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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Operating N-reactors in 1993 total 4%.

(June 25, 1993) In the last year, 4% nuclear reactors were in operation generating electricity worldwide. Seventy-two reactors were under construction, says the IAEA. West fülische Nachrichten (FRG), 5 May 1993.


Death of Japanese N-worker sparks evelations. The parents of Nobuyuki Shimahashi, a nuclear plant maintenance worker in Japan who died at the age of 29, have applied for compensation. The request has been submitted to the Iwate Labor Standards Inspection Office in Shizuoka Prefecture. As a sub-contract worker, Shimahashi worked at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant from March 1981 until December 1989 conducting checkups of the measuring facilities during the annual inspections. In Oct. 1989 he was diagnosed as suffering from chronic myelogenic leukemia. He died from the disease two years later, on 22 Oct. 1991. According to his radiation control pocketbook, he was exposed to 50.63 millisieverts of radiation. According to the Labor Ministry, the conditions for certifying leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation on the job are:
1) exposure to rather high levels of ionizing radiation (more than 0.5 rem times the number of years engaged in work involving exposure to radiation)
2) the disease has to be contracted by the person at least one year after the first exposure to radiation, and
3) it has to be either myelogenic leukemia or lymphatic leukemia.
In Nobuyuki Shimahashi's case, the conditions were all fulfilled. The case has led the Labor Ministry to admit for the first time that it has previously recognized compensation for the death of a former nuclear plant worker due to exposure to radiation. The worker was employed for 11 months in 1979 at the No. 1 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and was exposed to 40 milli-sieverts. This case was recognized as a death caused by exposure to radiation in 1991, but has never been made public until now. Besides these two cases, two more applications have already been submitted in Hyogo Prefecture and more are being prepared for application. Nuke Info Tokyo (Japan), May/June 1993, p. 6


Spanish activists take measures. To celebrate Earth Day 1993 and the 7th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, RedRad (Red de Vigilancio Radiológica or, in English, the Network for Radioactivity Control), carried out an action in which people simultaneously measured the levels of radioactivity across Spain. Thirty-seven stations participated in the April 22 action. The action was made in order to break the monopoly that the state has over information on radioactivity in Spain and also gives local activists a base to work from so that any changes in radiation levels can be noted. For more information, contact: RedRad, Apartado de Correos %.106, 08080 Barcelona, Spain. Integral (Spain), 162:16


Australia asks compensation from Britain on Maralinga. Australia is asking Britain to pay a "substantial contribution" to the A$75 million price tag for cleaning up Maralinga in South Australia where British atomic weapons were tested in the 1950s and early 1960s. Australia is also demanding A$45 million compensation for the Maralinga Tjarutja, Aborigines whose traditional lands were used for the tests. Australia is claiming it was misled by the British about the level of radioactive contamination at Maralinga when it signed a document in 1%8 releasing Britain from its responsibilities. According to Australian experts, recently declassified documents suggest that Britain should have known that plutonium had spread 150 kilometers or more from the test site, and was not locked in disposal pits as claimed. New Scientist (UK), 12 June 1993


US utility lays off employees to recover N-plant construction costs. pg&e in California, the largest utility in the US, is laying off thousands of employees and has agreed to freeze its rates for two years so it can reduce both operating costs and energy prices. The reason, according to a long-time PG&E employee as well as many critics of the giant utility, is the need to recover its huge investment in the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo. The layoffs - up to 2,600 workers by the end of this year - and the rate freeze come amid widespread criticism that customers are paying higher bills at a time when surplus power is available at a fraction of the cost. Diablo Canyon generates expensive electricity - 11 cents a kilowatt hour, as compared to 3-4 cents for alternative power - and the utility is making hundreds of millions of dollars off the plant, but it wants to increase profits even more by reducing expenses. It paid more than US$5 billion to build the plant - a high price which was compounded by a variety of design errors, shoddy workmanship and unforeseen earth-quake-proofing expenses for a facility located just three miles from an offshore fault line. The plant began operating in the mid-1980s, and in 1989 the state allowed the utility to increase the price for the power generated there by 11% a year for five years - way above the US annual inflation rate - which is one reason PG&E has been enjoying a substantial return. The PG&E employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said the reductions will adversely affect services. One department involved in energy efficiency programs, for example, has lost 30 of 42 workers. Contact: ECONEWS, 879 9th St., Arcata CA 95521, USA; e-mail: -ECONEWS, Newsletter of the Northcoast Environmental Center (US) (GreenNet, gn:gn.nuclear, 10 June 1993)


