Man Gets 3 Years for Importing Fake Parts for Nuclear Subs http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/man-years-importing-fake-parts-nuclear-subs-34296872 By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, HARTFORD, Conn. — Oct 6, 2015 A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to three years in prison for importing counterfeit electronic components from China and Hong Kong for use by American customers, including builders of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines.
Peter Picone (pih-COH’-nee) of Methuen (mih-THOO’-uhn), Massachusetts, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut.
The 42-year-old pleaded guilty in June 2014 to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit military goods. In addition to the prison sentence of three years and one month, the judge ordered him to pay $352,076 in restitution to 31 companies whose circuits he counterfeited.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said Picone sold counterfeit integrated circuits knowing that the parts were intended for use in nuclear submarines.
At his plea hearing, Picone acknowledged that failure of the parts could have led to catastrophic consequences.
The U.S. government lab behind China’s nuclear power push HONG KONG |REUTERS Dec 20, 2013 Scientists in Shanghai are attempting a breakthrough in nuclear energy: reactors powered by thorium, an alternative to uranium.
The project is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government body with close military ties that coordinates the country’s science-and-technology strategy. The academy has designated thorium as a priority for China’s top laboratories. The program has a budget of $350 million. And it’s being spearheaded by the influential son of a former Chinese president.
But even as China bulks up its military muscle through means ranging from espionage to heavy spending, it is pursuing this aspect of its technology game plan with the blessing – and the help – of the United States. China has enlisted a storied partner for its thorium push: Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The U.S. government institute produced the plutonium used for the Manhattan Project and laid important groundwork for the commercial and military use of nuclear power.
The Tennessee lab, as it happens, helped pioneer thorium reactors. The Pentagon and the energy industry later sidelined this technology in favor of uranium……..
Thorium’s chief allure is that it is a potentially far safer fuel for civilian power plants than is uranium. But the element also has possible military applications as an energy source in naval vessels. A U.S. congressman unsuccessfully sought to push the Pentagon to embrace the technology in 2009, and British naval officers are recommending a design for a thorium-fueled ship.
In a further twist, despite the mounting strategic rivalry with China, there has been little or no protest in the United States over Oak Ridge’s nuclear-energy cooperation with China……..
Although it does not yield byproducts that can be readily used to make weapons, thorium does have military applications.
The fuel could be used to power Chinese navy surface warships, including a planned fleet of aircraft carriers. China’s nuclear submarine fleet has struggled with reactor reliability and safety, according to naval commentators, and thorium could eventually become an alternative.
Top British naval engineers last year proposed a design for a thorium reactor to power warships. Compact thorium power plants could also be used to supply reliable power to military bases and expeditionary forces.
Thorium also has military potential for the United States, experts say……..
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/03/sanders-clinton-nuclear-power/ Harvey Wasserman | October 3, 2015 As the first Democrat presidential debate finally approaches (on Oct. 13), America’s nuke power industry is in accelerated collapse.
The few remaining construction projects in the U.S. and Europe are engineering and economic disasters.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may address this in broad terms. But as a nation we must now focus on the 99 dying U.S. reactors that threaten us all every day. In terms of our national survival, this is what Sanders and Clinton really must discuss.
Fukushima still dumps huge quantities of radioactive water into the Pacific every day. The site is out of control. The myth that U.S.-made reactors can’t explode has been buried forever. Three melted cores are still missing. Especially among young children, health impacts in the region are devastating. Two dozen General Electric clones of Fukushima Unit 1 now operate in the U.S. They all need to shut.
Meanwhile the extreme success of Germany’s Solartopian Energiewende makes it clear the world can indeed run entirely on renewables. The central electric grid is no longer sustainable. All German nukes will be done by 2022. Germany’s great green community-based assault on King CONG (coal, oil, nukes and gas) is ahead of schedule and under budget. Clean energy prices are plummeting along with climate impacts.
Worldwide reactor construction has sunk into economic chaos. Russia, China, India and several smaller countries are still talking about building new reactors. This is an issue of grave concern for all of us.
