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The Hanford nuclear waste incident indicates America’s massive nuclear weapons waste problem

Serious questions raised about how Hanford site stores radioactive nuclear waste http://www.straight.com/news/909996/serious-questions-raised-about-how-hanford-site-stores-radioactive-waste by Charlie Smith on May 13th, 2017 A Stanford University nuclear-security researcher wonders why officials left radioactive waste in a tunnel at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Rod Ewing also told the Spokane Spokesman-Review it was “surprising” that mounds of dirt and pressure-treated timber were used to address the problem.

“How can waste be left in a tunnel? Whose idea was that?” Ewing said in an interview with the newspaper. “I’ve been to Hanford many, many times for conferences and things like that, and I don’t recall anyone saying that there was waste in tunnels underground. I can’t imagine why that would be the case.”

On May 9, part of a railcar tunnel collapsed near the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant. U.S. Department of Energy officials have claimed there was no release of radioactive materials.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is 400 kilometres southeast of Vancouver, B.C.

On a site the size of the City of Seattle, it has 56 million gallons of untreated nuclear waste left over from the U.S. nuclear-weapons program.

The video below explains the scope of the problem and why it should be of concern.


The Waste That Remains From Arming Nuclear Weapons

“The current unfolding crisis at Hanford, the bursting barrel at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant  (WIPP) in New Mexico in 2014, and the exploding radioactive waste dump in Beatty, Nevada in 2015, show that radioactive waste management is out of control,” Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog at Beyond Nuclear, said in a news release earlier this week.

Beyond Nuclear notes that the Hanford site was part of the Manhattan Project and was a “major supplier of military plutonium”.

“It houses 177 storage tanks containing liquid radioactive sludges, some of which have been leaking radioactive effluent that could eventually threaten the Columbia River,” the group states on its website. “Cleanup at the site did not begin until 1989.”

According to Beyond Nuclear, the Hanford tunnel collapse may have been caused by vibrations from nearby road works.

The Centre for Public Integrity pointed out on its website that a 2015 report noted that this tunnel “had been seriously weakened and that a ‘partial or complete failure’ could expose individuals even 380 feet away to dancerous levels of radiation”.

“No action was taken by the department in response, and earlier this month—the precise date remains uncertain because conditions at the site were not closely monitored—a portion of the roof collapsed at the tunnel, creating a 20-foot square hole,” wrote Peter Cary and Patrick Malone. “Afterwards, the managers of the Hanford site were forced on May 9 to order 3,000 workers to shelter indoors. But instead of shoring up the beams inside the tunnel in question, they poured in 54 new truckloads of dirt.”

The U.S. government is spending US$2 billion per year on a clean-up operation that’s not expected to be finished for another 75 years.

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May 15, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

South Afric a’s formidable anti nuclear women ready to take on the government again

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock
A chat with the ladies who said no to nuclear
Meet the women who stopped the nuclear dealhttp://www.news24.com/Opinions/IN-FOCUS/in-focus-i-meet-the-women-who-stopped-the-nuclear-deal-20170508 Alet Janse van Rensburg, Kate Davies. Liz McDaid. Vainola Makan. Siphokazi Pangalele. Lydia Mogane. Makoma Lekalakala. Natasha Adonis.

These are some of the women whose names will go down in history for saving South Africa (for now, at least) from a disastrous nuclear deal with Russia that would’ve cost us trillions and most likely bankrupted the country.

For more than two years they lived and breathed the nuclear deal, getting up while it’s still dark to attend meetings, and going to bed after midnight to organise pickets, protests, public meetings and petitions. None of them would even attempt to calculate how much time went into the effort.

Yet, true to form, none of them wants the credit for the court victory that nullified the nuclear deal. “It was easy. It was easy to identify with because it was about our children’s future and our children’s children’s future,” says Makan (50), an activist from Right to Know (R2K) in Cape Town.

