nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Protesters call for Capenhurst Urenco nuclear plant to be closed down

March 6, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK, Uranium | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear activists break into France’s Tricastin nuclear station

Reuters 21st Feb 2020. Activists from Greenpeace broke into the Tricastin nuclear power plant in southern France in order to demand its closure, the environmental pressure group said on Friday. “Some 50 Greenpeace activists gained access to several points at the Tricastin nuclear power plant this morning,” said Greenpeace spokeswoman Cecile Genot. “We are protesting and drawing attention to an aging nuclear power plant that is dangerous and should be shut down.” Officials for French state-controlled power group EDF, which runs Tricastin, had no immediate comment on the situation.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-edf-nuclearpower-greenpeace/greenpeace-activists-break-into-edfs-tricastin-nuclear-power-plant-in-france-idUSKBN20F0WB?rpc=401&

February 22, 2020 Posted by | France, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Bruce County, Ontario, protest against nuclear waste dump plan

https://london.ctvnews.ca/nuclear-tanks-no-thanks-say-bruce-county-protesters-1.4820155 Thursday, February 20, 2020  LONDON, ONT. — About 40 Bruce County residents protested outside Bruce County council chambers in Walkerton this morning.They’re protesting plans to bury Canada’s used nuclear fuel under 1300 acres of farmland north of Teeswater. South Bruce is one of two communities in Canada left in the running to host the country’s high level nuclear waste.

A 1300 acre site just north of Teeswater has been identified as a potential underground site for the multi-billion dollar project, that would house approximately 5.2 million used fuel bundles, that remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization says they’ll pick one site between South Bruce and Ignace, in Northern Ontario, by 2023.

Michelle Stein lives near the proposed site in South Bruce. She organized today’s protest.  “Burying your problems to get them out of site is never the answer. I don’t want this underground mess to be the heritage that I leave for my children and grandchildren.”

Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau is the one bringing forward today’s motion to support DGR’s to store nuclear waste. “There’s an international scientific consensus that the best way to store waste materials from nuclear power production is through passive isolation in a Deep Geological Repository.”

The protest comes as Bruce County council debates a motion to reinforce its support for a permanent solution to the country’s nuclear waste, specifically the Deep Geological Repository model that encases the waste in copper containers, encased in clay “buffer boxes”.

 

February 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania oppose energy imports from a Belarusian nuclear power plant

February 15, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, opposition to nuclear, politics international | Leave a comment

Indigenous community votes down proposed nuclear waste bunker near Lake Huron,

‘We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our territory’,https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/indigenous-community-votes-down-proposed-nuclear-waste-bunker-near-lake-huron  The Canadian Press, Colin Perkel. February 1, 2020

TORONTO — An Indigenous community has overwhelmingly rejected a proposed underground storage facility for nuclear waste near Lake Huron, likely spelling the end for a multibillion-dollar, politically fraught project years in the making.

After a year of consultations and days of voting, the 4,500-member Saugeen Ojibway Nation announced late Friday that 85 per cent of those casting ballots had said no to accepting a deep geologic repository at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont.

“We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our territory,” SON said in a statement. “Over the past 40 years, nuclear power generation in Anishnaabekiing has had many impacts on our communities, and our land and waters.”

The province’s giant utility, Ontario Power Generation, had wanted to build the repository 680 metres underground about 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron as permanent storage for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The project was tentatively approved in May 2015.

In August 2017, then-environment minister Catherine McKenna paused the process to ensure buy-in from Indigenous people in the area
While Kincardine was a “willing host,” the relative proximity of the proposed bunker to the lake sparked a backlash elsewhere in Canada and the United States. Politicians, environmentalists and scores of communities expressed opposition.

Successive federal governments have withheld final approval. In August 2017, then-environment minister Catherine McKenna paused the process — the last in a string of delays for the project — to ensure buy-in from Indigenous people in the area.

The generating company, which insisted the stable bedrock would safely contain the waste, items such as contaminated reactor components and mops, said it respected SON’s decision.

“OPG will explore other options and will engage with key stakeholders to develop an alternate site-selection process,” Ken Hartwick, head of OPG, said in a statement shortly after the vote was announced. “Any new process would include engagement with Indigenous peoples as well as interested municipalities.”

The apparent end of the road for the project comes shortly after the federally-mandated Nuclear Waste Management Organization said it was making progress toward choosing a site for storing millions of far more toxic spent nuclear fuel bundles.

The organization, comprising several nuclear plant operators, said it had struck deals with landowners in South Bruce — about 30 minutes east of Kincardine — that will allow it to begin site tests. The only other site under consideration for high-level waste storage is in Ignace in northern Ontario.

Despite the rejection of OPG’s proposal, the utility said it planned to continue a relationship “based on mutual respect, collaboration and trust” with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which comprises the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.

Chippewas of Saugeen Chief Lester Anoquot called the vote — 170 for and 1,058 against — a “historic milestone and momentous victory” for the community.

“We worked for many years for our right to exercise jurisdiction in our territory and the free, prior and informed consent of our people to be recognized,” Anoquot said. “We didn’t ask for this waste to be created and stored in our territory.”

At the same time, Anoquot said, the vote showed the need for a new solution for the hazardous waste, a process he said could take many years.

Ontario depends heavily on nuclear power for its electricity but a permanent storage solution for the increasing amounts of waste now stored above ground has proven elusive. The radioactive material, particular from used fuel, remains highly toxic for centuries.

The utility insists exhaustive science shows a repository in stable and impermeable rock offers the best solution.

“Permanent and safe disposal is the right thing to do for future generations,” Hartwick said.

 

February 3, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

The Japanese want to phase out nuclear power

December 21, 2019 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Maryland’s Back From the Brink” resolution to support the U.N. Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Montgomery County Council has joined Baltimore and Washington, D.C. with its own “Back From the Brink” resolution to support the U.N. Nuclear Ban Treaty, alongside the U.S. Conference of Mayors and 40 municipalities and state legislatures from California to Maine calling on the Trump Administration and Congress to exercise global leadership in preventing nuclear war by:

  • Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
  • Ending the President’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack;
  • Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert;
  • Canceling the the $1.7 trillion dollar plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons;
  • Supporting the U.S. entry into the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; and
  • Requiring the U.S. to pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

The U.N. treaty is two-thirds of the way toward the 50 ratifying nations needed to make it operational, whereupon nuclear weapons will be prohibited, stigmatized and eventually eliminated.

Maryland jurisidictions join “back from the brink” nuclear war movement  Baltimore Sun, By DAVID GROSSO, BILL HENRY and TOM HUCKER, BALTIMORE SUN |, DEC 16, 2019   “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

— President Ronald Reagan in his 1984 State of the Union address

U.S. presidents have always understood the calamitous power of nuclear weapons. They held the fate of our planet and human civilization in their hands with sole authority to launch a nuclear warhead that could not be recalled.

Under President Donald Trump, the danger of putting planetary fate of the world in the hands of one person has never been clearer. He refuses to listen to, or abide by, the advice of our career military and diplomatic experts. His ill-advised and impetuous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria is only the most recent example. Since taking office, President Trump has abandoned the multilateral agreement that constrained Iran’s nuclear program. He also announced plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which for more than 30 years banned intermediate range missiles and has contributed to stability in Europe.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: “The INF treaty’s potential death foreshadows a new competition to deploy weapons long banned. Continue reading

December 17, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Congress members call on Trudeau to stop nuclear waste dumping near Great Lakes

December 12, 2019 Posted by | Canada, environment, opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | 4 Comments

Indigenous opposition grows against proposal for grand nuclear waste dump in New Mexico

Some fear the “interim” storage facility could become a de facto permanent storage facility

transport of high-level radioactive waste across the state could also lead to potentially dangerous nuclear releases, leaving impacted communities responsible for emergency responses.

the proposal fits into a wider pattern of negligence and environmental racism on behalf of the federal government towards one of the United States’ poorest majority-minority states. 

