Home' Greymouth Star : January 21st 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1521 - Pope Leo X ex-communicates
German reformer Martin Luther.
1793 - France's King Louis XVI is beheaded.
1901 - Death of Elisha Gray, US inventor
who contested the rst patent
for the telephone with Alexander
1924 - Russian revolutionary
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin dies at age 54.
1936 - Edward VIII is proclaimed
Britain's king following the death of
1942 - German forces launch new o ensive
in western African desert in World War Two.
1950 - Death of George Orwell (Eric Arthur
Blair), who wrote Animal Farm and 1984.
1954 - First atomic submarine, USS Nautilus,
is launched in United States.
1994 - A US court nds Lorena Bobbitt
innocent by reason of insanity of feloniously
cutting o her husband's penis, after she
testi ed to years of brutal treatment.
1998 - US actor Jack Lord of Hawaii Five-O
fame dies in Honolulu at age 77.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Christian Dior, French fashion designer
(1905-1957); Paul Sco eld, British actor
(1922-2008); Telly Savalas, US actor (1924-
1994); Benny Hill, English
comedian (1925-1992); Clive
Churchill, Australian rugby league
footballer (1927-1985); Jack
Nicklaus, US golfer (1940-); Placido
Domingo, Spanish tenor (1941-);
Jill Eikenberry, US actress (1947-);
Geena Davis, US actress (1956-);
Charlotte Ross, US actress (1968-);
Emma 'Baby Spice' Bunton, UK singer of e
Spice Girls (1976-).
"Common sense is the collection of prejudices
acquired by age 18." --- Albert Einstein,
German-born physicist. (1879-1955).
"So you have pain now; but I will see you
again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one
will take your joy from you." --- ( John 16:22).
single man who
was employed on
shiftwork at the
Liverpool State Mine died on the operating
table at the Greymouth Hospital shortly
after 4.50am today, following admission
with "serious and extensive injuries", hospital
authorities said. He was Leslie Bourne, whose
address was given as Dunollie mine baches. He
apparently has no relatives in this country.
Mr Bourne was engaged on work on a winch
outside the new Liverpool No 3 colliery,
which went into production only last Monday.
Evidently the winchman became entangled
in the machinery and was dragged into the
gear, su ering grave injuries which ultimately
e West Coast's Australasian heavyweight
boxing champion John Logan is prepared
to ght a return bout with Australian
light-heavyweight titleholder, Sydney's
Tony Madigan, in Greymouth mid-April.
Furthermore, Logan has told the Greymouth
Boxing Association that he is willing to ght
over six three-minute rounds, which would
provide a longer encounter than when Logan
gained a split decision against the experienced
Australian at their rst meeting here in August
e death has occurred in Wellington of Miss
Mary Catherine Dolph. She lived on the West
Coast all her life until recently and was known
a ectionately to all as Nurse Dolph. She
trained at the Grey River Hospital and nursed
throughout the in uenza epidemic, receiving
many letters of appreciation.
She was the essence of kindness and was
always the rst to help in times of misfortune
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (o ce)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Peter HuckOn March 12, 2011, the
day after a huge tsunami
hit Japan's north-east
coast, the USS Ronald
Reagan entered the
Sea of Japan on a
e massive $5.4 billion Nimitz-class
nuclear-powered 'super aircraft carrier',
with a ship's company of 5500 men and
women, was in the vanguard of a force of
24 United States hnavy ships, 189 aircraft
and 24,000 service personnel deployed to
help Japan in Operation Tomodachi.
By then the tsunami, triggered by a
magnitude-9 o shore earthquake, had
killed 19,000 people and engulfed the
Fukushima nuclear power plant, owned
by the Tokyo Electric Power Company
(Tepco). A catastrophic failure followed,
triggering explosions and releasing highly
radioactive material into the ocean and
atmosphere, as three reactors went into
meltdown, the world's worst nuclear
disaster since Chernobyl in 1989.
Back on board the Reagan, sailors began
the grim, exhausting work of locating
survivors amid apocalyptic devastation.
"On that rst day, we pretty much
immediately started search and rescue,"
recalls Lindsay Cooper, 34, then an
aviation bosun's mate with the 500-strong
ight deck crew. It was a frantic time as
aircraft were launched and recovered.
"Next thing we know we've got this
nasty, metallic taste in our mouth." She
says the crew were ordered below. She
believes they "had just got slammed by a
is metallic taste evokes testimony from
people who lived downwind of the ree
Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown
in 1979 and by airmen on board the US
plane that dropped an atomic bomb on
Hiroshima in 1945. Cooper believes they
passed through other radioactive plumes
and describes sailors vomiting and losing
bowel control as skin rashes appeared.
"It was a real big problem. We thought
gastroenteritis was going around the ship."
Now back in civilian life, Cooper is
dealing with ongoing thyroid issues,
dramatic weight swings and abnormal
menstrual cycles. Other shipmates also
have problems she says.
In Washington state, omas McCants,
21, copes with what he believes is the
legacy of Tomodachi. A gunner's mate on
the USS Germantown, McCants joined
the vessel, previously part of Tomodachi,
in July 2011. Fit when he joined McCants
was discharged as unwell ve months
later. His discharge documents refer to
an 'adjustment disorder', manifested as
stomach pain, weight loss and fatigue.
Last October he was diagnosed with
chronic myeloid lymphoma. He needs a
bone marrow transplant. Are McCants,
Cooper and many other young sailors
su ering from Fukushima radiation
exposure, contacted from atmospheric
fallout or from seawater pumped into ship
desalination systems? A mass tort lawsuit
led in San Diego last June (an amended
suit with around 100 plainti s is due to be
re led next month) believes they are and
points a nger at Tepco.
" ey're su ering from the whole
Chernobyl panoply," says San Diego
lawyer Paul Garner, who co-authored
the suit. He says plainti s also served
on the Essex, Washington, Prebble and
other warships. Tepco wants the suit
dismissed, arguing the United States
has no jurisdiction. Garner says it does
because Tepco is registered in California
as a foreign corporation.
Garner says many plainti s, most in
their 20s, have been diagnosed with
"cancers, leukaemias, bleeding from vagina
and rectum, abnormal growths, loss of
eyesight, migraine headaches, weight
gain/loss, immunode ciencies, loss of
strength, mobility" and other ailments.
e company denies that the Fukushima
disaster harmed any US sailors.
Garner contends Tepco knew some 400
tonnes of radioactivity was leaking into the
sea each day. He cites the Reagan's deck
logs to claim the ship spent ve hours
sailing through a plume of radioactive
material, after steam was vented from
the plant in a bid to stop a lethal chain
"Entered nuclear radiation plume at
Lat 37:25 N, Long 144:0 E," says one,
entered at 23:45 hours on March 16. Five
hours later, at 05:07 on March 17, the log
reports, "Exited radiation plume at Lat 37
24.9 N Longitude 143.53.9 E."
e Reagan was later moored at
Bremerton, near Seattle, for 14 months
before sailing to San Diego, its home
port. Garner contends the ship was
decontaminated, with debris disposed of
at Hanford, a US nuclear dump.
He says Tepco will be hard pressed
to deny a core meltdown on March 11.
"According to then Prime Minister Naoto
Kan, the meltdown occurred within ve
hours of the quake," says Garner.
A former nuclear advocate, Kan is now
opposed to nuclear power. e complaint
alleges Tepco "knowingly and negligently
caused, permitted and allowed false and
misleading information concerning the
true nature of the FNPP (Fukushima
plant) to be disseminated to the public,
including the US navy, air force and
" is is a product liability case," says
Garner. " ey chose to make electricity
by boiling water through nuclear power
and the tiger got out of the tank."
But even if it can be proven that
Tepco was negligent (about one-third of
plainti s remain on active duty and are
legally barred from suing the US), can the
plainti s show Fukushima caused sailors
to become ill?
e o cial line is that radiation levels
were safe, "less than 25 per cent of the
annual radiation exposure from natural
sources of background radiation, such as
the sun", according to navy spokesman
lieutenant Greg Raelson.
e navy says radiation levels were
monitored --- Cooper describes exiting
the ight zone via a decontamination
zone and being checked with a geiger
counter --- and aircrew ying to the
disaster zone being given thyroid
e location of speci c ships --- and
when they were there --- may prove
crucial in any court case. How close were
the US ships to radioactive plumes?
How radioactive was seawater used by
Edwin Lyman, a physicist with the
Union of Concerned Scientists, says the
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
placed ships some 100 nautical miles
"My understanding is they were very far
away from the reactors ... ey detected
increased radiation levels and retreated."
But Cooper says that at one time she
could see land. e lawsuit alleges that 'at
times' the Reagan was 'only a few miles
from the failing plant'.
At issue may be when the US ships
distanced themselves from shore. e suit
suggests Tepco's 'fraudulent statements'
meant that, at rst, the navy 'failed to take
necessary precautions to reduce exposure
Lyman thinks Japanese survivors faced
greater risks than sailors. e e ects of
radiation leaking from Fukushima --- 300
tonnes of radioactive water reportedly
pour into the sea each day --- are in
dispute, even as reports emerge about
problems with thyroid glands in children.
Asked if the impacts of radiation
released from Fukushima would be felt by
people so quickly, Lyman demurs. " ere
is a well established body of data on the
health e ects of radiation exposure. Most
solid tumours will not develop for at least
10 years." As for thyroid cancer, he says it
began to appear in children exposed to the
Chernobyl meltdown after ve years.
e US humanitarian response followed
a direct request from Japan for assistance.
" ere was pretty signi cant debate about
estimates of radiation exposure and the
implications for US citizens, including
those deployed to assist," says Sheila
Smith, a senior fellow and Japanese expert
at the Council on Foreign Relations, who
cites US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"Is it dangerous to our military? To
our civilians?" Smith says the navy took
a conservative stance, concerned about
radiation. "But there's a huge debate about
radiation exposure, how quickly it was
understood. So it's not just the Ronald
Reagan --- was it in the right place at
the wrong time? --- but do we really
understand today the extent to which
people have been exposed?"
Meanwhile, the US Navy veterans
battle on, hoping for relief. Cooper says
the Veterans' Administration diagnosed
her with post-traumatic stress disorder
from the disaster, and prescribed an
She says the threat hit home when she
mustered with the Reagan's company to
collect gas masks.
" e whole ship was in that hangar bay.
It was scary. e navy had no idea what
was going on. ey didn't know how to
handle it. I can't blame them. Had they
known the truth I don't think we would
have been in that area. We would have
maintained a safe distance."
--- New Zealand Herald
United States Navy crew members mop up the ight deck to remove radioactive contamination from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
I should start by saying that an important
part of my job is encouraging hospital sta
to clean their hands. e World Health
Organisation has a global patient safety
campaign reminding us that Clean Hands
Saves Lives, and in-hospital hand hygiene
is universally recognised as one of the most
important ways of reducing healthcare-
Most of you do not live in a hospital,
though. So what about at home? Little
bottles of hand gel are appearing in more
and more places every day. Is this a good
idea or just part of a societal 'germ panic'?
ere are three groups of products to
consider: alcohol-based hand sanitisers,
anti-bacterial soaps and other anti-
ese are usually alcohol-based and are
highly e ective at cleaning hands. ey are
the preferred method in hospital because
they are also fast and convenient --- and
this increases the likelihood they will be
Hand sanitisers kill most bacteria and
fungi as well as many viruses (norovirus,
a common viral gastroenteritis, is a
weakness) and work without water. We
have a bottle in our nappy bag for that
inconvenient pit stop.
Unlike the alcohol gels, these usually
contain a disinfectant --- such as triclosan
--- or a quaternary ammonium compound.
Anti-bacterial soaps have come in for a
bit of a bashing in recent media reports,
based on the United States Food and Drug
Administration releasing a press statement
and consumer notice announcing plans to
require makers of these products to prove
that they work. All the rest
It seems that it is a great way to market
your product by saying it is 'germ resistant'.
is is the sales pitch for everything from
chopping boards to children's toys and even
toilet seats. Are they safe?
By and large at an individual level, yes,
they are. Alcohol-based hand rubs are safe
to use. ey are obviously not designed
to drink and should be kept away from
children, but pose no major health risks.
Muslim health-care facilities have adopted
their use, despite alcohol being haram in
All hand-hygiene activities take oils from
your skin and increase the chance of dry
hands or dermatitis, but hand rubs are
better from this perspective than soap-and-
water hand washing.
Triclosan has received media attention
because of concerns about thyroid
hormone metabolism in animal models,
but has not been shown to cause these
e ects in humans. ere are concerns about
its role as an environmental contaminant as
it is found in waste water from sewage, but
also as a residue from industrial processes
(the manufacture of those anti-bacterial
plastics). Although, again, there is not
conclusive proof of harm.
Of concern to people like me, however,
is the risk of anti-microbial resistance. If
germs in the community are exposed to
these products, could we be creating more
resistant germs that will cause us problems
down the track?
Because hand rubs kill germs by direct
action of the alcohol against the germs,
there is no risk of resistance. e question
is not so clear for the soaps, though.
In the hospital setting, we know triclosan
is a good anti-microbial hand wash
and can be e ective at reducing rates of
But hospital-grade triclosan (1%) is a
far cry from the concentration in most
over-the-counter liquid soaps. A review in
2007 found no additional bene t to these
products and identi ed risks for resistance.
Any microbiologist will tell you that
prolonged exposure of bugs to low
concentrations of anti-microbials is the
textbook way of breeding resistance.
Are they necessary?
So, does the average house and family
need to armour up in the war against
I have to say probably not.
Good hygiene is important in preventing
disease --- and hand washing is part of that
(along with cough etiquette, staying home
when sick, and so on). But the bene ts of
these products over soap and water (apart
from the portability of gels) have not been
shown outside the hospital setting.
Anti-bacterial chopping boards will not
stop you from getting sick if you do not
practise good food-handling techniques
and anti-bacterial toilet seats do not add to
(or replace) washing your hands when you
And those anti-bacterial baby toys?
Babies put their hand from the toy
straight onto the oor, on to the cat or
any of a dozen other non-anti-bacterial
surfaces, so any e ect is likely to be small
germ-free world. Spending money on
these products does not guarantee you will
not get sick (of course they can not) and
probably do not even reduce your risk of
getting sick. But they might contribute to
bacterial resistance, and they certainly cost
Break the marketing cycle of germ panic
and reach for the plain old soap.
Trent Yar wood is an infectious diseases
physician, and associate lecturer at the
University of Queensland.
--- New Zealand Herald
Are anti-bacterial hand sanitisers necessary?
Astronomers say they have for the rst
time seen the gas strands theorised to
hold the universe together in a 'cosmic
ey had used the intense radiation
generated by a quasar --- a by-product of
a supermassive black hole --- acting as
a type of cosmic ashlight to illuminate
part of the vast lament network.
Cosmologists believe that matter
between galaxies is distributed in a
network of strands known as the cosmic
e vast majority of atoms in the
universe are thought to reside in this
web as hydrogen left over from the Big
Bang, and galaxies are believed to form at
" is is the rst time anyone has been
able to capture an image of the cosmic
web, demonstrating its lamentary
structure," said astronomy doctoral
student Fabrizio Arrigoni Battaia, who
took part in the observations at the Keck
Observatory in Hawaii.
e team had focused on massive
nebula, or deep-space cloud, where the
ey could study the nebula thanks
to illumination provided by a quasar
--- radiation generated by cosmic
matter falling into a galaxy's central
supermassive black hole --- with the aid
of computer light lters.
Quasars are the most luminous objects
in the universe.
"In this case, we were lucky that the
ashlight is pointing right at the cosmic
web, making some of its gas glow," said
researcher Sebastiano Cantalupo of the
University of California in Santa Cruz.
e ndings were published in the
Astronomers see strands of cosmic web
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