Choosing nuclear energy has actually made climate change worse, argues Beyond Nuclear's Linda Pentz Gunter in her latest column on Counterpunch. An excerpt: ". . .it is Japan’s historic reliance on nuclear energy which will now cause it, at least temporarily, to increase its greenhouse gas emissions. Had it turned to renewables earlier and integrated them sooner, this would not be the case." And: "The US arrived at a similar crossroads in 1952 when President Truman’s blue ribbon commission on energy – dubbed the Paley Commission after its chairman – concluded that nuclear power could deliver only a modest fraction of American energy requirements at best. Instead, the commission strongly recommended 'aggressive research in the whole field of solar energy – an effort in which the United States could make an immense contribution to the welfare of the world.' "
Beyond Nuclear, Seacoast AntiPollution League and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club have filed an appeal to Federal Court challenging the NRC Commissioners (5-0) ruling to overturn the federal agency's own Atomic Safety Licensing Board Order to admit the groups for a hearing in the proposed 20-year license extension at the Seabrook nuclear generating station. The groups had filed a October 2010 request to hold a hearing under the National Environmental Policy Act in support of an environmentally-friendly deepwater wind energy alternative project as opposed to twenty more years of dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power.
NextEra (aka "Next Error") submitted an application to extend their current 40-year license by 20 years, 20 years before the license expires and argued that future renewable energy alternatives are "too speculative" to consider for the license extension period of 2030 to 2050. The groups argued that the company's environmental review failed to consider a 5 Gigawatts of deep water offshore wind project under development as an environmental friendly alternative in the works for the Gulf of Maine scheduled to come on-line in the Seabrook region-of-service at the same time the nuke is requesting its extension by 2030.
As described in an op-ed posted at CNN, "A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World," Jayantha Dhanapala and Ira Helfand report on the findings of a new PSR/IPPNW report, NUCLEAR FAMINE: A BILLION PEOPLE AT RISK.
Among the findings: even a limited nuclear war, as between India and Pakistan, involving less than half of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, would cause climate disruption that could set off a global famine; 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (see photo, left) exploded in a war between India and Pakistan would lead to the starvation of an estimated 1 billion people, one-sixth of the human race, over the following decade; each U.S. Trident nuclear submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study (the United States has 14 Tridents).
Jayantha Dhanapala is a former ambassador to the United States from Sri Lanka, U.N. under-secretary general for disarmament and chairman of the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Ira Helfand is the past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and current North American vice president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).
A coalition of environmental groups, including North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), has issued a press release decrying a nearly billion dollar cost overrun at the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor construction project in Georgia. The groups warn that further cost increases are likely, due to rushed design and construction that has led to errors, as in sub-foundation grading, rebar quality assurance, and even radiological containment "shield building" design and construction.
The coalition's expert witness Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), said: “Southern Company rushed into this project, as evidenced by the many requests for modifications of the license and early technical difficulties and problems including failure of ‘some details’ of early construction to conform to the Design Control Document, according to Georgia Power’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Indeed, a part of the cost increase of $900 million appears to be attributable to overcoming delays and rushing the project again despite construction non-compliance. The cost increase should not be a surprise; rather it is déjà vu all over again. Rushing nuclear power reactors is not prudent and stockholders and/or the vendors, not ratepayers, should bear the burden of such costs. It would be much better if construction were suspended until all design issues were resolved.”
Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura has posted a new blog proposing that military intervention be deployed to prevent the worst from happening at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 (see photo, left). He proposes that the Japan Self-Defense Forces be deployed to Unit 4 to offload high-level radioactive waste, before another, almost inevitable earthquake topples the building and its irradiated nuclear fuel catches fire. Unit 4's pool holds 8 times the radioactive Cesium-137 released by Chernobyl. But a fire in Unit 4's pool would very likely lead to the evacuation of the entire site, risking 85 times Chernobyl's hazardous Cesium-137 escaping if all 7 of Fukushima Daiichi's pools are allowed to boil dry and catch fire (not to mention what more would happen if its three melted down reactor cores are no longer cooled either).