#330 - April 6, 1990

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Full issue

Consequences of Chernobyl: still worse

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) On 3 March the government of the Ukraine announced that the three operating reactors at the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station will be phased out of operation over the next five years and the station will then be completely closed.

(330.3294) WISE Amsterdam - The regional government also said it would halt construction of all nuclear plants in the Ukraine and that no more reactors will be built there. Whether the central government will allow the decision to stand is unclear. Soviet officials have resisted all previous efforts to close the Chernobyl station, site of the disasterous accident on 26 April 1986, but it is now believed that they are unlikely to interfere with the Ukraine's decision. Though the central government has generally reserved to itself the right to make decisions regarding nuclear power, the Soviets are granting increasing power to the regional legislatures and may allow the decision to stand partly just because Chernobyl remains such an emotional issue in the Ukraine. A complete shutdown does not, of course, solve the problem of the damaged reactor: a proposal to seal it in concrete will safely contain the radioactive core for no more than 25 years. As to the other problems, well, as you can see from the following summary of a report presented at the IPPNW Congress in March, the accident just goes on.

At the Congress on Nuclear Phase Out held by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War at Kiel (FRG) on March 2-4, Gundula Bahro, in her lecture, presented new details on radioactive contamination and its consequences in the Soviet Union after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

 

Last year, on the third anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Dr. Rosalie Bertell visited Chernobyl at the invitation of the Ukrainian Peace Committee, sponsor of the All-European Chernobyl Conference in Kiev, April 1989. Among Dr. Bertell's notes on the Kiev Conference were the following entries:

  1. 1,000 pregnant women were evacuated; only 65 of them eventually had "successful labour"; of these 65 there are 37 surviving children;
  2. Of about 4,000 workers at Chernobyl Unit 4 prior to the accident, 85% have since been retired either because of age or ill health;
  3. Evacuation of the city of Pripyat (about 50,000 population) was relatively smooth, but evacuation of the countryside was difficult. Some villagers hid in the woods to avoid evacuation. Others refused to leave until their farm animals were evacuated;
  4. Overall, there were about 640,000 evacuees, 215,000 of them children.

Dr. Bertell's full paper, entitled "Side trip to Chernobyl April 1989", is available from the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, 830 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5R 3G1, Canada.
Source: Health 2000 (Canada), December 1989

The invisible danger not only threatens the Ukraine but also the Russian SSR: 11 areas with 17 mi]lion inhabitants (among them 2.5 million children) are affected, and about one quarter of Byelorussia. Four hundred and twenty villages should have been evacuated immediately. The writer Ales Adamovich told the Latvian newspaper Atmoda (19 June 1989) that in the early days of the accident, one of several clouds of cesium and strontium moving across Byelorussia seemed to be moving toward Moscow and was dispersed over Mogilev using aircraft. This was kept secret. Now the pollution at Mogilev amounts to 45 - 100 curies of Cesium-137 per square kilometer. More than 100,000 people (among them 10,000 children) are said to have fallen sick. Twenty-five percent of the children suffer from thyroid gland diseases and children below the age of two are reported to have died from cancer.

And the secrecy continues. It was only in 1989 that a map of the most affected areas was published. For Byelorussia and Ukraine it shows the areas where mushroom picking is prohibited: In these areas, mushrooms can be located using a dosimeter. Nobody follows the prohibitions.

Thanks, however, to tireless journalists and documentary film reporters, the situation can no longer be kept secret. But their films ("Porog", "Za predel", "Mikrophon") still cannot be shown in public.

In the Chernobyl zone, 2700-3000 people have fallen seriously ill, 17 million suffer acutely from the consequences of the disaster, and one million have already suffered genetic damage.

At Cherkassy, one in five babies is born with deformities: Limbs, eyes and ears are missing. Among children, three main types of diseases have been observed: grey cataracts, blood diseases and liver diseases (up to severe hepatitis), and cancer and collapse of the immune system (already seen in three-year-olds).

In the Mogtlev area, the numbers of babies born with deformities are as follows (according to "Soy. Kul'tura", Oct. 1989):

1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 (Jan - Jul)
5 21 39 84 50

One of the most affected areas is that of Narodichi (Zitomir). The film "Maximum Limit" deals with the present situation there: It shows pictures of deformed calves, two-headed foals, etc.; the pollution in this area mounts to 15 - 1000 curies of Cesium-137 per square kilometer. Every second child suffers from hyperthyroidism. After strong protests by the local populace, 12 villages of the Narodichi area are to be evacuated between now and 1993. Ninety-three thousand inhat4tants live in the whole area, 18,000 of whom are children.

Sources:

  • Abstract of Dr. Bahro's paper prepared by Peter Diehl (FRG)
  • The Nuclear Monitor (US), 12 Mar. 1990
  • Guardian (US), 14 Mar. 1990.

Contact: The full lecture is available from Dr.Phil. Gundula Bahro, Grandweg 91, D-2000 Hamburg 54, FRG, tel: +49-40-567259.
For a map of the affected areas, write to Earth Island Journal, 300 Broadway, Suite 28, San Francisco CA 94133-3312, US, tel: +1-415-788- 3666, fax: 415-788-7324.

 

Decision on Kiggavik uranium mine project stalled

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) In a victory for forces opposing the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake (Northwest Territories, Canada), the Baker Lake Hamlet community voted a resounding "no" to the project.

(330.3300) WISE Amsterdam - The plebiscite on the Kiggavik question, promised in February by the Baker Lake Hamlet Council (see WISE News Communique 328.3283), was held Monday 26 March and 90% of the voters opposed the mine. Although this certainly is not an end to the fight, it is still a big success.

Meanwhile, though, the territorial government has refused to take a (public) stand, leaving those affected by the proposal with no support and a lot of anxiety. A motion seeking unequivocal opposition by the Territories' Legislative Assembly to the mine was left hanging in early March when the issue was put before the Assembly's Committee of the Whole for discussion. The motion, put forward by legislators Peter Ernerk and Don Morin, didn't even get past opening comments before Justice Minister Mike Ballantyne moved that it be referred to the Committee.

