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Nuclear Power

Nuclear power cannot address climate change effectively or in time. Reactors have long, unpredictable construction times are expensive - at least $12 billion or higher per reactor. Furthermore, reactors are sitting-duck targets vulnerable to attack and routinely release - as well as leak - radioactivity. There is so solution to the problem of radioactive waste.

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Thursday
Sep142017

"The End of Cassini": NASA vaporizes 72.3 pounds of plutonium in Saturn, despite nearby moons that could support extraterrestrial life forms

As Karl Grossman reports at Nation of Change:

The crashing of the nuclear power-energized Cassini space probe into Saturn – a process that began on April 22, Earth Day – will culminate this Friday, September 15. The probe – containing more deadly plutonium than has ever been used on a space device­ – will then reach Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrate as it plummets to Saturn.

Central Florida was spared a regional nuclear catastrophe on October 17, 1997 when Cassini's launch from Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Center did not lead to a Titan IV rocket failure. The risk of that happening was a very high 1 in 1,500 chance, even according to NASA's own admission. (Remember the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion on lift off. Grossman scooped the story that the next payload on Challenger was to have included plutonium.)

And Planet Earth was spared a global catastrophe, when Cassini's risky slingshot maneuver or flyby did not result in the probe crashing back into the atmosphere and vaporizing. If that had happened, NASA had admitted that “Approximately 7 to 8 billion world population at [the] time…could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure.” (Remember when NASA missed Mars, by failing to properly synchronize metric and English measurement figures?!)

But Planet Saturn won't be so lucky. NASA will intentionally vaporize Cassini, and its 72.3 pounds of ultra-toxic plutonium fuel, in the planet's atmosphere. This despite the fact that Saturn's nearby moons, Titan and Enceladus, are seen as among the most likely places in the solar system, besides Earth, for the presence of extraterrestrial life.

Grossman's article includes these powerful quotes from leading watchdogs on "nukes in space":

When I heard that NASA would be dive-bombing Cassini into Saturn with 72 pounds of deadly plutonium-238 onboard, I thought of the Army handing out smallpox laden blankets to Indians on the reservations,” comments Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, which has been in the lead in protesting NASA nuclear space missions. “NASA readily admits that ‘biotic or prebiotic’ life very possibly exists on Saturn­ – are they trying to kill it?”

Said Gagnon: “We are told that NASA is out searching for the origins of life in the universe but they seem to have forgotten the prime directive from Captain Kirk on Star Trek to ‘do no harm.’”

Felton Davis, an activist with the Catholic Worker movement in New York City, who participated in anti-Cassini protests through the years, said NASA “should face the environmental reality that other celestial bodies are not garbage dumps.”

Gagnon and Davis's words echo the poetry of Native American poet, musician, and activist/philosopher John Trudell, as well as Native American spiritual leaders, as from Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. These Native American voices and others have warned that we have no right to trash or otherwise abuse outer space, which is sacred, just like Mother Earth. 

NASA knows there are demonstrated, successful alternatives to using high-risk, ultra-toxic plutonium on deep space probes. After all, as Grossman reported, on Independence Day 2016, NASA's solar powered Juno probe reached Jupiter.

Karl Grossman is a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of Old Westbury on Long Island, N.Y. Karl is a co-founder of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, still serves as an advisor, and regularly writes about plans to launch nuclear power into space. Karl is also a founding member of the board of directors of Beyond Nuclear.

Thursday
Sep072017

Beyond Nuclear to co-present alongside Nukewatch & NIRS at MREA's inaugural MN renewable energy festival!

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, alongside John LaForge of Nukewatch and Diane D'Arrigo of NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service), will conduct a workshop entitled "Nuclear Power Realities and Climate Chaos" at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's first ever Minnesota festival, "Clean Energy + Sustainable Living".

Here is the workshop description:

This workshop will discuss what it takes to site, approve, construct, and license new reactors, a time-consuming process which robs resources from conservation and efficiency efforts. Investing in nuclear power hinders the deployment of clean, renewable, safe energy systems required to confront climate disruption.

This year's workshop comes as South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Bay City, TX just dodged a radioactive bullet from Hurricane Harvey, and as Hurricane Irma bears down on the Turkey Point and/or St. Lucie nuclear power plants on Florida's Atlantic Coast.

John and Kevin have held down the anti-nucler power fort at the MREA's annual Custer, WI festival, for the past couple-three decades. Their workshops there are, by default, entitled "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer," no matter what the question -- an homage to Dr. Helen Caldicott, Beyond Nuclear's founding president, who was a keynote speaker at the MREA festival in WI in 2007.

In 2014, NIRS executive director, Tim Judson, and NEIS (Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago) executive director, Dave Kraft, joined John and Kevin in WI, to rebut the nuclear power industry's attempt to "kill the competition" -- the strategy by the nuclear power industry to sabotage renewables and efficiency as unwanted competition.

And as they've done at the WI festival for a quarter-century, Kevin and John will hold down an info. table at this event, as well.

Thursday
Aug242017

Energy Department’s recommendations would bolster coal, nuclear power plants

Thursday
Jul062017

UCS: NRC's contradictory safety decisions

As posted by Dave Lochbaum of UCS (reposted here with permission):

Good Day:

Federal regulations require that nuclear power plants be designed to experience a loss of coolant accident (LOCA, where a pipe connected to the reactor vessel ruptures and drains cooling water) and a loss of offsite power (LOOP, where electricity from the offsite power grid is unavailable) should they occur separately or concurrently. All but one US nuclear power plant has two or more emergency diesel generators (EDGs) to comply with these regulations.

In 2008, the NRC received a petition for rulemaking seeking to decouple LOCA from LOOP. Plants would still have to be capable of mitigating a LOCA and of mitigating a LOOP, but would no longer be required to mitigate the LOCA/LOOP combo, if the petition was granted.

On January 26, 2017, the NRC staff recommended to its Commission that the petition for rulemaking be terminated. The staff cited numerous unanswered safety questions that would have to be resolved before they could justify decoupling LOCA from LOOP. The Commission voted unanimously to terminate the rulemaking.

But 22 days earlier, on January 4, 2017, the NRC staff decoupled LOCA from LOOP in reaching its decision to let Palo Verde Unit 3 operate for up to 62 days with one of two EDGs broken.

UCS's research also uncovered that the NRC sanctioned Palo Verde Unit 3 a decade earlier (February 2007)  for operating for 18 days with one of two EDGs broken. In imposing that sanction, the NRC staff coupled LOCA with LOOP, as federal regulations require.

The NRC's contradictory answers to the same nuclear safety questions are troubling, at least some of the time. UCS wrote a letter to the NRC's Inspector General outlining this checkered past and requesting that his office formally investigate the goings on to see whether different answers to the same questions comply with the agency's regulations, policies, and practices.

A link to the UCS letter and additional background about this matter was posted to our All Things Nuclear blog at http://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/nuclear-regulatory-commission-contradictory-decisions-undermine-nuclear-safety

Thanks,

Dave Lochbaum

UCS

Monday
Jun192017

Nuclear power on the 'front burner,' says Energy Secretary Rick Perry

As reported by CNBC, Energy Secretary Perry says the Trump administration is ready to expand support for so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which the Obama administration had already supported to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal taxpayer funding.