Archive for October, 2011

Mainstream Japanese media report: “High radiation dose readings marked in spots in Tokyo, Chiba”

October 13, 2011

So much for the local Australian “experts”. Not reported here in the nuke industry promo unit (aka the Australian media).

The Mainichi Daily News:

TOKYO (Kyodo) — High radiation doses were reported Thursday in spots in Tokyo and neighboring Chiba Prefecture, both over 200 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, with their readings found to exceed current dose levels in some evacuation zones around the plant.


Airborne radiation of up to 3.35 microsieverts per hour was recorded Thursday along a sidewalk in a residential area in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward in an inspection commissioned by the ward, and a citizens’ group detected up to 5.82 microsieverts close to the ground at a children’s theme park in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, local officials said.

While officials are still investigating whether the radiation resulted from the nuclear accident, the levels detected were both higher than the 2.17 microsieverts per hour measured Wednesday at the village office in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. The village is 45 kilometers from the plant and designated as an evacuation zone due to the relatively high radiation.

Funabashi is about 210 km from the Fukushima plant, while Setagaya is about 230 km away.

In an apparent attempt to calm public concerns over the recent spate of discoveries of contaminated spots in the Kanto area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Thursday morning the government will continue to step up nationwide monitoring as well as consider more necessary measures.

After learning of the findings at the H.C. Andersen Park, officials in Funabashi began checking radiation levels in the park and the affected area was made off limits by its operator. The contaminated spot is located where accumulated rain water flows into and is not normally accessed by park visitors.

In Setagaya, radiation of up to 3.35 microsieverts per hour was recorded Thursday at a height of 1 meter along the sidewalk in the Tsurumaki district, ward officials said.

The ward officials took samples of tree leaves over a home’s board fence in the area concerned to investigate what type of radioactive material is involved.

They are also trying to work out how to decontaminate the sidewalk, which is regularly used by pupils at a primary school. The area has been cordoned off as a precautionary measure.

The finding comes following Wednesday’s media reports that a high reading of 2.71 microsieverts per hour was detected there earlier this month and that radioactive strontium exceeding normal quantities has been found in sediment atop an apartment building in Yokohama City’s Kohoku Ward, some 250 km away from the nuclear plant.

The reading of 3.35 microsieverts means that if a person were to stay close to the contaminated spot for an entire year, spending eight hours each day outdoors and the rest inside a wooden house, their cumulative annual radiation dose could reach about 17 millisieverts, compared with the government-set allowable limit of 20 millisieverts a year.
A government map displaying radiation levels in 10 prefectures relatively close to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Areas in red show over 3 million becquerels of cesium per square meter, whereas those in light brown show less than 10,000. (Data as of Sept. 18. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)
A government map displaying radiation levels in 10 prefectures relatively close to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Areas in red show over 3 million becquerels of cesium per square meter, whereas those in light brown show less than 10,000. (Data as of Sept. 18. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

Setagaya officials said the higher radiation level could have resulted from an accumulation of rainwater due to the location’s sunken geological formation. But they could not explain why radiation readings taken at a height further above the ground were higher than close to the surface where mud and dust gather.

Research on Oct. 4 and 6 found radiation levels varied widely even along the same sidewalk, with the lowest reading at only 0.088 microsievert and the highest at 2.707 microsieverts near the fence.

More detailed checks Thursday concentrating on the section along the fence detected as little as 0.15 microsievert. At the point with the highest reading, it was 1.34 microsieverts near the ground but 3.35 microsieverts at 1 meter above surface.

The officials said they have used water and other methods in attempt to decontaminate the spot, which was discovered after a resident alerted authorities, but radiation levels have shown little improvement even after the cleaning.

Michikuni Shimo, a professor in environmental radiation at the Fujita Health University, called on the public to remain calm, noting that the amount of radiation detected is not at a level regarded as dangerous.

(Mainichi Japan) October 13, 2011 end quote.


October 13, 2011

JERK. Go back back to the Paydirt Conference or get a job as a shock jock, dill.


The Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP
Member forWest Torrens
File No: MMRDF2001/000019
Reference No: EA150165
Via email
Dear Sir/Madam
Approval of the Olympic Dam Expansion Project
I am writing in my capacity as the Minister responsible for the Roxby Downs
(Indenture Ratification) Act 1982, to advise that in accordance with the procedures
set out in clause 7 of the Indenture therein, I have granted a development
authorisation, pursuant to Section 48 of theDevelopment Act 1993 for the Olympic
Dam expansion project.
This decision has been based on a rigorous assessment that considered the Draft
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Supplementary EIS (SEIS), as well as
submissions received from the public, councils and government agencies. The
Assessment Report was also prepared in close collaboration with the Australian and
Northern Territory Governments.
The development authorisation (including conditions) has been published in the
Government Gazette and can be viewed at, along with the Assessment Report
(AR). Hard copies of the Assessment Report can be viewed at the locations listed
Department of Plan


Minister for Mineral
Resources Development
Minister for Industry
and Trade
Minister for Small
Minister for
Level 8
178 North Terrace
Adelaide SA 5000
GPOBox 2832
Adelaide SA 5001
DX 451
Tel 08 8463 6560
Fax 08 8204 1960


In my opinion.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Releases Fukushima FOI request Responses.

October 12, 2011

Thanks to Ray M in Canada for telling me about this.

There is a huge 1gb pdf download or, if youre not on the National Broadban Network Yet (includes Tony Abbott I guess, then again, he probably nips down the tunnel to the US embassy and uses Echelon), there are a heap of smaller pdfs.

The link to both options is here:

So at last, the official answers from the NRC to questions Americans asked about Fukushima.

BTW, the three cores are still molten, and they are NOT in the reactor vessels, so the temp of the reactors does NOT indicate cold shutdown. (You cant toast bread in the frig, even if the toaster itself is fusing out and melting)

Anyway, pointless trying to point out that people like Ziggy are deluded.

Olympic Dam Uranium open cut mine gets State & Fed approval

October 11, 2011

The world’s largest open cut uranium mine.

From the “Australian” Newspaper of 11 Oct 2011. Page 1.

BHP investment in the mine : $30 billion (Aust.$)
Size of the open cut mine: Depth: 1km Length: 4km
Height of waste rock: 150 metres.
Area of the new mine: 7,000 hectares
Additional uranium production: 19,000 tonnes of Uranium oxide per year.

Uncle Kevin from up North spoke of sick and dying kangaroos yesterday, from the existing mine. He spoke of illness among his people.

With all due respect Dr Mudd, the dust, the leakage, the extra radon emission will not just diffuse into background. That is what the miners claim.

All one has to do is look to Kevin and his people and what they say.
Further, the experience of Native Americans living adjacent to US uranium mines to see the toll of ill health and premature death.

The effects of the mine extend beyond the mine site.

I strongly disagree with Dr Mudd on this issue.

Further, the pool of nuclear expertise built up in Australia will resutl in:
The construction of an enrichment plant and reactor in South Australia. This will power the mine and the desalination plant.

This expertise and infrastructure will result in the purchase of 12 nuclear submarines by Australia, as suggested by various think tanks and as discussed and advocated by Greg Sheridan.

The US – Australia – Japan alliance will attempt to contain China. The irony is that China has a right to the South China Sea. The US disputes this.

The Olympic Dam project is part of a major military build up. Being old, I wont see the end result. I would put the time scale to a major conflict at anywhere from 10 to 30 years.

I am glad Im not young. The West’s last Hurrah.

The hazards of radon – and of talking about it in public anti-Uranium mine forums

October 9, 2011

Radon is a radioactive gas which is a decay product of the uranium series.

Specifically, radium, which is many more times radioactive per unit mass than uranium, decays to radon. As radon is a gas, it diffuses. The decay series of Radon 222 is as follows:

The half-life of 3.82 days for Radon-222 is long compared with its first four decay products, as shown in Figure 2.3, and these decay products in air are unlikely to be very far removed from equilibrium with the parent gas.