“You want to see your grandchildren live in a world free from these bad things. The legacy you leave for the next generation is what drives you. Maybe women are closer to that, bearing the burden of child birth,” says McDaid (55), spokesperson for the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei).

Davies (65), founder of Safcei, agrees that although the campaign against the nuclear deal was never meant to be a women’s effort, it certainly was driven by a group of very dedicated women.

“I come from a generation that had a lot of women who were involved in the Black Sash in our lives,” she says. “I myself was a young member of the Black Sash and so that kind of silent protest came naturally to me – something I fear the younger generations don’t know.”

It all started in 2014 when Earthlife Africa uncovered that South Africa signed a deal with Russia that nobody knew about to procure nuclear energy. Earthlife Africa started a legal process with Safcei. Kate started a vigil outside Parliament every Wednesday for when the ministers would arrive.

This vigil only ended last week after the Cape High Court ruled that all nuclear agreements made so far were unlawful and should be set aside.

“For more than two years we stood there every week to speak truth to power. Sometimes there were two people in the wind and rain. Sometimes there were 20 or 50 people. Sometimes it was only Kate. That was about knowing we could win, but that it’s a long haul and that we just had to keep going step by step,” says McDaid.

Initially the focus was on nuclear energy as an environmental issue.

“We were worried about the footprint of different energy types and the impact of high energy prices on the poor. That’s why we started asking how government makes decisions about our energy needs and that’s when we started realising that the decision making processes weren’t happening as they were supposed to,” says McDaid.

“When you look at the CSIR and the research that has been done, it’s very clear that nuclear is not needed for our energy future. So then the question becomes, why are we pushing for it? The obvious answer is that there are corrupt forces at play. From there it was a case of following the money.”

As they prepared for the court case, they started working with other organisations such as R2K, Open Democracy, Section27 and the trade unions. They held a coalition meeting at Community House in Cape Town and more than 20 organisations showed up to find out how they could help. R2K came on board, and started to roll out mass actions, attending parliamentary meetings, organising marches to Parliament and distributing pamphlets and petitions.

“They say when you have faith in little you can be trusted with much. It was only a few of us who stood in Parliament to fight for the cause, but when the 60 000 came, we were confident that we could handle it and we had faith in our message,” says Makan.

They also realised early on that they would need the public to buy into the process and needed a media expert, so they roped in the expertise of Adonis (41), who runs her own PR firm in Cape Town.

“I wasn’t interested in the nuclear deal or anything before I came on board,” she says. “I think one of the core problems was that it was out there, but people weren’t paying attention. So we had to get the average South African – who was me – to notice the campaign.”

When they heard they won the case last Friday (with costs!), they were ecstatic.

“The process was vindicated. The legal process was won and we had the hearts and the minds of the people behind us. In the lead up with the firing of Pravin Gordhan we had people in the streets and with Ahmed Kathrada’s memorial nuclear was a central theme. So legally, politically and in terms of the minds of people we were vindicated,” says Makan.

“We know that they’re still not going to do things on a moral basis. But politically, because of the balance of forces, and because we are going to continue to work against any deal, it will be much harder for them to do a deal with Russia.”

What is clear is that going forward any attempt to go through with the nuclear deal will have to include a public participation process and now that the public is thoroughly informed, it will be much harder for them to push the deal through.

According to Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala, while the court victory was expected, it only ruled on the unlawful procedure followed to procure nuclear and not the actual issue of nuclear energy. That is something that will have to be addressed going forward.

“We are for a greater investment in renewable energy, as it’s much cheaper and cleaner for the environment,” she says.

The others agree.

“We will have to educate the public. Going forward we will continue to encourage South Africans to be active citizens. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cleaner at a factory, or a street sweeper or a CEO, you have the right to say something about how things are being done in your country. The Constitution gives you that right,” says Adonis.

And while the victory in court was a major achievement for the team, it was a victory for every South African citizen.

“This judgement shows you that you can win and that you can make a difference and that the country will not be sold to the highest bidder. The people can govern,” says McDaid.

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock

May 15, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn on need to protect Britain by using diplomacy and defusing tensions around the world

Jeremy Corbyn Explains Why He Can’t Envisage Using Nuclear Weapons, HuffPost UK, 14 May 17, May’s closeness to Trump is the real ‘coalition of risk and insecurity’
Jeremy Corbyn has signalled he can’t envisage ever using nuclear weapons because to do so would mean the world had already suffered a “cataclysmic failure”.

The Labour leader said that nuclear warfare would mean “the indiscriminate killing of millions of people” and risk long-lasting radiation that would wipe out all life across much of the planet.

In a keynote speech on defence and security at the Chatham House think tank, Corbyn stressed that his “first duty” would be to protect Britain by using diplomacy and defusing tensions around the world.

He also said that the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent would be renewed by Labour and then placed into a strategic defence review to look at new, long-term threats such as cyber warfare.

Corbyn also said that he wouldn’t “take any lectures” from the Tories on humanitarian intervention after the Thatcher government refused to apply sanctions on South Africa in the wake of apartheid shootings of children in Soweto.

And he claimed that the Conservatives were the party putting Britons in danger as “Theresa May seeks to build a coalition of risk and insecurity with Donald Trump”.

A Labour government would “step back, learn the lessons of the past and find new ways to solve and prevent conflicts”, he said.

And it would seek to build cooperation with China and India, unlike the Prime Minister, who in January said that the two Eastern giants were threatening to ‘eclipse’ the West in military terms.

Corbyn, a long-time advocate of unilateral nuclear disarmament, said earlier this year that his instructions in any nuclear conflict would be to “follow orders when given”, rather than writing a letter automatically granting prior authority to fire off missiles.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

South African government still determined to sign new nuclear power agreements

South Africa to Sign New Nuclear Power Pacts After Court Ruling https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-05-13/south-africa-wont-appeal-judgment-blocking-nuclear-power-deal May 13, 2017, JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa plans to sign new, more transparent nuclear power agreements with five foreign countries after a high court blocked a deal with Russia due to a lack of oversight, the energy ministry said on Saturday.

South Africa signed intergovernmental agreements with Russia, France, China, South Korea and the United States in 2014 as part of plans to build a fleet of nuclear power plants at a cost of between $30 billion and $70 billion.

Many investors view the scale of the nuclear plan as unaffordable and a major risk to South Africa’s financial stability, while opponents of President Jacob Zuma say the deal will be used as a conduit for corruption. Zuma denies allegations of wrongdoing.

State energy firm Eskom says nuclear power should play a role in South Africa’s energy mix and will help reduce reliance on coal.

The Western Cape High Court found last month that the agreement with Russia lacked transparency and offered Moscow favorable tax rules while placing heavy financial obligations on South Africa. The energy ministry said it had “major concerns” about the court judgment but would not appeal the ruling. It will continue with nuclear energy plans adhering to stricter procedural guidelines, including consulting parliament.

“There is no intention to table the current agreements but (we) will embark to sign new agreements with all five countries and table them within reasonable time to parliament,” the ministry said in a statement.

Eskom on Friday reinstated its former chief executive Brian Molefe, a Zuma ally who has supported the nuclear power plan.

Molefe stepped down five months ago after being implicated in a report by the country’s anti-graft watchdog into alleged influence-peddling. He denied any wrongdoing.

 Some analysts say former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was fired partly because he resisted pressures from a political faction allied to Zuma to back nuclear expansion.

New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has said nuclear expansion will only be pursued if it is affordable. (Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Mark Potter)

May 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Families do not want to return to polluted Fukushima areas

the cleanup extends to only 20 meters around each house, and three-quarters of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive elements are blown back onto the fields and homes.

The government is forcing people to go back, some argued, employing a form of economic blackmail, or worse, kimin seisaku — abandoning them to their fate.

