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Plutonium-affected U.S. airmen, cancers, deaths, and a new legal ruling

The Palomares disaster occurred on Jan. 17, 1966, when an American B-52 bomber on a Cold War patrol exploded during a midair refueling accident, sending four hydrogen bombs hurtling toward the ground. They were not armed, so there was no nuclear detonation, but the conventional explosives in two of the bombs blew up on impact, scattering pulverized plutonium over a patchwork of farm fields and stucco houses.

Plutonium is extremely toxic, but it often acts slowly. The alpha-particle radiation it gives off travels only a few inches and would not penetrate skin. But inhaled plutonium dust can lodge in the lungs and steadily irradiate surrounding tissue, gradually inflicting damage that can cause cancer and other ailments, sometimes decades later. A single microgram absorbed in the body is enough to be harmful;  according to declassified Atomic Energy Commission reports, the bombs that blew apart at Palomares contained more than 3 billion micrograms.

February 13, 2020 Posted by | health, incidents, legal, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Six legal arguments against the extradition of Julian Assange to America

Six legal arguments show why the US extradition of Julian Assange should be denied Tom Coburg  25th January 2020 The first of two articles examining Julian Assange’s upcoming extradition trial.

There are at least six legal reasons why the extradition request by the US against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be dismissed by the UK courts. The main extradition hearing is scheduled to commence 24 February 2020, with district judge Vanessa Baraitser presiding. The evidence to support Assange is compelling.

1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached
2. The initial charge is flawed
1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached
3. Initial charge relies on co-operation from Manning
4. Additional charges raised by the US are political
5. US legal precedent argues that Assange’s work is protected by the US Constitution
6. Threats of violence against Assange mean he’s unable to receive a fair trial

1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached Continue reading

January 27, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

Japanese High Court rules against nuclear reactor restart

Japan court halts nuclear reactor restart citing volcano, earthquake risks, Channel News Asia. 17 Jan 2020

TOKYO: A Japanese nuclear reactor near a fault line must remain shut because of the risk of its being struck by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, a high court ordered on Friday (Jan 17).

All nuclear power stations were shut down after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident following a catastrophic tsunami, and many remain closed.

The Japanese public has turned against atomic power, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisting the nation needs nuclear plants to power the world’s third-largest economy, and the court decision was a boost for the country’s anti-nuclear movement.

The move by the Hiroshima High Court reversed a lower court decision in March that would have allowed the reactor at the Ikata nuclear plant in western Japan to resume operations.

The plant’s operator, Shikoku Electric Power, wanted to resume work at the reactor, which had been halted for routine inspections, and said it will appeal the high court’s ruling.

The case was originally lodged by residents of a neighbouring region who complained the utility failed to properly evaluate the risks posed by a local volcano and seismic faultlines………

January 18, 2020 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Israel’s High Court rejects Vanunu’s bid to leave Israel

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Israel, legal | Leave a comment

Ohio: the nuclear industry’s violent assault on democracy

November 23, 2019 Posted by | legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Judge declines to stop fuel transfer at San Onofre nuclear plant,

Judge declines to stop fuel transfer at San Onofre nuclear plant, 

Environmentalists sought interruption following violations by plant owner Edison, San Diego Union Tribune, By JEFF MCDONALD, NOV. 2, 2019

 A San Diego Superior Court judge has rejected a request from environmental activists to halt the transfer of spent fuel at the San Onofre nuclear plant from wet to dry storage.

In a ruling Thursday, Judge Timothy B. Taylor said majority plant owner Southern California Edison was in compliance with a 2017 settlement agreement that requires the utility to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to move the waste……..

November 4, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Legal action on The Marshall Islands’ leaky radioactive nuclear waste dome?

This Concrete Dome Holds A Leaking Toxic Timebomb | Foreign Correspondent

Leaking nuclear waste dome: Marshalls consider legal action

 29 October 2019  Mackenzie Smith  MackSmithNZ  The Marshall Islands is exploring legal action against the US over a leaking nuclear-waste filled concrete dome. The Runit Dome on Enewetak atoll was used to store radioactive materials left over from US nuclear weapons testing during the 1940s and ’50s.

