The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry


The child is father to the man’ – a saying that applies so well to the nuclear industry.  It was born in lies and deception, as early research into ionising radiation ( as a palliative treatment for advanced cancer) was perverted into research towards a radioactive killer. The Manhattan Project first set out to devise a weapon that would kill people, while leaving buildings etc intact – a release of radiological material.

In 1995, the US Department of Energy produced the Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. It states: “The first proposed military application of atomic energy was not nuclear weaponry but radiological warfare (RW) – the use of radioactive materials to produce injury“ (

Later, this aim was changed, to both devastate a city by explosive blast,  (still releasing toxic radioactive materials)

After atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 most nuclear scientists followed the idea of the “peaceful atom” –   nuclear technology would somehow be redeemed through ‘cheap’, ‘clean’ nuclear energy.

No so. Following the USA, other countries adopted nuclear reactors, in order to make nuclear bombs.  This process continues today – nuclear power remains a fig leaf on nuclear weaponry –  it could never have developed without the weapons industry, accompanied by government subsidies.

The nuclear lies and the nuclear killing machines have continued to this day.  Nuclear power was never cheap – especially as the costs paid by indigenous peoples have never been included in etimates. Nor have the costs of the virtually endless disposal and security of nuclear wastes.

NUCLEAR HISTORY – theme for August 2011

There are so many aspects to the history of uranium mining, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and nuclear wastes. Below are just a few of the highlights.

1789 Discovery of uranium.

19th Century – uranium ore used provided radium use as luminous paint for watch dials and other instruments,  The byproduct uranium was used mostly as a yellow pigment.

1890s  Marie Curie’s achievements included a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined , techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world’s first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today.

1934 the idea of chain reaction via neutron was proposed by Leó Szilárd

1934  French physicists Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie discovered that artificial radioactivity could be induced in stable elements by bombarding them with alpha particles, and in the same year Italian physicist Enrico Fermi reported similar results when bombarding uranium with neutrons.

1938  German chemists Otto Hahn ] and Fritz Strassmann experimented in splitting the atom – nuclear fission – and producing a chain reaction.

1942  Dr Charles Pecher researched ionising radiation as a palliative treatment for advanced cancer. His work was taken over by USA authorities and perverted into research into radiation as a weapon.

First nuclear reactor made.This work became part of the Manhattan Project, which made enriched uranium and built large reactors to breed plutonium for use in the first nuclear weapons .

1945 Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

1953  US President Dwight Eisenhower gave his “Atoms for Peace” speech at the United Nations, emphasizing the need to develop “peaceful” uses of nuclear power quickly. This was followed by the 1954 Amendments to the Atomic Energy Act which allowed rapid declassification of U.S. reactor technology and encouraged development by the private sector.

1954, the USSR‘s Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant became the world’s first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid.  USA army and navy developed nuclear programs.

1956 World’s first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall at Windscale, England,

1957 EURATOM was launched.    International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) launched First commercial reactor in the USA

1960s Anti nuclear movement develops, with local opposition and some scientists opposing uranium mining, nuclear power, and nuclear weapons.


These are lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents.- Wikipedia


1934. Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934 due to aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation.    She was a physicist and chemist and a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. In fact, it was Curie that coined the term radioactivity. Due to their levels of radioactivity, her papers from the 1890’s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. They are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing. Famous Incidences of Death by Radiation – Listverse

1945 When the servicemen returned to the United States, many of them suffered from strange rashes and sores. Years later some were afflicted with disease (such as thyroid problems and leukemia) or cancer associated with radiation exposure. Little could be proven beyond a doubt, and all of their disability and compensation claims were denied,

1957: The Kyshtym disaster was a radiation contamination incident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Russia    Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion at Chelyabinsk. Two hundred plus fatalities, believed to be a conservative estimate; 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991.

Windscale, England. Reactor core on fire for two days, large amounts of radioactive gas
released into the atmosphere

1979 Three Mile Island,PennsylvaniaUnited States  Loss of coolant and partial core meltdown

1986 ChernobylUkrainian SSR Overheating, steam explosion, fire, and meltdown, necessitating the evacuation of 300,000 people from Chernobyl and dispersing radioactive material across Europe

2011 FukushimaJapan A tsunami flooded and damaged the 5 active reactor plants . Loss of backup electrical power led to overheating, meltdowns, and evacuations


Karen Silkwood   In 1974, US anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood was killed in a car crash many suspect was deliberately caused by the Kerr McGee nuclear company.Karen Silkwood will be remembered as someone who fought an uphill and often unpopular battle against the ruthless nuclear industry. She is an inspiration to all who believe in environmental justice and workers’ rights BY SHARYN JENKINS. Karen Silkwood remembered | Green Left Weekly

Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink (December 6, 1927–September 28, 2002)  an American politician  who wrote the treaty that banned atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons when every other congress critter refused to be associated with such a radical proposal.  Without her efforts, we might already all be dead from the fallout of thousands of weapons tests.

and many others: see

THE DECLINE OF THE COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR INDUSTRY, (but alas, not of the nuclear weapons industry) More than two-thirds of all nuclear plants ordered after January 1970 were eventually cancelled.  A total of 63 nuclear units were canceled in the USA between 1975 and 1980 . Health and safety concerns, the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster played a part in stopping new plant construction in many countries.

Runaway costs and time overruns appear to be spelling failure for AREVA’s new Generation III nuclear plants in Finland, and France. Generation !V plants exist only in blueprint, as do all the proposed new “mini  nuclear reactors.

NUCLEAR POWER PROBLEMS.  This topic would fill a stack of books. Suffice to say that the mounting piles of radioactive waste are now seen as a pressing problem,  – and this is the impetus for the new “pie in the sky” plans for new “fast breeder” reactors.


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