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Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Nuclear advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and argues that removing them can only make us safer, not more vulnerable. The expansion of commercial nuclear power across the globe only increases the chance that more nuclear weapons will be built and is counterproductive to disarmament.

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Thursday
Aug062015

HISTORIC 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF ATOMIC BOMBING OF HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI: Major Protests at Warhead Facilities

Floating peace crane lanterns, with Atomic Bomb Dome in background, Hiroshima, Japan. Photo courtesy: Hiroshima Peace Media Center.Beyond Nuclear has joined with its Alliance for Nuclear Accountability coalition partners across the U.S. in a press release highlighting actions happening across the country, in commemoration of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings 70 years ago this August 6th and 9th, respectively. The commemorations and actions decry the trillion dollar plan for new U.S. nuclear weapons, and advocate disarmament.  

The press release begins:

A thousand or more peace advocates, Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), religious leaders, scientists, economists, attorneys, doctors and nurses, nuclear analysts, former war planners and others across the country are coming together to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this August 6 through 9 at key sites in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and beyond.

Major commemorations, rallies, protests and/or nonviolent direct actions will place at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in CA, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM, the Kansas City Plant in MO, the Y-12 Plant in TN, the Rocky Flats Plant in CO, the Pantex Plant in TX, and in GA near the Savannah River Site. These events are united by their reflection on the past, and, uniquely, their focus on the present and future with a resolute determination to change U.S. nuclear weapons policy at the very locations that are linchpins in producing the new trillion dollar stockpile of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear said: "We are humbled to listen to the sobering stories of two Hibakusha, Mr. Goro Matsuyama and Ms. Takako Chiba, both survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, at Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area events in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. We are also pleased to take part in the 'For People & the Planet' peace activist conference in Columbus, Ohio, to address the inextricable links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and what we can do about it."

United for Peace & Justice has posted a calendar of nation-wide Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations and actions at: http://www.nuclearfreefuture.org/events/

Wednesday
Aug052015

Dr. Gordon Edwards on "Brazil Nuclear Leader's Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions"

Dr. Gordon Edwards, President, CCNRDr. Gordon Edwards, President of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (photo, left), has prepared the following backgrounder in response to the Reuters article, reprinted at Voice of America, about the the arrest of the longtime head of Brazil's nuclear energy utility, Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva. A retired admiral, Pinheiro da Silva was arrested on corruption charges on Tuesday for allegedly taking 4.5 million reais ($1.35 million) in bribes from engineering firms working on the long-delayed Angra 3 nuclear power plant. The arrest could disrupt a plan to revive Brazilian nuclear ambitions whose roots go back to its atomic-bomb program in the 1980s.

Background:                     August 5, 2015

The head of Brazil's nuclear energy utility, a retired military man, has been arrested on corruption charges. This will delay further the construction of Brazil's third nuclear power reactor, Agra-3, which is already about 2 billion dollars over budget.  Total cost is currently estimated at $7.6 billion; it will no doubt continue to climb. Power from existing nuclear plants in Brazil is about 50% more expensive than from other sources. 

Brazil's civilian nuclear program has close historic ties to the military. Alone among non-nuclear-weapons-states, Brazil is developing its own fleet of nuclear submarines; the nuclear shipyard was inaugurated in 2011. The Brazilian military has developed its own uranium enrichment facility using high-efficiency ultracentrifuges of indigenous design.  This capability, developed in secrecy, was only announced to the world in 1987. The Brazilian ultracentrifuges are unique, based on electromagnetic rather than mechanical bearings, and are not subject to direct inspections by the IAEA. The civilian nuclear utility in Brazil acquires its nuclear reactor fuel from the enrichment plant that is owned and operated by the military.

Brazil supplied uranium to the US Bomb program during the Manhattan Project -- and beyond.  The first Brazilian research reactor was built in 1957 with US assistance. When the military regime wielded power in Brazil (1964-1985) a secret "Parallel Program" was adopted to acquire total domestic control over the complete nuclear fuel cycle -- uranium enrichment, reactor operation, plutonium extraction, and nuclear explosive manufacture. Ostensibly devoted to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the military worked clandestinely on nuclear weapons-related matters throughout this period.

When India exploded its first atomic bomb in 1974 using plutonium from a Canadian-designed research reactor, Brazil and Argentina were ruled by rival military regimes. Both countries had nuclear ambitions which included a nuclear weapons capability. The Argentine Generals were responsible for the kidnapping and secret murder of tens of thousands of "undesirables", including journalist and trade unionists. With the help of German scientists, some of whom worked under the Nazis during WWII, Argentina had already built a heavy-water nuclear reactor of German design and an experimental reprocessing plant for separating plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel.

Canada sold a CANDU nuclear reactor to Argentina in 1978, despite the brutal nature of the regime and its obvious military ambitions. In 1979 longshoremen in Saint John, New Brunswick, refused to load heavy water onto a ship bound for Argentina because of the atrocities being committed on a daily basis in Buenos Ares.  The Trudeau cabinet decided to have the heavy water trucked in great secrecy to Mirabel Airport in Quebec where it was flown to Argentina. A cabinet briefing document stated that Canada's reputation as a reliable supplier of nuclear materials would be in jeopardy if the heavy water were not delivered....

(As it turns out, Canada lost $130 million on the Argentian sale, and tens of millions of dollars were diverted from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to a numbered swiss bank account. An investigation by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee concluded that this money was used for illegal or corrupt purposes and that AECL officials were uncooperative and unresponsive when questioned by Committee Members.  The head of AECL, John Foster, was subsequently fired.)

Following the Falklands War in 1982, both the Argentinian and the Brazilian military regimes collapsed, and by 1990 both countries had renounced nuclear weapons.  However, neither country has endorsed the IAEA's "Additional Protocol" (endorsed by 129 other countries) that would provide much greater access to IAEA inspectors.  To many outside observers, it seems evident that the military roots of the nuclear programs in these two South American superpowers have never entirely disappeared. 

Gordon Edwards.
Wednesday
Jul222015

Cora Henry: "70 Years After Bomb, Hiroshima Activists Defy Nuclear Energy Industry"

Kosei Mito, showing Elisabeth Fernandes, of Osaka, and her niece his research on nuclear power. They are on the banks of the Motoyasu River, in front of the Atom Dome. Mr. Mito's guide badge, with an anti-nuclear weapons symbol, reads “IN-UTERO SURVIVOR.” Photo taken March 12, 2015 by Cora Henry in Hiroshima, Japan.Cora Henry, a journalism student at Indiana University, has published an article entitled "70 Years After Bomb, Hiroshima Activists Defy Nuclear Energy Industry."

Henry's article explores the history of the evolving position of Hiroshima's Hibakusha, literally “radiation-affected people,” towards nuclear power. She interviewed survivors of the bombing at the iconic remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industry Promotion Building, known as the Atomic-Bomb Dome.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, an anti-nuclear power consensus has emerged in both major Hibakusha organizations, with some members now very active in the ongoing campaign to resist atomic reactor restarts across Japan.

Wednesday
Jul222015

"West Lake Landfill may be more contaminated than previously thought, company says"

St. Louis Post-Dispatch graphicAs reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Exelon Nuclear has admitted that Cotter Company documents have revealed that previously undisclosed radioactive waste streams could have been dumped at the West Lake Landfill in metro St. Louis. A Cotter subcontractor, B&K Construction, illegal dumped 8,700 tons of uranium processing wastes from Mallinckrodt Chemical Works at West Lake Landfill in 1973. Exelon's predessor took over Cotter a year later, but Exelon is still liable for the costs of the illegal dumping.

Mallinckrodt had processed uranium for nuclear weapons, including highly concentrated Belgian Congo uranium ore during the earliest days of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, that led to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945.

On July 17th, a bipartisan group of Missouri U.S. Congress Members wrote the U.S. Department of Energy, urging that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers take over West Lake Landfill clean-up as part of its FUSRAP (Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program) jurisdiction.

In March 2015, Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey and colleagues in St. Louis published a pamphlet entitled "Remove the radioactive wastes NOW! Protect Metro St. Louis' water and air from West Lake Landfill's radioactive contamination!" It includes a map, showing that the radioactive wastes at West Lake Landfill are upstream of the drinking water intakes for North County and the City of St. Louis, on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The pamphlet urges readers to "Please go to www.moenviron.org to sign a letter asking U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and Congress members William Lacy Clay and Ann Wagner to work to transfer responsibility for West Lake’s radioactive wastes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Friday
Jul172015

Radioactive West Lake Landfill: "The people of St. Louis have had to live with this burden for generations"

This radiation warning sign is posted on the perimeter fence of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo. Photo credit: Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio)As the clock winds down on the 70-year mark, commemorating the infamous atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, the radioactive mess that was made in the U.S. to generate those uranium and plutonium bombs, respectively, has yet to be cleaned up.

As a letter sent by a bipartisan, bicameral group of U.S. Senators and Representatives from Missouri to the U.S. Energy Secretary states, "...the West Lake Landfill site in North St. Louis County...is only one of numerous sites in the St. Louis region that remains impacted by wastes generated by the United States government as part of the early Manhattan Project in the 1940s. The people of St. Louis have had to live with this burden for generations and we believe it is incumbent on the federal government to find a clear path forward for all the sites either through removal of the [radiologically impacted material] or effective containment."

Complicating "effective containment," however, is the fact that the radioactively contaminated West Lake Landfill site is in the Missouri River floodplain, upstream from major drinking water intakes for the metro St. Louis region.

As Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey puts it, St. Louis bears the burden of some of the oldest radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age. St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Chemical Works processed extraordinarily highly concentrated (65% uranium) Belgian Congo ore for the Manhattan Project, which fed uranium enrichment facilities at Oak Ridge, TN. Some of the enriched uranium then fueled plutonium-production reactors at the Hanford Works in WA, which generated the deadly material that went into the "Trinity" test blast in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, as well as the "Fat Man" bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. Highly enriched uranium that had passed through St. Louis for processing also went into the "Little Boy" bomb that annihilated Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

In 1973, radioactive Manhattan Project wastes were illegally dumped at the West Lake Landfill site, where they remain a risk and hazard to this day.

In their letter, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), and U.S. Representatives Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Ann Wagner (R-MO), urged Energy Secretary Moniz to reconsider the U.S. Department of Energy's previous decision to not include the West Lake Landfill site in its FUSRAP (Formerly Utilized Site Remedial Action Program). A top official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, were cc'd, in hopes of the federal agencies determining the best possible way to protect St. Louisans from the deadly legacy of the oldest radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age.

In March 2015, Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey and colleagues in St. Louis published a pamphlet entitled "Remove the radioactive wastes NOW! Protect Metro St. Louis' water and air from West Lake Landfill's radioactive contamination!" It includes a map, showing that the radioactive wastes at West Lake Landfill are upstream of the drinking water intakes for North County and the City of St. Louis, on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The pamphlet urges readers to "Please go to www.moenviron.org to sign a letter asking U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and Congress members William Lacy Clay and Ann Wagner to work to transfer responsibility for West Lake’s radioactive wastes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."