But according to the Marshall Islands Nuclear Commission, more than 99 per cent of the waste has seeped into the atoll’s lagoon.

Commission’s chair Rhea Moss-Christian said the Marshall Islands was exploring legal remedies to obtain compensation from the US government.

“The political environment is always changing. We don’t know what the future brings. But as a nation that is still dealing with the impacts, we can’t afford to sit back and accept that there’s nothing further that can be done.”

The Runit Dome on Enewetak atoll was used to store radioactive materials left over from US nuclear weapons testing during the 1940s and ’50s.

But according to the Marshall Islands Nuclear Commission, more than 99 per cent of the waste has seeped into the atoll’s lagoon.

Commission’s chair Rhea Moss-Christian said the Marshall Islands was exploring legal remedies to obtain compensation from the US government.

“The political environment is always changing. We don’t know what the future brings. But as a nation that is still dealing with the impacts, we can’t afford to sit back and accept that there’s nothing further that can be done.”

The Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Dame Meg Taylor, has called for an independent audit into the Runit Dome. Her UN counterpart, Antonio Guterres, has also raised concerns about the potential radioactive fallout.

The Nuclear Commission is due to start work in November on an impact study of the dome which will take up to three years.

The commission’s report highlighted a number of ongoing impacts of American nuclear weapons testing, including forced migration and high rates of cancer it said had been exacerbated by US refusal of requests for assistance with cancer treatment facilities.

“The absence of cancer care facilities and its link to forced migration are deplorable, and it means that the violence of the testing program continues despite the cessation of weapons testing,” the report said.

It also called for broader support with compensation for victims of nuclear testing, adding that Marshall Islands officials would raise nuclear justice in all official discussions with the US government.

According to the report, a US-funded Nuclear Claims Tribunal ended payments in 2009, leaving more than $US2.2 billion in unpaid compensation.

The Marshall Islands will also request UN agencies conduct its study of radiation levels in nuclear testing sites and their impact on communities.

Establishing a National Nuclear Archive would also be explored, as well as a memorial or monument “commemorate the hundreds of Marshallese who sacrificed their health and homeland for the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program”.

Ms Moss-Christian said the Marshall Islands’ election to the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month provided a new platform for seeking assistance.

“Compensation is definitely a priority for affected communities. There are also other forms of nuclear justice, and some of those areas are where the UN can step in and provide assistance,” she said.

November 2, 2019 Posted by | legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

New legal hearing for opposition to Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion

Lawsuit challenging decision to finish Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion to get new hearing,   By Dave Williams  – Staff Writer, Atlanta Business Chronicle Oct 30, 2019, A lawsuit challenging the Georgia Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to let Georgia Power Co. finish the long-delayed, over-budget Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion is about to get another airing.The Georgia Court of Appeals issued a ruling late Tuesday sending the case back to Fulton County Superior Court, which had dismissed the suit without considering its merits.

The Southern Environmental Law Center and the Barnes Law Group, headed by former Gov. Roy Barnes, filed suit following the December 2017 PSC vote authorizing Atlanta-based Georgia Power to finish building two additional nuclear reactors at the plant south of Augusta, Ga.

The cost of the project has ballooned from $14 billion when it was approved a decade ago to $25 billion. The work has run into numerous delays caused in part by the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co., the original prime contractor, forcing the schedule for completion to be put back from 2016 and 2017 to 2021 and 2022.

The lawsuit contends opponents should not have to wait until the project is completed to press their claims that the PSC vote was improper. The Court of Appeals returned the case to Fulton County for the lower court to determine whether the groups that filed the suit have demonstrated delaying their appeal until after the project is finished would not provide an adequate remedy.

“We’re glad to have another day in court to show the commission’s decision to continue Plant Vogtle despite dramatic changes to the cost and schedule and increased risk to customers was rushed and procedurally improper,” said Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We will make our case that the only way to undo the enormous harm to customers resulting from that decision is for the superior court to hear this case now.”

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of The Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), issued a statement Wednesday defending the PSC’s decision as “well within its authority” and appropriate under the law.

“The recommendation to move forward with the Vogtle project was thoroughly discussed and evaluated through Georgia’s open and transparent regulatory process,” the statement read. “Georgia Power complied with all rules and laws throughout the proceeding, and we strongly disagree with any claims to the contrary.”

