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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Never again – new Hibakusha victims – no nuclear weapons – Sueichi Kido

New head of A-bomb sufferers’ group strives for a world with no new hibakusha https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170812/p2a/00m/0na/025000c, August 13, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) “The dropping of an atomic bomb is an act decided by humans. Likewise, if humans decide to work together, we can eliminate nuclear weapons.” These were the words uttered by 77-year-old Sueichi Kido, who took over from Terumi Tanaka, 85, in June, as secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations after Tanaka had served in the role for 20 years.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Bill Curry met Donald Trump – found him to be a damaged, pathetic personality – and worse now

Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye.
In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health
My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worseI didn’t get his endorsement when I ran for governor — but the severely troubled man I met has only gotten worse, Salon.com.  BILL CURRY 12 Aug 17, In 1994, I visited the home of Donald Trump. He was a Democrat then, of sorts, and I was the party’s nominee for governor of Connecticut. He’d taken an interest in our state owing to his keen desire to lodge a casino in Bridgeport, an idea I found economically and morally dubious. I had scant hope of enlisting him, but made the trip anyway, thinking that if I convinced him I might win, he’d be less apt to bankroll my opponent.
I arrived at Trump Tower in early evening, accompanied by my finance chair and an old friend and colleague. Stepping off the elevator into his apartment, we were met by a display of sterile, vulgar ostentation: all gold, silver, brass, marble; nothing soft, welcoming or warm. Trump soon appeared and we began to converse, but not really. In campaigns, we candidates do most of the talking; because we like to, and because people ask us lots of questions. Not this time. Not by a long shot.
Trump talked very rapidly and virtually nonstop for nearly an hour; not of my campaign or even of politics, but only of himself, and almost always in the third person. He’d given himself a nickname: “the Trumpster,” as in “everybody wants to know what the Trumpster’s gonna do,” a claim he made more than once.

He mostly told stories. Some were about his business deals; others about trips he’d taken or things he owned. All were unrelated to the alleged point of our meeting, and to one another. That he seldom even attempted segues made each tale seem more disconnected from reality than the last. It was funny at first, then pathetic, and finally deeply unsettling.

On the drive home, we all burst out laughing, then grew quiet. What the hell just happened? My first theory, that Trump was high on cocaine, didn’t feel quite right, but he was clearly emotionally impaired: in constant need of approbation; lacking impulse control, self-awareness or awareness of others. We’d heard tales of his monumental vanity, but were still shocked by the sad spectacle of him.

That visit colored all my later impressions of Trump. Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye. Sensing impunity, Trump revived the racist ‘birther’ lie. In 2011, he told the “Today” show’s Meredith Vieira he had unearthed some dark secrets:

Vieira: You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?

Trump: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they’re finding

As Trump recycled old lies, Vieira had a queasy look but no apparent knowledge of the facts. Of course, there weren’t any. Trump had no proof of Obama being born in Kenya. (Since there is none.) It’s highly doubtful he had any researchers in Hawaii. (It was only after Vieira asked him that he claimed he did.) Later, when Trump’s story crumbled, he followed a rule taught by his mentor, Roy Cohn, infamous architect of McCarthyism: Admit nothing. To Trump, a lie is worth a thousand pictures.

By 2016, the private Trump was on permanent public display, raging over mere slights, seeing plots in every ill turn of events and, as always, stunningly self-absorbed. He was called a racist, a sexist and a bully. But his mental health issues were euphemized as problems of “temperament.” He lied ceaselessly, reflexively and clumsily, but his lies were called merely “unproven” or, later, “false.” The New York Times called the birther story a lie only after Trump grudgingly retracted it. Not till he was safe in office claiming that millions of phantom immigrants cast votes for Clinton did the paper of record use the word “lie” in reference to a tale Trump was still telling.

In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health……http://www.salon.com/2017/08/12/my-meeting-with-donald-trump-a-damaged-pathetic-personality-whose-obvious-impairment-has-only-gotten-worse/.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, politics, USA | Leave a comment

The human effect – as New York and other cities become climate changed sweltering hotspots

Climate change is turning cities into harsh, sweltering hotspots http://grist.org/article/climate-change-is-turning-cities-into-harsh-sweltering-hotspots/ Tina Johnson has a sense of place. She’s a fourth-generation New Yorker who lives in the same apartment in West Harlem’s Grant housing development that her grandparents lived in. She calls that apartment her anchor, and the nine buildings that make up the development towering above 125th Street — home to roughly 4,400 residents spread across nine high rises — a small town.

August 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons treaty offers hope this Hiroshima Day

The Baltimore Sun ,Gwen L. DuBois, 5 Aug 17 

Hiroshima: Dropping The Bomb – Hiroshima – BBC

 

(I apologise for the ads at the beginning of this video. Ads are part of the price of running this website with no funding whatsoever)

This Hiroshima Day anniversary, 72 years after we dropped the first atomic bomb as a weapon of war, will be different.

Just ask Setsuko Thurlow, who was in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. She was also present at the United Nations a month ago when Costa Rica ambassador, Elayne Whyte, announced that the treaty to ban nuclear weapons had been adopted.

“I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” she said that day. “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”

Ms. Setsuko was 13 years old when she saw the flash of the bomb. Bodies were thrown up in the air around her. The wooden building she was in collapsed, and she could hear the cries from her classmates in the darkness. She managed to extricate herself and escape to the hills, witness to grotesquely injured people trying to move away from the city in silence for lack of physical and emotional strength — whispering only for water. She remembers her 4-year-old nephew, a “blackened, scorched chunk of flesh wailing in a faint voice until his death released him from agony.”

