Bowling for Nuclear Meltdowns (and Throwing Gas on the Fire)

November 1, 2014

IAEA experts depart Unit 4 of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013 as part of a mission to review Japan’s plans to decommission the facility. (Photo Credit: Greg Webb / IAEA / flickr / cc)

Weakening radiation standards; a cap on accident liability; reactor propaganda vs improvements; old units running past expiration dates; revving the engines beyond design specs …. You’d think we were itching for a meltdown.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended increased radiation exposure limits following major releases. It would save the industry a bundle to permit large human exposures then, rather than shut down rickety reactors now.

The EPA proposal is a knock-off prompted by Fukushima, because after the triple meltdown started three years ago, Japan increased — by 20 times — the allowable radiation exposures deemed tolerable for humans. Prior to the meltdowns of March 2011, Japan allowed only 1 milliSievert of radiation per year in an individual’s personal space. Now, the limit is 20 milliSieverts per year. This is not safe, it’s just allowable, or, rather, affordable, since the cost of decontaminating 1,000 square miles of Japan to the stricter standard could bust the bank.

The Price Anderson Act provides US reactor owners with a liability cap and a tax-payer bailout in the event of serious accidents or attacks. The law relieves utilities of hundreds of billions in financial risk posed by our ongoing meltdown roulette game. The owners won’t be bankrupted by the next loss-of-coolant disaster, but the US might.

Fukushima has spewed more long-lived radioactive chemicals to the air, the soil and the ocean than any catastrophe in history. But the chant heard round the world is: “The dose is low, there’s no immediate danger.” Promoters of nuclear power repeat this mantra at every opportunity, hoping to dodge Germany’s answer to Fukushima — a permanent reactor phase-out — and it has nearly drowned out all warnings of radiation’s health and environmental effects.

Have you heard of PSR’s March 2011 “Health risks of the releases of radioactivity from the Fukushima reactors: Are they a concern for residents of the US?”; or IPPNW’s June 2014 “Critical Analysis of the UNSCEAR Report”; or the Nov. 2012 “Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health within the context of the nuclear accident at Fukushima”; or Greenpeace’s two major reports, “Lessons from Fukushima,” and “Fukushima Fallout”? No, the feds would rather you read the UN Scientific Committee’s exec. summary which claims Fukushima’s effects are “unlikely to be observable.” This conclusion was made before any research was done.

The chances of radiation disasters will increase further if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows US reactors to run for 80 years. This is what Duke Power, Dominion Power and Exelon suggest for seven of their 40-year-old rattle traps now operating in Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina.

These seven reactors were designed and licensed to be shut down in the current decade. However, since 1991 the nuclear industry has been granted 70 “license extensions” that have generally added 20 years. Now the owners want to push their units an extra 40 years.

Former NRC Commissioner George Apostolakis wasn’t apoplectic when the commission considered the idea, but, according to the New York Times, he said, “I don’t know how we would explain to the public that these designs, 90-year-old designs, 100-year-old designs, are still safe to operate.” The NRC has yet to rule on the 80-year option, but it’s never denied a single license extension request.

Gunning old Fukushima-type engines

Captured by the industry it’s supposed to govern, the NRC has approved 149 reactor “power uprate” applications and has denied exactly one. Power uprates boost the output of old reactors beyond what their original licenses permit. It’s done by packing reactor cores with extra fuel rods and, feeling lucky, running them harder.

Chillingly, 23 operating US reactors are duplicates of the Fukushima-type General Electric Mark 1. Fifteen of these clunkers have been granted power uprates, and seven of these 15 have been granted a second power uprate. (See chart) Susquehanna’s two 31-year-old Fukushima clones in Pennsylvania were granted a hair-raising threepower uprates.

ROULETTE CHART

With the radiation industry and the NRC working to deny or delay post-Fukushima safety improvements, how do you feel about reactor operators stomping the accelerator while they run their geriatric uranium jalopies toward the cliff?

John LaForge is on the Nukewatch staff and edits its Quarterly.