The evacuation orders for most of the village of Iitate have been lifted. But where are the people?, Japan Times, BY DAVID MCNEILL AND CHIE MATSUMOTO, 14 May 17 

 “…….A cluster of 20 small hamlets spread over 230 square kilometers, Iitate was undone by a quirk of the weather in the days that followed the nuclear accident in March 2011. Wind carried radioactive particles from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which is located about 45 kilometers away, that fell in rain and snow on the night of March 15, 2011. After more than a month of indecision, during which the villagers lived with some of the highest radiation recorded in the disaster (the reading outside the village office on the evening of March 15 was a startling 44.7 microsieverts per hour), the government ordered them to leave.

Now, the government says it is safe to go back. With great fanfare, all but the still heavily contaminated south of Iitate, Nagadoro, was reopened on March 31.

The reopening fulfills a pledge made by Mayor Norio Kanno: Iitate was the first local authority in Fukushima Prefecture to set a date for ending evacuation in 2012, when the mayor promised to reboot the village in five years. The village has a new sports ground, convenience store and udon restaurant. A clinic sees patients twice a week. All that’s missing is people.

Waiting to meet Kanno in the government offices of Iitate, the eye falls on a book displayed in the reception: “The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan.” Listed at No. 12 is the beloved rolling patchwork of forests, hills and fields the mayor has governed for more than two decades — population 6,300, famous for its neat terraces of rice and vegetables, its industrious organic farmers, its wild mushrooms and the black wagyu cow that has taken the name of the area.

The description in the book is mocked by reality outside. The fields are mostly bald, shorn of vegetation in a Promethean attempt to decontaminate it of the radiation that fell six years ago. There is not a cow or a farmer in sight. Tractors sit idle in the fields. The local schools are empty. As for the population, the only part of the village that looks busy is the home for the elderly across the road from Kanno’s office…….

There has been no official talk of abandoning it. Indeed, any suggestion otherwise could be controversial: When industry minister Yoshio Hachiro called the abandoned communities “towns of death” in September 2011, the subsequent outrage forced him to quit a week later.

Instead, the area was divided into three zones with awkward euphemisms to suggest just the opposite: Communities with annual radiation measuring 20 millisieverts or less (the typical worldwide limit for workers in nuclear plants) are “being prepared for lifting of evacuation order,” districts of 20-50 millisieverts per year are “no-residence zones” and the most heavily contaminated areas of 50 millisieverts or more per year, such as Nagadoro, are “difficult-to-return.”…..

the cleanup extends to only 20 meters around each house, and three-quarters of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive elements are blown back onto the fields and homes.

“All that money, and for what?” asks Nobuyoshi Itoh, a farmer and critic of the mayor. “Would you bring children here and let them roam in the fields and forests?”…..

Though nobody knows the true figure, the local talk is that perhaps half of the villagers have permanently left. Surveys suggest fewer than 30 percent want to return, and even less in the case of Nagadoro.

Yoshitomo Shigihara, head of the Nagadoro hamlet, says many families made their decision some time ago. His grandchildren, he says, should not have to live in such a place.

“It’s our job to protect them,” Shigihara says. …….

The government is forcing people to go back, some argued, employing a form of economic blackmail, or worse, kimin seisaku — abandoning them to their fate.

Itoh is angry at the resettlement. For him, politics drives the haste to put the disaster behind.

“It’s inhuman to make people go back to this,” he says. Like the physical damage of radiation, he says, the psychological damage is also invisible: “A lot of people are suffering in silence.”

Itoh believes the government wants to show that the problems of nuclear power can be overcome so it can switch the nation’s idling nuclear reactors back on. Just four are in operation while the fate of 42 others remains in political and legal limbo. Public opinion remains opposed to their restart.

