nuclear-news

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

Is US extradition inevitable for Julian Assange? | The Stream

Aljazeera English, 14 January 2022, It’s been more than a decade since the website WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos – some of which revealed possible US war crimes. Now WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has one more chance to appeal a UK ruling that would allow him to be extradited to the US.

Last month, a UK High Court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking and violating the US Espionage Act. The ruling goes against a lower court that previously said harsh US prison conditions would endanger Assange given his worsening mental and physical health.

Assange’s legal team has since filed an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court, but in order for the appeal to be considered, it must be deemed of “general public importance”.

n 2019, the Trump administration indicted Assange for violating the US Espionage Act on counts related to the WikiLeaks release of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables. The US argues the release of classified information put the lives of American allies in danger.

Twenty-four civil liberties and press freedom groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders have called on the Biden administration to stop its prosecution against Assange. In a joint letter to the US Justice Department, they argue that Assange’s prosecution could set a precedent that would harm press freedom and the safety of journalists reporting on national security issues.

Assange spent seven years in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and was eventually arrested in 2019. Last week, Assange’s supporters marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment at London’s Belmarsh high security prison.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss the outlook for Assange’s case and its broader implications for press freedom worldwide.

January 14, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, media | Leave a comment

Claim that EDF contract for nuclear emergency generators was rigged.

The contract for nuclear emergency generators was rigged, according to a former EDF top executive. This is what he told the judge of the financial investigations division who is investigating the matter. GRAND SLAM for EDF!

Not only do the emergency generators installed last year on some of the nuclear power plants catch fire when they are started, and not only has the national group had to compensate its supplier, Westinghouse, in secret, to the tune of 110 million euros (“Le Canard”, 8/12 and 15/12), but the contract is also said to have been rigged!

Be that as it may, this is what a former member of EDF’s procurement staff told the French National Financial Division in a statement. The latter is investigating the complaint for favouritism filed by an unsuccessful bidder, which has been joined by Greenpeace. Contacted on Monday, EDF’s management had not responded at the time the “Le Canard” went to press.

Le Canard Enchaine 22nd Dec 2021

https://www.lecanardenchaine.fr/

January 13, 2022 Posted by | France, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

The Australian media colludes with USA, UK and Australian governments’ persecution ofJulian Assange -”Crikey journal” typifies this

After seven years of arbitrary detention followed by three years of solitary confinement and other tortures in London’s Belmarsh Prison, Assange thinks of suicide constantly. That the U.S. is slowly killing this Australian journalist, partner and father before our eyes for exposing war crimes while the Australian Government does nothing and the majority of our press either remains silent or – when they say anything at all – write flippant and inaccurate stories about him demonstrates just how broken this country’s media is.

Australian media must stand up for Assange’s freedom, https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/australian-media-must-stand-up-for-assanges-freedom,15918 By Matilda Duncan | 10 January 2022,  For far too long the Australian media has remained silent in the face of Julian Assange’s persecution and that must change, writes Matilda Duncan.

LAST MONTH, Crikey’s legal correspondent Michael Bradley wrote a bizarre analysis of Julian Assange’s impending extradition to the U.S. without any regard for basic facts.

It’s worth examining, as it typifies the failures and absurdities of Australian press responses to Assange going back a decade — filled with lies, smears and false narratives that prevent the public from understanding the significance and substance of his case.

In writing about one of the gravest threats to press freedom in years, Bradley went as far as to include a cringeworthy – if not downright pernicious, given Assange recently suffered a stroke and is in precarious health – reference to a Monty Python quote being inscribed on Assange’s tombstone that ‘he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’. 

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In allowing his thoughts to remain mired in diversionary debates and myths about WikiLeaks and Assange, Bradley completely misses the point of the U.S. extradition case and fails to mention the dire threat to investigative journalism around the world it presents.

He does not confront or condemn the alarming legal precedent of the United States charging a foreign national, one of our citizens, with espionage under U.S domestic law — despite Assange not being a U.S. citizen and WikiLeaks not being a U.S.-based publication.

Continue reading

January 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Russia’s secret nuclear waste city – Ozersk, City 40

Russian city hiding chilling Cold War secret from world  https://www.9news.com.au/world/ozersk-city-40-secret-russian-city-cold-war-graveyard-of-the-earth/9644dcbb-e94f-44c6-b69e-4e3e4ca96455

By Richard Wood • Senior Journalist Jan 9, 2022 There has been a “slow-motion” disaster unfolding over the past 70 years at one of Russia’s most secretive sites. Ozersk, codenamed City 40, was the birthplace of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons program at the dawn of the Cold War.

On the surface, it was a clean modern city that boasted good housing, spacious parks and high quality schools to attract the country’s top nuclear scientists.And its purpose was seen as so important that Russian authorities effectively hid it from the rest of the country and the world. But while, the work of Ozersk’s army of scientists developing Russia’s plutonium supplies was cloaked in secrecy, its environmental impact proved harder to contain.Today its legacy of radiation pollution has earned Ozersk the title ‘Graveyard of the Earth’.

Building Russia’s nuclear shield

Ozersk’s origins can be traced to the US dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 at the end of World War II.

Alarmed at the terrifying new weapon of mass destruction, Russian leader Josef Stalin ordered his scientists to build a nuclear arsenal to combat the American threat.The Mayak plant deep in the Urals was founded in 1948 to develop essential large scale plutonium supplies for the Soviet atomic bomb. The work needed hundreds of workers.

Ozersk was founded nearby, initially as a sort of shanty town of wooden huts to house the workers. But over ensuing yeas, it grew to become a modern city of 100,000 people, with many of its citizens working at the Mayak plant.

‘Plutopias’

US environmental historian Kate Brown has described Ozersk and its counterpart nuclear cities in the US as “Plutopias”, a merging of the words plutonium and utopia. Professor Brown, who wrote Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, told Nine.com.au that Ozersk residents were the envy of most Russians.

‘When I wrote about plutopia, I mean by that special, limited-access cities exclusively for plutonium plant operators who were well paid and lived comfortably. The people who lived in them were ‘chosen’,” Professor Brown said.”The plutonium cities such as Ozersk provided wonderful opportunities because not only was the housing very cheap and the wages very good, but the schools were good.”

But in Cold War Russia this all came at the price of intrusive security and curbs on personal freedom.Ozersk did not appear on maps and its citizens were struck from the national census.Residents were even forbidden to contact families and friends for up to years.

And for decades, the city was ringed by barbed wire fences and guard posts and entry was strictly controlled.

Lake of Death’

Professor Brown said both the Russians and American governments were prepared to cut corners in their dash to develop an edge in nuclear weapons.

And in 1957 one of the cooling systems at the Mayak plant, near Ozersk, failed, causing one of the tanks that contained the plant’s nuclear waste to overheat and explode.

While there were no casualties from the blast itself, more than 20 million curies of nuclear waste were swept up by the wind and scattered around the nearby countryside.The full effects of the Mayak radiation release and other incidents took years, even decades to become fully apparent, Professor Brown said.

The plutonium disasters were not big, explosive overnight affairs. They were slow-motion disasters that occurred over four decades,” she sai d.Officials from the Mayak plant also ordered the dumping of its waste into nearby lakes and rivers, which flow into the the Arctic Ocean.

Prof Brown said one of the lakes near Mayak has been so heavily contaminated by plutonium that local people have renamed it the ‘Lake of Death’.

‘Cover up’

The scale of the pollution was hushed up by Russian authorities for decades.

“Thanks to exhaustive efforts by the Soviet government and the already secretive nature of the location, for a long time, no one outside of the Ozersk area was even aware that it happened.

“It wasn’t until renegade Soviet scientists exposed the cover-up in the 1970s that scientists started to grasp the extent of the disaster.”

Radioactive spills have also happened at other secret Russian military and industry sites.In August 2019 a brief spike in radioactivity was recorded following a mysterious and deadly explosion at the Russian navy’s testing range in Nyonoksa on the White Sea.The explosion killed two servicemen and five nuclear engineers.

Campaigners expose contamination

Today the Mayak plant now serves the more peaceful purpose of reprocessing spent radioactive fuel.In Ozersk many restrictions have been eased, with residents free to leave when they want.

But the city is still surrounded by thick walls and guard fences, and entry by outsiders is strictly controlled by government officials.And while efforts have been made to clean up the environment, radiation pollution remains a threat to the health of residents.

recent study showed that Ozersk residents are more than twice as likely to develop lung, liver, and skeletal cancers and far more likely to experience chronic radiation syndrome.Prof Brown says Russian environmental activists still face threats and persecution for exposing the radiation levels.

“They’ve paid a heavy price in terms of prosecution by the state and receiving threats of fines and even jail,” she said.  “But they were determined to expose what really was disaster by design.”

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Spain, wastes | Leave a comment

Extraditing Julian Assange Threatens Journalists Worldwide


In countries where the press faces restriction and persecution, US interference sets a dangerous precedent. The Nation, By Hasan Ali January 2022

On December 14, while addressing the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, the ambassador-designate to Pakistan, Donald Armin Blomepledged that he would champion the press in his new post. “Pakistani journalists and members of civil society face kidnappings, assaults, intimidation and disappearances,” he said, promising to advocate for expanded protections and to hold the perpetrators of these actions to account.

As a Pakistani journalist myself, I ought to have been relieved. In spite of all the talk of its impending decline, the United States remains the world’s preeminent superpower, and you would think that an incoming ambassador throwing his weight behind the media would augur better days for our embattled fraternity. Instead, I cannot help but question his moral authority to lecture anyone in the world on the issue of press freedom. Three successive administrations of the country he represents have mercilessly gone after Julian Assange, the long-tortured founder and publisher of Wikileaks, whom the United States government is trying to place in the dock on trumped-up charges of incitement and espionage.

On December 10—just four days before Blome made his speech—a British court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the United States to stand trial, where he faces a maximum sentence of 175 years’ imprisonment.

We have already read in these pages about the impact such a prosecution would have on the First Amendment. Let us now widen the net and examine what it will do to those of us who work outside the glittering republic. In Pakistan, the perils of telling the truth have never been greater. Scores of journalists—a handful of them spoke to The Nation in August—have been targeted because the state did not approve of their work. Indeed, so brazen has been this policy of intimidation that in the same week that this magazine published its report, the brother of one of the journalists profiled was abducted in broad daylight from the streets of Lahore.

The story is not very different beyond Pakistan’s borders either. In our neighbor to the east, India, which is supposed to be the world’s largest democracy, journalists are routinely charged with sedition and incitement, or else beaten and tortured for writing the wrong tweet. In Afghanistan, ever since the Taliban took control, hundreds if not thousands of reporters have fled, with the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee estimating that some 70 percent of the country’s news outlets have ceased operations. Then there is Iran, our Western neighbor, where female journalists are banned for blowing the whistle on workplace harassment, locked up for publishing material that is deemed irreligious, and murdered for taking photographs of public protests. Finally, there is China, with whom we share a border to the northeast. It ranks 177 of the 180 on the World Press Freedom Index and has become even more repressive in the wake of Covid 19.

Which returns us to the case of Assange, who is being punished for publishing documents that prove that the United States committed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific director of Reporters Without Borders, says, “The way the US has been treating Julian Assange is clearly giving a blank cheque to authoritarian governments around the world to crack down on press freedom and force into silence journalists and information providers who displease them.” His view is shared by his colleague Rebecca Vincent, who argues that the persecution of Assange will undermine US efforts to promote the cause of press freedom internationally. “If the Biden administration is serious about its commitment to media freedom, they would lead by example and end this more than decade-long persecution now.”………….

Sadly, what we have witnessed in the first 11 months of Biden’s premiership is a continuation of the same policy positions that left critics of the previous administration convulsing with anger. The United States continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia; leaders of countries with which it has important strategic partnerships—Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and Volodomyr Zelensky, to name a couple—are being allowed to punish those who would hold them to account; and the preeminent chronicler of American atrocity, Julian Assange, is being tormented for doing what any courageous reporter with access to the same information would have done in a heartbeat………..

If the United States were to free Assange, it would send a powerful message to the political establishment of repressive regimes around the world that the US has ceased to believe that journalism is a crime.

Otherwise, things will carry on as they are. My colleagues will continue to be abducted in broad daylight; many will return to tell the tale to police officers who won’t register their complaints out of fear; some, like Mudassar Naaru, will disappear altogether. Others, like Saleem Shahzad, will be found dead in a ditch.

And all the while, the likes of Donald Blome will find themselves in drawing rooms with unscrupulous leaders who will earnestly nod their heads while listening to sermons on press freedom, without ever really feeling under pressure to change their ways.  https://www.thenation.com/article/society/assange-extradition-journalism/witter

January 8, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

The Australian government is complicit with USA and UK, imperilling the health of Julian Assange, may well cause his death.

AUKUS alliance driving Assange to his death,  https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/aukus-alliance-driving-assange-to-his-death,15904, By John Jiggens | 6 January 2022,   The actions of the U.S., UK and Australia are imperiling the health of Julian Assange and could result in the tragic death of the publisher, writes John Jiggens.

THE NEWS THAT Julian Assange has suffered a stroke while detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison has strengthened the fears of Assange supporters that the AUKUS alliance is comfortable with the WikiLeaks’ founder’s death at their hands.

But would an Australian Government be complicit in a plot against one of its own citizens?

Consider these recent stories.

In September 2021, Yahoo! News revealed that Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA Director in 2017, became party to a scheme to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy or to assassinate him.

The Yahoo! investigation was based on conversations with 30 former U.S. officials. Among those interviewed, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange.

Greg Barns SC, a barrister and advisor to Julian Assange, told Bay FM:

“It was like something out of a James Bond film, except sadly, it was very true. There was a clear plan to take Assange out. We now have the Australian Government on notice that one of its citizens was the subject of a conspiracy to murder plot by the CIA.”

Further, he remarked:

The conduct of the CIA was outrageous, unlawful and represents a complete breach of the so-called alliance or friendship between Australia and the United States.

The CIA acts essentially as a criminal enterprise. It is state-sanctioned criminality. To be overtly planning to murder someone in any circumstances would amount to a conspiracy to murder for anyone else and the persons would face very serious criminal charges.

The Yahoo! report prompted prominent Assange supporters to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking if the Australian Government accepted the behaviour of an ally plotting to murder an Australian citizen and questioning whether Australian intelligence agencies participated in the plot or were notified about it.

Five weeks passed while Morrison’s office composed a 100-word reply.

It acceped no responsibility or accountability whatsoever. Indeed, Morrison’s reply did not deny Australian involvement or knowledge of the plot.

Instead it passed the buck, advising:

Concerns about the legality or propriety of the activities of Australian intelligence agency are best directed to the IGIS, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security.’

During the UK High Court extradition appeal in October, the Courier Mail ran another story, titled ‘Assange snubbed Aussie help 29 times, says Payne’.

Why, in the middle of Assange’s High Court hearing, was Foreign Minister Marise Payne using her friends in the Murdoch media to portray Assange as un-Australian, snubbing her patriotic ‘’Aussie help’’?

Assange’s father John Shipton commented:

“I get no help from Marise Payne in any way whatsoever. Saying I have been snubbed 29 times by Julian is to defend her. It’s only to defend her. It’s nothing to do with Julian.”

The family have continually asked for Payne and Morrison to actively engage with Australia’s UK and U.S. allies. They see extradition as an outrageous surrender of Australian sovereignty and they expect that Morrison and Payne should tell UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden so.

Shipton, who has travelled to 50 countries to garner support for Julian, said:

“Everywhere I go, people ask where is the Australian Government in this? What is the substance of Australia in its relationship with the UK that it allows this show trial to go on without comment?”

 

January 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

The Insufferable Hypocrisy of Western Governments Hell-Bent on Destroying Julian Assange

By Eric Garris / Antiwar.com Blog In his New Year’s message, South China Morning Post chief news editor Yonden Lhatoo demands Western governments free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before preaching press freedom to everyone else

January 6, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Changing patterns for spreading misinformation on pandemics and climate change.

Covid conspiracy theorists turn on climate change , GUY BELL/ALAMY

Groups spreading misinformation about Covid-19 lockdowns and vaccines are starting to use the same language to spread conspiracy theories about climate change, experts have warned.

As the impact of the pandemic and need for restrictions begins to wane, Covid-19 conspiracy theorists are starting to use terms such as “green lockdowns”, according to analysts at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

The term refers to the belief that, in future, people will be regularly forced to stay at home and restrict their travel and social contacts to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climatechange.

There is no evidence for such claims. Ciaran O’Connor, an analyst at the institute, said that conspiracy theorists would try to framemeasures to tackle climate change in a similar way to lockdowns — as a
“loss of civil liberties and loss of freedoms”.

Such arguments would present campaigns urging people to take fewer flights, use their cars less
often and eat less meat as attacks on individual freedoms rather than as efforts to avert the worst impacts of climate change through collective action.

Dr Jonathan Bright, an associate professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: “I think people are going to be thinking about climate change misinformation quite a lot [in 2022].” O’Connor said that such
conspiracy theorists are increasingly turning away from mainstream social media sites, warning: “Telegram has become the platform of choice for far-right, extreme right wing groups, for conspiracy communities [and] for extremist communities in general. Facebook and YouTube… they do have community guidelines, they do enforce them.

 Times 3rd Jan 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/covid-conspiracy-theorists-turn-on-climate-change-lk72pgklv

January 4, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

European Commission’s divisive plan to label nuclear power ”green”, revealed on the sly?

Short of digging an actual hole, the European Commission couldn’t have tried harder to bury this proposal”

we get a document written behind closed doors and published on New Year’s Eve,”

EU labels nuclear power ‘green’, Germany calls it dangerous, Sydney Morning Herald, By John Chalmers, January 4, 2022  Brussels: The German government has condemned nuclear energy as dangerous, slamming European Union proposals that would let the technology remain part of the bloc’s plans for a climate-friendly future.

Germany is on course to switch off its remaining three nuclear power plants at the end of this year and phase out coal by 2030, whereas its neighbour France aims to modernise existing nuclear reactors and build new ones to meet its future energy needs. Berlin plans to rely heavily on natural gas until it can be replaced by non-polluting sources for energy.

The opposing paths taken by two of the EU’s biggest economies have resulted in an awkward situation for the bloc’s Executive Commission.

“We consider nuclear technology to be dangerous,” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters in Berlin, noting that the question of what to do with radioactive waste that will last for thousands of generations remains unresolved.

Hebestreit added that Germany “expressly rejects” the EU’s assessment of atomic energy, has repeatedly stated this position towards the commission and is now considering next steps.

The European Union has rejected accusations that it waited until New Year’s Eve to publish the divisive proposals to allow some natural gas and nuclear energy projects to be labelled as sustainable, saying “we weren’t trying to do it on the sly”.

The commission’s decision to include gas and nuclear investments in the European Union’s “sustainable finance taxonomy” rules was circulated in a draft proposal late on December 31 and leaked to some media organisations.

“Short of digging an actual hole, the European Commission couldn’t have tried harder to bury this proposal,” said Henry Eviston, spokesman on sustainable finance at the European Policy Office of the environmental group WWF.

“When the question was whether renewables are green, the commission gave citizens three chances to provide their opinion. For fossil gas and nuclear, we get a document written behind closed doors and published on New Year’s Eve,” he said in an online posting………………………………….

The European Commission will now collect comments to its draft until January 12 and hopes to adopt a final text by the end of the month. After that, the text can be discussed with EU governments and Parliament for up to six months. But it is unlikely to be rejected because that would require 20 of the 27 EU countries, representing 65 per cent of EU citizens, to say “no”.

The aim of the agreement is to send a signal to private investors as to what the EU considers acceptably “green” and stop greenwashing, whereby companies or investors overstate their eco-friendly credentials. The deal will also set limits on what governments can use EU recovery funds to invest in.  
https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/eu-labels-nuclear-power-green-germany-calls-it-dangerous-20220104-p59lmt.html

January 4, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Environmental Ruin in Modern Iraq – largely due to depleted uranium.

In particular, she points to depleted uranium, or DU, used by the U.S. and U.K. in the manufacture of tank armor, ammunition, and other military purposes during the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that some 2,000 tons of depleted uranium may have been used in Iraq, and much of it has yet to be cleaned up.

‘Everything Living Is Dying’: Environmental Ruin in Modern Iraq, Decades of war, poverty, and fossil fuel extraction have devastated the country’s environment and its people. Undark, BY LYNZY BILLING, 12.22.2021 All photos by LYNZY BILLING for UNDARK  ”’,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,   Miscarriages, of course, are common everywhere, and while pollution writ large is known to be deadly in the aggregate, linking specific health outcomes to local ambient pollution is a notoriously difficult task. Even so, few places on earth beg such questions as desperately as modern Iraq, a country devastated from the northern refineries of Kurdistan to the Mesopotamian marshes of the south — and nearly everywhere in between — by decades of war, poverty, and fossil fuel extraction.

As far back as 2005, the United Nations had estimated that Iraq was already littered with several thousand contaminated sites. Five years later, an investigation by The Times, a London-based newspaper, suggested that the U.S. military had generated some 11 million pounds of toxic waste and abandoned it in Iraq. Today, it is easy to find soil and water polluted by depleted uranium, dioxin and other hazardous materials, and extractive industries like the KAR oil refinery often operate with minimal transparency. On top of all of this, Iraq is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, which has already contributed to grinding water shortages and prolonged drought. In short, Iraq presents a uniquely dystopian tableau — one where human activity contaminates virtually every ecosystem, and where terms like “ecocide” have special currency.

According to Iraqi physicians, the many overlapping environmental insults could account for the country’s high rates of cancer, birth defects, and other diseases. Preliminary research by local scientists supports these claims, but the country lacks the money and technology needed to investigate on its own. To get a better handle on the scale and severity of the contamination, as well as any health impacts, they say, international teams will need to assist in comprehensive investigations. With the recent close of the ISIS caliphate, experts say, a window has opened.

While the Iraqi government has publicly recognized widespread pollution stemming from conflict and other sources, and implemented some remediation programs, few critics believe these measures will be adequate to address a variegated environmental and public health problem that is both geographically expansive and attributable to generations of decision-makers — both foreign and domestic — who have never truly been held to account. The Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Kurdistan Ministry of Health did not respond to repeated requests for comment on these issues……………………….

experts who study Iraq’s complex mosaic of pollution and health challenges say. Despite overwhelming evidence of pollution and contamination from a variety of sources, it remains exceedingly difficult for Iraqi doctors and scientists to pinpoint the precise cause of any given person’s — or even any community’s — illness; depleted uranium, gas flaring, contaminated crops all might play a role in triggering disease……………………………

This is Eman’s sixth year at the hospital, and her 25th as a physician. Over that time span, she says, she has seen an array of congenital anomalies, most commonly cleft palates, but also spinal deformities, hydrocephaly, and tumors. At the same time, miscarriages and premature births have spiked among Iraqi women, she says, particularly in areas where heavy U.S. military operations occurred as part of the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 to 2011 Iraq War. 

Research supports many of these clinical observations. According to a 2010 paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, leukemia cases in children under 15 doubled from 1993 to 1999 at one hospital in southern Iraq, a region of the country that was particularly hard hit by war. According to other research, birth defects also surged there, from 37 in 1990 to 254 in 2001.

But few studies have been conducted lately, and now, more than 20 years on, it’s difficult to know precisely which factors are contributing to Iraq’s ongoing medical problems. Eman says she suspects contaminated water, lack of proper nutrition, and poverty are all factors, but war also has a role. In particular, she points to depleted uranium, or DU, used by the U.S. and U.K. in the manufacture of tank armor, ammunition, and other military purposes during the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that some 2,000 tons of depleted uranium may have been used in Iraq, and much of it has yet to be cleaned up. The remnants of DU ammunition are spread across 1,100 locations — “and that’s just from the 2003 invasion,” says Zwijnenburg, the Dutch war-and-environment analyst. “We are still missing all the information from the 1991 Gulf War that the U.S. said was not recorded and could not be shared.”

Souad Naji Al-Azzawi, an environmental engineer and a retired University of Baghdad professor, knows this problem well. In 1991, she was asked to review plans to reconstruct some of Baghdad’s water treatment plants, which had been destroyed at the start of the Gulf War, she says. A few years later, she led a team to measure the impact of radiation on soldiers and Iraqi civilians in the south of the country.

Around that same time, epidemiological studies found that from 1990 to 1997, cases of childhood leukemia increased 60 percent in the southern Iraqi town of Basra, which had been a focal point of the fighting. Over the same time span, the number of children born with severe birth defects tripled. Al-Azzawi’s work suggests that the illnesses are linked to depleted uranium. Other work supports this finding and suggests that depleted uranium is contributing to elevated rates of cancer and other health problems in adults, too.

Today, remnants of tanks and weapons line the main highway from Baghdad to Basra, where contaminated debris remains a part of residents’ everyday lives. In one family in Basra, Zwijnenburg noted, all members had some form of cancer, from leukemia to bone cancers.

To Al-Azzawi, the reasons for such anomalies seem plain. Much of the land in this area is contaminated with depleted uranium oxides and particles, she said. It is in the water, in the soil, in the vegetation. “The population of west Basra showed between 100 and 200 times the natural background radiation levels,” Al-Azzawi says.

Some remediation efforts have taken place. For example, says Al-Azzawi, two so-called tank graveyards in Basra were partially remediated in 2013 and 2014. But while hundreds of vehicles and pieces of artillery were removed, these graveyards remain a source of contamination. The depleted uranium has leached into the water and surrounding soils. And with each sandstorm —  a common event — the radioactive particles are swept into neighborhoods and cities.

Cancers in Iraq catapulted from 40 cases among 100,000 people in 1991 to at least 1,600 by 2005.

In Fallujah, a central Iraqi city that has experienced heavy warfare, doctors have also reported a sharp rise in birth defects among the city’s children. According to a 2012 article in Al Jazeera, Samira Alani, a pediatrician at Fallujah General Hospital, estimated that 14 percent of babies born in the city had birth defects — more than twice the global average.

Alani says that while her research clearly shows a connection between contamination and congenital anomalies, she still faces challenges to painting a full picture of the affected areas, in part because data was lacking from Iraq’s birth registry. It’s a common refrain among doctors and researchers in Iraq, many of whom say they simply don’t have the resources and capacity to properly quantify the compounding impacts of war and unchecked industry on Iraq’s environment and its people. “So far, there are no studies. Not on a national scale,” says Eman, who has also struggled to conduct studies because there is no nationwide record of birth defects or cancers. “There are only personal and individual efforts.”…………………..

After the Gulf War, many veterans suffered from a condition now known as Gulf War syndrome. Though the causes of the illness are to this day still subject to widespread speculation, possible causes include exposure to depleted uranium, chemical weapons, and smoke from burning oil wells. More than 200,000 veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East have reported major health issues to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which they believe are connected to burn pit exposure. Last month, the White House announced new actions to make it easier for such veterans to access care.

Numerous studies have shown that the pollution stemming from these burn pits has caused severe health complications for American veterans. Active duty personnel have reported respiratory difficulties, headaches, and rare cancers allegedly derived from the burn pits in Iraq and locals living nearby also claim similar health ailments, which they believe stem from pollutants emitted by the burn pits.

Keith Baverstock, head of the Radiation Protection Program at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe from 1991 to 2003, says the health of Iraqi residents is likely also at risk from proximity to the burn pits. “If surplus DU has been burned in open pits, there is a clear health risk” to people living within a couple of miles, he says.

Abdul Wahab Hamed lives near the former U.S. Falcon base in Baghdad. His nephew, he says, was born with severe birth defects. The boy cannot walk or talk, and he is smaller than other children his age. Hamed says his family took the boy to two separate hospitals and after extensive work-ups, both facilities blamed the same culprit: the burn pits. Residents living near Camp Taji, just north of Baghdad also report children born with spinal disfigurements and other congenital anomalies, but they say that their requests for investigation have yielded no results.  ……………………………………… https://undark.org/2021/12/22/ecocide-iraq/

December 27, 2021 Posted by | children, environment, Iraq, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tanzania seeking information on ‘nuclear waste’ ship detained in Mombasa

Tanzania seeking information on ‘nuclear waste’ ship detained in Mombasa, TUESDAY DECEMBER 21 2021   The Citizen News, East Africa News Additional reporting by Gadiosa Lamtey in Dar es Salaam    https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/tanzania/news/east-africa-news/tanzania-seeking-information-on-nuclear-waste-ship-detained-in-mombasa-3659422 Summary   Kenyan media reported on Monday that MV Piraeus Voy, which as docked at the port of Mombasa, was loaded with harmful nuclear waste that was to have been dumped on the East African coast, endangering the health of millions of people in the region.

Dar es Salaam/Mombasa. The government said yesterday that it was unaware that Kenyan authorities have detained a cargo ship carrying nuclear waste that was reportedly on its way to Tanzania.
“We have not received any information about the ship, but I will get in touch with the relevant authorities for any details on the matter,” the permanent secretary in charge of transport in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr Gabriel Migire, told The Citizen when reached for comment, adding that any ship coming to Tanzania was required to fly the country’s flag.

Kenyan media reported yesterday that the ship, which as docked at the port of Mombasa, was loaded with harmful nuclear waste that was to have been dumped on the East African coast, endangering the health of millions of people in the region.

The cargo on board the MV Piraeus Voy was disguised as padlocks and other hardware items, and was detained after Kenya’s Health ministry raised the alarm that it was carrying radioactive material.

Officials investigating the matter said the ship sailed to Kenya from Mumbai, India, and was en route to neighbouring Tanzania.
“This is clearly a means of dumping dangerous substances in East Africa. We have proof that what was declared is just part of the contents, but the radioactive material is also in the ship, and is emitting high radiation,” a source involved in an ongoing investigation said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Exposure to high levels of radiation from nuclear waste can cause severe health effects such as skin burns and acute radiation syndrome (radiation sickness). It can also result in long-term health effects such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
A multi-agency team comprising officials drawn from various government agencies at the Mombasa port has differed on how to best handle the cargo, which was reportedly destined for Dar es Salaam Port.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

Former Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick now a government witness in South Carolina nuclear fraud case

Records: Ex-CEO won’t face charges in nuclear fraud case, https://apnews.com/article/business-south-carolina-efd7755944eb9f7adff588cc76313df8      December 22, 2021   The former top executive for the contractor hired to build two South Carolina nuclear reactors that were never finished won’t face criminal charges, new court documents show.

Former Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick was previously a subject of the federal investigation into the failed multibillion project and is now a government witness, according to the records unsealed last week that were first reported by The Post and Courier.

The documents indicate Roderick could testify against his former employee Jeff Benjamin, a fired Westinghouse vice president who is facing multiple federal felony charges tied to the 2017 debacle that cost ratepayers and investors billions and left nearly 6,000 people jobless.

Westinghouse was the lead contractor in the project to build the reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Fairfield County. South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. parent company SCANA Corp. and state-owned utility company Santee Cooper spent nearly $10 billion on the project before halting construction in 2017 following Westinghouse’s bankruptcy.

In the aftermath, prosecutors have targeted top officials at the companies, saying they lied to investors, regulators and ratepayers as they sought rate hikes, insisting the expensive project was on schedule even as it fell hopelessly behind.

Three executives have already pleaded guilty in the multi-year federal fraud investigation so far. Benjamin, the fourth, has maintained his innocence and could go to trial next year. He could face up to 20 years in prison and a $5,000,000 fine if convicted.

Roderick gave the FBI incriminating information about Benjamin in two interviews earlier this year, prosecutors said in court filings. Roderick said Benjamin lied to him about the project schedule and had created a “culture of fear” with an “unbearable” management style.

The documents outlining Roderick’s cooperation are part an effort by prosecutors to disqualify Roderick’s previous attorney from representing Benjamin.

William Sullivan was representing both men at the same time when prosecutors first tried to get him removed last year, arguing it was a conflict of interest as either defendant might turn on the other. Roderick eventually obtained a new lawyer before sitting down with investigators.

Prosecutors still want Sullivan disqualified from the case, noting that Sullivan “cannot properly expect to cross-examine his own former client in defense of his current one,” they wrote.

Sullivan has produced documents showing that both Roderick and Benjamin have approved the arrangement.

Roderick “has explicitly acknowledged that he is unaware of any criminal culpability of Mr. Benjamin,” Sullivan wrote in an emailed statement to The Post and Courier.

Roderick’s new attorney, Whit Ellerman, declined to comment to the newspaper.

The nuclear project failure also spurred multiple lawsuits and a probe by state lawmakers.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

In Cumbria – Dangerous Nuclear Waste Dumping- Mission Creep and Obfuscation.

Dangerous Nuclear Waste Dumping- Mission Creep and Obfuscation.

The following images [on original] are from a four page Advertorial by NIREX in Cumbria Life from 1993 (NIREX was the then government body on “Nuclear Waste Disposal.” ) The NIREX plan was for “deep disposal” of intermediate and some low level nuclear wastes. Now in 2021 the “vision” is to put the intermediate level nuclear wastes (previously earmarked for the NIREX dump at Longlands Farm, Gosforth) into Not So Deep Silos’ at the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg and the even higher activity and very hot nuclear wastes (which even the gung ho NIREX never proposed putting deep underground) into a Geological Disposal Facility ( deep under the Irish Sea is in the frame)……….

Note that the NIREX advert from 1993 states that the Geological Disposal Facility plan is for “intermediate and some low level wastes.” In a newsletter in March this year for the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg, it was said: “The NDA is exploring the benefits of developing Near Surface (NSD) – for disposing of a proportion of Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), but no decision has been taken on whether UK Government will pursue this option or whether LLWR, will in time, host a NSD facility.”

We asked a number of Freedom of Informations questions which have not been answered directly or honestly with a simple yes or no but serve to deflect and frustrate any scrutiny.

  • Have the public been consulted about the RWM/NDA/CoRWM plan for Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Waste at Drigg’s Low Level Waste Repository?

The honest answer would be NO

  • Has the Borough or County Council held a debate or vote on whether to take any steps towards Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Wastes by alllowing 16 rock characterisation boreholes to be drilled at a depth of 120m into the underlying sandstone ?

The honest answer would be NO

  • What are the category of low and intermediate level wastes proposed for NSD and would this include the category of wastes previously designated by NIREX for a GDF ?

The honest answer would be: the major components of Intermediate Level Wastes are nuclear reactor components, graphite from reactor cores and sludges from the treatment of radioactive liquid effluents. All of these wastes were previously designated by NIREX for a Geological Disposal Facility.

You can see Low Level Waste Repository’s answers here: ………..https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/post/dangerous-nuclear-waste-dumping-mission-creep-and-obfuscation

December 24, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian government and Labor opposition ignore the suffering of Australian Julian Assange. Can they afford to, as election looms?

If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia.

the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

Saving Julian Assange,  Last week, the British High Court ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to face charges in the United States. His fiancée, Stella Moris, vows to continue the fight alongside his network of supporters. By Amy Fallon.  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2021/12/18/saving-julian-assange/163974600013099?fbclid=IwAR2dLaNxKG0FTyBvywjYpL_HpxPb8RWA6rF0mQwIE-X8Pnd8TMbAzkWed2Y#mt This week, Stella Moris said she and Julian Assange still intended to marry in the new year, although they have not set a date. She is currently speaking to the prison about arrangements. Moris hopes it will be a ceremony attended by close family and friends, with their children, Gabriel, 4, and Max, 2, taking part.

“The High Court ruling has made things even more precarious than before,” she tells The Saturday Paper.

“But that has only strengthened our determination to celebrate what is constant and certain in our lives – our love and support for each other.”

Moris is a South-African born lawyer and an activist in her own right. Her family were involved in the anti-apartheid battle. After the British High Court ruled that her fiancé could be extradited to the United States, her response was simple: “We will fight.”

“History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

She sees the case in these terms: “Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours, because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society.”Last week’s decision was made after two of Britain’s most senior judges ruled Assange, earlier deemed a suicide risk, had received assurances from the US that he would not face the strictest measures before a trial or once convicted. They found a lower court had erred in offering him protection.

“That risk is in our judgement excluded by the assurances which are offered,” one of the judges, Lord Burnett, said. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel must now approve Assange’s extradition. Lawyers for the 50-year-old are appealing the decision. Subsequent hearings are likely to raise the issue of free speech, which campaigners say is at the heart of the case involving the Walkley Award-winning journalist.Many around the world are now calling on the Australian government to intervene and save Assange’s life before it’s too late.

“There seem to be no limits to the savagery of the Anglosphere – US, UK, Australia – in exacting revenge for the crime of informing the population of what the powerful want to conceal,” the intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky later told The Saturday Paper.

He urged followers of Julian Assange, wanted by the US for breaking espionage laws after publishing hundreds of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and diplomatic cables, to “get organised”.

“And act,” added Chomsky, because there was “not much time”.
Another two to three years may drag on before the extradition is resolved. Australian journalist John Pilger, who described Assange as “frail and skeletal” the last time he hugged his friend in 2020, said the fact he was still alive was remarkable.

Last weekend’s revelation, that Assange had suffered a stroke in October, didn’t shock the veteran reporter. A month earlier, a Yahoo News report revealed that the CIA allegedly planned to assassinate Assange.

“If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence. History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

To Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, Julian, is a “bad dancer” with a “dorky sense of humour”. But, he says, “he is very sweet with his children, very good with kids, and a very principled man”.

Shipton produced the recent documentary Ithaka, which tells the story of Gabriel and Julian’s father’s struggle to have Assange freed.“Often people lose sight that these are actual real people involved, not just a head on a screen, or a headline, that this is a person’s father, brother, partner,” Shipton says. “Once people find out about how tragic the actual injustice that Julian suffered [is], and through no fault of their own his family are suffering, they’re quite confronted that they’ve allowed it to carry on for as long as it has.”

Shipton concedes the fight is just as much or even more political than legal, and others echo this. “There is no doubt that [this] aggressive and relentless pursuit is driven by the US security and defence state,” said Greg Barns, a barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A bipartisan Australian Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home group comprises 25 senators and MPs, but was adding “about one member or so monthly”, says Shipton. In the past week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has spoken out against Assange being sent to the US. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia. The opposition has urged the government to encourage the US to close the matter, although it has not elaborated on what it means by this.According to Kellie Tranter, a Maitland-based lawyer, human rights activist, researcher and former WikiLeaks Party candidate, the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

“If the level of interest keeps increasing, the government may feel obliged to act as the Howard government did in the case of David Hicks,” she says, referring to the former Guantánamo Bay detainee. “The last thing the government wants is this case soaking up oxygen in place of its policies. It’s public criticism, which is exactly what they wanted to avoid in the case of Hicks.”Tranter points out that progressive campaign group GetUp! played a critical role in Hicks’s repatriation by making his detention by the US an election issue, mobilising public opinion against his mistreatment. They may be the only organisation capable of doing the same in this case, she said. GetUp! said they had no comment on Assange.

In Britain, Assange has admirers from all walks of life. Sadia Kokni, 40, is British-born with African, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage and the managing director of a cosmetics company. Despite having a disability, she attends twice-weekly protest vigils at the Australian high commission with “Team Assange”, comprising about 50 people, including bus drivers, graphic designers, nurses and artists.

“I campaign for nothing, I only campaign for Julian,” Kokni says. “Unlike when people campaign against a war – it’s a nation against a nation – when it comes to Julian it’s the most powerful nation in the world against one man and he’s exposing the atrocities of global governance and things that every living person should be aware of.”

Although Kokni acknowledges Assange’s predicament could be treated with greater urgency by the British parliament, she also feels disbelief over Australia’s inaction.“They could be doing a lot more, Australia. I find it ridiculous,” she said, singling out the high commissioner, George Brandis. “Brandis – what is he actually doing? Has he written any letters?”

The Australian high commission in Britain did not respond to requests for comment.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

Establishment support, secrecy and corruption, in the promotion of dangerous nuclear power.

For all the hopeful talk about new technology, however, the industry’s principal concern is to keep aging reactors running long after their original life spans, even where this poses serious safety risks. In a process known as embrittlement, for example, vital components such as containment vessels crack following decades of neutron bombardment, leading to the release of lethal radiation. Nonetheless, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears happy to grant extensions: plants originally designed to last forty years are being authorized to run for sixty or eighty in total.

Spent FuelHarpers, by Andrew Cockburn, 20 Dec 21, The risky resurgence of nuclear power  ”………………………………………….Even groups long noted for opposing nuclear power, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club, seem quietly ready to temporize on practical matters, such as allowing existing plants to continue as transitional energy sources………..

The nuclear-power industry has long enjoyed establishment support. Navin was acting chief of staff at the Department of Energy under Barack Obama. The current energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, says that the Biden Administration plans to launch more nuclear energy projects across the country, and touts in particular Natrium’s promise of “345 megawatts of clean and affordable and reliable baseload power.” The White House climate czar, Gina McCarthy, stresses the need to keep existing plants in operation, as well as the prospects for “these small nuclear reactors, these modular reactors,” in which “people are really investing significant resources.” ……..

The State Department has launched an effort to foster similar small reactor programs abroad. Most significantly, even amid bitter fights over the administration’s infrastructure and social-reform bills, the inclusion of $41 billion of industry subsidies in the legislation has received unquestioning bipartisan backing. “………..

Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program, unveiled in 1953, set the optimistic tone for nuclear power:……………..

No such lyrical announcement marked the day in July 1959 when the Santa Susana Field Laboratory plant’s coolant system failed and its uranium oxide fuel rods began melting down. With the reactor running out of control and set to explode, desperate operators deliberately released huge amounts of radioactive material into the air for nearly two weeks, making it almost certainly the most dangerous nuclear accident in U.S. history. The amount of iodine-131 alone spewed into the southern California atmosphere was two hundred and sixty times that released at Three Mile Island, which is generally regarded as the worst ever U.S. nuclear disaster.

None of this was revealed to the public, who were told merely that a “technical” fault had occurred, one that was “not an indication of unsafe reactor conditions.” As greater Los Angeles boomed in the following years, the area around the reactor site—originally chosen for its distance from population centers—was flooded with new residents. No one informed them of the astronomical levels of radioactive contaminants seeded deep in the soil.

Meanwhile, utilities were commissioning scores of nuclear plants across the country and promising electricity “too cheap to meter,” incentivized by the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, which shifted financial liability in the event of a serious accident onto taxpayers. Rapid development throughout the Sixties engendered hopeful predictions from the AEC that more than a thousand reactors would be operating in the United States by the turn of the century. But it was not to be. As the environmental movement gathered strength in the Seventies, the dangers associated with nuclear power—from the routine disposal of radioactive waste to the risk of catastrophic meltdowns—galvanized a determined, informed, and organized opposition. Then, in 1979, one of two reactors at Three Mile Island had a partial meltdown. Officials from the president on down issued soothing reassurances, downplaying the health risks. Negative assessments were discouraged; when the Pennsylvania state health secretary, Gordon MacLeod, criticized the state’s response, he was promptly fired by the governor. MacLeod later revealed that child-mortality rates had doubled within a ten-mile radius of the plant. Cost overruns in plant construction, sometimes two times above industry estimates, were a further deterrent to expansion. Ultimately, more than 120 projects were canceled, and construction ground to a halt. “The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale,” Forbes magazine commented in 1985, a year before Chernobyl. “Only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money has been well spent.”……….


In 1988, Hans Blix, the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the United Nations that “the public should be aware that nuclear energy emits . . . no carbon dioxide whatever.” Given this assumption (which discounts the enormous quantities of carbon dioxide generated during plant construction), nuclear power’s high cost could be offset by rewarding its low emissions. 

Other partisans of nuclear power also recognized the relevance of climate alarms. This included Alex Flint,…….. In 2000, following a traditional trajectory for well-connected congressional staffers, he moved over to the private sector as a lobbyist and quickly recruited an impressive list of nuclear-industry clients, including Exelon Corporation………………..

Exelon was not alone in securing presidential favor. In February 2010, Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for two new reactors known as Vogtle 3 and 4, to be built in Burke County, Georgia. “We will not achieve a big boost in nuclear capacity,” declared the president, “unless we also create a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable.” As is traditional with the placement of such industrial facilities, the new reactors were to be constructed adjacent to a poor black community. The neighborhood, Shell Bluff, was already racked by cancers that residents ascribed to existing nuclear facilities. Not surprisingly, they vehemently opposed the project. “We voiced our opinion,” one local resident told CNN. “We didn’t want them, but we’re just the little peons.” The president, they said, “doesn’t know we’re down here.”

Eleven years later, the Vogtle plants are still under construction……………..

Passing off additional costs to utility customers would appear to be a standard business model. It tends to require the complaisance of state legislators, who can demand and receive a high price for their favors—unseemly transactions that call into question the notion of “clean” nuclear energy. In November 2016, senior executives at Ohio’s FirstEnergy hatched plans to shunt more of the operating costs of their two nuclear plants onto individual customers.

As later detailed by an FBI criminal complaint, the scheme involved lubricating the election of a cooperative Republican legislator named Larry Householder as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. To this end, $61 million moved via a series of dark money cutouts to Householder, who used the funds both for personal needs and for financing his campaign and those of allies who could supply the necessary votes for the rate increase.

It proved a sound investment. Householder was duly elected speaker and proceeded to pass a bill in 2019, with bipartisan support, that authorized $1 billion in rate supplements to bail out the company’s two Ohio plants. (One of these, Davis-Besse, outside Toledo, has a hair-raising safety record, including a hole in the reactor vessel and cracks in its concrete containment shell.) Although the bill canceled existing mandates for renewable energy, proponents were eloquent in their concern for the climate. Representative Jamie Callender, for example, who got just under $25,000 from FirstEnergy and served as a primary sponsor of the bill, spoke piously of the need to encourage “zero carbon emissions.” A FirstEnergy spokesman applauded Callender and other sponsors “for their efforts in recognizing the important and vital role nuclear energy, along with many other clean energy sources, plays in providing clean, safe, and reliable carbon-free energy to Ohioans.”

Unfortunately for the plotters, the FBI had monitored their deliberations. Following disclosure of the bribery scheme, public outrage led to a repeal of the bailout. Householder, indicted along with four associates, denies the charges and has yet to go to trial. FirstEnergy, none of whose employees faced criminal charges, agreed to a $230 million fine, and its generating unit was spun off under the name Energy Harbor. (“We call it Pirates’ Cove,” joked the Toledo attorney Terry Lodge, who has been litigating cases related to Davis-Besse since 1979.)

While Energy Harbor saw its scheme collapse, Exelon has suffered no such setback in pursuit of bailouts through similar means. A federal investigation revealed that an Exelon subsidiary lavished favors in the form of jobs and contracts on associates of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, long the most powerful politician in the state, and was rewarded with beneficial legislation, most notably a $2.35 billion subsidy enacted in 2016, for two money-losing reactors that the company had discussed closing. The subsidiary agreed to pay a $200 million fine, which was more than balanced by the $694 million subsidy signed into law by J. B. Pritzker in September 2021, a response to Exelon’s threats to close two other aging plants—one of which appears to have generated a significant cancer cluster in its neighborhood. Though the Sierra Club opposes nuclear energy, the Illinois chapter supported that legislation because of the measures it included to phase out coal and gas sources. The Illinois bailout is far eclipsed, however, by the federal largesse promised by the Biden Administration’s infrastructure and climate legislation. An analysis by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service suggests that 54 percent of the $41 billion will be split between just three companies, with Exelon set to receive $15 billion. (Energy Harbor is the runner-up, with $5 billion.)

For all the hopeful talk about new technology, however, the industry’s principal concern is to keep aging reactors running long after their original life spans, even where this poses serious safety risks. In a process known as embrittlement, for example, vital components such as containment vessels crack following decades of neutron bombardment, leading to the release of lethal radiation. Nonetheless, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears happy to grant extensions: plants originally designed to last forty years are being authorized to run for sixty or eighty in total. Point Beach 2, a reactor on Lake Michigan that the NRC itself listed in 2013 among the most embrittled plants in the country, is applying to be relicensed to operate for eighty years. The reactor and its twin, Point Beach 1, have been cited for safety violations and equipment malfunctions more than 130 times. At the NRC, there is even discussion of allowing plants to run for a century, long after their designers and builders are dead. “None of these extreme extensions have addressed critical ‘knowledge gaps’ for the reliability of major irreplaceable and inaccessible systems,” said Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, a tireless watchdog group working to challenge the extensions. In his view, the industry is being allowed to head blindly into the unknown, with no idea how or when age-related cracking and embrittlement will lead to component failure and potential meltdown……………….  https://harpers.org/archive/2022/01/spent-fuel-the-risky-resurgence-of-nuclear-power/

December 21, 2021 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment