French Socialists and Greens unite for near 50% nuclear shutdown by 2050

The two French opposition parties - the Socialists and the Greens - have agreed to campaign for the shutdown of 24 of France's 58 nuclear reactors by 2025 and the immediate halt of the oldest plant at Fessenheim. The Greens favor a complete halt of France’s nuclear reactors, which provide more than three quarters of the country’s power, while Socialist candidate Francois Hollande has called for the lowering of France’s dependence on atomic power to 50 percent by 2025. The announcement caused stocks of the French utility, EDF, to slide as much as 6.4 percent to 19.40 euros, the lowest since Sept. 26 making it the worst-performing stock in Europe’s Stoxx 600 Utilities Index on November16.


New videos from Japan show reality of life post Fukushima

Yoko Kumano, a California resident, shot these videos on a recent visit to Japan where she also lived for a time. These are compelling testimonials about the reality of life in radioactively contaminated Japan. Visit the site to see more.


Press goes inside stricken Fukushima reactors:AP video


GAO reports proposal for "revival" of reprocessing still half-baked

The New York Times has blogged that a new Government Accountabilty Office (GAO) report finds the proposal to "revive" commercial reprocessing (plutonium extraction from irradiated nuclear fuel) in the U.S. still full of disconnects. The article reports on reprocessing's inherent nuclear weapons proliferation risks, due to the separation of weapons-usable plutonium. Such risks led the Ford and Carter administrations to ban U.S. commercial reprocessing beginning in 1976, in direct response to India's detonation of a nuclear device secretly created from "Atoms for Peace" reprocessing technology provided by the U.S. and a research reactor provided by Canada.

The article also states that irradiated nuclear fuel is comprised of "95.6 percent unused uranium," and that this is "not particularly hard to dispose of." But such a statement flies in the face of evidence presented by public interest experts like Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, who has warned that "depleted uranium" (mostly U-238, left over after uranium enrichment activities) should be disposed of in deep geologic disposal (as is planned for high-level radioactive waste and trans-uranic waste) due to its radiological hazards. Dr. Doug Brugge of Tufts University has warned about uranium's toxic heavy metal hazards, including its estrogen-mimicing properties that risk reproductive harm in mammals.


Paul Epstein dies - made link between climate change and spread of disease

Dr. Paul Epstein, a public health expert who was among the first to warn of a link between the spread of infectious disease and extreme weather events, adding a new dimension to research into the potential impact of global climate change, died on Sunday at his home in Boston. He was 67. (View Dr. Epstein here on Democracy Now in December 2010). Dr. Epstein, who was a physician and associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, did not view nuclear power as an answer to global warming. Here is his post-Fukushima response to the question of nuclear energy use in an interview on Climate Central:

"We need to look at the life cycle: from the mining, transport, milling and then processing the fuel rods, and then transport again to the nuclear power plants, and finally what we do with the waste. All of these are plagued by three things — safety, security, and storage. All three have unanswered questions. Well, now we know safety is not assured. Security is not assured. We haven’t solved the issue surrounding permanent storage of these spent fuel rods that are an extreme hazard. And then there’s the timeline: nuclear plants take 10 years and cost $12 billion to build. It’s not an infinite renewable resource, it’s a finite resource. It’s frightening what is happening in Japan, it’s frightening the impact on the marine environment, and the local impact in Japan. This is a dreadful accident and it certainly highlights the need to look at all these impacts.

This country [U.S.] is looking at small modular units that are cheaper to build, but that doesn’t deal with all the upstream stages nor what to do with the spent fuel rods. So replacing carbon pollution with nuclear is not a good answer to climate change."