Clean Up The Mines has produced a shocking fact sheet about the conditions at and around the 10,000 abandoned uranium mines in the U.S. Findings include the fact that 10 million people still live within 50 miles of these abandoned mines, 75% of which are on federal and tribal lands. No existing federal laws require cleanup of the hazardous sites. Corporations invariably walk away when mines close, leaving the public to bear the toxic legacy and fund any attempts at cleanup. Uranium mines have contaminated drinking water wells and radioactive dust blows in the wind, deadly in inhaled.
The entire nuclear fuel chain involves the release of radioactivity, contamination of the environment and damage to human health. Most often, communities of color, indigenous peoples or those of low-income are targeted to bear the brunt of these impacts, particularly the damaging health and environmental effects of uranium mining. The nuclear power industry inevitably violates human rights.
Alfred Meyer (photo, left), national board member of Physicians for Responsibility (PSR), spoke throughout Michigan on a tour organized by Beyond Nuclear from Feb. 12-17. His presentations of "Nuclear Power: What You Need to Know about Price, Pollution and Proliferation" were dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jeff Patterson, PSR's Past-President.
Mr. Meyer has worked in recent years, as at the UN, to advance the human rights aspects of releases of hazardous radioactivity into the living environment.
Alfred's first stop on Feb. 12, at Grand Rapids' Fountain Street Church, drew 35 attendees, despite the wintry weather. Corinne Carey of Don't Waste MI video-recorded the talk, and will post it to cable access t.v. in the near future.
Alfred had a productive day in Kalamazoo on Feb. 13th. His presentation at Western Michigan University (WMU) was attended by over 50 people, and garnered an extended interview by Gordon Evans on WMUK Radio, as well as an article by Yvonne Zipp in the Kalamazoo Gazette. Alfred also spoke at a press conference held at WMU's impressive solar panel array, launching a campus climate campaign to divest the university from fossil fuel investments. Alfred was also interviewed by Dr. Don Cooney, WMU Social Work professor and Kalamazoo City Commissioner, and Dr. Ron Kramer, WMU criminology prof., on "Critical Issues: Alternative Views" t.v. program. The interview will be aired on Kalamazoo cable access in the near future, as well as posted to YouTube.
The tour stop in South Haven (4 miles from Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor) on Feb. 14 drew 25 attendees, despite it being Valentine's Day. Kraig Schultz of Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter video-recorded the talk, and will post the recording to the MSEF YouTube channel in the near future.
Ferndale in Metro Detroit on Feb. 15 drew 75 attendees. Damon J. Hartley of the Peoples Tribune did a write up and took lots of photos.
Monroe's event (within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone from the GE BWR Mark I, Fermi 2, as well as the proposed Fermi 3) on Feb. 16, drew 30 attendees, and garnered coverage in the Monroe News (text, PDF). The Ann Arbor (home base for PSR's new MI chapter) event on Feb. 17 also drew an audience despite an impending winter storm.
Beyond Nuclear has been honored and privileged to work with the following groups to make this speaking tour a success: Michigan Physicians for Social Responsibility; Sierra Club; Fountain Street Church; WMU Lee Honors College; WMU Environmental Studies program; WMU Institute of Government and Politics; Michigan Safe Energy Future (both Kalamazoo and South Haven chapters); Don't Waste Michigan; Ferndale Public Library; Alliance to Halt Fermi 3; Ellis Library; Don't Waste Michigan; Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes; and the Ecology Center.
Beyond Nuclear has organized a workshop panel at PowerShift 2013, to be held in Pittsburgh next weekend. Entitled "Nuclear power's human rights impacts," the panel will include Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps as moderator, and panelists Leona Morgan and Yuko Tonopira.
From uranium mining to milling, processing, enrichment, and fuel fabrication, to atomic reactor operations and radioactive waste dumping, nuclear power massively violates human rights, often of low income and people of color communities, especially indigenous peoples. This panel will feature spokespersons of communities directly impacted, and what can be done to help them resist. This panel will be framed in the context of a United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report on the human rights impacts of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, and how its findings can be used to protect the lives, health, and rights of vulnerable populations worldwide, such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
Leona Morgan serves with the MASE Coalition (Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment), as well as WMAN (Western Mining Action Network)/CARD (Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping). She will discuss uranium mining impacts on indigenous nations in the southwestern U.S.
Yuko Tonopira serves with Todos Somos Japon. She will discuss the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe on more than 150,000 evacuees from the region, as well as on the workers at the severely radioactively contaminated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site.
This environmental justice workshop will take place on Sunday from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
Beyond Nuclear will also have an information table on Saturday, from 11 AM to 5 PM, and will take part in Monday's Day of Action.
Beyond Nuclear took part in the 2009 and 2011 PowerShifts held in Washington, D.C. In February 2009, Beyond Nuclear organized a panel of indigenous people from across the world who resist uranium mining.
We have revised and updated our pamphlet - Uranium Mining: The impact on people, our health, and the environment. We encourage you to download, reprint and distribute our pamphlets widely. If you would like to order printed copies, please contact us at: 301.270.2209 or enquire via email at: info@BeyondNuclear.org. All of our pamphlets can be found on our website under the Pamphlets tab.
Yesterday, to meet the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) arbitrarily short 30-day deadline for public comments on its "Draft Consequence Study of a Beyond-Design-Basis Earthquake Affecting the Spent Fuel Pool for a US Mark I Boiling Water Reactor" (NRC-2013-013), attorney Diane Curran and expert witness Dr. Gordon Thompson filed a blistering response on behalf of an environmental coalition of 26 groups, including Beyond Nuclear.
In her cover letter to NRC, Curran wrote: "...the Draft Consequence Study is not a credible scientific document. While the study purports to be a broad scientific inquiry into pool fire phenomena, in fact it is a very narrow study that ignores basic pool fire phenomena and important pool fire accident contributors. It misleadingly implies that a severe earthquake causing complete draining of a fuel pool is the primary source of risk to a spent fuel pool, and assumes that open-rack low-density pool storage is not advantageous without even examining it. In short, the Consequence Study appears designed to advance the authors’ pre-determined and unsupported conclusion that high-density pool storage is safe."
Thompson makes clear that a partial drain down of a high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) storage pool is an even worse-case scenario than a complete drain down, for air cooling provided by convection currents -- which might otherwise prevent ignition of the irradiated nuclear fuel's combustible zirconium cladding -- is blocked by the layer of water in the bottom of the pool. Thompson points out that any technically-competent analyst who has been paying attention to pool-fire risks since 1979 would have known that, and charges NRC with being deliberately misleading. He also points out the potentially catastrophic consequences of pool fires -- over 4 million people could be displaced, long-term, from their homes, as even NRC acknowledges.
Curran concluded: "We are appalled that after decades of avoiding and obfuscating this urgent safety issue, the NRC now proposes to rely on this biased and unscientific document to justify continued high-density
pool storage of spent fuel, both in its post-Fukushima safety review and in the Draft Waste Confidence Environmental Impact Statement. We join Dr. Thompson in urging you to withdraw the Draft Consequence Study and begin anew with a study of spent fuel pool fire risks that finally complies with basic principles of sound scientific inquiry."
Curran represented a coalition of environmental groups which, along with a coalition of state attorneys general, prevailed against NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence at the second highest court in the land. The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that NRC must complete an environmental impact statement on the risks of on-site storage of HLRW at reactors, including in pools. NRC did not appeal the ruling, and quickly acknowledged that the completion of the EIS would prevent finalization of proposed new reactor license approvals, as well as old reactor license extension approvals, for at least two years (NRC had previously admitted that a Nuclear Waste Confidence EIS would take seven years to complete!).
Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, has heralded Dr. Thompson's work as a "devastating critique." Alvarez adds, "Gordon's comments systematically reveal the kinds of scientific malpractice the NRC is resorting to at a time when one of the nation's largest and oldest high-hazard enterprises faces a deepening economic crisis."
Alvarez, formerly a senior advisor to the Energy Secretary during the Clintion administration, knows what he's talking about. Along with Dr. Thompson, now-NRC Chairwoman, Ph.D. geologist Allison Macfarlane, and five more experts, Alvarez published "Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States," in Jan., 2003. This groundbreaking warning about the potentially catastrophic risks of HLRW pool fires was largely affirmed by a congressionally-ordered National Academy of Science study in 2005; NRC unsuccessfully attempted to block the security-redacted public release of NAS's findings. Alvarez also published a May 2011 report on the hazards of high-density pool storage across the U.S., in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. And in June, in a report commissioned by Friends of the Earth, Alvarez focused on the risks of HLRW pool storage at the now permanently shutdown San Onofre nuclear power plant.