On July 7th, 2017, the day Ms. Setsuko spoke before the U.N., 122 non-nuclear nations endorsed the treaty that, when ratified, binds signatories never to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. Nations that have hosted these massively lethal bombs pledge not to station, install or deploy them. It establishes humanitarian and human rights for those that have been victims of nuclear weapons or weapons testing, including the right to live in an environment that has been remediated from the damage done by them. It notes that women and children are disproportionately harmed by radiation. The treaty is open for signatures through Sept. 20, and once 50 nations have signed and ratified, it becomes law 90 days later.

“These obligations (of this treaty) break new ground. The prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons, for example, sets up a fundamental challenge to all policies based on nuclear deterrence. From now on, deterrence advocates are on the wrong side of the law, as understood and accepted by the majority of countries in the world,” Zia Mian, a Princeton University professor, wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist……..

Because of this treaty, there is hope.

Soon nuclear weapons will not only be immoral but also illegal. Citizens of the world take notice.

Dr. Gwen L. DuBois (gdubois@jhsph.edu) is president of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. She was also a citizen lobbyist in June at the United Nations Draft Conference to Ban Nuclear Weapons. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-0806-weapons-treaty-20170802-story.html

August 4, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Just Moms, St Louis

The Fallout, In St. Louis, America’s nuclear history creeps into the present, leaching into streams and bodies. Guernica, 

Joe Trunko from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources … told Dawn that there is a landfill near her home, that it is an EPA Superfund site contaminated with toxic chemicals, that there has been an underground fire burning there since 2010. “These things happen sometimes in landfills,” he said. “But this one is really not good.”

Joe told Dawn that this landfill fire measures six football fields across and more than a hundred and fifty feet deep; it is in the floodplain of the Missouri River, less than two miles from the water itself, roughly twenty-seven miles upstream from where the Missouri River joins the Mississippi River before flowing out to the sea. “But to be honest, it’s not even the fire you should be worrying about,” Joe continued. “It’s the nuclear waste buried less than one thousand feet away.”

Joe explained how almost fifty thousand tons of nuclear waste left over from the Manhattan Project was dumped in the landfill illegally in 1973…….

Weeks later, she found herself standing outside the chain-link fence that surrounds the landfill with half a dozen environmental activists who had gotten hold of some air-sampling equipment……..

Karen Nickel didn’t know much about the landfill—she’d only just learned about it a few weeks before—but she knew about the waste……

Karen did look into it and learned that many of her classmates and neighbors and childhood friends had died of leukemias and brain cancers and appendix cancers—rare in the general population, but, again, apparently common among those who live or had lived near the creek. It couldn’t possibly be a coincidence…..

When Dawn and Karen learned what the EPA had proposed years earlier, in their Record of Decision, they immediately pushed back. They called the media, gave interviews, started a Facebook page. “I remember getting so excited when we hit two hundred members,” Karen told me. “Now we have over seventeen thousand.” They all lobbied their representatives, their senators, City Council members, mayors…….

“We’re just moms!” Karen and Dawn would answer. “We’re just citizens concerned about the health and safety of our kids and our community!”

Soon after, Karen and Dawn, along with another resident, Beth Strohmeyer, officially formed Just Moms STL………

After a few weeks of making these graphs, they realized the fire wasn’t under control, it wasn’t going out. It was, in fact, moving toward the waste, inching toward the known edge, spreading through the old limestone quarry. Now one thousand feet away. Now seven hundred………

Robbin and Mike Dailey moved to this house in 1999, after their kids had moved out and started families of their own. It’s a relief their children never lived here, she tells me. In this neighborhood children fall ill. There are brain cancers and appendix cancers, leukemias and salivary-gland cancers. Up the street from Robin and Mike there’s a couple with lung and stomach cancer. They bought their home just after it was built in the late 1960s.

I ask what they think might happen if the fire ever reaches the waste. The question hangs in the air for a moment as the TV flickers from the far wall. “Look, we know it won’t explode,” Robbin explains. “We’re not stupid. We know that’s not how it works. But just because there’s no explosion doesn’t mean there won’t be fallout.”…….

I’ve looked at thousands of pictures of this landfill, aerial photos and historical photos, elevation photos and topographical maps, but nothing has prepared me to see it in person, this giant belching mound of tubes and pumps and pipes. There’s some kind of engineered cover over the dirt itself, which is supposed to suffocate the fire and capture the fumes. It looks like little more than a green plastic tarp patched together over a hundred acres of sagging hills.

“This is the burning side,” Robbin tells me. “The radwaste is on the other side.” The patchwork is topographical and bureaucratic: the burning side is the southern section of the landfill and falls under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; the radioactive waste is mostly on the northern side, and under EPA jurisdiction. On the burning side, workers drive over the tarp on utility carts, wearing hard hats and work clothes. No gloves, no masks, no protection from the destruction buried underneath their feet……….https://www.guernicamag.com/the-fallout/

 

July 24, 2017 Posted by | environment, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Marshallese people evacuated from their islands now face harsh situation in Oklahoma

The U.S. Tested 67 Nuclear Bombs in Their Country. Now They’re Dying in Oklahoma. Narratively, by Zoë Carpenter , 20 July 17 After a series of military experiments devastated their homeland, Marshall Islands residents were permitted to immigrate to the U.S. But they didn’t know their American dream came with a catch

Lately, Terry Mote has been going to a lot of funerals. There were at least five in the early spring, sometimes on consecutive weekends. The elderly get sicker when the weather changes, he’s noticed – though the friends dying lately aren’t all that old, and they aren’t dying just because of the weather.

One breezy evening in April, on a weekend with no funeral, Mote’s kitchen filled with steam and the snapping sound of hot oil. He’d driven a hundred miles the previous day, to Oklahoma City, to buy bitter melon and small fish that he placed delicately into the frying pan with a pair of tongs. They were among the things he missed from the Marshall Islands, where he grew up. Fresh seafood is hard to find in the dry, windy city where he lives now – Enid, Oklahoma, a hunkered-down prairie town at the eastern edge of the Great Plains…….