Under these circumstances it can be demonstrated that nearly all the dose to lung tissue arises from the inhaled decay products. In the case of radon-220, with a half-life of 54.5 s, this will be close to equilibrium with its decay products, polonium-216 of half-life 0.16 s.

However, the next member of this decay scheme is lead-212 with a half-life of 10.6 h and, under all practical ventilation rates, lead-212 and bitmuth-212 will be far from equilibrium with the parent radon-220. This indicates that is some situations the dose to lung from airborne radon-220 may be significant.

In the general environment it is the inhalation of the decay products of radon-220 (lead-212 and bitmuth-212) which pose a potential hazard, here the second difference between the decay products of radon-222 and radon-220 manifests itself. The longest half-life of the short-lived decay products of radon-222 is 26.8 minutes (lead-214) and hence the decay products of radon-222 deposited in the bronchial tree will largely decay in lung before biological removal mechanisms are effective.


(Source NRPB_1993)
Figure 2.4 Principle decay properties of radon-222 and short-lived decay products

As shown in Figure 2.4 the beta and gamma radiation’s may be ignored, since their contribution to both lung dose equivalent and effective dose equivalent are small compared to those from alpha radiation (ICRP,1987).

end quote from

At the question time of today’s public forum “OLYMPIC DAMNATION: IMPACTS OF URANIUM MINING FROM ROXBY TO FUKUSHIMA”, I asked what increase in release of radon could be expected from the open cut mine. I asked if it were being monitored, I asked how far the radon would travel on the prevailing winds. (Realising of course that radon progeny would be deposited enroute under the radon plume.) Dr Mudd’s answer was basically that the plume would be so diffuse as to be indistinguishable from natural emissions. I suppose he meant were the mine not present. In any event, the idea of diffusion or dilution does not fit with hot particle theory as explained by Pollanen (2002) and others. Mudd being convinced that the radon impact from expanded and huge mine complex would be limited to an area close into the mine. I had spoken for about three minutes. Mudd and David for another couple. As soon as I mentioned “hot particle”, the group was asked to move onto another topic. I was basically told to shut up. I said “see ya later” and left.

The issue of what the radon and radon progeny plume from the expanded Olympic dam would look like on the ground as it accreted over the decades is important. This was not covered at all in the public forum, which was organised more like a university lecture, with an expert panel and cheap seats occupied by listeners who were, apparently, supposed to swallow the lines given by the expert panel.

I think Native Indians living down wind of uranium mines in the USA would very much disagree with the short change the issue of radon and radon progeny are given by Monash University (Mudd), Flinders University (Skykes) and Pannell (SA Greens).

I guess I’ll just keep on riding a horse with no name out in my own desert.

I aint attending no rally where the main aim isnt to stop the mine, but rather to make Pannell look good in the media.

It was fun sitting next to Avon Hudson, I have to say.

Trouble with networks is that they value connections over context and only 1 person at the forum knew my name. So obviously, nothing I had to say had any value.

They can all go and get nicked. As for Fukushima, it was barely mentioned.

I would say that within 10 years SA will have a nuke plant, an enrichment plant, desalination plant at the top of the gulf, nuke sub refit pens at Port Adelaide and an order for 12 nuke subs will be well advanced after probably pending deal with the US expires in 2015. SA will be a seat not just of uranium mining, but nuclear power, and nuclear military.

The dirty rim of radon progeny around the mine sites will be growing denser and more dangerous as the years pass.

I wasted a lot of petrol today. Diffusion and dilution does not mitigate the risks to individuals of hot particles. (Pollanen, STUK, Finland 2002). Though normal monitoring may result in readings below action levels, the nature of particles means that health threats are not merely theoretical. (ibid.).

Last meeting I go to.

Alpha radiation in SA Drinking water catchments.


In the late 1990s, the South Australian government reduced the period of radiological monitoring of SA drinking water from once every 6 months to once every 7 years. If its in the catchments, its in the domestic rain water tanks.

