Sick Sophistry – BBC News On The Afghan Hospital ‘Mistakenly’ Bombed By The United States

In Media Lens ALERTS 2015

One of the defining features of the corporate media is that Western crimes are ignored or downplayed. The US bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on the night of October 3, is an archetypal example.

At least twenty-two people were killed when a United States Air Force AC-130 repeatedly attacked the hospital with five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour, despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack. The hospital’s main building, which contains the emergency operating room and recovery rooms, was heavily damaged. Dave Lindorff noted:

‘the hospital was deliberately set ablaze by incendiary weapons, and the people inside not incinerated were killed by a spray of bullets and anti-personnel flechettes.’

Lindorff added:

‘The AC-130 gunship is not a precision targeting weapon, but a weapons system designed to spread death over a wide swath.’

Shockingly, MSF had already informed US military forces of the precise coordinates of the hospital in order to prevent any attacks. Indeed, the hospital is:

‘a well-known and long-established institution with a distinctive shape operating in a city that until recently was under full [Afghan] government control. That the US/NATO command did not clearly know the function of that structure is inconceivable.’

MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was ‘intentionally targeted’ in ‘a premeditated massacre’.  It was, they said, a ‘war crime’. The organisation rejected US assurances of three inquiries – by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. Instead, MSF demanded an independent international investigation.

In the days following the attack, the US changed its official story several times. At one point, as Glenn Greenwald observes, the dominant narrative from the US and its Afghan allies was that the bombing had not been an accident, but that it had been justified because the Taliban had been using the hospital as a base; an outrageous claim that MSF vehemently rejected. It was even reported that an American tank had later forced its way into the hospital compound, potentially destroying evidence of the war crime that had just taken place.

Yes, the bombing was reported in the ‘mainstream’ media; sometimes with harrowing footage of ruined hospital corridors and rooms. Hospital beds were even shown where patients had burned to death. But the US bombing did not receive the extensive headline coverage and editorial outrage that it deserved.

If you are unsure of that, just imagine the response of the British media if it had been a Russian gunship that had bombed a hospital with the loss of 22 lives, despite pleas from doctors to call off the attack. Western leaders would have instantly condemned the Russian bombing as a ‘war crime’, and the corporate media would have taken their lead from the pronouncements coming out of the offices of power in Washington and London.

By contrast, we have not found a single editorial in any UK national newspaper condemning the US bombing of the hospital or calling for an independent investigation. This is one more example of the dramatic subservience of the corporate media to the state and indeed its long-term complicity in state crimes against humanity.

In the meantime, with nothing to say on Kunduz, the Guardian has found space to publish editorials onhoverboards and the Great British Bakeoff, as well as Guardian editor Katharine Viner’s ‘grilling’ of George Osborne at the Tory party conference. To compound the paper’s ignominy, it still proudly carries Tony Blair in its Comment section where it describes him merely as ‘a former British prime minister’, rather than the notorious and unpopular war criminal he so clearly is. That accurate description is only emphasised by the weekend’s revelations of a memo written by Colin Powell, then George Bush’s US Secretary of State, that Blair had pledged his support for a US invasion of Iraq fully one year in advance, even while telling Parliament and the country that a ‘diplomatic solution’ was still being sought.

 Sopel’s ‘Mistake’

On BBC News at Ten on October 15, 2015, BBC North America correspondent Jon Sopel told viewers over footage of the ravaged Kunduz hospital that it had been ‘mistakenly bombed by the Americans’. Not intentionally bombed, as MSF were saying, but ‘mistakenly bombed’. BBC News were thereby adopting the Pentagon perspective presented earlier by General John Campbell, the US senior commander in Afghanistan, when he claimed that:

‘A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility’.

In fact, the US has done so before, many times. In November 2003, the first target of the huge American ground assault on Fallujah, following several weeks of bombing, was the city’s General Hospital. This was a ‘war crime’, Noam Chomsky noted, and it was even depicted on the front page of the New York Times, but without it being labelled or recognised as such by the paper:

‘the front page of the world’s leading newspaper was cheerfully depicting war crimes for which the political leadership could be sentenced to severe penalties under U.S. law, the death penalty if patients ripped from their beds and manacled on the floor happened to die as a result.’

Going further back in time, US veterans of the Vietnam war have reported that hospitals in Cambodia and Laos were ‘routinely listed’ among targets to be struck by American forces. In 1973, Newsweekmagazine quoted a former US army intelligence analyst saying that:

‘The bigger the hospital, the better it was’.

And now, in the case of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Associated Press reported that:

‘US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital’.

Moreover, it has since emerged that the American crew of the AC-130 gunship even questionedwhether it was legal to attack the hospital.

Our repeated challenges on Twitter to Sopel and his BBC News editor Paul Royall were ignored. Is this really how senior BBC professionals should behave when publicly questioned about a serious breach of impartiality? Simply deign not to answer?

However, one of our readers emailed Sopel and did extract a remarkable response from the BBC North America correspondent which was kindly forwarded to us.

