Beyond Nuclear

Fukushima: The Crisis is NOT Over

I receive a lot of e-mail about nuclear matters. & do fairly frequent postings about nuclear matters, too. It isn’t as though I really want to think about this stuff, it’s rather that I feel compelled to do so. & to pass along some of what I am hearing about.

Here are some recent news item links:

Fukushima: The Crisis is not Over

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Fukushima residents urine now radioactive

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Radiation in Our Food

The ocean around large areas of Japan has been contaminated by toxic radioactive agents including cesium, iodine, plutonium and strontium. These radioactive agents are accumulating in sea life. Fish, shellfish and sea vegetables are absorbing this radiation, while airborne radioactive particles have contaminated land-based crops in Japan, including spinach and tea grown 200 miles south of the damaged nuclear plants. Meanwhile, on U.S. soil, radiation began to show up in samples of milk tested in California, just one month after the plants were damaged. Radiation tests conducted since the nuclear disaster in Japan have detected radioactive iodine and cesium in milk and vegetables produced in California. According to tests conducted by scientists at the UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering, milk from grass fed cows in Sonoma County was contaminated with cesium 137 and cesium 134. Milk sold in Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Vermont and Washington has also tested positive for radiation since the accident. Additionally, drinking water tested in some U.S. municipalities also shows radioactive contamination. Is the fallout from Fukushima Daichi falling on us? Yes, it is.

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Fukushima children test positive for internal radiation exposure

Traces of cesium-134 and 137 isotopes found in urine tests on 10 children in city near stricken nuclear power plant

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Dr. Helen Caldicott: Fukushima Meltdown Much Worse Than Chernobyl

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Nuclear Power and Women

Decisions on nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear wastes are almost exclusively made by men, yet the brunt of nuclear-caused cancer is suffered by women & children, as is the brunt of nuclear war, & of depleted uranium spread.

Fallout! (do watch this!!) A 13 minute, 60-Minutes video report on Fukushima & Chernobyl

Second Japan Nuke... More Dangerous Than Fukushima? 10 minute video interview with Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear (also a must-see!)

Who Controls the Nuclear Control Agencies? Not as recent an item, but highly relevant still!

Note: Most of these items came from 2 recent issues of the No Nukes News - to which you can subscribe if you wish. Check it out! (& btw, both recent issues have plenty more good items in them!!)

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Anyone who has one iota of a brain or humility could only conclude that nuclear power is insane!” – Anne Hansen

Beyond Nuclear (surely it’s time??)

This blog post title has a dual purpose. I want to suggest that surely it’s time we human beings went beyond nuclear??

& it's the name of a (U.S.-based) group of that name that does tons of work on nuclear issues with tons of good info on its Web site, which I am delighted to promote.

In case you're not yet convinced it’s time to go beyond nuclear, check out the handy (downloadable) pamphlet 10 Reasons to Say No to Nuclear Power

Many other similarly awesome & useful downloadable pamphlets are found here

Nuclear Reactors - Additional Resources (& tons of ‘em! - including the Nuclear Awareness Project ‘Great Lakes Nuclear Hot Spots’ map & Dr. Gordon Edwards & Robert Del Tredichi’s ‘Nuclear Map of Canada’)

VIDEOS

Also, plenty of info about Fukushima on the Beyond Nuclear site

AND, a must-see 3:27 minute video here

I’m sure there are many other excellent Web sites with a ton of good info about all topics nuclear.

2 others that spring immediately to mind are:

There is also a great weekly publication called No Nukes News (you can subscribe; go to the site & find out how)

And lots of very quotable quotes about nukes here

Janet

P.S. I’m a relative latecomer to the anti-nuclear scene. Always been anti-nuke, far as I can recall, but only in the past few years actually active on it. The recent Darlington hearings (which got underway a mere 10 days after the nuclear disaster began in Japan) convinced me that all the nuclear industry’s resources need to focus from here on in on proper storage & handling of the already-existing & still-to-be-created nuclear wastes that will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years, & on safe decommissioning of current nuclear facilities. This alone will challenge the nuke industry (& all of humanity) for all the rest of our days. My own presentation at the hearing is here

P.P.S. A selection of items on the topic of nukes & climate change here

P.P.P.S. Quote of the day w. this post: “We know we face extinction if nuclear war ever begins. But we face the same extinction even if the bombs never fall. The production alone of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is initiating the death crisis of our species.” - Dr. Rosalie Bertell

 

Great Lakes Clean Energy Roundtable (May 14/11)

I attended this excellent event last Saturday in Dearborn, Michigan. It was sponsored by Sierra Club - S.E. Michigan Group, Sierra Club of Canada, Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear Issues Committee & Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination Lots of great speakers!! (Full agenda is below.)