US weapons plant poses extra danger to surrounding area. EG&G, a private company operating the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver, Colorado for the US Department of Energy (DOE) admit-ted that it has neglected to carry out required inspections of potentially flammable plutonium bomb parts for more than three years. Rocky Flats officials explained that the plutonium weapons components were in different stages of production when the plant shut down all radioactive operations in November, 1989, because of wide-spread safety and environmental problems. As a result of the shut-down, EG&G. put the inspection program on hold while waiting for government approval to resume bomb manufacturing operations. That approval never came. Even after former President Bush announced a permanent shutdown of Rocky Flat's plutonium operations in 1992, EG&G did not resume the inspection program. EG&G's original agreement with the US government called for the regular inspection of bomb parts and their cleaning if they exhibited "surface oxide build-up", a powdery substance containing partially oxidized plutonium that can spontaneously ignite when exposed to oxygen in the air. CCNS RadioActive Hotline (US) (GreenNet, gn:gn.nuclear, 9 June 93)


US superfund a bust. Twelve years after the creation of a US$1.6 billion, five-year program to clean up the worst toxic waste dumps in the US, the Superfund, as it came to be known, has spent $13 billion in tax money and $7 billion in funds from polluters, and cleaned up only about 60 of the 1275 sites listed. The eventual clean-up costs of the remaining Superfund sites is estimated at $700 billion. If the Defense Department and Department of Energy sites are included, the costs soar to more than $1 trillion. Congress has begun holding hearings on whether and how to reauthorize and refund the Superfund program. CCNS Radioactive Hotline (GreenNet, gn:gn.nuclear, 9 Jun.93)


"Indigenous nations in North American 1993: Mohawk, Dene, Western Shoshone - fact finding and contact voyage to Canada and the United States from April 25th to May 6th, 1993", a 34-page report by Dr. Dieter Rogalla, MEP from Germany. He submitted the report to European Parliament Delegations for the Relations with Canada and for Relations with the US, as well as to the President of the European Parliament and President of the Socialist Group. The section on recommendations reads, "First and foremost the issue of sovereignty of Indigenous Nations has to be reconsidered... Our delegation for the relations with Canada should.., investigate commercial schemes of the NGO-type, promoting regional products with direct market access and take up a campaign to reconsider fur trade of Indigenous peoples of the North. This kind of trade is much more appropriate to needs of Indian Nations than uranium mining on their land with its dangers and pretended chances. It can hardly be accepted to promote a 'business as usual' attitude concerning uramum mining knowing that health and environmental aspects are still unresolved." Copies may be ordered from: Dr. Dieter Rogalla, MEP, SPD-Europa Office, Harpener Hellweg 152, 4630 Bochum 1, FRG; tel: 0234-23 38 97; fax: 0234-23 12 54.


The US General Accounting Office has recently released the following two reports:"OPERATION DESERT STORM: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination" (NSIAD-93-90) and "NUCLEAR waste: Yucca Mountain Project Behind Schedule and Facing Major Scientific Uncertainties" (RCED-93-124). Single copies of reports are free and are available by contacting the GAO at P.O. Box 6015 Gaithersburg MD 20884-6015, USA or by calling + 1 (202) 512-6000.


"Covering the map: A Survey of Military Pollution Sites in the United States," recently released by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the Military Toxics Project. The report documents radioactive and toxic pollution at both Department of Defense and Department of Energy facilities around the US. To obtain a copy of the report, contact: Peter Tyler, PSR, 1000 - 16th St. NW, Suite 810, Washington DC 20036, US; tel: +1 (202) 785-3777.