February 28, 2006

Chernobyl Children's Project International's "20 Years, 20 Lives" Series

A little while back, I received an email from Kathy Ryan of the Chernobyl Children's Project International, with news about the organization's special web series, "20 Years, 20 Lives":
"...I've been reading your Radioactive blog with interest, and I wanted to call to your attention a series that we recently started running on our website. It is called "Chernobyl: 20 Years 20 Lives" and it is a series of eyewitness accounts in words and interviews of people whose lives continue to be affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster...."
Thank you for your message, Kathy - I'm very happy to pass on the word, and thank you for all the good work your organization provides to help those affected by the disaster.
Chernobyl – Twenty Years, Twenty Lives is EarthVision's photo journalistic journey through the countries of the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Latvia, Sweden, France, and UK. It follows twenty people in their daily lives nowadays and reflects on how they changed after the events of April 1986. The goal of the project is to learn from the history and look at the accident from the present perspective at different levels, both locally and globally. Almost 20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, controversy continues about the true effects of the disaster. Chernobyl Children's Project International believes that the story of Chernobyl can be best told through the eyes of the variety of people who have been affected by the disaster.
A photo exhibition with the twenty life stories will tour the world beginning at April 2006. EarthVision is currently seeking exhibition hosts. You can reach EarthVision and learn more about the project at 20lives.info.

February 23, 2006

U.S. Seaports Deal and the Nuclear Terror Threat

The controversial Dubai Ports deal has spurred heated debate about the widsom of having foreign-owned corporations overseeing management of our national ports of entry. One of our main unsolved port security issues is the problem of uninspected freight containers, which some experts contend may be the route through which nuclear materials or devices could most easily be smuggled into the U.S. for use in a a terrorist attack. From the New York Times's "Big Problem, Dubai Deal or Not":
Only 4 percent or 5 percent of those containers are inspected. There is virtually no standard for how containers are sealed, or for certifying the identities of thousands of drivers who enter and leave the ports to pick them up. If a nuclear weapon is put inside a container — the real fear here — "it will probably happen when some truck driver is paid off to take a long lunch, before he even gets near a terminal," said [retired Coast Guard commander Stephen E.] Flynn, the ports security expert.

That is where concerns about Dubai come in. While the company in question has not been a focus of investigations, Dubai has been a way station for contraband, some of it nuclear. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear engineer, made Dubai his transshipment point for the equipment he sent to Libya and Iran because he could operate there without worrying about investigators.

"I'm not worried about who is running the New York port," a senior inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency said, insisting he could not be named because the agency's work is considered confidential. "I'm worried about what arrives at the New York port." [read full article, reg. req.]

February 22, 2006

A New Year, A New Look for RadioActive!

Dear Readers,

It's been much too long since I've last updated this site, especially in light of the resurgence of worldwide nuclear concerns in the news. Recently, I'd discovered a post on the excellent RadWaste blog (now known as RadWaste Pictorial) mentioning RadioActive! - and I was grateful to hear there was still interest in the topic "out there"!

I've also given the template a makeover; I agree, the old one looked as if it needed The Simpsons' "Radioactive Man" as a mascot. Comment capability should be arriving here soon.



UK Hospital Waste Truck Leaks Radiation

This week, a private nuclear materials handling firm in the United Kingdom apparently neglected to install a protective "plug" on a cask of radioactive hospital waste being transported by truck across Northern England, causing the cask to emit high levels of radiation during transit. "By pure chance," the radiation beam pointed downwards, away from other vehicles, and no injuries were reported. From the Telegraph UK:
A highly radioactive beam was emitted from a protective flask as it was driven 130 miles, for three hours, across northern England on a lorry, a court heard yesterday....The flask belonging to AEA Technology was being used to transport a piece of decommissioned cancer treatment equipment from Cookridge Hospital, Leeds, to the Sellafield complex, Cumbria on March 11, 2002.

A judge was told how the container was "found to be emitting a narrow beam of radiation, of a very high dose rate, vertically down from that package base". [read full article]
The radiation dose rates reportedly "were in the order of 100 to 1,000 times above what would normally be considered a very high dose rate and measurement was beyond the capabilities of normal hand-held monitoring equipment." The company responsible for handling the cask's transport, AEA Technology, "a privatised arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority," has allegedly admitted to a series of recent safety breaches. The company was due to be fined in a court proceeding in connection with an earlier safety violations, but the court has delayed setting the final judgment in light of this new incident.

More details at The Australian and BBC News Online.