"Referring the motion to the committee for debate means it could be delayed until next fall," said Ernerk. Ernerk says he and Morin proposed the motion on behalf of the thousands of Inuit who live in "day-to-day fear" of the proposed mine. But, he added, "The government's tactics are clear. They (the cabinet) don't see relieving the great anxiety of the people as a priority."

Urangesellschaft Canada Ltd. has already sutmitted its Environmental Assessment Report on the proposed mine. The German-owned Urangesellschaft (UG) wants to spend CDN $150 to 175 million for the development of the mine and mill complex near the arctic circle. The total uranium contents of the deposit is estimated at 17,800 metric tons at an average grade of 0.48%. Although this will be the first uranium mine in an arctic area, environmental impacts are regarded as negligible by UG.

To date, opposition to the proposed mine has been clearly demonstrated by Keewatin residents by way of petitions (1,700 signatures) from five communities. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference has also offered its full support to the Inuit. And in addition to the Baker Lake community, the proposed mine is opposed by the Keewatin Inuit Association, the Keewatin Regional Council, the Keewatin Wildlife Federation, the Beverly Kaminuriak Caribou Management Board, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut, a citizens' committee from nearby Rankin Inlet, the NWT Federation of Labour, Ecology North and Nuclear Free North.

Sources:

  • Phone call from Jack Hicks(Canada), 28 Mar. 1990
  • Nunatsiaq News (Canada), 9 Mar. 1990
  • NuclearFuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990.

Contact: Keewatin Inuit Association, P0 Box 240, Rankin Inlet, NWT, Canada X0C OGO, tel: +1-819-645- 2800 or 2805, fax: 819-645-2348
The Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Summary Report is available from Paul Scott, Executive Secretary, Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Panel, Suite 510, 750 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 2P2, tel: +1-604-666-2431.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

In late March 1990 approximately ten Mongolian protest groups demanded that the Mardai uranium mine,

(April 6, 1990) in northeast Mongolia near the Siberian border, be closed and all uranium export be stopped. A major concern is health effects from radiation in the area of the mine. The mine, which was opened by the Soviet Union in the early 1980's, is believed to now employ about 5,000 Soviet workers. Existence of the mine was a closely held secret up until last year when Mongolian authorities confirmed its location. For many Mongolians the mine is a symbol of 60 years of Soviet neo-colonialism. Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), 28 March 1990.

 

A Belauan group, Citizens for Belau Integrity, has launched a drive calling for a three-year moratorium on efforts to resolve the Compact of Free Association issue. The group has begun to collect thousands of signatures throughout Belau, according to Senator Minoru F. Ueki, Chair of the Belau Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and one of the petition drive's organizers. The petition, addressed to the Belau and US governments and the UN Trusteeship Council, says "the time has come for the governments of Belau, the United States and the Trusteeship Council to put the political status issue to rest for a time while we (Belauans) attempt to address the problems that are crippling the credibility and capability of our government." The petition states that Belauans need "an opportunity to rationally consider the alternatives in a relaxed and non-coercive atmosphere." Meanwhile, President Etpison of Belau has wasted no time in securing the vote of 12 of Belau's 16 members of the House of Delegates for a motion which makes way for an amendment to the Constitution. Before it would become effective, the motion would have to be passed by a 75% majority in the senate and be put to the people in a referendum, winning a simply majority in three quarters of Belau's 16 states. The motion is expected to be put to the senate at its next session in the second week on April. Senator Ueki suggests that 75% of the current senators will vote for an amendment referendum. Pacific News Bulletin (Australia), 3 March 1990

 

Czechoslovakia will end uranium mining by the end of the decade, CSSR officials have said. Uranium production has already been halved over the last three years. The reasons for this phase-out are the lower uranium needs of the Soviet Union, and low prices on the uranium world market and the decreasing uranium yields at many of the major uranium mines of the country. Nuclear Fuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990

 

The Swedish Nuclear Fuel & Waste Management Company (SKB) has transferred its rights to reprocessing of 550 metric tons heavy metal of spent fuel at Cogema's La Hague plant to eight FRG utilities. In consequence of the abandonment of the Wackersdorf reprocessing plant, West German utilities are negotiating with France and Britain for reprocessing German spent fuel in La Hague and Sellafield. Nuclear Fuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990

 

Six people, among them two Iraqi, have been arrested in the UK for attempting to smuggle ignition mechanisms for nuclear rockets to Bagdad. It is presumed that Iraq is preparing nuclear loads for the Condor-II rocket which they developed jointly with Egypt and Argentina. The ignition mechanisms are produced by the US concern EC&G in Boston. Leonard Spector, former advisor of the US Senate commission on nuclear proliferation, said that the most important conclusion to be drawn from this affair is that it is now clear that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program, possibly in an advanced stage of development. Warning that Iraq will now possibly try to get hold of ignition mechanisms produced by the USSR, China, or the FRG, Spec- tor criticizes especially the FRG for being unwilling to tighten its export laws in this field. De Volkskrant (Netherlands), 27 March 1990

 

Last November the US Department of Energy, forced to admit problems at its planned Yucca Mountain site for storage of high-level radioactive waste, delayed the opening date to 2010. Now the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's own "Waste Confidence Review Group" has raised questions about the need for a high-level dump at Yucca Mountain. The report concludes that the US nuclear power plants have above-ground storage capacity on site with enough space to last until 2025. CCHW Action Bulletin (US) (via Land Leaf, March 1990)

 

