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Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike

10:17 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Vogtle Electric

“All of the above” means more costly nuke projects like Vogtle Electric.

So the “all the above” energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

“Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.”

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won’t touch. Georgia state “regulators” are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense … except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

Substandard concrete, unspecified rebar steel, major labor scandals, non-existent quality control … all the stuff that’s defined this industry since the Shippingport reactor started construction outside Pittsburgh some six decades ago is with us yet again.

It would be nice to say this is merely $6.5 billion wasted. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Long Island’s Shoreham and New Hampshire’s Seabrook came in at 5-10 times their original cost estimates.

Shoreham never made it to commercial operation. Neither did Seabrook Unit Two.

Should Vogtle, for which these loans are designated, beat the odds and actually go on line in the years to come, it will multiply its sunk cost by irradiating the countryside and creating radioactive waste nobody can handle.

Nor can it get private insurance to shield future victims and the taxpaying public from the inevitable disaster. The next commercial reactor to explode (joining the five that already have) will do damage in the trillions.

Its owners will not be liable, and the people making this decision will never go to prison.

But many along the way will pocket major fortunes from substandard construction, corner-cutting “safety” scams, black market parts purchasing, mafia-run hiring operations and the usual greasing of radioactive palms that defines all reactor construction projects.

Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.

THEN we can dent in our climate crisis.

THAT’s where the jobs are.

THERE would be an all-the-above energy strategy that actually makes sense.

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits www.nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US and Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth are at www.harveywasserman.com along with Passions of the PotSmoking Patriots by “Thomas Paine.” He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election, at www.freepress.org. Read the rest of this entry →

Hold that “Hot” Fukushima Sushi

6:07 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Harvey Wasserman

Hold that “hot” Fukushima sushi
June 7, 2012

We all knew it was coming.

Radioactive tuna has been caught off the coast of California.  The fingerprint of cesium 137 is unmistakably from the exploded reactors at Fukushima.

But Fukushima’s hot hands are also on a very welcome debate still stalemating China’s plans to build more than 30 new reactors.  Fierce No Nukes opposition continues to escalate in India.  Reactor cancellations have spread throughout Europe.

And the $8.33 billion loan guarantee for Georgia’s Vogtle double-reactor project has still not been finalized.  After just five months construction is $1 billion over budget and falling ever further behind schedule.  There is no firm price tag.  Substandard concrete and rebar steel that doesn’t meet official specifications are just the beginning of the nightmare.

You can help Georgia ratepayers and American taxpayers out of this misery by signing our petition at  http://nukefree.org/please-do-sign-petition-stop-new-nuke-loan-guarantees.

You can also prepare for life without sushi.  National Public Radio has assured us all that the radioactive tuna are perfectly safe to eat.  This is the same network whose Scott Simon glibly told us that there were no injuries at Three Mile Island, “not even a sprained ankle.”

But as long-time radiation expert Robert Alavarez warns, “it’s not harmless.”  Fukushima released far more cesium-137 than the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Many decades ago lesser fallout from nuclear testing forced the confiscation of more than 4 million pounds of fish.

But as the really bad news from Fukushima continues to escalate, we must begin to adjust to far worse than giving up raw fish.

Massive quantities of Japanese trash have begun to wash up on the west coast of North America, from Alaska to California and beyond.  The tragic residue of the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and cost trillions has crossed the Pacific. The waves of debris include at least one “ghost ship,” many motor vehicles, thousands of barrels full of unknown substances and much more.

Much of it is radioactive.  Government officials, the nuclear industry and corporate media will lowball the readings and scoff at the health implications.  But American beaches are now contaminated, the fish you once ate is unsafe and the situation could get much worse.

Still hovering 100 feet in the air is the spent fuel pool at Fukushima #4.  Stacked with thousands of tons of the most lethal substances ever created, the fuel rods could come crashing to the ground with the next big earthquake.  Strewn at random, with no cooling water, exposed to the air, the radiation releases would far exceed Chernobyl, the nuclear bomb tests and any other polluting fallout humankind has yet created.  That it would go global is a given.

