Floating nuclear plants and plutonium on the high seas 

As if the idea of a floating nuclear power plant wasn't insanity enough -- read this week's news of a possible fire on board a Russian one under construction -- there is also a plutonium cargo under sail. Two heavily armed British gunships departed the UK last Sunday for France where they picked up 16 mixed oxide fuel assemblies (a mixed uranium-plutonium reactor fuel) that are now en route to delivery in Japan. Over the years, these high security-risk, floating nuclear bombs have been vigorously opposed by UK watchdog group, Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment and others. As Martin Forwood of CORE stated: "the need for this level of armed security brings home the reality of the very real and significant dangers of transporting plutonium -- in this case enough for around one hundred nuclear weapons  --  and demolishes the industry's complacent and short-sighted claim that such shipments pose no risks." More


Global nuclear weapons ban negotiations wrapping up at UN

In the midst of an ominous ICBM missile launch by North Korea, negotiations on a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty are set to conclude this Friday at the UN in New York. They follow a UN resolution adopted in October 2016 and approved by 123 nations, although no nuclear weapons state voted in favor. We asked Nuclear-Free Future Award winner, Susi Snyder, of Pax, Netherlands, to explain why a ban matters and how it will work. She wrote:  "A majority of the countries in the world are coming together to create a new unambiguous international law saying that making, having, getting, or using nuclear weapons, or helping anyone to do those things, is illegal. Even without the participation of nuclear-armed states, the ban treaty will have a powerful impact on the decisions of many countries. The ban treaty will delegitimize the possession of these weapons, discourage their spread, and reinforce norms against nuclear weapons. Ban opponents have fought it vigorously because they know it will have real impact. However, states that are not signatories to the other weapons prohibitions treaties often act within their rules. For example, the U.S. follows the landmines ban even though it hasn't signed it." More

Small modular reactors are a (misguided) aspiration not a likely reality

The Tennessee Valley Authority says it wants to develope the decades-old small modular reactor concept at the Oak Ridge laboratory (pictured). The Southern Alliance of Clean Energy (SACE) is among the groups opposing this. "We are concerned that billions of dollars could be spent on a technology that is unproven, untested and significantly more expensive than other types of power technology that are available to TVA," said SACE spokeswoman, Sara Barczak.

M.V. Ramana, a professor and chair of the Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said TVA's site application for the small reactors is "more like an advertisement brochure than an examination of the environmental impacts of constructing these reactors."

SACE and the Union of Concerned Scientists have joined the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League in petitioning the NRC to deny the early site permit for the small reactors in Oak Ridge.

"There is a long history of experimentation with small nuclear reactors, and the evidence so far suggests that small reactors cost too much for the little electricity they produce," Ramana said. More


Disastrous defense authorization bill pending in House 

Writes John Tierney, executive director of the Council for a Livable World, the  the defense authorization bill soon under consideration in the U.S. House is a disaster for safety, security and the economy. Worse yet, "The Chairman of the House of Armed Services Committee is proposing a $705 billion Pentagon budget, at least $75 billion more than President Reagan’s peak defense spending in adjusted dollars. This represents a massive increase of wasteful spending that can only be described as shameful." The Council noted of the bill:

  • It carelessly restricts funding or undermines the goals for vital arms control treaties that make us safer, like New START, the Open Skies Treaty, and the INF Treaty.
  • It disgracefully limits the dismantlement of nuclear weapons that have already been retired.
  • It blindly adds new systems for a $40 billion unproven missile defense program.

50-group environmental coalition urges rejection of H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017

Beyond Nuclear joined with a 50-group environmental coalition, spearheaded by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to urge members of the U.S. House of Represenatives Energy & Commerce Committee to vote against the latest incarnation of the Screw Nevada and Mobile Chernobyl bill, H.R. 3053 sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL).

The bill would also legalize private centralized interim storage facilities (CISFs) for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel. Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, west Texas, and the Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance in southeastern New Mexico, near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (for military plutonium contamination disposal) are the top targets for such de facto permanent surface parking lot dumps. The two CISFs are less than 40 miles apart, across the TX-NM border.

The legislation, which cleared Shimkus's Environment and the Economy Subcommittee a couple weeks ago, will undergo mark up before the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, and a likely up or down vote, on Wed., June 28th at 10am Eastern. If it passes, it would then move on to the full U.S. House floor, for consideration.

Beyond Nuclear encourages everyone to contact their U.S. Representative, to urge strong opposition to this dangerously bad bill. (Look up your U.S. Rep.'s contact info. at this site, by typing in your ZIP code at the upper right, clicking GO, and following the internet links.) Feel free to cite, and share, the group letter above, when you communicate with your U.S. Rep.'s office!