Only one week after the Ontario (Canada) government authorized the "limited sale of tritium to help establish a self-powered lighting industry in Ontario and for certain other specified purposes," workers removed the tritium-powered lights from Toronto's SkyDome stadium. Stadium officials ordered the removal of the lights after a series of television reports featured comments by Dr. Rosalie Bertell of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health. Dr. Bertell expressed concern over improper monitoring of the lights for leakage of tritium. A damaged exit sign at the University of Colorado leaked 23.7 curies of tritium and required a massive decontamination procedure. During the television series, electrical workers at the stadium said that they had voiced their concern over installation and handling of the radioactive lights but were ignored. The tritium lights used at SkyDome were apparently returned to the manufacturer, Self-Powered Lighting Inc., a US company currently being investigated by the US Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an apparent loss of 2.5 grams of tritium, which disappeared after shipment from Oak Ridge, Tennessee (US). Tritium is a triggering device for nuclear warheads. A hydrogen bomb requires only 4 grams. Health 2000 (Canada), Dec. 1989

 

On 15 September, citizen and peace groups in Nagasaki, Japan staged protest actions against the port call of the Rodney M. Davis, a US 2,750-ton nuclear capable frigate. The frigate visited the port of Nagasaki in disregard of the opposition of the city's citizens and mayor, Hitoshi Motoshima. On 16 September, some 50 citizens, including atomic-bomb survivors, held an intense protest at Nagasaki Peace Park against the offering of flowers by Commander Roberts and sane crew members of the frigate. Carrying the portraits of atomic-bomb victims, they showed a banner saying "We cannot accept your offer of a wreath from one hand, while you keep your other hand on the trigger of nuclear weapons." Three days before the ship called, Motoshima had sent a note to the US Consulate stating that he would not permit the frigate to call at Nagasaki if it did not submit a certificate verifying that the ship was not carrying nuclear weapons. His statement was based on the resolution adopted by the city council opposing the port calls of nuclear-armed warships and also on the Nagasaki Citizens' Peace Charter established in March of this year, affirming the pledge of Nagasaki citizens to observe the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. Motoshima requested, for the second time, that the prefectural authorities have foreign vessels submit a non-nuclear certificate. He also made a firm request to the government of Japan that "from the point of observing the Three Non-nuclear Principles, which is Japanese national policy, prompt and proper actions to be taken at the US frigate's visit at Nagasaki, in order to clear the doubts of Nagasaki citizens on the introduction of nuclear weapons." The Kobe City government of Japan, with its Port of Kobe, has since 1975 instituted measures to have foreign warships calling at Kobe Port present non-nuclear verification since 1975. After the city's decision, no further visits have been made by the US warships, which used to make frequent port calls. Pacific News Bulletin, Feb. 1990

 

The US DOE Fiscal Year 1991 budget will include about US $135 million for work on a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), which DOE says is necessary as a backup tritium production plant. The money will thus come from DOE's weapons budget, rather than its commercial nuclear energy budget, but, DOE says that a primary reason for building the HTGR is to give a boost to the commercial nuclear industry. The primary tritium production plant would be a heavy water reactor located at the Savannah River Plant, which would be unsuitable for commercial use. The HTGR would be a four-unit modular reactor located in Idaho. The need for a second tritium production reactor is highly debatable; thus DOE is stressing the commercial benefits of building the HTGR. DOE also said its construction schedule for building the plant has been reduced from 16 years to 10-12. This has been accomplished by deciding to build all four modules at once, rather than wait for testing to occur on the first one. Nuclear Monitor (US), 26 Feb. 1990

 

A growing number of US utilities and industry analysts say they are concerned that the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), which evaluates all US commercial reactors, in its "zeal" to push nuclear plant operators to "strive for excellence", is contributing to escalating production costs and shoving the nuclear industry toward non-competitiveness. Several utility officials and experts who study nuclear operating and maintenance (O&M) costs said in recent interviews with Nucleonics Week that they now consider INPO, like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to be one of many cost drivers behind spiraling O&M costs, which have escalated on average about 10% a year over the last decade. While they stressed the value in INPO (so diplomatic, they are), they also said that increasing production costs threaten to make nuclear non-competitive and raise the issue of whether the industry can afford to continue to strive for excellence... Nucleonics Week (US), 15 Feb. 1990

 

In a letter to members of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Public Citizen, a Washington DC based research and advocacy organization, urged the agency to close the six nuclear power plants which the NRC designated as "problem plants" on 15 February. The six reactors are: Nine Mile Point-1 and 2 in Scriba, New York; Calvert Cliffs-i and 2 in Lusby, Maryland and; Surry-1 and 2 in Gravel Neck, Virginia. Public Citizen also urged the NRC to develop and publish action plans for correcting safety shortcomings at those reactors it designates as "problem plants". Further, the NRC should make known, publicly, the rules governing the circumstances under which it will suspend a utility's operating license for a nuclear reactors. (The NRC has never developed objective criteria for assessing whether a plant poses a serious enough threat to public health and safety to warrant being closed). And finally, Public Citizen stated that because continued operation of "problem plants" represents a significant risk, the NRC should switch the burden of proof so that "problem plants" do not operate unless their owners can prove them to be safe. Contact: Cleo Manuel or Ken Bossong, Public Citizen, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003, tel: (202) 546 4996 Public Citizen News Release (US), 15 Feb. 1990

 

Plans for the first radiological study of the entire Marshall Islands have been made following the first meeting of an independent panel of scientists advising the Nuclear Claims Tribunal and the government on radiation matters and nuclear claims. Dr. Steve Simon has been hired to direct the independent radiological monitoring of the Marshalls spelled out in the Compact's Section 177, which provides US $3 million for the work. An international scientific panel will be advising the Claims Tribunal on issues relating to claims filed for compensation. The panel will consult with Simon on the radiological survey which he is responsible for conducting. The group of scientists is defined as an unbiased advisory panel that has no connection with the US Department of Energy. Simon said the survey would focus attention on all the islands, not just the northern islands where the DOE has concentrated its research program. Be expects to begin soil, food and other sampling for laboratory analysis early next year and said his objective is to complete all the survey work in one year's time. However, 14 Marshall Islands senators are calling on the panel to halt the plans which they say will mislead people because there is not enough funding to conduct a thorough study on each of the islands involved. Instead, the senators, who represent close to half the Parliament, are urging the scientists to first obtain all US DOE documents relating to radiation exposure so that the panel can conduct an independent review to be able to specify areas where additional radiation study is needed..."It is becoming more and more obvious to us that we are being asked to fund...a project which could actually prove worse than nothing at all if it results in misleading the people of the Marshall Islands about the true extent of radiation contamination that has resulted from the fallout. This we consider is irresponsible." Pacific News Bulletin, Feb. 1990; Marshall Islands Journal (via Pacific News Bulletin, Mar. 1990)