Japanese Evac predicated upon survival of state over health of citizens.

October 7, 2011

The former Prime Minister of Japan has revealed that scientific advisors to the Japanese government warned that evacuataions of as many as 30 million people up to 250 kilometers away from Fukushima would have to take place in the event of a worst case scenario at the stricken nuclear plant in the country’s Northeast. The proposal would have seen Tokyo itself subject to evacuation, but the idea was immediately rejected because of the chaos it would have caused.

The revelations come as Naoto Kan, who stepped down as Prime Minister last month, finally opened up about the deliberations that took place in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster.

In a tense interview with Kyodo News, Kan admitted that the proposal to evacuate Tokyo “was a crucial moment when I wasn’t sure whether Japan could continue to function as a state.” Ultimately, the plan was rejected because of the chaos that it would cause.

Just last week, another government insider, Kenichi Matsumoto, confirmed the plans for Tokyo’s evacuation and other details of the government’s response to the crisis to Radio Australia. In the interview, Matsumoto, former advisor to Prime Minister Kan, revealed that TEPCO not only hid information from the government, but that in the wake of the disaster they suggested abandoning the plant altogether.

Earlier this year, Toshiso Kosako, an advisor to the government on radiation safety, resigned his position in protest of radiation exposure levels for elementary schools that he said were “inexcusable.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture have announced that they will have to shut down garbage incineration plants that were being used to burn radioactive materials. The plants discovered incinerated ash to contain as much as 70,800 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, almost 10 times the national landfill level of 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. The Nambu Clean Center in Kashiwa has already stored 134 tons of incinerated ash and is running out of space to accommodate the radioactive materials.

Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, announced last week that the government is ready to lift evacuation advisories for five towns near the Fukushima plant. The towns, in the so-called Emergency Evacuation Preparedness Zone between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant, are home to 30,000 people, and were under a voluntary evacuation order, but will now be able to return to their homes once they have been decontaminated.

Reacting to the decision, Tetsuji Imanaka, a professor of nuclear engineering in Kyoto University, said: “The government may be easing restrictions because concern about reactor explosions has diminished. Radiation contamination of the land hasn’t decreased so far.”

The lifting of the evacuation advisory comes even as nuclear experts slammed the government for revealing for the first time last week the results of tests conducted in late March that showed plutonium fallout from the disaster has travelled as far as 45 kilometers northwest of the plant, far beyond the Evacuation Preparedness Zone.

Michiaki Furukawa of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center lashed out at the government’s tardiness: “The results came too late. The government should have conducted the tests much earlier.”

The tests also revealed strontium, another dangerous radioactive element, as far as 50 miles from the plant.

end quote. Of course US DOE and its contractors around the world claim radiation is good for you. Like vitaminas. (Sykes, Flinders University). Crap.

Fukushima Meltdown: The World’s First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster [Kindle Edition] Takashi Hirose

October 6, 2011

Fukushima Meltdown: The World’s First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster [Kindle Edition]
Takashi Hirose

Product Description
Takashi Hirose wrote this book in a heat of passion mixed with terrible sadness in the weeks following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But he his far from a newcomer to this field; he has been writing books and articles warning of the terrible dangers of nuclear power since the early 1980s. In this book, which was a best seller in Japan, he not only describes the comic-if-not-so-tragic series of fumbling errors that lead to the meltdown at Fukushima, but also makes clear the absurdity of putting nuclear power plants anywhere on the earthquake and volcano prone Japanese archipelago – and by extension, anywhere in the world. This is the first translation into English of any book by this authoritative critic of nuclear power.

Promises to be an excellent and important read. Barry Brooks and Pam Sykes won’t be pleased.

Plutonium, alpha, inhalation hazard and the alpha, gamma effectiveness factor

October 6, 2011

1. Recap. The Sievert.

“The sievert (symbol: Sv) is the International System of Units (SI) SI derived unit of dose equivalent radiation. It attempts to quantitatively evaluate the biological effects of ionizing radiation as opposed to the physical aspects, which are characterised by the absorbed dose, measured in gray. It is named after Rolf Maximilian Sievert, a Swedish medical physicist renowned for work on radiation dosage measurement and research into the biological effects of radiation.”


