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UK: Radioactive materials lost in more than 30 incidents over past decade
Radioactive materials have gone missing from businesses, hospitals and even schools more than 30 times over the past decade, a freedom of information request to the UK's health and safety authorities revealed. Some organisations have been prosecuted but others have just received a warning notice, papers released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal.

Missing items include a 13 kg ball of depleted uranium from the Sheffield Forgemasters steel operation in 2008, plus small pellets of highly radioactive ytterbium-169 from Rolls-Royce Marine Operations. The Royal Free hospital lost caesium-137, which a report into the incident accepted had "the potential to cause significant radiation injuries to anyone handling [it] directly or being in the proximity for a short period of time." In another case, at the site of the former atomic energy research station at Harwell near Oxford, cobalt-60 was "found in a tube store under a machine during clearance," according to the HSE.

Consultant John Large said: "The unacceptable frequency and seriousness of these losses, some with the potential for severe radiological consequences, reflect poorly on the licensees and the HSE regulator, whose duty is to ensure that the licensee is a fit and competent organisation to safeguard such radiological hazardous materials and substances. I cannot understand why it is not considered to be in the public interest to vigorously prosecute all such offenders."

(Terry Macalister and Richard Halpin, 5 May 2013, 'Radioactive materials lost in more than 30 incidents over past decade',

Koodankulam: India court allows operations at nuclear plant
India's Supreme Court has ruled that the controversial Koodankulam (Kudankulam) nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state can start operations. The judges said the plant was "safe and secure" and "necessary for the welfare and economic growth of India". However they added the caveat that the plant should not be made operational unless all the authorities concerned grant "final clearance" for its commissioning and that a report "be filed before this court before commissioning".

The plant was supposed to open in 2011 but large protests have delayed the start-up. Several petitions had been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the project on safety grounds. Two of the plant's units, capable of generating one gigawatt of electricity each, have been ready for around two years, but the protests and legal challenges have prevented them from operating.

The plant was initially agreed upon in 1988, when India signed a pact with the former Soviet Union. Construction began in 2001, and the original scheduled date of commercial operation was December 2007. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd has shifted the commissioning date back from May to June this year.

(BBC, 6 May 2013, 'Kudankulam: India court allows operations at nuclear plant',

Uranium sales to India feed proliferation
A former diplomat has admitted the sale of Australian uranium to India would free up that country's domestic reserves for military purposes. For 30 years Australian banned uranium sales to India because of its failure to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but negotiations are now underway on a uranium deal. When asked if Australian uranium would free up India's reserves for military use, former Australian Deputy High Commissioner to India Rakesh Ahuja said: "That has always been the case, yes." He went on to acknowledge that the same problem applies to uranium sales to China. (

Oman abandons nuclear power plans
Dr Badr bin Mohammed al Hinai, Oman's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has confirmed that the Sultanate has opted not to pursue plans for nuclear power. Addressing the Oman Power and Water Summit on May 5, Dr Al Hinai said: "After the Fukushima accident and following the safety and security concerns of establishing a nuclear programme, Oman followed the examples of other countries such as Japan and Germany not to pursue a nuclear programme but instead, to benefit from nuclear power applications. Let us mention that Oman is also seeking alternative sources of energy in solar, wind and wave energy, due to the propitious climate and geography of the region."

The imprecise reference to 'nuclear power applications' concerns scientific, medical and industrial uses of radionuclides, typically produced in research reactors or particle accelerators, not power reactors.

(Conrad Prabhu, 6 May 2013, 'Sultanate opted not to pursue nuclear power',

UN chief says Chernobyl must never be forgotten
On April 26, the 27th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement saying the disaster must never be forgotten and calling for continued international assistance for the people and regions affected.

"As we today mark 27 years after the Chernobyl disaster, we honour the emergency workers who risked their lives responding to the accident, the more than 330,000 people uprooted from their homes and the millions of people living in contaminated areas who have long been traumatized by lingering fears about their health and livelihoods," Mr Ban said.

"The countless women, men and children affected by radioactive contamination must never be forgotten. Environmental damage to food chains, land and water will in many cases last for years." (

Hundreds of events around the world commemorated the Chernobyl disaster on April 26. The website listed 70 events in France alone.

A Green Cross study released on April 26 addresses the long-term psychosocial consequences of Chernobyl nuclear disaster. "Depression, anxiety and suicide are critical elements identified in populations living in contaminated areas or removed," said Maria Vitagliano, Director of Green Cross International's Social and Medical program. "We are putting in place methods for early detection of suicidal tendencies, using family clubs and therapeutic camps, as well as strategic partnerships with local governments to support cases of depression."

