Dr. Ernest Sternglass, scientist, humanitarian, activist, public health investigator and so much more

Dr. Ernest Sternglass, 91, Emeritus Professor of Radiological Physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, passed away in Ithaca, NY on February 12, 2015. He was a prominent, published scientist and anti-nuclear activist, whose early warnings about the health effects of low-level radiation from global nuclear weapons fallout contributed to the passage of the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty in 1963.  Dr. Sternglass would go on to focus on the public health threat from routine and accidental radiological releases from nuclear power plants.

During the Three Mile Island meltdown disaster in late March and early April, 1979 -- as hundreds of thousands spontaneously evacuated (PA Gov. Thornburgh merely advised that pregnant women and small children "voluntarily" evacuate, advice he issued days after the disaster had begun, and after the worst radiation releases had already occurred) -- Dr. Sternglass rushed into the area, with radiation monitoring equipment, in hopes of shedding light on the crisis, and providing vitally needed information to the public. So too did Dr. Judith Johnsrud, a founding Beyond Nuclear board member, who passed on in 2014.


Beyond Nuclear presses its case against Fermi 2 license extension and Fermi 3 new reactor!

NRC file photo of Fermi 2 on the Lake Erie shore. Fermi 3 would be built immediately adjacent to Fermi 2 -- ironically enough, on the very spot where Fermi 1 had a partial core meltdown in 1966!U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rulings regarding the proposed Fermi 2 license extension, and the proposed Fermi 3 new reactor combined construction and operation license, have been coming fast and furious in recent days. And Beyond Nuclear, along with its environmental coalition allies, stands ready to press its case in both proceedings.

The Fermi nuclear power plant is located on the Lake Erie shore near Monroe in southeast Michigan (see photo, left).



Nuclear power's "managerial disaster" still true 30-years later

Forbes magazine’s February 11, 1985 cover story headlined “Nuclear Follies.” The business investment journal wrote “The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale… only the blind or the biased can now think that the money has been well spent.” 

Fast forward thirty years, we see the nuclear industry still imploding.  The “blind or biased” now include industry front groups like "Nuclear Matters"  arguing that American taxpayers and ratepayers should still be bailing out the teetering industry at any cost.  Ex-Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner and former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg were recently stumping in Northern Ohio on behalf of industry to keep the deteriorating nuclear power plant there from closing.  However, their effort to spin the continued demise of dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power as a critical missed opportunity completely ignores the historic context that Forbes benchmarked decades ago for the business investment community. Nuclear power is fundamentally uneconomical. It has failed in the U.S. market economy and continues to fail worldwide.

Browner and Gregg’s snapshot of the remaining 99 U.S. reactors being down from 104 units needs to be put into an accurate historical context. In fact, the remaining 99 reactors are down from the 133 units originally licensed to commercially operate, which are down from 227 units that applied for construction permits and down again from 253 units ordered by the U.S. industry. This steady retreat is actually down from the 1,000 reactors that President Nixon’s “Project Independence” said would be operational by the year 2000.  

In fact, what Browner, Gregg and their cohorts are suggesting is that the American people invest even more to prop up what Forbes then cautioned investors “is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.”

The nuclear industry is being priced out of the energy service market and at the same time becoming increasingly dangerous as a result of financial shortcuts and regulatory capture. The good news is that nuclear power is being replaced by rapidly growing solar and wind energy industries, energy efficiency and conservation. No surprise that Nuclear Matters, which is funded by the nuclear giant Exelon Corporation, would have the American consumers put the brakes on a 21st Century of affordable and renewable energy competition and instead stay the course with a rerun of Forbes’ 1985 warning.


Entergy threatens to simply walk away from VY decommissioning after 60 years!

An aerial view of the known extent of the tritium contamination in soil and groundwater at the VY site, on the banks of the Connecticut River in southeastern Vermont.Entergy Nuclear is infamous for its arrogance. Now, reports the Associated Press, the country's second biggest nuclear utility, with one less than a dirty dozen atomic reactors in its fleet (Vermont Yankee -- VY -- was forced into permanent shutdown on Dec. 29th under intense public pressure), is threatening the State of Vermont to simply walk away from the radioactively contaminated site after 60 years, if the decommissioning is not yet completed.

The threat was made by Entergy Vice President Michael Twomey, to State of Vermont legislative committees. Under the Orwellian policy "SAFSTOR," the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows nuclear utilities to simply sit on permanently shutdown reactors, without doing radiological clean up or facility dismantlement.

Entergy only has about $666 million in the VY decommissioning fund -- only about half what is projected to be needed. The agreement to not require Entergy to put a single penny into the decommissioning fund, from when it took over VY in 2002 till now, was approved by Gov. Howard Dean's (D-VT) administration, well over a decade ago.

Entergy's plan is to keep the $666 million invested in the stock market, so its value can grow to the needed $1.25 billion. What happens if the money is lost in another stock market crash, Entergy is not saying.

Also, the decommissioning price tag could increase significantly, now that hazardous, radioactive stronium-90 contamination has been detected in groundwater and soil.



Illinois speaks out against Canadian Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump proposal

OPG's proposed so-called Deep Geologic Repository for radioactive waste burial would be located less than a mile from the Great Lakes shoreline.Today, DuPage County, the second most populous in Illinois, announced the passage of a resolution in opposition to the proposal by nuclear utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to bury radioactive wastes from 20 atomic reactors across the province at its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, on the Lake Huron shore in Kincardine, ON (see photo, left). Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump shared the good news in a press release, with the DuPage Co. resolution attached.

On Feb. 6th, the City of Chicago also passed a similar resolution. As reported in the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump's press release, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, said: “The Great Lakes hold 84 percent of North America’s fresh water and Chicago’s position as the paramount Great Lakes city makes OPG’s proposed nuclear waste repository a threat to both public health and our environment. As shown by our City Council’s unanimous approval of a resolution opposing the repository, as well as the many voices throughout the United States and Canada, passionate support to protect our Great Lakes spans across North America and cannot be ignored.” More.

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