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Thursday
Apr122012

"Fighting the Legacy of Enrico Fermi"

NRC file photo of Fermi 2Michael Leonardi of Occupy Toledo has published an essay in Counterpunch, re-run at Ecowatch, about the resistance to the Fermi nuclear power plant on the Lake Erie shoreline near Monroe, MI. Leonardi links to Beyond Nuclear's involvement in "Freeze Our Fukushimas" efforts to shutdown Fermi 2 (see photo, left), the largest Fukushima Daiichi twin GE Mark I reactor in the world, with around 550 tons of high-level radioactive waste stuck in its storage pool, more than Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 put together.

Leonardi also mentions the struggle to nip the proposed new "Fermi 3" reactor, a GE-Hitachi "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR), in the bud. Beyond Nuclear's website hosts the compiled submissions by the the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3, submitted in response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter -- represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge -- continue to officially intervene against Fermi 3 in the NRC's Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board proceeding.

The Fermi nuclear power plant represents an international risk, as reflected by CEA's involvement: Ontario is a short 8 miles away from Fermi, across Lake Erie. In addition, the Walpole Island First Nation is only 50 miles away.

Most ironically, when the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction was achieved by Fermi at the University of Chicago as part of the Manhattan Project on December 2, 1942, a coded phone call was made by one of the physicists, Arthur Compton, to James Conant, chairman of the National Defense Research Committee. The conversation was in impromptu code, reflecting Fermi's Italian identity:

Compton: The Italian navigator has landed in the New World.

Conant: How were the natives?

Compton: Very friendly.

This is documented at the U.S. Department of Energy's "CP-1 [Chicago Pile] Goes Critical," The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History.