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Mitsuhei Murata: To Prevent Fukushima from Causing the Ultimate Global Catastrophe

THE HONORABLE MITSUHEI MURATA HAS PRESENTED US WITH THE FOLLOWING LETTER ON FUKUSHIMA. WE ARE HONORED TO PUBLISH IT AT SOLARTOPIA.ORG

August 23, 2014

To prevent Fukushima from causing the ultimate global catastrophe.

Mitsuhei Murata
Former Ambassador to Switzerland
Executive Director, Japan Society for Global System and Ethics

(Preface)

Fukushima constitutes a global security issue. Fukashima is out of control and the situation at the site is dangerously worsening. The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Company(Tepco) have lost credibility both at home and abroad. Nearly 3 and half years after the Accident, Japan is at a loss how best to cope with the current situation. The crisis of Japan as a nation is being tackled with as a crisis of the management of Tepco !
The drastic change of the present faulty system is urgently needed by dint of powerful international cooperation.
The time limit has been attained.

Global security issue

Fukushima has shown that the presence of nuclear reactors itself constitute a security problem, because, if the cooling system of the pool containing used fuel rods gets out of order for more than 3 days, a meltdown could start. This applies to more than 440 nuclear reactors in the world. There is no doubt that Fukushima constitutes a global security issue.
Suffice it to say that we can only pray that no mega earthquake happens at the site to cause the collapse of the unit 4 reactor that could lead to a global catastrophe.

You will be surprised to know how precarious Japan’s future is, in view of the fatal defects of the current system under the leadership of the government and Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO).
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The basic nuclear law does not prescribe clearly where lies the responsibility of assuring the safety of the population. The restart of nuclear reactors is being delayed by the surfacing of this basic problem.

After the Accident, a new nuclear regulatory commission was created to secure its independence from the Ministries concerned. Recently, such rules as that of no return for the staff of the secretariat, are being neglected.

The members of the commission are no longer chosen from those having no prior link with electric companies.
The Commission has publicly denied its responsibility as regards the safety of the residents. It is criticized by the public for concentrating its efforts to realize the restart of nuclear reactors. Under such circumstances, how can nuclear security be assured ?

There is no guarantee that another severe accident will not take place. The next one could be much more destructive. We should remember that, only 20 percent of Fukushima’s airborne radiation leases blew inland, while 80 percent streamed out to sea. If the wind had blown in the opposite direction, Tokyo would have been evacuated.

The problem of contaminated water

The problem of contaminated water has no solution in sight. The situation is worsening. Decommissioning the plant will be impossible until Tepco surmounts the contaminated water crisis.
The plant’s water-treatment facility, which can remove all radioactive nuclides except tritium, has been suspended several times and remains problematic.

It has been confirmed that the recently completed bypass that reroutes clean groundwater directly into the Pacific, and underground wells does not contribute to reducing the flow of ground water into the sea.

The attempt to freeze the water in the trenches has been unsuccessful. The water inside the trenches isn’t freezing properly because it is circulating inside at higher speeds than the groundwater.

The groundwater bypass project to reduce the inflow of the groundwater into the reactors underground has not worked. The amount of the inflow of groundwater from the mountain side is so enormous. The groundwater is thus massively contaminated.

Reliable experts estimate that the daily inflow of contaminated water into the sea amounts to 1000 tons, of which 600 is groundwater. In addition to this, frequent torrential rain falls wash away into the sea radiogenic materials heavily accumulated at the site.

To make the matter worse, global warming seems to have brought about the climate change in Japan. Local downpours of rain causing landslides or mudslides are now so frequent. The latest typhoon has given rise to more than 90 victimes in Hiroshima. Enormous amount of rain washes away radioactive materials of numerous hot spots at the site into the sea.

A year ago, when Tepco removed the debris and rubble of the unit 3, the wind scattered radiogenic materials all around. According to Tepco, the amount of radiation amounted to 400million becquerels. Some experts suspect the number is diminished by 10 times.

As it enters a critical phase of the Fukushima Daiichi clean-up, Tepco is contending with low morale among employees, about 3,000 of whom have quit or taken early retirement since the March 2011 disaster. Many have turned their back on nuclear power to take better-paid, less stressful jobs in other parts of the energy industry.

The serious problems of procuring workers and financial resources would be decisively affected by Tokyo Olympic Games that will mobilize a great deal of labor and funds.

Effects of Fukushima crossing the Pacific Ocean

Last January, a renowned peace pacifist sent me an article she had received from someone in California. It refers to a paper attributed to be a “Russian Ministry of Defense Report”. The following excerpt deserves serious attention.
“With experts now estimating that the wave of radiation from Fukushima will be 10-times bigger than all of the radiation from the entire world’s nuclear tests throughout history combined, and with new reports stating that dangerous radiation levels have been detected in snows found in Texas, Colorado and Missouri, this report warns the US, indeed, is going to face the severest consequences of this historic, and seemingly unstoppable, nuclear disaster.
And not just to human beings either is this nuclear disaster unfolding either, this report grimly warns, but also to all biological systems as new reports coming from the United States western coastal areas are now detailing the mass deaths of seals, sea lions, polar bears, bald eagles, sea stars, turtles, king and sockeye salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines due to Fukushima radiation.”

The report also points out that large amounts of fish, seaweeds, and everything in ocean has been already been polluted, and that these products are the main danger for mankind as they can end up being eaten by people on a massive scale.

What is stated above certainly needs serious verification. In this connection, a survey is being made by an American expert on the consequences of Fukushima being suffered by the West Coast of the United States. It is said that “NATURE” is to publish it next autumn. Its impact will be great.

This report further writes that two “low-level” underground atomic explosions occurred in the Fukushima disaster zone on 31 December, 2013, the first measuring 5.1 magnitude in intensity, followed by a smaller 3.6 magnitude explosion moments later.

When I read it, I just shivered. Fortunately, I could immediately clarify the situation, by contacting the responsible director of the relevant Ministry. It was earthquakes that had happened nearby, but not at the site, and that, on 31 December, no accident had taken place. If not, it would have been a too shocking news.

Japan is laboring under the consequences of the Accident never experienced by humanity.
It is now obvious that Japan is seriously in need of an international help.

You can see how vulnerable is Tokyo Olympic Games, being prepared, ignoring the deteriorating situation at the Fukushima Daiichi.

