International News Desk – At Home: Ontario town seeks federal inquiry into radiation pollution – In Foreign News: Scientists have discovered another human ancestor

International News Desk – At Home: Ontario town seeks federal inquiry into radiation pollution – In Foreign News: Scientists have discovered another human ancestor

At Home: Ontario town seeks federal inquiry into radiation pollution

A small town in Ontario has become so despondent over the failure of the federal government to organize an inquiry into the alleged uranium pollution being dumped into the area for decades that it has arranged and paid for its own study.

Port Hope conducted a scientific study on nine of its residents to determine whether the nuclear processing facilities present in their town had contributed to poor health; according to urine sampling, scientists concluded that several of the people in the study had very high levels of radioactive isotopes in their bodies.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic told reporters at a news conference that ?people of Port Hope have been continuously and chronically subjected to inhalation of radioactive dust, including depleted uranium and different levels of enrichment of uranium isotopes.?

The source of the depleted uranium is thought to be the Cameco refineries, which process uranium for use in American nuclear power plants. From about 1944 to 1988, the refinery operated as a Crown corporation called Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., which provided material for the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. It was privatized in 1988 to become Cameco Corporation.

Despite the seemingly obvious connection between Cameco and radioactive isotopes found in Port Hope residents, the company’s stance on the matter is that their facilities are clean and free of any unrestricted pollution.

In 2002 Port Hope underwent a large-scale removal of contaminated beachfront soil. However, the contaminated material was simply moved into other areas of the town and, according to the Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee (PHCHCC) website, the radioactive material can now be found in ?private homes and yards, the municipal landfill, roadbeds, ravines, the public beach and harbour.?

In 1994 Cameco was federally investigated to ensure it posed no health risks to the community; subsequent to a clear report and no observed polluting, the government left it at that.

Now Health Minister Tony Clement will look at the residents? own study findings and determine whether further investigation needs to be done.

In Foreign News: Scientists have discovered another human ancestor

A previously unknown hominid named Nakalipithecus nakayamai is the second poignant African discovery to recently shed more light on the story of human evolution.

A Japanese and Kenyan team have been studying a fossilized jaw bone of the new hominid and are theorizing that this creature was in fact one of the last relatives of humans, chimps, and gorillas. The placement of this vegetarian’s jaw bone and other fragmented pieces found in a large area suggests not only that these animals lived in groups but that perhaps the apes that evolved into humans were still present in Africa during the latter stages of evolution.

The popular theory that apes destined to evolve into humans migrated out of Africa before doing so has met stronger opposition since this discovery.

Team co-leader Yutaka Kunimatsu of Kyoto University explained that the existence of many other primate fossil remains at the Nakali dig site changes the perception of many anthropologists that such diversity didn’t exist at this point in pre-history: the fossils have been dated as 10 million years old.

With researchers now looking at a more diversified African hominid and primate population, they are forced to reconsider established theories related to human evolution and consider that perhaps fully evolved humans developed not only in Europe and Asia but in Africa simultaneously due to regular migration.

Kunimatsu hopes that this find is just one of many that will start to fully develop the African Miocene fossil record, and his team continues to search for a complete Nakalipithecus nakayamai skeleton that could produce more clues to the diversion of chimps, gorillas, and humans.

The researcher says the greatest discovery he could ever make is the direct link between chimps and humans: ?That’s the most interesting link. We would like to know, finally, how humans and chimpanzees diverged from each other.?