Mitt and Money
The Triumph of Angels
Reforming the UN
Brian J. Trautman
Edge of the Abyss
Obama Discovers Inequality
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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Nuclear Follies Continue
As the first anniversary of the Fukushima disaster approaches, recent developments in the nuclear power world at locales thousands of miles apart once again teach us the high prices societies pay for depending on atomic power to generate their electricity.
Fukushima: Nearly a year after a devastating earthquake and catastrophic tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan:
- tens of thousands are still unable to return to their homes
children in the city of Fukushima are largely prohibited from going
outside last summer
radioactive contamination has been found in local beef, rice, milk,
vegetables, and tea
Most recently, the January 28 Mainichi Daily News reported, “Radioactive testing facilities have been inundated with requests to check gravel after it was revealed on January 15 that high radioactive levels were detected in gravel quarried near Fukushima Unit 1 and used in construction projects across [Fukushima] prefecture.”
Last September, on the 6-month anniversary of the calamity, 60,000 marched in Tokyo to “end Japan’s addiction to nuclear power,” ABC radio Australia reported on September 12.
On January 19, Reuters reported, the Japanese government would introduce a bill into parliament to allow a “60-year lifespan” for nuclear reactors. The report explained that Japan is “keen on bringing existing nuclear plants back into operation to avert a power crunch and ease the impact on the economy” and “has to import more fossil fuels to bridge the gap.”
Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors are currently shut down and undergoing “stress tests” to assure the public they are safe. Only 5 of the nation’s 54 reactors are operating. Protests broke out when the government announced it wants to restart the two Ohi rectors in Fukui prefecture. In Japan, the life of a nuclear power rector has been considered 40 years, but the new law would “allow plant operators to apply for one extension of up to 20 years per reactor in keeping with U.S. standards,” Reuters reported. Almost 20 of Japan’s 54 reactors date back to the 1970s, including all 6 at Fukushima Daiichi.
At the end of January the Japanese Environment Ministry announced a plan to decontaminate areas of Fukushima prefecture contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, in less contaminated areas, those “where the annual level of radiation exposure is 20 millisieverts or less, decontamination work will begin this spring and residents perhaps will be allowed to return sometime next year.”
For zones with “restricted residency,” where annual exposure is 20- 50 milliesiverts, “residents are expected to be able to return in a few years.” But for “zones where residency is prohibited for an extended period,” areas where the yearly exposure is 50 millisieverts or more, “the ministry did not present a concrete plan,” other than to term the return time “more than 5 years.”
In reality, this plan will be using the population in one gigantic ghastly experiment. Established scientific organizations such as the U.S. Academy of Sciences have concluded that there is no risk free dose of ionizing radiation (the type released by nuclear weapons detonations and nuclear power operations). And the more exposure over a lifetime, the greater the risk.
Vermont Yankee: In the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has thus far granted 20-year license extensions to 72 of the nation’s 104 nuclear power reactors. It has denied none. The 20-year license extensions are one of the key strategies the U.S. nuclear industry is using to keep itself alive, even as it potentially jeopardizes many thousands of lives.
The industry’s much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” to build new nukes has been set back due to its inability to attract financing or to get the federal government to hand over taxpayer guaranteed loans into the billions to pay for them. Only one new nuclear plant has been funded by Congress—and it has yet to break ground.
At the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in New England, a battle over that plant’s aging reactor is coming to a head. Incredibly, but typically, the NRC granted its license extension within days after Fukushima’s multiple meltdowns last year. But, alone among the states, Vermont has a provision providing that a license extension for the nuclear plant must be approved by the state legislature. That approval was not forthcoming after the NRC’s rubberstamp. However, Vermont Yankee’s owner and operator, New Orleans-based Entergy, filed suit in federal court, challenging Vermont’s authority to deny the extension. Entergy bought Vermont Yankee on the cheap, as nuclear plants go, and has been pushing it as hard as it can ever since.
Entergy infamously let its New Orleans subsidiary go broke after the Katrina disaster. More recently, in Vermont, after a radioactive lake was discovered under Vermont Yankee (which sits on the Connecticut River), Entergy claimed that underground pipes carrying such radioactive substances did not exist. But it soon emerged that they did. Entergy also refused to shut down the plant while the radioactive leaks were searched for and subsequently fixed. Nevertheless, on January 19, Judge J. Garvin Murtha of U.S. District Court ruled that the Vermont law “violated an earlier federal law,” according to the Associated Press on
Entergy lawyers argued that public safety was the “primary concern” of Vermont legislative officials in acting to deny Vermont Yankee’s license extension. According to Entergy’s Orwellian logic, only the federal government, through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has the authority to decide matters of public safety in nuclear power matters. Thus, the NRC’s decision to allow Vermont Yankee to operate for another 20 years, issued in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, should stand. And Judge Murtha agreed.