Many people began with high hopes in Iitate but have gradually grown distrustful of the village government, says Kenichi Hasegawa, a farmer who wrote a book titled “Genpatsu ni Furusato o Ubawarete” (“Fukushima’s Stolen Lives”) in 2012. Right from the start, he says, the mayor desperately tried to hide the shocking radiation outside his office……. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/13/national/social-issues/fukushima-land-return/#.WRkB8UWGPGh

May 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Twin toxic technologies: Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons

Proliferation of Toxic Technologies: Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons http://www.globalresearch.ca/proliferation-of-toxic-technologies-nuclear-power-and-nuclear-weapons/5589608 By Ray Acheson Global Research, May 13, 2017  Reaching Critical Will 10 May 2017 Speaking a few months after the disaster at Fukushima, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami said, “Nuclear power plants, which were supposed to be efficient, offer us a vision of hell.” He spoke about how the nuclear power industry insisted that this was an efficient, clean, and safe source of energy—even though it isn’t. And he connected nuclear power to nuclear weapons, arguing that the experience of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki should have motivated the development of non-nuclear, renewable sources of energy after World War Two.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s attack on the planet – ignored by mainstream media

The media is failing to challenge Trump’s attack on the planet, Grist  It may seem like a distant memory now, given President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, but the top political news at the beginning of this week was the administration’s unexpected dismissal of nine government scientists from the 18-member Environmental Protection Agency board that oversees the department’s scientific research. The EPA reportedly plans to replace some of those board members with representatives from the polluting industries the agency is supposed to regulate.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Indigenous protest against uranium mill in South East Utah

Marcus Atkinson, of Australia, is touring the U.S. promoting a film opposing uranium mining in his country and heard about the White Mesa protest.

“We would like to use this case in our next film to raise international awareness that uranium is too dangerous and is not the answer to our energy needs,” he said.

Ute protesters march to Utah uranium mill, Ute Mountain Utes concerned about health impacts from White Mesa mill, The Journal, By Jim Mimiaga Journal Staff Writer  May 13, 2017 White Mesa, Utah – About 80 protesters opposed to the White Mesa uranium mill in southeast Utah marched three miles along U.S. Highway 191 to the mill’s entrance Saturday.

The protest was organized by members of Ute Mountain Ute tribe, which has a small reservation community three miles from the mill. The mill, which is owned by Energy Fuels, of Toronto, is the only conventional uranium mill operating in the country.

Protesters carried anti-nuclear signs, including “No Uranium, Protect Sacred Lands,” “Water is Life,” and “No Toxic Waste.”

They are concerned about the mill’s potential health impacts on air and water quality, and they object to containment cells at the mill that accept radioactive waste from around the country.

“The dust blowing from uranium ore piles is a concern. Our water comes from wells that are not far from those waste cells. Those things are a big worry for the community,” said Antonio Cly, 22, of the Ute Mountain tribe. He is studying the mill as a student at the University of Utah.

Thelma Whiskers, a Ute elder and founder of the White Mesa Concerned Community group, said her family has been fighting the mill all their lives, and the march was a way to raise awareness of the issues to pass on to the younger generation. Continue reading

May 15, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Energy Minister Mammoloko Kubayi confirms that South Africa nuclear deal is back on the agenda.

Nuclear deal back on the agenda, says minister http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/nuclear-deal-back-on-the-agenda-says-minister-912135814 May 2017, Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Cape Town – Energy Minister Mammoloko Kubayi has confirmed the nuclear deal is back on the agenda.

Kubayi said this on Saturday after she announced she would not appeal the Western Cape High Court decision to halt the nuclear process.

She would instead stick to the judgment by following all the processes in the procurement of nuclear power. She said South Africa needed nuclear power as part of the energy mix programme of the government.

Kubayi said the process would start from scratch. From next month, new, standardised agreements would be signed with Russia, China, the US, South Korea and France.

This came after the court nullified three of the agreements last month.

Kubayi said the government couldn’t estimate the cost of nuclear power, but the process would start from scratch.

“We have to start fresh and do new determinations and issue requests for information.

“That is important because it will assist us on the cost.”

However, the government’s push for a nuclear programme has been questioned, with opposition parties warning of high costs and threats of legal action if proper processes are not followed.

The court halted the nuclear programme last month, saying processes had not been followed.

The DA, IFP and ACDP said the government had not come clean regarding the costs.

One of the civil society groups that took the government to court on the nuclear deal said on Saturday it would keep an eye on the process. The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said it wanted Kubayi to follow the law.

Co-ordinator for energy and climate programme at the institute Liz McDaid said it wanted to ensure everything was done according to the book. “We are glad the minister has chosen to follow the law because the previous process was found to be illegal. We will need to study whatever steps she puts on the table.

“If they are going to follow the process, it will show we don’t need nuclear. Today we have organisations like the CSIR (the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) who say that we don’t need nuclear. It is research institutions who say these are the numbers,” said McDaid.

DA spokesperson on energy Gordon Mackay said the party welcomed the fact that Kubayi would follow the process.

However, the party was concerned the government was intent on pushing ahead, despite concerns about costs.

Mackay said the decision was not sound if it was not based on the Integrated Resource Plan of 2016. He warned the party would interdict the minister if she started the process without the plan.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh also expressed concern about the costs. He said nuclear was unaffordable for South Africa at this stage and the government would have to prove in Parliament that nuclear was affordable.

Steve Swart, of the ACDP, said the party was concerned that nuclear was unaffordable for the country.

“The ACDP notes that Minister Kubayi has decided not to appeal the Western Cape High Court decision. This means she will have to comply with the stringent process set out by the court regarding openness and transparency and the role of Parliament in evaluating the desirability and costing of the nuclear project,” he said.”

May 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

The international nuclear industry involved in education in United Arab Emirates

From The National, UAE 14 May 17  “………..The International Atomic Energy Agency worked with government agencies to launch the Nuclear Energy Management School at Khalifa University.

The curriculum includes nuclear energy policy and planning, nuclear regulation and law, operations, safety, security, emergency readiness and nuclear project management.

 Experts from IAEA, Nawah Energy, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation will give lectures at the school……..

The authority, where Emiratis comprise 62 per cent of its workforce, said the school would help to ensure the sustainability of the UAE’s power supply and support Emiratis by providing them with the necessary capabilities to manage its nuclear energy programme……

Nuclear will help to save the environment while still providing electricity,” said Mohammed Al Ali, 31, an export control specialist at Nawah Energy.

“It will also help the youth because it’s a new field and we will gain a lot more skills because it’s an industry that is constantly evolving worldwide.”……

May 15, 2017 Posted by | Education, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Racial prejudice in the nuclear industry – the case of Claiborne County, Mississippi

Mississippi Taxing – Nuclear Power And Accusations Of Racism, Forbes,  Peter J Reilly , 14 May 17 Claiborne County,  Mississippi is home to the Grand Gulf Nuclear Generating Station operated by Entergy.  Having one of those things in the neighborhood is a little nerve wracking.  The Nuclear Regulatory Agency defines a plume exposure pathway zone and a larger ingestion pathway zone in the vicinity of the plant, in the event something goes really wrong. On the upside, a power plant could mean a lot of tax revenue and Claiborne County shows up on lists as one of the poorest counties in the country.

Only under Mississippi law a county doesn’t  get to tax a nuclear power plant.  The state taxes the plant and divvies up the money among counties in the plant’s service area.  Some residents claim that the reason for that law is that Claiborne County, home to Mississippi’s only nuclear power plant, has a population that is over 80% African American.  That was what the lawsuit Doss v Claiborne County Board of Supervisors was all about.  Spoiler alert – it did not go well for the disgruntled residents. As is common in these sort of cases, they foundered on the rock of standing.

