Category Archives: government corruption

Why the focus on nuclear? Ten years and $645 MILLION in lobbying might explain it

I came across this enlightening piece from Harvey Wasserman last week. It scares me to think that our government can be bought… but I know I am naive and overly optimistic in this regard. Perhaps I shall start a “Buy a Senator” campaign and lay these cards plainly on the table. Care to make a donation?

$645 MILLION in Lipstick for a Dead Radioactive Pig

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 02/24/2010

The mystery has been solved.

Where is this “new reactor renaissance” coming from?

There has been no deep, thoughtful re-making or re-evaluation of atomic technology. No solution to the nuke waste problem. No making reactors economically sound. No private insurance against radioactive disasters by terror or error. No grassroots citizens now desperate to live near fragile containment domes and outtake pipes spewing radioactive tritium at 27 US reactors.

No, nothing about atomic energy has really changed.

Except this: $645 MILLION for lobbying Congress and the White House over the past ten years.

As reported by Judy Pasternak and a team of reporters at American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, filings with the Senate Office of Public Records show that members of the Nuclear Energy Institute and other reactor owner/operators admit spending that money on issues that “include legislation to promote construction of new nuclear power plants.”

Money has also gone to “other nuclear-related priorities” including “energy policy, Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste disposal, plant decommissioning costs, uranium issues, such as tariffs, re-enrichment and mining, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding.” But even that may not fully account for money spent on coal and other energy sources, or on media campaigning.

In short: think $64.5 million, EVERY YEAR since the coming of George W. Bush.

That’s $1 million per every US Senator and Representative, plus another, say $100 million for the White House, courts and media.

“I think that’s understated,” says Journalism Professor Karl Grossman of the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. The “torrent of lies” from General Electric and Westinghouse, the “Coke and Pepsi” of the nuclear industry, “has made the tobacco industry look like a piker.

Their past, present and/or future media mouthpieces, says Grossman, span CBS, NBC and a global phalanx of interlocking radio-TV-print directorates.

All are geared, adds MediaChannel.org’s Rory O’Connor, to flood the globe with “Nukespeak,” the Orwellian lingo that sells atomic power while rehtorically air brushing its costs and dangers.

Thus Noam Chomsky’s “manufacturing consent” has become an “outright purchase.”

Thus National Public Radio is now the Nuclear Proliferation Redux. Disgraced ex-Greenpeacer Patrick Moore (who also sells clear-cut forests and genetically modified food) is portrayed as an “environmentalist” rather than an industry employee.

That’s not to say all reactor advocates do it for the money. Certainly some have grown on their own to like nuke power.

But $645 million—SIX HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION—can buy a lot of opinion going one way, and suppresses a lot going the other. Op eds, air time, “independent” reports, phony claims that “green” nukes can solve global warming…not to mention campaign “donations,” fact-finding junkets, political fundraisers, K-Street dinners…all can be had for a trifling drip from the mega-slush fund.

The latest payback is Barack Obama’s $8.33 billion in promised loan guarantees for two new nukes proposed in Georgia. Two old ones came in at 3000% over budget at a site where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warns the proposed new ones might crumble in an earthquake or hurricane.

As Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! points out, Team Obama has taken VERY goodly chunks of that $645 million from Chicago’s nuke-loving Exelon. Despite his campaign hype for a green revolution, Obama’s first two named advisors, David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel, were proud Exelon “associates.”

Now Obama wants taxpayers to pony up $36 billion MORE in loan guarantees. (John McCain wants a mere trillion).

All this BEFORE the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations are “persons” who can spend without limit to buy Congress and the media. The cash pouring into the pockets of politicians voting for still more taxpayer money to build still more reactors will parallel the gusher of radiation that poured from Chernobyl.

But does this mean the flood of new reactors is inevitable?

NO!

Despite that cash tsunami, grassroots activists stopped $50 billion in loan guarantees three times since 2007. No new US reactor construction has started since the 1970s, when public opinion was over 70% in favor of atomic power, and Richard Nixon promised 1000 US reactors by the year 2000.

With green jobs advocate Van Jones ditched and Obama now openly in the nuclear camp, atomic energy is still a loser.

It can’t solve its waste problems, can’t operate without leaking radiation, can’t pay for itself and can’t get private insurance against terror or error.

Once hyped as “too cheap to meter,” Warren Buffett, the National Taxpayers Union, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute are among those joining the Congressional Budget Office in warning that atomic energy is really “too expensive to matter.”

With all those hundreds of millions to spend, the reactor backers are still selling a technological corpse. With licensing and construction and the inevitable unforeseen, not one new US reactor can come on line in less than seven years.

Meanwhile, renewable/efficiency prices will continue to plummet. And grassroots opposition will not stop, as in Vermont and wherever else reactors operate or are proposed.

As Abe Lincoln reminds us: you can’t buy all the people all the time. And the ones that can’t be bought CAN be damn powerful.

Those loan guarantees, all that hype about a new nuclear age…they are NOT a done deal. They still must withstand a Solartopian revolution in green technology that’s left atomic power in its economic dust…and a human species whose core instincts DEMAND economic and ecological survival.

So when you hear some hired gun selling nukes, remember: even $645 million can buy only so much green lipstick for a dead radioactive pig.

And when Nature bats last, the final score is not about cash.

Original article: http://blog.buzzflash.com/contributors/3019

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America imports nuclear waste from other countries

Do you know this? Do you think it is wise to allow PRIVATE CORPORATIONS to import RADIOACTIVE NUCLEAR WASTE into the U.S.? One more question… Who the hell is going to pay to safely and securely store highly volatile spent fuel rods when this private corporation goes out of business?

Now, I don’t yet know much of anything about this EnergySolutions… YET.

But I will.

They’ve got a dumptruck full of federal money heading their way (in the form of stimulus contracts)… and the path is being cleared as I write for them to begin importing nuclear waste from Italy. I’m sorry… but what the hell is going on here? Who are they related to?

Why would we do something so stupid?

The reasoning, as stated, is that EnergySolutions “needs to dispose of foreign waste here so it can develop relationships with foreign countries, and ultimately, build disposal facilities abroad.”

I’m sorry, folks, but I could give a DAMN about your corporate objectives abroad. And I certainly don’t think it’s the least bit reasonable, or logical, or practical to risk you royally screwing this up — or even moderately screwing this up — so that you can pursue your dreams of storing toxic waste around the globe. It seems more than likely that you will make some quick cash and disappear while America is left footing the bill for dealing with Europe’s toxic waste in addition to our own!

And… forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t our President just make it impossible to continue development of the federal facility we were promised in Yucca Mountain? Yeah, I thought so. So, why would we even consider a proposal like this from a private corporation? I have no idea. But I know for fact that if every American was aware of this bullshit, it would NEVER be permitted.

So what’s a girl to do but everything she can to spread the word?

THIS IS LUNACY, PEOPLE. WAKE THE HELL UP!

Judge Lets Utah Accept Foreign Nuclear Waste

From Courthouse News (http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/05/19/Judge_Lets_Utah_Accept_Foreign_Nuclear_Waste.htm)
05/19/09
By SUZANNE ASHE

(CN) – A federal judge in Utah has ruled that EnergySolutions can dispose of foreign nuclear waste at its facility in the western part of the state.

EnergySolutions claimed that the Northwest Compact – which consists of representatives from Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming – had unlawfully banned importation of low-level radioactive waste  from international sources. Specifically, EnergySolutions argued that Northwest had tried to exercise greater authority over the disposal of the waste than is allowed under current law.

EnergySolutions sought clarification from the district court in Utah in May 2008.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart agreed with EnergySolution’s interpretation of the law that Northwest was overreaching its scope. This ruling paves the way for EnergySolutions to bring low-level radioactive waste from Italy to its facility in Clive, Utah.

The Clive facility has been safely disposing of low-level material for more than 20 years and has been disposing of residuals from internationally generated material for about eight years.

Judge says Utah can accept foreign nuclear waste

From the Miami Herald (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/AP/story/1051933.html)
5/16/09
By BROCK VERGAKIS
Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ruled that a Utah company can dispose of foreign nuclear waste at its facility in the western Utah desert.

EnergySolutions Inc. wants to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be disposed of in Utah.

If approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the waste would be imported through the ports of Charleston, S.C. or New Orleans.

EnergySolutions contends it needs to dispose of foreign waste here so it can develop relationships with foreign countries, and ultimately, build disposal facilities abroad.

EnergySolutions has pledged to limit the amount of international waste disposed at its Utah facility to 5 percent of its remaining capacity.

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Lastly, here’s the gigantic red flag i saw waving tonight…

EnergySolutions wins big with stimulus contracts

Utah » 12 cleanup projects will ship material to Clive

By Judy Fahys
The Salt Lake Tribune
05/16/2009

Utahns rejoiced a few weeks ago when Washington announced stimulus money would be used to speed the removal of a massive pile of uranium-contaminated mill tailings near Moab.

What wasn’t publicized at the time is that still more of the $6 billion in Energy Department Recovery Act funds will come to Utah in the form of low-level radioactive waste.

Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions Inc. is specifically named in more than half of the project proposals for the Energy Department stimulus money. And trainloads of waste contaminated with low-level radioactive and hazardous waste will be coming to Utah under the two dozen cleanup projects.

Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Creamer recently told investors that his nuclear waste company campaigned to be included.

“We have a full team that’s doing nothing but working on the stimulus package,” Creamer said in a May 7 conference call.

He told investors his staff is helping contractors figure out how to spend the money.

“We’re pleased with it,” he added, “and we think it’s a very positive thing for the company.”

EnergySolutions has long touted the value of the Utah disposal site, a mile-square facility that offers the only commercial disposal available for waste from 36 states.

Its federal contracts with the departments of Defense and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency used to account for about half of the waste going to the 20-year-old company, which had rates so low that even government-owned and -operated disposal sites could not compete.

But the volumes headed for EnergySolutions have fallen off in the last couple of years, and the company has turned to such proposals as accepting waste from foreign nations.

The stimulus money projects that specifically mention the Utah company include the large government cleanups of the nation’s nuclear-weapons complex in Hanford, Wash., Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Savannah River, S.C.

But the specifics of many stimulus projects still haven’t been worked out, said Energy Department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman.

“…[T]here is not yet detailed waste forecast information on the incremental volumes of low-level and mixed low-level waste that may be suitable for disposal at the Clive facility in Utah,” she said.

But, even before the stimulus bonanza, EnergySolutions was counting on lots of waste from the Energy Department sites nationwide — about 52,000 cubic feet this year and 26,000 cubic feet in the next two years, according to Stutsman.

Stimulus-funded projects will add to that volume, but there is no way of saying how much, she said.

The additional cleanup funding is also good news for the cleanups.

At the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, an infusion of $42 million will allow the demolition of buildings associated with a nuclear research reactor and the removal of contaminated soil and pipes. About 6,000 cubic yards of waste — including contaminated soil, concrete and debris — will come to Utah by rail, according to Brookhaven spokeswoman Mona Rowe.

At the Savannah River Project, an additional $1.6 billion from the stimulus is slated for cleanup, including the disposal of 16,000 containers of depleted uranium oxide. And, while the Savannah River cleanup sent 5,500 containers of depleted uranium to Utah last fall, spokeswoman Paivi M. Nettamo said where the remaining thousands of containers will go is not certain.

“We will ensure all shipments of depleted uranium oxide or any other radioactive material from [the cleanup] meet all applicable state and federal regulations,” she said.

Depleted uranium has become controversial in Utah recently because of the radioactive metal’s unusual quality of becoming more hazardous over time. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking at the issue but isn’t expected to finish its study until after the stimulus money is spent.

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Did you read that last line? Please… Read it once more…

Depleted uranium has become controversial in Utah recently because of the radioactive metal’s unusual quality of becoming more hazardous over time. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking at the issue but isn’t expected to finish its study until after the stimulus money is spent.

For everything that is good and right about America… PLEASE, please, pretty please… SEE HOW WRONG THIS IS AND LEND YOUR VOICE, YOUR ENERGY, YOUR VOTE to prevent this shit from happening.

ATTENTION

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Please pay attention.

Nuclear power’s implications go far beyond energy

Nuclear power is the orange amongst apples when evaluating America’s energy future. There exist factors that must not be ignored that do not apply to alternative sources.

