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USFWS Photo in Circumpolar Action Plan: Conservation Strategy for Polar Bears.
USFWS Photo in “Circumpolar Action Plan”

The new Arctic Nations International Polar Bear “Circumpolar Action Plan” speaks generically about pollution risks, but does not specifically mention radioactive pollution, even though AMAP, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program has recently stated: “The Arctic is vulnerable to radioactive pollution transported from distant sources, whether by ocean currents or via the atmosphere. These sources include the atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear fuel reprocessing, historical dumping and, more recently, accidents such as those at nuclear power plants in Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011./ New potential sources of radioactive contamination in the Arctic include the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in Europe, which may lead to temporary increases in radioactive discharges that could eventually reach the Arctic. New nuclear power plants are also planned in areas where a nuclear accident could potentially affect the Arctic region, and many older plants have been granted extensions to their operating licenses” See: “Summary for Policy-makers: Arctic Pollution Issues 2015 Persistent Organic Pollutants; Radioactivity in the Arctic; Human Health in the Artic“: http://www.amap.no/documents/download/2222 (Emphasis added) Apparently the policy-makers in the US, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Russia failed to read this AMAP document, even though it is short and has beautiful pictures!

The plan does mention heavy metals and many, but not all, radionuclides are heavy metals, and thus act as heavy metal poisons, as well as radiological hazards.

See summary points regarding the impacts of radionuclides on the Arctic below the WWF press release.

According to WWF Panda.org:
Arctic Nations commit to international plan for polar bears
Posted on 02 September 2015

All five states with polar bear populations – Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, and the United States – have committed to the first-ever circumpolar action plan to protect and manage the bears and their habitat.

The plan, finalized at this week’s meeting of the range states, commits the countries to a 10 year plan to tackle issues like direct threats from shipping and oil and gas, and conflict.

“Nearly half of the world’s polar bear populations cross national borders, so international cooperation is necessary to ensure polar bears thrive long into the future”, says WWF Global Arctic Programme Director Alexander Shestakov. “Now the states must allocate money to achieve these international goals”.

WWF has contributed millions of dollars to polar bear research and conflict reduction in all five range states. The major threat facing polar bears today is climate change and the loss of sea ice habitat. Nations within and outside the Arctic contribute to the loss of polar bear habitat, mostly through burning fossil fuels, that contribute to climate change. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and recent research suggests that by 2050, two-thirds of polar bears could be lost as their sea ice habitat shrinks.

“While this plan will help reduce direct threats to polar bears, their long-term future relies on the persistence of Arctic sea ice”, says Shestakov. “That will ultimately require worldwide investment in renewable energy. A meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions cannot be accomplished by the range states alone, but will require cooperation well beyond the Arctic. We hope to see that commitment made in a strong climate deal in Paris later this year. ”

Today’s announcement builds on an earlier pledge by environment ministers and other leaders from the five polar bear range states. At the 2013 International Forum the Conservation of Polar Bears in Moscow, the range states committed to action on climate change, threats to polar bear habitat, and conflict between bears and people.http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/search_wwf_news/?251712/Arctic-Nations-commit-to-International-Plan-for-Polar-Bears (Read more about WWF efforts on behalf of the polar bear at link).

International Plan Found here:
Polar Bear Range States. 2015. Circumpolar Action Plan: Conservation Strategy for Polar Bears. A product of the representatives of the parties to the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears.http://naalakkersuisut.gl/~/media/Nanoq/Files/Attached%20Files/Fiskeri_Fangst_Landbrug/Polarbear%202015/CAP/CAP%20Book.pdf

Comment on the USFWS Polar Bear Conservation Plan: ID: FWS-R7-ES-2014-0060-0001
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R7-ES-2014-0060-0001

The USFWS needs to include the direct and indirect radiological and chemical impacts of radionuclides both directly on polar bear and prey health, and indirectly through impact on climate and sea ice. At least some radionuclides contribute to climate change. Common sense suggests that due to high energy emissions, all radionuclides will impact ice and climate.

Radionuclides are present in the Arctic, and continue to accumulate from routine and accidental releases from nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, and radioactive waste. Radionuclides are still there from historic nuclear weapons testing, as well.

