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Civil Liberties

The construction and operation of dangerous nuclear reactors - and the infrastructure needed to support them - inevitably flout civil liberties. Most recently, the opportunities for public intervention against proposed new reactors have been severely curtailed, often leaving a window open largely after the project is a fait accompli.

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Entries by admin (20)

Tuesday
Dec312013

Ken Gordon: Made his mark for those resisting Rocky Flats

LeRoy Moore, PhD., of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder, CO, has written the following memorial:

"Remembering Ken Gordon: Wins acquittal in court for those resisting Rocky Flats

On Sunday, December 28, former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, a lawyer who was a Democrat, died at age 63 of an apparent heart attack. The last time I saw him was at a conference last year where I gave a presentation on Iran's nuclear program.

I met Ken shortly after the civil disobedience arrests made at the East Gate of Rocky Flats on Sunday, August 9, 1987. It was the anniversary of the bombing on Nagasaki. Rocky Flats was at the height of production, working, as I recall, around the clock seven days a week to produce new bombs. There was a big crowd, with about 300 arrests, delayed because many of those opposing Rocky Flats had chained themselves to the fence. Rocky Flats officials had closed the West Gate main entrance to the facility, forcing resistors to go to the more contaminated East Gate area. Soon that day radio announcers were telling Rocky Flats workers not to come to work, to take the day off. It was the only time that activists actually succeeded in closing the plant for a day.

Another memory from this occasion has to do with Ken Gordon. He volunteered to be the lawyer in court for one of the affinity groups of people being arrested. In court he presented the novel idea that the people he was defending (who, like all the others, had been arrested for trespass) had not violated the law but were there charging the operators of the Rocky Flats plant with violating the law. Specifically, they violated Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, wherein the U.S., and other nuclear weapons powers, agreed to work in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Ken was so compelling in his presentation that the judge actually allowed this defense to be made before the jury. The jury, on hearing the case, found the defendants not guilty as charged. To my knowledge, this was the only time a group charged with civil disobedience at Rocky Flats had the charge against them dismissed."

Saturday
Dec152012

Federal government whistleblower protections strengthened

Richard H. Perkins, top, and Lawrence Criscione, are risk analysts within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They are also whistleblowers who say the agency is not leveling with the public.As London Guardian readers elect U.S. whistleblower Bradley Manning as Person of the Year, there is more good news on the whistleblower front in the U.S. as well. As reported by Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act has been signed into law, after more than a decade of campaigning.

This comes just in the nick of time for two U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) whistleblowers, Richard H. Perkins and Lawrence Criscione (photos, left). The two NRC Staffers have warned, independently, that NRC has not only neglected, but even covered up, the risk of meltdowns at U.S. atomic reactors due to flooding caused by dam failures, as at the Oconee nuclear power plant in South Carolina. The Huffington Post has published a series of articles about this story (see the most recent one here).

NRC whistleblowers are very far and few between. One that Beyond Nuclear has had the honor and privilege of working with is Dr. Ross Landsman, who served at NRC Region 3 in Chicago before retiring in 2005. Landsman testified before Congress about the Midland, Michigan nuclear power plant in the 1980s, which helped stop those two reactors from ever operating (safety-critical buildings at the plant were sinking into the ground, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa). Beginning 20 years ago, Landsman also warned NRC about earthquake safety regulation violations with high-level radioactive waste storage at Palisades in Michigan, located as close as 100 yards from the waters of Lake Michigan, drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream in North America. The violations have never been addressed.

Landsman also warned about a soft-spot (due to concrete and rebar degradation) on the already too small, too weak containment building at Cook nuclear power plant in s.w. MI, a problem that has never been corrected.

Nuclear power industry whistleblowers, however, are still very vulnerable to harassment, intimidation, blacklisting, and worse. Oscar Shirani, a nationally renowned quality assurance auditor who worked for Commonwealth Edison/Exelon, was run out of the company and blacklisted by the U.S. nuclear power industry, after revealing major QA violations on the Holtec dry storage/transport cask systems for high-level radioactive waste, used at 33 U.S. reactors. Dr. Landsman supported Shirani's allegations, but the NRC and U.S. Department of Labor did not, hanging Shirani out to dry.

Thursday
Nov222012

"Shut It Down!" affinity group members face jail and fine for Vermont Yankee arrests

In this Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010 photo, Frances Crowe holds a sign while protesting at Entergy Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, Vt. Crowe, of Northampton, Mass., and several others were arrested after they walked past the main gate at Vermont Yankee. They read a statement calling for the closure of Vermont's only nuclear plant. AP Photo | The Brattleboro Reformer, Zachary P. Stephens.As reported by Eesha Williams in the Valley Post, six women, who are members of the "Shut It Down!" affinity group, will face trial, beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, November 27th in downtown Brattleboro, VT, for their non-violent civil disobedience arrests at Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee atomic reactor. If convicted of the misdemeanor trespassing charges, they could be sentenced to a year in jail, and a $500 fine, Williams reports.

The six defendants are: Hattie Nestel (age 73) of Athol, Massachusetts; Paki Wieland (age 68), Nancy First (age 82), and Frances Crowe (age 93) of Northampton, MA; Betsy Corner (age 64) of Colrain, MA; and Ellen Graves (age 69) of West Springfield, MA.

The "Shut It Down!" affinity group has been arrested nearly two dozen times at the VY reactor, or in related actions, as at other Entergy Nuclear offices.

Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman was quoted in Williams' article.

The Associated Press also reported on this story: "Asked how many time she had been arrested in such protests, [Frances Crowe] pointed to the fact that war, nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants continue to exist. 'Not enough,' she said. 'I don't know. I don't count. But I know I haven't achieved what I'm trying to achieve.'"

(The AP has reported that the defendants, if convicted, face not a year in jail, but rather three months.)

Friday
Aug172012

"Ukrainian environmentalist brutally beaten to death"

Volodymyr GoncharenkoEJOLT (Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade) reports the horrific news that, four days after conducting a press conference to warn that 180 tons of dangerous chemical and radioactive industrial waste had arrived at the city of Kryvyi Rih (in the Dnipropetrovsk area of Ukraine), which was likely to be "recycled" into the consumer product stream, 57 year old Volodymyr Goncharenko (photo, left) was brutally beaten to death. He was the Chairman of Social Movement of Ukraine: For the Rights of Citizens to Environmental Security.

As reported by EJOLT, "According to Goncharenko, during the past several years, scavengers have removed from the Chernobyl exclusion zone 6 million metric tons of scrap metal that was subsequently smelted at metallurgical combines and reprocessed into new metal. While in theory each metallurgical combine should be equipped with radiation-monitoring equipment to check all incoming scrap, financial shortfalls have meant this was rarely the case. In 2007 Ukraine ranked eighth in global steel production and steel is Ukraine’s leading export. One can only guess how much radioactive scrap metal has ended up in exported steel."

Pavlo Khazan of the Ukrainian Green Party stated: “We collaborated with Volodymyr for 15 years in professional and public areas. The Ukrainian Green Party has no doubt that the murder was linked to his professional activities.” Although the Ukrainian police have opened an investigation into Goncharenko's murder, Khazan feels that to deliver justice in this case, international attention and pressure will be needed.

Please contact the Embassy of Ukraine, urging a thorough investigation of Goncharenko's murder, as well as for an end to the "recycling" of radioactive metals and other materials into the consumer product stream. In the U.S., the Embassy of Ukraine can be written at 3350 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, faxed at (202) 333-0817, or phoned at (202) 349-2920. Embassies and Consulates of Ukraine elsewhere in the U.S., or in other countries, can also be contacted.

Thanks to Nuclear Energy Information Service in Illinois for alerting us to this story.

Click here to learn more about anti-nuclear resistance to attempts at "radioactive recycling" in North America.

Sunday
Jun102012

Environmentalism, non-violent civil disobedience, FOIA requests, frequenting cafes or campuses implicated as "domestic terrorism" by FBI

Will Potter at Green Is the New Red has reported that an FBI training course lists such activities as environmental activism, non-violent civil disobedience actions, requesting government documents under the Freedom of Information Act, and even frequenting coffee houses and university campuses constitutes suspicious behavior associated with "domestic terrorism."