Today's Washington Post editorial headline above got it spot on. A high-profile hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce government oversight subcommittee has shined a bright spotlight on the "Solyndra solar scandal," but nary a word about much more risky nuclear loan guarantees was uttered. The Washington Post has run three articles and an editorial in the past two days in its print edition: yesterday's "Solyndra made demands of Energy Department" and "Upton sought loan for now-ailing solar company in Michigan"; today's front page above the fold "Energy chief defends agency"; and today's lead editorial "No fun in the sun." Hopefully, the magnifying lens being taken to the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default will also be applied to already approved, and future proposed, nuclear loan guarantees! See Beyond Nuclear's nuclear loan guarantee website section for more information, as well as our summary backgrounder on U.S. Representative Fred Upton's (R-MI, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, photo at left) nuclear power industry cheerleading (see the section entitled "Handing over the keys of the U.S. Treasury to the nuclear power industry").
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.
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.
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.