AMAP, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (2015) states that “The Arctic is vulnerable to radioactive pollution transported from distant sources, whether by ocean currents or via the atmosphere.

The impact of radioactive iodine on polar bear thyroid health is one example of an impact which USFWS must examine. Radford (2015) states that “Greenland’s polar bears have a thyroid problem.“, based on Gabrielsen (2015). http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/polar-bears-weakened-by-pollution-as-well-as-warmth/ However, she failed to examine polar bear thyroids, and appears to have ignored the impact of radioactive iodine on polar bear thyroid function. According to ICRP dose coefficients, becquerel for becquerel, radioactive iodine 129 is even more dangerous than 131. And, it stays in the environment for 15.7 million years and in the human body for 120 days.

Radionuclides emit high amounts of ionizing radiation, so they have to impact ice. There are also chemical impacts. Tritiated water (radioactive water) freezes at a different temperature than non-radioactive water. The impacts of krypton 85 on the climate are discussed here: “Climate risks by radioactive krypton-85 from nuclear fission Atmospheric-electrical and air-chemical effects of ionizing radiation in the atmospherehttp://www.opengrey.eu/item/display/10068/255704

Gómez-Guzmán et. al. (2014) found higher levels of radioactive iodine 129 in sea ice, than in sea water. Releases of radioactive iodine 129 have increased to around 300 kg per year, mainly from La Hague, but also from Sellafield, they say. Fukushima and all nuclear reactors constantly add to the quantity of radioactive iodine and other radionuclides in the Arctic.

Whereas, M. Villa et. al. (2015) found that there were higher levels of radioactive iodine 129 in sea ice than in sea water, J.D. Allan et. al. (2015) suggest that iodine coming off of sea ice are involved in new particle formation and the creation of clouds in the Arctic. They further note that “In the Arctic, clouds are the dominant factor in the control of the incoming and outgoing energy balance at the Earth’s surface“. http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/15/5599/2015/acp-15-5599-2015.pdf

Halogens, like iodine, exist in three states of matter at standard temperature and pressure. Thus, radioactive iodine is an inhalation risk for polar bears and prey.

Iodine is an acid and strong oxidizer. Thus, radioiodine contributes chemically to making the ocean more acidic, as well as radiologically through radiolysis of water. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen All radionuclides cause radiolysis of water, creating changes in pH, and an unknown chemical cocktail, in combination with other pollution.

According to AMAP, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program: “The Arctic is vulnerable to radioactive pollution transported from distant sources, whether by ocean currents or via the atmosphere. These sources include the atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear fuel reprocessing, historical dumping and, more recently, accidents such as those at nuclear power plants in Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011./ New potential sources of radioactive contamination in the Arctic include the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in Europe, which may lead to temporary increases in radioactive discharges that could eventually reach the Arctic. New nuclear power plants are also planned in areas where a nuclear accident could potentially affect the Arctic region, and many older plants have been granted extensions to their operating licenses” “Summary for Policy-makers: Arctic Pollution Issues 2015 Persistent Organic Pollutants; Radioactivity in the Arctic; Human Health in the Artic“: http://www.amap.no/documents/download/2222

RECALL THAT OPERATING NUCLEAR REACTORS LEGALLY LEAK RADIOACTIVE IODINE AND OTHER SHORT, MEDIUM, AND LONG-LIVED RADIONUCLIDES INTO THE AIR AND WATER ON A ROUTINE BASIS, EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO ACCIDENT! NUCLEAR WASTE DUMPS ARE ALLOWED TO LEAK, AS WELL.

Cesium 137 in sea ice sediments in the Arctic has been found to range from 1.8 to 4000 Bq/kg, p. 47 “Radionuclides in the Arctic Ocean: tracing sea ice origin, drifting and interception of atmospheric fluxes” , Patricia Cámara Mor, PhD thesis, 2012 UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA INSTITUT DE CIÈNCIA I TECNOLOGIA AMBIENTALS http://www.tdx.cat/bitstream/handle/10803/123297/pcm1de1.pdf?sequence=1 Even though these results were found in the 1996 to 2001 period, and there has been some Cesium 137 degradation, more has been added by constant releases from nuclear reactors; from nuclear fuel “reprocessing” at Sellafield and La Hague, and from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors. TEPCO admits that Fukushima reactors are still spewing large amounts of radioactive cesium into the environment. Cesium 137 in the Arctic is also an indicator for longer-lived radionuclides like Iodine 129, half-life of 15.7 million years, and plutonium-americium with half-lives ranging from hundreds to thousands of years.