While the PSC allowed the Vogtle expansion to continue in its December 2017 vote, commissioners also ordered Georgia Power to absorb some of the cost overruns.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Restriction of defence arguments in the trial of Catholic peace activists

Convicted Anti-Nuclear Activists Speak Out: “Pentagon Has Brainwashed People”   Marjorie Cohn, Truthout, 28 Oct 19,
The seven Catholic peace activists who were convicted on October 24 for their symbolic protest against nuclear weapons at the Kings Bay Naval Base are now facing a two-to-three-month wait to hear their prison sentences. They could face more than 20 years in prison.
“Our own lives are uncertain regarding the possible length of prison sentences,” defendant Martha Hennessy told Truthout in an exclusive interview. “But we rejoice in the fact that more scrutiny is being directed at the purpose of the Kings Bay Naval Base in southern Georgia.”

The Kings Bay Naval Base is home to nuclear armed submarines with two dozen ballistic Trident D5 missiles, each of which is 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The seven peace activists — Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Jesuit Fr. Stephen Kelly, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta and Elizabeth McAlister, who are collectively known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — were convicted by a Georgia federal jury of conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval station, depredation of government property, and trespass after entering the base on April 4, 2018.
They came onto the base bearing hammers, baby bottles containing their own blood, crime scene tape, a copy of Daniel Ellsberg’s book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, and an indictment that charged the U.S. government with crimes against peace. They cut a fence and entered the base without being detected. They used the hammers to deface a monument to the Trident, poured their blood and left a sign that read, “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide.”  They went to three different sites on the base, including a storage bunker for nuclear weapons where they damaged statues and poured their blood on various structures.

“We understand the efficiency of the State is a formidable force, and we ourselves are not surprised with the guilty verdict on all counts,” Hennessy told Truthout. “In a time of withdrawing from nuclear treaties and promoting violence in foreign policy, we are left to wonder what the future may hold for the world.”


Facing a Jury Without Opinions on Nuclear Risks

The jury that convicted the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists was self-avowedly apathetic about the risks posed to humanity by nuclear weapons, and the judge and prosecution worked together to prevent the defendants from sharing information or arguments to raise jurors’ consciousness on the issue.

Sam Husseini, communications director at the Institute for Public Accuracy, a progressive nonprofit organization, attended the three-day trial. “It was a subtly but insidiously controlled courtroom with the judge and prosecution working hand in glove,” Husseini told Truthout. “The defendants were allowed to speak about their religious beliefs and to some degree how they relate to nuclear weapons. But it was all presented as subjective, and expert testimony on international law, and justification and necessity of urgent action were excluded.”  


The defendants, who said they were following the command of the biblical prophet Isaiah to “beat swords into plowshares,” were denied the right to present the defenses of necessity, which allows one to commit a crime in order to avoid a greater harm. They were also denied the right to discuss the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected.” Thus, they were limited to their own testimony about their subjective motivations for their acts.

“Defendants were allowed to briefly discuss their moral objections to nuclear weapons but were cut off quickly. No outside evidence or testimony was allowed,” defense attorney Bill Quigley told Truthout.

Husseini added: “The manner that the judge allowed the case to be made did not make it clear that the house was indeed on fire — or even that there was a house. The reality of the nuclear weapons, the threat they pose, and certainly their illegality, were not objectively communicated” to the jury.
Speaking with Truthout in an exclusive email interview, defendant Patrick O’Neill shared an anecdote that further highlights the degree to which the jury reflected the widespread ignorance about nuclear risks that exists in the U.S. now.

“When Judge Lisa Wood asked the entire jury pool: ‘Do any of you have a strong opinion about nuclear weapons — pro or con, would you raise your hand?’ Of 73 people, not one raised a hand,” O’Neill told Truthout. “That is an indication that people living in the throes of the nuclear age, at 2 minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock, have come to see [weapons of mass destruction] as inconsequential — nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert 24/7 is now a ‘normal’ part of people’s lives.”

O’Neill added, “The Pentagon has brainwashed people to just trust a government that is imperiling the earth and risking the end of life as we know. That’s why we went to Kings Bay — to hopefully wake people up.”