Vermont had 30 days from that decision to appeal. Vermont’s Public Safety Board still has to give final approval to the license extension. But, according to an AP report, “Entergy’s lawyers sought in court to sharply narrow grounds on which the board could prevail.” Vermont Yankee’s current operating license will expire on March 21 of this year. In another slap in the face to Vermont, if the plant continues to operate, Entergy will sell all its electricity out of state, according to the AP. Vermont Yankee has been operating since 1972. Its reactor design is the same as those that melted down at Fukushima.
San Onofre: Vermont is not alone among U.S. nuclear plants that have leaked tritium. A recent report by the California Public Interest Group (Calpirg) stated, “75 percent of U.S. nuclear plants have leaked tritium.” Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that can persist in the human body and cause cancer and genetic damage. (Calpirg’s report, “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water,” came out in January.)
The San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California is another one of those tritium leakers. The report found “for nearly 2.3 million people in Southern California, drinking supplies are located within 50 miles of San Onofre.”
“That’s a concern because, as we learned from last year in Fukushima, drinking water sources can be contaminated in the event of an accident or underground leak,” said Emily Rusch, of Calpirg.
San Onofre was Number 6 among the top 10 nuclear plants for size of population with water intakes within 50 miles of a plant. In addition, the report found that the City of San Diego, with a population of 1.26 million, was number 5 among the 10 largest water systems within 50 miles of a nuclear plant. Like the Fukushima plant, San Onofre is located on an ocean coastline where earthquakes and tsunamis are possible. Unit One at San Onofre permanently shut down in 1992. But Units 2 and 3 are still operating. Both units’ current operating licenses run out in 2022.
San Onofre’s majority owner, Southern California Edison, has not yet said whether it will apply for license extensions for 2 and 3. If it does, and if the NRC grants them, both would be licensed to operate until 2042. This would make the possibility of serious problems at the aging nukes all the greater. For example, as metal parts age, fatigue sets in and they become more liable to malfunction.
Nationwide, according to the Calpirg report, “12 million draw drinking water within 12.4 miles (20 kilometers, the radius of a nuclear power plant evacuation zone in Japan)” and “49 million receive drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of a nuclear plant.”
The report added, “The structural integrity of the Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because the collapse of its spent fuel (which caught fire after the disaster) could cause a disaster greater than the three disaster meltdowns.” CBS reported that officials also admitted “cold weather caused pipes to freeze elsewhere in the plant causing leaks in at least 30 locations.”
Meanwhile, in Vermont, Entergy was pushing the Public Service Board to hurry up and give final approval to the 20-year license extension for its Vermont Yankee nuke by issuing a “state certification of public good.” However, the anti-nuke group The New England Coalition, on February 3, urged the board to restart the process, which was suspended in 2009 pending resolution of the federal lawsuit brought by Entergy. The Coalition pointed out that since that time a few very significant things have occurred, including the revelation that Entergy lied about the radioactive pipes under the plant that caused a tritium lake to form underneath it; and the Fukushima disaster, which involved reactors with “a similar design and age as Vermont Yankee’s.” The Coalition also pointed out that Entergy’s lead attorney during the federal case said, “We think we would have to go back to the Public Service Board with a fresh docket and a fresh start.”
Back in Southern California, Unit 3 at the San Onofre nuke was shut down on January 31 after it likely released radioactive gas from the reactor building into the adjacent turbine building. The cause was said to be a defective steam generator tube. KPBS reported that the leak might have spread to the atmosphere, according to the NRC. Owner SoCal Edison said more than one tube might be damaged. The cost of the shutdown was put at $600,000 to $1 million per day. As of February 3, the unit was still shut down.
On February 3 the Los Angeles Times reported that San Onofre Unit 2 had “dozens of relatively new” steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water in its steam generator that “showed ‘many, many years’ of wear,” according to an NRC spokesperson.
The Orange County Register reported that “more than 8,000 tubes are old and thinning” in Unit 2, despite the fact that 4 new steam generators were installed in Units 2 and 3 by Mitsubishi just in 2010, at a cost of $674 million. Each reactor has 9,700 such tubes, the Register reported. The steam generators are supposed to last 30-40 years.
Bernaddo Del Chiaros of Environment California remarked, “This is further evidence that California should move beyond nuclear power. California should plan for the orderly phase out of aging nuclear plants, including San Onofre, and shift to clean energy, efficiency, and renewable power.”
Also at Unit 2, which is shut down to replace part of its nuclear fuel and for other maintenance, a “contract worker slipped into a pool to retrieve a flashlight,” the Register reported. That would be the unit’s spent fuel pool where the commercially spent, but highly radioactive, fuel rods are stored for lack of any other place to put them. The paper also reported his bosses said he “might have ingested mildly radioactive water, but no internal contamination was found.”
Everybody into the pool.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
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 scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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 on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com 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 University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.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 throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
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 branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, 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; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.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 in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.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.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.