“Dose equivalent

The equivalent dose to a tissue is found by multiplying the absorbed dose, in gray, by a weighting factor (WR). The relation between absorbed dose D and equivalent dose H.”

Weighting factor:
electrons (Beta), photons (gamma, X) = 1
Alpha = 20

(truncated synopsis of table at wikipedia. See link above.

Ok how was the wieghting factor for alpha determined? A search of the US Department of Energy Opennet online archives finds the following document written in 1953.



Every radiation detector which read in sieverts or fractions thereof has a logic board which calculates according to a formula which includes the arbitary multipler value of 20 for alpha and 1 for beta and gamma. Is Hamilton correct in his guess of 20 for alpha? Is the value of 1 right for beta and gamma? What of high energy beta, such as that emitted by Sr89? Its Linear Energy Transfer ability approaches that of alpha.

The struggle experienced by the AEC to create a workable model for working with plutonium and other potential internal emitters is based upon Hamilton’s ruminations. Some of which are revealed in this 1953 document.

It is on the basis of the abstract construct of the sievert and earlier units that nuclear veterans and civilian nuclear industry victims are denied justice. It took until the mid 1990s for the US government to admit that early plutonium suffered terribly from their exposure to plutonium and other substances (ref Clinton). Rocky Flats workers still fight for justice. The Japanese government has announced that it will no longer monitor the plutonium deposited in living areas of Japan affected by fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. It only admitted the plutonium contamination about a week ago.

Pick a value between 1- 20 nuke industry can work with.

Pick a number that reflects the number of people since 1942 who have suffered because of Hamilton’s happy guess.

The fact that this, and thousands of other documents, are available from the US government remains an enduring credit to that nation. I point out again that Australia and Britain have feeble wills when it comes to openness in this matter of nuclear history. Bill Clinton left a lasting legacy.

Living at Ground Zero in Semipalatinsk

October 5, 2011

I am NOT saying this will happen as a result of Fukushima. I am saying this is what happened as a result of Soviet bomb tests in Semipalatinsk.

Nuclear veterans the world over maintain that children of veterans suffer as a result of the sins inflicted upon the fathers during bomb testing. How much of the suffering of this kind is due to gamma/neutron bursts from bombs and how much is due to intense local contamination, I do not know.

An unnamed baby girl who was abandoned by her parents is now living in a Semipalatinsk hospital.


In a remote corner of Kazakstan, people were deliberately exposed to nuclear bomb tests. bombtest.jpg (4447 bytes)

By Allan Thompson
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

SEMIPALATINSK, Kazakstan – NADEZHDA LISOVETS was milking one of her cows when the earth trembled so violently that the frightened animals tried to run away.

“It was like an earthquake,” Lisovets said, shaking her hospital bed with her hands to mimic the impact of one of the explosions at the Soviet nuclear testing site near her village of Buras, in northeastern Kazakstan.

Between 1949 and 1989, nearly 500 nuclear tests were conducted at the so-called Polygon testing site on the rolling steppe near Semipalatinsk. As many as 166 of the blasts were above ground.

“They would happen on weekends. One Sunday, everything in the house shook. I had to grab the sideboard to keep the dishes from falling off and the table was shaking,” Lisovets said.

“Nobody told us this could cause us any damage. But I know now the explosions were connected with my problems. I try not to think about it,” Lisovets said, her eyes welling with tears.

She closed her gown, reflexively trying to hide the fact that one of her breasts have been removed.

Lisovets is dying of advanced breast cancer. She is one of tens of thousands of victims of radiation in a region plagued by abnormally high rates of birth defects, cancer, blood disease, immune deficiency, mental disability, suicide and psychological trauma.

This is the place where the Cold War never ended. But, unlike Chernobyl, this was no nuclear accident.