Many leave the islands in search of the same things as other migrants – work, education, health care. But an unusual shadow trails the Marshallese. Following the Second World War, the United States used the islands as a testing ground for its nuclear weapons program, detonating more than 60 bombs over a dozen years. The largest, the “Castle Bravo” test, blew a crater 6,510 feet wide in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll and ignited a fireball visible from 250 miles away. Children on neighboring islands played in the ashy fallout, which fell like snow from the sky.

Today, thanks to a treaty signed when the Marshall Islands gained independence from the U.S. in 1986, Marshallese citizens are allowed to live and work in the States. Between 2000 and 2010, the number here grew by 237 percent. This mass migration is driven in part by poverty and lack of services in the islands. But it’s also a legacy of the U.S. occupation and the various damages it left behind. And it’s accelerated by climate change, which has started to drown the low-lying archipelago……

Mote and many other Marshallese in the U.S. live in a precarious state of in-between. Granted residency but not citizenship, the Marshallese have virtually no political influence and rank as the single poorest ethnic group in the U.S. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (or welfare reform) eliminated federal health care funding for Marshallese by excluding them from the group of “qualified aliens” who are eligible for benefits. That means that Marshallese citizens who live, work and pay taxes in the U.S. are ineligible for Medicaid and Medicare unless states opt to provide it. Oklahoma has not done so.

Mote loves Enid, but life is more difficult than he anticipated. Rent and groceries are expensive, and there is the problem of the funerals. Few of the elderly Marshallese in the city live into their 70s, according to Mote and other residents I spoke with. Instead, they’re dying young – of diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease, illnesses they might have been able to manage under other circumstances. Often they leave behind families saddled with medical debt.

Mote described the struggle in his community as part of a legacy of broken promises made by the U.S. – promises that the islanders displaced by the nuclear program would be able to return; that those relocated or sickened would be provided for; that the testing was for “the good of mankind.” America tested 67 nuclear bombs in the islands, Mote reminded me. “Then they’re just going to let us die over here?”

…………Inside the clinic I met Daina Joseia, a 63-year-old woman wearing a loose, floral-print dress of a style worn by many Marshallese women. Joseia smiled easily, but she seemed frail and tired. She moved to Enid in 1999, seeking care for various physical ailments – too many for me to write down, she said. Once she arrived, she found she couldn’t afford insurance. She often feels scared or ashamed to see a doctor because she’s uninsured, but she’s sick enough that she can’t avoid it. She has a lot of bills to pay. The day we met, Joseia had a large sore on her back.

Joseia believes her ill health might be connected to something she saw in the islands when she was a little girl: an enormous flash of light, she told me through an interpreter, “a real bright color, like a fire.” It wasn’t until she was an adult that she understood what she’d seen.

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States tested 67 nuclear bombs on or near two atolls at the northern end of the Marshall Islands – an area that became known as the Pacific Proving Grounds. The largest weapons test, a hydrogen bomb set off on Bikini Atoll in 1954, detonated with more than a thousand times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Though Bikini Atoll had been evacuated, the wind blew radioactive fallout onto several inhabited islands, and perhaps much further away. (A few days later, a doctor in Tennessee reported that cattle in the state showed unusually high levels of radioactivity in their thyroids.) Officially, the U.S. claimed only three inhabited islands were seriously affected by fallout from Bravo. But an internal report declassified in the 1990s suggested that radiation from that and subsequent tests may have affected as many as 13 atolls.

On neighboring islands, many health effects were immediate: radiation burns, damage to stomach linings, low blood cell counts. Others surfaced gradually in the following months and years. Rates of leukemia, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer rose. Children were born deformed, or had their growth stunted.

“In a nation that lacks a single oncologist or cancer treatment facility, the Marshallese experience extremely high rates of cancer; degenerative conditions associated with radiation exposure; miscarriage and infertility; and, the birth of congenitally deformed children,” environmental anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnston wrote in a 2013 report on the legacy of the tests. According to a 2012 report by a special rapporteur for the U.N., those health issues were “exacerbated by near-irreversible environmental contamination,” which in turn led to “indefinite displacement” for many Marshallese.

According to Dr. Neal Palafox, a cancer specialist at the University of Hawaii who worked in the Marshall Islands for nearly a decade, the weapons testing damaged more than flesh and bone. It constituted a form of cultural trauma, too. Palafox believes the U.S. chose to conduct the testing where it did because residents had little power to push back. “Not for a second does anybody believe that there was any kind of informed consent,” Palafox said in an interview. There is some evidence the U.S. knew that the winds had shifted before the Bravo test in a direction that endangered inhabited islands, yet proceeded anyway. Afterward, many of the people most heavily exposed to the Bravo fallout became test subjects in Project 4.1, a classified medical study of radiation exposure run by the U.S. government. Later in 1954, the Congress of the Marshall Islands requested a halt to the testing, which the U.S. rejected on the grounds that the islanders “had no medical reason to expect any permanent after-effects on the general health of the inhabitants.”

Joseia remembers the sickness that followed the bright light. She remembers women giving birth to babies that “didn’t look like human beings.” One man I met in Enid described infants born looking “like jellyfish.” Another woman, Joelynn Karben, told me she remembered infants born after the nuclear tests as incoherent lumps of flesh, like bunches of grapes. Her own brother was born missing part of his skull, and her mother died from what she thinks was thyroid cancer.

The bombings are deeply etched in the islands’ collective memory, and some people I met in Enid blamed them for all manner of illnesses. It’s impossible to say which, if any, of Joseia’s health issues are directly related. The sore she had on her back the day we met was actually a symptom of her diabetes, a nurse told me later – though that, too, is linked to the U.S. military presence in the islands, specifically to the dietary changes that accompanied imports of processed, sugary foods.

More than 90 percent of the food in the Marshall Islands is imported from the U.S. now. Before the U.S. occupation, the Marshallese ate mostly fish, breadfruit, coconut, and pandanus, a knobby fruit resembling a large pinecone. World War II and the nuclear testing that followed damaged local crops and created a stigma around local foods, which residents of islands affected by fallout had been warned by the U.S. not to eat. Some people were forced to relocate to desolate islands where growing food was impossible. Imported white rice, canned meats, refined sugar, and other cheap, processed foods filled the gap. Diabetes rates soared.

In Enid, it seemed like almost everyone I met had diabetes. In fact, the Marshallese have the second highest rate of Type II diabetes in the world. While the illness can be controlled, it becomes gruesome if not properly managed. Complications can escalate to blindness, nerve damage, and serious infections, which can require amputation.

Joseia’s diabetes is acute. Her kidneys are failing, and she needs dialysis. But there’s nowhere for her to get it in Enid without insurance. When her condition gets bad enough she can be admitted to an emergency room – but only in a crisis……..

Marshallese also bear the rare burden of radiation-related illness. Cancer killsmore Marshallese citizens than any other disease but diabetes, and according to a 2004 report by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, it is likely some radiation-related cancers have yet to develop or be diagnosed in people who lived on the islands between 1948 and 1970………

Mote is an optimistic guy, and a relentless jokester. He claims that “tired” is not part of his vocabulary. He hesitates to speak badly about anyone.

But watching Enid’s Marshallese families get sick so often, listening to them fret about coming up with rent money, going to all the funerals – it does wear on him. He constantly fields requests for help, but there’s only so much he can do; his toehold in the city bureaucracy is still tenuous. He’d like to run for a seat on the city council, but without citizenship he’s ineligible. Mote believes that if Oklahomans understood more about the history and culture of the islands, they might be more sympathetic to the plight of their people. But he also acknowledges that Enid, which is more than 80 percent white, “has a lot of issues with race” to overcome first.

“I don’t want to blame someone,” Mote said, when I asked what he thought the U.S. owed the Marshallese. “But yes, I feel frustrated sometimes, to see all these people getting sick every day, dying every day… If the state is not going to help us, and the government is not listening to us, who will help us?” He went on, “Do we just scatter our stuff and leave Oklahoma?”…….http://narrative.ly/how-years-of-ruthless-nuclear-testing-in-the-south-pacific-forged-americas-most-impoverished-ethnic-group/

July 21, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

America neglects Guam atomic test victims – hopes they all die?

July 17 2017 Terry R Scheidt   Seems like Terry is the only responder, is there anyone else, It is July 2017, been writing to Trump to use his EO but he never responds either. Boy is this America?

January 12, 2014 Aloha, It is now 01/2014 (24 years) since RECA was enacted. We are still waiting for justice. Our country denied, deceived, has no integrity or values by denying victims of radiation they caused. The justice system denied and dismissed most litigation cases claiming the Congress had to enact better laws to address radiation.

They claimed radiation does not cause cancer, of course we know better in the PACIFIC, Micronesia, Guam, Johnston
Island and many other location. The unfortunate thing is 70 years have passed and many have already died which is our countries hope.

May 13, 2017  It is now May 2017, yes Terry is still alive and still seeking equity, HA. Our delegates never heard such a word, denial is more like it. I will advocate for loyalty till I die. Hard to believe our nation does things I thought only others did.

I was a range rat, many friends on Midway, Eniwetok, Wake, French Frigate Shoals, Christmas, Johnston, Jarvis, Canton damn so many.

*************************************************************************************************************

Way back in 2010, we made a small post about the the plight of residents of Guam, who were suffering from illnesses resulting from radiation exposure. Research presented to the National Academy of Science and National Research Council described the effects on this community, of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.  The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors, a nonprofit organization, was lobbying U.S. Congress to include Guam in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Program, so that they could receive help and compensation for their radiation-induced illnesses.

Well, what happened about this?

Thanks to one reader of this website, we have been kept up to date over the years:

TERRY R SCHEIDT by Terry R Scheidt  January 6, 2011 I WAS A 1962 JOHNSTON ISLAND PARTICIPANT. I WAS AT GROUND ZERO AND EXPOSED TO HIGH LEVELS OF RADIATION FOR WHICH I GOT CANCER. I HAVE NOT BEEN COMPENSATED UNDER THE DOE/EEOICPA ACT BECAUSE I DID NOT WORK FOR DOE. I WAS DENIED. I RECEIVED UNEQUAL COMPENSATION FROM DOJ (RECA) BUT AT A MUCH LESSER AMOUNT THAN DOE (EEOICPA). NO MEDICAL AND LESS THAN HALF THAT OF DOE. PLEASE SUPPORT HR 5119/S3224.

April 23, 2011 Do our representatives really care? Why have both HR5119/S3224 both died in committee. Our government does not live up to responsibility. They cause us harm than ignore us as if we do not exist. Aloha.

April 26, 2011 I am a 1962 ground zero victim of the Johnston Island PPG. Senators Pangelinan, Udalls and Rep Lujan have done nothing. All legislation died in committee. They turned their backs on us again. Shame.

June 25, 2012 Continue reading

July 17, 2017 Posted by | health, Legal, OCEANIA, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | 3 Comments

“This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.” – Hiroshima survivors respond to UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Atom bomb survivors in Japan welcome UN resolution on nuclear weapons http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/atom-bomb-hiroshima-un-nuclear-weapons-japan-a7832081.html ‘I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived’ says Hiroshima Setsuko Thurlow Fiona Keating , 9 Jul 17, A United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons has been welcomed by survivors of the deadly atom bomb attacks on Japan which ended the Second World War.

Rare footage show the nightmare aftermath of Hiroshima after atomic bomb killed 140,000 people

Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the Hiroshima blast, was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when she was near to the hypocentre of the explosion on August 6, 1945.