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Sarah Lewison: The People’s Monsanto Hearings

October 31, 2014

Artist activist Sarah Lewison. (photo: Angela Watters/Reader Supported News)
Artist activist Sarah Lewison. (photo: Angela Watters/Reader Supported News)

By Angela Watters, Reader Supported News

30 October 14

wenty years ago Sarah Lewison and four female collaborators [1] took off on the first of its kind, but heretofore hard-to-find, bio-diesel road trip documentary, “Fat of the Land.” In the film, the women dressed as waitresses and embarked on an experimental, environmentalist journey, driving from New York to San Francisco in a Chevy van run on bio-diesel fuel made from kitchen grease collected at diners and fast food restaurants they passed along the way.

They financed the film using a nascent version of crowdfunding. Since no Kickstarter or Indiegogo existed at the time, the artists paid for their project the old-fashioned way by asking people for support over the phone, by mail, and over the radio. The women appeared on NPR several times and even once on the old Paul Harvey Show. As donations rolled in, the artists painted the names of their donors on the van in a show of appreciation.

A limited run on PBS followed the release of the film, and environmentally conscious viewers – hungry for a solution to America’s perpetual energy problems – learned to make bio-diesel from the film, and some even started their own grease-fueled journeys. Hailed at the time as a grand, wacky environmentalist experiment, “Fat of the Land” illustrated the possibilities of a D.I.Y. worldview before that was a household phrase or a hipster credo.


Sarah Lewison being interviewed by News 2 in Detroit from ‘Fat of the Land.’

When asked what she would do differently today, Lewison said, “I’d walk.” The damage created by large-scale soybean farms, which produce the majority of bio-diesel, has somewhat dampened the infectious optimism expressed in the documentary.

“Fat of the Land” and Lewison’s subsequent projects reveal her fascination with political ecology, or how communities negotiate the ways in which we live together and alongside nature, while sharing limited resources. For Lewison, political activism and art-making go hand-in-hand. Sound artist and media scholar Jay Needham says that Lewison “skillfully blends historical research, street theatre and documentary film into multivalent events that inspire debate and sustain dialogs about some of the most pressing issue of our time.” This statement rings true particularly with her most recent project, “The People’s Monsanto Hearings.” In this series of public events – created under the umbrella of the Compass [2] collaborative – Lewison and her collaborators take the Monsanto Corporation to task for damages they believe the company has inflicted on people, communities and ecosystems. I recently sat down with her to discuss the Monsanto Hearings, activism and art.

What are The People’s Monsanto Hearings?

The Monsanto Hearings are public tribunals in which people and communities present testimony regarding the harmful impact that the Monsanto Corporation, broadly, has wreaked on food, farms, communities, and ecosystems. In these events we examine damages that extend from the work of this corporation, and ask what kinds of laws would protect people and the biosphere from their disregard for the Precautionary Principle. The court becomes a theater to build public understanding and proactive face-to-face communication between people who are concerned with the future of agriculture and the privatization of life.

The Monsanto Hearings take place in a courtroom. Why is this setting important?

They’re not always in a courtroom. The St. Louis hearing was held at a public library because organizers could not find a teaching courtroom or any other space that wasn’t obligated in some way by Monsanto’s donations. In Greene County Ohio the event happened in a county park building with a history of use by social justice activists. But a legal proceeding is like a theatrical event, and the courtroom can be a symbolic stage where people can bring claims to the state.

We wished to provoke discussion about who is served by the court and how the rules of the law conceal biases about who deserves justice and even what constitutes harm. The point is that all do not have access to that courtroom, and the process that occurs in there is not necessarily truly serving those who suffer.

Your group Compass chose to make the hearings non-adversarial (there was nobody representing Monsanto). Why did you choose this method?

When you have a trial, the evidence is weighed and a judge or jury makes a decision, and that is the end of the matter. You could have an appeal, but we can project from our real life experience how that might transpire. Our justice and political systems are contaminated by corporate money, and Monsanto in particular has a gigantic platform to express and defend its own opinion of its doings. If we turn the theater into an adversarial one, with someone representing Monsanto, and a judgment finds Monsanto guilty, what are we going to do next? It creates an unsatisfying story that leaves us bereft of the ability to actually get restitution. As artists we are able to create a narrative, however, that in this case suggests a popular will to continue gathering evidence, that keeps the door open for people to contribute and listen to testimonies.

Monsanto Hearings: Opening from sarah lewison on Vimeo.

I have noticed that you are rarely the sole author of a project. Why have you chosen to work this way?

