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Tuesday
Mar162010

Illinois votes to reverse ban on new reactors

With little debate, according to news reports, and even less press coverage, the Illinois State Senate voted to reverse a ban on building new nuclear power plants in the state. Illinois is already the state with the most reactors - 11 - in the country. There was a loan vote against the reversal fromSen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston. The condition of the original ban was that no new nuclear plants could be built " until such time as the federal government has an operational disposal facility for the dangerous and long-lived high-level radioactive wastes (HLRW) they would generate," according to Dave Kraft of Nuclear Energy Information Service. Kraft decried the vote, stating: "Beware the Ides of March – and the ignorance of the some Illinois legislators on nuclear matters."

Friday
Mar122010

Suspected al-Qaeda member worked at 6 U.S. nuclear power plants

Associated Press is reporting that suspected al-Qaeda member Sharif Mobley, who was wounded in a March 2010 shoot out and escape attempt  from a Yemeni hospital, had previously worked at six US nuclear power plant sites containing 10 separate reactor units from 2002 to 2008 before moving to Yemen.  Mr. Mobley is reported to have worked as a contract worker at New Jersey’s three unit Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plant site, Pennsylvania’s two unit Peach Bottom nuclear reactors, the two unit site at Limerick, and the single operating unit at Three Mile Island as well as Maryland’s two unit Calvert Cliffs nuclear power station.  

Mr. Mobley had cleared all federal background checks to gain access as a contract worker to the nuclear power stations. The Baltimore office of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened a case. Nuclear power plant authorities and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission are reported to be collaborating in the investigation.

Regardless of any finding of the investigation into the allegations against Mr. Mobley, the news stories underscore the concern that nuclear power plants are vulnerable pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear power plants have been identified by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States in its 911 Commission report, as high profile targets because of the potential far reaching radiological consequences of successfully sabotaging a reactor and/or the tremendous amounts of highly radioactive waste stored onsite in vulnerable pools and dry casks.  The original al-Qaeda attack plan was to hijack ten commercial aircraft and fly two into US nuclear power stations. Mohammed Atta is reported to have surveilled the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, New York during his flight training.

Clearly, a sophisticated enemy of the state can introduce a would-be saboteur or an inside informant penetrating  even with the most thorough criminal background checks if there is no prior record on such an individual.  A determined, knowledgeable and well trained adversary can render large portions of the United States uninhabitable if successful.

Wednesday
Mar102010

Doris "Granny D" Haddock passes away after a century of "raising a little hell"

Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who at the age of 89 walked across the United States in favor of campaign finance reform, has died at the age of 100. She became legendary for her walk and went on, in her 90s, to protest the war in Iraq. In 2003, she drove around the country on a nationwide voter registration effort and a year later ran for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire where she made her home. Her activism, however, began far earlier when, with her huband Jim, she protested successfully in 1960 to prevent the testing of hydrogen bombs in Alaska, saving the Inuit village of Point Hope. (Photo of Granny D courtesy of Project Laundry List) A full tribute to "Granny D" can be found on the blogsite of Project Laundry List on whose board of advisors she served, alongside Beyond Nuclear's founding president Helen Caldicott (who inspired the idea of phasing out nuclear power by phasing out electric clothes dryers in the first place). Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, who was arrested with Granny D in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in 2000 to get corrupting corporate money out of environmental law making, has recalled some memories of that powerful experience.

Tuesday
Mar092010

Act now! Tell Congress not to crush us under the burden of a nuclear bailout!

Please download and print our ad here (and shown left) and send it to your Members of Congress today. The White House has requested $54.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new reactors, a burden that will largely be shouldered by taxpayers. This amount represents a near tripling of the previously authorized $18.5 billion for new reactors. Already, President Obama has announced the allocation of $8 billion for two new reactors in Georgia. The time to stop this bailout is now, and the place is Capitol Hill. Please use our ad as a handout, a flier and submit it to newsletters and other print publications. Thank you.

Monday
Mar082010

Leaked documents show EPR reactor could explode

Documents leaked by an inside source at Electricite de France show that the French reactor - the EPR - could explode due to design flaws that could cause a major accident. Beyond Nuclear immediately responded with a press release urging a ban on the EPR in the US where it was originally slated for six sites. Calvert Cliffs in Maryland remains the only candidate still moving forward. More details and links can also be found in the Sortir du nucleaire press release.