References; Additional Information

https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/polar-bear-plan-must-include-impact-of-radionuclides-comment-deadline-sat-19-sept-1159-pm-et-dc-ny-us-fisheries-wildlife-service/
https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/the-arctic-is-a-sink-for-radioactive-pollution-transported-from-far-away/
https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/radio-iodine-from-nuclear-energy-causes-climate-change-polar-bear-comment-deadline-on-saturday-one-minute-to-midnight/
https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/climate-risks-from-nuclear-power-radioactive-krypton-85-atmospheric-electrical-and-air-chemical-effects-of-ionizing-radiation-in-the-atmosphere/

Unexpectedly high radioactivity burdens in ice-rafted sediments from the Canadian Arctic” Archipelago Glenn F. Cota, Lee W. Cooper. Dennis A. Darby, I.L. Larsen Science of The Total Environment 31 July 2006, Vol.366(1):253–261, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.08.021 “comparatively high as well as variable radioactive contaminant burdens in ice rafted sediments must be common and geographically independent of proximity to known contaminant sources.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16197983 Note that their actual data go as high as 2528 +/- 84 Bq/kg for 1995 and 1857 +/- 37 Bq/g for 1998. (Table 1, p. 4)

The behaviour of 129 I released from nuclear fuel reprocessing factories in the North Atlantic Ocean and transport to the Arctic assessed from numerical modelling.” Mar Pollut Bull. 2015 Jan 15;90(1-2):15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.11.039. Epub 2014 Dec 6. Villa M, López-Gutiérrez JM, Suh KS, Min BI, Periáñez R.
Thus, 5.1 and 16.6 TBq of (129)I have been introduced in the Arctic from Sellafield and La Hague respectively from 1966 to 2012. These figures represent, respectively, 48% and 55% of the cumulative discharge to that time. Inventories in the North Atlantic, including shelf seas, are 4.4 and 13.8 TBq coming from Sellafield and La Hague respectively” Read the abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25487086 A TBq is a terabecquerel (1 x 10 to the power of 12). Thus, 13,800,000,000,000 Bq 13.8 TBq for La Hague. 4,400,000,000,000 4.4 TBq Sellafield https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Becquerel

Air and water currents making the Arctic a sink for radionuclides:
http://www.grida.no/graphicslib/detail/dominating-air-currents_b902
http://www.grida.no/graphicslib/detail/ocean-currents-and-sea-ice-extent_4aa6

It is important to recall that radioactive half-lives are half of half of half, etc. such that even Radioactive Cesium 137, half-life 30 years, stays in the environment for over 300 years.
1 half life = 50% left
10 half life = 0.097% left
20 half life = 0.0001% left

Radioactive iodine in Arctic sea ice may have European originhttp://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/radioactive_iodine_in_arctic_sea_may_have_european_origin_407na7_en.pdf

Map of Iodine-129 in deep layers of the Atlantic Ocean found here:
http://www2.bjerknes.uib.no/pages.asp?id=1756&kat=8&lang=2

Older, but more detailed, information on La Hague and Sellafield emissions and their impacts http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/document_travail/stoa/2000/170100/04A-STOA_DT(2000)170100_EN.doc

OSPAR seems to have two major loopholes: pipelines and offshore facilities which allows nuclear facilities to emit radiation via pipeline and the offshore oil and gas industry to dump radioactive NORM into the ocean.

Russia has dumped nuclear waste in the Arctic: “The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.” Read more here: http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/radioactive-waste-and-spent-nuclear-fuel/2012-08-russia-announces-enormous-finds-of-radioactive-waste-and-nuclear-reactors-in-arctic-seas