New international system

A new international system is needed to minimize the consequences of nuclear accidents.
Fukushima is revealing the limitations of a government facing a national crisis, its longevity being but of a few years. Nuclear accidents have shown the necessity of coping with their consequences quasi- permanently.

By dint of procrastination, the government of a country where a severe nuclear accident has broken out, could avert the crucial duty to make maximum efforts to cope with the accident by an operation of diversion with the collaboration of the media.
I would like to urge the international community to take up this new problem. Since Fukushima is a global security issue, we need a new system to cope with it.

We need a special international system that that obliges governments to carry out certain prescribed duties. I would like to propose the following two minimum requirements.

1. To make maximum efforts to bring the consequences of the accident under control.
2. To concretize international cooperation to mobilize human wisdom on the widest possible scope.

Conclusion

It is the responsibility of the international community to prevent Fukushima from causing the ultimate global catastrophe. The Japanese current system of coping with the consequences of Fukushima is faulty and needs a drastic change. Japan is in need of international solidarity and powerful international cooperation.

George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

Richard Nixon was a traitor.

The new release of extended versions of Nixon’s papers now confirms this long-standing belief, usually dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by Republican conservatives. Now it has been substantiated by none other than right-wing columnist George Will.

Nixon’s newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson.

Nixon’s interference with these negotiations violated President John Adams’s 1797 Logan Act, banning private citizens from intruding into official government negotiations with a foreign nation.

Published as the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s resignation approaches, Will’s column confirms that Nixon feared public disclosure of his role in sabotaging the 1968 Vietnam peace talks. Will says Nixon established a “plumbers unit” to stop potential leaks of information that might damage him, including documentation he believed was held by the Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank. The Plumbers’ later break-in at the Democratic National Committee led to the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down.

Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks was confirmed by transcripts of FBI wiretaps. On November 2, 1968, LBJ received an FBI report saying Chernnault told the South Vietnamese ambassador that “she had received a message from her boss: saying the Vietnamese should “hold on, we are gonna win.”

As Will confirms, Vietnamese did “hold on,” the war proceeded and Nixon did win, changing forever the face of American politics—-with the shadow of treason permanently embedded in its DNA.

The treason came in 1968 as the Vietnam War reached a critical turning point. President Lyndon Johnson was desperate for a truce between North and South Vietnam.

LBJ had an ulterior motive: his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, was in a tight presidential race against Richard Nixon. With demonstrators in the streets, Humphrey desperately needed a cease-fire to get him into the White House.

Johnson had it all but wrapped it. With a combination of gentle and iron-fisted persuasion, he forced the leaders of South Vietnam into an all-but-final agreement with the North. A cease-fire was imminent, and Humphrey’s election seemed assured.

But at the last minute, the South Vietnamese pulled out. LBJ suspected Nixon had intervened to stop them from signing a peace treaty.

In the Price of Power (1983), Seymour Hersh revealed Henry Kissinger—then Johnson’s advisor on Vietnam peace talks—secretly alerted Nixon’s staff that a truce was imminent.

According to Hersh, Nixon “was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government [of South Vietnam] making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on peace negotiations.”

Johnson was livid. He even called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, to complain that “they oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.”

“I know,” was Dirksen’s feeble reply.

Johnson blasted Nixon about this on November 3, just prior to the election. As Robert Parry of consortiumnews.com has written: “when Johnson confronted Nixon with evidence of the peace-talk sabotage, Nixon insisted on his innocence but acknowledged that he knew what was at stake.”

Said Nixon: “My, I would never do anything to encourage….Saigon not to come to the table….Good God, we’ve got to get them to Paris or you can’t have peace.”

But South Vietnamese President General Theiu—a notorious drug and gun runner—did boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. With the war still raging, Nixon claimed a narrow victory over Humphrey. He then made Kissinger his own national security advisor.

In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed.

But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.

According to Parry, LBJ wanted to go public with Nixon’s treason. But Clark Clifford, an architect of the CIA and a pillar of the Washington establishment, talked Johnson out of it. LBJ’s close confidant warned that the revelation would shake the foundations of the nation.

In particular, Clifford told Johnson (in a taped conversation) that “some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our country’s best interests.”

In other words, Clifford told LBJ that the country couldn’t handle the reality that its president was a certifiable traitor, eligible for legal execution.

Fittingly, Clark Clifford’s upper-crust career ended in the disgrace of his entanglement with the crooked Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI), which financed the terrorist group Al Qaeda and whose scandalous downfall tainted the Agency he helped found.

Johnson lived four years after he left office, tormented by the disastrous war that destroyed his presidency and his retirement. Nixon won re-election in 1972, again with a host of dirty dealings, then became the first America president to resign in disgrace.

_________________________

Bob Fitrakis is Editor-in-Chief of the Free Press and Harvey Wasserman is Senior Editor. Read more Harvey Wasserman at solartopia.org.

Fukushima’s Children Are Dying

 

Fukushima’s Children are Dying

Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors nowsuffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that “not one person” has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts.

But the deadly epidemic at Fukushima is consistent with impacts suffered among children near the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, as well as findings at other commercial reactors.

The likelihood that atomic power could cause such epidemics has been confirmed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which says that “an increase in the risk of childhood thyroid cancer” would accompany a reactor disaster.

In evaluating the prospects of new reactor construction in Canada, the Commission says the rate “would rise by 0.3 percent at a distance of 12 kilometers” from the accident. But that assumes the distribution of protective potassium iodide pills and a successful emergency evacuation, neither of which happened at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima.

The numbers have been analyzed by Mangano. He has studied the impacts of reactor-created radiation on human health since the 1980s, beginning his work with the legendary radiologist Dr. Ernest Sternglass and statistician Jay Gould.

Speaking on www.prn.fm’s Green Power & Wellness Show, Mangano also confirms that the general health among downwind human populations improves when atomic reactors are shut down, and goes into decline when they open or re-open.

Nearby children are not the only casualties at Fukushima. Plant operator Masao Yoshida has died at age 58 of esophogeal cancer. Masao heroically refused to abandon Fukushima at the worst of the crisis, probably saving millions of lives. Workers at the site who are employed by independent contractors—many dominated by organized crime—are often not being monitored for radiation exposure at all. Public anger is rising over government plans to force families—many with small children—back into the heavily contaminated region around the plant.

Following its 1979 accident, Three Mile Island’s owners denied the reactor had melted. But a robotic camera later confirmed otherwise.

The state of Pennsylvania mysteriously killed its tumor registry, then said there was “no evidence” that anyone had been killed.

But a wide range of independent studies confirm heightened infant death rates and excessive cancers among the general population. Excessive death, mutation and disease rates among local animals were confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and local journalists.

In the 1980s federal Judge Sylvia Rambo blocked a class action suit by some 2,400 central Pennsylvania downwinders, claiming not enough radiation had escaped to harm anyone. But after 35 years, no one knows how much radiation escaped or where it went. Three Mile Island’s owners have quietly paid millions to downwind victims in exchange for gag orders.

At Chernobyl, a compendium of more than 5,000 studies has yielded an estimated death toll of more than 1,000,000 people.

The radiation effects on youngsters in downwind Belarus and Ukraine have been horrific. According to Mangano, some 80 percent of the “Children of Chernobyl” born downwind since the accident have been harmed by a wide range of impacts ranging from birth defects and thyroid cancer to long-term heart, respiratory and mental illnesses. The findings mean that just one in five young downwinders can be termed healthy.

Physicians for Social Responsibility and the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War have warned of parallel problems near Fukushima.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has recently issued reports downplaying the disaster’s human impacts. UNSCEAR is interlocked with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, whose mandate is to promote atomic power. The IAEA has a long-term controlling gag order on UN findings about reactor health impacts. For decades UNSCEAR and the World Health Organization have run protective cover for the nuclear industry’s widespread health impacts. Fukushima has proven no exception.

In response, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the German International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War have issued a ten-point rebuttal, warning the public of the UN’s compromised credibility. The disaster is “ongoing” say the groups, and must be monitored for decades. “Things could have turned for the worse” if winds had been blowing toward Tokyo rather than out to sea (and towards America).

There is on-going risk from irradiated produce, and among site workers whose doses and health impacts are not being monitored. Current dose estimates among workers as well as downwinders are unreliable, and special notice must be taken of radiation’s severe impacts on the human embryo.

UNSCEAR’s studies on background radiation are also “misleading,” say the groups, and there must be further study of genetic radiation effects as well as “non-cancer diseases.” The UN assertion that “no discernible radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members” is “cynical,” say the groups. They add that things were made worse by the official refusal to distribute potassium iodide, which might have protected the public from thyroid impacts from massive releases of radioactive I-131.

Overall, the horrific news from Fukushima can only get worse. Radiation from three lost cores is still being carried into the Pacific. Management of spent fuel rods in pools suspended in the air and scattered around the site remains fraught with danger.

The pro-nuclear Shinzo Abe regime wants to reopen Japan’s remaining 48 reactors. It has pushed hard for families who fled the disaster to re-occupy irradiated homes and villages.

But Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the plague of death and disease now surfacing near Fukushima make it all too clear that the human cost of such decisions continues to escalate—with our children suffering first and worst.

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm.

 

Fukushima is Forgotten but Not Gone

The corporate media silence on Fukushima has been deafening even though the melted-down nuclear power plant’s seaborne radiation is now washing up on American beaches.

Ever more radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific.

At least three extremely volatile fuel assemblies are stuck high in the air at Unit 4. Three years after the March 11, 2011, disaster, nobody knows exactly where the melted cores from Units 1, 2 and 3 might be.

Amid a dicey cleanup infiltrated by organized crime, still more massive radiation releases are a real possibility at any time.

Radioactive groundwater washing through the complex is enough of a problem that Fukushima Daiichi owner Tepco has just won approval for a highly controversial ice wall to be constructed around the crippled reactor site. No wall of this scale and type has ever been built, and this one might not be ready for two years. Widespread skepticism has erupted surrounding its potential impact on the stability of the site and on the huge amounts of energy necessary to sustain it. Critics also doubt it would effectively guard the site from flooding and worry it could cause even more damage should power fail.

Meanwhile, children nearby are dying. The rate of thyroid cancers among some 250,000 area young people is more than 40 times normal. According to health expert Joe Mangano, more than 46 percent have precancerous nodules and cysts on their thyroids. This is “just the beginning” of a tragic epidemic, he warns.

There is, however, some good news—exactly the kind the nuclear power industry does not want broadcast.

When the earthquake and consequent tsunami struck Fukushima, there were 54 commercial reactors licensed to operate in Japan, more than 12 percent of the global total.

As of today, not one has reopened. The six at Fukushima Daiichi will never operate again. Some 30 older reactors around Japan can’t meet current safety standards (a reality that could apply to 60 or more reactors that continue to operate here in the U.S.).

As part of his desperate push to reopen these reactors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shuffled the country’s regulatory agencies, and removed at least one major industry critic, replacing him with a key industry supporter.

But last month a Japanese court denied a corporate demand to restart two newer reactors at the Ooi power plant in Fukui prefecture. The judges decided that uncertainty about when, where and how hard the inevitable next earthquake will hit makes it impossible to guarantee the safety of any reactor in Japan.

In other words, no reactor can reopen in Japan without endangering the nation, which the court could not condone.

Such legal defeats are extremely rare for Japan’s nuclear industry, and this one is likely to be overturned. But it dealt a stunning blow to Abe’s pro-nuke agenda.

In Fukushima’s wake, the Japanese public has become far more anti-nuclear. Deep-seated anger has spread over shoddy treatment and small compensation packages given downwind victims. In particular, concern has spread about small children being forced to move back into heavily contaminated areas around the plant.

Under Japanese law, local governments must approve any restart. Anti-nuclear candidates have been dividing the vote in recent elections, but the movement may be unifying and could eventually overwhelm the Abe administration.

A new comic book satirizing the Fukushima cleanup has become a nationwide best-seller. The country has also been rocked by revelations that some 700 workers fled the Fukushima Daiichi site at the peak of the accident. Just a handful of personnel were left to deal with the crisis, including the plant manager, who soon thereafter died of cancer.

In the meantime, Abe’s infamous, intensely repressive state secrets act has seriously constrained the flow of technical information. At least one nuclear opponent is being prosecuted for sending a critical tweet to an industry supporter. A professor jailed for criticizing the government’s handling of nuclear waste has come to the U.S. to speak.

The American corporate media have been dead silent or, alternatively, dismissive about the radiation now washing up on our shores, and about the extremely dangerous job of bringing intensely radioactive fuel rods down from their damaged pools.

Fukushima’s General Electric reactors feature spent fuel pools perched roughly 100 feet in the air. When the tsunami hit, thousands of rods were suspended over Units 1, 2, 3 and 4.

According to nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, the bring-down of the assemblies in Unit 4 may have hit a serious snag. Gundersen says that beginning in November 2013, Tokyo Electric Power removed about half of the suspended rods there. But at least three assemblies may be stuck. The more difficult half of the pile remains. And the pools at three other units remain problematic. An accident at any one of them could result in significant radiation releases, which have already far exceeded those from Chernobyl and from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

At least 300 tons of heavily contaminated Fukushima water still pour daily into the Pacific. Hundreds more tons are backed up on site, with Tepco apologists advocating they be dumped directly into the ocean without decontamination.

Despite billions of dollars in public aid, Tepco is still the principal owner of Fukushima. The “cleanup” has become a major profit center. Tepco boasted a strong return in 2013. Its fellow utilities are desperate to reopen other reactors that netted them huge annual cash flow.

Little of this has made its way into the American corporate media.

New studies from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have underscored significant seismic threats to American commercial nuclear sites. Among those of particular concern are two reactors at Indian Point just north of New York City, which sit near the highly volatile Ramapo Fault, and two at Diablo Canyon, between Los Angeles and San Francisco, directly upwind of California’s Central Valley.

The U.S. industry has also suffered a huge blow at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project. Primarily a military dump, this showcase radioactive waste facility was meant to prove that the industry could handle its trash. No expense was spared in setting it up in the salt caverns of the desert southwest, officially deemed the perfect spot to dump the 70,000 tons of high-level fuel rods now backed up at American reactor sites.

But an explosion and highly significant radiation release at the pilot project last month has contaminated local residents and cast a deep cloud over any future plans to dispose of American reactor waste. The constant industry complaint that the barriers are “political” is absurd.

While the American reactor industry continues to suck billions of dollars from the public treasury, its allies in the corporate media seem increasingly hesitant to cover the news of post-Fukushima Japan.

In reality, those gutted reactors are still extremely dangerous. An angry public, whose children are suffering, has thus far managed to keep all other nukes shut in Japan. If they keep them down permanently, it will be a huge blow to the global nuke industry—one you almost certainly won’t see reported in the American corporate media.

First published at www.truthdig.com

The NYTimes Pens an “Epitaph” for Nuke Power

In support of the dying nuclear power industry, the New York Times Editorial Board has penned an inadvertent epitaph.

Appearing in the May 2 edition, The Right Lessons from Chernobyl twists and stumbles around the paper’s own reporting. Though unintended, it finally delivers a “prudent” message of essential abandonment.

The Times does concede that “The world must do what it can to increase energy efficiency and harness sun, wind, ocean currents and other renewable sources to meet our ever-expanding needs for energy.”

The edit drew 288 entries into its comment section before it was capped. I’ve posted one of them at NukeFree.org. Overall they’re widely varied and worth reading.

Because the Times is still the journal of record, the edit is a definitive statement on an industry in dangerous decline.

Let’s dissect:

The edit begins by citing the “New Safe Confinement” shield being built over the seething remains of Chernobyl Unit 4. Already “almost a decade behind schedule,” its completion is “a race against time” due to the “decrepit state of the sarcophagus” meant to contain the radiation there.

That we still must fear Chernobyl more than 28 years after it melted and exploded underscores the “nightmarish side of nuclear power.”

That the “vast steel shield” may not be done in time, or may not even end the problem, is downright terrifying, especially in light of the “near-bankruptcy of Ukraine,” not to mention a political instability that evokes horrific images of two hot wars and the cold one.

Amidst rising tensions between Ukraine, Russia and the west, the corporate media studiously avoids Chernobyl. But Belarus and Ukraine long ago estimated its cost to their countries at $250 billion each. One major study puts the global death toll at more than a million human beings.

The Times says Chernobyl’s terror is “more powerful than Three Mile Island before it or Fukushima after it.”

Three Mile Island suffered an explosion and melt-down in 1979. Exactly how much radiation escaped and who it harmed are still unknown. The industry vehemently denies that anyone was killed, just as it denied there was a melt-down until a robotic camera proved otherwise.

At Fukushima, there is no end in sight. Bad as it was, Chernobyl was one core melt and explosion in a single Soviet reactor in a relatively unpopulated area. Fukushima is three core melts and four explosions in American-designed General Electric reactors, of which there are some two dozen exact replicas now operating in the U.S., along with still more very similar siblings.

Spent fuel is still perched dangerously in damaged pools high in the Fukushima air. Thousands of rods are strewn around the site. The exact location of the three melted cores is still unknown. At least 300 tons of highly radioactive liquid pour daily into the Pacific, with the first of their isotopes now arriving on our west coast. Huge storage tanks constantly leak still more radiation. The labor force at the site is poorly trained and heavily infiltrated by organized crime.

The Times itself has reported that a desperate, terrified population is being forced back into heavily contaminated areas. Children are being exposed en masse to significant radiation doses. Given the horrific health impacts on youngsters downwind from Chernobyl, there is every reason to fear even worse around Fukushima.

But the Times Editorial Board follows with this: “Yet it is also noteworthy that these civilian nuclear disasters did not and have not overcome the allure of nuclear power as a source of clean and abundant energy.”

“Allure” to whom? Certainly the corporations with huge investments in atomic energy are still on board. The fossil fuel industry is thoroughly cross-invested. And extraordinary corporate media access has been granted to pushing the odd belief that nuclear power can help mitigate global warming.

But the vast bulk of the global environmental movement remains firmly anti-nuclear. Grassroots opposition to re-opening any Japanese reactors is vehement to say the least. Amidst an extremely popular revolution in green technologies, U.S. opinion demands that nuclear subsidies be cut, which means death to an industry that can’t live without them.

It’s here the edit falls entirely overboard: “Only Germany succumbed to panic after the Fukushima disaster and began to phase out all nuclear power in favor of huge investments in renewable sources like wind and sun.”

Germany’s green transition has been debated for decades, stepped up long ago by Chernobyl. With strong popular backing, the German nuclear phase-out, as in Sweden, Italy and numerous other European nations (Denmark never built any reactors) has long been on the table. The center-right Merkel government finally embraced it not only because of Fukushima, but because the German corporate establishment decided that going green would be good for business. As energy economist Charles Komanoff has shown, they’ve been proven right.

Despite the predictable carping from a few fossil/nuke holdouts, Germany will shut its reactors, as will, eventually, all other nations. The edit says there may be “an increase in greenhouse emissions,” but it will be “temporary.”

But as some in the respondents section point out, the Times ignores nuclear power’s own greenhouse impacts, especially in the mining, milling, transport and enrichment of radioactive fuel. Not to mention the heat emissions into the air and water from regular operations and periodic melt-downs and blow-ups. Or those involved with the as-yet unsolved management of radioactive wastes, both at exploded sites and where thousands of tons of spent fuel rods and other hot detritus still sit.

The Times does concede that “The world must do what it can to increase energy efficiency and harness sun, wind, ocean currents and other renewable sources to meet our ever-expanding needs for energy.” But the vision of a green-powered Earth is no longer the property of a Solartopian movement. As the Times and other major publications have long reported, Wall Street has thoroughly rejected atomic energy and is pouring billions into renewables, especially photovoltaics (PV) which convert solar energy to electricity.

A technological, financial and ecological revolution is well underway. Maybe the Times Editorial Board should consult its financial section.

The edit then cites a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report as a reason to keep nuclear energy as “part of the mix.”

But the IPCC report emphasizes atomic power’s negatives, most critically safety, economics, waste and timing. It posits no parallel burdens on the transition to renewables, which it says is both affordable and do-able within the time frame necessary to save the planet.

Even if public opposition somehow dissolved, the technical and economic prospects for small modular or other “fourth generation” nukes have crumbled. With the industry’s history of gargantuan cost overruns and endless delays, this editorial doesn’t bother to argue for them.

For nuclear to “play a role” in fighting climate change, the industry must keep its old, increasing decayed reactors on line. But many of the planet’s 400 commercial nukes are older than that crumbling sarcophagus at Chernobyl.

Japan’s Abe regime wants to re-open all 48 reactors idled since Fukushima. But as Reuters and others have reported, 30 or more can’t meet current safety standards or face too many technical barriers to safely or economically re-open.

With twice as many licensed reactors in the U.S., could the number of below-spec nukes here be more like 60?

Four of these decrepit nukes shut last year, with at least one more—Vermont Yankee—scheduled to close in 2014. For health, safety, economic and ecological reasons, many more of these dangerously decayed nukes are poised to go down.

But it’s precisely these the Times edit defends:

The reasons for the shutdowns vary. In some cases, competition from cheap natural gas and from nearby wind farms has forced reactors to operate at a loss. In other cases, a marginal plant’s economic viability has been jeopardized by the cost of replacing steam generators to extend the life of a plant or by the cost of upgrading safety systems to meet new requirements imposed after the disaster in Fukushima.

As it begs for “prudence” before shutting more reactors, we must ask:

Does the Times Editorial Board really want us to ignore the need to replace unsafe steam generators (as at California’s San Onofre) and just operate them as is?

Should we really ignore “new requirements imposed after the disaster at Fukushima?”

Should we also forget that the Union of Concerned Scientists and others report that many of those old nukes that can’t meet basic fire protection standards.

How about the U.S. reactors still dangerously vulnerable to earthquake damage … including the two at Indian Point, just north of the Times newsroom.

And those downriver from large dams whose failure could release floods parallel to the tsunami that swamped Fukushima.

Is all this okay with the Times Editors? Will the Grey Lady now provide the radioactive disaster insurance missing since 1957?

The edit does spare us more hype about the “nuclear renaissance.” After a decade of being pushed to buy a whole new fleet, we’re now begged to be “prudent” about shutting the old tugboats.

Above all, we’re not to be “spooked” into mistrusting an industry that for decades said reactors could not explode, but has now blown up five and melted five.

For the finale of this landmark edit, we hear that “the great shield over Chernobyl should also entomb unfounded fears of using nuclear power in the future.”

Fair enough.

A decade behind schedule, millions over budget, technologically unproven, threatened by political instability, surrounded by the dead and dying, that canopy’s sole purpose is to somehow contain future damage from a failed reactor that has already irradiated the planet, the people downwind, the ecological and economic future of the region.

If the New York Times wants to anoint Chernobyl’s unfinished second shroud as the prime symbol of today’s atomic industry, then this editorial is indeed a fitting epitaph.

 

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth

THE REAL CURE FOR SCUMBAG TEAM OWNERS IS FOR THE PUBLIC TO OWN THE TEAMS

 

THE REAL CURE FOR SCUMBAG TEAM OWNERS IS FOR THE PUBLIC TO OWN THE TEAMS

By Harvey Wasserman

Enough is enough, sports fans.

It’s been known for decades that the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is a racist jerk.

Ditto the owner of that professional football team in our nation’s capital, whose current horrific anti-indigenous team name is a global embarrassment.

But these guys are the tip of the iceberg.

The real question is:  why are these teams owned by individuals at all?

Why do we allow our precious sports clubs to be the playthings of a bunch of billionaires?

Why aren’t the football, baseball, basketball, hockey and other major sports franchises so many of us so passionately love and support not owned by the communities that give them their life?

Why is our nation powerless to remove the racist logo from a public stadium just down the street from the White House and Congress?

There’s a model out there that does work.  It’s called the Green Bay Packers (of which I’m proud owner of 2 shares).

There are plenty of flaws in the set-up.

But when snow covers the field, the community comes out to shovel it off.

And though the NFL owners have specifically banned any more teams from being public-owned (guess why!), the Packers have done just fine at the highest levels of competition.

It’s time to use the Packer green and gold as a starter model for all franchise ownership.

Some of the billionaires who now own these teams are obviously decent, tolerant, open-minded people.  Many are more than that—competent, committed, good at their jobs, even genuinely humble and community-minded.

But there’s a reason Donald Sterling can be possessed of “a plantation mentality” and get away with it all these years.  Likewise Robert Bennett Williams, the founder of the NFL team in Washington, whose bigot gene obviously dominates the current owner.

It’s because the real issue is not the quality or lack thereof of the current custodians of the front office.

The core problem is this:  THESE TEAMS ARE ACTUAL PLANTATIONS.

Like so much else under the laws of today’s Gilded Age America, our sports franchises are public assets that we have allowed to be owned by private rich people.

That is, to vastly understate the case, WRONG WRONG WRONG.

However nice or otherwise they might be, these team-owners have been gouging out public subsidies for stadiums, tax breaks and much too much else over the decades.  How else does a franchise like the Clippers leap in value from a few million when Massa Sterling bought it to nearly billion today?

It’s all PUBLIC MONEY!

And it’s time to take these teams back.  WE are the rightful owners, not the latest random Robber Baron with court-side thrones where players, coaches, fans and broadcasters can kiss their ring.  Not the latest temporarily solvent corporation that sticks its logo in our faces while amazingly talented young men and women play their hearts out.

It took years of hard work for the sports world’s slave contracts to give way to free agency.  It was an “impossible” task, but thanks to Curt Flood and a long-term public uproar, it finally got done.  Similar things must be done about on-the-field injuries, especially in football.

And now Donald Sterling has underscored the need—once again—for an even broader campaign.  Banned for life is not enough!

The Fifth Amendment says the public has the right to take property with “just compensation.”  It’s called “eminent domain.”

Let’s use it to condemn all these franchises, buy out their “owners,” and have the teams run by the communities in which they reside, and to whom they rightfully belong.

Management will be done in partnership with the players’ unions.

And the Donald Sterlings and Daniel Snyders and so many other painful anachronisms will be relegated to the trash heap of our sports history.

It’s the only way.  And when we’re done, we can finally feel right at home in the public-owned stadiums where we cheer on OUR teams.

——————-
Harvey Wasserman roots for the Celtics, Red Sox, Packers, Crew and Blue Jackets, but he is part-owner only of the Packers…so far.  A version of this article was first published at Truthdig.com.

UN Panel: Renewables, Not Nukes, Can Solve Climate Crisis

 

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.

It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not.

The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.

This IPCC report was four years in the making.  It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.

The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change.  To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.

Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.

First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.

Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.

And third, the cost is manageable.

Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.

The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather.

The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.

But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job—at a manageable price.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” says Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who led the IPCC team.

The IPCC report cites nuclear power as a possible means of lowering industrial carbon emissions. But it also underscores considerable barriers involving finance and public opposition.  Joined with widespread concerns about ecological impacts, length of implementation, production uncertainties and unsolved waste issues, the report’s positive emphasis on renewables virtually guarantees nuclear’s irrelevance.

Some climate scientists have recently advocated atomic energy as a solution to global warming.  But their most prominent spokesman, Dr. James Hansen, also expresses serious doubts about the current generation of reactors, including Fukushima, which he calls “that old technology.”

Instead Hansen advocates a new generation of reactors.

But the designs are untested, with implementation schedules stretching out for decades.  Financing is a major obstacle as is waste disposal and widespread public opposition, now certain to escalate with the IPCC’s confirmation that renewables can provide the power so much cheaper and faster.

With its 15-year deadline for massive carbon reductions the IPCC has effectively timed out any chance a new generation of reactors could help.

And with its clear endorsement of green power as a tangible, doable, affordable solution for the climate crisis, the pro-nuke case has clearly suffered a multiple meltdown.

With green power, says IPCC co-chair Jim Skea, a British professor, a renewable solution is at hand. “It’s actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living.”

Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

and on the radio at:  http://prn.fm/green-power-and-wellness-peter-scheer-4814/

Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

By Harvey Wasserman

 

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidencethat petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem.

The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirmsthat radioactive reactor fallout is doing the same.

How the two mega-poisons interact remains largely unstudied, but the answers can’t be good. And it’s clearer than ever that we won’t survive without ridding our planet of both.

To oppose atomic power with fossil fuels is to treat cancer by burning down the house.

To oppose petro-pollution with nukes is to stoke that fire with radiation. …..

READ MORE AT :

 

 

Solartopia! Winning the Green Energy Revolution

High above the Bowling Green town dump, a green energy revolution is being won. It’s being helped along by the legalization of marijuana and its bio­fueled cousin, industrial hemp.

But it’s under extreme attack from the billionaire Koch Brothers, utilities like First Energy (FE), and a fossil/nuke industry that threatens our existence on this planet.

Robber Baron resistance to renewable energy has never been more fierce. The prime reason is that the Solartopian Revolution embodies the ultimate threat to the corporate utility industry and the hundreds of billions of dollars it has invested in the obsolete monopolies that define King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).

The outcome will depend on YOUR activism, and will determine whether we survive here at all. Four very large wind turbines in this small Ohio town are producing clean, cheap electricity that can help save our planet. A prime reason they exist is that Bowling Green has a municipal­owned utility. When it came time to go green, the city didn’t have to beg some corporate­owned electric monopoly to do it for them.

In fact, most of northern Ohio is now dominated by FirstEnergy, one of the most reactionary, anti-­green private utilities in the entire US. As owner of the infamous Davis­Besse reactor near Toledo, FE continually resists the conversion of our energy economy to renewable sources. Except for the occasional green window­ dressing, First Energy has fought fiercely for decades to preserve its unsafe reactors while fighting off the steady progression of renewable generators.

FE’s obstinance has been particularly dangerous at Davis­Besse, one of the world’s most profoundly unsafe nukes. To the dismay even of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other notoriously docile agencies, undetected boric acid ate nearly all the way through a reactor pressure vessel and threatened a massive melt­down/explosion that could have irradiated the entire north coast and the Great Lakes. FE’s nuke at Perry, east of Cleveland, was the first in the US to be substantially damaged by an earthquake.

Both Perry and David­Besse are in the stages of advanced decay. Each of them is being held together by the atomic equivalent of duct tape and bailing twine. A major accident grows more likely with each hour of operation.

Small wonder the nuclear industry has been shielded since 1957 by the Price-­Anderson Act, which limits corporate liability in any reactor disaster to less than $15 billion, a drop in the bucket compared to what has already happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and could happen here.

Should either of those reactors blow, FE and other investors will simply not have to pay for the loss of your home, family or personal health. Should that federal insurance be removed, the reactors would shut soon thereafter since for the last 57 years, no private insurers have stepped forward to write a policy on these reactors.

As for the wind turbines in Bowling Green, there are no such problems. With zero federal insurance restrictions, they initially came in ahead of schedule and under budget. They have boosted the local economy, created jobs and produced power is that is far cheaper, safer, cleaner and more reliable than anything coming out of the many nearby trouble­plagued burners of fossil and nuclear fuels.

Throughout the world similar “miracles” are in progress. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 92 percent of the new electrical generating capacity installed in the US in the first two months of 2014 was renewable.

That includes six new wind farms, three geothermal facilities, and 25 new solar plants. One of those wind installations is a 75 megawatt plant in Huron County, Wisconsin.

Four solar arrays will produce 73 megawatts for Southern California Edison, which was just forced by agrassroots upsurge to shut its two huge reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego.

SoCalEd and the people of southern California are now in the process of filling that void with a wide range of renewable installations. Many home owners will be doing it by installing solar panels on their rooftops, a rapidly advancing technology that is proving extremely cost-­effective while avoiding production of millions of tons of greenhouse gases and radioactive waste.

By comparison, according to one report, new development in “fossil fuel ­based infrastructure was almost non­existent for January and February, with only one natural gas facility brought on line.”

Across the nation, public opinion polls show an accelerating embrace of renewables. According to a Gallup Poll taken last year, more than 70 percent of Americans want more emphasis put on solar and wind power, well over twice as many as embrace coal (31 percent) and nearly twice as many as those who support new nukes (37 percent).

And here Wall Street agrees with Main Street. Despite gargantuan federal subsidies and its status as a legal fiefdom unto itself, major investors have shunned atomic energy. The smart money is pouring toward Solartopia, to the tune of billions each year in new invested capital.

There have been the inevitable failures, such as the infamous Solyndra which left the feds holding more than a half-­billion in bad paper.

But such pitfalls have been common throughout the history of energy start­ups, including all aspects of the fossil/nuke industry. And in solar’s case, Solyndra has been dwarfed by billions in profits from other green investments.

Ironically, one of the biggest new fields ­­­advanced bio-­fuels ­­­is being opened by the legalization of marijuana and its industrial cousin, hemp. Hemp was the number two cash crop (behind tobacco) grown in the early American colonies. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were enthusiastic cultivators. Jefferson wrote passionately about it in his farm journal, and Washington took pains to import special seed from India.

As a crop with many uses, hemp has been an essential player in human agriculture for 50 centuries.

In early America, hemp’s primary early service was as feedstock for rope and sails for ships. But it was also used to make clothing and other textiles. Ben Franklin processed it in his first paper mill. And it has wide applications as a food crop, especially thanks to the high protein content of its seeds, which are also a core of the bird feed business.

Some of the early colonies actually required farmers to grow hemp. During World War II the military commandeered virtually the entire state of Kansas for it, using it primarily for rope in the Navy.

But since then it has been almost everywhere illegal.

There are many theories behind why, including a belief that the tree ­based paper industry does not want to compete with hemp feedstock, which­­­ as Franklin knew­­­ makes a stronger paper, and can be grown far more cheaply and sustainably.

China, Japan, Germany, Rumania and other nations have long been growing hemp with great profit. Canada’s annual crop has been valued at nearly $500,000,000. Estimates of its domestic consumption here in the US run around $550,000,000, all of it imported.

The US hemp industry is widely regarded as an innocent by­stander in the insane war against marijuana. (Some believe that because it threatens so many industrial interests, hemp is actually a CAUSE of marijuana prohibition).

But because marijuana prohibition seems finally to be on the fade, the laws against hemp cultivation are falling away. The national farm community is in strong support, for obvious reasons. Hemp is extremely easy to grow, does not require pesticides or herbicides (it’s a weed!) and has centuries of profitability to back it up.

When Colorado legalized recreational pot it also opened the door for industrial hemp, with the first full­ on crop now on its way in. Washington state is following suit. In Kentucky, right ­wing Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell both strongly support legalization. The federal law against its cultivation in states where it’s being legalized has now eased.

Hemp’s role in the Solartopian revolution is certain to be huge. The oil content in its seeds make it a prime player in the booming bio-­fuels industry. The high cellulosic content of its stems and leaves mean it might also be fermented into ethanol. (The stalks and stems are also highly prized as building materials and insulation).

There has been strong resistance to bio-­fuels now derived from corn and soy, for good reason. Those are food crops, and their use for industrial fuel has pitted hungry people against automobiles and other combustion technologies, bringing on rising prices for those who can least afford them.

Corn and soy are also extremely inefficient as fuel stocks (corn is far worse). In a world dominated by corporate agri­business, they are generally raised unsustainably, with huge quantities of pesticides, herbicides and petro-­based fertilizers. None of those are required for hemp, which is prolific, sustainable and can be raised in large quantities by independent non­corporate growers.

Along with on­going breakthroughs in other feedstocks (especially algae) hemp will be a major player in the Solartopian future. As pot inches its way toward full legalization, we can reasonably expect to see a revolution in bio­-fuels within a very few years.

Likewise wind and solar. Windmills have been with us for at least five centuries. Coming from the plains of Asia, they covered our own Great Plains in the Great Depression and have rapidly advanced in power and efficiency. Newly installed turbine capacity is far cheaper than nukes and has recently surpassed all but the dirtiest of fossil fuels. As at Bowling Green, installation can be quick and efficient. Actual output often exceeds expectation, as do profits and job­creation.

But the real revolution is coming in photo­voltaics (PV). These technologies ­­­and there’s a very wide range of them ­­­convert sunlight to electricity. Within the next few decades, they will comprise the largest industry in human history. Every home, office, factory, window, parking lot, highway, vehicle, machine, device and much more will be covered and/or embedded with them. There are trillions of dollars to be made.

The speed of their advance is now on par with that of computing capability. Moore’s Law ­­­which posited (correctly) that computing capacity would double every two years ­­­is now a reality in the world of PV. Capacity is soaring while cost plummets.

It’s a complex, demanding and increasingly competitive industry. It can also be hugely profitable. So there’s every technological reason to believe that in tandem with wind, bio-­fuels, geo­thermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, increased efficiency, conservation and more, the Solartopian revolution in clean green PV power could completely transform the global energy industry within the next few years.

“Only flat­earthers and climate­deniers can continue to question the fact that the age of renewable energy is here now,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the Sun Day Campaign.

But there’s a barrier ­­­King CONG, the Robber Baron energy corporations. In fact, the Koch Brothers and their fossil/nuke cohorts are conducting a vicious nationwide campaign against renewables. It puts out all sorts of reasons for the bloviators to blurt.

But the real motive is to protect their huge corporate investments.

Because what’s really at stake here is the question of who will control the future of energy ­­­King CONG, or the human community.

Though it would seem it could also be monopolized, Solartopian energy is by nature community ­based. Photovoltaic cells could be owned by corporations, and in many cases they are.

But in the long run PV inclines toward DG (distributed generation). The nature of roof­top collectors is to allow homeowners to own their own supply. The market might incline them at various stages to buy or lease the solar cells from a monopoly.

But in real terms, the price of PV is dropping so fast that monopolization may well become moot. As futurist Jeremy Rifkin puts it more generally his “Rise of Anti­Capitalism.” “The inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces. While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero.”

But that’s what’s starting to happen with photovoltaic cells, where fuel is free and capital costs are dropping low enough that the utility industry and its fossil/nuke allies can’t quite grab control.

When individual building owners can generate their own PV power, when communities like Bowling Green can own their own windmills, when small farmers can grow their own hemp­based fuel, who needs King CONG?

We know this powerful beast will fight against the renewable revolution right down to its last billion, especially now that American elections are so easily bought and stolen. Defending the green ­powered turf will not be easy.

But sooner or later, if we can survive fracking, the next few Fukushimas and the oil spills after that, Solartopia must come.

Our economic and our biological survival both depend on it.

See you there!

The Nuclear Omnicide

The Three Mile Island nuclear power generating station shown here in 2011 in Middletown, Pa., continues to generate electric power with the Unit 1 reactor. TMI was the scene of the 1979 meltdown of the Unit 2 reactor, the worst nuclear power plant disaster in the United States. AP/Bradley C Bower

 

In the 35 years since the March 28, 1979, explosion and meltdown at Three Mile Island, fierce debate has raged over whether humans were killed there. In 1986 and 2011, Chernobyl and Fukushima joined the argument. Whenever these disasters happen, there are those who claim that the workers, residents and military personnelexposed to radiation will be just fine.

Of course we know better. We humans won’t jump into a pot of boiling water. We’re not happy when members of our species start dying around us. But frightening new scientific findings have forced us to look at a larger reality: the bottom-up damage that radioactive fallout may do to the entire global ecosystem.

When it comes to our broader support systems, the corporate energy industry counts on us to tolerate the irradiation of our fellow creatures, those on whom we depend, and for us to sleep through the point of no return.

Case in point is a new Smithsonian reporton Chernobyl, one of the most terrifying documents of the atomic age.

Written by Rachel Nuwer, “Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly” cites recent field studiesin which the normal cycle of dead vegetation rotting into the soil has been disrupted by the exploded reactor’s radioactive fallout. “Decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination,” Nuwer writes. “These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.”

Put simply: The microorganisms that form the active core of our ecological bio-cycle have apparently been zapped, leaving tree trunks, leaves, ferns and other vegetation to sit eerily on the ground whole, essentially in a mummified state.

Reports also indicate a significant shrinkage of the brains of birdsin the region and negative impacts on the insect and wildlife populations.

Similar findings surrounded the accident at Three Mile Island. Within a year, a three-reporter team from the Baltimore News-American cataloged massive radiation impacts on both wild and farm animals in the area. The reporters and the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed widespread damageto birds, bees and large kept animals such as horses, whose reproductive rate collapsed in the year after the accident.

Other reports also documented deformed vegetation and domestic animals being born with major mutations, including a dog born with no eyes and cats with no sense of balance.

To this day, Three Mile Island’s owners claim no humans were killed by radiation there, an assertion hotly disputed by local downwinders.

Indeed, Dr. Alice Stewart established in 1956 that a single X-ray to a pregnant womandoubles the chance that her offspring will get leukemia. During the accident at Three Mile Island, the owners crowed that the meltdown’s radiation was equivalent “only” to a single X-ray administered to all area residents.

Meanwhile, if the airborne fallout from Three Mile Island and Chernobyl could do that kind of damage to both infants and the nonhuman population on land, how is Fukushima’s continuous gusher of radioactive water affecting the life support systems of our oceans?

In fact, samplings of 15 tuna caught off the coast of California indicate all were contaminated with falloutfrom Fukushima.

Instant as always, the industry deems such levels harmless. The obligatory comparisons to living in Denver, flying cross country and eating bananas automatically follow.

But what’s that radiation doing to the tuna themselves? And to the krill, the phytoplankton, the algae, amoeba and all the other microorganisms on which the ocean ecology depends?

Cesium and its Fukushima siblings are already measurablein Alaska and northwestern Canada. They’ll hit California this summer. The corporate media will mock those parents who are certain to show up at the beaches with radiation detectors. Concerns about the effect on children will be jovially dismissed. The doses will be deemed, as always, “too small to have any impact on humans.”

But reports of a “dead zone” thousands of miles into the Pacific do persist, along with disappearancesof salmon, sardines, anchovies and other ocean fauna.

Of course, atomic reactors are not the only source of radioactive fallout. Atmospheric bomb testing from 1945 to 1963 raised background radiation levels throughout the ecosphere. Those isotopes are still with us.

Burning coal spews still more radiationinto our air, along with mercury and other lethal pollutants. Fracking for gas draws toxins up from the earth’s crust.

Industry apologistssay reactors can moderate the climate chaos caused by burning those fossil fuels. But fighting global weirding with atomic power is like trying to cure a fever with a lethal dose of X-ray.

On a warmed, poisoned planet, the synergistic impact of each new radioactive hit is multiplied. All doses are overdoses.

In 1982, Adm. Hyman Rickover, founder of the nuclear navy, put it this way:

Until about two billion years ago, it was impossible to have any life on earth; that is, there was so much radiation on earth you couldn’t have any life—fish or anything.

Gradually, about two billion years ago, the amount of radiation on this planet … reduced and made it possible for some form of life to begin, and it started in the seas. …

Now, when we are back to using nuclear power, we are creating something which nature tried to destroy to make life possible. …

But every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has life, in some cases for billions of years, and I think there the human race is going to wreck itself, and it’s far more important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.

We know from Dr. Alice Stewart the dangers of even a single X-ray to a pregnant human. And from Dr. John Gofman, former chief medical officer of the Atomic Energy Commission, that nuclear power is an instrument of “premeditated mass murder.”

At Three Mile Island, the mutated vegetation, animal and human infant deaths still remain a part of the immutable record.

Chernobyl still lacks a permanent sarcophagus, leaving the surrounding area vulnerable to continued radiation leakage. Fukushima daily dumps more than 300 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific. The stacks and spigots are still gushing at more than 400 reactors across the globe. The next disaster is already in progress.

The good news is that the same green energy technologies that can bury nuclear power can take the fossil burners down with them. They create jobs, profits, ecological harmony and peace. They’re on a steep trajectory toward epic success.

As the reactor industry’s lethal isotopes gut our ecosystems, from bottom to top, our tolerance for these “safe doses” falls to zero. We may not fall over dead from them immediately, but the larger biospheric clock is ticking. We need to act.
Harvey Wasserman edits Nukefree.organd wrote“Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth.”   This article was first posted at www.truthdig.com.  

photo:  AP/Bradley C Bower

 

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