“I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” she told the Japan Times. “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”

Recounting what happened in the aftermath to survivors, she said: “Their hair was standing on end — I don’t know why — and their eyes were swollen shut from the burns. Some peoples’ eyeballs were hanging out of the sockets. Some were holding their own eyes in their hands. Nobody was running. Nobody was yelling. It was totally silent, totally still. All you could hear were the whispers for ‘water, water.’

  • “How do you describe a hell on Earth?”

    Toshiki Fujimori, assistant secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organisations also hailed the adoption of the treaty.

    “I never would imagine this treaty was going to be concluded,” he said. “I think it is the collective effort of the humanity of all the people that came together here at the United Nations.”

    The United Nation’s first-ever adoption of the nuclear weapons ban  was agreed by a total of 122 countries, with only the Netherlands opposed and Singapore abstaining.

  • Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders said the Netherlands supported the ban on nuclear weapons but was concerned over issues with the resolution itself. Particularly, how checks and controls would be adhered to.

    Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the UN conference on prohibiting nuclear weapons was jubilant. “We all feel very emotional today. We feel that we are responding to the hopes and to the dreams of present and future generations — that we undertake our responsibility as a generation to do whatever is in our hands to achieve and to move the world toward the dream of a world free of nuclear weapons.”

  • The treaty will enter into force three months after the document is ratified by 50 countries. It is legally binding for an unlimited period. The text of the charter also bans threats to use nuclear weapons.

    In direct reference to A-bomb survivors, victims of the atrocity, which killed more than 140,000 people, will be provided with medical care and rehabilitation.

  • However, none of the countries known or believed to have nuclear weapons – the US, Britain,  Russia, North Korea , France, India, Pakistan, and Israel — is backing the pact.

    Nikki Hayley, the US Ambassador, agreed in principle on the ban but suggested “we have to be realistic”, according to Time magazine.

    She added that North Korea would be “cheering” such a ban on nuclear weapons, leaving US residents at risk.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Yoshida – a hero of the Fukushima nuclear calamity

The Man Who Saved Japan,Yoshida’s Dilemma, One Man’s Struggle to Avert a Nuclear Catastrophe Asia Times, 25 June 17 “…….Almost nobody associated with the Fukushima disaster came out of it looking good, not Kan, not the regulators (such as they were), and certainly not the executives at Tepco’s downtown headquarters.

The exception was Yoshida, often touted as the “hero” of the Fukushima disaster, although he was too modest to claim the title for himself.

Yoshida is the central figure in a new book on the nuclear meltdowns called Yoshida’s Dilemma, One Man’s Struggle to Avert a Nuclear Catastrophe by Rob Gilhooly, a Japan-based journalist and photographer.

Gilhooly’s book is the best and most comprehensive account of the nuclear disaster in English so far (a Japanese translation is under discussion). Much of the subject matter is technical, but the author is skillful enough to make it readable and accessible to the general reader……

Yoshida explained to a government investigation committee that he had ordered the evacuation of nonessential personnel from the plant, but kept back 50 to 60 engineering staff to tackle the cascading disaster and at no time contemplated abandoning the plant on Japan’s Pacific coast.

He and his group of engineers became known as the “Fukushima 50” that risked their own lives to contain the calamity.

By most accounts, Yoshida, who had worked for Tepco for 32 years, was a typical Japanese company man, but he surmounted the stereotype in the way he handled the accident.

For example, massive amounts of water were being pumped into the damaged reactors for cooling and as all sources of fresh water were depleted at the site, Tepco executives ordered him not to use sea water as a replacement.

The executives, still apparently under the delusion that the reactors could be brought back into service some day, opposed salt water as it would have contaminated the reactors beyond all repair.

Yoshida ignored these orders from head office and ordered his plant workers to pump seawater into the damaged reactors. This was a critical decision at a critical moment in the disaster.

Just keep pumping,” he told subordinates. “Pretend you didn’t hear me [tell Tepco executives he was pumping fresh water] and just keep pumping.”

The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission established by the parliament later concluded that (Yoshida’s) disregard for corporate headquarters instructions was possibly the only reason that the reactor cores did not explode.

It was Masao Yoshida’s finest hour.http://www.atimes.com/article/yoshidas-dilemma-one-mans-struggle-avert-nuclear-catastrophe/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

The timely message of a hibakusha

Hibakusha remind us of the power of love in unstable nuclear climate   https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170617/p2a/00m/0na/001000c  By Hiroshi Fuse, Editorial Writer and Expert Senior Writer June 17, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) J“I have so many children and grandchildren that I could be put in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records!’” — That was the favorite joke of A-bomb survivor, or “hibakusha,” Kazue “Kaz” Suyeishi, who passed away on June 12 at the age of 90.

Photo above is not  of Kazue Suyeishi, but of an unknown Hibakusha The Hiroshima-native moved to the United States, married and then became the president of the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors. She became known as “Kaz Mama” because of her unique style of talking about her experiences as a survivor. Not being one for lecture-style speaking, she spoke as though she was telling her story to her children or grandchildren.

When Suyeishi came to the U.S., health insurance wouldn’t cover hibakusha living there who suffered from conditions relating to the bombing. Some members of Congress even claimed that states shouldn’t give money to support “the enemy.” On top of all of that, Suyeishi’s husband had experienced the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. However, Kaz herself never once held any ill will toward the country that had become her home.

“They say that today’s enemies are tomorrow’s friends. If people all over the world could all feel love for one another, there would be no more war,” Suyeishi would say. “That’s what I keep telling the children. Even if they think it’s ridiculous, that is my life’s work.”

When I came across the news of her death, indescribable bitter feelings rose up inside of me. The feelings weren’t merely the pain of her loss, but also of being confronted by the reality that the hope for “a world without nuclear weapons” was dying out as well.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s abstract but moving speech and attitude of reaching out to the hibakusha on a calm evening in Hiroshima in May last year will forever be burned into my memory. Not much more than a year has passed, and the world has changed drastically. While the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has vowed to expand its arsenal of nuclear weaponry, North Korea conducts continuous missile tests, leading the world on a path toward the outbreak of nuclear war.

