MONTPELIER — Vermont Yankee reported Friday afternoon that the radioactive isotope strontium has been located in the soil near where tritium had been discovered leaking at the Vernon nuclear power plant in January.
Strontium-90 was discovered in soil that had been excavated from the area of the leak, Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said. It was noted in an analysis the company received Monday from a soil sample taken March 17, he said. The state Health Department and Nuclear Regulatory Commission were notified Thursday, he said.
Former nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Burlington characterized strontium-90 as the most harmful of the radioactive materials that have been found around the leak. If it comes into contact with humans, strontium-90 concentrates in the bone and causes leukemia, he said.
“This is the worst,” Gundersen said. “This is the most harmful, the hardest-to-detect and the most soluble.”
The existence of strontium-90 will increase the cost of eventual decommissioning of the plant, Gundersen said.
Along with tritium, Vermont Yankee has acknowledged the discovery of cobalt-690, cesium-137, manganese-54 and zinc-65.
The state Health Department noted the strontium discovery in its updates on the tritium leak Friday. The department emphasized that the strontium has been found in the soil but not in groundwater or in drinking water.
Smith said Vermont Yankee will continue to test for various radionuclides in the soil and monitoring wells and can’t say yet whether the strontium has all been discovered.
“They’re going to have a lot more digging to do to capture it,” Gundersen predicted.
Vermont Yankee revealed heightened levels of tritium in monitoring wells on the plant grounds in January based on samples taken in November. The company found sources of the leak in underground pipes in February and March and stopped the leaks. The company has since been excavating and removing contaminated soil.
Written by Gabby, his partner
Can he talk?
Yes, Tristan started talking in early December (shortly after he ripped out his tracheotomy tube).
What does he say? Does he know who he is?
Tristan knows who he is and he remembers his pre-injury life. He’s maintained a lot of specialized knowledge, he tells stories, he recognizes people in pictures, he sings his favorite songs, etc. His long term memory for life before the injury is generally excellent.
What does his voice sound like? Is there heavy slurring? Does he have trouble formulating language?
Tristan speaks clearly but softly. We have very good communication from him, but it can be difficult to hear what he’s saying if there’s competing noise. While other cognitive functions have been impacted, Tristan’s language abilities are more or less intact. He’s maintained adult grammar and vocabulary and has not needed therapy to re-learn language.
How did Tristan communicate during the months before he was talking?
Before he was talking, Tristan communicated primarily with gestures and pantomime, and also by writing and spelling words out on a communication board. (Although it’s very difficult to read his handwriting, and it used to be much worse.)
In earlier days (and for a long time) Tristan had very limited and sometimes inconsistent communication, primarily with yes/no hand signals. Besides hand signals, communication was also achieved by presenting objects or writing choices on a board and asking Tristan to point to the correct or desired one. In the bad old days, Tristan could really only handle two options at a time.
I hear he was in a coma.
Tristan was never in a coma, but he lingered in a “minimally responsive” state for his first six to seven months post-injury. During this time, life was almost completely dominated by medical complications and Tristan could only maintain wakefulness for a few minutes at a time. It was a horrible period with a lot of uncertainty about whether or not life would ever get better, but he pulled through it and it has.
In August Tristan had two surgeries, a Cranioplasty (a reconstructive surgery on his skull) followed by a VP Shunt (to regulate the flow of Cerebrospinal Fluid in his body). Tristan started noticeably “waking up” more following the shunt surgery, then experienced a very serious infection and went septic. He was put on high doses of intravenous anti-biotics for an extremely long time. Weeks later he emerged from the fevers and started making the slow climb out of the abyss.
Has his personality changed? How has Tristan been most affected cognitively by the injury?
Tristan has maintained a lot of his values and knowledge base as an activist and as the person we knew, but he has been profoundly affected by the injury to his brain. Among other things, he suffers from difficulties with impulse control and short term memory retrieval that impacts everything he does all the time.
I’m afraid in answering this question that I’ll give an overly optimistic or an overly pessimistic view to the people who are reading it. At various times talking to friends, I feel that I have done both. The fact is, it’s complicated.
Brain injury can make a person a bit of an enigma.
For instance, Tristan can legitimately play adult trivia games at a higher level than I can, but he can’t play Connect Four or other simple children’s board games because he gets too caught up in putting all the pieces in and he can’t wait his turn.
Tristan oscillates constantly between being knowledgeable and insightful to being unreasonable and child-like. There is never a time that I am unaware of his injury.
What parts of his body and brain were injured on March 13, 2009?
Tristan was shot in the forehead above his right eye and was primarily injured in the right frontal lobe of his brain. He also suffered injury due to hemorrhaging and swelling during his first week in the ICU which very nearly took his life and did more damage. These secondary injuries caused significant harm to the right temporal lobe and to other areas of his brain.
Tristan was also blinded in the right eye and the orbit (the bone surrounding this eye) was smashed to pieces. He is classified as having had a “severe” traumatic brain injury.
How has he been affected physically?
Tristan is hemiplegic. He is not completely paralyzed but has almost no movement at all in his left arm and left leg. This is particularly difficult for him because he was left handed.
Tristan is also still recovering from the extensive damage done to his body by the months of being mostly bed-ridden and immobilized.
Will he walk again?
Tristan is in a wheelchair. Recently we’ve been seeing some movement come back in his left hip, and his physical therapist feels optimistic that given proper therapy, he will be able to regain some ability to walk. However, she has warned that this may take years of work.
What is daily life like for you guys at the Rehabilitation Center?
On a good busy day, the mornings are a flurry of activity as Tristan moves between physical, speech and occupational therapy appointments. We squeeze in two meals and hopefully have time leftover for exercises and practice on a Standing Frame (a supported structure in the physical therapy room that lets Tristan’s body get used to standing again.) Sometimes we also use a recumbent style stationary exercise bike that Tristan can peddle actively using his right leg and passively with his left.
In the early afternoon Tristan goes back to bed and rests for about two hours. He typically gets up about 4:00 or 4:30 and goes on a long walk with his father, then comes back and eats dinner. He eats a lot of variations on rice and beans and vegetables and a lot of different kinds of soups.
After dinner we figure out what to do with the rest of the evening. Sometimes Tristan works with a computer. Other times we play card games, board games, stuff like that. We try to get him used to operating his wheel chair for himself. Sometimes we work him pretty hard, other times we just hang out. We read to each other a lot, including some of Tristan’s old writings.
We try to keep him company here and do something in between “work” and “play” in the free time we have. Mike, Nancy, and I have no lives at all. We’re here at the hospital pretty much all the time.
Does he ever get out of the hospital?
Not very often, but sometimes. We try to get out on the weekends.
How is he handling this emotionally?
For better or worse, Tristan has never heavily grieved over his injury. He is very aware of ways that the injury has affected him physically, but less aware or accepting of the cognitive repercussions.
In the last several months we’ve seen him slowly start to get more in touch with his feelings, and I believe this will continue to develop with time.
Are you still seeing improvement in his abilities?
Is he still in critical condition?
No, at this point, Tristan is in the post-acute stage of his injury. He’s living in a hospital because he gets rehabilitation there.
Is he pretty much independent now or does he need a lot of help?
He needs a lot of help.
What’s happening with the court cases?
There are two court cases, a criminal case and a civil case.
As of now, the Israeli Police who investigated Tristan’s shooting have closed the case without bringing criminal charges against anyone involved. The investigation has been widely criticized as a sham, and we are appealing this decision.
(There was a misleading article published by Ha’aretz entitled “State to Re-investigate Wounding of U.S. Activist”, which was spread all over the internet and gave the false impression that the Israeli state was re-opening Tristan’s case. In fact all that happened is that our lawyers submitted an appeal and the other side is legally obliged to accept our paperwork, so they did. That’s it.)
Besides the criminal case, there is also a civil case which Tristan’s family is bringing against the Israeli military to help cover the lifetime of medical expenses, lost wages, and continuing care that Tristan will need. We have been warned that the civil case is likely to take years before coming to fruition. (Rachel Corries’ civil case, filed in 2005, first made it in to court here about a month and a half ago, which is appalling.)
What is the basis of your appeal to re-open the criminal case?
The investigation into Tristan’s shooting is a perfect illustration of why the police and the army can not be trusted to investigate themselves.
The investigators, for instance, never even bothered to go to the scene where the shooting took place. No physical evidence was ever collected.
Additionally, eye witnesses uniformly testified that the shots were fired from a nearby hill. Even though the military has confirmed that indeed there were Border Police armed with high velocity tear gas positioned on that hill, the entire investigation into Tristan’s shooting relates instead to the irrelevant conduct of an irrelevant squad of Border Police positioned on the other side of town.
To date, the Border Police on the hill where the shots were fired have never been questioned.
Is there anything we can do to help demand justice for Tristan?
We are demanding that the criminal case against the Border Police involved in Tristan’s shooting be re-opened immediately and a meaningful investigation begun.
Friends are urged to contact Barbara Lee, Tristan’s representative in Congress (202-225-2661) or to picket their local Israeli Consulate,
(http://www.israelemb.org/israeli-consulate-in-usa.htm) demanding that Israel take full responsibility for Tristan’s shooting.
We also recognize that during the time that we’ve been here in the hospital with Tristan, two other activists have died at demonstrations against the Wall. Their names were Basem Abu Rahme and Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour. Basem was killed while screaming to soldiers that this was a non-violent demonstration and telling them to stop shooting at a woman protester who’d been injured. Akil died coming to the aid of a sixteen year old boy who’d been shot in the spine.
To date, Israel has killed 23 people to build their Wall, and seriously wounded many more, including Ehab Fadel Barghouthi (age 14), shot in the head at a demonstration several weeks ago.
Putting finishing touches on this document, I learn that Ahmad Sliman Salem Dib, age 19, was shot to death just days ago on the 28th of April, at a demonstration against land seizure in Gaza.
Demanding Justice for Tristan is also demanding justice for them, and recognizing the role of the United States government in war and occupation around the world.
18 - Will Tristan make a full recovery? Do the doctors have any kind of long term projection?
There is no long term projection. As long as he’s still doing better, no one can tell how far he’ll go. But the fact is, you can’t just shoot somebody in the head and then take it back. Dead brain tissue stays dead, but the human mind can learn to compensate.
The most common metaphor I’ve heard to describe brain injury rehabilitation is this: You’re traveling down the road and the highway is blocked. The question is: can you find a way to get to where you’re going using the back roads? People who are successful at brain injury rehabilitation form new pathways and find them.
When do you think he will be ready to come home?
This is also the question that Tristan asks all the time. We expect to fly back in to California some time in the summer of 2010.
Tristan will move in with his parents and live with them in their small rural town. He will continue his rehabilitation on an out-patient basis from there. We plan to also set up a satellite home for him in the Bay Area and move back and forth.
My hope is that friends and family will accept Tristan for his abilities and disabilities, and find ways to welcome him back home.
For anyone inspired, there will be a lot of work to do.
We are accepting monetary donations through this website. Also, we’re starting a Welcome Tristan listserve for logistical coordination of accessibility projects and bright ideas. To subscribe send a blank email to email@example.com
The next time you struggle to comprehend how someone could spend their time trolling the Internet in order to defend and downplay whatever government cover-up or abuse is in the news this week, consider the fact that they may be on a government payroll.
The Canadian government has been caught paying a media group to monitor online political discussion and respond to “misinformation,” in other words to spread state-sanctioned propaganda, in the latest scandal to hit the Harper administration.
“Under the pilot program the Harper government paid a media company $75,000 to monitor and respond to online postings about the east coast seal hunt,” reports News1130.
“The government has a lot of power, that it feels the need to monitor public bulletin boards, or places where people express views and then to respond to that, seems to me going beyond a reasonable action the government should be taking,” said UBC Computer Science professor and President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Richard Rosenberg.
A poll carried on the News1130 website shows that the majority of respondents, 77 per cent, are not intimidated by the fact that the government is monitoring their online conversations, and would not regulate the information they post on the Internet.
Accusations that people who defend the seemingly indefensible in the aftermath of government atrocities, wars and scandals are in the pay of unscrupulous authorities, circulate on a regular basis. But the fact is that governments and transnational corporations have made a habit of using the Internet to spread propaganda by using individuals who pose as neutral observers.
The innovator of these “black propaganda” techniques was undoubtedly Monsanto, who as far back the late 90’s were creating “fake citizens” via their PR front company Bivings to post messages on Internet bulletin boards lauding the virtues and scoffing at the dangers of genetically modified food.
In the 21st century, governments try to harness the power of manufacturing fake consensus in order to dictate reality and justify their actions.
Last year, the Israeli government announced that it would be setting up a network of bloggers to combat websites deemed “problematic” by the Zionist state following a massive online backlash to Israel’s brutal bombing of Gaza.
Israel’s goal was to flood Internet message boards in English, French, Spanish and German with their own PR agents who would attempt to manufacture a contrived consensus that the IDF’s actions were justified.
Like Israel, the U.S. military industrial complex hires armies of trolls to spew propaganda in defense of the war on terror and in support of bombing whatever broken-backed third world country is being targeted next.
CENTCOM has programs underway to infiltrate blogs and message boards to ensure people, “have the opportunity to read positive stories,”presumably about how Iraq is a wonderful liberated democracy and the war on terror really is about protecting Americans from Al-CIAda.
In May 2008, it was revealed that the Pentagon was expanding “Information Operations” on the Internet with purposefully set up foreign news websites, designed to look like independent media sources but in reality carrying direct military propaganda.
More recently the New York Times published an exposé on how privately hired operatives were appearing on major US news networks promoting the interests and operations of the Pentagon and generating favorable news coverage of the so-called war on terror while posing as independent military analysts.
This operation was formally announced In 2006 when the Pentagon set up a unit to “better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet”.
Again, the Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter “inaccurate” news stories and exploit new media.
Last year, the US Air Force announced a “counter-blog” response plan aimed at fielding and reacting to material from bloggers who have “negative opinions about the US government and the Air Force.”
The plan, created by the public affairs arm of the Air Force, includes a detailed twelve-point “counter blogging” flow-chart that dictates how officers should tackle what are described as “trolls,” “ragers,” and “misguided” online writers.
Ten people, including two women and two children, were killed when drones operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) fired missiles at a target in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal district.
The strike took place in Boya sub-district, some 25 km west of Miranshah, the main city of the district bordering Afghanistan. The Taliban and Al-Qaida are known to use the area for staging hit-and-run raids against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“The drones fired four missiles just before midnight at the house of a tribesman, Khyali Dawar,” Online news agency quoted the intelligence official as saying.
“Six people died, and three were injured,” the official added. Two women and two children succumbed to their injuries in hospital.
Five women and an equal number of children were injured in the strike.
Initially, a Filipino named Ilyas was said to be the target of the attack, as one Arab and four local militants also died in the attack. It was not clear if Ilyas died in the strike.
The drones flew overhead for hours, hindering rescue work. There have been several occasions when drones carried out a second strike as people gathered for relief and recovery work at a site of missile attack.
The [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has hailed Tehran’s nuclear declaration brokered by Brazil and Turkey as a positive step towards resolving Iran’s nuclear issue.
“The ministers praised the efforts of Turkey and Brazil to help reach a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear program within the framework of International Atomic Energy Agency and related UN Security Council resolutions,” read a final communique issued by GCC foreign ministers following their meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.
The group also emphasized the need to keep the Middle East – including Israel – free of nuclear arms as well as weapons of mass destruction, underlining the legitimate right of regional countries to the peaceful use of nuclear power within the framework of international regulations.
Iran signed on to the trilateral Nuclear Declaration in Tehran on May 17, according to which it would agree to ship 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for a timely exchange with 120 kg of 20-percent enriched fuel it requires for producing radio medicine at the Tehran Research Reactor.
Jerusalem – Australia has expelled an Israeli diplomat after a probe revealed Israel was behind the forging of four Australian passports linked to the murder of a Hamas operative in Dubai, various media outlets reported Monday.
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament that Israel’s conduct was “not the actions of a friend,” the British Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Investigations into the assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh in January 2010 in a Dubai hotel room revealed the use of a whole host of European and international passports used by an alleged Mossad hit squad. At least four fake Australian passports are known to have been used in the incident.
The originals reportedly belonged to Australians living in Israel, with Australia deciding to hold Israel responsible for the forgeries, the BBC wrote.
Following an investigation by the Australian Federal Police, which visited Israel as part of its inquiries, the government was left in no doubt that Israel was behind what it called “the abuse and counterfeiting of the passports,” according to the British news site.
“The decision to ask Israel to remove from Australia one of its officers at the Israeli embassy in Canberra is not something which fills the Australian government with any joy,” the foreign minister said.
“On the contrary, the decision was made much more in sorrow than in anger.”
In March, Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat over the use of forged passports by suspected Israeli agents, noting that it was not the first occasion during which UK passports had been used in Israeli assassination plots. At the time, Britain had received a promise from Israel that a similar incident involving forged passports would not reoccur.
Meanwhile, Dubai police investigations revealed that one genuine British passport was used by a suspect in Mabhouh’s killing. The British government responded by saying, “We’re very concerned that someone who has possession of what appears to be a genuine British passport may have been involved in some way with the killing of Al Mabhouh. We cannot rule out the possibility that the passport was obtained by deception,” British consulate spokesman in East Jerusalem Fadi Adeeb told Ma’an.
The British government is providing its full assistance to the Emirati authorities in their investigation, Adeeb added.