There is compelling evidence that Soviet authorities were aware, as early as the late 1950s, of the devastating impact of radiation on the local population. Top secret documents show the Soviet military deliberately used villagers as guinea pigs to gauge the potential impact of nuclear war.

“There’s no place in the world that has inherited or suffered that kind of man-made disaster over a sustained period of time, affecting generations of people,” said Herbert Behrstock, the United Nations’ top representative in Kazakstan.

“People don’t realize the magnitude of this and the continuing intensity,” Behrstock said.

The U.N. General Assembly in October called for a $43 million international aid package for the devastated communities around Semipalatinsk.

Kazakstan, which closed the test site in 1991 shortly after gaining independence, is desperately poor despite its mineral wealth. The government has done little for victims of radiation.

Authorities estimate more than 1.2 million people were adversely affected by nuclear testing. About 67,000 people who lived in villages located within 100 kilometres of the test site at the time of the explosions received the highest doses of radiation. They have passed the genetic defects on to offspring.

`Nobody told us this could cause us any damage. But I know now the explosions were connected with my problems. I try not to think about it’
– Adezhda Lisovets,
Radiation victim

But years of testing also affected people who lived much farther afield.

“It’s hard to find a family here that hasn’t had someone die of cancer,” said schoolteacher Olga Kestel, who lost her brother to the disease. She lives in Semipalatinsk, a bleak city of 300,000.

The statistics here tell a deadly story: In 1997, nearly 500 of every 1,000 babies born in Semipalatinsk had some kind of defect or health problem and 47 of them died. In some regions, infant mortality has grown fivefold since 1950. In villages near the test site, up to 90 per cent of people suffer from immune deficiency syndrome, leading to a virtual epidemic of tuberculosis.

“We are the real victims of the Cold War,” said Nina Rybolovleva, the deputy akim, or deputy governor, of Semipalatinsk, one of the top officials. She remembers seeing the mushroom clouds first as a little girl.

“As a child, I found it interesting, the mushroom clouds were actually so beautiful, they drew our attention,” she said.
nuclearphoto1.jpg (4690 bytes)

PHOTOS BY YURI KUIDIN FOR THE TORONTO STAR nuclearphoto2.jpg (7110 bytes)
PAYING PRICE: Right, Berik Syzdykov, from Znamenka, as he looked two years ago – he has since had surgery on his face that produced a modest change; left, Renata Izmailova, 16, a high school student.

“It was a great shock for people when, a few years ago, scientists began speaking openly about the dangers of these tests,” she said. “It led our parents to an early grave,” said Rybolovleva, who lost both mother and father to cancer.

“It’s not just our parents. People who were children at the time of the explosion are now giving birth to a new generation and there are a lot of deformities,” she said.

At the regional children’s hospital, nurses weep as they handle horribly deformed children, many of them abandoned by parents who simply can’t cope.

There are many children suffering from encephalitis, with horrifically enlarged heads. One child born in the past year had four legs and four arms and died shortly after delivery.

“Birth defects have gone up by four times in the last four years,” said Ruslan Yensabaev, the head of the regional health department said. “We don’t know what this will mean for the coming generations.”

Along one wall at the museum of anatomy for students at the Academy of Medical Sciences, there is a macabre collection of human fetuses, specimens that came from Semipalatinsk maternity hospitals.

One of the fetuses, contained in a large glass jar stored in a display case, is labelled the cyclops because it has only one eye, in the centre of the forehead. Others look like creatures from some sort of post-nuclear holocaust science fiction film.

The most obvious victims of the tests are those who live with deformities. Journalist and photographer Yuri Kuidin captured their suffering in a recently published book on the testing, called The Kazakstan Nuclear Tragedy.

“The Soviet military-industrial complex waged an undeclared war against the people of Kazakstan,” Kuidin wrote.

Within the test site, several thousand square kilometres of land remain contaminated. No one knows for sure about the condition of water supplies and soil throughout the region. To make matters worse, the area is close to economic collapse.

Over the years, Semipalatinsk had become heavily dependent on the test site for its economic livelihood.