The report, 'Selected Health Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster', is posted at
See also

British Government fails test on Australian nuclear victims
Efforts to secure Act Of Grace payments for Australian victims of British nuclear testing in Australia will be stepped up after the British Government's disappointing response, Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said.

"Because of difficulties victims of the British nuclear testing were facing in the courts, I wrote to British Foreign Secretary William Hague twice making the case for ex gratia payments to Australians exposed to British nuclear testing in the 1950s and ‘60s.

"The British Minister for Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans Mark Francois has now responded by washing his hands of the deadly legacy his government left in Australia, paradoxically arguing that because the victims of nuclear testing could not prove in court their higher rate of radiation-related illness was caused by the nuclear testing, they would not receive Act Of Grace payments.

"The point of Act of Grace payments would be to circumvent the inappropriate burden of proof of causation being imposed on the victims – yet Minister Francois applies the same utterly unreasonable standard that has hampered attempts to secure justice through the courts.

"Australian nuclear veterans are pursuing the matter through the Human Rights Commission and strongly support this action, but they should not have expend this ongoing time and effort to get what is rightfully theirs."

"Of the British and Australian veterans who were involved in the testing, and the Aboriginal people in the area at the time of the blasts, only 29 Aboriginal people have ever received compensation from the Australian government and veterans continue to struggle to obtain the medical support they need," Senator Ludlam said.

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, and further 'safety trials' involving radioactive materials into the 1960s. Some of the 'safety trials' violated the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty.

A 2006 report commissioned by the Australian government showed the Australians at the Maralinga and Emu Field sites were 23% more likely than the general population to develop cancer, and 18% more likely to die from cancer. But it found it couldn't conclude whether that was due to radiation. Last year, the British Supreme Court ruled that veterans would struggle to prove the casual link between their illnesses and radiation exposure.

(Bianca Hall, 29 April 2013, 'No compensation for Maralinga radiation victims',

Actions and arrests

May 20 − California, USA − Plowshares activist Fr. Steve Kelly should be released by the end of May. He was originally arrested at a Disarm Now Plowshares action at Lockheed Martin. At the time of his sentence he informed the court that because of his conscience he could not comply with the supervised release provision of his sentence. As a result he was later sentenced to 60 days in jail.

May 19 − Massachusetts, USA − Ten activists were arrested at the end of an anti-nuclear rally organised by Cape Downwinders. They were attempting to deliver a letter to Entergy, operator of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in South Plymouth. This is the third time local protestors have been arrested trying to hand the facility's owner a letter. At some point the owner might see the wisdom of accepting the letter and avoiding further bad publicity. State Senator Dan Wolf spoke at the latest protest about the dangers posed by the nuclear plant.

May − Oak Ridge, USA − In just ten months, the US managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge nuclear weapons production facility, the story of these Transform Now Plowshares activists should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.

April 30 − California and New York − Five people were arrested after dozens of anti-drone demonstrators blocked the entrance to Beale Air Force Base for hours, resulting in hundreds of vehicles being prevented from entering the base. Two days earlier, 31 members of the "Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars" were arrested at Hancock Air Base in New York protesting what they believe is the illegal use of drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries. Over 275 people marched in a solemn funeral procession to demand an end to drone strikes. (

April 20 − Koodankulam, India − Police arrested as many as 146 activists of the Anti-Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project People's Federation when they tried to take out a procession from Kanyakumari to Kudankulam. The activists, who gathered in front of Gandhi Mandapam in Kanyakumari, urged the government to take immediate steps to close the Kalpakkam Atomic Power Project as well as Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, as it would adversely affect the livelihood of fishermen, farmers and other people.

April 12 − South Korea − Kim Young-Jae was arrested while standing in front of a truck on the road leading into the site of a naval base under construction on Jeju Island. Two days later, he was issued a warrant and taken to jail, where he remains.

Only in America ...
Perry nuclear power plant security investigators have not been able to identify the person who left goldfish in a steam tunnel. The two goldfish were discovered on May 2 by workers taking apart scaffolding in the tunnel, which is locked and under constant video surveillance. The fish, which later died, had been swimming in a lemonade pitcher that contained reactor water. Both the fish and the water were slightly radioactive. The culprit may have come from the 1,000 additional workers on site during the refueling and maintenance shutdown that began March 18.

David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists said: "Last year, Perry got into trouble with the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] about weaknesses preventing unauthorized access to the plant. Goldfish are not authorized to be inside the tunnel, yet they were there. And Perry cannot determine how they got there or who put them there. What if it hadn't have been goldfish but a bomb?"

Contractors came close to heavy radiation two years ago during a refueling shutdown because the equipment they were using to retrieve a gauge from the reactor core was inadequate and not up to industry specifications.

('Perry nuclear power plant's goldfish owners still unidentified', 14 May 2013,