Some History  Claiborne County has significance in the history of the civil rights movement………

Racism.  Voting rights legislation and enforcement had allowed African Americans to gain control of government in Claiborne County and the change in the law prevented them from having access to substantial revenue to improve infrastructure and spend on education.  In the wake of Brown v Board of Education white Mississippians had largely abandoned the public schools for segregation academies. Professor Crosby, who was the only white student in her graduating class at Port Gibson High School tends to favor the racism narrative, although she has not studied the power plant issue closely.

Professor Andrew Kahrl of the University of Virginia whose research focuses on “the social, economic, and environmental history of land use, real estate development, and racial inequality in the 20th century United States” has little doubt. A recent article by Professor Kahrl in “The Power To Destroy: Discriminatory Property Assessments and the Struggle for Tax Justice in Mississippi” in the Journal of Southern History included a discussion of Evan Doss Jr.’s struggle to clean up discriminatory assessments in the seventies wrote me:
“As someone who has studied the history of taxation in Claiborne County, specifically, and in Southern states, in general, I can say that the state legislature’s decision in 1986 to strip this majority black county of its taxing authority over Grand Gulf was racially motivated. As my article shows, white-controlled local governments in Mississippi had, for generations, worked to prevent tax revenues from being used to the benefit of black communities as well as shifting the burden of local taxation disproportionately onto black taxpayers through various forms of discriminatory assessment and administration.

During the Jim Crow era, these practices thrived because disenfranchisement had rendered white lawmakers unaccountable to black citizens. Upon passage of the Voting Rights Act and black southerners’ concerted efforts to register to vote and run candidates for local office, white lawmakers devised a variety of techniques for limiting the powers of new black officeholders and prevent them from doing their jobs. This was the case with Evan Doss Jr., who ran for Claiborne County Assessor in 1971 on the promise to restore fairness to a notoriously discriminatory tax assessment process, and, upon assuming the office, was thwarted at every turn by the white-controlled board of supervisors and subject to incessant harassment for, as he put it, “being black and doing my job.” The completion of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station in the early 1980s promised to be a game changer for the county, in that it would provide it with much-needed tax revenue that could be used to provide vital social services for its impoverished population and improve its chronically underfunded public schools. By then, African Americans held most of the county’s elected offices and were poised to play a decisive role in the allocation of local tax revenues. The state’s unprecedented move to strip the county of its taxing authority over the power plant fit into this longer pattern of preventing black officials from playing a meaningful role in the distribution of tax revenues and limiting its use toward services that would benefit black communities. It was a nakedly racist move in a state with a sordid—and well-deserved—reputation for using the power of state and local government to oppress and exploit its black population and protect white political and economic power.….

The Current Case     After nearly thirty years, the claims of racial bias still have not gotten a hearing. …….https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2017/05/14/mississippi-taxing-nuclear-power-and-accusations-of-racism/#58b1d4bd4919

May 15, 2017 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment

“Stupid idea” to think that Russia could, or would use nuclear weapon to trigger tsunamis

A physicist says blowing up nuclear weapons in the ocean to trigger tsunamis ‘would be completely stupid’, Business Insider , DAVE MOSHER, MAY 15, 2017 

May 15, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Energy utility Southern Co calls on Trump for help, as it takes over Vogtle nuclear station construction

Southern to Take Over Westinghouse Georgia Nuclear Project https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-13/southern-to-take-over-georgia-reactor-projects-from-westinghouse by 

Stephen Cunningham and Tiffany Kary  May 14, 2017, 
  • Westinghouse bankruptcy threw fate of reactors into question
  • Southern has appealed to Trump administration for help
  • Utility owner Southern Co. has agreed to take the lead on building two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle power plant in Georgia from bankrupt contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. as soon as next month.

    The Atlanta-based utility owner said in a statement late Friday that an interim contract with Westinghouse will be extended to June 3 while the companies finalize and gain approval for a new service agreement. Just last week, Southern Chief Executive Officer Thomas Fanning said Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse unit had “given every indication” it wanted out of the pact to build reactors but was refraining from a decision under the contract that was due to expire Friday.

