Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nuclear Risk Landscapes and the Circulations of their Effluents Missing from Accounts of Global Environmental Collapse

The US has Hanford, among other iconic sites, and the UK has Sellafield. These sites are extreme "risk landscapes" as described by Blowers in his "Nuclear Wastelands"
Blowers, Andrew (2017, August). Nuclear’s wastelands part 1 – landscapes of the legacy of nuclear power. Town & Country, 303-308, p. 304.
This recent "chemical alert" at Sellafield illustrates the catastrophic risks encoded in nuclear risk landscapes:

Chemical alert brings Bomb Squad to Sellafield’s confined Separation Area (21, October 2017)

Sellafield Ltd was forced to put out a press statement in the early hours of this morning (Saturday 21st October) to calm fears of a potential chemical explosion in a laboratory on site. This followed an audit being carried out by the Company which yesterday had identified a number of canisters containing ‘non-nuclear’ chemical solvent which had been stored in the laboratory for 25 years.

Whilst refusing to identify it, Sellafield Ltd confirmed that the chemical – an industrial solvent no longer used on site – once crystalized, had the potential to become unstable and pose a significant fire hazard if exposed to air.
Sellafield Ltd confirmed to CORE today that the unnamed laboratory was located in the site’s Separation Area. Denying that any workers had been evacuated from the Sellafield site, the Company confirmed that a cordon had been set up some 100 metres around the laboratory and workers had been evacuated from buildings within the cordon. 
The Separation Area, shown within the Sellafield site, is home to facilities built for Windscale’s military operations 50 years ago. As some of the oldest buildings on the site, the Area includes the highly hazardous Legacy Ponds and Silos, old reprocessing plant – all now under various stages of decommissioning – as well as the currently operating Magnox reprocessing plant, the array of High Level Waste tanks and the Vitrification Plant. The confined space between buildings continues to cause additional difficulties for decommissioning and other work.
Lack of regard for environmental and health consequences results in indelible scarring of systems necessary for human survival.

Accordingly, I am reminded of the recent study on the collapse of insect populations in Germany, documented here:
Caspar A. Hallmann , Martin Sorg, Eelke Jongejans, Henk Siepel, Nick Hofland, Heinz Schwan, Werner Stenmans, Andreas Müller, Hubert Sumser, Thomas Hörren, Dave Goulson, Hans de Kroon (2017, October 18). More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PLOS One, 12(10): e0185809. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185809
And described accessibly here:
Gretchen Vogel (October 18, 2017). Germany’s insects are disappearing. Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/germany-s-insects-are-disappearing 
In just 3 decades, insect populations in German nature reserves have plummeted by more than 75%, according to a new study. The reasons for the decline aren’t clear, but the pattern is consistent over a swath of western and northern Germany, from the region around Bonn and Cologne to the countryside south of Berlin. For 27 years, members of the Krefeld Entomological Society near Dusseldorf have monitored flying insect populations—everything from parasitic wasps to hoverflies and wild bees—in dozens of nature reserves. In recent years, they noticed a steep decline in their catch, with biomass dropping by some 82% in the summer when insect populations peak. Their attempts to match the decline with changes in weather, landscapes, and plant coverage—in collaboration with scientists in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom—don’t explain the loss, they report today in PLOS ONE. The scientists speculate that intensive agriculture surrounding the nature reserves has played a role, but they don’t have data on factors such as pesticide use in neighboring fields. The decline is likely having wide-ranging effects on plants and other animals, such as insect-eating birds. The researchers say that better monitoring of these crucial, but overlooked, members of ecosystems is urgently needed...
Also see:
Gretchen Vogel (may 10, 2017). Where have all the insects gone? Science. doi:10.1126/science.aal1160 http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/where-have-all-insects-gone
...Now, a new set of long-term data is coming to light, this time from a dedicated group of mostly amateur entomologists who have tracked insect abundance at more than 100 nature reserves in western Europe since the 1980s.

Over that time the group, the Krefeld Entomological Society, has seen the yearly insect catches fluctuate, as expected. But in 2013 they spotted something alarming. When they returned to one of their earliest trapping sites from 1989, the total mass of their catch had fallen by nearly 80%. Perhaps it was a particularly bad year, they thought, so they set up the traps again in 2014. The numbers were just as low. Through more direct comparisons, the group—which had preserved thousands of samples over 3 decades—found dramatic declines across more than a dozen other sites.
What is missing from these accounts of collapsing eco-systems is the role of nuclear risk landscapes and the circulations of their global effluents.


  1. Yes, isn't that always the case, Majia; it is the role of nuclear that is missing in all these "mysterious and inexplicable" or "cyclical and viral" decimations. The British cancer rate is now 1 out of every 2 people, just like in the US. And that doesn't even count the other health problems caused by radiation. We shall never know all the deaths and suffering, statistics also being disguised under the old saws of "lower birth rates and aging populations", and the one I especially like, "fungus and bacteria in the soil". Oh, and I mustn't forget obesity causes cancer these days.
    Yes, Anonymous, I agree with you, Enenews will be sorely missed.

    1. Yes Enenews will be sorely missed. It was very educational for so many of us.

  2. As long as Trump is in power, effluents in the USA, will get worse!


  3. Back to the noir insanity of the the 1950s. Trumps war on his own voters, america, and the world.

  4. Maybe Trump will start open-air testing in Nevada,again. That seems, to be where he is going.

  5. Insect decline - I saw one bee two days ago, and it was a bumblebee! Blossoms all over, no bees.
    Guess what, robo bees ($$ I assume) in the works: https://wyss.harvard.edu/technology/autonomous-flying-microrobots-robobees/

    1. Only big ag will be able to afford these robobees, imo. Another step in the food takeover by big agriculture. That is, if it works.