 

"Halting Global Warming", by Dr. PM Kelly, published by Greenpeace. According to Dr. Kelly, a researcher at the Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 200 is an essential first step towards stabilizing greenhouse gases by 2030. His "stabilization strategy" is an action program for the next 30 years, broken down into decades. He concludes that if emissions are cut in line with this strategy, global warming will be cut almost 60% by 2050, compared to a situation in which no emission cuts are made. He further concludes that every five years of delay in cutting pollution will lead to a 10% increase in global warming, whereas his strategy will result in a stable climate subject only to natural variability by the end of the 21st century. Existing technology can be used to achieve the cuts needed in the decade to the turn of the century. During this period, Greenpeace believes lifestyle changes and technological development would lead to the further reductions required in the early 21st century. Between 2000 and 2010 a further cut of 30% in global CO2 emissions would be needed, with a final 10% cut between 2010 and 2020. At the end of this period, CO2 emissions would have been cut by 70% from present levels. Remaining emissions would be offset by extensive reforestation. To achieve an equal global emission standard (ie. per person), cuts would need to be weighted, meaning more drastic cuts in industrialized countries, where most CcY2 emissions are generated. Contact: Greenpeace UK, 30-31 Islington Green, London NI 8XE, UK, tel: +44-1-359 7396.

 

European Group for Ecological Action (ECOROPA), a non-political, non-profit-making European group based in Wales, UK, produces helpful information sheets (or leaflets) on various topics. Although some dated from 1981/82, we still find them of interest and value. They are: No.5 Nuclear War - The Facts You Should Know; No.6 Atomic Energy and Nuclear Weapons - The Intimate Connection; Nuclear Power - The Facts They Don't Want You To Know, and; No.16 More Facts You Should Know. Most recently, they have published No.17 Tropical Forests - The Facts You Should Know To Save Them. Prices for No.17 are: (25) UK 3.50 pounds; (50) 6.50; (100) 12.00; Leaflet No.5-14 (100) UK 2.00 pounds and Leaflet No.16 (25) 2.75 and (50) 4.75 pounds. Not all quantities/prices have been listed here. For the full listing contact: ECOROPA, Crickhowell, Powys, Wales NP8 1TA, UK.

 

"Developing Wind Energy for the UK", by Marcus Rand of the Energy and Environment Research Unit at the Open University (UK), published by Friends of the Earth UK. An investigation of the environmental impacts of wind energy to evaluate their significance. As it is intended for national policy-makers, windf arm developers, local planners, national and local interest groups, local communities where windfarms are proposed, it also looks at mechanisms for involving communities more in the proposed developments so as to establish acceptance within the community. Contact: Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ, UK. Cost: UK 3 pounds.

 

April 23-27: International seminar on "Alternative energetics and energy saving: European experience and Ukraine", Kiev, USSR. Contact: Zelenyi Svit, Secretariat, Kirov Street 51. SU-252021, Kiev, USSR, fax: 7444 2286992, telex: 131453 kobza su (write: "for Zeleni Svit").

 

April 25-29: 4th East-West consultation, Berlin. Organized by the Dutch Foundation for East-European Environmental Contacts (a coalition of WISE, Friends of the Earth and the Dutch National Environmental Forum). The theme will be "Urban Environment". The first day will be an introduction into East-West networking. Some excursions are planned as a preparation for the discussion on campaigning activities. Organizers are looking for participants working on environmental campaigning within the European environmental movement who are willing to contribute to an active exchange of views and knowledge. Most participants will originate from Eastern European countries. Contact: Dutch Foundation for East-European Environmental Contacts, P0 Box 5627, 1007 AP Amsterdam, The Netherlands, tel: +31-20- 853857, fax: 838955.

 

April 28: Dutch-German Action to commemorate Chernobyl, to begin at the 11:00 am at the border crossing at Gronau (FRG). Organized by AKU Gronau to unite anti-nuclear efforts in both The Netherlands and the FRG in voicing protest against the expansion of nuclear development and nuclear transport. From 11:55 to 12:05 there will be a border blockade. There will also be information stands, cultural programs, etc. For those individuals or organizations interested in supporting this action, please take up contact with the organizers by April 15. Contact: W. Leuders, Tannenbergstrasse 61, 4432 Gronau, tel: 02562/24837; W. Neumann, tel: 05971/66837 or 12341.

 

July 24-27: European Meeting Of North American Indian Support Groups, Gelbenholzen near Munich, FRG. The intention of the meeting is to focus on coordination and development of support work strategies, elaboration of actions, and methods of attracting public attention to the problems of Indigenous Nations in North America. A special reader providing information on the cases to be dealt with will be sent to all people who register and pay the conference fee in advance. Proposals are welcomed on new issues as long as information can be provided in advance for inclusion in the conference reader. Workshops are expected to include the struggles of the Lubicon Cree in Canada, and the Lakota and Western Shoshone in the US, as well as generally on uranium mining and Indigenous people. Participants are expected from throughout Eastern and Western Europe. The conference language is English. The conference fee is US $30. Donations to help cover transport costs of Native participants will be deeply appreciated. For more information and to register, contact the meeting hosts: Big Mountain Aktionsgruppe e.V., Franziskanerstr. 36, 8000 Munich 80, West Germany, tel: 089-448 9358.

 

August 9-12: 6th General Conference of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), Tromsö, (Norway). The main themes center around looking at intergovernmental actions for a better awareness and control of the accelerating collapse of the global environment, and the intention, on the part of indigenous peoples, to identify and define themselves as an integral part of the world. The session will conclude with a 7-day long post-conference tour through Samiland along the Arctic coast and through inland areas. Contact: Nordic Sami Council, SF-99980 Ohcejohka, Finland, tel: +358-9697 71351 or 9697 71276.

 

EARTH DAY is approaching: Individuals and groups planning activities in connection with Earth Day 1990 on 22 April are asked to please contact the International Coordinators to let them know what their plans are. Contact: Teresa McGlashan and Mark Dubois, International Coordinators, P0 Box AA, Stanford University, California 94309, USA, tel: (415) 321 1990, fax: (415) 321 2040, Eec-net: Intlearthday.

International hunger strike to stop nuclear testing

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) Anti-nuclear activists organized an international hunger strike to protest nuclear testing from March 5-13.

(330.3297) WISE Amsterdam - The March date was chosen because it coincides with a number of events, such as Bikini/Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day, International Women's Day, and various church organized activities throughout the month. Protests took place in Geneva (Switzerland), Stuttgart and Lausdorf (FRG), the Hague (Netherlands), Salzbourg (Austria), Magdeburg (GDR), London and Sheffield (UK), Paris, Montpellier and Quimper (France) and Papeete (Polynesia).

 

REQUEST FOR CONTACTS
A group working to stop nuclear testing, Greenham Women Everywhere, has a request: "We want to make contact with women who want to stop nuclear testing. We would like to link up with women all over the world to make a big protest starting on International Women's Day for Disarmament, May 24th. We want to make contact with women who are interested in this project." Contact: Blue Gate, Bury's Bank Road, Greenham Common, Newbury, Barks, UK, tel: Peg on 0635 27444.

Two members of Tavini Hui Raatira (Polynesian Liberation Front) Youth Committee in Tahiti, in solidarity with the international hunger fast, went to Paris to take turns fasting during the nine days of action. They were invited by the French peace movement, who remembered the Tahitian hunger strike last August. One member, Tea Hirshon, commented, "We now have support coming from the French themselves" and this support is important.

Concurrently, some Tavini Hui Raatira members took turns fasting in front of the Territorial Assembly in Papeete - while other members split into two groups to walk around the island. A petition was circulated against the European Community of 1993, which will, remind activists, absorb Tahiti-Polynesia. As one participant said, "This means that nuclear testing is not only French, but European. Independence is the only way for us to stop all this." The Tavini Huiraatira party, led by Oscar Temaru, wants to make people aware that the three issues nuclear testing, independence and the future of the European Community — are all interrelated.

Sources: Pacific News Bulletin, 2 February 1990 and 3 March 1990

Contact: Jane Prentiss, The Community of the Ark (L'Arche), 34650 Roqueredonde, France
Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC), General Co-ordination Office, P0 Box 3148, Auckland CPO, Aotearoa (Nz).

 

Leaked internal documents critical of French nuclear establishment

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) Circulating in French newspapers and among ecological groups are leaked reports, made by order of the French government, which criticize both the state electric utility Electricite de France (EDF) and the French Commissariat for Atomic Energy.

(330.3299) WISE Amsterdam - Included among them is the annual report by the IGSN (Inspection General pour la Surete Nucleaire) on nuclear safety in EDF at the end of 1989. The report, prepared by Pierre Tanguy (director of IGSN, which is a part of EDF), is highly critical of safety at all levels.

As the report admits, "1989 was a 'hot' year for EDF safety" and gives an unprecedented admission of the desperate situation faced by the French nuclear industry. The report divides the problems into three main types:

  • The first group covers problems arising from the complexity of the installations. Of these Tanguy says, "My site visits regularly reveal the difficulties experienced by those responsible in keeping up to date the procedures for both running and maintenance."
  • The second kind of problems are due to aging of the installations. "The wear in control rod clusters of 900 MW reactors has been much faster than expected." The most important example of this resulted in a blockage of Gravelines.
  • The third kind of problems are, Tanguy says, more "worrying", in that they result from insufficient control of modifications which have been made to systems which should have been proven at this stage of the French PWR program. Difficulties of this kind have been seen at Nogent, such as the faults in the computerized protection system and the swelling of the fuel storage rack. Two major generic problems in 1300 MW reactors directly related to safety have marked the year 1989: the inconel welding defects on the instrument passages on pressurizers (faults due to design errors) and the new type of deformation found in steam generator tubes. "This is comparable to the phenomena of denting, similar to that observed in the USA several years ago, followed by corrosion fissures under stress...", the exact origins of which are still the subject of discussion.

The report then elaborates on those problems defined as the more seriow. Further, Tanguy says, "The risk of a sudden break of one or several steam generator tubes, is incontestably the most worrying possibility today, bearing in mind the state of the steam generators on several sites. The probability of such an accident occurring in the next few years is not negligible."

In commenting on the report, Jim Rowe of Vivre Sans Le Danger Nucleaire de Golfech says that, interestingly, only five years ago the official figures put the risk of an accident at more than one in 1,000,000. Following the Chernobyl accident, Tanguy recognized for the first time that an accident was possible in France. He now admits the possibility of such an accident occurring in France in the next ten years is less than one in 50! And he is pessimistic about any significant improvement.

* * * * * *

In France, where 75% of the electricity is of nuclear origin, the national planning bureau noted that already, beginning a few years ago, EDF had an over-capacity. EDF director Delaporte recently justified this over-capacity by referring to export profits. In the leaked reports, however, the French government admits to dumping prices for electricity exports: Prices for exported electricity (22.4 centimes per kwh) are lower than production costs (22.5 centimes per kwh).

EDF has begun a public relations campaign after an uninterrupted flow of reports of incidents in French nuclear power plants. The French weekly Journal du Dimanehe wrote at the beginning of March that incidents occur on an average of 15 per month.

Recently, a mechanic was "lightly" contaminated during routine maintenance work at the nuclear power plant at Bugey (southeast France). Other incidents were reported from Cruas (dep. Ardeche), Gravelines (north France) and Cattenom (east), and more serious problems have been reported at Nogent (Nogent-surMarne) and at Fessenheim (Alsace).

Maintenance at Fessenheim is taking much more time than foreseen. A shortage has arisen of highly qualified workers needed for repairs of corrosion and the large number of small radioactive leaks because the workers must often be replaced after a few days, having received the maximum permissible radiation dose quickly.

The costs of routine six-months maintenance checks will rise as maintenance lasts longer. This worries the unions which fear that workers will be encouraged to take more risks and that technical repairs will be done too quickly to be considered safe, in order to reduce the costs.

EDF now has to take into account that French nuclear power plants will have shorter lifetimes than budgeted for. They were supposed to last 30 to 40 years. The oldest nuclear power plant, in Saint Laurent-des-Eaux on the river Loire, will be closed after some 21 years.

According to the government report (still not made public officially), the French populace will accept nuclear power only if a solution is found soon for storage of nuclear waste. Strong protests in the regions assigned for storage have forced the government to delay decisions for one year.

Full copies of the IGSN report can be obtained from: Jim Rowe, Canazille, 47270 St. Maurin, France, tel: 53 95 38 31.

Sources:

  • De Volkskrant (Netherlands), 8 Mar. 1990
  • taz (FRG), 8 Mar. 1990
  • letter from Jim Rowe (France), 28 Feb. 1990.

Contact: Peter Diehl, Schulstr.13, 7881 Herrischried, FRG, tel and fax: +49-7764-1034
Jim Rowe (see above address).

Radioactive cesium in follicular fluid and semen

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) According to a report by the Austria Presse Agentur (APA) sent to WISE by Dr. Alex. Tollmann of the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft nein zur Atomenergie Ja zur Umwelt", a Viennese genealogist has dropped a scientific bomb.

(330.3202) WISE Amsterdam - The report says the genealogist, Dr. Wilfried Feichtinger, and US scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Fertility and Hormone Center in New York have succeeded in proving the presence of radioactive cesium-137 and -134 in both follicular fluid surrounding the female ovum and in male semen. The report says further that their findings indicate that long-lasting exposure to Cesium-137 may result in infertility.

Dr. Feichtinger and his US colleagues took samples of follicular fluid obtained during oocyte retrievals in 74 European women and 25 US women and examined them for the presence of Cs 137 and 134 over a two-year period following the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Of the samples from the European women, mainly Austrian, 54% were found to be contaminated with Cs 137 and 40% with Cs 134.

According to Dr. Feichtinger, who is a guest-professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and described by the APA report as being one of the two medical fathers of the first Austrian 'test-tube babies', "These are the after-effects of the reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl. The data from the US also showed Cs 137 in the follicles, which, probably not coming from the USSR, could be an indication that a long-lasting exposure to Cs 137 causes sterilization among women."

As formulated by Feichtinger and his fellow researchers, the starting point of the research had been: "After the Chernobyl accident, radioactive Cs 137 and 134 was found everywhere in Europe in the soil, in breastmilk, in the placenta (of pregnant women). The question remained open as to whether the radioactive materials also had found access to the region of the germ cells: the follicular fluid and the semen."

"We did the research on Cs 137 and Cs 134 in the follicular fluid in our Institute for Infertility care in Vienna, in connection with invitro-fertilization," said Feich- tinger in the APA report. "Our colleagues at the Albert Einstein College did the same thing in New York. We started in 1986 and used data gathered until 1988. In addition we carried out research on semen in Vienna. The tests were carried out at the atomic institute of the Austrian universities."

The results from Vienna: Between June and August 1986, out of 13 follicular fluid samples, one was found to be contaminated with Cesium-137. The contaminated sample was from an American woman who, says Dr. Feichtinger, probably had not received the contamination as a result of the Chernobyl accident, but from atomic testing. The halflife of Cesium-137 being approximately 30 years and that of cesium, two years.

Then came the after-effects of the reactor accident of April 1986: from the nine samples that were researched between November 1986 and January 1987, five contained Cesium-137 (56%). Between June and August 1987 there was a peak: of 56 samples, 36 (or 71%) were contaminated with Cesium-137. And out of 35 of the samples contaminated with Cesium-137, 27 were found to also contain Cesium-134, for the first time. From March to June 1988, radioactive contamination was found in six out of 10 samples.

Following the Chernobyl accident, several radioactive clouds passed over Austria. The first reached Austria on 29 April 1986. Others were registered on 30 April and 1 May. According to Feichtinger, men were harder hit than women, at least in terms of his research on specific areas of the reproduction cycle. "Out of 28 semen samples that were measured during the same period," he says, "12 turned out to be contaminated (43%). There were differences with the follicular fluid in development and height of the measured values during that period. The contamination with cesium of semen samples was a factor ten times higher than that of the follicular fluid," wrote Feichtinger and his fellow researchers. Between June and August 1987 almost 50% of the control people were contaminated; in March 1988, "only" about 35%.

According to the tests, the Cesium137 contamination in the semen reached a peak between June and August 1987 of about 0.06 picocuries per milliliter. In that period the Cesium-134 had increased to 0.04 per milliliter.

With regard to the data from the US, where the follicular fluid of 25 women was examined, 28% were found to be contaminated with the Cesium-137. None, however, showed Cesium-134. For Dr. Feichtinger this is an indication that the US women did not receive the cesium from Chernobyl but from another source: probably the earlier atomic weapons testing.

Interpretation of these results is not simple, says the Viennese research team. To complicate interpretation further, researchers found that the sperm in the semen samples found contaminated with radioactive cesium behaved under the microscope more actively than the sperm in uncontaminated samples. But clearly there are alarming indications, Feichtinger wrote. "All the women that were examined in the US were found to be sterile. Among the women examined in Vienna, no such difference in fertility between the contaminated women and uncontaminated women was found. This may mean that a long-lasting exposure to Cesium-137 is resulting in sterility."

Sources:

  • APA news report (Austria), 27 Feb. 1990
  • Notice of submission to the Society of Gynecologic Investigation of the paper, "Radioactive Cesium in Follicular Fluid and Reproductive Performance", 20 november 1989
  • Letter from Dr. Alex Tollmann, 5 March 1990.

Contact: For further information, write Dr. Alex Tollmann, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Nein Zur Atomenergie Ja Zur Umwelt, Schelbenbergstrasse 53/6, 1180 Vienna, Austria.

Soviets suspend nuclear testing at Kazakhstan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) While Chernobyl has caused a great deal of public concern in the USSR, there is another source of radiation exposure that has been a cause for alarm and, recently, outright protests.

(330.3296) WISE Amsterdam/WISE Stockholm - These protests are having an effect. According to press reports circulating on 28 March, the USSR has decided to suspend underground nuclear testing at Kazakhstan until steps are taken to ensure greater protection from radiation. Just what is meant by "greater protection", though, remains to be seen.

A previous de facto moratorium on the tests had been in effect for several months last year until, in October, the Military detonated two 70-kiloton blasts at the "Poligon" test site. These blasts shook the powerful coal miners union into action. According to Askar Nurmanov, a Soviet journalist who heads the Kazakhstan department of the Novosti Press Agency, "The miners have threatened to strike if there is another nuclear blast at Poligon."

 

The Dene and Inuit People are also among those suffering from the 1950s nuclear weapons tests by both the USSR and the US. A 1989 report by a Moscow weekly, quoted in the December issue of Health 2000, reveals that the "legacies of Soviet Nuclear tests carried out decades ago are ravaging the reindeer herders who live across the Bering Strait from Alaska."

Moscow News, also quoted by Health 2000, reported that the cancer rate among natives of the Chukoka Peninsula is two to three times higher than the national average and that virtually the entire population suffers from tuberculosis and 90 percent have chronic lung disease. The general radiation level on the peninsula is at least twice as high as normal - and equal to the average dose received by people living in the still-populated areas around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. "Peaceful hunters and reindeer-herders who in no way participated in the conflict of the superpowers are now paying the price for big policies," Moscow News reported.

Canadian Inuit families call the 1957-1958 winter "the year the caribou did not come." That winter was the very worst for hunger the Inuit can remember according to one of the survivors. "The year the Caribou didn't come" coincided with an extraordinarily high yield from US and Soviet nuclear tests conducted in the same period. The Canadian Arctic received heavy fallout.

Source: Health 2000, Dec. 1989
Contact: The full report entitled "Starvation in the Arctic" is available from the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, 830 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5R 3G1, Canada. Cost: CDN $3.00.

The nuclear tests have been going on in secret since 1949, says Nurmanov. But it was not until 14 February 1989 that people living downwind finally learned the facts of the test program. Despite official assurances at that time that the tests were "benign", local residents organized a march to the site. The protests had an effect. The government then agreed to send medical examiners to the affected villages and the planned number of tests was reduced from 19 to seven.

Nurmanov, who has been touring the US as a guest of the American Peace Test, pointed out that the "Poligon" test site at Kazakhstan, like the US Nevada Test Site, is located on sacred native lands. And like the "downwinders" in the US, citizens in the USSR have organized to monitor the health of their communities and to protest continued testing. (In honor of the US protests, they have dubbed their campaign the "Nevada Movement.") In his travels around the US, Nurmanov displays a number of photos of mass demonstrations at the site. One photo shows a protestor carrying his daughter on his shoulders. The girl appears to be five years old, but in fact, explains Nurmanov, "She is 15 years old." Years of fallout have caused cases of dwarfism as well as cancer and leukemia.

Meanwhile, in the US on Saturday 31 March, about 1,600 people participated in the annual peace demonstration at the Nevada nuclear weapons test site. Police arrested 871 people and charged them with trespass. The underground test site is about 100 km from Las Vegas.

Sources:

  • AFP press report, 28 Mar. 1990 (via GreenNet, gn.nuclear, topic 226, 32 Mar. 1990)
  • Earth Island Journal (US), Winter 1990
  • Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), 2 Apr. 1990, p. All.

Contact: The Union of Writers of Kazakhstan Alma-Ata, Kommunistichesky Prospect, 105, Kazakhstan, USSR
Western Shoshone National Council, P0 Box 68, Duckwater NV 89314, USA, tel: +1-702-863-0227
American Peace Test, P0 box 26725, Las Vegas NV 89126, USA.

 

Superphenix campaign/Italy

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) A press conference on 2 February in Rome announced the beginning of a campaign in Italy against the fast breeder Superphenix (CreysMalville, France).

(330.3298) WISE Amsterdam - The campaign is being coordinated by a coalition made up of 18 ecological organizations among which are: World Wildlife Fund-Italy, Amici della Terra (Friends of the Earth Italy), Lega per Ambiente, pacifists Unions and political parties (Democrazia Proletaria, the green "Verde" and "Verde acrobaleno" parties, the Radical and Communist Youth Party).

The goal of the coalition is for Italy to withdraw its investments in the Superphenix project to conform to the requirements of the Italian anti-nuclear referenda which prohibit participation in nuclear projects in foreign countries and participation by the Italian industry in the Superphenix project. (In November 1988, 72.2% of Italian voters voted for repeal of the then-existing law allowing the state energy utility, ENEL, to participate in international nuclear ventures. As a result of this referendum, ENEL, which had a 33% share in the Superphenix, was supposed to withdraw its capital from the venture. See also, WISE News Communique 283.2854.)

Source: CECSR. Case Postale 107, 1227 Carouge, Switzerland.

Contact: Amici della Terra, Via del Sudario n.35, 00186 Rome, tel: +39-6-6875308 or 6568289.

Surveillance of Swiss activists

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) The "fischen-affair" (affair of files) became the subject of emotional debates in Switzerland after a parliamentary commission announced, at the end of last year, that the Swiss security police has been involved in surveillance and collecting data - on a large scale - on Swiss citizens. Anti-nuclear activists have been among those included in this surveillance.

(330.3303) WISE Amsterdam - Two members of Parliament, PM Eulen and PM Weder, were among those who found themselves of interest to security police. On asking for access to his file (which is, for ordinary citizens, extremely difficult), PM Eulen found that he had been registered in police files for the first time back in the 1950s as being affiliated with the movement against atomic weapons, and for the last time in 1986 as being affiliated with the antinuclear movement. Likewise PM Weder found himself registered as being affiliated with the antinuclear movement. He was quoted as having approved of illegal actions, although he in fact had declared exactly the opposite. The commission's announcement also mentioned that the federal police had registered the names of participants of a seminar on "Les Alpes comme filiales des centrales nucleaires", held in Salecina (Switzerland) in 1986.

An example of just how the data collected on anti-nuclear activists is being used is illustrated in the case of a police report on a solicitor which was received by the "Verkehrsverein Oberhaufen". The solicitor was being considered by the "Verkehrsverein Oberhaufen" for the post of baths superintendent. The report this body received remarked that it was doubtful that the solicitor would be ideal for the post as he "seems to be an opponent of nuclear power plants..." It seems that, during a festival, the solicitor had exploded a model of a coolant tower which he had himself made.

Source: Anti-Atom, no. 9, March 1990

Contact: Conference Swisse pour l'Arret des Centrales Nucleaires, case postale 6307, 3001 Berne, Switzerland, tel: 013/25 16 11.

Telethon Chernobyl

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#330
06/04/1990
Article

(April 6, 1990) In July 1989 Soviet authorities decided that in areas where the lifetime radioactive dose exceeds 35 rem per person, further evacuations would need to be carried out over the next three years. According to a report by a team of six members of the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who visited the affected areas in January of this year, as many as 100,000 more people will be evacuated.

(330.3295) WISE Amsterdam - In all probability, the number will be even higher, given that in the Narodichi area alone some 93,000 people will have to be evacuated between now and 1993. The following is a press release, dated 26 February 1990, being circulated by the Organizing Committee of the "Chernobyl Telethon" (USSR) in their efforts to seek support for those affected and those still awaiting evacuation (and suffering further due to the strain of simply having to wait).

On the 26th of April 1986 a terrible disaster happened at Chernobyl Nuclear Power station that shook the world...

On the 26th of April 1990 the Soviet TV in a charitable 24-hours long program, "Telethon Chernobyl", will reconstruct what happened on the very first days of the tragedy. The dramatic consequences of atomic power that went beyond human control affecting everything alive on Earth will be shown in this program through examples of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the American nuclear power plant "Three Mile Island", where 11 years ago the serious possibility of a nuclear (power plant) accident appeared for the first time in the Nuclear Age. Not less impressive will be the example of Hiroshima, that will show the deadly impact of a nuclear blast on human beings even 45 years after...

"Telethon Chernobyl" is organized by the Soviet Peace Fund, the International Foundation "For Survival and Development of Mankind", the USSR Trade Unions Council, the Foundation for Social Innovations of the USSR and by the "Chernobyl" Union, and will be broadcast on Channel 2 of the Soviet TV.

The goal of this great event is to make the sad lessons of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster well known to the peoples all over the world. What happened in the Soviet Union must become the serious warning to every person on earth and should be the beginning of the public control of nuclear power plants by the citizens of the planet.

One of the aims of the "Telethon" organizing committee is to attract the attention of the Soviet and world public to the destiny of hundreds of thousands of Chernobyl Disaster victims, affected by radiation. They need to be moved urgently from the radioactively contaminated lands. A fundraising campaign will be organized during the 24-hours long broadcast: any kinds of donations are acceptable: financial, medicine, medical equipment, and different forms of moral and social support for those affected at Chernobyl.

A part of the funds raised during the "Telethon" will be directed to implement the scientifically practical research, allowing for the raising of the operation security of nuclear power plants all over the world.

The TV show that will be broadcast from the "Rossia" concert hail will be attended by outstanding figures in social activities and high level authorities from many countries, scientists, representatives of the church, writers and famous Soviet and foreign artists.

The "Telethon Chernobyl" Organizing Committee, consisting of A.E. Karpov, the chairman of the Soviet Peace Fund, academician E.P. Veiikhov, Ales Adamovich, the writer, Dr. Gale (USA), Mr. Sasagava (Japan) and Soviet movie star Lyudmiia Gurchenko, is inviting all the citizens of earth to take part in this charitable action.

Besides monetary donations, the help to those affected may be offered in the form of medical treatment, "clean foods" supplies, construction materials and equipment for the people about to be moved from contaminated lands, invitations to undergo treatments, or to restore health for those who need it, and the number of the potential acceptors will be hundreds of thousands.

Charitable donations to the Chernobyl victims may be given in person at the "Rossia" concert hall in Moscow or by phone, fax, telex or telegraph on the Telethon account. It's possible to hook up to the Soviet TV broadcast time (buying the right to retransmit it) from 12:00 am until 12:00 pm Moscow time on April 16, 1990, and to retransmit any part of the "Telethon".

Will you please inform us about the ways of your participation not later than April 15, 1990.

Contact: Organizing Committee of the "Chernobyl Telethon" 7-133, Hotel "Rossia" 6 Razina Str. Moscow 103495, USSR
Phone: +7 095 2981337, Fax: +7 095 2302025,
Teletex: 207970 AT, Telex: 412881 SU.
Account No. 70500003 VNESHECONOM BANK USSR