Repeated calls for help from international teams of experts underline the core reality that nobody really knows what to do, except to pray for seismic stability…an impossible dream in Japan, but at this point the only port of last resort.

Thankfully, the doubts instilled by Fukushima and the growing power of the global No Nukes movement have had their impact.  Reports from China indicatedeep divisions about further reactor construction.

Massive demonstrations and hunger strikes continue in opposition to India’s Koodankulam project.  Cancellations have spread throughout Europe.

In the meantime we Americans can finally kill the prospect of federal loan guarantees for building new reactors here.

As Mary Olson of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service has pointed out, money for new nukes—which can’t get private financing—was set aside early in the George W. Bush Administration.  But in large part as a result of the power of the grassroots No Nukes movement, not a single guarantee has yet been finalized.

Vogtle is the first project officially designated.  But problems with design, planning and execution continue to escalate.  So have the rate hikes imposed on Georgia consumers.  With no firm price tag or completion date, and with the entire industry in chaos, the Office of Management and Budget has been unable to set reasonable terms that the reactor builders can meet.

It all adds up to an industry in accelerating collapse.  Reactor construction at South Carolina’s V.C. Summer is also over budget, behind schedule and at the core of massive rate hike fights in both Carolinas.

Reactors proposed for Florida’s Levy County have soared over a minimum of $9.5 billion to as high as $12 billion each, and still climbing—far in excess of original estimates.  Shutdowns continue at nearby Crystal River, California’s San Onofre, the flooded Calhoun in Nebraska and many others.  Public pressure to forever close Vermont Yankee, New York’s Indian Point, Ohio’s Davis-Besse, South Texas and more continues to escalate.

Whether these shut-down movements succeed before a Fukushima happens here, or that spent fuel pool collapses, or Vogtle again escalates in price, remains to be seen.

What’s certain is that you can help stop the Vogtle loan guarantee and kill the chance of any new reactors being built here—paving the path at last for a totally green-powered Solartopian Earth.

So next time you start to reach for some sushi, grab a pen or keyboard instead.  Sign the petitions, call your Representative, run a bake sale—do whatever is needed to kill this loan guarantee and lessen the odds on being harmed by a Fukushima here at home.


Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! is at www.harveywasserman.com along with HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US.  His Green Power & Wellness Show airs at prn.fm.  He is Senior Editor of freepress.org, where this was first published.

Will You Pay as New Reactors Jump $900 Million in 3 Months?

11:04 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Will You Pay as New Reactors Jump $900 Million in 3 Months?

 

By Harvey Wasserman

 

 

The projected price for Georgia’s Vogtle Double Reactor Project has jumped at least $900 million in just three months….and that’s just for starters.

 

Will you pay for it?  The future of new atomic power in the US hangs in the balance.

 

A national grassroots campaign is now working to stop tax/ratepayer handouts and kill the project.

 

Construction there is defined by faulty concrete and non-spec rebar steel that threaten public safety and could delay completion dates beyond those projected even before construction began.

 

South Carolina’s V.C. Summer, the only other new US reactor project now under construction, is meeting fierce rate payer resistance in two states.  From Iowa to Brazil, Japan to France, the global reactor industry is collapsing in tandem.  But what other nations will it bankrupt and irradiate before it’s finished?

 

President Obama has tagged $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for Vogtle’s construction.  And Georgia ratepayers are being forced to pay for it in advance.

 

But the Office of Management and Budget is still dickering over terms with the Southern Company.  Vogtle’s prime builders want to put up little or no money.  They want interest rates lower than what you would pay to buy a new house.  They expect you to take primary liability for future disasters. They can’t say what will happen to the radioactive waste.

 

The real price tags for both Vogtle and Summer are suspect. Original estimates have been as low as $2-4 billion/reactor.  But Florida’s Progress Energy has just admitted its proposed reactors for Levy County, near Tampa, would go as high as $9.5 to $12 billion each.  Given their delays and structural defects, there’s no reason to believe Vogtle or Summer could come in cheaper.  At those prices, they cannot begin to compete with new renewables or efficiency.

