Volume 21, Number 10
Italy Base Demos
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Russia & U.S.
Harold & Kumar
Economists w/ Guns
Bruce E. Levine
Stuffed & Starved
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Troubles Growing for New Nukes
On June 19 John McCain called for 45 new nuclear plants to be built in the U.S. by 2030. McCain also said his ultimate goal of 100 new nukes is "as difficult as it is necessary." McCain's statement parroted the U.S. nuclear industry's Vision 2020 Program, which called for 50 new nuclear plants in the U.S. by 2020. The Bush administration's Nuclear Power 2010 Program set a similar goal—one whose costs would be heavily subsidized by the federal government. Barack Obama's endorsement of new nukes has been less enthusiastic, stating in his acceptance speech: "As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power."
The nuclear industry, the Bush administration, and the mainstream media have been touting new nuclear power plants as green energy and the salvation of the energy crisis. This propaganda ignores several facts, including:
- vast amounts of greenhouse gases are released in the mining, milling, and production of nuclear fuel
- nuclear plants constantly release toxic radiation that causes harm to the environment and human health
- high level nuclear waste, which remains lethal for generations, is piling up at nuclear plants across the nation, with no solution for its safe disposal in sight
- after nukes permanently shut down, large amounts of greenhouse gases are released during their dismantlement and disposal
Money Trail Going Cold
Though new nukes utilities have been lined up at the public trough for years, they haven't been able to persuade Congress to guarantee them all the loans they claim to need to make their "nuclear renaissance" a reality. Last year their goal was to get $50 billion in loan guarantees from the feds to cover the next two fiscal years. But strong public opposition helped cut that amount down to $18.5 billion. Veteran DC-based anti-nuclear groups like the Nuclear Information & Resource Center and Public Citizen mobilized opponents to lobby against the measure. In this battle they allied with Nuke Free, a reincarnation of the No Nukes Movement, led by Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Graham Nash who were joined by next generation stars Ben Harper and Keb Mo.
Together they started a website (nukefree.org), recorded an updated version of the 1960's classic "For What It's Worth" as a music video, and organized an online petition campaign, opposing the $50 billion giveaway.
Slowdowns, Gridlock, & Snags
The first new nukes application, though a partial one, was filed in July 2007 by Constellation/Unistar to build a new nuke at its Calvert Cliffs site on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The NRC received four more applications through 2007.
But after Congress cut the $50 billion loan guarantee by more than half late last year, and the new nukers' attempt failed in the Climate Security Act as well, the pace of applications slowed. So, as of the end of July, the NRC had received 11 applications to build 18 new nuclear reactors. All in all the industry has stated there will be 23 applications to build 34 reactors. The plan is to have the first new reactors operating in the mid to latter half of the next decade.
But there are other complicating factors besides cost. A January 8 Chicago Tribune story reported on "fears of an approaching bottleneck caused by a stressed global supply chain" for new nukes. The article focused on Japan Steel, "the only company in the world that forges...reactor pressure vessels." The vessels are key components in nuclear reactors, since they keep its radioactivity from escaping. Each operating nuclear reactor produces amounts of radiation many times in excess of that released by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The Tribune reported that Japan Steel "already has a three year backlog." The company can only make four vessels a year.
Faced with a potential shortage of this essential component, some U.S. new nuke companies, such as Exelon, are already placing orders for the vessels—and are putting down $100 million deposits.
The Tribune story also included this quote from an April 2007 study by the NEI: "In addition, no U.S. company has the capability to produce large forgings necessary for manufacturing steam generators and large turbine generators for nuclear plants." These are other key nuke components.
One more complicating factor is the nuclear industry's decision to build most nukes in the southeastern U.S. Of the 23 applications expected by the NRC, only 5 are for locations outside the South. Powerful Southern utilities such as Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy and New Orleans-based Entergy are at the forefront of the new nukes initiative.
But they already have "dozens of gas-fired plants" that "sit idle most of the year," according to Reuters and some Southerners are still paying for old nuke cost overruns, the report also stated. For example, Entergy customers in Mississippi pay an extra $12 a month for cost overruns at its Grand Gulf nuclear power plant. Now Entergy, the nation's second largest nuke plant company, wants to build a new nuclear plant there.
Southern Opposition Heats Up
The North Carolina Waste and Reduction Network (NC WARN) is opposing plans by Progress Energy to build two new reactors at its Harris nuclear site, located ten miles from Raleigh in central North Carolina. One reactor has been operating there since the mid-1980s.
The nukes industry has touted the "advanced reactors" it wants to use in new nuke plants as of cookie cutter design, identical enough to be virtually snapped into place. In the past almost every U.S. nuclear power plant had a significantly different design, which proved to cause a host of maintenance and other problems.
"But this month," NC WARN reported in a June press release, "NRC told owners of the Calvert Cliffs plant in Maryland that the agency must delay its license review until certification of the Areva [French nuclear company] design is complete. NRC also sent a list of site-specific shortcomings ‘that introduce uncertainty into the review schedule.' At a June 10 NRC meeting near the Harris plant, agency officials admitted to watchdog group NC WARN that the Westinghouse design—declared certified in December 2005 but now in its 16th revision—would not be complete until sometime in 2011."
The press release also reported that the Westinghouse new reactor design included in Harris and other new nuke applications included "172 interconnected Westinghouse documents," of which "only 21 have been certified by the NRC."
Based on these uncertainties, NC WARN "filed a legal motion" with the NRC, "saying public interest groups cannot review ‘moving target' applications and insisting the 60-day time frame for contesting the Harris application be suspended until the highly complex application is complete."
The press release also included these statements from NC WARN's executive director, Jim Warren: "The nuclear revival is now a special-order fiasco. The industry has rushed forward with half-baked applications—lining up for taxpayer subsidies during the Bush administration—even as the manufacturers keep trying to redesign the plants to offset soaring cost estimates."
On July 24, NC WARN and Friends of the Earth-South Carolina "filed legal motions calling for revocation of $230 million in preconstruction costs approved by both states' [North and South Carolina] electricity regulatory commissions in May and June for two new Duke Energy reactors." The groups cited "escalating design problems" that "threaten Duke Energy's ever completing two new...reactors it wants to build" in South Carolina as the reason for taking legal action.
Elsewhere in the South, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and the Southern Alliance For Clean Energy are fighting the Tennessee Valley Authority's plan to build two new nukes at its Bellefonte site in Alabama. BREDL is also opposing Richmond-based Dominion Resources' plan to build a reactor at its North Anna site in Virginia and Duke Energy's plan to construct two nukes in South Carolina.
In 2005 a National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that, contrary to the claims of the nuclear industry and the federal government, there is no safe dose of radiation. "The scientific research base shows there is no threshold of exposure below which levels of ionized radiation [the type produced by nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons] can be harmless or beneficial," stated Richard Monson, a Harvard professor of epidemiology and the panel's chair.
Monson also said, "The health risks—particularly the development of solid cancers in organs—rise proportionally with exposure. At low dose, the risk of inducing solid cancers is very small. As the overall lifetime exposure increases, so does the risk."
Though the study focused on the connection between exposure to low level radiation and cancer, it also stated, "Other health effects (such as heart disease and stroke) occur at higher doses, but additional data must be gathered before assessment of any possible dose response can be made between low doses of radiation and non-cancer health effects."
A recent study in the International Journal of Epidemiology ("The non-cancer mortality experienced of male workers at British Nuclear Fuel plc, 1946-2005") presented some such additional data, concluding that, "Hundreds of nuclear workers have died of heart attacks and other circulatory illnesses brought on by radiation," according to the March 5, 2008 TimesonlineUK.
The Times also reported, "More than 200 workers at four plants died up to a year earlier than expected because of circulatory problems, while hundreds more are thought to have died at other nuclear sites around the country."
Earlier this year, the study "Excess Infant Mortality After Nuclear Plant Startup In Rural Mississippi" addressed similar questions. The study appeared in the International Journal of Health Services. The paper's author, Joseph Mangano, is executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP). RPHP has been carrying out the Tooth Fairy Project (see Z, April 2004), testing the teeth of children, especially those who live near nuclear power plants, for the presence of Strontium 90, a long-lived radioactive isotope produced only by nuclear reactor operations and nuclear weapons detonation.
Mangano documents increases in radioactivity in the air and water after Grand Gulf's 1982 startup. He then demonstrates "that the local death rate for fetuses with a gestation period over 20 weeks rose 57.8 percent (41 to 60 deaths) from 1981-1982 to 1983-1984, significantly different than declines in the nation and two state area.... The local infant mortality rate for persons under one year increased 35.3 percent (55 to 69 deaths).... Higher infant mortality occurred for both whites (50.0 percent) and blacks (29.3 percent). An especially high 96.6 percent increase was documented for those infants dying in the first 24 hours after birth."
And, Mangano reported, "Mortality in each of the five counties closest to the reactor also demonstrated an unexpectedly large increase in the first 22 years of reactor operations, compared to the two years immediately prior."
Given these findings, the operation of a new nuclear reactor at Grand Gulf, and others across the U.S., promises to cause double trouble and John McCain was only half right when he claimed that building new nukes in the U.S. is "as difficult as it is necessary."
Michael Steinberg is a veteran activist and writer. He is the author of seven books, including Millstone and Me: Sex, Lies and Radiation in Southeastern Connecticut.
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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; 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 on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.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 University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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/; email@example.com.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.