April 2006


[economist.com reports] ONE OF the biggest problems with nuclear power is the unresolved question of how to handle radioactive waste. Britain has been splitting atoms for half a century, but its officials have never agreed on a policy for disposing of the 470,000 cubic metres of intermediate and high-level waste that have built up. With the country’s civil reactors undergoing decommissioning, and ministers dropping hints that this summer’s energy review will recommend building new ones, the problem has become urgent. In 2003 the government set up the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM) to advise it. In its draft report on April 26th, it recommended burying the waste deep underground, as well as building dedicated storage facilities on the surface while the underground repository is being built. more

A work by Brent Parker will be performed in a concert in aid of the Chernobyl Children’s Project.

Credo, with words and music by Brent Parker, is the voice of the Liquidators. This was the name given to those who were ordered into Chernobyl to cap and contain the damage caused by the nuclear explosion in1986. The Liquidators must transcend all thoughts of themselves, despite mortal personal danger, to prevent further calamity for the entire population.

Credo is a short work for a large choral force with organ and brass instruments. The premiere takes place on 29 April 2006 in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, with St Patrick’s Choir and the Resurgam choir, and brass players provided by Fergus O’Carroll. It will be conducted by Peter Barley, director of music at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

The concert, presented by Chernobyl Children’s Project for the benefit of the charity, is part of their twentieth anniversary remembrances of the Chernobyl disaster. more

Speaking in the Dáil on the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl, Taoiseach (irish prime minister) Bertie Ahern said “As a non-nuclear state, Ireland has played a very strong role by preventing the development of nuclear weapons and forcing the eventual closure of Sellafield.

“Sellafield poses an unacceptable threat to this country on the grounds of ongoing pollution, its poor safety record and the impact of a major terrorist act,? he added.

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workers for Capita have seen delays in wages for a second week. last week it was reported that Easter week wages were missed for hundreds on the 1500 Nuke Plant workers. Now it has been repeated.

[Telegraph.co.uk] Parts of Cumbria are still affected by the radioactive fallout from the fire at the Windscale half a century ago, experts said yesterday.

The 1957 accident at Windscale pile one, a military reactor on the Sellafield site used to make plutonium for bombs, released a radioactive cloud that spread contamination over England and Wales, with hotspots on the western coast of Cumbria.

It is still the West’s worst nuclear accident. The fallout could be detected in mainland Europe and, even though it was small in comparison with that ejected by the Chernobyl explosion 20 years ago, it was a much greater threat to life than the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the United States.

One isotope, caesium-137, from the Windscale fire can still be detected in a few areas of Cumbria, along with that from Chernobyl and nuclear weapons testing carried out in the 1960s, said Dr Jim Smith of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Dorchester. (more…)

Greenpeace: Chernobyl, Ukraine — A new Greenpeace report has revealed that the full consequences of the Chernobyl disaster could top a quarter of a million cancers cases and nearly 100,000 fatal cancers.

Our report involved 52 respected scientists and includes information never before published in English. It challenges the UN International Atomic Energy Agency Chernobyl Forum report, which predicted 4,000 additional deaths attributable to the accident as a gross simplification of the real breadth of human suffering.

The new data, based on Belarus national cancer statistics, predicts approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases caused by Chernobyl. The report also concludes that on the basis of demographic data, during the last 15 years, 60,000 people have additionally died in Russia because of the Chernobyl accident, and estimates of the total death toll for the Ukraine and Belarus could reach another 140,000.

20 years ago today: a collection of stories as they appear in today’s press, this post will be updated through the day.
Chernobyl in Pictures [BBC]
20 years on, no end in sight to the suffering [Guardian]
Briefing: Chernobyl disaster [FT]
A Look Back at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Disaster 20 Years Later [VOA]
A disaster we must not repeat [the age]

[CWI socialistworld.net] As the pro-nuclear lobby steps up its campaign for a ‘new generation’ of nuclear power stations, the real lessons of the Chernobyl disaster need to be re-stated. Pete Dickenson and Jon Dale write.

World’s worst nuclear accident
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe, the world’s worst nuclear accident. The explosion at the power plant, situated about 100 miles north of Kiev in the Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, sent a cloud of radioactive gas around the world. The cloud contained twenty times the amount of radiation released at Hiroshima.

Estimates made at the time in the New Scientist magazine, that 100,000 would eventually die as a direct and indirect result of the radiation release, may have been too high. But if the wind had been blowing in the opposite direction on the day, towards the densely populated city of Kiev instead of over relatively sparsely inhabited areas, the outcome would have been worse than even the New Scientist estimate.

The reactor at Chernobyl was a boiling water, graphite moderated type called a RBMK, many of which are still in operation in the states of the former Soviet Union (the final reactor at the Chernobyl power station was only shut down 15 years after the incident). It is inherently unsafe in a nuclear reactor to have high temperature graphite close to steam under pressure, but this is what happens in the RBMK. (more…)

Irish Examiner: FIREFIGHTERS are ill-equipped and insufficiently trained to deal with a major nuclear disaster, the National Firefighters Committee said yesterday.

Chair of the committee Brian Murray was commenting on Ireland’s emergency planning after the screening by RTÉ of Fallout, a docudrama about a nuclear disaster at Sellafield.

“There have been no exercises carried out in the middle of a major urban centre in this country to see exactly how the fire services could deal with such an accident,? he stressed.

And while Britain has 80 instant response units capable of dealing with mass contamination, Ireland has none.

Mr Murray said attempts were being made to have a decontamination system available round the clock in Dublin but it had yet to be put in place. more

Greenpeace: A terrorist attack on a train carrying waste nuclear materials across Britain could spread lethal radioactivity across an area of 100 sq kilometres, and result in the deaths of up to 8000 people.

Spent nuclear fuel is routinely transported by train from nine nuclear power stations around the country for reprocessing or storage at Sellafield in Cumbria. Typically these journeys take place once a week from each reactor – at the same time and on the same lines as regular passenger and freight trains. more

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