War on the Environment
U.S. Arab Disconnect
Edward S. Herman
Billionaire Phillip Anschutz
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
The San Jose Project
Labor Must Play Its Wild Card
Obama's Jobs Proposal
Court Allows U.S. Citizens to Sue Rumsfeld
The Filthy RIch
"Soft Power" in the Middle East
The World of Drones
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Nuclear Battle in Georgia
Undeterred by the nuclear power industry’s latest radiological catastrophe in Japan, the Obama administration is moving to put the stamp of approval on a far-reaching nuclear expansion project that has raised charges of environmental injustice from regional watchdog groups who have been fighting the project for over six years.
Once deemed the “poster child” of a U.S. nuclear revival by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the Washington-based propaganda wing of the nuclear establishment, the project would put two more nuclear reactors on a site in Burke County, Georgia in a black farming community where cancer mortality and infant mortality rates increased sharply after two existing reactors on the site went online in the late 1980s.
The project—put forward by the Southern Company, a
The increase in cancer and mortality data is shown in a report commissioned by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) based in
The report, “Health Risks of Adding New Reactors to the Alvin Vogtle Nuclear Plant,” showed changes in health status before and after the startup of the two reactors. It was based on data for annual deaths between 1979-2003 maintained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and found: “The cancer death rate for children and adolescents in the 11 counties closest to Vogtle rose 58.5 percent, compared to a 14.1 percent decline nationally. The death rate in
In studies of radiation health risk, “childhood cancer is perhaps the most-studied disease, due to the increased risk from radiation exposures to the fetus, infant, and child,” the report stated. The report included data on environmental contamination based on annual reports submitted by the utility to the NRC. Data on selected water samples and sediment showed that, “From 1987-1990 (as Vogtle began operating) to 1991-2003 (during full operation), average radioactivity levels in drinking water, river water, and sediment downriver or at the Vogtle plant rose:
Beta in Raw Drinking Water + 37.1 percent
Beta in Finished Drinking Water + 17.8 percent,
Beryllium-7 in Sediment + 39.5 percent
Cesium-137 in Sediment + 37.4 percent
- Tritium in River Water + 44.6 percent
“The report found that increases in average levels of radioactivity in the local soil, sediment, and water are roughly equivalent to the increase in cancer deaths in
Mangnao noted that the report “underlines not just the increases in local contamination and cancer rates but also represents a lack of public accountability by the public utilities and government regulators to the public. What’s in this report should be presented by the government and the utilities to the public on an ongoing basis.”
A news feature aired on CNN last year (“Town fights new nuclear plants,” 4/16/10) cited Mangano’s report in a story about the plight of residents in Shell Bluff who have asked for—but failed to get—environmental testing done to determine the cause of their high cancer rates. The story noted that a radiological monitoring program under
Until DOE cut the funds,
“The funding for the program was cut off around the same time we heard about the so-called nuclear renaissance and we smelled a rat,” said Bobbie Paul, executive director of Georgia WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), which works on health and social justice issues. “We believed Southern Company didn’t want any kind of sampling or testing that would disturb this major financial investment that was going to double the size of Vogtle.”
The CNN story said that DOE had been contacted and stated in response that funding would be restored, but to date that has not happened. “We look at Vogtle first through the lens of the environmental justice issue,” said Paul. “The people who live in Shell Bluff are predominately African American, they’re poor people who farm the land. They have very few services and they live directly downwind and downstream from both Plant Vogtle and the Savannah River Site, the old bomb plant. And they have cancers—pancreatic, stomach, liver, brain, colon cancers.”
The Savannah River Site (SRS), which produced plutonium and tritium and other weapons materials from five nuclear reactors, is now the site of the DOE’s tritium extraction operation producing tritium for the
“What I see happening in
The report, based on utility data, said that the existing reactors discharge 10,000 gallons of liquid waste per minute into the
The report further noted that local residents depend on the
Zeller said the addition of two more reactors at Plant Vogtle would “double the danger of radiation exposure, double the risk of nuclear accidents, and double the impact on future generations.... The NRC seems to be immune to arguments about environmental justice. We’ve raised arguments on issues of environmental justice going back to 2006 and they were never even considered by the NRC. They were dismissed out of hand.”
In early August, 25 environmental groups across the country filed separate legal challenges with the NRC over pending actions involving 19 reactor facilities including Plant Vogtle. The motions were filed following the NRC’s recent report containing recommended actions based on “lessons learned” from the
The report calls for regulatory changes in reactor licensing. In their challenges, the groups stated that under federal laws, “the NRC may not issue or renew a single reactor license until it has either strengthened regulations to protect the public from severe accident risks or until it has made a careful and detailed study of the environmental implications of not doing so, the groups said in a statement.”
John Raymond is a freelance writer based in
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.