An injection of $43 million as proposed by the U.N. is desperately needed. Japan plans to host a donor conference this spring to try to generate international support for an aid package.

Those most in need live in villages such as Znamenka, located in the zone of extreme radiation about 90 kilometres from the test site.

The village is about an hour’s drive from Semipalatinsk, across the barren steppe that is interrupted only by a few small hills, still dotted with stone cairns left decades ago as landmarks by Kazak herdsmen.

Most villagers simply subsist these days. They draw water from a central spring because there is no plumbing in the village. In addition to the cumulative impact of years of radiation, Znamenka was also directly hit by a radioactive cloud after one atmospheric explosion.

Zhulduz Iskanova’s son Askhat, 14, was born with a physical and mental disability and with cataracts on his eyes.

“I don’t know if God did this, or if it is because of the Polygon, but my parents and grandparents never had these problems,” she said, looking sadly at her son. The family survives on about $75 a month, a combination of Askhat’s disability compensation and his grandmother’s pension.

Askhat frequently has convulsions, but his mother is trying to preserve his medication. There is no doctor in the village who can issue a prescription and she has little money anyway. She has been hoarding one small bottle of medication for a year.

While Iskanova is speaking, an old man walks in and sits down in the centre of the room. He is Zhakia Akhmetov, 71, a driver who as a soldier in 1949 was forced to stand in an open trench and witness atmospheric explosions.

“Afterward, I got black spots on my body and no one knew why. I used a knife to cut sores off my legs. I smelled like a dead body, it was so horrible,” Akhmetov said.

“I was in a trench with 50 other soldiers, but none of us knew each other because we had all been brought from different units for those two explosions in August, 1949. Now I feel we were brought here for experiments.”

Another of Iskanova’s neighbours is Fidakhmet Kozhakhmetou, who is slowly dying from illnesses caused by exposure to radiation. The 54-year-old, who worked as a driver, is losing his sense of balance. His speech is slurred and his body has been weakened.

Almost daily during the 1960s, Kozhakhmetou would take a shortcut in his truck across the Polygon testing site, to deliver food and water to herders on the other side, near the village of Sarjal.

Sometimes, on the test site, he would pick up chunks of copper cable that had been used in tests, or wooden planks, all highly irradiated.

“I used to be able to carry two sheep at once, now I can’t lift anything,” he says

He and his wife, Kanipa Mukatova and three children live on their combined monthly pensions of about $100. Kozhakhmetou pursued local authorities until they compensated him for his radiation-induced disability. His heating bill has been reduced and he gets free bus rides into the city.

“The doctors said I should come to the hospital again in three months, but then they’ll say I need some medicine and I have no money to pay for it, so why should I bother? I don’t know who to blame for this,” Kozhakhmetou said.

Somebody in the old Soviet military structure does. Sain Balmukhanov firmly believes that.

Balmukhanov, a professor at the Oncology and Radiation Institute of Kazakstan in Almaty, was a young medical researcher in 1953 when he first visited Semipalatinsk.

“A local doctor told me they were seeing some unusual things,” he recounted, describing young patients who had blotchy bald spots, skin with unusual burns and extremely high blood pressure.

Balmukhanov, who had been involved with secret Soviet research into the impact of radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was part of a team that studied the Semipalatinsk region in the late 1950s.

They concluded in 1960 that residents were suffering abnormally high rates of cancer, liver and lung disease, skin disorders, headaches and sickness, all linked to radioactive fallout from the nuclear tests.

“After that the KGB prohibited us from further research,” he said.

He was forbidden to visit Semipalatinsk for the next 30 years and had to sign a waiver not to publish his research.

“We were living in the Soviet Union, we were afraid. It’s hard now to understand our psychology. But even 10 years ago, we were afraid to speak to foreigners.”

Balmukhanov learned that at the time of the 1953 testing of the world’s first thermonuclear device, the military forced some 200 people to remain in a village near the Polygon, while others were temporarily moved away.