 

So where does that leave Vogtle’s federal loan guarantees?  George W. Bush set aside $18.5 billion at the Department of Energy for new reactor funding, but made no grants.  Despite fierce lobbying, industry attempts to add to the fund have been defeated by national grassroots campaigns.

 

Obama designated the first $8.33 for Vogtle in 2010.  But closed-door negotiations between his OMB, the DOE and Southern have been inconclusive.

 

The $535 million failure of Solyndra Solar loans has cast a shadow over the entire federal guarantee system.  The proposed Vogtle guarantee is 15 times bigger.  At least three national petitions are circulating to kill it.

 

Southern has hinted it might seek better terms from private lenders.  But Wall Street has long scorned atomic investments.  And Georgia ratepayers are already being soaked for hundreds of millions to pay in advance for reactors sinking in debt and increasingly unlikely to ever operate.  In both South and North Carolina, ratepayers are revolting against skyrocketing rate hikes to build Summer.

 

In a major defeat for the nuclear industry, the Iowa legislature adjourned without voting advance rate hikes to build nukes there.  Similar legislation is stalled in Missouri and under attack in Florida.  Brazil has announced it will build no more reactors.  Despite fierce federal attempts to reopen them, all Japan’s commercial reactors remain shut.

 

New President Francois Hollande has pledged to phase down France’s dependency on atomic power.  A construction project at Flamanville (like one in Finland) is sinking in devastating overruns and delays.  Whether Hollande will proceed there or at any other remains to be seen.

 

But France’s new nuclear hesitancy may kill new reactor projects in Great Britain.   They have been posited on support from Electricite de France, now under attack from Hollande and a skeptical banking system being hammered by Europe’s financial crisis.

 

In India, many of the 350-plus women committed to a fast-unto-death against the Koodankulam reactors have entered critical life-threatening stages.  Police-state tactics have escalated the mass confrontation at the site.

 

Only China still seems a hold out for large-scale new construction.  As grassroots anti-nuclear campaign there begin, the central government has not yet announced its post-Fukushima decision on whether to proceed with some 30-plus proposed new reactors.

 

But at Fukushima itself, we still face a potentially catastrophic situation at Unit Four’s spent fuel pool, still perched 100 feet in the air.  Tons of horrifically radioactive rods remain at the mercy of an earthquake that could send them crashing to the ground, spewing releases that can only be termed “apocalyptic.”

 

In California, a failed $960 million “upgrade” at California’s San Onofre has led to steam generator tube failures shutting two reactors with no firm reopening date.  More than a $1 billion spent by Progress Energy at Florida’s Crystal River may also doom it to long overdue burial.

 

In Vermont, New York, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere else there are operating reactors, escalating leaks, flaws, errors and advanced aging define a supremely dangerous industry falling apart at its faulty welds.

 

So far there have been no balanced national hearings on the future of Votle’s loan guarantees, or continued construction at Summer.  But this latest $900 million price jump casts yet another deadly shadow over America’s nuclear future.

 

It’s time to kill this loan—and this industry—and put our money into green-powering our planet.

 

Our economic and ecological survival depend on it.

 

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Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org.  His SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, is at www.solartopia.org ; his Green Power & Wellness Show airs at www.progressiveradionetwork.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s New Nukes Showdown Starts NOW!!!

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

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.

YOUR reach!

Let’s Join Japan and Junk New Nukes

10:07 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Japan will build no new nuclear reactors. It’s a huge body blow to the global industry, and could mark a major turning point in the future of energy. 

Says Prime Minister Naoto Kan: “We need to start from scratch… and do more to promote renewables.”

Wind power alone could—and now probably will—replace 40 nukes in Japan.

The United States must join them. Axing the $36 billion currently stuck in the 2012 federal budget for loan guarantees to build new reactors could do the trick.

Wind potential alone between the Mississippi and the Rockies could produce 300% of the nation’s electricity. That doesn’t include solar, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels and the many more renewable sources poised to re-shape the Amercian energy future once the prospect of new nukes is discarded.

Japan was set to build 14 new nukes before Fukushima. Six of Japan’s total of 55 reactors were shut by the earthquake and tsunami. Three at Kashiwazaki remain shut from the seven that were hit by an earthquake less than five years ago. Kan wants three more closed at Hamaoka, also in an earthquake/tsunami zone.

Japan’s reactor fleet remains the world’s third-largest, behind the US and France. The General Electric and Westinghouse nuclear divisions, builders of nearly all the commercial reactors in the US, are at least partly controlled by Japanese companies. Reactor Pressure Vessels and other major components are built there.

Four California reactors also sit in earthquake zones vulnerable to tsunamis. San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego, has 7.5 million people living within a 50-mile radius. Its two operating and one dead reactor sit less than a mile from the high tide line.

Diablo Canyon, near San Luis Obispo, sits near a series of earthquake faults, including one newly discovered less than two miles from the two reactor cores there.

Numerous other US reactors are perilously close to earthquake faults, including two operating at Indian Point, 35 miles north of Manhattan. The Perry reactor, on Lake Erie east of Cleveland, was damaged by an earthquake in January, 1986.

Massive quantities of heat have poured into the global eco-system from the multiple explosions, partial melt-downs and spent fuel fires at Fukushima, contributing significantly to global warming.

Highly radioactive fallout has been found miles from the site. Millions of gallons of extremely contaminated water have poured into the ocean.

Radioactive fallout has also been detected in rainwater, milk and on vegetables throughout the United States, threatening the health of millions of Americans, especially small children and embryos in utero.

Now Fukushima Unit Four appears to be on the brink of physical collapse. Fission may be continuing in at least one spent fuel pool, and possibly in one or more cores. Radiation levels are high enough at the site to guarantee certain near-term death to workers, many of whom have come to consider work at Fukushima to be a virtual suicide mission. A definitive end to the disaster could be years away.

Kan’s decision to shut Hamaoka and then to cancel future nukes came as a shock. Widely criticized for weakness in the wake of Fukushima, he has now redefined Japan’s energy future.

Though dependent on imported fossil fuels, major Japanese corporations have substantial investments in wind, solar and other Solartopian technologies. This will push them to the forefront of Japan’s energy future.

Likewise Germany. In the wake of huge public demonstrations and a major electoral defeat, Prime Minister Angela Merkel has shut seven old reactors and says ten more will go down by 2020, making Germany nuke-free. For decades Germany has been pushing wind, solar and other green technologies harder than any other industrial nation, with enormously profitable results.

In the US, renewables are also booming, while the reactor industry has been taking hard hits. Just this week a major French-operated component factory proposed for Virginia has been pushed back two years—which means likely cancellation. A $5 billion taxpayer-funded facility in South Carolina to produce plutonium-based Mixed Oxide reactor fuel faces a lack of customers, and growing doubts about the project’s viability or real purpose.

Overall, Fukushima has complicated an already dark financial picture. A Texas project meant for Japanese financing is now all but dead. So is one proposed for Maryland by the French.

While the Obama Administration continues to push for those $36 billion in loan guarantees, it’s unclear what reactor projects are in credible shape to accept them.

Meanwhile ferocious battles to shut old reactors in Vermont, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere are heating up. With roughly two dozen of similar design to Fukushima Unit One now operating in the US, the public demand for more shut-downs continues to escalate.

We need to finish the job and get to a green-powered Earth.

Nuclear power makes global warming worse, and spells economic as well as ecological doom.

The industry can’t get private financing, can’t get meaningful liability insurance, can’t deal with its wastes, can’t compete in the marketplace, can’t guarantee us we won’t suffer a Fukushima of our own, can’t provide a reliable energy supply into the future.

What lies before us once we kill these loan guarantees is a Solartopian reality powered by the sun, wind, tides, waves, earth’s heat and more.

Those countries like Germany, Denmark and now Japan that head definitively toward a nuke-free future are in the process of turning toward survivability and prosperity.

Let’s kill that loan guarantee package, shut the dying nukes like Vermont Yankee and Indian Point, and join them in truly green-powered future.


Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.harveywasserman.com.