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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

A legal precedent, as Japanese town sues government, in opposition to nuclear power

justiceflag-japanAbe’s nuclear renaissance ignores stiff opposition BY JEFF KINGSTON SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES 28 June 14  “……….Are the potential dangers of hosting a reactor an acceptable risk given the alternative of economic decline and depopulation? Many communities in remote coastal areas where Japan’s fleet of reactors are sited are grappling with this calculus. Until now the Aomori Prefecture fishing port of Oma has been famous for its bluefin tuna catches, but that is changing due to the town’s decision to host a nuclear power plant.

Just across the Tsugaru Strait from Oma, the city of Hakodate, Hokkaido, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the central government and the utility to block construction of the Oma mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) reactor. This is the first lawsuit in Japan of its kind in which a local government is the plaintiff seeking an injunction against building a nuclear plant. The two towns are separated by about 23 km of water, meaning that part of Hakodate, which has a population of 275,000, falls within the newly extended 30-km evacuation zone. The mayor of Hakodate complains that he is being asked to prepare an evacuation plan without adequate information and asserts that the lessons of Fukushima are being ignored as government support for nuclear energy does not include adequate assistance for disaster management, outsourcing it to local communities that lack sufficient capacity.

The possibility of legal entanglements casts a shadow over Abe’s nuclear renaissance as local governments and citizens groups mount challenges that could delay restarts and new plant construction. Indeed, in May 2014, the Fukui district court ruled against Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco) in a lawsuit filed by citizens who oppose the restart of the utility’s Oi reactors. The judge rejected Kepco’s claims that the reactors could be operated safely and asserted that the intrinsic dangers of nuclear reactors combined with the unpredictability of earthquakes endanger the fundamental constitutional rights of citizens.

This establishes a precedent that could influence 16 similar cases in the judicial pipeline, but Kepco is appealing the ruling and Abe’s spokesperson shrugged it off, insisting that it would have no influence on safety evaluations. His aplomb is understandable as Japan’s higher courts are reliably submissive in nuclear energy lawsuits.

Maybe this is why the government rules out a national referendum on nuclear energy because citizens are not so predictably compliant and oppose the vested interests Abe represents.http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/06/28/commentary/abes-nuclear-renaissance-ignores-stiff-opposition/#.U7HUBpRdUnk

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

In legal case against TEPCO, one young sailor already dead

Navy sailor suing over Fukushima exposure dies from rare cancer near heart — TV: Navy lieutenant retires, says he’s unable to use leg muscles due to Fukushima radiation and confined to wheelchair — Both in mid-30s (VIDEOS) http://enenews.com/navy-sailor-suing-for-exposure-to-fukushima-contamination-dies-of-rare-form-of-cancer-near-heart-tv-navy-lieutenant-with-no-use-of-his-leg-muscles-forced-to-retire-blames-fukushima-radiation?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Tweets from Dr. Yuri Hiranuma, June 11, 2014: First death of a USS Ronald Reagan sailor hit by radiation from Fukushima Daiichi while on Operation Tomodachi. Theodore Holcomb, a former USS Ronald Reagan aviation mechanic during Operation Tomodachi, died of synovial sarcomaon April 26, 2014. Holcomb was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against TEPCO. He began experiencing “breathing difficulty, pain in right shoulder, and excessive heart rate while still in service. He was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma next to his heart, causing lung and heart issues, in late 2011. Holcomb was 38 years old and a father of a five-year-old girl.