Refusal to Allow the Necessity Defense
If the judge had allowed the peace activists to raise a “necessity defense” — in other words, arguing that their actions were necessary to avoid the use of nuclear weapons — the jury could have come to a very different decision. There was abundant evidence to support a necessity defense.
In order to sustain the necessity defense, Quigley explained in his brief,the defendant must show four elements:(1) that she believed that she needed to choose between two evils and she chose the lesser evil. “Any use of nuclear weapons by definition cannot discriminate between civilian and military targets. Each of the many Trident nuclear missiles kept at Kings Bay contain many multiples of the destructive power used by the United States in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

(2) that she sincerely believed and reasonably acted to prevent imminent harm. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says the world is closer to nuclear devastation than ever before. President Trump repeatedly declared that “all options are on the table” and threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

(3) that she reasonably believed her action could help to avoid that harm. “Only by symbolically disarming these nuclear weapons is there any hope for real disarmament.”

(4) that she reasonably believed there were no legal alternatives to breaking the law. “Defendants have each spoken, written, prayed, petitioned, and lobbied for nuclear disarmament and peace for decades. These actions are the only ones left which might make a difference.”

Quigley’s brief cited the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which would allow the United States to use nuclear weapons in response to a non-nuclear attack.   The Doomsday Clock, maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, continues to stand at 2 minutes to midnight. The U.S. refuses to join the majority of the nations of the world in ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, and he may well pull out of the New START Treaty as well, “which would leave nuclear weapons free from all controls” Quigley wrote.

Ellsberg believes the defendants were “definitely entitled” to present the necessity defense. As he said in a statement to the Institute for Public Accuracy, “an action which would under other circumstances be illegal can be justified as legal by a reasonable belief that it is necessary to avert a much greater evil: in this case omnicide, the collateral murder of nearly every human on earth in a war in which the nuclear missiles aboard Trident submarines were launched.”
The judge found that the defendants could have protested nuclear weapons without illegally entering Kings Bay and could’ve used the political process to change nuclear policy. But, Quigley wrote in his motion to reconsider, “there are no facts at all in the record” to support the judge’s conclusions. In fact, the defense tried unsuccessfully to introduce evidence that defendants had tried to effect change through the political process “for decades without success.”
In a declaration filed with the court, Ellsberg wrote about the significance of civil disobedience:
[I]t was not until widespread campaigns of civil disobedience, affecting public awareness and conscience . . . relating to the women’s right to vote, civil rights, and the right to unionize that the electoral and legislative and legal processes began to function to extend and protect these rights in a way we now take for granted as fundamental to democracy.

Refusal to Allow Expert Testimony on Illegality of Nuclear Weapons“Tellingly,” Quigley wrote, “the Magistrate granted the Government the right to preclude the jury from hearing evidence about nuclear weapons without never once discussing or even acknowledging the uncontested lethality of nuclear weapons.”

Moreover, the judge denied the defense motion to present the expert testimony of Professor Francis Boyle about the illegality of nuclear weapons under both international and U.S. law.

“[T]hese defendants acted lawfully and reasonably to prevent egregious and fundamentally prohibited of all crimes, war crimes,” Boyle wrote in a declaration. He concluded that the defendants did not have the criminal intent required to convict them of the charged crimes.
But while the “Defendants’ subjective beliefs about the illegality of nuclear weapons may be relevant background information, whether nuclear weapons are actually illegal under international or domestic law (a doubtful proposition) is not relevant or an appropriate issue to litigate in this case,” Judge Lisa Godbey Wood wrote.

Refusal to Allow Religious Freedom Restoration Act DefenseThe judge also denied the defense motion to argue that the prosecution violated their rights to religious exercise protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Although the judge concluded that the defendants had established the prima facie elements of a RFRA defense, the government demonstrated a compelling interest in prosecuting the defendants for their actions at Kings Bay, citing the safety of individuals on the base, the security of the assets there, and the smooth operation of the base.

