Beyond Nuclear Bulletin, October 2009
Beyond Nuclear Bulletin October 1, 2009
The "peaceful" atom leading to war with Iran
Background: The discovery of a second uranium enrichment facility in Qum, Iran prompted the government of Saudi Arabia to open its air spacefor potential Israeli air attacks on a growing number of nuclear infrastructure targets in Iran.
Ironically, "atoms for peace" have often led to wars. In 1980, Iran attacked Iraq's partially-built Osirak reactor, but French engineers repaired the light damage quickly. The very next year, Israel bombed Osirak before it could be loaded with fuel. These attacks set the precedent for future conventional military pre-emptive strikes against commercial or research atomic facilities, as a non-proliferation tactic. In 1984, Iraq initiated several years ofattacks against Iran's partially-built Bushehr reactor complex, inflicting severe damage on the facility. The following year, Bennett Ramberg publishedNuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy: An Unrecognized Military Peril. In 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. bombed Iraqi research reactors at Tuwaitha, possibly causing radiological releases. In 2007, Israel bombed an atomic reactor being secretly constructed by North Koreans in Syria. Last year, Ramberg warned about the radiological consequences should the Dimona reactor, at the heart of the Israeli nuclear weapons manufacturing complex, be bombed.
Our view: Uranium is a currency whose coin has flipsides of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Potential nuclear targets for Israeli air attacks inIran now include the perpetually "nearly finished" Bushehr nuclear power plant and at least the Natanz and the Qum uranium enrichment facilities. Such an attack on Iran carries the increasing risk of a rapidly widening regional war, potentially globally. The Bushehr site is now known to be protected by Russian ground-to-air missile batteries.
What you can do: Call your Congressional representatives and tell them that the proliferation of "civilian" nuclear technology principally through nuclear power plants and uranium enrichment destabilizes world peace through both pre-emptive wars and the growing risk of nuclear war.
Obama Administration opens door to US-Italy nuclear power collaboration
Background: The United States and Italy signed a deal to revive Italy's nuclear power program which was closed by referendum in 1987 following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. The ambitious pact, lauded by the Obama Administration's Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, calls on the cooperation of the United States to help Italy build up to 12 new reactors. Italy plans to announce proposed sites for new nuclear construction as early as February 2010.
Our view: Italy's ambitious planners, trying to revive a nuclear program by 2018, are in for a rude awakening since they think that a new GE or Westinghouse reactor can be built for a mere $3 to $4 billion per unit. Standard & Poor's says there is no way of projecting the final cost for a new reactor in the United States. If this is true, projecting this cost in Italy will be even more impossible. Furthermore, it is increasingly irresponsible of the Obama Administration to facilitate the spread of nuclear materials and nuclear waste in Italy or anywhere. Concern about spreading nuclear materials is even greater following recent investigations into the Mafia's reported involvement in nuclear waste "management."
What you can do: Call the White House and your Congressional representatives. Tell them that promoting General Electric and Westinghouse's dirty, dangerous and expensive reactors overseas is more of a problem than a solution to global climate change.
Vermont Yankee protesters arrested after exposing defective site security; charges dropped
Background: Four women veterans of the peace and safe energy movement were arrested inside the perimeter fence of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on September 28, 2009. They walked through an open front gate, past the guard, and blocked the site's access seated in their folding chairs. In response, site security failed to close the electronically-controlled front gate from the guard shack. The gate gear box was later opened and repaired. On September 29, 2009 all charges were dropped against Hattie Nestel (age 70), Francis Crowe (90), Paki Wieland (66) and Ellen Graves (69), of the "The Shut It Down Affinity Group". All are residents of Massachusetts and live immediately downwind of the 37-year old nuclear power plant.
Our view: We support this latest act of non-violent civil disobedience by four courageous women (with a collective 295 years of accumulated wisdom!) at the much protested nuclear site. Not only did they make a principled statement on the madness of nuclear power, but did so by conducting a security spot check that promptly exposed an embarrassing defect in the site's security plan. "There is no foolproof nuclear power plant," said Hattie Nestel. Apparently, in order to keep this from an embarrassing and revealing legal hearing, Entergy and state prosecutors dropped all the charges. The legal move not only denies these women their day in court but also their due process to prosecute the reactor under a competing harm defense that would reveal the aging reactor's radioactive trespass.
Beyond Nuclear joins national coalition to resist DOE risk-taking with taxpayer monies to build new reactors
Background: On Sept. 22, Beyond Nuclear joined a national coalition led by Texans for a Safe Energy Policy and their attorney, Diane Curran, in submitting comments to the U.S. Dept. of Energy regarding a proposed weakening of its taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantee program rules. The coalition also includes Friends of the Earth, Nuclear
Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen Texas, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Our View: DOE's proposal would move taxpayers further to the back of the line, allowing other investors, such as foreign export banks, to receive priority compensation when half or more of new reactor projects default on their loan repayments, at a cost of many billions per failed project. The coalition's comments represented a prompt and strong challenge to DOE's rushed weakening of its rules, preserving our right to pursue legal challenges to such shenanigans in the future.
What You Can Do: Learn more about nuclear power subsidies at our "Nuclear Costs" website section. Call your U.S. Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to block any further nuclear power loan guarantees or other subsidies in pending energy and climate bills.
The French Nuclear Medusa
Beyond Nuclear at protests in Colmar, France this weekend
On the heels of the 50,000-strong protest September 5 against nuclear power in Berlin, Germany, anti-nuclear activists will be gathering for a similar protest in Colmar, France, October 3 and 4. The two days of activities will include an October 3 rally. Linda Gunter will represent Beyond Nuclear at the rally and conference. The focus of the event will be an effort to close the oldest reactor in France - Fessenheim - rather than allow the French government to extend its license. This action partners well with Beyond Nuclear activities in the U.S. where we are part of a coalition to stop the license extension of this country's oldest reactor - at Oyster Creek in New Jersey. More information about the Colmar events can be found on theShut Down Fessenheim Web site. Also see Beyond Nuclear's "France" website section.
Beyond Nuclear in the News
Paul Gunter is quoted in the September 30, 2009, San Antonio Current, "Risky Business Part Two In a Series: What CPS won't tell you about nuclear power".