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Environmental Justice

The siting of nuclear facilities - whether uranium mines, waste dumps, enrichment plants or other radioactivity-emitting operations - invariably occurs in communities of color and/or low-income. This consistent environmental racism is not unique to the nuclear industry but is a pattern that Beyond Nuclear is working to end.

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Thursday
Apr122012

"Fighting the Legacy of Enrico Fermi"

NRC file photo of Fermi 2Michael Leonardi of Occupy Toledo has published an essay in Counterpunch, re-run at Ecowatch, about the resistance to the Fermi nuclear power plant on the Lake Erie shoreline near Monroe, MI. Leonardi links to Beyond Nuclear's involvement in "Freeze Our Fukushimas" efforts to shutdown Fermi 2 (see photo, left), the largest Fukushima Daiichi twin GE Mark I reactor in the world, with around 550 tons of high-level radioactive waste stuck in its storage pool, more than Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 put together.

Leonardi also mentions the struggle to nip the proposed new "Fermi 3" reactor, a GE-Hitachi "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR), in the bud. Beyond Nuclear's website hosts the compiled submissions by the the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3, submitted in response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter -- represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge -- continue to officially intervene against Fermi 3 in the NRC's Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board proceeding.

The Fermi nuclear power plant represents an international risk, as reflected by CEA's involvement: Ontario is a short 8 miles away from Fermi, across Lake Erie. In addition, the Walpole Island First Nation is only 50 miles away (see entry below, as well).

Most ironically, when the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction was achieved by Fermi at the University of Chicago as part of the Manhattan Project on December 2, 1942, a coded phone call was made by one of the physicists, Arthur Compton, to James Conant, chairman of the National Defense Research Committee. The conversation was in impromptu code, reflecting Fermi's Italian identity:

Compton: The Italian navigator has landed in the New World.

Conant: How were the natives?

Compton: Very friendly.

This is documented at the U.S. Department of Energy's "CP-1 [Chicago Pile] Goes Critical," The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History.

Tuesday
Feb142012

Environmental coalition demands NRC notification of Canadian First Nations regarding Fermi 3 new reactor proposal

NRC file photo of Fermi 2 on the Lake Erie shore, where Detroit Edison wants to build a giant new reactorOn Feb. 13, 2012, attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, on behalf of an environmental coalition, filed a rebuttal to challenges by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff and Detroit Edison. The agency and utility were challenging contentions filed by the environmental coalition on Jan. 11, 2012 concerning NRC's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) about the new Fermi 3 reactor, a proposed General Electric-Hitachi ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor"). The new contentions involve such issues as impacts on endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and their critical habitats, from the overall Fermi 3 proposal, as well as related sub-proposals, such as the contemplated transmission line corridor; radiological health impacts on the Monroe County community from Fermi 3, which has already suffered a half century of radiological and toxic chemical harm from the Fermi 1 and Fermi 2 reactors, as well as a number of giant coal burning power plants; and impacts on the Walpole Island First Nation, just 53 miles away across the U.S./Canadian border.

The environmental coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

Beyond Nuclear has compiled all the filings relating to the battle over the Fermi 3 Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Tuesday
Feb072012

Nuclear plant next to Prairie Island Indian Community leaks radioactivity and toxins yet again

NRC file photo of Prairie IslandXcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant has made what appears to be two admissions of separate toxic chemical and radiological spills in less than a week. Residents, and the tribal day care center, of the Prairie Island Indian Community are located within hundreds of yards of the nuclear power plant. Read more...

Monday
Feb062012

Fermi nuclear power plant's risks extend to Walpole Island First Nation

NRC file photo of Fermi 2, located on the Lake Erie shorelineThe Walpole Island First Nation reserve is located on an island in the St. Clair River, between Michigan and Ontario. The Walpole Island First Nation has joined a U.S. and Canadian environmental coalition in expressing concerns about the new "Fermi 3" reactor proposed near Monroe, Michigan. The Fermi nuclear power plant is located just over 50 miles away from Walpole Island First Nation. Its operations, and especially its radioactive, toxic chemical, and thermal releases would also negatively impact fishing, hunting, and other treaty rights due the Walpole Island First Nation.

Other risks and impacts include to health, the impossibility of effectively evacuating all of southeast Michigan, northwest Ohio, and southwest Ontario during a catastrophic radioactivity release -- including the Walpole Island First Nation -- and many other risks and impacts.

Regarding the U.S. and Canadian environmental coalition's -- and allies', including the Walpole Island First Nation's -- recent strong resistance to Fermi 3, including the issues mentioned above, please see:

(A comprehenisive, running list of comments, media coverage, and nuclear utility and NRC responses is now posted on Beyond Nuclear's website.)

Thursday
Jan262012

BRC report continues shameful history of targeting Native American communities for radioactive waste dumps

Grace Thorpe helped stop dozens of radioactive waste dumps targeted at Native American communities by DOE's Nuclear Waste NegotiatorToday's final report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC) continued the shameful history of the U.S. nuclear establishment, in both government and industry, of targeting Native American communities for radioactive waste dumps. Beyond Nuclear issued a media statement regarding the BRC report today, and an op-ed several days ago. At the very first public meeting of the BRC nearly two years ago, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps pleaded this environmental injustice be stopped. To the contrary, BRC's final report points to the U.S. Department of Energy's "Nuclear Waste Negotiator" as a model to be followed again now to advance "consolidated interim storage sites" and repositories. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, DOE's Nuclear Waste Negotiator contacted every single federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States, then targeted 60 in particular, focusing in the end on Mescalero Apache, New Mexico. It is a testament to the extraordinary efforts of Native American environmental justice activists like Grace Thorpe that all those proposals were defeated, and the Nuclear Waste Negotiator's program eliminated. The nuclear power  utilities picked up where the Negotiator left off, next targeting Skull Valley Goshutes, Utah -- a struggle that continues. Ironically, President Obama praised Grace Thorpe in his "Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet" Women's History Month Proclamation on March 3, 2009, for launching "a successful campaign to organize Native Americans to oppose the storage of nuclear waste on their reservations" -- only now to have his own DOE's BRC recommend that the Nuclear Waste Negotiator model be revived,  including to re-target Native American communities for radioactive waste dumps.