Here are links to YouTubes of 4 of the presentations. These are excellent presentations, btw, & I recommend that anyone who wants to understand the current nuclear scene in North America watch them. The Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents also inevitably come up.

Keynote presentation by Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (touches on all aspects of the nuclear issue: history of the nuclear industry, the difference between radiation & radioactivity, internal vs. external radiation, children in Japan now being exposed to as much radiation as atomic workers in Germany, deliberate obfuscation used by the nuclear industry, "engineering euphoria," the fact that all discoveries about health impacts come from outside the nuclear industry, etc. etc.)

Presentation by Lynn Ehrle (Chair of the International Science Oversight Board of the Organic Consumers Association) on the new book about the Chernobyl accident. (The book is called Chernobyl - Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko & Alexey V. Nesterenko.) The posting I did on April 26th gives details on how to order the book, & since it costs only $10. per copy,  I recommend it!

Presentation by Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear: Radioactive Roulette on the Great Lakes: Davis-Besse Plant (the nuclear hot spots map to which he refers can be found on the Beyond Nuclear site here )

Presentation by Michael J. Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes - Dangers of Nuclear Energy & the Fermi 3 Plants in Monroe, Michigan.

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Agenda 8:30 - Registration 9:00 - 9:10 - Welcome 9:10 - 9:25 - Lynn Ehrle, Chair of the International Science Oversight Board of the Organic Consumers Association: “A Critical New Book on the Human Health and Environmental Impacts of Chernobyl" 9: 30 - 9:45 - Music - Victor McManemy, Great Lakes Songwriter and Musician 9:50 - 10:40 - Keynote Speaker: Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: "Radioactive Contamination of the Earth - Accidental or Deliberate?" 10:40 - 11:00 -  Break 11:00- 11:40 - Brennain Lloyd, Community Organizer with Northwatch: “A Deep Radioactive Dump Beside Lake Huron?" 11:45 - 12:25 - Kevin Kamps and Gordon Edwards: “Radioactive Wreck: U.S. and Canadian Nuclear Waste Policy” 12:25 - 1:10 - Lunch 1:10 - 1:50 - Michael Keegan, Chair, Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes, "Why We Should Oppose a New Reactor in Monroe, Michigan." 1:55 - 2:15 - Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Beyond Nuclear "Radioactive Roulette on the shores of the Great Lakes: Davis-Besse” 2:20 - 2:35 - Greg Laskowsky, Lead Instructor, Energy Technology, Energy and Technology Department, Henry Ford Community College: "Henry Ford Community College’s Renewable Energy Program - A History and Introduction.” 2:35- 2:50 - Break 2:50 - 3:30 - Kathleen Law, Former Michigan legislator who introduced the first European-style legislation in North America, since adopted by Ontario: “How to Make Clean Local Energy Accessible” 3:35 - 4:05 - Full Panel on relevant legislation and ways to impact government on energy issues 4:05 - 4:25 - Questions from the audience 4:25 - 4:45 - Closing - followed by music, Victor McManemy 4:45 - 5:00 - Visit with speakers, visit tables

Chernobyl: 25th Anniversary (++ links)

Today, April 26, 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

I’ll be attending a candlelight vigil in Toronto tonight. The vigil is being held to commemorate this anniversary, & also to support the people of Japan, now dealing with their own horrendous nuclear disaster. The event has been organized by Greenpeace & will take place at 900 Bay St., where Ontario’s Ministry of Energy is located.(1)

I can still recall when I heard about the Chernobyl accident. My children were young then, & although our little family lived in Durham Region (east of Toronto) in the area of 2 major nuclear plants (Pickering, already functioning & Darlington, under construction & later opened in 1989), we never gave it a thought.

Naïve young parents, hmmm? Unaware of so many environmental risks that we & our children unwittingly faced. Polluted air, pesticide exposures from sprayed lawns & sprayed crops nearby. Well water potentially affected by those same pesticides. Hormone disruptors in plastic toys that we gave our kids & got a kick out of them sucking on when they were really young.

Dear me.

And nuclear plants.

But I digress...

I now work (as a volunteer) to help put an end to the nuclear nightmare. It seems there is no end yet in sight.

Here are a few sites it seems a good idea to promote, on this 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster & only 6 ½ weeks out from Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

 

& finally, information about a book about Chernobyl (a review of which can be found here )

“Ace Hoffman has posted the following amazing offer from the authors of the book Chernobyl - Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.

This book is “...a comprehensive presentation of all the available information concerning the health and environmental effects of the low dose radioactive contaminants, especially those emitted from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.” - quoted from Dr. Sherman’s Web site

For more information on both Dr. Sherman and the book - Chernobyl - Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, go to Dr. Janette Sherman’s Web site.

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Chernobyl book available NOW in printed form for only $10.00!

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Chernobyl - Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,

by Alexei V. Yablokov, Vastly B. Nesterenko and Alexey V. Yesterenko.

Consulting Editor:  Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger.   327 pages.

Originally published in 2009 by the New York Academy of Sciences at $150.00, the right to reprint has been transferred to the authors and is now available for $10.00, plus postage.  This includes a separate index that was not part of the original book.

Number of Books                         Postage              Total Cost

One        @ $10.00                     $2.77                    $12.77

Five         50.00                            4.72                    54.72

Ten        100.00                            7.45                   107.45

Etc.!

Please order directly from:

GREKO PRINTING

260 W. Ann Arbor Rd.

Plymouth, MI 48170

734-453-0341  (9 to 5, Mon. to Fri., EDT)

E-mail:  TONY@GREKOPRINTING.COM

Include credit card number & expiration date, number of books & address where they are to be sent. Orders from foreign countries welcome! Postage will be additional.

(1) AND, there is a Robert Knoth photo exhibit ‘Chernobyl: Remember & Rethink’ in Toronto from April 14-28 at the Hotshot Art Gallery, 181 Augusta Ave. (Tues-Sat., 11 am – 7 pm). Only 2 more days, as I post this entry.

 

 

Darl. Hearings: Janet M. (aka me - March 31st)

March 31, 2011.

Members of the Joint Review Panel, OPG & CNSC staff & fellow members of the public:

I appreciate the opportunity to make this presentation to the Darlington New Build Joint Review Panel.

As I laid out in the outline I submitted in February, my presentation will consist of the following:

  • Introductory remarks
  • Comments on the limitations of the review process
  • Comments on projected costs & overall economics of this project
  • Nuclear fuel chain issues & implications
  • Issues of public trust
  • Concluding remarks

Introductory Remarks

I’ve been an environmental activist for more than 20 years now. I’m also a former long-time resident of Durham Region & spent most of my adult life in Durham Region & the Greater Toronto Area.

It was never my intent to become involved in nuclear issues & I’ll explain in a moment why I did. Most of my years of activism have been focused on waste, pesticides, cancer prevention & climate change initiatives.

It’s relevant that I am a mother. Concern for my children’s future began even before they were born, naturally enough, & the threats to their future seem to have multiplied exponentially.

Now that they are adults who might like to have children of their own one day, I have the motivation to keep on working on environmental issues – even though sometimes I’d like to just stop & pull the covers over my head – the way so many “ordinary people” seem to do.

I’ve been thinking for a couple of days now about panel member Mme. Beaudet’s question to Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper President, about reaching “ordinary people” in this process.

For sure I am one of the ordinary people in the sense that, unlike so many of my brilliant colleagues who’ve spoken at this hearing, I am not a technical person. I don’t really have a clue how nuclear energy & nuclear power plants work. I’m not scientifically minded & I’m not mathematically minded, either.

I could never engage with an engineer about technical matters involving reactors, & most of the CNSC staff could silence me pretty quickly with their jargon.

But here’s the thing. Although I am not technical, I do have an ear for language, & I can still see pretty well. I can often tell when I’m being deceived, & I can spot when an Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. I often recall that Jane Jacobs (internationally known for her work on urban issues) once said, “Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.”

I’m a big believer in telling the truth, & in drawing attention to elephants in the room. This doesn’t always make me popular, of course! Sometimes we humans are pretty invested in leaving those elephants alone – whether on big scary matters like nuclear energy, or the “small” ones in our personal lives.

As regards telling the truth, I recall that Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, once said “Speak your mind, even when your voice shakes.” …. so that’s what I am trying to do. Sometimes my voice does shake – it may very well be shaking now – but if we human beings are going to keep on living on this planet (something I am less & less convinced is going to be possible in the long-term), I think more & more of us are going to need to start telling the truth.