After high school I did other things before I decided to go to college. I ultimately applied to and was accepted into the San Francisco Art Institute, and started school the same week the Gulf War began. One of my teachers, the extraordinary writer Kathy Acker, was adamant that our class should engage with the anti-war protests. We had to go out and do things. So it has always been like that, and we have been in war nearly constantly since then. But also I think that culture emerges from collective formations. The kinds of questions I had developed from dialogue and grew through relationships with other artists. I also lived in an art squat in Berlin the year before, which was an autonomous collective project, an organic pedagogical experiment. To make art in collaboration with other people was, I felt, inherently more interesting and radical. There is a potential for more provocation.

Finally, I am fascinated by the question of how entities organize, and how people and all life organizes itself socially. Wittgenstein said, “There is no such thing as a private language.” I’m interested in that problem and in the agreement inherent in communication.

Typically, the mainstream media reports on art activism, when someone has been arrested or is wanted by the government as in the case of Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble, Pussy Riot, or Ai Wei Wei, although this media silence also applies to traditional activism. Events tend not to be reported by traditional outlets unless they turn violent, someone is arrested, or the scale is large enough to be news. Do you think that activism by artists has an easier time or a harder time of attracting the attention of the public?

The media’s tendency across the board is to pounce on anything spectacular or emotionally disturbing. Your examples also underscore how the media will amplify the ability of an authoritarian state to punish those who go too far in their creative critical inquiry or calls for dissent. And people have become conditioned to these displays of power that create more fear, and end up being paralyzing. Tactical media interventions turn the media’s proclivity to jump onto sensationalism to advantage by using it to, say, bring back an issue that has disappeared from memory such as with the Yes Men’s Dow Bhopal intervention, or to focus on an idea. At first Ferguson, Missouri, coverage focused on arrests and acts of violence rather but now people in St. Louis are increasingly influencing the message the media uses through their use of props like mirrors and mirrored coffins that reflect the police’s image back to them. Reporters post photos of these, which hopefully draws more people into awareness and resistance.


Protesters carry a mirrored coffin in Ferguson, Missouri.

The online news cycle is so accelerated now that all events, from the trivial to the catastrophic, are treated equally. Activists can’t make interventions that point to social injustices as fast as movie stars get married, wear clothes and reproduce, and all these stories are blended together in an interface that conditions viewers into distraction and anxiety.

How would you situate art activism within traditional activism as a whole?

I recommend Nicholas Lampert’s “A People’s Art History of the United States” to anyone interested in this. I think creative expression is frequently at the heart of any resistance movement. It’s a popular thing. The recent visit of Dolores Huerta reminded us how theFarmworkers Union used art, music, people’s theater, puppets, all kinds of means; reflecting their own cultural liveliness. Art is a kind of language, and what we find aesthetically meaningful can even emerge inadvertently, because our eyes recognize patterns. Think about the Zapatistas masks, which protect their identities, but also are a sign of who they are and of the risks that they take and the dignity of their platform. They stand for autonomy and independence from the authoritarian state and for sovereignty over their own land where they live and where they have been living for centuries. There have been moments where things like attention to language and graphic design have created the image of an entire movement; think of the sanitation workers in Memphis who carried signs which read, “I am a man.” The signs indicated that moment but also a longer history of struggle and creative response. There was artistic labor involved; somebody researched and adapted that phrase and printed that sign. Sometimes beauty emerges out of the amassment and repetition of the sign and dignity of the people in the streets who are carrying it. Silence = Death is another one. Creativity is something everybody has access to in some sense. If you can’t get something you become creative, but corporate lawyers are also creative. There also needs to be an ethical meter – this is the convergence point of activist art that furthers social justice.


1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.

At the People’s Climate March last month in New York, it was cool to see how many people had brilliant handmade signs; this kind of creativity communicates joy and rage, the possibility of an emotional life and a sharing society.

Where do your own techniques for community action overlap with more traditional or conventional activism and where do they diverge?

I think they overlap in organizing. A lot of the work I do involves asking other people to participate, and bring something of their experience to an event that does not exist already in our social milieu.

I think there are different degrees to which a movement is directed out of the intelligence and mutuality of affected people on the ground, or through a disempowering or dysfunctional organizational structure. To me, lobbying is a kind of activism that is unaesthetic and, frankly, unappealing because it is so disempowering. Although I thinkTamms Year 10 contributed good juju to working in that realm. As anti-fracking campaigners, we have observed industry lobbyists fluffing legislators while waiting to speak with them for a rushed minute as they run out the door. I feel like electoral politics leave little room for original policy or authentic social participation; particularly with the Democratic and the Republican Parties.