November 16, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

One small nation shows how to be nuclear- free and climate friendly – theme for November 19

Citizen Advocacy: The Achievements of New Zealand`s Peace Activism, Asia Pacific Journal Pinar Temocin and Noriyuki Kawano, October 1, 2019 Volume 17 | Issue 19 | Number 2Abstract

Aotearoa New Zealand provides an important example of successful citizen activism in the form of anti-nuclear peace advocacy. The collective efforts by peace actors over several decades resulted in the successful demand for a nuclear-free nation. This paper highlights the widespread participation and political support that facilitated the process and assesses its achievements.

Introduction  New Zealand, a small and isolated country, is a rare example of a nation achieving nuclear-free status. The peace-seeking nation unified around an anti-war narrative, and moved from activism based on public awareness and engagement to the passage of laws that eliminated nuclear weapons through a number of stages: from the first generation of movements against the atomic bomb after 1945 to the response to French nuclear testing in the late 60`s to US and UK nuclear warship visits in the 70`s and the early 80`s. As part of this shift, the US-led military alliance with Australia and New Zealand (ANZUS) was redefined by New Zealanders from a guarantee of security to a threat that posed a security dilemma. As this essay shows, social consciousness and activism was ultimately successful in bringing fundamental change. The Labor Party, in particular, played a critical role in translating strong public participation on the part of a broad section of the population into a significant policy outcome: `the creation of a peaceful and nuclear-free nation`. 

This mobilization involved persistent and substantial public pressure over decades. Public pressure to change the nation’s foreign policy also included opposition to involvement in the United States-led coalition in the Korean and Vietnam wars. As these wars came to an end, the matter of nuclear testing became a hot-button election issue forcing each political party to adopt a policy on nuclear weapons. The anti-nuclear argument was placed within a broader moral vision. New Zealand peace advocates problematized the threatening conditions and demanded a solution under the narratives of a `democratic, egalitarian, decolonized, independent, non-violent, non-militarist nation which is intrinsically based on `a peaceful nation`. A peaceful nation for them required a nuclear-free approach in its domestic and foreign policies. To achieve this, they organized actively, coordinated professionally, sustained effective campaigns, and engaged in the policy-formation and shaping process.

Since the end of the 60s, successful protest movements have established new modes of political participation in advanced democracies.1 In some democratic societies including New Zealand, social movements have benefitted from tolerant political structures. Their success depends further on specific configurations of resources, trustworthy institutional arrangements, and historical precedents for social mobilization that facilitate the development of protest movements.2

Strong democracies are conducive to positive engagements and interactions between citizen and the state. The strengthening of practices of participation, responsiveness to a majority, and the development of inclusive and cohesive societies are powerful components of the democratic decision-making process. Therefore, citizen participation in governance with a responsive, open, and tolerant state can produce positive effects based on popular consensus……https://apjjf.org/2019/19/Temocin.html 

New Zealand passes historic zero carbon bill with near unanimous bipartisan support – The New Zealand parliament has passed landmark legislation that enshrines the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement into law, and will see the country achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 ….. https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-zealand-passes-historic-zero-carbon-bill-with-near-unanimous-bipartisan-support-33500/

November 9, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes, climate change, New Zealand, opposition to nuclear | 2 Comments

Over 60 organisations across the nation oppose USA’s bailout of the nuclear industry

Groups oppose “massive new subsidy” for nuclear industry in tax extenders, https://foe.org/news/groups-oppose-massive-new-subsidy-nuclear-industry-tax-extenders/. October 30, 2019 WASHINGTON, D.C. A coalition of over 60 local, state and national environmental groups today voiced their disapproval of a proposed bailout of the nation’s nuclear power industry.In a letter sent to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, the groups called on Congressional tax writers to oppose an industry-backed proposal to subsidize existing reactors with a new 30 percent tax credit. Specifically, the letter urges that this tax credit be excluded from a potential extenders package expected this Fall.

A recent analysis indicates that the nuclear industry proposal would cost the treasury $23 billion in lost revenue. Separately, the indirect cost to ratepayers would be $33 billion over 20 years, as regular consumers shoulder the burden of aging, uneconomic reactors.

“Sticking taxpayers with an astronomical bill to bailout the failing nuclear industry is simply unconscionable,” said Lukas Ross, senior policy analyst at Friends of the Earth. “Nuclear power doesn’t deserve another subsidy. This dirty tax credit has no place in a clean energy package.”

“We have a chance right now to expand and extend tax incentives for clean renewable energy like wind and solar and even more nascent industries like energy storage, offshore wind, and electric vehicles,” said Matthew Davis, the League of Conservation Voters’ legislative director. “The nuclear industry already gets billions in subsidies, and has for decades, and we cannot take our eyes off the ball of advancing renewable energy for a 100% clean energy future.”

“Taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power make as much sense as trying to revive the whale-oil industry,” said Grant Smith, senior energy policy advisor at the Environmental Working group. “After six decades of throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at a fundamentally flawed and dangerous technology, we should have learned our lesson. Instead, the government should be investing in clean, safe, money-saving renewable energy.”

“Creating a new subsidy for old nuclear reactors is wasteful and counterproductive,” said Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Wind and solar are now the most cost-effective electricity sources, yet nuclear power has only gotten more and more expensive over the decades. It’s time to stop shoveling taxpayer dollars into a nuclear pit, and put our money to work building the clean, safe, healthy energy economy this country needs.”

The national signers include: Friends of the Earth, National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch Action, Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Contacts: Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

November 4, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste storage? There’s no real money in it for Wyoming.

Kessler: Nuclear waste storage provides no benefit for Wyoming, https://trib.com/opinion/columns/kessler-nuclear-waste-storage-provides-no-benefit-for-wyoming/article_4267cc9f-a2f8-54e5-a2d6-7ebe2fe9f9eb.html, Nov 2, 2019 

There’s no doubt that Wyoming needs to find new revenue sources to fund our schools and state budget, but storing nuclear waste is not the answer. It’s a far-fetched proposal riddled with legal roadblocks. And even if we ignore those roadblocks — along with the many safety and political risks of storing high-level radioactive waste — there’s no real money in it for Wyoming.

For starters, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which regulates the storage of spent fuel rods from commercial nuclear reactors, makes available just $5 million per year to states willing to host a “monitored retrievable storage” facility during the construction phase. Once such a facility starts accepting the waste, that amount increases to just $10 million per year. This is a far cry from the $1 billion per year proponents claim Wyoming would see.

That’s assuming such a facility can even legally be constructed. The act also prohibits building a temporary facility until a permanent disposal repository, such as the one proposed for Yucca Mountain in Nevada, starts construction. But licensing work on Yucca Mountain has stalled; Congress hasn’t authorized any funding for it in recent years.

To build a storage facility in Wyoming, we’d have to get Congress to change the law in our favor and give us 100 times the amount of cash authorized in the act. That’s not likely. In the last three years, more than a dozen bills have been introduced in Congress to amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and address this topic. They’ve all failed. Nuclear utilities are likely the biggest opponents: Fees collected for the act’s Nuclear Waste Fund are predominantly meant to fund a permanent disposal solution — not something temporary.

But assume we could actually convince Congress to change the law to allow a monitored retrievable storage site here. Then what? Chances are we’d be stuck with those spent fuel rods for good. That’s because there are no legal, political or financial mechanisms to ensure that, once accepted, high-level radioactive waste would ever be removed. Wyoming would likely become the new Yucca Mountain – not a place to hold nuclear waste temporarily, but a de facto permanent disposal site.

The proposal also ignores serious transportation safety concerns. At no time in our nation’s history would so much high-level radioactive waste be on our roads and rails — and traveling such great distances. So far, the federal government has failed to adopt the enhanced transportation safeguards suggested by the Western Governors’ Association, the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on American’s Nuclear Future, the National Academy of Sciences and the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects. There is much work to be done ahead of any attempt to safely ship spent fuel rods across the country. As a recent government report concluded: “The transportation of large amounts of spent fuel to an interim storage or permanent disposal location is inherently complex and the planning and implementation may take decades to accomplish.”

It’s especially curious that our legislators suddenly seem so trusting of the federal government in this matter. Our nation’s nuclear waste policy has a 50-year history of broken promises, missed timelines, shifting policies, unreliable funding, changing scientific criteria and running roughshod over states’ rights. In fact, when Gov. Mike Sullivan vetoed this same proposal in 1992 he wrote:

“Can we trust the federal government or the assurance of negotiation to protect our citizens’ interests? To do so would disregard the geographical voting power in Congress and 100 years of history and experience… Are we willing to ignore the experience history would provide us for the siren song of promised economic benefits and a policy that is clearly a moving target? As Governor, I am not.”

In Wyoming, we need a vision for our future that embraces the assets that truly make us a place where people want to live, move to and do business: our strong public schools, workforce, wildlife, open spaces, livable communities, agricultural legacy and outdoor way of life. This is what makes Wyoming the envy of many other places. Instead of jeopardizing our heritage and tarnishing our state’s image, we need to protect and build upon these assets. Storing nuclear waste invites regulatory, political, safety and economic diversification risks — while providing Wyoming no real benefits. We urge the Legislature to reject spending any more time or resources on such a misguided idea.

November 4, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

French activists broke into nuclear plant, demonstrating the risk of terrorism

Greenpeace 28th Oct 2019, In the early hours of 12 October 2017, eight people sneaked inside the grounds of the Cattenom nuclear plant in northern France. Without much difficulty, they reached the foot of a spent fuel pool – where the still highly radioactive fuel rods are stored after use.

It was a scenario Greenpeace France had been warning about since 2001 through numerous reports, letters and speeches. France’s aging fleet of reactors is poorly protected, and not designed to withstand big impacts, such as an explosion set off by terrorists.

A loss of water from the spent fuel pools – protected by walls only 30cm thick – could lead to a massive release of radioactivity. Fortunately, the eight intruders turned out to be peaceful activists from Greenpeace France; they set off some fireworks to demonstrate their presence and then allowed themselves to be led away.

The ease with which they had penetrated alarmed the government of Luxembourg, which lies just north of Cattenom. It also finally spurred the French authorities into action; a parliamentary investigation into nuclear safety
was announced the following month. It’s a textbook example of the role of
non-violent direct action (NVDA) in a democracy, much like the recent
climate strikes.

When the authorities are sleeping at the wheel, and not
responding to polite arguments, citizen action is needed to wake them up.
In this case, it did. A happy end? Unfortunately not.

In a classic case of shooting the messenger, prosecutors have pressed for stiff penalties. In February 2018, a court in Thionville sentenced the ‘Cattenom nine’ – the eight activists and a Greenpeace France employee. It imposed a 2-month jail sentence on two of the individuals, and suspended sentences on the
rest. It also ordered Greenpeace France to pay €50,000 to the power
company, EDF as ‘moral damages’.

https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/25273/cattenom-nine-activists-face-jail-for-sounding-the-alarm-bell-on-nuclear-safety/

October 31, 2019 Posted by | France, incidents, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Restriction of defence arguments in the trial of Catholic peace activists

Convicted Anti-Nuclear Activists Speak Out: “Pentagon Has Brainwashed People”   https://truthout.org/articles/convicted-anti-nuclear-activists-speak-out-pentagon-has-brainwashed-people/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=177551ee-b430-44b8-afe2-cbe78a6a6b09   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

Jury finds Catholic anti nuclear activists guilty on all charges

Kings Bay Plowshares activists found guilty of all charges, https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/kings-bay-plowshares-activists-found-guilty-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 jremedios@ncronline.org.]

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