Now, as to how & why I became involved in nuclear issues.

After 24 years in Durham Region, I moved to Deep River for 6 years. Friends I made in Renfrew County told me about the little company in Pembroke that makes glow-in-the-dark products using tritium from CANDU reactors. The things I learned about the tritium pollution in air & groundwater in Pembroke shocked me deeply. That’s what motivated me to start attending Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hearings. It’s been very illuminating!

The Limitations of This Review Process

The limitations of this process have been covered quite brilliantly by other intervenors – Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Greenpeace, & others.

I would like to call attention to the document called Public Hearing Procedures (no file or document #) that states, in Section 1, ‘Background Information,’ that the proposal is “for the site preparation, construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment of up to four new nuclear reactors” etc. etc.

The use of the word “abandonment” certainly sends up a red flag for me! I’m not sure how we can reasonably talk about “abandoning” nuclear reactors whose contaminants & waste will remain radioactive & dangerous for thousands & thousands of years. As far as I’m aware, the nuclear industry has no real experience in the safe decommissioning of used-up nuclear plants. The use of the word “abandonment” is a bit shocking to me, for sure.

In Section 2 of that same document, under “Role of the Panel,” it refers to this “environmental assessment of the complete life cycle of the project.” Again, I’m not sure how we can be properly said to assess the complete life cycle of a project whose carrying out involves the creation of dangerous wastes that will remain dangerous not just for my grandchildren’s grandchildren, but for their grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren… & perhaps beyond?? It seems a little preposterous, then, to me, to make this claim about the “life cycle” of the project.

There are other aspects of this plan for new nuclear reactors that I have trouble buying into. “Bounding scenarios.” “Multiple technology approach.” “Credible accident scenarios.”

The language all sounds more than a little absurd! It sounds like fancy jargon that intends not to illuminate or tell the truth, but to do quite the opposite. To cover up & obscure the truth.

I doubt very much that the BP oil spill – or the current nuclear crisis in Japan – would be classified as “credible accident scenarios.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. As one of the aboriginal speakers said on Monday, the unthinkable does indeed happen…

I have felt quite often during this hearing process that, like Alice in the story of “Alice in Wonderland,” I must have fallen down a rabbit hole. Some of the testimony I hear puts me in mind of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

OPG testimony on Tuesday about their ability to safeguard dangerous nuclear wastes for hundreds of thousands of years is an excellent case in point. I am not in the slightest reassured! In fact, OPG staff members’ inability to really get their heads around the really, really long-term storage challenge is frankly sobering & even downright scary to me.

I recall that a previous intervenor, Dr. Fairlie, called on the nuclear industry to demonstrate humility, not hubris, at this most extraordinary time, considering the escalating nuclear crisis in Japan.

Given the current nuclear crisis, this whole panel experience seems almost surreal. I doubt that I am alone in feeling this sensation.

As for the failure of this process to properly investigate non-nuclear alternatives, I’m reminded of Thomas Alva Edison – father of the light bulb – who said “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ‘til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Of course Edison very likely had no idea we’d come up with the madness of nuclear energy!

Comments on the projected costs & overall economics of this project

Many intervenors have by now made comments on this as well.

I do not recall how many millions of dollars over budget the first generation of reactors at Darlington came in at. (I do recall that an engineer friend of mine once said that if the money spent building the Darlington reactors had been put into solar panels for all the houses in Durham Region, Darlington wouldn’t have been needed. This friend is a nuclear engineer, by the way…)

How many millions of dollars over budget are all the current nuclear refurbishment projects? Some mind-boggling # that truly does boggle the mind so much that we “ordinary people” lay it aside almost casually & forget about it. We’ve heard it so many times before…

And yet, it is genuinely scandalous, really, isn’t it??

I also wonder how it is possible for OPG to give any realistic estimate of the costs for decommissioning reactors when, from what I gather, decommissioning nuclear facilities is not exactly “proven technology.”

Finally, I want to register my extreme frustration that, if all the money that’s been spent on this project had been put into research & implementation of conservation & efficiency measures (which have been known about for decades now, after all!) & renewable energy sources, a great many more jobs would have been created & they would be sustainable jobs.

The money that is being spent to conduct this hearing process would very likely fund a really efficient environmental non-governmental organization for years. So much waste of human energy, psychic potential & our hard-earned tax dollars! It’s enough to make a person weep….

Nuclear fuel chain issues & implications

I’m aware that you have chosen not to consider the entire nuclear fuel chain to be an integral part of your deliberations. But talking about building new nuclear reactors & failing to consider the rest of the stages involved is kind of like saying we’re going to undertake to protect fetuses from fetal alcohol syndrome – without bothering to talk to the fetuses’ mothers about giving up drinking!

Dave Kraft, director of Nuclear Energy Information Service has said “Authorizing construction of new nuclear reactors without first constructing a radioactive waste disposal facility is like authorizing construction of a new Sears Tower without bathrooms.”

The nuclear fuel chain is… bad news. Human health & the environment are damaged at every turn.

It is not precautionary at any point, & simply claiming it is so will not make it so.

The biggest single problem with the nuclear fuel chain, it seems to me, is the waste that will be created & left for future generations to “manage.”

It seems to me we have a moral duty as human beings to behave in such a way that future generations will be possible. A duty many of us are really only paying lip service to, I’d say.

We heard Dr. Caldicott speak last week, about the damage to children in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. We all know there will be vast damage to the as-yet unborn in the wake of the current Japanese nuclear disaster.

I wonder about the possibility for future generations to survive at all, considering the overwhelming burden of nuclear pollution that already exists – never mind the bizarre & irresponsible notion of creating yet more.

We cannot properly deal with the wastes that have already been created. As has been pointed out by Mr. Kamps from Beyond Nuclear, “29 years after passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 36 years after the repository search began, 54 years into commercial nuclear power, and 69 years after Fermi first split the atom during the Manhattan Project, the U.S. still has no safe, sound, permanent storage plan for high-level nuclear wastes.”

Nor, as we all know, does Canada.

In my opinion, put very very simply, nuclear energy is immoral.

I believe we have a moral duty to stop messing with it.

Issues of public trust

We know that the public does not trust the nuclear industry. We didn’t before Chernobyl, & we haven’t since. We didn’t before the accident in Japan & of course, we do so even less now.

I’m not sure that this matters much to the nuclear industry. Or to our governments.

There seem to be forces at work here that I don’t really understand.

I do believe, though, that one problem is an engineering mindset that is not serving us well.

I’ve had some interesting encounters with engineers in the past few years. Some of them have said things that have blown my mind.

One who used to work at the Chalk River nuclear facility expressed surprise that it had become clear that the ocean could not withstand all of humanity’s assaults on it. All the pollution we have dumped in it, & continue to dump in it. I was taken aback. He was serious! He thought we could go on & on & on using our precious water bodies as dumping grounds.

Another engineer (two, actually) outright denied what the retired, radioactive steam generators at the Bruce Power plant contain. It was pretty much a “Please! Don’t confuse me with the facts” conversation. The piece of paper I was showing them had information that had been provided by OPG – but these engineers were sure they knew better!

Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil. This is a very dangerous mindset.

The nuclear industry seems to damage people at every stage along the way. People who live near uranium mines get sick. Bodies of water are destroyed forever. Workers at the Bruce were recently exposed to radiation.

Nuclear accidents happen & the public is lied to about the extent of the damage.

A previous speaker at this hearing (one of the articulate First Nations speakers on Monday) said, “No one is listening to us.”

We have good reason not to trust the industry.

Concluding Remarks

I’ve amended my remarks since I first wrote them. I was feeling pretty angry when I wrote my first draft.

Now we have another nuclear disaster, & now we have an opportunity to make this a watershed moment in human history. It may well be too late to save us, but it sure seems to me we ought to at least try!

I haven’t done a lot of stints in the corporate world in my working life. I do still have a powerful memory of one meeting I was part of, in my last corporate role.

I sat looking around the room at all the very bright & energetic people who were in the room & who were really working their butts off on the project we were engaged in. Well above & beyond the call of duty, for sure.

I thought, “Holy smokes. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could harness all the energy of all these brilliant minds to do the things that really need to be done to fix up the planet??”

And I’ve been having that thought again here, during the past days of hearings.

There’s a real “us & them” mentality at work here. It’s adversarial, & it sure doesn’t help us solve problems.

Last year I read an amazing book called Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow & the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa, about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. I recall from time to time (when I’m not feeling angry about what a mess things are & wondering about & blaming who is responsible for all these messes) that we really are all in this together, & that keeping on with the us & them dynamic isn’t going to take us anywhere we really want to go.

I can’t help but wish we’d use this time now, in the wake of this horrendous Fukushima nuclear disaster, to put our minds to a little “truth & reconciliation.” Put all our bright minds together & find solutions – not keep making more & more problems.

I’m terribly naïve – I know that. We environmental activists are idealists. I guess somebody has to do it!

Einstein, as we all know, said “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!” He also said “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

While I have no expectation that this panel will actually decide to put a halt to this project, that is what I very much hope you will do.

Earlier this week, on Monday, after I left the day’s hearing here, I went down to the gate at the Darlington Generating Station, where I looked at the plaque on the monument that was erected by the Nuclear Awareness Project group in 1989. The group put a time capsule in the ground & then put up a monument over top of it.

The plaque reads:

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations.” – from the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.

“This monument marks the opening of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children. The time capsule contained herein shall be opened after 7 generations, in the year 2129. The capsule contains information reflecting the debate on nuclear technology.

Our children shall judge us.”

It is surely so.

Thank you.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – articles & resources

I routinely receive lots of e-mails every day. Lately, the number I’m receiving with good information about the nuclear disaster in Japan is very high.

I’m giving the links here for 4 articles that strike me as very good ones to let people know about.

How the “Peaceful Atom” Became a Serial Killer. Nuclear Power Loses its Alibi -- By Chip Ward

We tried the nuclear power experiment -- and it didn't work By Joshua Pearce

Who controls nuclear control agencies? By Steve Leahy

Would a New Nuclear Plant Fare Better than Fukushima? Josie Garthwaite for National Geographic

Nuclear (Bad) News - articles & links at International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH) site

For thorough ongoing coverage of the nuclear disaster in Japan, go to Beyond Nuclear

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster - links

For a person who usually has plenty of words at the ready, I have no idea what to say. Like everyone, I guess, I feel more or less struck dumb. Dumb & numb, I guess...

So I'll just pass along a few links where you can find continual updates on the nuclear situation in Japan.

Beyond Nuclear has tons & tons of info

Nukefree.org does too

Lots of good "Resources on Nuclear Accidents" here

Good compilation here on EcoSanity site

Union of Concerned Scientists - "All things nuclear - Insights on Science & Security."

Recycling: the good, the bad & the ugly

Recycling: such a nice “warm & fuzzy” word, isn’t it? A word with such positive associations.

And I'm a diehard recycler, believe me!! Been recycling for more than 30 years – newspapers, cans, glass; whatever I can possibly recycle (or compost!), I recycle (or compost).

In fact, I spent quite a few years as an activist focusing largely on waste reduction – at first because the idea of wasting good land for dump sites really gave me the willies – & because waste in general is just such a … waste! (& I hate waste – of all kinds.)

Eventually, I twigged to the fact that reusing resources also conserves energy – so critical when it comes to the climate issue. How many times have I repeated the phrase “You can run a TV set for 3 hours with the energy saved by recycling one aluminum can”? Tons. (Hmmm. Mind you, if we kept the darn TV turned OFF, we’d save even more energy, wouldn’t we??)

So, I faithfully recycle & compost, but I’ve noticed another positive form of “recycling” along the way.

Gratitude is a wonderful way to keep positive thoughts … recycling … around inside one’s head. I always say if one fills up one’s head with positive thoughts, the negative ones mostly just get squeezed out! (Lots about gratitude on this blog.)

I’ve also come to think of anger as something we do not want to recycle – although I see lots of evidence all around me that there is plenty of this happening. Heck, I’m guilty of it myself at times! When I catch myself recycling anger & resentments, I do my best to put a quick stop to it. Since what we focus on expands, I find I’m much happier (more filled with positive energy) when I keep that stuff from filling up my head.

So, recycling anger is what I think of as an example of “bad” recycling. (As wonderful writer Anne Lamott has a character say in her novel Crooked Little Heart, “Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Brilliant, isn’t it?)

Which brings us around, finally, to the “ugly."

Bruce Power – one of Ontario (Canada)’s major producers of nuclear energy – is determined to ship radioactive steam generators from its plant near the shores of beautiful Lake Huron – & claims that the company they are shipping them to (Studsvik) in Sweden will … you guessed it! recycle them.

This is ugly. Not just ugly...it's dangerous.

The outer shell of the internally very radioactively-contaminated steam generators (SGs) will be “recycled” – & guess where that contaminated scrap metal will go? It will be “free released” into the global scrap metal supply. It will then likely make its insidious way into cutlery, furniture (think cribs, eh?), toasters, bedposts, dental hardware…etc. etc. etc. (The blog posting ‘Radioactive Cutlery, Anyone?’ discusses this in greater depth).

Bruce Power (BP for short, hmmm?) wants us to “just trust them” about this preposterous project. There must be at least 50 reasons why I personally have zero trust for the nuclear industry in general & this project in particular (although as far as that goes, one need not be “anti-nuke” to be anti-steam generator shipment!).

For sure there are “15 Facts” about this proposal I’d suggest any & everyone, everywhere, read & digest. Then I’d suggest we ALL raise a big ruckus before a ship is permitted to set sail from Owen Sound, Ontario, sail through Georgian Bay & then 3 of the Great Lakes & the St. Lawrence River & then the Atlantic Ocean – with 16 school-bus-sized steam generators filled with radioactive contaminants. (Look here to see what the tube bundles look like & here & here for lists of the contents of these innocuous-sounding steam generators. Since plutonium has a starring role, you really ought to check it out!)

Bruce Power – & the nuclear industry – ain’t stupid! They’re deliberately highjacking the word “recycling” – a word with which most of us have positive associations – & claiming they are “doing the right thing” by “recycling” nuclear waste & gradually, insidiously, adding it to the world’s metal supply.

The United Nations has a report on this issue that you can see here. The NIRS group has many fact sheets on their Web site. The one here explains why reprocessing is not the answer with nuclear waste (unless the question is “How can we dupe the public into accepting radioactively-contaminated consumer products? How’s about a little plutonium with that new toaster…eh?”)

Btw, you can go here to see what the U.S.-based Steel Manufacturers Association has to say about the growing problem of radioactive metal contamination.

So. Recycling, eh?

For sure, it can be grand!

We can help our world in lots of ways by practicing waste reduction. By all means, please do recycle whatever things you can in your community’s local recycling program!

You may not want to recycle your anger, though. (It doesn’t just make you & the people around you miserable, it’s also bad for your health!)

And always, always, always, it’s critical to bear in mind that preventing waste from happening in the first place – waste of any kind – whether it’s resources, poisoning of any kind, problems of any kind, & especially wars – is ALWAYS the best strategy. (The “waste reduction hierarchy” is 1. Reduce 2. Reuse 3. Recycle. First choice = don’t make it/buy/create it in the first place, if you can help it!)

When it comes to nuclear waste that will remain hazardous for 1000’s & 1000’s, & 10’s of 1000’s, & 100’s of 1000’s of years – could we please just get smart & stop making it???? And for sure, not send it sailing through the drinking water of 40 million people!!

Janet

p.s. BP keeps kinda quiet about the fact that the Swedish company Studsvik they are dealing with will return the most highly radioactive & dangerous “leftovers” back to Canada, where they will land by ship in Halifax, on Canada’s East Coast, then make their way by truck, & public roads, to the Bruce Power site near Kincardine, Ontario. Trucking dangerous, radioactive materials all over the place – risking accidents at literally every turn – can anyone say “Gosh. This sure looks like a dumb & dangerous plan to me!! Aren’t we humans smarter than that????”

p.p.s. Albert Einstein said “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!” Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) said “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ‘til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” These dudes were smart, eh???? [tons more nuke-related quotations]

p.p.p.s. Lots more steam generator-related posts listed here

TONS of good info here also

Great Lakes United here

NIRS here

Beyond Nuclear here

 

Radioactive Cutlery, Anyone?

So, I popped into a store the other day to buy a wedding shower gift for my daughter.

I’ve been working on a nuclear issue lately – the one involving a plan to ship 16 radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway (all of which border both Canada & the U.S.) & all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to Sweden for "recycling." This shipment will be just the beginning, btw. There are 32 of these generators & all in all, this shipment looks to many of us like the thin edge of the wedge, as they say...

The GLU group (Great Lakes United) Web site has good info on this (including a resolution you can sign onto). Beyond Nuclear is another group & site to check out. The NIRS (Nuclear Information & Resource Service) site also has info (including a lot of great fact sheets on nuke-related issues of all kinds; this one of particular interest). (And yes! International Radioactive Waste Day - more here. Hint: it's on Wednesday, September 29th!)

In working on this issue, I’ve become aware that metal contaminated with radioactive waste (“radwaste”) has become a feature of life here on Planet Earth. Who knew?? Well, maybe lots of other activists knew, but I, for one, am new to this realization.

Is this appalling, or is this appalling?? (it seems more than a little appalling to me…)

Paul de Bruin, radiation safety chief for Jewometaal Stainless Processing in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (the world’s largest stainless steel scrap facility), has stated “The world is waking up very late to this.”(1)

The United Nations produced a report in 2006 called Recommendations on Monitoring & Response Procedures for Radioactive Scrap Metal, Report of an International Group of Experts convened by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

The report’s Introduction points out that the detection of radioactive contaminants bears very major economic & financial consequences (namely, often the closure of the facility where it’s been found & very expensive remedial/clean-up action). And then one finds this statement: “In addition, such incidents can lead to a loss of trust in the recycled metal industry and the associated products since consumers do not wish to have unnecessary radiation emanating from their purchases.” (italics mine)

Ya think?

Dark humour. Very dark…

So, off I go to look at cutlery for my daughter (for some illogical reason I am determined that my gift be cutlery). In addition to being a tad flabbergasted at the price of modern-day cutlery (I live under a rock, I like to joke, don’t shop much, & have been using the same cutlery – a pre-wedding gift from parents-in-law – for the past 35 years), I note that most of what I see on store shelves was “Made in China.”

This does not reassure me. I recall hearing that China has been exporting lead (& I don’t recall what-all other nasty substances) in consumer products. One has become, um, a tad hesitant about products from China, of late…

I ask myself, was this product I’m considering buying made by workers who are being paid slave wages? Working for a company that may not care in the slightest about its environmental (or social) impacts? I also now have to wonder: is it possible it contains radioactive materials??

Good Lord.

What is a person to do??

Well. I know what I’m going to do. I’ll be “intervening” at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hearing in Ottawa (hearing being held on Sept. 28 & 29th) & asking the CNSC to shelve its plan with Bruce Power (BP for short. Egad! Unfortunate acronym, hmm?) to ship these generators that will ultimately wind up being "free-released" & recycled into consumer products. (Turns out recycling is not always "good," hmmm??) The agenda for that hearing can be found here

I’ll be in good company there – lots of intelligent, bold and articulate interveners who have devoted tons of their time to this issue.

Problem? The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission seldom seems to pay much attention to what intervenors say at public hearings (which often strike me as mere “kangaroo courts” – but then, I’ve attended too darn many of them) – unless, of course, said intervenors are representatives of the nuclear industry. Now that’s a different ballgame…

So I’ve also written to Canadian (federal) Environment Minister Jim Prentice to tell him of my concerns, & have copied other Canadian political leaders, including my own MP (Member of Parliament). I’ve used a letter sent by Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

If you’re Canadian, why not do the same? (A separate blog post – posted just before this one – contains the letter & info on how to send one of your own, addresses included, & how to find out your MP’s address, also.)

If you’re not Canadian, I suggest you consider digging into this issue yourself, unless you’re keen on going to your local store one day & taking home a set of radioactive cutlery. Or toaster. Or…whatever.

(or learning that the Baltic Sea, near the Swedish company that recycles radioactive materials into metal that then hits the market & becomes consumer products, is being polluted with radioactive waste. Uck…)(2)

Heaven alone knows what these…characters…will get up to next…

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


(1) That & the following are included in my “intervention” letter to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for the hearing coming up on Sept. 28/29, 2010, in Ottawa, ON (more details on the hearing in the remainder of the blog posting).

According to a magazine article from the Bureau of International Recycling, following a conference held in 2009 in Düsseldorf, Germany, ELG Haniel Metals Chairman/Director Michael Wright warned that “Radioactive scrap is a global problem that affects every recyclable metal.”

Furthermore, it was reported that, “Worldwide, governments lose track of 200 to 400 orphan sources each year.”

And, that governments are “not accepting their responsibility” for these orphan sources.

A 2009 newspaper report from Germany states, “The German government has become increasingly concerned over the last six months by the incidence of stainless steel products exhibiting radioactive contamination. In total, some 10 tons of material have been identified so far, spread across a wide range of material forms, from stainless steel wire wool, to bars, valves, castings and flat products.”

I myself have only recently become aware that scrap metal companies, scrap dealers and steel mills must now routinely use scanning equipment to detect contaminated scrap – but as anyone with any imagination can readily surmise, there are not sufficient funds nor staff hours for every dealer to scan every single piece of metal being transported around the world.

The International Atomic Energy Association has reported that there may be more than 1 million missing radioactive sources worldwide.

(2) Check out the Swedish anti-nuclear group Milkas, which opposes the import of radioactive waste into Sweden.