prescribe methods of meeting the interim criteria, but in effect, it mandated that manufacturers and utilities set an upper limit on the amount of heat generated by reactors. In some cases, this would force utilities to reduce the peak operating temperatures (and hence, the power) of their plants. Price told a press conference on June 19, 1971 that although the AEC thought it impossible “to guarantee absolute safety,” he was “confident that these criteria will assure that the emergency core cooling systems will perform adequately to protect the temperature of the core from getting out of hand.”
“The interim ECCS criteria failed to achieve the AEC’s objectives. News about the semiscale experiments triggered complaints about the AEC’s handling of the issue even from friendly observers. It also prompted calls from nuclear critics for a licensing moratorium and a shutdown of the eleven plants then operating. Criticism expressed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an organization established in 1969 to protest misuse of technology that had recently turned its attention to nuclear power, received wide publicity. The UCS took a considerably less sanguine view of ECCS reliability than that of the AEC. It sharply questioned the adequacy of the interim criteria, charging, among other things, that they were “operationally vague and meaningless.” Scientists at the AEC’s national laboratories, without endorsing the alarmist language that the UCS used, shared some of the same reservations. As a result of the uncertainties about ECCS and the interim criteria, the AEC decided to hold public hearings that it hoped would help resolve the technical issues. It wanted to prevent the ECCS question from becoming a major impediment to the licensing of individual plants.
“The AEC insisted that its critics had exaggerated the severity of the ECCS problem. The regulatory staff viewed the results of the failed semiscale tests as serious but believed that the technical issues the experiments raised would be resolved within a short time. It did not regard the tests as indications that existing designs were fundamentally flawed and it emphasized the conservative engineering judgment it applied in evaluating plant applications. But the ECCS controversy damaged the AEC’s credibility and played into the hands of its critics. Instead of frankly acknowledging the potential significance of the ECCS problem and taking time to fully evaluate the technical uncertainties, the AEC acted hastily to prevent the issue from undermining public confidence in reactor safety or causing licensing delays. This gave credence to the allegations of its critics that it was so determined to promote nuclear power and develop the breeder reactor that it was inattentive to safety concerns……
The concerns of opponents of nuclear power in the 1960s and 1970s have been repeatedly confirmed. The most recent example being the multiple reactor failures in Japan.
Where next? Far from being clean and green, nuclear power is one of the most toxic sources of energy the world has ever seen. It’s time has passed.
Within the last month the IAEA has finally admitted what ordinary people have known and remembered since the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s. That core melt in large nuclear power plants is not a science fiction but demonstrated real possibility for which regulations are inadequate and for which engineered solutions are highly unreliable.
Hence, there is now a push for small reactors with melt proof cores – cores so small decay heat would naturally conduct away below the melting point of the fuel rods and below the reaction point of the zircalloy cladding.
The economics of such small cores were inadequate in the 1950s, hence the push toward large cores in the first place.
Then again, the futurist nuclear industry has always been deceptive dog chasing its tail with its hand out for more and more corporate welfare.
Justice for the people of Japan is just as unaffordable and hence just impossible for that nation as justice for nuclear veterans and civilian downwinders has been since 1945.
The text of the Ergen Report of 1967 can no be found on line here:
The nuclear regulation that mandates an ECCS operation for as long as required has clearly never been implemented by the industry. 8 hours was deemed sufficient for the GE MK1. Fukushima Diiachi will continue venting to water, land and air for years to come.
Add to this the mess and concentration of radium and other toxins dumped on the surface of every uranium mine on the planet. And add to this the polluted and off limits land created by long term storage of high level nuclear waste the industry calls “spent fuel”.
It is in fact man made material for which no process of the planet has evolved to deal with. And this is confirmed by the very title of the patent papers which described the fission process for the first time:
Szilard’s chain reaction patents 440,023 & 630,726 lodged 1934
The titles of these British patents are:
Provisional Specification No. 7840 1934
Improvements in or relating to the Transmutation of Chemical Elements
Accepted Dec 12 1935.
Provisional Specification No. 19157 1934
Accepted March 30, 1936 (but withheld from publication under Section 30 of the Patent and Designs Acts 1907 to 1932)
Date of publication 1949.
An explanation of these patents can be found within the power point presentation available for download at
http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/users/menke/HAZARDS/nuclear1.ppt (Entitled “Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Technologies.” Author: Bill Menke, October 19, 2005.)
The date of the patent papers shows the age of the technology. The secrecy imposed on patent 440,023 still applies to the practical results of fission. How many acres of land are off limits due to this? How many more acres will be polluted and security controlled due to this in the future?
At what point in time will those facilities become like the Congo uranium mine is today? Insecure, polluting and uncontained? Guess what. To one degree or another, no uranium mine or other nuclear industry facility successfully separates the nuclear toxins from the environment. None. What is concentrated by man is dispersed by nature.
That is simply nature’s way.
Since the era of nuclear weapons tests, the worlds nutrient calcium supply and the potassium supply has been polluted by fission strontium and fission cesium respectively. This historic pollution is used as a cover beneath which the toxins of nuclear industry is hidden by comparison.
In actual fact the subtraction implied by comparison does not hold: both sources, military and civilian nuclear pollution are additive.
It is quite useless for the government of Japan to claim that the cesium and strontium released by its reactors are “less than” those substances released by bomb tests. Both exist together and they add up in nature.
There is no discount for the nuclear power elite. It is time they started telling the truth.
Had they told the truth and acted upon it, the designs of reactors used at Fukushima Diiachi would never have been licensed for use in the USA from 1967 on and would never have been approved for export to Japan.
The construction of Fukushima Diiachi commenced the same year the Ergen Report was published. GE assisted in it’s compilation and findings.
They knew what they were doing. And they did it anyway…..
Dirty, filthy, old tech: