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.



Karl Grossman: “How Cuomo’s $7.6 Billion Nuclear Bail-out Can Impede Wind and Solar”

Karl GrossmanInvestigative journalist Karl Grossman (photo, left) -- a Beyond Nuclear board of directors member -- delivered a presentation to Long Island Metro Business Action entitled  “How Cuomo’s $7.6 Billion Nuclear Bail-out Can Impede Wind and Solar." A link to the written presentation is provided here.

Karl has also posted the presentation at his own blog, linked here.


Media coverage of the commemoration of 50 years since the Fermi 1 "We Almost Lost Detroit" partial meltdown/close call with radioactive catastrophe

“To the village square we must carry the facts of atomic energy. From there must come America’s voice.” --- Albert Einstein, June 1946. Photo credit: Mark Muhich, Sierra Club MI Chapter Nuclear-Free CommitteeA column in the LA Times, and an article in the Detroit Free Press, have covered this story. So too has the Monroe Evening News (note the one-minute video, of UCS's Dave Lochbaum explaining how a supposed meltdown mitigation safeguard at Fermi 1, actually led the meltdown); Michigan Public Radio's Stateside (an eight-minute interview with Fermi watchdog Michael Keegan); and the Toledo Blade.

Beyond Nuclear also raised the Fermi 1 meltdown on Thom Hartmann's "The Big Picture" on Oct. 6th (see from 45 minutes 00 seconds to 52 minutes 20 seconds).

The speakers at the downtown Monroe, MI press conference held at 3:09 PM, Wed., Oct. 6th -- the 50-year mark, to the moment, of the Fermi 1 meltdown -- included (from left to right, see photo): Terry Lodge, Toledo Safe Energy Coalition, and environmental intervention attorney against Fermi 2 & Fermi 3; Jessie Collins, Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT); Michael Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes and Don't Waste MI (speaking); Ethyl Rivera, Alliance to Halt Fermi 3; Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear; and David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists.

See Beyond Nuclear comprehensive post about the "We Almost Lost Detroit" meltdown 50-year commemoration, including a large number of links to additional information and documentation.


October 5, 2016: 50 years since the "We Almost Lost Detroit" partial core meltdown at Fermi 1 in Michigan

Book cover from John G. Fuller's 1975 "We Almost Lost Detroit," about the 1966 partial meltdown at the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor near Monroe, Michigan

3:09 PM Eastern time, Wednesday, October 5, 2016 marks 50 years since the Fermi 1 partial core meltdown.

We Almost Lost Detroit

While the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) summary description of Fermi 1's history and current status could not be more shallow nor whitewashed, the near-catastrophe was significant enough to inspire an iconic 1975 book by John G. Fuller (see cover, left; and see the full text, posted online here), which in turn inspired a late 1970s song by Gil Scott-Heron of the same title. (After Fukushima began, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. covered Gil Scott-Heron's song.)

Fuller's book was quite prescient. Written in 1975, 26 years before 9/11, and 36 years before Fukushima, Fuller wrote:

"One exterior hazard that still hangs over every nuclear plant is the possibility of heavy modern aircraft falling into it. Because the probabilities would be so small, this factor was generally dismissed. Other considerations were earthquakes and floods which would be equally dangerous." (see page 50/297 on PDF counter)

(Of course, when "heavy modern aircraft falling into" targets is done intentionally, as on 9/11, the probability of catastrophic consequences goes way up. In fact, the 9/11 Commission documented that Al Qaeda had considered hijacking 10, not "just" four, airplanes on 9/11, and crashing two of them into nuclear plants. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the purported mastermind of 9/11, revealed to a reporter before he was captured and imprisoned at Guantanamo, that Al Qaeda decided not to attack nuclear power plants -- such as Indian Point 2 & 3 near New York City -- because it did not want things to get out of hand, but that such attacks had not been ruled out in the future.

And of course, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe was the result of an earthquake and tsunami flood waters -- plus collusion, as mentioned below.)

Further, remarkable foreshadowing of Fukushima jumps from the pages of Fuller's book. At Page 62/297 on the PDF counter, in an extended passage from a blisterning summer 1956 U.S. Senate floor speech, Pat McNamara from Michigan expressed his deep concern about AEC's "sanctimonious" disregard for public safety, stating:

" became apparent that PRDC [the Detroit Edison-led Power Reactor Development Company] was receiving not only aid and comfort from the Atomic Energy Commission but something approaching outright collusion to steamroller through this project." (emphasis added)

In 2012, a year after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe had begun, the Japanese Parliament concluded the root cause was collusion, between regulator, industry, and government officials.

In light of the Japanese nuclear catastrophe (initiated by a 9.0 earthquake and 45-foot tall tsunami, that sparked multiple large-scale hydrogen explosions, and led to the meltdown of three General Electric Mark I boiling water reactors, and catastrophic radioactivity releases), that began 36 years after the publication of Fuller's book, the source and content of the following quote from We Almost Lost Detroit (Page 205/297 on PDF counter, in the context of passages concerning Fermi 1 internal explosion risks) is most remarkable:

P.M. Murphy, a General Electric nuclear energy executive, was to say a few years later: "It is, in our view, unlikely that one will be able to design for the worst accident permitted by the laws of nature, and end up with an economically interesting system, even after additional research and development has been carried out."

Oct. 5, 1966 to Oct. 5, 2016: Commemorating 50 years since the Fermi 1 meltdown

Beyond Nuclear is joining with grassroots allies Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, as well as Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, to mark the commemoration. See the evening presentations event in Detroit flier here. (See the press release re: the evening event in Detroit here.)

A press conference is scheduled for 3:09 PM, Wed., Oct. 5 at Loranger Square in downtown Monroe, MI. (See the press advisory re: this afternoon press conference here.)

Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear (seated, left) and Ethyl Rivera of Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 (standing, right) present on the importance of pre-distribution of potassium iodide (KI) to downwind populations over a wide region, given meltdown risks at Fermi 2An evening program, in association with CLASA (James Carney Latin American Solidarity Archive), will begin at 7 PM at University of Detroit-Mercy/Life Science Room 113 (4001 West McNichols, Detroit, MI). It will feature David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, addressing "Fermi 1 at 50: We Almost Lost Detroit...Accidents Can Happen."

(See a recent article by Lochbaum on the Fermi 1 partial meltdown.)

Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear and Ethyl Rivera of Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 (see photo, left) will also present "Emergency Preparedness and Radiological Protection: Then and Now." This will address the two groups' collaborative "Got KI?" campaign, focused on the risks of a reactor meltdown at Fermi Unit 2 (see below for more info. about Fermi 2). 


Photo of Fermi 1 on Lake Erie shoreWe Almost Lost Detroit, but we've still got Fermi 1

Although Fermi 1 suffered the partial meltdown in 1966, it limped along for another six years of so-called operations, till 1972. It was then permanently shut down.

As a warning to those who think a permanently shut down reactor then simply vanishes, Fermi 1 (pictured) still sits on site, essentially mothballed.

Remarkably, Fermi 1 suffered a large-scale radioactive tritium spill, as well as a sodium fire, in 2008 -- 36 years after its permanent shut down in 1972. (Fermi 1 was liquid metal sodium cooled; sodium catches on fire, or even explodes, on contact with air or water.)

The "sodium-bonded fuel" (that is, the two irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies that melted down in 1966) were transported to Idaho National (Nuclear) Lab for de facto permanent "interim" storage. Astoundingly, the U.S. federal government has been forced to acknowledge that, due to the chemical reactivity of the sodium involved, Fermi 1's melted down high-level radioactive waste cannot be buried in a national repository with other irradiated nuclear fuel. The corrosion it would induce would put at risk the adjacent storage containers. This begs the question, what is the long-term plan for managing Fermi 1's melted down high-level radioactive waste?!

NRC file photo of Fermi 2 on the Lake Erie shoreline in Frenchtown Township, Monroe County, MichiganFermi 2: A potential Fukushima on the Great Lakes shoreline

While the Great Lakes region narrowly dodged a big radioactive bullet at Fermi 1, worsening radioactive Russian roulette risks remain at Fermi 2 (see photo, left).

The largest General Electric Mark I boiling water reactor in the world (at 1,122 Megawatts-electric, nearly as big as the identically designed Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 and 2 reactors put together), the problem-plagued, age-degraded Fermi 2 is now seeking permission to extend operations from 40 to 60 years. An environmental coalition, including Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT), has long resisted this license extension.

In addition to Fermi 2's reactor risks, it also has more high-level radioactive waste stored in its precarious, elevated pool, than all four destroyed units at Fukushima Daiichi put together. Although some of Fermi 2's irradiated nuclear fuel is now slowly being transferred out of the pool, it is unfortunately being put into potentially defective dry casks -- Holtecs -- with a long history of quality assurance (QA) violations. Industry and NRC whistle-blowers have long warned about the questionable structural integrity of Holtec containers.

(Check out Beyond Nuclear's "Freeze Our Fukushimas" campaign website section.)

Fuller's 1975 book (at Page 242/297 on PDF counter) mentioned not only Fermi 2, but even Fermi 3 (see the following section, below):

The situation [attempting to recover from the 1966 partial meltdown at Fermi 1, and resume operations in 1970] was complicated by Detroit Edison's plans to build a light-water fission reactor -- to be called Enrico Fermi Plant Unit No. 2 -- next to the dying Fermi No. 1 breeder site, and later, a third one was to join it. The amount of fission products that these three reactors together could generate would be almost beyond comprehension.

Artist's rendition of a General Electric-Hitachi ESBWRResisting yet another round of radioactive Russian roulette: Fermi 3

Ironically enough, tempting fate yet again, Detroit Edison (DTE) has proposed a new atomic reactor, Fermi Unit 3, to be built on the exact spot where Fermi 1 had the partial meltdown 50 years ago.

Fermi 3 is proposed to be an ESBWR, General Electric-Hitachi's so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (see artist's rendition, left). The Attorney General of Virginia revealed in recent months that the price tag for a proposed ESBWR in that state -- North Anna Unit 3 -- is now approaching $20 billion. DTE would almost certainly seek ratepayer surcharges, and perhaps also federal taxpayer loan guarantees, to finance the entire funding needed to pay for constructing Fermi 3 (that is, would risk little to none of its own skin in the game).

An artist's rendition, showing Fermi 3 displacing the remnants of Fermi 1, next to Fermi 2, on the Lake Erie shore.If Fermi 3 is built and operated, this would, of course, add the "breakdown phase" risks of Fermi 2, to the "break in phase" risks of Fermi 3, on the same nuclear power plant site. A meltdown or pool fire at one reactor, could initiate the same at the adjacent reactor, domino style.

An environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, represented by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo) has resisted the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) since DTE submitted it in September 2008.

The battle is about to move to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the second highest court in the land, just under the U.S. Supreme Court). The coalition will challenge Fermi 3's lack of quality assurance (QA) on such vital matters as seismic risk. It will also challenge the NRC's exclusion of Fermi 3's proposed new transmission line corridor from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), despite clear requirements by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that it be included.

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, Vermont has served as the coalition's expert witness on QA.

Re: the NEPA violation, the coalition's appeal is the first legal challenge to NRC's highly controversial, Orwellian re-definition of the word "construction" in 2007, that effectively (and even literally) has bulldozed one of our country's top environmental protection law. Under the agency's regulations, "construction" only applies to the nuclear aspects of the proposal, such as the atomic reactor itself, its radiological containment structure, its safety systems, etc. Supposedly non-nuclear aspects of the project, no matter how large or significant, such as the transmission line corridor, are thereby excluded from complying with NEPA, as in an NRC EIS analysis of the transmission line corridor's inevitable impacts on numerous endangered species and their critical habitat (as but one example, Eastern Fox Snakes in forested wetlands).

Fermi 1's dark history, from the meltdown, to nuclear/radiological weapons connections

One of some three-dozen contentions the coalition filed against Fermi 3 was focused on the true -- dark -- history of Fermi 1. This included not only the significance of the meltdown, but an originally restricted/confidential motivation: generating "unique weapons materials" for nuclear armaments and dirty bombs.

A formerly restricted/confidential, but eventually declassified, report -- entitled INFORMATION REPORT TO THE PROJECT COMPANIES OF THE DOW CHEMICAL-DETROIT EDISON AND ASSOCIATES, NUCLEAR POWER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, dated December 1, 1953 -- revealed that both the private companies, their dozens of corporate partners, as well as the government agency (the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission), involved in the development of Fermi 1, had seriously considered generating weapons-grade plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as fission products for radiological weapons.

In a discussion of the Fermi 1 project's background and history, a section on the "General Project Objectives" stated (beginning on Page 16 -- or 17/20 on .pdf counter):

It was stated earlier that the original objective of the study agreement, as specified by the [Atomic Energy] Commission, was the development of a large scale reactor to produce power and fissionable materials as joint products. The Commission stated that this was one of the major objectives of the Commission's reactor program.

These studies were carried on by four industrial participation groups and it was generally assumed that the government was in the market for the fissionable material that would be available from these reactors. During the summer of 1952, the Commission made it plain that there would be no guaranteed government market for fissionable material and therefore the study groups, if still interested, should direct their efforts towards an unsubsidized power reactor or as it was called a "power only" reactor. Fissionable material must, therefore, carry its own weight in the open market as a reactor fuel.*

(The associated footnote then stated:

*Chairman Strauss of the Atomic Energy Commission in his testimony before the Joint Committee accepted this policy "with minor reservation", stating "I am not prepared to rule out the possibility of plants which are designed to produce weapons grade plutonium as a by-product of power--I am assured, however, that the Commission's power policy statement was intended to preclude such dual purpose plants as a possibility so much as to emphasize the greater desirability of plants which are economically justified in terms of power production alone.)

The report continued on Page 17 to 18 (or 18-19/20 on .pdf counter):

When the companies were informed of this policy, the Commission was told that no re-direction of this project was required since very early in the study it was decided that this was the only basis on which a private atomic power industry could exist...

To summarize appropriately these objectives [of the Dow Chemical-Detroit Edison Nuclear Power Project], the following is quoted from a classified letter dated October 20, 1953 to Chairman Strauss, signed by Mark E. Putnam [of Dow] and Walker L. Cisler [of Detroit Edison]:

"The main objective of the Dow Chemical-Detroit Edison Nuclear Power Project is the development of a new source of heat energy, that is, nuclear fuels, to compete commercially with conventional fuels. Our specific interests are the release and utilization of heat from the fission process for the economical production of electric power, and the production of a high-grade by-product fuel. Other by-products of the fission process, such as the fission products, would be utilized and marketed for the maximum use and value which can be developed for them."

..."We have already expended substantial sums of money in the study and pioneer development of and selection of a high temperature fast breeder reactor integrated with a metallurgical separations process as having the most promise to meet these objectives. The military aspects of this reactor and its great value in the country's defense potential have not been given appropriate emphasis. In fact, the industrial study groups were advised at one time that they should not anticipate a military market for plutonium. Apparently this situation has changed and the military aspects as we see them are:

"1. High rate of production of fissionable material - A fast breeder, and particularly a fast plutonium breeder reactor, will inherently produce a much higher return of fissionable material per unit of fuel consumed than a thermal reactor. This statement, is based, of course, on the relative potential breeding ratios for the different types of reactors. Where weapons material production is the prime objective, as appears to be the case in much of the Commission's program, our present studies indicate that the cheapest source would be very large size breeder reactors operated for the maximum production of fissionable material. We are of the opinion that this source, once proven economic, could be provided, at little or no cost to the government, by breeder reactors installed by private industry for the primary purpose of generating electric power...

"3. Unique Weapons Materials - The physical characteristics of the fast reactor and the rapid processing with the contemplated metallurgical separations system will permit our reactor to provide very high purity weapons material. In addition, the rapid processing will make available a source of fresh fission products for radiological weapons.

"We have not attempted to minimize the technical difficulties involved in our program and fully appreciate that we must have the continued cooperation of the National Laboratories. We are firm in our belief, however, that these objectives are basically sound and that their attainment is worth a great deal of effort and expense on the part of industry and government." (emphasis added)

The publication date for this report -- Dec. 1, 1953 -- was also most ironic. As it turned out, just one week later, President Eisenhower delivered his infamous "Atoms for Peace" speech at the UN. Thus ended any further consideration of Fermi 1 generating weapons-grade plutonium. That would now be done at specific military production reactors, as at AEC's Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State. 

However, as Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research documented in his powerful 1999 book The Nuclear Power Deception, illusory notions of "Atoms for Peace" and "too cheap to meter" served as public relations ploys to promote the U.S. nuclear weapons build up, in the arms race with the U.S.S.R.

(In fact, as reported by Dow's company town newspaper, Putnam and Dow would eventually fabricate nuclear weapons from plutonium, albeit generated in AEC military reactors, as at Hanford: on behalf of Dow, Putnam was put in charge of building and operating the AEC's infamous Rocky Flats plutonium trigger factory in Colorado.)

Setting the record straight on Fermi 1's dark history

Ironically enough, pro-nuclear Fermi supporters' unabashed boosterism created an opportunity for our environmental coalition. The Fermi boosters had -- despite the Unit 1 meltdown -- proudly declared the experimental plutonium fast breeder reactor a great success, and managed to place its remaining physical infrastructure on the National Register of Historic Places.

But to demolish what's left of it, in order to make way for Fermi 3, required compensatory historical preservation mitigation. The pro-nuclear boosters proposed a sanitized, celebratory collection of books and documents about Fermi 1 as some sort of great success.

We begged to differ.

On the 4th of July, 2012, the environmental coalition's attorney, Lodge, filed a challenge to the attempted sanitization of Fermi 1's history, and defended the contention a month later:

Declaration of Independence from proposed Fermi 3 new atomic reactor: "No indoctrination without representation!" regarding Fermi 1 meltdown history (July 3, 2012)

Environmental coalition challenges revisionist history about Fermi 1 at Fermi 3 new reactor site (August 3, 2012).

The Brothers Reuther. From left to right, Roy, Walter, Victor. Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.United Auto Workers versus U.S. Atomic Energy Commission

An important part of the history of resistance at Fermi includes the legal challenge brought by the United Auto Workers (UAW). In UAW v. AEC, a case now known as Power Reactor*, the union's founder, Walter Reuther (see photo, left), on behalf of some 500,000 union members living nearby downwind in places like Detroit and Toledo, fought the license for Fermi 1 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. (*The district court case is International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO; United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; and United Papermakers and Paperworkers versus United States of America and Atomic Energy Commission, 280 F.2nd 645 (1960).)

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled, 7 to 2, to allow Fermi 1 to proceed. A few short years later, the UAW was unfortunately proven right, when Fermi 1 partially melted down, and a radioactive catastrophe was narrowly averted. (See Page 64/297 in We Almost Lost Detroit for the beginning of Fuller's discussion of the UAW's involvement in the resistance to Fermi 1; see also a Beyond Nuclear post about Reuther's anti-nuclear and other environmental, including Great Lakes, advocacy.)

Labor union activist Leo Goodman played a big role in the UAW's pioneering effort. (Goodman was good friends and close colleagues with Beyond Nuclear founding board member Dr. Judith Johnsrud, of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Power in State College, PA. In fact, Goodman (1913-1982) left his nuclear-related book library in Judy's care. Judy passed on in 2014.)

Anna Gyorgy chronicled Goodman's pioneering anti-nuclear power activism in her 1979 classic, No Nukes: Everyone's Guide to Nuclear Power. (Gyorgy contributed to To the Village Square, a recent book publishing four decades of anti-nuclear photos of Lionel Delevingne.)

Here is the Washington Post's Sept. 29, 1982 obituary for Leo Goodman, "Labor union activist Leo Goodman, Set Radiation Exposure Standards," written by It begins:

Leo Goodman, 72, a career labor union activist who often was called the grandfather of the antinuclear movement, died of cancer Sept. 27 at his home in Washington.

Mr. Goodman liked to boast that he "kept the American labor movement antinuclear for 18 years," the period he worked as a feisty, document-laden secretary of the AFL-CIO's Atomic Energy Technical Committee. He was perhaps best known for pushing through government standards for worker exposure to radiation in 1969, but he had begun to worry about radiation before World War II. (emphasis added)

As documented by Professor Jacquelyn Southern of Trinity College:

Goodman mentored other unionists -- notably Tony Mazzochi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers, who considered him "the father of the anti-nuclear movement" -- in pressuring Congress and brought nuclear workers and widows to Washington to tell their stories directly.

("Changing Nature: Union Discourse and the Fermi Atomic Power Plant," March 24, 2014, Page 52, or 20/26 on PDF counter.) 

Mazzochi, in turn, would go on to mentor Karen Silkwood.

Dr. Southern has provided the following links re: Leo Goodman:

The Library of Congress houses a colletion of Leo Goodman's papers. Here is how the Library of Congress summary describes the collection of Leo Goodman papers:

Labor union activist. Correspondence, memoranda, minutes, membership files, speeches and writings, subject files, appointment calendars, and other papers documenting Leo Goodman's career as a labor activist and lobbyist concerned with adequate and affordable housing and safety for workers in atomic energy, particularly as director, CIO National Housing Committee, and as secretary, AFL-CIO Atomic Energy Technical Committee. (emphasis added)

Dr. Southern also provided these links to the relevant U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and related analysis:

Power Reactor Development Co. v. International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO, et al. (Date of Decision: June 12, 1961);

A copy of the decision (be sure to scroll to the bottom to read the powerful dissenting opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justices William Douglas and Hugo Black; Michael Hiltzik, in an Oct. 4, 2016 LA Times column entitled "50 years after 'we almost lost Detroit,' America's nuclear power industry faces even graver doubts," wrote of the dissent: The 7-2 decision promoted a thunderous dissent from Justice William O. Douglas, who called the AEC’s permit “a light-hearted approach to the most awesome, the most deadly, the most dangerous process that man has ever conceived.”);

A review of U.S. Supreme Court cases, by Sheldon L. Trubatch, posted online at the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, entitled "How, Why, and When the U.S. Supreme Court Supports Nuclear Power" (Oct. 4, 2012), addressing significant cases, including UAW v. AEC.

And, as cited above, Dr. Southern herself authored "Changing Nature: Union Discourse and the Fermi Atomic Power Plant" (March 24, 2014). Here is the Abstract:

The first known grassroots protest against nuclear power was organized by industrial unions: the United Auto Workers, the International Union of Electrical Workers, and the United Papermakers and Paperworkers. In Power Reactor, a landmark case begun in 1956 and pursued all the way to the Supreme Court (where it was lost in 1961), these unions tried to prevent construction of the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant, a fast breeder reactor, outside Detroit. However, their action has been interpreted as not truly environmental at all, but rather as merely a smokescreen for their opposition to commercially developed atomic power; at that time they were identified with support for public power, which was under assault by the Republican party. Attending to union discourses of nature reveals the case to have marked a pioneering turn from a conservation to environmental discourse of nature.

Powerfully, given the 50th anniversary of the Fermi 1 meltdown, Southern concluded her article thus:

Some fifty years later, it is time to acknowledge that the UAW, IUE, and Paperworkers were leaders in creating a new and powerful politics. They helped to change the conversation from nature as a cornucopia of resources for human domination and use to a new model of an interconneted society and biophysical environment threatened by human recklessness and technological hubris. The struggle to stop Fermi I proved an inspiring precursor to the environmentalism of the 1960s. Though the unions ultimately lost before the Supreme Court, Harvey Wasserman writes, they had succeeded in making their point to those who could hear it. "Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas issued a minority opinion full of portent. Allowing an unproven technology to go ahead with such force, they said, was 'a light-hearted approach to the most awesome, the most deadly, the most dangerous process that man has ever conceived.'"

Thanks also to environmental and historical truth watchdogs at Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes (who are the institutional memory) for providing this documentation of labor union activist resistance to Fermi 1:

Lisa M. Fine, "Exploring power and place: The Enrico Fermi Atomic Energy Plant and the workers of Downriver Detroit," April 13, 2012, posted online at Michigan State University Libraries.

Here is the direct link to the one hour twelve minute long audio recording of Lisa M. Fine's presentation.

Here is the summary:

Michigan State University Professor of History Lisa Fine delivers a talk entitled, "Exploring Power and Place: The Enrico Fermi Atomic Energy Plant and the Workers of Downriver Detroit". Fine describes the relationship of the Detroit Edison Fermi nuclear power plant workers to the place in which they lived and worked near Detroit. She explains ethnic and trade connections and then describes how the workers created a regional identity that was unique and dependent upon geography. Fine discusses the history of the plant's construction, resistance by unions to the site and construction, concerns about safety, and emergent environmentalism. A question and answer session follows. Fine is introduced by Michigan State University Professor John P. Beck. Part of the "Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives" Brown Bag series sponsored by the MSU School of Human Resources and Labor Relations and the MSU Museum. Held at the MSU Museum.

The following Fermi 1-related documents are also compliments of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes researchers, as they resisted the DTE application to construction and operate Fermi 3 (apparently, the photos are associated with DTE's plans to demolish Fermi 1, despite its National Registry of Historic Places designation -- see above -- that DTE and its supporters established, in order to clear the way for the construction and operation of Fermi 3, on the very same spot):

Timelines (Fermi 1 Chronology (ironically and tellingly annotated "Courtesy Detroit Edison Company"), and Nuclear Power Chronology), followed by, and released as part of, 2008 DTE Environmental Report documentation; 

Historical photographic plates related to Fermi 1;

More historical photographic plates related to Fermi 1.

Lessons that should have been learned from the Fermi 1 meltdown 50 years ago

As the title for the Oct. 5, 2016 evening event puts it, disasters can -- and do -- happen. Fortunately we did not lose Detroit, the Great Lakes, etc. 50 years ago -- but we almost did. But luck ran out at places like Three Mile Island Unit 2 in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima in 2011.

Certainly the ongoing Fukushima risks of Fermi 2 should be ended, by shutting down this age-degraded (break down phase), problem-plagued GE BWR Mark I, ASAP.

The break in phase risks of Fermi 3 should not be added to the mix (after all, TMI 2 and Chernobyl were both brand new reactors -- where the bugs got worked out in a very bad way).

And any notion that sodium-cooled fast breeder (or burner) reactors can somehow play a role in the taxpayer-funded, so-called "Small Modular Reactor" (SMR) relapse, is playing with fire (and explosions, literally and figuratively -- as in financially) -- just look at what happened at Fermi 1, and most recently at Monju in Japan.


AGREE & NIRS on FitzPatrick revelations: "Four+ year leak of highly radioactive waste – Worker radiation exposures -- Failure to shut down after safety system failure"

NRC file photo of FitzPatrick atomic reactor, a GE BWR Mark I.In a press release, Nuclear Information and Resource Serive (NIRS) and Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) have responded to revelations in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) most recent Integrated Inspection Report at Entergy's (soon to be Exelon's) age-degraded, Fukushima twin design (General Electric Mark I boiling water reactor), the FitzPatrick atomic reactor on the shore of Lake Ontario in upstate New York.


Aging nuclear power plants in New York uneconomic without bailout

Karl GrossmanBeyond Nuclear board of directors member Karl Grossman (photo, left) writes:

On Enformable today, my article on the New York State Public Service Commission yesterday approving a $7.6 billion bail-out of aging nuclear power plants in upstate New York under a "Clean Energy Standard" advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has pushed for continued operation of the plants and appoints the members of the PSC.

Grossman is the professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. Karl is also the author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and other books on nuclear technology, as well as hosting numerous TV programs on the subject including "Chernobyl: A Million Casualties," "Three Mile Island Revisited" and "The Push to Revive Nuclear Power."