Basel Declaration on trans-generational crimes of nuclear weapons & nuclear energy

A four-day conference --  Human Rights, Future Generations and Crimes Against the Nuclear Age, held September 14-17 in Basel, Switzerland, concluded on Sunday with the release of the Basel Declaration on human rights and trans-generational crimes resulting from nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.

The conference included delegations from all over the world who came together to hear presesentations, strategize and network. (The participants are pictured above.) The conference also included the presentation of the 2017 Nuclear-Free Future Awards.

The declaration draws from the scientific evidence presented to the conference, and the application of international law, to conclude that:

"the risks and impacts of nuclear weapons, depleted uranium weapons and nuclear energy, which are both transnational and trans-generational, constitute a violation of human rights, a transgression of international humanitarian and environmental law, and a crime against future generations."

The Basel conference also considered alternatives to nuclear energy and the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines. As such, the declaration affirms that:

"The energy needs of all countries can be met by safe, sustainable, renewable energies, and that the security of all countries can be met without reliance on nuclear weapons."

The declaration cites REthinking Energy: Renewable Energy and Climate Change , the 2015 Report of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which demonstrates the possibilities to completely replace fossil fuels by safe renewable energies, without relying on nuclear energy, by 2030.

The declaration highlights that "The high risks of nuclear weapons being used in current conflicts such as in North East Asia, in other times of tension, and until nuclear weapons are eliminated provides an imperative for nuclear abolition."


British activists honored with Nuclear-Free Future Award

Martin Forwood and Janine-Allis Smith of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment were honored on Friday in Basel, Switzerland with the Nuclear-Free Future Award for Education. While they could not be there in person, Beyond Nuclear was honored to receive it on their behalf and made this short film of their acceptance speeches. (More on the full awards coming soon.)


Beyond Nuclear letter to the editor in the L.A. Times

The following letter to the editor was published in the Los Angeles Times, written in response to a Sept. 11, 2017 L.A. Times editorial:

To the editor: For 15 years, hundreds of environmental groups have advocated for hardened on-site storage of irradiated nuclear fuel, as close and safely as possible, to the point of generation as a necessary interim measure.
Why ship highly radioactive waste a thousand miles to the east when it could be moved just a few miles? San Onofre’s wastes can be transferred out of the tsunami zone, away from the earthquake faults, across the 5 Freeway, further inland and to higher ground. By moving the dangerous nuclear fuel rods into the heart of Camp Pendleton, there would be the added bonus of many thousands of U.S. Marines to help guard it.
The push to turn the New Mexico-Texas borderlands into a nuclear wasteland is an environmental injustice. The large Hispanic population already suffers significant pollution from oil drilling, natural gas fracking, uranium enrichment and “low-level” radioactive waste disposal.
Kevin Kamps, Takoma Park, Md. 

The writer monitors radioactive waste for the group Beyond Nuclear.


Renewable energy growth now far outpaces nuclear energy worldwide

The new edition of the World Nuclear Energy Status Report has been released, with some key insights into the dwindling influence of nuclear energy worldwide. You can read and download the full 2017 report here. Here is a summary of findings in the Report about the worldwide status of renewable energy compared to nuclear energy:

Renewables Distance Nuclear

Globally, wind power output grew by 16%, solar by 30%, nuclear by 1.4% in 2016. Wind power increased generation by 132 TWh, solar by 77 TWh, respectively 3.8 times and 2.2 times more than nuclear's 35 TWh. Renewables represented 62% of global power generating capacity additions.

New renewables beat existing nuclear. Renewable energy auctions achieved record low prices at and below US$30/MWh in Chile, Mexico, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Average generating costs of amortized nuclear power plants in the U.S. were US$35.5 in 2015.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 (WNISR2017) provides a comprehensive overview of nuclear power plant data, including information on operation, production and construction. The WNISR assesses the status of new-build programs in current nuclear countries as well as in potential newcomer countries.

The WNISR2017 edition includes a new assessment from an equity analyst view of the financial crisis of the nuclear sector and some of its biggest industrial players.

The Fukushima Status Report provides not only an update on onsite and offsite issues six years after the beginning of the catastrophe, but also the latest official and new independent cost evaluations of the disaster.

Focus chapters provide in-depth analysis of France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Nuclear Power vs. Renewable Energy chapter provides global comparative data on investment, capacity, and generation from nuclear, wind and solar energy.

Finally, Annex 1 presents a country-by-country overview of all other countries operating nuclear power plants.


Beyond Nuclear calls out flaws in nuclear emergency plans during hurricanes

Prior to the onset of Hurrincane Irma, Beyond Nuclear issued a press release pointing out that nuclear emergency plans would not work in the reality of chaos and destruction already caused by a massive hurricane such as Irma. Read the full press release here.

An excerpt:

Two Florida nuclear power plants potentially in the path of Hurricane Irma could exacerbate what is already predicted to become a major disaster for the state because nuclear emergency evacuation plans are unrealistic and likely unworkable in real life conditions, warned Beyond Nuclear, a national anti-nuclear watchdog organization.

The nuclear emergency plans, the group said, do not account for the destruction already caused by mega-storm conditions that could see emergency workers unable to cope with an added radiological disaster. 

“Hurricanes like Irma and Harvey serve as an ominous reminder that the continued existence of nuclear power plants means the risk of an accident that could lead to widespread exposure to radiation and to radioactive contamination that could last decades or longer,” said Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear. 

“This would come on top of the terrible devastation already caused by the storm itself,” he added. “Much of the radiological emergency plans presently on paper would never work in reality.” 

Emergency workers could already be evacuated and unavailable for a potential nuclear emergency, as happened around the South Texas Project twin-reactor nuclear plant during Hurricane Harvey. Evacuation routes around the plant were also flooded. If a nuclear emergency had occurred there, nuclear plant workers would have been left to fend for themselves. 

Beyond Nuclear had called for the precautionary “cold shutdown” of STP during Hurricane Harvey which brought unprecedented flooding to the Texas region, a warning the owners chose to ignore, gambling public safety by keeping the reactors running at 100%.

The two Florida nuclear plants, both owned by Florida Power and Light (FPL) are Turkey Point 3 & 4 located 25 miles south of Miami in Homestead, and St. Lucie 1 and 2, perched on low-lying Hutchinson Island south of Vero Beach. To its credit, FPL has said it will close both nuclear plants well in advance of hurricane force winds and storm surge.

But even should the hurricane by-pass the nuclear plants this time, such mega-storms are likely to become more frequent as climate change worsens. A nuclear plant cannot be abandoned by its workforce during a mandatory evacuation, forcing workers to potentially sacrifice their safety and even their lives to prevent a meltdown. More