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Our lives still hang by a Devil’s thread at Fukushima.
The molten cores at Units 1, 2 & 3 have threatened all life on Earth. The flood of liquid radiation has poisoned the Pacific. Fukushima’s cesium and other airborne emissions have already dwarfed Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and all nuclear explosions including Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Children throughout Japan carry radioactive burdens in their thyroids and throughout their bodies. Hot spots in Tokyo demand evacuation. Radioactive tuna has been caught off San Diego. Fallout carried across the Pacific may have caused spikes in cancer and infant mortality rates here in the United States.
And yet, 16 months later, the worst may be yet to come. No matter where we are on this planet, our lives are still threatened every day by a Unit 4 fuel pool left hanging 100 feet in the air. At any moment, an earthquake we all know is coming could send that pool crashing to the ground.
If that happens—and it could as you read this—the radiation spewed into the atmosphere could impact every living being on Earth. And that certainly includes you.
Cecile Pineda lays it all out in her brilliant new Devil’s Tango: How I Learned The Fukushima Step By Step (Wings Press: San Antonio).
With poetic fury, Cecile rages in satanic detail about how Fukushima was built despite volumes of whistleblower testimony underscoring its fatal flaws. But after agreeing with proof that the GE designs were patently insane, NRC Chair Joseph Hendrie approved them anyway because doing otherwise would have killed the nuclear industry.
Atomic Rate Rape & the New China Syndrome
By Harvey Wasserman
Small wonder the death knell of new US nukes may be upon us.
Two reactors proposed for Florida will now, say its would-be builders, cost $24 billion or more…up from their original maximum guess of $4 billion each…far beyond comparable renewables and efficiency ( http://nukefree.org/florida-nukes-delayed-3-more-years-cost-now-19-24-billion ).
Two Georgia nukes still wanting tax-funded loan guarantees have been caught pouring faulty concrete and using non-design rebar steel
Currently licensed reactors from California to Vermont, from Texas to Ohio to Florida are leaking radiation, shut for faulty steam generator tubes, closed for failed repairs running over $1 billion and being fought tooth and nail by local downwinders who are tired of rate rape want them shut forever.
But the fate of the Earth may ultimately rest on which China emerges after Fukushima: the green one pushing solar, or the dictatorship pushing nukes that threaten us all.
What we Americans can do about it remains problematic.
But shutting down our own industry begins with killing proposed federal loan guarantees for two new nukes at Vogtle, Georgia
( http://nukefree.org/please-do-sign-petition-stop-new-nuke-loan-guarantees ), and stopping the rate rape being perpetrated to build two more at South Carolina’s V.C. Summer ( http://nukefree.org/ncwarn-duke-rigging-rates-pay-nukes ).
Throughout the US, wanna-be nuke builders are pushing regulators and legislatures to force ratepayers to foot the bill for new reactors while they’re being built. In Iowa, Missouri and Florida ( http://nukefree.org/editorsblog/obamas-atomic-solyndra-0 ) , an angry public is pushing back—hard.
Progress Energy’s staggering new cost estimate for Levy County is a game changer. The idea of paying $12 billion for reactors that can’t even begin construction for at least three years is beyond scale. Progress has blown at least $1 billion on its botched repair and expansion job at north Florida’s Crystal River, which may now never reopen ( http://nukefree.org/editorsblog/nuclear-powers-green-mountain-grassroots-demise ).
Failed steam generator tubes at California’s San Onofre may also keep two reactors there forever shut. In Vermont, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and virtually everywhere other home to geezer nukes, grassroots opposition has seriously escalated. movements are gaining increasing strength. Sooner or later, they will win. We must all pray that happens before yet another nukes blows. It will be a close call.
In part because fracking (another environmental disaster) has made natural gas so cheap ( http://nukefree.org/small-towns-begin-rising-fight-fracking ), and in part because the price of wind and solar continues to plummet, 2011 was the first year since deep in the W Administration that the Executive Branch did not ask for new reactor loan guarantees. If the money can be nixed for Vogtle, and the rate rape for Summer defeated, the whole “nuclear renaissance” could could definitively disappear.
Small modular nukes must still be fought ( http://nukefree.org/are-small-modular-reactors-future-nuke-power ). But the numbers on this imperfected technology do not work without massive taxpayer subsidies or public liability insurance.
Europe’s one-time “nuclear poster child” is about to lose its pro-nuke Sarkozy is poised to the Socialist Francois Hollande ( http://nukefree.org/french-frontrunner-cools-reactor-shut-downs ), who may or may not begin shutting the nation’s reactors. But French public has moved strongly toward renewables and probably won’t tolerate new ones.
Led by Germany, Europe’s nuclear future is past. Proposed reactors in Great Britain and elsewhere are stalled. Bulgaria has cancelled two.
Of Japan’s 54 licensed post-Fukushima units, just one now operates—and may soon shut. Tokyo wants to open more, but grassroots resistance is fierce. Ditto India, where massive demonstrations and hunger strikes have erupted against the Koodankulam project ( http://nukefree.org/10-000-india-hunger-strike-v-koodankulam-reactor ).
South Korea and Taiwan still want new reactors. Korea may sell at least one to the United Arab Emirates. The Saudis and Jordan may soon start construction.
But the global key now rests with China. Despite its campaign to corner the world market in wind and solar hardware, China has been poised to bring on line close to 100 reactors. It may claim the largest number of new proposals—more than 30.
But Fukushima prompted a suspension of new approvals ( http://www.technologyandpolicy.org/2012/03/05/chinas-nuclear-energy-industry-one-year-after-fukushima/ ) and a move toward a national energy plan. A final rejection could blow the floor out of any global nuclear future.
With a rising tide of grassroots environmentalism in China, any No Nukes movement there must be embraced worldwide. In its hands may lie the future of the Earth.
Reactor backers desperately hype potential orders from China and India, and from small nations like Turkey and Taiwan. But who will protect us —or even tell us—when they explode?
This weekend the Sierra Club while host a packed national gathering of grassroots No Nukers ( http://action.sierraclub.org/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=159641 ) to plan the Us nuclear industry’s final demise. There’s much to celebrate. The campaign for a green-powered Earth has become one of her most successful non-violent social movements.
But the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima are far from over. The radiation they still spew threatens our survival.
Without a truly global Solartopian uprising, the ultimate China Syndrome may yet come in China…and spread worldwide.
In economy and ecology, we have no future without finally cleansing from every corner on Earth the lingering plague of the failed atom.
Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, is at www.solartopia.org , along with THE LAST ENERGY WAR. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm. In 1973 he helped coin the phrase No Nukes.
As Fukushima continues to leak and smolder, what may be the definitive battle over new nukes in America has begun.
The critical first US House vote on a proposed $36 billion loan guarantee package for reactor construction may come as early as June 2. Green power advocates are already calling and writing the White House and Congress early and often,gearing up for a long, definitive showdown.
Germany and Japan have made their decision—the “Lethal Atom” has no future.
The coffin nail is Fukushima. Substantial radiation still leaks from three or more of its six reactors. Volatile fuel rods are dangerously exposed. Various containment and fuel pool structures are compromised. Heat and radiation still pour into our global eco-systems, with no end in sight.
Thankfully, a global citizens movement helped lower the amount of plutonium-based MOX fuel loaded into Unit Three. Without that, Fukushima’s emissions would be far more lethal.
As it is, fallout continues to be detected across Europe and the United States. Fukushima is now rated on par with Chernobyl, by some estimates the killer of more than a million people.
For Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Japan’s energy policy must now “start from scratch,” with a sharp turn to green technologies. More than a dozen proposed reactors will not be built. Some existing ones—including at least two at Hamaoka—will join the six at Fukushima on the shut-down list, at least for the time being. Three more are still closed from a 2006 earthquake at Kashiwazaki.
Germany’s Solartopian turn is even more radical. Long a nuclear advocate, center-right Prime Minister Angela Merkel has ordered seven old German nukes shut immediately. The country’s other ten may run until 2021.
But a top Merkel-appointed commission sees this as a global game changer. “A withdrawal from nuclear power will spur growth, offer enormous technical, economic and social opportunities to position Germany even further as an exporter of sustainable products and services,” says a 28-page report. “Germany could show that a withdrawal from nuclear energy is the chance to create a high-powered economy.”
Both Japan and Germany—the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies—have already made substantial investments in green technology. Much of that was developed in the United States, which has paid a heavy price economically and ecologically for its atomic addition, and now stands to lose even more ground in what will clearly be the energy growth center of the new millennium.
Some $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactor construction was put in place under George W. Bush. In 2007 the nuclear lobby tried to add $50 billion. The industry has spent some $645 million—$64.5 million per year—over the last decade twisting Congressional arms.
But a nationwide grassroots movement rose up to stop them. In every year since 2007 citizen action has beaten a variety of attempts to slip the industry more handouts. Local movements movements throughout the US focused growing demands for the shut-down of old reactors. In Vermont, a March, 2012 drop dead date looms ever larger, forced by a wide range of political pressures that could start an avalanche of closures.
Yet just last year Obama dropped $8.33 billion in loan guarantees on a bitterly contested double-reactor project in Georgia. Two other reactors are scheduled for South Carolina, where ratepayers are expected to foot the bill as construction proceeds.
But $36 billion in proposed new guarantees were stripped out of the Continuing Resolution that’s funding the government for 2011. Now Obama wants them for 2012.
Ironically, the leading candidates for the money have collapsed. A Japanese-financed project for Texas and a French one in Maryland are all but dead. Financial, licensing, siting, design and political problems have decimated the remaining list. The pressures on old and new US reactors, and the collapse of the industry in Germany and Japan, appear on the brink of pushing a failed technology into the scrap heap of history.
But the budget is now headed to Congress, guarantees and all. First stop is a House Appropriations sub-committee, where a vote could come as early as June 2.
Fukushima has changed the nuclear map. Italy and Switzerland have put proposed projects on hold. China, the biggest potential future market, has said it is re-evaluating its atomic future, especially with radiation pouring into it from nearby Fukushima.
But Obama has all but ignored the accident. He gave an early national address telling the American public not to worry about Fukushima’s radiation. Despite widespread reports of contamination here, the feds have provided no systematic monitoring of fallout and no guidance on what to do about it.
Amidst a heavy budget crunch, the administration must now justify lavishing taxpayer money on an industry that can’t get private financing or meaningful liability insurance, can’t compete in the marketplace and can’t deal with its wastes.
As evidenced by the sharp green turns in Germany and Japan, renewable technologies have come of age. The Solartopian vision of a green-powered Earth has now definitively attracted two of the plant’s four largest economies.
In short, we are at the tipping point where renewables are cheaper and more attractive to national-scale investors than nukes.
Without these guarantees, America’s nuclear industry has future prospects ranging from slim to none.
The ante is being raised in Vermont, New York, California and in other states where fierce battles rage to shut existing reactors, many of which are on earthquake faults and virtually identical to those now spewing at Fukushima.
So now we are engaged in what may be the final, definitive battle over the future of atomic power in the United States.
Over the next few months, millions of dollars will pour from the industry’s lobby into the coffers of Congresspeople willing to vote them billions. The White House shows no signs of turning away from that particular tsunami.
But against all odds, a grassroots green-powered citizens movement has been holding its own. If it does so again this year, a sustainable future may finally be within reach.
“Safe” radiation is a lethal TMI lie
March 27, 2011
There is no safe dose of radiation.
We do not x-ray pregnant women.
Any detectable fallout can kill.
With erratic radiation spikes, major air and water emissions and at least three reactors and waste pools in serious danger at Fukushima, we must prepare for the worst.
When you hear the terms “safe” and “insignificant” in reference to radioactive fallout, ask yourself: “Safe for whom?” “Insignificant to which of us?”
Despite the corporate media, what has and will continue to come here from Fukushima is deadly to Americans. At very least it threatens countless embryos and fetuses in utero, the infants, the elderly, the unborn who will come to future mothers now being exposed.
No matter how small the dose, the human egg in waiting, or embryo or fetus in utero, or newborn infant, or weakened elder, has no defense against even the tiniest radioactive assault.
Science has never found such a “safe” threshold, and never will.
In the 1950s Dr. Alice Stewart showed a definitive link between medical x-rays administered to pregnant women and the curse of childhood leukemia among their offspring.
After a fierce 30-year debate, the medical profession agreed. Today, administering an x-ray to a pregnant woman is universally understood to be a serious health hazard.
Those who pioneered the health physics profession—towering greats like Dr. Karl Z. Morgan and Dr. John Gofman—set a definitive, impenetrable standard. A safe dose of radiation does not exist. All doses, “insignificant” or otherwise, can harm the human organism.
That has been repeatedly shown in major studies—done most notably by Dr. Ernest Sternglass, Jay Gould, Joe Mangano, Arnie Gundersen, Dr. Steven Wing and others—showing that among human populations near commercial reactors, infant death rates plummet once the reactors shut down.
In 1979, 32 years ago this March 28, the owners of Three Mile Island said there was no meltdown, no serious radiation release and no need for evacuation.
All were lies.
To this day no one knows how much radiation was released or where it went or who it killed.
TMI’s owners ran ads dismissing the emissions as the equivalent of a single chest x-ray given to everyone within a ten mile radius.
But that included all the pregnant women.
Soon infant death rates soared in nearby Harrisburg. Some 2400 central Pennsylvania families sued based on the health impacts.
In 1980 I interviewed dozens of these people. Cancer, leukemia, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, malformations, open lesions, hair loss, a metallic taste and much more were among the symptoms.
The death and mutation rate among farm and wild animals was also thoroughly documented by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a team of investigators from the Baltimore News-American.
We were again told there were “no health dangers” from radiation that hit California from Chernobyl ten days after that 1986 explosion. But bird births at the Point Reyes National Seashore quickly dropped 60% from the levels that had been carefully monitored and recorded through the previous decade.
The cloud then crossed the northern tier of the United States. Heightened radiation levels were found in milk in New England—as they were throughout Europe from clouds that had blown from Chernobyl in the other direction.
The doses were neither “insignificant” nor “safe” to those far or near.
In Russia ten years later, I interviewed dozens of downwind victims, and many of the 800,000 “liquidators” who ran into Chernobyl’s seething corpse to help clean it up. After TMI, it was déjà vu all over again.
The most recently published findings, from a compendium of more than 5,000 studies, indicate a global Chernobyl death toll in excess of 985,000, and still counting.
Today we are assaulted by yet another radioactive death cloud from yet another “perfectly safe” nuclear plant.
Fukushima’s radiation is pouring into the air and water. The operators have reported radiation levels a million times normal, then retracted the estimate. Workers are being exposed to doses that are certain to be lethal. At least three of the reactors, and one or more of the spent fuel pools, hover at the brink of catastrophe.
Fukushima’s radiation has now been detected in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and has blown east across North America. It has also been detected in Sweden, which means its blowing across Europe as well.
Radiation is not being released as a single puff. Rather it’s a steady stream that could yet turn into a tsunami.
Fukushima’s worst may be yet to come. Its collective emissions are virtually certain to exceed Chernobyl’s.
And yet we continue to hear smug, misinformed “experts,” TV meteorologists and industry talking heads saying these are “safe” doses.
The response of the Obama Administration has been beyond derelict. As the accident began, the President went on national television to assure us there was nothing to worry about, and that he would continue to demand $36 billion in loan guarantees to build new nuclear plants.
Since then, even as the Fukushima crisis mounts, President Obama has remained silent.
Millions of Americans have heard about potassium iodide (KI), which can be used block the uptake of radioactive iodine and perhaps protect the thyroid.
But KI can have potential medical side-effects for some individuals. And timing can be critical. To say the least, we need to know when the radioactive fallout is present.
Yet the administration has not provided us with a national supply of KI, or guidance for using it.
At very least we need reliable real-time mapping of the radioactive clouds as they cross the nation. Every American should be issued a mask, and sufficient KI pills with directions on how to use them, if necessary.
Above all, we need national leadership that puts the health of our people first and foremost.
Americans who are of reproductive age—and their unborn, our babies, the elderly, those of us who may be specially sensitive—we all deserve better.
As we have learned so tragically from Drs. Stewart, Morgan, Gofman and Sternglass, from Gundersen and Mangano and so many other researchers, from TMI and Chernobyl, and from the on-going operation of nuclear plants where infant death rates continue to be affected—a “perfectly safe” dose of radiation does not exist.
No truly informed or responsible scientist, medical doctor, health researcher, TV weatherman, bloviating “expert” or on-the scene reporter would ever tell you otherwise.
Whenever you hear the term “insignificant” fallout, ask yourself: “insignificant to whom?”
“Acceptable” to which expectant mother. To whose child? To how many mourning parents? For which dying elder?
Nuclear reactors make global warming worse and prolong our addiction to fossil fuels. They stand in the way of our transition to a totally green-powered Earth.
As we continue to learn at such a huge cost, there can never be a “perfectly safe” nuclear reactor, any more than there can be a “perfectly harmless” dose of radiation.
“Impossible” accidents continue to happen, one after the other, each of them successively worse.
What we fear most about TMI, then Chernobyl and now Fukushima, is not what has happened—but what is yet to come, there, and at the next inevitable reactor disaster.
We are a pro-life movement.
Please call the White House, the Congress and your state and local governments and DEMAND they protect the health and safety of our people in the face of this disaster.
Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH (http://www.solartopia.org), and co-author, with Robert Alvarez, Norman Solomon and Eleanor Walters, of KILLING OUR OWN: THE DISASTER OF AMERICA’S EXPERIENCE WITH ATOMIC RADIATION. Originally published by http://www.freepress.org.