Uranium power: the antithesis of energy independence 

Given breaking developments in Kazakhstan and Niger, leading uranium exporting countries, it's increasingly clear that nuclear power represents the antithesis of energy independence for the U.S. and Europe. On the heels of President Obama’s announcement to increase the United States’ reliance upon nuclear energy as part of his plan for energy independence, the Washington Post published its story on the growing political instability and corruption mushrooming in Kazakhstan, already ravaged by Soviet atom bomb testing, and one of the world’s largest known uranium reserves, where the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Canada are among those jockeying for control of this valued and dangerous uranium ore. Meanwhile, the February 18, 2010 military coup in the sub-Saharan nation of Niger raises more questions than answers about the West African country’s future. While uranium mining makes up the bulk of Niger’s foreign income, 80% of its population lives on subsistence farming, with 60% below the poverty level amidst recurring famines. Coup leaders have made a pledge to bring democracy to the resource rich but impoverished country. (Sidi-Amar Taoua, pictured at left, a Touareg from Niger, spoke out against uranium mining in his homeland at a Beyond Nuclear sponsored appearance at the National Press Club, as well as a standing room only session at the Energy Action Coalition's 2009 PowerShift). However, international intrigue and conflicts continue to brew in Niger as Areva of France's monopoly control of uranium mining is being challenged by China. In our view, nuclear power is the antithesis of “energy independence” as claimed by the industry and its backers, including President Obama. The worsening conflicts in Kazakhstan and Niger illuminate how continued and expanded reliance on uranium power comes at the expense of future resource conflicts, environmental ruination, and economic injustice. In fact, the keys to real energy independence are found in substantially expanding energy efficiency, conservation and expanded renewable energy programs.


"Democracy in action": Vermont State Senate blocks license extension at Vermont Yankee!

As the still fruitless search for the source of leaking tritium entered its seventh week, and despite last minute announcements by Entergy Nuclear -- that five top Vermont Yankee managers had been placed on vaguely defined "administrative leave" and another six "reprimanded," that a non-public internal report supposedly found no intention to mislead state officials (despite false testimony under oath), and an "offer," described by Entergy as a "gift" but by others as a thinly veiled bribe -- the State of Vermont Senate, by a resounding vote of 26 to 4, has blocked the request to extend the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor's operating license for 20 additional years, forcing it to shutdown in 2012 as previously planned. Despite this, Entergy Nuclear has vowed to fight on. Beyond Nuclear issued a media release regarding the Vermont State Senate's unprecedented "no confidence" vote against Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, as did Public Citizen. Beyond Nuclear congratulates the grassroots anti-nuclear movement of New England, including the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance, as well as Citizens Awareness Network and its Vermont chapter, without whose tireless efforts, this tremendous victory could not have been won. CAN issued a statement calling on supporters to remain vigilant, and to work to protect this victory by focusing grassroots pressure on the Vermont State House of Representatives. New Hampshire Public Radio quoted Cort Richardson, a Clamshell Alliance member who has fought against Vermont Yankee for 35 years, as saying: "I think it’s a proud day for Vermont. It’s a day when everyone can really feel proud of their legislature. They took the testimony. They listened. They studied and they came up with the right conclusion. To me that’s democracy in action. It worked...The plant’s continuation is rejected totally and unequivocally." Extensive additional news coverage, much of which pointed out the Vermont decision "bucks" President Obama's call for an expansion of nuclear power, included: AP; Burlington Free Press; CBS News; Rutland Herald (including activists' response to the victory); Vermont Public Radio; WCAX TV; and WPTZ TV.


Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee covered up tritium leak for five years

The Brattleboro Reformer reports that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has confirmed that a 2005 radioactive, carcinogenic leak of tritium at the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor was not reported to them until now. The Reformer also reports that 45-year-veteran of the industry, and nuclear whistleblower Paul Blanch, has leveled blistering criticism against both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear (which he calls "the worst of the worst") regarding the "run it to failure and fix it when it breaks" philosophy at Vermont Yankee. "I wouldn't accept that program for my car," Blanch said. The State of Vermont legislature has scheduled a vote on Wednesday morning to decide whether or not it will allow for a 20 year license extension at Vermont Yankee, currently due to shut down in March 2012.


Rutland Herald coverage of anti-Vermont Yankee rally features Paul Gunter

Beyond Nuclear's reactor oversight director, Paul Gunter, spoke at a march and rally of 300 concerned citizens in Brattleboro, Vermont calling for the rejection of a 20 year license extension at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. His words were featured by the Rutland Herald's coverage of the event as well as by the Brattleboro Reformer.


Nuclear whistleblowers take aim at Vermont Yankee

The Associated Press has reported that Paul Blanche, an energy consultant based in Connecticut who has worked for several New England reactors, has accused both Entergy Nuclear and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of a "run-to-failure, fix-it-when-it-breaks mentality," saying he wouldn't get on a plane run by an airline with that approach. "There's no justification for continuing to operate that plant," Blanche said. Meanwhile, Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., himself a former atomic whistleblower and now serving on a State of Vermont public oversight panel on Vermont Yankee's re-licensing, recieved a phone call from a current whistleblower at the reactor saying that Entergy Nuclear officials knew of radioactivity leaks two years ago emanating from buried pipes. If true, this would bolster allegations of perjury by top level Entergy officials, who testified under oath to state officials last year that there were no underground pipes carrying radioactive materials. State officials are taking this latest allegation very seriously, further diminishing Vermont Yankee's hopes of surviving a Vermont State Legislature "no confidence" vote next Wednesday.