Nuclear Hotseat, June 11, 2014 (at 1:30 in): First death of a USS Ronald Reagan sailor hit by radiation from Fukushima Daiichi while on the humanitarian aid Operation Tomodachi. Information just released today by the legal team representing the USS Reagan sailors in their billion dollar lawsuit against TEPCO. >> Listen to the full Nuclear Hotseat program here

WUSA, June 9, 2014: [Navy Lt. Steve] Simmons served on the USS Ronald Reagan during the March 2011 meltdown [...] eight months later, he started feeling sick. Now, Simmons is confined to a wheelchair, with no use of his leg muscles. The 36-year-old blames radiation, but says no one will agree. Today marked his bittersweet retirement from the Navy. [...] months after he returned from the humanitarian effort at Fukushima, he blacked out one day while driving. Then, he started experiencing high fevers. His health deteriorated to the point that he his now confined to a wheelchair. He blames radiation exposure at Fukushima. [...] The Department of Defense says radiation levels were safe, and were the equivalent to less than a month’s exposure to the same natural radiation you pick up from being near rocks, soil and the sun. Steve does not buy that, “How do you take a ship and place it into a nuclear plume for five plus hours, how do you suck up nuclear contaminated waste into the water filtration system and think for one minute that there’s no health risk to anybody on board.” [...] more than 70 sailors from the Reagan [...] are now experiencing medical issues >> Watch the WUSA broadcast here

Watch the Military Honors portion of Holcomb’s funeral here

June 19, 2014 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Australian government’s plan for nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land is scrapped!

flag-AustraliaNatalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, 19 June 14 Some fantastic news today- the Commonwealth Government has committed not to pursue plans for a national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, 120km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory!

Lawyers from Maurice Blackburn Social Justice Practice have just announced the exciting development in Melbourne and a delegation of Muckaty Traditional Owners travelled to Alice Springs for a press conference that has just concluded.

The announcement comes mid-way through the Federal Court trial examining the process under which the nomination of Muckaty was made by the Northern Land Council and accepted by the Commonwealth Government in 2007.

Two weeks of the trial were completed with hearings in Melbourne, Tennant Creek and on country at Muckaty outstation. The Northern Land Council and Commonwealth Government have agreed to settle with the Applicants by committing not to act on the proposal or nomination, so the hearings scheduled for Darwin (June 23-July 4) have been cancelled.

A blog of the court proceedings is online at www.beyondnuclearinitiative.com/blog and photos posted atwww.beyondnuclearinitiative.com/photos

This campaign has followed the successful campaign by the Kupi Piti Kungka Tjuta to stop a nuclear dump in SA and been built from the ground up in Tennant Creek with help from supporters across the NT. Over the last 7 years, the community has marched in Tennant Creek every year, hosted trade union delegations, written songs and poems, made films and toured photo exhibitions. People have travelled tirelessly around the country to build awareness and support, having conversations over cups of tea in regional areas and walking the corridors of Canberra Parliament House to lobby Ministers.

The community used the May 25 rally and media attention on the federal court proceedings to reiterate they would continue campaigning until the dump was stopped- including blocking the road if needed.

So the deadly news is now public – please tell everyone that together we dumped the Muckaty plan! Traditional Owners and the broader community in Tennant Creek are very excited and relieved and looking forward to a big celebration in the coming few weeks.

We will then set about collating photos, footage and other materials from the campaign, so stay tuned for the call out to copy and/or send these to the Arid Lands Environment Centre for archiving.

There is a lot more to say but we are still all a bit shocked and processing the news so will send more updates and reflections in the coming week.

Media release from today is attached.

I was asked to finish this note with a huge thanks to everyone who has been part of this campaign and supported the Muckaty mob to be heard- every action, letter, conversation, trip to Tennant, fundraising gig and movie night has helped bring about this victory!!

Muckaty will be nuclear free!

June 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Legal, politics | Leave a comment

Legal case against UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

money-in-nuclear--wastesUK nuclear body faces £200m damages claim from Energy Solutions. Ft.com By Gill Plimmer 15 June 14,Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is facing a £200m damages claim from one of the bidders who lost out on a £7bn deal to clean up Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants.

Energy Solutions, a Salt Lake City-based company, filed a High Court writ last week after losing the 14-year contract to engineering company Babcock and Texas-based Fluor. The deal is one of the largest and most sensitive government contracts ever put out to tender.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the government-funded body responsible for Britain’s state-owned nuclear sites, started the competition two years ago and work is expected to start by Babcock in September.

But Energy Solutions, which has been managing the nuclear sites for the past 14 years, has alleged in documents filed to the High Court last week that the NDA’s point scoring system is flawed and that it didn’t follow its own procedures. It competed for the contract in partnership with the US company Bechtel but is taking legal action alone……..http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d7394394-f483-11e3-a143-00144feabdc0.html#axzz34qaWV0UC

 

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation has killed one sailor from USS Ronald Reagan, with rare cancer

radiation-warningFirst Sailor from USS Ronald Reagan dies from radiation from FUKUSHIMA http://investmentwatchblog.com/first-sailor-from-uss-ronald-reagan-dies-from-radiation-from-fukushima/#TpACD1zIVugkBWMs.99 June 12th, 2014 1st death in USS Reagan case; rare cancer takes 38 yr old Tomodachi samaritan. RIP Theodore Holcomb

Information just released today by the legal team representing the USS Reagan sailors in their billion dollar lawsuit against TEPCO.

http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/1964/

The Ronald Reagan spent a couple months at sea after being dosed off with radiation, trying to clean itself up; then, according to a lawyer for the sailors claiming injury, it was decontaminated at port in Washington State for another year and a half before returning to service.

June 13, 2014 Posted by | health, Legal, USA | 2 Comments

Nuclear company sued over radiation exposure to workers

justiceLawsuit filed against E. Idaho nuclear contractor June 12, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle, IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed involving a 2011 accident at an eastern Idaho nuclear facility that exposed 16 workers to plutonium. Jodi Stanton, the wife of an exposed worker, filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, the Post Register reported (http://www.postregister.com/node/56654). She contends the couple’s home might have been contaminated with radioactivity because the company withheld information or offered false information about her husband’s medical condition following the accident.

The lawsuit targets Battelle Energy Alliance, the company contracted by the government to operate the Idaho National Laboratory. It seeks an undisclosed amount in damages………

The accident happened in a building that once housed a nuclear reactor. Workers had been taking plutonium fuel out of storage when they came upon radioactive materials held in two containers, each marked with a label stating the containers were damaged.

After talking to supervisors, workers removed the wrapping on one of the containers and a radioactive black powder spilled out. The workers had on lab coats and some had gloves, but none had respiratory gear or other protective clothing, according to a report released in 2013 by the Department of Energy. http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Lawsuit-filed-against-E-Idaho-nuclear-contractor-5548176.php

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Legal case continues over Australian govt’s plan to dump nuclear waste on Aboriginal land

Indigenous land owners accuse lawyer of manipulating nuclear waste storage report June 4, 2014 -  Legal Affairs Reporter for The Age A lawyer who was key to the Howard government’s plan to store nuclear waste on indigenous land has been accused of manipulating the legal process required to ensure its approval.

Traditional owners from four indigenous clans are challenging the Ngapa clan’s 2007 nomination of Muckaty Station for the dump site in the Federal Court in Melbourne. The owners, including Aboriginal elders, argue they did not consent to the nomination, were not consulted on the agreement reached and were misled on the government’s proposal for the nuclear storage site.

aboriginal-issues

Ron Levy was then the chief legal counsel for the Northern Land Council, which was set up to help indigenous people in the Northern Territory acquire and manage traditional lands. Mr Levy will be called as a witness later in the five-week case before Justice Anthony North.

Ron Merkel, QC, for the traditional owers, told the court on Thursday that Mr Levy “personally edited” anthropologists’ views in a Council report which concluded that only the Ngapa Lauder clan owned the site. Mr Levy also wrote a new section in the final report, reflecting his view that the Land Commissioner could depart from judges’ previous decisions on land claims, “if relevant material was before the commissioner.”

Mr Merkel said that he did this “(so) that the Lauder Ngupas would be recognised by the Northern Land Council as the only traditional owners of the site so their consent could be secured.” The site nomination could then “jump a hurdle” of having to consult in more detail about about the plan with other clans, he said………..

Mr Merkel told the court on Tuesday that Mr Levy, who controlled the consultation process, also failed to tell the full Northern Land Council or traditional owners about the only up-front $200,000 payment given to traditional owners for the site nomination or the terms of their agreement.

But he later told the federal goverrnment that he had all traditional owners’ full consent.

Mr Merkel said there was no explanation for this “unless … Mr Levy had a plan from the outset about how to achieve the end result and he did”. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/indigenous-land-owners-accuse-lawyer-of-manipulating-nuclear-waste-storage-report-20140604-39jk8.html#ixzz33nhZjp26.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, Legal, wastes | Leave a comment

In Australian Federal Court, Aborigines continue the fight against radioactive waste dumping on their land

flag-AustraliaNuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land invalid, court told The West Australian, 3 June 14. Sydney (AFP) – The earmarking of a remote Australian outback area as a nuclear waste dump was invalid because officials failed to contact all traditional Aboriginal landowners affected, a court heard Monday.Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory was nominated in early 2007 as a site to store low and intermediate radioactive waste under a deal negotiated with the Aboriginal Ngapa clan.

While Australia does not use nuclear power, it needs a site to store waste, including processed fuel rods from the country’s only nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, on the outskirts of Sydney,…..Opponents have fought against the dump for years, with a trial starting in the Federal Court in Melbourne Monday alleging Muckaty’s nomination was invalid due to a failure of the government and the land council to obtain the consent of all Aboriginal owners.

“What we’re here to say is ‘no more’ and that this process was so legally flawed that it is invalid,” Ron Merkel, who is representing traditional owners, told the court.

“The opposition is in no small part based on a spiritual affiliation to the land and that radioactive waste will poison the land,” he said in comments cited by Australian Associated Press.

aboriginal-issues

The court was told the consent of all groups with a claim to the land was required for the facility to go ahead, but some Aboriginals whose country was affected have never had a chance to voice their concerns until now……..Speaking to reporters, Kylie Sambo, of the Warlmanpa people, said the idea of a waste facility on the land, which is in the centre of the country, was “poison”.

“We don’t want it to spoil our country because we love our land and we’ve been there for centuries,” she said. “My uncle once told me, ‘You may think you own the land, but in fact the land owns us’.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the case raised questions about the country’s management of long-lived radioactive waste.
“Australia has never has an independent assessment of how best to manage radioactive waste; now we urgently need one,” campaigner Dave Sweeney said.

The case is set to run for five weeks. https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/world/a/24084083/nuclear-waste-dump-on-aboriginal-land-invalid-court-told/

June 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, Legal, wastes | Leave a comment

Settlement reached between Vancouver Province and uranium company

justiceflag-canadaVancouver’s Boss Power closes on $30-million settlement with province over uranium ban By Tyler Orton http://www.biv.com/article/20140602/BIV0108/140609993/vancouvers-boss-power-closes-on-30-million-settlement-with-province Mon Jun 2, 2014  A Vancouver-based resource company has closed on a $30-million settlement with the B.C. government, officially putting to bed a nearly six-year-old lawsuit.

The province imposed a halt on all uranium exploration and development in April 2008. Boss Power Corp. (TSX.V: BPU) filed suit later in the year claiming the B.C. government expropriated the company’s interest in its Blizzard uranium property near Kelowna when it imposed a “no registration reserve” under the Mineral Tenure Act.

The reserve allowed the government to ensure no future claims included the rights to uranium, however, Boss Power argued the property was registered before this ban went into effect.

Boss Power and Victoria settled for $30 million in 2011 before the case went to court.

The final amended settlement will divide the settlement up between other parties with interests in the property.

About 80% of the settlement will be held in a trust until Boss Power is reorganized into two different corporations, an arrangement expected to be approved in August.

June 2, 2014 Posted by | Canada, Legal | Leave a comment

Largest environmental settlement ever to clean up South Dakota uranium mine

justiceFlag-USASettlement gives $179 million to clean up abandoned uranium mine in Harding County, Rapid City Journal, 1 June 14 Used in the early years of America’s thirst for nuclear fuel, the Riley Pass uranium mine in Harding County was one of hundreds of sites mined to provide fuel for nuclear weapons and reactors.

Companies strip-mined the site, which sprawls across 250 acres of bluffs and other land in the North Cave Hills, about five miles east of the town of Ludlow about 130 miles northwest of Rapid City. In those days, there were no regulations forcing companies to clean up old mines.

“Back in the Cold War era, there was almost sort of a gold rush going on up there for uranium,” said Dan Seifert, a project coordinator for the Riley Pass mine with Custer National Forest.

But for the past 50 years, the mining site has been abandoned, and waste products known as spoils have sat exposed to the wind and rain. That allowed toxic metals and elements like arsenic, uranium, radium and thorium vulnerable to be carried away by the weather.

Now, a tangled series of court proceedings has resulted in a $179 million plan to clean up the majority of the mine site. That money is part of a settlement, announced last month by the U.S. Department of Justice and approved by a judge last week, required Anadarko Petroleum Corp. to pay a $5.15 billion settlement of fraud claims from a 2006 acquisition of Kerr-McGee. Continue reading

June 2, 2014 Posted by | Legal, Uranium, USA | 1 Comment

Corporate executives could be liable for damages for funding climate denialsim

climate-changeBig Carbon’s Big Liability Environmental groups have warned directors of fossil fuel companies that they may be held personally liable for misleading the public about climate change. The Nation Dan Zegart   May 29, 2014  

A new and potentially potent weapon is being unleashed in the climate wars. Yesterday, three major international environmental organizations warned the corporate executives of some of the largest fossil fuel companies that they could be personally liable for damages for funding climate change denialists and working against efforts to slow climate change. Continue reading

June 2, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

A legal precedent that could stall Japan’s nuclear power restart

judge-1flag-japanOi ruling may fuel anti-nuclear push  Plaintiffs elated as district court prioritizes rights over profits Japan Times, BY ERIC JOHNSTON MAY 22, 2014 Wednesday’s court ruling blocking restarts of the No. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant may embolden opponents of nuclear power nationwide.

It creates a legal precedent and could fuel resistance to restarts, throwing into question whether the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be able to push ahead with them as swiftly as planned.

The government earlier asserted that the ruling, by the Fukui District Court, would have no impact on its plans.

Kepco announced Thursday it has appealed the lower court’s decision to the Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High Court. There, the case could take two or three years to be decided……….

Kepco came under intense criticism from the Fukui court, which said the utility had made optimistic safety projections with no clear evidence. But in a move that could have ramifications nationwide, the court also ruled that 166 plaintiffs living within a 250-km radius of the Oi plant faced concrete dangers from the operation of nuclear power stations.

That could open the door to lawsuits from anyone living within 250 km of a nuclear plant, if the Fukui court’s decision is used as the basis for a claim that other utilities, as well as the Nuclear Regulation Authority, have created inadequate safety measures to deal with the possibility of an accident.

The entire Kansai region, most of Chubu, including Nagoya, much of Chugoku, including Hiroshima, and roughly a third of Shikoku lies within 250 km of the Oi plant.

Plaintiffs were particularly happy the court ruling included language that said providing electricity via nuclear plants is a mere economic activity, and as such has a lower priority than personal rights……..ww.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/22/national/oi-ruling-may-fuel-anti-nuclear-push/#.U4PbrnJdWik

May 26, 2014 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Legal ruling in Japan throws doubt on ANY nuclear reactor restarts

safety-symbol1Reflect on Fukui nuclear ruling, Japan Times 23 May 14   The Fukui District Court’s ruling this week that it will not allow the restart of two nuclear power reactors run by Kansai Electric Power Co. challenges the Abe administration’s energy policy of keeping nuclear power as a key source of the nation’s electricity supply despite the safety risks that materialized in the wake of the Fukushima flag-japannuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.

The court’s Wednesday ruling was on a lawsuit filed by a group of 189 people from Tokyo, Fukui and other prefectures against the 2012 restart of two of the reactors at
Kepco’s Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture.

The two Oi reactors — the first to have been reactivated after all of the nation’s nuclear reactors were shut down following the triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant — were taken offline last year for regular maintenance, leaving the nation again without nuclear power.

judge-1The content of the court’s ruling, in effect, questions the plans by power firms and the government to restart more than a dozen nuclear reactors around the country just three years after the disaster in Fukushima, ……

The district court said the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi plant have “structural deficiencies” in their safety measures against severe earthquakes, and determined that restarting their operation would violate the fundamental rights to life of plaintiffs who live within 250 km of the plant — the maximum range where the effects of a worst-case nuclear power plant disaster are estimated to spread in simulations based on the Fukushima case……

The ruling dismissed an argument by Kepco in court, noting that it is legally irrelevant to discuss people’s fundamental rights to life on the same level as the question of rising costs of generating electricity.

It went on to say that even if Japan suffers large trade deficits because of the nuclear power plant shutdowns, the real loss of national wealth is when people become unable to live stable lives on their land — an apparent reference to the shattered lives of those residents around the Fukushima plant who were forced to flee their homes. The court also called the radiation fallout from the Fukushima disaster “the worst environmental contamination” in Japan’s history and brushed aside as completely missing the point the argument that the nation needs to have nuclear power as a clean energy that reduces emissions of global warming gases.

One of the key points of the ruling is that operation of the Oi reactors needs to be stopped if there is “even a slightest chance” that the reactors’ ability to keep cooling their cores and contain radioactivity could be lost — as happened in the case of the Fukushima No. 1 plant — if the plant is crippled by severe earthquakes.

The crucial point of the ruling is its contention that it is inherently impossible to determine on scientific grounds that an earthquake more powerful than assumed in the operator’s worst-case scenario would not happen. It noted that since 2005, four nuclear power reactors around the country have experienced quake shocks more powerful than the maximum level anticipated on their sites. It is “groundless optimism” in this quake-prone country that such a temblor would never hit the Oi plant, the ruling stated……..

The Abe administration and the power companies need to stop and reflect on the Fukui court ruling in the context of what the events of the Fukushima disaster. The core meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima plant took place after the operator deliberately underestimated tsunami risks and failed to take necessary precautions. When it hit, Tepco sought to excuse its lack of preparedness by characterizing the tsunami as simply beyond the scope of “conventional assumptions.”

What the ruling called the “groundless optimism” about safety of the Oi plant can be a malady common to all nuclear power plants in this country. The “safety myth” in nuclear power was shattered in the Fukushima disaster. Such a myth should not be resurrected. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/05/23/commentary/reflect-on-fukui-nuclear-ruling/#.U4ENcHJdWik

 

May 24, 2014 Posted by | Japan, Legal, safety | Leave a comment

USA Energy Dept in a fix about legal cases and no answer for nuclear wastes

any-fool-would-know

they should stop making this toxic radioactive trash

wastes-1Tiny nuclear waste fee added up to billions LA Times, 17 May 14 A charge for electricity that millions of Americans didn’t even know they pay will suddenly disappear Friday, after the Energy Department this week quietly notified utilities across the country that it was suspending its fees for a future nuclear waste dump.

The Energy Department has been collecting $750 million from electricity bills every year justicefor such a dump since 1983, putting it into a trust fund that now contains $31 billion.

The court-ordered suspension may be a modest victory for consumers, but it reflects the government’s failure over the last 40 years to get rid of what is now nearly 70,000 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel, accumulating at 100 nuclear reactors across the nation……… Continue reading

May 17, 2014 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The Marshall Islands Nuclear Zero Lawsuit deserves all our support

justiceThe Nuclear Zero Lawsuits: Who will speak for the people? http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/206271-the-nuclear-zero-lawsuits-who-will-speak-for-the-people#ixzz3216oOGyg  By Jody Williams and Robert Dodge, M.D. 16 May 14, The U.N. just concluded the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee with representatives from the 189 signatory nations and of civil society. The meeting was in preparation for next year’s NPT conference and to discuss the current status of fulfilling the obligations under the treaty and in particular, the mandate of the nuclear weapons states for global disarmament. The outcome was a continued foot dragging by the nuclear states motivating a demand for meaningful steps and progress toward disarmament by the other 184 nations in view of current international events.

Recent scientific studies by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War on the humanitarian consequences of limited nuclear war have shed additional light on the danger these weapons pose.  Describing a hypothetical conflict between India and Pakistan using less than ½ of 1 percent of the global nuclear arsenals, the studies confirm 2 billion people would be at risk of dying due to global climatic change.

Combined with recent scandals involving U.S. ICBM missile controllers and a growing accounting of nuclear mishaps and near misses in our nuclear forces over the years, the sense of urgency for disarmament is greater than ever. It has become a question of who will step forward and speak for humanity.

On April 24, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits in the International Court of Justice against all nine nuclear-armed nations, as well as against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court. RMI claims that the nuclear weapon states are in breach of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force 16,121 days prior to the filing. In this David vs. Goliath action this tiny island nation has found the voice to speak on behalf of the world and the other nations signatory to the Treaty.

The case for the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit comes directly from the NPT where Article VI states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

This was the grand bargain that convinced many non-nuclear weapon states to sign the treaty and agree not to develop nuclear weapons of their own. Forty-four years later, with no meaningful negotiations on the horizon and no end in sight to the “step-by-step” process heralded by the permanent five members of the UN Security Council (P5), the RMI has stepped in to change the discourse on nuclear disarmament.

RMI is seeking declaratory relief from the courts that will compel the leaders of the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) to initiate good-faith negotiations for an end to the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. They are challenging the leaders of the NWS to answer, on the record, why 44 years have passed and nuclear arsenals continue to be modernized, national security strategies continue to place nuclear weapons at the top of the list, and the P5 don’t even expect to have a “Glossary of Key Nuclear Terms” to talk about nuclear disarmament until 2015.

In addition to the five Nuclear Weapon States named in the NPT, the lawsuit also includes the four nuclear weapon states that are not parties to the NPT – Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea – which, RMI argues, are bound to Article VI obligations under customary international law.

The RMI is a small sovereign nation, among the smallest in the world. However, their courage could not be greater. Having been a testing ground for 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958, the Marshall Islanders have seen their land, sea and people poisoned from radiation. These tests had an equivalent explosive force greater than 1.5 Hiroshima bombs being detonated daily for 12 years.  The Marshall Islanders paid a heavy price in terms of their health and well-being for these destructive tests. They have experienced firsthand the horrible destruction caused by nuclear weapons and those that possess them. They are willing to stand up to the nine nuclear giants and say, “Never again. We have seen the destructive impact of these horrific weapons and vow to do all we can so the world never sees such atrocities again.”

The RMI does not act alone in this action. A consortium of NGOs working to highlight the legal and moral issues involved in the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit has come together around the world coordinated by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara.  Respecting the courage of the plaintiff in bringing these lawsuits against some of the most powerful nations in the world they have developed a call to action.

The consortium urges everyone to join them by raising your voice in support of the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit. Go to www.nuclearzero.org, where you can read more about the lawsuits and sign the petition encouraging leaders of the Nuclear Weapon States to begin good-faith negotiations.

Williams received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Committee to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and is chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Dodge is a family physician on the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles. PSR is the U.S. affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War – recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. 

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/206271-the-nuclear-zero-lawsuits-who-will-speak-for-the-people#ixzz3216oOGyg

Continue reading

May 17, 2014 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

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