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ARTICLE ARCHIVE

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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Sunday
Oct222017

"Our Friend the Atom" report by Harry Shearer on Le Show

Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns on The Simpsons, reported on an emergency diesel generator mishap at the Catawba nuclear power plant in South Carolina, during his "News of the Atom" on his radio program Le Show.

Sunday
Oct152017

"Clean, safe, too cheap to meter..." -- Harry Shearer's sarcastic "News of the Atom," on Le Show

Shearer, voice of Mr. Burns on The Simpson's, reported on: dangerous embrittlement of pipes at the Pilgrim reactor near Boston...hazardous rock falls at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico...and the risk of a reactor meltdown at Tricastin nuclear plant in Provence, France due to human error leaving the reactor vulnerable to catastrophic flooding.

Sunday
Sep242017

Japanese "News of the Atom" from Harry Shearer on Le Show

Harry Shearer, voice of Mr. Burns on The Simpsons, reports on nuke news from Japan: debris is so complex, and radiation levels so high, at Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 and 2, that operations to remove highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel pools at the ruined reactors will be delayed for three years; a court in Chiba, Japan ruled in favor of plaintiffs harmed by the nuclear disaster, requiring Tokyo Electric to pay them $3.3 million in compensation (but holding the Japanese government not responsible); and key chains and compasses, manufactured in China and the U.S., sold in Japan, were four to eleven times too high in radioactive tritium content, and had to be reclaimed from consumers.

Sunday
Sep172017

News from "Our Friend the Atom," by Harry Shearer on Le Show

The actor and comedian behind the voice of Mr. Burns on The Simpson's reports regularly on nuke news on his Le Show. This week, he reports on ocean contamination levels from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe; the scandal of a secret report by Bechtel Nuclear, compiled two years ago, that warned of widespread mismanagement at the Summer Units 2 & 3 new reactor construction sites in South Carolina, now cancelled at a cost of $2 billion to ratepayers; and German authorities in Aachen have distributed potassium iodine tablets to residents who live near an age-degraded Belgian reactor (to protect people's thyroid glands in the event of a release of hazardous Iodine-131 radioactivity in the event of a meltdown).

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.