Sopel wrote in his email:

‘At this stage whether the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz was deliberate or accidental is the subject of an investigation – and I know there are doubts about the independence of the inquiry – but what it most certainly WAS was mistaken. Given the outrage the bombing has provoked, the humiliating apology it has forced the US into, the PR disaster it has undoubtedly been, how can anyone describe it as anything other than mistaken? If I had used the word accidentally you might have had a point.’

But this is, at best, disingenuous nonsense from Sopel. Most people watching his piece, and hearing him say that the hospital had been ‘mistakenly bombed by the Americans’, would have assumed he meant that the Americans had not intended to bomb the hospital rather than that bombing the hospital was misguided.

As we saw above, the notion that US forces did not know the target was a hospital is the Pentagon propaganda claim, and is not the view of MSF. Moreover, it contradicts the evidence that was both available at the time of Sopel’s BBC News report and what has since come to light (that the US aircrew actually questioned the legality of the strike on a hospital). Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF, told Associated Press that the US bombing was ‘no mistake’.

‘The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital … doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit’.

The rest of Sopel’s remarks in the exchange are irrelevant (the bravery of war journalists), verging on cringeworthy (his proud support of MSF with a standing order).

Sopel’s attempt to exploit ‘the outrage’, ‘the humiliating apology’ and ‘the PR disaster’ to justify his use of ‘mistakenly bombed’ is desperate sophistry. Is he really trying to say that a war crime is ‘mistaken’ because it is a ‘PR disaster’, requiring a ‘humiliating apology’?

Perhaps the airstrike was a ‘mistake’ in much the same way that the killing of eight Afghan schoolboys by US-led troops in 2009 was a ‘mistake’? This was a ‘mistake’ that Nato brushed away with payments of $2,000 for each dead child, in a kind of macabre ‘fire sale’.

Perhaps the airstrike was a ‘mistake’ in much the same way as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in the eyes of Bridget Kendall, the BBC diplomatic correspondent. She declared on BBC News at Six:

‘There’s still bitter disagreement over invading Iraq. Was it justified or a disastrous miscalculation?’ (BBC1, March 20, 2006)

That the Iraq invasion was, in fact, an illegal and immoral war of aggression – indeed, the ‘supreme international crime’ judged by the Nuremberg standard of war crimes – was not a permissible description for BBC News.

But that is the ideological norm shaping corporate media output and ‘mainstream’ debate. Western political and military leaders may occasionally make ‘mistakes’ or ‘disastrous miscalculations’. But their essential intent is always honourable: to ‘keep the Taliban at bay’ (Sopel again), to destroy Islamic State or to ‘bring peace to the Middle East’.

We asked John Pilger to comment on Jon Sopel’s report for BBC News and his subsequent remarks on email. Pilger told us (via email, October 19, 2015):

‘Serious journalism is about trying to set the record straight with compelling evidence. What is striking about Jon Sopel’s report is that he offers not a glimpse of journalistic evidence to support his assertion that the US attack on the hospital was “mistaken” – thus calling into question facts presented by MSF: facts that have not been refuted and he makes no attempt to refute. Neither is the dissembling by the US military challenged by Sopel. Instead, he is “certain” the attack was mistaken. What is the basis of his “certainty”? He doesn’t say; and he clearly feels under no compulsion to say. Instead, in full defensive cry, he tells us what an experienced frontline reporter he is, implying that his word is enough. Well, I have reported more wars than Sopel has had White House briefings, and I know – as he knows – that journalism of this kind is no more than a feeble echo of the official line. He does reveal his agency by telling us – quite unabashed — that President Obama has “very little option” but to continue his campaign of destruction in Afghanistan. Some might call this apologetics; actually, it’s anti-journalism.’

Perhaps it is not surprising that the header photo at the top of Sopel’s Twitter page should show him listening respectfully to US President Obama. The tragic irony is that Obama, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has just committed a war crime in bombing Médecins Sans Frontières, the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

DC

Suggested Action

If you decide to contact a journalist in response to our alert, please keep the tone civil. We do not condone abusive language.

Jon Sopel, BBC North America correspondent
Email: jon.sopel@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @BBCJonSopel

Paul Royall, editor of both BBC News at Six and News at Ten
Email: paul.royall@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @paulroyall

Please forward any replies to us:
editor@medialens.org

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An investigation by the Bureau’s CIA Torture project.

REVEALED: The boom and bust of the CIA’s secret torture sites

In spring 2003 an unnamed official at CIA headquarters in Langley sat down to compose a memo. It was 18 months after George W Bush had declared war on terror. “We cannot have enough blacksite hosts,” the official wrote. The reference was to one of the most closely guarded secrets of that war – the countries that had agreed to host the CIA’s covert prison sites.

Between 2002 and 2008, at least 119 people disappeared into a worldwide detention network run by the CIA and facilitated by its foreign partners.

