— California to conduct radiological survey of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard

Posted on the California Department of Public Health website

July 6, 2018

“In response to allegations of data falsification and public concern, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the Navy, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), and stakeholders from the City of San Francisco have requested the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) perform a phased approach radiological survey to assess the health and safety of the public and the environment in Parcel A”

Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Parcel A-1 Survey

To submit questions or comments about this project, please email RHBHuntersPointParcelAScan[at]cdph.ca.gov  

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DRSEM/Pages/RHB-Environment/Hunters-Point-Naval-Shipyard-Parcel-A-1-Survey.aspx/#;

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— Fukushima’s imprint in California wines found by French research

From MIT Technology Review:

Fukushima’s nuclear signature found in California wine

The Japanese nuclear disaster bathed north America in a radioactive cloud. Now pharmacologists have found the telltale signature in California wine made at the time.

July 19, 2018

Throughout the 1950s, the US, the Soviet Union, and others tested thermonuclear weapons in the Earth’s atmosphere. Those tests released vast quantities of radioactive material into the air and triggered fears that the nuclear reactions could ignite deuterium in the oceans, thereby destroying the planet in a catastrophic accidental fireball.

Atmospheric tests ended in 1980, when China finished its program, but the process has left a long-lasting nuclear signature on the planet. One of the most obvious signatures is cesium-137, a radioactive by-product of the fission of uranium-235.

After release into the atmosphere, cesium-137 was swept around the world and found its way into the food supply in trace quantities. Such an addition is rarely welcomed. But in 2001, the French pharmacologist Philippe Hubert discovered that he could use this signature to date wines without opening the bottles.

The technique immediately became a useful weapon in the fight against wine fraud—labeling young wines as older vintages to inflate their price. Such fraud can be spotted by various types of chemical and isotope analysis—but only after the wine has been opened, which destroys its value.

Cesium-137, on the other hand, allows noninvasive testing because it is radioactive. It produces distinctive gamma rays in proportion to the amount of isotope present. Dating the wine is a simple process of matching the amount of cesium-137 to atmospheric records from the time the wine was made. That quickly reveals any fraud. Indeed, if there is no cesium-137, the wine must date from after 1980.

There is one blip in this record, though. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 bathed much of Europe, and other parts of the world, in a radioactive cloud that increased atmospheric levels of cesium-137 again. Hubert and colleagues can see this blip in their data from wines.

And that raises an interesting question about the Fukushima disaster of 2011, an accident of Chernobyl proportions caused by a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan following a huge earthquake and tsunami. It released a radioactive cloud that bathed North America in fissile by-products.

Is it possible to see the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in California wines produced at the time?

Today we get an answer, thanks to a study carried out by Hubert and a couple of colleagues. “In January 2017, we came across a series of Californian wines (Cabernet Sauvignon) from vintage 2009 to 2012,” say Hubert and company.

This set of wines provides the perfect test. The Fukushima disaster occurred on March 11, 2011. Any wine made before that date should be free of the effects, while any dating from afterward could show them.

The team began their study with the conventional measurement of cesium-137 levels in the unopened bottles. That showed levels to be indistinguishable from background noise.

But the team was able to carry out more-sensitive tests by opening the wine and reducing it to ash by evaporation. This involves heating the wine to 100 degrees Celsius for one hour and then increasing the temperature to 500 degrees Celsius for eight hours. In this way, a standard 750-milliliter bottle of wine produces around four grams of ashes. The ashes were then placed in a gamma ray detector to look for signs of cesium-137.

Using this method, Hubert and his colleagues found measurable amounts of cesium-137 above background levels in the wine produced after 2011. “It seems there is an increase in activity in 2011 by a factor of two,” conclude the team.

That probably won’t be very useful for fraud detection in California wine—the levels of cesium-137 are barely detectable, and even then, only if the wine is destroyed.

But the result does show how nuclear disasters can have unexpected consequences long after the fact.

Ref:

Dating of Wines with cesium-137: Fukushima’s imprint

https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.04340

https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1807/1807.04340.pdf

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611654/fukushimas-nuclear-signature-found-in-california-wine/

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

— Trinity downwinders: Dancing in the dust of death

Deliberate government atrocities —

“From the very beginning, the federal government has refused to take responsibility,”  — Sen. Tom Udall

‘A few people were probably overexposed, but they couldn’t prove it and we couldn’t prove it so we just assumed we got away with it.’” — Manhattan Project Medical Director, Dr. Louis Hempelmann

From Beyond Nuclear International

July 16 2018

Time to recognize New Mexico’s Trinity downwinders

By Linda Pentz Gunter

When Barbara Kent was twelve years old she went away to dance camp. It was July 1945. A dozen young girls were enjoying a summer retreat, sleeping together in a cabin, and sharing their love of dance. On July 16 they danced with something deadly.

After being jolted unexpectedly out of bed, they went outside pre-dawn when it should have been dark, to find it bright as day with a strange white ash falling like snowflakes. “Winter in July,” Kent, now 86 years old, has called it.

The girls rubbed the “snowflakes” on their bodies and caught them with their tongues. Before they all turned 40, 10 of the 12 girls had died.

