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On Cape Cod, a nuclear nightmare arrives

On Cape Cod, a nuclear nightmare arrives,   https://news.yahoo.com/column-cape-cod-nuclear-nightmare-095201547.html, Brent Harold Columnist, Mon, January 17, 2022, 

We’re living in E.F. Schumacher’s nightmare future.

Fifty years ago, before there was much nuclear power to worry about, before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima, he was already worrying about it in his 1973 book “Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered.” The book was ranked by The Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most influential books published since World War II.

It’s striking that the main argument against using nuclear energy was there from the very start.

“The biggest cause of worry for the future is the storage of the long-lived radioactive wastes,” he wrote. “In effect, we are consciously and deliberately accumulating a toxic substance on the off-chance that it may be possible to get rid of it at a later date.”

No amount of convenience or efficiency — or profits — he argued “could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make ‘safe’ and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself.”

We are in that “later date” and as we know, there still is no solution to the problem of how to get rid of the radioactive waste that is a systematic byproduct of generating nuclear energy .

We are in that future Schumacher warned against.

A few years ago, when Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant was still limping along, a documentary titled “Containment” played in Wellfleet, showing in convincing detail the nuclear future Schumacher warned against, especially the ongoing problem of containment of lethal radioactive wastes.

There is no mopping up as with oil spills. You don’t flush this, clean it up and move on. There is no getting rid of the mess we’ve made. All we can do is try to contain it, on and on farther into the future than the 10,000 years often cited as the age of “civilization” — perhaps longer than our species has been around.

There’s an interesting segment in the film about attempts to come up with a sign to warn our distant descendants of the lethal mess we have bequeathed them.

Containment is the job and the company that owned Pilgrim, when it closed the plant, handed the job of cleanup and containment off to a company named Holtec, which thought it could make a go of it while making a profit for its shareholders.

Containment is the job. But only in its first year or two, Holtec recently announced, almost off-handedly, that it was considering dumping a million gallons of radioactive waste in our Cape Cod Bay. ”What?” asked many. “Can they get away with that?”

Apparently they are within their legal rights. Certainly, the company has emphasized it has no obligation to be guided by those whose lives will be most affected by it.

In reaction to the outcry Holtec has said it will put off the dumping for a spell. To make us feel better it noted that Entergy had for years, when Pilgrim was still operating, been dumping radioactive water in the bay.

Fifty years ago Schumacher wrote: “It was thought at one time that these wastes could safely be dumped into the deepest parts of the oceans…but this has since been disproved…wherever there is life, radioactive substances are absorbed into the biological cycle.”

Containment is the job. Dumping a million gallons of radioactive waste into Cape Cod Bay seems like the opposite of containment.

Once again, as with Entergy, we find ourselves in the situation of having our present and future safety in the hands of a bottom line-oriented company.

Call it a nuclear energy problem. Call it a corporation/capitalism problem. It is both.

There is a decades-long history of opposition to Pilgrim. Diane Turco and others founded Cape Downwinders in the early 1990s, a group that worked toward the shuttering of Pilgrim..

This newspaper kept Cape citizens informed with its strong coverage of the deterioration of Pilgrim and wrote editorials advocating its closure.

The closure of the plant in 2019 was considered by activists a victory and there has been a natural tendency (for people whose name isn’t Diane Turco) to become complacent about the still-dangerous site. Certainly it does seem less glamorous being the first generation of citizens, of who knows how many, to practice ongoing wariness about containment and the company in charge of it. But that’s the reality of our situation.

A place to start getting involved or re-involved is a gathering for a speak-out on Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. at Plymouth Town Hall Great Room, to be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.

Brent Harold, a Cape Cod Times columnist and former English professor, lives in Wellfleet. Email him at kinnacum@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: pilgrim nuclear plant and holtec’s plan to dump contaminated water.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons must be relegated to the past – Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The letter also marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ statement prior to the entry into force of the treaty on Jan. 22, 2021; the Pope said nuclear weapons “strike large numbers of people in a short space of time and provoke long-lasting damage to the environment.” On Tuesday, the archbishop said, “It is the duty of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, to support that treaty while working toward universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament.”

As of this week, the treaty has 59 member nation signatories. The purpose of the treaty is to outlaw the manufacture, testing, possession, stockpiling and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It is the legal form chosen by 122 nations who, in 2015, sought a route toward disarmament that would be more effective than the United States’ languishing 1970 promise to disarm “at an early date.”

Nuclear weapons must be relegated to the past,  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/nuclear-weapons-must-be-relegated-to-the-past/article_d247c8d8-7559-11ec-ab06-bfa71f3f3b1e.html, By Basia Miller, Jan 16, 2022  .

On Jan. 11, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, John C. Wester, shared his pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament” (“Archbishop decries labs’ weapons production,” Jan. 12).

His letter, a timely, courageous and powerful call for a culture of peace, comes at a time when the United States appears to be entering a new arms race, one in which contamination of the waters and lands of the Rio Grande watershed with radioactive, toxic and hazardous pollutants is often accepted passively, without questioning the deadly — and growing — enterprise behind it.

In his summary, the archbishop makes a link between the costs of military spending and the reciprocal effect on civilian life. He says, “Moreover, we are robbing from the poor and needy with current plans to spend at least

$1.7 trillion to ‘modernize’ our nuclear weapons and keep them forever.”

The archbishop presented his letter six days before the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and 10 days before the first anniversary of the entry into force of the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on Jan. 22.

The letter also marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ statement prior to the entry into force of the treaty on Jan. 22, 2021; the Pope said nuclear weapons “strike large numbers of people in a short space of time and provoke long-lasting damage to the environment.” On Tuesday, the archbishop said, “It is the duty of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, to support that treaty while working toward universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament.”

As of this week, the treaty has 59 member nation signatories. The purpose of the treaty is to outlaw the manufacture, testing, possession, stockpiling and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It is the legal form chosen by 122 nations who, in 2015, sought a route toward disarmament that would be more effective than the United States’ languishing 1970 promise to disarm “at an early date.”

The long-range expectation is the dynamic among the treaty’s signatory nations (including the NATO countries) will gradually curb the United States’ appetite for building more weapons. The purpose was once “deterrence,” but even that rationalization has been undermined.

In this way, a new legal norm will have been created by which nuclear weapons follow the pattern of the worldwide ban on landmines and chemical and biological weapons.

An occasion to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate the first anniversary of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is planned by local activists and veterans groups at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22. The public is invited.   Basia Miller is a board member of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. She has lived in Santa Fe for over 30 years.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Missouri Bill to honour nuclear veterans


Bob Bromley Bill seeks to honor veterans of the Nuclear Age,  
https://www.fourstateshomepage.com/news/local-news/bob-bromley-bill-seeks-to-honor-veterans-of-the-nuclear-age/ by: Gretchen Bolander Jan 17, 2022   JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — It’s been decades since the US entered the Nuclear Age, but a southwest Missouri lawmaker says it’s never too late to recognize the sacrifice made through the Atomic Program.

State Representative Bob Bromley of Carl Junction is part of an effort that’s underway to recognize the military veterans associated with the US Atomic Program.

“I think every time we get the opportunity to thank them we should. Because once they’re gone, they’re gone,” said Jim Beeler, military supporter.

Jim Beeler says it’s important to thank any vet for their service, and today, especially those who were a part of the US Atomic Program.

“It’s nice to see someone recognize that.”

State Rep. Bob Bromley is sponsoring House Bill 1652 which would designate a section of Highway 171 as “Atomic Veterans Memorial Highway.” Bromley says it’s important to recognize the role these veterans played in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, and the potential toll to their health after being exposed to radiation.

“There were 23 different types of cancers that develop with a lot of these veterans. And they were not eligible with their medical records and everything to get compensation,” said MO Rep. Bob Bromley, R.

Often tied to the top secret nature of the work. It took decades to change that.

“Some of them did not get compensated for their cancers and different things that was caused by this exposure to radiation ’til the mid 90s. And so it’s just very important to understand the sacrifice and the contribution that all these veterans made.”

The bill has already gone before the Veterans Committee and is expected to see an initial vote this week. Missouri is just one of a list of states considering this measure to recognize Atomic Veterans.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | health, Legal, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The US and China Could Soon Be In Race For Nuclear-Powered Satellites.

The US and China Could Soon Be In Race For Nuclear-Powered Satellites, Defense One, 16 Jan 22,

An idea from the 1960s has found new backers.,  If future U.S. satellites are to dodge incoming Russian or Chinese fire, they’ll need better ways to move around than today’s fuel-intensive thrusters. That’s why the Pentagon is looking into nuclear-powered propulsion.

While leaders at the Space Force and the Pentagon Research and Development office remain publicly quiet about the idea of putting nuclear-powered spacecraft in orbit, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace studies released a new report that argues for more focused work on it. 

It isn’t a new concept. NASA and the Atomic Energy Commission were working toward a flight test for their nuclear rocket until the Vietnam War sapped the program’s funding. It was cancelled in 1973, and safety concerns have since scuttled further efforts………….

If future U.S. satellites are to dodge incoming Russian or Chinese fire, they’ll need better ways to move around than today’s fuel-intensive thrusters. That’s why the Pentagon is looking into nuclear-powered propulsion.

While leaders at the Space Force and the Pentagon Research and Development office remain publicly quiet about the idea of putting nuclear-powered spacecraft in orbit, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace studies released a new report that argues for more focused work on it. 

It isn’t a new concept. NASA and the Atomic Energy Commission were working toward a flight test for their nuclear rocket until the Vietnam War sapped the program’s funding. It was cancelled in 1973, and safety concerns have since scuttled further efforts……….

But one DARPA official, at least, suggests looking at the idea afresh. A 2020 policy change from the Trump White House has clearing the way for new research into nuclear propulsion, Micheal Leahy, the director of the tactical technology office at DARPA, told a virtual audience on Friday. Leahy’s office runs the DARPA Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO, program. Last April, DARPA awarded General Atomics a contract for a preliminary design of a reactor and propulsion subsystem, and gave Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin a contract for a spacecraft design.

But the bigger factor is thatChina is working along similar lines with planes to field its own nuclear-powered satellites by 2040. The lessons from the current gap in hypersonic missile technology should provide a cautionary tale, Leahy said. 

“We had the lead in hypersonics, only to watch it go away. Right?… Now I’m in a tail chase,” he said.  https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2022/01/us-and-china-could-soon-be-race-nuclear-powered-satellites/360792/

January 17, 2022 Posted by | China, space travel, USA | 1 Comment

Can Santa Fe survive as a nuclear weapons suburb?

Will Santa Fe “fold up,” democratically and spiritually, when this new “Manhattan” fully appears? Is the faith of that man of peace, St. Francis — the very name of this city — obsolete to political leaders in the city and the state?

Can Santa Fe survive as a nuclear weapons suburb?  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/can-santa-fe-survive-as-a-nuclear-weapons-suburb/article_b6ab8ce8-7556-11ec-b47a-57273af4ebbc.html, By Greg Mello, 16 Jan 22,

Many Santa Feans understand that Los Alamos National Laboratory, the most lavishly funded nuclear weapons facility in the world, has embarked on a new mission: making plutonium warhead cores (“pits”) on an industrial scale, to involve 4,000 full-time personnel and 24/7 operations.

It’s among the dirtiest and most dangerous missions in the nuclear weapons complex, not seen at LANL since the 1940s. It’s centered in an old facility built for research and development, now to be driven far beyond its original capacity.

LANL predicts it will spend $18 billion to start up production over this decade. In constant dollars, this is 15-fold what the Manhattan Project spent in New Mexico — indeed it dwarfs the cost of every other project in New Mexico history.

The pits will cost at least $50 million apiece, 200 times their weight in gold. A single LANL pit, assuming all goes well, will cost as much as the combined annual salaries of 1,000 New Mexico teachers, or the equipment for 5,000 residential solar systems. A major reason our society is failing is because it is kept on a war footing.

This huge program has nothing to do with national security, except in the negative sense. It is not needed to maintain any stockpile weapon. As military planners say, it’s (very) “early to need” and there are now perfectly sound, cheaper plans to do without LANL’s production should something go wrong. Why wait?

After extensive analysis under both the Obama and Trump administrations, the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2017 firmly rejected what is now LANL’s pit plan. The New Mexico delegation fought back, enlisting congressional hawks to help blackmail the Trump administration into building an unheard-of two pit factories. Up to now, a barely functioning Congress has gone along with the game. Time will tell just how long this scam holds up.

LANL’s pit production, for all its cost and danger, just isn’t enough to support any foreseeable U.S. stockpile. If LANL is a pit factory, there will be two.

What about Santa Fe, then?

On July 18, 1945, Harry Truman wrote in his diary, “Believe [Japan] will fold up before Russia comes in. I am sure they will when Manhattan appears over their homeland.”

Will Santa Fe “fold up,” democratically and spiritually, when this new “Manhattan” fully appears? Is the faith of that man of peace, St. Francis — the very name of this city — obsolete to political leaders in the city and the state?

What exactly would Santa Fe stand for or mean if nuclear weapons — the ultimate in human disposability — became its main tangible product? When our schools and community colleges direct our young people into LANL’s “pipeline” of plutonium minions? Or do you suppose their potential for creativity, compassion and wisdom could be better developed in other ways, as the region faces the towering crises of the 21st century?

Can Santa Fe survive as a nuclear weapons suburb? It certainly can, as a kind of nuclear “Pottersville” — a sprawling, increasingly ugly “city” with growing inequality, a vacuum where shared ideals should be, with no real urban center or shared human purposes, its most cherished traditions washed away by too much money given to too few people doing “work” society doesn’t need or want. It would be a city divided against itself to be sure, with plenty of poverty, human tragedy and crime.

Santa Fe could be a city that aims for justice and peace, where the obligation of respect binding us together is fostered, where the potential of every child is honored. Those political values are incompatible with manufacturing more nuclear weapons.

Greg Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

January 17, 2022 Posted by | culture and arts, Religion and ethics, social effects, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden is urged to eliminate land-based nuclear missiles, as US policy is revised.

Biden Urged to Eliminate Land-Based Nuclear Missiles as US Policy Is Revised, https://truthout.org/articles/biden-urged-to-eliminate-land-based-nuclear-missiles-as-us-policy-is-revised/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=e59d913f-a733-43f1-8c81-c99670e89de9Mike LudwigTruthout,

As the Biden administration considers changes to Trump-era nuclear policy, 60 national and regional organizations released a statement this week calling for the elimination of 400 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are “now armed and on hair-trigger alert in the United States.”

“Intercontinental ballistic missiles are uniquely dangerous, greatly increasing the chances that a false alarm or miscalculation will result in nuclear war,” the statement reads. “There is no more important step the United States could take to reduce the chances of a global nuclear holocaust than to eliminate its ICBMs.”

Progressives, scientists and some Democrats in Congress are also pushing President Joe Biden, who has pledged to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons in its defense strategy, to adopt a “no first use” policy and declare that the U.S. will never be the first to launch a nuclear attack. Taking such a stance would strengthen the U.S. position in global nonproliferation talks, advocates say.

The White House is slowly pursuing such talks with other nuclear-armed governments including Russia, the United Kingdom and France, which recently issued a joint statement declaring that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Pakistan and India, two regional rivals armed with nuclear weapons, issued statements calling the joint statement a positive development in international arms control.

A “no first use” or “sole purpose” policy, advocates say, would also be consistent with the Democratic Party platform and Biden himself, who has said that nuclear weapons should only be used to deter nuclear attack. The Trump administration went in the opposite direction with its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which says that deterring a nuclear attack is not the “sole purpose” of nuclear weapons and nuclear war could be used to deter “non-nuclear” attacks and achieve “U.S. objectives” if deterrence fails.

The Biden administration is working on a new Nuclear Posture Review, which could be completed early this year, according to Politico. The administration would not comment on internal deliberations for the review, but unnamed officials told Politico it is unlikely to include deep cuts to nuclear weapons spending as the U.S. works to overhaul and modernize its vast nuclear arsenal.

Federal spending on nuclear forces is projected to reach $634 billion over the next decade, a 28 percent increase over 2019 projections, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Advocates for arms control said Biden should have — and still could — put the most controversial nuclear weapons projects approved under former President Donald Trump on pause until the new posture review is completed.

Writing for Defense One, Tom Collins, the policy director at the peace group Ploughshares, argues that Biden must act fast to rein in a Pentagon bureaucracy intent on keeping money flowing to the nuclear war machine, or his own policy will end up looking a lot like Trump’s:

The good news is that President Biden knows more about nuclear policy than any commander-in-chief in recent history. If Biden makes this a priority, there is every reason to think that he will approve new policies that will reduce the risk of nuclear war and make the nation and world safer.

Unfortunately, the president has left these crucial issues to officials who are not committed to his vision. A key strategy document — called the Nuclear Posture Review — has been drafted by an entrenched Pentagon bureaucracy that apparently wants to keep core elements of the Trump agenda intact, including new nuclear weapons and more ways to use them.

Biden is under pressure from conservative war hawks in Congress and the Pentagon to avoid cuts to new nuclear weapons programs approved under Trump, as Russia and China are thought to be bolstering their own arsenals. These proposed weapons systems are different than the existing ICBMs, which require billions of tax dollars for upkeep and sit ready to launch in silos located on the U.S. mainland.

The U.S. maintains a vast nuclear arsenal that can strike from the air, sea and land. The statement issued this week reports that 400 ICBM missile silos — relics of the arms race with the Soviet Union that first raised fears that global nuclear war that would lay waste of all of human civilization — are scattered across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Citing a former Defense Secretary William Perry, the 60 peace and civil society groups issued the “call to eliminate ICBMs” on Wednesday. Perry has explained that the ICBMs are the weapons most likely to spark a catastrophic nuclear war. If enemy missiles were launched at the U.S., the president would only have about 30 minutes to decide whether to retaliate before the ICBMs are destroyed, a terrible decision that could result in “nuclear winter,” according to the statement.

“Rather than being any kind of deterrent, ICBMs are the opposite — a foreseeable catalyst for nuclear attack. ICBMs certainly waste billions of dollars, but what makes them unique is the threat that they pose to all of humanity,” the statement reads.

Even if the ICBMs facilities were closed, the U.S. would still retain a devastating nuclear arsenal that could respond to attacks across the world. Missiles carried on submarines and aircraft could kill millions of people. However, they are not subject to the same “use them or lose them” dilemma as the ICBMs.

“Until now, the public discussion has been almost entirely limited to the narrow question of whether to build a new ICBM system or stick with the existing Minuteman III missiles for decades longer,” said Norman Solomon, national director of RootsAction, one of the groups that signed the statement. “That’s like arguing over whether to refurbish the deck chairs on the nuclear Titanic. Both options retain the same unique dangers of nuclear war that ICBMs involve.”

January 15, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 3 Comments

To Avert ‘Global Nuclear Holocaust,’ US Groups Demand Abolition of ICBMs

To Avert ‘Global Nuclear Holocaust,’ US Groups Demand Abolition of ICBMs  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/01/12/avert-global-nuclear-holocaust-us-groups-demand-abolition-icbmsWhistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says no other immediate action would go further “to reduce the real risk of a false alarm in a crisis causing the near-extinction of humanity.”

JAKE JOHNSON    More than 60 U.S. organizations issued a joint statement Wednesday calling for the total elimination of the country’s land-based nuclear missiles, warning that the weapons are both an enormous waste of money and—most crucially—an existential threat to humankind.

Organized by the advocacy groups RootsAction and Just Foreign Policy, the statement argues that intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are “uniquely dangerous, greatly increasing the chances that a false alarm or miscalculation will result in nuclear war.”

“There is no more important step the United States could take to reduce the chances of a global nuclear holocaust than to eliminate its ICBMs,” continues the statement, which was signed by Beyond the Bomb, Global Zero, Justice Democrats, CodePink, and dozens of other anti-war groups.

“Everything is at stake,” the groups warn. “Nuclear weapons could destroy civilization and inflict catastrophic damage on the world’s ecosystems with ‘nuclear winter,’ inducing mass starvation while virtually ending agriculture. That is the overarching context for the need to shut down the 400 ICBMs now in underground silos that are scattered across five states—Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.”

The statement comes just two weeks after President Joe Biden signed into law a sprawling military policy bill that allocates billions of dollars to research, development, and missile procurement for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program, an initiative that is expected to replace the current Minuteman III ICBMs in the coming years.

Ahead of the $778 billion legislation’s passage, some progressive lawmakers—most prominently Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—called for a pause in GBSD development, a demand that went unheeded.

Daniel Ellsberg, the legendary whistleblower and longtime proponent of nuclear disarmament, told Common Dreams in an email that “most of the so-called ‘defense’ budget is legislative pork.”

“But some of it—in particular, the maintenance and proposed replacement to the current ICBM program—is toxic pork,” he added. “It’s not just unnecessary, it’s positively dangerous, to our own security and that of the rest of the world.”

Before leaking the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, Ellsberg specialized in nuclear weapons and operational planning for a possible nuclear war during his time as a consultant to the Defense Department, an experience he recounts in his 2017 book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

“We should have gotten rid of our silo-based ICBMs no less than half a century ago, when they had become totally vulnerable to attack,” Ellsberg told Common Dreams. “Ever since then, deterrence of a nuclear attack should have been based solely on our invulnerable submarine-launched missile force, which is itself far larger than that function requires or should permit.”

Echoing the anti-war coalition’s fear that a potential “false alarm” could spark nuclear catastrophe, Ellsberg noted that “the survival in wartime of hundreds of land-based missiles depends on their being launched, irrevocably (unlike bombers), on electronic and infrared warning before attacking missiles might arrive.”

“Such a warning, however convincing, may be false; and that has actually happened, more times than our public has ever become aware,” he said. “No other strategic weapons besides ground-based ICBMs challenge a national leader to decide, absurdly within minutes, whether ‘to use them or lose them.’ They should not exist.”

“No other specific, concrete American action would go so far immediately to reduce the real risk of a false alarm in a crisis causing the near-extinction of humanity,” Ellsberg concluded.

In a statement, RootsAction national director Norman Solomon lamented that recent public discussion surrounding U.S. nuclear weapons policy “has been almost entirely limited to the narrow question of whether to build a new ICBM system or stick with the existing Minuteman III missiles for decades longer.”

“That’s like arguing over whether to refurbish the deck chairs on the nuclear Titanic,” said Solomon. “Both options retain the same unique dangers of nuclear war that ICBMs involve. It’s time to really widen the ICBM debate, and this joint statement from U.S. organizations is a vital step in that direction.”

January 13, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Texas ‘downwinders’ should be eligible for nuclear radiation compensation, advocates say

Texas ‘downwinders’ should be eligible for nuclear radiation compensation, advocates say, TEXAS STANDARD,  By Michael Marks. January 12, 2022

Congress is considering a bill to pay more people who were harmed by nuclear development, but the legislation still excludes some Texans who saw fallout firsthand.

A bill to compensate more people who were harmed by U.S. nuclear development is moving through Congress. But advocates say that it still leaves out people who were affected by nuclear radiation.

Under proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, eligible people would get $150,000 from the federal government. That includes uranium miners from Texas, but not “downwinders”: people who lived down wind from nuclear test sites.

Istra Fuhrmann is a nuclear policy advocate for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. She spoke to the Texas Standard about the bill and its provisions…………………….  https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/texas-downwinders-should-be-eligible-for-nuclear-radiation-compensation-advocates-say/

January 13, 2022 Posted by | health, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors make no economic sense, despite the boost by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and lobbyists.

Guess Who’s Leading the Charge for Nuclear Power in Canada?
Small reactors make no economic sense, despite the boost by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and lobbyists.
David Climenhaga The Tyee, Today | Alberta Politics 10 Jan 22,

David J. Climenhaga is an award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet and trade union communicator. He blogs at AlbertaPolitics.ca. Follow him on Twitter at @djclimenhaga.

Small nuclear reactors don’t make any more economic sense now than they did back in the summer of 2020 when Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took to the internet to tout the supposed benefits of the largely undeveloped technology being promoted by Canada’s nuclear industry.

Now that Kenney has taken to Twitter again to claim atomic energy is a “real solution that helps reduce emissions” and that so-called small modular reactors can “strengthen and diversify our energy sector,” it’s worth taking another look at why the economics of small nuclear reactors don’t add up.

As I pointed out in 2020, “as long as natural gas is cheap and plentiful, small nuclear reactors will never make economic sense.”

Natural gas is somewhat more expensive now than it was then, but not enough to make a difference to that calculation when the massive cost of any new nuclear-energy project is considered.

Even “small modular reactors,” so named to reassure a public skittish about the term nuclear and wary of the costs and risks of atomic reactors, are extremely expensive. It would be more accurate to call them “medium-sized nuclear reactors.”

For example, two such reactors built by Russia starting in 2006 were supposed to cost US$140 million. They ended up costing US$740 million by the time the project was completed in 2019.

Getting approvals for smaller reactors is time consuming, too. As environmentalist and author Chris Turner pointed out yesterday, the first small nuclear reactor approved in the United States “submitted its application in 2017, got approval late last year, could begin producing 700MW by 2029 if all goes perfectly. Solar will add double that to Alberta’s grid by 2023.” Indeed, the estimated completion date of the NuScale Power project may be even later.

The small reactors touted by many companies, often entirely speculative ventures, are nothing more than pretty drawings in fancy brochures. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are about 50 concepts, but only a couple in the United States and Russia with massive amounts of government money behind them are anything more than pipedreams or stock touts’ pitches to investors.

And small nuclear reactors are less economical than big reactors, so power companies aren’t interested in building them; all but one proposed design requires enriched uranium, which Canada doesn’t produce, so they won’t do much for uranium mining in Alberta; and all the safety and waste-removal problems of big nukes continue to exist with small ones.

These points are documented in more detail my 2020 post, which also discussed why smaller reactors will never create very many jobs in Alberta, ……………………-  https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/01/10/Nuclear-Power-Canada-Who-Leading-Charge/

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Legal case over compensation for workers in ”uniquely dangerous” nuclear sites

High Court Takes Up Nuclear Site Workers’ Compensation Case (1)  https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/high-court-takes-up-washington-workers-compensation-challenge
Jan. 11, 202  

  • 9th Cir. upheld change to state workers’ compensation law
  • U.S. government warns of costly consequences for contracts

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the federal government’s challenge to a Washington state workers’ compensation law in a case that could have costly consequences for U.S. government contracts involving hazardous work on federal property.

The justices agreed Monday to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision upholding a Washington law that presumes certain worker health conditions linked to cleanup work at the Hanford Site, a decommissioned federal nuclear production complex, are occupational diseases that can trigger workers’ compensation benefits.

The Department of Energy since 1989 has overseen cleanup at the Hanford Site, which produced weapons-grade plutonium for use in the U.S. nuclear program during World War II and the Cold War. The cleanup of the Hanford site is expected to continue over the next six decades and involve roughly 400 department employees and 10,000 contractors and subcontractors.

In 2018, Washington lawmakers passed legislation, HB 1723, that amended the state’s workers’ compensation law exclusive to the Hanford site, covering at least 100,000 current and former federal contract workers who performed services there over the past 80 years. The law states that presumed occupational diseases stemming from work at Hanford should trigger benefits eligibility, including cancers and other respiratory diseases.

The federal government argued the law exposes government contractors, and by extension the United States, to “massive new costs” that similarly situated state and private employers don’t incur

‘Uniquely Dangerous Workplace’

The Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, arguing the 2018 law discriminated against the United States and that state law shouldn’t apply to federal contract workers at Hanford. The government warned that the logic applied by a panel of Ninth Circuit judges opened the door to other states passing legislation targeting work at federal facilities.

“Congress did not permit States to adopt laws that impose unique burdens on the United States and the firms that it engages to carry out federal functions,” Justice Department attorneys argued. “The practical consequences of the panel’s mistake are far-reaching. Even if the Hanford site is considered in isolation, the decision is likely to cost the United States tens of millions of dollars annually for the remainder of the 21st century.”

Attorneys for Washington state, however, responded that courts have allowed states to regulate workers’ compensation for injuries or illnesses suffered during work on federal land. They argued Washington state has “long tailored its workers’ compensation laws to the dangers faced by particular employees,” noting statutes that protect firefighters and other workers facing special hazards.


“Hanford is a uniquely dangerous workplace, filled with radioactive and toxic chemicals, and private contractors operating there have routinely failed to provide employees with protective equipment and to monitor their exposures to toxic substances,” they argued.

Justice Department attorneys also argued the Ninth Circuit ruling clashed with Supreme Court precedent in a 1988 decision, Goodyear Atomic Corp. v. Miller, which described a similar situation of a state workers’ compensation award for an employee injured at a federally owned facility.

The full Ninth Circuit previously declined to take up the case, and said the Washington law fell properly within a part of federal law that authorizes states to apply their workers’ compensation laws to federal projects.

In a dissent to the Ninth Circuit’s denial of a rehearing, Judge Daniel P. Collins wrote that the panel’s decision clashed with high court precedent, calling it an “egregious error” that would have sweeping consequences.

The U.S. Solicitor General’s office represents the federal government. The Washington Attorney General’s office is defending the state law.

The case is U.S. v. Washington, U.S., No. 21-404, cert granted 1/10/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erin Mulvaney in Washington at emulvaney@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

January 11, 2022 Posted by | employment, health, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Very quietly, NRC plans mass shipments of high level radioactive waste.

Critics of the proposed licensing are demanding that the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board halt the Holtec licensing because it is illegal. 

Plans for Mass Shipments of High-Level Radioactive Waste Quietly Disclosed https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/01/07/plans-for-mass-shipments-of-high-level-radioactive-waste-quietly-disclosed/ BY JOHN LAFORGE

How far is your house or apartment from a major highway, or railroad line? Do you want to play Russian roulette with radioactive waste in transit for 40 years?

Last month US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff quietly reported preparing for tens of thousands of cross-country shipments of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactors to the desert Southwest. The oft-disparaged US infrastructure of decrepit of roads, faulty bridgesrickety rails, and rusty barges may not be ready for such an onrush of immensely heavy rad waste casks.

Continue reading

January 10, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons states like USA must end the hypocrisy

Simple logic decries the hypocrisy that acknowledges the apocalyptic risk of the very existence of these weapons yet fails to acknowledge the continued pursuit of new and enhanced weapons.

Nuclear weapon states like US must end the hypocrisy   https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/588874-nuclear-weapon-states-like-us-must-end-the-hypocrisyBY ROBERT DODGE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/08/22 

In an open letter to President Biden over 1,000 physicians, health professionals and concerned citizens have called on the president to take bold action toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in anticipation of his administration’s Nuclear Posture Review expected to be released in the next month.

As first responders dealing with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic — and recognizing that there is no adequate medical or humanitarian response to nuclear war — they understand the only way to prevent catastrophic consequences is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. 

Their call joins recent initiatives for sensible nuclear policy called for by defense and disarmament experts, U.S. local and state elected officials, and scientists asking the U.S. to take a leadership role in the abolition of nuclear weapons, with immediate steps to defuse the global nuclear tensions that have moved humanity to 100 seconds until midnight, the graphic representation of nuclear Armageddon determined by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

hese immediate steps outlined in the Back from the Brink Coalition include:

  • Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals
  • Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first
  • Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. president to launch a nuclear attack
  • Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
  • Canceling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons

Knowing the science of the climate devastation that would follow even a limited, regional nuclear war, it must be asked under what circumstances any nation is willing to commit collective suicide by launching a nuclear attack? The country, and indeed the world, awaits President Biden‘s Nuclear Posture Review, at which point the president will take ownership of U.S. nuclear policy and our future.

Thus far, little change is noted from the Trump era nuclear and defense policy. The current fiscal year has seen the United States spend over $74 billion on nuclear weapons programs alone. Initial indications are that the Biden defense budget will see this amount increase — at a time when the world struggles to get the entire planet vaccinated against COVID 19 with an estimated global cost of $50 billion according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This recent joint statement by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states on the eve of the COVID-postponed NPT Review Conference on “Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races” acknowledged avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities, while affirming the “Reagan/Gorbachev” principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. They stated that nuclear weapons exist to deter aggression — when in fact they are the most egregious aggressive threat to all of humanity.

The joint statement expresses the importance of arms control and nonproliferation treaties, including compliance with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while — in fact — each nation is aggressively modernizing and growing their nuclear arsenals, spending billions of dollars in the process. 

Simple logic decries the hypocrisy that acknowledges the apocalyptic risk of the very existence of these weapons yet fails to acknowledge the continued pursuit of new and enhanced weapons.

What will it take to deter these leaders in their false narrative of why these weapons continue to exist? We must demand bold and immediate action to make their closing statement credible: “We are resolved to pursue constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests and concerns.”

Their actions alone will demonstrate their commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. 

January 10, 2022 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What ratepayers should know about the Plant Vogtle expansion

What ratepayers should know about the Plant Vogtle expansion January 6, 2022 By: Mary Landers   , The Current

If you feel like you keep reading the same story about the expansion of Plant Vogtle, the only new nuclear power under construction in the U.S., you’re not exactly wrong.

Reactors No. 3 and 4 at Vogtle on the banks of the Savannah River near Waynesboro are more than five years overdue and $14 billion over budget. And that’s just a broad outline.

For more details, and for a take that’s sympathetic to consumers bearing these costs, read Georgia Conservation Voters‘ 32-page report “Ratepayer Robbery — The True Cost of Plant Vogtle.”

It includes timelines, data on expenses, and records of key decisions. The report reminds Georgia Power residential customers that they’ve been paying for Vogtle financing on their monthly bills for 10 years while industrial customers are exempt. It also spells out how Vogtle’s cost overruns actually increase Georgia Power’s profit. Footnotes link to news articles, and government and nonprofit documents.

“Plant Vogtle is a monumental example of failed leadership, oversight and lack of forethought,” said GCV Executive Director Brionté McCorkle. “What started out as an overpriced $14 billion project has ballooned into more than $30 billion, and that doesn’t take into account the future costs of completing the units.”

The report highlights the role of the Georgia Public Service Commission, an elected five-member panel, in moving the project forward. In a go/no go review of the project in 2017 after building contractor Westinghouse went bankrupt, expert witnesses and the PSC staff cautioned it wasn’t cost effective to continue. But the PSC voted to continue construction…………..

McCorkle is not against finishing the project, she said, but she is concerned about who will pay to finish it, residential ratepayers or Georgia Power shareholders.

“The responsible thing to do is to reassess the whole situation and reassess who’s picking up the tab for this and why customers are on the hook for paying for this energy,” she said.

Georgia Power, which owns 45.7% of the Vogtle expansion project, “has earned over $6 billion just from the delays of their own project,” the report states.

“They’re profiting, they’re making sky-high profits, while individual ratepayers are struggling to keep the lights on throughout a pandemic, people are losing family members,” McCorkle said. “And the squeeze is being felt everywhere. And our commissioners have a responsibility to do something about that.”

“Ratepayer Robbery — The True Cost of Plant Vogtle” concludes with a list of suggested actions. They are:

  1. The Georgia Public Service Commission should disallow Georgia Power from placing all of
    these nuclear construction costs onto our bills and share rate increases more fully between
    customer classes.
  2. Voters should hold Commissioners accountable by ejecting them from their seats and electing pro-consumer candidates that commit to transparency.
  3. The Georgia State legislature should fully fund an independent Consumer Utility Counsel (CUC).
  4. The Georgia State legislature should create an independent study commission to document lessons learned.Read the entire report at https://www.scribd.com/document/550992905/Ratepayer-Robbery-The-True-Cost-of-Plant-Vogtle
  5. https://www.gpb.org/news/2022/01/06/what-ratepayers-should-know-about-the-plant-vogtle-expansion?fbclid=IwAR3zdntXhPLdXrqewGAw26Bt1FwsNXQSuLWXhN2cEvA3zJEyZyN5EZzgmyA

January 10, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

What’s going on at Michigan’s nuclear power plants? A troublesome past, and present.

FIRE REPORTED AT CRUMBLING MICHIGAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT,   WHAT IS WRONG WITH MICHIGAN’S NUCLEAR PLANTS?  https://futurism.com/the-byte/fire-michigan-nuclear
by
ABBY LEE HOOD 9 Dec 22,

What’s going on with Michigan’s nuclear power plants? Yesterday, local newspaper conglomerate MLive reported that a fire was detected at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Berrien County, MI.

MLive reports that the “potential fire” was detected Thursday morning, complete with an alert from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, though in the end no actual fire was found. And that’s extremely lucky, because MLive reports that the fire protection system for the vault where the fire was detected is currently out of service.

Add that to a local radio news outlet’s report last year that the nuclear facility had deactivated all its warning sirens in favor of mobile alerts, and the incident is a perfect illustration of the United States’ dilapidated nuclear infrastructure.

Some workers have died in gruesome ways at the Cook nuclear plant over the years, which has racked up fines and even briefly shut down entirely in 1997 for grave safety concerns.

Dig a little deeper and other nuclear incidents surface in the same state. Last year, Downtown Publications reported that Fermi 2, a nuclear station located in Newport, MI, suffered the longest nuclear refueling and maintenance outage in 2020, lasting from March until August — and its predecessor, Fermi 1, suffered a partial core meltdown back in the 1960s.

Nuclear power remains a tempting stopgap as the world trundles toward renewables, but in practice it might not actually be the most effective energy solution. The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan showed that even with modern safety precautions, events can still spin out of control. And we don’t have solid plans for containing radioactive waste, which stays toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Uranium pollutes groundwater, and new plants costs a fortune.

In the face of all that, you’d at least expect currently operating plants to be on the top of their game, but the situation in Michigan sounds anything but.

Will we come up with truly effective strategies before another nuclear disaster? Only time will tell.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Texas residents affected by New Mexico nuclear tests – radioactive fallout ignores state lines

Nuclear fallout ignores state lines: Lon Burnam and Istra Fuhrmann, https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/opinion/2022/01/07/nuclear-fallout-ignores-state-lines-lon-burnam-and-istra-fuhrmann/9122752002/  Early in the morning of July 16, 1945, native El Pasoan Barbara Kent was thrown out of her bunk bed at dance camp.

Just 13 years of age, she had traveled to Ruidoso, New Mexico, to learn ballet, unwittingly only a short distance from the site of the first nuclear weapons test. After the explosion awakened her, she says the camp owner came running in to tell the young girls to head outside, where the sky had turned from dark to blindingly bright.

Barbara Kent describes playing in pleasantly warm snow improbably falling in July, grabbing it in her hands and rubbing it on her face. Decades later, she realized that this “snow” had been radioactive fallout from the atomic blast. Today, she is the only survivor from the camp – all the other girls passed away from cancers before the age of 30.

El Paso is less than 150 miles from the epicenter of the nuclear bomb detonation known as the Trinity Test. While Kent happened to be in New Mexico that day, she was not the only Texan exposed to dangerous radiation levels. According to U.S. Census data, between 100,000-130,000 people lived in El Paso during the blast. Nuclear fallout from the explosion settled over thousands of square miles and exposed locals to radiation levels 10,000 times higher than what is currently allowed.

Unfortunately, many of our state’s lawmakers in Congress do not see radiation exposure as a Texas issue. They have not treated the problem with the urgency it is due. It’s time to acknowledge this historical wrong and compensate Texans and New Mexicans suffering from life-threatening illnesses due to nuclear weapons activities.

Congress has united in compensating nuclear testing survivors in the past. In 1990, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch introduced the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which received strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. Unless Congress acts, this compensation program is set to expire in July 2022. Making matters worse, Texas and New Mexico “downwinders” – locals exposed to nuclear fallout – have never been eligible.

Last month, communities affected by nuclear testing celebrated when the RECA Amendments Act of 2021 was overwhelmingly approved by the House Judiciary Committee. If passed into law, this bill will extend RECA by 19 years and allow New Mexican downwinders to claim compensation for the first time. Importantly, Texan downwinders just across the border are also pushing to be included.

Texas is currently covered in RECA as a uranium mining state that supplied material for America’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Uranium workers employed before 1971 who have developed radiation-related illnesses are eligible to receive a one-time RECA payment of $150,000. Many industry workers came from low-income Native and Hispanic communities and were never informed of deadly radiation exposure.

Greg Harman writes that “after 30 years of heavy [uranium] mining activity, cancer rates in Navajo Country began to shoot upward, doubling by the late ’90s.” RECA does not compensate post-1971 uranium miners, even though mining (and cancer cases) continued past this cutoff date. Texas contained the country’s third-largest uranium reserves and ranked second in the nation in drilling for uranium in 1971. As a result, many Texan uranium miners stand to benefit from the RECA extension, which expands eligibility to include workers in the industry post-1971.

We scored another victory when El Paso’s Congresswomen Veronica Escobar recently cosponsored the RECA Amendments Act. Now it’s time for Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to cosponsor and endorse the Senate version. This bill ensures that compensation for Texan uranium miners will not expire this summer. Advocates from local groups like the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium ask legislators to amend the bill’s language to include El Paso County.


Nuclear fallout does not respect state lines or dates on the calendar. Perhaps, in this case, neither should Congress. It is long past time to compensate Texans, New Mexicans, and downwinders of the 1945 Trinity Tests.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | health, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment