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International

Beyond Nuclear, while U.S. based, recognizes that the issue of nuclear power, particularly in relation to climate change and reactor expansion, has become an international issue. Multi-national corporations, often with foreign ownership, have taken over every facet of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to waste disposition. Beyond Nuclear is currently engaged in supportive efforts in a number of different countries.

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Sunday
May042014

"A Rhetorical Outburst: Canadian ‘Experts’ Comfy with Radioactive Pollution of Great Lakes"

John LaForge of Nukewatch in Luck, WIJohn LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin has published an article at CounterPunch entitled "A Rhetorical Outburst: Canadian ‘Experts’ Comfy with Radioactive Pollution of Great Lakes."

It is John's response to an "expert report" done in support of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposal to bury all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, from 20 reactors, less than a mile from the waters of Lake Huron. The dump would be immediately adjacent to OPG's Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, with eight operable atomic reactors, one of the single biggest nuclear power plants in the world.

40 million American, Canadian, and Native American First Nations residents drink from Great Lakes waters, which comprise more than 20% of the entire world's surface fresh water, and more than 90% of North America's.

John writes: "The ‘expert’ group’s report says it’s possible that as much as 1,000 cubic meters a year of water contaminated with radiation might leach from the dump, but calls such pollution 'highly improbable.' (Emphasis on 'predicted' and 'improbably' here: The US government’s 650-meter-deep Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico was predicted to contain radiation for 10,000 years. It failed badly on Feb. 14, after only 15.)"

In September 2013, John testified before the Canadian federal Joint Review Panel tasked with overseeing OPG's environmental assessment on OPG's proposed "Deep Geologic Repository," or DGR. (Critics have dubbed it the Deep Underground Dump, or DUD). He cited a 2008 OPG promotional brochure, which rhetorically asked “Will the [dump] contaminate the water?” then answered: “…even if the entire waste volume were to be dissolved into Lake Huron, the corresponding drinking water dose would be a factor of 100 below the regulatory criteria initially, and decreasing with time.”

This fatuous assertion prompted John to ask in his testimony: “Why would the government spend $1 billion on a dump when it is safe to throw all the radioactive waste in the water?”

As John writes, "Now, what I thought of then as a rhetorical outburst has become 'expert' opinion."

John and Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will co-present "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer," their annual workshop at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association fair held on summer solstice weekend in central WI.

Friday
May022014

HBO's VICE: "Genetic Passport," about Soviet nuclear weapons testing in Kazakhstan

HBO's investigative report series VICE traveled to Kazakhstan to report on the serious consequences to human health and the human gene pool from nuclear weapons testing by the USSR upwind of inhabited areas. See the reporter's debrief here.

Thursday
May012014

The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther

The Brothers Reuther. From left to right, Roy, Walter, Victor. Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

It is fitting, on International Workers' Day, to pay tribute to Walter Reuther.

Reuther's biographer, Nelson Lichtenstein (The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor, Basic Books, 1995) could have been referring to Walter Reuther's civil rights, social justice, and anti-war work as much as to his efforts on behalf of working people. And given that Walter Reuther, and especially his brother Victor, were very active internationally, perhaps they were also the most dangerous men in the world?

Less well known are the Reuther brothers' work for the environment and against nuclear risks.

Walter Reuther's United Auto Workers (UAW) took one of the very first high profile stands against nuclear power in the early 1960s, when it -- alas unsuccessfully, unfortunately -- attempted to stop the construction and operation of the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor in Monroe County, MI, just 25 miles south of Detroit. Between the Detroit and Toledo areas, some 500,000 UAW members lived within 50 miles of the big nuclear experiment on the Great Lakes shoreline. Even though the UAW did not prevail in its lawsuit against the Atomic Energy Commission at the U.S. Supreme Court (by a 7 to 2 vote), Reuther and the UAW would be proven right just a few years later. On Oct. 5, 1966, "We Almost Lost Detroit" (the title of John G. Fuller's iconic book, as well as Gil Scott Heron's ballad) when the Fermi 1 reactor core partially melted down. But it came precariously close to turning out much worse than it did.

Sasha Reuther, the grandson of Walter's younger brother Victor, published a documentary film in 2012 entitled "Brothers on the Line." Towards the very end of the film, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy is quoted as saying that Walter Reuther was green before it was even invented.

In Victor Reuther's 1976 memoir The Brothers Reuther and the Story of the UAW (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston), he documented his brother Walter's and the UAW's leadership in advocacy: as early as 1960, for U.S.-Canadian cooperation to protect the Great Lakes; in the early to mid-1960s, for nuclear disarment and end to nuclear weapons testing; and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, to hold the UN's first world conference on the environment. Victor Reuther also documented the visionary efforts of his and Walter's older brother, Roy, who did groundbreaking work with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, who also were environmental pioneers on the front lines.

Following in Reuther's early footsteps, it is Beyond Nuclear's mission to strive for the abolition of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, including working in coalition with U.S. and Canadian environmental allies to block the construction and operation of Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor, as well as to block the 20-year license extension sought for Fermi 2.

Fermi 2 is the biggest GE Mark I in the world -- identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi's melted down and exploded reactors, only, nearly as big as Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 & 2 put together. In addition, Fermi 2 has multiple times the amount of high-level radioactive waste in its storage pool than even Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 did at the beginning of the catastrophe. In fact, every nuclear fuel assembly ever generted at Fermi 2, since 1988, is still stored in the pool, some 600 metric tons worth!

And, 54 years after the Brothers Reuther first sought to protect the Great Lakes, another binational environmental coalition, that Beyond Nuclear is honored and privileged to be a part of, is watchdogging, and resisting, the "making a killing, while getting away with murder" shenanigans at Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario. Bruce is one of the single largest nuclear power plants in the world, with eight operable atomic reactors, on the Lake Huron shore just 50 miles across the lake from the tip of Michigan's Thumb.

After years of grassroots resistance, Bruce Nuclear gave up on its insane proposal to ship 64 giant, radioactive steam generators on the Great Lakes, to Sweden, for "recycling" into consumer products. Now the fight is on against Ontario Power Generation's insane proposal to bury all of Ontario's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, from 20 reactors, less than a mile from the Great Lakes shore at Bruce. Our environmental coalition has long warned that, as bad as this "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste dump would be, it could be but the camel's nose under the tent: several Bruce area municipalites are still in the running to "host" all of Canada's high-level radioactive wastes, from 22 reactors, in permanent geologic disposal (that is, a dump).

And as soon as that dump is stopped, our next challenges -- working closely with environmental allies on both sides of the Great Lakes -- will be to stop the incineration of all of Ontario's "low" level radioactive wastes at Bruce (which has been going on for four decades), as well as to shut down the eight still operable reactors there.

Wednesday
Apr302014

Has Fukushima nuclear catastrophe contributed to Japan's economic slippage?

Al Jazeera reports that India has surpassed Japan, to take on the mantle of the world's third largest national economy, in terms of purchasing power parity, following behind the U.S. and China. This begs the question, how much has the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe dragged down the Japanese economy?

Sunday
Apr272014

"Forced to Flee Radiation, Fearful Japanese Villagers Are Reluctant to Return"

As reported by Martin Fackler of the New York Times, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese national government under Prime Minister Abe's pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administration are pressuring nuclear evacuees from around Fukushima Daiichi to move back to their radioactively contaminated homes.

The pressure comes in the form of an end to meager yet essential compenstation payments worth $1,000 per month or less, as well the closing of barracks-like emergency shelters where families have had to live for over three years now. TEPCO, forced to pay such meager compensation by the Japanese government, often offers at most half the value of a family's unrecoverable home, or even as little at $3,000.

Such terms have left penniless nuclear evacuees with little choice but to return to their radioactively contaminated homes, like it or not.

“This is inhumane and irresponsible,” said Teruhisa Maruyama, a lawyer who leads the Support Group for Victims of the Nuclear Accident, a Tokyo-based legal organization that helps residents seek increased compensation.

“The national government knows that full compensation could add up to big money, enough to raise public doubts about the wisdom of using nuclear power in Japan.”

“They want to say that everything is back to normal so they can keep their nuclear plants,” said Mr. Satoshi Mizuochi, 57, a nuclear evacuee. “Failing to compensate us for our losses is a way of pressuring us to go back.”