  • Westinghouse’s bankruptcy in March threw into question the fate of four U.S. nuclear reactors — the two at Southern’s Vogtle plant and another two being built at Scana Corp.’s V.C. Summer station in South Carolina. The projects were the first to gain U.S. approval for construction in more than 30 years and were once seen as ushering in a new wave of nuclear generation in the country. Fanning has said his company could take over the work at Vogtle if Toshiba provides $3.7 billion to finish it as promised. The deal is said to also depend in part on Scana agreeing to follow suit, so the two companies will be able to share resources.
  • The companies reached an agreement in principle that “allows for the transition of project management from Westinghouse” to Southern once their current engineering and construction contract is rejected in Westinghouse’s bankruptcy case, Southern said in its statement. “During this time, work will continue at the site and an orderly transition of project management will begin.”
  • Westinghouse has meanwhile already laid out plans to ditch the money-losing business of building reactors and instead focus on servicing and decommissioning work. It set up agreements with both Southern and Scana to give them more time to decide whether they wanted to continue construction.

    In March, less than 24 hours after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy, Southern’s Fanning said in a Bloomberg Television interview that he flewto Tokyo just to “look the CEO of Toshiba in the eye” and remind him that his company had a “moral commitment” to getting the Vogtle project done. Both Fanning and Georgia regulators have appealed to the Trump administration for help in finishing the project.

  • In April, Scana and Westinghouse agreed to extend a review of the V.C. Summer nuclear project until June 26.

    In Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, the most significant debts are held by Apollo Global Management LLC, which financed an $800 million operating loan, and parent Toshiba. The Chapter 11 case has moved slowly, with Westinghouse recently asking for a two-week delay until May 26 to file a full schedule of its assets and debts.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

No costing for South Africa’s nuclear build programme

NO PRICE TAG FOR NUCLEAR BUILD PROGRAMME YET http://ewn.co.za/2017/05/13/no-price-tag-for-nuclear-build-programme-yet The department of energy says it is yet to determine the cost of the nuclear build programme, while concerns were raised over a previous estimate of R1 trillion. Sifiso  Zulu 14 May 17 

JOHANNESBURG – The department of energy says it has not pronounced the cost of the nuclear build programme as it is considering funding options.

A price tag of up to R1 trillion previously reported to be the cost of nuclear power has raised concern over whether it is affordable

The department says it is negotiating with five countries that have signed intergovernmental agreements with South Africa in 2014 as part of plans to build a fleet of nuclear power plants.

The department’s Zizamele Mbambo says the price will only be determined once all consultations have been concluded

“We are not at the stage where we have determined what will be the actual cost of the programme because the procurement process has not started.”

The Western Cape High Court last month ruled that the decision to call for proposals for the procurement of nuclear energy is unlawful and unconstitutional

Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has announced that she will not be appealing the ruling. (Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)

May 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Two experts resign from EPA in protest to the sacking of science members

Two experts resign from EPA posts to protest the agency’s science committee shake-up, WP  May 12 In an expanding controversy over the role of science in the Trump administration, two expert advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency resigned Friday in protest at the dismissal of half of the members of a key science committee.

Carlos Martín, an engineer with the Urban Institute, and Peter Meyer, an economist with the E.P. Systems Group, an environmental and economic research firm, posted a joint resignation letter on Twitter, saying they were standing down to protest the agency’s decision to remove the scientists.

“We cannot in good conscience be complicit in our co-chairs’ removal, or in the watering down of credible science, engineering, and methodological rigor that is at the heart of that decision,” they wrote.

Martín and Meyer had advised the EPA science’s branch on research related to environmental contaminants and spills, the disposal of waste, and techniques for environmental cleanups.

The Trump administration has proposed to cut the budget of that branch, called the Office of Research and Development, by $233 million in 2018…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/05/12/two-experts-resign-from-epa-posts-to-protest-the-agencys-science-committee-shakeup/?utm_term=.65cba6cecfec

May 15, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment