Koizumi Supports US Sailors’ TEPCO Lawsuit
I want to say – and this is very important – in the end, we lucked out! It was luck that prevented nuclear war. [Holds up his thumb and forefinger an half-inch apart.] Rational individuals came that close to total devastation of their societies. And that danger exists today. Former U.S. Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara – in ‘The Fog of War” a documentary film by Errol Morris – 2003 Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over…. The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart. Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…. Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry – 2016[ Video clips of Mr. Koizumi’s press conference with the sailors are at the end of this article. ] [ Transcripts of the English translations of press conference segments from May 17 are available in PDF here: Pt. 1 – Mr. Koizumi’s Personal Statement Pt. 2 – Q&A ] Crackpot Nuclearism and Ponerology – The Science of Evil The pervasiveness of nuclear technology in our culture is arguably a symptom of the systemic institutionalization of evil in the current world system. In all its forms it is an assault on the collective future of humanity and the entire planetary biosphere. The serious study of this increasingly common phenomenon, called political ponerology, was pioneered by Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski, a former member of the Home Army, an underground Polish resistance organization. According to Wikipedia, The original theory and research was conducted by a research group of psychologists and psychiatrists from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and pre-communist Hungary. “Crackpot Realists” was the term coined by controversial mid-twentieth sociologist C. Wright Mills for the self-described ‘hard-headed realist’ Cold War strategists who thought it ‘realistic’ to plan for Mutually Assured Destruction of the planet in the name of ‘national security.’ To adapt his term in the 21st century, the Crackpot Nuclearists – those who advocate more nuclear power, more nuclear weapons, and (therefore) more radioactive waste – are either seriously deluded or seriously evil themselves. Awakening from the Spell of Atomic Enchantment Only a handful of contemporary statesmen have awakened from the Crackpot Nuclearism trance that has deluded decision makers and risked global destruction for more than half a century. They include Mikhail Gorbachev – Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former President of the USSR, Former American Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, Former Defense Secretary William Perry, Senator Sam Nunn, and, most recently, former Japanese Prime Ministers Naoto Kan and Junichiro Koizumi. On March 7th, 2011 – coincidentally four days before the still on-going Fukushima nuclear disaster began – Kissinger, Shultz, Perry and Nunn published a joint letter in the Wall Street Journal declaring that “the doctrine of mutual assured destruction is obsolete in the post-Cold War era.” The four elder statesmen explained,
The advent of the nuclear weapon introduced entirely new factors. It was possible, for the first time, to inflict at the beginning of a war the maximum casualties. The doctrine of mutual assured destruction represented this reality. Deterrence based on nuclear weapons, therefore, has three elements:They continued,
- It is importantly psychological, depending on calculations for which there is no historical experience. It is therefore precarious.
- It is devastating. An unrestrained nuclear exchange between superpowers could destroy civilized life as we know it in days.
- Mutual assured destruction raises enormous inhibitions against employing the weapons.
…[R]eliance on this strategy is becoming increasingly hazardous. … With the spread of nuclear weapons, technology, materials and know-how, there is an increasing risk that nuclear weapons will be used. It is not possible to replicate the high-risk stability that prevailed between the two nuclear superpowers during the Cold War in such an environment. The growing number of nations with nuclear arms and differing motives, aims and ambitions poses very high and unpredictable risks and increased instability. …Our broad conclusion is that nations should move forward together with a series of conceptual and practical steps toward deterrence that do not rely primarily on nuclear weapons or nuclear threats to maintain international peace and security. [ Deterrence in the Age of Nuclear Proliferation https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703300904576178760530169414?mg=id-wsj ]Joined at the Hip from Birth The original, main, and continuing purpose of nuclear reactors was/is production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Electricity production, under the slogan ‘Atoms for Peace,’ was the cover story. Corporate profit from tax- and rate-payer subsidized nuclear weapons and energy technologies became the dominant business model in a permanent war economy. That there is an indissoluble relationship between the two applications of nuclear technology is taken for granted by policy-makers – witness the recent brouhaha about Iran’s nuclear program. Many observers are alarmed by on-going re-militarization of Japan under the Abe government, aware that Japan has one of the largest stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium in the world. [See: Japan could change pacifist constitution after Shinzo Abe victory ] Just this week, current US Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlined plans for nuclear war with Russia, and Pakistan threatened a nuclear attack on its next door neighbor India. Then there is the glaring fact that every operating reactor and radioactive waste storage site represents a weapon-of-mass-destruction-in-place for potential terrorists – of either the state or non-state varieties. Lies My Advisors Told Me During his tenure as Japan’s PM, Junichiro Koizumi believed his ‘expert’ advisors who assured him that nuclear energy is ‘cheap, clean and safe.’ Since Fukushima he has done his own research and concluded, he says, that “Those were all lies.” Now, deeply regretting his former position, he has emerged as an outspoken international and domestic opponent of nuclear energy. The Tomadachi Lawsuit – The Fukushima Four Hundred Earlier this year he learned of the lawsuit filed against TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, by American military personnel suffering dire health impacts from their exposure to Fukushima fallout during the U.S. Navy’s disaster assistance operation Tomadachi in 2011. More than 400 veterans who were part of the Operation Tomodachi mission to provide humanitarian relief after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and triple meltdown have filed a mass lawsuit in California against Tokyo Electric Power Co., seeking compensation their on-going health problems. So far seven plaintiffs have died as TEPCOs army of high-priced lawyers have fought tooth and nail to delay and block the Sailors’ lawsuit in the US court. In May Mr. Koizumi took the unusual step of contacting the sailors’ attorneys Charles and Cabral Bonner and Paul Garner to request personal confidential interviews with a representative sampling of their clients. EON has been covering this story since 2013 and was asked to provide video recordings of the interviews for Mr. Koizumi’s exclusive use. [ Previous EON reports: 2013 US Sailors Sue TEPCO for Radioactive Fallout Cover-Up 2015 – USS Reagan Sailors Sue for Nuclear Justice ] On May 17, after days of face-to-face conversations with several of the plaintiffs and their families, Mr. Koizumi held a press conference in Carlsbad, CA to announce establishment of a fund to solicit donations for medical treatment for the sailors and their affected family members. He fought back tears as he told of the suffering he had learned about in the interviews. In that press conference, when EON producer Jim Heddle asked Mr. Koizumi about the issues surrounding the holding of the 2020 Olympics in Japan, he responded that he was “not in a position to comment.” But he has since changed his mind. Olympic Lies from Dishonest Abe At a September 7th news conference, held at Tokyo’s Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Mr. Koizumi stated that current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lied when he told the Olympic committee in 2013 that Fukushima was ‘under control’ in order for Japan to be approved to host the 2020 Olympics. Koizumi also pointed out that, now, 5 years later, Fukushima is still nowhere near ‘under control,’ as the locations of three melted-down cores beneath the plant remain unknown and radioactive water continues to collect at the site and to pour into the Pacific. In the September 7th news conference Mr Koizumi said: “The nuclear power industry says safety is their top priority, but profit is in fact what comes first… Japan can grow if the country relies on more renewable energy,” (Ayako Mie, staff writer, Despite Dwindling Momentum, Koizumi Pursues Anti-Nuclear Goals, The Japan Times, Sept. 7, 2016 https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/07/national/politics-diplomacy/despite-dwindling-momentum-koizumi-pursues-anti-nuclear-goals/#.V9bwVoW1y9s ). Because of its historical significance, we are making the May 17 Carlsbad, CA. press conference available in the following three video segments. In order to make them accessible to both Japanese and English speaking viewers, we have chosen to present his remarks and their real time translation in their entirety. [ Transcripts of the English translations of press conference segments from May 17 are available in PDF here: Pt. 1 – Mr. Koizumi’s Personal Statement Pt. 2 – Q&A ] Pt. 1 – Mr. koizumi’s Statement This is the first of three segments of a May 17, 2016 news conference held in Carlsbad, CA by Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the US sailors’ lawsuit against TEPCO.. Pt. 2. – Q&A with media This is the second of three segments of a May 17, 2016 news conference held in Carlsbad, CA by Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the US sailors’ lawsuit against TEPCO.. Pt. 3. Sailors’ Story This is the third of three segments of a May 17, 2016 news conference held in Carlsbad, CA by Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the US sailors’ lawsuit against TEPCO. Attorney Charles Bonner summarized the current status of their case, For an excellent in depth update on this on-going story see Libbe HaLevy’s Nuclear Hotseat #272: EXCLUSIVE! USS Reagan v. TEPCO Hearing – Attorneys, Survivors + John Edwards
Extreme Slow Motion Nuclear Phase-Out Proposed in California “OK, Buddy, you have just 9 years to stop beating your wife.”
Opinion by James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan EON – The Ecological Options Network
We knew, with certainty, with arrogant certainty, that we were in control of the power we were playing with. This was the day . . . We learned we were wrong. Sergiy Parashyn, Chernobyl engineer Approval of a lease extension from the State Lands Commission is critical to ensure the continued operation of this clean energy [sic] facility to 2025. Blair Jones, Diablo Canyon spokesmanReprieve for PG&E & Diablo, Extended Risk for the Rest of Us On June 21, 2016, a press release from Friends of the Earth exploded on the internet like a nuclear reaction going critical. “Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to be shut down,” read the headline, “power replaced by renewables, efficiency, storage.” Digital cheers went up around the net as congratulatory messages poured onto the list serves. The news was featured on outlets from the New York Times, Forbes and Bloomberg, to NPR. “For Friends of the Earth…it’s a wonderful moment,” said FoE’s Damon Moglen on Democracy Now! His organization is a co-signer of the phase-out proposal. “The fact that the sixth largest economy on the planet is saying no to nuclear power and is going to replace nuclear power with safer, cleaner, cheaper renewable energy is a tremendous message. And it really does put an end to this nonsense that somehow nuclear power has any role to play in the future. “ “On the macro level, this is huge,” wrote commentator Harvey Wasserman. “On the big picture level this has become a…defining national story proclaiming the death of nuke power. “ They’re both correct. Whatever its final fate, this ‘Proposal’ is an implicit acknowledgement that nuclear energy is neither ‘clean,’ nor ‘green,’ nor a solution to carbon-caused climate change. It is another sign of the inevitable, eventual demise of nuclear power. So, hats off to those who have produced a precedent-setting first draft of a template for a potential orderly transition to renewable energy. However, reading the fine print yields quite a mixed message. Critical Analysis So, before popping the Champaign corks and swooning in post-nuclear euphoria, let’s take a closer, critical look at this much-vaunted ‘Proposal,’ its implications, and the process of its creation. Dodging CEQA Just days ahead of a California State Lands Commission (SLC) hearing at which a decision was to be made as to whether or not to require a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s continued operation in order to get SLC leases renewed, this self-selected body floated the ‘Joint Proposal’ to keep the plant running for nearly another decade without such a review. Interesting timing. Forgotten in the excitement was the fact that just a week earlier the San Jose Mercury News had reported on PG&E entering federal court facing “13 criminal counts, including 12 charges that it violated pipeline safety regulations and one charge of obstructing a federal investigation into the lethal blast. The explosion and resulting fire killed eight people and destroyed 38 houses in one of the worst utility disasters in U.S. history.” The Merc also reported that the company had, “learned that a number of prospective jurors in the matter have an unfavorable view of PG&E.” Would you want a company with that rap sheet running your local nuclear plant for 9 more years toward shutdown, with little incentive for investment in repairs or safety? It’s unknown if the Commission would vote for the CEQA, but a CEQA review would most likely show PG&E’s Diablo Canyon could not comply with state laws governing water and could possibly force its closure in much fewer than nine years. The leases at issue expire in 2018 and 2019. Snatching Capitulation from the Jaws of Victory? This ‘agreement,’ between PG&E, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment California, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, and the Alliance For Nuclear Responsibility proposes to give PG&E another nine years – until 2025 – to shut the reactors at the termination of their licenses. Moreover it has no assurance of compliance. The ‘Parties’ also sent a joint letter to the Lands Commission arguing that their proposal obviates the requirement for a CEQA review. The Proposal by a self-selected group of ‘Parties,’ some of them not even active participants in the opposition of Diablo Canyon, was kept secret from the many groups involved in the Nuclear Free California movement. It’s worth noting that the long-term advocacy group Mothers for Peace, is excluded from the ‘Parties.’ For many decades it has been Mothers for Peace who have represented the interests of the population of the most at-risk population, namely those living in close proximity to the plant. Because of these facts, many long time environmentalists working for decades to close Diablo were shocked and outraged at this announcement of the proposed agreement.
Judge to abusive husband: “You have just 9 years to stop beating your wife.” Husband: “Thanks, your honor. I was planning to leave her then, anyway.”A first reading of the Joint Proposal and its accompanying letter reveals it to be a devil of a gamble, involving prolonged seismic risk, routine radioactive pollution & tons more waste and plutonium production for nearly a decade, not to mention perpetuation of PG&E mismanagement, exorbitant profits, and ratepayer extortion. It is an attempt to forestall both the CEQA being called for by the California Lands Commission, and compliance with Once Through Cooling (OTC) requirements under the State Water Resources Control Board and California’s Clean Water Act. Both these requirements, if enforced, could have caused PG&E to shut down Diablo. On the other hand, this gave the environmental organizations bargaining chips to help drive PG&E’s decision to drop its attempt to relicense Diablo for another 20 years of operation. The re-licensing request – even if only a bargaining ploy – most likely would have been supported by Gov. Jerry Brown and would surely have been rubber-stamped by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC.) Is another nine years really necessary? Here’s the bottom line question about this proposal: Does it really have to take so long for an orderly phase-out of Diablo, and a responsible transition to renewable sources? What about a few second opinions here? Do we really have to sign onto an all-or-nothing ‘agreement’ negotiated in secret behind closed doors? Now that it’s been admitted on paper by PG&E that it will be less expensive (not to mention less risky) to shut Diablo down than to run it, does the best possible scenario for PG&E have to be the only desideratum? How about what’s best for people, marine life, the environment and California’s economy? What about a real, transparent public dialogue about real alternatives? What about Germany’s example? What about if PG&E were to stop opposing roof-top solar, net metering, and feed-in tariffs? What about if it started counting existing solar sources not now included in its inventory of available power? What about hydro and geothermal sources in Imperial County? Like everybody’s grandmother used to say, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ And maybe now PG&E has the will. But this smells as if PG&E is setting us up for a my-way-or-the-highway extortion deal – ‘pay up or we’ll break your kneecaps.’ It’s a good guess that if a CEQA review is mandated, PG&E will take its radioactive fuel pellets and go home. Though, after the announcement of the ‘Proposal’, the SLC staff changed their recommendation to denying that a CEQA is necessary. Do we really have to choose between 9 more years and 30? Do we even have 9 more years? As wildfires rage currently causing ‘red flag’ conditions in three counties adjacent to Diablo Canyon, climate change-caused chaos is accelerating, adding increasing risk to its continued operating. Is it in compliance with fire safety regulations? Faith Based Seismology Despite the recent discovery that Diablo Canyon sits on the intersections of 13 active earthquake faults capable of releasing far more seismic force than the reactors were designed to withstand, the current Proposal completely ignores repeated dire predictions that a huge earthquake of devastating proportions is predicted any time now. A June 23, 2016 article in The LA Times reminds us again about the immanent dangers of the overdue MAJOR earthquake, building from unreleased pressures between the two tectonic plates running along southern California’s coast. [ See also: WHEN NOT IF: ‘Large-scale movement’ on San Andreas Fault, prompting fears of major quake ] Not long ago, although one of NRC ‘s own Senior Inspectors reported that Diablo Canyon is out of compliance for earthquake resilience and called for the plant’s shutdown, the NRC failed to take action. The inspector was transferred out of state. Just a year ago, in testimony before Senator Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment & Public Works, Daniel Hirsch, Nuclear Policy Analyst at UC Santa Cruz and Dr. Sam Blakeslee, a geophysicist, and former both California Assemblyman and Senator, revealed PG&E’s history of incompetence, fact-fudging and safety violations, the NRC’s history of lax regulation and new seismic risk discoveries. They called for a full adjudicatory re-licensing hearing for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Luis Obispo, California. [ See: Assessing Diablo’s Risks – Hirsch & Blakeslee, Republican Calls for Diablo Safety Probe, Nuclear Negligence at Diablo – Dan Hirsch] Hirsch heads CommitteeToBridgeTheGap.org, long an effective watchdog agency in California. His testimony showed that from Humboldt Bay to Bodega Head to Diablo Canyon, PG&E has consistently chosen nuclear sites on earthquake faults, and the NRC has consistently failed to enforce its own seismic safety standards. These very real dangers are magnified by the fragility of Diablo’s embrittled reactor vessel, the fifth worst in the U.S. Even without natural disasters, incredibly high radiation readings from EPA’s Radnet in Bakersfield, California correlate to refueling incidences at Diablo Canyon, according to a recent report by FukuLeaks.org. Why so long if PG&E admits running Diablo Canyon is no longer profitable? Why does PG&E need nearly a decade just to ‘begin to plan’ as stated in the ‘agreement’ for replacing Diablo’s electricity output and ‘beginning’ to make a transition to renewables? Why just begin in 2018 with a long-overdue emphasis on efficiency? Long time anti-nuclear activists wonder is it because the utility has been dragging its feet for so long, resisting and blocking efforts toward conservation, efficiency, rooftop solar, net metering and small, decentralized solar installations and wants to keep doing so? Not to mention its $30 million attempt in 2010, via Prop 16, to kill the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) movement in the cradle, and the utility’s decades-long battle to stamp out public power projects wherever they dare crop up. Reskilling and retraining employees does take time, but again, is nine years necessary? Estimates say that Diablo generates 6-9% of California’s electricity, and 20% within PG&E’s service territory. Three years ago, a chart developed by the late Barbara George, founder of WomensEnergyMatters.org, and based on the California Energy Commission’s own data, showed that – even without nuclear – California has a 40% excess energy generation capacity. To avoid rolling brown and black outs, redundancy in the system is required equal to the single largest source of electricity that could go out. The California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO) calls this quantity of spinning reserve the “MSSC” (Maximum System Single Contingency) in its tariff. Right now, that largest single source is Diablo Canyon. This dependence on centralized generation of electricity is an obsolete business model that increases risk and reduces resilience in our age of climate chaos. “Plan B” The Joint Proposal is based on a study commissioned by FoE, titled Plan B: An Economic and Technical Case for Replacing Diablo Canyon with Greenhouse Gas Free Renewable, Efficiency and Energy Storage Resources addressed this and other issues. It found that “…when DCPP retires, the system requirement for spinning reserve will be cut approximately in half….” On the basis of its 40-page analysis, Plan B concluded that it is:
…clearly in the interest of California ratepayers to replace DCPP with a renewable portfolio in an orderly transition on a timetable that will enable ratepayers to benefit from the renewable tax credits that may expire in 2020. These renewable resources will be additive to the recently adopted policy of a 50% RPS by 2030. It is also in ratepayer interests to overhaul and expand current energy efficiency programs to bear part of the load caused by retirement of DCPP. Given the high cost of extending the NRC licenses, the high cost of continued operations at DCPP, and the risk of catastrophic failure of an aging plant on a seismically active site, the state of California needs to have a plan for retirement of DCPP. The plan must be to replace DCPP with zero GHG renewable energy and Energy Efficiency both of which are incremental to existing policy initiatives and programs. […T] time for that plan is now. P6Rocky Mountain Institute’s seminal business book ‘Reinventing Fire’ used the state-of-the-art NREL ReEDS model to examine 80%-renewable US electricity in 2050, half centralized and half distributed, with no nuclear generation. The whole system turned out to cost the same as the alternatives (more-of-the-same, or new nuclear and “clean coal”, or centralized renewables) but to manage best all seven kinds of risk and to be the only known way to eliminate the risk of big cascading blackouts. According to Amory Lovins, their model included transmission and storage (only ~5–6% of renewable capacity needed). As reported by The New York Times, ‘“Giant baseload nuclear power plants like Diablo Canyon cannot easily be taken offline, or ramped up and down, as system needs change,” said Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the group’s lead negotiator on the agreement. “This worsening problem is forcing the California grid operator to shut down low-cost renewable generation that could otherwise be used productively.”’ And, according to The Washington Post, “Geisha Williams, PG&E’s president for electricity, said in a conference call that the company concluded that ratepayers would not pay more for new renewable sources of energy than they would have paid to keep Diablo Canyon open. But she said that calculation took as a given the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which mandates sharp increases in -renewable-energy use and might have forced the reactors to run at as little as half their capacity.” Writing in Forbes, celebrated energy expert Amory Lovins observes,
PG&E also agrees that removing the inflexible “must-run” nuclear output, which can’t easily and economically ramp down much, will help integrate more renewable power reliably into the grid. Midday solar, rather than being increasingly crowded out by continued nuclear overgeneration, will be able to supply more energy. As Germany found, integrating varying solar and windpower with steady “baseload” plants can present challenges for the opposite of the reason originally supposed: not because wind and solar power vary (demand varies even less predictably), but because “baseload” plants are too inflexible. …[A]s PG&E acknowledges, market forces have made California’s last nuclear plant redundant. As customers use electricity more productively, solar roofs generate homebrew power, and competitive renewables flood the wholesale market, Diablo Canyon has become superfluous—and cheaper to close than to run.Translation: Diablo Canyon’s continued operation is the MAIN IMPEDIMENT TO CALIFORNIA’S TRANSITION TO RENEWABLES. It should be shut down ASAP, not in nine years. Artificial Life Support for a Dying Industry & Obsolete Utility Business Model On the other hand, a precipitous closure, as happened with the leaking San Onofre plant, prompted replacing its power with gas, creating more greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to avoid any disruption to the flow of electricity. Not long afterwards, California experienced the catastrophic months-long Aliso Canyon methane leak. The similarities of this proposal to the 2013 San Onofre nuclear plant shutdown deal are striking. Both have the lingering aroma exuded by Governor Jerry Brown. Both agreements were conducted out of public sight and basically pay nuclear utilities extortion money to just go away. The key difference is that this ‘Agreement’ establishes ONLY greenhouse gas free sources to replace Diablo Canyon nuclear power and the community and workers’ needs are being considered. Trusting PG&E? This proposed agreement attempts to replace DCPP with a renewable portfolio in an orderly transition on a timetable that PG&E agrees it can comply with. But, as noted above, can we trust PG&E? The San Bruno gas disaster is but one incident in a long pattern of dubious corporate behavior. It is worth remembering that Governor Brown’s two female gate-keepers, Nancy McFadden and Dana Williamson, are both former PG&E executives. In fact, it was McFadden, during her tenure as a PG&E VP, who managed the campaign for Prop 16, a voter-defeated attempt to stop the formation of locally-owned utilities which were cutting into the utility’s monopoly. Now, the prospect of customers fleeing PG&E for CCA’s is a real concern, one that the “Proposal” even acknowledges. Trusting the CPUC? It is Gov. Brown who appoints all the members of the California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC, which will be making the decisions on the PG&E slow motion phase-out proposal. But the CPUC is now a discredited agency, itself currently fighting multiple charges of corruption, and whose continued existence is in question by the State Legislature. Why should we trust it with so many key decisions on this issue? A May 2016 article in American Prospect reported on a recent National Renewable Energy Foundation study that found up to 74 percent of California’s total electricity usage could be generated by rooftop solar power – far more than other states. However California only derives 2.4 percent of its energy from rooftop solar systems. To meet that goal, or even Reinventing Fire’s recommended 50% distributed generation, California’s CPUC would have to implement additional regulatory reforms, such as establishing statewide interconnection standards that allow Californians to connect to the grid no matter where they live, and clarifying the solar system installation permitting process to eliminate hidden fees. With a cooperative CPUC undoing all impediments to the energy transition, couldn’t PG&E quickly sell storage to rooftop solar owners and rapidly replace its outdated business model, like Green Mountain Energy has done? Green Mountain Power changing the home energy storage game Is this a done deal? No, not by a long shot. And it should NOT be – even though it looks like the fix is in. Backroom deals, conducted in secret, excluding key stakeholders, should not be the standard for creation of public policy. Consideration of this proposal should not deter the SLC from doing a rigorous CEQA review, and compliance with California’s Once Through Cooling regulations have been addressed. The Proposal is full of wiggle-room conditionalities that might let PG&E off the hook. And given their track record, the public needs to guard against a scenario such as that advanced by Indian Point nuclear plant owners who continue operating their deteriorating plant without a license. Is this a good deal? And for whom, exactly? It’s most of all good for PG&E, because it protects on-going profits from Diablo Canyon for nine more years and mandates ‘full cost recovery’ of all the company’s expenditures involved in its license-extension applications to the NRC, seismic and decommissioning studies and transition costs past, present and future. It’s not good for the PG&E ratepayers, already footing the second highest utility rates in the country, who will ultimately have to pay the bills for the company’s ‘full cost recovery’ AND another nine years of Diablo Canyon profits and risks. It is good for the Inside-the-Beltway ‘Big Green’ groups like FoE and NRDC and their local allies, who can claim a great victory for environmentalism. It’s not good for the regional resident population, who will have to continue to live another nine years with the health effects of continuous routine radioactive emissions from the plant, and the looming, possibly catastrophic, seismic risks of an overdue major earthquake and tsunami. Plus another nine years worth of tons of lethal radioactive waste will be left onsite, likely for millennia, unsafely stored in thin canisters each holding a Chernobyl’s worth of radioactivity that can’t be monitored for leaks until after they happen and can’t be repaired. NRC techn It is good for the Electrical Workers and Utility Employees unions whose members are guaranteed employment, retraining and a gradual transition. This should set a good template for treatment of workers in the coming cascade of nuclear shutdowns across the country. It’s not good for the creatures in the marine environment impacted by the plant’s on-going daily operation, already causing 80% of the marine damage along California’s coast – 1.5 billion fish per year killed. It is good for the local county businesses and community groups who will benefit by being gradually weaned off PG&E’s tax revenue and philanthropic largess over the next decade. AND it is not good publicity for a moribund global nuclear industry fighting for its life against a worldwide groundswell citizen opposition and an overdose of market forces. But, ultimately – if the aged, embrittled reactors, run by a company with a history of safety violations, escape catastrophe in the next nine years (a big IF) – it will be good for a California free at last of nuclear energy, and officially committed to a renewable energy economy… but still stuck with thousands of tons of radioactive waste, lethal for millennia that are unsafely stored at the moment. Is it the best deal possible? It is certainly the best deal possible for Pacific Gas & Electric, ensuring its profits for the next 9 years and guaranteeing it ‘full cost recovery,’ with minor concessions on its part, given the reality of California’s mandate for 50% renewables by 2030 and dwindling demand for its inflexible, costly nuclear electricity which blocks the grid from accepting renewables. Operating with clean energy sources will be highly profitable. In terms of public and environmental safety it’s a very high risk deal…short of extending the risk of re-licensing for another 20 years. And many more important environmental considerations are left out of the agreement. But the beginning of the process of Diablo Canyon shutdown is happening and that is nationally and even internationally significant for the rest of the nuclear industry. It articulates a vision of a solid transition away from dependence on nuclear power both for electricity provided to the grid as well as income provided for the San Luis Obispo community and county. It could be the beginning of a good shutdown scenario if the public is included and there’s transparency in the process to actualize the vision with active citizen participation. A Realistic Timetable? Going through the process at the CPUC for PG&E will take time. Preparing requests for proposals, putting bids out for Energy Efficiency; having the entities respond with projects; awarding funding; the start up time to implement the proposals; all this takes time. It will take time to build out the infrastructure and time to go through the regulatory hurdles at the CPUC. Diablo workers need time for retraining and new job acquiring. The county needs time to reallocate funds. It actually may take many years for this transition, as much as we would like it all to happen yesterday. Two trusted experts were consulted and said that it may realistically take nearly all the nine years. We call on the Governor, state legislature and public agencies like the State Lands Commission, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Coastal Commission, the California Energy Commission, the Independent System Operator, the CPUC and the NRC to really do their job of protecting public trust and safety through the shutdown of Diablo and the transition to renewables. But the public knows the government agencies are increasingly favoring corporate utility interests and increasingly hostile to the public and environmental concerns. Should we sit back, relax and stop pushing for the shutdown of Diablo? No flaming way! This ‘Proposal’ does sketch the parameters of a good beginning, though not with enough assurance of compliance. That will be up to concerned citizens to be on high alert and persistent involvement. And now the risk will be even higher until closing. Even more extreme vigilance is needed from now on, since, as Mothers for Peace spokeswoman, Linda Seeley explained, “It’s like knowing you’ll soon be retiring a used car. Expensive broken parts are unlikely to get replaced at Diablo.” And then there’s the waste – the aspect after fissioning that makes Diablo so dangerous will remain onsite even after shutdown and must be responsibly managed. What’s the best deal? * Full CEQA protection with a robust EIR * Compliance with Once Through Cooling requirements * Additional environmental safeguards and mitigation of serious issues not covered in the Joint Proposal * Transparent CPUC process and meaningful citizen involvement in the transition to Energy Efficiency and renewables. *Transparent CPUC process and meaningful citizen involvement in the management of waste *Transparent CPUC process and meaningful citizen involvement in the decommissioning decisions and process * Insist that responsible management of the lethal waste include robust casks thick as German and Japanese casks (6’ to 19’ thick – not the ½ in. thick canisters currently in use;)and that can be closely monitored. * Insist that already loaded canisters be carefully checked; conditions for cracking exist now in a 2 year old canister at Diablo Canyon. Through-wall cracks occurred in another plant with a similar coastal environment within 17 years. * Insist on monitoring technology since many canisters are now approaching the age when disastrous cracks can occur. * Take extra care with spent high burn up fuel; * Ensure the emergency planning continues for the community *Insist on expert supervision of all decommissioning tasks * Demand above-ground, hardened, monitored, retrievable (for re-containerizing when monitoring indicates necessity to avoid leaks) storage in the most thick robust storage casks. Other countries do this, California must also * Make sure the workers continue to feel they’re safe Learn from San Onofre Also we can learn much from the San Onofre experience. Even more extreme vigilance is needed from now on, since, as Mothers for Peace spokeswoman, Linda Seeley explained, “broken parts are unlikely to get replaced at Diablo.” Do the workers feel safe? We must also demand the most robust available casks for the millions of pounds of lethal waste and that decisions made about waste are based on what’s best for the environment, not just utilities’ bottom line. San Onofre’s waste situation is not a model to repeat at Diablo Canyon, as the present ‘Proposal’ states. So what can we do? Contact the Lands Commission: CSLCWeb@slc.ca.gov Contact the State Water Resources Control Board: firstname.lastname@example.org Get informed and get involved. Attend important meetings Tuesday June 28: •Attend the live meeting of the State Land Commission in Sacramento June 28 at 10 AM. at the Holiday Inn Capital Plaza, 300 J Street just east of route 5 and north of the route 80 intersection. Come early to sign up to speak. Google for directions. •If you are in the San Luis Obispo area, attend the June 28, 10 AM SLC meeting at the Morro Bay Community Center at 1001 Kennedy Way. Join the Mot hers for Peace in a rally at 9 AM. Bring your signs! Come early and sign up to speak. •Write the California Land Commission to order a complete environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before any new lease is considered in writing at CSLC.CommissionMeetings@slc.ca.gov Demand: * A full CEQA review * Compliance with Once Through Cooling requirements, * Safe shutdown of Diablo, and an accelerated transition to renewables. * Insist that responsible management of the lethal waste include monitoring and robust casks thick as German and Japanese casks (6’ to 19’ thick – not the ½ in. thick canisters currently in use;) * Take extra care with spent high burn up fuel; * Ensure the emergency planning continues for the community *Insist on expert supervision of all decommissioning tasks * Demand above-ground, hardened, monitored, retrievable (for re-containerizing when monitoring indicates necessity to avoid leaks) storage in the most thick robust storage casks. Other countries do this, California must also * Make sure the workers continue to feel they’re safe Learn from San Onofre Also we can learn much from the San Onofre experience. We must demand the most robust available casks for the millions of pounds of long -lived lethal waste and that decisions made about waste are based on what’s best for the environment, not just utilities’ bottom line. Southern California Edison’s disastrous plan for their San Onofre radioactive waste is not a model to repeat at Diablo Canyon, as the present ‘Proposal’ states. For more info: MothersForPeace.org SanOnofreSafety.org Big thanks to Arnie Gundersen and Maggie Gundersen for expert consultation. See also: PG&E to close Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant Good News From Diablo Canyon ____________________________________________ Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle co-direct EON, The Ecological Options Network. They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection
Fairewinds Energy Education, EON – the Ecological Options Network presents two important new videos from Maggie and Arnie Gundersen’s recent California speaking tour. Maggie is Founder and CEO of Fairewinds and Arnie is Chief Nuclear Engineer. Expect the Unexpected – Arnie Gundersen at CalPoly Speaking Truth to Nuclear Power in PG&Eland As the controversy rages in California over whether to shut down or re-license the state’s last operating nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, Arnie Gundersen, Chief Nuclear Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education speaks about the risks of nuclear power at California Polytechnic State University, just down the road from Diablo. World in Danger – Arnie Gundersen As nuclear enthusiasts clamor to extend the operation of California’s last, aging nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, located on 13 intersecting earthquake faults in a tsunami zone, prominent whistleblower Arnie Gundersen points out ‘the California-Fukushima connection.’ Every operating reactor, where ever it is, poses a danger to the entire planet. Diablo is a ‘worst case’ waiting to happen. For more info: Fairewinds.orgIn cooperation with
Counterpunch.org ] ‘Nuclear Security’ – The Quintessential Oxymoron? It ended, with no apparent sense of irony, on April Fools’ Day. Obama’s much-heralded ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ came to a close on April 1st in Washington, D.C., having drawn representatives from about 50 countries…minus Russia, which declined to attend citing a “shortage of mutual cooperation” and the exclusion of some of its allies from the invitation list. Compared to the lofty vision outlined in Obama’s famous 2009 Prague speech of a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’ the POTUS conference marked a sad measure of how far short of his stated intentions his actual accomplishments have fallen. To be fair, by no means all of that failure can be said to be Obama’s fault. There are many counter-forces. There’s a global system that profits handsomely from the combined nuclear energy-weapons-waste economy. There’s a worldwide elite whose members derive much power and privilege from it. There’s the domestic ‘deep state’ system of the ‘defense and security’ industry with its revolving door to government, which is heavily invested in the permanent war economy. Then there are the people the President has chosen to surround himself with, some of whom disagree with him and work to undermine his stated policies. https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/03/obama-disappointing-nuclear-weapons-legacy/127068/ It remains to be seen if the controversial ‘Iran Deal’ will stand as a signature accomplishment of Obama’s tenure. But the facts remain that, despite his boasts that he has ‘reduced’ the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the actual cuts amount to a mere 5% – from 4,950 operational nuclear warheads to 4,700, according to the Federation of American Scientists. As former Defense Secretary William Perry points out, that’s more than enough to destroy the world many times over. https://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741 https://www.edcast.com/wjperryproject And, as Perry and other former U.S. officials disapprovingly observe, Obama’s plan to spend over $1 trillion to ‘upgrade’ America’s stockpile of nuclear bombs and their delivery systems not only makes their use more likely, but has also triggered a New Arms Race. https://www.globalresearch.ca/warnings-of-global-arms-race-ahead-of-nuclear-security-summit/5517478 Finally, the President’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy treats nuclear energy generation as ‘clean,’ ignoring the massive carbon footprint of the atomic fuel chain that makes uranium essentially a fossil fuel. It also gives massive funding and support to developing a new generation of nuclear reactors, as well as marketing existing U.S. designs world-wide to such clients as warring Arab oil states. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2015-05-25/nuclear-power-people 12 Unspeakable Realities Those who advocate for nuclear energy as a response to climate change, or for new nuclear weapons in pursuit of ‘national security,’ must ignore or deny an overwhelming burden of facts from the history and legacy of these nuclear technologies so far. Here are just a few: The Ultimate ‘Kill Switch:’ Power Grid Black Out Celebrated former anchorman Ted Koppel’s recent book LIGHTS OUT extensively documents the extent to which our country’s aging power grid is subject to being knocked out in whole, or in serious part, by cyber attack, physical attack or an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) – either from solar eruption or nuclear air-burst. But the book is strangely silent about the fact that nuclear power plants’ attendant used fuel cooling pools are dependent on off-site power from the grid. Back-up generators and battery arrays would be unlikely to outlast an extended grid collapse. Lethally radioactive ‘spent fuel’ storage pool explosions would be at high risk of happening with devastating effects on surrounding communities and environments. [See Patrea Patrick’s documentary BLACK START ] Power Reactors as WMDs-in-Place Want to take out Wall Street and the whole New York metropolitan area? A cyber hack or physical attack on the rickety Indian Point nuclear plant just 30 miles up the Hudson could do the trick. Imagine Wall Street and 5th Avenue as empty and deserted as the abandoned radioactive ghost towns in Japan’s devastated Fukushima prefecture. Imagine Connecticut being uninhabitable for generations. Recent cyber attacks on nuclear reactors in Ukraine and the discovery that the alleged perpetrators of the Brussels explosions were casing a nuclear power plant as a possible target have sharpened public awareness that all operating reactors world-wide are potential weapons-in-place for would-be terrorists. Karl Grossman calls them ‘pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction.’ https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/28/nuclear-power-plants-pre-deployed-wmds/ Genocidal Impacts on Indigenous Peoples · Uranium mining and the deadly radioactive wastes left behind continue to have devastating effects on Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. In the U.S., thousands of abandoned open pit uranium mines contaminate drinking and irrigation water and the air breathed by tribes across the Great Planes and the Four Corners Area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsZ70OEzsr4 · Nuclear weapons testing has done lasting genetic and environmental damage to Pacific Islanders in the Marshall Islands and Polynesia. https://www.nuclearzero.org/ Nuclear Disasters The Guardian lists and ranks 33 serious incidents and accidents at nuclear power stations since the first one was recorded in 1952. Of those, six happened in the US, five in Japan and three apiece in the UK and Russia. That’s an average of nearly 5 per decade. https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank#data But a report by Cornell University researchers Spencer Wheatley, Benjamin Sovacool, Didier Sornette entitled Of Disasters and Dragon Kings: A Statistical Analysis of Nuclear Power Incidents & Accidents has a database of 174 major atomic accidents worldwide since 1946 – each with over $1 million in damages and at least one death. “In fact, the damage of the largest event (Fukushima; March, 2011) is equal to 60 percent of the total damage of all 174 accidents in our database since 1946. In dollar losses we compute a 50% chance that (i) a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years, (ii) a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years and (iii) a TMI event (or larger) occurs in the next 10 years.” See also: ‘10 Devastating Radiation Accidents They Never Tell You About’ https://listverse.com/2016/03/26/10-devastating-radiation-accidents-they-never-tell-you-about/#.Vvhw73VeUc4.twitter Nuclear energy accidents – US meltdowns There have been 8 nuclear meltdowns so far in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, the meltdown at Three Mile Island was not the worst. That dubious honor goes to the little-reported July 12, 1959 meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory located a couple of miles from the city of Simi Valley and only about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The radioactive contamination of the surrounding communities and environment from that event have yet to be fully acknowledged or dealt with. https://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20975-remembering-rocketdyne-discussing-americas-worst-nuclear-meltdown-not-three-mile-island-with-erin-brockovich Nuclear weapons incidents As part of his research for his book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control – Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Eric Schlosser used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone. The Business Insider has a useful interactive site based on Rudolph Herzog’s A Short History of Nuclear Folly on which you can track 32 nuclear weapons accidents since 1950. https://www.businessinsider.com/list-of-broken-arrow-nuclear-accidents-2013-5 In its Status of World Nuclear Forces, the Federation of American Scientists reports the existence of Approximately 15,350 warheads as of early-2016. Of these, more than 10,000 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which almost 4,200 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which nearly 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice. Approximately 93 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States who each have roughly 4,500-4,700 warheads in their military stockpiles. Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry says the situation is even worse: “Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over. Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war. “The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart. “Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…” https://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741 Nuclear Brinksmanship – A ‘Nuclear Winter’ in South Asia? Perry and his colleagues are not only worried about a nuclear WWIII triggered by a U.S.-Russian, or Israel-Iran confrontation. There are other potential atomic flashpoints as well between nuclear-armed states – the Korean Peninsula is one top candidate. Even more worrisome at the moment are recent developments on the India-Pakistan border. Pre-armed tactical nuclear weapons line the Pakistani side under the command of individual local commanders. India’s strategic nuclear arsenal is targeted at Pakistani population centers. As tensions heighten, the ‘threat level’ of a mutually suicidal nuclear exchange between the two neighboring countries goes up. The result could be a global ‘nuclear winter’ caused by the smoke and ash from the conflagration. [See: ‘Dilip Hiro, Flashpoint for the Planet’ https://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176123/tomgram%3A_dilip_hiro%2C_flashpoint_for_the_planet/#more ] Again, the take-home message is clear: Individual local nuclear weapons, reactor and waste sites each pose a potential risk to the entire planet. Human death toll from Chernobyl In 2013, the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment was published by the New York Academy of Sciences. Its lead author was the celebrated Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president. Based on some 5,000 health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports in several languages, concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died, mainly of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident between when the accident occurred in 1986 and 2004. It projects that more deaths will continue follow. It blows away the specious claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The book shows that the IAEA is seriously under-estimating, in the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl – good reason to doubt its pronouncements on Fukushima. https://www.globalresearch.ca/new-book-concludes-chernobyl-death-toll-985-000-mostly-from-cancer/20908 Nuclear worker health impacts Irradiated, a December, 2015 McClatchy investigative report by Bob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt and Samantha Ehlinger, reveals that 70 years of U.S. atomic weaponry production has so far left at least 33,480 Americans dead, with more to come. Additionally, a recent study by an international team of nine researchers looked at 308,297 workers in the nuclear industry from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of 66,632 known deaths by the end of the study, 17,957 were due to solid cancers. The authors report, “The risk per unit of radiation dose for cancer among radiation workers was similar to estimates derived from studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors.” They conclude that their results “suggest a linear increase in the rate of cancer with increasing radiation exposure.” Translation: There is no ‘safe’ dose of nuclear radiation. https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5359 Environmental/Biological impacts Evolutionary biologist Dr. Tim Mousseau shares his alarming findings from his unique research on the biological effects of radiation exposure to wildlife, plants, trees, birds and insects from the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl & Fukushima. He is finding similar catastrophic effects in both disaster areas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xnj5QYBzLs Genetic Damage from DU Weapons U.S. use of so-called ‘depleted uranium munitions’ in its wars in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan have left a devastating trail of monster fetuses, grotesquely deformed babies and a permanently damaged gene pool in the affected populations, as well as in the thousands of U.S. and NATO military personnel and their family members sequentially contaminated by exposure to these toxins. https://www.rt.com/news/iraq-depleted-uranium-health-394/ https://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/dod/du_factsheet_4aug98.htm Waste storage build-up, storage incidents Then there’s the energy-weapons-waste connection, the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Not only are nuclear energy and weapons production joined at the hip from birth, but they share a dysfunctional excretory system. After more than 70 years of trying, no reliable method has been found to keep tons of still- accumulating radioactive waste isolated from the environment for longer into the future than human civilization has yet existed has been found. An Australian study estimates there are 390,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the world, and nearly 10 million cubic meters of intermediate-level waste — all of it produced from nuclear power generation. That amount is growing by approximately 10,000 tons annually. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-15/sa-nuclear-waste-dump-to-meet-‘global-need’-recommended/7167412 It is produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment, to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Despite over seven decades of trying, no proven location or method of keeping the waste isolated from the environment has yet been found. According to the Nuclear energy institute, by the middle of 2015, 30 countries worldwide were operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 67 new nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries. https://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/World-Statistics The inevitable decommissioning of the aging world reactor fleet will create huge amounts of radioactive wastes. Once they are closed down, most of the world’s nuclear sites will require monitoring and protection for centuries. Wherever and however it is eventually stored, most of the waste will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years – longer than civilization has yet existed. For a look at how radwaste management is playing out at California’s recently shut down San Onofre , see Donna Gilmore’s excellent site: SanOnofreSafety.org Popular Push Back The rise of the global nuclear establishment has been paralleled by waves of massive and often effective public resistance. In the days of the first nuclear arms race and during the Cold War people around the world – joined by American civil rights leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, Bayard Rustin, Martin and Coretta Scott King – organized and demonstrated against nuclear energy and for abolition of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Freeze Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and massive campaigns in Europe mobilized millions. Without their work, and the roll-backs and treaties it generated, the current nuclear energy-weapons-waste challenges we face would have been even greater. We owe it to their legacy to continue the work in our generation. As the 5th anniversary of the still-ongoing Fukushima disaster’s beginning occurred on March 11, 2016, solidarity is growing between those working for abolition to nuclear energy and power in Japan, the U.S. and around the world. What might be called ‘nuclear consciousness’ is on the rise again in spite of, or because of, renewed propaganda efforts by the nuclear establishment. That ‘resistance is fertile’ is shown by the fact that – even in Japan’s current repressive climate – because of massive public pressure and legal efforts, three executives of TEPCO, the nuclear power utility responsible for Fukushima, have been brought to trial. As the President himself seems, on some level to understand, the abolition – not just reduction – of nuclear weapons is a human survival issue. So are the phase-out of nuclear power reactors and the responsible containment and sequestering of nuclear waste. Hokus POTUS or a Basis for Future Progress? This year’s POTUS Nuclear Security Summit is the last of seven meetings held in various venues during Obama’s two terms. As he closed the Conference – which had focused not on the new nuclear arms race, but narrowly on keeping civilian commercial nuclear materials ‘out of the hands of terrorists,’ the President harked back to his 2009 Prague speech. He pointed out that he had stated at the time that the goals he was calling for might not be achieved in his lifetime. Perhaps it was his way of acknowledging the shortfall of his initiatives. He cited the progress in reducing the availability of nuclear materials and in strengthening treaties and the mechanisms of international institutions. In response to a question, he defended his nuclear weapons ‘modernization’ program as a careful balance between keeping nuclear readiness as a deterrent , while staying open to the possibilities of future arsenal reductions. With the exception of ‘nuclear terrorism’ dangers, it is sadly unlikely that the POTUS Nuclear Security Summit’s outcomes will even acknowledge, much less seriously address the inconvenient nuclear truths listed above. Still, Mr. Obama deserves some credit for at least trying to keep discussion of nuclear policy going. Perhaps, once out of office, he will feel freer to join other former high-level U.S. officials in pushing for more substantive change. Elsewhere in the news, “Four senior US statesmen with deep national security credentials – former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn – joined together in 2007 to form the Nuclear Security Project (NSP) working for a world without nuclear weapons. “ Check it out: https://www.nti.org/about/projects/nuclear-security-project/ ============ James Heddle co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network. He blogs at PlanetarianPerspectives.net. and NoNukesCA.net He is currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima ConnectionBeyond Obama’s ‘Nuclear Security’ Hokus POTUS By James Heddle [ First published on
Forgetting Fukushima, Denying Dai-ichi By James Heddle
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.” – Sen. Daniel Patrick MoynahanFallout as Blowback As the 5-year anniversary has rolled around it’s clear to all who care to notice that the Fukushima triple meltdown nuclear disaster is still not ‘under control’ – as Prime Minister Abe claimed to the Olympic Committee in his successful bid to host the coming 2020 Games – but is still on-going, and will be far into the future. That is to say, radioactive pollution will continue to pour from Dai-ichi into the oceanic, hemispheric and planetary environment with predictably negative, but unknown, effects on the health and DNA of all life forms in the biosphere. There’s karmic irony here. The U.S. dropped the first devastating atomic bombs on Japan, then used its political influence and propaganda prowess to sell the country nuclear power. Its corporations supplied the faulty reactors that melted down at Fukushima. Now, the U.S. West Coast is on the front line of receiving the radioactive fallout in the form of ongoing oceanic and atmospheric pollution carried eastward by winds and currents. Faith-Based Nuclear Policy According to a recent Cornell University study, there have been nuclear reactor 174 accidents worldwide since 1946. The researchers rate the accidents in 2013 dollars and define an accident as “an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage.” Based on their extensive data, they predict • a 50% chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) will occur in the next 50 years • a Chernobyl event (or larger) will occur in the next 27 years • a TMI event (or larger) will occur in the next 10 years. According to a Guardian study, a major nuclear accident has happened on average every 5 years since 1952. Recently, alarmed at the failure of their repeated attempts to go through ‘proper channels,’ seven engineers at America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – which then Senator Obama dubbed in 2007 ‘a moribund agency’ – filed a petition as private citizens. They stated that they have identified a long-undiscovered electrical design flaw common to virtually all U.S. nuclear plants that could prevent cooling and allow meltdowns to occur. Their petition asks that the NRC mandate that plant operators either fix the problem or shut down the reactors. Not to mention that twenty-three U.S. reactors share the same design flaws as those that melted down at Fukushima. The obvious take-home lesson: because of the dependence of their cooling systems on off-site power supplies, every nuclear facility, wherever its geographic location, is vulnerable to grid blackouts from cyber attacks and extreme weather events, and constitutes both a potential terrorist weapon-in-place and danger to the entire planet, and should be treated as such by the ‘international community.’ Yet, a New Nuclear Weapons race and a New Nuclear Power race are both currently in progress. Joined at the Hip Nuclear weapons and energy have been joined at the hip from the birth of the Atomic Age. They both rely on the same essential core technology. That’s what the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ is all about. That’s why Japan’s current militaristic Abe government being in possession of an estimated 47.8 tons of stock-piled plutonium, with which it could produce 6,000 nuclear weapons, is worrying neighboring countries like China & Japan. Barak Obama began his presidency with the celebrated April 5, 2009 Prague Speech in which he stated “…clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons….” In practice Obama has not only re-invigorated nuclear weapons development, but embraced an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including heavy investments in new nuclear reactor construction and design development. The recipient of an apparently aspirational Nobel Peace Prize, Obama has also committed a projected $1 trillion dollars over the coming decades to upgrading America’s nuclear weapons arsenal. The program is aimed at smaller (and therefore potentially more usable) weapons, and includes new nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, a new manned bomber for nuclear weapons delivery, and a fleet of new nuclear missile-launching submarines. Termed – with no apparent sense of irony –‘the life-extension program,’ the plans clearly violate U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). According to respected U.S. officials like former Defense Secretary William Perry, ex-Secretary of State George Schultz and even Henry Kissinger, this is triggering a new nuclear arms race. All four are now advocating nuclear weapons abolition. Perry puts it bluntly, “Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war.” In the domain of nuclear weaponry’s Siamese twin nuclear energy, there are those opinion-maker neo-nuclear luminaries like James Hansen, James Lovelock, Stewart Brand, Bill Gates and George Monbiot who advocate for nuclear energy as a ‘carbon-free solution to climate change.’ Never mind that – as Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson and his associates, as well as others, have conclusively shown – the entire nuclear fuel chain from mine to waste dump is more carbon intensive than wind and solar put together. Their work shows a transition to renewables is totally possible…without nuclear energy. https://thesolutionsproject.org/ Brand and Jacobson debate the issue here. The Atomic Church of the Last Gasp New Nuclearists avoid coming to terms with the risks and failures of the existing world fleet of aging, ill-designed reactors. Some even advocate re-licensing embrittled reactors from the 1960s to extend their operation decades beyond their 40-year design life.) NeoNuclearists believe – without operational proof-of-concept – in a pie-in-the-sky, perpetually not-yet-but-soon-to-be-born generation of ‘new, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).’ They will consume and eliminate existing nuclear waste and be so ‘inherently safe’ you can bury them in your back yard. Any day now. The Obama Administration agrees. According to Forbes, at last November’s White House Nuclear Summit, the Administration announced actions to help sustain and finance nuclear energy, including: – $900 million in the Department of Energy’s 2016 budget to support commercial nuclear energy – Supplement DOE’s existing $12.5 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear energy projects – Launch the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), coordinated by the Idaho National Laboratory, to provide outside researchers access to nuclear energy-related capabilities and expertise within the DOE complex. This is needed to bring advanced nuclear reactor designs to commercialization, at the same time ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet https://gain.inl.gov/SitePages/Home.aspx – Make $2 million available in the form of vouchers to small businesses entrepreneur-led start-ups for assistance in obtaining nuclear know-how from our National Lab system – Provide support to small modular reactor licensing, simulation and control room development for light-water reactors The blind faith with which latter-day nuclear advocates approach the issues of human, ecological and economic risk associated with nuclear technologies, reminds one of the Melanesian millenarian movement called ‘cargo cults,’ in which indigenous tribes, following charismatic figures, built wooden aircraft replicas on mountain tops in the vain hopes – despite repeated failures – to lure down the western cargo planes loaded with commodities they saw flying overhead as portrayed in the 1962 film Mondo Cane. Or, if the definition of ‘insanity’ is: ‘persisting in behavior which consistently fails,’ neo-nuclearism is clearly a form of collective insanity – atomic psychosis. Recovering from Nuclear Delusion The facts of the failure of the nuclear dream are there, for any who are not blinded by ideology or self-interest to see: in addition to its history of totalitarianism, incompetence and global disasters, nuclear energy deployment is plagued by public opposition, investor disinterest, consistently mounting cost and schedule over-runs and dependence on contiminating dwindling water supplies. Energy consultant Amory Lovins sees nuclear energy “dying a slow death from an overdose of market forces.” Futurist Jeremy Rifkin agrees, “From a business perspective, its dead.” Expert witness and nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education puts it succinctly,“nuclear energy is just too expensive and too slow to have an impact on climate change.” Then there’s the energy-weapons-waste connection, the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Not only are nuclear energy and weapons production joined at the hip from birth, but they share a dysfunctional excretory system. Waste Storage From Here to Eternity According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, by the middle of 2015, 30 countries worldwide were operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 67 new nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries. https://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/World-Statistics An Australian study estimates there are 390,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the world, and nearly 10 million cubic meters of intermediate-level waste — all of it produced from nuclear power generation. That amount is growing by approximately 10,000 tons annually. Tons of waste are produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment, to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Despite over seven decades of trying, no proven location or method of keeping the waste isolated from the environment has yet been found. In addition to thousands of tons of lethal irradiated fuel rods, the inevitable decommissioning of the aging world reactor sites will mean trying to dispose of huge amounts of radioactive metal pipes, concrete and buildings. Thus intense radioactive waste made in production of electricity for 70 years will require monitoring and protection wherever and however it is eventually stored, for hundreds of thousands of years – longer than civilization has yet existed. The 20th century ‘nuclear dream’ of global full-spectrum dominance and energy too cheap to meter has become a 21st century nightmare. It is time to wake up. As retired top U.S. energy administrator S. David Freeman puts it, “We have to kill nuclear power before it kills us.” NeoNuclearists are entitled to their own opinions…but not to their own facts. ====== James Heddle co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network. He blogs at PlanetarianPerspectives.net. https://www.planetarianperspectives.net/ and NoNukesCA.net He is currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection