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Tag Archive: Reuters


Earth Watch Report  –  Environmental Pollution –  Radiation

High levels of toxic strontium found in Fukushima groundwater

 

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19.06.2013 Environment Pollution Japan Prefecture of Fukushima, [Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant] Damage level
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Environment Pollution in Japan on Wednesday, 19 June, 2013 at 08:07 (08:07 AM) UTC.

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High levels of a toxic radioactive isotope have been found in groundwater at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator says. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said tests showed strontium-90 was present at 30 times the legal rate. The radioactive isotope tritium has also been detected at elevated levels. The plant, crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has recently seen a series of water leaks and power failures. The tsunami knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, which melted down. Water is now being pumped in to the reactors to cool them but this has left Tepco with the problem of how to safely store the contaminated water. There have been several reports of leaks from storage tanks or pipes. Strontium-90 is formed as a by-product of nuclear fission. Tests showed that levels of strontium in groundwater at the Fukushima plant had increased 100-fold since the end of last year, Toshihiko Fukuda, a Tepco official, told media.

Mr Fukuda said Tepco believed the elevated levels originated from a leak of contaminated water in April 2011 from one of the reactors. “As it’s near where the leak from reactor number two happened and taking into account the situation at the time, we believe that water left over from that time is the highest possibility,” he said. Tritium, used in glow-in-the-dark watches, was found at eight times the allowable level. Mr Fukuda said that samples from the sea showed no rise in either substance and the company believed the groundwater was being contained by concrete foundations. “When we look at the impact that is having on the ocean, the levels seem to be within past trends and so we don’t believe it’s having an effect.” But the discovery is another set-back for Tepco’s plan to pump groundwater from the plant into the sea, correspondents say. Nuclear chemist Michiaki Furukawa told Reuters news agency that Tepco should not release contaminated water into the ocean. “They have to keep it somewhere so that it can’t escape outside the plant,” he said. “Tepco needs to carry out more regular testing in specific areas and disclose everything they find.” The Fukushima power plant has faced a series of problems this year. Early this month, radioactive water was found leaking from a storage tank. The plant also suffered three power failures in five weeks earlier this year. A leak of radioactive water from one of the plant’s underground storage pools was also detected in April.


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Cancer-causing isotope found in Fukushima groundwater – plant operator

Published time: June 19, 2013 12:45

A water pump draws groundwater from a well in front of Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's unit 4 reactor building, in Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo / Pool / Toshifumi Kitamura)

A water pump draws groundwater from a well in front of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant’s unit 4 reactor building, in Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo / Pool / Toshifumi Kitamura)

Elevated levels of cancer-causing radioactive isotopes have been discovered in the groundwater of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, the plant’s operator has revealed. Highly toxic strontium-90 was present at 30 times the allowable rate, tests showed.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the owner of the wrecked plant, said that tests showed levels of strontium in groundwater had increased by 100 times since the end of last year, TEPCO official Toshihiko Fukuda told reporters. Strontium-90 is a byproduct of nuclear fission, and if ingested can cause bone cancer.

Tests also detected tritium at around eight times the permitted level, TEPCO added. The substance is usually used in glow-in-the-dark watches. “From groundwater samples we collected, we detected 500,000 becquerels per liter of tritium, that is very high,” Fukuda told a press conference.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant suffered a reactor meltdown and released radiation following the 9.0-magnitude Tokohu earthquake – the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan – which struck off the coast of the country on March 11, 2011.

The earthquake unleashed a tsunami with waves of up to 14 meters high (Fukushima was designed to withstand up to 5.7-meter waves) that knocked out the emergency generators required to cool the reactors.

 

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High levels of toxic strontium found in Fukushima groundwater

High levels of toxic strontium found in Fukushima groundwater

With another radioactive substance found in the groundwater of Fukushima nuclear power plant, releasing water into the ocean has become even more unlikely for the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). Strontium, described by Britannica as “the principal health hazard in radioactive fallout,” was found to be abundant in the groundwater of the Fukushima nuclear facility, said its utility on Wednesday.