But the radioactive road signs bode badly for them all.
France’s Areva, once the industry flagship, is in shambles. Reactor projects in Finland and at Flamanville, France, are billions over budget and years behind schedule. So are the two each in South Carolina and Georgia, where the local economies stand to be devastated by gargantuan cost overruns. Detroit Edison wants to stick the people of Michigan with the enormous up-front costs of a proposed new construction fiasco at Fermi 3, which could bankrupt an already shaky state economy.
It will take years more of dedicated activism to make sure the lessons of these failed projects are understood everywhere.
But in the meantime, above all, we fear the 99 U.S. reactors that crumble as we speak:
1. The infamously lax Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) warns that Pilgrim, south of Boston, can’t meet even the NRC’s absurdly loose safety standards. Entergy may shut it down rather than pay to fix it up. The two candidates should demand they do it now.
2. Indian Point Unit 2, near New York City, has been operating without a license. The Unit 3 permit expires in December. Both must shut immediately.
3. The shield building at Ohio’s Davis-Besse is literally crumbling. FirstEnergy wants Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission to hand it a $3 billion bailout. This may be the world’s most decrepit nuke. It should have shut a very long time ago.
4. Exelon is begging the Illinois legislature for massive bailouts at five money-losing, increasingly dangerous reactors. That should be denied.
5. Entergy’s FitzPatrick in New York is losing millions, as is nearby Ginna. Both must go.
6. California’s Diablo Canyon reactors sit atop an interconnected web of 12 known fault-lines. They are 45 miles from the San Andreas, less than half the distance of Fukushima from the seismic trench that destroyed it. They are in violation of state and federal water quality laws. They’re being propped up by a corrupt Public Utilities Commission. They need to close.
… and that’s just for starters.
Through the rest of this presidential campaign, we can expect the Democrats to broadly endorse a green-powered future, and question the sanity of nuke power.
Thanks to decades of hard campaigning by the global grassroots No Nukes movement, that’s no longer hard to do. Even Donald Trump has made rumblings about shutting Indian Point. Even Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich is posturing as a friend of renewables, an industry he’s done his best to decimate.
What we really need now are focused, persistent campaigns to bring these rogue nukes down before they blow up. Every one of them has the power to kill millions, irradiate entire sections of the globe and bankrupt us all.
In the big picture, Clinton and Sanders could start with a demand to remove the federal insurance that protects these radioactive relics from liability when the inevitable melt-downs arrive.
But they can help us most by addressing these dying nukes by name, and by joining us in court and on the barricades to get them buried before they kill again.
STATE UTILITY REGULATOR RE-EXAMINES SECRET MEETINGS Don’t expect big changes yet By Don Bauder, San Diego Reader, Sept. 30, 2015 By now, savvy folks know that the California Public Utilities Commission has to clean up its act — thoroughly. Commissioners and staff members used illegal, back-channel communications with Southern California Edison to fleece ratepayers over costs of closing the San Onofre nuclear plant. Similarly, commission members were secretly helping Pacific Gas and Electric in its attempt to get a light penalty for its negligence leading to the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and incinerated a neighborhood.
But the commission is not giving itself a thorough bath. It’s taking a cowboy bath at best.
Example: at the same time that the utility regulator was not turning over documents requested in a search warrant from the state’s attorney general, it was gathering legal opinions on how it could restore public confidence. Hmmm…
The utilities commission paid the law firm of Strumwasser & Woocher to make recommendations on the ex parte (one-sided) meetings between regulatory officials and utilities that led to the anticonsumer actions over San Onofre and San Bruno. It also had a staff lawyer, Ed O’Neill, prepare a report on both the secrecy and necessity of bringing efficiency to the decision-making process. O’Neill, who had worked for the commission before representing energy and telecom firms, was hired to “modernize” the commission’s decision-making process.
This “modernizing” involved suggested changes in the California Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, even though the original purpose of that act was to sacrifice efficiency in favor of the public’s knowledge of and participation in commission decisions.
Generally speaking, the Strumwasser recommendations are considered sound. …….. http://m.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/sep/30/citylights-california-utility-drop-secret-meetings/
Nuclear reactors are closing and we are counting http://www.beyondnuclear.org/the-nuclear-retreat/2015/9/30/nuclear-reactors-are-closing-and-we-are-counting.html The United Bank of Switzerland (UBS), the second largest bank in the world, headlined that “Nuke Retirements are coming” in its September 24, 2015 global financial research issue of US Electric Utilities and IPPs. The international investment giant projects “a growing capitulation in the nuclear sector as the prospects for protracted downturn remains front and center.”
UBS forecasts, “We see both ETR (Entergy) and EXC (Exelon) as substantially exposed to this thesis: it has specifically emerged in recent days that not just ETR’s Fitzpatrick but also the Pilgrim unit could well be shut in lieu of investing to improve profile up to NRC levels. Further, we see EXC as highlighting this nuclear retirement thesis further with not just its Ginna plant in NY and Oyster Creek (NJ) plants poised to retire in 2019, but also now its Three Mile Island unit is at risk beyond known the ongoing saga in Illinois over support for Quad Cities, Clinton, and even Byron.”
UBS admits that its forecast “could well underestimate total retirements” as actual retirements might prove more aggressive particularly for the other single unit nuclear power stations. With Exelon’s two unit Quad Cities nuclear power plant in Illinois still posting losses, UBS sees the nuclear power corporation’s “plans to retire the plant as entirely credible (and seemingly committed to investors) should Illinois fail to produce a sufficiently attractive scheme” in spite of the fact that 50% of its nuclear assets are clustered in the state.
There is even more good news to be found in this particular UBS forecast where, “In turn, if retirements move forward as contemplated, we see a real corresponding uplift to the renewable industry as this becomes the growing source of ‘plugging’ for any further holes in meeting prospective carbon targets.” The UBS assessment undermines the pro-nuclear industry’s most prevalent false argument that “No Nukes” means more coal. It clearly doesn’t.
You can keep pace with these anticipated nuclear power plant closures and more by periodically visiting our website’s “Reactors are closing” page.
Former governor cites Freedom of Information Act Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy to force it to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and publicly share information relating to proposed shipments of commercial spent nuclear fuel to the Idaho National Laboratory.
The suit was filed Tuesday in federal district court in Idaho on Andrus’ behalf by the Boise-based environmental law firm Advocates for the West.
Gov. Butch Otter announced in January that he would grant a one-time waiver to the 1995 Batt agreement to allow the proposed shipments if the DOE can restart a problem-plagued liquid-waste processing plant at INL, east of Arco. He said permission to ship the fuel for research at INL can be used as an incentive to get the liquid waste out of the state faster.
But nuclear activists contend the two proposed shipments of 25 fuel rods, weighing about 100 pounds per shipment, are part of a plan to open the door to ship about 20 metric tons of spent commercial nuclear fuel into the state.
In a news release, Advocates for the West said the lawsuit comes after months of effort by Andrus to require DOE to provide information to Idaho citizens about its request for the waiver. “Without DOE leveling with Idaho about both near-term and longer-range plans, we simply have no ability to assess the wisdom of what they are planning for the state,” Andrus said. “I suspect they know what they are planning will be very controversial, and for that reason they want to keep it secret. That is simply unacceptable.”
Andrus requested information about the waiver and proposed shipments in January. Advocates for the West said DOE provided documents containing dozens of redacted pages. In a letter dated July 10, the agency justified its refusal to provide other documents by saying they fell under exemptions contained in the Freedom of Information Act, including those related to proprietary information of private companies and attorney-client privilege.
Advocates for the West said virtually all the information DOE supplied was already in the public record, including newspaper accounts of the agency’s request for a waiver from state officials.
Andrus appealed the decision to withhold the information, and that appeal was also denied.
“The DOE has left us little choice but to ask the federal courts to enforce the law,” Andrus said. “A fundamental tenet of the American system of government is openness and transparency. The people have both a right and an obligation to know what their government is doing. That is why we feel it is so important to bring this information to light.”
Andrus said that without a permanent national repository for the highly radioactive material, Idaho will for the foreseeable future become that repository. Email the writer: email@example.com
NBC: Radioactive debris on beach at California nuclear plant — Magazine: Bombshell report reveals radiation cover-up — Experts: “Unbelievable what they’re doing there”… “We still don’t know how high those levels were” (VIDEO)http://enenews.com/nbc-radioactive-debris-beach-california-nuclear-plant-magazine-bombshell-report-reveals-radiation-cover-experts-unbelievable-theyre-doing-dont-high-levels-video?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
East County Magazine, Sep 26, 2015 (emphasis added): NBC TV Investigation Finds Evidence Of Radioactive Debris On Beach At San Onofre — An investigation by KNSD-TV Channel 7 , the NBC affiliate in San Diego, has dropped a bombshell regarding efforts to cover-up lax handling of nuclear waste and radiation leaks at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations… NBC’s investigation found high radiation levels endangered Southern California employees in trailers, including radiation levels so alarming that Nuclear Regulatory inspectors at times refused to perform routine radiation surveys… Hundreds of pieces of contaminated radioactive equipment were stored on both sides of Interstate 5, which bisects the San Onofre nuclear waste dump now under construction… Nuclear power expert Joe Hopenfeld told NBC 7 that San Onofre was “very, very sloppy, very very careless in handling radioactive material.”… Some have reportedly been pressured to sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent negative information from being made public… NBC reported that SDG&E did not respond to its requests for comments, nor did the Marines… Due to secrecy shrouding the San Onofre high nuclear readings… [Charles Langley is a former public advocate at the Utility Consumers’ Action Network who was terminated for being a whistleblower] observes, “We still don’t know how high those radiation levels were. And if Edison gets its way, we will never know… The answer is probably worse than we think.”
NBC San Diego, Sep 23, 2015: Documents Detail How Nuclear Material Was Handled at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station… The documents were released to individuals involved with the secret negotiations about the current condition and future handling of the 25-acre property… According to the source, the team representing the utilities has told all involved they want nondisclosure agreements signed so no one can go public with any information disclosed during the negotiations [and] the utilities are reluctant to provide full disclosure on what has occurred on the property since they took possession of it… Joe Hopenfeld, an expert on the nuclear power industry, said, “It was unbelievable what they were doing there“… The report says it was determined the cubicle was “responsible for most of the radiation measured on the beach.”… The other document NBC 7 Investigates received is dated April 10, 2014… This document was provided by the utilities to “identify those locations at the Mesa that were affected by the inappropriate presence of radioactive materials.”… After reading in the report about a steam generator system pipe that was “hot,” Hopenfeld said, “You have hot spots, you don’t know what they are.”… “This is an indication of the mentality and the culture at the time at SONGS,” he said. [Former San Onofre Safety Officer Vinrod Arora ] said the plant grounds should be thoroughly inspected by an independent third party and not by SCE or SDGE or any of their subcontractors. “Be very careful of the goods they accept from Edison with the blessings of the NRC,” Arora warned. The concern, he said, is not just for the land but for those that might someday use it.
A decline in nuclear power has been ongoing in the United States. There are 99 nuclear reactors in operation in 30 states, but the industry’s growth has stalled significantly. In 2013, four reactors went out of service, and another was shut down in December 2014. Two nuclear reactor licenses were approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012, which was a bright point for the industry. But those were the first nuclear licenses approved since 1978………
Dr Lawrence Lindsey spoke during a conference of nuclear power industry leaders gathered Wednesday at the Westin Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. Called “Nuclear Going Forward” and underwritten by the advocacy group Nuclear Matters, the power brokers were there to discuss the industry’s future…….
“This is the time we need to start making decisions and start providing some certainty for the industry………
it’s a matter of extolling the virtues of nuclear — and staying course………
“The radiation in that building got so high, it went clear off the scale,” Pace recalled to NBC4. “They were not able to contain the radiation that was leaking from the reactor.”
As NBC4 documents, “Pace says that dangerous radiation was released for weeks and went whichever direction the wind was blowing. Pace says the large door in the reactor was opened so they could vent the radiation from inside the building. He also remembers that the exhaust stack of the reactor was opened so that radiation could be released from inside the damaged reactor straight into the atmosphere.”
“Each time they started and stopped the reactor . . . radiation from the reactor was released,
Pace said he and all of the other workers were “sworn to secrecy” and his boss “[got] right in his face” to make it clear. He says he and his coworkers were “just following orders.” “Nobody knows the truth of what actually happened,”
The Atomic Energy Commission reported to the public six weeks after the incident that a “fuel element failure” — a minor accident — had occurred but that no radiation had leaked to surrounding communities
The Worst Nuclear Disaster in US History That You’ve Never Heard About http://theantimedia.org/the-worst-nuclear-disaster-in-us-history-that-youve-never-heard-about/ Carey Wedler September 28, 2015 (ANTIMEDIA) Los Angeles, CA — The United States government deliberately hid “the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history,” according to experts and an in-depth investigationby NBC4 Southern California. Whistleblowers have also come forward to expose the little-known catastrophe, which occurred north of Los Angeles in 1959 and leaked over 300 times the allowable amount of radiation into surrounding neighborhoods. That contamination is now linked to up to a 60% increase in cancer in the area, but the government still refuses to acknowledge its colossal mistake.
The ongoing tragedy was driven by America’s darkest demons, from dogmatic militarism to aggressive corporatism, and ongoing government and corporate efforts to cover-up the disaster are nothing short of staggering. Continue reading
Photos of what the Manhattan Project’s plutonium bomb did to human beings at Nagasaki prove the point. There is radioactive blowback in the fact that the thousands of tons of plutonium created since 1945 is so dangerously hot and long-lived that, like the underworld itself, nobody knows how to handle it at all — except maybe to trivialize it.
Hoping perhaps to show that the bomb from hell can be transformed from a vengeful, self-destructive, nightmare demon, into a benign, peace-loving, fairy-tale prince, nuclear propagandists and their friends in Congress are establishing nuclear war theme parks — without the taint of mass destruction — at former bomb factories and nuclear weapons launch pads all across the country: Continue reading
America’s worst nuclear disaster happened in 1959, two years before President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of an emerging military-industrial complex that would entangle the nation in endless war. While he was still president, corporations were laying a foundation of corporatocracy and militarism that would allow Boeing to amass monumental power throughout the 20th century. It is that power and influence, fueled by war and the profits it yields, that has made a full cleanup impossible.
After countless lies, cover ups, and overwhelming collusion, however, instead of taking responsibility for the cleanup, Boeing has added insult to injury by moving to construct a recreational park near SFFL
The feds call it “environmental justice.”
Western Shoshones say it’s really “environmental racism.”
Whatever words apply, a challenge by American Indian tribes on that subject in the latest Nuclear Regulatory Commission report for disposing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain could slam the brakes on the project.
This month, because of a 2013 federal appeals court decision, the commission rejuvenated proceedings on the Department of Energy’s license application to build and operate a repository for the nation’s highly radioactive waste at the mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The project was mothballed in 2010 when the Obama administration decided not to fund it and instead pursue another path that favors a willing state or tribe to host a repository. Neither Nevada nor the Shoshones want it.
The NRC’s draft, 173-page supplemental environmental impact report released in August shows radioactive particles from the planned repository would contaminate groundwater. That means it also would affect purity of traditional American Indian springs in Death Valley, Calif.
While that translates to only a “small fraction” increase in the dose people receive from normal background radiation, according to the NRC staff’s report, project opponents say it could be enough to disqualify the site for licensing on grounds of environmental injustice.
That’s because burying 77,000 tons of highly radioactive defense wastes and spent fuel from power reactors there coupled with past episodes of fallout from nuclear weapons tests amounts to “environmental racism,” according to the Western Shoshone and Timbisha Shoshone tribes and a Reno lawyer.
Western Shoshone Ian Zabarte, a board member of the Native Community Action Council, a party with standing in the NRC’s licensing proceedings, was blunt in his public comments at an NRC panel meeting this month in Las Vegas.
“From our perspective the processes employed by the DOE is environmental racism designed to systematically dismantle the living ‘lifeways’ of the Western Shoshone people in relation to our land,” he said.
Timbisha Shoshone tribe member, Joe Kennedy of Fish Lake Valley, backed up Zabarte’s claim that the heritage of low-income Native Americans will be compromised if nuclear waste is entombed in Yucca Mountain — a more likely prospect under a Republican-controlled Congress that could try to reverse the Obama administration’s mothballing of the project. DOE has spent roughly 25 years and $15 billion trying to determine whether the site and design are safe for long-term nuclear waste storage.
At the Sept. 15 meeting, Kennedy told a story about how his father taught him that all the springs that his tribe relies on for traditional and subsistence purposes are connected.
Contaminating the purity of one downstream of the planned Yucca Mountain repository site could pollute all of them, he said.
“The Earth can live without us. But I don’t think we can live without the Earth,” he told the NRC panel.
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe Chairman George Gholson said the tribe will submit comments on the NRC’s report. “The tribe vehemently opposes the storage of radioactive waste in our backyard,” he said Thursday.
Radioactive particles that will cause that “small fraction” dose increase to humans many years in the future is not background radiation that exists worldwide from natural sources such as cosmic rays and granite formations.
In the future, among the most hazardous radioactive particles to human health that will eventually escape Yucca Mountain is neptunium-237 — a mobile, artificially produced alpha particle emitter with a half-life of 2.14 million years, the time it takes for half its atoms to decay………
“They lied about the health effects of atmospheric testing. They lied about radiation on the ground when they were going to set off that 700-ton bunker-buster bomb. Now they’re lying about the type of radiation that is going to be dispersed from nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain,” Hager said Wednesday.
Richard Miller, an expert witness in the Divine Strake case, said the NRC report’s conclusion on “environmental justice” misses the mark.
“It’s a very clever statement that obscures the facts,” said Miller, an industrial hygienist who has written six books on nuclear testing and co-authored three peer-reviewed papers.
“The first thing they’re doing is trying to tie particulate exposure with background radiation. They’re apples and oranges, actually apples and toxic oranges. These can wind up inside you, and that’s a (cancer) risk increase,” he said Thursday.
Contact Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2 http://www.reviewjournal.com/politics/american-indians-accuse-nrc-environmental-racism
Plan for cleaning up uranium tailings ready for approval BY ALEX MACPHERSON, THE STARPHOENIX SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 The cleanup of a derelict northern Saskatchewan uranium mine could move one step closer this week.
The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) — which is overseeing the multi-million-dollar Gunnar Remediation Project on behalf of the provincial government — will present its plan to cover the site’s three tailings deposits at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Canada’s nuclear watchdog will consider evidence presented by all interested parties, including the SRC and northern First Nations, before making its decision, which is expected in about six weeks, a CNSC spokesman said Monday…..
After Gunnar ceased production in 1963, the open pit and underground works were flooded with water from Lake Athabasca. The mine was abandoned the following year with little other decommissioning work.
“There was no Department of Environment when those mines were abandoned,” said Ann Coxworth, a nuclear chemist and member of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society board. “At the time, there was, I would say, rather limited understanding of the hazards of leaving those tailings in an unmanaged condition.”
The absence of baseline studies and the insidious effects of radioactive contamination make assessing the Gunnar site’s environmental impact difficult, but it’s clear the work needed to be done, Coxworth said.
“We know that it can’t be cleaned up. (But) the situation can certainly be improved.”……..
Jack Flett, regulatory affairs coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said he hopes work on the Gunnar site continues.
“For me, it’s water,” he said, noting that the northern Alberta First Nation is downstream of the Gunnar mine. “Water is everything. Water is life.”….. http://www.thestarphoenix.com/technology/plan+cleaning+uranium+tailings+ready+approval/11397802/story.html
NRC Restores Public Access to Information Dave Lochbaum, director, Nuclear Safety Project http://allthingsnuclear.org/nrc-restores-public-access-to-information/ September 22, 2015
In July 2014, UCS learned that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had for nearly a decade been blanket withholding all documents it received from nuclear plant owners about fire protection and emergency planning.
In November 2014, I wrote the NRC Chairman on behalf of UCS, Beyond Nuclear,Greenpeace, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Enformable.com requesting that the Commission revisit this policy and revise it to restore the public’s access to non-sensitive information.
The blanket withholding policy had been adopted in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy as one of the measures intended to protect against the successful sabotage of U.S. nuclear power plants. The fire protection and emergency planning documents might contain information useful to potential saboteurs. The documents probably lacked such information, but the NRC opted to err on the side of caution.
Our group letter pointed that that during the intervening years, the NRC and the nuclear industry had made considerable progress identifying the kinds of information that should not be publicly available. Additionally, the NRC had established a process for plant owners to use when submitting documents to the NRC that contained this sensitive information.
We requested that the NRC discontinue the blanket withholding policy and instead rely on the common understanding the agency had reached with nuclear plant owners about sensitive information and the process developed by the NRC for handling such information.
The NRC staff revisited the issue, but did so from the wider perspective of information withholding practices in general. Whereas we had narrowly asked that the policy as applied to fire protection and emergency planning documents for operating nuclear power reactors be revised, the NRC staff reassessed its document withholding policies more broadly. Following this reassessment, the NRC staff in March 2015 asked its Commission for approval to restore public access to many documents but restrict access to documents containing sensitive information. The Commission voted unanimously in June 2015 to approve the NRC staff’s request.
UCS appreciates the NRC granting our request and restoring public access to fire protection and emergency planning documents submitted to it by nuclear plant owners.
UCS is even more appreciative of the NRC reassessing its document withholding policies holistically and revising them globally. As a result, not only will the public regain access to fire protection and emergency planning documents, but also to appropriate documents spanning the NRC’s wide range of responsibilities.
The NRC’s decision continues to protect against radiological sabotage while restoring public access to many records. In late 2004 when the blanket withholding policy was adopted, “sensitive information” was like beauty in that it was subjectively in the eyes of the beholder. And even had “sensitive information” been objectively discernible to all parties, the NRC lacked a process for plant owners to use when submitting documents containing this information. With both of these issues long since resolved, the NRC can restore public access to the majority of documents lacking “sensitive information” while withholding from ne’er do wells the few documents containing “sensitive information.”
The UCS Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit (NEAT) is a series of post intended to help citizens understand nuclear technology and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s processes for overseeing nuclear plant safety.
In his May encyclical Laudato si, the Pope argued that virtue and faith demand an immediate response to global warming. Many conservatives reply that economic growth, best delivered by free markets, has done more than anything to lift people from poverty. Because low energy prices facilitate growth, they say that responding to global warming in a way that raises energy prices will slow growth and hurt the least fortunate among us.
While much of what conservatives say is true, one does not need to be a Catholic, a socialist or a scientific alarmist to believe that we’re morally required to take action on climate change. Indeed, the moral argument for liberty and free-market capitalism implies that we’re required to act.
According to many conservatives, the core purpose of government is to protect rights to life, liberty and property. If greenhouse gas emissions threaten to violate those rights, then government must act against the threat.
That climate change poses risk of catastrophe is not at issue. Harvard economist Martin Weitzman calculates that, if the scientific assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is correct, there is about a 10% chance that future warming will exceed 11 degrees Fahrenheit.
Climate skeptics in the science community, who don’t buy IPCC narratives, believe that the chance of such catastrophic warming is lower, but concede that a great deal of uncertainty exists, so we can’t know for sure.
A large number of scientists, on the other hand, believe that the IPCC understates the risks………
The fact that we cannot precisely establish the risk we’re taking with our children’s future does not belie the fact that dice are being rolled. Pope Francis argues this poses a “basic question of justice.”
In this regard, he is right, and conservatives should listen. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/25/opinions/taylor-climate-change-conservatives/index.html
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