“A day later, soldiers came in protective gear and measured blood pressure and took blood samples, then they gave them vodka and told them to stay another 24 hours.

“In 1991, I visited that village and I could find only one of those 200 people who was still alive.”

“I had carried a terrible secret.”

Other secrets were kept in the narrow corridors of a facility in Semipalatinsk misnamed Anti-Brucellosis Dispensary Number Four to conceal its real function as a centre for research on radiation-induced illnesses. It has since been re-named the National Research Institute for Radiation Medicine and Ecology.

Dr. Boris Gusev, a former director at the dispensary, acknowledges that the role of the facility was not to assist radiation victims, but to observe them and write reports for Moscow.

“We tried at least to prescribe what could be done, but we were not allowed to provide any treatment here.”

Gesev explained that “as a product of the Soviet Union” and a member of the Communist party at this secret facility, he kept quiet about his work.

“I signed a document pledging not to reveal these secrets. Otherwise, I would have been imprisoned for 15 years.”

`Soldiers came in protective gear and measured blood pressure and took blood samples, then they gave them vodka and told them to stay another 24 hours. In 1991, I visited that village and I could find only one of those 200 people who was still alive’
– Sain Balmukhanov,
Oncology and Radiation Institute

But his views on the impact of radiation changed in the mid-’80s. By 1989, when testing ended and KGB officials were frantically destroying documents, Gusev was determined to safeguard as much of the historical record as possible.

He took three sacks of records earmarked for incineration and hid them in a closet in a relative’s home.

He then filled the empty sacks with magazines and newspapers, which he took to the incinerator. He gave a list of the “destroyed” documents to Soviet authorities.

After analyzing the documents, Gusev concluded the Soviet military deliberately staged as many explosions as possible during bad weather, when skies were overcast, increasing radioactive fallout by up to 20 times.

“Why couldn’t they just wait a day or two, until the skies were clear and the fallout would be less?” Gusev asks.

“Because they wanted to see what the effect of the explosion would be on a real population. “It was a crime against humanity,” Gusev said.

The legacy of the tests is clear at the Semipalatinsk cancer hospital, where Lisovets came for her breast cancer operation.

One-third of patients show up for treatment when they are beyond help; many cancer victims never bother coming to hospital at all.

Toleubek Ukbenov, director of the Centre for Psychiatric Health in Semipalatinsk said the region suffers from abnormally high rates of mental disability at birth, various neuroses and suicide.

“It’s not a very scientific observation, but too often we see the closing of one cemetery and the opening of a new one,” Ukbenov said. “These days, we’re surprised when someone dies of old age.”

Places to go while Fukushima Fizzles. Armchair Reflection No. 1.

October 5, 2011

Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean. To the west, it includes the territory of Valdivia through Tierra del Fuego archipelago.[1]

The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón[2] used by Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people that his expedition thought to be giants. It is now believed the Patagons were actually Tehuelches with an average height of 180 cm (~5′11″) compared to the 155 cm (~5′1″) average for Spaniards of the time.[3]

The Argentine portion of Patagonia includes the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz, as well as the eastern portion of Tierra del Fuego archipelago. The Argentine politico-economic Patagonic Region includes the Province of La Pampa.[4]

Patagonia has a Welsh colony.

The Chilean part of Patagonia embraces the southern provinces and regions of Aisén and Magallanes, including the west side of Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn.[5]

I don’t know if there are radium sands down there like there is in parts of Brazil, or how the Brazilian nuclear plant might have dumped stuff.

There’s Perth in Western Australia. That didn’t get any direct stuff from the British bombs, as far as the published fallout maps go. The first test at Monte Bello Islands was not mapped. But later bombs there did not produce fallout over the southern corner of WA, including Perth. Adelaide where I am copped it. The whole continent copped it from the French Tests in the South Pacific, so there would be some of that residue in Perth. Its also full of West Australians, but one could get used to that. They are fairly sensitive. Least the one I met was.

I think steering clear of the Equator would be a good move, but I’m sure.

While this situation is serious, you have to keep a sense of humour.