In addition to the relatively unknown impact of long-term exposure to low level radiation for those living near a nuclear power plant, or the cataclysmic effects of a major accident such as the one that occurred at Chernobyl, there exist far-reaching consequences that come at an unfathomable price; one which no nation can afford.

nuclear power is always toxic

This, today, from the New York Times via the Boston Globe:

N. Korea reprocessing spent nuclear rods

Says material will be used to make nuclear weapons

http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2009/04/26/n_korea_reprocessing_spent_nuclear_rods/

By Choe Sang-Hun

New York Times / April 26, 2009

SEOUL – North Korea announced yesterday that it had begun reprocessing thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods, adding that it would use plutonium extracted from the rods to make nuclear weapons.

Reprocessing the rods, which were unloaded from the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the capital, “will contribute to bolstering the nuclear deterrence for self-defense in every way to cope with the increasing military threats from the hostile forces,” an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told the nation’s official news agency.

Reassembling the partly disabled Yongbyon complex to its operational state could take at least several months. But specialists and officials in Seoul have said North Korea could have quickly reopened the reprocessing plant to produce plutonium from thousands of spent fuel rods. Specialists say the rods can yield enough plutonium for one or two bombs.

Read the entire article: http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2009/04/26/n_korea_reprocessing_spent_nuclear_rods/

NRC definitely having “issues” dealing with New England

Nuclear Regulatory Commission under fire over fire

Rep. Markey looking for answers from regulators on Pilgrim safety oversight


The Patriot Ledger
Posted Nov 05, 2008 @ 05:30 AM

QUINCY —

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is using a fire last week at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth to turn up the heat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Markey sent a letter to the federal agency on Friday, posing a long list of questions about the Oct. 29 fire in an outbuilding at the plant property that the plant operator says was contained to one room.

The Malden Democrat, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, has longstanding concerns about the NRC’s oversight of its fire safety rules. Markey believes that the agency isn’t doing enough to ensure that nuclear plant operators meet or exceed the agency’s fire safety standards.

“I have yet to be persuaded that the NRC is on a path to do the right thing and require the nation’s plants to be brought (into) compliance with NRC’s fire protection regulations,” Markey wrote in the letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein. “This latest event only heightens my concern and my interest in assuring that all appropriate measures are undertaken to protect these facilities against dangerous fires.”

Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the nuclear agency, said the two NRC inspectors assigned to the plant are investigating the fire’s cause and reviewing plant owner Entergy Corp.’s steps to ensure such a fire doesn’t happen again. Screnci said the agency received Markey’s letter and will respond as quickly as possible to the congressman.

Read the entire story >

We left behind a glowing reminder on our visit to Japan

U.S. Sub May Have Leaked Radiation While in Japan

Published: August 3, 2008

TOKYO — An American nuclear-powered submarine may have leaked a small amount of radiation as it stopped by Japan in the spring and was then deployed throughout the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese government said Saturday.

The Japanese government said that it was informed Friday by the United States Navy that the submarine, the Houston, might have discharged an amount of radiation that was too small to be considered harmful.

The chief government spokesman, Nobutaka Machimura, said in a news conference that the radioactive amount — estimated at less than half a microcurie — was too insignificant to “affect the human body or the environment.”

The submarine spent a week in March in Sasebo, in western Japan, before cruising to Guam and then Hawaii, where the leak was discovered during an inspection late last month, the Japanese government said.

The Japanese government and American military have been trying to ease public resistance to the stationing in September of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the George Washington, in Yokokusa, southwest of Tokyo. The scheduled arrival of the George Washington, which will replace the diesel-powered aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, has caused protests in Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

The announcement also was an embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who shuffled his cabinet on Friday in a bid to raise his low approval ratings. Government officials learned of the leak Saturday from television reports even though the United States Navy had informed the Japanese Foreign Ministry a day earlier.

“I, too, came to know about it this morning on television,” the foreign minister, Masahiko Komura, said at a news conference on Saturday.

Last winter, a Japanese warship collided with a fishing boat early one morning, killing the boat’s two passengers. But naval officials were criticized for taking more than an hour to inform the defense minister at the time.

The original article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/world/asia/03japan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company