A mammoth investigation by the US Senate’s intelligence committee finally identified these 119 prisoners in December 2014. But its report was heavily censored, and the names of countries collaborating with the CIA in its detention and interrogation operations were removed, along with key dates, numbers, names and much other material.

In nine months of research, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Rendition Project have unpicked these redactions to piece together the hidden history of the CIA’s secret sites.

Although many published accounts of individual journeys through the black site network exist, this is the first comprehensive portrayal of the system’s inner dynamics from beginning to end.

Read the full report here.

UPI: ‘Skyrocketing’ cancer cases in Fukushima — AP: ‘Alarming’ cancer rates after nuclear disaster — Times: Child cancers up 5,000% — Radiation doses may be “considerably higher” than estimated — Expert: Cancer outbreak shows officials must now prepare for onset of leukemia, other diseases (VIDEO)

By ENENews

The Times, Oct 8 2015 (emphasis added): Child cancers up fiftyfold after Fukushima disaster — Cases of thyroid cancer among children living close to the Fukushima nuclear power plant have increased fiftyfold since the meltdown in 2011, according to Japanese scientists… in one of the most pessimistic assessments of the health implications of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster. He urged the Japanese authorities to stop quibbling over the interpretation of cancer statistics, and to muster medical resources. “We need to prepare for leukaemia, breast cancerand (remainder of article only available to subscribers)… Photo Caption: 104 cases of thyroid cancer have been identified, a far higher rate than the national average

AP, Oct 9, 2015: Study showsalarming thyroid cancer rates in children living near Fukushima… “This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected,” lead author Toshihide Tsuda said…

UPI, Oct 8, 2015: Fukushima radiation has been linked to a surgein thyroid cancer among children near the disaster area… A team of Japanese researchers led by Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Okayama University, said cases of thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture have skyrocketed since March 2011… and the culprit was increased radiation exposure since the Fukushima nuclear disaster…

T. Tsuda, A. Tokinobu, E. Suzuki, E. Yamamoto (Okayama Univ.), Oct 5, 2015:

  • Thyroid Cancer Detection by Ultrasound Among Residents Ages 18 Years and Younger in Fukushima… 2011 to 2014
  • The highest incidence rate ratio… was observed in the central middle district of the prefecture… incidence rate ratio = 50
  • … estimated doses ranged from 119 to 432 mSv among mothers and from 330 to 1,190 mSv in their infants for those living 45 to 220 km south or southwest, including Iwaki City in the Fukushima Prefecture, Ibaragi Prefecture, and Chiba Prefecture.
  • … we could infer that the incidence of thyroid cancer in Fukushima rose more rapidly than expected… as estimated by the World Health Organization.
  • The radiation burden to the thyroid in Fukushima Prefecture might have been considerably higher than estimated…
  • The minimum empirical induction time for thyroid cancer is 2.5 years for adults and 1 year for children, according to the [CDC].Therefore, we considered it possible to detect thyroid cancer… even within the 2011 fiscal year.
  • In Chernobyl, excesses of thyroid cancer became more remarkable 4 or 5 years after… the observed excess alerts us to prepare for more potential cases.

Watch a recent presentation by Prof. Tsuda here

Related Posts

  1. Officials: 6,000% cancer rate increase in Fukushima children’s thyroids — Expert: Urgent countermeasures against the suspected outbreak are necessary — Professor: Gov’t stopped me from checking thyroid exposure levels after 3/11 (VIDEO) May 19, 2015
  2. ABC Radio: “Cancer cases in Fukushima emerging faster than expected” — Japan Surgeon: I’m very angry, it’s very strange officials won’t release basic data (AUDIO) November 4, 2013
  3. Tokyo Press Conference: Gov’t is committing crimes against humanity; Fukushima children living in war zone and can’t leave — Childhood cancer developing much faster than Chernobyl; Rate now 14 times higher — Parent: “I’m revealing the reality of what’s going on… it’s only way to get rid of the criminals” (VIDEO) August 19, 2014
  4. Fukushima Doctor: Cancer found in over 40 children… We believe it’s related to the nuclear disaster — Physician: Leukemia cases to increase in next few months? (AUDIO) October 11, 2013
  5. Japan Lawmaker: “Children coming down with many health problems… this is reality” — CNN: “Many parents of Fukushima blame nuclear accident” for higher cancer rate (VIDEOS) November 9, 2013

Snowden Says He Knows How To Find Out Why The US Bombed Afghan Hospital

“AC-130 warplanes record the gunner’s video and audio. It’s time to release the tapes…”

Edward Snowden aparece en un video en vivo desde Moscú en un foro patrocinado por la Unión Americana de Libertades Civiles (ACLU) en Hawaii, el 14 de febrero de 2015. El exempleado de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA) que dio a conocer documentos secretos sobre espionaje abrió su cuenta en Twitter el 29 de septiembre de 2015. (Foto AP/Marco Garcia, File)

Overnight, Medecins Sans Frontiers, or the “Doctors without Borders” medical group which suffered a tremendous loss of life at the hands of US bombardment this past Saturday, stepped up its criticism of what it has previously called a US “war crime.”

As Reuters reports, earlier today it called for an independent international fact-finding commission to be established to investigate the U.S. bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which it deems a war crime, and which it would use to decide whether or not to file criminal charges, although it was unclear against whom precisely: perhaps 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama?

Why independent: because as MSF said “we cannot rely on internal investigations by U.S, NATO and Afghan forces.”

Instead, the medical charity said that the commission, which can be set up at the request of a single state under the Geneva Convention, would gather facts and evidence from the United States, NATO and Afghanistan. MSF said it sent a letter on Tuesday to the 76 countries who signed up to the additional protocol of the Geneva Convention that set up the standing commission in 1991.

There is one problem: neither the United States nor Afghanistan are signatories and Francoise Saulnier, MSF lead counsel, said that the consent of the states involved is necessary.

Good luck getting it.

Assuming the US does “agree” to comply with this fact-finding mission, we expect the full data dump – after all the necessary scrubbing of the evidence of course – to take place, some time in 2019.

For now, however, the MSF is not backing down: “If we let this go, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries at war,” MSF International President Joanne Liu told a news briefing in Geneva. “There is no commitment to an independent investigation yet.”

MSF is in talks with Switzerland about convoking the international commission of independent experts.

“Today we say enough, even war has rules,” Liu said.

Again, good luck with all of that.

Then again, none other than US persona non grata #1 (Edward Snowden) has provided a quick and easy solution:

Copyright ©2009-2015 ZeroHedge.com/ABC Media, LTD

Multiple species wiped out in days — Mortality rate of 99.99% over large region — “No documented event has been so severe”

Univ. of California (Davis), Jun 3, 2015 (emphasis added): In August 2011, scientists at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory walked into their labs to a strange, disturbing sight: Thousands of purple sea urchins and other marine invertebrates were dead in their tanks, which are fed directly by seawater. [The] ocean washed up carcasses of red abalone, large sea stars, and football-sized, snail-like chitons… even more heavily impacted as a population were the millions of purple sea urchins and tiny sea stars that died along a 62-mile stretch of coast… “We might not have known urchins and six-armed sea stars were affected if lab-held animals hadn’t died right in front of us,” said the study’s lead author Laura Jurgens… “We’re expecting real ecological changes in how these tide pools operate”… this die-off was fast, wiping out these two species in as little as a few days. The die-off also occurred about two years before [observance of] sea star wasting syndrome

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Jun 3, 2015: [It was] a grim scene, with dead red abalone, purple sea urchins and tiny sea stars rotting across the Northern California shoreline… the same carnage [took place] at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab… scientists tallied almost 100 percent mortality of purple sea urchins and six-armed sea stars throughout the 62-mile study area… Researchers found only 10 purple sea urchins in the area once home to millions

Study by scientists from CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, Bodega Marine Lab, UC Davis/Santa Cruz/Merced, Jun 3, 2015: Patterns of Mass Mortality among Rocky Shore Invertebrates across 100 km of Northeastern Pacific Coastline— In late August 2011, formerly abundant intertidal populations of the purple sea urchin [and] six-armed sea star were functionally extirpated from ~100 km of coastline… studies by others indicated moderate to severe impacts on… red sea urchin… and red abalone… There were no obvious physical stressors (e.g., a storm, heavy rainfall)… we did not find a single six-armed star at these six locations… Ochre sea stars and gumboot chitons also experienced elevated mortality… We found only ten surviving intertidal purple urchins out of a prior regional population we estimate at many millions…. [The] mortality rate was therefore >99.99% over 100 km[N]o previously documented mortality event has been so severe over such a large region… its sudden onset [is] a pattern that israre in marine systems… typically [it takes] several months or years… [W]e cannot unambiguously ascribe the current die-off to a particular cause or set of causes… A disease outbreak is plausible… The most likely cause…appears to be a toxin produced by phytoplankton… yes so toxins have not previously been known as lethal… the possibility remains that unidentified species and/or toxin(s) were responsible.

Press Democrat (Sonoma), Feb 2014: Biologists were initially stumped by the die-off, which stunned local divers and was erroneously attributed to a red tide. The cause has since been identified as a bloom of microscopic algae called Gonyaulax membranacea, which produce a toxin called yessotoxin…

Watch a video documenting the 2011 mass mortality event here

Related Posts

  1. Reports: Sea stars decimated on West Coast — SoCal ravaged as mystery disease spreads south; Saw hundreds last year, now none… got hit really hard — Mortality event like this never before documented — “Uncharted waters… likes of which we haven’t seen” — Turning to ‘bacterial goop’ (RADIO) April 5, 2014
  2. Gov’t reports “big, big decline” in Alaska caribou — “Mortality very high” after Fukushima releases began — “Low survival rate” for calves also in 2011 and 2012 — Official: “Worrisome” how quickly this happened… In truth, we don’t have an answer why (AUDIO) July 23, 2014
  3. “Sea creatures sick, dying or disappearing at alarming rate all along Pacific coast… Some wonder if it’s fallout from Fukushima” — New York Times: “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction” — Study: “We may be on precipice of major extinction event” in marine wildlife (VIDEO)January 18, 2015
  4. CBS: This is really disturbing, sea stars dying by the millions on West Coast — Like the Black Death, only faster and deadlier — ‘Mystery plague’ affecting 20+ species — TV: Disappears from Orange County coast over 2 week period — Expert: “Largest epidemic ever in ocean… Something has changed in marine environment to lead to this” (VIDEO)July 29, 2014
  5. ‘Marine Mystery’ in California: “Toxic outbreak threatening marine life” — Birds falling from sky, sea lions convulsing — “Worst they’ve ever seen” — Toxin hits record level, almost 1,000% above gov’t limit — Heart lesions, severe shrinking in part of brain, nervous system failure (VIDEO) May 3, 2014

KSBW, May 29, 2015 (emphasis added): Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Mass die-off could happen – “We are beginning with continuing coverage of that algae bloom in the Monterey Bay. Scientists say they’re seeing the highest levels of red tide in more than a decade, and they’reworried it will have grave impacts on marine life… [It] spreads all up and down the West Coast. Researchers in Santa Cruz have alreadyrecorded a mass die-off of anchovies and they expected more species could follow.”

KSBW, May 29, 2015: Scientists with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are predicting a mass die-off on the Central Coast… Up and down the West Coast, a large algal bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia is growing rapidly.

Chris Scholin, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), May 28, 2015: Very Toxic Algal Bloom in Monterey Bay — I wanted to let you know we have been following a very big bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia over the past couple of weeks here in the bay, and the amount of associated domoic acid is really extraordinary… Yesterday I noticed anchovies washing upon the beach in front of MBARI as far as I could see. There’s also lines of fish scales (anchovy?) marking the high tide line… One of the staff went snorkeling off the beach here, and saw the seafloor littered with anchovies… keep an eye out for seizuring sealions, sick birds, maybe sick otters… We think this is a very large event… Don’t eat shellfish or forage fish from MB — very nasty right now!!!

KSBW, May 29, 2015: “New tonight… researchers say a large algae bloom has taken over the Monterey Bay“… Jim Birch, MBARI: “We’re seeing these really high domoic acid levels in both locations, which is very, very unusual“… “Scientists with MBARI say the toxins from the algae bloom are going to have a chain reaction on marine animals, and they’ve already seen more dead seabirds on Central Coast beaches… It has started to really grow in the last few days.

KSBW, May 29, 2015: Raphael Kudela, a researcher at [UCSC] said the bloom… is being found from Washington to Santa Barbara… reports of dead seabirds are already coming in.

Monterey Herald, May 28, 2015: A mysterious neurotoxin… returned with a vengeance… “This is an unusual one,” said Raphael Kudela… “We haven’t seen a bloom this big in 15 years.”… why the toxin periodically blooms in Monterey Bay is still a marine mystery… scientists are getting closer to pinning down the reason for the blooms, with human impacts among the range of possibilities… Domoic acid is also suspected in a recentspate of bird deaths.

UC Santa Cruz, June 2, 2015: The toxin was first detected in early May, and by the end of the month researchers had detected some of the highest concentrations of domoic acid ever observed in Monterey Bay. “It’s a pretty massive bloom. The domoic acid levels are extremely high right now… the event is occurring as far north as Washington state. So it appears this will be one of the most toxic and spatially largest events we’ve had in at least a decade,” said Raphael Kudela, [UCSC] professor of ocean sciences.

MBARI, Jun 1, 2015: Researchers measured some of the highest concentrations of harmful algae and their toxin ever observed in Monterey Bay… During a normal [bloom] 1,000 nanograms per liter would be considered high… [It’s] reached 10 to 30 times this level. On May 27, 2015, very high levels… were found in dead anchovies… The researchers do not know if the anchovies died because of domoic acid poisoning.

Watch: KSBW’s broadcast | San Diego 6 News broadcast

Fukushima: “Astounding” levels of radiation measured in U.S. from Fukushima — Around 500,000 times our normal levels…

ENENews

Harry Miley, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, Mar 7, 2014 (emphasis added): “We’re surrounded by souvenirs of scientific achievement here in the National Security Building Showcase lobby. Each one of these items tells a story of scientists working quietly on projects of societal impact. This yellow thing you see behind me is an aerosol sample… It was taken here a few days after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan, and contains radioactivity that allowed us to determine the nature [and] magnitude of the release, but most importantly that there will be no human health impacts in North America… The Fukushima nuclear disaster… was not something we expected. We normally work on things of societal impact invisibly… But when the disaster occurred, the things we were doing suddenly became of national importance. You could hardly imagine anything more important. In fact, it was a matter of life and death.” >> Watch the video here

A colleague of Miley’s at PNNL, Ted Bowyer, discussed the air samples at a CTBTO meeting:

  • 0:30 in – “I agree with everything that previous speakers said, especially the aspect that more work is necessary… We have a lot of work to do… We have a lot of questions that we need to answer. There are a lot of people working on it. I also really thought it was very valuable to have this email exchange with… interested parties about events as they were unfolding in Japan. The accident as everyone knows was a terrible tragedy.”
  • 3:30 in – Slide: Evidence of radionuclide release reached the Japanese IMS station within 2-3 days; First evidence of the plume hitting the U.S. came to PNNL’s equipment about 1 day later
  • 4:30 in – “This is very amazing to me, having been working in the radioactive xenon monitoring field for about 17 years now. This was astounding to me… You can see background levels around 0.1 mBq/m3… Note the peak concentration we saw was in the range of 45,000 mBq/m3 — so that is 450,000 times our background level. For me that’s astounding. We never have ever seen anything even close to that. So the concentrations went up and up and up every day, and so that was quite amazing to see this 7,000 kilometers away from the event… I only show some of the data here, but it actually persisted for weeks at very measurable levels, and filled the entire northern hemisphere and mixed into the southern hemisphere.”
  • 12:00 in – “Xenon isotopic ratios appear to generally agree with calculations. However, there’s some uncertainty… We have a lot of work to do to try to understand whether there are calibration issues, whether there were physics here that we had not accounted for, etc. We do know that there are very high count rates at these detectors, which is similar to what you’d expect in an atmospheric detonation. On the other hand, the part I didn’t tell you was the amount of xenon we saw was consistent with a one megaton atmospheric detonation — we obviously wouldn’t expect to see that high. But it was a huge amount.”
  • Watch Bowyer’s presentation here

Related Posts

  1. US Gov’t Expert: Large marine animals likely sensed danger of Fukushima plume and fled, “Not going to wait until they start to die off” — Explains unprecedented concentrations of whales and other sea life clustering off West Coast? (VIDEO) March 2, 2014
  2. Canadian scientists detect “significant” concentrations of radioactive material off West Coast, levels double in months since last test — Marine Chemist: “Much greater concern” over Fukushima releases that will be hitting shores of US & Canada; Lack of data “really disturbing” (AUDIO) November 10, 2014
  3. Leader of Fukushima Study: “Intense exposure” headed toward US west coast; Plume traveling very fast via oceanic jet — “High concentrations” to impact California coastal areas; Prolonged period of radioactive upwelling expected (VIDEO) September 18, 2014
  4. Study: Global consequences from Fukushima-like nuclear disaster; Many nations at risk of ‘great exposure’ — Transport of hot particles to US was especially effective during worst releases after reactor explosions — Radioactivity confined ‘close to surface’ due to seasonal factors (VIDEO) January 28, 2015
  5. Experts: Disease explosion in West Coast sea stars — “Extinction event” is pretty close — “Epidemic of historic magnitude… threatens to decimate entire population” of species in Oregon — Sudden 50-fold increase in recent weeks — Entire ecosystem could be disrupted — “We have no clue” (VIDEO) June 11, 2014

“Huge, unprecedented die-off like we’ve never seen”

KQED Science, Apr 5, 2015 (emphasis added): About thirty miles out from the Golden Gate, the federally protected Farallones are breeding grounds visited by hundreds of thousands of seabirds – many of which use the islands as a  winter way station — but not this year. Gerry McChesney, manager of the site for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that’s a bad sign not just for the Farallon Islands but also for wildlife more broadly along California’s coast. There was also hardship for breeding marine mammals. Dozens of pregnant sea lions proved too weak to carry their pups to term “That’s such a bizarre thing,” McChesney says. “We were seeing multiple aborted fetuses every day,” 94 in total – or nearly half the number of sea lions born there in 2014. Nor was the warm winter kind to elephant seal pups. Russ Bradley, Farallon program manager for Point Blue Conservation Science, says elephant seal mothers, trying to cool off amid the unusual heat, led their pups up to a cliff that, while breezy, proved perilous – “and actually had a fair amount of pups fall into this sea channel, because they’re pups and they’re clumsy and they got too close to the edge.” “It is pretty brutal for the biologists out here that had to watch it,” McChesney says. “It was pretty tough.” Among the conspicuously absent birds was a type called Cassin’s Auklet, which feeds on krill. All along the Pacific coast, McChesney says, these birds have been suffering “a huge, unprecedented die-off like we’ve never seen” for want of food. That’s also bad news for other species that eat krill, he says, from salmon to blue whales.

US Fish & Wildlife Service, Apr 1, 2015: Over the past four months, seals and sea lions are having difficulty reproducing, local seabirds have had low colony attendance… Observations of disrupted breeding activities include: California sea lions aborting pups due to poor body condition of the mothers. Since January 9th, 94 aborted sea lion fetuses have been recorded on the islands, well in advance of their June due date. Ninety-four is almost half the total number of sea lions born on the island in 2014. High elephant seal pup mortality due to warmer air temperaturesPup survival was low this year… Many pups died when overheating mothers led them to a cliff edge in attempts to get cool; pups then fell to their deaths.  Low attendance of breeding seabirds – Farallon nesting seabirds usually visit the islands during winter, but this year winter attendance was unusually low. In fact, the Cassin’s Auklet… has been largely absent from the islands in the last few months… Since auklets feed mainly on krill, their activity and nesting success are good indicators of the availability of this food resource, which is very important for many marine predators including whales and salmon… “These unusual observations highlight the importance of monitoring our coastal wildlife,” says [Gerry McChesney, manager of the site for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]. “They are significant indicators of ocean health.”

KGO, Apr 2, 2015: Researchers view the Farallon Islands as a barometer for the health of the overall ocean and this year in particular has been tough. Hundreds of sea lion pups have beached themselves, but elephant seals are having trouble too… — Doug Cordell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: “Some of them have died when the mothers lead them to a cliffs edge attempting to get cool and the pups then fell to their deaths. We’re seeing unusual occurrences with the bird populations. Very low attendance of the breeding sea birds… Any of these things in isolation you might say, ‘Hmm, that’s interesting.’”

Feb. 22, 2015 winter pelagic trip, Monterey Bay: Shearwaters were extremely low in numbers, either because of the warm water, or because of the declining numbers which I have been talking about for the past several years, or because of both reasons.

Full KGO broadcast here

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  1. Gov’t: It’s getting “even worse” on West Coast this year — Experts say over 35,000 baby sea lions could be dead; “This phenomenon is unprecedented in scale” — Hundreds of times more pups than usual at rescue center — Doctor: “Definitely indicates ocean not normal… Really, we should be worried” (AUDIO) March 4, 2015
  2. 10,000 baby sea lions dead on one California island — Experts: “It’s getting crazy… This is a crisis… Never seen anything like it… Very difficult to see so much death” — TV: “Numbers skyrocketing at alarming rates” — “Woman is burying the rotting mammals” after digging graves at beach (VIDEOS) March 16, 2015
  3. TV: Huge increase in dead and sick sea mammals on California coast — Unprecedented numbers, annual record broken in 7 months — Starving, drooling, brain damaged, suffering seizures — Sea lions ‘mysteriously’ vanishing on other side of Pacific — Experts: We don’t know what’s happening (VIDEO) August 3, 2014
  4. “Alarming Numbers”: Over 15,000 baby sea lions may have died off California coast — “Marine biologists warn it could deplete an entire generation” — “Heralding the demise of something else beneath the waves”? (VIDEO) February 15, 2015
  5. Radio: Mysterious disease killing seals in Atlantic Ocean — Fukushima fallout testing underway by gov’t scientists (AUDIO) September 1, 2012

Fukushima: Melted fuel may have “dropped even beyond” the bottom of plant — ‘China Syndrome’ predicted by US gov’t analysis — IAEA Expert: Pools of corium beneath reactors are up to 2 stories high

ENENews

AP, Mar 27, 2015 (emphasis added): [It] was billed as a way to decipher where, exactly, the morass of nuclear fuel might sit at the bottom of reactors… But what went wrong, even in a simple demonstration for reporters… was a sobering reminder of the enormous challenges that lie ahead… a programming glitch could not be fixed in time for Friday’s demonstration… No one knows where the molten fuel debris lies, and in what shape or state. [TEPCO] has said itlikely sank to the bottom of the plant. But the fuel could have dropped even beyond. Tadashi Yotsuyanagi, an official in charge of the muon project at Toshiba… acknowledged the technology will not be able to get the complete image toward the bottom of the reactor… David Ireland, a professor who heads the Nuclear Physics Group at the University of Glasgow, said muons may be the only way to probe inside atomic reactors. “There are not really any other noninvasive options that will allow inspection,” he said in an email.

The Japan Times published the AP report above, however one sentence was altered. Tepco has said it likely sank to the bottom of the plant. But the fuel could have dropped even beyond” vs. “But the fuel could possibly have escaped even beyond the containment facility to the outside environment.”

IAEA technical meeting Managing the Unexpected, Harri Tuomisto, Sr. Nuclear Safety Officer at Finland’s Fortum Power, 2012:

  • Part 4: “If the cooling is not successful, it means the corium melts through the vessel… When this massive amount of corium enters into the containment zone, there are very, very many different energetic consequences… Interaction of molten core and concrete starts… concrete is eroding, and this eroding of concrete, for a long time it was known as China Syndrome.”
  • Part 5: “The corium will be in 3 parts, there is a solid crust formation in the bottom of the pool, then there’s a pool of oxidic materials… The metals and oxides are not soluble with each other and the metals will be separated… which is bad news in the sense that theheat transfer to the vessel is much higher, and it’s much more difficult to guarantee the integrity of the [containment] vessel in that case.”
  • Part 6: “Molten corium on the containment floor, it’s eroding the concrete and going partially downward. Actually it will never go to China, because it also erodes sideways… The final size of the pooling maximum case is 10 to 15 meters in diameter, and 6-7 meters [20-23 ft or 2 stories] deep — or even deeper.”
  • Part 9: “There are quite many challenges… There are different energetic phenomenon… which can lead to different combustions… accelerating flames, or even detonations — which can cause a very high pressure in the containment and even break the containment… Then there’s this China Syndromeattack of containment liner by corium — which can also bypass containment.” (See US gov’t analysis: Fukushima containment breached due to “failure of the drywell liner by melt-attack“)
  • Slides 3-4: If corium melts through the vessel, there are various energetic consequences caused by ejected high-temperature molten corium… Molten corium on the containment basemat initiates core-concrete interaction that releases aerosols and non-condensible gases to containment atmosphere and erodes the concrete (‘China syndrome‘)

Watch the IAEA presentation here

Related Posts

  1. IAEA Paper: Corium was not cooled in majority of tests using water injected from above, as done at Fukushima — Were studying how to stop molten core from melting through concrete December 26, 2013
  2. IAEA ***NOT for distribution***: Molten core is suspected to have penetrated Fukushima containment vessel — Prime Minister on 3/11: We couldn’t be in Tokyo if melted fuel went through containment vessel (VIDEO) December 18, 2013
  3. Nuclear Engineer: New video appears to show molten corium that melted out of Fukushima reactor — “Some of it is still oozing” — We’ve been talking about criticalities going on and causing continued heat for a long time now” (AUDIO & VIDEO) February 23, 2015
  4. Gov’t Doc.: Re-criticality a threat at Fukushima; Concern melted fuel to change it’s form — M.I.T. Q&A: Coolability of the molten corium is questionable (VIDEO) December 4, 2013
  5. Nuclear Expert: Disgusting that Fukushima’s corium hasn’t been located — If melted fuel burned to center of Earth it’d be nice, that gets rid of it — Impossible to retrieve all of it (AUDIO) September 28, 2013

Kyodo, Mar 27, 2015 (emphasis added): [Tepco] disclosed that a 35-ton piece of machinery debris might be resting on the inner gate of the spent fuel pool for reactor 3… and that the gate is slightly out of position. Tepco said Thursday that a fuel-handling machine… is
touching one of two gates that stand between the pool and the reactor containment vessel [and] both… gates are slightlyout of position but said the pool… does not appear to be leaking… If the gates are damaged, it might trigger a water leak from the pool

The Japan Times changed the headline on Kyodo’s report from ‘Debris poses risk to spent-fuel pool gate in Fukushima No. 1′s reactor 3‘ to ‘Setback at Fukushima No. 1 plant threatens reactor 3 rod removal’.

NHK, Mar 27, 2015: Fuel pool gates found shifted at Fukushima plant… [TEPCO] says 2 iron gates that keep cooling water inside a spent fuel pool were found to be out of position… officials say this could affect the removal of debris… TEPCO officials said on Thursday that both of the iron gates in the pool hadshifted from their original positions. They say the innergate was likely damaged by a large machine that fell into the pool. The operator says it will examine if removal of the machine from the pool may trigger water leaks.

Enformable, June 2012: Nuclear engineer Chris Harris identified the “weakest link” which may initiate a spent fuel pool draindown… The gate is a long rectangular “dam” in the side of the fuel pool… The gate has seals so that the fuel pool doesn’t drain into the cavity and dangerously expose fuel assemblies… If the seal were to fail, then the fuel pool would drain to dangerously low levels right through the damaged gate.

Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer, Nov 2012: “One of the Tepco releases that really intrigued me was that there is something called ‘curing material’… to me it means they know about a tear or a rip in the spent fuel pool liner [of Unit 3 and] they tried to repair with some sort of epoxy and something that needs to cure or cure time on it before they can proceed.”

Tepco, Sept 2012: Prior to removing the steel beam which fell into the spent fuel pool… liner curing of the pool will be implemented in mid November once the preparation is complete.

See also: Kyodo: Tepco finds 35-ton machine fallen in No. 3 fuel pool — Appears to have dropped on nuclear fuel racks (VIDEO)

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  1. Damaged fuel rods are cracked and leaking radioactive gases in Fukushima Unit 4 pool; Wire appears trapped in racks — Another assembly bent when “mishandled during a transfer” November 14, 2013
  2. Nuclear Expert: Fuel rods in Fukushima Unit 4 “may not be in their original position” — Concern over “way the spent fuel is sitting in pool” (AUDIO) November 1, 2013
  3. IAEA Meeting: Concern of Fukushima spent fuel pool collapse as aftershock “should be caused in near future” September 24, 2012
  4. Kyodo: Steel beam removed from Fukushima plant’s No. 3 pool after falling on fuel racks — Another steel beam found soon after (PHOTOS) December 20, 2012
  5. Tepco: Fuel assemblies could be damaged from shock in Fukushima Unit 3 pool December 21, 2012