The judge also denied the defense motion to argue that the prosecution violated their rights to religious exercise protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Although the judge concluded that the defendants had established the prima facie elements of a RFRA defense, the government demonstrated a compelling interest in prosecuting the defendants for their actions at Kings Bay, citing the safety of individuals on the base, the security of the assets there, and the smooth operation of the base.

Reactions to the Verdict

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 are asking people to sign a worldwide petition urgently requesting that the charges against them be dropped.

Peace activist and retired Col. Ann Wright summed up the irony of the prosecution of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, writing on Facebook, “The US nuclear weapons are so poorly protected that the 7 were able to get into the more secure area! They should be rewarded for pointing out how poorly guarded the weapons are instead of being on trial!!!”

“I don’t see [what I did] that’s the crime,” defendant Liz McAlister said on Democracy Now! “I think the crime is the weapons. The crime is the money spent on the weapons. The crime is the money taken from the real needs in our country and in our world to spend it on these weapons of mass destruction. And we need to stop that. And that’s the message that I want to continue to stand behind.”

Meanwhile, defense attorney Quigley told Truthout that he thinks the verdict will “make convictions easier and defenses harder” in the future.

“If the jury would have heard the facts about the nuclear bombs headquartered at Kings Bay — with 3,800 times the destructive power of Hiroshima and the real possibility of ending all life on the planet — they would probably have come to a different decision about the legality of what these courageous people did,” he said.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Group Opposed to Nuclear Bailout Turns to Courts After Petition Drive Fails

Group Opposed to Nuclear Bailout Turns to Courts After Petition Drive Fails   By ANDY CHOW  OCT 21, 2019 The hotly-contested energy law that bails out nuclear power plants takes effect Tuesday. A group trying to pause the law and put it before voters did not turn in their signatures by the Monday deadline. But the anti-nuclear bailout group is taking a different route.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts says they didn’t have enough signatures to qualify for a referendum by the deadline.

The group’s Gene Pierce says their referendum drive has been met with heavy opposition, including ads, mailers, and canvassers who allegedly blocked and harassed signature collectors.

“The bottom line is that the smear campaign and the lies and deceit of the House Bill 6 supporters were successful in confusing Ohioans and discouraging them from signing our petition,” Pierce said.

The anti-nuclear bailout group is still hoping a federal court will extend the deadline to collect signatures based on their arguments that they’ve faced unconstitutional hurdles.

“We’re very disappointed we couldn’t put an immediate stay on the very bad bill from going into effect but we’re hoping that the courts will recognize the constitutional rights that we have,” Pierce said.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Jury finds Catholic anti nuclear activists guilty on all charges

Kings Bay Plowshares activists found guilty of all charges, Oct 25, 2019, by Jesse Remedios  
BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA — A jury unanimously found seven Catholic activists guilty Oct. 24 of conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation and trespassing for a 2018 anti-nuclear weapons protest at Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia.The verdict, which came after a little more than two hours of deliberation, was the culmination of a four-day trial at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The seven activists, who were tried together but received individual verdicts, were found guilty on all four charges brought against them and now face up to 20 years in prison.

The seven defendants, known together as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, are Elizabeth McAlister, 79; Jesuit Fr. Stephen Kelly, 70; Martha Hennessy, 64; Patrick O’Neill, 63; Clare Grady, 60; Mark Colville, 58; and Carmen Trotta, 57. Five of the seven — all but Hennessy and McAlister — represented themselves.

Bill Quigley, who represented McAlister and is a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, said in a statement outside the courthouse that it was an “honor to be with these seven brave, courageous, faithful people.”

“They have told the truth despite the cost. They have taken their actions despite the risks. And they still have more consequences to go in their efforts to try and save all of our lives, and the lives of all of our children and grandchildren, and the lives of everybody around the world,” Quigley said.

The group was arrested in the early morning hours of April 5, 2018, on Kings Bay Naval Base where they broke in to perform a non-violent protest known as a “plowshares action,” taking its name from a verse in the book of Isaiah that says “nations will beat swords into plowshares.” The protest included symbolically hammering on statues of nuclear missiles, pouring human blood around the base and hanging banners with messages denouncing nuclear weapons.

In August 2019, a federal judge denied the activists’ request to dismiss charges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

During the trial, O’Neill told the jury that a dramatic protest was necessary to alert the world to the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Evidence presented by the prosecution suggested the protestors did a total of around $30,000 worth of damage to government property.

Following the verdict, the defendants remained positive and continued to pronounce their message of peace as they gathered with friends and family at a press conference outside the courthouse. They thanked their supporters, told stories, sang hymns and even danced around the sidewalk to profess their continued belief in their mission.

“It’s been an incredible experience and it’s not over yet,” said Hennessy. “The efficiency of the state can never be underestimated yet we proceed in humility. The weapons are still there, the treaties are being knocked down one after the next, but we are called to keep trying and we will do this together. We have no other choice.”

Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, who tried the case, ruled Oct. 18 that the defendants would not be allowed to bring in expert witnesses to speak to the dangers of nuclear weapons or the motivations of the defendants.

owever, following the verdict, O’Neill expressed gratitude that he and his co-defendants were able to testify about their beliefs concerning the immorality of nuclear weapons.

“I think collectively we said what needed to be said,” O’Neill said.

With the exception of Kelly — who remains in custody for outstanding charges in another state — all defendants were allowed to leave the courthouse on bond while they await their sentencing hearing.

Multiple defendants, all of whom are white, connected their case to issues with the criminal justice system and mass incarceration.

“The Pentagon has many installations and we just walked out of one of them,” said Colville. “It’s a place where they weaponize the law and they wield it mostly against the poor. … Once in a while people of privilege like us get a taste of it, and when we do, we should hear the word ‘guilty’ as a blessing on us because it gives us an opportunity to stand with people who hear ‘guilty’ all the time, every day.”

After the verdict was announced, Wood told the defendants they have 14 days to file a motion for a new trial, acquittal or any other motion they see fit.

[Jesse Remedios is an NCR Bertelesen intern. His email address is]

October 28, 2019 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ohio’s Nuclear and Coal Bailout Bill Survives Court Challenge.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Kings Bay Plowshares 7 face criminal charges and long jail senetences

October 22, 2019 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, USA | 2 Comments

Facing a nasty pro nuclear campaign, Ohio’s anti nuclear group hope for a federal court decision to delay nuclear bailout

Anti-nuclear bailout group fails to make deadline for referendum Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer  Oct. 21, 2019  COLUMBUS – Opponents of Ohio’s $1 billion bailout of two nuclear plants say they didn’t gather enough signatures to block the law by the Monday deadline.

Their only hope: a federal court decision that could give them more time to collect signatures.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts spokesman Gene Pierce wouldn’t say how many signatures the group collected, but it wasn’t enough to put the issue before voters in November 2020.

Ballot groups often collect more than the required number in anticipation of some being tossed out because of duplicates, illegible signatures and other problems.

That means House Bill 6 will take effect at midnight. The law imposes a new fee of 85 cents per month for residential customers on Ohioans’ electric bills starting in 2021.

Those fees are expected to raise about $150 million a year for FirstEnergy Solutions’ plants – money the company says it needs to keep the doors open. Another $20 million from those fees will pay for solar energy companies.

Ohio lawmakers say the legislation will save customers money by cutting assistance for renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts.

The runup to Monday’s deadline has been one of the nastiest campaigns in recent Ohio history. The nuclear plants’ owner, FirstEnergy Solutions, and its allies deployed a variety of tactics to block the referendum from making the ballot ranging from anti-Chinese advertisements to petition signature blockers.

“Nuclear bailout supporters of House Bill 6 have stooped to unprecedented and deceitful depths to stop Ohioans from exercising their constitutional rights to put a bailout question on the ballot for voters to decide,” Pierce said in a news release.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had to submit at least 265,774 valid signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties to put the bill to a vote next year. The group failed to submit those signatures by Monday’s deadline.

The group has asked a federal court judge for more time to collect signatures because initial steps in the process, such as collecting 1,000 valid signatures and having ballot language approved as accurate, ate into its 90-day window.

A hearing on that request is set for Tuesday afternoon. U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus will make a decision after hearing arguments from both sides.

On Monday, Ohioans for Energy Security submitted signatures to Rep. Jamie Callender, R-Concord Township, calling for a ban on foreign control of the state’s energy grid. Callender said he hopes to put that issue before voters.

“That’s kind of scary that someone who didn’t like America, who didn’t like our way of life could cause a lot of damage and a lot of havoc by randomly shutting down a plant that they had controlling interest in,” Callender said. “It could bring the grid down.”

The operators of Ohio’s electric grid say they are “vigilant” about the grid’s security. The federal government can block projects if foreign investment poses a national security risk.

For example, President Trump has halted two foreign acquisitions, citing national security concerns, since 2017: Lattice Semiconductor Corporation by a Chinese investment firm and telecom company Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom.

Columbus bureau chief Jackie Borchardt contributed reporting.

October 22, 2019 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Despite previous warnings, and findings, court finds Tepco executive not guilty after Fukushima nuclear disaster

Fukushima trial ends in not guilty verdict, but nuclear disaster will haunt Japan for decades to come, By James Griffiths, CNN, September 19, 2019  The only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has ended in not guilty verdicts, in a blow to families displaced by the meltdown, as the fallout promises to haunt northern Japan for decades to come.

A court in Tokyo acquitted the former chairman and two former vice presidents of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the firm which operated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to public broadcaster NHK. The trio were accused negligence for failing to implement safety measures, all three pleaded not guilty. Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro argued they could not have reasonably foreseen the disaster and thus were not responsible for its effects, including the premature deaths of 44 hospital patients linked to the emergency evacuation.
Japanese prosecutors had previously refused to charge the men, and only took up the case after a concerted legal effort by the families of the dead and those who were evacuated from the area around Fukushima.
The cleanup from the disaster — caused when an earthquake-triggered tsunami struck the plant — is expected to take decades, and cost billions of dollars. Tens of thousands of people still remain displaced, eight years after the original meltdown.
This month, officials said that water pumped into the stricken plant to cool its nuclear cores might have to be dumped into the ocean, due to a lack of storage space for the thousands of tons of contaminated liquid. Around 300 to 400 tons of highly radioactive water is generated every day; it’s currently stored in hundreds of tanks at the site, from which there have been multiple leaks in the years since decommissioning started.
“There are no other options,” environment minister Yoshiaki Harada said of dumping the water into the sea, though other officials claimed a final decision has not yet been made.
The suggestion of dumping even diluted radioactive runoff raised alarm in neighboring South Korea, and could effect the Japanese fishing industry over fears of contamination, regardless of whether these are valid. The original disaster sparked panics in China and on the United States West Coast, where radioactive isotopes have been detected in the California wine crop.
Tepco has previously estimated the Fukushima cleanup could take up to 40 years, at a cost of some $50 billion……….
Tepco’s liability has been a key point of contention since the meltdown.
The firm has firmly maintained that the disaster was just that, a catastrophic event that could not have been planned for. The Tohoku earthquake was the fourth largest in world history, the largest ever to strike Japan, and Tepco’s position is that it simply could not have been expected to guard against such a disaster.
But evacuees — some of whom may never be able to return to their homes — have argued this lets plant officials off the hook.
Certainly, Tepco’s response in aftermath the disaster has provided plenty of ammunition for critics, such as the delay in announcing a meltdown was taking place, Tepco’s own admitted downplaying of safety concerns, and multiple leaks of contaminated water during the cleanup process.
In 2012, a Japanese government report found that measures taken by Tepco and the Japanese nuclear regulator to prepare for disasters were “insufficient” and response to the crisis “inadequate.” That came in the wake of a study presented in parliament which said the disaster, far from being an act of nature, was a “man-made” catastrophe which should have been predicted and prepared for.
In fact, of all the studies of the disaster, only Tepco’s own internal report found that no one could have predicted the scale of the earthquake and tsunami and prepared for them. A parliamentary panel said that “the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011.”
Despite these damning findings, however, Japanese authorities have shown little desire to hold Tepco officials accountable. Prosecutors twice refused to bring charges, and this week’s court case only occurred after residents appealed.
Thursday’s decision now closes the legal chapter on Fukushima. But as tons and tons of contaminated water continue to build up at the site of the former plant, and fuel rods remain to be cleared, the ghosts of the disaster will be with Japan for decades to come.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed reporting from Tokyo.

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment