Church Rock: The forgotten nuclear disaster 30 years ago

30 years ago on July 16, likely the worst and certainly most forgotten U.S. nuclear accident happened.

On July 16, 1979, just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and just 34 years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico, became the scene of another nuclear tragedy.

Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Rio Puerco river. For more on the disaster at Church Rock and the implications today, read Linda Gunter's essay and see her Blog on the Daily Kos. For more details, see also Killing our Own and Southwest Research and Information Center.


Nuclear tries to kill off renewable energy

"In 2003, the nuclear industry was very nearly killed off in Britain. In 2009, it is so resurgent that captains of the energy industry are arguing it is renewables that should be killed off, or at least kept on a starvation diet," writes Jeremy Leggett in The Guardian.

"Today, the Confederation of British Industry has thrown its weight behind the nuclear industry's calls for the government to scale back "overambitious" wind power targets in favour of atomic energy. Two foreign-owned energy giants, E.ON and EDF, have recently told the government it must essentially choose between new nuclear and major renewables developments. With global warming, energy security and fuel poverty all rendering energy policy a matter of life and death today, in their own ways, this new polarisation in the nuclear debate is a desperately dangerous development." Read more. (Social entrepreneur and author Jeremy Leggett is founder and chairman of Solarcentury, the UK's largest solar solutions company.)


Keep nuclear power out of Copenhagen!

Please consider signing your organization on to a new international effort to prevent nuclear power from claiming any benefits and incentives during the December 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Called Ni Nucléaire, Ni Effet de Serre (neither nuclear nor the greenhouse effect) in France, where the campaign is based, and Don't Nuke the Climate, in English, the goal is to create a campaign document signed by organizations from across the world to be used in Copenhagen.

Nuclear power has been kept outside of climate change mitigation mechanisms to date. However, some evidence shows that the nuclear lobby could be preparing its comeback in Copenhagen to have this dirty energy labeled as clean or carbon-free and thus benefit from new subsidies. The campaign will produce petitions, postcards and sign-on letters and plans to have a strong media and advocacy presence in Copenhagen, December 7-18, 2009.

Please join Beyond Nuclear and sign onto the Don't Nuke the Climate campaign here.


Obama bows to nuclear lobby while Chu gives wows to new reactors

The Obama administration moved closer to supporting the nuclear industry lobby's push to build new reactors during Senate hearings on pending climate legislation. The administration's Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, sang the praises of a U.S. nuclear power revival. None of this made for a pretty picture - even if it was a predictable one - as the White House bent to nuclear industry demands in its effort to get a climate bill through the Senate. (Read more in The Guardian.)

"I think nuclear power is going to be a very important factor in getting us to a low carbon future," Chu told the Senate's environment and public works committee. "Quite frankly, we want to recapture the lead on industrial nuclear power. We have lost that lead as we have lost the lead in many energy technologies and we want to get it back."

The nuclear power industry is jockeying for potentially unlimited federal loan guarantees to fund expensive new reactors. If and when the industry defaults, the American taxpayer will foot the bill.


Obama's formative anti-nuclear years

Read President Obama's 1983 Columbia University anti-nuclear article here.