Archive for ‘Environment’

May 25, 2011

Georgia’s legacy of arsenic poisoning is killing hundreds of its children

BBC News: Recent scientific research have shown that hundreds of Georgian children are being made seriously ill and some are being killed from the country’s legacy of arsenic poisoning.  The research discovered that the arsenic production sites which had been discontinued after the Soviet Union fell, are now leaking highly toxic substances into the environment.

The area most affected is Uravi in north-west Georgia. However, Georgian authorities have failed to warn the residents of the serious harm the substances are doing to do to their children.

According to Giorgi Khachidze, environment minister, the government knows about the problem, but with its economy severely depressed, the country does not have any resources to put things right. He said: “All over the country we have the legacy of pesticides, landmines, abandoned factories, sources of radiation. Every day we get information about something and we just don’t have the money to sort out all these in a day.”

Arsenic is a deadly poison and can cause death, cancer, skin thickening. liver and digestive disease. It is difficult to treat as it is odourless and flavourless.

[BBC video – click to play]

May 18, 2011

European Union Commissioners passed secret emergency law to increase radiation contamination in food to 20 times higher than before

[BRUSSELS: Becky Griffiths, Food Safety Contributor]

On 27th March, the European Union Commissioners secretly implemented Emergency Ordinance 297/2011 which upped the amount of permitted radioactive contamination in food to more that 20 times higher than the previous standard.

Such laws are designed to prevent food shortages in Europe during nuclear emergency situations.  However, this one was directed towards Japan to aid its food export trade which has been severely damaged by the Fukushima disaster which has resulted in high levels of radioactive contamination in most of Japan which now has spread worldwide.

Before the secret law was implemented, a maximum of 600 becquerels of radioactivity (cesium 134 and cesium 137) per kilogram had been permitted.  However, the law had permitted food supplies from Japan recording more than 12,500 becquerels per kilogram to be safe for importation and consumption in Europe.  Emergency Ordinance 297/2011 is still in force.

It was the valiant effort of the European foreign news agencies like Kopp Online and Xander News which had alerted the public to the Commissioners’ secret “emergency” law which had gone ahead without informing members of the public and which had not been directed towards the safety of Europeans, but for the convenience of a sovereign foreign power.

Due to the anger emanating from ordinary people living in Europe over the secret law when there appeared to be no threat to food in Europe from the Fukushima disaster and following intense lobbying from consumer safety groups, such as Food Watch, the European Commission has revised its policy and is now applying more stringent limits:-

Friday, 8 April 2011:  most foods from Japan cesium values ​​are allowed up to 500 becquerels per kilogram down from the Emergency Ordinance’s 600 to 12,500 becquerels per kilogram;

Update 14th April 2011:  Commissioners announce the radiation limits again to be moved downward – see implementing Regulation 351/2011 and Annex.

In the meantime, the US Department of Energy has recently reported that the radioactive contamination situation in Japan is severe and getting worse. Over 800 square kilometers of the area surrounding the Fukushima plant is now heavily contaminated with cesium and deadly plutonium. The Pacific ocean is also seriously contaminated and high radioactive readings have been reported in food and water in France, other European countries, China and the USA.  Read more…..

Related articles

May 17, 2011

Breaking News: Fukushima Nuclear Facility, an act of international terror by Japan

[Daisy Chung, Human Rights Contributor]

It seems from the conclusions of analyst, Paul Watson, that the Fukushima nuclear plant construction equates to nothing less than an act of terror by the Japanese government. 

That is because even before the nuclear plant was constructed at Fukushima, earthquakes had been striking the Honshu region, which encapsulates Fukushima, on a daily basis – some more severe than others. Therefore, the Japanese government which had been motivated by commercial greed, would have known that it was highly predictable that a disaster of the kind that struck the facility recently, due to seismic activity, was just a matter of time.

