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Uranium mine blamed for high Aboriginal cancer rate
Liz Minchin and Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald
CANCER cases among Aboriginal people living near Australia’s biggest uranium mine appear to be almost double the expected rate, a study by the Federal Government’s leading indigenous research body shows.
The study also found there had been no monitoring in the past 20 years on the Ranger mine’s impact on local indigenous health. Yet since 1981, there have been more than 120 spillages and leaks of contaminated water at the mine, located in the world heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.
The Herald believes the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies paper will be submitted to the Government’s nuclear energy taskforce, led by Dr Ziggy Switkowski, which this week released a draft report backing the expansion of uranium mining.
The study compared the number of Aboriginal people diagnosed with cancer in the Kakadu region with the cancer rate among all Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory from 1994 to 2003. It found the diagnosis rate was 90 per cent higher than expected, with 27 cases reported. ..
(23 Nov 2006)
Uranium a peril among the Navajos
Judy Pasternak,, LA Times
During the Cold War, uranium mines left contaminated waste scattered around the Indians. Homes built with the material silently pulsed with radiation. People developed cancer. And the U.S. did little to help.
Fifty years ago, cancer rates on the reservation were so low that a medical journal published an article titled “Cancer immunity in the Navajo.”
Back then, the contamination of the tribal homeland was just beginning. Mining companies were digging into one of the world’s richest uranium deposits, in a reservation spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains. The mines provided uranium for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret effort to develop an atomic bomb, and for the weapons stockpile built up during the arms race with the Soviet Union.
Private companies operated the mines, but the U.S. government was the sole customer. The boom lasted through the early ’60s. As the Cold War threat gradually diminished over the next two decades, more than 1,000 mines and four processing mills on tribal land shut down.
The companies often left behind radioactive waste piles and open tunnels and pits. Few bothered to fence the properties or post warning signs. Federal inspectors seldom intervened. ..
(18 Nov 2006)
£7bn deal to harness Sun’s nuclear power
Roger Highfield, Telegraph UK
The effort to harness the nuclear power source that makes the Sun shine passed a milestone today with the signing of an international treaty launching a £7 billion fusion energy research project. ..
The long-term experiment, which could last for 35 years, is known as ITER – International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or “the way” in Latin – and has taken on much greater significance in the wake of burgeoning energy demands, concerns about the security of supplies, and pressing fears about how fossil fuel emissions are altering the global climate system, articulated most recently in the Stern Review. ..
(21 Nov 2006)
Contributor Rick Dworsky writes: It is too easy for politicians to put big money into high tech ‘solutions’, especially the literally hottest, most concentrated ones… even if they are based upon unproven, untested, even unlikely theories. Meanwhile: proven, simpler, easier, less costly, less corporate, more human scale methods already exist that deserve attention – and funding, and grass roots political support. Imagine what £7 billion of seed money, then comparable levels of funding for the next 35 years of research could do with wind, solar, wave, tidal, OTEC and other natural cycle solutions.
Aus. Opposition leader says nuclear power key to election
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has predicted the next election will be a referendum on nuclear power.
Mr Beazley said the majority of Australians remained unconvinced about Prime Minister John Howard’s push to go nuclear.
“If John Howard is elected you can guarantee there will be 25 nuclear power plants and waste dumps (around Australia). “We are not a nation that needs nuclear power, we are not a nation that needs to go down that road.” Mr Beazley said Australia could meet its future energy needs through the use of renewable energy and clean coal technology. ..
(26 Nov 2006)
Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump faces new hurdles
Erica Werner, Associated Press/Boston Globe
When Congress targeted Nevada as the nation’s nuclear waste dumping ground, the state didn’t have the political power to say no.
Twenty years later, the most ardent foe of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump is about to become Senate majority leader. Senator Harry Reid’s new status, which gives him control over what legislation reaches the Senate floor, could deal a crippling blow to the already stumbling project.
Among the Nevada Democrat’s first acts after this month’s election was to convene a conference call with reporters in his state to declare Yucca Mountain “dead right now.” ..
(25 Nov 2006)