Just to stake a claim then with an absurd third party becomes a conceptual artwork by telegraphing the ineffectuality of our political bodies. An iconic project in that vein was musician and clown Wavy Gravy‘s 1976 presidential parody, “Nobody for President.” Nobody is running for president again in 2016 . I think that any activism that ventures into a space of speculative imagination has potential to generate resistance to the electoral system.

Artistic activism has the capacity to overturn stifling power structures for popular affect, lending critical attention to an issue, sometimes inciting participation. This is the intersection I prefer to work in, where a new platform is invented, or an existing structure is appropriated or inverted to fill a gap that might stimulate different kinds of social behaviors. This kind of art practice is difficult to represent – it is more a performance of attention, collectivity and democratic possibility.

Compass has held hearings in Carbondale, Illinois, and Iowa City so far. Will there be more? How can RSN readers find out more about the project?

The idea with the Monsanto Hearings is that they would be reproduced in several places with us as organizers and with others doing it as well. A hearing was organized in St. Louis by a coalition of activists called GMO Free Midwest and they did a good job. I participated in this hearing. We convened a hearing outside of Yellow Springs, Ohio, on the invitation of Antioch College. We are currently working on a kit on how to do a Monsanto Hearing. Soon, people will be able to go to monsantohearings.net for downloadable materials on how to make a Monsanto Hearing in their own communities. There are also two short documentaries.

What do you feel like you have accomplished with the Monsanto Hearings? What do you hope happens as more hearings take place?

We encourage people to write us (at monsanto [dot] hearings [at] gmail [dot] com) if they are interested in convening one.

I think one thing gained is the experience we have had, hearing participants included, bringing consumers, farmers, and people from many different walks of life with different relationships to the problem. The hearing leads us to grapple with the hard fact that the technologies of one company can reach so far back into the past and so far across our cultural and economic spectrum and yet there is still no accountability. We found that people are excited to come and speak, so attending a hearing and listening to the different people, many with direct experiences with Monsanto, is incredibly moving.

The Hearings so far have produced an archive of testimony that highlights problems with corporate agriculture beyond the issue of labeling. Initial goals were to better understand the law’s limitations and to develop pre-figurative legal ideas to overcome the limitations. We have learned that environmental health, for example, is practically preemptively impossible. We have been able to learn from other activists who have used various means to produce environmental safety regulations and we see where they fail. This puts people in a position to reject all of these money-wasting strategies and look for new approaches. In the most recent hearing, we learn about the two-community bill of rights campaign the speaker, Ellen Mavrich, from Ohio had participated in. This is a legal strategy that uses existing law in an experimental way to develop local protections for the places where people live. It becomes an opening to challenge corporate personhood because the corporation does not live here. In Carbondale, Illinois, we are currently campaigning for a Community Bill of Rights, looking to use the law to produce a people’s community sovereignty over place, for real.

1. Nicole Cousino, Julie Konop, Florence Dore and Gina Todus

2. Sarah Lewison, Sarah Kanouse, Claire Pentecost, Rozalinda Borcila, Brian Holmes and Iowa City collaborators: Kristen DeGree, Christopher Pickett, Jason Livingston


Angela Watters is an editor at Reader Supported News. Her artwork can be viewed at http://www.angelawatters.com and http://www.thecoca.org.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

10 Reasons Renewable Energy Can Save the Planet

October 31, 2014

Youths pose under a solar panel. (photo: Greenpeace)
Youths pose under a solar panel. (photo: Greenpeace)

By Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace International

31 October 14

 

s the world’s leading climate scientists finalize the latest and most comprehensive report on climate change and ways to tackle it, a key question is: What is new? What has changed since the release of the UN climate panel’s last Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007?

On the “solutions” side, the answer is pretty straightforward:

Nuclear power hasn’t changed much. IPCC notes that nuclear capacity is declining globally and that, from safety to financial viability, nuclear power faces many barriers. “Carbon capture and storage” (CCS) isn’t really breaking the mold either. Although the IPCC identifies a need and potential for future CCS-aided emission reductions, in reality, CCS isn’t delivering and, since 2007, “studies have underscored a growing number of practical challenges to commercial investment in CCS.”

The big news is the breakthrough in new renewable energy.

In just a few years, solar and wind technologies have grown so competitive and widespread that they are gradually reshaping common perceptions of climate change mitigation. “Saving the climate is too difficult and too costly” is becoming “We can do this!” Even in purely economic terms, renewable energy (RE) is set to gradually outcompete fossil fuels. According to the IPCC:

“Since AR4, many RE technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and a growing number of RE technologies have achieved a level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale (robust evidence, high agreement).”

So, what does the mean in practice? Here are 10 quick facts:

1. There’s now 15 times more solar power and three times more wind power in the world than in 2007.

2. The costs of solar and wind have declined profoundly. Renewables are increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity.

According to the IRENA, the price of onshore wind electricity has fallen 18 percent since 2009, with turbine costs falling nearly 30 percent since 2008, making it the cheapest source of new electricity in a wide and growing range of markets.

In places as diverse as Australia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, India and throughout the U.S., the cost of electricity production from onshore wind power now is on par with, or lower than, fossil fuels.

For solar, the speed of cost decline has been even more dramatic. Solar photovoltaic (PV) prices have fallen by 80 percent since 2008 (!) and are expected to keep dropping. Solar can now increasingly compete with conventional energy without subsidies.

In the non-OECD countries, conventional power still dominates, but renewables are already the largest new generation source. Given China’s recent action to curb coal use and restrict new coal plants in some regions, the projection on new conventional generation may still change.

In 2013, commercial solar power reached grid parity (i.e. the point at which it is comparable or cheaper to produce electricity with solar than purchase it from the grid) in Italy, Germany and Spain and will do so soon in Mexico and France.

3. Renewables are now mainstream: In the OECD countries, 80 percent of new electricity generation added between now and 2020 is expected to be renewable.

4. Individual countries are already reaching high shares of wind, solar and other renewables

    • In Spain, wind power was the country’s top source of electricity in 2013, ahead of nuclear, coal and gas. Renewables altogether supplied 42 percent of mainland Spain’s electricity in 2013, and 50 percent in the first half of 2014.
    • In Denmark, wind provided for 41 percent of the country’s electricity consumption in the first half of 2014.
    • In South Australia, wind farms produced enough electricity to meet a record 43 percent of the state’s power needs during July 2014.
    • In the Philippines, renewable energy—mainly geothermal—provides 30 percent of the country’s electricity.
    • In the U.S., the states of Iowa and South Dakota produced about 24 percent of their electricity with wind in 2012. Altogether nine US states were producing more than 10 percent of their electricity with wind.
  • In India, the state of Tamil Nadu already gets 13 percent of its electricity from wind.

5. Any country can now reach high shares of wind, solar power cost-effectively,says the International Energy Agency.

6. Renewable energy now provides 22 percent of the world’s electricity.

By 2030, wind energy alone could produce a fifth of world’s electricity.

7. Growth rates prove how fast renewables can be deployed and scaled up.

In just two years, Japan has installed 11 GW of solar energy. In terms of electricity, that equals more than two nuclear reactors (building a nuclear plant typically takes a decade or more). Furthermore, Japan has approved 72 GW of renewable energy projects, most of which are solar. This compares to about 16 nuclear reactors, or about 20 coal fired power plant units.

Last year, China installed as much new wind power as the rest of the world combined. This is as many solar panels as the US installed in the past decade. In four years, China aims to double its wind capacity and triple its solar capacity.

In just three years, Germany has increased its share of renewable energy in power from 17 percent to 24 percent. Solar alone produced 30 TWhs of electricity last year, which is equal to the output of about four German nuclear reactors.

Sub-Saharan Africa will add more wind, solar and geothermal energy in 2014 than in the past 14 years in total, while India aims to boost its solar PV capacity more than six-fold in less thank five years, by adding 15 GW by early 2019.

8. Leading investment banks are advising investors to go renewable.

Here’s where the renewables breakthrough is truly visible: annual new investments into clean energy have doubled since 2006/2007, with 16 percent growth recorded so far for this year.

Leading investment banks are advising investors to go renewables.

Citi declared in March this year that the Age of Renewables is Beginning. Renewables are increasingly competitive with natural gas in the US, while nuclear and coal is pretty much out of the game already.

Deutsche Bank considers solar to be competitive without subsidies now in at least 19 markets globally. They also see prices declining further in 2014. HSBC analysts suggest wind energy is now cost competitive with new coal energy in India, and solar will reach parity around 2016-18.

UBS analysts, according to the Guardian, suggest that big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years! Technological advances, like electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies are turning dirty power plants into dinosaurs faster than expected.

9. Renewable energy delivers for communities and builds resilience.

Not having access to electricity means missing out on many opportunities in life. This is still reality for about 1.3 billion people in the world. But now, renewable energy is making energy access more achievable. Its technologies are by now significantly cheaper than diesel or kerosene- based systems, and cheaper than extending the grid in areas with low populations and per capita energy demand.

Local, clean solutions, like microgrids running on solar, give poorer smaller communities control over their own energy destiny. The systems are relatively cheap to maintain and the people living off of their own renewably sourced electricity are not beholden to volatile fossil fuel prices or the unsustainable demands of the massive energy conglomerates.

10. 100% renewable energy is the way to go.

Renewable energy can meet all our energy needs. As the IPCC finds, the technical potential is much higher than all global energy demands.

100% renewable energy is what communities, regions, cities—even megacities—and companies are already making a reality through courageous actions and targets.

Sydney, the most populated city in Australia, is going to switch to 100 percent renewable energy in electricity, heating and cooling by 2030. The colder cities are on board too: three Nordic capitals (Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen) have all set goals for 100 % renewable energy, while Reykjavik is meeting it already.

Germany’s windy state of Schleswig-Holstein will probably achieve 100% renewable electricity already this year, while Cape Verde, an Island country in Africa, aims to get there by 2020. In Denmark, the whole country aims to meet all its heat and power with 100% renewables in just 20 years and all energy, transport included, by 2050.

There’s plenty, plenty of more, see for example here and here.

Going 100% renewables is a smart business decision too, says leading businesses, including BT, Commerzbank, H&M, Ikea KPN, Mars, Nestle, Philips and Swiss Re. They arecampaigning for a goal that by 2020, 100 of the world’s largest companies will have committed to 100% renewable power.

Renewable sustainable energy sources are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Every day there are more and more examples of it being used and improved upon across our fragile planet.

Yet, clean energy hasn’t won just yet. The powerful fossil fuel industry with their allies are fighting back hard, with the help of hundreds of billions of government subsidies they are still enjoyingannually.

This raises the question: where do you want to be? Stuck in the dark ages of fossil fuels, or basking in the sun and wind of a clean energy future?

 

US sailors “have won the major battle” in Fukushima lawsuit — Now 200 young Navy and Marines with leukemia, organs removed, brain tumors/cancer

October 31, 2014

ENENews


Video: “Purple cloud” seen by engineer after Fukushima explosion… “I took a photo” — Former Prime Minister: Smoke from reactor blast had different color than officials claim; Steel appears to have melted on top of Unit 3; Suggests possible nuclear explosion

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:33 PM PDT

US sailors “have won the major battle” in Fukushima lawsuit — Now 200 young Navy and Marines with leukemia, organs removed, brain tumors/cancer, blindness, more — Gov’t: Fukushima a terrible tragedy… Navy ships under threat and didn’t know where to go, some ‘very interesting’ moments… That radiation will kill you like a nuclear weapon (VIDEO)

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 01:19 PM PDT

Environmental groups, attorneys general again sue to block nuclear plant relicensing

October 30, 2014

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12 hours ago • By Jacob Barker jbarker@post-dispatch.com 314-340-82913

A view of the cooling tower (left) and the reactor building (right) at Ameren Missouri’s nuclear plant on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Callaway County. Photo by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com
Enlarge Photo

Just a week after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission began relicensing nuclear power plants, environmental groups and several states are again suing to stop it.
The latest litigation affects several utilities, including Ameren Missouri, that have been waiting for a decision from the federal regulatory agency.

The NRC had to suspend relicensing activities two years ago after political wrangling torpedoed a national repository in the Nevada desert. A federal appeals court, at the time, directed the NRC to consider the environmental impact of storing spent fuel without a national repository.

In response to the court ruling two years ago, the NRC finalized rules last month that found nuclear waste could be stored indefinitely above ground in dry casks that are replaced every 100 years. Spent nuclear fuel now is usually stored in cooling pools near reactors.

Ameren Missouri, which is seeking a 20-year extension of the license for its Callaway plant in mid-Missouri, proposes to build a dry-cask storage facility and begin moving spent fuel rods to the new site next year. The Callaway plant opened in 1984 and can operate with its current license through 2024.

Last week, the NRC resumed issuing licenses, granting renewal to a plant near Philadelphia. In all, it has granted 74 renewals out of 100 operating nuclear reactors in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration. Ameren hopes to win approval for its license extension by the end of the year.

But the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont are challenging the NRC’s storage rules in a suit filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The environmental groups filed a similar lawsuit Wednesday.

Joining the environmentalists’ lawsuit this time is the St. Louis-based Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

“It’s irresponsible for the NRC to permit the creation of new, high-level nuclear wastes without a plan for their ultimate safe storage and disposal,” the coalition’s Ed Smith said in a statement Wednesday.

Jacob Barker is a business reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @jacobbarker and the Business section @postdispatchbiz.

Copyright 2014 stltoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags
Energy, Nuclear Technology, Nuclear Energy In The United States, Environment, Ameren Missouri, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Callaway Nuclear Generating Station, Dry Cask Storage, Ameren, Callaway Plant, St. Louis-based Missouri Coalition For The Environment, Ed Smith
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Gundersen: Mutations in plants being reported after chronic Fukushima exposure

October 30, 2014

ENENews


Gundersen: Mutations in plants being reported after chronic Fukushima exposure — Professor: Mutant flowers found in Fukushima — Biologist: “Gigantic leaves, seeds very big” after nuclear disaster (VIDEO)

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Midterms Prediction: Billionaires to Retain Control of Government

October 29, 2014

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(illustration: Victor Juhasz)
(illustration: Victor Juhasz)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

28 Octoebr 14

 

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, “The Borowitz Report.”

ith just one week to go until the midterm elections, a new poll indicates that billionaires are likely to retain control of the United States government.

The poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, shows that the proxy candidates of billionaires are likely to win ninety-eight per cent of next Tuesday’s races, with the remaining two per cent leaning billionaire.

Although the poll indicates that some races are still “too close to call,” the fact that billionaires funded candidates on both sides puts the races safely in their column.

Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota, said that next Tuesday should be “a big night for oligarchs” and that both houses of Congress can be expected to grovel at the feet of their money-gushing paymasters for at least the next two years.

Calling the billionaires’ upcoming electoral romp “historic,” Logsdon said, “We have not seen the super-rich maintain such a vise-like grip on the government since the days immediately preceding the French Revolution.”

 

TV: Officials say “extremely high radiation levels” will keep pouring out at Fukushima…

October 29, 2014

ENENews


TV: Officials say “extremely high radiation levels” will keep pouring out at Fukushima… “Problem can’t be fundamentally solved” — Gundersen: Plutonium leaking into groundwater, “essentially pieces of nuclear fuel”… “Parts of plant overflowing” after typhoons… “Not a problem that’s going away” (VIDEO)

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:00 PM PDT

“Truly Frightening”: Doctors being threatened for linking illnesses to Fukushima — Strange tumors, kids dying, pets dying — Much higher incidences of whole range of health problems reported — Experts: 1,000,000 cancers, plus many other ailments possible (AUDIO & VIDEO)

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:43 AM PDT

Official: “Plant Emergency” at U.S. Nuclear Facility, Uranium Gas Released — Eyewitnesses: “There’s the plume…

October 28, 2014

ENENews


Official: “Plant Emergency” at U.S. Nuclear Facility, Uranium Gas Released — Eyewitnesses: “There’s the plume… It was moving across highway… Chemical taste in mouth… I could smell it!” — Size of release unknown — Emergency crew trying to find source and whether it has stopped (VIDEO)

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:02 PM PDT

Watch: Nuclear experts confront Japanese scientists — IAEA says Fukushima reactors “might still be active” long after meltdowns — “Changes completely” our idea of what happened — “Very surprised… extremely high” Iodine-131 levels — Means fission reactions lasted for weeks or months (VIDEO)

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Radiation levels have surged at Fukushima plant — 100,000% of previous record high

October 27, 2014

ENENews


Radiation levels have surged at Fukushima plant — 100,000% of previous record high — TV: “Officials say they don’t know the cause… Typhoon may be to blame” (VIDEO)

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 09:03 AM PDT


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