The increase of Strontium-90 level from December last year until last month was discovered after a test of groundwater outside power plant No. 2 was done. The test revealed the increase to be 100 times within the five-month period. Toshihiko Fukuda, a general manager at TEPCO, believed that Strontium-90 got mixed with the groundwater and through the turbine building, the substance has leaked out.

 

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) during their annual meeting in Washington, February 19, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

 

 

WASHINGTON | Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:07pm EDT

(Reuters) – Virginia Governor and possible Republican presidential candidate Bob McDonnell used taxpayer money to pay for sunscreen and dog vitamins, the Washington Post reported on Monday, adding to other improper spending the paper says the FBI is investigating.

McDonnell and his wife also used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children and billed the state for deodorant, shoe repairs and a digestive system “detox cleanse,” the newspaper said, citing spending records it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Washington Post previously reported that the FBI and a grand jury were investigating a $15,000 catering bill that a campaign donor paid for McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding in 2011.

A McDonnell spokesman, Paul Shanks, told Reuters by email the “reimbursement process that is followed today is the same as the one followed in past years” by previous administrations.

Shanks said the Washington Post article “completely misstates the process and misinforms readers as to how it functions.” He said the governor’s family gets invoices and then reimburses the state for any personal expenses.

The governor has acknowledged that he stayed at the Roanoke, Virginia, home of the campaign donor, Jonnie Williams, and drove Williams’ Ferrari sports car back to Richmond.

 

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Published time: June 13, 2013 13:13
Edited time: June 14, 2013 16:43

Media takes images of a protester holding a flag in front of a riot police vehicle during a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul (Reuters / Osman Orsal)

Media takes images of a protester holding a flag in front of a riot police vehicle during a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul (Reuters / Osman Orsal)

Turkey’s TV watchdog fined four TV channels over their live coverage of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, citing that the broadcasts were “harming the physical, moral and mental development of children and young people.”

The Radio and Television Supreme Council fined private channels including Halk TV, Ulusal TV, Cem TV and EM TV.

Halk TV has gained local popularity because of their 24-hour live coverage of protests in Turkey, as most of the mainstream media have been slammed for their lack of reporting on the protests in the country.

As the unrest unfolded almost two weeks ago, mainstream Turkish media did not cover the violent police clashes, but instead broadcast nature and history documentaries, and cooking shows.

Many of the other local networks briefly mentioned the protests, but failed to cover the violent clashes in which scores were injured.

Angered protesters had to turn to the internet, especially Twitter, to get the information out.

A protester uses her mobile device as she walks at Gezi Park on Taksim Square in Istanbul (Reuters / Stoyan Nenov)

A protester uses her mobile device as she walks at Gezi Park on Taksim Square in Istanbul (Reuters / Stoyan Nenov)

In response, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan condemned social media’s role in the riots, singling out what he called the “scourge” of Twitter.

“There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” Erdogan said in the beginning of June.

Most recently two Canadian journalists were arrested by police on Wednesday while covering the ongoing protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The two had been held all day and later released.

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RINF Alternative News & Alternative Media Breaking Real News

Protesters Skeptical as Turkish PM Flips From Threats to Concessions

Turkey’s embattled PM Recep Tayyip Erdoganis told protesters last night that he will halt plans to redevelop Gezi Park until Turkish courts rule on an appeal and launch a public referendum if the rule falls in the government’s favor.

 

 

(Photo: Joshua Kahn Russell/Monument at Taksim Square) The move comes a day after European parliament voted to condemn the PM’s violent crackdown on Turkey’s ballooning protests that has left five dead and over 5,000 injured.

Erdogan’s Wednesday threats to shut down the protests in 24 hours were followed by late-night private meetings Thursday with members of the Taksim Solidarity, one organization behind the Taksim Square protests that has gained heightened visibility.

Just outside of the Thursday meetings, police fought back protesters. PressTV reports:

Witnesses said police fired tear gas at some 200 protesters who had gathered in Ankara city centre, near the offices of the prime minister, while the meeting was underway. Five demonstrators were also arrested.

The PM’s gesture towards concession appeared an attempt to quiet Turkey’s mass mobilizations, now well into their third week, as the U.S.-backed head of government faces a growing political crisis.

Taksim Solidarity members who attended the private meeting declared that the question of whether to accept the PM’s latest move ultimately rests with protesters, many of whom are not affiliated with Taksim Solidarity. CBS reports:

 

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Turkish riot police enter Taksim Square in Istanbul

Riot police entered Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Tuesday morning, firing teargas to disperse protesters at the site, which has been the centre of ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Turkey.

By News Wires (text)

Hundreds of Turkish riot police entered Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Tuesday, firing water cannon and teargas to scatter small numbers of protesters involved in demonstrations against plans to redevelop a park there, a Reuters witness said.

Police removed protesters’ banners which had been hung from a building overlooking the square and the local governor said the police had no intention of breaking up the protest in the adjoining Gezi Park.

“Our aim is to remove the signs and pictures on Ataturk statue and the Ataturk Cultural Centre. We have no other aim,” Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu wrote on Twitter. “Gezi Park and Taksim will not be touched.”

 

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BBC

Turkey PM Erdogan warns protesters of ‘limited patience’

Supporters of Prime Minister Erdogan gather around his convoy waving flags
Mr Erdogan addressed several rallies of gathered supporters on Sunday

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned his patience “has a limit” as anti-government protests continued for a 10th day.

Mr Erdogan dismissed the protesters as “looters”, in a defiant address to supporters in the capital, Ankara.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square and Ankara’s Kizilay Square on Sunday.

The anti-government unrest was sparked by a police crackdown on a local protest over an Istanbul park.

The initial protest has since spiralled into nationwide demonstrations, with protesters accusing Mr Erdogan’s government of becoming increasingly authoritarian and trying to impose conservative Islamic values on a secular state.

For a second night in a row, riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators in the centre of Ankara on Sunday.

 

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Rescue personnel search the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 5, 2013.

Rescue personnel search the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 5, 2013.

Reuters

A four-story building under demolition collapsed onto a neighboring two-story Salvation Army Thrift Store at 2140 Market Street at 10:45 a.m., trapping people under mountains of crushed concrete and splintered wood, said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

In addition to those rescued, “we located two others and are in the process of extricating both of those people,” Ayers said. Those pulled from the rubble suffered minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals where they were in stable condition, he said.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge

Thousands blockade European Central Bank in Frankfurt (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

  RT

Published time: May 31, 2013 08:12
Edited time: May 31, 2013 13:50

The entrance of the ECB is blocked by over 3,000 ‘Blockupy’ protesters in a march against austerity. ‘Blockupy’ has announced the coalition has “reached its first goal” of the day.

Anti-capitalist protesters have taken to the streets of the financial heart of Frankfurt a day ahead of Europe-wide gatherings planned for June 1 to protest leaders handling of the three-year euro debt crisis.

“We call up everyone to join our protests.”

 

 

German riot police scuffle with protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) head quarters during a anti-capitalism "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)

German riot police scuffle with protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) head quarters during a anti-capitalism “Blockupy” demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)

The ECB spokesman told The Guardian that the Blockupy protests have not disturbed day to day operations at the bank, but would not specify how many bankers managed to come to work.

Apart from those who amassed outside the ECB, a smaller demonstration took place at the nearby Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) headquarters, where around 50 police vehicles had been deployed. The protesters set off by midday.

The crowd, estimated at 2,500 by local authorities, clutched signs demanding ‘humanity before profit’.

Rain-soaked and dressed in ponchos, the crowd is equipped with a wide array of protest props- vuvuzelas, yellow wigs, pots and pans, and mattresses with the spray-painted slogan ‘War Starts Here’.

 

Image from twitter user@Migs_Bru

Image from twitter user@Migs_Bru

Blockupy’ has become a top-ten Twitter trend in Frankfurt, and at 10:09am (08:09 GMT), user Enough14 tweeted, “Strong Powerful blockade at Kaiserstr. Not one banker will come through here,” in reference to the ECB headquarters.

 

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A police forensics officer investigates a crime scene where one man was killed in Woolwich, southeast London May 22, 2013. REUTERS-Stefan Wermuth

LONDON | Thu May 23, 2013 3:10am EDT

(Reuters) – A British soldier was hacked to death by two men shouting Islamic slogans in a south London street, in what Prime Minister David Cameron said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

A dramatic clip filmed by an onlooker just minutes after the killing showed a man with hands covered in blood, brandishing a bloodied meat cleaver and a knife.

“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day,” the black man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a wool jacket and jeans and speaking with a local accent, shouted in the footage obtained by Britain’s ITV news channel.

“This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

The attack was the first apparent Islamist killing in London since suicide bombers struck transport in July 2005. The capital was shocked by the bizarre scene of a killer covered in gore, declaring his motive to onlookers.

Police shot the two suspects while trying to arrest them, and the wounded men were taken into custody. No information was immediately released about the identity of the suspects, but two sources familiar with the investigation told Reuters authorities were investigating a possible link to Nigeria.

“I apologize that women had to witness that, but in our lands our women have to see the same thing. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you,” the videotaped man said before crossing the street and speaking casually to the other attacker.

Cameron chairs an emergency national security meeting on Thursday after cutting short a visit to France to return to London.

“The police are urgently seeking the full facts about this case but there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident,” Cameron said before cutting short talks with French President Francois Hollande to return home.

“We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country and we never buckle in the face of them,” he said.

The attack happened on the edge of London’s sprawling Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, a south London working class district which has long-standing historic links to the military.

In signs of a backlash after the attack, more than 100 angry supporters of the English Defence League, a far-right street protest group, took to the streets, some wearing balaclavas and carrying England’s red and white flag. They were contained by riot police.

Separately, two men were arrested in connection with separate attacks on mosques outside London. No one was hurt.

HELP FOR HEROES

The authorities did not immediately confirm the identity of the slain man, but a source told Reuters the man may have been a member of the military. The British government normally withholds the identities of slain servicemembers until their families are informed.

 

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Seized fraudulent tax mailings are displayed during a news conference in Tampa, Florida, in this undated police handout photo. REUTERS/Tampa Police Department/Handout

 

 

WASHINGTON | Mon May 13, 2013 12:16am EDT

(Reuters) – When tax agents started singling out non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in 2010, they looked at first only for key words such as ‘Tea Party,’ but later they focused on criticisms by groups of “how the country is being run,” according to investigative findings reviewed by Reuters on Sunday.

Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed.

At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making “America a better place to live.”

Exactly who at the IRS made the decisions to start applying extra scrutiny was not clear from the findings, which were contained in portions of an investigative report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Expected to be made public this week, the report was obtained in part by Reuters over the weekend as a full-blown scandal involving the IRS scrutiny widened, embarrassing the agency and distracting the Obama administration.

In one part of the report, TIGTA officials observed that the application screening effort showed “confusion about how to process the applications, delays in the processing of the applications, and a lack of management oversight and guidance.”

After brewing for months, the IRS effort exploded into wider view on Friday when Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, apologized for what she called the “inappropriate” targeting of conservative groups for closer scrutiny, something the agency had long denied.

At a legal conference in Washington, while taking questions from the audience, Lerner said the agency was sorry.

She said the screening practice was confined to an IRS office in Cincinnati; that it was “absolutely not” influenced by the Obama administration; and that none of the targeted groups was denied tax-free status.

It is clear from the TIGTA findings that Lerner was informed in June 2011 that the extra scrutiny was occurring. Key words in the names of groups – including ‘Tea Party,’ “Patriot’ and ‘9/12’ – were being used to choose applications, TIGTA found.

“Issues” criteria were also used, TIGTA found. Scrutiny was being given to references to “Government spending, Government debt, or taxes; Education of the public via advocacy/lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live;’ and Statements in the case file (that) criticize how the country is being run.”

Under these early criteria, more than 100 tax-exempt applications had been identified, according to TIGTA.

 

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China reports four more bird flu deaths, toll rises to 31

BEIJING (Reuters) – Four more people in China have died from a new strain of bird flu, bringing to 31 the number of deaths from the mysterious H7N9 virus, with the number of infections rising by two to 129, according to Chinese health authorities.

Among the deaths, two occurred in the eastern province of Jiangsu; one was from eastern Zhejiang; while another was from central Anhui, based on a Reuters analysis of the data provided by Chinese health authorities on Monday.

A man holds a pigeon at a pigeon farm, which according to the owner has not been affected by the H7N9 bird flu strain, in Quzhou, Zhejiang province, May 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
A man holds a pigeon at a pigeon farm, which according to the owner has not been affected by the H7N9 bird flu strain, in Quzhou, Zhejiang province, May 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

 

The government did not provide more details of the victims.

Chinese health authorities said two new infections were reported in the eastern coastal province of Fujian. The virus, which was mostly concentrated in the region around the commercial capital of Shanghai, spread to Fujian in late April.

 

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H7N9 may mutate 8 times faster than regular flu

Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:24pm

The new bird flu could be mutating up to eight times faster than an average flu virus around a protein that binds it to humans, a team of research scientists in Shenzhen says.

Dr He Jiankui, an associate professor at South University of Science and Technology of China, said yesterday that the authorities should be alarmed by the results of their research and step up monitoring and control efforts to prevent a possible pandemic.

With genetic code of the virus obtained from mainland authorities, the team scrutinised haemagglutinin, a protein that plays a crucial rule in the process of infection. The protein binds the virus to an animal cell, such as respiratory cells in humans, and bores a hole in the cell’s membrane to allow entry by the virus.

The researchers found dramatic mutation of haemagglutinin in one of the four flu strains released for study by the central government. Nine of the protein’s 560 amino acids had changed. In a typical flu virus, only one or two amino acids could change in such a short period of time, He said.

“It happened in just one or two weeks. The speed may not have caught up with the HIV, but it’s quite unusual for a flu.”

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Health officers examine a pigeon for H7N9 at a poultry market in Changsha, Hunan province April 7, 2013. REUTERS-China Daily

 

Health officers examine a pigeon for H7N9 at a poultry market in Changsha, Hunan province April 7, 2013.
REUTERS/China Daily

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Hong Kong tightens bird flu defenses

UPDATED 3:07 AM EDT Apr 29, 2013

HONG KONG (CNN) —Officials wielding infrared thermometers are becoming more difficult to avoid at entry points from mainland China as Hong Kong strengthens its defenses against the H7N9 strain of bird flu.

Extra measures are being taken this week during an expected surge in visitors across the border for the three-day Labor Day break from Monday to Wednesday.

Up to 600 officials will be stationed at border crossings during the holiday, including more than 100 volunteers in addition to government staff, according to Hong Kong’s food and health secretary, Ko Wing-man.

“There will also be promotion and education work done at the borders reminding visitors to stay home or visit a doctor if they are not feeling well,” he added, in response to reporters’ questions on Sunday.

Along with extra screening at entry points, tour operators are also being asked to keep an eye on travelers who may be showing symptoms of what the World Health Organization calls “one of the most lethal influenza viruses” it has ever seen.

As of Sunday, the number of bird flu infections had risen to 124, based on provincial Ministry of Health websites. The figure includes one case in Taiwan, which remains the only recorded infection beyond mainland China.

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