No one had warned the girls, or their teacher, or anyone in the community, that the US government had just exploded the first atomic bomb a little more than 50 miles away at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico, now known as the Trinity Test Site. The “snowflakes” were deadly radioactive fallout and just the beginning of an endless — and likely permanent — cycle of disease, death and deprivation.

“While it was not the end of the world, it was the beginning of the end for so many people,” said Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, an organization that “seeks justice for the unknowing, unwilling and uncompensated participants of the July 16, 1945 Trinity test in southern New Mexico.”

Uncompensated because, even though the Trinity atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico, and for no reason that anyone has yet ascertained, the people of New Mexico dosed by the fallout have never been acknowledged or officially recognized by the federal government as downwinders.

They have never been compensated and, certainly, they have never received an apology from the US government.

That is why, for the past eight years, first as a US congressman and now as a member of the US Senate, Tom Udall (D-NM) has been fighting for the Trinity downwinders in his state to be included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act that, since the law’s inception in 1990, and even after it was amended in 2000, has failed, among others, to include New Mexico victims of the Trinity test.

On June 26, 2018, a hearing finally took place before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, at which Udall and many victims of exposure to radioactive fallout and uranium mining — on the Navajo Nation, in Idaho, New Mexico and even Guam — testified. All of them asked that RECA be amended once again to include those forgotten, ignored and affected, even though in many ways it is coming seventy three years too late.

“People sometimes ask me, ‘why don’t you just move?’” said Cordova when we talked after the Hill hearing. “Well the only safe day to move was July 15, 1945.”

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— San Francisco: Eco-fraud by the bay

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Summer 2018 newsletter

Hot Property…in More Ways than One.
Hunters Point is being touted as San Francisco’s biggest
redevelopment since the 1906 earthquake.

San Francisco currently has a severe case of real estate fever,
pricing all but the rich out of its new housing market. The city’s poorest quarter, Bayview-Hunters Point in its southeast corner, is the latest epicenter of development mania. But, there is a big problem.

The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard hosted nuclear weapons work, including supposed decontamination of Navy ships used in Pacific hydrogen bomb tests–which left the shipyard with ultra-high radioactivity. It has been an EPA Superfund site since 1989.

Now, this nearly 30-year radiation cleanup has run off the tracks. PEER has obtained documents showing that the remaining contamination is far, far worse than previously reported:
• Almost 100% of the soil samples taken by the U.S. Navy’s contractor Tetra Tech re-examined by the  EPA are “falsified,” subject to deliberate manipulation and “neither reliable nor defensible”;
• Parcels transferred to San Francisco under false pretenses as suitable remain deeply contaminated; and
• Most every Tetra Tech radiation survey on the shipyard’s buildings is bogus.

One of the things that makes these findings so remarkable is that the Navy was on notice for years that it had a major data meltdown on its hands yet is still trying to cook the books. Of course, neither the Navy nor EPA revealed any of this. There are still more shoes to drop and we intend to make Hunters Point the poster child for meaningful Superfund reform.

– – – – – – – –

Don’t Eat the Tomatoes
In areas of Hunters Point certified as clean, residents are subject to
a curious covenant: they may not grow food unless they import
soil. This raises the question of what is meant by “clean.” It is especially important with respect to radiation, a pollutant that keeps
on giving.

https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/PEEReview_Summer_18.pdf

Posted under Fair Use Rules

— July 16, 1979: Church Rock, New Mexico uranium disaster is largely unknown

From Beyond Nuclear Internatiional
July 16, 2018

A 90 million gallon nuclear tragedy

The uranium tailings spill at Church Rock, NM was the largest single release of radioactive contamination in US history

By Linda Pentz Gunter

On July 16, 1979,  the worst accidental release of radioactive waste in U.S. history happened at the Church Rock uranium mine and mill site. While the Three Mile Island accident (that same year) is well known, the enormous radioactive spill in New Mexico has been kept quiet. It is the U.S. nuclear accident that almost no one knows about.

Just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and 34 years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico became the scene of another nuclear tragedy.

Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Puerco River.

No one knows exactly how much radioactivity was released into the air during the Three Mile Island accident. The site monitors were shut down after their measurements of radioactive releases went off the scale.

But the American public knows even less about the Church Rock spill and, five weeks after it occurred, the mine and mill operator, United Nuclear Corporation (UNC), was back in business as if nothing had happened. Today, the Church Rock accident is acknowledged as likely the largest single release of radioactive contamination ever to take place in U.S. history (outside of the atomic bomb tests).

Why is the Church Rock spill – that washed into gullies, contaminated fields and the animals that grazed there, and made drinking water deadly – so anonymous in the annals of our nuclear history? Perhaps the answer lies in where it took place and who it affected.

Church Rock was a small farming community of Native Americans, mainly Navajo, eking out a subsistence living off the arid Southwestern land. Nearby, several hundred million gallons of liquid uranium mill tailings were sitting in a pond waiting for evaporation to leave behind solid tailings for storage. On the morning of July 16, 1979, part of the dam wall collapsed, releasing a roaring flood of radioactive water and sludge.

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