However, when I think about all of that, I feel this was inevitable. While President Obama looked at the Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome from a distance, he did not approach it and hastily made his exit. While the president moved the hearts of the Japanese people by presenting flowers and wreaths of folded paper cranes to the hibakusha, he moved forward with plans to modernize his country’s nuclear weapons at great expense. The cold truth remains unchanged.

It was Suyeishi who said, “Obama’s pleas will largely go unheard, and even the reach of my words are probably limited by time and place, but the only thing we can do is hold onto love and continue conveying our message.” Still, it makes me wonder just how sincere Obama really was about the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Some say it is Japan that has changed. Although it appeared the U.N. would adopt the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Japan stated that it would be “difficult to participate” in it, perhaps because of its ties to the U.S., and has opposed the negotiation of the treaty.

That’s why I sometimes can’t think of that evening in Hiroshima as anything other than some kind of Japan-America collaboration movie. Or was it a beautiful dream seen for a fleeting moment by a world heading for oblivion? To save this world in crisis, we need new efforts and, of course, what Suyeishi always taught — love.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chang Hsien-yi, the Taiwanese scientist who tried to save his country from nuclear war

The man who helped prevent a nuclear crisis, 18 May 2017  In 1988 Taiwan was racing to build its first nuclear bomb, but one military scientist put a stop to that when he defected to the United States and exposed those plans. This is the story of a man who insists he had to betray his country in order to save it.

To this day, critics consider Chang Hsien-yi a traitor – but he has no regrets. “If I can ever do it all over again, I will do it,” says the calmly defiant 73-year-old, speaking from his home in the US state of Idaho.

The former military colonel has been living there since 1988 when he fled to the US, a close ally of the island, and this is his first substantial interview about that time.

It might seem a perplexing turn of events given the close relationship the US has with Taiwan, but Washington had found out that Taiwan’s government had secretly ordered scientists to develop nuclear weapons.

Taiwan’s enemy, the Communist government of China, had been building up its nuclear arsenal since the 1960s, and the Taiwanese were terrified this would be unleashed on the island.

Taiwan separated from China after the Chinese Civil War in 1949. To this day China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to reunify with the island, by force if necessary.

The leadership of the island was also in an uncertain phase – its president, Chiang Ching-kuo, was dying, and the US thought that General Hau Pei-tsun, whom they saw as a hawkish figure, would become his successor.

They were worried about a nuclearisation of the Taiwan Strait and bent on stopping Taiwan’s nuclear ambition in its tracks and preventing a regional arms race.

So they secretly enlisted Mr Chang to halt Taiwan’s programme.  When Mr Chang was recruited by the CIA in the early 1980s, he was the deputy director at Taiwan’s Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, which was responsible for the nuclear weapons programme.  As one of Taiwan’s key nuclear scientists, he enjoyed a life of privilege and a lucrative salary.

But he says he began questioning whether the island should have nuclear weapons after the catastrophic Chernobyl accident in 1986 in the former Soviet Union. He was convinced by the Americans’ argument that stopping the programme would be “good for peace, and was for the benefit of mainland China and Taiwan”……..

Setting the record straight Mr Chang has remained silent for decades. But with his recent retirement he now wants to set the record straight with a memoir, titled Nuclear! Spy? CIA: Record of an Interview with Chang Hsien-yi.

The book, written with academic Chen Yi-shen and published in December, has reignited a debate about whether Mr Chang did the right thing for Taiwan……..

Mr Chang insists he feared then that ambitious Taiwanese politicians would use nuclear weapons to try to take back mainland China.

He claims Madame Chiang Kai Shek, the stepmother of dying President Chiang Ching-kuo, and a group of generals loyal to her had even gone so far as to set up a separate chain of command to expedite the development of nuclear weapons……

“You don’t have to be in Taiwan to love Taiwan; I love Taiwan,” says Mr Chang.

“I am Taiwanese, I am Chinese. I don’t want to see Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait killing each other.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39252502

May 19, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Taiwan, weapons and war | Leave a 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

Radiation Exposure Compensation Act should include families affected by Los Alamos nuclear testing

Families seeking aid through Radiation Exposure Compensation Act http://www.kob.com/politics-news/families-seeking-aid-through-radiation-exposure-compensation-act/4475299/ Chris Ramirez, May 05, 2017 , ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Los Alamos of the 1950s was far different than the city on the mesa of today. And the precautions and safety measures of the ’50s were far different than any modern work site.

Lynne Loss was a little girl during that era living in Los Alamos when her father worked as an engineer in the lab and mother worked on site buying nuclear supplies.

“My brother used to go down into the canyon with his friends behind our house on Walnut Street and he would come home and tell mama that the deer had tumors on them,” Loss said.

In 1957, her family moved to Colorado, but she fears the damage was already done by then. Her father Henry Davis was frequently exposed to radiation and beryllium, a lightweight metal used in weapons.

 “And then he would come home with it on his clothes and we would have to wash his clothes with ours and sit on the furniture, eat dinner, and whatever you do when you’re a family,” Loss said.

Davis suffered for 40 years from beryllium disease and radiation exposure, finally dying in 1994.  Soon after, Loss learned she had colon cancer.

“‘God’, I said, ‘don’t put my family through all of this,’” she said. “I have two beautiful sons and five grandkids. I said I don’t want them to go through this with me. I said, ‘I want you to take me now or heal me’ and God I guess so far has wanted me to stay here and do this interview and help others.”

Loss is helping by pleading with Congress to add family members to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. It’s a law that allows the federal government to pay out employees whose jobs exposed them to radiation while helping to build America’s nuclear arsenal.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is sponsoring amendments to the act.

“That’s an issue that we’ve been working on a lot over time,” Udall said. “And I think if a family member can show they have significant exposure, then there is a good argument they should be included.”

Udall admits at this point, family members of employees aren’t covered under the act, but it may be in the works.

“I think what we’ve done with the family members specifically is to try to do all of the studies, to include money to do research, to find out what the impact specifically has been on the families,” he said. “I believe there is probably an impact on families, especially if a miners, millers or others were working in the industry to produce the material for atomic bombs, national security work — I believe if they brought that material on their clothes and into their house, if they didn’t leave it at work, if they brought souvenirs and pieces of rock that would leak radon, all of those things could make a real difference.”

It would help children of lab employees like Loss. Her cancer has hurt her physically and financially.

“Oh my god, David and I lost all of our retirement money, $300,000 paying my medical,” she said. “My deductibles went up. My premiums went up. Everything went up sky high.”

Thousands of men and women helped to make the country safer and stronger by lending their brains and hands to research that could eventually cost them their lives and now the lives of their children. Lynne Loss hopes her country won’t forget about her.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

2,397,863 registered Chernobyl-related health victims. 453,391 ARE CHILDREN

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/17/clinic-ukraine-chernobyl-30th-anniversary-health-impact/82892592/  THERE ARE 2,397,863 PEOPLE REGISTERED WITH UKRAINE’S HEALTH MINISTRY TO RECEIVE ONGOING CHERNOBYL-RELATED HEALTH TREATMENT. OF THESE, 453,391 ARE CHILDREN.  Kim Hjelmgaard , USA TODAY There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma. 

KIEV, Ukraine — Daryna Bizilya, 10, wants to be a singer. During a visit with her and about a dozen other children at Ukraine’s largest medical clinic for people living with the consequences of Chernobyl, that’s what she did: She sang.

Bizilya walked directly into the middle of the room, signaled to her friend in the corner holding a cellphone to crank up its digital beatbox, and just went for it. She sang with feeling, dramatic facial expressions and large, sweeping arm gestures that occasionally ended with a clenched fist.

This clinic had an elaborate name, even by former Communist-bloc standards — the Institute of Specialized Radiation Protection of the Ukraine Population. It was full of sick children whose entire lives had only known illness.

The halls were long and dark and seemed, however improbably, to be lit chiefly by fading avocado-colored paint. The children’s bedrooms were neat but gloomy. Textbook orphanage-interior. Not every room was heated, and it was cold outside.

The number she performed was by Ukrainian artist Ani Lorak, a hero of Bizilya’s. On her website, Lorak describes herself as the “singer who became the idol of Ukrainians.”

Bizilya, whose favorite subjects are math and English, said she admired Lorak mostly because she “sings from her heart, and she feels her songs with her heart.”

Bizilya has a heart condition brought on by eating contaminated food, her doctors said. Too much physical exercise makes her condition worse.

“They told us at school that some children were left without a home, and that they were very ill,” she said when asked to explain what she knew about Chernobyl. “I would like to help those children who are without parents. There are children in our village like this,” she added.

Daryna does not think of herself as especially ill.

Artemchuk also has ambitions to be a singer.

“Probably a pop singer, like Michael Jackson,” he said.

He had some other things to say: Favorite food (meatballs), soccer team (Dynamo Kiev) and player (Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo).

“The doctor says I have very bad blood circulation,” he suddenly volunteered. “My parents say that Chernobyl was a big disaster and many people perished because of it.”

A girl named Alina Aponchuk, also 14, was too nervous to speak and fiddled with the sleeves of her dress. There was something on her mind. After a few minutes, she said she was going home the next day.

Aponchuk’s doctor said she had two left kidneys, both twice the normal size. She had chronic gastroduodenitis, which produces sharp stomach pains, lethargy and headaches. She also had “vegetative dysfunction,” a nervous system syndrome that causes anxiety, depression and other emotional stresses.

Vadim Bozhenko, the doctor who runs the clinic, said children stay at the institute from a few days to several weeks and all come from areas located on radioactive land.

“The (children) eat and drink contaminated milk products because cattle that live there eat that grass,” he said, adding that the clinic was underfunded by at least 30%.

Looking around the grounds that evoked a disheveled college campus, it was hard to believe the shortfall was that modest.

“Tell them we need beds and blankets,” Bozhenko said. “Tell them the Institute of Specialized Radiation Protection of the Ukraine Population needs this and a lot more.”

May 5, 2017 Posted by | children, PERSONAL STORIES, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Dave Freeman, the nuclear giant-killer

He seems an unlikely giant killer. He’s five foot seven, one sixty-five pounds, has a distinct southern accent and is not an Olympic athlete. And yet, by any count, he has stopped the construction or shut down the operations of more nuclear plants in the United States than any other person, living or dead.

S. David Freeman’s ninetieth birthday party was held in February of last year. For some years, Dave (as he is known to friends and detractors both) has effected a gray cowboy hat, and his address includes the term “green cowboy.” Each guest upon arrival at the Ritz Carlton ballroom in Marina Del Rey was given a party cowboy hat to wear. It has been quite some time since Los Angeles was a ranch, maybe 200 years, so everyone looked a little silly in their cocktail dresses or suits and ties and cowboy hats. Not Dave, who was busy dancing with the prettiest girls and grilling the attending politicos, including a PUC Chairman, on what the hell they were doing about global warming……..

He went off to the Georgia Institute of Technology where he showed much intellectual promise, but went home to go to law school at the University of Tennessee. Eventually he came to Washington to work as an assistant to Chairman Joe Swidler at what was then called the Federal Power Commission. The FPC had some interesting regulatory responsibilities related to the electric utility industry, but you had to be a real energy geek even to know it existed or did anything that mattered much. Dave labored diligently there, and even found time to write the first of his many books, this one called Energy Future. He moved on, as people do in Washington, to work for the House Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill. And then the times found the man.

It is difficult to remember now how little anyone, including just about the entire US government, knew about energy, or cared. There was the FPC, there was the Atomic Energy Commission (“AEC”, now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) which both promoted and regulated nuclear plants, and there was a small office in the Department of the Interior that, with a mighty staff of ten, fiddled with some ideas about energy conservation. There was no Department of Energy……

Ultimately the system produced the National Energy Act of 1978, which did useful things like freeing the price controls on natural gas, setting up a number of energy conservation programs, and almost inadvertently deregulating the generation of electricity. Nobody really knew that the legislation would do that, the focus was on promoting a technology called “cogeneration.” But it was promoted by allowing third parties to make and sell “cogenerated” electricity without being regulated as the utilities were. And the genie was out of the bottle—. competition came to the electric business. And that was bad news for costly technologies like nuclear plants.

Dave was rewarded by President Carter by being appointed the Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The creation of TVA was one of the most successful of the many government actions taken during the depression in the 1930’s. ….

[in the 50s and 60s the energy] industry fell in love with the promise of nuclear power, and TVA fell the hardest. The first unit, Brown’s Ferry, and went into service in 1974. But after that things got more complicated…….

People began to notice how much money was being spent. In a budget meeting of top TVA officials there was a line item of a billion dollars, just for interest on the debt that had already been spent on building the nuclear plants…….

over his three year period as Chairman, Dave slowly and painfully started to pare away the inventory, stopping procurement, cutting construction employment, mothballing sites. Two units at Phipps Bend near Knoxville, gone. Two units at Bellefonte near Huntsville, Alabama, gone; two units at Yellow Creek near Corinth, MS, gone. And four units at Hartsville near Nashville, gone. By the time Dave’s term was up, Ronald Reagan was president and the handwriting on the wall was clear; his time at TVA was over. He left having stopped the construction of twelve nuclearunits at five plant sites. And if he hadn’t done that, it is likely that the federal government would have had to bail out the utility and repay all the debt that would have been required to finish the plants.

In 1990 Dave was hired to run one of the largest municipal utilities in California, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, with the unfortunate acronym of SMUD, pronounced as you would expect. It also had a badly running nuclear plant, Rancho Seco. This plant had suffered, according to the NRC, the third worst nuclear accident in the US. This was before Chernobyl and Fukushima. Dave spearheaded the shutdown of this exceptionally poorly run plant, whose lifetime availability of 39% had contributed to a three-year period during which rates increased 92%. Both of these may be utility industry records, not of a good kind.

After leaving SMUD in spectacularly better shape than he found it, Dave ran the New York Public Power Authority, and then the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Neither of these had any nuclear plants or plans, and Dave kept it that way.

He retired from the Department of Water and Power at age 80. But he didn’t fade away. Instead the crisis at San Onofre called to him……..

 Dave and Friends of the Earth intervened, as did many other environmental groups. Dave was quoted as saying the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are both “disasters waiting to happen: ageing, unreliable reactors sitting near earthquake fault zones on the fragile Pacific Coast, with millions or hundreds of thousands of Californians living nearby”. PGE read the tea leaves, and in June of 2016 agreed to cease pursuing a re-licensing, close Diablo Canyon’s two units in 2024 and 2025, and replace its output with renewable power and storage. Dave was 90 years and 4 months old.

The “nuclear renaissance,” announced with fanfare sixteen years ago, has resulted in the troubled and still incomplete construction of a grand total of two new US plants, both being built by Toshiba. Dave hasn’t announced any new campaigns with regard to nukes as of this writing. But if one saw him heading for the Vogtle plant of Georgia Power, or the Summer plant in South Carolina, the only two construction locations, one should think about shorting Toshiba’s stock. And if he could stop these construction projects—both way over budget and way behind schedule— it just might be the best thing that ever happened to the two utilities paying for all this expensive hardware. And it would certainly be good for their customers who will ultimately pay for this expensive electricity…….

The Green Cowboy put on his spurs, linked up with Friends of the Earth, and together they and others mounted a successful campaign to shut down San Onofre permanently. Dave was a key leadership voice in the opposition to restarting the plant, given his remarkable credentials and his long history in the industry. In June of 2013 SCE threw in the towel and shut down the plant permanently.

But Dave still want finished. There is one other nuclear plant in California, the oddly named Diablo Canyon plant owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE). …

 Dave was quoted as saying the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are both “disasters waiting to happen: ageing, unreliable reactors sitting near earthquake fault zones on the fragile Pacific Coast, with millions or hundreds of thousands of Californians living nearby”. PGE read the tea leaves, and in June of 2016 agreed to cease pursuing a re-licensing, close Diablo Canyon’s two units in 2024 and 2025, and replace its output with renewable power and storage. Dave was 90 years and 4 months old.

The “nuclear renaissance,” announced with fanfare sixteen years ago, has resulted in the troubled and still incomplete construction of a grand total of two new US plants, both being built by Toshiba. Dave hasn’t announced any new campaigns with regard to nukes as of this writing. But if one saw him heading for the Vogtle plant of Georgia Power, or the Summer plant in South Carolina, the only two construction locations, one should think about shorting Toshiba’s stock. And if he could stop these construction projects—both way over budget and way behind schedule— it just might be the best thing that ever happened to the two utilities paying for all this expensive hardware. And it would certainly be good for their customers who will ultimately pay for this expensive electricity.

Mr. Hemphill is the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Soldiers, a non-profit focused on education activities happening in energy, especially with regard to the adoption of renewable energy technology by utilities, commercial customers and homeowners, and strategies to benefit from it. Hemphill is also the author for two business travel books, Stories From the Middle Seat: The Four-Million-Mile Journey to Building a Billion Dollar International Business and Dust Tea, Dingoes & Dragons: Adventure in Culture Cuisine & Commerce from a Globe-Trekking Executivehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/energy-giant-turns-90-knocks-off-another-nuke_us_590b56eee4b046ea176ae8a8

May 5, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment