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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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Monday
Jan302012

Beyond Nuclear expert witness testimony to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

In October 2011, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was honored to be asked by Families Against Radiation Exposure in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada to serve as its expert witness in a proceeding before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regarding Cameco's application for a five year license extension at its Uranium Conversion Facility, just off downtown and very near residential neighborhoods. Cameco's waterfront facility is amongst the oldest nuclear industrial sites in the world, first opened in 1932 as a radium extraction plant. Port Hope's residents have suffered many decades of radioactive pollution and contamination as a consequence.

Kevin submitted his written comments to CNSC on December 19, 2011. He focused on the radioactive stigma impacts to Port Hope, including on property values, as well as threats of flooding at the site due to climate destabilization, as well as security risks given Cameco's (and its predecessor Eldorado's) involvement in the nuclear weapons industry, as well as depleted uranium (DU) munitions. Kevin then attended a three day long hearing before the CNSC, from January 17 to 19, 2012, at which he testified.

In late March, 2011 Kevin also served on the Northwatch team, along with Northwatch's Brennain Lloyd and Great Lakes United's John Jackson, at a Joint Panel Review concerning proposed new reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant, just a short distance west of Port Hope. Kevin focused on high-level radioactive waste risks associated with that proposal. A coalition of environmental groups in Ontario has since filed a lawsuit challenging the decision to move ahead with those new reactors.

Friday
Jan272012

Radioactive fallout from Nevada Test Site did not stop at U.S. border

Radioactive Iodine-131 fallout from the Nevada Test Site across the U.S., by county, measured in radsIn such U.S. states as Utah and Idaho, the 61st anniversary of the first nuclear weapons test at the Nevada Test Site was marked by a National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders, and a call for compensation and health care for an expanded number of fallout victims and uranium workers. However, as shown by the map at the left, radioactive fallout from the Nevada Test Site did not magically stop at the U.S. border. Judging by the high levels of fallout in Montana and North Dakota counties immediately on the Canadian border, it is reasonable to assume that significant radioactive fallout entered Canadian provinces. Ironically, Saskatchewan provided a large fraction of the uranium that went into the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, as documented in Jim Harding's 2007 book Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood Publishing, Halifax and Winnipeg) -- only to have it "return to sender" as hazardous radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing in Nevada.

Similarly, while proposed U.S. legislation would expand Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) coverage to the U.S. territory of Guam, downwind of U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific, no mention is made of the many other countries in the Pacific likewise downwind.

Thursday
Jan192012

False claims (on Frontline and elsewhere) persist that nuclear-free Germany will emit more CO2

The suggestion made during the Frontline program that Germany will emit more Co2 as a result of its nuclear phase-out is another perfect example of those skeptics who claim that the German nuclear phase-out was a panicked overreaction and could even amount to environmental vandalism.  But science disproves these claims. Thanks to Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Boell Institute for the following rebuttal:

Looking at the German nuclear phase-out, some have argued that Germany will produce an extra 300m tones of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. However, Numerous feasibility studies, amongst others by the Federal Environmental Agency or an independent Commission on Energy Choices , have shown that the nuclear phase-out will not jeopardize Germany's ambitious climate action efforts: reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050. If emissions were to rise due to the nuclear phase-out, the government would have to come up with compensating measures to reach these targets.

However, it is unlikely that emissions will rise, because according to the rules of the EU cap-and-trade system there is a cap for emissions from the energy sector and that of course also applies for Germany. Even if Germany’s nuclear capacity was to be replaced by using energy generated in coal plants, the total energy emissions would still have to be reduced. This could be achieved by either shifting to more natural gas or by replacing older coal plants with new and more efficient plants. That's the genius of a cap-and-trade system. Believe it or not, with that system in place, Germany's nuclear phase-out will even cause emissions in other European countries to fall.

The German nuclear phase-out – which is being followed by other countries including Switzerland, Italy and Belgium – is in reality another important element to accelerate the long-term strategy of a transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Friday
Jan132012

Study finds childhood leukemia doubled around French reactors

A major epidemiological study just published in the January 2012 edition of The International Journal of Cancer indicates there is “a possible excess risk” of acute leukemia among children living in close vicinity to French nuclear power plants (NPP). The study called for an “investigation for potential risk factors related to the vicinity of NPP, and collaborative analysis of multisite studies conducted in various countries.”

The study found a doubling of occurrence of childhood leukemia between the years of 2002-2007 among children under 5 years living within 5 km of nuclear plants – similar to the findings of the German 2008 study by the Cancer Registry in Mainz which found an association between the nearness of residence to nuclear power plants and the risk of childhood leukemia.

The epidemiological study was conducted by a team from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) and the National Register of hematological diseases of children in Villejuif. The results marked a surprising and encouraging change at IRSN which had endeavored to discredit earlier French epidemiological studies that had shown an impact of nuclear facilities on health.



Monday
Jan022012

Fukushima further "explodes the myth" of "nuclear renaissance"

Images such as the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 seared into the public's mind internationally.In a new report entitled "Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Economics: Historically, Accidents Dim the Prospects for Nuclear Reactor Construction; Fukushima Will Have a Major Impact," Dr. Mark Cooper of the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment compares the cost increases for new reactor construction -- due to increased nuclear safety regulation in the aftermath of the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown -- to escalating costs that can be expected after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Cooper points out, however, the new reactor construction costs were already skyrocketing before the TMI and Fukushima meltdowns -- but the accidents accelerated the cost increases dramatically.

He concludes: "From a big picture perspective, Fukushima has had and is likely to continue to have an electrifying impact because it combines the most powerful message from TMI on cost escalation with the most powerful message from Chernobyl on the risk of nuclear reactors in a nation where it was not supposed to happen. And, it has taken place in an environment where information and images flow instantaneously around the world, so the public sees the drama and trauma of losing control of a nuclear reaction in real time."