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Thursday
Apr302015

Both Chicago dailies editorialize against Exelon Nuclear money grab at ratepayer expense

"Burning money" image by Gene Case/Avenging AngelsBoth the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times editorial boards have come out against Exelon Nuclear's attempt to gouge Illinois ratepayers to the tune of hundreds of millions per year, to prop up allegedly failing atomic reactors. "Allegedly," because, as both papers point out, Exelon refuses to open its books to the public.

Both editorial boards come at the problem from the perspective of free market capitalism. Which is fine -- no other energy industry has enjoyed more public subsidization than the nuclear power industry, which makes Exelon's latest bailout demand all the more objectionable.

As the Sun-Times so wisely understands, "Renewable energy is the future, and the state should be making that a priority, not nuclear plants." More.

Monday
Apr272015

"Nuclear renaissance ebbs at largest public utility"

As reported by Blake Farmer at Marketplace, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the largest public electric utility in the country, has canceled most of its "Nuclear Relapse" plans. Although the decades-under-construction Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee is limping towards full power operations, other "zombie nukes" have been mothballed yet again, due to lack of demand for electricity.

The head of TVA cited ratepayer efficiency and conservation upgrades, such as switching from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs (of course, LEDs are even more efficient!). A Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman cited the boom in fracked natural gas (although clean, safe, and ever more cost-competitive renewables like wind power and solar photovoltaics are also outcompeting nuclear power). And Don Safer of Nashville, a leader of the grassroots Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, vowed vigilance against any future efforts by the nuclear power industry to expand.

During his tenure as head of TVA under the Carter administration, Dave Freeman, now a senior advisor to Friends of the Earth, ordered the cancellation of several proposed atomic reactors.

Sunday
Apr262015

Remembering the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Twenty nine years ago today, the world's worst nuclear disaster at the time, happened in Ukraine close to the border with Belarus in what was still the Soviet Union. The Chernobyl reactor, just two years into operation, exploded, releasing large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. The effects are still felt today. A detailed account of the impacts of Chernobyl can be found in this excellent 2011 report by IPPNW -- Health Effects of Chernobyl 25 Years After the Reactor Catastrophe. Today, Strontium 90 levels in potatoes in Gomel, Belarus, are still as high as in 1990, an anomaly that is yet to be fully explained given the isotope's half-life. Strontium 90 has in fact so weakened human immune systems, especially in children, that the effect is now known as "Chernobyl AIDS." Cesium, with a half-life of 30 years, has been equally devastating. At least 80% of the Chernobyl fallout was cesium 137 which stays in biological chain for 300+ years. More

Thursday
Apr232015

Drone with cesium lands on Japan PM Abe's roof

A drone carrying a plastic bottle with trace amounts of cesium has landed on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Abe's office, evidently sending a message about strong citizen opposition to a restart of that country's nuclear power plants. Japan remains at zero nuclear but a court this week gave approval to the restart of the Sendai reactors which will likely come on line this year. Abe (pictured) continues to tout not only a nuclear restart in Japan but the exporting of nuclear technology abroad. But a majority of Japanese citizens -- a figure that rose to 70% shortly after the Fukushima disaster -- still oppose a return to nuclear energy in that country.  More 

Thursday
Apr232015

"The Danger of Nuclear Escalation"

In an episode entitled "The Danger of Nuclear Escalation," Margaret Harrington, host of "Nuclear-Free Future Conversation" on CCTV in Burlington, Vermont, interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps about the related risks of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, on the eve of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. The NPT review is held once every five years at the United Nations in New York City, drawing thousands of anti-nuclear weapons and power activists from around the world to shadow conferences, including large numbers of Japanese citizens, including Hibakusha, survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings in 1945. Margaret and Kevin discussed the fatal flaw at the heart of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the prospects for nuclear abolition.