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Nuclear Proliferation

Nuclear power was the failed answer to the horrors of the atomic bomb - the so-called "Peaceful Atom." However, the two technologies are inextricably linked. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea clandestinely developed nuclear weapons using the infrastructure, technology and know-how of their "civilian" nuclear programs. Contained expansion of nuclear power across the globe only increases the chances of nuclear weapons development and is counterproductive to disarmament.

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Thursday
Oct182012

Beyond Nuclear debates "thorium power" proponent at Sierra Club meeting

On October 10th, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps debated Timothy Maloney, a proponent of so-called "thorium (nuclear) power," at a meeting of the Nepessing Group of the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter, at Mott Community College's Regional Technical Center in Flint. The Nepessing Group of Michigan represents Sierra Club members in Genesee, Lapeer, and northern Oakland counties.

Kevin's research in preparation for the debate depended on: a Beyond Nuclear backgrounder compiled by Linda Gunter; "Thorium Fuel -- No Panacea for Nuclear Power," by Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Michele Boyd of Physicians for Social Responsibility (2009); a Science Friday program entitled "Is Thorium a Magic Bullet for our Energy Problems?" featuring Dr. Makhijani (May 4, 2012); "Thinking about Thorium" by Dr. Gordon Edwards of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (Sept. 16, 2012); "Thorium Reactors: Back to the Dream Factory," by Dr. Edwards (July 13, 2011); and "What is the Thorium Cycle?" by Dr. Edwards (1978).

The Thorium-232/Uranium-233 nuclear fuel chain shares many similarities with the Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 nuclear fuel chains, including the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, the risk that reactors could unleash catastrophic amounts of radioactivity (particularly from intentional terrorist attacks or acts of warfare), the unsolved (unsolvable?!) radioactive waste problem, the astronomical expense of RDD (research, development, and demonstration) for "thorium reactors," and the environmental ruination downwind and downstream (as well as up the food chain and down the generations) from reprocessing facilities.

Wednesday
Oct032012

Great Lakes events in resistance to uranium fuel chain, atomic reactor & radioactive waste, and nuclear weapons risks

The Great Lakes comprise 20% of the world's surface fresh water, providing drinking water for 40 million people in the U.S., Canada, and a large number of Native American First NationsFrom the "Nuclear Labyrinth" conference in Huron, OH Oct. 4-6, to an Oct. 11 "Entergy Nuclear Watch" presentation in Kalamazoo, Michigan (bridging resistance from Vermont Yankee to Palisades), to "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" summit in Chicago Dec. 1-3 (marking the 70th year since Enrico Fermi first split the atom in 1942, during the Manhattan Project), strong resistance to the uranium fuel chain in the Great Lakes is building! Beyond Nuclear is proud and honored to be a co-sponsor and active participant in all three events.

Thursday
Aug232012

Opposition mounts to moving atomic bomb material across the country

Nuclear watchdogs are fighting a proposal to ship tons of plutonium to the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico, including the cores of nuclear warheads. The plutonium "pits," as they are known,  would be dismantled at the aging and structurally questionable lab atop an earthquake fault zone. A raging wild far also threatened the boundaries of the lab last year blackening surrounding hills. The US Department of Energy is currently holding hearings over the proposal to transport plutonium from the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons center in South Carolina to Los Alamos, almost clear across the country. Some of the waste may also be dumped at the WIPP plant in Carlsbad, NM. The "surplus" plutonium would then be shipped back across the country to a proposed MOX fuel fabrication plant where is would be mixed into civilian reactor fuel. This not only crosses the line between the military and civilian nuclear sectors but presents safety and disposal risks. No US reactor is designed to use the radiologically hotter MOX fuel and there is no current disposal site at all, let alone one adapted to taking waste fuel from MOX reactors. At a recent action around the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Days commemorations, six activists were arrested at the gates of the lab. (Pictured, l to r: Benjamin Abbott, Catherine Euler and Cathie Sullivan.

Tuesday
Jul032012

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

A cover on the 1975 non-fiction book by John G. Fuller, "We Almost Lost Detroit," about the 1966 meltdown at the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor in Monroe, MichiganBeyond Nuclear and its allies in the intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Monroe, Michigan have filed their 25th contention opposing the proposed new atomic reactor, citing a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). NRC, Detroit Edison and the State of Michigan have finalized a NHPA mitigation Memorandum of Agreement about the demolition of the Fermi 1 containment shell, despite its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, in order to make room for the construction of Fermi 3, a General Electric-Hitachi so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) . However, the decisions were made without even notifying -- let alone involving -- the public, a violation of NHPA. The coalition has issued a media release.

The intervenors have cited Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Power Development Corporation (Dow Chemical, Detroit Edison, et al.), U.S. congressional testimony, and documentation on how close the Fermi 1 meltdown of October 5, 1966 came to a "terrifying," catastrophic radioactivity release. The coalition's attorney, Terry Lodge of Toledo, has argued that the Fermi 1 archive must include documentation of the experimental plutonium breeder reactor's original goal of generating weapons-grade plutonium for U.S. hydrogen bombs, as well as materials for radiological ("dirty bomb") weaponry. "The 'official' narrative of this 20th century failure must not be hijacked for use as pro-industry promotion by the 21st century nuclear industry," Lodge said.

"The story of Fermi 1's nearly catastrophic failure offers a large window into the history of commercial nuclear power, an institutional void of safety culture within the primary regulatory agency, and nuclear power’s inherent weapons connection," said Keith Gunter of Livonia, Michigan, a launch partner of Beyond Nuclear and an official intervenor against Fermi 3. "After all, as John G. Fuller's book and Gil Scott-Heron's song titles put it, 'We Almost Lost Detroit,' not to mention Monroe, Toledo, and beyond," Keith Gunter added. (see image, above left)

Saturday
May122012

"A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World"

Mushroom cloud rising above Hiroshima in aftermath of U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, August 1945As described in an op-ed posted at CNN, "A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World," Jayantha Dhanapala and Ira Helfand report on the findings of a new PSR/IPPNW report, NUCLEAR FAMINE: A BILLION PEOPLE AT RISK.

Among the findings: even a limited nuclear war, as between Indian and Pakistan, involving less than half of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, would cause climate disruption that could set off a global famine; 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (see photo, left) exploded in a war between India and Pakistan would lead to the starvation of an estimated 1 billion people, one-sixth of the human race, over the following decade; each U.S. Trident nuclear submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study (the United States has 14 Tridents). 

Jayantha Dhanapala is a former ambassador to the United States from Sri Lanka, U.N. under-secretary general for disarmament and chairman of the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Ira Helfand is the past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and current North American vice president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).