Despite knowledge of this highly likely disaster, no contingency plans had been made for this by the Japanese government to protect its citizens in such an event. Furthermore, in particular, it had known, even before constructing the plant that the nuclear reactor design was known to be susceptible to fracture and leakages under stress.

Today, the situation is far worse for the world and the Japanese people than it was at the start of the eventTEPCO now admits that the areas surrounding the Fukushima prefecture – up to 100 miles away, are severely contaminated. As a result, villages and towns are being evacuated and livestock is being culled on a daily basis.

Drinking water in cities as far away as Tokyo, now have radioactive contamination far above the safe limit and there is concern by international organisations that the radioactive pollution in the atmosphere in all of Japan now poses a serious risk for the health of the Japanese.  Additionally, the Pacific ocean facing the plant is now dangerously contaminated and the reactors in spiralling meltdown.   The international scale of Japan’s irresponsibility has been reflected in the radioactive contamination from the disaster  spreading beyond its shores to the USA, UK and most of Europe where risk-level radioactive substances from the plant have been found in milk and livestock.

However, despite it having no plan to contain the problem, the Japanese government has not been forthcoming in admitting the extent of the catastrophe and in fact has been working actively with media organisations to downplay the true scale of the horror it has perpetrated.

Japan, by its colossal act of horror brought about by its commercial greed, has perpetrated an act of pure evil upon its citizens  equivalent to that inflicted upon their people by the regimes in Africa and the Middle East, now under ‘people power’ uprisings which have international support.

It seems clear that Japan should be now brought to account by the UN for having inflicted this deliberate and unlawful risk deliberately upon its citizens and for endangering the world by its act of criminal terror in the construction of the nuclear plant in Fukushima despite the known and predictable risks of the disaster that struck the plant which has affected not only the Japanese, but the entire world.

May 4, 2011

Chernobyl revisited – Russia calls for new nuclear safety rules worldwide

[Valentin Pleschuk, Russia News Contributor]

BBC News: Following the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has called upon the international community to adopt a new set of international nuclear safety rules.

For the first time since 1986 when the disaster broke out, a Russian leader actually visited the devastated and highly contaminated area. The commemoration ceremony at the foot of the crippled plant was also attended by the president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich.

The proposal came amid massive protests in Germany, France and a number of eastern European states against the use of nuclear power in the context of the worldwide radiation spread threat from the now infamous Fukushima plant.

Today, I sent proposals to [world] leaders… aimed at guaranteeing the necessary development of nuclear energy in the world while preventing at the same time catastrophic global consequences [of accidents]…..in order for such tragedies never to be repeated we must all be honest, we must provide absolutely exact information about what is going on.”” Mr Medvedev said. 

Although the full content of the proposals is unknown, one of the conditions of the programme, accentuated by Mr. Medvedev publicly, is enhanced openness and speedy information exchange between world governments and the population, as well as between countries’ governments themselves.

The ceremony was held in absence of Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus which was most grievously affected by the Chernobyl disaster, after being suggested as an unwelcome guest at the Chernobyl conference, by the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

April 30, 2011

Twister sisters in USA’s southeast take 300 lives and devastate region

[Peter Kinsley, Natural Disaster News Contributor]

Huffington Post: The tornadoes that wreaked havoc across southeast USA last week have caused the USA’s ‘deadliest twister disaster in nearly 40 years’.

The twisters took close to three hundred lives and turned vast, densely populated territories in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina states into disaster zones.

Joshua Wurman, one of the world’s leading weather disaster experts and president of the Center for Severe Weather Research is reported to have said: “In my career I have never seen this many tornadoes or this many fatalities”.

April 2011 has broken all previous records so far: six hundred tornadoes of different magnitude have swept over the planet, thrice the amount of the so far windiest April of 1974 which brought 267 twisters. The surge is so great that scientists are wondering whether climate change might be the reason.

A 2008 report from the U.S. Global Change and Research Program, a federal inter-agency project under the supervision of  the White House, found that increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could lead to an increase in severe storm conditions that make tornadoes possible. However, opinions vary  whether climate change is the culprit behind the USA’s current extreme weather conditions.

According to Howard Bluestein, meteorology professor at Oklahoma University. “This is something that happens every 10 or 20 years when everything comes together like this. This is just natural variability.”

April 28, 2011

For ‘rocking’ Japan, its business as usual as 7 earthquakes at M4.4 to M5.8 strike in the past two days

[Jana Tinaki, Earthquake Japan Contributor]

The US Geological Survey reports that the following earthquakes struck Japan over the past two days. No damage, or Tsunami has been reported.

In the preceding Easter holiday weekend, Japan had been struck by not less than 9 earthquakes of the same magnitude.

MAG     UTC DATE-TIME          LAT          LON          DEPTH    REGION

4.6     2011/04/28 14:04:41        37.237     142.658      30.4       OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
5.8     2011/04/28 09:27:48        37.492     141.652      48.9       NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
4.9     2011/04/28 01:44:46        38.663     141.789      35.8       NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
4.9     2011/04/28 00:02:25        36.787     142.501      34.1       OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
5.1     2011/04/27 21:45:03        38.170     141.778      53.3       NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
5.1     2011/04/27 21:42:50        36.738     142.685      31.9       OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
4.9     2011/04/27 16:03:29        26.685     143.680      10.0       BONIN ISLANDS

April 26, 2011

This year more than 10 million Americans are having to choose between paying rent and buying food

[Peter Chivy, US News Contributor]

Huffpost Business: In 2011, its rent or food for more than 10 million American households, or one out of four of them renting their homes.

The number of American households, according to a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies report out this week, spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent and bills, has gone up by 2.6 million in the past 10 years. Generally “affordable” rent amounts to around 30% of a tenant’s income.

Eric Belsky, director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies says that when basic living costs get to certain critical levels, increasing number of Americans are having to choose between paying their rent and starving, or buying food and having nowhere to live: “In real terms, it means more people have less money to spend on household necessities such as food, health care, or savings …in the last decade, rental housing affordability problems went through the roof….and these affordability problems are marching up the income scale” .

As the US economy recovers, rents are likely to increase and this will continue to put pressure upon not only working class, but middle class families with many already spending around 50% of their income on rent only already.

So far the US government has announced no contingency plan for this problem.

April 26, 2011

The poisoned chalice of NATO’s aid to the Libyan rebels

Depleted Uranium birth defects and cancers in Iraq, Afganistan and the Former Yugosalvia

[Akif Brownlie, Libya News Contributor]

International reports suggest that it is a well known secret that NATO forces assisting the rebels in Libya are using depleted uranium ordinance (‘DU‘) in their bombing strikes on Col. Gaddafi’s forces.

Whilst DU weapons are effective tools for wearing down the wily Colonel, there are serious questions now by the international community concerning the devastation on the health of all Libyans that the use of these weapons will bring.

DU is highly toxic as a radioactive substance and because of that analysts and international public health monitors, like the World Health Organisation, are echoing the view of the international community that there will be serious and wide-ranging permanent effects on the health of Libyans for many years to come from radiation contamination brought about by NATO’s shelling of their country.  That is because DU is proved to have devastated the health of residents in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, where it has been used in bombing attacks by NATO forces.

It was in 1991, that the US military, in a real war for some time and keen to test out its new super toxic DU amour piercing artillery deployed the use of DU material in its military invasion of Iraq.  Later on and delighted by the apparent usefulness of DU to create weapons of serious destruction in Iraq, the USA used DU ordinance again to pound peace into the conflict in the former Yugosalvia.

But questions began to pile up with regard to the usefulness of DU in war as cancer rates began to increase in more than 5 provinces in southern Iraq which had been shelled by the Americans. Chilling facts had emerged for the World Health Organization which found that the DU shells had contaminated the air, water and soil in the areas with highly toxic radiation which was linked to the increased cancer cases.  As such, by 2003, leukemia south of Baghdad had skyrocketed and by 2009, cancer rates had increased by the rate of thousands year by year. In 2011, reports suggest that the problem is getting worse.

In Yugoslavia too, where the ordinance had been used, leukemia symptoms became epidemic and in some parts of the country radiation levels had risen to up to 1000 times above normal. Even NATO troops suffered from the use of DU and more than 250 Italian force members have since died from DU-related cancer. As for civilians, cancer rates went up from 1 per 1000 per each new-born baby to more than 15 per 1000.

Analysts are saying that there is no need for US, or NATO forces to use DU as there is nothing to indicate that non-DU bombs can be less effective. Furthermore, as DU-inflicted wounds on humans are practically impossible to treat and present hazards for not only the victims, but also the medical personnel treating them who are likely to be seriously contaminated with radiation, there is a strong case that they should not be used whatsoever by any civilized military force.

Furthermore, where DU shells explode in non-residential areas, the problem does not go away but becomes a deferred sentence of death for residents in the target country, or region as such explosions have been found to contaminate the soil and water permanently and to cause untold misery and deaths from cancer upon residents.

According to United States’ former Justice Secretary Ramsey Clark, DU utilisation is: “An unacceptable threat to life and a violation of international law”.

April 25, 2011

Should we go bananas about Fukushima?

[Joshua Kimoto, Japan News Contributor]

The New York Times: Since Fukushima, many of us have become more and more concerned about radioactive elements in our food.  As a result, New York Times spoke to scientists about radiation and food safety with surprising results.

It seems that every day we take in radioactive materials from all our food – from water, milk, through to fruit.  As far as fruit is concerned, it seems that the humble banana is the most potent source of radioactive contamination for our bodies.

The banana contains the more radioactive potassium than can be found in any other fruit. This substance after ingestion, stays in our bodies more or less permanently and irradiates them constantly.  Brazil nuts too, have radium which, according to scientists, is ‘off the wall’.

But should we eat food contaminated with radioactive iodine and cesium, like that contaminated by the Fukushima plant ongoing catastrophe? Scientists are saying that we should steer clear of them although there may not be much risk from food not heavily contaminated.

So, next time you reach for your daily banana, or have the urge to munch your favourite nuts, have a Geiger counter handy and check out the ‘heat’. If the banana reads ‘hot’, you know what to do!

April 20, 2011

And finally, good news for Japan as Fukushima decontamination starts

[Sikura Kimoto, Japan News Contributor]

RT.com: It seems that the Fukushima crisis has somewhat abated as decontamination works have now been started at the hugely compromised plant.

At the moment, viciously toxic water at the basement of the plant is being moved to a recycling facility as fast as possible in order to avoid sea pollution and to enable the operator to close the whole complex down.

If the operation is successful (and the pumping works are expected to end  in around a month, as up to 67,500 tons of radioactive water have built up inside the buildings) workers will be able to enter the plant and restore the cooling systems. If cooling is not put back, a total meltdown will occur.

On Monday, the latest  robot-taken pictures and radiation measurements  inside the buildings were disclosed to the public. Levels at reactors 1 and 3 were still dangerously high – 50 milisieverts per hour (when the safe limit is an annual equivalent).

However, the plant operators, TEPCO, still has not abandoned hopes to find some less dangerous places within the  buildings.  It promises that as soon as its technicians are able to safely enter the plant,  new cooling facilities will be set up and reactors 1,3, and 4 will get covered in concrete so to achieve ‘cold shutdown‘ of the plant in nine months.

The Chairman of TEPCO, Tsunehisa Katsumata, as well as its president, Masataka Shimizu, have announced that because of the disaster they are likely to quit. However, there are likely to be criminal investigations of the plant operators over the incident, analysts are saying.